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The LOCKED BOOK 

¥ 

FRANK L. PACKARD 


By FRANK L. PACKARD 


■ THE LOCKED BOOK 
c ; THE FOUR STRAGGLERS 

JIMMIE DALE AND THE PHANTOM CLUE 

DOORS OF THE NIGHT 

PAWNED 

THE WHITE MOLL 
FROM NOW ON 
THE NIGHT OPERATOR 

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF JIMMIE DALE 

THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMIE DALE 

THE WIRE DEVILS 

THE SIN THAT WAS HIS 

THE BELOVED TRAITOR 

GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN 

THE MIRACLE MAN 







The 

LOCKED BOOK 

BY 

FRANK L. PACKARD 


NEW 


YORK 


GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 
















-o 


\ \: i 3 




c 


COPYRIGHT, 1934, 

BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 






THE LOCKED BOOK * 

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 


SEP 23 *24 



C1A801963 


CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I While an Hour Passed. 9 

II The Man with the Crimson Sash ... 22 

III Salabam..34 

IV Fellow Guests.49 

V The Shot. 62 

VI Pieces of a Puzzle.70 

VII More Pieces.78 

VIII Where No Man Lived.85 

IX Itu Konchi-kan Kitab . 95 

X The Keeper of the Book. 104 

XI Major Peters of Salabam . . . . . 116 

XII The Majesty of the Law . . . * . 125 

XIII A Matter of Keys . . . . . . . 137 

XIV A Prisoner at Large.. . 153 

XV Moonlight and Match-Flamb . . . . 169 

XVI “The Three Crooks” 190 

XVII A Liar of Parts. . . 207 

XVIII Hare and Hounds ..220 

XIX The Outcasts.234 

XX The Devil’s Throat ..253 

XXI Crimson Sash... . 272 

XXII Monsieur Nicholas Fouche . . * . 282 

XXIII The Book Unlocked.299 



















I 


THE LOCKED BOOK 







I 



























f 














THE LOCKED BOOK 


WHILE AN HOUR PASSED 

T HE W ar at an y a small cargo steamer of some 
three thousand tons, lifted sluggishly, apatheti¬ 
cally to the swells. The bit of sail rigged 
upon her gave her scarcely more than steerage-way. 
She carried no lights. Her engine-room hatch was 
carefully hooded with tarpaulins. From the depths 
below, muffled, there came the incessant clangour 
of hammers, of busy tools. The machinery was still. 
A mist hung in the light, following breeze, a wet mist 
that was almost a fine drizzle. There were no stars 
above. To starboard and port there was land— 
islands; many of them. They were there in the dark¬ 
ness—unseen. In the Malay Archipelago they are 
everywhere. 

In the combination chartroom and wheelhouse a 
Lascar quartermaster, outlined against the blackness 
by the faint light of the binnacle lamp, took on the 
aspect of some grotesque heathen image as he stood 
impassively at the wheel. Forward, along the lower 
deck, there was the occasional movement of one or 
more of the native crew; a movement like the uneasy 
flitting here and there of shadows—half shadows 
rather, the white of the nether garments alone dis- 

9 


10 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


cernible, the naked bodies from the waist up blending 
into the darkness, lost. 

On the bridge two men in oilskins stood motionless 
at the rail, staring out over the weathercloth; big men 
they were, and of a height, each well over six feet 
in his sea boots. The elder of the two, known for 
forty years from the China coast to the Coral Sea 
as Old Man Wayne, a strong, grim-faced man, robust 
beyond the years of his tell-tale white hair, spoke 
abruptly. 

“We’ll get it to-night, son,” he said quietly, “as 
sure as I’m your father.” 

Kenneth Wayne, the younger, answered as quietly: 

“MacNee says he’ll have his engines turning over 
again, and all shipshape by midnight. I’m counting 
on that-—and the darkness.” 

Old Man Wayne shook his head grimly. 

“They see in the dark,” he said bluntly. “And as 
for MacNee, he’ll be handling something besides a 
spanner before midnight. It’s beyond reason to ex¬ 
pect anything else. Piracy ain’t stamped out of these 
waters yet, and never will be. Steam’s done a lot for 
it, more’n all the gunboats on the station; but when 
it comes to the low type Malay of the Orang-laut you 
can’t change ’em into anything but what they’ve always 
been and always will be, and that’s a throat-cutting, 
thieving lot of blood-letting savages. Gunboats! 
Bah!” He thumped the rail in sudden and profound 
contempt. “There’s something that ain’t human about 
these devils. You let a gunboat start out from Singa¬ 
pore and they know it a thousand miles away—and 
there’s nothing but peace and quiet waiting for the 
gunboat when it comes along. I’m damned if I or any 
one else knows how they do it—but they do.” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded without comment. 


WHILE AN HOUR PASSED 


11 

Old Man Wayne was silent for a moment, then he 
took up the thread of his first remark: 

“It’s beyond reason to expect anything else. We’ve 
been in plain sight of first one island and then another 
for the last two days, and don’t you make any mistake, 
my boy, we’ve been watched by a thousand eyes. Those 
rags of sails, that have given us just way enough to 
creep along and keep off the reefs, ain’t nothing 
more’n distress signals letting ’em know our engines 
have broken down. And there’s been a thousand 
tongues licking at as many dirty chops. They’ve only 
been waiting to gather strength. But they weren’t to 
be tricked either. That proa that sailed around us 
this afternoon, the first sign of life we’ve seen, was 
just making sure we weren’t something we didn’t 
pretend to be—a gunboat disguised, or anything like 
that. And, being satisfied, it’ll be to-night.” 

Kenneth Wayne turned to face his father as he laid 
his hand with a quick, intimate little grip on the other’s 
arm. 

“Oh, I don’t know, dad,” he smiled. “We may be 
quite mistaken. It isn’t like the old days you hear 
yarns about. Civilisation’s done a bit. You don’t 
hear much of piracy here nowadays, and-” 

“Steam’s done it, as I said,” interrupted Old Man 
Wayne shortly. “Not civilisation! You can’t ever 
civilise beasts. I know ’em—I’ve known ’em, aye, and 
fought ’em for forty years. I know the treachery of 
’em, and I’ve paid, by God, for what I know! I 
wouldn’t look a captain of mine in the face if I sent 
him to sea to-day anywhere in these parts unless he was 
well armed, even if they haven’t got much chance 
against a steamer. Accidents happen. Look at us 
to-night. And as for not hearing much about them 
these days, maybe you don’t; but there’s four sailing 



12 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


vessels both of us can name that’ve disappeared in 
these waters in the last twelve months. What became 
of them?” 

“Storms,” suggested Kenneth Wayne. 

“Scuttled and sunk,” said Old Man Wayne. 

“Well, you may be right”—Kenneth Wayne’s 
smile broadened, and he laughed quietly—“though I 
hope you’re not. Anyway, I’ll gamble that proa 
didn’t spot the couple of machine guns that were under 
hatch. If they come they won’t catch us napping. As 
you know, the Sevang’s had orders to arm the crew, 
and everybody’s at stations. I’m not afraid of our 
men—they’ve no truck with these chaps out here. 
We’re ready. We can’t do anything more, except give 
them the hottest reception of their lives if they show 
up.” 

Old Man Wayne fumbled inside his oilskin jacket, 
pulled out a cigar and bit off the end. He chuckled a 
little grimly as the younger man leaned quickly toward 
him. 

“I ain’t going to light it, boy,” he said amusedly. 
“I was at this business when you were cutting your 

teeth, and your mother was-” He stopped 

abruptly, his lips tightening on the protruding cigar. 
“What time do you make it?” he demanded irrele¬ 
vantly. 

“It ought to be nine or thereabouts,” Kenneth 
Wayne answered. 

“MacNee’s making a bit of a row down there,” said 
Old Man Wayne. 

“It’s muffled, sir,” said Kenneth Wayne. “The 
sound of a ship’s bell would carry a lot farther—that’s 
why I ordered them not to strike it.” 

“So it would,” agreed Old Man Wayne. He 
sucked for a moment on the unlighted cigar. “Boy,” 



WHILE AN HOUR PASSED 


i3 


he asked suddenly, “do you remember your mother?” 

Kenneth Wayne drew himself erect, he squared his 
great shoulders back,and his hand stole up and touched 
the dripping brim of his sou’wester. The gesture had 
come spontaneously, out of the subconscious, out of 
the years that were gone—a homage to memory taught 
him as a child by this man here, his father. 

“Not very well, sir,” he said in a low voice. “I was 
only a kiddie then, you know.” 

“She was a fine woman.” Old Man Wayne seemed 
suddenly to be speaking to himself. “The finest mate 

man ever had. God bless her! I-” His voice' 

trailed off. 

The young man’s hand found the other’s shoulder. 

“What is it, dad?” he asked gently. 

Old Man Wayne shook his head. 

“Nothing, boy,” he said brusquely. “Maybe I’m 
a bit queer to-night. You’ve got her eyes. I guess 
that’s it. I thought I saw her smiling at me just now.” 
He laughed gruffly as he jerked the cigar from his 
lips. “I’ll go down and see how MacNee’s getting on 
—and where I can light this damned thing.” 

Kenneth Wayne made no answer, save for a tight¬ 
ened pressure of his hand on the old man’s shoulder; 
then, as the other turned abruptly away, he leaned 
against the rail, following his father with his eyes until 
the latter was lost to sight in the darkness below the 
head of the bridge ladder. 

And then he turned again, his eyes seaward now, 
and now his face was hard-set, his jaws clamped. He 
was disturbed and anxious, and a sudden, cold, inde¬ 
finable fear seemed to be gnawing at his heart. He 
brushed his hand across his eyes. His father’s words 
had taken him back through the years almost to baby¬ 
hood, and there came before him the dimly remem- 



THE LOCKED BOOK 


14 

bered face of a woman that bent over his crib at night, 
and for a time had been associated with his every joy 
and sorrow—and then had suddenly vanished out of 
his life forever. After that, it had been the man who 
had just left him. His father. More than father! 
Like chums together—playing the game together. 
Years of it! Until to-night he was twenty-eight and 
in his first command. And that had been a sort of an 
event between them. In command! Old Man 
Wayne—he too called his father that because it always 
seemed like a title that had been splendidly won, some¬ 
thing to be proud of, that stood for what men love 
most, honour and strength and faith and unbroken 
word—Old Man Wayne, though he had given up the 
sea for ten years past, had come along on the voyage, 
as he put it himself, to celebrate the event. 

Kenneth Wayne’s lips moved. He spoke aloud 
involuntarily: 

“But I wish to God he weren’t here to-night!” 

To-night! Why to-night? Hadn’t he laughed and 
smiled at the certainty with which his father had pre¬ 
dicted attack? Lord! There was humour in that! 
Make light of it to reassure grim Old Man Wayne! 
In half an hour, an hour, sometime before daybreak, 
none knew better than himself that it was sure to 
come—unless MacNee got his engines going. Perhaps 
MacNee would make it a little sooner. . . . 

He listened. 

A faint thudding came from aft, from the bowels 
of the ship, the tap-tap^tap of a hammer—and now 
he could just catch the sudden chatter of the auxiliary 
on the steam steering gear as it answered to the wheel. 
Those sounds could not be heard very far away, and 
there were no others. There was a great stillness— 
an uncanny stillness. No wash; if there was a ripple 


WHILE AN HOUR PASSED 15 

at the bow it was all the JVaratan was doing—barely 
holding a course. No throb, no vibration; just a 
quiet, a great, ugly quiet, as though the life had ebbed 
out of her. And it was black. He could scarcely see 
the foredeck. In the blackness she might elude them 
—until MacNee got his engines going. He brushed 
his hand again across his eyes. Old Man Wayne said 
they could see in the dark. 

He knew that. He, too, knew this part of the 
world and its conglomerate races. Since a boy he had 
lived here; since a boy he had sailed up and down the 
China coast, along the Malay Peninsula, through the 
Archipelago, trading, speaking the native tongues and 
dialects as well perhaps, and as fluently, as any white 
man had ever come to do. He knew. He knew what 
was coming, and he would not be so futilely trying to 
persuade himself otherwise if Old Man Wayne were 
not aboard—no, not exactly that, though it was all of 
a piece—if Old Man Wayne had not made that re¬ 
mark about seeing the mother’s eyes smiling at him. 
What was the matter? What was there in that 
remark to put him off his stroke? 

Memories. 

Why should memories throng to-night? Why 
should they come crowding in upon him now while he 
waited for something out there in the blackness?— 
memories not only of his younger days, but memories 
of the tales in out of the way places that men had told 
him of his father, and for the father’s sake had done 
honour to the son—memories that made a sort of out¬ 
line, as it were, of the forty years since Old Man 
Wayne had come from Gloucester in far away America. 
A trading brig out here first ... all the savings 
invested in it . . . its loss ... a grim uphill fight 
. . . another brig . . . and then a bit of a steamer 


16 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


. . . then a bigger one . . . and money. And then, 
ten years ago, the little fleet of three vessels that to-day 
numbered five. This was one of them. He was in 
command. The smallest of them all. That was like 
Old Man Wayne. A master’s ticket didn’t mean a 
ship for the son if it meant stepping over another 
man’s head. He had held a master’s ticket almost 
from the time he had been twenty. There hadn’t been 
any vacancies when there hadn’t been some one to 
fill them. There had been a wharf rat from Singa¬ 
pore, for instance, who had found refuge on the old 
brig. There was a queer story in that. He re¬ 
membered a chap telling him about it in Kutjing up 
the Sarawak River—a long way from Singapore! 

What made him think of that? Oh, yes, of course! 
That was why he had got the Waratan, his first ship. 
The man had been senior captain. He had died a few 
months ago. The chap on the JVaratan had moved 
up. 

It was ten years ago that Old Man Wayne had given 
up the sea and had settled ashore to handle his ships 
and his trading stations—this was virtually the first 
time of any account that he had been afloat since then. 
And this, too, was like Old Man Wayne. It had not 
been put into words. Both understood. A milestone 
had been reached. It was the Godspeed of a friend 
who goes a bit of the way with one on a long journey. 
It was a toast to the first command. It was the ex¬ 
pression of comradeship ripened with the years be¬ 
tween father and son, between man and man. Old 
Man Wayne wouldn’t have been here to-night other¬ 
wise—wouldn’t have been here but for him, Kenneth 
Wayne. 

Kenneth Wayne repeated that last phrase: # . 

Wouldn’t have been here but for him.” 


WHILE AN HOUR PASSED 


i7 


Strange! It wasn’t a question of fear—not fear 
pf those blighters out there. They would find the 
War at an a hard nut to crack before they were through 
—a nut, it was even money, they couldn’t crack at all. 
He would have welcomed the attempt with a sort of 
savage satisfaction ordinarily, as one would welcome, 
with every primal instinct of retaliation aroused 
against unprovoked attack, the certainty of annihi¬ 
lating some at least of a filthy and noxious rabble, 
lower than the beasts, whose bared teeth were at one’s 
throat. But in the last little while, something, a 
prescience, a dread which he could not shake off, 
seemed to have crept upon him and now lay heavy on 
his heart. 

He was a fool ! He swore angrily at himself. He 
lashed himself pitilessly with stinging, contemptuous 
words. It wasn’t the way to play the game. Not 
the way he had been taught! His head was up, his 
shoulders squared. He was quite all right again— 
quite all right- 

A footstep sounded on the bridge ladder; a form 
bulked in the darkness and came toward him. It was 
Dorkin, the mate, a hard, tough product of the white 
man’s outposts—like that wharf rat, somewhat, from 
Singapore, whose story was told in that fly-blown 
hostelry in Kutjing. Dorkin’s idea of heaven was a 
fight. He was rubbing his hands together. 

“They’re out-there now, sir,” he said. “The serang 
says he hears them. He’s got ears, that chap! He 
says they’re all around us—sneaking down on us with 
the drift, I take it, and figuring to cut our throats 
before we know what’s happened. About half a mile 
off, he makes it; not more’n another ten minutes or so 
before they’re fair alongside.” 



THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Many of them?” demanded Captain Kenneth 
Wayne tersely. 

„ “The serang says yes—a regular wasps’ nest of 
small proas.” Dorkin answered with a low, throaty 
laugh. “Like a cloud settling on the sea, as he puts it. 
Blimy, sir, I fancy it’ll be a night!” 

“I fancy it will,” said Kenneth Wayne as tersely as 
before. “Keep the bridge for a moment, Mr. 
Dorkin.” 

He turned away abruptly without waiting for a 
response, entered the chartroom, and called the engine 
room through the tube. The chief engineer’s voice 
answered him. 

“They’re closing in on us now, Mr. MacNee,” said 
Kenneth Wayne quietly. “Bring your crew up on 
deck and fight.” 

“Mon,” said Mr. MacNee in a pettish voice, “I’m 
only wantin’ another half-hour, an’ we’ll be under 
way. It’s a verra sma’ request, sir!” 

“I’ve no wireless with which to transmit it to them,” 
said Captain Kenneth Wayne with grim sarcasm. 

“Tush! Listen to that!” grumbled the voice at 
the other end of the tube. “A chip o’ the old block!” 

“Tumble up—with every man you can spare 1” 
Kenneth Wayne ordered crisply. “You know your 
station. The after gun. And look lively, Mr. 
MacNee!” 

He swung from the speaking tube to the chart 
spread out on the top of the locker, picked up a 
flashlight, and, shading the latter carefully with his 
oilskin jacket which he unbuttoned for the purpose, 
studied the chart critically for an instant. Those 
proas out there were not the only danger that the dark¬ 
ness held. He manoeuvred quickly with dividers and 
parallel ruler. He was amidst a nest of islands. It 


WHILE AN HOUR PASSED 


i9 

was almost worse than dead reckoning, for the ship 
was logging practically nothing. But the breeze, 
what there was of it, was almost dead astern. There 
was a bit more sea room to port. He changed the 
course slightly, but not enough in any sense to bring 
the breeze abeam. 

“Southwest by west, Pir Lai,” he said curtly. “And 
hold her there whatever happens.” 

“Sou’west by west,” answered the impassive figure 
at the wheel. “It shall be held, O master.” 

Kenneth Wayne, with a nod, stepped out on the 
bridge again, and rejoined the mate. 

“Heard anything yourself yet?” he inquired in a 
low tone. 

“I think I did, sir. Just a moment gone. Out 
there.” Dorkin pointed out over the starboard 
quarter. 

“And there!” added Kenneth Wayne, pointing to 
port. “The serancfs right; they’re all around us.” 

Dorkin was rubbing his hands—great, huge, hairy 
hands—together again, almost it seemed in a sort of 
unholy impatience. Kenneth Wayne smiled in the 
darkness. Dorkin, in a tight hole, was a heartening 
sort of a chap. 

“It’ll be a fight, sir,” whispered Dorkin. “Man, 
but it’ll be a fight! Them with a couple of hundred, 
or maybe more; and us with twenty-four all told on 
the articles, and-” 

“Twenty-five,” a voice amended quietly. 

Kenneth Wayne swung around. It was Old Man 
Wayne. He had not heard his father come up on the 
bridge. Old Man Wayne was casually testing the 
mechanism of a revolver. 

“Twenty-five, Mr. Dorkin,” said Old Man Wayne 
again. 



20 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Oh, aye!” said Dorkin heartily. “And worth near 
the lot of us put together, you are, sir, in a bit of a 
scrimmage like this, I’d say.” 

Kenneth Wayne turned his head away. Impulse, 
sudden, almost uncontrollable, bade him cry out pas¬ 
sionately: “Dad, for God’s sake, keep out of this!” 
He bit at his lips as though literally to hold back the 
words. Impulse! Impulse would have prompted Old 
Man Wayne to make instant reply with a clenched fist 
full to the jaw. That would have been a man’s 
answer—and especially that of a man like Old Man 
Wayne. He knew his father. Old Man Wayne 
probably, certainly, would not have yielded to that 
impulse—but the impulse would have been there. Old 
Man Wayne to skulk, to hide, to keep under shelter 
when other men were fighting for their lives—and his! 
And what would he, Kenneth Wayne, have thought of 
the other for such an act, even though he himself 
should have been the one who prompted it? His 
hands clenched until the nails bit into the palms. It 
wasn’t that ... it wasn’t that . . . ! God in 
heaven, what was wrong with him to-night? These 
were men, these two, standing here before him, the 
type of Anglo Saxon unbeaten against whatever odds, 
the type that had brought honour and dominion to 
their race—as proud of their race as their race was 
proud of them. Men unafraid. And he was like a 
child to-night—like a child very near to tears. 

Faint sounds came drifting out of the darkness now, 
up from the sea, from all around; a medley almost 
indefinable, yet strangely sinister—the low whine of 
the breeze through cordage as though in complaint 
of unwarrantable obstructions in its path, of tres¬ 
passers upon its domains—the breaking of a wave that 


WHILE AN HOUR PASSED 


21 


should still have rolled unbroken as a little swell on 
its trackless way. 

A voice in the native tongue floated up out of the 
darkness from somewhere below the bridge: 

“They come, O master! Give us light that we may 
see.” 

“Presently, Sevang Kenneth Wayne answered in 
the same tongue. “Let them gather for the hunger 
of the guns of many bullets. Look only to it, thou, 
that they do not board amidships, either to starboard 
or to port.” 

“That’s my job,” said Old Man Wayne. “Mine 
and the Sevang’s. Come on, Mr. Dorkin—or Mac- 
Nee back there ’ll be getting in the first shot on you!” 

“No fear!” growled Dorkin, already at the bridge 
ladder. “Not him!” 

Old Man Wayne lingered for an instant to put out 
his hand. 

“They’re poor shots mostly,” said Old Man Wayne 
off-handedly; “but don’t forget, son, that that weather- 
cloth on the bridge here ain’t bullet proof.” 

“Look here, dad,” Kenneth Wayne said hoarsely, 

uj_n 

But he was alone on the bridge. 



— II 


THE MAN WITH THE CRIMSON SASH 

F OR an instant Kenneth Wayne stood motionless. 
Somehow he couldn’t see very well. And then 
with a jerk he swung to the rail. He wasn’t a 
son —he was in command. 

His fingers felt along the rail and touched an elec¬ 
tric-light switch. Not yet! There were: shapes show¬ 
ing out there in the darkness now, moving shapes— 
but it wasn’t time yet. That wasn’t what the lights, 
strung high up above the ship’s sides fore and aft 
since yesterday afternoon, were for. They weren’t 
making any sound out there, save what was stealthy 
and unavoidable. It was as though, close in even as 
they now were, they still counted their presence 
unsuspected. 

There was a strange, stern quiet in Kenneth 
Wayne’s face as, swiftly, his mind busied itself in a 
last minute rehearsal of the disposition of the Wara- 
tan’s little force. The low, flush fore- and afterdecks 
would naturally be the first and main points of attack 
—but there wasn’t a man of the crew on either of 
those lower decks. Dorkin’s and MacNee’s machine 
guns from the boat deck must take care of those points. 
The weak point in the defence, though it was harder 
to board there, was amidships where the main deck 
made a sort of little alleyway on either side of the 
ship, and where the machine guns, as now placed, 
could not be made effective. His lips drew a little 


22 


THE MAN WITH THE CRIMSON SASH 23 

more tightly together. The main companionways 
opened on that deck—there was grave peril there. 
The alternative had been to mount the two guns, one 
forward on the forecastle, the other aft on the lower 
deck, where in a measure they might have commanded 
something of the lower amidships deck—but that 
would have been to divide forces, with inevitable 
disaster as the result if anything went wrong at either 
point. As it was, the crew were all on the boat deck 
below the bridge here, those not needed with the 
machine guns lying flat along the amidships’ edge of 
the deck, themselves in a large sense protected by the 
boats, chocks and davit tackles, and where they could 
fire down the sides of the ship at point-blank range 
upon any attempt to board the War at an from below 
them. 

Kenneth Wayne’s finger toyed again with the 
electric-light switch. Not yet—not for a second yet 
—maybe two—or three—not until the bulwarks 
swarmed thick with the Orang-laut and the machine 
guns sweeping port and starboard could do most 
deadly execution. “Like a cloud settling on the sea.’’ 
That was what the serang had said according to 
Dorkin, wasn’t it? And that was what it seemed to 
be like out there now—a cloud low on the sea, dividing, 
uniting into many shapes, superimposing itself on the 
night, stealing down upon the ship—closer—closer— 
now! 

A yell, murderous, exultant, bestial, chorused by a 
horde of throats rent the air. It rose in volume. It 
pierced the eardrums. It was demoniacal. 

Kenneth Wayne flung the switch over. A blaze of 
light ran along the ship, throwing the decks into sharp 
relief; and in the sudden transition from darkness 
there fell, as suddenly, a bated stillness, a silence, an 


24 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


eerie and uncanny silence. And to Kenneth Wayne it 
seemed to last interminably, and the climbing forms, 
some half naked, some in fuller, if more fantastic 
dress, swarming over the ship’s sides, clustering upon 
the rails for the leap to the deck, seemed for that 
same long, interminable space of time to have been 
robbed of movement, to have been transformed, as 
though at some supernatural touch, into grotesquely 
poised, inanimate things. The mind is swift in the 
etching of a picture. He was conscious of an impres¬ 
sion of gargoyles . , the whites of eyes out of 
myriad dark faces . . , the glint of a light ray on the 
naked blade of a kris . . . the lewd gayness of a 
multi-coloured sarong. 

And then a white man’s laugh, full, throaty—and 
Dorkin’s gun was in action, its roar echoed on the 
instant by MacNee’s gun aft. Screams, a hell’s babel, 
suddenly filled the air. The foredeck was a seething 
mass of shrieking fiends as they came in a flood over 
the sides of the ship—and as suddenly, too, the fore¬ 
deck became a shambles. Some fell, some rose again 
—and rushed forward—and fell. The machine gun 
under the bridge sprayed its murderous rain of lead 
from port to starboard, from starboard to port, swept 
the ship’s rails, played full along the deck. 

Kenneth Wayne leaned over the weathercloth and 
calmly emptied his revolver. There was a tall man 
in white garb with a great crimson sash, quite evidently 
the leader. The man seemed to bear a charmed life. 
Blamed queer! The man’s followers were going 
down like swatted flies around him. Good old Dor- 
kin ! They’d had enough of it for a first dose—they 
were springing back over the rails again. 

Kenneth Wayne reloaded his revolver, and fired 
again—at the crimson sash. No luck! The man had 


THE MAN WITH THE CRIMSON SASH 25 

disappeared over the side. It was a strange sight out 
there. The light rays did not penetrate very far, and 
at their extreme edge they merged in a weird, filmy, 
misty way into a wall of blackness; but as far as one 
could see innumerable small proas were massed 
solidly together like some bizarre pontoon bridge sur¬ 
rounding the ship, and upon this a horde of fantastic 
figures ran hither and thither, yelling and screaming. 

There was Crimson Sash again! Kenneth Wayne 
fired with steady, deliberate aim. Damn it, why 
couldn’t he hit the fellow! The man was leaping from 
proa to proa, shouting furiously, rallying his men. 
And now he had vanished from sight again. 

The fire from the machine guns slackened. 

From aft a Scotch voice bellowed suddenly forth 
in uproarious and exultant song: 

“The Campbells are coming . . . Hurrah . . . 
Hurrah . . .” 

Above the tumult came Dorkin’s voice hailing the 
bridge: 

“That’s giving ’em what’s o’clock, sir! I fancy 
they’ve got their bellies full. S’help me, if the old 
Waratan ain’t got a carpet for her foredeck out of 
the swine. Look at ’em out there! Artistic colour 
scheme, I calls it, and-” 

“Stand by!” Old Man Wayne’s voice broke in 
sharply. “Here they come—amidships!” 

Kenneth Wayne jumped for the end of the bridge 
nearer him—the port side—and looked over. From 
a black, seething mass below and amidships came a 
burst of firing, while from the edge of the mass figures 
kept constantly detaching themselves to take the places 
of those who, leaping upward, snatching at the ship’s 
rail, fell squirming, writhing things under the steady 
ripple of revolver and rifle fire that had now been 



26 THE LOCKED BOOK 

begun by the Sevang*s men lying flat along the boat 
deck. 

And they were attacking on the starboard side too. 
The firing from there was quite as heavy as here. And 
now from aft MacNee’s gun was in action again—but 
Dorkin’s gun was silent. Kenneth Wayne swung 
quickly around to stare forward. Figures were creep¬ 
ing up over the forecastle head again, others were 
showing themselves cautiously at the rail sides—and 
Dorkin’s gun was silent. Was the man insane enough 
to have left his gun with the idea of beating off the 
amidships attack against the serang! 

“Dorkin!” he shouted., “What are you about? 
They’re boarding for’ard again! D’ye hear! 
They’re-” 

Above the din, above the shrieks, above the hideous 
squeals of stricken wretches, came Dorkin’s bull-like 
roar, not in answer, but in a sort of volcanic sponta¬ 
neity, as in a blind madness, the man blasphemed his 
gun. Kenneth Wayne caught the sense of it in the one 
word “jammed.” Dorkin’s gun was jammed. They 
were gathering there in greater numbers on the fore¬ 
castle head, but crouching, hesitating, as though sur¬ 
prised at being unmolested. It was meant as a feint 
attack, of course, to keep all hands engaged—like the 
one now in progress at the stern, no doubt; but there 
was every chance that it would develop into the most 
serious one of all. He could not bring MacNee’s gun 
forward—the same situation would then obtain aft. 
No fool, that Crimson Sash! There he was now— 
the centre of a constantly shifting little rgroup that 
came and went across the decks of the intervening 
proas as though receiving and executing his orders. 

Kenneth Wayne levelled his revolver and pulled 
the trigger. The hammer fell with an impotent little 



THE MAN WITH THE CRIMSON SASH 27 

click. Yes, of course; he had emptied it into that mob 
below there for the second time. And now Crimson 
Sash was gone again—this time to disappear, ap¬ 
parently, under the JVaratan’s bow. 

The group on the forecastle head, much larger now, 
and evidently grown bolder, even arrogant in its 
immunity from attack, was beginning to crowd for¬ 
ward. Erom oversides the rails were once more 
swarming with climbing figures. 

Loading as he ran, Kenneth Wayne made for the 
bridge ladder, and gained the boat deck below. 

“Every man you can spare, Sevang!” he shouted. 
“Half to the port and htlf to the foredeck starboard 
ladders! Quick! Look lively! Take the starboard 
ladder yourself. Keep ’em from getting into the 
alleyways below at any cost!” 

He heard the Sevang’s voice, sharp, imperative, 
giving orders; and as he dashed forward now under 
the bridge to take his place on the ladder leading 
down to the foredeck, he was conscious that Dorkin 
still blasphemed his gun as he worked over it. He 
sensed, rather than saw, that a little knot of the crew 
was following him closely to the ladder—but it was 
the foredeck below that was dominant before his 
eyes. It was thronged now with a solid mass of half- 
naked things that' came rushing forward with kris 
blades waving, 9 with the flame-tongues of weapons 
spurting in vicious little flashes, with ferocious, up¬ 
turned, inhuman, working faces, with ear-piercing and 
abominable juries. And they were almost at the foot 
of the ladder—no, on it now—swarming up. 

He met the rush—firing. A man dropped before 
him—another. He struck with his fists—gained a step. 
A kris blade swun^f and missed his shoulder. He 
laughed as he fought. There was Crimson Sash once 




28 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


more—just at the bottom of the ladder. He could see 
the man’s face now—a handsome face for a native— 
smiling—smiling with cool malignancy. Why ? What 
was the man smiling for? Yes, quite so! Over a 
naked, intervening shoulder the man was drawing a 
bead on him with a revolver. He felt himself suddenly 
pushed violently to one side from behind, half flung 
against the ladder rail. A spit of flame was in his 
face, scorching his cheek, but Crimson Sash had 
missed. Lucky push, by God—lucky push— 

A body from behind fell against him, slithered 
curiously past him and lay sprawled upon the ladder, 
face upturned—a white man’s face. And something 
took possession of Kenneth Wayne that seemed to 
blast asunder the soul itself within him. He screamed 
as a maniac screams, and as a maniac he launched 
himself into the ruck down the ladder. He struck and 
struck with his knotted fist, and fired until his revolver 
was empty—and then used the butt of it to smash 
the faces that danced before his eyes. And they gave 
before his advance, slashing at him. And he became 
not a goodly thing to see—his clothing torn and 
hanging from him—his body bloody. He pressed on. 
He wanted Crimson Sash . . . Crimson Sash . . . 
for a white man’s face lay upturned back there upon 
the ladder . . . and it was the face of Old Man 
Wayne. . . . 

“Come back, sir! For the love of God, come 
back!” 

He heard the words. But they meant nothing. It 
was just Dorkin shouting. A great lust was upon 
him. There were more to kill—still more to kill. 
Many of them—but not enough. Not enough—all of 
them would not pay for Old Man Wayne—for Old 
Man Wayne was dead. 


THE MAN WITH THE CRIMSON SASH 29 

They closed around him, hanging to him, grappling 
with him, like a wolf pack with fastened teeth worry¬ 
ing its prey to earth. And they closed over him. But 
the great shoulders of the man heaved upward once 
again, and in his hands he held and wielded with a 
strength that only madness gave a shrieking, squirm¬ 
ing thing of life. And for a moment he cleared a 
space around him with this human bludgeon that 
he swung by the naked legs—and then a blow fell— 
and darkness came upon him. 

When he opened his eyes he was in his cabin. The 
one light burning was shaded. He struggled up to a 
sitting posture on his bunk. He was bandaged in 
many places, and the bandages were red where the 
blood had oozed through. He heard the steady throb 
of the engines. He felt the vibration, the movement, 
the life of the ship. 

He was conscious, even acutely aware of all these 
things, but they seemed to be extraneous, apart, of no 
moment. There was a sense of profound depression 
upon him that took precedence. He cupped his chin 
in his hands. What was it? Ah, yes; he knew! For 
what had been fullest, best, of greatest worth in life 
had been substituted something that gnawed now with 
bitter agony at his heart. Yes; he knew! He had 
known it all through the night—long before it had 
happened. He had known that it was to be up there 
on the bridge when— 

The door opened. Dorkin came in. 

“Oh, you’ve come around, have you, sir!” the mate 
cried cheerily. “But you’d better lie down, sir. I’ll 
carry on till you’re fit. MacNee’s got his engines going, 
as you can tell, and everything’s all right. It was the 
jamming of that gun, after all, I’m thinking, that 
saved us. You see, they thought they had us then, and 


30 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


the whole bally lot of ’em left off everywhere else to 

have a go at us from the foredeck. Packed full, it 

was, of ’em—thick till there wasn’t standing room. 
And then I got the gun cleared—they’d left you 
for dead on the deck, sir—and it mowed ’em down, 

and they broke and ran, those of ’em as could, 

and-” 

“Where is Old Man Wayne?” Kenneth Wayne 
had not lifted his head from hifc cupped hands; he 
spoke in a monotone, abruptly, as though unconscious 
of the other’s words. 

Dorkin’s hand, raised in his excitement to punctuate 
his story, dropped with a sudden, queer irresponsi¬ 
bility to his side. He coughed deep in his throat. He 
made no other answer. 

Kenneth Wayne spoke again in the same monotone: 

“He is dead. I know that. I knew it all along. 
He told me he saw my mother’s eyes smiling at him up 
there on the bridge. I knew it then. Why don’t 
you answer my question? It’s simple enough, isn’t it? 
Where is Old Man Wayne?” 

“In—in his cabin, sir,” said Dorkin huskily. 

Kenneth Wayne got up from the bunk, staggered, 
and then steadied himself on his feet. 

“Stop, sir!” Dorkin cried out. “You mustn’t 
get up, sir! You’re not lit. You’ve near bled to 
death as it is.” 

Kenneth Wayne started for the door. He kept 
swinging his right hand in front of him mechanically 
as though to sweep some obstruction from his path. 
His other hand he kept brushing across his forehead. 
He began to mumble to himself. 

“My God!” whispered Dorkin—and reached out 
to block the way. 

But Kenneth Wayne turned with a snarl, with both 



THE MAN WITH THE CRIMSON SASH 31 

hands clenched, with both hands raised above his head. 
And then he laughed as the mate fell back. He went 
on again—out on deck, and around to the port deck- 
cabin just aft of the bridge. He opened the door and 
stepped inside, fumbled for the electric-light switch 
and found it. A form covered with a sheet lay on the 
settee. He drew back the sheet and stared at Old 
Man Wayne. He made no sound. His face was 
expressionless in the sense that it seemed incapable of 
anything but fixed immobility—its lines drawn, 
pinched, sharp, as though chiselled there upon some 
pallid, stone-like surface. His only movement was 
a slight swaying of the body from unsteady feet. 
After a time he replaced the sheet and went on deck 
again. 

He lifted his face to the breeze. It was grateful. 

It was dark along the decks now. But there were 
shadows dodging here and there. That was Dorkin 
there—and for some reason the man seemed to be 
trailing him. Damn Dorkin! And besides Dorkin 
there was the Sevang over there. What was the 
serang up to, messing around under one of the boats 
there, and making a worrying noise like a dog at a 
bone? 

Kenneth Wayne called out querulously: 

“What are you doing there, sevangV } 

“It is but one of the pigs’ litter, O master, hiding 
and wounded unto death,” the Sevang answered. 

Kenneth Wayne lunged forward across the deck. 
The Sevang , a knife in his hand, was dragging clear 
of the boat chocks a Malay who was evidently very 
badly wounded, but who still snarled defiance as he 
gasped for breath. Kenneth Wayne stared for a 
moment at the Malay in a puzzled way. He was 
conscious of a great confusion in his head—and then, 


32 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


through the confusion, in a rush of passion that would 
brook no denial of its purpose, there seemed suddenly 
to be revealed to him the fact that this gasping thing 
at his feet possessed something of inestimable worth 
that must be yielded up. He snatched the knife from 
the Sevang’s hand, and held it against the Malay’s 
throat. 

“Speak!” he said hoarsely in the native tongue. 
“What island do you come from? Give me its name, 
and the name of your chief!” 

The Malay shook his head. 

“I have no mercy!” Kenneth Wayne shouted out. 
“You hear, you devil’s spawn? The name of your 
island and your chief! Quick! Tell all, or you die!” 

The Malay now made a weak effort to raise his 
head. He spat at the hand that held the knife. 

“Am I a fool?” The man’s voice rattled in his 
throat; his features worked with mingled ferocity and 
hate. “Great is the white man, but this he will never 
know! Am I a fool that I should tell? I die to-night 
of my wounds—or I go to be hanged—or I die by that 
knife. I die. Strike! Who is the fool?” 

For a moment, his fingers twitching, Kenneth 
Wayne held the knife pricking at the other’s throat 
—and then suddenly he flung it upon the deck. 

“There are others, Sevang’’ he said, in a queer, 
confidential way. “Others who ave fools, and will 
talk. Take me to them.” 

“There are none, O master,” answered the 
Sevang. “Those of the wounded who had the strength 
threw themselves overboard.” 

“But the others—who had not the strength—like 
this man?” 

The Sevang shook his head. 

“When the leash is slipped,” he said tonelessly, 


THE MAN WITH THE CRIMSON SASH 33 

“it may not always be replaced until the scent is cold. 
As thou hast said, O master, this man hid; but unless 
there be also those that have done likewise— and who 
have not yet been found —there are no others alive. 
Such toll as could has been taken for a certain thing 
of which thou knowest.” He stopped and looked 
down. The Malay with a convulsive movement had 
stiffened out and now lay still. “And now this one 
too”—he prodded the form with his foot—“is like¬ 
wise dead.” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne—and rocked a little on 
his feet. His own voice sounded a long way off. 
Queer about that! He gripped suddenly at the 
Sevang’s arm. “Listen!” he said. “There was Crim¬ 
son Sash. Did you mark a man amongst all those you 
speak of, a tall man with a crimson sash—like the 
colour of blood—like a band of blood around his 
waist ?” 

The serang nodded gravely. 

“Him I saw in the fighting, O master,” he said; 
“and once afterwards on the deck of a proa as it 
sailed away.” 

“It is well!” said Kenneth Wayne. He rubbed his 
hand across his eyes. What made the deck keep 
rising up and down like that—like a cursed see-saw? 
And here was Dorkin again! “Go away!” he 
mumbled—and reeled heavily against the mate. “Go 
away, I tell you ! I—I-” 

And then for the second time that night darkness 
fell upon Kenneth Wayne. 



— Ill — 


SALABAM 

A UTHORITY took prompt action. A gunboat 
steamed with all speed to the latitude and 
longitude indicated by a little red cross on the 
Warataris chart—all that marked, or ever could 
mark, the grave of Old Man Wayne. The lieutenant- 
commander in charge of the punitive expedition was 
a man of experience, resource, and infinite determina¬ 
tion. He had been chosen for those qualities. He 
visited many islands, for there were many in that 
neighbourhood, and he found a score or more of 
peaceful native villages nestling upon the shores—but 
he found no stronghold. There were proas in every 
village, but nowhere in number more than were re¬ 
quired for the fishing upon which the livelihood of the 
villagers depended. He met with open-handed 
hospitality—which did not deceive him. His ques¬ 
tions, some none too gently pressed, brought him small 
reward. There was no head chief, no rajah over all 
the villages—only the head man of each village. Of 
what profit was it that there should be more than a 
headman over each village? They were of the Orang- 
laut, it was true; but they were not robbers. If there 
had been evil done, which was not to be questioned 
since the ship with the guns that spoke with a great 
noise had come, then it must have been those of the 
Orang-laut who lived always on the sea, and who had 
come far from the east, or the west, or the south, or 
34 


SALABAM 


35 


the north. The anger of the white men was greatly to 
be feared. They were not madmen to desire that 
anger. The great white chief had eyes with which to 
see that they spoke only the truth. 

The lieutenant-commander was not deceived—he 
was beaten. He returned to his base. His official 
report was couched in language that accorded with 
the regulations; but verbally, as man to man in the 
admiral’s cabin, he permitted himself more license: 

“If I’d had a shred of evidence, sir, I’d have made 
an example of some of them that wouldn’t be for¬ 
gotten for two generations—and I wish to God I’d 
had it! We’ll never get them this way, sir. To 
begin with, they’re all in it together; and in the 
second place there’s not one of them dares talk because 
they’ve most unpleasant methods of putting a man 
to death. I’m positive they’ve a secret rendezvous 
somewhere out there, and that there’s a head swine 
running the job who has every last one of them under 
his thumb—but, damn it, sir, it’s uncanny the way 
word passes about amongst them. They’re ready 
for a gunboat ages before she reaches their waters. 
It’s not much of a trick to divide up a fleet of proas 
among a couple of dozen islands, or metamorphose 
overnight—their architecture being a bit primitive— 
what might have been their murdering metropolis into 
a stinking, poverty-stricken fishing village!” He 
smiled grimly by way of preface to his peroration. 
“There’s only one way I know of to put an end to it, 
and that’s to wipe the lot of them off the earth—and 
let the evidence go hang!” 

And so officially the matter was at an end when 
Kenneth Wayne became convalescent from the wounds 
of that night of some two months ago. He had no 
quarrel with the official result. What else could have 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


36 

been expected? The lieutenant-commander had made 
no mistake in his summing up of the situation. The 
function of a gunboat was to punish; and where a 
thousand eyes watched in derision, and a thousand 
tongues lied in unison, it almost inevitably defeated its 
own ends if at one and the same time it must secure 
for itself the evidence necessary to justify the infliction 
of that punishment. Also there was a “head swine” 
as the lieutenant-commander supposed. There was 
Crimson Sash. Crimson Sash had lived in all those 
weeks and days and hours of delirium during which he, 
Kenneth Wayne, had hovered with his wounds and 
fever between life and death, as a figure sometimes 
shadowy and ghostlike in a vague and filmy way, 
sometimes towering over him in monstrous reality, 
but always elusive, a malignant thing that robbed 
him of rest in his great weariness because he constantly 
sought to follow it that he might crush it, strike it, 
kill it, obliterate it—but just why all this should be 
so he could never quite make out. And then, with 
returning consciousness, convalescence had set in and 
it had become very plain and very clear, and he had 
understood. He had a rendezvous with Crimson Sash 
—for Old Man Wayne was dead, and the gunboat 
had failed. 

And it was a rendezvous that he would keep. It 
was a silent pledge. He made the pledge to Old Man 
Wayne, and thereby it became irrevocable. It was a 
rendezvous that he would keep. 

Kenneth Wayne left Singapore ostensibly to rest 
and recuperate. As Old Man Wayne would have 
done, he gave his senior captain the shore manage¬ 
ment of the little fleet, and Dorkin moved up to the 
command of the War at an. Kenneth Wayne, in this 
reorganisation which he inaugurated, contented him- 


SALABAM 


37 

self personally with the acquisition of a small mining- 
prospector’s kit, which consisted in the main of a bottle 
each of hydrochloric and sulphuric acid, a magnifying 
glass and a prospector’s hammer, to which he added a 
few text books for the sake of “colour,” and notably 
amongst these a rather ponderous volume on metal¬ 
lurgy. Thus armed, from Singapore he went to Palem- 
bang—not by one of his own boats—where he was 
little known, and where very many vessels of strange 
register and description come and go. And here 
among the rakits, or floating houses of the River 
Moesi, he disappeared. Thereafter, by devious ways, 
while a month and still another went by, he journeyed 
many miles, now by this boat and now by that, until, 
satisfied that trace of him was lost, he took passage on 
a small and frowsy tramp steamer whose immediate 
itinerary coincided with his own, and one afternoon 
followed his gear over her rusty side as she dropped 
anchor in the little harbour of Salabam. 

He had reached what might be called his pivotal 
destination. 

From the native boat that carried him ashore, he 
took stock of the little town, shimmering in the heat 
haze, as it straggled at loose ends along the shore line 
of the bay. In its general appearance it differed in no 
way from any other town on any other island below 
the equator. Kenneth Wayne’s dark eyes, clear now 
with restored health, lighted with a flicker of grim 
humour. Its table-legs, for instance, would be im¬ 
mersed in water containers in the same old abortive 
effort to check the onslaught of ants upon one’s food! 
And there was the hotel—all, or nearly all, bar down¬ 
stairs, no doubt; sleeping rooms off the verandah 
above. The same man had built them all—thousands 
of ’em! And there was the population of the town on 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


38 

the beach—the arrival of even the woe-begone, cock¬ 
roach-laden tramp out there was an event. Mostly na¬ 
tives, of course! All sorts—Bugis, Negritoes, Klings, 
the lighter brown Battas, a goodly sprinkling of 
Chinese. And a few whites—the expatriates! A riot 
of colour—both in complexion and dress! 

He disembarked. 

A slim little man in a rather dirty white suit pressed 
forward effusively. 

“Ah, monsieur! Permit me!” The man removed 
a gun-case from Kenneth Wayne’s hand. “Monsieur 
is for the hotel, is he not?” 

Kenneth Wayne found himself inspecting the other 
somewhat too critically perhaps, and therefore smiled 
disarmingly. The Frenchman—the man was obvi¬ 
ously a Frenchman—had a shrewd, thin face with a 
goatee, which latter seemed to give a sort of Mephis- 
tophelesian touch to his features. Not very old—bor¬ 
dering forty, at a guess. Noticeably small eyes—jet 
black, and most amazingly restless. 

Kenneth Wayne nodded. 

“Yes,” he said. 

“Excellent P’ cried the Frenchman. “Leave all to 
me, monsieur. I am the proprietor.” He turned and 
shrieked at some natives in a vernacular most atro¬ 
ciously mispronounced and stilted, but which, however, 
seemed to be understood without difficulty for it re¬ 
sulted in an immediate scurry for the baggage. “This 
way, monsieur! Permit me to introduce myself. My 
name is Fouche, Nicholas Fouche, monsieur, at your 
service.” 

“Mine’s Wayne,” said Kenneth Wayne briefly, as 
he followed his self-appointed guide through the little 
crowd. 

“Yes!” said Monsieur Nicholas Fouche. “I am 


SALABAM 


39 

delighted! And monsieur, no doubt, has come to buy 
or sell. Naturally! Well, he will find good business 
here in resin, and pepper, and edible nests, and woods 
of all kinds, and many other things, to say nothing of 
beche-de-mer. Salabam, as monsieur must know very 
well, is renowned for its beche-de-mer. Many proas 
are engaged in the trade. Or, if monsieur has not 
come to buy, then-” 

“No,” said Kenneth Wayne quietly; “or to sell, 
either.” 

“Ah!” exclaimed the Frenchman. “I see! Mon¬ 
sieur, then, is a tourist.” 

“God forbid!” ejaculated Kenneth Wayne with fer¬ 
vent spontaneity. “Imagine any one sight-seeing in 
Salabam!” 

“Heh?” Monsieur Nicholas Fouche halted on the 
beach, and turned around to stare into Kenneth 
Wayne’s face. Then he began to laugh softly. “Ah!” 
said he. “Yes, monsieur, yes! Monsieur has a sense 
of humour. It was like a prayer, monsieur—like a 
prayer. Monsieur has his own opinion of tourists. 
They flit, flit, flit—do they not?” He waved his hand 
in a series of jerky little motions. “Like that, eh? 
And they never stay long enough anywhere to remem¬ 
ber where they are, or the place they last came from. 
Is it not so? And they all speak the same language. 
How very interesting! How extraordinary! I ask 
monsieur’s pardon. Certainly monsieur is not a 
tourist.” 

Kenneth Wayne did not argue the question. It was 
evident that the revenue from Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche’s hotel was not over-much swollen by the class 
of trade in question. 

“I am interested in mining,” he said. 

“Mining? Ah!” Monsieur Nicholas Fouche laid 



40 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


the length of his forefinger thoughtfully against his 
nose. “Mining, you said? But in all Salabam there 
are no mines, monsieur.” 

“But in the hills there may be minerals,” returned 
Kenneth Wayne. 

“But, yes!” cried Monsieur Fouche with instant and 
encouraging enthusiasm. “Why not? Undoubtedly! 
And time it was looked into, too! Monsieur, no 
doubt, has a government concession which he-” 

Kenneth Wayne interrupted the other with a ready 
laugh and a shrug of the shoulders. It in no way 
suited his book to offend this Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche. The man might prove to be useful—but in 
the meanwhile Monsieur Fouche was beginning to bore 
a bit with his damned, and apparently ingenuous in¬ 
quisitiveness. He had played up to the man enough. 
There was such a thing as overdoing it. 

“Time enough for a concession when there’s any¬ 
thing found to make a concession worth having,” said 
Kenneth Wayne in a pleasantly confidential way; and 
then, abruptly: “Hello, Monsieur Fouche, I see you 
have an invalid as a guest!” 

They had reached the road in front of the hotel, 
and on the wide verandah, which ran around the sec¬ 
ond story, Kenneth Wayne had caught sight of a cot, 
or bed of some kind, in which a grey-haired man was 
propped up with pillows, and from which a thin and 
emaciated face stared out over the railing, evidently 
intent upon the bustle incident to the boat’s arrival. 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche’s finger again went to 
the side of his nose; and his voice dropped to a whis¬ 
per, though by no possibility could his ordinary tones 
have been overheard from the verandah. 

“That is Monsieur Merwood,” whispered Mon¬ 
sieur Nicholas Fouche. “He is a great English savant. 



SALABAM 


4i 


He is a member of some royal society—how do you 
say it?—ah, yes!—of the F. R. S. Imagine, monsieur, 
his accursed luck! Three weeks ago he arrived with 
his daughter, and immediately he is sick with dengue 
fever—what you call the break-bone fever. And he 
is no sooner on his feet again, when—would you 
believe it!—he falls and breaks his leg. Incroyable, 
is it not, monsieur?” 

“A bit tough, at any rate,” said Kenneth Wayne, as 
they crossed the road and entered the hotel. “What’s 
he doing here ?” 

“He is writing a book, monsieur—a scientific book 
—about the natives and the islands. He has been 
everywhere, and he is a man of great learning.” 

“I see,” said Kenneth Wayne—and halted suddenly. 

The door through which they had entered gave on 
a huge and rather bare room. The bar ran the length 
of it, and here and there a few tables were scattered 
about. At one of these tables, the sole occupant of 
the room except for a grinning white-coated native 
behind the bar—the law evidently not being too rig¬ 
orously observed—sat a bedraggled and scare-crow 
specimen of white humanity, his face a reddish purple, 
his battered pith helmet draped over one eye, his 
mouth wide open in inebriate song, his fists abusing the 
table as he strove to keep the tempo. The words came 
thickly: 

An’ when I die, 

Don’t bury me at all, 

Just pickle my bones 
In alcohol. 

Put a bottle of booze 
At my head and- 


He broke off with a hiccough. 


42 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Why, here’s Nicky Fouche himself!” he cried 
boisterously. “Bloomin’ luck, I calls it! ’Elio, Nicky, 
old top!” 

“Sacre nom!” spluttered the Frenchman, with dark¬ 
ened face. “You are still here !” 

“Nicky,” said the man in grave complaint, “that 
cary-carycashure behind the bar shays he’s run out of 
chalk. Give him ’nothser piece. You savvy me, 
Nicky”—he dropped a knowing eyelid—“my credit 
ain’t all used up yet.” 

“Sacre nom!” exploded the Frenchman again. “I 
will talk to you in a minute!” He turned to Kenneth 
Wayne. “This way, monsieur!” And then, as they 
passed on into a hallway and began to mount the 
stairs: “A beachcomber, monsieur—an English one— 
a—a”—he was still spluttering in his wrath—“a 
maudlt leech! He will die some day with the gin. I 
hope it will be soon!” 

Kenneth Wayne made no answer. The genus 
beachcomber was ubiquitous, and, in view of that fact, 
the only curious thing about the incident was an ex¬ 
pression—gone on the instant—that he had caught 
in Monsieur Fouche’s eyes. A bit sinister, it had 
seemed—hardly warranted under the circumstances. 
It was none of his business, however! 

They emerged on one side of the wide verandah. 
He was ushered into a room. His belongings followed 
him. The Frenchman appeared suddenly to have lost 
his garrulity, and to be in a hurry to depart. 

“If monsieur desires anything,” said Monsieur 
Nicholas Fouche, backing toward the door, “he need 
only-” 

“Not a thing,” said Kenneth Wayne pleasantly. 

The door closed. 

Kenneth Wayne had need of but a cursory survey 



SALABAM 


43 


of his surroundings. The room, with its mosquito- 
nettejd bed, its bit of mat upon the floor, the wash- 
stand of inexpensive make—shipped knock-down, prob¬ 
ably, like the chairs—was but the counterpart of every 
other room in every island hotel he had ever been in. 
The thin partitions, of course, offered a certain pri¬ 
vacy—but at once mocked it by echoing every sound 
both from within and without. It was airy and com¬ 
fortable enough when there was any breeze to blow 
through the window shutters or the slatted door; but 
at the present moment it was hot—insufferably hot— 
the worst of the afternoon. 

He flung himself down on the bed. Well, he was 
this far! Salabam! The town here itself perhaps 
held the information he wanted, but a white man could 
not prowl around the native quarters of a town with¬ 
out arousing suspicion and instantly, like the gunboat, 
defeating his own ends. The flicker of a smile in which 
there was no humour crossed his lips. To-morrow, or 
the next day, he would begin—prospecting! Not far 
inland, but along the coast where it would bring him 
into contact with the native villages bordering on the 
sea. Here on this island first—and thereafter God 
knew where! Salabam was the nearest civilised point, 
if it could be called civilised, to that red cross marked 
on the Warataris chart. That was all. Salabam was 
headquarters; it established him, as it were, in the eyes 
of the natives. He was the white man from the hotel 
in Salabam who sought gold in the rocks of the hills. 
He would not find it— but all white men were mad. 

Old Man Wayne was dead. He turned on his side, 
and stared in a blank, introspective way at the wall. 
That was why he was in Salabam—to find Crimson 
Sash. He was conscious it struck him as incongruous 
that he experienced no degree of either mental or 


44 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


physical hysteria—no, that was not quite what he 
meant—rather, that he knew no marked outbursts of 
passion, no moments when he was stirred into outward 
expression by an onrush of either grief or fury. Some¬ 
thing cataclysmic had taken place in his life with the 
murder of Old Man Wayne, and yet he knew only a 
calm resolve to bring Old Man Wayne’s murderer to 
account; something implacable about that resolve, 
though—something final, absolute—something that 
neither knew nor brooked denial. And it was fed by 
something, always fed by something; something, he 
recognised subconsciously, that smouldered always be¬ 
neath the surface; something that, in those vague 
snatches of delirium which he remembered out of his 
illness, had so often burst suddenly, in violence and 
fury, into raging flame, and that—he knew this as he 
knew he breathed, or moved, or spoke, or saw—some 
day would again. 

Crimson Sash 1 Somewhere here in these islands was 
the man the gunboat could not find. The natives 
knew; but the natives did not talk to white men. They 
talked amongst themselves, though! And if a white 
man listened, a white man who had known the native 
tongue from infancy, he might learn many things—if 
it were not known that the white man, who needed an 
interpreter that he might ask even for food and drink, 
could understand even as one of themselves. 

It was insufferably hot, a sticky heat—full of drowsi¬ 
ness. The drowsiness was gradually stealing over him. 
His thoughts came more in snatches—mental ramblings 
on the verge of dreams. 

That little red cross on the Waratan’s chart was 
many miles away from Salabam; but the proas that 
had gathered at that little red cross had, too, come 
from many miles away—gathered from many islands. 


SALABAM 


45 

. . . Salabam was not so far but that there should be 
huts even on this island here where women waited for 
men who would never return. . . . He must find an 
interpreter—ought not to be very difficult. . . . And 
men to carry the bits of rock that he chipped off with 
his prospector’s hammer. . . . Organise the little 
expedition—boat, and all that sort of thing. . . No 
chance of being personally known here—none of the 
Wayne boats had ever touched at Salabam, and the 
Waratan had only been in the neighbourhood because 
she had been on special charter. . . . Like the other 
end of the world so far as the Archipelago went. . . . 
And besides it was nearly four months ago now. . . . 
No one would associate a mining prospector with a 
sea captain. . . . The name meant nothing—Wayne 
was a common name. . . , He might have changed it, 
of course—but he had had an antipathy to that. . . . 
Impossible to imagine Old Man Wayne changing his 
name. . . . Queer thing, native telepathy—damned 
queer thing—ahead of the white man’s wireless—un¬ 
canny. . . . But at least it wouldn’t have heralded his 
coming the way it had the gunboat’s—that was why 
he had taken so much trouble in getting here. . . . 
There would be talk in the native huts—whispers. 
, . . They wouldn’t call the man Crimson Sash, of 
course. . . . Perhaps the man didn’t wear it any 
more. . . . But the face could not change. ... It 
would be the same face—Crimson Sash. . . . 

His eyes closed. 

It was late afternoon when he awoke. Still heavy 
with sleep, he raised himself on his elbow under the 
impression that some one was talking to him. He 
looked around the room. There wasn’t any one here, 
but decidedly there were voices. He sat suddenly up¬ 
right now. There were low voices—voices in earnest 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


46 

whisper. It was hard to tell where they came from— 
whether from outside the door on the verandah, or 
from an adjoining room. The thin partitions were 
nothing but veritable sounding-boards anyway—con¬ 
fusing. 

He caught bits of the conversation: 

. . Pouf! There is but one safe way, sacre nom! 
You understand?” 

“But your safe way is dangerous.” 

The first speaker was obviously Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche; but something in the other voice brought a 
perplexed frown to Kenneth Wayne. The English 
was faultless; but there was something in the vowel 
sounds, an almost indistinguishable gutturalness, as he 
defined it to himself, that denied a native-born English 
tongue. Ah, yes—he had it. German ! 

“Bah! Is any fuss made over a stray dog? Well, 
is it not the same, mon ami? Listen! If he knows a 
little, a very little about me—it matters very little. 
He but cuts off his own nose if he talks. He is not fool 
enough for that. But if he finds out something else— 
eh? Something that he can sell for money—eh? 
That is different. Mille cochons! It is not only dif¬ 
ferent, it is dangerous for some one that perhaps you 
can name.” 

“Are you sure?” demanded the German voice. 
“How do you know?” 

“I will tell you,” said Monsieur Nicholas Fouche— 
and still further lowered his voice. 

And thereafter there was only an unintelligible 
murmur, which presently died away. 

Kenneth Wayne was frowning in perplexity again. 
A Frenchman and a German—with English as the 
common medium of expression between them. Neither 
the termination of the war nor the years that had 


SALABAM 


47 


followed had yet made bed-fellows of the two again. 
It would require a very strong motive, or a very 
shabby one, for that! Yes, that was it—a very shabby 
one. Who ever heard of a Frenchman and a German 
in these days hobnobbing together out of mutual 
admiration and esteem! 

None of his business, of course! Their talk, what 
he had sensed of it, had been shabby; but they certainly 
had not been talking about him. He had other busi¬ 
ness in Salabam than to concern himself with an in¬ 
trigue—a shabby intrigue—between a Frenchman and 
a German. 

Nicky Fouche! That’s what the beachcomber, full 
to the guards, had called the proprietor. Intimate 
sort of appellation—Nicky! Nicky Fouche! The 
name had a flavour. It smacked of Things! Sounded 
a bit apache-like, somehow. Perhaps it would be just 
as well if he kept an eye on his bill. He had thought 
of enlisting Nicky Fouche’s assistance in securing a 
man to act as interpreter for the mining trip. He 
decided now he wouldn’t. He looked at his watch. 
It was dinner-time. 

He flung one leg out over the bed preparatory to 
getting up—and remained for a little while in that 
position motionless. Salabam seemed to be teeming 
with extraneous little incidents that, so to speak, kept 
brushing shoulders with him. For the second time 
that afternoon he was listening to a song. Not at all 
like the first one! And there was no trouble in telling 
where it came from, as there had been with the whis¬ 
pering voices. It floated in from around the corner of 
the verandah from about where the English scientist 
with the broken leg lay on his cot. But it wasn’t the 
old man who was singing. It was a girl’s voice. He 
listened. The voice was sweet, clear and true; but 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


48 

there was something else in it, too—sincerity, feeling. 
Perhaps it was the home-song itself that accounted for 
that. He listened until the last notes died away: 

. . . Devon . . . 

Glorious Devon. 

He swung his other leg to the floor. 

“That’s the old chap’s daughter, of course,” he 
informed himself. “Miss Merwood.” 

He fell to humming as he plunged his face in a 
basin of water: 

. . . Devon . . . 

Glorious Devon. 


— IV 


FELLOW GUESTS 

T HE food was not heartily inviting. Kenneth 
Wayne, as his piece de resistance, ate an alli¬ 
gator pear. It seemed to distinguish him, set 
him apart, as it were, from the ants and flies that 
appeared to like his choice less than any other item 
of the fare set before them. They were not, how¬ 
ever, above showing a certain friendly community of 
interest even in this, though each in turn eventually 
and politely retreated from the vinegar with which he 
mixed his dressing. 

He found himself experiencing a vague sense of 
disappointment—not at all definable—and in no way 
connected with the unpalatable viands. He was fully 
acclimatised to such a table. He had known what he 
would have to eat, or not eat, before he sat down. 
Nicky Fouche’s hotel in Salabam, as he had before 
remarked to himself, could not be expected to differ— 
at least for the better, being in a most out-of-the-way 
place—from a hundred other hostelries on a hundred 
other islands that were themselves alike. 

The dining room itself was a reproduction of every 
other dining room—even to its adjacent location to 
the bar on the ground floor. It held six or seven 
tables. They expressed optimism. They were all 
vacant except his own and one, a little larger than the 
others, that stood over against the side wall. There 
were five men at this table, ranging from youth to 
49 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


50 

well over middle age. He knew who they were; he 
knew all about them. They were in every dining room. 
They were the White Bachelors of the Tropics. They 
were clerks and planters’ agents and that sort of thing, 
and perhaps one had a government job. They drank 
gin and tonic because the climate induced thirst, and 
they drank it until they came to like it too well, which 
was bad for the liver. They quarrelled a good bit 
because they saw too much of each other and no one 
else and couldn’t help it. They called their jobs vile 
names and the place of their sojourn still viler ones, 
and swore they would sell their souls for a sight of 
old Piccadilly—and stayed to dice with a game of 
strange lure and seductiveness that was rarely beaten. 
They were going home next year. Rather! They had 
all nodded to him with the easy camaraderie of white 
men in far places. 

Kenneth Wayne dug unenthusiastically at his alli¬ 
gator pear. There was no one else in the dining room. 
He had rather expected to find the girl with the voice 
here. He had glanced around the corner of the 
verandah when he had left his room, and she had not 
been there with her father. She hadn’t sung any more, 
though he had listened. The thought of song brought 
to mind the inebriated beachcomber. Not very com¬ 
plimentary to the girl! The beachcomber wasn’t here, 
either. Perhaps his credit didn’t extend this far; or 
perhaps the point of physical inability had been reached 
—temporarily indisposed. He wasn’t singing in the 
bar, anyhow. 

Kenneth Wayne pushed his chair back finally, and, 
with a nod to the table of five, strolled out in front of 
the hotel. He lighted a cigarette, and, as he crossed 
the road toward the beach, glanced back. She was up 
there on the verandah now with her father. They 


FELLOW GUESTS 


5i 

were being served there, he could see. That accounted 
for her not having been in the dining room. He caught 
a glimpse of fair hair—nothing of the face which was 
bent over the table, and likewise partially hidden by 
the verandah railing. 

He went on along the beach. According to Nicky 
Fouche, Mr. Merwood and his daughter had been 
here a number of weeks. In a purely impersonal way, 
he very much wanted to see Miss Merwood, talk to 
her, and talk to her father—but particularly to her. 
Perhaps that was really the cause of that sense of dis¬ 
appointment in the dining room. Mr. Merwood had 
been ill ever since he had been here, and probably 
wouldn’t be of much help; but Miss Merwood, who 
had had to do everything for the two of them, must 
have picked up a lot of information that would prove 
valuable. There were the questions he had now 
decided not to ask Nicky Fouche, for instance. 

Kenneth Wayne finished his cigarette and lighted 
another. He walked up and down the beach, his hands 
in his pockets, and finally stood still for a long time 
watching the tramp steamer on which he had arrived 
put out to sea again. And then, as he watched, a grim 
smile came to his lips, and a grim wonder to his mind. 
By to-morrow, or the next day, and through many to¬ 
morrows thereafter, he would be in a situation where 
a slip on his part, a very little slip indeed, would be 
the end of it all. He wondered when and by what 
means he would eventually leave Salabam—if ever? 
He laughed outright suddenly, in a low, harsh way. 
Why wonder? He had no quarrel with the price that 
he might have to pay, had he? He might not get out 
of it alive; he was not at all sure that he would—but 
he was conscious of a sure and certain foreknowledge 
that even so he would not have failed because he 


52 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


would have for company the man he had come to find. 
It was only a question of price and he was prepared to 
pay. Old Man Wayne’s grave could never be found 
again either, for that matter! 

He swung sharply on his heel, and returned to the 
hotel. And on the verandah, a few moments later, 
noticing that their table had been cleared away, he 
bowed to the white-haired man on the cot, and to the 
girl sitting beside it, whose face he saw now for the 
first time—and yet he could not say it was precisely a 
face he saw—it was more the impression of a wisp of 
gold-red hair attractively truant in the light breeze, 
and blue eyes that smiled calmly into his in uncon¬ 
ventional appraisal. 

“I hope I am not intruding,” he said, addressing the 
occupant of the cot. “My name is Wayne—Kenneth 
Wayne. Monsieur Fouche told me of the uncommonly 
bad luck you’ve had, sir, here.” 

The white-haired man extended his hand. 

“On the contrary, Mr. Wayne,” he said cordially, 
“you are very welcome. My daughter, Miss Merwood 
—Mr. Wayne.” 

Laughingly she, too, extended her hand. 

“We’ve heard all about you, too—from Monsieur 
Fouche,” she said. “Father saw you coming from the 
steamer this afternoon. An arrival in Salabam is an 
event, and we were wondering if you were going to 
ignore us utterly. Won’t you sit down, Mr. Wayne?” 

Kenneth Wayne drew up a chair. 

“It’s good of you to put it that way,” he smiled. 
“I have to confess I slept.” 

“Well, so did father, and so did I,” she returned. 
“There’s very little else to do here under the circum¬ 
stances. You are absolved, Mr. Wayne. And so you, 


FELLOW GUESTS 


53 

too—according to the informative Monsieur Fouche 
—propose going into the interior?” 

“Too?” Kenneth Wayne, obtaining permission, 
lighted a cigarette. 

“We were,” amended Mr. Merwood. “But now I 
am almost beginning to despair.” 

Miss Merwood shook her finger chidingly. 

“Now, father! It’s only a matter of a few weeks 
before you’ll be quite as fit as ever, and you know per¬ 
fectly well that the work will be finished in plenty of 
time after all.” 

“Humph!” said Mr. Merwood doubtfully. “I hope 
so, Dorothy. I sincerely hope so.” He turned to 
Kenneth Wayne. “I am engaged in writing a book: on 
Malaysia, which will perhaps in a measure account”— 
he smiled—“for finding us here in this place out of 
the beaten path of tourists. But you, I suppose, are 
very well acquainted with this part of the world, Mr. 
Wayne—particularly this section of the Archipelago?” 

Kenneth Wayne shook his head. 

“Not nearly so well as I would wish,” he answered. 
“In fact, that must really be my excuse for having 
introduced myself. This is my first visit to Salabam, 
and, knowing you had been here some time, I was 
anxious to talk to you. I am going to do a bit of 
prospecting—mining, you know.” 

“So Monsieur Fouche said!” laughed Dorothy 
Merwood. 

Kenneth Wayne turned a sober face. 

“ ‘Nicky’ Fouche, I think,” he corrected, with 
assumed gravity. 

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “How do you know that?” 

“Chap in the bar when I came in this afternoon,” 
he replied. “Slightly under the weather, and perhaps 
therefore unduly intimate.” 


’54 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Her face became at once serious. 

“That’s Glover,” she said. “I’m very sorry for 
him. I—I think he was a gentleman once.” She 
smiled suddenly again. “Then you must have heard 
his song?” 

“And another’s,” said Kenneth Wayne., 

“Oh!” she exclaimed again. A little flush came to 
her cheeks. “Comparisons, sir, are—no, I shan’t say 
it. Father, I interrupted you.” 

“No,” said Mr. Merwood, “I was merely going on 
to say that this country—and I am speaking of the 
Malay Archipelago in general—is, I think, one of the 
places of the earth most worth knowing, and, at the 
same time, one of the least known. Certainly, and 
without qualification, I think I would be safe in saying 
it is one of the most maligned.” 

“Maligned?” Kenneth Wayne repeated question- 
ingly. 

“Why, yes; don’t you think so?” Mr. Merwood, 
suddenly absorbed in his subject, gesticulated earnestly 
with his hands. “Amidst our own so-called civilisation 
what is the common conception of Malaysia? Pre¬ 
cisely what De Barros described as ‘a vile people, 
dwelling more on the sea than on the land, and living 
by fishing and robbing.’ But he was merely describing 
what he called the Cellates, or ‘people of the Straits,’ 
the ‘Sea Gipsies,’ the Orang-laut; and, though it is 
utterly unwarrantable, that is the popular idea of all 
Malaysia to-day. Whereas, as you no doubt know, 
the Malays proper have long been divided socially into 
three distinct groups: the Orang Benua,, or ‘Men of 
the Soil,’ that is, the uncivilised wild tribes; the 
Orang-laut, or ‘Men of the Sea,’ that is, the semi-civi¬ 
lised floating population—and the Orang Malayu, or 
‘Malay men.’ And these latter possess not only a 


FELLOW GUESTS 


55 


civilisation of long standing, but both culture and 
religion, together with a literature rich in ethics, fic¬ 
tion and legendary lore, some of which displays much 
descriptive and poetic power.” 

“I’ve heard they’re very keen on legends,” said 
Kenneth Wayne quietly. “But apart from that, sir, 
I’m afraid I’ve held the popular belief pretty strongly 
myself. I’ve heard of a massacre or two, and a bit of 
filthy work here and there at their hands. One doesn’t 
forget that, sir. And I’ve heard that even to-day on 
sailing ships, or even steamers, they won’t sign on more 
than two or three Malays at the most on account of 
their treachery and what might come of the spread of 
it amongst the native crews.” 

Mr. Merwood nodded his head gravely. 

“I admit all that,” he said. “And that is the pity 
of it—that a whole people should be damned by its 
wretches. But that is merely the sordid side of it, and 
I am very anxious to show the picture in its entirety. 
It is work well worth while, I believe, and that is why 
I have undertaken it. But in reference to yourself, 
Mr. Wayne—and mining. I am very much interested. 
Gold, of course?” 

Kenneth Wayne stared reflectively at the end of his 
cigarette. The ground beneath him appeared sud¬ 
denly to be not altogether too safe. It was quite true 
that he possessed a prospector’s kit with bottles of 
hydrochloric and sulphuric acid, and several highly 
scientific books, but, apart from the few generalities 
he had been able to read, he was dismally ignorant and 
was not prepared to discuss the subject in any degree 
of comfort with a Fellow of the Royal Society. 

“Yes,” he said—and coughed over his cigarette 
smoke. “Yes—gold. There should be gold here.” 

“And tin,” added Mr. Merwood promptly. “Geo- 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


56 

logically, why not? Take the Peninsula. As, of 
course, you know better than I do, the rich stannifer¬ 
ous granites that form its backbone render it perhaps 
the most extensive storehouse of tin in the world. 
And gold, whence the land was known to the ancients 
as the Aurea Chersonesus, is also found, I believe, in 
considerable quantities, both in quartz and in alluvial 
deposits, especially about Mount Ophir, in Pahang, 
Gomichi, Tringganu and Kemaman. Geologically, as 
I said, I do not see why it should not be here. The 
question, I should say, would be whether or not it 
existed in sufficiently paying quantities to warrant 
exploitation.” 

“Exactly, sir,” agreed Kenneth Wayne easily—he 
had the bit in his teeth again. “There’s gold here— 
no doubt of it. But Pm bound to confess the rest of 
it is something of a gamble.” 

“Father’s monopolising the conversation,” com¬ 
plained Dorothy Merwood laughingly. “Do tell us, 
Mr. Wayne, how you propose to find the gold. I 
suppose you’ll go inland and disappear for weeks at a 
stretch ?” 

Kenneth Wayne shook his head. 

“No,” he said; “I think the work can be done more 
easily by boat—the longer distances, I mean. The 
hills, where I think there’s the best chance of quartz, 
rise quite abruptly from the shore on this side of the 
island, you know; and by travelling along the coast by 
boat it would be only a very short trip inland from 
any point where I wanted to stop off.” 

“I see,” she said. “And when do you propose to 
start?” 

Again Kenneth Wayne shook his head, 

“Ah, that!” he smiled. “As soon as I can, of 
course. To-morrow if I could. But it will take a bit 


FELLOW GUESTS 


57 


of doing to get ready. There’s a boat to be obtained, 
and supplies to buy, and a crew of five or six boys to 
hire, and a native to be found who can speak enough 
English to voice the complaints of the others—a sort 
of prime minister, or grand vizier, or boss foreman of 
the gang, or something like that.” 

“Grand Vizier!” Dorothy Merwood leaned im¬ 
pulsively forward in her chair and clapped her hands 
together. “Oh, I wish I had thought of calling him 
that myself! Father, why didn’t I think of it—or why 
didn’t you? Gulab Singh would make a perfectly 

lovely Grand Vizier, turban and all, and-” She 

paused suddenly, and cast a quick, questioning glance 
at her father. “I wonder!” she exclaimed. 

Mr. Merwood nodded. 

“Not a bad idea at all, Dorothy,” he said; “pro¬ 
vided, of course, Mr. Wayne isn’t going to be away 
longer than it is going to take me to get about again. 
Under those conditions he is heartily welcome to 
Gulab Singh.” 

Kenneth Wayne stared in perplexity from one to 
the other. 

Dorothy Merwood laughed vivaciously. 

“Grand Viziers, and the Arabian Nights, and the 
Land of Enchantment!” she cried. “You’ve conjured 
them all up, Mr. Wayne.” She waved her hand airily. 
“You are to imagine that to be a wand. Now, sir— 
presto! You are in possession of your desires—a 
boat, supplies, a native crew, and your Grand Vizier 
who can speak English. And I think you may even 
start to-morrow, if you wish.” 

“My word!” said Kenneth Wayne a little help¬ 
lessly, as he joined in her laugh. “I wouldn’t dare 
presume to question your powers of magic, but-” 

“Oh, it’s quite simple!” she said naively. “All 




. THE LOCKED BOOK 


58 

magic is—when you know how it’s done. You see, 
though we were going into the interior, we had much 
the same idea of travel as you have. There’s a river 
—I never can pronounce its name- 

“The Cheruchuk,” supplied Mr. Merwood. 

“Yes—what father said,” she laughed. “It’s about 
half a day’s journey along the coast. You can follow 
it back for a long way until you come to what they call 
an inland lagoon—a lake, I suppose. Well, we de¬ 
cided that was the easiest way of getting as far inland 
as we really wanted to go, so we made all arrange¬ 
ments, boat, supplies and native crew.” 

“Dorothy did,” interposed Mr. Merwood. “I was 
down with dengue fever.” 

“Yes,” said Dorothy Merwood. “Father’s had the 
most poisonous luck. Everything was ready when he 
got over the fever—and then his accident. So I’m 
sure everything is still ready; that is, with a few hours’ 
notice. Gulab Singh secured the boat in the first place, 
so he should know where to get it again, or, at least, 
another, and he has had charge of the stores ever since 
they were bought. We don’t want to drive you away, 
Mr. Wayne”—she puckered a piquant little face into 
a roguish smile—“but, well, you see, there’s nothing, 
to prevent you from going at once.” 

“Oh, but I can’t do that!” protested Kenneth Wayne 
earnestly. “It’s altogether too good of you.” 

“Nonsense!” said Mr. Merwood cordially. “You 
are really under no obligation. I certainly cannot go 
for some weeks yet. You can replace the stores; and, 
as a matter of fact, you will actually be breaking the 
men in for us at your expense. Indeed, it’s rather a 
service.” 

“That’s a mighty nice way of putting it,” smiled 
Kenneth Wayne. 



FELLOW GUESTS 


59 

“Not at all—it’s merely the truth,” returned Mr. 
Merwood. “The only objection I can possibly see is 
that you might want to be away much longer than the 
several weeks in question.” 

Kenneth Wayne hesitated. From staring out over 
the verandah rail to the sea, flooded now with the gold 
and purple of the setting sun, his glance travelled to 
Dorothy Merwood’s fate. Her blue eyes were fixed 
upon him, a frank and ingenuous smile lurking in their 
depths. And suddenly, and a little uneasily, he fum¬ 
bled in his pocket for his cigarette case. Damn it, he 
hadn’t bargained for this! He wasn’t quite playing 
fair—quite playing the game the way they were. He 
wasn’t going after gold. But then, he wasn’t doing 
them any injury either, was he? There wasn’t any 
question about not being back within Mr. Merwood’s 
time limit—from this trip. A week or ten days was 
all he had ever planned to be away at one time, because 
he meant to establish himself beyond suspicion upon 
the island—come and go from the town here. Many 
trips, perhaps, unless he had luck—but this would save 
time now, and, besides this Gulab Singh would then be 
all the more ready to get other men for him next trip 
if necessary. Rather curious about that Cheruchuk 
River; it- 

“Dear me!” sighed Dorothy Merwood. “And I 
thought I was magic-ing so wonderfully.” 

Kenneth Wayne experienced a sort of mental squar¬ 
ing of his shoulders. 

“You are!” he said quickly. “And I accept with 
pleasure, though I’m bound to say I do not know how 
to thank you. It’s tremendously fine of both of you.” 

“Good!” said Mr. Merwood approvingly. 

“Also,” said Kenneth Wayne,” I promise that your 
Grand Vizier shall be back here by the time you 



6 o 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


need him. And, speaking of that high functionary, 
who is this Gulab Singh and where is he to be found?” 

“Oh, just outside the town,” said Dorothy Mer- 
wood. “There’s a Kling settlement about two miles 
from here—you know, of course, what that is?” 

“Oh, yes!” said Kenneth Wayne gravely. “That’s 
what the natives of India are called here, isn’t it?” 

“Yes, all through the Archipelago,” she said. 
“Well, that’s where Gulab Singh lives. And that’s 
who he is—an East Indian. I don’t know very much 
more about him, except that he is undoubtedly very 
capable, and, so far, has proved honest and trust¬ 
worthy. He applied for the position almost as soon 
as it was known we wanted an interpreter—though 
father really doesn’t get along badly at all with the 
language—and we engaged him. His English—well, 
I shall leave you to judge that for yourself—but I am 
sure you won’t find any fault with it.” 

“He sounds almost too good to be true,” laughed 
Kenneth Wayne. “I shall send a summons to the 
Grand Vizier to present himself here on the instant.” 

“Better still,” smiled Mr. Merwood, “I would sug¬ 
gest that you two walk out there this evening, and my 
daughter will present you, Mr. Wayne.” 

“I should be delighted,” agreed Kenneth Wayne 
heartily, “if it isn’t too far for Miss Merwood.” 

“I’d love to go,” said Dorothy Merwood. 

“Yes,” said Mr. Merwood, “and it will do her good. 
To be frank with you, Mr. Wayne, that is why I sug¬ 
gested it. She has not been getting enough exercise— 
tied hand and foot to the invalid, you know.” 

Dorothy Merwood laughed. 

“You’re not to imagine I need sympathy, Mr. 
Wayne. Shall we say half an hour from now? Father 


FELLOW GUESTS 61 

usually goes in about this time, and then reads until 
all hours, but-” 

“I have to be tucked away first,” chuckled Mr. Mer- 
wood. “Mothered a bit, you know.” 

Kenneth Wayne stood up. 

“Then I’ll clear out,” he said laughingly. “I shall 
be ready whenever you are, Miss Merwood. And I’ll 
say good-night to you, sir”—he held out his hand to 
Mr. Merwood—“and very many thanks again.” 

“Not at all!” said Mr. Merwood. “A pleasure, 
Mr. Wayne. Good-night!” 

Kenneth Wayne walked briskly away along the 
length of the verandah; but, turning the corner, he 
halted suddenly, and, with hands thrust deep in his 
pockets, stood staring unseeingly down at the road 
below him. 

“The Cheruchuk River,” said Kenneth Wayne to 
himself. “And an inland lagoon! Cheruchuk means 
stockade. I wonder why it’s called the Stockade 
River?” 


— V — 


THE SHOT 


HE twilight had merged into night. But it was 



not dark. It was a night of starlight, a soft, 


still, languorous night of the tropics, with the 
promise of a moon. And Kenneth Wayne, as he 
walked now beside Dorothy Merwood, could see her 
face and note its changing moods, now gay, now 
grave, now suddenly gay again, as, he plying her with 
questions, she talked of her home in England, her 
amusements, her friends, the many strange, out-of-the- 
way places where she had been with her father since 
her mother’s death some years ago. And he found 
himself watching her face, liking its gaiety and its 
more serious moments—liking her laughter and her 
vivacity. And then, from one thing, they talked of 
another, until somehow it seemed to Kenneth Wayne 
a fact most utterly absurd that it was scarcely more 
than an hour ago he had seen her for the first time. 

They had left the town by a very fair road running 
inland, which they had followed for perhaps a mile 
and a half or more, and now, Dorothy Merwood guid¬ 
ing, they branched ofi abruptly into what was little 
more than a by-path through a heavily wooded tract 
of land. 

“This is a short cut,” she explained. “The road 
goes up to the ford before it swings around. There’s 
a little rivfcr between us and the Kling village, you 
know. Typical, isn’t it? And yet, why not? Where 


62 


THE SHOT 63 

time and a mile are of no account, why build a bridge 
for vehicles?” 

“Quite right!” laughed Kenneth Wayne. “And, 
besides, the natives would probably continue to use 
the ford. But how do we get across?” 

“Oh, there’s a foot-bridge,” she answered. “One 
of those swinging affairs that look so treacherous but 
which are really quite safe. It’s just a little way on, 
and that will bring us at once to the Kling village.” 

“I see,” said Kenneth Wayne; and then: “You were 
going to tell me something of Salabam, when we 
turned off from the road a moment ago. I wish you 
would.” 

“Why, there isn’t very much to tell,” she said. “In 
fact, as you walked up the beach this afternoon when 
you landed, you became as intimate with it almost as 
it is possible to be.” 

“I mean your own life here—the people,” he said. 

“Oh, the whites! There are not very many. Let 
me see.” She began to check them off on her fingers. 
“Just the usual few traders and their clerks; and old 
Doctor Pearson; and a very crabbed old gentleman 
named Major Peters, who acts as a sort of Resident 
and port official and general factotum for the British 
Government; and the missionary and his wife, Mr. 
and Mrs. Keene—and, oh, dear, that’s about all!” 

“Except the guests at the hotel,” suggested Kenneth 
Wayne. 

“Apart from a few clerks and ourselves,” she said, 
“there’s only one, an Englishman from some cloth 
house in Manchester, whose name is Mr. Walters. I 
really don’t see how Mr. Fouche makes it pay. 
There’s no tourist trade, and the cargo boats that 
touch here are few and far between.” 

“There’s the bar,” said Kenneth Wayne. 


6 4 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“But he’s not supposed to sell the natives, and there 
are too few of the whites for him to make much money 
that way,” she objected. 

“Unless,” said Kenneth Wayne, “they were all as 
good customers as that chap we were speaking about 
on the verandah—what did you say his name was?— 
Glover? A few like Glover-” 

She turned toward him quickly. 

“Don’t!” she said earnestly. “I’m frightfully sorry 
for Glover, as I told you. I don’t know what has 
brought him to this, but it is a terrible thing to see a 
man, who you instinctively feel was once, as I said, a 
gentleman, committing moral suicide with a sort of 
debonairly steadfast determination to accomplish that 
purpose and his own physical destruction at the same 
time. Nobody has anything to do with him. He dis¬ 
appears for days—and then he comes back to the hotel 
bar. They say he has a hut somewhere in the woods 
where he lives in some very primitive fashion. I spoke 
to him one day and inveigled him up on the verandah, 
and father tried to talk to him—but there was some¬ 
thing about him that just simply raised a barrier against 
anything personal being said, if you know what I 
mean.” 

“I think I know what you mean,” said Kenneth 
Wayne. “A gentleman gone to seed, but still true to 
form.” 

“Which differentiates him from the ordinary run of 
beachcombers,” she said slowly. “He avoided us after 

that, and so-” She broke off abruptly. “But here’s 

the river and the bridge. I’ll go first; I’ve been over 
it before.” 

They stood now in a little clearing, and he could 
make out a narrow foot-bridge, of perhaps fifty or 
sixty feet in length, spidery in outline against the night, 




THE SHOT 


65 

fibre-swung from bank to bank. From below this there 
came the gurgle of swiftly running water; and beyond, 
on the other side of the stream, he could see a light 
twinkling here and there amongst the trees. 

Dorothy Merwood had already stepped out upon 
the bridge. He followed—not too closely behind. It 
would, no doubt, bear their combined weights, but it 
nevertheless gave him the impression of being a 
deucedly flimsy affair. Halfway across, he heard her 
speak as he lost momentary view of her on the opposite 
bank. He caught only snatches of her words: 

“. . . The Miss Sahib . . . Gulab Singh . . . 
Challo! 

And then, a moment later, as he rejoined her, she 
was alone. 

“I met one of the villagers,” she explained, “and 
sent him for Gulab Singh.” Her laugh rippled out 
suddenly. “Do you know,” she said, “I’d forgotten 
all about it, but I’m afraid we’ve made a very serious 
faux pas in coming here. Mohammed should never 
go to the mountain, you know. It lessens one’s dignity 
and authority. However, I think we’ve retrieved our¬ 
selves a bit by turning that villager into an emissary.” 

“Lose caste, you mean,” said Kenneth Wayne. 
They were standing close together, and now, in the 
starlight and the shadows and the clustering trees, as 
her laughter rippled out again, she seemed like some 
mischievous little white woodland sprite, slim and 
dainty and graceful. And he had a strange impulse 
to rub his eyes. “My word, Miss Merwood,” he 
ejaculated involuntarily, “I don’t think you’ll ever need 
to worry about that!” And then hurriedly, to cover 
a sudden and quite unaccountable self-confusion: “But 
where did you pick up the vernacular I heard you 
speaking just now?” 


66 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“I didn’t—I mean, I wasn’t,” she replied, still 
laughing. “Kipling taught the whole world that word. 
Don’t you remember, he said it was the word that 
moved all India— Challol-^—Go on! I’m afraid it’s 
about the only one I know. It’s amazing, though, 
what it will do.” She put a cautioning finger suddenly 
to her lips, as the sound of an approaching footstep, 
unhurried, deliberate, reached them. “Here’s my 
Grand Vizier now,” she whispered. “I wish it were 
lighter so that you might see him better; he’s rather 
an imposing looking personage.” 

A figure in white came out of the shadows, and 
bowed low before them; the figure of a man of great 
stature. Kenneth Wayne stared. As the figure bowed 
and slowly drew itself up, seeming almost to grow to 
its full height again, he found himself suddenly think¬ 
ing of a picture in one of his fairy-tale books of child¬ 
hood that was all about Grand Viziers too—the picture 
of a figure in oriental raiment which, being released 
from its captivity brought about by enchantment, was 
emerging from the neck of a great, wide-mouthed jar, 
its erstwhile prison, and was elongating itself in air as 
it resumed human shape. A geni—or something. 
Utterly absurd! It was the shadows, of course, that 
lent a touch of the unreal and the fantastic to the 
scene; that, and Dorothy Merwood’s mention of a 
Grand Vizier again just a moment gone. He could not 
see much of the man’s face, not only on account of the 
light, but because the head was swathed in an enor¬ 
mous turban that covered the ears and likewise a 
goodly portion of the forehead; but what little he 
could distinguish gave him the impression of an olive- 
brown mask of strange immobility—or was it mysti¬ 
cism ? The figure had a little beard, thin and patchy— 


THE SHOT 67 

so essentially Eastern. It was streaked with grey, he 
thought. 

“The Miss Sahib,” said the figure respectfully in a 
deep, quiet voice. 

“Good evening, Gulab Singh,” returned Dorothy 
Merwood pleasantly. “We have come to see you on 
some very important business. Is it well, Gulab 
Singh?” 

“The Miss Sahib knows that it is well,” Gulab 
Singh answered gravely. 

“Yes,” said Dorothy Merwood brightly. “Well, 
then, listen! The sahib here is a friend of Merwood 
Sahib, my father, and myself. His name is Wayne 
Sahib. He wishes to make a trip very much like the 
one my father and I had prepared to make, and he is 
anxious to go at once. Father thought you might be 
willing to go with him to act as headman and inter¬ 
preter, and in that case he said you were to use the 
stores that you purchased and that are now ready. 
When you return and Merwood Sahib is well again, 
you will make the other trip with my father and my¬ 
self. Meanwhile Wayne Sahib will pay you as father 
arranged to do. Can this be done, Gulab Singh?” 

Gulab Singh remained thoughtful for a moment. 

“Where does the sahib desire to go?” he asked. 
“The Miss Sahib says it is like the trip of Merwood 
Sahib and the Miss Sahib. They were going up the 
Cheruchuk River. Will the sahib also go up the 
Cheruchuk River?” 

The Stockade River! Kenneth Wayne smiled 
coolly. Since two hours ago he had become particu¬ 
larly interested in this Stockade River! 

“Oh, yes,” said Kenneth Wayne off-handedly. “A 
bit of the way anyhow. I think that will do excellently 
for a starter.” 


68 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Wayne Sahib searches for gold,” explained Doro¬ 
thy Merwood. 

“I have heard that at one time there was gold in the 
hills of the Cheruchuk River,” said Gulab Singh 
slowly. “I do not know. When is it the sahib’s will 
to go?” 

“At once,” said Kenneth Wayne. “To-morrow, if 
it’s possible. Miss Merwood tells me you secured a 
suitable boat for them and that you’ve already got the 
supplies, so I don’t suppose you’ll have any difficulty 
in getting whatever men you think are necessary for 
the trip. I shall have to leave everything to you, for 
you will have to do the talking, of course.” 

Again Gulab Singh remained thoughtful for a 
moment. 

“To-morrow is very soon, sahib,” he said. “There 
will be much to do—but there remains the night.” He 
spread out his hands. “It shall be as the sahib wills, 
and I will go with him. To-morrow at an hour after 
midday the boat will be ready on the beach, and the 
men will come to the hotel for the sahib’s things.” 

“Good!” said Kenneth Wayne heartily. “I am very 
much pleased, Gulab Singh; and I, too, shall be ready.” 
He turned to Dorothy Merwood. “With the details 
in Gulab Singh’s hands, there doesn’t seem to be any¬ 
thing more to be said. Shall we go back, Miss Mer¬ 
wood?” 

“Yes,” she said. She smiled at the tall figure in 
white. “Good-night, Gulab Singh. I am so glad 
everything is arranged satisfactorily. I will tell 
Merwood Sahib.” 

“The Miss Sahib is very kind,” answered Gulab 
Singh. “Good-night, Miss Sahib. Good-night, sahib.” 
He bowed profoundly, and disappeared in the shadov/s. 

They retraced their steps across the bridge. 


THE SHOT 


6 9 

“What do you think of him?” Dorothy Merwood 
asked, as they gained the other side and started back 
along the by-path. 

“I think he’s decidedly a lucky find,” Kenneth 
Wayne replied. “He strikes me as a chap who’s got 
a lot more push and action to him than the average 
of his kind; and, besides, he speaks English well, which 
is a most important factor.” 

“Yes, of course,” she agreed; “and I-” She 

broke off abruptly, and grasping at Kenneth Wayne’s 
arm stood still, her face almost ghostlike in its sudden 
whiteness. 

It had come without warning, quick, unheralded, 
sinister out of the blackness of the woods beside them 
—a shot, a gasping cry, the tear and crackle of yielding 
brush and undergrowth ending in the thud of some¬ 
thing heavy as it struck the ground. 

“Who’s there? What’s wrong?” Kenneth Wayne 
called out tensely. 

There was no answer save a sudden and instant 
crashing of the brush and undergrowth again, but this 
time unmistakably due to some one running in desper¬ 
ate haste. And then, as this receded, there came a low 
pulsing sound like the sighing of the wind. 

Only there was no wind. 



—VI— 


PIECES OF A PUZZLE 

T HERE’S some one moaning in there—in the 
woods,” Dorothy Merwood whispered. 

Kenneth Wayne laid his hand reassuringly 
over the one that, trembling a little now, still clasped 
his arm. 

“Yes,” he said quietly. “I’m afraid there’s some¬ 
thing wrong. Would you mind going back and getting 
Gulab Singh, Miss Merwood?” 

“And you?” she asked. 

He had drawn a revolver from his pocket. 

“I’m going in there,” he said. 

“But-” 

“At once, Miss Merwood, please!” There was 
unconscious command in his voice. “And please 
hurry!” 

He was already in amongst the trees as he saw her 
turn then and run back along the path toward the river. 
The shot and the ensuing sounds had seemed to be 
quite near at hand. He plunged forward, crashing 
his way through the branches, the foliage, the thick 
vegetation underfoot. And now he paused—^listening 
intently. Nothing! He went on again. He was 
fairly sure of his direction. And suddenly he stumbled 
over something that was neither creeper nor entan¬ 
gling undergrowth. He felt out with his hands—over 
a man’s legs outsprawled, a man’s body limp on its 
back. 


70 



PIECES OF A PUZZLE 


7i 

He struck a match—and stared in the tiny flame 
into the face of a man across whose right temple there 
trickled a little rivulet of blood. A horrible jangle 
went through his mind—horribly apposite: 

An’ when I die, 

Don’t bury me at all, 

Just pickle my bones 
In alcohol . . . 

It was Glover, the beachcomber. 

The match went out. He lighted another, and, as 
he bent down over the man, through his mind, dis¬ 
possessing that horrible doggerel, flashed ugly snatches 
of a whispered conversation between a Frenchman and 
a German: “There is only one safe way, sacre nom. 
... Is any fuss made over a stray dog? ...” 

But the man wasn’t dead. Kenneth Wayne whipped 
his handkerchief from his pocket, and swabbed the 
blood away from the other’s temple. The crude sur¬ 
gery of shipboard, the years of more or less intimate 
acquaintance with a ship’s medicine chest, had not 
qualified Kenneth Wayne either as surgeon or practi¬ 
tioner, but they had left him roughly expert. The 
man was not even seriously wounded. The bullet had 
grazed the temple, tearing the skin just enough to 
make it bleed. The man was stunned, of course, 
unconscious, and naturally very badly shocked; but 
with a little attention and a day or so of quiet he 
probably wouldn’t be any the worse for it. He was 
coming around now. 

Again Kenneth Wayne lighted a match. 

Glover’s eyes opened, blinked at the match-flame, 
then stared into Kenneth Wayne’s face—first in a 
puzzled way, and then with a dawning light of recogni¬ 
tion. The man’s lips moved—he spoke thickly: 


72 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Hello—hello, old top—didn’t expect to see you in 
No Man’s Land.” 

“Better?” said Kenneth Wayne quietly. “We’ll 
have some help here in a minute. How did this 
happen?” 

Glover eyed the match as though deep in thought. 
He hiccoughed slightly, and touched his lips with his 
tongue. 

“Got pinked, didn’t I?” He spoke more feebly 
now, as though his previous effort had been too much 
for him. “Somebody out shooting birds—stray shot.” 

“It’s hardly customary, is it?” said Kenneth Wayne 
dryly. “Bird shooting in the dark?” 

“By Jove!” Glover’s eyes suddenly held a 
bland and innocent smile; but he was struggling in 
his attempt to speak, and he hiccoughed again. 
“Never thought of that—eh, what? Never—hie!— 
thought-” His voice grew weaker, and trailed off. 

The match flickered and went out. Kenneth 
Wayne’s lips were compressed. He amended his 
original diagnosis. Apart from the wound, the man 
was drunk. Naturally! Been at it all afternoon, of 
course—and Heaven knew how much longer! But he 
wasn’t so drunk that he hadn’t his wits about him. 
And a cool and steady nerve, too! He admired that. 
The man was trying to hide the authorship of that 
shot. Why? A possible explanation suddenly oc¬ 
curred to Kenneth Wayne. He struck still another 
match and searched around on the ground. The man 
might have come out here to chuck up the sponge— 
sick of it all—not an uncommon end under the circum¬ 
stances. And then he shook his head sharply. There 
wasn’t any weapon here; and, besides, the theory paid 
his, Kenneth Wayne’s, intelligence no compliment. 
He had heard some one running away immediately 



PIECES OF A PUZZLE 


73 

after the shot had been fired when he had cailed out 
from the path back there. 

“Glover!” he said, touching the man. 

There was no reply. The man’s eyes were closed. 
He was breathing stertorously. Kenneth Wayne 
frowned. He was not sure whether it was more the 
drink or the wound that was responsible, but the man 
was again in a comatose condition—a combination of 
the two, probably. But there was something else. 
The man presented a bit of a problem. What was to 
be done with him—literally? Though the wound was 
not serious, murder had nevertheless been attempted. 
Whoever had fired that shot would undoubtedly have 
fired another on discovering the first had not proved 
fatal—if “whoever it was” had not been scared off. 
Nicky Fouche for one, was it? Who w’as the Ger¬ 
man? Stray shot—stray dog! There wasn’t any 
doubt about who the stray dog was. What was to be 
done? There probably wasn’t a hospital of any kind 
in the town. Not the hotel—good God!—with Nicky 
Fouche for nurse ! Damn it, it was a bit of a problem. 
The man had a hut of his own somewhere—out-of- 
the-way—lonely—the kennelling of a stray dog. He 
wouldn’t be safe there—just inviting the coup de 
grace. Glover wouldn’t be in a position to protect 
himself for a few days—helpless—a mark. 

Kenneth Wayne tied his handkerchief around the 
other’s head; then he sat in the darkness, his knees 
drawn up, his hands clasped over them. Then after a 
while he unclasped one hand and pulled meditatively 
at his lower lip. 

“Why not?” said he suddenly to himself. “The 
doctor had better see him as a precautionary measure, 
but he’s quite all right—quite fit for it. Do him good, 


74 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


too. Get the hootch out of his system. It wouldn’t 
interfere any, either.” 

He heard sounds of voices, of footsteps from the 
direction of the path. And now his name was called 
repeatedly: 

“. . . Mr. Wayne! . . . Mr. Wayne! . . .” 

“This way, Miss Merwood!” he answered back. 
“This way!” 

There was a thrashing through the undergrowth, 
the glimmer of a light; and then, a lantern swinging 
in his hand, there appeared the turbaned figure of 
Gulab Singh. Close behind the East Indian came 
Dorothy Merwood, and behind the girl again there 
followed several other men who were evidently 
Gulab Singh’s fellow villagers. 

The lantern rays fell upon the figure on the ground. 

Dorothy Merwood gave a low, startled cry. 

“It’s—it’s Glover!” she cried. “Is he—is he-” 

“No,” Kenneth Wayne answered quietly. “He’ll 
be quite all right in a day or so. There’s nothing to 
be alarmed about, Miss Merwood.” 

“Oh!” she said. “I’m so glad—so glad!” 

She knelt down beside the wounded man. 

Kenneth Wayne touched Gulab Singh on the arm. 

“Look here, Gulab Singh,” he said in an undertone, 
“somebody’s been shooting at him—and will again if 
they get the chance. I think that to-morrow Glover 
Sahib will be safest with us in the boat—and that 
meanwhile wagging tongues are more dangerous than 
the wound.” 

Gulab Singh’s face was impassive. 

“The sahib knows best,” he said simply. 

“Yes, in this case, I think I do,” said Kenneth 
Wayne. “You can take care of him out here in your 
village to-night, can’t you? Without talk?” 



PIECES OF A PUZZLE 


75 

“If the sahib wills,” Gulab Singh answered gravely. 

“Good!” said Kenneth Wayne. “He is not seri¬ 
ously wounded, but nevertheless I will send the doctor 
out here.” 

Gulab Singh shook his head. 

“The Doctor Sahib was here to-night,” he said, “on 
his way to some villages far back on the island. He 
will not return for three days.” 

“H’m!” said Kenneth Wayne. “Well, after all, it’s 
not at all necessary. It’s merely a flesh wound. 
You’ve only to keep it clean and bandaged.” 

“In such matters,” replied Gulab Singh, “the sahib 
need have no fear.” 

“Good!” said Kenneth Wayne again. “Then tell 
your men to carry him to the village.” 

Gulab Singh gave a low order, and as the men 
moved forward to pick up their burden, Dorothy Mer- 
wood rose and came to Kenneth Wayne’s side. 

“Do you think it is perfectly safe to move him?” 
she asked anxiously. 

“Yes,” he answered reassuringly, as the little pro¬ 
cession began to make its way out of the woods. “I’m 
quite sure it is, Miss Merwood.” 

“But what are you going to do?” she questioned. 
“How are you going to get Glover back to the town?” 

Kenneth Wayne had her arm and was helping her 
through the bush, and for a moment he did not answer. 
His mind was in a bit of a turmoil. Dirty business, 
this! Queer! Strange! She had a part in it—part 
of the problem. As they bent together to pass under 
a branch, her hair brushed his cheek. He remem¬ 
bered a truant wisp of it—back there on the verandah. 
Mentally, he swore savagely. Hell of a place for a 
girl like—like Dorothy Merwood, with only an invalid 
father—in a hotel kept by a man like Nicky Fouche! 


76 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Well?” she prompted. “You haven’t answered 
me.” 

“We’re not going to take him to the town, Miss 
Merwood,” he said. “They are going to look after 
him in Gulab Singh’s village here.” 

“Here!” she exclaimed in surprise. “I—I don’t 
quite see why. If it’s safe to move him, the sooner we 
get him to the doctor the better.” 

“The doctor’s not to be had,” said Kenneth Wayne. 
“Gulab Singh says he passed through the village to¬ 
night—to be gone for three days somewhere in the 
interior.” 

They had reached the path. Gulab Singh and his 
lantern had halted. 

“But we—you can’t leave him here!” she said a 
little sharply. “Think of the accommodation—and 
no proper attention. And the very fact that Doctor 
Pearson cannot be reached would seem to make it all 
the more necessary to me that he should be taken to 
the hotel, say, where he can be looked after far better 
than he could in the village here.” 

He was disturbed. How much, for her own sake, 
was it wise to tell her? 

“Yes, I know,” said Kenneth Wayne quietly; “but 
really I think he will be quite as well off here, Miss 
Merwood.” 

In the lantern light he saw a little flush creep into 
her cheeks. 

“I am afraid I cannot agree with you,” she said 
stiffly. “But if it is all quite decided, as it seems to 
be, then I shall stay too and look after him. I am sure 
father will be all right. Will you please tell him, Mr. 
Wayne?” 

“But, Miss Merwood,” protested Kenneth Wayne, 
“that’s all nonsense—er”—he stumbled awkwardly 


PIECES OF A PUZZLE 


77 


before the sudden tilt of the little chin and the cold 
stare in the blue eyes—“I—I beg your pardon, I mean 
it’s not at all necessary. Really, it isn’t.” 

“Indeed?” she said uncompromisingly. 

“Oh, look here, Miss Merwood,” he said desper¬ 
ately, “quite apart from any other consideration, if 
you want the frank and brutal truth, Gulab Singh is 
a far more proper person to look after him than you 
are, for the simple reason that Glover is more drunk 
than hurt.” 

She did not speak for an instant. 

“Is that quite true?” 

A voice, somewhat feeble, decidedly thick in utter¬ 
ance, began to intone what sounded like a dirge. The 
voice emanated from the burden in the arms of the 
natives. A word only here and there was distin¬ 
guishable : 

“. . . An’ when I . . . don’t bury . . . just pickle 
. . . in alcohol . . .” 

The flush on Dorothy Merwood’s cheeks deepened. 

“Quite,” said Kenneth Wayne. 

Dorothy Merwood turned sharply to Gulab Singh. 

“Let it be as Wayne Sahib has ordered,” she said. 
“Go, Gulab Singh!” 

The head with the massive turban bowed in 
obeisance; and a moment later Gulab Singh, his men 
and their burden had disappeared along the path in 
the direction of the village. 


— VII — 


MORE PIECES 

P LEASE, will you take me back to the hotel, Mr. 
Wayne?” 

With the lantern gone, it was black here in the 
pathway under the arched trees. He could not see 
her face. Her voice was small and meek, but he had a 
suspicion she was smiling—perhaps even laughing at 
him. It would be quite like her. That was exactly 
what she would do. She had been angry, very angry 
with him a moment ago. He knew her quite well. He 
had known her a long time. Since dinner! Amazing! 
He answered mechanically, as he led the way along 
the path: 

“Yes, all right! Of course, Miss Merwood!” 
His mind was suddenly off at a tangent. The night 
was like a picture puzzle—an ugly one—with hope¬ 
lessly scattered pieces. He was confused, anxious, 
puzzled, groping mentally for his way as in a maze. 
Glover, to begin with, was a queer card. Had the 
man heard, been listening to, the conversation, and 
for pure deviltry, or for a purpose of his own, played 
his part with that wretched doggerel just now—or was 
it genuinely the mutterings of semi-consciousness? 
What difference did it make? How much should he 
tell Dorothy Merwood? That was what had been 
bothering him all along. He wasn’t sure Nicky Fouche 
had had a hand in this. Nicky Fouche and his Ger¬ 
man ally might have been talking about something 
78 


MORE PIECES 


79 


quite different and far removed from Glover. Piffle! 
It was Glover they had been talking about. But he 
couldn’t prove it. He didn’t like the idea of Dorothy 
Merwood being there at the hotel with Nicky Fouche. 
If a man would commit murder— But Glover was 
one thing and Dorothy Merwood another. She was 
quite safe, it was absurd to think anything else—if 
Nicky Fouche did not have reason to suspect that she 
knew too much. Now he was coming to it! For her 
own sake it was much better to tell her nothing of his 
suspicions. It was impossible, of course, to hide the 
fact that Dorothy Merwood and himself had been the 
ones who had found Glover. Gulab Singh perhaps 
might be trusted—but the whole Kling village would 
know of it. Still, that would have no significance for 
Nicky Fouche. Anybody might have found Glover. 
The mere finding of Glover did not associate Nicky 
Fouche with the affair as the guilty man. Naturally! 
His brows drew together in heavy furrows. There was 
another thing. It annoyed him intensely. He hadn’t 
come to Salabam to get mixed up in a miserable, 
sordid, local affair that had nothing to do with—his 
lips twitched suddenly—with Crimson Sash. Nor did 
‘ he intend now that it should interfere. He laughed 
harshly to himself at that. Interfere! To-morrow 
he would be away—and Glover with him. After¬ 
wards ... 

His mind mulled on, and, furiously at work, un¬ 
consciously set the pace for his legs. They had left 
the path behind them and were out upon the road. 

A voice spoke a little breathlessly at his elbow: 

“I—I can’t keep up with your seven-league boots, 
Mr. Wayne.” 

He slackened his pace instantly. 

“Good Lord!” he ejaculated contritely. “I’m 


8o 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


sorry, Miss Merwood. Upon my word, I am. I”— 
a trifle lamely—“I was thinking.” 

“Yes, you gave me that impression,” she said a little 
frigidly. “And I have been wondering if I am not 
perhaps entitled to some share of your thoughts.” 

“You have had a very large share of them—in fact, 
the major share, Miss Merwood,” he said gravely. 

“Oh, I didn’t mean that!” she retorted, suddenly 
furious. “I mean, Mr. Wayne, that I am not a child. 
It may be quite true that Glover was—had been drink¬ 
ing too much, but the fact nevertheless remains that 
somebody shot him—tried to murder him.” 

“Yes,” Kenneth Wayne answered. “And it has been 
a beastly experience for you. That has been con¬ 
stantly in my mind, Miss Merwood; and I have been 
trying to think out the best thing to do. I was just 
going to suggest that we say nothing about it until 
to-morrow, except, of course, what you may see fit to 
tell your father.” 

“Nothing about it?” 

She stood still in the middle of the road; and in the 
lighter, moon-flecked spaces here, he saw amazement 
and a hint of indignation in her face. 

Kenneth Wayne shrugged his shoulders. 

“There are no police here, are there, to be set at 
once upon the trail before it grows cold?” he asked 
coolly. 

She began to walk on again. 

“No,” she said, “there are no police; but—but I 
do not understand you, Mr. Wayne.” 

“I mean,” said Kenneth Wayne simply, “that 
nothing is lost by a little delay; and, on the other hand, 
it may mean a good deal to Glover. In a word, Miss 
Merwood, somebody tried, as you say, to murder him. 
The man’s peculiar habits render him an easy prey to a 
second attempt. Our presence to-night, I think, pre- 


MORE PIECES 


81 


vented—excuse me if I speak bluntly—the job from 
being finished on the spot. Now, whoever fired that 
shot ran away before he could have ascertained what 
the actual result of it was. I do not think he would 
dare return there to-night under the circumstances, 
and until he hears something about it he may even 
think it took fatal effect. And so you see if nothing is 
said now it sort of guarantees Glover’s safety for 
to-night—and to-morrow I have told Gulab Singh to 
bring him along with me on the trip.” 

She made no comment—only walked a little faster. 
Glancing at her he saw the colour come and go from 
her cheeks, and that she was biting at her lips. 

“Do you agree, Miss Merwood?” he asked quietly. 

She looked up at him, and a smile, sudden, quick 
and demure, was in her eyes. 

“You know I do,” she said. “But I’m not going to 
say I’m sorry, or that I think you’re splendid—because 
I really think you’re just a man-brute all the same.” 

“I’d much rather you’d put it that way,” he laughed. 

They went on down the road, and yet, strangely, 
with the entente re-established, they walked for a long 
time in silence. 

It was Kenneth Wayne who at last spoke abruptly. 

“I suppose there are a number of Germans here in 
Salabam?” he said. 

Dorothy Merwood shook her head. 

“I don’t think so,” she answered. “Not since the 
war. At least, I do not know of any.” And then, 
archly: “What a ridiculous attempt at conversation!” 

“Yes; isn’t it?” he smiled. “Well, it’s your turn 
now.” 

They had turned into the main street of the town, 
and were approaching the hotel. She nodded in the 
direction of the hotel porch where two men were 
sitting in chairs tilted back against the wall. 


82 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“I shall be quite as original,” she said. “That man 
sitting there beside Monsieur Fouche is Mr. Walters, 
the Englishman from Manchester, I was speaking 
about.” 

“Oh!” said Kenneth Wayne. “Really?” 

His eyes were on the two men, who had risen now 
and were lifting their pith helmets in salute. Mr. 
Walters was smiling at Dorothy Merwood—kept 
smiling at her—something that jarred in it—as 
though hungry—as though the man were on the point 
of licking his lips. It was in the man’s eyes, too. 

Kenneth Wayne glanced quickly at the girl. She 
was apparently unconscious of it. He returned the 
salute of the two men calmly, and passed on into the 
hotel with his companion. 

Upstairs on the verandah, Dorothy Merwood held 
out her hand. 

“Good-night, Mr. Wayne,” she said. “I-” And 

then suddenly her face was thoughtful, and the blue 
eyes grave, and her voice was low. “As it is now, 
Mr. Wayne, you cannot go to-morrow without letting 
me know what-” 

“I won’t,” he promised. 

He was still holding her hand. 

She made no effort to withdraw it, but now she was 
as suddenly all laughter again, and roguishness was in 
her voice. 

“Good-night, Mr. Wayne,” she said. 

He knew that a flush was on his cheek. He told 
himself that his mind had been engrossed with that 
Englishman from Manchester. And then, as he found 
himself stammering awkwardly in reply, he was aware 
that a slim little figure in white was disappearing around 
the corner of the verandah, and that he was alone. 

He went slowly to his room, and, locking the door, 




MORE PIECES 


83 

lighted a lamp. He looked at his watch. It was eleven 
o’clock. He had been eight hours in Salabam. As he 
undressed he smiled a little grimly. He was not at 
all sure that his advent had been auspicious. It seemed 
as though, in spite of himself, he was being dragged 
into some infernal machination that was not only 
utterly foreign to his own interests, but seemed bent 
on interfering with him, waylaying him on his road, 
like Fate in ambush, as it were, juggling with him. 
Mr. Walters, the Englishman from Manchester, for 
instance, when he had risen from his chair to bow to 
Dorothy Merwood downstairs, had almost clicked his 
heels together! So! Mr. Waiters and Monsieur 
Nicholas Fouche! That was the alliance, was it—the 
German and the French of it! 

And then there was Dorothy Merwood. 

He blew out the light, and got into bed. After a 
moment his hand under the pillow clenched into a 
knotted fist. 

There was Old Man Wayne—and Crimson Sash. 

. . . The rest was none of his affair. . . . He 
would be off in the morning. . . • 

His fist was still clenched under the pillow when he 
fell asleep. 

But he was not to sleep through the night undis¬ 
turbed. He awoke in the darkness with the conscious¬ 
ness that some one was knocking softly on his door. 

“Who’s there?” he called. 

“Sahib,” a voice answered, “it is Gulab Singh.” 

Kenneth Wayne sprang out of bed and opened the 
door. 

“What the devil brings you here at this hour?” he 
demanded crossly and but half awake, as the moon¬ 
light fell on the turbaned head and impassive features 
of the East Indian. 


8 4 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Sahib,” Gulab Singh replied unemotionally, “it is 
to tell you that Glover Sahib has gone.” 

Kenneth Wayne stared. 

“Gone!” he ejaculated. “What do you mean— 
gone? Where?” 

“That I do not know, sahib.” Gulab Singh extended 
his hands helplessly. “I sat beside him and I thought 
he slept. I left his side for but a few minutes. When 
I returned Glover Sahib had gone. It is less than an 
hour ago, sahib.” 

“Gone—eh?” Kenneth Wayne was not in a good 
humour. “Playing ’possum with you, was he—and 
walked out? That’s what I thought he was doing out 
there on the path when he began to sing. I’m sure of 
it now.” 

“It is even so, sahib, as I see it,” agreed Gulab 
Singh. 

“I’m damned!” said Kenneth Wayne. “Well 
there’s nothing to do, is there?” 

“That is for the sahib to say,” replied Gulab Singh 
gravely. “I did not know if the sahib still desired to 
go now without Glover Sahib, or whether he would 
wait.” 

Fate juggling again in ambush, was it! Kenneth 
Wayne’s face hardened. He knew a sudden, fierce 
resentment. 

“Not for a dozen Glover Sahibs—if that’s his 
game!” he said savagely. “We go as it has been 
arranged, Gulab Singh.” 

“It is well, sahib,” said Gulab Singh. 

The man seemed to fade into the night—silently— 
like a shadow. 

Kenneth Wayne closed the door and returned to 
bed. 

But it was a long time before he fell asleep again. 


— VIII — 


WHERE NO MAN LIVED 

T HERE was an awning at the stern of the boat, 
and under this Kenneth Wayne, as he smoked, 
lay outstretched. At his feet, in a sort of little 
cockpit, Gulab Singh squatted on his haunches, 
motionless. Forward, six Malays tugged at as many 
oars. Astern, the little town of Salabam was just 
disappearing from view behind the headland at the 
end of the bay. 

Kenneth Wayne raised himself on his elbows for a 
last glimpse of the place, stared at it indeed until 
the headland completely shut it out, and then dropped 
back to his former position. He half closed his eyes 
and frowned heavily. Queer business, that of Glover 
—dashed queer! What was the man’s game ? He had 
quite agreed with Dorothy Merwood, who had been 
uncommonly upset over the fellow’s disappearance, 
that authority in the person of Major Peters should be 
informed of what had happened. Not that he had 
considered it would amount to much in results—but 
the proper thing to do, of course. He had seen 
Major Peters himself. Irritable sort of a brute! 
Liver, of course! Too long in the islands. Didn’t 
rank Glover of much account: “Wasters like Glover 
were a disgrace to the community. . . . No credit to 
their race, sir. . . . Bad effect on the natives. . . . 
Too many of them.” 

Quite so! Kenneth Wayne watched a spiral of 
85 


86 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


smoke curl upward from his cigarette. He had not, 
however, told Major Peters about the Franco-German 
alliance. Ethically, he might have been wrong in that. 
Perhaps he was—but nevertheless he had said nothing 
about it. There had seemed to be a dozen good 
reasons why he shouldn’t, and no very cogent single 
reason why he should. In the first place, while he was 
perfectly satisfied himself that it was either Nicky 
Fouche or Mr. Walters, the Englishman from Man¬ 
chester, who had fired the shot, he had not a shred of 
actual proof—nothing on which any action could be 
taken against them. They had even been sitting on 
the hotel porch when he had returned with Dorothy 
Merwood. An alibi or two up their sleeves, of course 1 
He smiled grimly. A wily pair of birds! He couldn’t 
have had them apprehended on what he had to offer; 
and it came down then to a question, ethical again, of 
making an accusation for the sake of a certain amount 
of protection it might possibly afford Glover. But 
Glover, he had a very good idea, knew a lot more 
about who had fired that shot than he pretended, and 
Glover had elected, rather coolly and unceremoniously, 
it would seem, to look out for himself. There were 
other reasons. He did not, in a moral sense, rank 
his own affairs above his obligations to society and 
duty, but it was too serious a matter for him at the 
outset to saddle himself with a couple of implacable 
and unscrupulous enemies in Salabam if justice, for 
instance, gained nothing by it. And then there was 
Dorothy Merwood. It would have been deucedly 
awkward for her back there in the hotel— dangerous, 
perhaps, was the better word. A pair of human 
jackals parading honesty was one thing; exposed, and 
with their teeth bared, they became quite another His 
hand clenched suddenly. Damn it, he didn’t like the 


WHERE NO MAN LIVED 


87 

look that swine Walters, whose name should be pro¬ 
nounced as though spelt with a “V,” had given 
Dorothy Merwood last night! 

His eyes shifted from his cigarette to the back of 
Gulab Singh’s turbaned head. Dashed queer, as he 
had said! The whole thing was dashed queer, and, 
now that he came to think of it, it was dashed queer 
that- 

He raised himself suddenly on his elbow again. 

“Gulab Singh,” he said abruptly, “how did you 
know where my room was at four o’clock in the 
morning?” 

Gulab Singh turned and regarded him gravely. 

“Sahib,” he said, “I awoke one of the hotel boys.” 

Kenneth Wayne subsided on his back once more. 
He felt as though he had been rebuked—for child¬ 
ishness. 

He was tired of thinking about Glover. Why the 
devil should he, anyhow? His glance travelled for¬ 
ward now to the Malays at the oars. 

“These are good men you’ve got, Gulab Singh,” he 
said approvingly. “They row well together. I had 
rather expected you would have had your own men 
from your village instead of Malays.” 

“Sahib,” Gulab Singh answered, “these men are 
better in a boat; and, as the sahib knows, we go 
amongst their people and not mine. It is well, I think, 
sahib, that it should be so.” 

“Right!” said Kenneth Wayne promptly. “I name 
you Gulab Efficiency Singh!” 

“It pleases the sahib perhaps to laugh at me,” said 
Gulab Singh. 

“Not a bit of it!” returned Kenneth Wayne heartily. 
“You’re a man in a thousand. Not a hitch. No fuss. 
Everything ready to start at the hour named. I like 



88 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


that. And now about this Cheruchuk River. I haven’t 
had much chance to talk to you > but I think you said 
before starting that it wasn’t very far and that we 
should make it this evening?” 

“Yes, sahib,” Gulab Singh replied. “At an hour 
before dark we shall be at the mouth of the river, 
where, if the sahib wills, we will make camp for the 
night.” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded. 

“There’s a village there, I suppose?” 

“No, sahib,” said Gulab Singh. “Once there was 
a great village there, but now there has been none for 
many years. The mind of those living does not go 
back to the time. It is a tale that is told, sahib.” 

“Tell it then, Gulab Singh,” said Kenneth Wayne. 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh, “thus it is that I have 
heard the tale. Once at the mouth of the river was a 
strong village with great stockades around it, and up 
the river on both banks were other villages, and all 
villages had stockades, and it was even so until the 
river entered a lagoon at a distance it would take a 
fast rowing proa two hours to reach from the sea. 
Sahib, they who lived in the villages were pirates, and 
their leader was a great chief who was called the 
Rajah Kana-ee-a. And then, sahib, there came a 
mighty trembling of the earth and the lagoon was 
split in twain, and there rushed down the river the 
waters of the lagoon, and from the sea there arose a 
great wave to meet the down-rush of waters, and 
there were no more villages, and only a few escaped. 
And since then, sahib, what was left has been rotting 
with the years, and no man dwells there.” 

“But the lagoon,” said Kenneth Wayne, “is that 
deserted too?” 

“Sahib, there is no longer any lagoon.” 


WHERE NO MAN LIVED 89 

“The Miss Sahib spoke of one,” said Kenneth 
Wayne. 

“Yes, sahib,” Gulab Singh answered; “but that is 
another one. Far up where the river begins, sahib. 
It is a three days’ journey in the boat. Does the 
sahib deem it easier to find gold where there are 
lagoons?” 

Kenneth Wayne smiled at the unconscious irony in 
the question. 

“No; not necessarily,” he said calmly. “Perhaps we 
shall not go up the river at all. We will see after we 
have camped to-night. I can tell better when I have 
had a look at the place.” 

“The sahib has only to command,” said Gulab Singh 
respectfully. 

Kenneth Wayne lapsed into silence. So that was 
why it was called the “Stockade” River. He was a 
little disappointed—and now completely disinterested. 
Where there was no village, there was no gold—of 
the kind he sought! They would camp there to-night, 
and he would make a pretence of examining the rocks 
for quartz, and then they would push on along the 
coast—where there were villages. 

He listened now to the chatter of the Malays at the 
oars. It was the little talk of the little circle in which 
they lived. They would probably have discussed him, 
serene in the belief that he would have understood 
nothing of what they said, had it not been for the 
restraining presence of Gulab Singh. It would perhaps 
have been amusing, and he would undoubtedly have 
heard some plain truths about himself which he might 
have swallowed as he would—much of the sort that 
children so ingenuously and gratuitously offer to their 
elders. In a sense they were children ... his face 


90 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


of a sudden hardened . - . but they would better 
never have been born! 

The mood passed. Protected from the sun, it was 
cool under the awning in the light breeze. He began 
to hum softly under his breath. There seemed some¬ 
how to be a haunting lilt to the air he hummed. He 
hummed it over and over again without consciously 
recognising it. And then, presently, words seemed to 
fit themselves quite naturally into the rhythm and 
tempo. 

. . Devon . . . Glorious Devon . . 

He stopped abruptly as though taken aback. That 
was the song Dorothy Merwood had been singing on 
the verandah yesterday. Well, what of it? She had 
a corking voice—and it was a corking song. He’d get 
her to sing it again, for that matter. 

He clasped his hands behind his head, and stared 
up at the awning. A piquant little face, very charm¬ 
ingly so, a face of quick changing expression, now all 
a-ripple with laughter and roguish merriment, now 
grave and sober like a cloud-shadow suddenly thrown 
on a sunlit sea, visualised itself before him. He stared 
very hard at the awning. He could not remember 
ever having met a girl quite like Dorothy Merwood 
before. Her laughter was as something that she 
seemed to love, that was very dear to her, but it did 
not rob her of a deep-seated seriousness equally 
sincere, nor this latter in turn deprive her of the joy 
of living. The kind one could trust. He liked her 
hair with the glint of gold in it. Her eyes could be 
very angry—as well as soft. Blue eyes particularly 
had that faculty. She had been a brick in that affair 
last night. Not a nice thing for a girl. No hysterics 
or anything of that sort. Cool—plenty of nerve. She 
should have been a man. 


WHERE NO MAN LIVED 


9 1 


He sat up with a jerk. 

“No—good God—no!” he ejaculated aloud. 

Gulab Singh turned around. 

“The sahib spoke?” he asked. 

“It was nothing,” said Kenneth Wayne; “nothing, 
Gulab Singh.” 

He lay back again, frowning now. His thoughts 
had been errant. He was a little surprised, puzzled 
somewhat, that he should have been so completely en¬ 
grossed of late with people and events which had ab¬ 
solutely nothing to do with what was, in the last 
analysis, the paramount object in his life now. But 
instantly he shook his head. Why should it puzzle 
him? It was but natural. He was not fanatical in 
this thing he had set out to do. He was not running 
amuck. It was a pledge to be kept—a pledge to Old 
Man Wayne. He would keep it without any fuss. He 
might be killed. Quite possible. In that case it was 
at an end; otherwise he would go on—that was all 
there was to it. But because in the meantime he 
joined in the smiles of others, or experienced likes 
and dislikes for those with whom he came in contact, 
or took an interest in what went on around him, 
especially when extraordinary happenings such as last 
night were involved, it did not mean that he was 
either breaking faith with Old Man Wayne, if he 
could put it that way, or that it was an evidence of 
weakening resolve even though he might physically 
still be carrying on—as he was doing now—at this 
moment. 

Queer thoughts! . . . Strange! . . . There was 
only one ending . . . Crimson Sash. . . , 

The cigarette between his lingers crumpled and 
broke. He saw a foredeck ladder jammed with ugly 
naked things out of the pit of hell—mad with blood 


92 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


lust. And there stared up at him from under tram¬ 
pling feet upon that ladder a white man’s face—the 
face of a man who had died that another might live. 
Lucky push. . . . Oh, God! 

He turned suddenly on his face, and, with it buried 
in his hands, lay motionless. 

And, lying there, the afternoon passed in silence 
until at the end Gulab Singh touched him respectfully 
upon the shoulder. 

“The sahib has slept long,” said Gulab Singh. “See 
here is the river.” 

And Kenneth Wayne, who had not slept, nodded as 
he sat up. 

“Right!” he said. 

The boat, turning in from the coast line, was begin¬ 
ning to skirt the near bank of a stream which here, at 
its mouth, was perhaps half a mile in width, and 
Kenneth Wayne, as he stared at the shore, nodded his 
head again. If this had once been the site of a village, 
all trace of it had certainly long since been obliterated 
for the shore was dense with foliage and vegetation, 
save for a little stretch of sand ahead with a slightly 
more open space behind it—a good place for the 
night’s camp—toward which the boat was heading. 

Kenneth Wayne stretched himself. He would be 
glad to get his feet on land, though the prospect 
wasn’t particularly inviting—what he could see of it. 
And then suddenly his eyes, from roving aimlessly 
around him, held, as he caught sight of it, upon a thin 
grey wreath of smoke rising from amongst the tree9 
and apparently quite some little distance inland from 
the shore. In view of what Gulab Singh had said this 
was rather curious, for it could hardly be due to some 
other party journeying either up or down the river and 
making camp for the night, since in that case, rather 


WHERE NO MAN LIVED 


93 


than invite the labour of forcing a way into what 
looked like little less than a jungle, the camp would 
logically have been pitched on the shore itself. He 
turned to Gulab Singh. Gulab Singh was staring at 
the same object. 

The boat grounded on the beach. 

“I thought you said this place had been deserted for 
years, Gulab Singh,” said Kenneth Wayne, pointing 
to the smoke; “that, as you put it, no man dwells 
here ?” 

“Even so, sahib,” Gulab Singh answered in a 
puzzled way. “And even so I believed. For so it 
was as the tale ran.” 

He turned to the Malays and began to question 
them rapidly. 

Kenneth Wayne listened to their replies. He waited 
patiently and quite blank of face for the translation 
which he could have made with far more facility 
himself. 

“No man has lived here, sahib, in their knowledge 
for all the years of that tale which I told you,” said 
Gulab Singh. “They say that when the death-water 
of the spirits came in anger upon the place it left the 
ground accursed and no longer good to dwell upon.” 

“Which means, I suppose,” said Kenneth Wayne 
quietly, “that with the lagoon gone, which was a sort 
of natural dam, and the banks being low and flat, the 
ground becomes more or less of a swamp in the rainy 
season and when the river is high.” 

“Mayhap that is true,” replied Gulab Singh 
thoughtfully. “I do not know, sahib.” 

Kenneth Wayne stepped ashore. 

“Well, there’s some one here now anyhow,” Fe said 
coolly. “And under the circumstances the unknown 
inhabitant ought to be distinctly worth while. That 


94 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


smoke can’t be more than a quarter of a mile away at 
the outside, and I’ll take a look-see while you are 
making camp.” 

“As the sahib wills,” said Gulab Singh. “But it is 
not well that he should go alone. I do not need all 
the men for the making of the camp. Let him take 
two. They will make a path for him; and, as the 
sahib knows, three are stronger than one. Also, sahib, 
if it be those of their own people who are here and in 
whose tongue the sahib is dumb, they will speak for 
him.” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded. 

“Yes, perhaps you’re right,” he agreed. “Send ’em 
along.” 


— IX — 


ITU KONCHI-KAN KITAB 

K ENNETH WAYNE crossed the little stretch 
of sand to the fringe of the trees; and here the 
two Malays detailed by Gulab Singh took the 
lead and began to force a way for him through the 
woods. It was not easy. The ground was very 
soggy, the undergrowth thick with tough and en¬ 
tangling creepers, the trees and branches close to¬ 
gether, the latter annoyingly low and intertwined. 
Once, underfoot, he thought he detected the remains 
of one of the old stockades—a few small tree trunks, 
rotten, that crumbled to the touch, and that from a 
certain uniformity in which they still lay upon the 
ground might once have been posts. 

But after what he judged to be a distance of some 
two hundred yards, the woods began to thin abruptly; 
so much so, in fact, that the belt of extremely thick 
growth through which he had just passed, suggested 
a stockade in itself. The idea intrigued him, for some 
of the trees must have been very old. He wondered, 
with a grim smile, if it were not more than merely a 
freak of nature that had been at work here in the days 
gone by to form a screen, quite innocent in appearance, 
serving both as a source of defence and a trap for the 
unwary, and behind which had been hidden one of the 
piratical and marauding villages of Gulab Singh’s 
tale? 

And a few minutes later he became quite convinced 
95 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


9 6 

that this was so. He was standing in what was, com¬ 
paratively, a clearing of considerable extent. The 
undergrowth was still wild, thick, tangled, luxuriant, 
but there were scarcely any trees, while still plainly in 
evidence, though for the most part mere heaps of 
decay overrun with vegetation, were to be seen the 
ruins of native huts—though here and there yet re¬ 
mained a few that, even in their dissolution, were 
more upstanding. And it was from one of these 
latter, over at the extreme opposite end of the clear¬ 
ing, that, rising straight upward in the still air, he 
caught sight again of the thin column of grey smoke 
he had noticed from the shore. 

He made his way forward in that direction, the 
Malays following behind him now, chattering in low 
tones to each other. He could not catch any more 
than fragments of what they said: 

“. . . Here surely had been one of the villages of 
the great Rajah Kana-ee-a. ... It was as their 
fathers had told them. . . . The smoke was not to 
be understood. ... It would be better if the white 
man went more carefully. . . . Who could tell what 
was the meaning of that smoke? . . .” 

He paid no further attention to them. He reached 
the hut without having seen any one, or having heard 
any sound. But now as he stood for a moment in 
front of it he frowned a little in perplexity. It was 
a bit queer! A most strange place of habitation! The 
hut could hardly be said to be still standing. It had 
fallen from the upright posts upon which, like most 
Malay houses, it had originally been built, and the 
walls, what were left of them, canted at many perilous 
and unsafe angles. Also, he could see that, save for 
a very small and sagging portion in front, and this 
quite rotten, the roof was entirely gone. 


ITU KONCHI-KAN KITAB 


97 

Kenneth Wayne peered in now through the opening 
that had once evidently been the doorway. And then 
suddenly he rubbed his eyes in utter amazement, and 
stepped inside. At the back of the hut on the floor, 
or, rather, on the ground, where there was no longer 
any roof above or wall behind, two huge earthenware 
bowls, apparently filled with damp leaves or burning 
vegetation of some sort, emitted thick columns of 
smoke that spiralled together as they rose in the air. 
Behind these bowls were two grotesque, crude and 
quite hideous, wooden, squatting idols, some three feet 
in height, whose arms, extended to meet each other, 
supported between them an object of apparently still 
greater worship, for this latter had two little bowls 
of smoke incense all to itself which were suspended 
from the idols’ arms. Kenneth Wayne, from where 
he stood a few paces away, could not quite make out 
through the smoke just what this object was, but it 
appeared to have some sort of a dragon scroll upon 
it and to be in shape much like a book. 

There was a half whimsical, half grim little smile on 
his lips, as he stepped nearer and picked up this 
object of peculiar adoration from its weird and bar¬ 
baric altar. He was probably committing a sacrilege 
unforgivable and of great enormity. Undoubtedly! 
For he heard quick and smothered ejaculations from 
the two Malays, who, having followed him inside 
the hut, now stood behind him. They were staring 
in a sort of incredulous wonder, a wonder mingled 
with suppressed excitement, at the object in his hand. 

He stared at it now, too. It was a book—quite a 
large book. In size it reminded him of the old 
family Bible at home. And it was a most curious 
book. It was bound in leather, spotted, mildewed 
and worn in spots; and the whole was covered with 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


98 

an open-work design of a dragon in thick, solid brass, 
very strong and heavy, turned greenish-coloured now, 
evidently with age. 

“Itu Konchi-kan Kitab!” he heard one of the 
Malays whisper breathlessly. 

What did they mean by that?—“The Locked Book.” 
He turned it over. Yes, it was locked. He could not 
open it. But there did not seem to be any lock on it. 
Perhaps a spring clasp, then? No. Ah, he had it 
now! The dragon’s tail and the dragon’s mouth met 
over the edges of the cover, and the tail was solidly 
brazed into the mouth. He could not move the covers 
by the fraction of an inch, nor could- 

A scream, wild, demoniacal, rang suddenly and 
without warning almost in his ears, it seemed. And 
on the instant, quick—quick as the winking of an eye 
—the book was snatched from his hands. He was 
conscious that the gaunt, stark-naked figure of a man, 
a native, with long, matted hair, with shrieking lips, 
with eyes that blazed in a demented way, had bounded 
in through the broken wall of the hut, and, snatching 
the book to hug it tightly to a bony breast, had 
bounded back through the opening, still screaming in 
rage and fury, and was now running for the woods, 
close at hand again here at this end of the clearing, 
and where almost instantly he disappeared. 

“Good God!” gasped Kenneth Wayne helplessly. 

He looked at the Malays. They had drawn back 
toward the front of the hut and stood close together, 
startled, shaken, their eyes riveted on the opening 
through which had come and gone what had indeed 
seemed like little less than an apparition. What the 
devil did it all mean? They had appeared to recog¬ 
nise the book—called it “The Locked Book.” But he 
could not question them. He was not supposed to 



ITU KONCHI-KAN KITAB 


99 

know a w r ord of their language, much less to have 
understood what they had said. 

For a moment he stood hesitant. Then he motioned 
the Malays out of the hut, and, following them, 
started on the way back to camp. He had found out 
what the smoke meant—some wild devotee with un¬ 
hinged mind, a mad hermit worshipping a dragon- 
covered book. He was a bit sorry he had desecrated 
the poor creature’s shrine. Rather curious, though, 
that Itu Konchi-kan Kitab! The two Malays weren’t 
talking very much now, and then only in low voices. 
He couldn’t catch anything they said. He would 
question them, of course—through Gulab Singh. 
Some native superstition or other—they were all full 
of that sort of thing. 

He walked on at a sharp pace, but the light was 
fading before he reached the camp. Here he found 
his small tent—part of the Merwoods’ equipment— 
already pitched, and his personal belongings, a canvas 
kit bag, a leather valise and his gun case, deposited 
inside. A meal was in process of cooking over the fire. 
He called Gulab Singh to him. 

“We found a ruined hut over there,” he said con¬ 
versationally, “and inside there were two idols and 
a book covered with the brass design of a dragon 
whose mouth and tail fastened the book together so 
that it could not be opened. The smoke was the 
incense from burning leaves. I picked up the book 
from where it lay on the idols’ arms to examine it, 
and a native, naked as the day he was born, rushed 
in and seized the book from me, and ran screaming 
away into the woods again. The man was insane, I 
believe, and that I can understand—a madman’s 
worship of it be no matter what. But the two men 


100 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


with me seemed to recognise the book. Ask them 
about it, Gulab Singh. I am curious.” 

Gulab Singh for a moment remained thoughtful. 

“All this is very strange, sahib,” he said slowly at 
last. “A book that is covered in brass like a dragon, 
and that cannot be opened because of the tail and the 
mouth which fastens it together. It is in my mind that 
in the tale of Kana-ee-a and the trembling of the 
earth and the uprising of the waters that I related to 
the sahib there is also such a book spoken of. But, 
sahib, I do not know these tales as the men of their 
own land know them. As the sahib has ordered, I 
will speak to them.” 

The two Malays had joined the others around the 
fire. Kenneth Wayne with Gulab Singh beside him 
walked over to them. The whole group appeared 
greatly excited. Gulab Singh began to question the 
two men—and again, appearing only to gain an inkling 
of what was said from the expression of their faces 
and the gestures that they made, Kenneth Wayne 
stood by and listened. And at the end Gulab Singh, 
for the second time that evening, translated some¬ 
what imperfectly what had already been very perfectly 
understood. 

“Sahib,” he said, “it is as I thought. It is such a 
book, as the tale goes, that the Rajah Kana-ee-a was 
said to have. For many years he fought in many 
places, and took much booty from the white men’s 
ships, and so much wealth did he amass, and in so 
many places, that he could not take it from place to 
place, and therefore much of it he hid in the different 
islands, and in such treasure he became rich beyond the 
wealth of any other man. So it is told, sahib, and so 
it is believed. And that he might find again when he 
would these treasures, he fashioned a book locked 


ITU KONCHI-KAN KITAB 


IOI 


with the mouth and tail of a dragon, and on the pages 
of this book he wrote down the secrets of where the 
treasures were concealed. And no man might open 
the book, sahib, not even himself, except by the cutting 
of the dragon’s tail; and when he himself opened it 
to write within another hiding place of treasure, the 
book was locked once more by the fusing together of 
the metals. That is the tale, sahib. The body of the 
Rajah Kana-ee-a was found washed up on the ocean 
shore many miles from here when death came with 
the trembling of the earth and the flood of waters, 
but the book was never found. Men searched for it, 
sahib, until they died, and after them their sons, until, 
with the passing of the years men searched no longer, 
though all, even as these men here, knew the tale.” 

Kenneth Wayne stared at the restless group of 
Malays around the fire, and found every pair of eyes 
fixed upon him. He stared at the great turbaned 
head of Gulab Singh. All this was bizarre. Dorothy 
Merwood had already dubbed Gulab Singh a Grand 
Vizier, and he himself had likened the man to the 
figure in his fairy book elongating itself from the 
mouth of the jar as it escaped from enchantment. 
The Arabian Nights in real life! This tale of the 
buccaneering Rajah Kana-ee-a of many years ago, with 
his book of treasure secrets, might well have been one 
told by Shahrazad herself. He could imagine it all as 
a legend, embellished and enlarged upon as it passed 
from mouth to mouth, the imaginative faculties of 
those who related it adding a picturesque detail here 
and there, for Malaysia was indeed, he knew, a land 
of legends by which great store was set; but beyond 
this as a mere legend, as far as he was concerned, it 
was hard to go. A book that no living man had ever 
seen, that was supposed to have existed, and that dis- 


102 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


appeared with the death of its possessor some two 
generations or more ago, to turn up now—here! 
And yet there was a sense of reality about it, too— 
one that would not be denied. The legendary ac¬ 
count, and that all the more amazing for the span of 
years it bridged, coincided in every particular with 
the description of “the locked book” that had now 
been metamorphosed into a pagan deity, or at least 
symbolised one, and as such was being worshipped by 
a naked and demented savage. In brief, he had seen 
the book. 

“Gulab Singh,” he said in a puzzled way, “what 
do you make of it? These men, I suppose, believe it 
is the original book?” 

“Yes, sahib; they say that it is surely so.” 

“And you?” 

Gulab Singh remained silent for a moment. 

“It is in my mind, sahib,” he said slowly, “that the 
book as the sahib has told of it is like unto the one 
that has come down in the mouths of men since the 
time of Kana-ee-a. How, O sahib, could there be two 
such books?” 

“True,” said Kenneth Wayne. “But, granting its 
existence in the first place, it’s incredible that it should 
turn up here after all these years.” 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh gravely, “we travel upon 
the Wheel, and strange is Fate. What is written is 
written. If it be here that the Kitab should come 
again to the eyes of men, who shall gainsay it?” 

“Oh, yes, that’s right enough, I suppose,” said 
Kenneth Wayne. “If it was ever to come to light 
again, it had to come to light somewhere. Well, 
anyway, the matter’s easily settled. It’s dark now, 
and there’s no use going back there to-night. If he 
heard us coming he’d probably only take to the woods 


ITU KONCHI-KAN KITAB 


103 


again, and we’d never find him. I don’t know whether 
it was fear or fanatical fury that possessed him the 
more. We’ll go over in the morning and see if we 
can’t pacify the chap, and get him to let us have a look 
at the book. It is evident, at any rate, that to him it 
means only a sacred object of worship—a god of some 
sort, on account of the dragon, I fancy—for certainly 
it has not been opened.” 

Gulab Singh inclined his head. 

“It is well, sahib,” he said; “and as the sahib 
directs, so shall it be done.” 

With a gesture, as though dismissing the entire 
matter, Kenneth Wayne turned away from the fire¬ 
light. . 

“Bring me food, Gulab Singh,” he said, and walked 
back to his tent. 

But the matter was not to be so easily dismissed. 
He could not shake it from his thoughts. It clung 
persistently. It was with him when he turned in for 
the night. He even summed it up aloud—rather 
unsatisfactorily—just before he fell asleep. 

“Damned queer yarn, that!” said Kenneth Wayne 
to himself. 


— X — 


THE KEEPER OF THE BOOK 

K ENNETH WAYNE slept heavily—but not 
restfully. It was a night of dreams—a toilsome 
night. He worked very hard—Gulab Singh 
was a hard taskmaster. At first they went in a boat 
over a great expanse of water until they came to a 
gloomy and forbidding shore; and then they began to 
walk vast distances, now through almost impenetrable 
forests, now over what seemed unscalable mountain 
heights, and now through valleys and ravines, and now 
they crawled on hands and knees through long, dark 
caverns that went down into the bowels of the earth. 
And always Gulab Singh carried a book that had a 
dragon on it. And always they seemed to be followed 
though nothing took shape behind them. And some¬ 
times they ran from this thing that followed them 
until he thought they had eluded it, and then he was 
conscious that it was still there and still watching them. 
And sometimes they overturned huge boulders and 
dug beneath them because Gulab Singh said it was 
written in the book that what they sought was there. 
But there was never anything beneath the boulders. 
And they went on, and on, and on, and always Gulab 
Singh’s monstrous turban led the way, and always the 
stealthy, unseen thing that followed was near at hand. 
And finally, through a strange passage hewn out of 
solid rock, whose walls were of such enormous height 
that the top could not be seen, they came to a sub- 
104 


THE KEEPER OF THE BOOK 


105 

terranean lagoon, and because the book was a magical 
talisman they could walk under the water; and here 
they came upon a magnificent chamber that was filled 
with chests of gold, and great heaps of jewelry and 
precious stones, and priceless cloths of great beauty, 
and wondrous treasures of all kinds. And Gulab 
Singh kept calling out to him to gather these together. 
But he did not do so because, looking down on them 
from above through the transparent water as through 
a window, he could see a man’s face that was full of 
sardonic humour, a face that he knew—and then he 
knew who it was who had been following them because 
that was Crimson Sash up there. And Gulab Singh 
kept on calling out—calling out—calling out- 

Kenneth Wayne sat suddenly upright. Gulab Singh 
was calling out. The turbaned head filled the entrance 
to the tent. 

“Well, what’s up?” growled Kenneth Wayne 
sleepily. “It’s beastly early yet, isn’t it?” 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh, “it is barely dawn, but 
I have ill news. In the night all the stores have been 
stolen. There remains nothing, even so much as I 
could carry in the hollow of my hand—only the boat.” 

“What’s that!” exclaimed Kenneth Wayne sharply. 
He jumped to his feet and began to fling himself into 
his clothes. “All right,” he jerked out; “I’ll be there 
in a second!” 

It was just getting light as he stepped outside the 
tent. The Malays, a little way off on the beach, 
seemed to be huddled together in an awe-struck, 
frightened group. Gulab Singh stood waiting for 
him a pace away. He stared into Gulab Singh’s face 
—it was nearer to showing emotion than he had ever 
thought it capable of—it mirrored a sort of help¬ 
less and dumfounded anxiety. 



106 THE LOCKED BOOK 

“Now, then!” he snapped. “You’re sure of this, 
Gulab Singh?” 

Gulab Singh spread out his hands. 

“The sahib has only to look,” he said. He bowed 
his head. “And, sahib, I am ashamed.” 

“Never mind about that,” said Kenneth Wayne 
tersely. “When did you find it out?” 

“But a little while ago, sahib, when I awoke. But 
first we searched in all directions before I brought 
the news to the sahib.” 

“And the men, there—what do they say?” 

“No man heard anything through the night, sahib. 
They say the place is accursed.” 

“Accursed nothing!” said Kenneth Wayne savagely. 
“But it’s a bit thick—by God!” His eyes fell on the 
boat. “Left that, eh? And took all the provisions 
and stores! A rather broad hint, I’d say, to vacate the 
premises—what? Well, I don’t imagine we’ll have 
far to look for the thief, or the stores either. It’s 
probably that mad devotee whose shrine I violated 
yesterday; and he’s taken a very effective way of 
telling us he doesn’t want us around here.” He smiled 
grimly. “We’ll go over there a little earlier than we 
intended, Gulab Singh. In fact, we’ll breakfast with 
him, since we no longer have any of our own here.” 

“It may well be that the sahib is right,” said Gulab 
Singh earnestly. “Does the sahib mean that we go at 
once ?” 

“Yes—at once,” Kenneth Wayne answered crisply. 

“And the men, sahib—shall all go?” 

“No,” said Kenneth Wayne. “Leave one man 
here to look after what’s left—my tent and belongings. 
Take all the rest—the fellow has probably hidden our 
things as well as himself, and there’ll be a bit of 
searching to do. Come along, now! Follow me!” 


THE KEEPER OF THE BOOK 


107 

He turned abruptly, and, striking into the woods, 
began to break his way through the thick belt of 
growth in the direction of the mad fanatic’s hut. He 
was angry, incensed, and in no gentle mood. He was 
perfectly convinced that the mad fool was the author 
of the theft, but he was not at all convinced that he 
would ever see the man, or, what was far more vital, 
any of the stores again. If he were right, the man 
would keep under cover and the stores would be hidden 
with all a madman’s craftiness. It was a serious 
matter. Without provisions he could not continue 
the trip, and it would be a case of going back to 
Salabam to replenish. It would not have been im¬ 
possible, or even difficult, for one man to have got 
away with all the stores, given a night to do it in. 
Leaving out the tent and his, Kenneth Wayne’s, per¬ 
sonal baggage, there were only the provisions, and 
these consisted solely of the essentials and were in 
small, compact and not over-many packages— 
especially packed, in fact, to facilitate handling. There 
could be no question on that score. He swore aloud. 

“Damn the old idiot and his infernal book!” he 
snarled angrily. 

He broke through into the clearing. There was no 
smoke—no incense rising from the shrine this morn¬ 
ing! Exactly what he had expected! The man had 
decamped. He heard the Malays chattering behind 
him. They were commenting on the same fact. And 
now Gulab Singh brought it to his attention. 

“So, I see!” said Kenneth Wayne curtly. “And 
I’ve an idea breakfast isn’t ready here, either.” And 
then, still more curtly: “Make a dash for it! If he’s 
there and hasn’t seen us, don’t give him a chance to 
get out of reach!” 

He was running now with Gulab Singh and the 


io8 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Malays at his heels. He crossed the intervening 
space, watching as he ran, but saw no sign of life or 
movement from the hut. Then, panting and a little 
breathless, he drew up, not before the opening that 
evidenced the existence of what had once been a door¬ 
way, but at the rear where, with the walls and roof 
crumbled away, the madman’s shrine stood, as it were, 
in the open air, and such as might be called the interior 
of the wretched place was in full view. 

And for a moment he stood still, his square jaw 
outthrust a little, his face hard, his lips drawn together 
in a tight, straight line. He heard a strange, quick 
grunt as though of mingled shock and abhorrence from 
Gulab Singh behind him; he heard a low flutter of 
exclamations from the little body of Malays. And 
then, without a word, he stepped forward into the 
hut. 

It was not a pleasant sight. On the floor in a pool 
of blood lay the naked body of the mad fanatic. He 
stooped and touched the body. It was cold. The 
man had been dead at least several hours—been 
stabbed in half a dozen places. He stared at the 
other’s face—he hadn’t seen it clearly yesterday. The 
man wasn’t pure Malay . . . there seemed to be a 
Mongolian cast to the features . . . the narrower 
eyes, the yellowish tinge to the skin ... a man well 
past middle age. What difference did all that make? 
The man had been murdered. 

His eyes, making a circuit of the hut now, rested 
on the two wooden idols. They had not been dis¬ 
turbed; they still extended their arms to each other— 
but the book with the brass dragon was gone. 

The Malays, who had edged forward, drawn as if 
almost against their will by morbid curiosity, retreated 
again until they stood outside now, a little whispering 


THE KEEPER OF THE BOOK 109 

crowd, with several yards between themselves and the 
hut. 

Gulab Singh alone remained. He stood with folded 
arms, immovable, his eyes fixed on the huddled form 
on the floor. 

Kenneth Wayne’s eyes drifted to the knot of whis¬ 
pering Malays, and for a moment he studied them 
with a sort of cold deliberation; and then he turned 
abruptly and began a thorough and painstaking search 
of the hut. It was perhaps futile—he rather expected 
it would be—but it would at least set one doubt at 
rest. He dug out the rubbish from the corners with 
his hands, overturned the few miserable bits of mat 
that were strewn about the ground that made the 
floor, examined the floor itself, and then the rotting 
walls. There was no sign of the dragon-covered 
book. 

He returned finally to where Gulab Singh stood. 
The man had not moved; but he raised his eyes now, 
and his lips twitched queerly as he spoke. 

“Sahib,” he said hoarsely, “no man has said to 
Gulab Singh that he was a child to tremble or cry out 
with fear; but, sahib, it is in my mind that these men 
have spoken truth, and that this place is indeed ac¬ 
cursed.” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne grimly, “there’s no 
doubt about it—it’s accursed with a damned 
murderer and a thief, and I’d give something to get 
my hands on the devil who did this! It was that 
book, of course, this chap was murdered for—and it’s 
gone, all right. And unless I miss my guess, it was 
some one, or all of those swine out there who are at 
the bottom of it.” 

“Sahib,” cautioned Gulab Singh in a whisper, “do 
not speak so loud.” 


no 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Why?” demanded Kenneth Wayne brusquely, but 
lowering his voice none the less. “Do any of them 
speak English?” 

“I do not know, sahib. But it may well be that they 
have learned from the white men in Salabam perhaps 
this word or that—enough to bring evil upon the 
sahib. What is the sahib’s will? Shall search still 
be made here for the stores?” 

“No,” said Kenneth Wayne tersely; “nor for the 
book—for neither are here. See that this poor devil 
is as decently disposed of as you can, and when it is 
done bring the men back to the camp. You will find 
me there.” 

Gulab Singh bowed his head in assent. 

“It is well, sahib,” he said. 

The little group of Malays were watching intently. 
Kenneth Wayne was conscious of that, but without a 
glance in their direction he turned and left the hut 
by the opening in front, and started back toward the 
camp. 

He wanted to think if he could—get his mind 
clear. It was clogged with the shock of that brutal 
and hideous thing that had been done back there. 
Malays! Malays, with their culture and religion and 
ethics and legends! His hands clenched. What 
would Mr. Merwood say to this? Who knew them 
the better? A Fellow of the Royal Society, or—or 
—No; that wasn’t fair. What had Mr. Merwood 
to do with this anyway? Mr. Merwood did not know 
Old Man Wayne. . . . The popular belief. . . . God 
in heaven! . . . 

This wouldn’t do! This got him nowhere. It was 
one of the two Malays, or both of them, who had 
accompanied him to the hut yesterday evening, or all 
of them banded now together, wasn’t it?—their greed, 


THE KEEPER OF THE BOOK 


hi 


their cupidity, their superstition, the worst that was 
in them, where theft and murder was a trade for 
generations, aroused by that book with its promise of 
riches, its fabled store of enormous wealth—and only 
an old madman to stab in the night in order to acquire 
it! 

It wasn’t the old madman who had stolen the stores. 
The matter took on a very different complexion now. 
The theft and the murder both had almost certainly 
been committed within his own party. There was only 
one alternative theory—that it was some one else. He 
laughed harshly aloud at himself. Brilliant! It 
sounded like the mouthing of a fool. But that was 
exactly what he meant—that perhaps a boat party 

had passed up or down the river in the night and- 

But what would such a party know of the book or 
the old fanatic, and why should such a party have 
risked the invasion of the camp after the stores? It 
didn’t ring true. Was it possible that others besides 
the maniac lived here? If so, why hadn’t the maniac 
been murdered and the book taken long ago? That 
didn’t ring true, either. 

It came back, like running around a circle, to the 
Malays. They possessed the motive, the opportunity, 
and a hideous eagerness of character for just such 
bloody and abominable work. It was the Malays. 
There remained no doubt in his mind. 

The theft of the book, the theft of the stores, the 
murder of the old madman were all of a piece. Having 
stolen the book, they didn’t want to spend ten days 
or two weeks rowing up and down the coast when 
treasure greater than they had ever dreamed of was 
theirs somewhere else for the taking. 

Naturally! They wanted to end the trip—and taking 
the supplies would end it very effectually! They were 



112 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


clever enough to do it that way. To desert would have 
invited suspicion; hut to disband at Salabam and 
refuse to start off again when the stores were re¬ 
plenished on the score of the white man taking them 
to places that were accursed, and all that sort of 
fetish that they could get away with, was too charac¬ 
teristic of a native to arouse, ordinarily, even 
comment. 

But they wouldn’t get away with it if he could help 
it! His hands clenched tightly again. These were 
the brothers and the kin and the ilk of those fiends out 
of hell who had swarmed the deck of the War at an that 
night. God, if there were only a machine gun for 
these too, and- 

His passion was rising. No use in that! He forced 
coolness back upon himself. 

He had no proof. 

He mulled over this factor of the problem for a 
space. And then a smile came—not a pleasant smile. 
Perhaps that proof wasn’t so hard to obtain, after all! 
And if he got that proof, perhaps he’d have his stores 
back at the same time. No—hardly! He’d have the 
lot of them at his throat. Well, even so! The trip 
was at an end, in any case. There wasn’t any use 
inaugurating a search for the stores that the searchers 
themselves did not intend should be found. He might 
as well dismiss all thought of them utterly from his 
mind. They were gone—and that was the end of it. 
But it was quite a different matter with that book. 

Itu Konchi-kan Kitab! The Locked Book! It was 
not a question of whether he believed in it or not—as 
a matter of fact, he wasn’t at all sure what he believed. 
But the natives believed in it—had murdered for it 
—would murder again for it if necessary. And the 
point was* that, once it was in their possession, they 



THE KEEPER OF THE BOOK 113 

weren’t likely to let it get very far away from them 
again! 

He came out on the b$ach, and without a word to 
the lone Malay who had been left to guard the camp, 
he went down to the boat and swung himself over the 
gunwale. He searched every inch of her, ransacked 
through every locker, and lifted every grating. The 
boat was absolutely empty. 

The Malay eyed him askance. Kenneth Wayne, 
grim-lipped, got out of the boat at the end of his 
search, and sat down on the sand, his back against 
the boat’s bow. 

He sat there for a long time. Finally he heard the 
men returning, breaking their way through the trees. 
And then, Gulab Singh at their head, they appeared 
on the beach. 

Kenneth Wayne rose to his feet, but he did not 
move away from the boat. His hand was in the side 
pocket of his coat. 

“Gulab Singh,” he jcalled out sharply, “let the 
men strike that tent, and bring my things down here 
to the boat!” 

“Yes, sahib,” Gulab Singh answered. 

Kenneth Wayne was smiling again—and again not 
pleasantly—as, a few minutes later, the Malays, 
carrying the tent and his personal effects, all that was 
left from the raid upon the camp, trooped down the 
beach to the boat. 

“Tell them to put the things here on the sand, 
Gulab Singh,” directed Kenneth Wayne evenly; and 
then, as he was obeyed: “Now tell them to stand in 
line—and strip!” 

There was a sullen murmur as Gulab Singh trans¬ 
lated the order. Kenneth Wayne’s hand came from 
his pocket, and, outflung, pointed a revolver. 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


114 

“Strip!” he rasped in English. 

They began to obey slowly, angrily. 

“It is well, sahib,” said Gulab Singh impassively, 
“that I should do likewise.” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded curtly. 

Seven naked men stood before him. 

He bit his lip. There was no sign of the book 
with the dragon cover. 

“Tell them to dress again, put the things in the 
boat, and shove off, Gulab Singh,” he said harshly. 
“We’ll get back to Salabam.” 

He turned his back upon them and clambered into 
the stern of the boat under the awning, his jaws 
clamped hard. There was no sign of the book, but he 
had scored at any rate. They had not expected an 
abrupt departure such as this. That was the obvious 
explanation. They had hidden the book somewhere, 
not daring to carry it around on their persons and con¬ 
cealed in the few clothes they wore, but they had not 
counted on having no opportunity to retrieve it before 
leaving the place. And since it wasn’t hidden in the 
boat—he’d made sure of that!—they would come 
back for it— if they could! Well, that remained to 
be seen! Was there any other possible explanation? 
Yes—one. They might never have found it them¬ 
selves after murdering the old fanatic. The old 
fanatic, fearful for its safety after what had happened 
last evening, might have hidden it himself before he 
was attacked. Well, in that case also they would 
come back to make a further search for it —if they 
could! 

The boat was pushed off. The Malays took 
sullenly to the oars. Kenneth Wayne did not recline 
on his back now under the awning. He sat upright 
with his hand in the side pocket of his coat. 


THE KEEPER OF THE BOOK 


115 

Gulab Singh, squatting in the little cockpit, turned 
his head. 

“They are very angry, sahib,” he said in a low 
voice. “But also they are afraid, though we be but 
two to six. Will the sahib make report of this thing 
in Salabam?” 

“That’s what I am going back for,” Kenneth Wayne 
answered shortly—and added in grim facetiousness: 
“That—and breakfast.” 


— XI 


MAJOR PETERS OF SALABAM 

T HE Malays pulled sullenly at the oars. That 
they pulled at all was because, when their lower¬ 
ing glances lifted, the white man under the 
awning always had his hand in the pocket of his coat. 
They muttered to themselves. At times their mur- 
murings x rose in unison and became like the ugly 
snarling of a beast as it shows its teeth. But their 
physical defiance lay only in the apathy with which 
they laboured. The boat made slow progress. It was 
the middle of the afternoon when it reached Salabam. 

As it grounded on the beach, Kenneth Wayne 
nodded curtly to Gulab Singh, and motioned with an 
out-flung hand toward the boat’s crew. 

“Warn them again to stay where they are,” he said 
tersely; “and then get Major Peters down here as 
quickly as you can.” 

“Yes, sahib.” 

Gulab Singh repeated the order, and, getting out of 
the boat, hurried across the beach and disappeared 
behind the trees that fringed the road in front of 
the town. 

Kenneth Wayne in turn stepped out on the beach, 
and stood a few paces off watching the six men. They 
were morosely obedient to the command not to leave 
their seats, but there was now added to the sullen 
behaviour they had exhibited since leaving the camp 
that morning an obvious uneasiness. They moved 
116 


MAJOR PETERS OF SALABAM 117 

about restlessly, casting furtive glances at him, glanc¬ 
ing from one to another, glancing apprehensively 
across the beach in the direction taken by Gulab Singh. 
Their mutterings were low, angry, confused—and 
these, if he approached at all nearer to the boat, 
ceased entirely and gave place to still darker looks. 
He could catch nothing of what they said, but it could 
be readily understood for all that: “What was the 
white man going to do?” 

Perhaps ten minutes elapsed, and then a tall, 
angular figure in white, which Kenneth Wayne recog¬ 
nised as that of Major Peters, appeared through the 
fringe of trees, and, followed by Gulab Singh, came 
down across the beach to the boat. 

“Sorry to have knocked you up, Major Peters,” 
said Kenneth Wayne quietly, as the other halted 
before him. “Think perhaps you were having your 
afternoon sleep, but there’s a bit of bad business here 
that had to be reported.” 

Major Peters had a thin face and deeply-socketed 
black eyes, and these now in turn stared ungraciously 
from Kenneth Wayne to the Malays in the boat and 
back to Kenneth Wayne again. 

“Humph!” he said testily. “A bit of bad business, 
eh? I must say, Mr. Wayne, that you’re something 
of a bird of ill omen. You only arrived the day before 
yesterday, and yesterday you bring me the report of 
an attempted murder; and to-day you’re back again, 
according to this fellow here”—he jerked a thumb in 
the direction of Gulab Singh—“with the tale of the 
killing of some wild man down along the coast.” 

Mentally, Kenneth Wayne had already, from his 
previous meeting, classified the other as an irritable 
brute. He reiterated that opinion now—mentally. 
He did not like the man; but the sallow skin spoke 


118 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


eloquently of liver, as he had before noted, and in the 
tropics much is forgiven—the liver. 

“Sorry again, sir,” said Kenneth Wayne a little 
tartly; “but in your official position-” 

“Well, well!” interrupted Major Peters. “What’s 
the story, and what have these men got to do with it?” 

Briefly, Kenneth Wayne recounted the facts. 

“Humph!” grunted Major Peters at the end. “Saw 
the wild man and the book, found the wild man mur¬ 
dered next morning, the book gone and also your 
stores; searched these men and found nothing. That’s 
it in a nutshell, I take it?” 

The man was dictatorial, his tone brusque almost to 
offensiveness. Kenneth Wayne’s lips tightened. 

“Oh, quite!” he said. 

Major Peters pushed his pith helmet back on his 
head, and mopped with a handkerchief at his brow. 

“Well,” he snapped, “what, exactly, do you want 
me to do about it?” 

“That is for you to say,” returned Kenneth Wayne. 
“Personally, I believe they’ve got the book hidden 
back there somewhere, and will return for it at the 
first opportunity.” 

“Arrest them, or keep them under surveillance, I 
suppose, is what you mean,” said Major Peters gruffly. 
“Well, in the first place, Salabam is endowed with 
neither a jail nor a police force; and, furthermore, if 
you knew the natives as well as I do, sir, you would 
at once see the futility of any such a course. I’ve heard 
of that book—everybody who has lived in this section 
of the Archipelago has, as a matter of course—but it 
is what we call at home a nursery tale and-” 

“These chaps, however, believe it, right enough,” 
Kenneth Wayne cut in dryly. 

“Precisely what I am driving at,” said Major Peters 




MAJOR PETERS OF SALABAM 119 

curtly. “So much so, in fact, that, having once seen 
what they believe to be the actually existent book itself, 
they’d go to any length to get it. But what good 
would it do to arrest these men, or watch them, even 
if it were possible? They’ve all got innumerable rela¬ 
tives in the settlement here, and as the mouth of the 
river is quite accessible by land, they’d only pass the 
word out and the place would be visited just the same, 
and, if your theory is correct, the book taken from its 
hiding place in any case. I can’t mount guard over 
the Cheruchuk River. You can see the absurdity of 
such an idea.” 

Kenneth Wayne selected a cigarette from his case, 
and lighted it. Major Peters was not without reason; 
it was the man’s manner, the utter lack of cordiality, 
that rubbed the wrong way and invited retort. 

“Preposterous, of course!” he murmured with a thin 
smile. “But, just the same, it seems to me something 
ought to be done.” 

“Damn it!” exploded Major Peters. “I don’t like 
your tone, sir! Are you insinuating that I do not 
know my duty, or, knowing it, am not anxious to 
perform it?” 

“Never entered my head,” said Kenneth Wayne 
blandly. “I was merely thinking that I had most 
unaccountably lost all my stores.” 

Major Peters glared. 

“I have already explained to you,” he said angrily, 
“that the physical means at my disposal of upholding 
authority are extremely limited; but I want to say to 
you, sir, that, by God, they would be exercised, such 
as they are, to the fullest possible extent whenever such 
action were warranted. Have you any proof against 
these men?” 

Kenneth Wayne shrugged his shoulders. There was 


120 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


no use in prolonging the conversation. It was now up 
to Major Peters—that was all. 

“None,” he said. “I thought the matter should be 
brought to your attention—and I have done so. The 
rest is in your hands.” He turned to Gulab Singh. 
“Bring my things up to the hotel, Gulab Singh,” he 
ordered; and then, with a nod to Major Peters: “Good 
afternoon, sir.” 

Major Peters returned the salutation with a 
mechanical grunt. 

Kenneth Wayne started toward the hotel. Half¬ 
way across the beach he looked back. Gulab Singh 
had shouldered the bags and belongings, and was fol¬ 
lowing him. The Malays had climbed out of the 
boat, and, surrounding Major Peters, were gesticu¬ 
lating and chattering excitedly. Kenneth Wayne 
smiled a little grimly. What satisfaction there was 
in the whole affair was there. Major Peters’ irri¬ 
tability was not in the way of being appeased! Rather 
meagre satisfaction, though—with stores gone, and 
the trip worse than a failure! 

He gained the road, and continued on toward the 
hotel. It was only a short distance. Dorothy Mer- 
wood and her father, he could see, were on the front 
of the verandah. He looked back once more. Gulab 
Singh was still following a little way behind; and 
Major Peters, who had now reached the road, was 
still surrounded by the group of Malays—only there 
seemed to be more of these latter now than the original 
six who had composed the boat’s crew. And again 
Kenneth Wayne smiled. He wished Major Peters a 
very pleasant afternoon! 

From the railing above, Dorothy Merwood waved 
her hand, and, as he bowed in return, called out 
excitedly: 


MAJOR PETERS OF SALABAM 12 1 

“Why, Mr. Wayne, whatever brings you back? 
Do come up here at once and tell us!” 

“Coming, Miss Merwood !” he called back smilingly. 

Two stairways led to the second story of the hotel, 
opening on opposite sides of the verandah. He took 
the nearer one in order to pass Dorothy Merwood and 
her father on the way to his room. As he turned the 
corner of the verandah, she rose from her chair to 
meet him. 

“It isn’t possible, is it,” she asked a little breath¬ 
lessly, “that you have already found just what you 
were looking for? I do hope you have though! 
What wonderful luck that would be!” 

He smiled gravely as he shook hands with her, and, 
in turn, with Mr. Merwood—and nodded curtly to a 
man who had risen from a chair beside the one Doro¬ 
thy Merwood had been occupying. It was Mr. 
Walters, the Englishman from the cloth house in 
Manchester. 

“Mr. Wayne—Mr. Walters,” said Dorothy Mer¬ 
wood. 

Both of Kenneth Wayne’s hands were occupied— 
with match-box and cigarette case. He nodded again. 

“Glad to meet you—not being in the same line of 
business,” said Mr. Walters effusively—and laughed 
at his own idea of humour. “Can’t cut into the other 
chap, you see,” he explained, finding that no one 
echoed his laugh. And then, without change of in¬ 
flexion in his voice, but with something in the eyes 
beneath the drooping, over-puffy lids that was curi¬ 
ously snake-like: “You’re the mining chap that’s come 
out after the gold, Miss Merwood says.” 

“Yes,” said Dorothy Merwood quickly; “and he 
hasn’t answered my question yet.” She turned to 
Kenneth Wayne. “Did you find it?” 


122 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Kenneth Wayne shook his head slowly. 

“I’m afraid it’s the other way around, Miss Mer- 
wood,” he replied. “Instead of finding anything, I’ve 
lost about everything I started out with. All the 
stores were stolen last night.” 

“Stolen!” ejaculated Mr. Merwood. 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne; “and, on top of that, 
a bit of ugly business connected with the murder of a 
mad fanatic we found worshipping a book that, accord¬ 
ing to Gulab Singh, is the original of some legend built 
around an ancient piratical chief named Kana-ee-a.” 

“What’s that!” exclaimed Mr. Merwood in sudden 
excitement. “I know that tale! They call the book 
the Itu Konchi-kan Kitab —The Locked Book. Per¬ 
fectly amazing! You don’t mean to say it’s actually 
come to light! Good heavens, man, where is it? I’d 
give my head to authenticate a thing like that!” 

“Gone—like the stores,” said Kenneth Wayne. 
“But here’s Gulab Singh with all that’s left of my 
possessions. He can tell you more about it than I 
can.” 

“Yes!” cried Mr. Merwood eagerly, as Gulab 
Singh appeared around the corner of the verandah. 
“Come here, Gulab Singh!” 

Gulab Singh unshouldered his burdens, laid them 
down on the verandah, and salaamed gravely. 

Mr. Merwood fell to questioning the man, his ex¬ 
citement constantly growing; while Mr. Walters from 
Manchester became an intimate listener, standing 
close to the cot. But Dorothy Merwood’s interest 
was suddenly elsewhere. She touched Kenneth Wayne 
on the arm, and pointed down along the street. 

“Look at Major Peters!” she said. “Whatever is 
the matter, do you suppose? He seems to have every 
native in Salabam at his heels.” 


MAJOR PETERS OF SALABAM 123 

Kenneth Wayne looked. It was almost literally 
true. Out of the nucleus formed by the original six 
of the boat’s crew had grown a surging crowd, that 
not only overflowed the road, but entirely surrounded 
Major Peters until all that was to be seen of the man 
was a bobbing white helmet above a sea of dark 
heads. The crowd gesticulated and talked as it came 
scuffling on toward the hotel; and the sound of many 
voices, reaching now to the verandah, was like the 
buzzing of a swarm of angry bees. 

There was a grim twist to Kenneth Wayne’s lips. 

“It looks as though Major Peters wasn’t through 
with the thing after all,” he said. 

“What do you mean?” she asked. 

“Well,” he said, “I am pretty well convinced that 
some, or all of my crew are guilty on every one of 
three counts—the murder of that mad fanatic, the 
theft of my stores, and the theft of that book. I sent 
for Major Peters the moment the boat reached the 
beach here and told him what had happened. He 
seemed to think there wasn’t any proof to go on, in 
which, to be honest, I have to agree with him more or 
less, and that he couldn’t do anything under the cir¬ 
cumstances—in which I do not agree at all. As I say, 
it’s rather evident, however, that he hasn’t washed 
his hands entirely of the affair, though what’s up now 
is beyond me.” 

Dorothy Merwood was staring down into the road 
in a perturbed way now. 

“The natives seem to be very angry,” she said a 
little uneasily. “And they seem to be coming here. 
Look, some of them are pointing at us now!” 

“At me, I imagine,” corrected Kenneth Wayne 
quietly. 

“But why?” she asked in a quick, low way. 


124 THE LOCKED book 

There was something in her voice, an unconscious 
earnestness, a strange dismay that made him turn and 
look at her. He caught his breath. It was all over 
come and gone in the fleeting of an instant just a 
troubled something in the wide blue eyes, a fear not for 
herself. And in that instant she seemed as one who, 
hidden from him before, stood suddenly revealed, and 
he knew an amazement that set his pulse to throbbing 
at the golden beauty of her with her fair face uplifted 
and the sun upon her hair to make it shine in strands 
of burnished copper. 

And he stumbled for his words. 

“I do not know,” he said. 

Mr. Merwood had ceased his questioning of Gulab 
Singh, and the little group around the cot was now, 
too, staring down upon the road. 

“Oh, I say!” ejaculated Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester. “What’s all the bally row about?” 

With a mental wrench, Kenneth Wayne pulled him¬ 
self together. He glanced at the speaker, his lips 
suddenly tight. Mr. Walters was very English—in 
expression! 

No one made any answer. 

The crowd of natives had halted in front of the 
hotel now, packing the road in a solid mass; and now, 
in a sort of ugly and expectant silence, stood staring 
up at the verandah. And from different directions, 
from the beach, from the opposite ends of the road, 
stragglers, men, women and children, came running, 
merging with the outskirts of the crowd, swelling it. 

And then Mr. Walters from Manchester answered 
his own question. 

“There’s trouble here,” he said uncomfortably, his 
puffy eyes contracted; “and it’s got a nasty look to it 
—eh, what?—by Jove!” 


— XII — 


THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW 

K ENNETH WAYNE stepped to the verandah 
rail, and, leaning over, saw the boat’s crew 
detach itself from the rest of the crowd, and 
followed by Major Peters enter the hotel. The next 
instant he faced around again, his puzzled expression 
deepened, as from somewhere in the interior of the 
hotel below came Monsieur Nicholas Fouche’s voice 
shouting in strident tones: 

“Mille diables! What is this—eh? What is this? 
Out of here, } ere nom! I do not allow natives in 
here!” 

It was Major Peters’ voice that answered in equally 
sharp tones: 

“Then you’ll make an exception to your rule to-day, 
Monsieur Fouche!” 

“Oh, pardon, monsieur!” Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche’s voice underwent an instant change. It 
became at once ingratiating and apologetic. “I did 
not see monsieur. But certainly, monsieur, they shall 
enter—as many as you wish.” 

Footsteps sounded on the stairs—the patter of bare 
feet, the heavier tread of shoes. Then Major Peters 
appeared on the verandah, the six men of the boat’s 
crew behind him, and in the rear Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche, his little black eyes darting amazed and 
curious glances in all directions. 

Major Peters lifted his pith helmet, obviously in a 
purely mechanical concession to the amenities as his 
125 


126 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


eyes rested for an instant on Dorothy Merwood, then 
he stepped directly up to Kenneth Wayne. 

“Well,” he snapped out, “I trust you’re satisfied, 
Mr. Wayne! You’ve stirred up a regular hornets’ 
nest.” Major Peters removed his helmet once more, 
this time to mop again and again at a heated brow. 
“A hornets’ nest, sir!” he repeated. “And, let me 
tell you, they’re in a deucedly ugly temper!” 

“I grant you the latter,” said Kenneth Wayne 
coolly; “but I am afraid I cannot quite see where my 
responsibility for all this”—he waved his hand toward 
the road—“excitement comes in.” 

“I’ve had occasion once already this afternoon to 
tell you that you apparently know nothing of the native 
character,” said Major Peters harshly. “You stripped 
these six men here naked—er, pardon me, Miss Mer¬ 
wood, but there’s no other word for it—naked, didn’t 
you?” 

“I did,” said Kenneth Wayne laconically; “and 
Gulab Singh with them.” 

“And you have accused them of murder and theft?” 

“In a strictly legal sense, no,” replied Kenneth 
Wayne. “But, virtually, I suppose I have, since I told 
you I believed, as I may say I still believe, that they 
are guilty.” 

“Exactly!” said Major Peters gruffly. “And there¬ 
by you have forced a very unpleasant duty upon me—a 
very unpleasant one. They say that you saw this so- 
called Locked Book even before they did, that you 
even had it in your possession, and that you know all 
about the story connected with it.” 

Kenneth Wayne stared. 

“Look here!” said he curtly. “Would you mind 
telling me just what you are driving at, sir?” 

“I am not driving at anything, Mr. Wayne,” said 


THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW 127 

Major Peters stiffly. “My language, I fancy, is fairly 
clear and direct. You have placed the onus of a crime 
upon these men. They reply that you were equally in 
a position, and equally possessed of the same incentive 
to commit the crime yourself; and that, while each and 
every one of them was searched for the evidence of 
that crime, you alone were not. Is that plain enough, 
Mr. Wayne?” 

For a moment Kenneth Wayne gazed helplessly into 
the other’s face—then he burst into a roar of laughter. 

“Good God!” he gasped. “You mean, you want to 
search me for that book? You’re joking, sir!” 

Major Peters motioned toward the sullen, working 
faces of the six Malays behind him, and with a sweep 
of his hand indicated the tense, up-staring mob in the 
road below. 

“Does it look like a joke?” he demanded grimly. 
“It doesn’t to me. Yes, that is precisely what they 
want—and they must be satisfied for the sake of every 
white resident in this town. If this isn’t settled, they’ll 
get out of hand, and I would not care to invite the 
consequences. But quite apart from that, there is no 
more than justice and fair play in their demand. Have 
you any objection to a search being made?” 

“Not in the slightest!” said Kenneth Wayne causti¬ 
cally. “Though I think it’s a bit of a gratuitous insult, 
and that, if you had wanted to, you could have nipped 
this idiotic demand in the bud down there before you 
left the beach. Shall I begin by turning my pockets 
out, sir; or will you have some of those wily chaps at 
your back paw my stuff over first—it’s all there in 
front of you just as it came up from the boat. Or 
perhaps”—he paused significantly—“you would prefer 
to do it yourself?” 


128 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Major Peters flushed. He had never “pawed” any 
man’s things over in his life. 

“We will begin with the luggage,” he said evenly. 
He glanced around him tentatively, and as his eyes fell 
upon Mr. Walters he coughed slightly. “Mr. Wal¬ 
ters,” he said, “will you be good enough to open those 
bags on the floor there so that everybody may see the 
contents ?” 

“With pleasure,” said Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester promptly. “Er”—hastily, as he caught Ken¬ 
neth Wayne’s eye—“that is—er—I mean anything to 
oblige.” 

Kenneth Wayne smiled. 

“That’s quite understood, Mr. Walters,” he said 
softly. “It’s perfectly jolly well all right. In fact, 
it’s quite all right!” 

Mr. Walters from Manchester missed the fling. 
He got down on his knees and began to open the kit 
bag. 

Kenneth Wayne watched the other. He was pos¬ 
sessed of two impulses that were extremely hard to 
restrain. One to apply the toe of his boot to an objec¬ 
tive now most conveniently and temptingly displayed; 
the other to jam the smug face, now peering into the 
bag, down in amongst the contents and then close the 
bag around the other’s neck. But the next instant the 
impulses were swept away in a whirl of conflicting emo¬ 
tion—and in mingled amazement, incredulity, a surge 
of passionate anger and a sense of childish helplessness, 
he felt the colour leave his cheeks. 

A cry burst from the natives on the verandah: 

“ ItuKonchi-kanKitab! . . . Itu Konchi-kan Kitab!" 

It was taken up by the crowd below, that pushed 
and struggled and surged now as each of its individual 
units strove for a better vantage point: 


THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW 129 

“ItuKonchi-kan Kitab! . « . ItuKonchi-kanKitab /” 

Mr. Walters from Manchester was holding up 
“The Locked Book” which he had extracted from the 
kit bag. 

Kenneth Wayne stared at it. There wasn’t any 
mistake. He wasn’t dreaming. It wasn’t an halluci¬ 
nation. It was the book, right enough, that the mad 
fanatic had snatched out of his hands. The brass 
dragon on the cover was a damned and hideous look¬ 
ing thing! And those devils behind Major Peters 
glared a bit, didn’t they! 

Major Peters, with a command for silence to the 
boat’s crew on the verandah, took the book, stepped 
to the rail, and held it up for those in the road to see. 
This brought forth a renewed outburst, but it also had 
the effect of pacifying them into quiet a moment later, 
as he harangued them in the vernacular, demanding 
order. He turned to Kenneth Wayne. 

“So!” he said sternly. “It seems——” 

“Let me see it!” Mr. Merwood was leaning for¬ 
ward from the cot, his outstretched hand trembling 
with excitement. “Amazing! Dumbfounding! Gra¬ 
cious heavens, Major Peters, fancy a thing like this 
coming to light! A priceless contribution, sir, to our 
present knowledge of the Malay erudition of half a 
century or more ago—and unique in the annals of any 
race; substantiating traditions, sir, and all that sort 
of thing! Let me see it, man! Let me see it!” 

Major Peters frowned, hesitated, then handed the 
book to Mr. Merwood. 

“Your viewpoint and mine, Mr. Merwood,” he said 
tartly, “appear to be somewhat apart! I cannot lose 
sight of the fact that a man has been brutally mur¬ 
dered for that book, and that the most serious conse- 



130 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


quences attach to another in whose possession it has 
just been found.’’ 

Mr. Merwood did not reply. He perhaps did not 
hear. He was engaged in an eager examination of the 
book, his eyes alight and burning with a feverish, 
ardent fire. 

Major Peters turned again to Kenneth Wayne. 

“So!” he repeated. “It seems these men were 
right. What have you to say?” 

Kenneth Wayne’s eyes travelled from Major Peters 
to the group of six Malays, and held steadily for a 
moment on each face in turn. And on each face he 
read a vicious, ugly greed, a sinister and murderous 
lust. But not one of them was looking at him. Their 
eyes, as though held by a common magnet, were one 
and all centred on the book in Mr. Merwood’s hands. 
And then his glance met Major Peters’ again. The 
shock of the thing was over. He was quite in command 
of himself once more. 

“There’s only one explanation,” he said calmly. 
“One of those fellows must have put the thing where 
you found it.” 

“Really!” said Major Peters icily. “And why, may 
I ask?” 

“To hide it, of course. Afraid they’d be searched— 
as they were.” 

“Indeed!” Major Peters’ voice was still more 
frigid. “And so, then, they committed a murder in 
order to obtain this book, then hid it in order to get 
away with it—and then insisted on their own hiding 
place being searched with the inevitable consequence 
that they would thereby lose possession of it! I had 
hoped for something better than that from you, sir. 
Something that, in a measure at least, might exonerate 


THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW 131 

you, instead of damning you utterly out of your own 
mouth.” 

“But good Lord above, Major Peters,” exclaimed 
Kenneth Wayne, “you can’t think I did it! I’d never 
heard of the beastly legend before, though everybody 
else seems to have known all about it. It wasn’t any 
priceless find to me 1” 

“You may never have heard of it prior to the first 
time you saw it,” said Major Peters sharply. “That 
is quite possible. I do not know where you came from, 
or where you have lived. These legends are often 
more or less localised. In this section of the Archi¬ 
pelago this legend is known to every native from child¬ 
hood; whereas on the Peninsula, for instance, it might 
be quite probable that it is scarcely known at all. But 
that is not the point. The point is that, according to 
your own story to me, you knew all about the legend 
and the enormous value attributed to the book before 
the murder was committed.” 

“But this is preposterous!” Kenneth Wayne burst 
out. 

“That is the second time this afternoon you have 
used that expression,” observed Major Peters bitingly. 

“Yes!” cried Kenneth Wayne hotly. “And I repeat 
it! It’s preposterous! Do you mean to say that I 
stole out in the middle of the night and murdered that 
old madman, and then stole back and hid the book in 
my bag? And I suppose I stole my own stores, too!” 

“Some one stole out in the night , and murdered that 
old madman,” said Major Peters evenly. “And the 
theft of the stores, no matter how or by whom com¬ 
mitted, does not appear to me to affect the fact that 
the book has been found in your bag.” 

“Good God!” Kenneth Wayne’s hands clenched at 
his sides. “Then why did I search these natives ? And 


i 3 2 THE LOCKED BOOK 

why did I come back and lay information voluntarily 
before you?” 

“Because I think you are rather clever—in a low 
way.” There was ill-concealed contempt in Major 
Peters’ voice now, “The report of the murder was 
bound to come out—all these men would spread the 
news. Under the circumstances, I should say that a 
guilty man with any brains would believe his safest 
move was to forestall the story, especially when he 
could lodge an accusation elsewhere that, even without 
proof, would sound plausible in view of the fact that 
it was directed against some defenceless natives of 
whom anything was likely to be believed. What you 
evidently did not count on was a countercharge and a 
dose of your own medicine. As it is now, I have no 
choice but to believe the story these men tell, and-” 

“Been a long time in the—hie!—islands,” broke 
in a voice suddenly. “Never heard of a native’s word 
being taken against a—hie!—white man’s before.” 

Kenneth Wayne, as did Major Peters, turned 
sharply in the direction of the voice. Glover, the 
beachcomber, his scarecrow and dishevelled appear¬ 
ance enhanced by a dirty bandage tied around his head 
and upon which his pith helmet was ludicrously and 
precariously perched, was leaning against the wall, 
staring around with owl-like gravity upon the assem¬ 
blage. 

“Ah!” exclaimed Major Peters angrily, with a 
glance at Kenneth Wayne. “I see you have an ally! 
One of our most respectable citizens! Quite the right 
sort to be of service to you, too. A friend of yours, 
I take it! This is the man you said some one tried to 
murder the night before last, didn’t you?” 

“Look here,” said Kenneth Wayne in a low, tense 
voice, “so far I’ve respected your official position—- 



THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW 133 

and your age. But there’s a certain amount of decent 
consideration due to any man, and I’m going to tell 
you now that if you propose to act like a cur I shall 
feel free to treat you as one literally.” 

“Threats will not help your case, sir!” retorted 
Major Peters furiously. “You are getting all the con¬ 
sideration you deserve. And as for you”—he whirled 
on Glover—“I will not tolerate your drunken inter¬ 
ference !” 

“ ’S ’all right 1 ” said Glover. He waved his arm 
grandiloquently. “Been a long time in the—hie!— 
islands. Never heard of a native’s word being taken 
against a—hie!—white man’s before.” 

“It is not a question of any man’s word,” rasped 
Major Peters. “It is a question of evidence of the 
most damning character. That book-” 

“It’s undoubtedly authentic,” announced Mr. Mer- 
wood in an absorbed way. “Kana-ee-a’s beyond ques¬ 
tion. Amazing! But I cannot open it. It’s most 
ingeniously locked. One of the most interesting 
features about it—the tail fused in the dragon’s mouth. 
I think a file will be the best thing. Will some one 
please get me a file?” 

Major Peters stepped over to the cot and took the 
book somewhat brusquely from the scientist’s hands. 

“I will take charge of this,” he said with finality. 
“And it will not be opened with a file or anything else, 
Mr. Merwood, until it is opened by the proper au¬ 
thorities in court. This is no longer a book whose 
antiquity may be interesting, or whose contents may 
be an ‘open sesame’ to great wealth; it is a piece of 
evidence to be preserved precisely in the condition in 
which it has been found until such time as it is in the 
hands of those qualified to deal with it on that basis. 
Meanwhile, it makes not the slightest difference what 



134 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


the book actually contains; the motive for the murder 
that has been committed still remains in the presump¬ 
tion that the book does contain the information with 
which it is credited.” 

Mr. Merwood’s eyes lingered on the book regret¬ 
fully. 

“Too bad!” he murmured. “Too bad! A glance, 
a mere glance inside would have outweighed all the 
work I have already done. But I suppose you are 
right, Major Peters~h’m—er—yes, couldn’t do 
otherwise, naturally.” 

Mutterings, voices beginning to rise impatiently, a 
stir and movement in the crowd below, took Major 
Peters to the verandah rail for the second time. Once 
more he commanded order, and holding up the book 
again in corroboration of his words, announced that 
it would remain safe and unopened in his hands until 
all should have been justly dealt with by the law of 
the Great White Rajah across the seas. 

The crowd stood mute again, gazing upward. 

Major Peters turned and faced Kenneth Wayne 
once more. 

“Have you anything to say?” he demanded. “Any 
further explanation to give? Anything to offer in 
your defence?” 

“Simply,” replied Kenneth Wayne steadily, “that I 
know nothing about how that book got into my bag.” 

“That is all?” 

“That’s all.” 

Major Peters cleared his throat. 

“The situation,” he said gruffly, “is, I am well aware, 
somewhat incongruous. I am vested with the powers 
of a magistrate, and my .duty demands that I should 
exercise those powers to the best of my ability, and in 
view of the evidence I must place you under arrest for 


THE MAJESTY OF THE LAW 135 

murder, pending the time when you can be sent from 
here for trial. As I informed you this afternoon, this 
little town has no jail—we have never until now, thank 
God, in any such way as this, required one—nor have 
we any police, though every man resident here is 
legally qualified to act as an officer of the law if so 
deputed by me. I shall therefore order Monsieur 
Fouche to lock you in your room until we can make 
more adequate dispositions concerning you.” He 
turned and nodded curtly to the hotel proprietor. 
“You understand, Monsieur Fouche?” 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche came forward, and 
bowed in his best hotel style. He needed only a 
napkin over his arm. 

“Parfaitement, monsieur” he said. 

“And a word of warning to you, Wayne!” Major 
Peters clipped off his words. “If you are tempted to 
make light of an hotel room because it has neither 
steel doors nor barred windows, I want to tell you that 
it is far safer, and particularly so for your own per¬ 
son, than you may perhaps imagine. You cannot leave 
this island in any case. Every white resident here will 
be informed of what has happened—they will respect 
the law if you do not, and if you attempt to break 
loose you will receive a short shrift at their hands. 
And as for the natives, you have had ample evidence 
this afternoon of their feelings and temper toward 
you. I hope I have made this clear?” 

Kenneth Wayne looked around him. Glover, the 
beachcomber, was making his way somewhat unsteadily 
along the verandah in the direction of the stairs—the 
bar, probably, as his objective. Mr. Walters from 
Manchester, smiling smugly, hurriedly composed his 
features and turned his head away as Kenneth Wayne’s 
glance fell upon him. Mr. Merwood did not look up. 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


136 

The Malays were merely ugly and malicious. Doro¬ 
thy Merwood had walked a few yards away, and was 
standing at the verandah rail looking down at the 
crowd below, her back turned. 

“Quite clear, thank you!” said Kenneth Wayne in 
a monotone. “Gulab Singh, take my things to my 
room!” 

He swung on his heel and started along the veran¬ 
dah—but opposite Dorothy Merwood he paused. 

She turned slowly around and faced him. There 
was a heightened colour in her cheeks, but the blue 
eyes were very steady—coldly so. 

“I am very sorry for you, Mr. Wayne,” she said 
without inflexion in her voice. 

“Good God!” he said in a low way. “You, too?” 

“Too?” Her eyebrows lifted slightly. “Is there 
any reason why I-” 

“No,” He said bitterly. “None.” And went on 
again along the verandah. 

Monsieur Fouche, his jailor, fell into step behind 
him. 

“Sacre nom!” said Monsieur Fouche confidentially. 
“I am not a policeman. You understand that, eh, 
monsieur? C’est evident!” 

Kenneth Wayne made no reply. 

Nicky Fouche lowered his voice. There was sug¬ 
gestion in it. 

“It was hard luck, monsieur. Godam, it was hard 
luck—a hundred fortunes in your hand!” 

Kenneth Wayne stared at the other levelly for an 
instant. 

“You go to hell!” said Kenneth Wayne. 



— XIII — 


A MATTER OF KEYS 

I T had grown dark, but Kenneth Wayne had not 
lighted the lamp in his room. Hours ago—at 
least it seemed hours ago—Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche in person had brought in the evening meal. 
Monsieur Fouche had been gruff and unfriendly. Per¬ 
haps he, Kenneth Wayne, had not been altogether 
tactful in his treatment of the Frenchman on the way 
to “j a il-” Perhaps not; but at least he had refrained 
from bashing in the fellow’s face—which, under the 
circumstances, was saying a good deal for his self- 
restraint. Since Monsieur Fouche’s departure he had 
alternately sat on the edge of his bed, as he sat now, 
like a prisoner in a veritable cell, or paced, in moments 
of restlessness, up and down within the narrow con¬ 
fines of his room. 

There was a farcical side to it. Monsieur Fouche 
had locked the door and secured the window in some 
fashion, but a well directed kick would demolish in 
short order any of the flimsy fastenings that barred 
the way to freedom. The whole thing, Major Peters 
and his authority and his means of enforcing the 
majesty of the law, this hotel room as a prison cell, and 
all the rest of it, smacked of the opera-bouffe. And 
yet, if there was a farcical side to it, there was also one 
in which there was neither humour nor room for de¬ 
rision. Major Peters, with such means as were at his 
command to enforce his orders, was in deadly earnest. 
137 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


138 

It was not Major Peters’ fault that there were neither 
jail nor police. There were perhaps not more than 
twenty-five or thirty whites on the entire island; and 
these, as it were, represented the law through a sort 
of community of interest—the natives, in the main, 
of course, being governed by their headmen. 

His thoughts reverted to a conversation he had had 
with Mr. Merwood yesterday morning while waiting 
to start away on his trip. Mr. Merwood had got off 
on the topic of Salabam itself, and Mr. Merwood’s 
remarks in reference thereto seemed peculiarly perti¬ 
nent now. They explained a great deal. Salabam 
was, so to speak, a place decadent. When first settled 
years before it had shown promise of a prosperous 
future, and in the initial flush of enthusiasm this hotel, 
for instance, had been built; but the place was too 
isolated and too unimportant to make it profitable as 
a regular port of call for ships, there had been great 
trouble with labour, the plantations had not proved 
overly productive, and Salabam, instead of growing, 
had gradually dwindled to its present insignificant 
status of mere existence. And it had erected, as Mr. 
Merwood put it, numerous monuments to its blasted 
hopes. There were, for example, plantation bunga¬ 
lows back in the interior long since boarded up and 
deserted by those who, not having invested their all, 
could still shake the dust of the place from off their 
feet. The hotel itself was yet another example. It 
had become no more than a collection of empty rooms, 
save for those occupied by a few permanent boarders. 
Long a white elephant on its owner’s hands, Monsieur 
Nicholas Fouche, an event in himself because he was 
comparatively a newcomer, had acquired it for a pit¬ 
tance less than a year ago. No one came to Salabam. 


A MATTER OF KEYS 


i 39 

It drowsed its life away in a deadly monotony that was 
rarely disturbed. 

That brought the circle around to Major Peters 
and his authority again. And it accounted very ade¬ 
quately for the locked door and barred window of an 
hotel room! But, all this apart, what now? For the 
hundredth time the same question came hammering 
back at Kenneth Wayne’s brain. What was he going 
to do? Break out of here—or stay cooped up, because 
he respected the law, and wait with what patience and 
equanimity he could until such time as some ship came 
in and bore him away to stand trial for murder? 

Murder! Good Lord. He jumped to his feet and 
began to pace the room again. He was accused of 
murder! The accusation still brought a stunned 
amazement—as though it were something that he had 
dreamed had happened to him. Only he hadn’t 
dreamed it at all. It was most damnably true. And 
the worst of it was that the more he thought of it the 
more conclusive the evidence against him appeared to 
be. Major Peters flicked a bit upon the raw and 
wasn’t exactly what one would call a likeable chap, 
but he, Kenneth Wayne, was willing to admit in com¬ 
mon honesty now, that Major Peters had not only 
been warranted in making the arrest, but, indeed, 
could not very well have acted otherwise. 

His mind began to wrestle anew with the problem 
that it had already wrestled with for the last few 
hours. What did it mean? There were three possible 
theories—he could think of only three. 

If it were the Malays who had committed the mur¬ 
der and stolen the book, it was almost certainly the 
fellow that had been left alone in camp that morning 
who had placed the book in the kit bag. The man 
would have had ample opportunity for doing so; and 


140 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


the man, he remembered, was one of the original two 
who had accompanied him on the previous evening to 
the mad fanatic’s hut where the book had been seen 
for the first time. But if the Malays had committed 
the murder—and there could have been no other 
motive on their part but to obtain possession of the 
book—why had they, or one of them, as Major Peters 
had pointed out, placed the book in the kit bag in the 
first place, and demanded that a search be made in 
the second? The answer he had made to Major 
Peters in the heat of the moment on this score had 
been worse than none; he regretted now that he had 
made it at all. He was forced to admit that, if. guilty, 
the Malays had acted most illogically; so much so, 
indeed, that they seemed to be exonerated. 

Well, then, there was Gulab Singh. Gulab Singh 
hadn’t suggested that any search of the kit bag should 
be made, and presumably had had no reason to expect 
that any search of it would be made; and Gulab Singh 
could undoubtedly have found an opportunity of slip¬ 
ping the book into the bag. But why? Kenneth 
Wayne shook his head. Why? There must be reason¬ 
able motive for an act. Granting the value of the 
book to be such that a man would commit murder for 
it, the man wasn’t likely to take any chance of losing 
it once it was in his possession if he could help it. To 
hide it temporarily—yes. But securely! Gulab Singh 
had had no guarantee that he, Kenneth Wayne, would 
not, for instance, have wanted something in the kit 
bag at almost any moment On the way back in the boat, 
and the book would then naturally have blen found 
and Gulab Singh’s work would have been in vain. It 
was childish to imagine that Gulab Singh counted on 
getting the book back to Salabam in this fashion, and 
then on getting it out of the bag before the latter was 


A MATTER OF KEYS 


141 

unpacked and when he, Kenneth Wayne, wasn’t look¬ 
ing! It wouldn’t hold water. 

There remained, then, one other theory, or possi¬ 
bility—quite at variance in motive with the other two: 
That the murder had not primarily been committed in 
order to obtain the book; and that the book had been 
used merely to throw the onus of the crime on some 
one else’s shoulders—and that he, Kenneth Wayne, 
had been selected as that “some one else.” But this 
demanded as a premise that the identity, the priceless 
intrinsic value accredited to the book, was unknown to 
the murderer. And this in turn suggested a decidedly 
ugly corollary. It suggested the more than probability 
that, following this theory, the murderer was a white 
man, since, from all appearances, there was not a 
native in the whole region but knew all about the book. 

Kenneth Wayne stood still in the middle of the room 
to mull over the different phases of this theory again. 
There were white men here quite capable of commit¬ 
ting murder. There was Nicky Fouche, and there was 
Mr. Walters from Manchester. Suspicion at least, 
in no way maligned their reputations! And the 
Cheruchuk River was quite accessible by land as well 
as by boat. It would be interesting to know how and 
where, separately or collectively, these two men had 
spent the last twenty-four hours. In fact, it might be 
very much worth while. The boat, thanks to the 
sullen behaviour of the Malays, had made a very slow 
return passage; whereas any o$e, leaving the old 
fanatic’s hut during the night, and after the murder, 
either by land or water, could have been back in 
Salabam hours ahead of it. 

So much for Nicky Fouche and Mr. Walters from 
Manchester! But, if this theory was to be followed 
to its logical conclusion, the Frenchman and the Ger- 


142 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


man were not the only white men upon whom suspi¬ 
cion, with at least some degree of justification, might 
rest. There was Glover. But in Glover’s case it was, 
however, quite a different matter—there was no crimi¬ 
nal “history,” as it were, to point the man out as one 
not only capable of such a crime, but as one who would 
not hesitate to commit it; it was, rather, the character 
of the man, coupled with a series of very strange and 
wholly unexplainable acts that in themselves invited, 
to put it mildly, a good deal of speculation. Glover, 
the beachcomber! The thought of Glover had cropped 
up in his mind a good many times during the past few 
hours. Who was Glover, anyway? The man was 
certainly up to some game—he had feigned altogether 
too much. Why had he slipped away from Gulab Singh 
the night before last? And where the devil had he 
gone that night? Glover hadn’t been badly wounded 
—less so evidently from his subsequent actions than 
even he, Kenneth Wayne, who had never rated the 
injury as anything but slight at most, had originally 
believed. Glover, from a physical standpoint, could 
have been at the ruined village on the Cheruchuk 
River. 

All very well! But if the book, the greed of it, had 
not been the incentive to the murder of the old fanatic, 
why should any one of the three, Fouche, or Walters, 
or Glover, have murdered the man? Why should any 
one of the three have been there at all? Why 
should- 

He flung out his clenched hand in an angry, impo¬ 
tent gesture. He couldn’t answer those questions. 
And on top of all that none of his theories explained 
still another point—the theft of the stores. Why had 
they been stolen? Why? His hand clenched again. 
No, he couldn’t answer! He couldn’t, standing here, 



A MATTER OF KEYS 


i43 

reconstruct the crime, could he? If he could, he 
wouldn’t be standing here! 

Well, what was he to do? 

It was not merely the fact of being charged with 
murder that troubled him so much, for somehow it 
seemed so absurd, so impossible in his own eyes, that 
he could not as yet accept that phase of the situation 
seriously. There was far more involved than all that. 
He had come to Salabam for a purpose—that was 
what mattered, what was vital, and on account of 
which it was so imperative that he should clear him¬ 
self at any cost and in any way he could. Any way he 
could! Was there any way? He could kick down 
that door and run for it—Nicky Fouche, so far as he, 
Kenneth Wayne, could make out, had considered his 
duties as a jailor performed when he had removed all 
weapons and locked both door and window, for there 
had been no evidence of any special watch being put 
upon the room. Nicky Fouche evidently shared the 
opinion of Major Peters that, since a prisoner could 
not get away from the island in any case, the prisoner’s 
common sense would lead him to choose an hotel room 
with the assurance of food rather than a hopeless 
existence in the woods where, even if he eluded imme¬ 
diate pursuit, he could live only as a hunted beast from 
day to day. 

Kenneth Wayne was pacing the room again in 
quick, nervous strides. In God’s name, what was he 
to do ? Suppose he did break down the door and run 
for it ? With every white man and every native hunt¬ 
ing him, what chance had he to hunt—Crimson Sash? 
Also, to run for it would remove the last shade of 
doubt that might remain in any one’s mind as to his 
guilt. That wasn’t the way—the only way was to 
clear himself so that with untied hands he could carry 


144 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


on with his work again. But walking up and down 
this room in idleness, inactive, save that his brain was 
working itself into a frenzy, wasn’t the way either. 

He heard voices from around the corner on the 
front of the verandah. One was Dorothy Merwood’s. 
He didn’t know whose the other’s was—probably one 
of the boarder’s. He found himself listening eagerly 
—and strangely enough with no idea of attempting to 
discover the sense of what was said. It was Dorothy 
Merwood’s voice. And then slowly a hard smile came 
to his lips. He had forgotten. She, too, had found 
the evidence against him conclusive of guilt. He had 
been a vain optimist to expect anything else. He 
didn’t know why he had expected it—and yet somehow 
her attitude stabbed and hurt. He did not blame her 
—and yet— What did it mean ? Had this quest upon 
which he had come brought something else into his 
life, something not antagonistic to the pledge he had 
made to Old Man Wayne, not a thing that would 
swerve him from his path, but something else of a 
far different tenor, something that stirred his pulse, 
bringing an intense yearning that evidenced itself now 
in an eagerness to catch the tones of a voice ? 

And that somehow brought the sense of ignominy 
suddenly and acutely into his present condition! 

He swept a hand across his forehead. It came away 
wet with sweat beads. God, it was hot in here, insuf¬ 
ferably hot—strange, he had not noticed the heat 
before! Well? He hadn’t answered his own ques¬ 
tion! Was he afraid of it? Or wasn’t he sure? Or 
would he beg it on the ground that any answer was 
useless—that if this something new had come into his 
life, it, like the pledge to Old Man Wayne, was a shat¬ 
tered, hopeless thing now? No ! It wasn’t shattered, 
it wasn’t broken—nor was his pledge—not yet! He 


A MATTER OF KEYS 


*45 

wasn’t so easily beaten as that. And if that inquisitive 
inner consciousness of his demanded an answer so 
insistently it should have it. It was true. It had 
come unbidden, unsought. He did not know just 
where, or how, or whether it was but a moment gone 
that it had crystallised itself into the thing of glory 
that it now was, to be possessed and cherished, if God 
so willed it, as a sacred, holy gift—the gift of love. 

The voices died away. 

A footstep, quick, so light and almost soundless as 
to be stealthy, came along the verandah t*?id halted 
outside the door. A key that seemed to fumble most 
curiously for a moment or so finally turned in the lock. 
And then the door of Kenneth Wayne’s room opened 
and closed again cautiously. 

Still standing motionless, as he had stood watching 
and listening, Kenneth Wayne stared now at a tall 
figure in white that, in the darkness, looked almost 
ghostlike—like a ghost with an enormous beehive 
balanced upon its head. 

“Gulab Singh!” he ejaculated. 

“Yes,” Gulab Singh answered; “but speak low, 
sahib, for the walls have many ears. Whisper even 
as I do, sahib.” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded. 

“Right!” he said; then quickly: “But what brings 
you here, Gulab Singh? And where did you get the 
key to that door?” 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh, “there are many rooms 
in the hotel that are empty, but each has a lock. But 
they are cheap locks, sahib, and the key to one door 
fits many others. Sahib, I took four in number of 
these keys, and the second one opened the sahib’s 
door.” 

“Yes, I see,” said Kenneth Wayne. “I heard you 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


146 

fumbling with the lock. And now what? You have 
not answered my other question.” 

“I came to open the sahib’s door,” said Gulab 
Singh simply, “and to bring him the key.” 

“Good Lord!” exclaimed Kenneth Wayne. “You 
mean you’ve come to let me escape?” 

The great turban seemed to flutter like some weird, 
detached thing in the darkness as Gulab Singh bowed 
low his head. 

“It is even so, sahib,” he said. “It is not well that 
the sahib should be here, for I know that the sahib has 
not done this thing that they say he has- Sahib, I 
know of a certainty that it is not so.” 

“Well, you seem to be the only one of that opinion, 
then,” said Kenneth Wayne a little bitterly; “and, 
upon my soul, I thank you for it, Gulab Singh. I 
suppose what you mean is that you don’t believe it.” 

“No, sahib. Belief is one thing; knowledge is 
another. I know that it was not the sahib-” 

“The devil, you say!” Kenneth Wayne flung out. 
“You know who did it, then?” 

“No, sahib,” Gulab Singh answered. “That I do 
not know. I know only that it could not have been the 
sahib.” 

“But how, then, do you know that?” demanded 
Kenneth Wayne tersely. 

“Because, sahib,” Gulab Singh replied, “I slept that 
night, as it was well for me to do, at the door of the 
sahib’s tent, and no man could have entered, and the 
sahib could not have left the tent that night without 
my knowledge.” 

“And yet,” said Kenneth Wayne, after a moment’s 
thought, “all the stores were taken from the camp 
without your knowledge. Why could I not have 
stepped out of the tent without awaking you?” 


A MATTER OF KEYS 


147 


“Between a yard and a full two hundred paces from 
a sleeper’s ear, sahib, there is a great difference,” said 
Gulab Singh. “As the sahib knows, the stores were 
across the beach near the boat.” 

“Yes; that is so,” agreed Kenneth Wayne; and then, 
with a sudden frown: “Why didn’t you say ail this on 
the verandah this afternoon?” 

“Sahib,” Gulab Singh answered gravely, “it was in 
my mind to do so, and it may be that in the holding 
of my tongue I have brought evil upon the sahib where 
I would bring only good; but, sahib, I do not think 
that it is so. Sahib, the Major Sahib was very angry 
and very sure because of the finding of the book, and 
it came to me that, even if I spoke, the Major Sahib 
would still do to the sahib what has been done, because 
it did not explain how the Kitab came into the bag. 
Also, the Major Sahib was not a judge who sat in the 
courts and could say that the sahib was guilty, and 
that his life should pay forfeit, and so bring the end 
at once upon the sahib. Thus, sahib, my thoughts 
ran. But the Major Sahib spoke truly when he said 
that even if the sahib escaped from this room here it 
would be worse for him because of the white men and 
of the natives. Alone, the sahib could do nothing. 
But if the door were opened, and there was one to 
help and to find shelter and to bring the sahib food, 
then all might go well. But the one who helped must 
not be watched, or thought of him enter men’s minds, 
because then he would be of no avail to the sahib. 
And so, sahib, I did not speak, for it was in my mind 
to open the sahib’s door to-night, and the fear was 
upon me that if I spoke for the sahib this afternoon 
men would say to-night when the sahib had gone that 
it could be no one but Gulab Singh who would befriend 
him, and I, Gulab Singh, would be watched, and I 


148 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


could not then bring the sahib food without delivering 
him again into their hands. Will the sahib say that 
I have done ill?” 

“No, by Jove; certainly not from your standpoint, 
at any rate!” said Kenneth Wayne promptly. “You 
took it for granted, of course, that, given the oppor¬ 
tunity, I would get out of here?” 

“Yes, sahib, to-night. The way is clear now. The 
Sahib Fouche has gone out. Let the sahib say what 
things he will take with him, and I will carry them. 
And if so be, sahib, it is written that this thing shall 
come at last before the judges and the sahib shall stand 
before the judges to answer, then will I bear testimony 
for the sahib of that which I know.” 

Kenneth Wayne reached out his hand and laid it on 
Gulab Singh’s shoulder. 

“That’s mighty decent of you, Gulab Singh,” he 
said; “but there’s a point about that evidence of yours 
that may not have occurred to you. I am inclined to 
agree with you that I would be here just the same 
whether you had spoken this afternoon or not; and, 
that being so, isn’t it rather probable that when it 
came to a court of law your testimony would be more 
likely to do you harm than to do me any good? I 
know it to be true because I did not leave my tent; 
but the more impossible it would appear to be for me 
to have gone out of the tent without your knowledge, 
the less likely they are to believe you—for it is an 
irrefutable fact that the book was in my bag. They 
are more likely to believe that you are either an 
accomplice or are perjuring yourself in an effort to 
save me. And in that case, Gulab Singh, it would go 
very ill with you indeed.” 

There was a long silence, and then Gulab Singh’s 
grave voice came out of the darkness: 


A MATTER OF KEYS 


149 


“What is written, sahib, is written. And if it 
should be even as the sahib says, then I would still 
journey to the place of the judges and bear witness. 
Does the sahib think that Gulab Singh would do less 
than that?” 

“No—my word, I don’t!” said Kenneth Wayne 
heartily. “And I thank you, Gulab Singh. But we 
will see! We cannot tell what is best to do until the 
time comes.” 

“May it never come for the sahib’s sake!” said 
Gulab Singh earnestly. “And now will the sahib not 
say what I am to carry so that we may go?” 

Again Kenneth Wayne laid his hand on the other’s 
shoulder. He shook his head. 

“Go where, Gulab Singh?” he asked quietly. “To 
be the chase of men? To be hunted in the woods from 
one end of the island to the other? And even if that 
were not so, how can I run from this thing? It is bad 
enough as it is, without men saying that I ran from it 
because I was guilty and afraid.” 

“Sahib,” Gulab Singh answered, “my people will 
help and the sahib would not be found, and there 
would come a time when we could get the sahib to 
another island, and after that to still another until the 
sahib was far away and could go where he would. 
All that, sahib, could be done. And that they should 
say because of it that the sahib is guilty is no more 
than is said now. It is in my mind, sahib, that it is 
better to be an innocent man who is free, than an inno¬ 
cent man who has a rope tied around his neck and is 
hanged like a dog.” 

Run for it? Kenneth Wayne had already debated 
that idea in his mind—debated it, though, as one who 
subconsciously knew from the beginning what his de¬ 
cision would be. Well, what was that decision? Here 


i5o 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


was a chance beyond anything he could have hoped 
for, and there was truth in what Gulab Singh said. 
His shoulders squared back. Run? He had never 
run from anything, or any man in his life. Run for 
it? It would be the surrender of everything decent in 
him to a craven, panicky impulse to save his skin—a 
grovelling thing to do. And suddenly he laughed out 
shortly. On this count Old Man Wayne would not 
hold him to his pledge. There was something that 
came before that after all. And Old Man Wayne 
himself, thank God, typified that sort of thing! 

There was only one answer. 

“No, Gulab Singh,” he said steadily, “I cannot go. 
I shall not forget what you have done; but what I 
have just said is final. And because it is final it is my 
wish that we talk no more about it. I owe you more 
for this than I can pay, Gulab Singh; but I cannot go.” 

It was very dark in the room, and for a time very 
silent. Then the turban seemed to waver again gro¬ 
tesquely in the blackness, and Kenneth Wayne felt his 
hand lifted and pressed against the other’s forehead. 

“Grief is in my heart, sahib, and the fear of great 
evil,” said Gulab Singh. “But when the sahib speaks 
like that I know it is his will. I go, sahib.” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne. 

In the darkness Gulab Singh moved over to the 
door. And once more for an instant there was a 
fumbling at the lock, and then Gulab Singh spoke 
again. 

“Sahib,” he said, “in Salabam to-night there is much 
talk, and in the Malay houses there is no quiet. And 
the talk is not all good to hear. And the news of the 
finding of the Kitab of Kana-ee-a has spread as though 
it were told by a great voice on the mountain-top of 
the world that reached to the ears of all people. And 


A MATTER OF KEYS 


151 

men have come from the ends of the island already. 
And I cannot read the end of it, for all men desire 
the book. Also, there is anger against the sahib. All 
this, sahib, is to be remembered. And so, see, sahib, 
I have left the key in the door, and when I have gone 
the sahib will lock the door again and take out the 
key, and it will not be known that the door has been 
unlocked, and the sahib will have the key—for what 
may come to pass and what need the sahib may be in, 
who can tell? Is it well, sahib?” 

“It is well, Gulab Singh,” Kenneth Wayne answered. 

For a moment Gulab Singh stood listening at the 
door. Then a whispered, “Good-night, sahib,” floated 
back into the room, and Gulab Singh was gone. 

Mechanically Kenneth Wayne walked over to the 
door, turned the key in the lock, and put the key in 
his pocket. After that for a long time he did not 
move. Then he took the key out of his pocket again, 
and weighed it tentatively in his hand. 

This was an entirely different thing from running 
away, this idea that was formulating itself in his brain! 
Here was an opportunity to go and come with almost 
a guarantee of several hours of uninterrupted freedom 
—-and those hours were worth the risk that Nicky 
Fouche might pay a turnkey’s visit in the meantime, 
weren’t they? Anything was better than inaction. If 
he could steal in on the outskirts of the Malay quar¬ 
ters, for instance—and listen! And there was always 
the chance of a lucky break that might set him on the 
track of Glover perhaps, on Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester, or even—he smiled grimly—Nicky Fouchc 
himself! 

Well, why not? There was, after all, nothing to 
lose. He wasn’t running away, or attempting to 
escape. In an hour, or two, or three, he would come 


152 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


back. If his absence was discovered, they would not 
have to hunt for him. He would know of it by the 
uproar that would be raised, and he would return that 
much sooner—that was all. They could make what 
they chose out of that. He stood square with himself 
on that score—that was what mattered most. It all 
resolved itself into a question of luck—luck that for 
a few hours his absence would not be noticed; luck 
that during those few hours he might accomplish some¬ 
thing in his own behalf, something that by sitting here 
inside these four walls it was certain he never could do. 

Yes, he would go! 

He opened the door noiselessly—an inch at a time. 
The moon was hardly up yet, and the verandah was 
all shadows; but here at the side it seemed deserted, 
though from around the corner in front low voices in 
conversation and the occasional clink of a glass 
reached him. An instant more he stood listening, 
watching—then the door closed behind him as silently 
as it had opened, and Kenneth Wayne stepped out on 
the verandah. 


— XIV — 

A PRISONER AT LARGE 

H UGGED close against the wall where the 
shadows were blackest, Kenneth Wayne began 
to make his way cautiously along the verandah 
with the lower end of it at the rear as his objective. 
The principal risks of discovery lay, of course, in some 
one coming around the corner of the verandah from 
the front, or appearing suddenly ahead of him from 
the stairway door that opened on the verandah; in 
either of which cases there was no shelter except the 
very untrustworthy one afforded by the shadows. 
There were two rooms to pass before he could get by 
the stairway door; but the nearer of the two was, he 
knew, unoccupied, which gave him no concern, and the 
other, though it belonged to Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester, showed no light through its window blind, and 
should not, therefore, give him any concern either. 
Beyond the stairway door, if he remembered correctly, 
there were no more rooms, and once at the rear end 
of the verandah any one of the supporting posts would 
furnish an easy mode of access to the ground. 

He passed the first door, treading on tiptoe, reached 
the second one—and paused involuntarily. There 
wasn’t any light in the room, but the Englishman from 
Manchester was evidently there none the less. He 
could hear the sound of movement from within, very 
faintly it was true, almost indeed as though it were 
intentionally secretive, but it was nevertheless distin¬ 
guishable. Mr. Walters could hardly be going to bed, 
i53 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


154 

or be in bed, at this hour—it couldn’t be more than 
half-past eight. Rather curious that the man should 
elect to be in there in the dark, and- 

Kenneth Wayne glanced swiftly around him. The 
sound of movement from within was approaching the 
door itself. There was no protection anywhere other 
than the shadows—except the stairway door, which, 
just a few yards away, he could see was open. He 
sprang quickly, silently toward it. It was the one 
chance—even if he were forced to the risk of going 
downstairs in case the other should come here too. 
But perhaps, anyway, he was displaying exaggerated 
caution; perhaps there had been no intention of open¬ 
ing that door just because the sounds from within had 
approached it. He glanced sharply back over his 
shoulder as he reached the stairway entrance. No; 
there wasn’t any mistake! He saw a dark form step 
from the threshold of Mr. Walters’ room to the 
verandah. 

Without a sound Kenneth Wayne slipped through 
the stairway door, and for an instant hesitated at the 
head of the stairs, weighing his chances. Then sud¬ 
denly he drew his body into the angle of the wall at 
the far corner of the landing, and stood still, smiling 
in grim satisfaction. The landing, due to the right- 
angled turn necessary to an exit to the verandah, was 
generously wide, and it was intensely dark here—dark 
enough! Thanks to the enclosed staircase and the 
very commendable economy in the absence of lamps on 
the part of Monsieur Nicholas Fouche, he could 
scarcely see his hand before his eyes. He was fairly 
sure that Mr. Walters of Manchester had not seen 
him, and, that being the case, the man, even if he 
turned in here to go downstairs, would almost cer¬ 
tainly not see him now. This would do excellently! 



A PRISONER AT LARGE 155 

He could have continued on down the stairs himself, 
of course; but that was precisely what he did not want 
to do. There was far too much risk of being discov¬ 
ered there on the ground floor before he could gejgout 
of the hotel—likely to be some one coming or going 
from the bar, for instance. A verandah post at the 
rear was infinitely the better and safer way. 

Queer! What had become of the man? There was 
no sound of footsteps either going toward the front of 
the verandah, or coming this way. The man must 
have stepped back into his room for some reason. 
There didn’t seem to any other- 

Kenneth Wayne felt his muscles grow suddenly 
rigid; mechanically he found himself attempting to 
squeeze his body deeper into the angle of the wall. 
The oblong of the door opening on the verandah, less 
opaque with the filmy murk of the night-light behind 
it, blurred with a shadowy form that made no sound. 
The fraction of a second passed as Kenneth Wayne 
watched; and then, still without sound, the shadow 
came through the doorway—and halted at the head 
of the stairs. And now an interminable time seemed 
to pass, and the man still stood there—stood there 
until, to Kenneth Wayne’s ears, his own breathing 
sounded hideously loud and stertorous. Why didn’t 
the man go on down the stairs? What was he waiting 
for? He appeared, from a slight rustling sound 
which he made now, to be fumbling for something. 

A match! 

With a sharp crackle it burst into flame. The man 
held it between his cupped hands, facing the stairs, and 
lighted a cigarette. He did not turn his head; he 
puffed with slow deliberation. The match went out. 
And then suddenly out of the darkness there came a 
low, drawling voice. 



THE LOCKED BOOK 


156 

“Out for a bit of an airing, old top, I take it,” 
observed the man casually. 

Kenneth Wayne straightened up with a jerk—but 
he made no answer. The shock of discovery, the cool 
insouciance of the other held him, as it were, tongue- 
tied; but there was more than that to hold him silent, 
tight-lipped, staring at the glowing tip of the ciga¬ 
rette. It wasn’t Mr. Walters from Manchester who 
had come out of Mr. Walters’ room—this wasn’t 
Walters! The face he had seen in the flame of the 
match was the face of Glover, the beachcomber! 

“Saw me come out of that room, eh?” Glover 
drawled again. “I thought you did. Thought, 
though, you might keep a secret if some one kept one 
of yours—what? Well, I’ll be getting along. Good¬ 
night, Mr. Wayne!” 

Kenneth Wayne was himself in an instant. He 
stepped sharply forward. Quite apart from this new 
incident, which alone was more than ever suspicious in 
itself, Glover was one of those with whose movements 
in the last twenty-four hours he was keenly concerned. 
He hadn’t expected this—to be discovered himself. 
But since that was now an accomplished fact, he meant 
to have it out with this man here and now. 

“Wait a minute!” he said curtly. “There’s a little 
more than that to be said on the subject of secrets. 
Queer things have been going on around here, and 
some of them seem to be pretty well centred in you. 
There are some questions to which I want an answer.” 

“Look here,” said Glover confidentially, “it’s going 
to be a wonderful night—wonderful! Soft airs and 
all that—and a glorious moon. Just the night for a 
walk. Miss Merwood’s just started off all alone for 
a visit to Mrs. Keene, the missionary’s wife.” 


A PRISONER AT LARGE 


i 57 

Kenneth Wayne bit his lips as he stared at the 
other. 

“Facetiousness won’t get you anywhere!” he 
snapped. “And in any case, leave Miss Merwood’s 
name out of this! I want to know, to begin with, why 
you gave Gulab Singh the slip the night before last, 
where you went, and-” 

“Listen!” said Glover in the same confidential tone. 
“Nicky Fouche isn’t anywhere around, and about all 
of the native boys of the hotel here have sneaked off 
to join in the excitement with their brothers and sisters 
over that unique little volume you carted back here 
from the Cheruchuk River—you couldn’t have chosen 
a better time for your airing. It would be too bad to 
wait until the luck turned!” 

Kenneth Wayne’s anger was rising. 

“That’s my affair!” he said evenly. “And this sort 
of thing won’t go! I want a straight answer to my 
questions.” 

“Lord!” expostulated Glover heavily. “I’ve given 
you a lot of information already—and very valuable 
information too, I’d say. And if I were in your shoes 
I know what I’d do with it.” 

“You mean,” Kenneth Wayne flung out sharply, 
“that you refuse to answer me?” 

“That’s it, old top!” The drawl was still in 
Glover’s voice, but there was something else in it too 
now—a sort of cold finality. “You’ve got it—exactly. 
What you know about me to-night, and what I know 
about you to-night makes it what you might call an even 
break. You mind your business—and I mind mine. 
Couldn’t be anything fairer than that, could there?” 

Kenneth Wayne choked‘back a hot retort. 

“You are evidently labouring under the impression 
that I am trying to run away,” he said, steadying his 



THE LOCKED BOOK 


158 

voice. “I’m not. It was in the hope of an opportunity 
more or less like this, though not necessarily with you, 
the chance of picking up a clue of some sort that would 
help me to the bottom of this mess rather than sit in 
there and do nothing, that brought me out. In an 
hour, or so, I shall go back.” 

“Really,” said Glover softly, “I haven’t the slightest 
doubt of it—not the slightest! But I haven’t asked 
any questions, have I? Now this afternoon I’m afraid 
I didn’t help matters along any, but I thought you’d 
understand in a kind of friendly way that I hadn’t 
forgotten the night before last—what? And it’s none 
of my business—but don’t you think it’s a little 
dangerous for you to stand talking around here?” 

“I’ve told you,” said Kenneth Wayne brusquely, 
“that I am going-” 

“Yes,” said Glover with a chuckle. “And so am I. 
Right now.” 

Kenneth Wayne’s hand shot out and fastened with 
a grip like steel on the other’s arm. 

“That won’t do any good,” said Glover coolly. 
“Suppose we’re fools enough to mix it up in a rough 
and tumble, and roll down the stairs in each other’s 
arms! Whoever heard the racket and came to pick 
us up would be almost certain to think you were trying 
to escape, instead of just being out for—er—a short 
constitutional. And the result would be that, even if 
you said I had been in Walters’ room, you would have 
to go back to yours at once without having even been 
out of the hotel, and they might be unpleasant enough 
to tie you up this time. That would be rotten luck, 
wouldn’t it?” 

Kenneth Wayne’s hand fell away from the other’s 
arm. It was quite true. Glover, of course, did not 
believe him—who would? Also, it was quite certain 



A PRISONER AT LARGE 


159 

that if Glover would not talk, and it was obvious 
enough that Glover wouldn’t, he, Kenneth Wayne, 
was in no position to make the other do so. He felt 
suddenly childish—that his whole escapade was 
childish. Glover was up to some game, of course; but 
he couldn’t follow Glover like some fiction detective 
with a pair of gum-shoes—even if he had had the gum¬ 
shoes. With a short laugh, he turned abruptly away 
—but at the doorway to the verandah he paused again, 
as Glover’s voice came in a whisper from the head of 
the stairs. 

“Rum go, that book! Whole island’s a bally insane 
asylum. There isn’t a native will sleep for a week. 
Take a tip from me, old bucko, and look out where 
you go!” 

Glover’s footsteps receded down the stairs and died 
away. 

Kenneth Wayne stepped out on the verandah and 
made his way along to the rear; and here, selecting one 
of the posts, he slid down to the ground. He did this 
in a wholly mechanical way, and because, as it were, 
that was what he had set out to do and he might as 
well carry on. But he found himself apathetic and 
listless about it—robbed of incentive. His meeting 
with Glover had put a damper on his enthusiasm—had 
brought him a sense of futility. The start had not 
been propitious; and that wholly apart from the fact 
that one man already knew he had left his room, for 
he was not at all afraid that Glover would say any¬ 
thing. Quite aside from the fact that Glover appeared 
to be not unmindful of that other night, Glover had 
obviously some axe of his own to grind; and Glover, 
far from being swayed by any sense of moral obliga¬ 
tion to the law that would cause him to make an effort 
to frustrate what he undoubtedly believed to be an 


160 THE LOCKED BOOK 

attempt at escape, was apparently only too anxious 
that a mutual silence should be observed. 

There were no lights of any kind here at the back 
of the hotel. But there was Glover’s moon now just 
coming up over the trees behind some kind of a store¬ 
house, or out-building belonging to the hotel, a 
hundred yards or so farther in the rear. He stared 
about him. His thoughts and, yes, too, his emotions, 
seemed to run together now in a jumble. The 
night was very quiet, even if the natives all over 
the lot were keyed up with excitement. He couldn’t 
hear anything; not even the voices of pedestrians 
from the road in front—if there were any. Damn 
that infernal sense of futility that kept sneaking in¬ 
sidiously upon him! He wasn’t without purpose, or 
an objective either. Certainly, he need not be idle. 
The natives, for instance, knew a lot—and they must 
be talking amongst themselves to-night. There was 
something more about Glover that kept bothering 
him. What the devil was it? Oh, yes! Glover 
to-night, in both manner and conversation, had 
appeared to be amazingly sober! 

He drew back suddenly under the over-hang of the 
verandah, and stood quite still now. What was that 
out there—or, rather, who was it? Over at the far 
corner of what might be called the back yard of the 
hotel was a little clump of palms, and, just emerging 
from these, he had caught sight of the figure of a man 
in white. He watched now, his interest more and 
more aroused. The figure, half-crouching, hurrying, 
something furtive in its movements, seemed to be 
making for the storehouse, or whatever the building 
was, out there in the clearer space. It might be a 
native, or it might even be Glover again, he could not 
tell; but, whoever it was, the man would have had to 


A PRISONER AT LARGE 161 

make a wide detour from the road in front to have 
reached his present position, instead of coming in an 
ordinary and direct way past the side of the hotel 
itself where there was a roadway for precisely that 
purpose. Why the detour—coupled with the stealth 
that the man was obviously exhibiting? 

Too bad the moon wasn’t higher! The figure was 
only a blur of white flitting along out there. And 
now it passed beyond the out-building and disappeared. 
Kenneth Wayne watched for its reappearance on the 
other side. Nothing. A minute went by. And then 
from the out-building itself it seemed as though, if his 
eyes were not playing him tricks, there were suddenly 
emanating from here and there along its length a 
number of tiny and almost indiscernible chinks of 
light. 

Kenneth Wayne, with a sudden, twisted smile, 
stepped quietly out from under the verandah, and 
began to make his way noiselessly toward the out¬ 
building. Whatever the outcome of his stolen hours 
of freedom, and however valueless they might prove 
to be in results, they were obviously not to lack for 
interest. First Glover—and now this! There was 
something in the wind here beyond a doubt, something 
going on under cover—and anything that went on 
under cover to-night had a very decided claim on his 
attention. 

He was treading softly now, working around to¬ 
ward the rear of the out-building. There wasn’t any 
mystery about the chinks of light. The out-building, 
windowless, was in very bad repair, and in places the 
walls, as he could see now, actually gaped open. A 
lamp had obviously been lighted inside. 

A voice reached him now from within. It was 
harsh, raised a little in anger, the foreign accent 


162 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


strongly marked. Kenneth Wayne recognised it at 
once as that of Nicky Fouche. He slipped around the 
rear corner of the building, and, edging along until he 
found one of the wider apertures in the warped 
boarding, applied his eye to the opening. 

He was possessed of an almost unobstructed view. 
The place, obviously a storehouse, contained a number 
of packing cases, some of very large size. He was 
instantly conscious that there was something familiar 
about these cases—that, if not the same ones, they 
were, at least, very similar to those that he remem¬ 
bered now, though he had paid no attention to them at 
the time, he had seen slung over the ship’s side for 
lightering ashore on the afternoon of his arrival here. 
The cover of one of the cases had been removed, and 
on the floor beside it were scattered fifteen or twenty 
bolts of cloth, and upon this pile there sprawled the 
form of Mr. Walters, the cloth merchant from Man¬ 
chester. At Mr. Walters’ elbow was a partially 
emptied gin bottle; while over Mr. Walters’ prostrate 
form stood Monsieur Nicholas Fouche with a lighted 
lamp in his hand. 

Kenneth Wayne smiled in a hard-faced way as he 
stared within. Quite an intriguing little scene! And 
from all appearances Mr. Walters’ cloth business was 
conducted on not at all an insignificant scale! 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche was speaking. 

“Sacre mille cochons!” swore Monsieur Fouche 
with a snarl in his voice. “Are you crazy, that you get 
drunk to-night? To-night —mon Dieu!” He bent 
down and shook Mr. Walters from Manchester 
roughly. “Heh? Are you crazy, I say?” 

Mr. Walters, after a moment or two, raised him¬ 
self on his elbow, blinked at the light-—and suddenly 
sat upright. 


A PRISONER AT LARGE 163 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche was dancing from toe to 
toe in his excitement. 

“You’ve missed your calling, Frenchy!” said Mr. 
Walters with an ugly sneer. “You ought to have been 
a ballet master! And as for the rest, you mind your 
own business! I don’t get drunk! But”—he reached 
for the bottle and took an enormous gulp—“‘I take 
a drink when I want one. Understand? But I don’t 
get drunk!” 

Nicky Fouche set the lamp down on top of one of 
the cases. 

“Damn!” said he fervently. “You let that alone! 
I know you too well! You do not get drunk? Mon 
Dieu! Well, then, call it what you like! That you do 
not stagger around like most men and talk with a 
tongue that is too big for your mouth, is true; but you 
become worse than that, and at such times the devil 
himself is not uglier than you. A little fire burns in 
your brain—eh? Do I not know? You have the 
passions of hell, mon ami —and they run loose.” 

“Look out you don’t get in their road, then!” said 
Mr. Walters with a vicious laugh, rising to his feet. 

“Listen!” The Frenchman’s voice became suddenly 
placating. “It is perhaps that I have said too much. 
But offence—no! We do not quarrel—we two. And 
perhaps it will not make so much difference after all 
to-night. I think it was the bad luck that set my 
tongue going, and-” 

Mr. Walters from Manchester, his puffy eyes 
narrowed, took an abrupt step forward. 

“What do you mean—bad luck?” he growled. 

“That to-night the plans are no longer safe,” said 
Nicky Fouche in a sort of tense and quavering earnest¬ 
ness. “They are dangerous. That we cannot go on.” 

“Glover—eh!”' exclaimed Mr. Walters with a 



THE LOCKED BOOK 


164 

savage oath. “The swine! That’s it, eh? He’s 
tumbled even to what’s going on to-night, has he?” 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche shook his head. 

“That I do not know. I do not worry about Glover 
to-night. If he knew the plan, it would be his game 
to wait until it was over and then demand a share.” 

“Right! So he would! ” Mr. Walters’ lips curled 
maliciously. “And he’d get it, too! And this time 
there wouldn’t be any blooming error about his getting 
all that was coming to him, either! That suits me! 
Well, what’s the trouble then, if it’s not Glover?” 

“That book!” Monsieur Nicholas Fouche was 
speaking quickly, excitedly again. “The book that 
Wayne had hidden in his bag. Clever—what you call 
smooth, eh?—that fellow Wayne!” 

“No!” grunted Mr. Walters from Manchester con¬ 
temptuously. “He is a fool. If he’d kept his mouth 
shut in the first place, and not tried to be so clever in 
slipping it over on the natives, he’d have got away 
with it; or, at least, he’d have got a chance to get it 
out of his bag before it was seen.” Mr. Walters 
reached suddenly for the bottle and took another 
generous gulp. “I wish I’d had his luck to cop it! 
If that old pirate bird only had a little of what they 
say he had, that book would be worth”—he slapped 
one of the cases heavily with the palm of his hand— 
“ten years of this sort of thing.” 

“More than that, mon ami!” Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche’s voice seemed suddenly to take on a hungry 
tone. “We would be rich—rich! It is not fable—it 
is history. The old pirate sank many ships—very 
many of them. Ah, you make me dream! Wealth- 
luxury—a lifetime of it—and all between the covers 
of one little book, eh? But”—he sucked in his breath 


A PRISONER AT LARGE 165 

in a long-drawn sigh—“we have not got the book— 
and it is gone again!” 

“I’m not so sure about that!” said Mr. Walters, 
with a low, unpleasant laugh. 

A queer little breathless sound came from Monsieur 
Nicholas Fouche. 

“What did you say, mon ami —what did you say?” 

“Bah!” sneered Mr. Walters from Manchester. 
“You heard what I said! Now see if you can hear 
this too! What would you do to get the book, little 
Frenchy?” 

Kenneth Wayne could not catch the reply—he was 
merely conscious of a low, prolonged, passionate mur¬ 
mur. Then Mr. Walters from Manchester laughed 
coarsely. 

“I thought so!” said Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester. “Well, it should not be so difficult, then. I 
have cracked harder nuts myself. But there is some¬ 
thing else first. What has the book got to do with 
what you were saying about not moving this stuff here 
to-night?” 

“It’s the natives,” said Nicky Fouche—and launched 
suddenly into an excited flood of profanity in his 
mother tongue. “That is what kept me for the last 
hour. You see! I began to be suspicious when I saw, 
not once, but twice, some of my boys whispering to¬ 
gether in the corners. Then, instead of coming out 
here to join you at once, I thought I would see—how 
do you call it?—what was blowing in the wind. Yes? 
You understand? *Cre nom d’un nom, it was well I 
did! For an hour I have been everywhere amongst 
the natives. And everywhere it is The Locked Book 
—the Konchi-kan Kitab of Kana-ee-a. They are ex¬ 
cited. They talk. They whisper. They gather to¬ 
gether. They go from hut to hut. There is a rest- 


166 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


lessness upon them like a disease. There is not one 
that will sleep to-night. Talamori and his men could 
move nothing down to the proas. It is impossible. 
They would be seen.” 

Mr. Walters’ countenance darkened with obvious 
anger and chagrin; and in turn he blasphemed with 
fervency. 

“You agree then,” said Monsieur Nicholas Fouche, 
“that we must attempt nothing to-night?” 

“Agree!” Mr. Walters flung back in an ugly tone. 
“If what you say is true, even a fool would know we’d 
got to sit tight. Talamori ’ll have to get back to the 
Cheruchuk again for cover for a night or two. D’you 
suppose he’s here yet?” 

“How should I know?” Nicky Fouche answered a 
little helplessly. “Since he was only to leave the 
Cheruchuk so as to get the proas into the cove behind 
the headland when it was dark! There was no time 
arranged. That would be impossible—eh? He may 
be here any minute—or maybe not for hours. I would 
have gone down there instead of coming here only—■ 
you can see, eh, tonnerre !—I might have missed him, 
and he would come here, and you would know nothing 
and would start to load the men, and we would be 
caught.” 

“Great intelligence, Frenchy!” applauded Mr. 
Walters from Manchester, with an ill-tempered grin. 
“Well, we’ve got to head him off now, haven’t we?” 

“Yes,” said Monsieur Nicholas Fouche quickly, 
“and one of us must go to the cove, and the other 
must stay here in case Talamori is already on his way. 
Whoever goes must take the road, though naturelle - 
merit Talamori will come by the woods; but for you 
or me to go that way would take too much time and 
there would be too much chance of missing him, and 


A PRISONER AT LARGE 


167 

nothing would be gained, and”—with a sudden 
grimace, as Mr. Walters reached again for the gin 
bottle and tilted it to his lips—“I think—it is an idea, 
mon ami —it will be better for me to go to the cove.” 

“Oh, you do—do you!” There was a snarl in Mr. 
Walters’ voice. He glared for a moment at the 
other; then he laughed raspingly. “Well, I’ve been 
thinking about that, too—and I think you won’t! 
Seeing there isn’t going to be anything pulled to-night, 
I’ll take you far enough into my confidence to let you 
know that a walk down the road in that particular 
direction has got a special attraction for me. You’ll 
stay here, Frenchy!” 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche shrugged his shoulders. 

“We will not quarrel about that,” he murmured, 
“but”—with a quick, furtive glance at the other— 
“but what is this special attraction?” 

“My business!” said Mr. Walters from Manchester 
with a leer. 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche appeared to be suddenly 
both excited and ill at ease. He fingered nervously at 
his goatee. 

“Mow Dieu!” he whispered anxiously. “Is it that? 
I am afraid for what you might do when you are like 
this. Major Peters lives on the way to the cove.” 

“So do a lot of other people,” snapped Mr. Walters 
from Manchester. “Don’t you worry about what I’m 
going to do. All you’ve got to know is that”—he held 
up the gin bottle, then slipped it into his pocket—“I’m 
taking this along to call Talamori’s bluff on how good 
a Mohammedan he is! Savvy?” 

Mr. Walters walked with no sign of unsteadiness 
to the rear door of the storehouse. 

“But,” cried out Monsieur Nicholas Fouche, “I— 
sacre nom !—I-” 


168 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Shut your face!” shouted Mr. Walters from 
Manchester with a rush of temper. “Understand? 
I do what I please!” 

He opened the door and looked out. The moon, 
higher above the trees now, was flooding the clearing. 
Mr. Walters from Manchester stepped outside and 
shut the door behind him. 

There was no one in sight. 


XV- 


MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 

T HE native huts, singly and in groups, strung out 
until they overlapped what might be called the 
limits of the town, lay in amongst the trees 
behind the houses of the whites, which latter bordered 
the road. To reach the “cove” behind the headland 
by making a circuit around the Malay quarters would 
necessitate too wide a detour; and, besides, the going 
would be very difficult. It would take much too long. 

Kenneth Wayne lay flat on his stomach a few feet 
back from the roadside. A hundred yards away to 
his right were the lights of the hotel. Figures passed 
up and down on the road—for the most part Malays. 
Sometimes they halted in little groups whispering 
together. 

The road, too, was obviously impracticable. 

There was one other way—the beach. It was de¬ 
serted, and, though bright now with moonlight, the 
line of trees that fringed the road would serve quite 
admirably as a screen to protect one from observation. 
Besides, even if noticed, a figure walking on the beach 
would be nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to 
attract or arouse particular attention—provided the 
figure were not recognised. Kenneth Wayne nodded to 
himself. From a distance that was hardly likely to 
happen. 

He stirred impatiently. He had been lying here 
fully ten minutes now waiting for an opportunity to 
160 


170 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


steal across the road. Neither Glover nor Nicky 
Fouche had exaggerated the natives’ restlessness. If 
they were humming around in their own quarters, they 
were also abroad in force—or else they were possessed 
by some infernal fascination to mass and congregate 
upon this particular section of the road! 

Kenneth Wayne stood up suddenly. For the first 
time there was no one in his immediate vicinity upon 
the road. He crossed it quickly, and darted in behind 
the shelter of the line of trees on the other side. 

The long sweep of beach lay ahead of him—a mile 
of it, at least, to the end of the bay—deserted, empty, 
white in the moonlight. With the protecting screen 
of trees between himself and the road now, he hurried 
forward. Where the trees were thick together he 
ran at top speed; where they thinned and the road 
came into view he went more cautiously, even strolling 
nonchalantly at times, that a hurrying figure might not, 
if seen, invite comment or investigation. 

The location of the cove did not trouble him. It 
was behind a headland, and, from the conversation 
between Nicky Fouche and Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester, Major Peters’ house had to be passed in order 
to reach it. Therefore its direction was fixed. For 
the rest, it was merely a question of following the 
shoreline until it was reached. 

Who was this Talamori who had been hiding in 
the Cheruchuk River? The question thudded at 
Kenneth Wayne’s brain as he ran, and walked, and 
ran again in turn. He was down past Major Peters’ 
house now. Who was this man who waited for dark¬ 
ness to come with his proas? A wild thought flashed 
upon him. No; not that! Hardly that! Luck was 
perhaps breaking for him—but hardly to that extent. 
He found himself laughing harshly under his breath. 


MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 171 

He did not expect to find that the man was Crimson 
Sash, did he? 

He answered himself savagely: No; he did not! 
His interest in the man consisted in the fact that, as 
late as this afternoon at any rate, the other had been 
hiding in the Cheruchuk River. And on that score 
alone this Talamori at once assumed a position of very 
considerable importance in his mind. 

He frowned now as he ran. Queer game, this, 
that was being played here! What was there in 
common between Nicky Fouche and Mr. Walters on 
the one hand, and this Talamori with his proas, who¬ 
ever he might be, on the other? Why were Nicky 
Fouche and Mr. Walters so anxious that a string of 
this Talamori’s followers, presumably, should not be 
seen carrying bolts of cloth?—since Mr. Walters from 
Manchester was in the cloth business! Where did 
Glover fit into this? 

Kenneth Wayne halted suddenly, and shrugged his 
shoulders. These things were apart, not of his im¬ 
mediate concern. They had nothing to do with the 
murder of the old fanatic that had been laid at his 
door—the only connection they had with the dragon- 
covered book was that this Talamori had been hiding 
in the Cheruchuk River. But Talamori wasn’t a white 
man, was he? And if a native, Talamori would have 
known all about the book—and would have kept it for 
himself. That was his, Kenneth Wayne’s, own argu¬ 
ment, wasn’t it? Well, then? What was the answer? 
Was this trail he was following now only another one 
that led up against a blind wall? Neither Nicky 
Fouche nor Mr. Walters from Manchester, from what 
he had overheard back there, appeared to have had 
any hand in the crime. 

He swept a clenched hand across a heated brow. 


172 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


His lips tightened doggedly. That wasn’t why he had 
halted and stood hesitating now—just because his 
thoughts had run riot a little. He was going through 
with this anyway. The question was whether he dared 
risk taking the open road itself now? He was now 
beyond the end of the town in this direction. A little 
way back on the road he could see the lights of the last 
house, which stood quite alone, like a farflung outpost 
from its fellows. Ahead, the short section of the road 
that was in view was apparently quite deserted. On 
the seaward side a thickly wooded headland ran out 
to close the bay. The cove, obviously, was still farther 
on. Would he better take the road, or keep on as he 
had been going and cut across the headland? 

There was always the chance, perhaps more than a 
chance to-night with disquiet prevailing everywhere, 
of stray parties of natives cropping up unexpectedly 
on the road; and, besides, there was still Mr. Walters 
of Manchester to consider. Mr. Walters had taken 
the road; but Mr. Walters would not have run at any 
stage of his errand, and, even with the other’s initial 
start, it was a question whether the man was now 
ahead, or close at hand. There was a bend in the road 
here, and, though the moonlight lay soft and clear 
upon it, Kenneth Wayne could not see far in either 
direction. 

Why take any chance? The woods on the head¬ 
land could not be very thick—and even if they were, 
it was certainly the safer way. 

His decision made, he entered the tract of wooded 
growth, and began to cut across the point or headland. 
It was not so bad after all. He made good progress 
—not so good as though he had come by the road, of 
course, but better than he had expected. 

Nor was it as far as he had expected—for after 


MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 173 

some five minutes of steady going he suddenly stood 
still. A voice, ahead of him through the trees, but out 
a little in the direction of the seaward end of the point, 
was calling in a low, guarded way. He listened. The 
voice became impatient in tone—much louder. He 
caught the words now: 

“Hey, there! I say, you, out there! Damn it, 
what’s the matter with you? Want ’em to hear me 
in Salabam?” 

It was the voice of Mr. Walters from Manchester! 

Kenneth Wayne, picking his way softly, turned in 
the direction of the voice. And then a few yards 
farther on he found himself suddenly at the edge of 
the wooded stretch—and once more stood still. He 
had been lucky again! If he had come any other way 
than across the headland, he would without question 
have missed both the cove and Mr. Walters. The 
cove, he could see now, was nothing more than a little 
indentation in the headland itself, and, being almost 
surrounded by trees, would certainly have been hidden 
to view from the road. 

Back in a little amongst the trees and secure from 
observation, he stared now at the scene before him. 
A few yards away on a narrow, circular strip of sand 
stood Mr. Walters from Manchester—and out a short 
distance from this strip of sand, as though they had 
grounded in shallow water, bulked the shapes of three 
proas. Mr. Walters had ceased to call; he was en¬ 
gaged now in extracting from his pocket the bottle 
with which he had armed himself before leaving the 
storehouse. There was no sign of life from any of 
the proas. 

And now Mr. Walters from Manchester raised the 
bottle to his lips, drank—and apostrophised the moon¬ 
light. 


i ?4 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“What d’you know about that!” exclaimed Mr. 
Walters heavily. “Gone! On their way up there 
already! Devil of a hurry about it—eh?—what?” 

Mr. Walters from Manchester drank again—then 
held the bottle up to the moonlight and laughed 
raucously. 

“And so’s that—gone!” said Mr. Walters. He 
flung the bottle out into the water. “Well, it T s all 
right! Frenchy ’ll look after them. Can’t say I’m 
sorry—saves the waste of time standing palavering 
around here. Nothing like having two irons in the 
fire, and other fish to fry! What?” He laughed rau¬ 
cously again. “Well, I guess I’ll go fry ’em!” he 
said—and turning abruptly, disappeared through the 
trees in the direction of the road. 

Kenneth Wayne passed his hand a little wearily 
across his eyes. His luck, after all, hadn’t amounted 
to much. He had had his struggle to get here for 
nothing—there was nothing to do but go back again. 
The man from the Cheruchuk River wasn’t here—he 
was, or would be, at the storehouse behind the hotel! 
Too bad he, Kenneth Wayne, hadn’t waited there— 
unless he was interested in that last remark of Mr. 
Walters from Manchester. 

He shook his head, as he started back across the 
point. Mr. Walters, according to his own statement, 
might not be drunk; but Mr. Walters had consumed at 
least the major portion of a bottle of gin in the last 
few hours and could not help but be, unless he were 
a superman, somewhat fuddled of brain. This Tala- 
mori was the more interesting—and promising. 

Kenneth Wayne emerged from the woods again 
close to the point where he had entered them—near 
the edge of the road. Mr. Walters, this time, would, 
without any question, be ahead of him, thanks to the 


MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 175 

easier going on the road—but not very far ahead. 
He moved cautiously still nearer to the edge of the 
road, and peered out. He was not so much interested 
in Mr. Walters’ movements, as he was in seeing that 
his own should not interest Mr. Walters! Yes, there 
was Mr. Walters, right enough—just passing around 
the bend beyond the house that stood alone here at 
this end of the town. 

Kenneth Wayne nodded. So long as he kept Mr. 
Walters ahead of him it was all right. He went on 
again along the beach, skirting the fringe of trees at 
the roadside, passed the house that stood alone, and, 
reaching a point beyond the bend of the road, edged 
in through the trees again for a second reconnaisance. 
Here was another long straight stretch of vacant 
road before the houses began to nestle, as it were, 
more compactly together in the town proper. In the 
moonlight he could see the road stretching like a grey 
ribbon before him for a considerable distance—much 
farther, it was certain, than the distance that had 
previously intervened between himself and Mr. 
Walters. But Mr. Walters was no longer in sight. 
Kenneth Wayne rubbed his eyes and looked again. 
The road was empty and deserted—even the restless 
natives hadn’t come down this far. 

Perhaps Mr. Walters from Manchester had taken 
suddenly to the beach! Kenneth Wayne drew away 
from the roadside, and in turn searched the long, 
white reach of sand. Nothing here, either—as far 
as he could see! Strange! The man seemed to have 
vanished in a most amazing fashion. 

Kenneth Wayne returned to the roadside—and 
again rubbed his eyes. This was some absurd now- 
you-see-me-and-now-you-don’t sort of game, wasn’t it? 
Mr. Walters was standing in the middle of the road 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


176 

not a hundred yards away, and was peering back in 
his, Kenneth Wayne’s direction. And then Mr. 
Walters from Manchester disappeared again—but 
this time there was no mystery in the man’s move¬ 
ments. Mr. Walters had simply drawn back behind 
a tree at the edge of the road. 

Kenneth Wayne’s lips tightened. Had the man 
discovered that he had been followed? It looked 
like it. And, worse still, Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester now occupied a strategical position that he, 
Kenneth Wayne, did not like at all. He could neither 
go on along the beach nor along the road without 
being seen by Mr. Walters. 

The man was a damned Jack-in-the-box! There 
he was out in the road again—and now he appeared to 
be sauntering leisurely back this way. A bit cool of 
the man, if he knew he had been followed! Kenneth 
Wayne smiled grimly. He hadn’t given the puffy- 
eyed representative of the cloth house in Manchester 
credit for that much nerve. Perhaps it was the gin, 
that- 

Kenneth Wayne crouched suddenly down behind 
a tree trunk. There was a light, quick step on the 
road almost in front of him. He had not heard it 
before; he had not been looking in the opposite direc¬ 
tion—his attention had been concentrated on Mr. 
Walters from Manchester. A figure in white passed 
by ... a trim, graceful, little figure . . . without 
any hat on . . . the hair that glinted gold in the 
sun turned now to bronze in the moonlight. 

Dorothy Merwood! 

Glover’s words came back to mind in a flash. That 
must be the Keenes’ house back there. And through 
Kenneth Wayne’s brain too there flashed Mr. Walters’ 
“special attraction in this particular direction,” and 



MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 177 

Mr. Walters’ “fish to fry.” And he remembered, 
too, a look he had once seen in Mr. Walters’ eyes. 

Kenneth Wayne sprang to his feet, took a step for¬ 
ward—and stopped short, choking back a savage 
laugh. Mr. Walters might not be welcome, else he 
would have called for her at that house to accompany 
her back, but at least Dorothy Merwood wasn’t in any 
danger—and he, Kenneth Wayne, was supposed to be 
a prisoner, confined and charged with murder. And 
perhaps more unwelcome still! 

He saw Mr. Walters from Manchester hurrying 
forward now, saw Dorothy IVIerwood halt in evident 
surprise and hesitation—and then Kenneth Wayne’s 
face hardened suddenly. They were scarcely twenty- 
five yards away. It was not merely a pantomime that 
he was witnessing—he could hear their voices, catch 
something of what was said. Her cool tones reached 
him now, as she drew back her arm from the man’s 
attempt to slip it through his own. 

“Thank you, Mr. Walters,” she said; “but that is 
not at all necessary.” 

“Oh, I say!” protested Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester ingratiatingly. “You don’t mean that! Come 
along now, don’t be stand-offish!” 

The man was trying to take her arm again. Kenneth 
Wayne moved forward behind the shelter of the trees. 
He could not see so well now, and for a moment only 
a confused murmur of voices came to him. Then he 
heard Dorothy Merwood’s voice again, still cool and 
contained, but with a ring of anxiety in it: 

“Kindly let me pass, Mr. Walters. You’re not 
yourself. I—I think you’ve been drinking.” 

“I don’t get drunk”—the man’s voice was suddenly 
raised in a surly tone—“and I don’t get thrown down 
either! Since that nigger-killing crook landed in here 


i 7 8 THE LOCKED BOOK 

a few days ago you haven’t had eyes for any one else 
—though maybe you’ve got over that after this after¬ 
noon. You were sweet enough before he came—and 
I fancy you can be again.” 

Kenneth Wayne was at a vantage point where he 
could see again. He was quite close to the two now. 

“I think you’re mad!” Dorothy Merwood cried 
out. 

“Don’t you be a little fool!” Mr. Walters’ tones 
were sullen and ugly. “Come on now, be chummy! 
Give me that pretty little arm of yours.” 

Mr. Walters reached for the girl’s arm again, and 
this time imprisoned it; but in an instant Dorothy 
Merwood wrenched it loose, and, seemingly with all 
her strength, struck Mr. Walters from Manchester 
full across the face. 

An oath purled from Mr. Walters’ lips. 

“You’ll pay for that!” he snarled. “You’ll pay 
for it with your lips, my beauty! You’re the kind 
that’s got to be taught”—he had caught her up in his 
arms despite her struggles—“and I’ll teach you- 

A cry came from Dorothy Merwood. 

It was a matter of yards—very few of them. Ken¬ 
neth Wayne, a fury upon him that maddened his 
senses, his lips white with passion, flung himself for¬ 
ward. Six feet in height he stood, and he was a man 
of great strength. Before they saw him he was upon 
them. His hands snatched at Mr. Walters’ neck, 
closed around it, tightened, and tightened again until 
there came a strangling, choking sound—and then Mr. 
Walters from Manchester seemed to rise straight up 
from the ground, and the next instant went hurtling 
through the air and crashed upon his face in the middle 
of the road a good half dozen paces away. 


MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 179 

“Get out of here!” said Kenneth Wayne hoarsely. 
“Get out—while you can!” 

For a moment, fists clenched, he eyed the other; 
and then, suddenly become hesitant in his actions, he 
turned his back upon the man and faced Dorothy 
Merwood. Her hands held tightly to her breast, her 
breath coming in short, panting little gasps, she was 
staring at him wide-eyed, startled, amazed. 

“You— here?” she said, and relief, anxiety, a 
troubled wonder, all seemed mingled in her tones. 

“I-” And then her voice rose in a quick, wild cry. 

“Look out!” she screamed. “Oh, look out! He-” 

Kenneth Wayne whirled around. Mr. Walters 
from Manchester was still lying in the road, but he 
had raised himself on one elbow now, and with his 
other hand was tugging at the pocket of his coat. He 
was laughing like a man bereft of reason. 

“Legal, by God, legal to shoot an escaped prisoner 
—eh!” he laughed. 

But the laugh died in a flood of profanity as Ken¬ 
neth Wayne jumped toward him. The revolver had 
caught in the pocket. He was still wrenching at it, 
still pouring out his blasphemies, in an almost maniacal 
way now, as Kenneth Wayne caught his wrist. 

“I’ll help you!” said Kenneth Wayne with a grim 
smile. “Stand up!” 

Still clasping the man’s wrist, Kenneth Wayne, with 
the other hand, jerked Mr. Walters from Manchester 
to his feet by the collar of the coat. Mr. Walters 
cried out in pain as his wrist was sharply twisted. The 
revolver clattered to the road. 

Kenneth Wayne stooped, picked up the weapon 
and put it in his own pocket. And then for a moment 
he stood again with clenched fists fighting the impulse 
to launch himself upon the other. 




i8o 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


He caught his breath sharply. 

“You can thank your God we’re not alone here!” 
He heard himself speaking. It did not sound like his 
own voice though. There was something very hollow, 
very strained in it. “Now get out!” He pointed 
down the road in the direction of the missionary’s 
house. “Get out!” 

Mr. Walters from Manchester raised both fists. 
He shook them like a madman. 

“Yes, I’ll get outt” In his passion the saliva 
drooled from his lips. “But I’ll make you wish you 
hadn’t got out, you damned murderer! I’ll see about 
your case! Yes, and you’ll find out I’m not through 
with either of you!” He turned and started off along 
the road—then stopped abruptly. “You two had 
better make the most of the few minutes you’ve got 
together!” he flung back with a vicious laugh—and 
went on again. 

The colour came flooding Dorothy Merwood’s 
cheeks to crimson. 

“He has been drinking,” said Kenneth Wayne 
hurriedly; and then, a sudden unsteadiness in his voice: 
“Shall we walk on”—he hesitated—“or perhaps you 
would rather not? I—I would like to see you far 
enough on the way to be sure that nothing of this sort 
happened again. And besides”—again he hesitated 
—for her own protection now she must know the truth 
about Walters and that shot at Glover, even if he 
must tell her standing here in the road—“and besides, 
there is something I want to say to you.” 

“But you?” she asked quickly. 

“I am going that way—by the beach,” he answered. 

She looked at him for a moment, and in her eyes, 
half veiled by their long lashes, he read a strange 
anxiety and indecision, a troubled questioning. 


MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 181 


And then she spoke. 

“Yes,” she said in a low voice—and led the way 
across the road and through the bordering trees to the 
beach. 

He fell into step beside her. She walked with her 
head a little lowered, a little averted—walked quickly, 
with nervous haste—walked in silence. And in silence, 
too, he watched her for a long time—the moonlight on 
her uncovered head, the bronze of her hair again, the 
play of her features, a little quiver that came and 
went on the half-parted lips. 

“Miss Merwood,” he said abruptly, “I’m not very 
good at saying just the right thing at the right time in 
the right way, I’m afraid. There hasn’t been much 
‘drawing-room’ in my life. But I know you’re fright¬ 
fully ill at ease. And at least I can understand why. 
You feel perhaps under a little sense of obligation for 
what has just happened, and because of that you are 
willing to accept the natural embarrassment of—of— 
how shall I say it?—of my being here with you now 
after what took place this afternoon. But I-” 

She halted on the instant, and, facing him, stamped 
her foot angrily upon the sand. 

“You are a very poor analyst then—and a most un¬ 
fair one!” she said vehemently. “My ‘little sense of 
obligation,’ as you call it, is very heavy—and not alone 
on my own account. If it had not been for me, no 

one would have known that you—that you-” She 

bit at her lips, stumbling for her words. 

“That I had escaped?” he supplied quietly. 

“Yes,” she said, the anger gone now, her voice a 
little tremulous; “and also that I shall now be respon¬ 
sible for you being retaken, or at least for a hunt 
being started for you all over the island.” 

He leaned a little toward her. 




182 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“You approve, then, of jail breaking?” he asked 
—and striving to speak lightly found a quick eager¬ 
ness in his voice instead. 

“Oh, I don’t know!” she cried sharply—and started 
on along the beach again. “I—I don’t know! You 
have no right to ask me that. One has human feelings 
that are not always ethical. I wanted to tell you to 
go when we were back there on the road. But I was 
afraid that you wouldn’t have understood—as I know 
now you wouldn’t from what you have said. But now 
—why don’t you go now—while there is a little time 
—before it is too late?” 

“Not yet,” he said, and shook his head. “Presently, 
when we get a little farther up the beach where there 
Is a chance of being seen, I am going to let you go on 
alone—for your own sake; but first, as I’ve said, 
there is something I want to say to you—and there is 
also a question that I want to ask. The question is a 
bit blunt, Miss Merwood; but I’ve already warned 
you that my tongue has never been taught to stand on 
ceremony. Do you really believe what you gave me 
to understand you believed on the verandah this 
afternoon?” 

The colour came sweeping into her cheeks again. 

“Why should you ask me that!” she exclaimed pro- 
testingly. “It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair after what has 
happened! What possible difference can it make what 
I think or believe?” 

“It makes a great deal of difference to me, Miss 
Merwood,” said Kenneth Wayne steadily. “Do you 
think I’m the sort of man who could go and butcher 
an old mad native for the sake-” 

“No,” she said quickly. “I—I don’t think I ever 
thought that. Since you force an answer from me, it 
was more that you were somehow implicated, or knew 



MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 183 

more than you had admitted—that there was some¬ 
thing else behind it all. It was that book in your bag, 
and no explanation of, not how, but why it came to 
be there. It would be so easy to understand that there 
would be plenty of opportunity for some one to put it 
there. But why? No one who has committed a 
crime is going to give over the fortune so obtained to 
another—unless—unless to an accomplice. I’ve 
thought and thought about it all afternoon and eve¬ 
ning. And—and I can’t find any answer. If it weren’t 
for that ‘why’ everybody would have laughed at the 
thought of you having had anything to do with it even 
if the book were in your bag.” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne with a faint smile. 
“It’s a bit damning, isn’t it? I’ve thought a little 
about that myself. And now that I have broken out 
of jail?” 

She did not answer his question. 

“What are you going to do now?” she asked 
instead. 

Kenneth Wayne laughed a little shortly. 

“I’m going back to my cell,” he said. 

Again she came to a sudden halt. 

“Because you have been seen?” she said, her voice 
breaking a little. “Because there isn’t time now to 
get far enough away before a hue and cry is raised? 
Oh, I—I-” 

“No,” said Kenneth Wayne simply. “Because I 
always intended to go back.” 

“Go back?” she repeated—and again, as though she 
had not quite understood: “Go back?” 

He looked at her for a moment before he answered. 
Her eyes were wide. There was something of eager¬ 
ness, something of fear in them—as there had been 
that afternoon before this miserable accusation had 



184 THE LOCKED BOOK 

been flung at him—something of anxiety not for her¬ 
self. 

“It’s almost as unbelievable as the defence I made 
on the verandah,” he said. “An hour ago—or two 
—I’ve lost track of time—I found an opportunity to 
get out of my room unobserved. I decided to take 
it in the hope that I might stumble on some clue to 
that ‘why’ you were just speaking about. Sometime 
before morning I intended to return to my room; but 
having just been seen, and my leave of absence being 
thereby curtailed, I am going back now—before the 
bloodhounds start baying. Sounds a bit lame, doesn’t 
it?” 

Again she did not answer his question directly. 

“Then you must hurry,” she said, beginning to walk 
on again; “or the alarm will be raised before you get 
there.” 

Kenneth Wayne shook his head. 

“I hardly think so,” he said. “Walters can’t past 
us without making a circuit around by the woods on 
the other side of the road, and that would take time; 
and, besides, I have reason to feel sure he won’t start 
what he must believe would be a man-hunt until he 
has first given certain friends of his to-night time to 
disperse and get under cover. I’m sure I’ve at least 
a good fifteen minutes’ leeway.” 

“Oh!” she cried quickly. “Then you have dis¬ 
covered something to-night!” 

Again he shook his head. 

“I don’t know yet,” he said. “Perhaps.” 

“Yet!” She caught up the word instantly. “Which 
means that, after all, I have cost you a great deal to¬ 
night—that, if it had not been for me, you might 
have been able to find out a great deal more, instead of 
being forced back at once now to your room.” 


MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 185 

“Well, for to-night, yes—if you will have it so,” 
he said, and smiled gravely. “But it might not have 
amounted to anything at all; and, in any case, I happen 
to know that what was going on here was to be post¬ 
poned for a night or two anyway—until the natives’ 
excitement over what occurred to-day has died down. 
So you see my chances are as good as ever.” 

“If you are ever able to get out again!” she said 
under her breath, and as though more to herself than 
to him. “You will be closely watched after this.” 

It was very true. He was fully aware of it. It was, 
in fact, in the last analysis, little short of disaster. 
But somehow he wasn’t sorry. He didn’t regret it. 
In the moonlight her face showed very white and 
strained—damn that swine Walters! 

“Don’t you believe it!” he said cheerily. “I’ll find 
a way!” 

There were beginning to be signs of movement on 
the road now, and after a few steps farther Kenneth 
Wayne stopped. 

“I think you would better go on alone from here, 
Miss Merwood,” he said abruptly. “It would be ex¬ 
tremely unpleasant for you if any one, native or white, 
saw and recognised me, and you were in my company. 
But before you go there is that matter I said I wanted 
to speak to you about. It is something I wanted to tell 
you; something that, after what has happened to-night, 
you must be told for your own protection, though 
there are still reasons why I do not think it would be 
well to make it public yet. It was Walters and Fouche 
who tried to murder Glover the night before last.” 

“Walters—Fouche!” she gasped in a startled way, 
“Are—are you sure?” 

“Yes,” he said. “That much to-night, at least, I 
made sure of. But the point now is that if Walters is 


186 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


capable of murder he is capable of anything—and 
having once gone so far with you as he did to-night 
because he had been drinking, he becomes reckless of 
any further restraint upon himself. I do not want to 
alarm you unduly, I do not want to frighten you; I 
only want you to realise that there is more than merely 
a drunken brute to deal with. Couldn’t you get your 
father to pull out of here?” 

“Father!” She laughed a little nervously. “Why, 
quite apart from his leg, he wouldn’t go now for any¬ 
thing on account of that book. He is nearly crazy 
with excitement over it; and I think he would do 
almost anything in the world to get his own hands on 
it. I know he’s going to try and get Major Peters to 
let him take a photograph of it to-morrow. And 
besides all that—how could we go ? There’s no 
steamer expected—and no one knows when the next 
one will call here.” 

“Yes; that’s true,” said Kenneth Wayne heavily. 
“But I wish to God you were out of here!” He held 
out his hand. “I don’t want to presume,” he said— 
and found his voice husky, “I’m under a bit of a cloud 
myself; but before I say good-night I wish you would 
promise me to be very careful—not to go out again 
alone anywhere. Will you?” 

She had taken his hand without looking up. 

“Yes,” she said almost inaudibly. 

“Good-night,” said Kenneth Wayne. 

But now she raised her eyes, and he saw that they 
were suddenly full of tears. 

“Oh, what am I say—what am I to say?” she 
whispered miserably. “About to-night—the thanks I 
owe you; about—about everything else! I—I-” 

“Nothing,” said Kenneth Wayne simply. “There 
isn’t anything to say—now. Please don’t try. For 
what has happened in the road back there I am happier 



MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 187 

in a personal way than I can tell you, though I regret it 
just as strongly the other way on account of you. And 
for the rest”—he smiled down at her quietly—“I do 
not think I can do better than quote Gulab Singh, that 
amazing Grand Vizier of yours: ‘We travel upon the 
Wheel, and strange is Fate. What is written is 
written. We shall see!’ But you must go, Miss 
Merwood! See, there are a lot of natives coming 
along the road there. We are too much exposed here. 
Quick!” His voice was suddenly tense. “Walk 
straight along as though you were simply out for a 
stroll. Quick—quick—good-night!” 

He heard a smothered, helpless little cry, like the 
sob of a child almost it sounded, as he dropped her 
hand and moved swiftly back closer in against the 
tree trunks—and then he saw the slim figure in white 
move slowly on along the beach. He watched her— 
watched her until he could see her no longer. And 
suddenly he buried his face in his hands. 

“Oh, God!” he cried brokenly. 

Presently he lifted his face to the moonlight, to 
the myriad stars blending in exquisite beauty into a 
cloudless sky of royal blue, and, beneath them, stared 
at the rippling fringe of tiny waves breaking silver all 
along the crescent beach—and to his nostrils came the 
fragrance, the rare, tropical perfume from the wood¬ 
lands of a thousand growing things. And then he 
laughed a little, but it was the laugh of one whose 
heart was over-sore. Glover had not exaggerated. 
It was a wondrous night—a wonderful night for a 
walk. Well, he had had his walk. 

And now? 

He walked on along the beach. There was no 
special reason to preserve secrecy in his movements 
now. As soon as Walters had warned Fouche and this 
Talamori, and the latter had had an opportunity to 


188 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


get to cover, the fact that he, Kenneth Wayne, had 
“broken jail” would be known. Whether, therefore, 
it were known now on the way back, or ten or fifteen 
minutes later, made no material difference. 

And so he went on. He made no studied effort to 
escape observation. But no one seemed to pay any 
attention to a lone figure walking on the beach, much 
less recognise who it was. Opposite the hotel there 
was no one particularly near on the road, and, crossing 
the latter, he entered the hotel and climbed the stairs, 
still without challenge or hindrance. There seemed 
something almost ironical in this now—since now he 
was indifferent as to whether he were seen or not. 

He entered his room, and shut the door behind 
him. He did not lock it. What was the use! He 
sat down in the darkness on the edge of the bed. They 
would be along here shortly—to view the empty cage. 
Rather neat, that! It would give Mr. Walters from 
Manchester a jolt at least. He hadn’t thought of 
that before. He was glad now he hadn’t been seen 
on the way back. 

His head dropped into his hands. There was a 
great deal to think about—so much that the thoughts 
came tumbling, tossing and crowding one upon another 
—confusing him. No, he was tired, that was all— 
mentally fagged out. Anyway, what was the good 
of trying to think now—subconsciously his mind would 
be centred only on the fact that he was waiting for 
Mr. Walters’ storm to break. 

Five minutes passed—another five. 

And then suddenly Kenneth Wayne rose to his feet. 
Here they were now! There was a rush of feet along 
the front verandah, the heavy knocking upon door 
panels, excited voices crying out—a sudden babel. And 
then from some voice raised above this babel he caught 
a few coherent words: 


MOONLIGHT AND MATCH-FLAME 189 

. „ Turn out, I tell you! Don’t you understand? 
Major Peters has been done in—murdered—the 
book’s gone again. . „ 

Heavy footsteps came racing around from the front 
of the verandah; a heavy fist pounded on Kenneth 
Wayne’s door. 

Kenneth Wayne passed his hand in a dull way 
across his forehead. 

“What do you want?” he demanded. 

“Just wanted to know you were there!” a voice 
answered gruffly—and the footsteps raced away again. 

Kenneth Wayne stood motionless for a moment 
staring through the black at the door; and then once 
more he passed his hand in helpless fashion across his 
forehead. Good God, they hadn’t thought of accusing 
him of this too, had they! There was a limit to— He 
became suddenly tense again. He had been out—and 
it would soon be known by everybody that he had 
been out. 

The hotel was growing quiet—footsteps running 
down the stairs were receding, dying away. That 
would be the white boarders running, all running, God 
knew why! for the scene of the crime! Well, they 
would be back here presently—when they knew he had 
been out. 

His shoulders squared back. Not in the dark! 
That wasn’t the way he cared to face them. 

The lamp was on the little table over there against 
the wall. He stepped forward, struck a match, 
reached for the lamp chimney—and his hand, half 
extended, remained in that position as if suddenly 
stricken numb and incapable of further movement. 
The match burned on, burned his fingers, and fell in 
a tiny, glowing ember upon the floor. 

Beside the lamp on the table lay the dragon-covered 
book. 


— XVI — 


“the three crooks” 

A STILLNESS, almost eerie by comparison with 
the confusion of a moment gone, had settled 
upon the hotel. The exodus had seemingly 
been complete. The White Bachelors of the Tropics, 
in pajamas and half-dressed, if one could judge by the 
haste in which, on being aroused from slumber, they 
had scurried away, were gone, responding to a man 
to the cry of murder. 

But the dragon-covered book was here. 

That was why Major Peters had been murdered. 
Or was it? 

If Major Peters had been murdered for the Konchi- 
kan Kitah of Kana-ee-a, why hadn’t the murderer kept 
it? Why was the book here? 

But why, also, had it been placed in the kit bag 
after the murder of the old fanatic in the ruined 
village on the banks of the Cheruchuk River? 

For a space of time that endured as some strange, 
isolated period in his life, set off, apart, unmeasured 
whether by so many seconds or so many minutes be¬ 
cause differentiation had ceased between them, Kenneth 
Wayne stood there in the darkness. Emotions, the 
gamut of them, like vultures swooping upon their prey 
assailed his brain, and their screeching became his own 
mental hubbub. Shock, anger, surprise, confusion, be¬ 
wilderment, an impotent passion seeking impotently 
for the source of what had befallen him that he might 
190 


THE THREE CROOKS’ 


191 


wreak vengeance upon it—he knew them all. But 
dominant was an hysterical impulse to a mad outburst 
of laughter—to let the place rock with it. An insane 
man would—because there was insane humour in it. 

They had all scurried away . . . scurried away 
. . . and the book was here. . . . 

He jerked his shoulders back, fighting for self- 
control. 

It was a trick of the imagination, an hallucination 
born out of the fanciful obsessions of his own brain. 
How the devil could the book be here? 

He struck another match—and this time lighted the 
lamp. 

And now, instead of laughter, a smile came twitch¬ 
ing at his lips—not one of mirth, but rather of self- 
pitying mockery. He knew very well that it had been 
neither hallucination nor a trick of the imagination, 
but he was conscious that he had almost half expected 
to find the book had vanished again as mysteriously as 
it had appeared. 

It lay there on the table beside the lamp. 

A sinister thing! 

He stared at it for a moment, his face suddenly 
grown old and strained; and then he picked it up, and 
began to turn it over and over in his hands. 

Two generations old—inside, the key to the wealth 
amassed two generations gone! Fabulous wealth— 
the hidden treasures of a lifetime of piracy in the days 
when piracy was most profitable! God knew how 
many lives it had cost, or how many lives the secrets 
written within the covers had cost—two generations 
ago! 

He had called it a sinister thing. It was. There 
was something baleful about its appearance. Its 
mildewed leather worn entirely off in spots, its moldy- 


192 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


greenish brass, its bestial dragon’s mouth gluttonously 
closed upon its own writhing tail, all seemed horribly 
in keeping with the two murders for which it was 
responsible in the last two nights. And yet, too, it 
possessed an insidious fascination. 

He found himself tugging at it mechanically—to 
open it. But the mouth and tail of the dragon brazed 
together over the edges of the book were of thick and 
heavy brass; and, as on that first and only other 
occasion when he had held the volume in his hands, 
it resisted, indeed mocked at his attempts. A tool of 
some sort was required. That was old Kana-ee-a’s 
object when he had conceived the idea in the first 
place, wasn’t it? Mr. Merwood had suggested a file. 

Kenneth Wayne looked around him as though he 
expected his eyes to light upon some suitable in¬ 
strument placed ready to his hand—and finding none, 
his gaze fixed on the book again. His brows furrowed 
deeply. Suppose he did open it . . . opened, it 
would add weight to the evidence of guilt against him 
. . . that was why he had murdered Major Peters— 
to get the book . . . and on this occasion, unlike the 
last, he had lost no time in possessing himself of the 
secrets it contained, and in making sure that, at least, 
it should not again get away from him as a locked 
book. 

All this if it were found, here, now, to-night, in 
this room, damning him for the second time as a ruth¬ 
less and cold-blooded murderer. 

His brain for an instant seemed to grow numb, to 
become incapable of performing its functions, to be 
robbed of its reasoning powers, to be inert, as though 
stunned by some sudden and crushing blow physically 
struck. 

He felt the colour leave his cheeks. He had been 


THE THREE CROOKS 1 


193 


out—a prisoner at large all evening. He had no alibi 
between the time he had met Glover and the time, long 
afterwards, when he had encountered Dorothy Mer- 
wood and Walters back there, beyond Major Peters 9 
house , on the road; and here was the book, here in his 
hands, here in his possession. 

What was he to do with it? Like a trip-hammer, 
his mental faculties virile again, restored, the question 
thudded at his brain. What was he to do with it . . • 
what . . . what . . . ? 

Say that he had found it here? That’s what he 
had said about the kit bag. They might begin to have 
suspicions regarding his sanity, if that would do any 
good; but to expect them to believe any such story was 
to pronounce himself here and now as worse than 
insane. Hide it, then? No good! They knew, or 
would know, that he had broken jail, and they would 
turn the place inside out in a search for it. Well, then, 
destroy it? How was he going to destroy it? He 
had no means of destroying it. He couldn’t burn it 
over a lamp chimney—brass wouldn’t burn. He 
couldn’t tear it to pieces because he couldn’t open it 
to get at the leaves—and, even if he could, he couldn’t 
tear up the brass. 

Why couldn’t he open it? There must be something 
here with which he could force that voracious beast to 
disgorge its own tail! He laughed out shortly. A 
lot of difference it would make as far as evidence 
against him was concerned whether it were opened 
or not! That was merely a brain vagary of his own. 
And, anyhow, there was a way of getting rid of the 
book. He could step out there on the verandah and 
pitch it away, and let who would find it. But if he 
were going to do that, why not open it first—if he 
could ? 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


194 

Once more his eyes began to travel speculatively 
around the room—when suddenly, without warning, 
without any premonitory sound, the door of his room 
was flung wide open. A quick, startled exclamation 
came from his lips. And then he remembered that he 
had intentionally left the door unlocked when he had 
come in, and thereafter had given it no second thought. 
He was staring into the faces of Nicky Fouche and 
Mr. Walters from Manchester. 

For a moment they stood there scowling in vicious 
menace; then slowly their expressions seemed to 
change in common to one of rapacious fascination, as 
though dawning upon them were something that they 
savagely wanted to believe in spite of the amazement 
that made them, as it were, suspicious of their own 
eye-sight. They were not looking at him any more. 
Their eyes were fixed on the dragon-covered book 
which he held in his hands. 

The Frenchman circled his lips with the tip of his 
tongue as if on the instant they had become very dry. 

“Mon Dieu!” he whispered hoarsely. 

Mr. Walters from Manchester swallowed hard, the 
Adam’s-apple suddenly protruding as though he were 
attempting to gulp down something much too large 
for his throat. 

“My God!” he mumbled—and laughed—and, 
pushing Monsieur Nicholas Fouche ahead of him into 
the room, followed and closed the door behind them. 

Kenneth Wayne did not move. 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche began to smile and play 
caressingly with his little goatee. But it was Mr. 
Walters from Manchester who spoke first. 

“Caught with the goods—eh?” he said in an ugly 
tone. “So that’s the pleasant little job you were up 


“THE THREE CROOKS” 195 

to while you were out! Croaked the poor old major, 
did you ? Well, hand it over!” 

Kenneth Wayne deliberately laid the book back on 
the table behind him. 

“Walters,” he said in a low voice, “if you attempt 
to put a finger on that book, we’ll begin where we left 
off on the road back there a little while ago. But I 
think I’d advise you to get out of here—both of you!” 

Mr. Walters’ puffy eyes narrowed. 

“Quite so!” he sneered. “But there’s two of us 
now.” 

“So I perceive,” said Kenneth Wayne curtly. “Two 
of as yellow a pair of crooks as are as yet unhanged!” 

“Crooks! Unhanged! Sacre nom!” Monsieur 
Nicholas Fouche’s face was screwed up. He screeched 
out his words as though labouring under some deadly 
and unmerited insult. “That is too much! I, Nicholas 
Fouche, to be called a crook—and by a murderer, a 
—how do you say it?—a twice murderer of whom I 
am the keeper! Monsieur, I-” 

“Ah, shut up!” snarled Mr. Walters. “He’s dead 
right!” Mr. Walters appeared suddenly to have 
changed his tactics. He stuck his tongue in his cheek 
and smirked at Kenneth Wayne. “That s what we all 
are—crooks—the three of us. Might as well admit 
it. That’s the only way to get anywhere. And that 
being the case I fancy it isn’t going to be necessary to 
have any fuss. It’s just a matter of a little business 
arrangement—eh—what? Nicky and I want to get 
that book without having to tell any lies to keep the 
whole of Salabam from knowing about it and we re 
willing to pay on the nail. That’s fair enough, isn’t 
it?” 

“Pay for it!” Again Nicky Fouche’s voice rose 



THE LOCKED BOOK 


196 

shrilly. “No! Jamais de la vie! Why should we 
pay? We have him—how do you say?—cold.” 

Mr. Walters whirled savagely on his companion. 

“Blast you!” he said fiercely. “Hold your tongue! 
You screech like an Australian cockatoo! Any one 
within half a mile could hear you.” 

“So!” retorted Monsieur Nicholas Fouche hotly, 
but in a more guarded voice. “I screech, do I? But 
nevertheless we will pay nothing!” 

Kenneth Wayne smiled coldly at the two. He w’as 
leaning back against the table now, his hands thrust 
with apparent nonchalance into the pockets of his 
coat—in one of which pockets reposed the revolver he 
had taken from Mr. Walters of Manchester half an 
hour ago. It would come to a fight, of course, unless 
some or all of the boarders returned in the meantime. 
Also it would make a rather pretty fight—Fouche, 
lithe and wiry, was not to be despised; and, besides, 
neither of the two would hesitate to use weapons if 
they possessed them. His brows drew together sud¬ 
denly. He thought he had caught, very faintly, 
an extraneous sound from somewhere, an irregular, 
almost inaudible tap-tap-tap, it seemed, like some one 
knocking on a wall perhaps, or driving a nail, or- 

Mr. Walters from Manchester was speaking again. 

“Frenchy always goes up in the air when he thinks 
anything’s going to cost him something that he could 
get out of paying for,” said Mr. Walters of Man¬ 
chester with ingratiating confidence to Kenneth Wayne. 
“They’re an excitable race. Now, you listen—and 
you, too, Frenchy. I haven’t made it public yet that 
you’ve been out of here to-night, Wayne, and I fancy 
she hasn’t either. On the way back I heard what had 
happened to Peters and I twigged why you had been 
out, but I had a little business of my own to attend to 


“THE THREE CROOKS” 197 

with Nicky Fouche here first. See? Then, never mind 
where we’d come from, Nicky and I spotted the light 
shining out of your window blind, and we thought it 
was blasted queer, and sneaked up here to see what 

was what, and-” He paused abruptly. “What’s 

that?” he demanded sharply. 

The faint tap^tap-tap had become audible again. It 
lasted for a moment, and then ceased. 

Kenneth Wayne still leaned negligently against the 
table, the dragon-covered book behind him. It mat¬ 
tered very little what the sound was, except perhaps 
that it might delay Mr. Walters from Manchester in 
reaching that point in the negotiations where a show 
of force would succeed mere words. Personally, he 
inclined toward a conclusion of a physical nature. But 
in the scuffle it was quite on the cards that one of the 
two might be able to snatch the book and get away 
with it, and, wherever else it went, he did not propose 
that it should pass into the possession of either of 
these two if he could help it; so, rather than force the 
issue now, since the book was in evidence in any case, 
it seemed the better judgment to spar, if possible, for 
time. It couldn’t be very long before some of the men 
anyhow would be coming back from Major Peters’. 

“You heard it, didn’t you?” Mr. Walters from 
Manchester demanded again. “Like some one knock¬ 
ing somewhere, eh? What was it?” 

Kenneth Wayne shrugged his shoulders. 

“I really don’t know,” he said indifferently. 

“There it is again!” exclaimed Mr. Walters from 
Manchester. 

“Pouf!” said Nicky Fouche, a sullen displeasure still 
in evidence in his voice. “For me it is a hammock 
stick that knocks itself with the breeze against the 
verandah.” 


198 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Maybe it is,” agreed Mr. Walters. “But take a 
look outside anyway.” 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche opened the door and 
thrust out his head. 

“There’s nothing out here,” he said tersely after a 
moment, and shut the door again. 

“All right!” said Mr. Walters. “It’s not of much 
account anyhow, I fancy. We’ll carry on. It won’t 
take long coming to terms, I’ll stake a bet or two at 
odds, but we want to get through before any of ’em 
come back—from you know where. I haven’t got any 
love for you, you understand”—he scowled suddenly 
at Kenneth Wayne—“but I never let personal feelings 
interfere with business, and I don’t put you down for a 
fool. You know the mess you’re in”—he circled his 
finger with a lugubrious motion around his neck— 
“that’s plain as a pike-staff. Very good! Here’s the 
bargain, and here’s how we pay. You hand over the 
book and keep your mouth shut about it, and we’ll get 
you out of the mess.” 

Kenneth Wayne selected a cigarette and lighted it. 
Then his hands went back into his pockets again. 

“I don’t quite follow you,” he observed caustically 
between puffs. 

Mr. Walters from Manchester accepted the remark 
literally. 

“Well, maybe you don’t—at least not all the way,” 
he admitted. “But I’ll make it plain enough in two 
breaths. When I saw you out to-night I thought at 
first you were trying to escape, and I thought you were 
a fool because you’d ought to have known you hadn’t 
a ghost of a chance of getting away in the long run. 
But now I’ve tumbled to your game. Pretty neat! 
Slip out and croak old Peters, and cop the book, and 
get back here with it—which you did. But I must say 


“THE THREE CROOKS’ 


I wouldn’t have thought you’d have let a girl put the 
crimp into a swell job that was already done.” 

Kenneth Wayne straightened up slightly. His face 
w r as set a little harder; something seemed to be setting 
his blood curiously a-tingle. 

“No; I don’t suppose you would,” he said in a 
monotone. 

“But that’s done now,” said Mr. Walters from 
Manchester, with a coarse laugh; “and we’re here, and 
so’re you, and so’s the book. You haven’t got a hope 
of not being strung up for one of the two murders 
unless you make your escape now—and that’s what 
we’re offering you.” 

“Really!” Kenneth Wayne shrugged his shoulders 
again. “But I thought you just said I wouldn’t have 
any chance of getting away in the long run anyhow.” 

“And neither you would,” said Mr. Walters quickly. 
“Not alone. That’s what’s up to us. We’ll take care 
of that. We’ve got means of getting you off the 
island, and no one the wiser. You don’t think we’re 
trying to play you for a sucker, do you? There’s a 
lot of things going on around here you don’t know 
anything about.” 

“I’m not so sure of that,” said Kenneth Wayne, 
with a thin smile. 

“Of what?” There was exaggerated patience in 
Mr. Walters’ tones, as though he were striving to deal 
in fatherly fashion with a refractory child. “About 
our not playing straight with you? Say, I-” 

“No,” said Kenneth Wayne, and his eyes roved with 
studied insolence over the other’s face. “About the 
things—I don’t know anything about.” 

Mr. Walters from Manchester thrust his head for' 
ward from between his shoulders with a sudden, 
vicious jerk. 



200 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“What d’ye mean?” he snarled. 

“What I say,” said Kenneth Wayne curtly. 

For a moment, fists clenched, the red flaming into 
his cheeks, his face working in ugly fashion, Mr. 
Walters stared at Kenneth Wayne. Then he gulped, 
swallowed hard, and indulged in a croaking laugh. 

“Well, maybe you do, and maybe you don’t,” he 
said. “If you do, so much the better, because then 
you’ll know we’re able to get you out of this the way 
we said. So hand that book over and we’ll make a 
start.” 

Kenneth Wayne was engaged in a critical examina¬ 
tion of the toe of his shoe. 

“And if I refuse?” he inquired without looking up. 

u Tonnerre!” Monsieur Nicholas Fouche burst out. 
“Refuse! Then we will do what I wanted to do at 
the first. Eh—you understand? We will take it!” 

“Of course!” agreed Kenneth Wayne softly. “But 
doesn’t it strike you that you could hardly expect under 
the circumstances, if you took it, that this little world 
of Salabam here would remain in ignorance of your 
possession of the volume? Or perhaps you and Mr. 
Walters propose to take advantage of the same 
method of getting away from here that you offer me— 
disappear, in a word, to-night?” 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche edged forward, placing 
himself now between his companion and Kenneth 
Wayne. He was smiling in a tolerant, supercilious 
way, fondling again his goatee. 

“No, monsieur; not at all!” he said blandly. “Mon¬ 
sieur pretends to be more dense than he is, eh? We 
will not disappear—it is not necessary. And for the 
other point, it was of that I was talking when we began 
our very pleasant little conversation. Is it not so? 
We take the book—but monsieur will understand that 


THE THREE CROOKS 1 


201 


we deny taking it. There was no book to take. Who 
will say there was? Not monsieur, I am sure. If mon¬ 
sieur says he had the book here, monsieur confesses 
that he cut the throat of that estimable citizen, Major 
Peters. Quelle affaire deplorable! And monsieur, I 
am certain, will not forget that he is already accused 
of murder, and that mademoiselle will be obliged to 
swear that she saw him out there on the road. So, 
monsieur”—he extended his hand—“the book, if you 
please.” 

Kenneth Wayne’s smile was not inviting. 

“No!” he said laconically. 

“No?” repeated Monsieur Nicholas Fouche. His 
eyebrows went up pityingly. “Ah, too bad!” 

“You’d better think it over!” Mr. Walters broke 
in roughly. “Frenchy’s right! We’ll give you another 
chance. The book’s no good to you if you’re hanged, 
and all you’ve got to do to save your precious neck is 
to hand it over. We’ll get you away from here. 
What do you say—for the last time?” 

Kenneth Wayne’s hands came suddenly from his 
pockets, the revolver in one of them. 

“No!” he flung out—and shoved the revolver sav¬ 
agely into their faces. “I’ll keep the book—at least 
from you! And I’ll stay here !” 

Before the levelled weapon, Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche with a startled exclamation, bumped back 
against Mr. Walters. 

“Sacre nom!” he cried out. “Where did you get 
that?” 

Mr. Walters was mumbling half under his breath. 

“Damn it,” mumbled Mr. Walters, “I’d forgotten 
he had it. I-” And then Mr. Walters from Man¬ 

chester acted characteristically. Quite safe himself 
from the bite of a bullet, with a sudden, violent shove 



202 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


he sent Monsieur Nicholas Fouche flying against Ken¬ 
neth Wayne. “Grab him, Frenchy! Hold him!” he 
screamed out. “Hold him, while I get the book!” 

With the impact, quick, unexpected, Kenneth Wayne, 
half thrown from his feet, was flung back against the 
table, and, his wrist striking sharply against the table’s 
edge, the revolver was knocked from his hand to the 
floor. But even as he staggered, he struck and struck 
again, jabbing short-arm blows with his left hand into 
the face and neck of the Frenchman, who, taken by 
surprise himself, was clinging more as a dead-weight 
than anything else to Kenneth Wayne in an effort to 
preserve his own balance. 

In a moment it became a melee. 

Mr. Walters made a leap for the book on the table, 
but Kenneth Wayne, managing to fling the Frenchman 
aside, met the rush with a right to Mr. Walters’ jaw. 
And then they were on him together. They caught at 
his legs, they caught at his neck, they clawed at him, 
rained their blows upon him. Once they circled him 
around away from both the book and the revolver, 
which latter lay just beside one of the table legs, and 
each in turn made a frantic grab for the book—and 
missed. He fought his way back again to a position 
in front of the table. 

Queer! Perhaps it was the trickle of blood over 
his eyes that distorted his vision. A face seemed to 
be thrust close against the window blind—the slats 
seemed to move. Ridiculous—absurd—impossible! 
It was Mr. Merwood’s face. How could it be Mr. 
Merwood’s face. . . . only it was Mr. Merwood’s 
face just the same. . . . 

He was panting, gasping for his breath as he fought 
now. In and out his arms worked like steel piston- 
rods battering at his antagonists. If he could only 


THE THREE CROOKS’ 


203 


keep them from closing in on him together again! 
Ah, that was better! Monsieur Nicholas Fouche went 
reeling back from a smashing blow behind the ear. 
And Frenchy had evidently had enough of it, for he 
was sending a curious whining note, like that of a hurt 
puppy, throbbing through the room. Now there was 
only Walters! A sort of unholy joy rose in Kenneth 
Wayne’s soul. Just Walters ! No—here was Frenchy 
—the whine gone—screaming like a maniac—a chair 
uplifted above his head! And at the same moment, 
with a yell, Mr. Walters lunged forward viciously. 

The chair crashed downward, broke through the 
guard of Kenneth Wayne’s upflung arm, and struck 
him with terrific force across the head. He felt his 
knees sag. He heard a sort of chorused howl of tri¬ 
umph, and then, as he lurched sideways, his eyes fell 
upon the revolver on the floor not a yard away. Again 
the Frenchman struck with the chair, but now Kenneth 
Wayne, pretending to evade the blow, dropped full to 
the floor, snatched at the revolver, and, without aim, 
fired instantly. 

Mr. Walters from Manchester, his hand stretched 
out, clawing fingers almost grasping the coveted book, 
drew back instinctively at the shot. Monsieur Nicho¬ 
las Fouche, the chair poised above his head for still 
another blow, dropped it with a startled cry, and 
leaped backward toward the door. 

And then Kenneth Wayne was on his feet again, the 
revolver muzzle thrust into Mr. Walters’ face. His 
head was swimming, going around like a top. He was 
fighting, not so much against, these two men now, as 
against a sense of giddiness that came surging upon 
him in swiftly recurring waves. 

“I made a mistake in not using this in the first 


204 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


place,” he said thickly. “I—I’ll give you one minute 
to get on the other side of that door!” 

Mr. Walters from Manchester, one of his puffy 
eyes quite closed, his face working in ungovernable 
rage, began to retreat slowly. Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche was already at the door, pawing at the knob 
to open it. 

“Come on!” he screamed frantically. “Quick! 
Sacre nom—sacre nom — sacre nom! It is in his face! 
He will shoot to kill!” 

The Frenchman wrenched the door open, and 
darted outside. 

Mr. Walters in his retreat had reached the thresh¬ 
old. His fury found words. 

“You think you’ve won, eh?” His voice rose and 
fell dementedly, out of control. “Well, you’ve lost! 
You fool—you damned fool! You had your chance 
and you wouldn’t take it. Now I’ll get you, you gold¬ 
hunting, damsel-protecting swine, and I’ll get that book 
—and God help any white man or woman on this 
island who gets in the road or tries to stop it! I’ll let 
hell loose, you understand? And you won’t have long 
to wait!” 

The doorway was empty. 

Kenneth Wayne was dimly conscious of the sound 
of Mr. Walters’ and Nicky Fouche’s footsteps running 
together along the verandah and then down the stairs. 
He was very unsteady on his feet. His head was 
swimming around worse than ever. He wasn’t going 
to faint, was he—like a woman! Won! Of course, 
he’d won! There was the book on the table. What 
had Walters meant? White man or woman ... let 
hell loose . . . Talamori—was that it? . . . turn 
Talamori loose. . . . God, if he did that! 

Kenneth Wayne reached out suddenly for support, 


THE THREE CROOKS 


to steady himself—and knocked the lamp over. It 
smashed on the floor. That would set the hotel on 
lire ... he must put it out . . . no, it went out of 
itself ... it was dark . . . everything was dark. . . . 

He was first conscious that he was struggling to 
raise himself on his elbow. Pieces of the broken lamp 
chimney crackled beneath his body. Queer! Infer¬ 
nally queer sensation! He hadn’t seemed to have lost 
consciousness completely because he seemed to have 
heard a lot of sounds—swishing sounds, tap-tap-tap¬ 
ping sounds all around him. Perhaps he had lost con¬ 
sciousness though, perhaps that was what it was like 
when one keeled over—he had been hopelessly dazed 
anyway. Nasty crack, that! But his head was clearing 
now—like a prize fighter, he told himself, coming to 
after a knock-out. 

How long had he been lying here on the floor? 
Idiotic question! How could he tell? It might have 
been a minute, or it might have been ten—or more. 
Anyway, he was quite all right again except for a 
severe, throbbing ache in his head, and there was 
no mistake or doubt about hearing sounds now—some 
one was running along the verandah, and there was a 
light coming—Walters probably—Walters back with 
Talamori—hell let loose— He groped about for the 
revolver, found it, succeeded in getting to his feet, and, 
finding himself beside the bed, leaned against the foot¬ 
board for support. 

A light showed in the doorway. No; it wasn’t 
Walters—nor Talamori, nor Fouche. It was Dorothy 
Merwood, and in her hand she carried a lamp. She 
seemed to be uncommonly agitated. She held the lamp 
unsteadily; her eyes were wide and frightened, staring 
out of a face that was almost deathly pale. 

“Mr. Wayne! Mr. Wayne!” she called out. 


20 6 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Father is—” She checked herself with a quick, low 
cry, as her glance travelled swiftly around the room 
and over Kenneth Wayne himself. “Oh, what has 
happened here?” she cried wildly. 

Kenneth Wayne smiled faintly. 

“Not very much, Miss Merwood,” he said. “Just 
Mr. Walters and Monsieur Fouche after The Locked 
Book there.” 

She stared at him helplessly. 

“The Locked Book!” The exclamation seemed to 
come involuntarily, as though she had not heard 
aright. “The Locked Book!” She took a step for¬ 
ward into the room. “Where?” 

“There,” said Kenneth Wayne, and pointed to the 
table—and his hand, extended, remained grotesquely 
inert in that position. 

The Locked Book was gone. 


— XVII 


A LIAR OF PARTS 

T HE desire to laugh insanely possessed Kenneth 
Wayne. He gave vent to it. 

“It’s gone!” he said, and his voice made a 
harsh, croaking sound. 

She seemed to shiver a little as she looked at him. 
“But it couldn’t ever have been here—it couldn’t!” 
she cried out. 

“It was,” he said. 

“I don’t believe it!” she declared with suddenly 
quivering lips. “You’ve been hurt—you don’t know 
what you are saying. It just simply couldn’t! Major 
Peters was murdered for that book while we were out, 
and—” She stopped, a sort of dumb, helpless terror 
and dismay in her face. 

“Yes, that’s it—while we were out.” He caught 
up her words with almost brutal emphasis. “I was 
out. Once it was in my kit bag after an old native 
fanatic had been murdered; to-night it was in my room 
here after Major Peters had been murdered—and I 
had been out.” 

For an instant she turned her head away, and then 
she faced him steadily. 

“You are trying to put the worst complexion on it 
you can,” she said, a sudden spirited defiance in her 
voice. “It isn’t true. I don’t believe it. I don’t 
believe that it was ever here at all.” 

Kenneth Wayne took an impulsive step forward. 
207 


208 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Do you mean that, Miss Merwood?” he said in a 
quick, eager way. “I—” And then he choked back 
the words on his lips, and the harsh laugh was in his 
voice again. “And if it were? Would you still stand 
here in this room with me—trust yourself that far 
with a man who will certainly now be accused of two 
murders instead of one?” 

“After what has happened to-night—a little while 
ago,” she said in a low voice, “I could hardly have any 
personal fears. But—but—oh, I do not understand!” 

Kenneth Wayne passed his hand heavily across his 
eyes. 

“Nor I,” he said. “The book was here in this room 
when I got back. Mr. Walters and Monsieur Fouche 
will need no pressing to corroborate that—since they 
were unable to get away with it themselves. But you 
must have heard the row in here for yourself.” 

She shook her head. 

“No,” she said. “I’ve been downstairs at the back 
of the hotel—in the kitchen.” 

“But I thought that was why you had come here,” 
he said. 

“No,” she said quickly. “It’s father. Something 
has happened to him. There isn’t any one in the hotel; 
they’re all down at—at Major Peters’. I—I came for 
help. I—I thought if you had got out of your room 
once you—you could come to him.” 

“Your father!” He was standing close beside her 
now. Mr. Merwood’s face at the window! The book 
gone! His voice rose unconsciously in an abrupt and 
peremptory tone: “Where is he?” 

She drew back a little, startled. 

“Why do you look at me like that?” she asked 
tremulously. “Is—is anything else the matter? He’s 
in bed, of course. Why do you ask?” 


A LIAR OF PARTS 


209 


In bed! Kenneth Wayne swept his hand again back 
and forth across his eyes. In bed! It was all very 
strange! 

“My God,” he mumbled, “I don’t know!” Then 
quickly, forcing a smile: “But we shouldn’t be standing 
here, Miss Merwood, if he needs help.” 

“Oh, I know! I know that!” she said a little piti¬ 
fully. “But I’ve no right to ask it now. I didn’t know 
what had happened here. You are hurt yourself, and 
—and the book-” 

“Nonsense!” he answered quietly. “I’m all right 
now. It was just a little attention of Frenchy’s—a 
crack on the head with a chair. I keeled over a bit 
after they had taken to their heels, that’s all. And as 
for the book—it’s gone. It isn’t under the bed, or 
anything like that. There’s no good hunting for it. 
It’s been taken while I was seeing stars. We’ll go to 
your father at once, Miss Merwood.” 

For just an instant she hesitated, then she turned 
and led the way out of the room. 

“It’s very good of you,” she said in little above a 
whisper, “for I am very, very anxious.” 

He found himself, a little to his own surprise, walk¬ 
ing quite steadily along the verandah beside her; he 
experienced a slight sense of weakness, but that 
appeared to be wearing off rapidly. 

“Tell me what happened,” he said. 

“There isn’t very much that I can tell,” she said, 
speaking hurriedly now. “When the news came about 
Major Peters and everybody was running about—as 
you know, for I heard Mr. Tomlinson go to your 
room—father became terribly excited. He is very 
excitable anyway, and at times, especially since he has 
been ill, works himself up into a nervous state that 
quite frightens me. It sounds absurd of course, but 



210 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


tea, a cup of strong, hot tea, always seems to have a 
more quieting effect on him than anything else. I 
couldn’t find any of the native boys, and there didn’t 
seem to be any one left in the hotel. So I went down¬ 
stairs—by the staircase on the other side—to boil some 
water. There wasn’t any fire, and I had to make one. 
I must have been down there quite a long while. Once 
I thought I heard a shot fired, but I wasn’t sure where 
it came from. I thought it was from outside some¬ 
where ; I even thought I might be mistaken altogether. 
It was still quite a little while after that when I came 
upstairs again, and—” She broke off abruptly as, 
reaching the door of Mr. Merwood’s room, she 
opened it, and, entering, faced Kenneth Wayne in an 
agitated way. “There isn’t anything more to tell,” 
she said in a suddenly lowered voice. “I—I found him 
just as you see him now. And—and I was terribly 
frightened. I spoke to him and he did not answer; 
and then I tried to give him a little brandy, but I 
couldn’t make him take it—and then I ran for you.” 

As she set the lamp down on the table, Kenneth 
Wayne’s first glance fell upon the figure on the bed. 
Mr. Merwood was breathing very heavily, and was 
obviously in a comatose condition. And then Kenneth 
Wayne gave a sudden and involuntary start as he 
caught sight of a pair of crude and rather clumsy 
crutches that were leaning against the wall near the 
head of the bed. He glanced quickly at Dorothy 
Merwood. She was bending over her father, begging 
him to speak to her. 

There was no response. 

Kenneth Wayne, too, leaned over the bed. 

“Doctor Pearson isn’t back yet, I suppose?” he said. 

“No,” she answered. “Not unless he came back 


A LIAR OF PARTS 


2 11 


late to-night, for otherwise he would have come to see 
father this evening.” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded. 

“We’ll try a little more brandy,” he said quietly. 
“Will you give it to me, please, Miss Merwood—and 
a spoon if you have one.” And then, as she complied 
and he forced a spoonful of spirits through Mr. Mer- 
wood’s .shut teeth: “I had no idea your father was so 
far recovered that he was able to get about again.” 

“Why, what do you mean?” she asked in a sort of 
helpless amazement. “He isn’t—very far from it.” 

Kenneth Wayne indicated the crutches with a slight 
movement of his head. 

“Oh, those!” she exclaimed. “One of the natives 
made them for him and brought them here two or 
three days ago; it will be another week yet before he 
can even attempt to use them. And now—oh, I—I am 
so anxious! The brandy doesn’t seem to have any 
effect. What—what do you think is the matter, Mr. 
Wayne?” 

The blue eyes were full of tears; her lips, though 
she strove bravely to control them, were quivering. 
She seemed all at once to be a very lonely and forlorn 
little figure. An impulse, a great, yearning impulse, 
came to him to put his arm around the drooping shoul¬ 
ders, and draw her to him and comfort her. Impulse! 
What right had he to any impulse such as that! He 
swung his hand swiftly across his eyes. He was being 
stirred by something wide of impulse now. He was 
suddenly conscious that in some way or other he must 
manage to get her out of the room for a few minutes 
—that there was something here she must not discover. 

He leaned closer over Mr. Merwood, hiding his 
own face from the girl. His brain seemed to be work¬ 
ing in quick, stabbing thrusts, as he gave Mr. Merwood 


212 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


more brandy. The tap^tap^tap of a little while ago 
wasn’t any hammock stick swaying in the breeze and 
knocking against the verandah; and it wasn’t absurd, 
or fanciful, or visionary, that face at the window. It 
was all quite logical and clear now in view of those 
crutches. He could reconstruct every detail of the 
scene almost as though he had played Mr. Merwood’s 
part in it himself. And he remembered, too, for they 
came flashing back now, Dorothy Merwood’s words on 
the beach that evening in reference to her father and 
The Locked Book; they had been spoken nervously, 
but there had been an element of seriousness underlying 
them that seemed now to have made them almost pro¬ 
phetic. “He is nearly crazy with excitement over it, 
and I think he would do almost anything in the world 
to get his own hands on it.” Not for its intrinsic 
value—the “pull” of science was as strong as vulgar 
cupidity. He remembered also Mr. Merwood’s eager¬ 
ness to get hold of the book that afternoon on the 
verandah, and his extreme reluctance to let go of it 
again. And to-night, already excited by the news of 
Major Peters’ murder, Mr. Merwood must have 
heard, while he lay in bed and while Dorothy Mer¬ 
wood had gone downstairs, enough of what was going 
on in his, Kenneth Wayne’s room, to tempt him to 
what he did. He had managed to get on his crutches, 
gone down the verandah, looked through the window, 
seen what was going on, seen Mr. Walters and Nicky 
Fouche run for it after the revolver shot, seen the lamp 
knocked over as he, Kenneth Wayne, had gone down 
on the floor, stolen in, got the book, and returned here. 
And here was the result. Weak from a long illness, 
together with Heaven alone knew what damage he 
had done to his leg and the perhaps excruciating pain 
incident thereto, the man was in a state of utter ex- 


A LIAR OF PARTS 


213 


haustion, of acute prostration—the only marvel was 
that he had managed to get back into bed again before 
he had collapsed ! 

But where was the book? 

“What—what do you think is the matter, Mr. 
Wayne?” Dorothy Merwood repeated her question 
anxiously. “You said the other night that—that you 
knew something about medicine.” 

“Only in a very general way,” he answered. “But 
I do not think you need to be seriously alarmed. I 
think that over-excitement has been too much for him 
in his weakened condition. I am sure that he will come 
around all right.” He felt Mr. Merwood’s hands. 
They were quite cold. Where had the man hidden the 
book? Where was it? “His hands seem to be a little 
cold, and you said you were heating some water”—he 
did not look at Dorothy Merwood as he spoke—“do 
you think there is any more downstairs?” 

“Yes,” she said. “I left some. It should still be 
hot.” 

“I wonder, then, if you wouldn’t fill a hot-water 
bottle—you’ve got one, haven’t you?” 

“Yes,” she said quickly. “I’ll go at once.” 

He heard her open the door hurriedly, and go out. 
He did not look up. 

A hot-water bottle! Kenneth Wayne gnawed a 
little at his lips. Well, he had got her out of the 
room! His subterfuge had succeeded—for, at bottom, 
it was nothing but a subterfuge, though medicinally it 
was genuinely the best suggestion he had to offer. He 
didn’t like it. He hadn’t cared to meet her eyes. It 
seemed a mean sort of thing to do, as though he were 
trading on her anxiety, taking advantage of her fears 
for her father. But what else could he have done? 
He did not want her to know. That would have hurt 


214 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


her. He did not want any one else to know. There 
was no end to the miserable possibilities that might 
result. But above all there was Mr. Walters and 
Nicky Fouche. They would search everywhere for 
that accursed book—and stop at nothing to obtain it. 
If they found it here, or, worse still perhaps, came by 
any ill chance to even a suspicion that the old scientist 
had it, they- 

Kenneth Wayne’s hands were searching up and 
down the length of the bed beneath the covers. Mr. 
Merwood still lay prostrate, motionless, breathing 
heavily. Kenneth Wayne frowned a little anxiously 
as, while he searched, his eyes rested on the other. 
The man must have been like this for a good fifteen 
minutes now, if not more. He did not like the other’s 
condition. 

The book wasn’t hidden in the bed or under the 
mattress. 

Hastily he began to search elsewhere. 

There was a trunk standing against the wall. He 
found it unlocked and lifted the lid. The book was 
not in the top compartment. He removed the tray. 
The result was the same. He replaced the tray, closed 
the trunk, and one after another opened the bureau 
drawers. There was no sign of the book. 

He was working quickly now. 

The washstand was equally bare of results. In the 
corner a cretonne hanging curtained off a space that 
did duty as a wardrobe. He searched here hurriedly 
amongst a heterogeneous assortment of boots, clothes 
and other belongings. Nothing! 

And yet the book must be here somewhere. The 
old scientist had hidden it very craftily—that was 
obvious—but it must be here somewhere. 

Kenneth Wayne was down on his hands and knees 



A LIAR OF PARTS 


215 


now, peering under the bed. Still nothing! He was 
becoming desperate in his hurry. There wasn’t much 
time left. Dorothy Merwood ought even to have been 
back by now. Where was it ? It couldn’t be anywhere 
else but here in the room somewhere. 

He jumped suddenly to his feet. Some one was 
coming. And not Dorothy Merwood alone. He 
heard the footsteps of at least three or four people. 
She had left the door open. He sprang across the 
room to close it—and stopped. What was the use? 
They were coming along the verandah now. The light 
was streaming out from this room here. To close the 
door was little less than silly. They would see the 
light shut off, and they would know in any case that it 
wasn’t Dorothy Merwood who had done it, for he 
could hear her voice among the others now. Quite 
so! He nodded a little grimly to himself. She had 
met whoever it was, or they had met her, coming up 
the stairs. Well, at any rate, the book was well 
hidden—if he could find any consolation in that fact! 

He stepped out over the threshold. In the moon¬ 
light he recognised the faces of the little group coming 
toward him. There were three of the White Bache¬ 
lors. They were half clad, as he had supposed they 
would be in their hurry to respond to the call to Major 
Peters’ house. The tall, cadaverous looking chap was 
Tomlinson, the store-keeper; the short chap was 
Therber; and the one with the red hair was Donohue. 
Besides these there was Mr. Walters. Mr. Walters 
of Manchester was at their head. That was curious. 
He did not quite understand that. Behind them all 
was Dorothy Merwood. He was conscious of an 
inner twinge, a recurring prick of conscience, as he 
noticed she was carrying a hot-water bottle. 


216 THE LOCKED BOOK 

A sort of triumphant and relieved yelp came from 
Mr. Walters. 

“There he is! I was afraid he would have bolted 
and taken his chances in the woods,” shouted Mr. 
Walters raucously. “Go on—get him! And this 
time he’d better be put where he can’t do any more 
harm!” 

But Mr. Walters did not attempt to participate in 
the course of action that he advocated. As the others 
halted before the door, Mr. Walters hurried on along 
the verandah. Kenneth Wayne’s lips twitched in grim 
amusement. Mr. Walters’ objective was obviously 
his, Kenneth Wayne’s, room—and the book! 

Dorothy Merwood came forward, as the others 
stepped aside to allow her to pass. She paused for an 
instant beside Kenneth Wayne. 

“The doctor has come back,” she said quickly. “He 
is at Major Peters’. One of the men has gone for 
him.” 

“I am so glad,” Kenneth Wayne answered gravely, 
as she passed on to the bedside. 

Tomlinson, the tall man, stared for a moment with 
puckered brow at Kenneth Wayne. 

“I say,” he said sharply, “what’s all this about— 
this story of Walters? We were coming back up the 
road from Major Peters’ house when we met Walters 
and Fouche. They say you’ve got The Locked Book, 
that you’re the man who killed Major Peters, and that 
you tried to shoot them as well. It’s a bit of an ugly 
indictment, Wayne—worse than the previous one. 
What have you got to say?” 

Kenneth Wayne shrugged his shoulders. 

“Before I answer your question,” he said coolly, 
“I’d like to ask one myself. I saw Walters here, but 


A LIAR OF PARTS 


217 

I haven’t seen his partner in this charge against me. 
Where is Monsieur Fouche?” 

“He went on down the road to tell the others,” 
replied Tomlinson curtly. 

“Oh!” said Kenneth Wayne a little blankly. He 
could not quite piece it together. He had interpreted 
Mr. Walters’ threat literally. He had expected the 
two to bring this native ally of theirs on the scene—not 
their fellow-whites. What else could one have under¬ 
stood by “letting hell loose on the island,” and in¬ 
cluding in the threat any white man or woman who 
might interfere? 

Donohue, the red-haired man, pressed forward. 

“Well, we’re waiting!” he snapped. “What have 
you got to say?” 

But Kenneth Wayne had no opportunity to answer 
—it was Mr. Walters from Manchester who spoke, 
as he came running back along the verandah. 

“He’s hidden it somewhere!” cried Mr. Walters 
savagely. He halted, panting, in front of Kenneth 
Wayne. “Where is it? Where did you put it?” he 
snarled. 

Kenneth Wayne pushed the man contemptuously 
away, and turned abruptly to the others. 

“Mr. Merwood has been taken ill,” he said coldly. 
“Can’t we settle this somewhere else, and allow Miss 
Merwood to close the door?” 

“No, we can’t!” It was Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester again. “She’s mixed up a bit in this herself, 
and I’m not so sure she couldn’t put her hands on the 
book itself right now if she wanted to.” He sneered 
suddenly. “The two of them seem to have been a lot 
together to-night!” 

Dorothy Merwood had quite obviously overheard. 
She appeared now in the doorway. Her face had no 


2 I 8 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


colour in it, but her head was thrown back and her 
small fists were clenched. She looked steadily at Mr. 
Walters from Manchester. 

“How dare you say that!” she cried passionately. 
“I have not seen the book. I know nothing about it. 
My father was taken ill. If Mr. Wayne is here, it is 
because I asked him to come and help me.” 

“Yes; quite so!” sneered Mr. Walters again. 
“Well, whether you know where it is or not, Major 
Peters was murdered and the book taken; and, whether 
you like it or not, you’ll do your bit in proving who 
committed the murder. Did Wayne here break out 
of his room to-night, or didn’t he; and did you see him, 
say, an hour ago down on the road there just past 
Major Peters’ house?” 

Dorothy Merwood’s face seemed to go still whiter. 
She passed her hand as though in sudden weariness 
across her forehead. 

But it was Kenneth Wayne who spoke. 

“You need not answer, Miss Merwood,” he said 
quietly. He faced the others. “It is quite true. I 
did break out. And I was where he says I was.” 

“Yes,” said Mr. Walters, “and-” 

“You beast!” Dorothy Merwood seemed suddenly 
to have been metamorphosed into another being. The 
blood was sweeping in a great crimson flood into her 
cheeks; the blue eyes, wide, were flashing, full of fire. 
“You beast!” she cried. “You coward! Tell all the 
truth, then! Tell them you attacked me on the road, 
and that I called for help, and that Mr. Wayne came 
and knocked you down! Tell them that you tried to 
shoot him! Tell them everything!” 

She stood breathless, panting heavily. The White 
Bachelors looked from one to another, and then none 
too pleasantly at Mr. Walters. 



A LIAR OF PARTS 


219 

But Mr. Walters from Manchester did not lose his 
sang-froid. 

“Oh, yes,” he said with oily tolerance. “In a sense 
that’s true. But ‘attacked’ is a strong word. I had 
no intention whatever of doing Miss Merwood the 
slightest harm. She was alone and walking back 
from the missionary’s. The trouble started over 
nothing. She got huffy and on her high horse 
because I offered to take her arm. I dare say I 
shouldn’t have done it, but I persisted more to tease 
her than anything else. And as for the shooting, 
Wayne was an escaped prisoner. He had been warned 
by Major Peters. I didn’t know what had happened 
then, and it was the only way, at the revolver point, 
which was the idea I had in mind, of getting him back 
into confinement again.” 

“Oh!” Dorothy Merwood cried out abhorrently. 
And then she was struggling helplessly for words: 
“I—I-” 

Kenneth Wayne turned toward her. 

“Please go into your room, Miss Merwood,” he 
pleaded. “Please do. You have quite enough to 
worry you without this. And, besides, I think I hear 
some of the others coming. Yes”—as another little 
group of four men appeared on the verandah—“and 
that’s the doctor there, too, isn’t it?” 

She did not answer—only nodded her head. 

A moment later the newcomers reached the door, 
and one of them, obviously Doctor Pearson, with a 
low, quiet greeting to Dorothy Merwood, drew her at 
once inside the room, and the door was closed behind 
them. 



_ XVIII — 


HARE AND HOUNDS 

T HE augmented group, as though by common 
consent, began to move away in the direction 
of that corner of the verandah just around 
which was Kenneth Wayne’s room. 

Kenneth Wayne’s lips were straight and hard. 
Walters! He had a new side-light on Walters—and 
one that augured for himself anything but good. Mr. 
Walters, as a liar, an accomplished, versatile and 
smooth-tongued liar, was more dangerous in that role 
than any other—and Mr. Walters wasn’t through yet. 
Kenneth Wayne looked around him, frowning sud¬ 
denly. Where was Nicky Fouche? It was strange, if 
Nicky Fouche had gone to carry the story to these 
men who had just arrived, that he had not come back 
with them! Well, did it matter? Mr. Walters was a 
host—of a sort-—in himself. Kenneth Wayne braced 
his shoulders back a little. He was already con¬ 
demned, of course. These men, as they looked at him, 
made no attempt to disguise the savage repugnance 
that was in their eyes and faces. He noticed that, as 
they moved along, they kept him surrounded, well in 
their midst. He heard Tomlinson explaining to the 
new arrivals what had transpired. And then as they 
reached the corner of the verandah, they halted of 
one accord as Mr. Walters’ voice broke out loudly 
again. 

“What happened back there on the road hasn’t got 


220 


HARE AND HOUNDS 


221 


anything to do with it anyway,” said Mr. Walters 
viciously, “except that it’s proof he broke out of his 
room and was down there. And when I tell you, on 
top of that, that Fouche and I caught him in his room 
a little later with the book in his hands, it’s enough, 
isn’t it? He’s as guilty as hell! He broke out of here, 
went down and killed Major Peters, and got the book. 
He’s got it now—only he’s hidden it somewhere. It’s 
up to you to make him tell you where it is.” 

“Wayne,” said Tomlinson sternly, “this looks pretty 
bad. If you’ve got anything to say, we’re willing to 
listen.” 

They were pressing in closer about him. Kenneth 
Wayne looked around on the ring of unfriendly faces 
steadily for an instant before he answered. 

“If I broke out of my room, and murdered Major 
Peters, and got the book,” he demanded, “why should 
I have come back here and brought the book with me 
after having been seen?” 

“Because,” sneered Mr. Walters promptly, “you 
didn’t expect any one to find you with the book in your 
hands. And here was the safest place for it—and the 
last place any one would look. The fact that you 
were seen away from here to-night wouldn’t alone 
prove you the murderer—but the book, with that 
added, does.” 

There was a muttered growl of assent from the 
men gathered around Kenneth Wayne. 

“How did you come to find Wayne with the book, 
Walters?” Tomlinson asked brusquely. 

“It’s simple enough,” Mr. Walters replied smoothly.; 
“I didn’t hear anything about the murder until I was 
almost back here at the hotel—that was after the row 
on the road, you understand? Fouche was still here— 
everybody else seemed to have gone. Fouche had 


222 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


been out somewhere and he hadn’t heard about the 
murder either. I told him about it, and we were just 
going down to Major Peters’ place ourselves when 
we noticed a light in Wayne’s window. I thought that 
was infernally queer after what had happened because 
I believed then that he had only broken out in order to 
bolt, being fool enough to think he’d have a chance to 
escape by hiding somewhere on the island in spite of 
what Major Peters had told him. So we went up 
softly to his room, opened the door—it wasn’t locked 
—and found him with the book in his hands. He 
seemed to be trying to get it open. We tried to take 
it away from him, and our intention was, too, to tie 
him up. He put up a fight, and finally he began firing 
with the revolver he’d got away from me down there 
on the road, and drove us from the room. That’s all.” 

“Is it!” Kenneth Wayne, a sudden fury flaming in 
his face, launched himself toward Mr. Walters—and 
found himself thrown roughly back by several pairs of 
hands. He struggled for his voice that was choked 
with passion. “It’s all, is it?” he cried. “Your 
memory’s poor, Walters, you lying hypocrite! What 
did you offer me for the book, if I-” 

“Ah!” bawled Mr. Walters in jeering triumph. 
“So you admit you had it, eh?” 

“I have not denied it,” Kenneth Wayne answered 
furiously. “I have no intention of denying it. I had 
it—and you and Fouche offered me my liberty for it 
if I would hand it over to you and say nothing. You 
told me you had means of getting me away from this 
island that no one else knew anything about. It was 
only when I refused that you tried to take it—figuring 
that if you got it I would still say nothing because I 
wouldn’t dare do anything else, because it would only 
be to point myself out as Major Peters’ murderer if 



HARE AND HOUNDS 


223 

I sa’d anything. But you didn’t want to fight for it if 
you could get it by promises. If I murdered Major 
Peters why didn’t I, when caught, accept your offer 
and your help to escape?” 

Mr. Walters from Manchester burst into a coarse 
guffaw. 

“Bah!” he snorted contemptuously. “That sort of 
dust wouldn’t stick in anybody’s eyes! And the proof 
that there isn’t a word of truth in what you say—that 
we wanted to get it for ourselves—is that when you 
drove us out with the revolver we ran at once for 
Tomlinson and all the rest here. Tell us instead how, 
if you didn’t murder Major Peters, you came to have 
the book?” 

Kenneth Wayne braced himself as though for a 
blow. What answer was there to make save the truth 
—and the truth would sound like the mouthing of a 
cornered fool. But there was no other answer. 

“When I went back to my room,” he said steadily, 
“I found the book on my table.” 

There was an instant’s ominous silence. Mr. 
Walters from Manchester broke it. 

“Oh, hell!” said Mr. Walters caustically. 

Tomlinson stepped a little closer to Kenneth Wayne. 

“That’s what you said about the kit bag, I believe,” 
he said sharply. “It’s a bit thin, Wayne. It will 
hardly hold water. You might as well make a clean 
breast of it. Where is it now?” 

“I don’t know,” Kenneth Wayne answered in the 
same steady tone. 

“You don’t know!” Tomlinson’s voice was still 
more curt and sharp. 

“No! I don’t. During the fight in my room Fouche 
hit me over the head with a chair. I was groggy when 
I drove them out, and after they’d gone I went under 


224 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


myself for a bit, knocking the lamp over with me as I 
fell on the floor. When I came to again the book was 
gone.” 

“He’s a liar!” shouted Mr. Walters savagely. 
“He’s a liar on the face of it! There wasn’t anything 
groggy about him, or you can bet your last bob he’d 
never have got us out of that room. That’s only a 
yarn, and a rotten bad one, to cover up the fact that 
he’s hidden it somewhere. He’s got it, right enough. 

He had to hide it. There was nothing else he-” 

Mr. Walters stopped abruptly. 

There was a patter of feet along the verandah, a 
figure in white racing toward the little group of men, 
the grotesque, jerky bobbing up and down of a great 
turban, and then Gulab Singh’s voice, hoarse, gasping 
for lack of breath. 

“Sahibs! Sahibs!” he cried. “Look! Look down 
the road, sahibs ! They come !” 

There was a concerted rush to the verandah rail, a 
moment of strange, hushed silence over which from 
the distance there came a sudden outburst of yells and 
cries, and then a harsh, quick ejaculation from Tom¬ 
linson. 

“My God, what’s the meaning of this!” he cried 
out. “A native uprising?” 

“No, sahib,” Gulab Singh’s voice answered. “But 
who can foresee the end? All night there has been 
much talk, and men’s minds have been turned as 
though touched with fever. And still more has it been 
thus, sahib, since the Major Sahib has been killed. It 
is the book, sahib, the Konchi-kan Kitab of Kana-ee-a. 
But these who come are not men of the village here. 
They are strangers who have come in. Sahib, I have 
run fast to warn you. They have heard that Wayne 
Sahib has the book. It is the book they want, and—•” 



HARE AND HOUNDS 


225 

His voice died away in a renewed uproar, nearer now, 
approaching from the road below. 

Kenneth Wayne was leaning out over the verandah 
rail. For the moment no one seemed to be paying any 
attention to him. He stared down the road. In the 
moonlight he could make out a band of leaping, run¬ 
ning figures—twenty or thirty of them, perhaps. They 
were coming on toward the hotel. They made hideous 
outcries; and they seemed to be brandishing weapons in 
the air, whether rifles or the native kris he could not 
tell—the light was too indistinct at that distance. 

Gulab Singh’s words were pounding through his 
brain: “These who come are not men of the village 
here.” He wanted to question Gulab Singh, to ask 
him how he knew, to ask him what had incited this 
outbreak, to ask him how these men had come to know 
that the Konchi-kan Kitab had been in his, Kenneth 
Wayne’s, possession to-night? But Gulab Singh had 
been crowded away from him, and four or five of the 
others now stood between. 

It didn’t matter! He knew the answers to those 
questions—perhaps better than Gulab Singh did! It 
was becoming clear enough now. This was Walters’ 
and Fouche’s work! This was what Walters had 
threatened; and this accounted for the non-appearance 
of Monsieur Nicholas Fouche. The two men had had 
to save their own faces in the eyes of their fellow 
whites, even while they called Upon their native accom¬ 
plice to play a part. They had run down the road, 
told their story to the first group of white men they 
had met, and Fouche had gone on to tell the others— 
but Fouche had gone further. Fouche had gone to 
find the man they had called Talamori—the man who 
had come to Salabam to-night in the darkness with 
three proas. He did not know who Talamori was, 


226 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


and he had been frustrated in his efforts to get even a 
look at the man, but that was undoubtedly Talamori 
out there coming along the road. Talamori would 
take by force what Mr. Walters from Manchester and 
Monsieur Nicholas Fouche had been unable to take, 
and, afterwards, being already engaged in some under¬ 
hand business together, they would divide the spoils. 

Kenneth Wayne’s eyes became suddenly riveted on 
the leading figure on the road. As something quite 
outside of his own environment, in a subconscious way, 
he heard Tomlinson’s voice: 

“I don’t like the looks of this! You chaps had 
better slip into your rooms and arm yourselves.” 

He heard a voice answer: 

“Most of us are armed, I think. I know I took my 
revolver when I started out for Major Peters’.” 

Kenneth Wayne heard no more—was not even con¬ 
scious of what was passing around him. That leading 
figure was coming nearer and nearer, and it was 
dressed in white and it wore a sash. He felt his hands 
grip the verandah rail until the muscles cracked. 
What colour was the sash? He couldn’t see yet. The 
moonlight played tricks with colours, changed them, 
made them seem what they were not. Yes, he could 
see—now! It was like blood—like the colour of blood 
—like a band of blood around the waist. Somewhere, 
once—where was it?—he had said that before—used 
those words. The sash was crimson—crimson— 
crimson. And now the face! Eyes strained, he 
watched. Figures, yelling and screaming, were danc¬ 
ing up and down on the road just below him now; but 
there was one, just one, that, weaving itself in and out 
amongst the others, his eyes never left. 

And then suddenly Kenneth Wayne drew back a 
little. He felt curiously weak, as though his strength 


HARE AND HOUNDS 


227 

had been sapped and drained away from him. Great 
drops of sweat from his forehead were trickling into 
his eyes. He flirted them away with an uncertain 
movement of his hand. The figure in white stood full 
in the moonlight now, the face upturned. Talamori! 
Yes, of course, it was Talamori. It couldn’t be any 
one else. But Talamori wasn’t Crimson Sash. 

He felt a sudden apathy, a let-down from high ten¬ 
sion settle upon him. Everything else, if there was 
anything else, was insignificant since that was not 
Crimson Sash. Not very logical! He hadn’t thought 
of Crimson Sash when he had stepped to the verandah 
rail—but for a moment, whether he were warranted 
or not, he had been so sure. 

Everybody was intent upon the road below. Ken¬ 
neth Wayne moved back across the verandah and 
leaned against the wall where, here, it made the corner 
of the building. And then slowly the sense of apathy 
and indifference to his surroundings left him. Some 
one, this Talamori obviously, was haranguing in the 
native tongue from the road. Words, their meaning 
and significance, began to filter through his brain. 
Talamori demanded the book. ... It did not belong 
to the white men anyway, it belonged to the Malay 
people. . . . They knew that the man called Wayne 
had it. . . . Let the white men give up the book and 
they would go peaceably away again. ... If the book 
was not given up it would be taken if every house was 
burned and every white man and woman killed to 
get it. . . ” 

A burst of demoniacal applause greeted the con¬ 
clusion of the harangue. 

Kenneth Wayne heard Gulab Singh translating to 
Tomlinson and the others. 

And then Tomlinson’s voice: 


228 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“They mean business, right enough. They’re five 
or six to one against us, and once started this sort of 
thing will spread—every Malay on the island will be 
running amuck.” 

“Yes; right, you are!” agreed another voice quickly. 
“The only thing to do is make Wayne tell us where it 
is, and give it to them. A dozen books wouldn’t pay 
for our lives, and that’s what it means.” 

There was comparative quiet from the road—the 
Malays evidently waiting the reply to their ultimatum. 

“Where is Wayne?” Tomlinson’s voice demanded. 
“Oh, there you are J” He came toward Kenneth 
Wayne. “You understand what’s going on here, don’t 
you?” he said gruffly. “Those devils down there are 
threatening what will practically mean a massacre here 
if they are not given the book. Where is it?” 

Kenneth Wayne shook his head. 

“I don’t know,” he said. 

Tomlinson stared for an instant, his eyes full of 
anger and contempt. 

“Damn it, you rotter,” he flung out, “don’t you 
understand that’s the only chance you’ve got for your 
life, too?” 

A flush, hot and burning, swept across Kenneth 
Wayne’s cheeks. His hands clenched—and dropped 
again to his sides. His voice was husky as he spoke: 

“I haven’t got the book. I don’t know where it is. 
I’ve told you that before.” 

Tomlinson swung on his heel. 

“Tell them that, Gulab Singh,” he called out; “that 
Wayne says he doesn’t know where the book is.” 

A chorus of angry and threatening shouts answered 
Gulab Singh’s compliance with this order. 

Then Talamori cried back furiously from the road; 


HARE AND HOUNDS 


229 


and Kenneth Wayne’s face grew set, and unconsciously 
he drew himself up to his full height as he listened. 

“That is a lie!” the Malay shouted. “We know 
that it is a lie! If he will not tell, give him to us, and 
we will make him tell. Give us the man, or give us 
the book, and we will be satisfied.” 

Again Gulab Singh translated. 

“Yes!” It was Mr. Walters in quick, eager ap¬ 
proval. “Yes; that’s the thing to do. Why should 
we have our throats cut for him? He’s only a damned 
murderer anyway! I say, hand him over and let’s do 
it quick before this thing gets out of hand.” 

Once more an ominous silence from both the 
verandah and the road below. Then Tomlinson’s 
voice, strangely quiet: 

“What he is and what he deserves is one thing; but 
to hand a white man over to the torture of savages is 
another. It isn’t done, you know.” 

There was a gruff ripple of assent from the men 
lined along the verandah rail. 

Again Tomlinson spoke. 

“Watch them!” he cautioned in a low tone. “If 
they make a rush, you’ll have to fire.” He raised his 
voice. “Wayne,” he called, “are you going to let this 
thing go on ? The blood of every man here is on your 
head—and there is a woman, too.” 

Kenneth Wayne answered mechanically. He was 
not quite sure what his reply was except that in some 
form or other he reiterated what he had said before. 
He was obsessed only with a sense of ( crisis, imminent, 
upon him; and though he was aware that the Malay 
leader was haranguing from the road again, and now 
more angrily than ever, he no longer attempted to 
follow the man’s words. His mind and brain were 
feverishly at work. 


230 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


The place would be a shambles. . . . What was it 
Old Man Wayne had said about knowing and fighting 
these devils of the Orang-laut for forty years? . . . 
He knew them, too. . . . God, he had had cause to 
know them, cause to know that there would be worse 
than murder here. . . . White men. . . . White men. 
... It had been rather decent of Tomlinson. . . . 
And there was Dorothy Merwood. . . . Himself, or 
the book. . . . But if they got him and he couldn’t 
tell where the book was they would still attack the 
hotel in an effort to find it. . . . Fouche and Walters 
had told them it was here. . . . That wasn’t any good. 

. . . Mr. Merwood couldn’t talk, and there wasn’t 
any time. . . . The blood of every one here on his 
head, that’s what Tomlinson had said . . . The book 
. . . The book. . . 

He gave a sudden, inarticulate cry, too low to be 
heard. What was this thing that was formulating, 
germinating in his brain? 

There was a book, a big book, the treatise on metal¬ 
lurgy that he had brought amongst others to give 
colour to his “mining” activities ... It was almost 
the size of the Konchi-kan Kitab . . . The moon¬ 
light and a little distance would complete the illusion. 
... If they saw him with that ... It was in one of 
the large bags he had left in his room when he had 
started off on his trip with Gulab Singh. . . . 

Scarcely more than a few seconds had passed. He 
looked sharply around him. Of them all, Walters 
had been watching him most assiduously—but Mr. 
Walters, too, just for the moment, was occupied with 
the Malays on the road. 

His room was only a few yards away along the side 
verandah here. He turned, and, on tiptoe, made 
swiftly toward it. It was the only chance—a bit slim! 


HARE AND HOUNDS 


231 


But if he wasn’t downed before he could make this 
Talamori think he had got away with the book, the 
rest didn’t matter. His brain began to pound with a 
single phrase, over and over again: Hare and hounds. 
. . . Hare and hounds. . . . 

Yes, that was it. If Walters had brought Talamori 
here, Walters would jump greedily at the bait. Walters 
had searched the room, but Walters’ search had been 
very short and cursory because he had probably made 
up his mind before he began that the book hadn’t been 
left there—also, the search had probably been made 
by match-light. Walters wouldn’t question for an 
instant but that it had been hidden there all the time. 

Kenneth Wayne glanced over his shoulder as he 
reached his doorway. He was in plain view, especially 
of Walters, but he hadn’t been noticed yet. It was 
better than he had hoped for—it was the maximum 
lead he could expect. 

He jumped through the doorway now and across 
the room. After an instant’s groping he found the 
bag, opened it, and his hands closed on the volume he 
sought. A grim inward laugh possessed him, as, in a 
flash now, he recrossed the room, leaped through the 
doorway—and deliberately dropped the book on the 
verandah floor. It fell with a crash. It brought a 
quick, surprised yell in Mr. Walters’ voice. And then, 
as Kenneth Wayne snatched up the book again, Mr. 
Walters from Manchester bawled out frantically at 
the top of his lungs: 

“He’s bolting with it! By God, he’s got the book! 
There he goes! There he goes—along the verandah 
to the back!” 

Kenneth Wayne was running at top speed. And 
again his brain was working feverishly—in snatches. 

The White Bachelors weren’t likely to fire ... It 


232 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


was their way out if he got away, wasn’t it? . . . 
And Walters couldn’t fire unless he had got another 
revolver somewhere . . . The Malays would, though, 
and they’d come sweeping around the side of the 
hotel ... He had to let them see him carrying the 
book . . . No good without that . . . But if he 
could get to the woods and hide this metallurgical 
volume under a rock . . . Ha, ha! . . . Metallurgical 
volume under a rock! . . . That was funny! . . . But 
if he could do that, get rid of it, hide it, so as to keep 
up the illusion, even if they winged him and got him 
afterwards . . . Talamori wouldn’t have any more 
interest in the hotel, or those there . . . That was 
the game. . . . 

Wild yells, shrieks and cries came from the direction 
of the road. There was the pounding of feet in 
pursuit along the verandah itself. 

He reached the rear railing, swung himself over, 
and, as he had done once before that night, slid down 
one of the supporting posts to the ground. Here he 
headed across the clearing in the direction of the 
storehouse—it seemed to be the straightest line, the 
shortest distance to where the woods showed beyond 
—and yards were counting. He heard the Malays 
coming along the side of the hotel, heard a sudden, 
louder outburst of cries—and knew he had been seen. 
They couldn’t be more than forty yards behind—but 
there was some one much nearer—some one who was 
firing at him now. The bullets were whining by his 
head. 

He shot a backward glance over his shoulder. Not 
ten yards behind, far in advance of all the others, 
was a figure with a great turbaned head, and from this 
figure now came the flash of another revolver shot. 
Gulab Singh! Gulab Singh—the man who only a 


HARE AND HOUNDS 


233 


little while ago had been so speciously anxious for his 
welfare, anxious to aid him to escape! A surge of 
fury swept over him—and then in a sorf of stunned 
amazement he was conscious of Gulab Singh’s voice. 

“To the right, sahib! To the right—the store¬ 
house !” called Gulab Singh. “Run close to the end 
wall, sahib, then slip around and get inside. They are 
too close behind—you could not get far enough into 
the woods to escape. I will lead the chase, sahib, and 
they will think you are in the woods, but they will not 
find you. Quick now, sahib, and wait until I return. 
Now, sahib— now!” 

Gulab Singh was firing again. 

Kenneth Wayne obeyed mechanically. Gulab Singh ! 
He might have known! Clever devil, Gulab Singh! 
There was hope for it now. He hadn’t thought there 
was much before—not for himself—only to fool them 
with the book. He swerved suddenly around the end 
of the storehouse and gained the door on the far side. 
Out of the tail of his eye he saw a white figure running, 
firing, heading on in imaginary pursuit toward the 
woods—and then panting, gasping for his breath, 
Kenneth Wayne wrenched the door open, flung him¬ 
self within, and closed the door behind him. 

And past the storehouse he heard a screaming, 
shrieking mob surge onward. 


— XIX — 


THE OUTCASTS 

T HE shouts, the yells, the conglomerate sounds 
of pursuit, came from farther off now, from 
the edge of the woods—but Kenneth Wayne 
was no longer intent upon them. There was some¬ 
thing much nearer at hand. He jerked his revolver 
from his pocket, and, still panting violently from his 
exertions, fought to quiet his heavy breathing. There 
was some one here inside the storehouse besides him¬ 
self. He was sure of it. It wasn’t imagination. It 
wasn’t because he was overwrought or excited. He 
could have sworn he had heard a board in the flooring 
creak almost at the instant that he had closed the door 
behind him. 

But there was no sound now, save the distant and 
constantly receding yells of the Malays. It was 
brutally dark. He could not see a yard in front of 
him. It must be one of the native boys attached to 
the hotel who had come in here for some purpose or 
other, and, terrified at the shots and cries, was trying 
to hide his presence now. Yes, that was probably it; 
and the boy had probably been after kerosene—there 
was an unusually strong smell of it about. This was 
the storehouse, of course. It obviously wasn’t Mr. 
Walters from Manchester, and he was satisfied in his 
own mind that it wasn’t Nicky Fouche. He wasn’t 
going to stand here and be baited by a native boy. 
“Who’s there?” he demanded sharply. 

234 


THE OUTCASTS 


235 

From almost at his elbow there came a sudden 
laugh. 

“Well, I’m damned if it isn’t the prisoner still out 
for an airing,” drawled a voice. “You, Wayne—eh?” 

Glover! Glover, the beachcomber! It came as a 
shock of surprise, but in an instant Kenneth Wayne 
had recovered his composure. Glover! He found 
himself trying to decide just what this man’s presence 
meant to him. It was evidently Gulab Singh’s in¬ 
tention, once the chase had been led far enough afield, 
to come back here, and in that case, even if nothing 
happened in the meantime, Glover became a complica¬ 
tion, an awkward complication—unless the man could 
be trusted—and he had good reasons for not being at 
all sure as to what Glover would, or would not, do at 
any time irrespective of circumstances. 

“Yes; it’s Wayne,” he said tersely. 

“H’m!” said Glover. “Quite a pleasant little row 
going on! I take it that two and two make four. 
They found the cage empty, and, from the racket, I 
fancy the whole of Salabam is out to pot the bird. In 
view of the immediate circumstances and with an eye 
to the welfare of my own skin, I’m a bit interested. 
Are they going blind, or did they see you?” 

“They saw me—very much so!” said Kenneth 
Wayne grimly. 

“And you doubled on them and came in here. A 
rather inviting prospect! How long do you think it 
will be before they twig your game and come back to 
dig you out?” 

Kenneth Wayne did not answer. He was still 
frankly at a loss just how to act toward the other. 
Glover was an enigma—and a bit of a rascal too, as 
far as he, Kenneth Wayne, had been able to make out. 

“Look here!” said Glover abruptly, after a 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


236 

moment’s silence. “This won’t do at all! We’ve got 
to get down to some common basis of what’s-what. 
You’re obviously in a mess, and—I might as well admit 
it—you’re in a fair way toward getting me into one 
too. Deuced awkward, you butting in here!” 

“Is it!” said Kenneth Wayne crisply. “Well, what 
are you doing here, anyway?” 

“That’s a fair question,” returned Glover coolly; 
“but it doesn’t help the situation any, and so I don’t 
think I’ll answer it. For the moment we’re not far 
from being a pair of cornered rats—that’s the point at 
issue. What are we going to do about it?” 

“You don’t seem to be as drunk as usual,” observed 
Kenneth Wayne irrelevantly. “I noticed that before 
—earlier to-night.” 

“Frightfully observant of you!” drawled Glover. 
“What you mean is, of course—why? Suppose I say 
that my good friend Fouche has been inconsiderate 
enough to cut off my supply.” 

“Did you expect to find any in Walters’ room?” 
inquired Kenneth Wayne instantly. 

“We’re getting farther apart.” There was a sudden 
new and quiet note in Glover’s voice. “Major Peters 
has been murdered. Has that anything to do with 
you being here ?” 

Kenneth Wayne frowned a little in the darkness. 

“You’ve rather a bit of nerve!” he said curtly. 
“However, as it is something that everybody else 
knows, I can’t see any harm in you knowing it too. I 
suppose in a way it’s got a whole lot to do with me 
being here, since Walters and Fouche saw me with 
The Locked Book in my room.” 

“The Locked Book! Saw you with it!” ejaculated 
Glover. “Good God, you—” He checked himself 
sharply. “Where did you get it?” 


THE OUTCASTS 


237 


“I found it in my room.” Kenneth Wayne flung 
out the reply brusquely, conscious that, since he did not 
expect it to be believed, he was irritated with himself 
for being led into making any reply at all—and 
especially, somehow or other, a reply to a man like 
Glover anyhow. 

“Found it in your room?” The round, white ray 
of a flashlight cut suddenly through the blackness and 
played on Kenneth Wayne. “You don’t mind, do 
you?” said Glover quietly. “I’d like to see your face, 
and—” The light had become focused on the book 
under Kenneth Wayne’s arm. “The Locked Book!” 
Glover’s voice had taken on a note of uncertainty, a 
sort of amazed perplexity. “But that’s not The 
Locked Book!” The light came nearer. “That’s a 
book on—on metallurgy, according to the title.” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne briefly. 

“What’s the answer?” Glover’s tones were quick, 
low, serious. “I’m not asking idly. There’s a hell of 
a lot at stake here, Wayne! For God’s sake open up, 
man! You look as though you had been in a fight.” 

“I was,” said Kenneth Wayne. “With your friends 
Walters and Fouche.” 

He felt his arm grasped tensely. 

“Yes!” Glover breathed. “Go on—go on, 
Wayne!” 

There was something in Glover’s voice and actions, 
despite the fact that the little he knew about the man 
had only given rise to one suspicion after another, 
that inspired Kenneth Wayne now with a sense of the 
other’s deadly earnestness. Well, why not tell him! 
If the Malays came back to the storehouse, if any 
stragglers for instance stumbled in here, Glover was 
likewise trapped, for he, Kenneth Wayne, was not 
going to give the man a chance to turn informant by 


238 THE LOCKED BOOK 

letting him get out now, or any time, before he him¬ 
self did. 

“I drove them out of the room,” said Kenneth 
Wayne; “but I’d got a bit hurt in doing it. I suppose 
I fainted. When I came to the book was gone again.” 

“You mean they came back and got it?” 

“No,” said Kenneth Wayne. “They didn’t come 
back—and they didn’t get it.” 

“How do you know they didn’t—if you had 
fainted?” Glover demanded bluntly. 

“Because,” said Kenneth Wayne, and laughed 
shortly, “they went for a native named Talamori who 
had landed in here to-night, and who, I fancy, you 
know quite a bit about. They turned him loose on the 
hotel. That’s what all the row’s about. They thought, 
of course, I still had the book. Talamori threatened 
to attack the hotel unless the book were given to him. 
I couldn’t produce it, but that didn’t satisfy him. He 
demanded that I be turned over to his tender mercies 
in order to freshen up my memory a bit. Tomlinson 
was rather decent about it—couldn’t stomach a white 
man, even a suspected murderer, being thrown to the 
dogs. I—well, I had the good luck to remember this 
book I’ve got here—about the right size, you know, 
and nothing but moonlight to give it away; and I had 
the good luck to win out—so far. And I might add 
that Mr. Walters and Talamori are quite sure I’ve 
still got The Locked Book with me somewhere out 
there in the woods.” 

For a moment Glover did not answer—save to 
whistle low under his breath. Then Kenneth Wayne 
felt a hand clapped impulsively on his shoulder, and 
Glover spoke. 

“Wayne,” said Glover gruffly, “I don’t know any¬ 
thing about that dirty business at the Cheruchuk, or 


THE OUTCASTS 


239 


the old major’s killing to-night—but, by God, I know 
a man! I may be compounding a felony”—he 
chuckled grimly—“but I’ll take a chance on you.” 

“You’ll take a chance!” Kenneth Wayne laughed a 
little harshly. “That’s rather good of you! On the 
basis of birds of a feather, I suppose? I happen to 
know you are mixed up in some shady affair here with 
Walters and Fouche, though you appear to be on your 
own in it, and trying to double-cross them.” 

“I am,” said Glover coolly. “Come here!” 

The electric torch in Glover’s hand flung out its ray 
again—and fell on the huge cases strewn about the 
place, the cluttered bolts of cloth upon the floor that 
Kenneth Wayne, though under quite different circum¬ 
stances, had already seen once before that night. 

Glover led the way to the largest case of all. 

Mechanically Kenneth Wayne followed. He noticed 
that the covers of all the cases had been removed. 

Glover directed the ray of light into the interior of 
the case beside which he had halted. 

“Do you recognise the contents?” he inquired 
grimly. 

Kenneth Wayne looked in. The object in the case 
required no label to establish its identity; but the 
case itself was saturated with kerosene, and the reek 
of it assailed his nostrils. 

“It’s a machine gun—or part of one !” he ejaculated. 

“Yes,” said Glover, “and there’s another in that 
case over there, and the rest are full of rifles—” 

“Gun-running!” interjected Kenneth Wayne, his lips 
tightening a little. 

“Exactly!” said Glover. “Gun-running to the 
piratical scum of the Archipelago—to help murder a 
few more whites! And part of the German disarma¬ 
ment, too! There was an amazing amount of this sort 


240 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


of stuff that became mysteriously non-existent after 
the war, and that the allies didn’t get. Here’s some 
of it.” 

Kenneth Wayne stared again into the case. 

“But it didn’t come packed in kerosene, did it?” he 
inquired with a grim smile. 

Glover sent the flashlight’s ray along the length of 
the storehouse. It held on a barrel that stood against 
the end wall. 

“No; that was Fouche’s hotel supply,” he said 
calmly. “I’ve been busy for the last half hour soaking 
the inside of these cases with it. I was just going to 
touch the fireworks off when that row broke out.” 

Kenneth Wayne stared. 

“Look here,” he said sharply, “who the devil are 
you, anyway?” 

Glover laughed quietly. 

“Well,” he said, “during the war I was an intel¬ 
ligence officer in Paris a good bit of the time. That’s 
where I met the delectable Monsieur Fouche—and 
since then I’ve had the honour to serve the British 
Government in much the same capacity.” 

Kenneth Wayne said nothing. The flashlight was 
switched off again, and he was conscious that he was 
staring a little helplessly and foolishly at the other 
through the darkness; conscious, too, that distant 
sounds from the woods still came faintly to his ears, 
that in the immediate neighbourhood of the store¬ 
house there was utter silence—but his mind seemed to 
be in a sudden whirl as though striving to adjust itself 
to some new and wholly amazing situation. Dimly he 
began to see, as one sees the first steps in the decipher¬ 
ing of a cryptogram when the elusive key comes sud¬ 
denly into one’s possession. Quite uninvited, quite 


THE OUTCASTS 


241 


unexplainably, the refrain of Glover’s ubiquitous and 
ribald song began to run through his brain: 

“An’ when I die, 

Don’t bury me at all, 

Just pickle ...” 

“Now,” said Glover abruptly, “you can see a little 
more clearly, can’t you, what I meant by saying I’d 
take a chance on you, Wayne? This stuff has got to 
be destroyed, and destroyed at once—that’s impera¬ 
tive. I fancy that, as it is, they nearly got the better 
of me, but this was the first chance I’d had. There’s 
no other way to prevent its delivery—no authority 
here strong enough to do anything but start trouble 
which would probably only result in all of the whites 
being wiped out. There are two or three oil-soaked 
bolts of cloth around every case, and a match or two 
will do the trick; besides, the place itself will burn 
like tinder. We’ll carry on now and touch it off 
before they tumble to the fact that you must have 
doubled on them. They’re bound to search this place 
when they come back—and they seem to be far enough 
away now to give us a fair chance to run for it.” 

Kenneth Wayne smiled a little whimsically. His 
brain was quite normally cool, logically active again. 

“Us?” he said. “A British intelligence officer and 
a suspected murderer make a rather strange and un¬ 
usual partnership, don’t they?” 

“Maybe,” said Glover with a short laugh, “but 
with a community of interest based on saving our lives, 
if we can, it’s strong enough, I fancy; for once I set 
this stuff afire, and with Talamori amuck, and Walters 
and Fouche behind him, I become as much an outcast 
and a menace to our fellow whites as you are, if I 


242 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


stick around and they are faced with having to protect 
me. But that apart, from what experience I’ve had 
with murderers a man who would do what you have 
just done is about as much a murderer as I am. That’s 
the way I feel about it. Besides, to put it bluntly, you 
saved my life the other night—and you know it. I’ve 
got to keep under cover for the sake of everybody 
until Talamori goes away from here again with his 
crew, and we’ll stick the rest of this out together if 
you say the word—pal it together.” 

“You mean that?” demanded Kenneth Wayne 
hoarsely. 

He found a hand-clasp in the darkness. 

“To the last hurdle, old top!” said Glover earn¬ 
estly. “And now, first of all, you see that this stuff’s 
got to go—don’t you?” 

“Yes, I see it!” Kenneth Wayne shot the words out 
from between suddenly tightened lips. Before him 
rose the scene of a ship’s foredeck—the piratical scum 
of the Archipelago, Glover had said—the murder of 
more whites—this was the way Old Man Wayne had 
been murdered. “I’ll help you burn it”—he laughed 
in a low, grim way—“you need have no doubt on that 
score!” 

“I thought not!” said Glover, tersely. “Well, then, 
we’ll get at it—and then run for it at once.” 

But now Kenneth Wayne shook his head slowly. 

“Run where?” he asked quietly. 

“God knows!” Glover answered bluntly. “To some 
other part of the woods, if we can make it. We’re 
better off in the open anyway, than to have them come 
running back and trap us here. As I say, they’re 
bound to tumble to the fact that you’ve doubled on 
them.” 

“No; they’re not.” Kenneth Wayne’s voice was 


THE OUTCASTS 


243 

deliberate, still quiet. “And they won’t come back. 
They’ll search the whole island before they do that.” 

“What do you mean?” demanded Glover quickly. 
“I don’t understand.” 

“This,” said Kenneth Wayne—and in a few words 
he described his race across the clearing from the 
hotel, and the ruse employed by Gulab Singh. 

“And Gulab Singh’s coming back here, you say?” 
said Glover, as Kenneth Wayne finished. 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne. 

“TFm!” said Glover gruffly. “How do you know 
you can trust him?” 

“I think I’d trust any man who had saved my life 
and risked his own in doing it,” replied Kenneth 
Wayne with a faint smile. 

“Yes, that’s all right,” returned Glover. “You 
saved mine. But that’s a different matter entirely. 
How do you know Gulab Singh was disinterested? 
How do you know it wasn’t the book, and not you, 
he was trying to save; and that what he did was all 
a game, a risky one if you like, but a game just the 
same to get you and the book away—where he could 
get the book for himself?” 

Kenneth Wayne did not answer for a moment. 

“I hadn’t thought of that,” he said at last; “but 
I’m quite sure it isn’t so. He tried before to help 
me escape when the book wasn’t in question at all. 
Anyway, there’s this about it: They’ll search the 
island for days, and there isn’t a native in the place 
that will need any pressing to join the hunt with that 
book as the lure. It seems to have crazed them. 
And every individual one of them, apart perhaps from 
Talamori’s crowd, will be hoping he can get it for 
himself—do me in, you understand, and reap the re¬ 
ward unknown to his fellows. What chance have we 


244 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


got without help or food? If it’s a case of two evils 
at all, which I refuse to believe, one man in the person 
of Gulab Singh is certainly the lesser of the two.” 

“Right!” agreed Glover after an instant’s hesita¬ 
tion. “We’ll wait, then; but just the same we’ll keep 
an eye on him, even if”—he began to chuckle suddenly 
—“he is a bit innocuous as a nurse!” 

Kenneth Wayne leaned back against the packing 
case beside him. 

“Speaking of that,” he said, “perhaps you wouldn’t 
mind telling me now a little about that night?” 

“Not in the least!” said Glover heartily. “There’s 
no further reason for concealment. I’ve got Walters 
and Fouche dead to rights nc y, and, though I’ve got 
to lay low and can’t touch them while Talamori’s 
crowd is at their backs, my work here is finished when 
this stuff is destroyed, except to see that when those 
two precious birds leave Salabam they leave it with a 
pair of handcuffs on their wrists. And, besides, you’re 
entitled to know, for I haven’t forgotten that if it 
hadn’t been for you they would have put another shot 
into me that night and finished me.” 

“Oh,” observed Kenneth Wayne. “So you know 
who it was that fired at you, after all!” 

“Yes, rather!” said Glover dryly. “I think I said, 
didn’t I, that I knew Fouche—in Paris? He had a 
nice record there, but he was clever enough to keep 
the police from bringing anything home to him in a 
definite enough way to put him behind the bars, though 
their fingers itched to get him. I fancy it finally must 
have got too hot for him and he had to get out, since 
he’s here. I can’t say as to that, however, for I had 
lost track of the man until a few months ago.” Glover 
laughed suddenly again under his breath. “We were 
very chummy in Paris, Fouche and I—that’s how we 


THE OUTCASTS 


245 


came to be chummy here when I first landed. Mon¬ 
sieur Nicholas Fouche was very anxious to keep my 
mouth shut about ancient indiscretions. He was really 
very generous with his liquor until he began to be a 
little afraid that I was going to prove an incubus on 
his hands—when these cases showed up.” 

Glover paused abruptly. 

“They seem to be a long way off in the woods now,” 
he said after a moment’s silence. “I can scarcely hear 
them. Where the devil’s this Gulab Singh?” 

Kenneth Wayne, aware for the first time that he 
was still clinging tenaciously to the somewhat ponder¬ 
ous volume on metallurgy, laid it down on the floor. 

“He hasn’t got it all his own way,” he said. “He’s 
got to give them the slip without raising any suspicion 
before he can come back. There’s nothing to do but 
sit tight. What do you mean about being chummy 
with Fouche in Paris?” 

“Oh, that!” said Glover. “Nothing mysterious 
about it. I was, as I said, an intelligence officer and 
stationed a good bit in Paris during the war. Paris 
was full of draft evaders, deserters, spies and rotters 
generally. I was one of them, you understand— 
played three-quarters drunk most of the time, just as 
Pve done here. Fouche ran a sink-hole, a rat’s nest; 
harboured the above class—and sold the beggars out 
to the authorities when their money was gone and he 
could do it with safety to himself. That’s one thing 
that enabled him to keep his face with the police.” 
Again Glover chuckled. “I was arrested there one 
night myself as a deserter! But that was only a small 
part of monsieur’s activities. He had another place 
especially devoted to the Tommies on leave—a cafe 
with doctored drinks, and a highly trained and seduc¬ 
tive staff of female pickpockets. They never got 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


246 

that home on Fouche either. If the victim com¬ 
plained, the girl ducked and the Tommy went back to 
the trenches with empty pockets. Fouche simply 
wrung his hands and was desolated that such a thing 
should have happened. But all girls of that class 
were thieves. What could he do? He’s a rare bird, 
is Monsieur Nicholas Fouche!” 

“And Walters?” asked Kenneth Wayne, as Glover 
paused again. “Mr. Walters from Manchester? He’s 
a German, isn’t he?” 

“Yes—originally. And that accounts a lot for 
these German guns here. But I haven’t got his 
record in anything like the same detail I have Fouche’s 
—yet. I had to go warily. He’s no fool. And it 
wasn’t until to-night when I saw things coming to a 
head that I—but I fancy you know now quite well 
what I did.” 

“Searched his room,” said Kenneth Wayne, and in 
the darkness smiled a little self-deridingly. He had 
been woefully astray in his estimate of Glover the 
beachcomber! 

“Yes,” said Glover. “I already knew he was Ger¬ 
man born and a naturalised British subject. I found 
that out in Singapore about six months ago. But 
that was all I knew about him personally. He was 
being ‘looked up’ when I started for Salabam after 
Fouche. Fouche was all I needed to go on. It’s quite 
all right, however. I ran across a code to-night in 
Walters’ room that our people will get to the bottom 
of quick enough; and several European addresses— 
like the old-time German spy stuff—that I fan'cy will 
throw a bombshell into the headquarters over there of 
this gun-running business and end it at last for good 
and all. I’ll admit they’ve given us a chase though. 
This little lot here is merely a flea bite, but it’s the 


THE OUTCASTS 


247 


first time we’ve actually caught the goods in transit. 
India had been getting out of hand a bit, and we dis¬ 
covered that in certain parts the natives were amaz¬ 
ingly well armed—with German war rifles. It looked 
bad; and it wasn’t only India. Reports began to come 
in from all over the lot, especially from down in this 
section of the world—I’m speaking of British posses¬ 
sions, you understand?—that the natives were getting 
a lot of arms from somewhere. It was becoming 
extremely serious and widespread—first here, then 
there. Well, in a general way, that’s the story. And 
then I heard that a Frenchman named Nicholas Fouche 
had taken over a hotel in Salabam —where there 
couldn’t possibly be any hotel business —and I was 
thrown off here as a penniless, destitute and unregener¬ 
ate stowaway a little more than a month ago. The 
idea was eventually, I imagine, if it worked out, to 
make a sort of storage-supply and general distributing 
point here.” 

“I see,” said Kenneth Wayne. “And was Walters 
here when you came?” 

“Yes,” said Glover, “but nothing happened until 
the day you put in and these cases were unloaded; that 
is, nothing except a number of visits made by this 
Talamori to Walters and Fouche, on one of which, by 
lying doggo, I discovered that the reason for the 
frequent conferences was that a lot of haggling was 
going on because some one that Talamori was acting 
for wasn’t satisfied with the price of what Walters 
called the ‘cloth’ he was selling. Then, as I say, the 
cases arrived, and I wanted to get a look at them. 
They caught me at it that afternoon before I could 
get a peek inside any one of them—that is, they caught 
me in here. I pretended I was only sleeping off a 
drunk—and they pretended to believe me. And then 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


248 

they got me rather neatly—or would have, if it hadn’t 
been for you. I know now that they must have found 
out in some way that I knew of, and had been watch¬ 
ing, their meetings with Talamori. By the aid of a 
native, they planted a fake meeting with Talamori in 
the woods that evening—and I fell for it. You know 
what happened. I had to get away from the nurse 
you’d installed—Gulab Singh. I had to get the proof 
of what I was morally certain was in these cases. I 
slipped out of the Kling village and came back here— 
only to be bilked! I found Walters and Fouche both 
camped out here. The next day one or the other of 
them was always in the storehouse. Last night both 
of them slept here again. To-day it was the same 
thing. And then to-night Talamori came and brought 
his crowd intending to carry the arms away; but be¬ 
tween the excitement over that book of yours and 
Major Peters’ murder, the whole of them, Walters, 
Fouche, Talamori, gave me the first chance I’d had to 
do anything in here alone—and that brings us up to 
date.” 

Kenneth Wayne said nothing. He was conscious of 
a certain disappointment. Glover had made clear a 
great deal—about Glover. But it had not helped in 
any way toward clearing up the mystery of the night 
before at the Cheruchuk River, or thrown light upon 
what had happened later pertaining to The Locked 
Book. He had hoped it would. Glover had simply 
eliminated himself as a possible source of information. 

Glover spoke again. 

“I hope we’re not making fools of ourselves,” he 
said seriously. “We would have had time to have got 
a long way from here by now.” 

“It’s the same answer,” Kenneth Wayne replied. 
“There’s less risk in waiting than in going. There’s 


THE OUTCASTS 


249 

almost no chance at all that they’ll come back here. 
It’s the last spot they’ll search. It isn’t as though we 
knew of any place to go—we’ll be no worse off even 
if we have to run blindly for it at the last.” 

“Oh, well,” said Glover, “all right! Are you 
armed?” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne. 

“Good!” said Glover. “That’s something, any¬ 
way!” 

A silence fell in the storehouse. From the woods 
there was no longer any sound at all. The minutes 
passed—draggingly, exaggerating their own length 
seemingly a hundredfold. The silence became heavy, 
palpitating—an obsession. Kenneth Wayne began to 
grow restless, and, with restlessness, to become 
anxious. Unless something had happened to Gulab 
Singh, the man would come. He was sure of it, and 
yet- 

He felt Glover’s hand suddenly touch his arm. 

There was a faint scratching sound at the door. It 
was repeated. 

Both men stepped forward together in that direc¬ 
tion. 

“Who’s there?” demanded Kenneth Wayne in a 
low tone. 

“Sahib,” a voice answered instantly from without, 
“it is Gulab Singh. The way is clear, sahib, to a place 
that I know of; but let the sahib come quickly.” 

“Wait a minute,” whispered Glover in Kenneth 
Wayne’s ear. “You may be sure of him, but I still 
can’t say that I am altogether. Remember, keep your 
eye on him anyway. We’ll have to explain to him 
what we are going to do.” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded, as he opened the door 
and bade Gulab Singh enter. 



250 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Glover Sahib is here, Gulab Singh/’ he said; “and 
he is going with us.” 

Gulab Singh’s tall figure, motionless, stood out¬ 
lined murkily now just inside the open doorway. 

“It is as the sahib wills,” said Gulab Singh un¬ 
emotionally. 

“Good!” said Kenneth Wayne quietly. “Listen, 
then, Gulab Singh! Glover Sahib says—and he is 
right—that before we go we must set this place on 
fire.” 

“On fire?” Gulab Singh’s voice was neither raised 
nor lowered. 

It was Glover who answered now. 

“Yes,” he said quickly. He sent the flashlight 
sweeping over three or four of the packing cases, then 
switched it off again. “These cases are full of arms— 
rifles, guns, machine guns, you understand?—and it 
was for these that Talamori came to-night. He must 
not get them.” 

“Even so, sahib,” said Gulab Singh gravely. “It is 
well. And it can be done if it is done quickly, for the 
flames will not begin to show until we have reached a 
good distance in the woods. But it is even a greater 
matter that Talamori should not get the book that 
Wayne Sahib brought here, for it is in my mind that if 
it were found it would bring great evil upon those at 
the hotel. Let the book, too, be burned, sahib.” 

Kenneth Wayne stared in a puzzled, uncertain way 
at the dimly outlined figure of the East Indian. He 
heard a sudden, smothered ejaculation from Glover; 
and then Glover’s voice came prodding quickly, 
craftily. 

“What!” exclaimed Glover sharply. “Burn that! 
Burn a fortune! Destroy The Locked Book! Are 
you mad?” 


THE OUTCASTS 


251 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh in the same grave tone, 
“I did not speak of the Konchi-kart Kitab, but of the 
book that Wayne Sahib carried from the hotel. The 
book with which Wayne Sahib saved the Miss Sahib 
and the sahibs at the hotel was not the Konchi-kan 
Kitab.” 

“How do you know?” demanded Glover. 

“Sahib,” replied Gulab Singh, “I have eyes. When 
I ran close to Wayne Sahib in the chase from the hotel, 
I saw that it was not the book with the dragon cover.” 

“You are right, Gulab Singh!” Kenneth Wayne’s 
voice was curiously gruff. “And it shall be left here to 
burn. Well, Glover?” 

“I’m stumped, Wayne,” said Glover heartily; 
“bowled clean—middle wicket. Have you got 
matches?” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne. 

“Then start two or three of those bolts going,” said 
Glover coolly. “Quick now!” 

There was a scuffle of swiftly moving feet, spurts of 
match-lights coming out of the darkness, and then a 
little ripple of flame from half a dozen different points 
up and down the length of the storehouse as the bolts 
of oil-saturated cloth began to catch fire. 

Kenneth Wayne, from the floor, picked up the 
volume on metallurgy, and, still further to assure its 
destruction, pitched it into one of the cases. The next 
instant he had joined Glover and Gulab Singh at the 
door. 

“The woods to the right, sahibs—follow me,” 
whispered Gulab Singh. 

Running, they gained the woods at the right-hand 
edge of the clearing—and still ran on without pause, 
but stumbling now, groping their way, plunging on 
through the thick and obstructing undergrowth. 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


252 

Kenneth Wayne was breathing heavily as, after 
what he judged to be perhaps five minutes, Gulab 
Singh halted suddenly. 

“Sahibs,” said Gulab Singh, “we are far enough now 
to be out of the way of those who will come back 
because of the fire. And now we must go with great 
quiet and take no more risk of noise. But still we must 
go quickly, for the place where the sahibs must hide 
is a long way off. And see, sahibs, there is the fire!” 

Kenneth Wayne turned his head. The sky behind 
him over the tree-tops seemed suddenly to burst into 
lurid light. 

And then, as of one accord, the three men went on 
again, still swiftly, but with almost uncanny silence 
now, twisting, turning, weaving in and out amongst the 
trees; went on and on like men, it seemed at last, who 
strove futilely but always in strange haste to reach 
some elusive goal—and an hour passed, and still the 
great bobbing turban, looming faintly white ahead, led 
steadily onward. 

Once Glover spoke—a little querulously—almost in- 
audibly, as though to himself: 

“Where’s he taking us, anyway?” 

And out of the darkness, instantly, Gulab Singh’s 
voice floated back: 

“Sahib, among my people the place is called The 
Devil’s Throat.” 


— XX — 


THE DEVILS THROAT 

K ENNETH WAYNE shifted his position a 
little. His quarters were none too comfort¬ 
able ! The shelf of rock upon which he lay, 
besides being extremely narrow, was wet and pre¬ 
cariously slimy; while almost at his elbow, and almost 
on a level with his outstretched body, a great stream 
of water rushed by with the force of a mill-race. 
Overhead the damp and dripping walls made an arch 
of solid rock. Here, at the mouth of what, with the 
ages, or by earthquake, or volcanic disturbance, had 
become a subterranean channel, like a hole bored 
through the base of the hillside, the morning sunlight 
filtered in for a few yards—and became engulfed in 
a blackness so utter and profound as to give the 
impression that its further progress had been suddenly 
barred by an impenetrable wall. 

It was a strange place, this Devil’s Throat! He 
had been here two days, and he had not yet overcome 
a sort of incredulous amazement at all about him. 
He lay now in the very orifice of the “Throat” itself. 
A yard in front of him, out in the broad sunlight, was 
a wide platformlike ledge of rock—and then the eye 
caught next, thirty or forty feet below, a glade of 
tropical magnificence, a little amphitheatre built with 
all of nature’s art and craft, whose walls were foliage 
with tree-tops traced in exquisite design against the 
skyline, and whose floor was a great pool of clearest 
water in which the passing, fluffy clouds, seeming to 
.253 


254 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


stay their vagrant wanderings, appeared to preen them¬ 
selves as in a mirror. And the water that rushed past 
at his side, a stream that was a good twenty feet in 
width, but how deep he did not know, swept along 
as though in a frenzy to obtain its freedom and, eager 
to disgorge itself, plunged downward in a cataract to 
the pool below where, he knew, though he could not 
see it now from where he lay, it broke into creamy 
foam and iridescent spray, and from it a mist floated 
upwards that fancy might have likened to thin, rolling 
clouds of steam. 

His eyes fixed on the far end of the glade where the 
pool narrowed into a ribbon of water and the river 
passed on out of sight. He was on guard, the out¬ 
post of the little camp that was near the opening of 
the subterranean passage on the other side of the hill. 
It was not so alluring there; nature had not been so 
generous. There, the river swept around the base of 
a series of rugged hills in a gorge of high, precipitous 
walls, and for the most part the country, by com¬ 
parison, was barren, ugly, lifeless to the eye. But the 
camp was there, rather than here, because the river, 
which was the same one that ran past the Kling village 
near the town, formed, as it were, a natural pathway 
up from the coast, and invited almost an inevitable 
search of this spot; and also because the glade here 
made a sort of natural defence for the other side, for, 
except by the subterranean river passage, or by a long 
circuit around through the valley to the left of the hill¬ 
side, further progress was here arrested, unless one 
attempted the difficult and forbidding task of scaling 
the hillside itself. 

He nodded to himself. Gulab Singh had chosen 
well. The Devil’s Throat was not in itself a hiding 
place, but it possessed, unless under extraordinary con- 


THE DEVIL’S THROAT 


255 

ditions, a means of escape in case of discovery or 
attack. The subterranean river passage was not in 
any sense a habitable cave; it was not even passable in 
high water. At the present time, however, with care, 
one could make one’s way through—a distance, as 
nearly as he could judge on account of the river’s 
many twists and turns, of some five hundred yards— 
and so, unless attacked from both sides at once, escape 
from one end of the passage through to the other, and 
thereafter a good start toward another hiding place, 
was always possible. In fact, almost that very situa¬ 
tion had arisen yesterday, except that, not being 
actually discovered, he and his companions had been 
able to return here when a band of Malays, who for 
an hour had swarmed about the glade, had gone away 
again. 

Two nights and two days of it now—not counting 
the night when they followed Gulab Singh through 
the woods until almost the breaking of the dawn! 
Not that this place was so far away from the town; it 
wasn’t. According to Gulab Singh it was scarcely 
more than an hour’s journey; but that night, to avoid 
the natives who were searching through the intervening 
woods, they had been obliged to make a great detour 
of many miles, so many that at the end, he remem¬ 
bered, he had flung himself down, heedless of where 
he lay, in utter weariness. 

Outstretched, his elbows on the rock, his chin in his 
hands, he stared down into the glade, keeping watch on 
the farther end where the last sparkle of the river was 
lost in the converging forest. But his mood was not 
in consonance with his physical inactivity. He was 
disturbed, anxious, goaded by a sense of impotence, 
harassed by that old feeling, become all too familiar 
now, that Fate was juggling with him, laughing at 


256 THE LOCKED BOOK 

him, making mockery of all the plans he had so care¬ 
fully laid, deriding as a ludicrous effort what he had 
striven to do—and challenging him at every turn, as 
it were, to show cause to the contrary! 

Nor was this mood upon him now because of any 
degree of physical distress or hardship. Gulab Singh 
had not stopped at being merely a guide—he had pro¬ 
vided every necessity. Selim Ali, one of Gulib Singh’s 
fellow-villagers, who spoke a little English, had joined 
the party, and each night made an excursion to the 
village and returned with a basket of food. There 
was even an abundance of cigarettes for Glover and 
himself. 

At the thought of cigarettes, Kenneth Wayne 
reached into his pocket, secured one and lighted it. 
He inhaled it deeply. It wasn’t in any sense his 
immediate surroundings; it was the when and the 
where and the how all this was to end. It was as 
though, with scarcely a choice of moves, he were 
struggling against an apparently inevitable checkmate. 
Suppose this search for him and for The Locked Book 
died down, and Talamori went away and- 

The Locked Book! His thoughts were suddenly 
off at a tangent. Where had Mr. Merwood hidden 
it? Where had the man put it? How had he 
managed to dispose of it? The old scientist hadn’t 
said anything, hadn’t been able to—at least up to last 
night. Gulab Singh, in the role of one of those who, 
too, searched for him, Kenneth Wayne, had gone each 
day to the town and had moved freely about, both 
for the purpose of obtaining information and as a sort 
of prima facie evidence that he was innocent of guile, 
and Gulab Singh had said last night that Merwood 
Sahib was very sick, and that the Miss Sahib said her 



THE DEVIL’S THROAT 


257 

father had not regained full consciousness since that 
other night. 

Again Kenneth Wayne’s thoughts were wayward. 
There had been no other news of Dorothy Merwood 
—no message. Of course not! How could there be? 
Gulab Singh, playing his role, had very wisely confided 
in no one—not even the Miss Sahib. His reports had 
been of a far different nature: more natives flocking 
into Salabam, more searchers scouring the island, an 
epidemic of hysterical excitement, and always, every¬ 
where, on every tongue, the Konchi-kan Kitab of 
Kana-ee-a. 

Kenneth Wayne’s lips drew together. The Miss 
Sahib! In one sense, perhaps, it was as well that Mr. 
Merwood had been unable to attempt any explanation. 
It might not have been a good one! As it was, Tala- 
mori counted the book to be in his, Kenneth Wayne’s, 
sole possession and there was no trouble in Salabam. 
But Dorothy Merwood! Her father’s condition made 
it a bitterly hard situation for her. Suppose something 
happened to her father? Her present anxiety, alone, 
amongst strangers, facing that possibility! Her grief 
afterwards! And he could do nothing for her—noth¬ 
ing! 

Would she want him to? 

He flung the cigarette away, watched it swirl for 
an instant—and then shoot, a puny thing in the might 
of the current, out over the edge of the fall and 
disappear. 

He laughed suddenly, harshly, as he cupped his chin 
in his hands again. He was like that—just as puny 
as that bit of cigarette, and the fates against which he 
strove just as remorseless as the current. That 
brought him back again to the when and the where 
and the how all this was to end. As long as Talamori 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


258 

remained he, Kenneth Wayne, could not return to the 
town, for he then became at once a menace to his 
fellow-whites again. And even if Talamori were 
gone, he was not so sure but the natives of the place, 
augmented by new arrivals, the excitement amongst 
them constantly on the increase, as Gulab Singh re¬ 
ported, would make it equally dangerous for the 
white residents if he showed himself there. But even 
suppose all that were cleared away—what then? He 
went back only to face a charge of murder—two 
murders. What hideous irony—when he had set out 
to find Crimson Sash! 

Crimson Sash! Crimson Sash! Crimson Sash! 
The name began to throb at his brain. How the man 
would laugh if he only knew! The Nemesis that set 
out upon his trail itself bound, fettered, gagged—and 
charged with murder! He wouldn’t hunt for Crimson 
Sash any more—he would be sent away to trial. The 
thing was monstrous! It was unbelievable ! 

His hands clenched over his jowls. No, it wasn’t 
at an end; it never would be! God, that night on the 
Waratan! Murder! Aye, there had been murder! 
There had been a white face upturned on the foredeck 
ladder—the face of Old Man Wayne. And a fiend 
out of the pit of hell had done it! It wasn’t at an end! 
Unless they hanged him, he would come back. Not 
here perhaps . . . somewhere else . . . Salabam 
was the last place now . . . but somewhere in the 
islands . . . somehow ... if it took years ... if 
he were an old man at the end . . . older than Old 
Man Wayne had been—at the end ... he and Crim¬ 
son Sash would stand face to face. 

Unless meanwhile he were hanged! 

Yes—unless meanwhile he were hanged! His 
laugh, low, harsh, jangling, rang out again. And then 


THE DEVIL’S THROAT 259 

slowly his hands unclenched, releasing the folds of 
flesh that, angry with the imprisonment they had en¬ 
dured, burned in blotched, red ridges on either cheek. 

He forced his mind into calmer channels. Presently, 
Glover, or Selim Ali, or Gulab Singh would come 
along through the passage from the camp to relieve 
him, and later on Gulab Singh would make his way into 
the town. Perhaps by nightfall there would be more 
news. News! He shook his head. He was just 
wheedling his mind into a state of composure. The 
news wouldn’t be any different than that of the day 
before, would it? Just a sort of standstill in the 
town, a sort of deathly hush, hardly a native in sight 
save the women and the children—the men away, 
scouring the island, scouring it everywhere—as though 
—well, as though there were a gold-rush on! He 
smiled whimsically. ’Forty-nine had turned men of 
his own race and colour mad—gold mad. It had crazed 
men. The lure of old Kana-ee-a’s fabulous wealth 
would probably have crazed some of them too, let 
alone a murdering and rapacious lot like the Orang- 
laut f that for generations had made piracy and theft 
and greed both their worship and their craft. There 
was nothing strange in what was happening here. In¬ 
deed, far from being strange, it was only the expected, 
the logical effect from cause, the working out of the 
only law they knew, where, in the last analysis, each in¬ 
dividual was a law unto himself. It was only a wonder 
that, as they spread out over the island in their search, 
more had not come here to this spot—more would 
come undoubtedly, in spite of those who had gone 
away empty-handed yesterday. That was why he 
watched. There was comparatively little danger at 
night, the blackness and the thick woods did not 


26 o 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


promise well for searchers; but in the daylight, even 
if it were only a single straggler- 

Kenneth Wayne became suddenly tense, alert. 
There was one now! At least, he thought it was. He 
thought he had caught sight of something white, some¬ 
thing that moved, far down there at the end of the 
glade. But it was gone now. No—there it was again! 
There was a figure coming through the trees—in 
white—a white sarong, wasn’t it? It was just on the 
river bank now—coming toward the pool. 

For a moment he watched, a strained expression in 
his face and eyes; at first in incredulity, and then in 
wondering amazement—and then his blood seemed to 
rush through his veins as though afire, and there was 
a fierce and sudden pounding of his heart. He sprang 
to his feet, gained the ledge of rock outside, and began 
to scramble downward in mad haste over the rough, 
and even perilous descent beside the waterfall. 

It wasn’t a native! It wasn’t even a man! It was 
a woman—a white woman, with fluttering skirt, who 
seemed to run a little unsteadily—to stumble and re¬ 
cover herself and come on again. And he could see 
her face in the sunlight now. Dorothy Merwood . . . 
Dorothy . . . Dorothy . . . 

She saw him, cried out to him, came on running 
toward him. 

And midway in the glade they met. 

“Dorothy! You here!” Her name came sponta¬ 
neously to his lips. She did not seem to notice it. 

“Oh, I thought—I thought I would never come to 
the waterfall,” she answered, and her voice broke a 
little. “I thought I would never, never come to it— 
and then I was afraid that even if I did I wouldn’t be 
able to find you.” An hysterical little laugh came 
suddenly into her voice. “Where did you come from? 



THE DEVIL’S THROAT 261 

You seemed to appear from nowhere—out—out of 
the waterfall itself.” 

She was trembling, obviously near the limit of her 
endurance. 

Kenneth Wayne took her arm to support her. 
There was a queer twitching of his lips. Her blouse 
was torn across the shoulder, and the flesh was red 
with great ugly scratches; her feet and ankles were 
wet; her skirt soggy, with a huge rent in it. A yearn¬ 
ing came—one that fought fiercely against denial—to 
draw her close to him, and hold her there, and quiet 
and soothe her. 

“And so I did.” He found his own voice unsteady, 
and tried to quiet it—how else could he quiet her? 
“See!” He pointed up the heavily wooded face of the 
hillside to where, some forty feet above them, the 
river gushed from the orifice. “There’s a passage 
through there when the river is as low as it is now.” 

She was trying to arrange her disordered hair, and, 
in her effort, from nervous fingers a great golden mass 
of it cascaded down her back. 

“Oh!” she cried out, her face crimson. 

“Please don’t mind that—please don’t,” Kenneth 
Wayne pleaded gravely. “Tell me what has hap¬ 
pened. What is it?” 

“It’s Walters—and Fouche,” she answered quickly. 
“They’re coming.” 

Instinctively Kenneth Wayne glanced around behind 
him. 

“They’ve dared—Walters has dared again!” he 
said hoarsely. 

“No, no! Not that!” she said hurriedly. “They 
don’t know I’m here. It’s you!” 

“But how did they know!” he exclaimed. “How 


262 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


did you know? How-” He checked himself 

sharply. “Where are they? Close behind?” 

She shook her head. 

“I don’t know!” She smiled a little wanly. “They 
may be. They may be here any minute, and they may 
not be here for hours.” 

“I see!” Kenneth Wayne’s voice was composed, 
cool, reassuring now. “Well, we’ll get under cover in 
any case. Shall we?” He began to lead her quietly 
along. “It’s a bit of a stiff climb up there, but I’ll 
help you. Do you feel up to telling me all about it 
now, or shall we wait until we’ve-” 

“No, I—I’m quite all right,” she interrupted. 
“And, besides, there isn’t very much to tell, though I 
don’t understand it at all, because Walters and Fouche 
must have had something to do with that Malay brute 
they call Talamori—and that seems impossible.” 

Kenneth Wayne laughed shortly. 

“Far from being impossible, it happens to be a fact,” 
he said. “I can explain that—and will later- Go on, 
please.” 

She glanced up at him quickly in a puzzled way, then 
shook her head a little helplessly. 

“That seems almost as impossible, too,” she said. 
“I—I am afraid I don’t understand anything except— 
except that the whole world seems to have gone wrong, 
and—and one doesn’t laugh any more.” 

“Don’t! For God’s sake, don’t say that!” he 
begged anxiously. “Things are bound to come out— 
somehow. Just think about what you were telling 
me. 

She turned her head away for an instant to hide, he 
was certain, sudden tears. 

“Yes,” she said. “Well, early this morning, I went 
downstairs to get something for father—it was hardly 




THE DEVIL’S THROAT 263 

daylight. And I heard Mr. Walters and Fouche 
talking just inside the bar. They did not think any 
one was up, of course, and they probably weren’t as 
cautious as they might have been. I—I heard your 
name, and I listened. Fouche was telling Mr. Walters 
that he had been down to see Talamori—I don’t know 
where that would be—and that somebody else had 
come. Somebody, as nearly as I could make out, that 
seemed to be in authority over Talamori, and that 
while they were talking, I suppose through an inter¬ 
preter, a native came in in great excitement. Fouche 
told Walters he did not understand much of what was 
said, but he caught enough to make sure you were up 
the river where there was a waterfall. Then Fouche 
said that Talamori and the other man asked him if he 
had understood, and he said no. And then the two 
talked together once more in Malay, and Fouche 
caught enough again to understand that they would 
wait until to-night when it was dark to come after 
you.” 

Dorothy Merwood paused. Her breath was coming 
heavily. She stumbled a little as she walked. 

“I think I can guess the rest,” said Kenneth Wayne 
grimly. “Mr. Walters and Monsieur Fouche believe 
in the old adage of the early bird getting the worm. 
Is that it?” 

“Yes,” she nodded. “That’s it—to get you, and 
get the book, and no one but themselves would know 
anything about it. To get in ahead of Talamori and 
his crowd, Fouche said. And so—and so they’re 
coming, and-” 

“Yes?” prompted Kenneth Wayne, as she paused 
again. 

“That’s all,” she said. “There wasn’t any time to 
lose, so I sent a message to Mrs. Keene to come and 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


264 

stay with father this morning, because there’s hardly 
any change in him and he couldn’t be left alone— 
Doctor Pearson says it will be several days yet before 
he is at all himself, that in some way or other his 
nervous system has received a very severe shock. I 
hadn’t any excuse to give Mrs. Keene. I haven’t any 
yet. I sent word that I would explain when I saw her. 
I—I don’t know what explanation I can make.” 

“And you’ve done this for me!” Kenneth Wayne’s 
voice was husky. 

She did not answer. 

They had come to the foot of the steep, rock-strewn 
ascent to The Devil’s Throat above, and instinctively 
she halted, even drew back a little from before it. 
She swayed slightly. 

Kenneth Wayne leaned toward her. 

“Why?” he asked. 

“There was no one else to come,” she answered. 
Her voice was unsteady; she was trying obviously to 
control it. “There was no native but would have 
turned it treacherously to his own account; no white 
man because—because—oh, you know why!” 

It seemed almost as though Kenneth Wayne had 
not heard her; or, if he had, had but brushed away her 
explanation as inconsequent. 

“Why did you come?” His voice was very low. 

Her head was turned away. 

“I heard Walters and Fouche say that, with all the 
day before them, they were bound to get a shot at you 
if you were here.” 

“Did it matter?” His blood was racing madly. It 
was unfair—unfair. But—God!—if it were only 
true! That something in her eyes! “I am an escaped 
prisoner—accused of murder! Did it matter? Why 
did you come?” 


THE DEVIL’S THROAT 


265 


She made no answer. 

He leaned closer to her, forced her to turn her head. 
Her eyes were full of tears, her lips were quivering. 
And as he held her arm he felt her sway again weakly. 

“Why? Why did you come?” There was a great 
pleading in his voice now. “Tell me! Was it only— 
only to repay a debt that you perhaps felt you owed 
for that other night, only that, or-” 

She interrupted him in almost a panic-stricken way : 

“Oh, please! Please don’t! And—and mustn’t we 
hurry ? You said we must get out of sight. And I am 
afraid I will have to rest a little before I go back. 
Is—is it up here?” She took a step forward, reeled— 
and caught at an overhanging branch to save herself. 
“It’s so stupid of me ! I-” 

“My God,” he cried out in sudden contrition, 
“you’re all played out, and I didn’t realise it! And 
I’ve been a blind, blundering, awkward brute! You’ll 
never manage that. It’s too much for you. I’ll carry 
you.” 

“No I” she protested quickly. “You—you mustn’t!” 

“I will!” he said—and gathered her up in his arms. 

He saw the colour come flooding her cheeks in deep 
crimson waves as her head, on his shoulder, was hur¬ 
riedly averted. He began to climb, holding her, en¬ 
folding her with both his arms as he struggled upward. 
And suddenly it seemed as though he must cry out 
aloud, shout out to the sunlight, and the splash of 
water, and the trees and rocks, because the soul of him 
was filled with a great ecstasy. He felt her heart beat 
against his own, the thrill of her yielding body as she 
lay passive in his arms. And for the moment no other 
thing in all the world mattered save that he held her 
thus; and for the moment he defied the fact, as indeed 
he had come near to defying it just a few instants gone, 




266 THE LOCKED BOOK 

that he had no right to take advantage of her for this 
thing she had done for him, much less claim response 
to any love of his for he was a man who stood accused 
of crime before his fellows, a man whose name with 
its ugly blot against it made of him but a pariah and 
an outcast. But he would not think of that now! Not 
now! Not now! She need not know—but for just this 
moment, for this little space of time snatched out of all 
eternity, if never it were to come again, she was his. 
And the glory of it, and the joy of it beat down and 
conquered and trampled underfoot the knowledge that 
it was but a cup of rarest nectar held sparingly to his 
lips that he might taste—and thereafter desire it the 
more as it was taken from him. And so he lingered a 
little as he climbed, not making the haste he might 
have made—and as he climbed he stumbled needlessly 
again and again that in his stumbling she might not 
know that again and again his lips had brushed her 
hair. 

And so they came to the flat ledge of rock before 
The Devil’s Throat. 

He set her down. There was a great pulsing in his 
throat. He did not dare trust his voice—or for a 
moment look at her, though he was conscious that she, 
too, had turned away a little, and, uncertain and con¬ 
fused, stood gazing down at the mist from the breaking 
water as it rolled upward from the pool below. 

And then he spoke, trying to infuse lightness into 
his voice. 

“We mustn’t stand here,” he said. “W e are * n 
plain view from the entire length of the glade. See— 
this way!” He led her in under the overhanging roof 
of the orifice. “Now”—he laughed in an effort to 
guarantee the lightness of his tones—“we can’t be 
seen, but we can see. I am afraid it is a little damp, 


THE DEVIL’S THROAT 267 

but there is room there to sit down. Please do. It 
will rest you.” 

She was staring about her in a startled and amazed 
way. 

“What—what a strange, strange place!” she said. 

“Does it frighten you?” he asked quickly. 

“Frighten me?” She shook her head, as she sat 
down on the rock floor. “No! Why should it? Why 
do you ask that?” 

“Because,” he said, “I am afraid I must leave you 
here for a few minutes alone. I must let Glover and 
Gulab Singh know about this at once.” 

“Glover ! Gulab Singh!” she exclaimed. “What— 
what do you mean? They’re not here, are they?” 

“Yes,” Kenneth Wayne answered quietly. “And 
another besides—one of Gulab Singh’s men from the 
village, a chap named Selim Ali. They’re back there 
at the other end of this tunnel—where the river comes 
out into the open again—a matter of a few hundred 
yards. It’s not an easy passage, but one can get 
through.” 

“But I don’t understand,” she said heavily. “Gulab 
Singh not only knows where you are—but is here him¬ 
self? Why, he has been down in Salabam mingling 
with everybody ever since the night Talamori came. 
I’ve seen him a number of times myself.” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne. “It was the safest 
thing he could do for me—and for himself. He’s a 
great chap, is Gulab Singh. He’s about the cleverest 
and most resourceful fellow I think I’ve ever met, and 
nothing seems to shake his nerve. The sort of beggar, 
you know, that would be the first you’d choose to have 
with you in a tight hole if he were a friend—and the 
last man on earth, from what I’ve seen of him, that 
I’d advise any one to pick out as an enemy. It was 


268 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Gulab Singh who led the chase away from me that 
night and gave me a chance to escape, and then brought 
me here and fed me ever since.” 

“And Glover?” she questioned a little numbly. 

“Glover came with us. He was in the storehouse 
that night. I had ducked in there,” said Kenneth 
Wayne. “He’s a rather amazing individual too— 
turns out to be a British intelligence officer on a gun- 
running investigation. Walters and Fouche had the 
storehouse full of rifles and that sort of stuff—for 
Talamori.” 

Dorothy Merwood laughed a little uncertainly. 

“I see!” she said. “And he set fire to it. Well, you 
can tell him everything was burnt to a cinder—but 
perhaps Gulab Singh has already told you so?” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne. “Gulab Singh told 
us.” He hesitated an instant. “Do you mind if I go 
now? It must be a good half hour or more since you 
reached the glade here, and, as you said yourself, 
you’ve no idea how far or how close behind Walters 
and Fouche are. I shan’t be long—only a few min¬ 
utes. I don’t like to leave you, but I wouldn’t attempt 
to get you through except in a case of dire necessity. 
It’s very bad going. Besides being extremely treacher¬ 
ous in places, one has to crawl in water part of the 
way. Do you mind?” 

“No,” she said quietly. “It’s rather an eerie place, 
but I don’t think I mind.” 

“Splendid!” he said approvingly. He took his 
revolver from his pocket and laid it in her lap. “I 
haven’t the faintest idea you’ll have any occasion to 
use this, but perhaps you’ll feel a little safer for its 
companionship. If Walters and Fouche are following 
the river to find the waterfall, as they naturally would 
be, you’ll see them the minute they come into the lower 


THE DEVIL’S THROAT 269 

end of the glade down there—so you must play at 
being on guard. I’ll be back before they could get 
here, even if they made at once for this place, which, 
as they probably know nothing about it, they are not 
at all likely to do.” 

“Yes,” she said. “I understand. And I will 
watch.” 

“And I promise to hurry.” He turned and began 
to make his way into the interior of the cavernous 
passage. “Just a few minutes!” he called back 
cheerily over his shoulder. 

He had said it was “bad going,” and that it was 
treacherous and dangerous, but he had scarcely done 
the passage justice. Through the inky blackness the 
flashlight borrowed from Glover pointed the way. At 
times, on his belly, Kenneth Wayne crawled through 
water that almost submerged him; at times he clawed 
with his fingers at little rock crevices in the wall to pre¬ 
serve his balance; at times the footing was no more 
than a bare few inches of slippery rock, with the rush 
of water boiling and foaming at his boot soles. He 
had never timed himself in going to and fro. He only 
knew that this time, as he came out into the daylight 
on the other side, he had negotiated it far more 
quickly than ever before. 

He stood now in the open waving his arms rapidly 
in semaphore fashion—the prearranged signal that 
there was danger at the other end and that his com¬ 
panions were to come at once. He dared not shout. 
There was always the chance of a native lurking some¬ 
where in the woods. But either Glover, or Gulab 
Singh, or Selim Ali would be watching, and one of 
them would see him. 

Fronting him, trending to the right, was a gorge 
with high, precipitous walls that made the river bed; 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


270 

to his left the woods ran parallel with a bald, rocky 
ridge which formed the crest of the left wall of the 
gorge—and now, from the edge of these woods, some 
two hundred yards away, a turbaned figure stepped 
suddenly into sight and waved its arms in response. 

“Gulab Singh,” muttered Kenneth Wayne, with a 
smile of satisfaction—and, turning abruptly, plunged 
back again into the passage. 

He found Dorothy Merwood sitting where he had 
left her. 

“I hope I haven’t been an unconscionable time,” he 
called out, as he came up. “Any sign of them?” 

“No,” she answered. “Nothing. I’ve never taken 
my eyes off that spot down there where the river leaves 
the glade, and I haven’t seen a thing.” 

“Good!” ejaculated Kenneth Wayne. “The others 
will be along presently, and then we’ll do a little stalk¬ 
ing ourselves. Glover’ll be immensely pleased, I fancy 
—more so than Mr. Walters and Monsieur Fouche 
before we’re through with them! We’ll have to vacate 
this place before nightfall though, since you say Tala- 
mori and his crowd are going to raid it then, and that’s 
a pity; but meanwhile we’ll attend to those two-” 

He broke off abruptly. Outside, a shadow seemed 
to fall athwart the platform-like ledge of rock, and 
then another. A bit queer! The sun flirting with one 
of those little flapper clouds perhaps—or was it the 
other way around? There wasn’t any sound—only 
the dull, constant roar of water. But the shadows 
moved very quickly. 

He took a step forward—and stopped as though 
he had been turned to stone in his tracks. Two forms 
blocked the opening. One was Talamori—he was 
merely subconsciously aware of that; he was staring 
into the face of the other. A great quiet seemed to 



THE DEVIL’S THROAT 


271 


settle upon him, a great stillness of mind and soul and 
body, as though something within him were gathering 
itself together, garnering its forces for some cata¬ 
clysmic act. 

He was staring into the face of Crimson Sash. 



CRIMSON SASH 


HERE was no longer any rock wall, any stream 



of rushing water, any opening out into the sun- 


light, any glade beyond. All these had van¬ 
ished. It was as though invisible scene-shifters at work 
had spirited these things away, and the face and form 
of a man that alone remained stood forth on a re-set 
stage. Yellowish-white the man’s face was, and 
around the man’s waist was a band of crimson; and 
the face, every lineament, every feature of which was 
seared, and burned, and branded on Kenneth Wayne’s 
brain, rose up now out of a rush of other faces, hideous 
faces, contorted faces, wide-mouthed with screams, out 
of a rush of half-naked fiends who brandished mur¬ 
derous weapons and hurled themselves along the fore¬ 
deck of a crippled cargo boat—it rose up behind the 
shoulders of a snarling pack that jammed a narrow 
ladderway, and smiled, and with the smile a white- 
haired man pitched downward and stared with dead 
eyes up into the night. 

This was Crimson Sash. Old Man Wayne was 
dead. This was Crimson Sash. Kenneth Wayne’s 
brain reiterated that over and over. This was Crim¬ 
son Sash. 

Slowly Kenneth Wayne’s hands began to creep out¬ 
ward from his sides—and there was something im¬ 
placable, remorseless, something of deadly, irrevocable 
purpose in the movement of his hands. His eyes never 
left the other’s face. It was a face in colour very near 


CRIMSON SASH 


273 


to a white man’s face, a cold face, a strong face, but 
cruelty and superciliousness were stamped upon it, and 
craft was in the eyes. 

He heard Crimson Sash speak in Malay to Tala- 
mori: 

“Is this the man?” 

And Talamori answered: 

“Yes.” 

And then Crimson Sash stepped forward, his lingers, 
in his sash, playing with the handle of a revolver. 

And there was but a yard between them. 

And then Crimson Sash spoke again—in English— 
in polished, fluent English—with poison in his words: 

“A lady, too! It is more than I had expected! I 
came only for you, who have the Konchi-kan Kitab — 
you, who, they tell me, bring us the good news that our 
islands here are rich in gold, the which, I understand, 
is what you came to seek.” 

The footing was narrow here; there was scarcely 
room, because of the rock wall on the one side and the 
racing water on the other, for two to stand abreast— 
but it was a good place. Talamori, behind Crimson 
Sash, and those shadows gathering out there on the 
rock ledge that proclaimed the presence of many men, 
could not come between or interfere. It was a good 
place. Kenneth Wayne’s lips moved in a twisted 
smile. There was no room to pass him. They could 
not get at Dorothy—not before she had time to run 
back and meet Gulab Singh and Selim Ali and Glover, 
and in the darkness they would be able to protect her 
and make their own escape. He asked no more. For 
himself he was satisfied. The end would come here. 
But first he had to tell Crimson Sash that Old Man 
Wayne was dead. There was no recognition in Crim¬ 
son Sash’s eyes. Crimson Sash did not know him; he, 


274 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Kenneth Wayne, had only been one of the many elected 
for butchery that night. Well, Crimson Sash would 
not die without knowing—for a man should know why 
he died. 

“Gold!” It was his own voice, wasn’t it? It was 
the acoustics of the cavernous place that made it sound 
so hollow, so dead in its tone. “Yes, thatv is what I 
wanted them to tell you. But it was not ^oid I came 
to find. I could not find it, I would not be able to rec¬ 
ognise it even if this rock here were full of it. It was 
not gold I came to find—it was you.” 

The Malay, fingers always playing in his sash, 
stared frowningly. 

“I am honoured,” he said ironically. “Well, you 
are fortunate then, for here I am—unless, perhaps, 
you are mistaking me for some one else. And”—his 
voice was suddenly malicious, baiting—“how could it 
be otherwise? How can you know I am the one you 
are seeking, since my name has not been mentioned, 
and you never saw me until a moment ago?” 

“You are wrong,” said Kenneth Wayne monoto¬ 
nously. “I have seen you before. I saw you the night 
Old Man Wayne was murdered.” 

A startled expression, gone in an instant, flashed 
across the Malay’s features. 

“Riddles!” he said with catlike softness. “I am not 
good at riddles.” 

“No,” said Kenneth Wayne in the same flat tone, 
“butchery and theft and the murder of men is what 
you excel in, and-” 

With an oath, the other whipped the revolver from 
his sash. 

“You won’t fire,” said Kenneth Wayne without 
change in his voice. “Not yet. You couldn’t expect 
me to tell you where The Locked Book is—if I were 



CRIMSON SASH 


275 

dead. But there is something else first that is far 
more important. You do not know Old Man Wayne? 
That is perhaps possible. Well, I will tell you about 
him. That is what I came to tell you. There was 
a ship called the War at an, and she was owned by Old 
Man Wayne, and I was in command.” 

He stc 'oed. He heard a quick and sudden little 
cry from Dorothy Merwood behind him. It brought 
a strange smile to his lips. Yes, he was glad—glad 
that she should know before the end. Crimson Sash’s 
face was ugly with menace, with awakening fury. The 
man’s brows were gathered in deep, angry ridges, and, 
too, as though still a little puzzled. 

“Perhaps you did not know the ship’s name either,” 
Kenneth Wayne went on, “for you attacked her in the 
night. To you she was only a helpless thing—at your 
mercy, as you thought—with broken engines. Ah! 
You remember! It was not so very long ago—just a 
few months-” 

“God!” the Malay roared out suddenly. “That 
was your ship, was it!” And then laughter came, a 
laughter of mocking fury, and the encircling walls of 
rock caught it up and amplified it into a hideous din. 
“Your ship, was it? Then there is no man I would 
rather meet! There is a payment to be made, a score 
to settle—yes? That is what you came for? You are 
right! And the score is heavy. You killed many of 
my men that night.” 

“But not enough,” said Kenneth Wayne, “for Old 
Man Wayne was murdered that night. Murdered by 
you. You shot him down on the foredeck ladder— 
and you smiled.” Kenneth Wayne’s hands were open, 
the fingers wide apart, fixed, rigid, curved like claws. 
His voice was breaking hoarsely. “He took the shot 
you meant for me. And so I have come—because the 



THE LOCKED BOOK 


276 

gunboat could not find you—because I am the son of 
Old Man Wayne—because I-” 

His voice was drowned out. There was a great 
roaring in his ears. The vaulted place echoed and 
re-echoed with it. For an instant it seemed to stun 
both mind and body. From somewhere behind him a 
shot had come—not from Dorothy—farther back. 
Yes, he understood now. Gulab Singh and the others 
were coming. He saw Crimson Sash clap his hand to 
his cheek—and, behind Crimson Sash, he saw one of 
the figures that were crowding the entrance reel back¬ 
wards. It was quick, almost instantaneous, as though 
it had all happened in the winking of an eye. Some¬ 
thing of unholy joy surged upon him. The shot had 
only grazed Crimson Sash—his was the reckoning 
with Crimson Sash! He leaped forward. Crimson 
Sash’s revolver jerked upward—but the man had no 
time to fire. With a blow, lightning swift, Kenneth 
Wayne knocked the weapon from the other’s hand. 

“This is between you and me,” he heard his voice 
cry out—and his arms locked around Crimson Sash. 

He heard cries and shouts from all around him. 
He caught sight of faces, Malay faces, peering from 
craned necks in through the opening; forms massed on 
the rock ledge without—but they could not come at 
him—there was only room here for Crimson Sash and 
himself. He heard a girl’s voice behind him, heard 
other voices, heard Gulab Singh constantly crying out 
something that was unintelligible. 

Kenneth Wayne laughed out suddenly. 

„ . . Old Man Wayne and Crimson Sash. • » . 
Old Man Wayne and Crimson Sash. . . . 

His brain was singing the refrain. 

He was body to body with Crimson Sash, straining 
the other to him in an embrace that made the muscles 



CRIMSON SASH 


277 


crack; he was face to face with Crimson Sash—he 
could look into the whites of the other’s eyes. And 
the feel of the other’s body was good—like this place 
in which they had met—it was all good. It wriggled, 
that body, and twisted and squirmed, but it could not 
get away; and it panted heavily, and fierce, gasp¬ 
ing breaths fanned Kenneth Wayne’s cheeks, and 
snarls and curses were in his ears-—like music— 
music to which his soul listened greedily—greedily— 
greedily- 

The man was lithe and strong as a panther, and 
with the fury of one. And underfoot there was little 
room, and the rock, shelving, narrow, on which they 
swayed and lurched, straining at each other until the 
sweat beads poured out upon their faces, was wet and 
treacherous. And Crimson Sash slipped, and for an 
instant in strange immobility, like figures poised, they 
hung together out over the swirl of water that, as it 
raced along, seemed to lick hungrily at their feet. 

And they tottered there. 

And a girl’s voice from somewhere in the darkness 
rang out in a scream of agony and fear. 

And Kenneth Wayne’s answer was another laugh— 
a great laugh. It welled up from the soul of him—a 
peal of it. It was dawning in the other’s eyes at last! 
That was why he laughed. Fear—there was fear 
there. 

They swung back from the brink, and like some 
ungainly pendulum out of adjustment smashed up 
against the wall. 

Higher up the other’s body Kenneth Wayne’s hands 
worked their way remorselessly. The man was strug¬ 
gling to break the hold, struggling frantically, madly, 
with panic strength now to break away. Higher, just 
a little higher—to that naked throat. His fingers 



THE LOCKED BOOK 


278 

crept inward along the other’s shoulders, his hugging 
arms pinioning those of Crimson Sash as in a vise— 
an inch—another—still another. And then his hands 
locked suddenly together, and the fingers were in- 
meshed in flesh—all of them—tightening—boring 
their way into the other’s throat. 

And again they hung tottering over the water’s 
edge, far over, bending outward, farther and farther 
—and swayed as a toppling wall sways for that 
breathless instant before its fall. 

And a gurgling cry—of terror—of wild, mad fear 
—came from Crimson Sash. 

And Kenneth Wayne’s fingers tightened—and 
tightened. 

“This is between you and me,” said Kenneth Wayne, 
as beneath him foothold was gone as though it had 
been snatched away, “between you and me—and Old 
Man Wayne-” 

A rush of waters closed over his head. But a wrig¬ 
gling thing was still in his grasp. It would always be 
in his grasp. Tighter—tighter—something, not the 
thing itself, seemed to be striving to tear his fingers 
loose. 

He was being twisted and turned and rolled over 
and over, and being swept along with tremendous 
impetus. He was conscious of a sudden flash of sun¬ 
light as he was shot out through the opening to the 
crest of the falls; conscious of figures on a rocky plat¬ 
form, of cries—and then he was falling—falling with 
incredible swiftness—and yet ever swifter. There 
was the sense of being hurled downward—hurled 
downward encased in some enveloping thing in which 
he could not breathe. 

His fingers tightened—tightened—the nails bit into 
flesh. There was a roaring in his brain, but what he 



CRIMSON SASH 


279 


held should not be torn away from him—that was the 
one thing—the one thing—the one thing— Gone! 
Was it gone? The flesh that his nails bit into was 
the flesh of his own hands. He was being pounded 
and struck as though by mighty hammers— thud, thud, 
thud —by mighty hammers of mighty weight— thud, 
thud,, thud —and his body turned as though rotating 
on a spit. 

It was relenting now. It wasn’t so merciless—only 
his lungs were bursting. A mental fog seemed to be 
clearing away. He began to understand. An eddy was 
carrying him away from beneath the bottom of the 
falls where the water had pounded upon him. He was 
shot suddenly into still water. He felt himself rising to 
the surface. His lungs were bursting. Air! He must 
breathe. Air! But he remembered those figures on 
the ledge. They would still be peering down—peering 
down. He must not be seen. But air—air! God, he 
must have air! He was rising upward. He turned on 
his back—just his face above the water—he wasn’t so 
far gone but that he could manage that. 

He drew great breaths into his lungs. Seen! What 
matter did that make if Crimson Sash were here too! 
But there was no sign of Crimson Sash—only a mist 
rising from where the water thundered at the bottom 
of the falls a dozen yards away from him now. He 
had forgotten about that mist. 

There wasn’t any sign of Crimson Sash. He 
couldn’t find the man under water anyway, could he? 
He was a fool to lie here—even if only his face 
showed above the surface. Resting? He was rested 
enough. He’d drift out beyond that curtain of mist 
presently, and they’d get him with a rifle shot. There 
was only one side of the pool by which the actual ori¬ 
fice of The Devil’s Throat was accessible—and obvi- 


280 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


ously that was where Crimson Sash’s men were. He 
must reach the opposite bank—that was the only 
way out. 

He managed to get his bearings and began to swim 
under water. Dorothy—Gulab Singh—the others. 
He must reach them now—if he could. They would 
be trapped like rats in there if the Orang-laut got 
around first and blocked the other end. But Gulab 
Singh wouldn’t let them do that—neither would 
Glover—good men—good men both of them—they 
wouldn’t waste any time in getting through to the open 
on the other side. The open! What then—with the 
woods thick with the Orang-laut! He must get to 
them—somehow—quickly—take his place with them 
—Dorothy- 

His hands touched something, a large rock, it 
seemed—and reaching out farther touched what must 
be the bank of the pool. He raised his head cau¬ 
tiously. Luck! It was a rock, a huge rock, that rose 
several feet out of the water just at the edge of the 
shore. Yes, it was luck! He could crawl out behind 
it with very little chance of being seen—and just a 
yard beyond was the sure shelter of heavy foliage. 

Sounds reached him now—queerly muffled by the 
roar of the falls: cries, shouts, and—he could not be 
sure—rifle shots as though at a great distance away. 
He drew himself out of the water behind the rock, 
wriggled like a snake on its belly over the bank, and 
gained the protecting screen of bush and trees. 

And then for an instant he paused to take note of 
the scene around him. High up above him, on the 
rocky platform before The Devil’s Throat, two figures 
stood shading their eyes with their hands, as though 
searching intently the waters of the pool. On the 
opposite bank other figures were running up and down, 


CRIMSON SASH 


281 


now pausing, now running on again, undoubtedly en¬ 
gaged in the same search as their fellows above them. 
He saw nothing else. For the moment he was safe. 
They had not seen him. 

He rose to his feet and began to make his way as 
rapidly as he could through the entangling growth and 
up the steep ascent of the thickly wooded hillside. He 
reached the summit, far above The Devil’s Throat. 
Then on! Underneath him, deep down in the dark¬ 
ness, they were fighting probably. It spurred him to 
greater effort. The Orang-laut would not all be forc¬ 
ing their way through the underground passage, driving 
Gulab Singh and the others back; some of them would 
make a circuit around over there on the left—not up 
here where he was—over there around the base of the 
hill—it was farther—but the natural way to go. 

And now he heard a shot, sharp, clear—another— 
and another. He had crossed the top of the hill and 
was scrambling downward now, clinging to rocks and 
bushes, half falling, half sliding in desperate haste. 
Below him, he saw Gulab Singh standing on the edge of 
the river bank and apparently just abreast of the spot 
where the river on this side entered the underground 
passage—saw the man raise his arm and fire again and 
again. And farther off, running toward the barren 
ridge that paralleled the woods and also made the 
outer wall of the river gorge, he saw three figures'—a 
woman and two men. 


— XXII — 


MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 

S TUMBLING, falling, scrambling, Kenneth 
Wayne went on down the hillside toward Gulab 
Singh. He could see those three figures still 
making for the top of the ridge, not more than four 
hundred yards away—a woman’s figure, and the 
figures of two men—and one of the men was aiding 
the woman, and the other man carried a great basket. 
Strange that details, little details, should stand out so 
sharply in his mind. Queer! That was Selim Ali 
tenaciously clinging to the basket of food. Of course 
they couldn’t live up there without food. Gulab Singh 
was the rear guard—but Gulab Singh might wait too 
long. It wasn’t only those who had followed through 
the underground river passage; the bulk of the Orang- 
laut would come circling around the hillside to the left, 
and out through the woods here and trap Gulab Singh. 
They ought to have been here by now, for, though it 
was longer than the way he had come, it was a far 
easier way. Perhaps they had lost time in searching 
the pool—perhaps they had all at first attempted to 
force the passage from the other end—but they would 

come—any minute now- 

He came down beside Gulab Singh. 

Gulab Singh did not turn his head. 

“My heart was heavy with a great fear, sahib,” he 
said, and fired across the face of the dark, yawning 
opening beside him, where the water rushed, plunging 
madly away, as eager here, it seemed, to evade the sun- 

282 



MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 283 

light as on the other side it was to welcome it once 
more. “But now it is light again for the sahib lives.” 

“Yes, but I won’t live long, and neither will you, if 
we stay here,” said Kenneth Wayne with a short laugh. 
“I know there can’t any more than one man come out 
of there at a time because there’s no footing inside, 
and I know they can’t fire at us here at this angle with¬ 
out coming out to do it—but it’s not only those chaps 
inside there. The others are bound to come around 
upon us through the woods.” 

“That I know, sahib,” Gulab Singh answered—and 
fired again. “And it is because of that, sahib, that 
there was no shelter for us in the woods. And up 
there from whence you came, sahib, it was too difficult 
for the Miss Sahib and we would be overtaken; and 
along the river bed there is no shelter either, for from 
each side we would be fired down upon. There was 
only the ridge over there, sahib; but between here and 
there a bullet may fly straight for there is nothing 
between, even as it will be, sahib, in our favour, if, 
when we are there, they try to come upon us. When 
the Miss Sahib is at the top and is hidden by the rocks, 
I will go. But go you now, sahib, for there is need 
for no more than one here.” 

And then Kenneth Wayne laughed again—but there 
was a strange throatiness in his laugh. 

“We’ll go together, Gulab Singh,” he said, “or not 
at all. I wouldn’t care to face the Miss Sahib without 
her Grand Vizier after this.” 

“As the sahib wills.” Gulab Singh fired coolly once 
more. “And of the other, sahib,” he asked in a grave 
voice, “he with whom the sahib fought? Does he 
live?” 

“I don’t know.” Kenneth Wayne was scanning the 
edge of the woods intently. “We were torn apart by 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


284 

the water. I didn’t see him when I came up.” He 
touched Gulab Singh on the arm. “I think I heard 
something in there just now, Gulab Singh.” 

“Yes, sahib,” Gulab Singh answered. “Look, then, 
and see if the Miss Sahib is at the top.” 

Kenneth Wayne swung around. 

“I can’t see any of them now,” he said. 

“It is well,” said Gulab Singh. “Listen, then, sahib 
—and we will go. One man I shot, the first man, as 
he tried to come out of here. It has made the others 
careful. We will have a minute, sahib, and one can 
run far in the space of a minute; but that they may not 
know at once we are gone when there are no more 
shots, we must run without noise. Is the sahib ready?” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne tersely. 

“Run, then, sahib!” said Gulab Singh, as he fired 
another shot and a little fountain of water spurted up 
from his bullet in front of the opening. “Run, sahib— 
and run fast!” 

With Gulab Singh beside him, Kenneth Wayne 
turned and ran. A minute! Yes, one could go far in 
a minute—but it was all open here, and bare rock, and 
there was a stiff rise even to the base of the ridge. He 
ran—ran with all that was in him. He was conscious 
that Gulab Singh was running much more smoothly 
than he was, more easily, far more in hand, as though, 
indeed, without effort the man might have streaked by 
him like an arrow. It was on account of Crimson 
Sash, of course, that fight with Crimson Sash—and 
the afterwards. He was a bit shaken up—not quite 
fit. The pace was telling. 

A shot came from somewhere behind him—and then 
a ripple of fire. He thought he heard the spat of a 
flattening bullet somewhere near him. And then from 
above him, in front, answering shots rang out. That 


MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 285 

would be Glover and Selim Ali, of course. He glanced 
back over his shoulder. Whether it was from those 
who had been held in check by Gulab Singh and who 
could now have easily taken cover in the woods, 
or from the rest of the Orang-laut who might have 
arrived upon the scene, he could not tell, but in any 
case, whoever it was, they were firing from the edge of 
the trees—not attempting to come out or give chase 
across the open stretch under Glover’s and Selim Ali’s 
fire. 

He was at the foot of the ridge now, with Gulab 
Singh still beside him. There was not much farther 
to go, but it was a steep, uneven ascent. He began to 
zigzag his course—the Orang-laut weren’t particu¬ 
larly good marksmen—or else he was in luck—in luck. 
The firing grew brisker, both from above him and 
from the trees behind. Just a few more yards to go— 
just a- 

“Oh, well run, old man!” Glover’s voice shouted 
out cheerily. “Here, get down behind that rock!” 

Panting, gasping, Kenneth Wayne flung himself 
down. He dashed the sweat out of his eyes, and 
stared around him. He was on a small plateau, one 
of a series probably extending all along the ridge. It 
was perhaps a hundred yards square, its surface fur¬ 
rowed with rock crevices, and strewn here and there 
with little upstanding ledges and loose boulders. 
Dorothy Merwood’s face, from close beside him where 
she lay flat on the ground, smiled up into his—a 
strange, tremulous smile. She was white—looked 
utterly done out as she lay there behind the little 
.ledge, like a rampart, that sheltered them all. . He 
leaned quickly toward her. And his surroundings, 
Gulab Singh’s great turban shaking with the man’s 
exertions, Selim Ali, Glover, all crouching here, be- 



286 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


came for the moment apart, extraneous. He saw only 
the blue eyes that looked at him through a sudden 
mist, and lips that quivered with that strange, 
tremulous smile. 

“Thank God,” he said hoarsely in a broken way, 
“thank God, thank God, that you are safe!” 

And then he saw the colour begin to mount a little 
and drive the deathly whiteness from her cheeks. 

“That 1 am safe!” Her voice was very low. She 
shook her head. “It was you. I—we—we did not 
think we would ever see you again. We—we thought 
that you were dead.” 

There was something in her eyes, a great wistful¬ 
ness, a glorious shyness, that set his blood to racing 
madly. Words, burning, eager, passionate, were on 
his lips,* the soul of him was crying out for expression. 
But he had no right—no right. He was a pariah 
among men. He wanted her—out of all the world he 
wanted her—wanted to hold her in his arms—close 
to him—tenderly. He had held her once- 

He was a pariah. 

His hands clenched until the knuckles were chalky 
white. 

“Yes—I—I fancy you did,” he said inanely. There 
was a great choking in his throat. 

He turned his head away, and lay staring out 
through a fissure in the rock—staring down the slope 
of the ridge. There was no sign of the Orang-laut; 
just the green of the trees in the sunlight across the 
short, barren stretch of ground, and, farther to the 
left, the up-sweep of the hillside through which the 
river bored its way; just a glimpse of the river itself 
where for an instant it glinted in the light before it 
plunged out of sight on its subterranean way—no sign 
of any living man. Something was the matter. He 



MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 287 

was living in a world of unreality. There was peace 
here, a perfect peace, over which nature presided in 
cheery, beauteous, smiling mood. No conflict! The 
conflict, then, could only be within himself—his soul 
in strife and turmoil, battling to throttle, to strangle, 
to destroy something that stood between it and its 
impulse and its yearning to plead his cause. Well, why 
shouldn’t he plead it—why shouldn’t he? If she 
cared, love rose above this thing men said of him, love 
transcended accusation, ignored it, and in its loyalty 
swept aside the thought of consequences, would not 
falter before ruin, disgrace, the brand of murder. 
And in return it was repaid with—what? His love? 
God pity him for a coward, then! He swept his 
clenched hand across his eyes. Madness ! Unreality! 
That was a shot, wasn’t it—the ping of a bullet 
through the air? 

Glover’s voice came from a few yards away. 

“I think the sport’s over for the moment. They’ll 
waste a bit of ammunition from time to time from 
behind the trees, and we’ll have to keep our heads 
down; but they’ll think twice about trying to cross that 
open stretch and climb up here. The floor’s yours, 
Wayne. We heard a little of what you said to that 
chap you carried over the falls with you—and about 
you having come here to find him—something about 
your father. It sounded queer—my word! Miss 
Merwood, I think, heard it all—but I’m jolly curious. 
If it isn’t flicking on the raw, old chap, do you mind 
telling it again, while we’re waiting for those beggars 
to make the next move?” 

Kenneth Wayne was still staring through the fissure 
in the rock. He was glad of Glover’s intervention— 
he wasn’t sure enough of himself yet to pick up the 


288 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


thread of his conversation with the girl beside him. 
He smiled a little wanly as he shook his head. 

“No,” he said, “I don’t mind now. There’s nothing 
to hide any more. If he’s dead—he’s dead. If he’s 
alive, he knows I’m here and what I came for. I do 
not know his name—I called him Crimson Sash.” 

He paused a moment; and then, his chin in his 
hands, he told his story. And as he spoke he was 
conscious again of an acute sense of unreality. The 
story of Old Man Wayne here on this rocky ridge, 
with Crimson Sash’s followers out there, perhaps even 
Crimson Sash himself, mad again with blood-lust, as 
they had been that night on the War at an; the same 
quiet, the stillness over all that had formed the same 
prelude to that other attack! He was conscious that 
Gulab Singh, listening, lay like some carved figure, 
utterly inert, utterly motionless, as though it possessed 
no life; conscious that Selim Ali had drawn nearer, 
and that the man’s dark, swarthy face was intent, 
eager, and at times a little troubled as though he 
understood imperfectly; conscious that Glover kept on 
interminably packing down the tobacco in the bowl of 
his pipe with the ball of his thumb and made no 
attempt to light it. He did not look at Dorothy Mer- 
wood. And at the end he was absurdly conscious of 
something else—that his throat was dry, that he 
craved water, that the sun was beating down pitilessly 
hot. 

A silence fell as his voice died away. It endured 
for a long time. It was Gulab Singh who spoke. 

“Sahib,” he said gravely, “it is a strange tale that 
the sahib has told; and it is in my mind that yet a 
stranger thing will come of it if this man that the sahib 
calls Crimson Sash still lives. But the sahib does not 
know what happened in the water?” 


MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 289 

“No,” said Kenneth Wayne. “Unless I had the 
breath out of him before we went over, he had as much 
chance as I had.” 

Glover lighted his pipe coolly now. 

“A rum go, Wayne!” he ejaculated. “He’s the 
bird, of course, that Talamori was buying that stack 
of arms for, and, whether he’s alive or dead, I wish to 
God I knew where his headquarters were! We’d 
clean up this bunch of followers of his here when they 
went back—even if you haven’t much faith in gun¬ 
boats.” 

Kenneth Wayne shook his head. 

“I think we’d better look for some way of getting 
out of this first ourselves,” he said a little grimly. 
“We appear to be all right for the time being; but we 
also seem to be perched up here on the top of a sort 
of pinnacle that is as much a trap as it is a refuge. 
What do you say, Gulab Singh?” 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh, “we have food, for 
Selim Ali has brought the food basket, but we have 
no water. They cannot come upon us from behind 
because of the wall of the gorge which cannot be 
climbed; and from in front we can shoot them as they 
come unless they are brave enough to come all at once 
and lose many in the coming. And, sahib, I do not 
think they will do that. While it is daylight, sahib, 
we are safe.” 

“And after that?” demanded Kenneth Wayne 
tersely. 

Gulab Singh did not answer for a moment. 

“What is written is written, sahib,” he said at last. 
“Sahib, I do not know.” 

Kenneth Wayne’s lips set hard together. He 
looked around him more critically now. They were 
on the top of a narrow ridge that extended for a long 


290 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


distance following the river’s course, but everywhere 
it was barren and without shelter save, as where he 
now lay, for loose boulders and out-cropping ledges 
of rock; and everywhere, facing the ridge, leaving as 
it were a sort of No Man’s Land between, the woods 
ran on to where, far to the right, the ridge tapered 
down again, and ridge, woods and river seemed to 
meet and mingle once more. One could not go that 
way. To lift one’s head was to invite a shot; and, 
even by crawling, one would be seen in the sparcer 
places where there were no protecting ledges and no 
protecting rocks. And even if one gained the far end 
of the ridge, the Orang-laut, watching the manoeuvre, 
would be waiting there, just as they were waiting here 
—amongst the trees. 

He moved suddenly from his position, and on hands 
and knees crawled across to the rear of the little pla¬ 
teau on which they had taken refuge, and, peering 
over, looked down into the gorge below. There was a 
sheer drop here, not of many feet, perhaps not more 
than thirty-five or forty to where the river boiled 
below, but the rock wall was as smooth and perpen¬ 
dicular as though it had been sliced off with a knife. 
It was unscalable from below. In that, Gulab Singh 
had been right. 

Kenneth Wayne’s eyes searched the opposite bank 
or wall of the river. He nodded sharply to himself. 
The other side was much lower. There was very little 
to warrant optimism in the situation—the most favour¬ 
able factor of all was that they could not be fired 
down upon from the opposite bank. 

It was bad! He felt a whiteness creep into his face. 
As long as daylight lasted and they could see, they 
could probably hold off the Orangdaut; but with dark¬ 
ness, with Heaven knew how many creeping up the 


MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 291 

face of the ridge and spread out over several hundred 
yards, the end was inevitable. And the Orang-laut 
were not fools—they knew that too. 

He lay quiet for a moment, outstretched, his back 
to the others, apparently gazing out across the gorge 
—but his head was buried in his arms, and his hands 
were tightly clenched. Dorothy! There must be a 
way, some way to get her out of this. She had come 
here for his sake—for him. Get help? How? 
Where? What help was there to get even if one of 
them here managed by some miracle to get through 
to the town? A handful of white men! What was a 
handful of white men! These were the devils, the 
same shrieking, piratical spawn that had swarmed the 
decks of the Waratan that night; these were Crimson 
Sash’s followers who lived by murder, outrage and pil¬ 
lage. He did not know how many. Talamori had 
between twenty and thirty with him, judging from the 
numbers in the road in front of the hotel the other 
night. How many had Crimson Sash brought? A 
handful of white men! The handful of white men 
would be murdered too. 

“Dorothy!” Kenneth Wayne whispered. “Oh, 
God!” 

This quest of his! This was the end of it, wasn’t 
it—whether Crimson Sash were dead or not? Strange ! 
Queer! Something, a sinister irony, seemed to have 
mocked him, toyed with him, made sport of him from 
the beginning—and now at the end it had reserved for 
itself the most diabolical thrust of all. He had 
counted, as he had thought, all the cost when he had 
set out, he had neither shut his eyes nor been blind to 
his own risk and peril; but in it and through it all he 
had considered only the personal equation. He had 
not counted on this—that a woman should pay too— 


292 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


that a woman should come into his life—that it should 
be that woman who was to pay—she who was innocent 
of all this, still glorying in her youth, joyous, glad that 
God had given her life—and perhaps—perhaps— 
who knew?—glad of a dawning love—glad that- 

He lifted his head suddenly at a shout from Glover ; 
and, turning, scrambled back to rejoin the others. 

“Look!” Glover cried. “Look! That’s Walters 
and Fouche, isn’t it? Or am I crazy? What’s it 
mean? Where did they come from?” 

Kenneth Wayne flung himself down behind the 
ledge of rock, and stared out again through the fissure. 

Just opposite him, two men, two white men, had 
burst out from the edge of the woods and were coming 
toward the rise of the ridge, running in mad haste 
across the open space. He stared incredulously. It 
was Walters and Fouche! He did not understand. 
How had they got through the Orang-laut there—the 
Orang-laut were all massed in the woods at exactly 
that spot. 

An outburst of yells, shrieks, screams, wild laughter, 
peals of it, peals on peals of it, came suddenly from 
the woods, from scores, it seemed, of hidden and in¬ 
human throats—and then the crackle of rifle fire— 
little white whifls of smoke spurting from along the 
line of trees. 

The two men came on desperately—ten—twenty— 
thirty yards. And then Mr. Walters from Man¬ 
chester flung up his hands in a queer, spasmodic, jerky 
way, pitched forward on his face—and lay still. 

Nicholas Fouche still ran. He ran like a man 
crazed with fear; he leaped from side to side; he ran 
half doubled up; and as he came nearer his face showed 
grey, ashen, the eyes strained, fixed, seeming almost 
to be protruding from their sockets. 



MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 293 

Nearer the man came with slithering gait up the 
slope, spurred on by the yells and demoniacal laughter 
behind him, the shots, the bullets that chipped bits 
from the ground and rocks beneath his feet—-and his 
screams now arose above all other sounds, for he 
screamed in terror, his mouth wide open. 

It was a miserable thing to see. Kenneth Wayne’s 
jaws were clamped and set. 

“Lie down! Take cover behind the rocks, and 
crawl the rest of the way!” he shouted. “Lie down! 
Lie down!” 

And it seemed almost as though the man had heard 
and obeyed, for on the instant Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche, with a great despairing cry, fell forward, and, 
with both hands clutching at his side, lay twisting and 
writhing upon the ground. 

He lay twenty yards from the top of the ridge. 

“My God!” cried Kenneth Wayne, and started up, 
“we can’t leave him out there!” 

“Wait!” Glover’s voice answered hoarsely. “He’s 
coming on again. He’ll make it.” 

The man crawled now, one yard and then another— 
painfully, slowly. And then the fusilade of shots 
ceased abruptly, the cries and shrieks and laughter 
from the woods died away—and Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche lay gasping in Kenneth Wayne’s arms behind 
the little rampart-like ledge of rocks. 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche did not speak. He lay 
with closed eyes. 

Glover, leaning forward, tore the man’s clothing 
open. 

There was the sound of cloth being ripped; and 
then Dorothy Merwood’s voice in a half sob as she 
extended a portion of her skirt: 

“Can—can you do anything with this?” 


294 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Glover took the piece of skirt, but shook his head 
as he began to staunch the flow of blood in Monsieur 
Fouche’s side. 

“No use, I’m afraid, Miss Merwood,” he said 
gruffly. “I don’t think he’s got more than a few 
minutes.” 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche opened his eyes, stared 
around him vacantly for a moment, and then a strange 
and sudden fury seemed to sweep into his face, to domi¬ 
nate him, to imbue him with unnatural strength. He 
wrenched himself almost free from Kenneth Wayne’s 
supporting arms, and struggled into a sitting posture. 
His face was contorted; his lips worked as though out 
of all muscular control; he raised his hand and shook 
it, clenched, frantically. 

“Messieurs,” he screamed out, “he is a fiend! 
There is no greater fiend in hell! Dieu! Nom de 
Dieu! He said that since Walters and I started first 
this morning for The Locked Book it was but fair— 
fair, that is what he said, and laughed—that we 
should have the first chance to come up here to you 
and get it. And he drove us out from the woods, and 
shot us down as we ran.” 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche sank back, struggling for 
his breath. 

Gulab Singh’s voice came gravely out of a mo* 
mentary silence: 

“Is it of the man Wayne Sahib calls Crimson Sash 
that he speaks ?” 

“Crimson Sash? Yes —sacre nom de Dieu —a sash 
of blood! Eh—yes—that is it! The man who fell 
over the falls into the pool,” cried Monsieur Nicholas 
Fouche. 

“Ah!” Gulab Singh drew a deep breath. “He 
lives, then?” 


MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 295 

“Yes! Yes, he lives! He-” Monsieur Nicho¬ 

las Fouche’s voice choked. “Give—give me water,” 
he gasped. 

Kenneth Wayne shook his head. 

“We have none, Fouche,” he said gently. 

“No water! Tonnerre, that is strange! No water! 
I ask only for a little water, and there is no water.” 
He was mumbling. His voice died out. He lay 
passive for a moment; then suddenly into his face 
again swept the surge of fury, and again he struggled 
upward in Kenneth Wayne’s arms. “I die, messieurs 
—eh, I die?” he cried out. “Yes, I see it in your 
eyes. I die—and he lives ! But he will die too—he 
and Talamori. You will get out of here. You must 
get out of here, and then you will hang them, mes¬ 
sieurs—eh—you will see to that—hang them! I will 
tell you. Quick! Listen! I will tell you so that they 
may be hanged. He is a murderer. He murdered 
Walters out there—eh—you saw that! And Tala¬ 
mori is a murderer—Talamori murdered Major 
Peters—and I ” 

He fell weakly back again. 

Kenneth Wayne heard a low cry in a girl’s voice; a 
quick, gruff, throaty exclamation from Glover. He 
felt a sudden cessation of his own heartbeats. 

“Talamori!” he cried out. “You know that?” 

“Yes,” said Monsieur Nicholas Fouche. “I know 
that. I swear it—before God I swear it. They said 
it was you. But it was Talamori. Talamori told me. 
I had business with Talamori that night. Talamori 
came to Salabam that night, but he did not come at 
once to me. You understand? It was The Locked 
Book that everybody talked of. He went first to 
Major Peters and some of his men were with him, and 




THE LOCKED BOOK 


296 

he murdered Major Peters, but he did not get the book 
—it—it was gone.” 

Once more his voice died away—the man was per¬ 
ceptibly growing weaker. 

“And afterwards,” said Kenneth Wayne quickly, 
“you arranged with Talamori to attack the hotel be¬ 
cause you thought I still had it?” 

“Yes,” said Monsieur Nicholas Fouche. “That is 
true. But there is more. Quick! Listen! I do not 
speak fast enough. The man that is with Talamori 
—Talamori’s chief. They call him Malatea. He too 
had heard that The Locked Book was found. He 
came fast to Salabam to get it, to—to take it from 
whoever had it. He came very early this morning. 
I was at the place where Talamori’s proas were when 
he came. He came with two more proas. Every one 
seemed to be in great fear of him. Talamori speaks 
a little English. I have always talked to Talamori in 
English. Malatea and Talamori spoke together in 
Malay. I pretended that I did not understand what 
they said, but I understood well enough. I—wait! 
For the pity of God, hold me tighter! Let—let me 
rest a minute.” 

Monsieur Nicholas Fouche closed his eyes. He 
fought for his breath, his fingers clutching at his 
throat. When he spoke again it was feebly, little 
above a whisper: 

“Malatea wanted to make sure that there was no 
mistake about The Locked Book. He sent for the 
Malays who had gone with Wayne to the Cheruchuk 
River. They came and—and grovelled before him. 
They were afraid of him. They described the book, 
and—and—don’t let me go, Wayne—hold me tighter 
—this—this is for you—you’re—you’re clear, Mon¬ 
sieur Wayne. Before God I swear this too is true. 


MONSIEUR NICHOLAS FOUCHE 297 

They said they had murdered the old priest to get the 
book, but they couldn’t find it.” 

Again Monsieur Nicholas Fouche from sheer weak¬ 
ness had ceased speaking; but it was Kenneth Wayne 
now who closed his eyes. Clear! There was a great 
throbbing in his brain. Clear! It perhaps did not 
make any material difference now—it was too late. 
There wasn’t much chance that it would do him any 
good, much chance of getting out of here alive—much 
more chance than this dying man had. But she had 
heard. She knew. Strange and confused wonder was 
in his mind. He wondered if that helped any—or 
made it the harder? Was it easier to face the end 
because he had the right now to speak, and, if she 
cared, glimpse for an instant what the years might 
have held—or was it the bitterer, the harder thing? 

He heard Glover speak in a low, strained voice: 

“Thank God, for your sake, Wayne!” And then, 
a moment later, in a still lower tone: “I think he’s 
gone. Gulab Singh will help me carry him across to 
the other side there. You see what you can do for 
Miss Merwood. She’s about at the end, I’d say— 
been through more than most women could stand.” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne briefly. 

He relinquished his burden to Gulab Singh, and 
turned around. Dorothy Merwood was lying out¬ 
stretched, her face buried in her arms, her shoulders 
shaking with convulsive sobs. And as he looked at 
her, he covered his own face for a moment with his 
hands. Death! Life! God, not death for her— 
Dorothy—not that! He loved her. 

His lips moved—his voice was full of yearning, 
full of anguish, as he drew close to her side. 

“Dorothy!” he whispered. “Dorothy!” he said 


298 THE LOCKED BOOK 

again—and his voice broke—and his arm crept around 
her shoulders. 

His head was close to hers, his lips touched her hair. 
He drew her nearer to him. She had made no answer, 
but his hand, encircling her shoulders, had found one 
of hers—and suddenly found it held very tightly, as 
though clasped by a frightened child—held very 
tightly against a tear-wet cheek. 

Subconsciously he was aware that Selim Ali lay 
motionless a little way off, a sentinel, keeping watch 
down the face of the ridge; while, farther off, near 
the edge of the gorge, Gulab Singh and Glover still 
bent over a form that now lay prone upon theground. 

“Dorothy, you care! You care!’ , It was his heart 
crying out to her. “You came here to this—because 
you cared!” 

And then for an instant she raised her head, and 
in her eyes through the tears a great glory shone. 

“I care,” she answered—and hid her face. “Oh, 
I care so much—so much! And—and I am not afraid 
any more.” 


— XXIII — 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 

^TT^HEY had begun firing again. There was a 
desultory spat of bullets as they struck the 
rocks, little spurts of dust when they flicked 
the softer ground. Kenneth Wayne had secured a 
revolver from Selim Ali now, and lay watching the 
line of trees at the foot of the ridge intently. It 
might be merely an effort to inspire fear or keep fear 
alive, or the chance of a bullet finding its mark, or the 
prelude to a rush up the slope. 

He fingered his revolver grimly. As Gulab Singh 
had said, the Orang-laut could carry the ridge if they 
came on with enough determination and were willing 
to pay the price. But, so far, there was no sign of 
movement from below. 

Glover crawled up beside him and lay down. Their 
eyes met—Glover had been a long time over there 
with Fouche. 

“Yes,” said Glover, answering the unspoken query 
in Kenneth Wayne’s face. “He’s gone, poor beggar; 
but he was able to say a few more words—came 
around a bit first. Practically Miss Merwood’s story. 
A native came in to tell this Crimson Sash of yours 
that you were hiding up the river. Crimson Sash 
asked Fouche if he had understood what the native 
had said, and Fouche said he didn’t. But Crimson 
Sash was the cleverer trickster of the two. He wasn’t 
taking any chances, and he gave Fouche the prover¬ 
bial rope with which to hang himself if Fouche were up 
299 


300 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


to any double play. Crimson Sash said he would wait 
until dark and then set out after you, but what he 
really did was to set a watch on Fouche. He caught 
the two of them, Fouche and Walters, before they 
were a mile up the river. After that, he marched 
them along with him—and you know the end of it.” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded without comment. 

“What are the blighters up to now?” queried Glover 
abruptly. “Merely wasting ammunition—or what?” 

Kenneth Wayne forced a laugh. 

“Beyond me!” he said lightly. “Anyway, they’re 
not doing us any harm.” And then, his voice lowered 
so that Dorothy Merwood on his other side might 
not hear: “Glover, what are we going to do —when 
it gets dark?” 

Glover’s face was set. He echoed Kenneth Wayne’s 
low tones. 

“God alone knows!” he said heavily. “If it weren’t 
for her, I’d say we might as well make up our minds 
to go out with our boots on; and, as it is, I can’t see 
any other answer. We’ll give her what chance there 
is, of course. Some of us will hold on here while she 
runs for it. She might make it, if it’s dark enough.” 

Kenneth Wayne shook his head. 

“They’re not to be fooled that way. They’ll take 
care that no one gets off the ridge. That’s no good.” 

“No,” said Glover simply. “I know it. That’s no 
good.” 

The firing grew more desultory—and died away. 

Gulab Singh, lying next beyond Glover, was talking 
earnestly with Selim Ali. Once or twice Kenneth 
Wayne caught the name of Malatea—that was Crim¬ 
son Sash’s name. Kenneth Wayne smiled suddenly 
and bitterly to himself. There was not even the 
consolation of having at the end kept his pledge to 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


301 

Old Man Wayne. Crimson Sash was still alive. 
Worse than that! More than merely alive! It 
wouldn’t be Old Man Wayne this time; it would be— 
would be- 

He gnawed at his lips as though his thoughts were 
audible and he were striving to crush them back and 
refuse them utterance. Some way! Some way! 
There must be some way! He had brought her to 
this. He had brought love into her life, and the 

penalty was- No! It was unbearable. The 

thought was hideous. He knew his face was drawn, 
haggard, grey and full of fear. He hid it from both 
Glover and Dorothy Merwood. 

And then he heard Gulab Singh’s grave, unemo¬ 
tional voice: 

“Sahib, Selim Ali and I have talked together, and 
we have drawn lots. Will the sahibs listen?” 

Gulab Singh had pushed the food basket in between 
Glover and himself. Food! Kenneth Wayne laughed 
out harshly, involuntarily, in spite of himself. The 
thought seemed to plumb the depths of irony. Food! 
It was like the condemned being given breakfast a 
few minutes before they were led out to execution. 
But some of them ate it! Damned queer! Damned 
morbid! He mustn’t lose his grip—that was the only 
thing left! 

“I’m not hungry,” said Glover quietly: “but perhaps 
Miss Merwood-” 

“No,” Dorothy Merwood said. “I don’t think 
I care for any just now, thank you.” 

“It was not of that we talked,” said Gulab Singh. 
“Sahibs, it was of that which was left for us to do. 
The man that Wayne Sahib calls Crimson Sash still 
lives and he is out there with many of his men, and we 
are few and powerless against force; 'but, sahibs, 





302 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


perchance if that which he came for were given to him, 
the lives of the Miss Sahib and the sahibs would be 
saved. It is in my mind, sahibs, that we give him 
— this /” 

With a sharp cry, Kenneth Wayne sat bolt upright. 
He stared incredulously. It was absurdly chimerical 
—the East Indians were great at that sort of thing. 
He’d seen one once do the rose-bush trick—make it 
grow out of the earth before his eyes. The cleverest 
magicians in the world! Of course! That was what 
Gulab Singh was doing—but it wouldn’t fool Crimson 
Sash. Apparently, in Gulab Singh’s hands, extracted 
from the food basket that Selim Ali had so sedulously 
guarded, lay The Locked Book, dragon-covered, the 
Konchi-kan Kitah of Kana-ee-a. He heard a sudden 
burst of firing—the spatter of lead against the rocks. 

“The sahib must not lift his head like that,” said 
Gulab Singh in grave reproval. 

Glover had said nothing. Jaw dropped, he was 
gazing helplessly at Gulab Singh. Kenneth Wayne 
mechanically resumed his recumbent position. He felt 
Dorothy Merwood’s hand clasp and hold his arm 
tightly. The Locked Book! He reached suddenly 
over Glover’s back and snatched it from Gulab Singh’s 
hands. He stared at it again. He felt it. It wasn’t 
trickery. It was real—the mildewed leather, worn in 
spots—the heavy brass superimposed scroll—the tail 
over the edges fast locked in the dragon’s mouth. 

“By God, it was you, then, who stole it out of my 
room the other night!” he burst out. His face set like 
iron. “This will require some explaining, Gulab 
Singh!” 

“It is true, sahib, that I took the book that night,” 
said Gulab Singh quietly; “and it is also true that the 
tale of it should be told—but first, sahib, there is the 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


303 


matter of bargaining with Malatea, whom the sahib 
calls Crimson Sash, in order that the Miss Sahib’s and 
the sahibs’ lives be saved.” 

“To say nothing of your own and Selim Ali’s!” 
added Glover, with a sharp and sudden laugh. “Better 
to lose the book than your own two precious skins, eh? 
Never mind about the Miss Sahib, or Wayne and 
myself! I fancy we wouldn’t be much of a factor if 
you could still get away with it again yourself!” 

Gulab Singh bowed his head. The great turban 
almost hid his face. 

“Those are hard words, sahib,” he said in a low 
voice. “Does the sahib forget that it was Gulab 
Singh who led the way to safety that night? Does 
Wayne Sahib forget?” 

Glover coughed suddenly, uncomfortably. 

Kenneth Wayne pushed his hand across a wet brow. 
It was pitilessly hot. There was no shade, no shelter. 
Perhaps it was the sun pouring down so mercilessly 
that confused him. 

“It’s damned queer!” he said helplessly. “No; I 
don’t forget. You saved my life that night. And 
there wasn’t any need of it so far as this thing is 
concerned, as you already had the book. But it’s 
damned queer, just the same!” 

“I think Gulab Singh is right,” said Dorothy Mer- 
wood earnestly. “If he has some plan, that is the 
first consideration.” 

Glover had taken the book from Kenneth Wayne’s 
hands and was examining it now minutely. 

“All right, then, for my part!” he grunted. “Go 
on, Gulab Singh—tell us what you propose to do.” 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh, “we will put up a white 
flag, and Selim Ali, because of the drawing of the lots, 
will go down to Malatea and bargain with him. If 


304 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Malatea will draw off all his men into the little open 
space down there near where the river enters the 
hill, so that we may see them all together, and so that 
we may know they are not lying in wait for us else¬ 
where, and will promise to let us go, we will give him 
the book.” 

“H’m!” commented Glover. “A bit nervy, isn’t it? 
—when he has already got us in his power!” 

“But the book he has not got, sahib,” Gulab Singh 
answered quickly. “And it is the Konchi-kan Kitab 
of Kana-ee-a that he desires more than all else. And 
he knows he cannot get the book unless we give it to 
him, for the book we can destroy before he destroys 
us—and in that manner Selim Ali will talk with him.” 

“By Jove!” ejaculated Glover. “You’re right 
there!” 

Kenneth Wayne frowned. 

“I’ve no doubt he’d agree, and agree like a flash,” 
he said, “and, to pretend to keep faith, draw all his 
men together in the opening of the gorge there where 
we can see them; but after that—what? Once he’s 
got the book he’s in just as good a position as ever to 
do us in. True, we could run a little way farther along 
the top of this ridge and be no worse off then we are 
now, but we wouldn’t have enough start to get clear 
away. There’s no guarantee that he’ll keep faith. 
Faith!” He laughed harshly. “That man! Good 
God!” 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh with a strange smile, “I 
do not say that he is one who loves to keep faith, and 
yet it may be that having got what he desires so 
greatly he will ask for nothing more. Does the sahib 
know of any better thing to do ?” 

It was Glover who answered. 

“No,” he said bluntly. “I agree with you, Wayne, 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


305 


that it’s a slim chance, but any kind of a chance is 
better than none. And, as you say yourself, we won’t 
be any worse off anyway, for if they start after us we 
can take cover again farther on along the ridge. We’re 
not going to walk down into their arms in any case. 
The idea, as I understand it, would be to keep along 
the ridge to the other end of the gorge, and take to 
the woods up there. What do you say, Wayne? 1 ’ 

The frown was still on Kenneth Wayne’s face. 

“Well, all right!” he said tersely. He took off his 
white jacket, emptied the pockets, and handed it to 
Gulab Singh. “Here’s your flag. Wave it at them.” 

Gulab Singh held the jacket up at arm’s-length 
above the ledge of rock, and circled it to and fro in 
the air. Presently an answering signal, something 
white, was waved in return from the edge of the 
woods. 

Gulab Singh turned to Selim AIL 

“It is well,” he said. “Go now; but see that you 
speak only face to face with Malatea for his word 
alone is law.” 

Selim Ali stood up without comment, stepped out 
into plain view, and composedly, without haste, began 
to descend the face of the ridge. 

Dorothy Merwood spoke suddenly. 

“It—it seems like sending the man to his death,” 
she said in a low, tremulous voice. 

Gulab Singh shook his head. 

“The Miss Sahib need not fear,” he said. “Selim 
Ali is safe now because they will say to themselves: 
‘Why does he do this thing?’ and afterwards he will 
be safe too because they will send him back for the 
Konchi-kan Kitab 

Kenneth Wayne nodded assent. 


30 6 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


“Yes, I fancy, as far as that end of it is concerned, 
he’s safe enough.” 

They watched the man descend the ridge, cross the 
intervening open space beyond, and, passing in 
amongst the trees, disappear from sight. 

There had been no sound—only a sort of breathless 
silence from all around. 

Glover, who still held The Locked Book in his 
hand, grunted suddenly as he began to examine it 
again. 

“It’s a positive crime to hand this over without 
getting a look inside!” He was twisting at the 
dragon’s mouth and tail that held the covers to¬ 
gether. “It’s infernally strong, though! Maybe we 
could prise it apart with a bit of rock.” 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh, “if the book is opened 
it cannot be closed again for the metal cannot be 
joined together, and Malatea will know that it has 
been opened, and in such case that which Selim Ali 
has gone to do will be set at naught. It was for the 
secrets of the Konchi-kan Kitab that Malatea came to 
Salabam. If its secret are known to others, Malatea 
would destroy those others that their knowledge might 
die with them. Sahib, would he let us go from here if 
what is written in the book were written on our 
memories?” 

Glover for a moment more turned the dragon- 
covered book over in his hands, then, with a shrug of 
his shoulders, laid it down on the ground beside him. 

“No; I don’t suppose he would!” he agreed, with a 
short laugh. “You’re a queer beggar, Gulab Singh! 
Deucedly logical in some respects—and equally incom¬ 
prehensible in others.” 

“Yes!” exclaimed Kenneth Wayne suddenly. “And 
especially the latter! I can understand you taking the 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


307 


book that night, because everybody seems mad to lay 
their hands on it—but not your subsequent actions.” 
His voice hardened abruptly. “And I don’t know of 
any better time, Gulab Singh, for an explanation.” 

“It is well, sahib”—Gulab Singh inclined his head 
gravely—“for the time has indeed come.” He looked 
for a moment from one to the other of the little group 
around him, but in a strange, introspective way as 
though he saw none of them. “I have listened to 
Wayne Sahib’s tale,” he said, “and k is a strange tale. 
Truly we travel upon the Wheel, and the Hand of 
Fate is beyond all comprehension, for my tale is not 
unlike the sahib’s tale, and my tale, too, is strange. 
Listen, then, sahibs! We were three. I, and Selim 
Ali, and Lalla Dass—and Lalla Dass was he who was 
murdered, we know now by the Malays, in the hut at 
the Cheruchuk River.” 

“What!” Kenneth Wayne almost shouted, as he 
stared at Gulab Singh. “Say that again! You knew 
who he was all the time, you-” 

“Wait, sahib! There is more before the sahib can 
understand. And there is something that it is not good 
for the Miss Sahib to see. Will the Miss Sahib hide 
her face?” 

“That’s a strange request!’ growled Kenneth 
Wayne. “This is getting a bit-” 

“Let him go on,” interposed Dorothy Merwood 
quietly. “He would not make such a request without 
good reason, I am sure. I will not look, Gulab Singh !” 

“It is only to save the Miss Sahib pain,” said Gulab 
Singh. “Once, as Wayne Sahib knows, I stood naked 
before him, but there was that which he did not see, 
because my back was not toward him. Look, then, 
Wayne Sahib—and look thou, too, O Glover Sahib!” 
With a deft, quick movement Gulab Singh removed his 




THE LOCKED BOOK 


308 

upper garments and bared his back. “Look!” he 
cried—and lifted the huge turban from his head. 

“My God!” It came in a low, shocked cry from 
Glover. It was repeated: “My God!” 

Kenneth Wayne felt his lips twitch. Mechanically 
he moved his body to form a screen before Dorothy 
Merwood that she might not, even inadvertently, see 
what, hardened as he was, revolted and sickened him. 
The man’s ears were gone—sliced off close to the 
head. Great gouges out of the flesh, hideous hollows, 
dull red excoriations criss-crossed the back in a mass of 
healed scars; there was not an inch but must at one 
time have been literally mangled by some barbarous 
and inhuman instrument of torture—a steel whip 
perhaps. 

He turned his head away. 

“What’s it mean, Gulab Singh?” he cried out. 

“Sahib,” said Gulab Singh, as he replaced his cloth¬ 
ing and turban, “it was the man that the sahib calls 
Crimson Sash. But this is little, sahib, very little, and 
it is in my heart that this perhaps I might have for¬ 
given—but not the other. It is a black tale, sahib- 
will the sahibs and the Miss Sahib listen?” 

“Speak on, Gulab Singh,” said Kenneth Wayne 
hoarsely. “We listen.” 

“In my country, sahibs, I was a merchant and not 
poor.” Gulab Singh’s face had suddenly lost its im¬ 
passiveness; it was strained and curiously haggard, 
the black eyes burning feverishly as though full of 
some strange unquenchable fire. “I loaded a vessel, 
and with me was my wife, and a child, sahibs, that was 
at breast and had not yet known a year. And one 
night the wind failed us, and we were set upon by this 
Malatea with his proas, and many were killed—and 
amongst them the child whose head was severed by 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


309 


the blow of a kris in the hands of Malatea that my 
wife might know thereafter that he was her master.” 

Gulab Singh’s voice had grown thick, almost in¬ 
coherent. He paused, staring at the ground. He in¬ 
terlaced his fingers and twisted them, and the muscles 
cracked. There was no other sound. 

Kenneth Wayne felt Dorothy Merwood draw closer 
to him; felt her hand, trembling, creep into his. 

“Sahibs, Malatea took my wife, and for a year my 
wife lived while Malatea mocked me, and then she 
died. And for five years I, and Selim Ali, and Lalla 
Dass were slaves in the hidden village of Malatea. 
So, O sahibs, runs the tale. And one night we stole a 
proa that lay broken on the shore and made our 
escape, but we had no water and no food, and the proa 
scarce held upon the surface of the sea. And we were 
prepared to die, sahibs, for four days passed, and we 
were as men who had gone mad. Then a ship came 
upon us and we were saved. And when the weakness 
was gone, I asked of the captain of the ship where he 
had found us, and he showed me on the chart, and I 
made note of it, because none knew where the hidden 
village of Malatea was; but I knew then, Wayne 
Sahib, even in the same way as the sahib’s chart told 
him, that Malatea was somewhere near that marking 
on the chart for in our four days the proa had not 
travelled far. Did I not tell the sahib that our tales 
wove strangely together?” 

“Yes!” said Kenneth Wayne beneath his breath. 
“Good God! Go on—go on, Gulab Singh!” 

Gulab Singh laughed. 

Kenneth Wayne started involuntarily. It was the 
first time he had ever heard the man laugh. Laugh! 
It wasn’t laughter! It was a horrible sound. He felt 
Dorothy Merwood’s hand close convulsively in his. 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


310 

Gulab Singh reached out suddenly and picked up the 
dragon-covered book. 

“It was in the village of Malatea that I first heard 
the tale of the Konchi-kan Kitab of Kana-ee-a,” he 
said. “And it was there, too, sahibs, that I learned 
the soul of Malatea, and came to the knowledge that 
it was a slave to greed above all other things. And 
so, sahibs, because I could not find Malatea so that 
I might do to him that which must be done, I fashioned 
this book so that Malatea should seek it, and in the 
seeking of it we two should meet.” 

“You did—what!” Kenneth Wayne ejaculated 
with a sort of helpless gasp. “You made that book? 
Is that what you said? You mean it isn’t the real 
thing at all? Just—just bait?” 

“Even so, sahib,” Gulab Singh answered. “But 
not the book itself—that I did not make. I searched 
long, a year, sahibs, in the shops where the sahibs’ 
people sell books that I might come upon one that in 
size and in its looks was like unto the Konchi-kan Kitab 
as the tale described it. But the brass dragon I 
fashioned, and in the fashioning of the dragon I was 
another year; and then, sahibs, the finding of the 
Konchi-kan Kitab had only to come to Malatea’s ears. 
That is the tale, sahibs.” 

v Glover had jerked himself up on his elbows. 

“I’m damned!” he exclaimed. “Well, at least, 
you’re a subtle bird, Gulab Singh! The East and the 
West, I take it! Wayne goes out bull-headed after 
his man, and Gulab Singh patiently whistles his game 
to him. Well”—he laughed shortly—“so far as 
present results go, I can’t see that one method has 
anything over the other. This Malatea, or Crimson 
Sash, or whatever you choose to call him, seems to 
have come out top-dog. And instead of either of you 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


3ii 


getting him, he’s more likely than ever to get us. 
When he opens that book and, instead of the secrets of 
this Kana-ee-a, finds he’s been hoaxed, we’re done 
brown—to a turn.” His voice rasped suddenly. “I 
don’t follow you there, Gulab Singh. You must have 
gone mad! The last thing in the world to do is to 
hand that book over to him now as a bribe to let us 
out of this.” 

Gulab Singh’s face had become imperturbable again, 
his voice grave and unemotional once more. 

“Sahib,” he said, “all that also was in my mind in 
the fashioning of the book. I did not know in what 
manner the book might come into the hands of Mala- 
tea. It is true that the book does not hold the secrets 
of Kana-ee-a; but I did not say, sahib, that it did not 
hold other secrets. How will Malatea say they are 
not the secrets of Kana-ee-a until he has gone afar in 
search of them?” 

“Oh—right!” exclaimed Glover, with a quick and 
humble smile. “You win again, Gulab Singh. I’m 
sorry I spoke! Well, then, go on with your story— 
you came here to Salabam, just as Wayne did, on ac¬ 
count of its location in respect of the positions you 
both had marked down on your charts.” 

“Yes,” added Kenneth Wayne quickly, “there’s a 
lot that’s far from clear to me—beginning with' that 
night on the Cheruchuk.” 

“Sahibs,” Gulab Singh answered, “it was necessary 
that the finding of the book should be beyond the 
questioning or the doubt of any man; and it was 
necessary that in men’s minds there should be no doubt 
but that it was indeed the Konchi-kan Kitab of Kana- 
ee-a. Sahibs, that a native should find it would be of 
no avail, for he would hide his secret in his heart that 
he might profit by it himself, and word of the finding 


3 1 2 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


would not spread abroad and reach the ears of Mala¬ 
tea. Also, sahibs, the word of a native was not alone 
enough, for Malatea is a man of great craftiness and 
not easily deceived. And so, sahibs, it was arranged 
between us, between Lalla Dass whom the Malays 
killed, and Selim Ali, and I, Gulab Singh, that Mer- 
wood Sahib, a man of great learning, who had come 
here to Salabam and desired to visit the interior, 
should find the book. And all things were prepared in 
the ruined village on the Cheruchuk. But Merwood 
Sahib was stricken with a sickness, and you, Wayne 
Sahib, came, and the Miss Sahib brought you to me. 
Does the sahib remember that I asked him if he, too, 
would journey to the Cheruchuk?” 

“Yes, I remember,” said Kenneth Wayne tersely. 

“Thus, then, was it done, sahibs,” Gulab Singh 
went on. “That night after Wayne Sahib and the 
Malays had seen the book, Lalla Dass brought me the 
book, and I and Lalla Dass hid the stores that the 
sahib might be forced to return to Salabam quickly; 
and I hid the book in the sahib’s kit bag that it might 
be found on the return to Salabam, and the word of its 
finding leap from mouth to mouth and spread from 
island to island until it should come to the ears of 
Malatea. But, sahibs, after Lalla Dass no longer 
had the book, the Malays of the sahib’s crew, unknown 
to me, but as Fouche Sahib has related, set upon Lalla 
Dass for the book and murdered him.” 

Gulab Singh paused, and stared for a moment down 
the face of the ridge. 

“It is a tale of many words,” he said without 
inflexion in his voice; “but Selim Ali does not yet 
return, and the time is ripe for the telling. Sahibs, 
the murder of Lalla Dass changed many things. I 
had made plans with Selim Ali to take the book again 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


3i3 

by theft as soon as it was shown in Salabam, and 
before it could be opened, because, sahibs, if it were 
unopened Malatea’s eagerness would be increased a 
thousandfold in that none save himself should possess 
its secrets. And then, as the sahibs know, the Major 
Sahib took the book and said it should not be opened, 
and it was well, for then all men knew that the Major 
Sahib had the book and that it was not opened. And 
then, sahibs, word came to me of three proas creeping 
in the evening light along the coast, and we watched, 
Selim Ali and I, and it was Talamori, and we knew 
him for a man we had seen in Malatea’s village—but 
the book was not for Talamori. 

“And we feared greatly what Talamori would do, 
for word of the finding of the book would not be long 
in reaching his ears; and we feared both for the Major 
Sahib and the book. Sahibs, we went to the Major 
Sahib’s house; but I alone did he see enter. I talked to 
him of the danger and told him he should bring the 
white men around him lest evil came upon him quickly, 
but he would not believe—and so, while I talked, Selim 
Ali stole the book, for only Malatea must have it. 
Then I took to Wayne Sahib the key of his room, 
and this I did because when it became known that the 
book was gone from the Major Sahib and that Wayne 
Sahib had fled all men would say Wayne Sahib had 
it, and in the excitement of the search for the white 
man the news would travel still faster to Malatea’s 
ears, and Malatea would come the more quickly while 
he still knew who had the Konchi-kan Kitab and 
before Wayne Sahib could leave the island. And 
meanwhile, as the sahib knows, I would have hid him. 
But the sahib would not go. And the evil that I feared 
came to pass, and the Major Sahib was murdered, 
and-” 



3H 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


Gulab Singh broke off abruptly. He pointed down¬ 
ward across the ridge to where a single figure, the 
only one in sight, had suddenly emerged from the 
trees. 

“See!” he said. “It is well! Selim Ali comes. 
And the tale is almost at an end. The sahib did go 
out, and he was out while the Major Sahib was 
murdered. And so, sahibs, I took the book and put it 
in Wayne Sahib’s room because I did not think the 
sahib would accuse himself of murder by facing the 
white men with the book, but instead that it would at 
last make the sahib flee, and I wanted him to flee be¬ 
cause of the reasons I have told the sahib, and now 
I wanted him to flee still more for I feared greatly 
for the sahib’s life when the white men and the natives 
should learn of the murder of Major Sahib and that 
Wayne Sahib had been out. But while I and Selim Ali 
watched, there came to Wayne Sahib’s room Fouche 
Sahib and Walters Sahib. Sahibs, we watched the 
fight, but it was not well that we should be seen if 
afterwards we would be of help to the sahib, or unless 
the fight went against the sahib and the book was 
taken by the other two. And as we watched, Mer- 
wood Sahib came with great slowness on crutches 
along the verandah and-” 

“My father!” Dorothy Merwood cried out 
sharply. “Did you say Merwood Sahib, Gulab 
Singh ? 

“It was even so,” Gulab Singh answered. “Mer¬ 
wood Sahib came at last to the window, and through 
the window he watched the end of the fight.” 

Dorothy Merwood was no longer looking at Gulab 
Singh—she was staring up into Kenneth Wayne’s face, 
her lips trembling. 

“You-” Her voice broke. “That was what 




THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


3H 

you meant when you asked me where my father was, 
and afterwards spoke about the crutches! You—you 
saw him!” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne quietly. “I saw him.” 

“And—and you thought he had the book when you 
—you saved us all that night?” 

“Dorothy, it doesn’t matter now,” Kenneth Wayne 
answered gently. “See, Selim Ali is here. Let Gulab 
Singh finish. Go on, Gulab Singh.” 

“Yes,” she said in a choked way, “go on, Gulab 
Singh.” 

“The tale is almost at an end,” said Gulab Singh, as 
Selim All’s figure appeared above the ledge of rock. 
“When the lamp went out, Merwood Sahib tried to 
get into the room, but he fell down and sickness came 
upon him because of great weakness. And Selim Ali 
took the book, and I carried Merwood Sahib to his 
room again and put him in bed. That is all, for the 
rest is known to the Miss Sahib and the sahibs— 
except that I would tell Wayne Sahib that it was I, 
Gulab Singh, who fired the shot at Malatea in the 
Devil’s Throat, for it was the first time in the years 
that have passed that I had come face to face with 
Malatea. As the sahib knows, I missed the shot, and 
I could not fire again because the sahib stood be¬ 
tween.” 

He turned abruptly to Selim Ali, and for a moment 
the two spoke rapidly together in their native tongue. 
And then the great turban nodded a sort of grim 
assent. 

“It is well,” said Gulab Singh in English; “though 
Malatea showed great anger to find in Selim Ali one 
who had escaped from him. Look!” He pointed 
quickly down and across the ridge to the right, where, 
in the sort of little cup-like hollow formed by the 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


3 x 6 

entrance to the gorge, figures, defiling from the trees, 
were beginning to gather. “Malatea says that he will 
stand all his men in there that we may see that none 
are in hiding, even as we said that he must do, and 
that he will stand amongst them, and that if the book 
be truly the Konchi-kan Kitab of Kana-ee-a, and if 
when he shall have looked therein that which he reads 
is indeed the great secret, then he will make signal 
to us, and we shall go.” 

Glover’s face was suddenly hard. 

“And if not—if he smells a rat?” he asked grimly. 
“What then?” 

“Then, sahib, we die,” Gulab Singh answered 
gravely. 

“Yes, that’s just it—we die!” Glover laughed a 
little harshly. “You’re clever, Gulab Singh, I’ll admit 
that; but you took on a bit of a contract. A book 
two generations old—changes in the language, and all 
that! You said this Malatea, or, as Wayne calls 
him, Crimson Sash, is a man of great craftiness and 
not easily fooled. I wonder what the odds are— 
against us?” 

“The sahib need have no fear,” Gulab Singh 
answered as gravely as before. “I was long in the 
making of the book, and it was made with great care. 
He will not know. Is it well that Selim Ali should 
go now with the book? See—they wait!” 

“Yes,” said Kenneth Wayne abruptly. “It’s the 
only chance we’ve got. Let him go!” 

Gulab Singh handed the dragon-covered book to 
Selim Ali. 

“Go thou, then, Selim Ali, with whom I have drawn 
lots,” he said, “and deliver the book into the hands of 
Malatea, and return.” 

“If it is so written, I will return,” Selim Ali 


THE BOOK UNLOCKE1 


3i7 

answered and, taking the book, began to descend the 
ridge again. 

Gulab Singh stood up. 

“They will not fire upon us while Selim Ali goes 
to them with the book,” he said quietly. 

It was a relief to stand up. Kenneth Wayne helped 
Dorothy Merwood to her feet. Her face was pale, 
drawn. She stood unsteadily. He put his arm around 
her, and held her close to him. 

She made a brave attempt to smile. 

“Kenneth,” she said, “what is the end? Will—will 
he let us go?” 

Kenneth Wayne shook his head. 

“I don’t know,” he said. “We might as well face 
the truth. I am far more afraid of the fiend’s 
treachery than I am of what Glover seems to fear 
most—that the book will be unmasked.” 

“You mean,” she said, “that he wouldn’t let us go in 
any case?” 

Kenneth Wayne nodded* 

“Yes,” he said simply. 

A silence fell on the top of the ridge. 

Kenneth Wayne’s arm tightened around the girl as 
he watched the scene below him. And upon him sud¬ 
denly there came surging a maddening conflict of emo¬ 
tions; a sense of great fear for this woman that he 
loved; a sense of utter and abysmal futility in all that 
he had done. His free hand clenched at his side. He 
felt the blood rush in a sweep of fury to his cheeks. 
Before his eyes there swam the blood-stained decks of 
the Waratan, the dying men, wantonly murdered, the 
face of Old Man Wayne—his father. And there, 
down there, crowded together in that little hollow 
against the hillside, were the murderers, the same men 
who had swarmed the decks that night, the same men 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


3i8 

who had killed at the bidding of Crimson Sash. They 
were before him at last—but his effort to run them to 
earth had only brought another life, one grown dearer 
now to him than his own, into jeopardy. And there, 
too, was Crimson Sash himself! A lane had opened 
through the massed figures, and at the end of the lane 
stood a tall figure in white, and Selim Ali was standing 
now beside this figure. 

Crimson Sash! 

And the sight of the man brought added madness 
to Kenneth Wayne’s brain. He knew! Mad, wild, 
insane folly to dream for an instant that such a man 
would let them go! This was the end of his pledge 
to Old Man Wayne—death. Not his own—that 
didn’t matter. Hers! 

He cried out aloud suddenly in his agony. 

“What is it, Kenneth?” 

He heard her voice, but he did not answer. 

He was watching intently now. He saw Selim Ali 
coming back. At the rear of the massed figures he 
could still make out the figure of Crimson Sash. The 
man had something in his hands, seemed to be working 
with it—and the crowd of Malays were turned with 
their faces toward Crimson Sash, and were paying no 
attention to Selim Ali. 

And then suddenly a great stillness seemed to fall, 
as though all nature had ceased to breathe, as though 
its very pulse had stopped—and then, almost instanta¬ 
neously, shattering this silence, there came a roaring 
in Kenneth Wayne’s ears, a detonation that seemed to 
split the ear-drums, a terrific explosion, and the 
ground rocked beneath his feet, and below him a mass 
of men, a debris of rock and human fragments were 
flung upward in the air—and he recoiled backward 


THE BOOK UNLOCKED 


3i9 

with a strangled cry, and, catching at Dorothy Mer- 
wood, hid her face hurriedly on his shoulder. 

“Don’t look!” he cried out hoarsely. “Don’t look! 
My God, don’t look!” 

And, holding her, he swept his other hand across 
his eyes. It was like a charnel house. A few forms 
ran shrieking from it—but not many. The dead lay 
there—scattered—grouped—flung about. Bits of 
rock still rolled down the hillside. A tree, uprooted, 
tottered and crashed earthward. A pall, greyish- 
black, rose upward and floated sinuously in the air. 

He turned and looked about him, and his eyes held 
on Gulab Singh. The man was drawn up to his full 
height, his arms folded across his breast, his eyes 
under the great, towering turban fixed in a strange 
brooding expression upon the scene before him. 

Kenneth Wayne heard himself cry out in a jerky, 
unhinged, discordant way: 

“In God’s name, what is this, Gulab Singh?” 

Gulab Singh did not turn his head. 

“Sahib,” he answered, and spoke as one aroused 
from reverie, “it is the secret of the book. For thus 
it was that I fashioned it for those things that were 
done to me and to the child and to the woman. Only 
the edges of the leaves in the book I left, sahib, and 
in the space, three hand-breadths long and two across, 
thus made, I placed that which would rend flesh and 
earth apart when the book was opened. For that 
which was in the book was an explosive of secret and 
great strength, sahib, that was given to me by one 
amongst my own people who is wise beyond other men 
in such matters; and, even as he said, nothing would 
remain of him who held the book, and those within a 
great compass around would also die. And even so 
it was, sahib; even as the sahib’s eyes have seen. That 



320 


THE LOCKED BOOK 


is all, sahib, for now when the sahib wills, we will go, 
for the few who live have no strength against us, and 
their hearts are weak with fear and they flee. 

Kenneth Wayne made no answer. 

But Gulab Singh seemed to expect none, seemed to 
be oblivious again of any presence there save his own, 
for abruptly he flung out both hands and raised them, 
palms outward, until they were outstretched to full 
arm’s-length above his head. And for a space he 
stood there in the sunlight, and his face, upturned, 
seemed in that moment to grow old, and his eyes 
closed, and only his lips moved. 

And suddenly he cried out, and the figure of Selim 
Ali climbing the ridge stood still with head bent low, 
for Gulab Singh’s cry was in a mighty voice that 
carried to a far distance: 

“It is done, O Malateal It is done! What is 
written is written, and thus has it come to pass! It 
is done, O Malatea—it is done 1 ” 


THE END 



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