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TREASURE TRAIL 


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Some BORZOI Novels 


THREE PILGRIMS AND A TINKER, 
Mary Borden 

THE TATTOOED COUNTESS 
Carl Van Vechten 

THE ETERNAL HUNTRESS 
Rayner Seeliy 

THE FIRE IN THE FLINT 
Walter F. White 

THE LORD OF THE SEA 
M. P. Shiel 

BALISAND 
Joseph Hergesheimer 

SOUND AND FURY 
James Henle 

WINGS 

Ethel M. Kelley 

THE TIDE 

Mildred Cram 

ORDEAL 
Dale Collins 



TREASURE TRAIL | 

♦§* 



COPYRIGHT, 1924, BY ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC. * 
PUBLISHED, SEPTEMBER, 1924 * SET UP, 
ELECTROTYPED, AND PRINTED BY THE VAIL- 
BALLOU PRESS, BINGHAMTON N. Y. * PAPER 
FURNISHED BY W. F. ETHERINGTON & CO., 
NEW YORK. * BOUND BY THE H. WOLFF ES¬ 
TATE, NEW YORK. * 

p7 3 

O. 

S\ . - 

' 



■MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 


TREASURE TRAIL 



CHAPTER I. 


W 


"W T’E sympathize with you,” said the bank manager, 
but that is how the situation stands.” 

Yernon Winslowe fumbled for his cigarette 
case, got up and flicked his lower lip with a nervous fore¬ 
finger. 

“But I don’t understand,” he said; “the whole thing 

is so- You don’t mind if I smoke? Thanks. Won’t 

you? No. You see, Sullivan told me distinctly he only 
wanted me to back the bill for a month or two until he had 
sold out some American railroad stock. There was never any 
suggestion that he wouldn’t be able to meet it himself. It was 
just a friendly transaction. Now I haven’t a match.” 

The bank manager produced a box of wax vestas, struck 
one and offered it ceremonially. In ordinary circumstances 
he did not encourage smoking in his private office, but the 
case justified the small concession. From the bank’s point 
of view, Yernon Winslowe had been an ideal depositor—of 
the type which leaves large sums of money lying idle in a cur¬ 
rent account to the profit of the firm. 

“Thanks. Why, he never even sent me a line—this is 
the first I’ve heard of it.” 

“Did you know Mr. Sullivan well?” 

“Casually. We met, you know, from time to time. 
Hunted a bit together. He was a member of one or two of 
my clubs.” 

Mr. Woodward shook his head. 

“Rather a scanty acquaintanceship to warrant backing his 
signature for five thousand pounds.” 

“I trusted the fellar.” 

Mr. Woodward became grave. 



2 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“It has been my unhappy experience to find that persons 
who are in difficulties are all too ready to shift their liabilities 
on to the shoulders of their friends. I fear Mr. Sullivan has 
proved himself a traitor to friendship. In the circumstances 
we have no choice but to pay up with what grace we may.” 

“And how shall I stand then?” 

Mr. Woodward consulted some figures on a slip of paper 
at his side. 

“Your credit is five thousand one hundred and seventy- 
two pounds, eight shillings. We shall, of course, be pleased 
to meet your cheques up to a certain margin until such a 
time as you may have concluded the sale of any property or 
shares you may think necessary. ’ ’ 

Vernon Winslowe threw up his head and laughed. 

“Shares or property—you’re joking. Beyond a tumble- 
down old barn of a house in Cornwall and few bits of furni¬ 
ture, I haven’t a bean until my old uncle pegs out. ’ ’ 

“Mr. Winslowe, you are not serious.” 

“I soon shall be.” 

“But the money you inherited from your father?” 

Vernon waved a hand in the air. Mr. Woodward pushed 
his chair back. 

“Impossible.” 

* 1 On the contrary, all too possible. ’’ His face became sud¬ 
denly grim. “It comes home to me rather forcibly that I’ve 
acted like every kind of a fool.” 

“But seventy thousand pounds in a little over three 
years?” 

“Seventy-five, to be exact,” said Vernon; “and, barring 
a few bright patches, precious little good it’s done me.” 
He threw his cigarette into the spotless grate. “When 
must we meet that bill ? ’ ’ 

“At once.” 

“You can’t wait until I’ve seen Sullivan?” 

Mr. Woodward looked up in surprise. 

“Seen him?” he repeated. “But he left England quietly 
three days ago—evaded his creditors and-” 

“Bolted.” 



TREASURE TRAIL 3 

“Exactly. My informant tells me a woman accompanied 
him.” 

“A woman! He married her?” 

“I believe not.” 

Vernon flushed. 

“I say, look out—be careful, rather—I mean—who was 
she?” 

“I cannot say.” 

Vernon’s breath escaped between shut teeth. 

“We won’t inquire,” he said; then: “Comes to this, I’ve 
been swindled.” A sudden surge of anger reddened his 
forehead. “My Lord! Woodward, I’m beginning to wonder 
where I haven’t been swindled these last three years. Well, 
it’s no good raising a wail—one learns by experience. 
Thanks very much. Good day.” 

As he turned the handle of the door the bank manager’s 
voice recalled him. 

“In the circumstances, Mr. Winslowe, I fear I shall have 
to retract my words about a temporary accommodation. My 
directors-” 

Vernon Winslowe cut him short. 

“Oh, naturally,” said Vernon. “Naturally.” Then he 
went out. 

On the pavement he stopped and lit another cigarette. 

“So much for my African farm!” he said. “What’s left 

to do ? A hundred or two, and then-” His fists clenched. 

* 1 If Sullivan were here now! Damned twister! Lord, what 
a fool I’ve been!” 

A panorama of other little incidents crowded up in his 
brain. There was an odd similarity between them—the 
result in nearly every case had been the same. Men he had 

believed in—trusted implicitly—who- Why, only the 

night before, those Congo shares—a thing given him as ab¬ 
solutely sound—had gone to nothing. Naturally, the man who 
advised him to buy couldn’t have known, or even guessed at, 

the true state of affairs, but- No, hang it—he must take 

it as a sportsman! Perish the thought that every one of his 
acquaintances was concerned in a conspiracy to do him harm. 






4 TREASURE TRAIL 

But it was a difficult thought to escape from in view of his 
experiences since, from a poor hut rather distinguished naval 
officer, he had become a man of leisure with money to burn. 
How many fellows who had borrowed from him had ever at¬ 
tempted to repay ? How many racing tips followed in all 
good faith had brought him a winner? The same with in¬ 
vestments. Everything he had touched, governed by other 
men’s advice, had gone wrong—everything. Then there were 
those hard-luck stories whose tellers had ever found in 
Yernon Winslowe a sympathetic and a generous listener. 
He had stepped from the Navy a white and woolly lamb, 
and tuft by tuft the wool had been shorn from his hide. 
It was he who paid the fares for other men’s travel—the 
invited guest who met his host’s bills as well as his own. 
With sudden resentment he saw himself the victim of organ¬ 
ized conspiracy, wherein no single method had been neglected 
to separate him from his coin. From the society of clean, 
honest companions, bound together by indissoluble ties of 
common hardship and common danger—the everyday fare of 
war conditions—he had declined into a coterie of clever ones 
who, under the ensign of heartiness and good-fellowship, 
worked to despoil the very men whose whisky they drank 
and whose hands they clasped in friendship. Blind, credu¬ 
lous fool to have given his trust into such keeping. Criminal 
fool not to have cleared out before they stripped him 
clean. For months misgivings had pricked him that not to 
chance alone was due the steady ebbing of his fortunes. But 
he had waited for the tide to turn—had shirked taking the 
firm decision and making the clean cut. His energies had been 
dulled by the possession of money which he had not earned. 
Life was too simple, too easy. It was pleasant to keep a few 
hunters, take a moor—follow the seasons abroad—play a bit 
of polo—knock about with merry companions. These things 
were much too good to jettison at a first symptom of bad luck. 
The habit of work had been overlaid by the habit of idleness, 
and he hesitated to slam the door of his chambers in Duke 
Street and start life on an African farm with his sleeves 
rolled up. The possession of riches had been so amusing. It 


TREASURE TRAIL 5 

was fun to be the rich man of the party and to share one’s 
riches with a service generosity among the less fortunate. It 
stood to his credit that to no one had he refused aid and from 
no one had he asked credit for the aid so willingly given. 
Even those who sponged most freely admitted him to be the 
prince of givers, the most trusting fellow alive. Some of the 
more adventurous declared that he was almost too easy prey. 

And now he was to pay the penalty of his own free¬ 
handedness. 

At the top of St. James’s Street he stopped and looked at 
his watch. It was a quarter to one—too early for lunch. 
He considered whether or no he should drop in anywhere for 
a short drink, and decided against it. While he hesitated aj 
man named Dillon came up and touched him on the sleeve. 

“ Hello, V. W.,” exclaimed the new-comer; “the very 
chap I wanted to see. I’m taking a girl out to lunch at the 
Carlton, and was stepping across to the club to cash a cheque. 
You can save me five minutes by lending me a tenner. I’m 
late as it is.” 

“When are you meeting her?” 

“One o’clock, old man.” 

“Then you’ve heaps of time to get to the club and back.” 

Dillon looked hurt. 

“If you’d rather not,” said he, and pursued his way with 
a shrug. 

Yernon hauled him back with the crook of his stick. He 
knew nothing against Dillon, and it was a pity to sacrifice 
a generous reputation for the sake of a ten-pound note. 

“Take it, you ass,” he said, pulling a couple of fivers from 
his case; “but let me have it back soon. I’m rather broke.” 

Dillon was all smiles again. 

“I’ll send my man along with it to-night. You must meet 
this girl; she’s a darling. G’bye.” With a, wave of the 
hand he was gone. 

Yernon Winslowe walked slowly down St. James’s Street 
towards the Mall. It was a clear, sunny day, and he intended 
to sit under the trees for a while and think. He was just 
entering the gates when an unworthy thought attacked him. 


6 TREASURE TRAIL 

He tried to banish it, but without success. It reasserted it¬ 
self in his mind. 

“Go and find out,” said the thought; “no harm in making 
sure.” 

Turning about, he strode off in the direction of the Carlton. 
The commissionaire touched his hat, a smiling cloak-room at¬ 
tendant took his coat and stick with a word of welcome. He 
entered the Palm Court and ordered a cocktail. Dillon was 
nowhere to be seen. The head-waiter approached him and he 
put a question. 

“Monsieur Dillon? But no, I have reserved no table for 
Monsieur Dillon.” 

“Ah,” said Vernon, “perhaps he’s lunching downstairs.” 

He swallowed his drink and went down to the grillroom. 

The frock-coated gentleman in charge shook his head 
politely. 

“He has not been here for many days.” 

“Thank you,” said Vernon. “I’ll wait in the lounge till 
he turns up.” 

He lit a cigarette and waited. A small clock struck the 
quarter. Vernon’s anger was growing very cold. 

“The liar,” he muttered. “The liar.” 

Once again he returned to the Palm Court and hung about 
for twenty minutes, but neither Dillon nor his darling made 
an appearance. It was as well, perhaps, for the meeting 
could hardly have been a pleasant one. Wave upon wave of 
resentment was breaking against the battlements of Vernon 
Winslowe’s humour and forbearance. Indignation was stor¬ 
ing itself up within him. It increased his blood pressure, 
troubled the clear workings of his brain and lungs. The 
foundations of his generosity and good nature were begin¬ 
ning to sink. The edifice of life that he had built for himself 
was slowly but surely tilting off the straight. It was an odd 
feeling—an alarming feeling. Under the novelty of it sweat 
started from his forehead in hot beads. Angry he had been 
often enough before, violent even, but resentment and 
malice were qualities with which he was a stranger. Also they 


TREASURE TRAIL 7 

were qualities which he had despised most in other men. 
Yet- 

“Why, if it isn’t Y. W.,” said a girl’s voice. “Doris, you 
know Yernon Winslowe.” 

He came to his feet and found himself being introduced 
by one sunshiny maiden to another. With the first he was 
acquainted, in a haphazard kind of way. The second he 
only knew by sight—a privilege to be shared by anyone who 
had twelve and six wherewith to buy a theatre stall and who 
possessed a memory for the faces of the ladies of the chorus. 

“We were waiting for Bobby Tile,” said Lola, “but the 
wretch has rung up to say he can’t come. Be a dear, Y. W., 
and give us lunch.” 

“We’re much too well dressed to go to an A.B.C.,” fluted 
Doris, with a twenty-two carat smile, “and it simply won’t 
run to anything more ’spensive.” 

“Of course, if you’re expecting someone,” began Lola. 

Yernon shook his head. 

“I was only expecting my luck to hold,” he replied. 
“Isn’t there a saying, ‘it never rains but it pours’?” 

“You’ve had a lucky day?” 

“You wouldn’t believe if I told you.” 

“Then of course you’d love to give us lunch?” 

What could he say ? He said nothing and made a gesture 
that might have meant anything. 

“Y. W. is the soul of chivalry,” said Lola, “and he did 
marvels in the war, my dear. Didn’t you get a Y.C. or 
something ? ’ ’ 

Yernon smiled. It was evident his guests intended to 
pay for the lunch with flattery and endearment. He hated 
himself for recognizing the fact. It was pitiable to say good¬ 
bye to a long-established credulity. Lola and Doris belonged 
to a type for which he had little use, but hitherto he had been 
simple enough to accept their honeyed addresses with mild 
appreciation. It was only now he read trickery in every 
word and inflexion. Subconsciously he added another black 
mark to the already lengthening list of resentments. 



8 


TREASURE TRAIL 

This circumstance notwithstanding, he conducted himself 
as host in a manner that defied criticism. He was charming— 
he was lavish. He looked to it that the wine was not too dry 
and that the fruits were out of season. His guests were de¬ 
lighted—nay, more—ecstatic. They talked all the while and 
looked as pretty as they possibly could. Perhaps it is a 
euphemism to say they talked—prattled is the word. 
They prattled about “shows” they had seen—things they 
“simply adored” or were “too impossible”—the kind of men 
they liked or couldn’t stand (in this matter they were eloquent 
and revealed predilections in favour of dark men with very 
smooth hair and straight brows—men, in short, with a marked 
likeness to Vernon). They prattled about taxis, face cream— 
a little hat in Bond Street, much too expensive to buy and, 
“which of course, is sure to have been snapped up by now, 
so it’s no good talking of it”—about films which had been 
or were about to be released—about tiresome relations—late 
hours—the latest dance steps—getting married—being hard 
up—where to buy the best gloves, and how to spend the 
afternoon. 

Vernon’s task was easy. He had leisure to lean back in 
his chair and reflect upon the damnable innocence of it all. 

When the meal was over and the bill was paid, the prob¬ 
lem of what to do next was ventilated. 

“You’ve given us a duck of a lunch, so you decide. Shall 
we go and see Douglas Fairbanks or shall we stroll round and 
do a bit of shopping?” 

It was clear which answer was expected, and for the first 
time in his life Vernon deliberately gave the wrong one. It 
marked an epoch in his downward career. The two sun¬ 
shiny maidens, bravely endeavouring to satisfy themselves 
with such blessings as had already been bestowed, were con¬ 
ducted to the cinema. Moreover, they were conducted on 
foot along certain by-ways of the West End remarkable for 
an absence of attractive shop-fronts. Of the three none 
hated that walk so much as Vernon Winslowe. But, as has 
been said, it marked an epoch. 

Very splendid and daring was the picture, but had he been 


TREASURE TRAIL 9 

asked afterwards, Vernon would have been unable to recount 
a single incident that had occurred. His mind was occupied 
solely with the calculated ruin of his fortunes. 

During the interval the lights were lowered and the result 
of the Grand National was projected on the screen, a race- 
card showing all the runners, a giant hand ticking off the 
winners—one, two, and three. 

Vernon Winslowe leaned forward in his seat, then threw up 
his head and laughed. 

Not even a place! 

Without a word of explanation or farewell he walked out 
of the building. 

Not even a place! 

So much for Atwood’s tip! 

“A certainty,” Atwood had said. “The surest thing in 
years. Put your shirt on it, my boy.” 

But Vernon had been wise enough to keep his shirt against 
a rainy day—a shirt roughly valued at five thousand pounds 
—a shirt which, as events of the morning proved, had passed 
over his head for the last time and now covered the retreat¬ 
ing form of Sullivan. He had, however, backed Atwood’s 
opinion to the extent of handing him two hundred and fifty 
pounds to invest on the course at the best price obtainable. 

Not even a place! 

“And I begin to wonder if the beggar put the money on 
at all.” 

Vernon Winslowe delivered this remark in the astonished 
face of a passer-by, who hurriedly crossed the road at the 
imminent risk of being run down by a platoon of taxis. 


CHAPTER II. 


H E was not very sure what happened after that. 

With mutinous thoughts for company, he wandered 
from street to street. In Trafalgar Square he got 
mixed up in a demonstration of the unemployed and found 
himself occupying the position of a buffer State between the 
conflicting forces of order and disorder. The entertainment 
included a police baton charge and a small hail of flints 
wrapped in newspapers. Also there were broken heads and 
a good deal of general scuffling. Being in the mood for some¬ 
thing of the kind, Vernon indulged in a free-lance battle of 
his own, striking out with impartiality in both directions. 
He emerged from the fray brighter in spirit and poorer by 
the loss of a gold watch, which in defiance of regulations had 
been presented to him by the crew of a submarine on the 
occasion of his being awarded the D.S.O. 

Fortunately, in view of his existing state of mind, he was 
unaware of the loss until later in the day. His appearance 
as a result of the fray giving rise to comment from passers- 
by, he determined to return to his chambers and change his 
clothes. 

In St. James’s Square his attention was attracted by a 
sprightly figure striding along before him with ringing steps. 
With a gasp of astonishment Vernon realized that he was in 
the presence of the last line of his defences. True, there is 
nothing very astonishing in meeting a man who happens to 
be your uncle a few steps away from his own club, and it 
was not on this account that Vernon gasped. His astonish¬ 
ment was induced by the evidence of health and physical 
fitness which radiated from the figure before him. When 
last they met some three months before, the old gentleman 
was testy, infirm, and preparing for the supreme adventure 

10 



TREASURE TRAIL 11 

of dying. Yet here he was swinging along like a boy and 
using his cane not for support, but to rattle against the 
railings. 

“Bless my soul,” he exclaimed, in response to Vernon’s 
11 Uncle Fletcher.” “What in blazes have you been up to? 
Are ye drunk? Been in a fight? Look at your hat! And 
your tie’s out.” 

Vernon nodded towards Trafalgar Square. 

“Those unemployed beggars,” he explained. 

‘ 1 Like your father, like your father! Always in trou¬ 
ble—a typical Winslowe. The old pirate strain, eh, 
eh!” He supplemented his remarks with a dig in the 
ribs. 

“You seem extraordinarily fit,” said Vernon gravely. 
“Never saw such a change in a man.” 

Old Fletcher Winslowe threw back his head and laughed. 

“Ah, ha, ha, you spot it, eh? My boy, I’m a youngster 
again—a youngster, my boy.” And to illustrate the truth 
of his words he performed a vigorous pas sent on the pave¬ 
ment. “Want to know why? An elixir, my boy—twenty 
years of new life coursing through my veins. Thyroid, my 
lad, thyroid. ’Pon my soul, I’d guarantee to go five rounds 
with any man you like to name! ’ ’ 

He covered up, put in some clever footwork, and handed 
the K.O. to an imaginary adversary with a vitality amazing 
for one of his years. 

“Well done, and good luck to you,” said Vernon, and he 
meant it. 

Whatever else he might be charged with, no one could have 
accused Vernon Winslowe of belonging to the type which 
marks time in a pair of socks in the expectation of filling a 
dead man’s shoes. At the decease of his uncle, under the 
terms of his grandfather’s will, twenty thousand pounds was 
to come to Vernon. It was of a piece with the general irony 
of the situation that this inheritance, from occupying a posi¬ 
tion in the immediate foreground, had melted into the dis¬ 
tance. Thus to the list of those who had conspired against 
him was to be added a Herman doctor and an African mon- 


12 TREASURE TRAIL 

key. The thought made Yernon laugh—and the laugh 

pleased the old man exceedingly. 

“A capital boy,” he said, bringing his hand down with a 
whack on Vernon’s shoulder. “Most nephews would be kick¬ 
ing and cursing at a turn like this. Come in and have a pint 
of beer. Whisky’s the devil, but beer’s a drink for the gods. 
Haven’t touched it for fifteen years, and now I’m doing my 
two quarts a day.” 

But Yernon refused the invitation. In some oddly reflex 
way the fight and the meeting with the rejuvenated Fletcher 
Winslowe had done him good. He felt less out at elbows with 
the world and better prepared to meet adversity with good 
humour. 

A batch of newly-arrived bills waiting on his writing-table 
and the discovery that his watch had been stolen were mainly 
responsible for the return of his angry gloom. His man was 
off duty that night. Yernon turned on a bath, and while it 
was filling, wandered from room to room of his little suite, 
leaving a collar in one place and a waistcoat in another and 
the shoes he had been wearing somewhere else. It was en¬ 
tirely alien to his ordinary habit to act thus. Life in the 
Navy had made of Yernon one of the tidiest and most method¬ 
ical men alive. But a strange new restlessness was attacking 
him, a restlessness that begat a sudden dislike of order and 
squareness. The perfect symmetry of the mantelpiece, with 
its clock and candlesticks and photograph frames arranged 
with mathematical precision, offended and irritated him. He 
wanted to push things about—-set the furniture crooked and 
tilt the pictures awry. Why should his rooms be allowed to 
behave as though nothing had happened to their owner? A 
room is, or should be, an expression of its owner’s mind. The 
decks of a ship are not scrubbed when mutiny is aboard. 
Yernon Winslowe, although he scarcely realized it, had de¬ 
clared a mutiny against his own traditions. His desire was 
toward disorder and the upsetting of established things, and 
in pursuing his desire he upset himself—stumbled over his 
kicked-off shoes and put his hand through the glass of a 
picture-frame when he sought to steady himself. Normally he 


TREASURE TRAIL 13 

'would have laughed at the misadventure; to-day he swore,, 
sucked the cut in the heel of his hand, and, acting on an im>- 
pulse of senseless anger, tore the picture from the wall and 
was about to hurl it in the corner when its subject arrested 
the act. 

It was an enlarged snapshot he had taken at a meet two- 
years ago, a chaos of hounds and horsemen,, grooms, loungers, 
motors, farm-carts and bicycles. Prominent in the centre of 
the picture was Sullivan, mounted on a tall grey mare. Be¬ 
side him stood a girl in a riding-habit. She was pulling on 
a glove and smiling into Sullivan’s face. Extraordinarily 
alive and alert she looked. Her eyes were full of laughter 
and of fun. There was an amazing sweetness about her 
mouth—a sweetness and a determination, strangely mingled.. 
It was because of this girl Vernon had taken the photograph, 
it was because of her he had stayed in the neighbourhood a 
week longer than he had intended. They had never spoken 
to one another, although once or twice they took a fence side 
by side. He had meant to get an introduction and then he 
heard she was engaged—to Sullivan—to Sullivan! 

Vernon Winslowe stood with the photograph in his 
hands—hands which shook violently. What was it the bank 
manager had said ? “ Gone abroad with some woman. ’ * 
“Married?” “I believe not.” 

The picture crashed into the grate and simultaneously” 
there was a loud knocking at the front door. 

“Yes, what is it?” cried Vernon, flinging open the door. 

A young man in evening dress was on the landing. 

“I fancy your bath is overflowing,” he said. “There’s 
a perfect Niagara coming through my ceiling, and as I’m. 
giving a dinner party it’s rather a nuisance.” 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Vernon 
truculently. 

“Everything’s come through except the soap,” said the 
young man, and diving into the bathroom which adjoined 
the front door, he quickly turned off the tap. 

“The overflow must be blocked up. So sorry to bother 
you, but the cutlets were practically washed away, and as. 


14 TREASURE TRAIL 

the chicken which I had ordered to follow is in no sense a 

water-fowl, I thought-” 

“Oh, go to the devil,” said Vernon. 

He had lost his sense of humour for the first time on 
record. His soul was in danger. 

There is only one further incident to add to the score of 
the day’s disasters. It took place a,t a rather rowdy pot¬ 
house known as the Five Nations Club, where a number of 
men had gathered together for the purpose of expressing, 
through the medium of alcohol, rejoicing at the success 
achieved by a certain Mr. Atwood in finding the winner of 
the Grand National. Mr. Atwood had made a pot of money 
—it bulged from him everywhere. In his own picturesque 
speech he described himself as being “all over the stuff.” 
The liberality of the entertainment he provided proved him 
to be a good fellow—nay, more, the very best of fellows. 
Nearly everyone was drunk, and with that strangely limpid 
vision which is one of the greatest blessings drink bestows, 
they saw in Atwood qualities of grace and excellence 
hitherto undreamed of. Again and again was he called upon 
to reveal by what miracle of foresight he had picked the 
winner. 

“My dear boys, I got sixty tot one five weeks ago. 
Planked on a hundred with old Johnny Dive. And on the 
course I was so plumb sure it was the goods, I took a chance 
and put up another two-fifty at a hundred to six.” 

“Did you?” 

Everyone in the room heard the quiet, menacing voice 
that spoke out of the shadows by the door. 

“Two-fifty, Atwood, I think you said.” 

“Hallo, V. W.,” said a voice with a hiccup. “Wha’s 
the trouble with you?” 

But Vernon Winslowe paid no heed to the question. He 
walked straight up to Atwood and dropped a hand on his 
shoulder. Curiously purple Atwood had become all of a 
sudden. His smile of welcome was sickly. 

“Five weeks ago, eh?” said Vernon. “Five weeks ago, 
Atwood? I didn’t ask you for that tip, you remember. You 



TREASURE TRAIL 15 

offered it—you remember that, don’t you? You gave it me 
as a friend. I suppose you took my bit yourself, eh?” 

The courage of alcohol stimulated Atwood to reply. 

“What’s wrong if I did?” 

“Nothing in the world,” said Vernon slowly. “Nothing 
in the world. It’s sound finance to give a man a certain 
loser and collar his stakes. Nothing wrong if you can find 
a man who’s fool enough to stand for it. God I” His 
voice suddenly broke upwards. “God, I’m going to tell the 
lot of you what I think-” 

The ring of inflamed faces turned toward him in anxious 
expectation. 

“You—you,” and suddenly he stopped short, and threw 
up his head in a kind of laugh. “You clever gentlemen! 
I suppose I should be grateful for the lesson. And profit by 
it—and profit by it.” 

His departure was as unexpected as his arrival. 



CHAPTER III. 


T HERE is a song which in recent months has achieved 
popularity mainly on account of possessing a dole¬ 
ful and plaintive last line. Each verse recounts 
pithily a series of disasters resulting in the decline of some 
unhappy victim from virtue into vice. The tidings of fall 
are recorded by the simple phrase “ Another good man gone 
wrong,” and in no single instance would the fallen appear 
to be to blame. A concatenation of unkind incidents— 
incidents over which he had no power of control—was re¬ 
sponsible. Now the case of Yernon Winslowe was in point 
—for he was a generous and chivalrous gentleman brought 
to ruin through no other fault than credulity and a desire 
to improve the lot of his fellows. Granted ability to ex¬ 
press oneself in verse, it should have been possible in four 
metric lines to have said all that has been recorded in the 
earlier chapters, and thus have advanced more rapidly to 
the point at which this story takes a more unusual turn. 
In the absence of a lyrical gift, let it be said in plain prose 
that Yernon Winslowe, D.S.O., D.S.C., was beyond ques¬ 
tion a good man, for all that uncharitable circumstance 
twisted him out of the straight course into the crooked. 

For what follows, heredity may to some extent he held 
responsible. The archives of the house of Winslowe pro¬ 
vided plenty of parallels in which Yernon’s forbears had 
acted with more violence than tact. Dotted down the ages 
were records of wild deeds carried out by Winslowes both 
-on the side of law and against it. Fletcher Winslowe, after 
a gallant career as a sea-rover, ended his days unhappily 
in a brush with a Russian sloop somewhere in the Baltic. 
He was captured, faced his trial ashore, and subsequently 
was hanged on a raft gibbet with a couple of iron hooks 

16 


TREASURE TRAIL 17 

beneath his ribs. For sixteen hours he lived, swinging 
from his chains, while the raft drifted down-stream past 
town and village toward the sea. It was a cruel end for a 
man who everyone admitted had been a genial rascal. 

Then there was Roger, who in his day had been one of 
the hardest riding, hardest living, hardest drinking, and 
most generous of Cornish squires. A portrait of Roger 
hung over the mantelpiece at Vernon’s rooms in Duke 
Street. A keen cold-eyed man with a mouth like a steel 
trap and a mighty pair of hands. Roger had lived in the 
old grey house at Peranporth where Vernon had spent his 
boyhood. Roger’s body lay in the little graveyard at the 
back of the village. Beneath the creeping mosses that wove 
a green tapestry over his granite headstone were engraved 
the words: 

ROGER WINSLOWE 
1580-1649 

GENT ADVENTURER 

Time had effaced the line that followed: 

HIS SINS WERE MANY—HIS VIRTUE WAS IN COURAGE 

A yellow MS. set forth how after being the darling of the 
Duchy for a matter of sixteen years—a man beloved by 
great and humble—a very pattern amongst squires—he had 
suddenly disappeared, taking with him the plate from the 
family church, a horse and a few trinkets from a neighbour, 
and a bag of money belonging to a cousin. 

On the morning of his disappearance a tragic discovery 
was made of three dead bodies in the walled-in garden at 
the back of the house. All three had died of rapier wounds 
in the throat; their swords lay on the grass beside them. 
The bodies were identified as belonging to the family lawyer 
and two other gentlemen well known in the district. A 
terrified servant made a deposition to the effect that the two 
gentlemen seconded a duel between Roger and his lawyer. 
The duel arose out of an argument in which Roger charged 


18 TREASURE TRAIL 

his lawyer with a series of frauds against the estate. The 
affair was short and sweet, and ended in Roger*s favour. 
Whereupon he turned to the two seconds and engaged them. 

‘‘Gentlemen ,’ 1 he is reputed to have said, “you have 
witnessed the dispatch of one who violated a trust. You, 
too, have violated a trust even more sacred—the trust of 
friendship. Thanks to my friends, I am a ruined man. 
Guard yourselves .’ 9 

In three minutes it was all over, and half an hour later 
Roger Winslowe, on a stolen horse and with the church 
plate in a sack strapped to his saddle bow, was galloping 
across the country towards Plymouth. 

The identity of Roger Winslowe with that of a famous 
pirate, who some time later made an unwelcome appearance 
on the trade routes in China Seas, was only established after 
his death. He had grown a beard, and much of sweetness 
had gone from his voice. The one man who recognized 
him and foolishly cried out his name was, with expressions 
of the deepest regret, constrained to spend his remaining 
years marooned upon an island in the South Seas such as 
provided an example of the eloquence of silence. 

For ten years Roger Winslowe harried the China trade 
and amassed an immense fortune, the bulk of which was 
believed to have been buried in a hiding-place known only 
to himself. During that period he earned a reputation of 
being the Robin Hood of the seas, for, despite his austerity 
and predatory habits, he rarely, if ever, committed a brutal 
or unchivalrous act. He took money and jewels, and he 
left behind a sense of privilege and a pleasant memory. 
Fever and ill health pursuing him, he returned to England, 
bought back the old house in Cornwall, and occupied it 
under a false name until the date of his death. Many there 
were who thought they recognized in the black-bearded, one- 
armed man the light-hearted and cavalier young squire who 
had disappeared a score of years before under such ex¬ 
ceptional circumstances. These thoughts, however, they 
kept discreetly to themselves, for many blessings flowed 
from the granite house, and there was that in the eyes of 


TREASURE TRAIL 19 

the old man which augured danger for whosoever should 
prove traitor against him. In 1649 he announced his in¬ 
tention of taking a voyage to the South Seas for an object 
which he would disclose to no one. Indeed, he was actively 
engaged in fitting out a ship when the hand of death closed 
upon him. 

He left behind a full confession of his misdeeds—a for¬ 
giveness for the friends who had brought him to ruin—and 
a handsome bequest of plate to the church he had despoiled. 
But of his hidden treasure there was no mention. The 
secret of its hiding-place died with him. 

It was to the portrait of Roger Winslowe that Vernon ad¬ 
dressed himself when at an a.m. hour of the night he entered 
his chambers. The new generation spoke to the old across 
the gulf of separating years in a tone that was bitter and 
angry. “History repeats itself, Roger! They’ve served 
me as they served you, but there are no dead men on the 
grass to show what I feel about it.” 

The same cold glint in the painted eyes was reflected in 
Vernon’s: the dead and the living were strangely alike. 

After leaving the Five Nations, Vernon had marched 
through the streets fiercely struggling with savage and 
revengeful impulses. A desire to hit back obsessed him— 
to hit back not with his hands but with the same cruel and 
invisible weapons that had brought about his own destruc¬ 
tion. At about i a.m. he had found himself before the 
doors of the Midnight Legion Club, and acting on a sudden 
impulse he entered, seated himself at an empty table, and 
ordered a bottle of wine. In the past he had spent many 
jolly evenings at the Midnight Legion, amused by its Smart 
Set naughtiness and air of tired but determined gaiety. 
Tn-night the complexion of his thoughts warped the easy 
view he had been used to take, and endowed the entire 
gathering with an air of cynical vice. 

He saw no humour in the spectacle of a famous actress 
who that morning had appeared in a successful suit for 
divorce, taking supper and dancing with the husband of 
whom she had ridded herself. He saw nothing but false 


20 TREASURE TRAIL 

Talues in a system that made such an anomaly possible. 
It was a hideous phantasmagoria made up of married men 
who whispered passionate insincerities into the ears of 
other men’s wives—dudes who drivelled in loud falsettos, 
braying of love affairs, of caviare and Russian Vodka. 
Young men tremendously strong and silent and possessed of 
the rare gift of dropping their voices to complete strangers— 
women with pink lips and brown smudgy eyes with droop¬ 
ing lids that were only raised at the provocation of a direct 
affront. The Midnight Legion! The very flower and chiv¬ 
alry of England’s manhood and womanhood disporting 
themselves at the rate of about a shilling a second, making 
shameless confidences to shameless confidants—drinking too 
much, talking too much, and thinking never. 

The Midnight Legion! The Smart Set—the best people! 
What a travesty it was—what a midden! The very scent of 
the place was enough to turn a man sick. Leaning against 
a wall, dabbing at his mouth with the wet butt of a dead 
cigar, rolling his head from side to side and breathing the 
slow, staggering breath of half-drunkenness, was one of 
England’s most brilliant men, whose fame—God! A 
midden! 

Clinging to his arm, laughing into a sodden face, was 
a girl—a thing with bobbed hair—a child almost. A child? 
A crook! Taking advantage of the great man’s weakness 
to advance a pretended acquaintance. 

And this was life—and these were men and women—of 
such as these was the world composed. Tricksters, liber¬ 
tines—laughing liars and frauds. The same everywhere. 
Vernon Winslowe’s desire to be avenged on those imme¬ 
diately responsible for his ruin and the loss of his faith 
suddenly developed a wider application. Why should the 
weapon be discharged at a limited few—what did it matter 
who should be struck when the shot was fired? One man or 
woman was as bad as another. Yes, it was fair enough; 
and even if unfair, what matter? He would cram the bar¬ 
rel to overflowing, loose off blindly into the brown, and let 


TREASURE TRAIL 21 

fall who might. How best to do this thing was the question 
—how best—how cleverest. 

He rose, beckoned a waiter, and signed his bill. It was 
the first time he had signed a bill with no intention of pay¬ 
ing. As he passed out he wished the sum had been larger. 
This trivial piece of brigandage gave him a queer sense of 
satisfaction. It was an act against his conscience, and he 
was as glad as a sneak-thief who has picked his first pocket. 

The cool night air chilled his anger, and his mind began 
to work clearly. 

He had got his plan. In a flash it came to him. One 
second not there, and the next—matured. A working plan 
and clever, clever, clever. 

He rolled his tongue round his mouth and laughed. How 
easy it was to swindle people—how simple, how attractive! 
One had merely to decide how much one would filch from 
unsuspecting pockets and the thing was done. There were 
no difficulties to overcome—except conscience, and conscience 
was asleep—dead, for all he cared. How much! 

There was a new moon, and Vernon addressed her. 
“How much? Mustn’t overdo it. How much?” Perhaps 
the moon was responsible for the notion that came to him. 
She affects the ocean tides, and why not tides in the affairs 
of men? 

Vernon rapidly added up the sums of money he had 
recently lost through the advice of and help given to his 
friends. The total was roughly eight thousand pounds. 

“Eight thousand! Good enough!” 

At his rooms we know how for a while he looked at the 
portrait of his ancestor, Roger Winslowe. After that he 
rummaged in a store cupboard at the end of the passage and 
dragged out an old tin uniform case. This he unlocked and 
took from within a rusty iron cylinder and a book, the cover 
of which was protected with American cloth. 

With these he returned to the sitting-room, switched off 
the centre light, and turned on a reading-lamp at the writing- 
table. Next he took the cylinder, and after removing a 


22 TREASURE TRAIL 

length of soap plaster from the junction between the top 
and the base, he shook out from inside a rolled-up chart 
and spread it on the table before him. The chart had been 
drawn up with rough, seaman-like skill on fabric which had 
slightly perished. There was a kind of clumsy accuracy and 
assurance in the lines and occasional lettering. Despite the 
fading for which time was responsible, the essentials were 
plainly visible. In the top left-hand corner under the arrow 
of orientation and the divided scale was written, “Trefusis 
Island. North 159. West 23.” There was very little detail 
in the body of the map—other than the outlines of a lagoon 
—a dotted demarcation of some reefs and soundings, and 
three small circles denoting fresh-water springs. 

From the scale the island was shown to be three miles long 
by a mile and a half across. 

There was no explanation for what purpose the map had 
been made. It was signed R. W. and dated 1637. 

It was many years since Vernon Winslowe had found the 
cylinder and the old book which accompanied it. He and 
another boy, Ralph Whittaker, were expending their energy 
in tunnelling a disused cellar in the old Cornish house in 
which Roger Winslowe had dwelt. Ambition to discover an 
underground way alleged to have been used by smugglers 
inspired the operation. Profiting by the fact that Vernon’s 
father was distant by a full county’s length in pursuit of a 
stag, the two boys, armed with picks and crowbars, attacked 
the granite skin of the cellar to such excellent effect that at 
the end of an hour’s labour the business end of Vernon’s pick 
went clean through the masonry into a black void beyond. 
After that they worked like galley slaves, slashing and lever¬ 
ing until there was a hole big enough to enter by. Being 
versed in the proper procedure of such affairs as set forth 
in “The Swiss Family Robinson” and other books of a 
similiar kind, they did not attempt an entrance until the evil 
gases of the tunnel should be dispelled. To speed the work 
of purification, a treacle-tin full of gunpowder was exploded 
in the cavity, which unhappily detonated ahead of expecta¬ 
tion, with the result that hands were scorched, faces black- 


TREASURE TRAIL 23 

ened, and eyebrows singed. But what matter? The ad¬ 
venture was great enough to warrant a small disaster. Pos¬ 
sibly the explosion would not have been so violent if the 
space disclosed had been actually a tunnel. The intense 
white light of combustion coupled with subsequent investiga¬ 
tion with a stick revealed the fact that their discovery 
amounted to no more than a small square space no larger 
than an ordinary cupboard. The disappointment of the 
adventurers at this inglorious end may well be imagined, 
but their spirits rose to a fever pitch in finding within the 
recess an iron box about two feet long by eighteen inches 
wide. The box was secured with a hasp and padlock, the 
latter being so rusted as to resemble a piece of brick. There 
seemed small likelihood that any key would ever again turn 
the wards of the poor perished thing, nor were the two boys 
in a mood for delay. Their desire was to see what the box 
contained, and in this matter a crowbar was helpful. A 
connoisseur of seventeenth-century relics would have de¬ 
spaired at the rude treatment that unhappy box sustained 
at the hands of these youthful enthusiasts; they destroyed 
it with their beatings and burstings. When at last the lid 
was wrenched back on its twisted hinges, little of the original 
form remained. And within was nothing but pulp—green, 
mildewed pulp which filtered through the fingers that sifted 
it like wet sand. It was clear that the box had contained 
papers—the key, perhaps, to the hidden treasure, the mem¬ 
oirs, perhaps, of a man sorely bruised by the world. Im¬ 
possible to conjecture what those papers might have been 
or estimate the loss their disintegration had occasioned. All 
that remained were the corpses of written words and paper 
leaves which had rotted into musty-smelling particles through 
the steady corrosion of time. 

Not a doubloon, not a gold moidore, not a piece of eight. 
Dust, and nothing but dust. 

The two boys had looked at one another dismally. 

4 ‘Stinking luck! Tip it on its side, there may be some¬ 
thing underneath.” 

This they did, and found their reward. Beneath the pile 


24 TREASURE TRAIL 

of decayed papers was the rusty iron cylinder and an old 
ship’s log-book protected by wrappings of cracked and 
perished oilcloth. 

To a couple of boys properly equipped with adventurous 
spirits, that log-book was joy complete. It set forth details 
of hair-raising exploits on the high seas, written with a 
simplicity of style truly remarkable. Of course, they decided 
at once that the map in the iron cylinder was of a treasure 
island, but this gay hope was banished by the discovery of 
an entry in the log-book which stated the island had been 
named Trefusis Island, after a certain John Trefusis, who, 
on a point of diplomacy, had been marooned there. There 
could be very little doubt that the map had been drawn up so 
that after the death of Roger "Winslowe the unhappy man 
might be released from captivity. 

These, then, are the circumstances in which the iron 
cylinder and the old log-book, after lying hidden for a matter 
of three hundred years, came into the possession of Vernon 
Winslowe. With a boyish love of secrecy, neither Vernon 
nor his friend Ralph Whittaker breathed a word to a soul 
in regard to the find. The whole matter was placed under 
a sigillum and was only broached in conditions of the 
greatest privacy. With the passage of time Ralph and 
Vernon drifted apart, their old comradeship fading out as 
their ways in the world divided. 

For a full hour Vernon Winslowe turned the pages of 
the old log-book and stared at the map that was spread out 
beside him. The success of his plan lay in its simplicity and 
in its natural appeal to young and old. It was based on 
enthusiasm and the assumption, so readily proved on the 
first day of any war, that a yearning for adventure lives in 
every heart. He would dangle a bait such as could not be 
refused. The man or woman does not exist who is insensible 
to the lure of hidden treasure—and the call of the South Sea 
islands. Hidden treasure—a pirate’s hoard. Romance rings 
in every vowel and consonant that compose the words. The 
very sound of them sets the blood tingling and quickens the 


TREASURE TRAIL 25 

slow pulse of every day. Be he never so old, who is 
insensible, who has outgrown and can resist the magnetism 
of doubloons and pieces of eight in a frame of coral and 
waving palms? It cannot be done—the thing is ingrained 
—irresistible. Buried treasure is part of the world’s real 
estate—a legacy to young and old alike—a link between age 
and youth. Stevenson knew when he wrote a masterpiece 
that shall gladden every age down all the ages. He knew 
he had discovered a master-word in the title of his book 
that should release scores from the bondage of cities to 
sail the seas in tall ships of imagination. And Vernon 
Winslowe knew—knew beyond shadow of doubt—that he 
would sound a call that north, south, east and west could not 
choose but answer. But Vernon Winslowe was angry, and 
his thoughts that night were distorted. He was baiting a 
trap for the people’s greed, and did not see the real direction 
of his appeal. The words Romance, Adventure, were 
forgotten. 

He poured a few drops of indian ink into an egg-cup, 
and diluted it with water until it was the same pale brown 
color as the writing on the map. In the centre of the map 
he made a cross, and in one corner wrote: “X marks cache. 
Needle rock meridian point of shadow 15 paces due north, 
3 west and under.” 

With the exception of the words “X marks cache” he 
copied the rest from an entry in the log-book which had been 
casually scrawled across an empty page without any explana¬ 
tion as to why or wherefore. 

This delicate work was undertaken with the greatest care, 
and a very pretty piece of penmanship it was. The tone of 
the ink and the character of the letters were identical with 
the original. 

When he had finished, Vernon Winslowe sat back in his 
chair and shivered. There was sweat upon his forehead, and 
his hands were clammy. With a nervous movement he threw 
a quick glance over his shoulder, as though expecting to 
find someone in the room. But it was empty. A shadow 
from the table-lamp spanned the ceiling like a black cloud 


26 TREASURE TRAIL 

riding across the sky toward him. Somewhere in the flat a 
water-pipe was gurgling and hissing. The sound resembled 
laughter a long way off—and down. 

And suddenly he felt very cold. 


CHAPTER IV. 


V ERNON’S determination to hit back at the world 
was as firmly fixed when he rose the following morn¬ 
ing after a few hours’ unrefreshing sleep. It had, if 
possible, solidified in his mind and become part of his gen¬ 
eral equipment. He reflected agreeably on the task that lay 
before him, running over the points of his great offensive 
with a cool daylight intelligence. There were eight thou¬ 
sand pounds to be collected and then he would vanish. It 
would be farewell to London and his clever associates.. 
When his fraud had been discovered, there would be an 
uproar in the papers, a stir in Scotland Yard, and a hue and 
cry. But before the arm of the law should reach him, he 
would have gone. His line of flight took him, in imagina¬ 
tion, through Spain, across the Straits of Gibraltar to 
Tangier, and thence south into the desert, with perhaps 
Timbuctoo as the objective. Likely enough he would never 
reach there, for Morocco is an awkward country for the 
lonely traveller, especially if it comes to be known that there 
is money in his wallet. This consideration, however, did not 
weigh with Vernon, who never concerned himself with mat¬ 
ters of personal safety. The future could look after itself. 
It was the present that needed attention. 

Throughout breakfast he busied himself composing an 
attractive announcement for the Times. He sketched it out 
in a dozen forms. The difficulty was to find an effective 
start. “Buried Treasure,” “Hidden Treasure,” “Pirate’s 
Hoard”—he tried them all and dismisssed them all. Some¬ 
how they failed to strike the right note. He bit his pencil 
and the idea came to him in a flash. ‘ 4 Adventurers 
Wanted.” That was the quality. Sketched out in block 
lettering it caught the eye—arrested the attention. After 

27 


28 TREASURE TRAIL 

that the task was easy. A word about the seventeenth- 
century map—hidden treasure—South Seas—and the thing 
was done. The line “small capital and deposit essential” 
was sandwiched between such alluring companions and 
sprinkled with such exciting possibilities that it never for 
a moment revealed the jaws of a trap. 

Vernon smiled at the finished composition, crammed it 
in his pocket, called for his hat and stick, and went out. 

At the advertising bureau at the Times office was a queue 
of men and women. Singularly unconscious of what was 
going on around him, Vernon filed up and waited his turn. 
He rather wished he had had a drink before coming in, for his 
throat felt sticky and ached and his fingers had developed 
a nervous twitch, like those of a man who is going off’ a 
very high dive for the first time. At the moment his turn 
came to hand the slip of paper to the clerk, a sudden doubt 
assailed him that he had made a mistake and muddled the 
text of his advertisement in such a manner as would in¬ 
evitably reveal it to be a fraud. With a muttered apology 
he stepped away from the grille and hastily read over what 
he had written. There was no mistake—it was perfectly 
all right—as honest a piece of excitement as a man could 
wish to read. But how about that last line—“Correspond 
with V. WSurely it was rank folly to give away his 
initials. But he had been over that point before and had 
decided in favour of doing so. V. W. was a fairly well- 
known man, and if one of the applicants should recognize 
him and find he was masquerading under an assumed name 
the fraud would be instantly exposed. But when exposure 
eventually came, as it inevitably would, Vernon wished it 
to be known that it was he who was responsible. The new 
false pride in him claimed this much of notoriety—to con¬ 
vince those who had tricked him that he himself could turn 
the tables and play a winning hand at their own game. The 
initials should remain— 1 his identity should be fixed. 

Vernon was not the only person in the Times office that 
morning whose behaviour was out of the ordinary. Among 
the crowd was a little old man who seemed equally reluctant 


TREASURE TRAIL 29 

to conclude his business. He was a quaint little man with a 
small body and the thinnest possible legs. He had a large 
dome to his head, which was almost bald, and deeply sunk 
eye-sockets out of which a pair of very bright eyes twinkled 
restlessly. His hands, which were like a child’s for smooth¬ 
ness and whiteness, were never still. In his left hand a 
wisp of paper fluttered, while the forefinger and thumb of 
his right hand moved in ceaseless revolutions one against 
the other. The little old man was making bread pills. It 
was his habit, his hobby, his invariable custom, a vice almost, 
and certainly a passion. When he had worked a pill to his 
complete satisfaction secretly and unobserved he would press 
it until it adhered to the under side of chairs and tables, into 
pieces of carving or mouldings. Sometimes years afterwards 
he would find an old pill and be very glad. In his jacket 
pocket he carried a new roll—not too crusty—from the heart 
of which he extracted the munitions of his sport. When one 
pill was finished and disposed of, he started on a second. 
Other men smoke cigarettes. These things are a matter of 
taste. 

It was not his habit of making bread pills that drew 
attention to the little old man, but rather his appearance, 
his modesty, and a kind of shy nervousness which interfered 
with his capacity for getting his task done. He was for 
ever stepping aside and giving his place to the next comer— 
for ever apologizing for being in front, and hastening to put 
himself behind. “No, no, really, I would wish you to go 
first.’’ Then, darting back to the end of the queue, like a 
linnet on a perch: 

“I want a few seeds, that’s all, that’s all.” 

He constantly piped this remark as though in extenua¬ 
tion for his reticence. Yet despite his piping and fluttering 
there was something oddly alert and attentive in his manner 
—a certain indefinable air of awareness to be remarked 
sometimes in persons with unnaturally good hearing. Every 
action seemed caught and registered by his bright twinkling 
eyes, and a response to every sound, however slight, rippled 
across his wrinkled cheeks like a puff of wind over a pool., 


30 TREASURE TRAIL 

Smiling, innocent, attentive—lie was here, there, everywhere, 
listening, peering and absorbing. There was not a soul 
in that office that had not come under the censorship of 
his bright, twinkling eyes—there was not a characteristic 
that he had not thoroughly mastered and for which in his 
own quiet way he had not found an explanation. His 
thoughts seemed to pierce the heads of complete strangers, 
and with uncanny insight solve the little riddles contained 
there. 

But Yernon Winslowe puzzled him. A dozen times he 
had flicked his eyes over Yernon without finding an ex¬ 
planation for the mass of contradictions written on his 
features. Something in the set of Yernon’s mouth and the 
droop of his brows mystified the curious little man very 
much indeed. He noticed the twitch of the hands and a 
roving restlessness in the pale blue eyes. He caught once a 
sudden over-shoulder glance that definitely betrayed alarm, 
or apprehension. It was all most complex and intriguing. 
The little man scratched his nose, fixed a well-rounded pill 
into an angle of ogee moulding, and peered afresh as Yernon 
read and re-read the sheet with its scrawl of words. No, he 
could find no possible excuse for the sly and malevolent 
expression which had been printed, as though with still wet 
ink, on a countenance every line and contour of which 
argued frankness, honesty and good intent. Of one thing he 
was very sure—the sinister expression was new to its wearer, 
for at present it only shaped his face and he had not lined 
it. Therefore it was a mask—a mask assumed for some 
purpose that he could not divine. Puzzling, perplexing, 
intriguing. 

When Yernon Winslowe eventually rejoined the queue 
the little old man was immediately behind him, and when 
his turn came to hand his slip to the clerk the little old 
man was peeping under his arm at the written words. And 
when Yernon Winslowe put his money on the counter and 
without waiting for change hurriedly walked out of the 
office the little old man was only a few feet behind. 


TREASURE TRAIL 31 

His intention to advertise for some seeds was quite 
forgotten. 

In Fleet Street Vernon Winslowe got into a taxi—so did 
the little old man. 

The first taxi deposited its fare at some chambers in 
Duke Street, St. James’s. The second taxi passed by, with 
its passenger scribbling a number on his shirt cuff. It did 
not stop until it reached Jermyn Street. 

< ‘ Do you want me any more ? ’ ’ said the driver. 

The little old man shook his head a trifle sadly and 
answered: 

“All I want is to be quite alone for a little while—quite, 
quite alone.” 

So he entered the Geological Museum, where a man may 
find peace and solitude. 


CHAPTER Y. 


I N the agony column of the Times of March 24 appeared 
the following: 

“Adventurers wanted for South Sea Treasure Hunt. Tremendous 
possibilities of se fortune. A 17th-century map is in the possession 
of the advertiser. The party will consist of eight, and those selected 
will be furnished with all details at a supper to be given at Yoisin’s 
Restaurant, 11 p. the 28th inst. Age and sex no disqualification. 
Small capital and deposit essential. Correspond with Y. W., 
Box 284.” 

The advertisement was repeated in the news columns of 
several evening papers and was the subject of an article in 
a leading daily the following morning. The publicity was 
good. Within twenty-four hours millions of people had seen 
it. Business men read it aloud in suburban trains, laughed 
and looked out at the grey, changeless landscape with a 
new feeling of distaste. Schoolboys read it and thereafter 
acted strangely, bespeaking one another in the language of 
the sea, forming themselves into piratical bands and descend¬ 
ing with violence upon unprepared foes. Many were the 
coal scoops which disappeared to be employed for strange 
purposes in back-yards. The bones of many a cat were as 
rudely disinterred as though they had belonged to a buried 
Pharaoh. 

“Adventurers wanted for South Sea Treasure Hunt.” 
There was a magic in the phrase. It sounded “like a slow 
sweet piece of music from the grey forgotten years.” 

It is hard to foretell the consequences of a few simple 
words in a newspaper. There was a drab woman in a 
Bermondsey slum very much a mother and very beaten as a 
wife. Not a happy woman, not, one had said, a kind. Her 

32 


TREASURE TRAIL 33 

life had been too much a prison for kindness to have place. 
Yet after reading she made a graceful tribute to freedom by 
opening the door of a blackbird’s cage and setting its inmate 
free. Later she earned a black eye for the deed and counted 
it a cheap price to pay. 

Draw a line through the word routine and you shall find 
a pathway to adventure. By the million processes of sight 
and sound and the prickings of understanding, by that 
thing we call distribution, those few lines written by an 
angry man in the dead of night stirred and knocked at and 
crept into the imaginations of men and women, bringing 
with them hope, courage, ambition, a bit of light, of fresh 
air, a taste of the sea—what you will. And into hundreds 
and hundreds of inkpots dipped hundreds and hundreds of 
pens held in hands that shook with a strange new excitement 
and a strange new sense of relief. 

Letters written, rewritten, and written again—illiterate 
letters, wonderful letters, impossible, pitiable letters—letters 
written never to be posted. Letters written by the angry, 
disappointed, venturesome, gay. Letters written by folk 
who by the very deed of writing set their spirits free of the 
shackles of restraint. A truly amazing mail, even though 
not one-tenth of it ever cost the writers a postage stamp. 
But, posted or unposted, the joy was theirs, the exquisite 
thrill of flirting with adventure and the true romance. 

The actual number of letters received by V. W. at box 
284 was one thousand one hundred and seventy-four. He 
borrowed a sack and took them away in a taxi. 

Who shall say the spirit of adventure is dead? 

Vernon did not attempt to wrestle with the huge cone 
of letters which he had emptied from the sack to the floor 
in his chambers. Perhaps he was afraid of surprising a 
note of poignant human suffering and desire for freedom. 
Eight he drew, haphazard, as a child draws parcels from a 
bran dip, and did little else than mark the names and 
addresses of their senders. The rest, with a sense of com¬ 
mitting an unpardonable sin, he put upon the fire by twos 
and threes, by tens, dozens, and scores. When he had 


34 TREASURE TRAIL 

finished, the grate was piled high with charred ambitions. 

It was a hateful morning’s work. As a precaution 
against any of the chosen eight deciding to withdraw after 
hearing the terms of the adventure, he retained six other 
letters which, unopened, were locked in a drawer of his 
bureau. Then he sat down to write his replies. 

What he wrote was simple enough, a mere repetition of 
what had been said in the advertisement. An invitation to 
supper at Voisin’s for the night following and a promise to 
explain then, at length and in detail, the terms of the enter¬ 
prise, both from its capital and its adventurous side. 

The replies were addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Joshua 
Morgan, of Bradford; to a lady called Lydia La Rue, of 
some West End flats, who wrote in characters so large that 
no more than ten or a dozen words appeared on any page; 
to Henry Julius, Esq., Broker, at an office in Threadneedle 
Street; to Miss Mary Ottery, of Merton; to Nurse Olive 
Banbury, of the Northern Cross Hospital; to Thomas Gates, 
Esq., and William Carpenter, Esq., of South Kensington 
and Walham Green. The envelopes were sealed, stamped and 
posted. The adventure had begun and he was committed. 

His journey to the pillar-box was closely remarked by 
a pair of twinkling eyes which peered at him out of the 
shadow of the archway leading into Mason’s Yard. Of this 
Vernon was unconscious, and had he seen the owner of those 
eyes it is unlikely he would have recognized the curious little 
man who, the morning before, had buzzed round him like a 
mosquito in the Times advertising bureau. 

A surprise awaited him at the door of his chambers, in 
the person of a healthy, bronzed man about his own age, 
whose features were strangely reminiscent of some half- 
forgotten era of boyhood. 

As Vernon stepped from the lift their eyes met. 

“Vernon Winslowe,” said the man. “Do you remember 
me!” 

“Yes—no—I don’t think so. Is there any reason why I 
should?” 

“Think again.” 


TREASURE TRAIL 35 

“I’m terrible busy,” said Vernon. “Do you want to 
see me about anything, because if you could leave it for a 
day or two-” 

The stranger shook his head. 

“I suppose I could leave it for a day or two,” he said, 
“but I’ve no intention of doing so. Are you going to ask 
me in?” 

Vernon turned the key in the lock and together they 
entered the flat. 

“If it’s important,” he said, “come in by all means— 
but really I cannot remember where we met, and as I’ve a 
heap of work on hand-” 

“A heap of work?” 

“I said so.” 

“What sort of work?” 

“Well, that’s hardly—— ” 

“My affair?” 

“To be frank with you,” Vernon replied, “I see no reason 
why I should confide in you.” 

“Perhaps I may be allowed to guess.” 

“To guess?” 

The stranger nodded, drew from his pocket a copy of the 
Times, and said very simply: 

“Adventurers wanted, eh, for exciting South Seas treas¬ 
ure hunt?” 

Vernon started. 

“How did you know?” 

“Know! I guessed. I came across the announcement 
quite by accident and began to wonder if it had anything to 
do with a couple of scrubby lads who, a matter of twenty 
years ago, put in a thrilling afternoon’s sport in the cellar 
of an old house in Cornwall.” 

Vernon gasped. “It’s not Ralph Whittaker?” 

“It certainly is,” came the rejoinder. “And I must 
confess you’ve a devilish disagreeable way of greeting an 
old friend.” 

Vernon reached out and wrung him warmly by the hand. 

“Gad, but this is extraordinary,” he said. “You, eh? 





36 TREASURE TRAIL 

Ha! What a fluke! Why, it’s seventeen years since last 

we met. It's good to see you again. You look fit, Ralph.” 

“Sorry I can’t say the same for you,” came the reply. 

Vernon laughed, a shade unnaturally. 

“Oh, rubbish,” said he. “I’m right as the mail. Bit 
overworked lately, that’s all. Help yourself to something 
—whisky, beer?” 

Ralph Whittaker shook his head. 

“I won’t drink. I came on chance, hoping, if you were 
you, to have a chat. What’s all this punk about hidden 
treasure ? ’ ’ 

Vernon turned aside to a small table and helped himself 
to a cigarette. 

“Punk,” he repeated, “what do you mean?” 

“This map? This South Sea Island stuff? Is it the 
old Roger Winslowe business? Because I thought when we 
foraged out those papers years ago we decided there was 
nothing in it. Tre—Tre—fusis—Trefusis Island, wasn’t it? 
Where the old pirate marooned that chap who might have 
given him away. Is that the island, Vernon? I mean, is 
that what you’re building this advertisement on?” 

“Why not?” 

“Why not?” said Ralph Whittaker, with a crinkled fore¬ 
head. “But why, my dear fellar? Dash it, that log-book 
made the whole thing plain as a pike-staff. It was clear as 
daylight why that map was drawn up.” 

“Ah,” said Vernon guardedly. “I know. But we were 
a couple of kids in those days, not old enough to see the 
possibilities in things. Their significances and all that. 
Since then I’ve been into this business thoroughly from a 
different point of view. Whatever I may have thought in 
the old days doesn’t matter, because now I’ve a solid con¬ 
viction there’s money in it, Ralph. Pots of money! In 
fact, just as much money as one likes to take out of it.” 

He never intended to make that last remark. It slipped 
out with the careless candour of one schoolboy talking to 
another—with the easy confidence of established friendship. 

But there is a wide difference between the judgments of 


TEEASURE TRAIL 37 

men and the judgments of boys, and with a sudden sense 
of something amiss, Ralph looked across the table into the 
face of his friend. What he saw transformed doubt into 
certainty. He rose and brought his fist down on the table. 

“Vernon,” he cried, “Vernon, old man, you’re not going 
to tell me—this thing—this advertisement—is a stunt—a 
ramp. Why, good God, a fellar like yourself—a chap with 
your record. Damn it! You wouldn’t do a crooked thing?” 

Vernon made no answer. His eyes were fixed on the 
lengthening ash of his cigarette. His mouth was set hard 
and thin. 

Ralph crossed the room and put a hand on his shoulder. 

“Look here,” he began gently, “I only got back to Eng¬ 
land last night—been coffee-growingdn Nigeria since the war 
—and when I saw this in the paper this morning and guessed 
it had something to do with that old find of ours, I was just 
crazy with excitement. I came along post-haste. Found 
your name in the telephone-book and didn’t lose a moment. 
I knew you’d be inundated with offers, and I made up my 
mind on the strength of my connexion with the affair 
to be in the first eight. Seemed to me nothing in the world 
could be much more marvellous than a couple of old schooV 
mates on a real live treasure hunt. But, damn it, Vernon, 
I can see by your looks the thing isn’t square. You’re— 
I don’t pretend to understand why—but you’re—what’s the 
game, old man?” 

Vernon Winslowe made no attempt to reply for a long 
while. With rather a shaky forefinger he was drawing 
patterns on the table top. When his answer came it was 
pitilessly cold. 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Sorry you came, Ralph. Though 
it was good to see you again. Good to know you are still 
alive. Good to shake hands with you. But your turning 
up now—your being here at this point—well, it’s a pity. 
I’m not going to excuse myself. I’m not going to tell you 
anything more than you know already—or guess. You 
accuse me of doing a crooked thing. I say you’re wrong, 
and that what I’m doing is right—is fair—is just. Don’t 


38 TREASURE TRAIL 

ask me what I mean by that. I shouldn’t tell you. I’m not 
going on this cruise blindfolded, or without a rudder, though 
I may not be steering according to regulations. Sometimes, 
you know, you can overdo regulations in life. Sometimes 
it’s better to take a chance—to think a bit differently from 
other men—and ignore the book of rules for a game which I 
have found—honestly found isn’t worth the playing. Don’t 
imagine for one moment I am making excuses for myself. 
I’m not. I feel, for the first time in months, a terrible cold 
sanity and certainty that will gain nothing from the direc¬ 
tion of other men. I’ve an object, Ralph. You may not 
agree with it—you probably wouldn’t. Circumstances, per¬ 
haps, haven’t given you any reason to agree with it. But 
I’ve an object and a determination that’s going to take me 
clean through until I reach the goal I’m aiming at. This 
fluke of your turning up doesn’t discourage me and doesn’t 
dissuade me from the belief in the justice of what I intend 
to do. I’m sorry you’re here, because I’d hate to quarrel 
with you, and am not going to quarrel with you. It was 
decent of you to come and ‘bring back your old enthusiasm 
and want to share a corner in this adventure. But I may 
as well say straight out, there’s no room for you. I like 
you—like you awfully—much too well to—to want you in 
this. I don’t want anybody or anything that’s likely to 
interfere with me and my intention. It hurts to say these 
things, but we used to be frank with one another as boys; 
as men I claim the same'privilege. Well, then—that’s about 
all. I’ve talked a lot without saying much, but, boiled down, 
it comes to this. I am sorry, old chap. Thanks very much, 
and good-bye.” 

Ralph Whittaker did not move. 

“Boiled down,” he replied coldly, 1 * doesn’t it come to 
this? That you’re tackling something shady—something, 
it seems to you, I might upset, and as tactfully as possible 
you’re telling me to get off the landscape?” 

Vernon gave a half-laugh. 

“I’m glad you admit the tact,” he said. 

“I admit it freely, but that’s not to say I get off the 


TREASURE TRAIL 39 

landscape, old friend. It seems to me I ’ve turned up at just 
the right moment, and I should count myself something less 
than a friend if I failed to stand by.” 

“ Meaning ?” 

“ Meaning that I am going to stop this thing, Vernon. 
That I am not going to allow you to go on with it. Is that 
understood ?’’ 

Vernon faced him. 

1 ‘And how do you propose to prevent me?” 

“Very simply. Either you give me your promise to 
ignore every answer to that advertisement-” 

“You lose,” Vernon cut in. “The letters have already 
been posted.” 

“So! Then either you send a batch of wires to the effect 
that you have been unable to mature your plans, or—or-” 

“Or?” 

“I put an advertisement in to-morrow’s issue of the 
Times warning people that this treasure hunt is a rank 
swindle. ’ ’ 

“Somehow,” said Vernon Winslowe slowly, “I don’t 
think so.” 

“Buy a paper and see.” 

“I shall see nothing,” was the reply. “Ralph, do you 
remember the evening after we found the old chest—how 
you and I went down to the summer-house at the garden 
end and talked into the night?” 

“Perfectly.” 

“And do you remember the old schoolboy form of oath 
—never to speak a word of our find to a living soul—‘See 
it wet, see it dry, cut my throat if I lie’?” 

“WeH, what of it?” 

“What, indeed! I seem to recall you and me pledging 
undying faith to one another in those terms, and I am pretty 
certain that oath was just as sacred as if it had been taken 
with a Testament in* the right hand before a two-shilling 
commissioner. ’ ’ 

Ralph WRittaker shut his fists. “You mean?” 

“I mean,” said Vernon Winslowe, “that where a promise 




40 TREASURE TRAIL 

has been given between pals, I find it difficult to see any rea¬ 
son why it should be broken, except with the consent of both 
parties. Of course/’ he added, “if you think differently, 
there is no more to be said.” 

“But, dash it, man,” said Ralph, “you tie my hands.” 

“You tied them yourself twenty years ago.” 

“And you want me to stand by and see you do a rotten 
thing?” 

“I don’t ask you to look.” 

Ralph 'Whittaker stood indecisively for a moment, then 
turned and picked up his hat and stick. 

‘ ‘ God! ” he said, and walked towards the door. 

“I am terribly, terribly sorry,” said Vernon. 

“With reason,” came the answer. 

Then the door slammed. 

The whole of that afternoon and the evening that followed, 
Vernon Winslowe drank whisky by himself. He drank a 
bottle and a half of whisky, and he went to bed sober—des¬ 
perately, pitiably sober. 


CHAPTER VI. 


H E rose next morning with a head that was buzzing 
like a sawmill, flung open the window, and looked 
out. It was one of those keen, clean March days 
that herald in the spring with a chase of riding clouds, 
with bursts of white sunlight and blue shadow; one of those 
days when youth comes tingling through our winter veins, 
when a lightness finds its way into our steps and into our 
hearts, when the blackened twigs put on a livery of green, 
when birds sing and fight and mate, and window-curtains 
look grubby for the first time, and old men whistle as they 
go to work, and furs are put in camphor and overcoats 
thrown aside, and the world seems to have had its face bathed 
in sunlight and its nostrils filled with the scent of growing 
flowers. 

But Vernon Winslowe hated the day, the sunlight, the 
happy, coatless throngs, the polish and dazzle of the motors 
that flicked along the street beneath him. 

He hated and resented it, longed for a fog, for rain, for 
any mood of the elements to adjust itself to the sullen hu¬ 
mour of his mind. The detestable innocence and gaiety of 
the day affronted him. He hated it the more because there 
was no sort of employment by which he could distract him¬ 
self from these angry thoughts. There was nothing to do 
until the fateful meeting at Voisin’s Restaurant at 11 p.m. 
that night. A whole day to be futile and angry in. A God- 
given day that breathed jollity and good intent. A hateful 
day. How to spend it? 

He dropped back on the bed, ripped open a batch of bills, 
and tore them across. Lord, how his head ached! Then 
his fool of a man knocked and entered, bringing coffee and 
scrambled eggs. Detestable meal! He sent it away, and 

41 


42 TREASURE TRAIL 

ordered a pot of tea and a siphon. Inside his head a mad¬ 
man was playing on a drum—valves were opening and shut¬ 
ting—needles of pain were pricking the backs of his eyes. 
He sat up, gulped down a mouthful of tea, and tumbled 
into a bath. The shock of the cold water made his head 
worse, much worse. Then someone rang him up on the tele¬ 
phone, and he had to stoop to answer it. It was like hell, 
that stooping, and his response to the man at the other end 
of the wire was sulphurous. Yernon flung down the receiver 
and took his head in his hands. The room was swinging 
rhythmically. 

1 ‘This won’t do,” he said, pressing his thumbs into his 
temples. “This won’t do. I’ll never get through with the 
job if I’m in this state.” 

He returned to the bedroom, where his man had laid out 
a Lovat tweed on the bed. Its colour was a festive green. 
For the first time in his life Yernon Winslowe shrieked. 

“Duncan! Duncan, you almighty fool.” Then, when 
the man came in, pointing at the suit, he said: “Take that 
filthy thing away, give it away—chuck it away.” 

“I thought, sir, being spring,” the man began. 

“Spring be blowed!” said Yernon. “Get me a grey suit 
—dark grey—and chuck that infernal spotted tie into the 
paper-basket. Good Lord, haven’t you any sense! A black 
tie—and not that shirt. It isn’t a fair—I’m not a Christie 
Minstrel. Where are your wits? A white shirt.” 

He viciously kicked a pair of very brown brogues under 
the bed and pointed with a trembling finger at a sombre 
pair of black shoes. 

“Any bromo-seltzer in the place?” 

“No, sir; but I can easily-” 

“Oh, get a taxi!” said Yernon. 

When he went out five minutes later, he forgot the taxi 
that was standing at the door. Duncan settled with the 
man some two hours later—expensively. 

The white sunlight so dazzled him that he walked with 
one hand covering his eyes, and rudely cursed two passers-by 
with whom he collided. 



TREASURE TRAIL 43 

His case calling for immediate treatment, he repaired to 
a certain chemist in a turning off Coventry Street who pos¬ 
sesses an almost international fame for dealing with the 
emergencies of life in the West End. This suave and in¬ 
gratiating person greeted Vernon with tokens of welcome 
and respect. Bowing over a counter, seasonably dressed 
with mossy nests containing soap eggs, he begged to he ad¬ 
vised in what manner he could be of aid. 

Vernon did not disguise the truth. 

“I feel like the devil,” he said. “Drank a bottle and a 
half of whisky last night and didn’t get tight.” 

The excellent chemist received the tidings with a smile 
which in itself exonerated his patient from blame. 

“Is that so, sah!” he said. “I quite /see, sah.” 

And while he was preparing a potion: 

“A delightful day, sah.” 

“Perfectly foul,” said Vernon. 

“Just so, sah. I shall improve it. Now, quite still, while 
I treat the eyes.” 

And this he did with a cafnel-hair brush and the most 
delicate touch in the world. The result was electrifying. 
The discs of orange and green which from the moment of 
rising that morning had slowly and agonizingly revolved 
before Vernon’s field of vision were instantly dispelled. The 
wax-like face of his healer, complete with a blond moustache 
so perfect in form that it might have been purchased off a 
card at a wig-maker’s, appeared out of a mist which here¬ 
tofore had obscured it. A few drops of fluid on the crown 
of the head, a glass of foaming liquid which looked like 
effervescing blood, a spray of something magically cool di¬ 
rected at the nape of his neck, a sniff of prussic acid, a 
breeze deliciously wafted from a palm-leaf fan, and his 
troubles were at an end. 

He found himself on the pavement of that turning off 
Coventry Street rejuvenated, restored to health, and in a 
spirit of profound gratitude. Nor was this all, for so com¬ 
plete was his recovery that, for the moment, his anger and 
resentment were lulled, and there ran through his veins a 


44 TREASURE TRAIL 

desire to live gloriously for a few hours before facing what 
the future might hold in store. So he turned into Scott’s, 
and lunched discreetly off half a lobster and a pint of Chablis, 
and thereafter climbed to the top deck of a west-going omni¬ 
bus and made his way down to the Queen’s Club, where the 
University sports were in progress. 

The crowd was marvellous—the sunlight marvellous— 
and the spirit of the competitors more marvellous still. The 
extraordinary infection of sport seized Yernon even as he 
passed the turnstile. Competitor and onlooker alike were 
at their best. The world of every day was forgotten in the 
supreme emergency of taking sides and winning for the side. 
The great arena was a pool into which flowed the forces of 
energy, pluck, determination and the will to win. 

Yernon Winslowe’s spirit went out to these magnificent 
young men and was captured by them. He cheered himself 
silly at the Balliol first string who won the high jump at 
five eleven and a half, then put himself at six foot one and 
cleared it. He saw the quarter run in record time—saw 
the herculean effort of the last man which took him clean 
through the field to the first place, to break the tape and 
fall, dead almost, into the arms of his glorying supporters. 
The roar that went up. The bursting of the crowd on to 
the field, fighting for the honour of touching any part of 
this super-youth, who lay with a drawn grey face struggling 
for breath, insensible to everything but the sheer physical 
pain of victory. 

He saw the little exultant male parent, the father of this 
boy, an absurd man with an umbrella, and a velvet collar 
to his coat—a shrewd man, one had said, a difficult man to 
deal with in business, belike, and haply a nasty-natured man. 
He saw that he was crying for very pride of his son’s ex¬ 
ploit—blubbering and lashing out with his umbrella to carve 
a way through the crowd and get down on his knees beside 
the gasping hero. 

A record had been broken. A fifth of a second gained on 
the best time. What did it matter? Where was its import¬ 
ance ? Why should total strangers gulp and sniff and shake 


TREASURE TRAIL 45 

hands with each other and mind so much and feel exalted, 
uplifted? What did it matter? Where was the sublimity 
of this act that it should wring people’s hearts and make 
them roar and make them glad and mad? Why, there was 
not a shoe-lace in the oldest pair of shoes, not a box of 
matches, a postage stamp, a necktie, an umbrella rib, in 
the possession of all that mighty crowd that was not of 
greater service to mankind than running the quarter in a 
fifth of a second less than the record time. 

What was it, then, so to infect the imagination and in¬ 
spire? And the answer came as though spoken by a voice 
inside his head. “Pride of achievement.” Yes, that was 
it, pride of achievement. To keep one’s “light so shining 
a little ahead of the rest,” to make one’s best a little better 
than any precedent best. And, to come to Kipling again: 
to “hold on when there is nothing in you except the will 
that says to you hold on.” Pride of achievement that has 
won wars, steered ships, and made nations. And this was 
the world and these the people Vernon Winslowe had con¬ 
demned as wicked and predatory and vile. 

He looked up and saw on the big grand stand a diadem 
of glistening eyes, a curtain of smiles and flushed faces, and, 
dropping his head, he said to himself: 

“I don’t think I can be wanted much in this company,” 
and he went out. 

At the turnstile he bumped into a man, and recognized 
Dillon. 

“Good Lord, it’s V. W. ! I’m dreadfully sorry, old chap, 
but I slipped into my chambers just after I met you and 
picked up a telephone call from that girl I told you I was 
lunching with. She couldn’t come, so I popped into a train 
and went down to Sandwich for a couple of days’ golf. 
Clean forgot that tenner. Here you are.” He dragged a 
note from his pocket and thrust it into Vernon's hand. 
“See you later,” and he was gone. 

Vernon Winslowe stood without moving. The note burned 
his fingers like a live coal. 

Was the world vile? Was it? Was it? 


CHAPTEE VII. 


S UPPER had been ordered for eleven o’clock. Vernon 
Winslowe had rung up Voisin’s Restaurant the day 
before and made his arrangements. A private room 
or suite of reception rooms, not too much to eat, but plenty 
to drink and good—yes, it was to be a sit-down supper—• 
he did not want people wandering about—but of a light 
character—he did not want them to become torpid with food. 
Caviare —pate de foie —a mayonnaise, perhaps, and a few 
attractive sweets for the ladies. A good fire, and not too 
much light in the room. And it was to be understood, should 
any members of the Press put in an appearance and ask 
questions, no answers were to be given. 

Vernon then read over the names of his expected guests 
—caused them to be repeated and a list made. 

“No one else is to be admitted on any pretext whatever,’’ 
he said. 

“Bien, m’sieur. It is understood— parfaitement.” 

And yet at a quarter to eleven, when the maitre d’hotel 
was supervising the final arrangements and putting a deft 
touch here and there to the table, the door of the Ambassa¬ 
dor’s Room was opened, and a girl dressed in a felt hat and 
a long mackintosh came in with every air of assurance. 

The girl, whose name was Averil Chester, was attractive 
—unusually so. She was neither too tall nor too short. 
Her head was set solidly on her shoulders—her features were 
clean-cut and perfectly proportioned. Her eyes, dark-lashed 
and large, were wide apart—laughing eyes, although for the 
moment the laughter in them seemed to be under some re¬ 
straint. There was an odd contraction about her brows, a 
sharpness which robbed them of a natural tendency to be 
arched. Her mouth was sweet and firm—tender and deter- 

46 


47 


TREASURE TRAIL 
mined—a crimson, healthy mouth. What of her hair was 
visible beneath the pulled-down felt hat proved itself to be 
dark and wavy, and shone where the light caught it with 
unlooked-for glints of red. She stood in the open doorway, 
pulling off her gloves and surveying the room with an air 
of ownership. Bright specks of rain glistened on the 
shoulders of her mackintosh, for the day, with the falling 
of the sun, had fallen from grace, and its promise of spring 
had been shattered with a drizzle of cold rain and a wisp 
of fog. 

“Good evening,’’ she said to the maitre d’hotel, and 
walked boldly into the middle of the room. “This is where 
the party is being held, I suppose.” 

M. Bendigo bowed, but remembered his instructions. The 
visitor’s modest attire was hardly suggestive of a guest at 
Voisin’s Restaurant. 

“Mais oui, mademoiselle. You are one of m’sieur’s 
guests ? ’ ’ 

Averil shook her head. 

“So! Then I cannot understand—M’sieur Vernon Wins- 
lowe gave strict instructions that no one was to be permitted 
to enter without a letter of invitation.” 

At the mention of Vernon’s name, Averil started imper¬ 
ceptibly. She was at pains, however, to conceal her surprise. 
The coincidence of V. W. of the Times advertisement turn¬ 
ing out to be Vernon Winslowe of the hunting-field, and a 
man she knew intimately by sight, complicated the task she 
had set about to accomplish. But it was too late now to 
retreat. 

Averil pulled off her other glove and nodded. 

“That’s all right,” she said. “There will be some ladies 
among the guests to-night. Mr. Winslowe wants me to look 
after them.” 

“But the femme de chambre -” 

“He prefers employing his own private servants.” 

M. Bendigo relaxed. He had not realized mademoiselle 
was of the household of monsieur. The small room on the 
right was prepared for the reception of the ladies. There 



48 TREASURE TRAIL 

was a fire—some powder and pins. If anything else was 

required, mademoiselle had but to ask. 

Averil thanked him, entered the adjoining room, took off 
her hat, folded up her mackintosh, and put on a little black 
apron and a mob cap, which she so pulled down over her 
brow as almost to conceal her eyes. To increase the change 
in her looks, she fluffed out her hair over her ears. It 
commonized her. 

In the larger room M. Bendigo was still fussing round 
the supper table. It was clear he thought Averil attractive, 
and hoped for further converse. In this respect she was at 
no pains to gratify him. Her only reason for returning to 
the supper room was to ascertain whether or no there was 
a telephone. There was. It stood on a small table beneath 
the window, but so long as that man was present there was 
no chance of using it. That was a pity, for she had prom¬ 
ised to ring up Fleet Street if her plan for gaining admis¬ 
sion to the party succeeded. Here was a matter of pride 
rather than of importance. Several reporters from other 
newspapers had been turned away at the doors. Youngly 
enough, she wanted to underline her success. 

“I should like some lavender water for the dressing- 
table/ ’ she said. 

The tiresome M. Bendigo touched a bell and told a waiter 
to bring some. The hope of getting the room to herself was 
not realized. Meanwhile, M. Bendigo asked questions. 

He assumed that the evening’s events were to do with 
the recent advertisement in the Times. He presumed that 
monsieur had a map, and that the guests were those who 
would take part in the treasure hunt. 

“Mr. Winslowe does not like his staff to talk,” said Averil. 

“Ah, the lure of hidden treasure!” exclaimed the French¬ 
man, as it were plucking the words from his mouth with both 
hands. “ ’S a wonderful thing. From the boy we never 
outgrow it. The adventure, eh! Spanish gold! It’s got 
the-” 

“Will you tell your cloak-room attendant she won’t be 



TREASURE TRAIL 49 

wanted ?” said Averil, and returned to the inner room, 
closing the door after her. 

With a shrug of disappointment M. Bendigo turned away 
at the precise moment Vernon Winslowe entered. 

Vernon was carrying a leather dispatch case and an eve¬ 
ning coat was thrown across his shoulder. The usual healthy 
tan of his skin had faded to white, and he was gnawing 
nervously at his lower lip. His brows were down, and be¬ 
neath them his eyes moved restlessly, switching from place 
to place as though he were expecting to be attacked from 
every corner simultaneously. To the greeting from the 
maitre de hotel he offered no reply. When he spoke, it was 
like a man speaking to himself. 

“No one here.” A glance at his watch. “Early yet. 
Table looks all right. Serve the soup when I ring, then 
we’ll forage for ourselves. Take this hat and coat. Shan’t 
want that centre light. Show the people up as they arrive. 
Any brandy and soda ? This room feels very cold—no, 
don’t bother. The commissionaire has the list all right? 
What’s that music?” 

From the restaurant below came the strains of a band 
playing a sorrowful melody. 

M. Bendigo explained from whence the. sounds came, and 
Vernon drew a Bradbury from his pocket. It was one of 
his last, for as a sop to his conscience he had spent the 
earlier part of the evening discharging debts with the rem¬ 
nant of his fortune. 

“Give this to the bandmaster and ask him for heaven’s 
sake to play something cheerful. Yes, and do it now.” 

M. Bendigo went out, and Vernon took from his pocket 
a handkerchief and mopped his forehead. Then he stood for 
a moment with his eyes shut and with lips that moved slowly 
to a line of verse—a line that had been haunting him—and 
rhythmically dinning in his ears for many hours. 

“So some of him lived, but most of him died.” Yes, 
and it was only the part which had died that deserved to 
live. “Honour and faith and a good intent-” 



50 TREASURE TRAIL 

When he opened his eyes Averil was standing a few 
paces away. 

“I beg your pardon, sir. I heard the door, and I thought 
someone had arrived.” 

He answered confusedly. 

“What—I don’t see-” 

“The ladies’ wraps, sir. I’m-” 

“Oh, yes, yes.” 

She turned as if to retire. Something in the shape of 
her chin—the tilt of her head—the manner in which she 
walked, stirred a sudden memory in him. 

“Wait,” he said. “I seem to- Haven’t I seen you 

before ?” 

“Have you?” 

“You remind me of someone. Didn’t you-? No, no. 

I don’t see how you could have done. It’s queer, though. 
Eerie almost.” His thoughts flashed to the hunting photo¬ 
graph which only the day before he had pitched into the 
grate—the photograph of the girl who was looking down 
with that alive, laughing face at—at Sullivan. It was 
uncanny. 

“I shall believe I am seeing ghosts,” he said. Then: 
“How long have you been at this restaurant?” 

“Not long.” 

“And before that?” 

“I was at a place in Fleet Street.” 

He accepted that—flashed another glance at her. 

“I want a drink,” he said. 

“There’s a drink table in the room to the left, sir. And 
some smokes—Virginian and Turkish.” 

She said it commonly, with a lilting London twang. It 
was a shop-girlish inflexion admirably tuned to drive away 
the impression which had formed in Vernon’s mind. 

He gave a jerky laugh and turned away, saying as he 
went: 

“King through to the hall porter, d’you mind, and ask 
him if he has the list of my guests all right.” 

She was glad of the opportunity, and picked up the re- 






TREASURE TRAIL 51 

ceiver as lie passed through to the room on the left to busy 
himself with a decanter and a siphon. 

Averil made a cradle round the mouthpiece of the tele¬ 
phone and spoke softly: 

“Fleet 8000. Yes. That the Courierf Editorial depart¬ 
ment, please. Hullo! Mr. Frendle! Averil Chester speak¬ 
ing. I’ve got it all right, and I think it looks like a very 
good story.” 

Vernon came back with a tumbler in his hand. 

“That’s quite all right, sir,” she said. “He has the list.” 

He took no notice, and for the first time she saw how 
terribly white and drawn he was. And with the sight, 
although she could not tell why, came a sudden distaste for 
the adventure she had undertaken and the deceit she was 
practising. 

It was a thought common to both, and for that reason 
they shirked meeting each other’s eyes. They were looking 
ashamedly at the pattern of the carpet, when the door was 
opened and a waiter announced: 

“Mr. Henry Julius.” 


CHAPTER VIII. 


T HERE was no room for doubt as to the nationality 
of Henry Julius. He was a pure Jew, but not of 
the type that features as a form of humorous diet 
for readers of illustrated papers and the audiences of music 
halls. On the contrary, Henry Julius was an extremely 
handsome man with highly sensitized emotions. His age 
was- thirty-seven, and about him was the air of knowledge 
acquired at a cost. His features were clean-cut and balanced 
to a point of perfection—his hair was like a silk cap—his 
skin clear and olive, and his mouth would have brought re¬ 
nown to a Grecian statue. He filled his clothes faultlessly, 
and they were faultless clothes, much too faultless. An un¬ 
broken knife-edge line ran down his trouser-legs as it were, 
conveying the attention by the most direct route to an 
effulgent pair of patent leather shoes, which shone like suns. 
Chief among the arresting features of this arresting per¬ 
sonality were his eyes. His eyes were singularly limpid and 
bright. They were brown eyes, with a golden band circling 
the pupils. The whites were a clear pale blue of almost 
virginal purity. To look into his eyes one would say: 
“Here is a man who has never been guilty of even the 
slightest excess.’’ 

A catalogue of Henry Julius’s possessions and attractions 
would be incomplete without a word about his hands—hands 
so small and white and exquisitely manicured as to resemble 
a woman’s. In common with many others of his race, Henry 
Julius talked with his hands, but never ridiculously. He 
possessed that rare talent of using them to paint in the 
gaps which occur in dialogue—a talent which in a large 
measure redeemed a certain fundamental commonness and 
over-polish in his speech. He spoke fluently and to the point, 


TREASURE TRAIL 53 

but his words did not ring true like good coin. There was a 
velvety quality in the sounds he made—a nap—like the nap 
on the surface of felt. 

He came into the room briskly—with an air—handing 
his hat to the waiter and flicking into it a pair of white kid 
gloves. Then forward, with hand extended and a smile that 
expressed complete confidence of welcome. 

To the waiter who announced him he said: “Half a min¬ 
ute/ ’ and arrested his exit with a gesture. To Vernon he 
said: “Mr. Winslowe, delighted! I came early, hoping 
for a private word before the others arrive.” Averil he 
favoured with a smile which at once patronized and dis¬ 
missed her. 

She accepted her dismissal and went out. 

“May I tell this joker to keep your guests downstairs 
till we’re through with our business?” 

“As to that,” Vernon replied, “I did not know we had 
any business that is not in common with the rest.” 

Henry Julius produced a gold watch, biscuit-thin, with 
a jewelled monogram on the face cover. After the fashion 
of a conjurer performing a successful “experiment,” he 
touched a spring and the face opened. 

“It’s now five to,” he said. “Let us say till the hour 
strikes. ’ ’ 

The reply was discouraging. 

“What I have to say I propose saying when everyone is 
present.” 

Henry Julius ignored the obstacle and turned to address 
the waiter: 

“Keep ’em downstairs till eleven o’clock.” 

The man went out—speeded by a gesture. 

“Splendid! I’ll come straight to the point.” 

The point was a simple one—a plain, practical point. If 
Vernon Winslowe was in possession of a map and had rea¬ 
son to believe that it would lead to the discovery of a great 
treasure, why did he not go and find it himself without 
dragging a number of other people into the deal? 

Vernon disposed of the query without difficulty. 


54 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Capital—no capital.” 

Point number two. Capital could be obtained—on guar¬ 
antees—from a single source. Where was the virtue of rais¬ 
ing it in driblets from eight investors instead of one ? 

Vernon agreed that the objection was reasonable enough. 

“But, as it happens,” he concluded, “it was my wish that 
this cruise should combine business and pleasure. I have 
no other answer.” 

Henry Julius spun a chair neatly and bestrode it after 
the fashion of an eighteenth-century gallant. He was very 
decorative in all his movements. He put his head on one 
side engagingly. 

“Assuming you have a genuine map and assuming the 
treasure is still there, what’s it worth?” 

Vernon smelt the steel of a trap. 

“It would be obviously impossible to say,” he replied. 

Julius clapped a hand on the chair-back. 

“Sensible! If you’d named a figure, I should have called 
you a liar.” 

“And if you had,” Vernon returned, “I should have 
knocked you down.” 

It was curious how the coming of this acquisitive and 
inquisitive person had revived his distemper. The mere fact 
that the first bite at the bait should be from a man who was 
obviously clever and obviously out to make a bit at the 
expense of anyone else seemed to lend justice to the occasion. 
In Henry Julius he saw a typification of those shrewd and 
predatory qualities which had brought about his ruin. The 
growing sense of uncertainty and unrest which for the last 
few hours had attacked him so bitterly was being lulled 
into insensibility by contact with this man. If this was a 
sample of what might be expected as a result of the adver¬ 
tisement, why, then there seemed no very good reason to 
repent the course he had taken. Like many other persons 
cast in a naturally simple mould, Vernon was a poor hand 
at concealing his emotions, and the face he presented to his 
guest was the face of an angry man. 


TREASURE TRAIL 55 

Henry Julius took his own reading of these evidences of 
anger and secretly rejoiced in them. 

“Temper,” he said, “is a sign of sincerity. But, my 
dear sir, I accept no man’s word as a persuasive argument. 
I deal in proofs. Can you supply them?” 

“Not the sort of proofs likely to satisfy you.” 

“Don’t be too sure. I go a lot by impressions, and 
you’ve impressed me. How much capital do you want?” 

“About ten thousand—possibly less.” 

Henry Julius looked at the ceiling. 

“This expedition,” he said, “attracts me. There’s a 
pictorial side, and it appeals to my pictorial sense. What 
does not attract me is the ninth share in a treasure I might 
divide. ’ ’ 

“Divide?” 

“With you! Now suppose I took a chance and offered 
to come in fifty-fifty. No, let me go on. Send a message 
to the hall porter that you’re ill and can’t entertain your 
guests as arranged—then you and me-” 

With lightning speed he outlined a form of contract be¬ 
tween them, in every clause of which a trip wire was cleverly 
concealed for the feet of his future partner. He was pro¬ 
ceeding gaily, when Vernon cut him short. 

“I don’t think so,” he said. 

“But why not?” 

“In the first place, because I’ve given my word eight 
people should be on this cruise—not two.” 

“Your word,” said Julius. “But there was nothing in 
writing. ’ ’ 

Vernon went on: 

“Added to that, I haven’t cash enough to stand half the 
expenses, and, finally, I am confident you and I would find 
each other’s undiluted society for several months hard to 
bear.” 

“But I like you very well,” said Henry Julius. 

“Thanks very much.” 

‘What if I offered to lend you the money?” 



56 


TREASURE TRAIL 

Vernon jerked back bis head and laughed. 

“Note of hand alone, eh?” he queried. “Any sum from 
ten to ten thousand! No, I don’t think so. If you’re for 
this trip, Julius, you must line up with the rest and take 
equal chances.” 

Henry Julius shrugged his shoulders. 

“You’re making a great mistake.” 

“It won’t be my first,” said Vernon, and bowed, as the 
door opened, to welcome the next guest. 

As a matter of fact there were two, and they were both 
women. Francois, the waiter, gave their names as: 

“Miss Lydia La Rue—Miss Mary Ottery.” 

The difference between these women was extraordinarily 
marked, for whereas Lydia La Rue was magnificent, statu¬ 
esque and scarlet, Mary Ottery was insignificant, transparent 
and grey. A little mouse of a woman was Mary, with her 
small grey face and the grey dress and thin, grey-gloved 
hands. There was something mouse-like, too, about the nerv¬ 
ous way she peeped round the lintel of the door as though 
at the slightest sound she would bolt noiselessly into the dark 
whence she had come. Her hair was drawn back tightly 
from rather a high forehead and secured in a small knot at 
the nape of her neck. She wore silver pince-nez, through 
which a pair of wide-set and unexpectedly courageous eyes 
peered inquiringly. Her nose was rather large and promi¬ 
nent—its prominence being heightened by the hollows of 
her cheeks. Her lips were thin and tightly compressed. 

In absolute contrast were the features and form of Lydia 
La Rue. She carried her head high on a splendid pair of 
shoulders, the perfect symmetry of which was undisturbed 
by strap or sleeve. The tapered fingers of one hand were 
spread effectively upon her hip, and over the crook of her 
arm hung a cloak of sapphire blue. From the other hand 
dangled a vanity bag fashioned to the likeness of a mighty 
tea rose. She wore a clinging gown in some fine shade of 
jade green which emphasized the lines of her figure. Her 
oval face, which was framed in a magnificent auburn coiffure, 
was dead white, and her lips were scarlet as a berry. Hers 


TREASURE TRAIL 57 

was a sensuous mouth with its curved, intolerant upper lip 
and its full moist lower lip. A brave, thoughtless and 
desirable mouth—too desirable to be other than unkind. 
Her eyes were set very close together and tilted up at the 
corners in the direction of meanness. 

It is rarely that two such complete opposites as Mary 
Ottery and Lydia La Rue can be seen at a single glance. It 
is something of a revelation when it happens. There was 
once a man who wrote about women, and, being unafraid of 
committing himself to generalities, he divided the sex into 
two classes—women who see and women who feel. Here is 
a quotation from this temerous person’s work: 

“The statement of the type to which they belong is written clearly 
and beyond confusion in a woman’s eyes and a woman’s mouth. Look 
for the straight-lidded, steady, fearless eyes of the woman who thinks, 
absorbs and understands through the medium of sight, and look 
again for the full, red, petulant mouth of the woman who thinks 
with her senses and has acquired what much or little she may have 
learnt of the book of life from what is printed upon her lips.” 

Whatever may be the truth or fallacy of the above quo¬ 
tation, it is certain these two women—the grey and scarlet 
—the timid and the brazen—supplied an eccentrically ac¬ 
curate illustration of the theory. The illustration was em¬ 
phasized by their greetings of Vernon. 

Said Lydia La Rue: 

“Which of you two is Vernon Winslowe?” 

And when he came forward: 

“Ha! Good. I like your type.” 

Since Vernon did not reciprocate the liking, he made 
haste to introduce her to Henry Julius. Lydia declined 
Averil’s invitation to take her cloak with a dropped eyebrow, 
and inspected the radiant personality of the Jew. Her 
remark to him may have been accidentally insolent: 

“Are you one of the chosen?” 

“I beg your pardon,” said Henry, and drew himself up 
to his full height, which in the circumstances was not quite 
high enough. 


58 TREASURE TRAIL 

“For this trip?” said Lydia, with a short laugh. 

Henry Julius did not trust himself to reply. He prided 
himself on being polite and rather irresistible to women. He 
contented himself by leaning forward and staring at the 
string of pearls which circled Lydia’s throat. Then he 
pursed his lips and turned away with an infinitesimal lift 
of the shoulders. Kemarking the flush on her cheeks which 
followed this tacit criticism, he justly felt that they were 
quits. 

Meanwhile, Mary Ottery was, so to speak, stumbling over 
her own nervousness in the doorway. She mistook the mo¬ 
tive of Vernon’s outstretched hand for an immediate de¬ 
mand for the twenty-five pounds’ deposit required according 
to the terms of the letter he had written. 

“Oh, yes, I have it with me,” she gasped, fumbling with 
the strings of her bag. “It’s here, if I can only get it out. 
I tied the knot rather tight to be on the safe side.” 

Vernon protested that nothing was farther from his 
thoughts than to collect the deposit so urgently. 

“You’ve heard nothing about the expedition yet,” said he. 

“Oh, but I’ve quite made up my mind to come,” she hast¬ 
ened to assure him. “That is, of course, if you’ll let me.” 

Something pathetic in the eagerness of this little grey 
woman plucked at his slackened heart-strings. 

“You’ve the adventurous spirit,” said he, and handed 
her over to Averil, who suggested powder and a little lav¬ 
ender water. 

“I never use powder,” said Mary, “but some lavender 
water would be rather nice. It is when one’s excited—one’s 
nose somehow! ’ ’ 

Averil led her into the inner room. 

Vernon followed the two women thoughtfully with his 
eyes until his attention was distracted by Henry Julius 
plucking at his sleeve. 

“Mr. Winslowe, surely, surely, surely!” 

“Well?” 

“A woman like that on a show of this kind?” 

“I sincerely hope so,” said Vernon. 


59 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“Then in my opinion you must be mad.” 

The hot retort this remark would surely have inspired 
was cut short by a new influx of guests. There were four, 
and they bunched awkwardly in the doorway. In front was 
a fat little man and his fat little wife. They were florid, 
breathless and perspiring. Also they seemed a little rattled 
with the occasion and with each other. The little fat man 
was goading the little fat woman forward, as it were, prompt¬ 
ing her footsteps and acting as a finger-post for her mind. 
Their coming was preluded with the words: 

“Here, mind that mat, mother,” spoken in a rich Mid¬ 
land accent, marred for the moment by a note of irritation. 

Of all the accents in the world there is none kinder, mor& 
homely and comforting than a Midland accent, always as* 
suming that the speaker is at good nature with the world. 
It has about it a ripeness and cordiality that even the rich 
Devon burr cannot rival. It is the natural accent of the 
host—of the man of substance—of the genial, warm-hearted 
man. It is an accent that would seem to sit at the head 
of a high-tea table and preside over Yorkshire hams, cuddle 
crusts and speckly brown eggs. It is an .accent you can 
trust. But, rob it of its natural calm and so contrive that 
your Midlander is at variance with himself and his situation, 
and you shall find a very different music in your ears— 
music dissonant as a police rattle. 

Mr. Joshua Morgan, of Bradford City, and his wife, 
Kate Morgan, had some excuse for being keyed up and 
snappy with each other on this particular night. Their 
coming marked the first step in a terrific adventure and a 
departure from the routine of thirty working years. From 
being steady sober swimmers in the stiff stream of life they 
had, in a moment of unprecedented madness and for no 
better cause than a few tempting lines in a daily paper, 
plunged head-first into a maelstrom which every argument 
of common sense would point to avoiding. The ties and 
responsibilities of home, family and business had been 
severed at a single coup. It was absurd—unheard of, 
grotesque—but with eyes open they had done it. Two nights 


60 TREASURE TRAIL 

before, Kate Morgan had been knitting a vest for a yet un¬ 
born generation, when Joshua came back from the shop, 
slapped down a newspaper cutting on her fat knee, and said: 

“Have a look at yon.” 

Kate Morgan had a look, and when she raised her eyes 
they were glistening in a manner barely decent in a good 
woman of fifty-nine years of age with children at boarding- 
school, a married daughter, and two sons in the business. 
Kate Morgan had never wandered farther afield than Black¬ 
pool sands, but in her eyes the wanderlust was written plain. 

“Now don’t excite yourself,” said Joshua. “Draw me 
a glass of beer, and let’s sit down and have a talk.” 

Nine forty-five was their usual time for retiring, for they 
were early-up folks, but clocks were striking three when 
eventually they made their way to bed. 

“Kate, us’ve earned a holiday,” Joshua said. They were 
his first words when he came back from posting the fateful 
letter. And she replied: 

“But how about that chance of you being in Borough 
Council next ’lection?” 

“Hang Borough Council,” said Joshua very emphatically 
indeed. 

In all the thirty years of their partnership they had never 
been more intimate than on that night. In face of the 
terrific hazard which was contemplated, they clung to each 
other for mutual support. Perhaps that was why Joshua 
slept with an arm round his wife’s neck and why, although 
its position greatly interfered with the flow of blood to her 
brain, she would rather have perished than ask him to re¬ 
move it. 

Years of hard business struggle for existence—the 
bringing up of a large family, with its inevitable concomitant 
of labour, had denied them the opportunity of getting on 
familiar terms with the kinder side of each other’s natures. 
There had been no time for gentleness, and even when some 
small measure of fortune and success rewarded them, the 
habit of work, work, work was so deeply ingrained that it 


TREASURE TRAIL 61 

was impossible to escape from it and relax. Wherefore 
those springs of sympathy and human kindness which had 
existence in both of them through pressure of toil were still 
untapped. They knew each other as two halves of a piece 
of domestic machinery, but spiritually were more or less 
unacquainted. 

Joshua Morgan accepted Vernon’s hand with a kind of 
defensive gesture. 

“ We’ve come,” he said, bringing down his bushy eye¬ 
brows, “but don’t go jumping to conclusion that we’ve com¬ 
mitted ourselves. Ah’m a business man not to be taken 
in by a lot of fandango. We’re here to inspect land, and 
that’s long and short of it. Mother, shake hands with Mr. 
Winslowe.” 

“M’ glove’s stuck,” said Kate, struggling to get it off. 

“Comes of getting a size too small. It’s vanity.” 

“No,” came the tart rejoinder. “It’s perspiration. 
Now it’s split, and that’s your fault.” 

Joshua ignored this accusation. 

“Us is a bit late, but missus wouldn’t be satisfied to come 
straight from station. Must needs unpack and get into 
silk.” 

“And who’d have first to grumble if I’d disgraced you?” 

“How many times,” demanded Joshua, “have I spoke to 
you about back-answering in public?” 

To which Kate Morgan, seeing no advantage in giving the 
required number, replied: 

“Your tie’s up again—it’ll be over your collar in a 
minute. ’ ’ 

Vernon Winslowe avoided the risk of becoming involved 
in a domestic upheaval by transferring his attention to his 
two other guests, whose entrance had been rather eclipsed 
by the round Midlanders. 

The first was an immense young man with ink upon his 
fingers which industrious rubbing with pumice stone had 
failed to remove. For his size and stature he seemed to be 
very ill at ease. 


62 TREASURE TRAIL 

“I didn’t catch your name,” said Vernon. 

“William Carpenter,” was the reply, barely coherent ow¬ 
ing to a nervous affection of the throat. 

William Carpenter was always clearing his throat. He 
cleared it before and during everything he said. His nerv¬ 
ousness was further emphasized by the roundness of his 
shoulders, and by a pair of very large hands which hung 
at his sides as though, having brought them out, he could 
find no use for them, and heartily wished he had left them 
at home, where they would not get in his own and every¬ 
one else’s way. The dress-suit he wore was baggy and 
not altogether successful. It looked as though it were 
ashamed of being a dress-suit, and would very gladly be 
transformed into an honest tweed. It was clearly evident 
William Carpenter had had trouble with the centre stud of 
his shirt-front, a trouble which a person interested in investi¬ 
gation might hazard had occurred before his fingers had 
had their engagement with the pumice stone. Of the white 
tie he wore there could be no two views. Even the least 
censorious would have been compelled to admit that it was 
a failure, and that he would have done better to have gone 
in for a ready-made. 

But whatever sartorial criticisms might be passed against 
William Carpenter, none could deny that he possessed many 
rare features to offset them. For example, he was simple, 
trusting and honest to a fault. These qualities were written 
in every line of his face. He was in his wrong element; 
nothing else was amiss. He should not have been in those 
clothes, or in that company, nor should Fate have allowed 
so magnificent a physical specimen to be no more than a 
humble clerk in the G.P.O. Here was a man who belonged 
to the open air cramped and cribbed behind the grille of 
a local post office. Where there should have been a straight 
back, was a bent; where there should have been earth on 
bronzed hands, was ink on putty-coloured fingers. He was 
a clear example of nature’s miscasting. 

William was a type with whom Vernon Winslowe was 
unfamiliar—their paths in life, service and clerical, had no 


TREASURE TRAIL 63 

point of convergence, if one excepts the war, where men of 
every station and degree were inextricably tangled one with 
the other. But in the war a common cause and a common 
uniform robbed the individual of individuality and begat a 
general sameness. Vernon knew little or nothing about the 
mighty army of 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. workers whose battalions, 
composed of omnibus units, tunnelling companies advancing 
underground and infantry pouring over the bridges from 
the south, daily invade the City of London to be swallowed 
up by the nation’s great grey barracks of industry. This 
fact notwithstanding, the hulking, awkward young man made 
an instant appeal to Vernon, even as, in larger measure, Mary 
Ottery had appealed to him and in a smaller measure the 
Morgans had made their appeal. For no better reason than 
the liking they inspired, he wished very sincerely they were 
not of the company. 

With each fresh arrival Henry Julius had found occasion 
to whisper: 

“Wrong types, old man. No good to us.” 

And in every instance Vernon Winslowe had returned a 
disagreement. 

But they were the wrong types—from Vernon’s point of 
view—utterly wrong. Their transparent honesty baffled the 
motive of the entire business. Julius and the girl Lydia La 
Rue he had no particular compunction about—but the others. 
It was too late now to turn back. He was in the fight—in 
the very thick of it. Retreat was out of the question. 

William Carpenter was grubbing his white waistcoat with 
a nervous hand and saying: 

“Pleased to meet you.” 

He said it to everyone in the room, for Vernon had passed 
him on with a word of introduction and turned to offer a 
greeting to his other guest. 

Tommy Gates was a wisp of a man with deep cavernous 
eye-sockets and wheezy breath. Despite his years—he was 
only twenty-seven—he looked preternaturally old, with that 
quality of age acquired of ill health. He was an attractive 
enough fellow to look at, well-bred and well dressed; but 


64 TREASURE TRAIL 

there was something oddly tragic in his eyes. Yernon had 
seen that expression often enough during the war on the 
faces of men who just before an engagement were given a 
presentiment of their own end. Tommy Gates looked like 
a man who had been recently introduced to the fact that 
he was going to die. The shadow of death seemed to bear 
him company. Even his light, gay laugh and the smile 
that rippled at the corners of his mouth could not disguise 
the fact. He was looking eagerly round the company when 
Yernon addressed him. His tragic eyes were sparkling with 
excitement. 

“I beg your pardon/* said Yernon. “I didn’t see you.” 

“That’s all right. Hon’t apologize. I say, this is pretty 
terrific, ain’t it? My stars!” 

“Care to be introduced?” 

“No, no. Just let me watch. I’m eating it up, you 
know—just devouring it. By gad, you’re a benefactor, 
Winslowe. But I’ll sit down, if you don’t mind. That 
speck of fog played havoc with my breathing.” 

“Breathing?” 

“Asthma. Ha, ha! No game, I tell you.” 

He sat rather jerkily just beside the door and lit a herbal 
cigarette. 

‘ ‘ They smell rather foul, ’ ’ he apologized. 11 D ’you mind ? ’ ’ 

“No, no, go ahead. But oughtn’t you to have stopped 
at home such a rotten night?” 

“And missed thisV 9 The tone was eloquent. 

“I see,” said Yernon. 

He drifted away, and was captured by Henry Julius. 

“Going to include invalids?” was the query. 

“Yes, by heaven—if they want to come,” he replied. 

Henry Julius shrugged his shoulders and said: 

“Your idea of business and mine differ.” 

And suddenly Yernon answered like a man inspired. 

“Business! This is a treasure hunt, and who shall say 
where or how or in what form we shall find it ? ” 

There was only one more guest, and she was late. She 
bustled in unbuttoning a blue alpaca nurse’s cloak. On her 


TREASURE TRAIL 65 

head was a small straw hat with streamers. Nurse Olive 
Banbury was a rough, efficient, practical woman who made 
no attempt to make more of her appearance than was dic¬ 
tated by the formal demands of cleanliness and tidiness. 
She was a typical example of a hospital nurse, which is to 
say that she was a trifle coarse in her use of words, was very 
outspoken, and much more likely to shock people than be 
shocked. Fostered by generations of untruthful fiction- 
writers, there is a popular belief that nurses as a class are 
cool-fingered, tender and cooing as the dove. Never was 
a greater fallacy, as anyone of even less than average intel¬ 
ligence must admit. Daily contact with all the unloveli¬ 
ness of disease and sickness can have but one natural out¬ 
come—a callous efficiency arising out of disgust, a hardening 
of the mental tissues. It would be absurd to assume other¬ 
wise. You shall find prodigies of kindness and of sense in 
the nursing sister, but, if you will avoid disappointment, 
seek not for a soft hand and a soft voice, for modesty or 
for demureness of mien. The soft hands have been hardened 
by carbolic soap and the soft voice roughened by the long, 
little hours of many unslept nights. Nor shall we regret 
that this is so—rather let us rejoice and be grateful. Our 
nursing sister has been a diver in deep seas for the rescue 
of the drowning; shall we speak evil of her for the barnacles 
that chap her sides? 

“I nearly didn’t come,” she said, and sniffed, for the 
night had chilled her nose. “Had an appendix at the last 
moment.” 

“An appendix. Good lord!” exclaimed Vernon. “Ought 


“Operation ward.” 

“Oh, yes, yes.” 

“And the lies I had to tell to get away.” 

Averil came forward to take her cloak. 

“Better put it by itself. It stinks of iodoform. Here, 
take this too.” 

She dragged off her half-pie hat and threw it over Averil’s 
arm by the streamers. 



66 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Am I the last!” 

Vernon nodded. 

Nurse Banbury banged her hair into some sort of shape 
with the palms of her hands. 

“Then let’s get on with it,” she said. 


CHAPTER IX. 


T HERE was a buzz of general conversation in the 
room when Vernon crossed to the mantelpiece and 
touched the bell as a signal that supper might be 
served. During the moment of waiting he had leisure to 
survey his guests without interference. The experience was 
illuminating. 

Henry Julius, with a sure, acquisitive sense, had fastened 
upon Joshua Morgan as the only person likely to do him 
any good. He had furnished the elderly Midlander with a 
cocktail—a drink which Joshua eyed with a suspicion equal 
to the one he felt for its provider—and was enveloping him 
with anecdotes of his personal prowess in realms of high 
finance. Henry Julius spoke in tens of thousands, passing 
airily from one huge sum to another. To uninitiated ears he 
must have sounded very rich indeed, but Joshua Morgan had 
not lived in Bradford City for nothing, and it did not take 
him long to reduce Henry’s fifteen-story marble palaces to 
a single roll-top desk in a ten-by-twelve office in Gray’s 
Inn Road. 

“Ee,” said he, at the close of a long recital, “sounds 
very grand and all, but you can’t cut Bradford ice with a 
paste diamond, Mr. Julius.” 

But he was not allowed to score so easily. Henry Julius 
threw up his hands in a gesture of horror and dismay. 

“Bradford! Of all terrible places. The colour of it— 
so drab. Don’t tell me you live there.” 

You cannot hit a Midlander in his home town without 
accepting the consequences. 

“Mister Julius,” said Joshua, and his hand went to his 
cuff. 

It was Kate Morgan who averted the conflict. Her im- 

67 


68 TREASURE TRAIL 

agination was focused on something higher than an urban 

wrangle. 

“There!” she exclaimed. “If one of m’ stay-laces hasn’t 
bust! A rare crack it went with. ’ ’ 

11 Mother! ’ ’ came the reproof. 

“Well, never mind,” said she. “It’s a lot easier broken. 
Have you been much in foreign parts, Mr. Julius?” 

The immediate danger having passed, Yernon turned his 
attention to Lydia La Rue. She was smoking a Russian 
cigarette through a jade holder, and was scattering the ash 
on the carpet until Mary Ottery came forward and offered 
her a tray. 

“What’s that for?” she asked. 

“I thought you might want it.” 

“Why should I?” 

“I just thought you might. Miss Hornby smoked a 
cigarette very occasionally, and I used to follow her about 
with an ash tray.” 

“Who’s Miss Hornby?” 

“The lady I was companion to.” 

From her great height Lydia looked down with a shade 
of pity. 

“So you’ve been a companion?” she said. 

“Yes, for twelve years.” Mary hesitated; then: “What 
have you been?” 

It was Lydia’s turn to hesitate. She bit her lower lip, 
leaving the ruby filet on one of her teeth. 

“ I ? Oh, a companion, ’ ’ she answered huskily. 

“Then,” said Mary, “we shall have lots to talk about, 
you and I.” 

“Yes,” said Lydia, with an odd twist of the features, 
“yes, shan’t we?” 

She turned away sharply and found William Carpenter 
gazing at her open-mouthed. 

He was a very simple fellow. Lydia pulled the cigarette 
from her holder and thrust it between his amazed lips. 

“Er, thanks,” he gasped, “but I don’t smoke.” 

A very simple fellow indeed. 


TREASURE TRAIL 69 

“Ha!” said Lydia, and marched off to get herself a drink, 
passing as she went under a barrage of contempt from the 
eyes of Nurse Banbury. 

A champagne cork hanged noisily. 

“Souper est servi, m’sieur,” said the mmtre d’hotel. 

Zero hour. 

Vernon Wlnslowe pulled himself together with a jerk. 
The battle of lies was to begin. Although his heart beat 
sledge-hammer blows against his ribs, outwardly he pre¬ 
served an almost unnatural calm. He knew now that he 
hated the task that lay before him, knew that he would 
repent it to the last day of his life. Equally he knew that 
to retire at this stage would be cowardice pure and simple, 
for, try how he might, he could not convince himself whether 
the will to retire was inspired by desire to salve his con¬ 
science or save his skin. Granted a clear understanding on 
that point, he might have acted differently, but failing that 
understanding there was no choice but to go on. The initial 
step at least would have to be taken, even if afterwards 
he might discover intelligence and morality enough to ex¬ 
tricate himself from perpetrating the full swindle. Any 
other course would reveal him to the company as a fraud. 
For the first time he realized the tremendous grip a dishonest 
action fastens upon a man. The thought flashed into his 
brain to foist the whole business off as a joke, but he knew 
from the very intensity of his audience that such a state¬ 
ment would never be believed. But fool, fool, not to have 
chosen his victims according to their deserts. What quarrel 
had he with these, with any one of them? What right had 
he-? 

But too late, too late; the curtain was up—the battle of 
lies was to begin. 

“Serve the soup,” he said, “and after that we’ll look 
after ourselves.” It surprised him to find his voice was 
so steady. “Mr. Julius, take the head of the table. I’m 
sure you’d be comfortable there.” 

“Mr. Vice, eh?” 

“Yes, rather.” 



70 TREASURE TRAIL 

Lydia La Rue was patting a chair in an effort to secure 
him as a partner. Vernon shook his head. 

“Thanks very much, I’m going to walk about, if nobody 
minds. ’ ’ 

Mary Ottery fluttered into the vacant seat. Joshua Mor¬ 
gan, a napkin tucked into his waistcoat, had already em¬ 
placed himself next'to Julius. 

“I’m about fit f or’supper,’’ he said. 44 These railway feeds 
lack nourishment somehow. Mother, get thee down.” 

William Carpenter appeared to be holding out chairs for 
everyone. His politeness was oppressive and rather con¬ 
fused the personality of a guest with that of a waiter. 
Tommy Gates and Olive Banbury had already paired off 
side by side, drawn perhaps by the common ties of sickness 
and remedy. 

44 Gosh!” said Tommy, 44 but ain’t this marvellous?” 

44 I’m waiting,” came the practical rejoinder. ^Then, with 
a sniff and a nod at Lydia: “Who’s the-?” 

44 Part of the adventure.” 

Olive Banbury sniffed again. 

44 Part of a good many adventures, I should say.” 

44 What’s it matter?” His hands were opening and shut¬ 
ting with nervous excitement. He pushed away his cup of 
soup and clasped them on the table. The light in his eyes 
was feverish. 

“I know where you should be, my friend,” said Olive 
Banbury, 44 -in bed.” 

He laughed at that. 

The air was electric when Vernon began to talk. He 
was a fluent talker, with a quick switch from point to point 
and an odd habit of parenthesis. 

44 Look here, good people, this isn’t, properly speaking, 
a sit-down supper, but—don’t bother to pour out the wine. 
Put the bottles on this table. I’ll ring if I want anything, 
and no one else is to be admitted—understand? Good—yes 
—good-bye—but I’d a notion it ’ud be easier to frame this 
scheme over a bit of food.” 




TREASURE TRAIL 71 

Then he told them of the number of replies to his 
advertisement. 

“Over a thousand, and I can’t pretend I read ’em. The 
whole enterprise is built on chance, so I made my selection 
in a chancy way—shoved the letters in a basket and drew 
eight. The rest went up the chimney in smoke. I’m telling 
you this to demonstrate that I had no motive in choosing 
any one of you. That you’re here at all is a matter of luck 
—bad luck, perhaps.” 

There was a buzz of astonishment, and when it had died 
away, Yernon went on talking. 

“That may give you some idea of the shiftless, happy-go- 
lucky fellow and concern you’re dealing with. With some 
of you I dare say it’ll be enough in itself to persuade you 
to take to your heels. Well, if you feel like that, believe 
me, I’d be the last to blame you. If I were in your shoes 
I should be asking myself by now whether the whole thing 
isn’t an elaborate hoax. This talking is dry work. I’ll have 

a glass of wine- Thanks very much.” He drank the 

wine at a gulp. “The fact of my asking each of you to bring 
along a deposit of twenty-five pounds must have looked a 
bit fishy.” 

“Well, old man-” Henry Julius began. 

But Yernon cut him short. 

“Exactly! Of course it does. The entire proposition 
bears the stamp of fraud, and I’ll lay any odds no one 
would be surprised if that door were flung open and a police 
officer walked into the room.” 

He accompanied the words with a gesture toward the door, 
a gesture so commanding that all eyes followed its direction. 
And, as if in response to what he had said, the door swung 
back on its hinges, and a quaint, smiling little man, peering 
at the company over the rims of a pair of thick pebble 
glasses, stepped softly into the room. 




CHAPTER X. 


HIS unexpected apparition, following so closely upon 



their host’s prophetic utterance, drew a gasp from 


everyone present. The only person entirely at ease 


was the little old man himself. Framed in the dark oblong 
of the doorway, he stood smiling and bowing over a waist- 
high hand—the forefinger and thumb of which worked one 
against the other with a queer rotary movement. 

He presented an odd spectacle with his rickety match-stick 
legs—his high-domed forehead and small nut-cracker face, 
creased for the moment in lines of the utmost geniality. 
The amber light flashing on the lenses of his eyeglasses im¬ 
parted something uncanny and elfish to his appearance. 

£ 4 Good evening, everyone, ’ ’ said he with a bird-like quality 
of voice. “I hope I am not late, but I delayed my arrival 
until the waiters had retired.” 

Vernon was first to recover from his surprise. He began: 
“Excuse me, sir,” when the little man held up a hand. 

“The person who says ‘excuse me’ to the unlooked-for 
guest is surely host. Mr. Winslowe, delighted. We have 
met before, although in the natural excitement of the moment 
you would be unlikely to recall the fact.” 


< < 


But- 


“I half expected to find the door locked.” 

Henry Julius remarked: 

“A pity it wasn’t.” 

The little man favoured him with a smile all to himself. 

“It would have made no difference. There is a balcony 
to this wing of the hotel. I should have come in by the 
window. ’ ’ 

“Are you aware,” said Vernon, “that this is a private 
party ? ’ ’ 


72 



TREASURE TRAIL 73 

“Then let us secure ourselves against further intrusions.’’ 

And with great dexterity he turned the key in the lock 
and dropped it in his pocket. 

“My stars/' gasped Tommy, “ain’t he splendid?” 

But this development did not suit Vernon Winslowe. He 
felt that the presence of this little, smiling man constituted 
a new danger. 

“Who are you?” he demanded. 

“Isinglass,” came the reply. “Isinglass—Isinglass.” 

The name was repeated incredulously by Joshua Morgan. 

“It’s stuff they put in jellies to make them set,” observed 
his wife. 

“Precisely, madam,” said the remarkable owner of this 
remarkable name. “A substance which transforms a fluid 
into a solid.” And as he spoke his eyes flicked round and 
reposed for the briefest second on Vernon’s face. 

“May I ask what you want?” said Vernon. 

“Primarily to be of this company. You received my 
letter ? ’ ’ 

“I received over a thousand letters.” 

“Just so! Your failure to reply in no way discouraged 
me. I was determined to come and here I am.” 

“But I told the hall porter to admit no one else.” 

“I foresaw that possibility and escaped its consequences 
by engaging the adjoining suite.” 

Henry Julius threw the pressure of his personality in 
the pool. 

“Turf him out, Mr. Winslowe—go on—out him.” 

The eyes of Mr. Isinglass sparkled with a dangerous light. 

“The key of that door is in my pocket, sir,” he said. “I 
am an old man, but I warn you I shall defend my intrusion 
if necessary with my life.” 

“Dash it,” said Tommy, “he’s a sport. Let him stop, 
I say.” 

Clearly they had reached an impasse and there were many 
cogent reasons for avoiding violence. 

Vernon lifted his shoulders hopelessly. 

“You mean you refuse to go?” 


74 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Just that. I am as firmly rooted here as that awkward 
possession, a man’s conscience.” 

“Well, I don’t know that one extra matters a great deal.” 

Mr. Isinglass protested. 

“Of course it matters. To me the business of to-night is 
of supreme importance.” 

“And to me,” said Mary Ottery, leading a chorus of 
assent. 

“Then if no one minds.” 

So far from minding, most of the guests expressed the 
fervent opinion that Mr. Isinglass would be an ornament 
to the company. 

“Hark at ’em, Winslowe,” he cried. “The yellow fire 
of Spanish gold burns in their eyes—the South Sea surf is 
roaring in their ears. Up with the anchor and let’s away.” 
And, having delivered himself of this inspiring address, he 
squatted on a stool before the fire with his chin resting on 
his knees, looking for all the world like an aged pixy. 

So, having no choice but to proceed, Yernon Winslowe 
plunged headlong into the telling of the tale, and a very 
good job he made of it. 

Perhaps the presence of Mr. Isinglass stirred his imagina¬ 
tion and lent colour to his speech. In his heart he knew 
that the old man would disbelieve all he said, wherefore he 
confined himself as nearly as possible to a recital of the 
facts. He told how years before he and another boy had 
found the map under its coverlet of perished and mildewed 
papers—he told how to their boyish understanding its 
significance had never been made plain. “That came after¬ 
wards—only a few weeks ago. I was rummaging among 

some old junk and refound this thing and suddenly-” 

His audience were leaning forward in tense attitudes as he 
outlined the various reasons that led him to deduce that 
the map was of a treasure island. 

“I tell you I didn’t sleep much that night.” 

Terribly ashamed he was of making statements of this kind; 
the effect they produced on his hearers was almost tangible. 
He hurried back to the truth to recover confidence—dashed 



TREASURE TRAIL 75 

in a word portrait of Roger Winslowe with a few deft 
phrases. 

“A crazy adventurer at heart—nerves like steel—pluck 
enough for a regiment. And a good chap—loved by 
everyone. It was his friends—the men he trusted who pulled 
him down—turned a saint into a sinner.” 

He could be fluent enough on that subject. The mere 
sound of his own voice fanned the embers of his indignation 
to a flame. Old Mr. Isinglass cocked an eyebrow and lis¬ 
tened attentively. 

“Drained him and beggared him and left him broke. By 
God, not only in those days that kind of thing happened. 
Friends, eh? Keep your eye on your friends is a motto 
worth following.” 

For some reason Henry Julius said: “Hear, hear.” 

Vernon became suddenly aware that he was giving him¬ 
self away and switched back to the commonplace. 

“There’s a life of Roger Winslowe at the British Museum 
if anyone cares to look it up. Five years’ piracy in China 
Seas—getting rich and getting his own back. They say he 
cleaned up over a million and the bulk of it was buried.” 

“Phew!” said Henry Julius. 

And Mary Ottery clasped her hands and mumured: 

“What a lovely ancestor to have had!” 

Tommy Gates was beyond coherent speech and William 
Carpenter seemed to have grown in inches. Lydia La Rue 
was pressing the back of her hand so tightly to her mouth 
as to leave printed thereon a scarlet stencil of her lips. Only 
Joshua Morgan was completely master of himself. He came 
from Bradford City. 

“I’d be glad to see the title deeds of that Cornish house,” 
said he, “and look at the map myself.” 

“Must everything be spoiled while people rustle papers?” 
Mary protested. 

“No, he’s right,” said Vernon. “And, oddly enough, 
I have them with me.” He was glad of a moment’s respite. 
From his dispatch-case he took a bundle of legal papers and 
the iron cylinder containing the map. 


76 TREASURE TRAIL 

Julius and Morgan examined the title deeds and declared 
them to be satisfactory. 

“And now for the map.” 

But Vernon shook his head. He had withdrawn it from 
the cylinder and was holding it up for inspection, but too 
far away for its detail and lettering to be visible. 

* 1 Sorry, ’ 9 he said, 11 but until we ’re bound together in some 
sort of partnership I feel I ought not to show this to 
anyone. ’ ’ 

There was disappointment in the faces of the women, but 
the men applauded his caution. 

“That’s sense.” “That’s business.” 

“It’s the map of an island in the South Seas,” Vernon 
went on, “and it’s written on calico or something. I’ve no 
objection to one of you reading the few words in the corner. 
Perhaps you, Carpenter?” 

William Carpenter came forward anxiously, with that 
air of nervous determination sometimes seen in the mem¬ 
ber of an audience roped in, against his better judgment, 
to assist a stage illusionist in the performance of an 
“experiment.” 

“Here,” said Vernon, folding the map so that only a bot¬ 
tom corner was visible. “It’s fairly legible, although the 
lettering may puzzle you.” 

You could have heard a leaf fall in the silence that pre¬ 
luded the reading of the words. 

“Chrm—hum,” went William Carpenter, then: “Cross 
marks Cache. Needle rock meridian—point of shadow— 
fifteen paces due west, three north and under, then the 
initials R. W.” 

There was a kind of sigh when he finished—a sigh and a 
hiss of intaken breath. In the eyes of Mary Ottery and 
Kate Morgan little beacons were burning. A flush of excite¬ 
ment had spread over the whitened features of Lydia La 
Rue as though in an instant a sudden health had found her. 
Tommy Gates was leaning forward, his chest against the 
table edge. The beating of his heart shook him visibly. 


TREASURE TRAIL 77 

With month open and knife and fork in either hand sat 
Joshua Morgan. Henry Julius was stroking his silky mous¬ 
tache with an oddly sensitive and nervous third finger, while 
Nurse Banbury was rapping her foot very fast against the 
floor, like someone who has been waiting over-long for a 
journey to start. 

No one, save Mr. Isinglass, was aware of the presence of 
Averil Chester. She had crept in from the adjoining room 
while Vernon was talking. Lost in the shadows of a recess 
by the fire-place, she watched and listened. A new idea 
seemed to have come to her—something at once desperate 
and determined—a very new idea it must have been, since its 
arrival had surprised away all other expressions from her 
face. From where he sat, perched on the stool, Mr. Isin¬ 
glass could hear her quick breathing and note how her hands 
were pressed against her breast. 

The silence was broken by Joshua Morgan. 

“By gum,” he said, “I wonder what’s there.” 

And Tommy Gates, throwing his weight back in the chair, 
swept a tumbler from the table, which fell with a crash. 

“Never mind,” said Olive Banbury. “It’s lucky.” 

There was a note of hysteria in Lydia La Rue’s sudden 
laugh. 

No one was thinking about Mr. Isinglass, and a question 
from him, precise as a railway time-table, irritated everybody. 

“Might I be allowed to feel the corner of this map? 
Calico, I think you said.” 

“Certainly, if you wish,” said Vernon. 

The old man dropped a bread pill he was rolling into his 
jacket pocket and fingered the map for a moment, with 
closed eyes. 

“Thank you,” he said at last. “Interesting and most 
surprising.” He seemed genuinely puzzled. 

Vernon took a risk. 

“Have you any opinion about it?” he asked. 

“Certainly I have. In my opinion it is a piece of very 
old linen—very, very old.” 


78 TREASURE TRAIL 

Henry Julius came forward hurriedly. 

“You’re not suggesting, sir, there is anything wrong 
with it?” 

“On the contrary, it is surprisingly right.” 

Henry wiped his forehead. 

“Then why start a scare?” 

Mr. Isinglass raised his hands apologetically. 

“I beg everyone’s pardon,” he said. 

A crisis had been averted. Vernon began to speak again 
very fast. 

“Well, there you are, good people,” he said. “That’s the 
whole thing and it’s for you to decide whether or no there’s 
enough evidence—after you with that match, Julius—to 
justify carrying on. For my own part, I’m not going to 
advance any opinion. For what it’s worth I’ve told the 
story and the rest is up to you. So take it or leave it. 

I-” He left the sentence in mid-air and paused to light 

his cigarette, then walked over and rested his elbows on 
the mantelpiece. “If you want to ask questions, fire away.” 

A great wave of fatigue and self-disgust was sweeping 
over him. To conceal it he kept his head averted. All he 
wanted now was to be alone—quite alone with his thoughts 
—to conclude the evening’s entertainment as quickly as 
possible and escape. If only they had doubted or distrusted 
him it might have been different. It was their enthusiasm, 
their acceptance, their transparent belief which was so hard 
to bear. 

Fragments of talk drifted half heard to his ears, for they 
were discussing it eagerly among themselves. 

“I was thinking of Annie and her first,” murmured Mrs. 
Morgan, in a rustling whisper. “That—and not getting 
letters. That place the South Seas is a rare distance away.” 

Then came a question from Tommy: 

“What’s the climate like?” 

“Marvellous.” 

“And would we see any parrot-fish?” asked Mary. 

This was a woman he had planned to swindle and she 
desired to see parrot-fish. Vernon answered mechanically: 



79 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“By looking over the ship’s side.” 

“Miss Hornby had a parrot,” said Mary. “Once it said 
‘Blast!’ so we gave it to the dustman.” 

Someone laughed. 

“And when should we start?” from Tommy. 

“As soon as we could get a yacht and fit her out.” 

“A month?” 

“Less perhaps.” 

Then Henry Julius, clear, incisive and to the point. It 
was the question of all others Vernon most dreaded. 

“What’s it going to cost?” 

He forced himself to reply. 

“To do it comfortably—roughly a thousand a head.” 

The silence that followed was poignant. 

Lydia’s shoulders went up. “Think we’re millionaires,” 
she snapped. 

William Carpenter sagged. Mary Ottery seemed to go 
small in her chair. Nurse Banbury rose sharply and brushed 
some crumbs out of her lap. 

“That being so,” she said, “I may as well get back. 
Good night, everyone.” 

Vernon turned to face the situation. He knew that four 
of the company were out of it. The ante was too high. 
Here was his chance of escape—a simple, certain chance— 
and, insanely, he could not take it. In the presence of the 
disappointment, amounting to anguish, that was written on 
those four white faces he could not accept the chance. 

“Of course, if we hired an ocean tramp or something,” 
he stammered, “ the thing could be done for less—much less 
—half in fact.” 

He saw the colour of hope running back through empty 
veins. 

“Five hundred?” 

“Say five hundred.” 

“I don’t quite know what an ocean tramp is,” said Mary 
Ottery, “and most of my life I’ve been a little frightened of 

tramps, but unless everyone here is very rich-” she 

looked pathetically at Joshua. 



80 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Well,” said he, “I don’t want to upset arrangements, 
but at my time of life a man likes to be comfortable and-” 

Lydia La Rue banged a hand on the table that set the 
glasses ringing. Mary touched as many as she could reach 
into silence to save the lives of sailors. 

“Oh, God,” cried Lydia, “if we’re going, what’s the mat¬ 
ter how we go?” 

It was Henry Julius who put a motion before the com¬ 
pany in favour of the cheaper rate. It was sheer madness 
to spend five hundred when it could reasonably be saved. 
Time enough for extravagance when the treasure was found. 
The motion was carried by a large majority. 

“I wonder,” said Mr. Isinglass modestly, “ if I might 
make a suggestion. I cannot help feeling the ladies will 
find a long voyage in a tarry old tramp far from agreeable.” 

“If we do we’ll tell you,” said Lydia shortly. 

Mr. Isinglass proceeded in an even tone. 

“Rats, cockroaches, and those little red ants everywhere, 
and all for the sake of a treasure which even our host admits 
may never be found.” 

“Some of us,” commented Henry Julius, “haven’t been 
invited to look for it.” 

“Just so. My reason for proposing the use of my own 
yacht the Mascot was a feeling that in some measure I must 
justify my intrusion.” 

Vernon started. Here was a new development which must 
be stopped at all costs. Fortunately Henry Julius seemed 
the man to obstruct it. For the very briefest space he laid 
a forefinger on his nose and tilted his head on one side. 

“My dear sir,” he said, “the mystery of your presence 
is now revealed. I’m a business man myself. Accept my 
sincere compliments.” 

But if his intention was to embarrass, it was a dismal 
failure. 

“Ah, Mr. Julius,” said the old man, “like many others 
you fall into the common error of judging the world by your 
first impression. Believe me, there is no surer form of in¬ 
justice. It is not to the angry, the greedy, the revengeful 



TREASURE TRAIL 81 

surface of a man we should direct our gaze. I have come 
to learn that face value is the faultiest of all valuations. A 
ripple on the surface of a pond will not tell you how deep or 
how shallow are the waters beneath—nor shall you say when 
you see a policeman lead a victim down the street with a 
hand upon his collar which of those two is the sinner.” 
There was something strangely fervent in his tone—a note 
of inspiration. His sudden drop into the commonplace was 
surprising. “By which, if somewhat obliquely, I am trying 
to convince you that I am not touting for a firm of shippers 
nor very markedly for my own advantage. The Mascot is 
a yacht admirably suited to our needs, and you can have her 
at the price of the lowest offer you receive for the charter 
of an ocean tramp. I do not say you can have her for 
nothing, because to do so would be an impertinence and 
would make people believe she would probably sink in the 
first gale.” 

“Do you mean this?” 

“I have an eccentric habit of meaning what I say.” 

“And you wouldn’t be asking for a larger share of the 
profit ?’’ 

“Would you believe'me?—no.” 

Management of affairs was passing out of the hands of 
Vernon Winslowe, and he was powerless to resist. The 
words of protest he tried to utter fell on deaf ears. 

“Well, why not?” boomed Joshua Morgan. “If Mr. Isin¬ 
glass isn’t having a bit of fun at our expense, I say let’s 
close here and now. See here, people! I’m no hand at 
speechifying, and seems we could go on cracking about pros 
and cons of this here cruise till all’s blue. But what’s good 
of that? Either we go or we don’t go, and I’m for going. 
Like enough it’s craziest thing any crowd ever contemplated, 
and folks hearing of our act’ll say we’re daft and gormless, 
the whole jing lot of us. For what may or may not happen 
we’ve nobbut ourselves to thank and ourselves to blame. 
Fools we may be and likely are, but there’s some kind of 
grandeur in this ’ere folly that’s got my sense by the weazen 
and whacked it. Young Mr. Winslowe has put his case fair 


82 TREASURE TRAIL 

and honest, laying no odds on success or failure. Whatever 
you others may decide, I’m with him, and in token of fact 
here’s two notes of twenty-five pounds apiece to cover de¬ 
posit for t’missus and self and I don’t ask no receipt.” 

Something approaching a tumult followed this unexpected 
allegiance from the “solidest” man in the room—a tu¬ 
mult confused with the rustle of banknotes. Simultaneously 
everyone was dragging money from pocket-books and bags 
and holding it out to Vernon. 

“Here you are.” “Take it.” “Here’s mine.” “I’m 
with you.” “My bit, Winslowe.” 

But before a single note had changed hands, Mr. Isinglass 
was on his feet. 

“Just one moment, please,” he begged, “one moment 
before these deposits are paid.” He turned and laid a hand 
on Vernon’s shoulder. “You, Winslowe, have given us 
your reasons why we should join you in this treasure hunt. 
Would it not be to the advantage of the occasion if we, on 
our side, showed an equal frankness and gave our reasons 
for wishing to come? There lie before us a great many 
weeks and months of each other’s society. It would make 
a basis for friendship and understanding if our secrets and 
ambitions, our little or mighty motives were made a common 
property. ’ ’ 


CHAPTER XI. 


I T was Henry Julius who broke the silence which fol¬ 
lowed Mr. Isinglass’s suggestion. He spoke crisply 
with the characteristic courage of his race. 

“Money,” he said. “Money—and I’ll wager that answer 
covers the rest of the party, too.” 

But he was wrong, as the next speaker, Joshua Morgan, 
revealed. Joshua Morgan had stolen a quick glance at his 
wife, then dropped his eyes to the level of the table. While 
he talked he fiddled with a fork, digging a little honeycomb 
of holes in the white cloth. 

“It’s this way wi’ t’missus and self. From one year’s 
end to Mother it’s been ncJbbut business, business, business. 
In a manner of speaking, we’ve never had our noses off 
grindstone and never hardly had time to get to know the 
quiet, peaceful sides of each other’s natures.” 

“We’ve reared a family o’ eight,” Mrs. Morgan inter¬ 
polated, “and that spells a rare lot of work.” 

“We haven’t took a holiday until to-day and never had 
cash or leisure for a proper honeymoon. It’s been at back 
o ’ my head for past thirty years, when business was firm 
enough to carry on unaided and when youngsters was able 
to blow their own noses, to slip away like and have a shot 
at getting a bit more familiar wi’ each other. Busy folks 

us have been, busy folks—and that’s about all-” 

His voice trailed off to nothing and his eyes, in which 
there was a shade of embarrassment, sought the face of Mr. 
Isinglass, as though from him alone could understanding be 
expected. 

“I see,” said the old man, with the tenderest inflex¬ 
ion. “I think we all see, Mr. Morgan. You don’t want 

83 




84 TREASURE TRAIL 

to finish up, like so many married couples, mere business 
acquaintances. ’ ’ 

“That’s it.” 

What William Carpenter had to say was inevitable. It 
was the rebellion of a splendid physical specimen against the 
barred restraints of city life. 

“Sorting mail and selling postage stamps isn’t much of 
a job for a man who—well, I don’t know—ha—hm!—but 
I’m a fairly strong sort of chap. ’ ’ A sudden courage seemed 
to drive away his huskiness. “Sometimes I’ve felt if I 
looked at the world through bars a day longer—those cursed 
grilles—I’d tear them down with my hands.” His mighty 
hands went out to suit an action to the words. It was the 
first time they had revealed any relation to the rest of his 
body. For the moment he looked magnificent—tremendous 
—as though one of the great statues of Gog or Magog had 
leapt from a plinth in the Guildhall armed for the destruc¬ 
tion of every bank building and warehouse within sight. It 
was probably the excess of his own emotions that scared him 
back to the normal stature of his mind and body. His hands 
dropped to his sides and the nervous cough returned. 

“Her—hm! I beg everyone’s pardon for talking about 
myself like this, only—hm!—only this chance seemed like 
heaven—to get away—break away—I’ve a house I can sell 
and some bits of furniture, and-” 

The power of speech deserted him and he sat down 
heavily, snapping the chair back as his weight was thrown 
against it. 

“You wouldn’t wonder why I wanted to go,” said Nurse 
Banbury, “if at 9 a.m. every day—every year—you were 
stuck in an operating-theatre with the smell of steam and 
iodoform and—and the general air of blood and beastliness. 
It’s seemed to me there isn’t a decent sight or a clean smell 
in all the world. Then I saw this advertisement and with 
it an opportunity to—oh, I don’t know, but surely God 
didn’t grow flowers for only the lucky ones to look at and 
catch the scent of!” 

Mr. Isinglass nodded and turned to Mary Ottery. 



85 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“You, madam?” he said. 

She answered fearlessly in her pale, quiet voice. 

“Mine’s a selfish reason—very selfish. I’ve been a com¬ 
panion to an old lady for twelve years and nothing has ever 
happened to me. In the mornings I used to bring her break¬ 
fast on a tray and in the afternoons I read to her—louder 
and louder I read as she got deafer and deafer. She had 
an old dog who snored in a basket at the end of the bed, and 
he was blind and used to bite me when I brought his dinner. 
That was all that happened—twelve years of nothing but 
that. Once there was a fire at the house next door to where 
we lived, but I was at the cemetery leaving flowers on the 
grave of someone I never knew, and it was out before I came 
back. I heard the engines going away as I came round the 
corner of the street. Mr. Winslowe, I’ve my savings and 
the bit Miss Hornby left me. It’s all I’m ever likely to 
have, but I’ll give it to you freely if only you’ll let me come. 
I don’t mind whether there’s treasure on the island or not, 
but I do want something to happen to me before it’s too 
late.” 

Lydia La Rue threw up her head and laughed. It was 
a hard laugh, poised on the edge of hysteria. 

“You lucky, lucky woman!” she said. “Just because too 
much has happened to me, I want to get away. Too much! 
Too much!” 

“I think I understand,” whispered Mary, and with a 
sudden impulse she slipped her hand into Lydia’s and left 
it there. 

“And you, sir,” said Mr. Isinglass, with an eye on Tommy 
Gates. 

“What’s that? Me? Last week I saw a man in Harley 
Street about this asthma.” He gasped a bit, lit a cigarette, 
and went on. “He gave me three months to live.” His 
voice pitched high and ringing. “To live, mark you. To 
live.” 

A shiver ran through the company, and from Kate Morgan 
came a barely audible: “Poor, poor lad.” 

No one suggested that Mr. Isinglass should offer his rea- 


86 TREASURE TRAIL 

sons for joining the party, and in the absence of the de¬ 
mand he volunteered no explanation. His attention was 
riveted on Vernon Winslowe, who, white and drawn and 
nibbling at a finger-nail, stood silently in the centre of the 
room. Throughout the series of confidences, he had betrayed 
a growing sense of distress which reached its climax at the 
close of Tommy Gates’s recital of his own death sentence. 
He started like a man waked from a nightmare when Mr. 
Isinglass addressed him. 

“I think,” said the old man, 4 ‘you owe this company a 
debt of gratitude for their frankness. Nothing remains but 
to collect the deposits.” 

There was a mute appeal in Vernon’s eyes when he turned 
to reply. 

“But I say, look here—surely there is no need for money 
to change hands yet awhile. When I put in the advertise¬ 
ment I had no idea of the sort of people who’d be likely to 
turn up. You see, I thought, perhaps, there’d be some— 
but with you—from any one of you I’d ever so much rather 
the matter of deposits was waived. I’ll let you know how 
things stand in a day or two. If you’ll leave your addresses 
—I’ll write and-” 

It was Averil who collected the addresses, silently and 
without asking leave. 

“You see, until this business of the yacht is fixed up 
there can be no question of expense. I—I’m frightfully 
sorry I ever insulted you with the suggestion.” He became 
aware he was talking very badly—aimlessly—in a circle. 
His one hope was to escape at any cost the branding-iron 
of accepting money from these simple, trusting people, but 
the hope was not to be realized. 

“Winslowe,” said Mr. Isinglass, “here is a matter about 
which there can be no argument. You have given us your 
Iona fides and in justice you cannot refuse to accept ours.” 

And, so saying, he thrust a banknote into Vernon’s pro¬ 
testing hand. 

“Here, take it,” said Lydia. “What’s all the fuss about, 
anyway ? ’ ’ 



TREASURE TRAIL 87 

Tommy Gates and Mary Ottery followed suit. Henry 
Julius was busy with a fountain-pen and a cheque-book. 

“Mr. Winslowe might change his mind,” said he. “By 
accepting a cheque, a form of contract is constituted between 
the parties.” 

It may have been this note of caution that awoke some¬ 
thing arbitrary in the bosom of Joshua Morgan. From a 
well-filled pocket-book he drew two notes of £100 and thrust 
them into Vernon’s hand. 

“My lad,” he said, “here’s a couple of hundred by way 
of showing the faith we have in you. Aye, and if you want 
more, don’t hesitate to ask for it.” 

“Yes, but look here-” cried Vernon desperately. But 

he was not allowed to finish. 

“And now,” said Isinglass, “it is time we were on the 
move. Mr. Winslowe has had a trying ordeal; let us show 
our sensibility of the fact by giving him a chance to get to 
bed at a decent hour. To-morrow we might take a look 
at the Mascot at her moorings in the Solent. Shall we say 
Waterloo at 10.45? You will find me at the barrier ten 
minutes before the train is due to start. Don’t bother about 
tickets, Mr. Winslowe and I will arrange all that. Car¬ 
penter, give Mr. Morgan a hand with his coat. Miss La 
Rue, this wrap, I believe, is yours. ’ ’ 

So active and bustling was he during these last two min¬ 
utes that no one had a chance to say a word. He was like 
an old collie dog barking at the tail of a flock of sheep. His 
organization of the exodus was a triumph of politeness and 
efficiency. He even succeeded in dislodging Henry Julius, 
who was putting a pertinent question as to the “Film rights 
of the cruise.” And when the last guest had been rounded 
up and sent forth, he stood for a second smiling in the 
doorway. 

“Winslowe,” he said, “you and I will meet again very 
soon. ’ ’ 

Then the door snapped and Vernon was alone. 


CHAPTER XII. 


T HE first few moments after the last of his guests 
had departed were an unspeakable relief to Vernon. 
The burden of continuous lying was removed and 
every fibre of his being relaxed. His mind, as it were, fell 
into a kind of restful oblivion from which it awoke slowly 
to a consciousness of the contemptible nature of his offence. 
He had offered false freedom to caged birds and very pres¬ 
ently he would have to declare its falsity. The thought 
smote him like a whip lash and he covered his eyes and 
groaned aloud. In the darkness he was haunted by the fires 
of enthusiasm his words had lighted. He saw a circle of 
radiant faces transform slowly through despair into ha¬ 
tred and disgust. The banknotes, carelessly thrust into his 
pocket, burnt like live coals. He drew them forth and stared 
at them stupidly and an idea developed. Then a voice broke 
the stillness. 

It was Averil Chester who spoke. 

“May I speak to you?” 

He pulled himself together with a jerk. 

“What? No. I thought everyone had gone. No, not 
now. Have you that list of addresses?” 

She picked it up from where it lay on the writing-table. 
“It’s here.” 

He took it from her mechanically. 

f 1 1 want nine envelopes ,’ 9 said he. * ‘ Stamped envelopes. ’ ’ 
“Ill fetch them.” 

“Yes, do.” 

At the door she asked: 

“May I speak to you afterwards?” 

“Yes, if you wish,” he replied. 

She went out. 


88 


TREASURE TRAIL 89 

He stood for a moment biting a finger-nail, then crossed 
quickly to his dispatch-case, took from it a small Colt auto¬ 
matic and jerked a cartridge into the breech. At the sound 
of returning footsteps he put the pistol on the writing-table 
and covered it with a handkerchief. Then he sat down and 
dipped a pen. 

Averil came in and gave him the envelopes. "Without a 
word he began to address them from the list she had made. 
The pile of banknotes was heaped on the table beside him. 
Averil watched him as he wrote. From the expression on 
her face there seemed to be a struggle going on within her. 
Presently she spoke in a hard, clear voice. 

“Mr. Winslowe—or should I call you Lieutenant- 
Commander ? ’’ 

“I’m busy,” he said. 

“Will you please endorse these details? Joined Navy 
1906. Served during the war in submarines. Decorations, 
D.S.O., D.S.C., and bar. Inherited seventy-five thousand 
pounds at the death of Hunter Winslowe.” She read the 
questions from a note-book. 

Vernon turned in his chair. 

“What are you talking about?” 

“I’m a reporter on the Courier .” 

He did not reply for a moment. Then: “I see. Well, 
you’ve collected a story to-night.” 

She nodded. 

“This cap and apron business was bluff?” 

Again she nodded. 

Vernon looked at her in silence. That was easy, for hers * 
was a face that was pleasing to look at. 

“I thought I couldn’t have been mistaken,” he said. 
“Yet at first you took me in.” Then he added bitterly: 
“A great many people have taken me in. It was that com¬ 
mon accent you put on. That pleases you, eh? (For she 
had smiled.) 

“It’s nice to bring things off,” said she. 

“Not always,” he replied. “But you are the girl, aren’t 
you ? ’ ’ 


TREASURE TRAIL 


90 

“The girl?” 

“Who hunted with the Quorn —a matter of three years 
ago ?’ ’ 

Again she nodded. 

“Wait a bit and I’ll tell you your name—Averil Chester.” 
He hesitated. “You were engaged to someone.” 

“How did you know that?” 

“I asked. I wanted an introduction to you—then, when 
I heard, I—I dropped the notion. A man called Sullivan.” 

“You know him?” She had flushed a deep crimson. He 
marked the flush with a kind of satisfaction. 

“Yes, I know him.” 

And under her breath Averil said: 

“The beast.” 

“What’s that?” 

“Nothing.” 

“You were engaged to each other?” 

“We were.” 

“And now?” 

“My father lost all his money, you see.” 

“Oh,” said Vernon Winslowe, “like that, was it? Sulli¬ 
van’s gone abroad, they tell me.” 

“Yes—to the South Seas.” 

“South Seas?” he repeated quickly. 

“So I heard.” 

“When was your engagement bro-” 

“It wasn’t, properly speaking, broken off,” she replied. 
“Technically, I suppose, it still exists.” 

“Technically,” he repeated, and turned to address an¬ 
other envelope. Did she know, he wondered, about the 
other woman? Sullivan had gone south and he had not 
gone alone. A yearning to meet Sullivan again swept over 
yernon Winslowe like a sudden storm. Had he known it, 
a similar yearning shook Averil. All paths led south that 
night. Then came the thought that he was wasting precious 
moments talking to this girl. Moments equally precious 
because they were spent that way. 



TREASURE TRAIL 91 

“It’s getting late/’ lie said. “If you’ve to get your story 
in for to-morrow morning’s issue-” 

“Suppose,” slie answered quickly, “I was willing to ex¬ 
change my story for an adventure!” 

“What?” 

“Mr. Winslowe, I’ve made up my mind to go.” 

“Then good night,” said he. 

“To go on this cruise.” 

He laughed at that. A queer laugh with something of a 
sob in it. 

“I wouldn’t bother,” said he. “Really, I wouldn’t.” 

“I’m sincere,” she replied, “dead sincere.” 

“Run away home,” he said. “Would you burn your 
fingers, too?” 

She was quiet for a moment. Then: 

“Either you consent to my coming or I shall write my 
story in such a way that to-night’s doings will look like 
a fraud.” 

He answered wearily: 

“You’d be a genius if you made them look like anything 
else. ’ ’ 

“I mean it. It’s in my power to wreck the whole 
business. ’ ’ 

He turned and looked at her severely, but the severity 
melted into a smile. 

“What are you thinking?” 

“Only how very happy such a cruise might be if-” 

He left the sentence unfinished. 

“I want my answer, please. If you consent to my 
coming I shall write nothing. I give you five minutes to 
make up your mind.” 

“But why should you want to come?” 

“Perhaps because I’m angry,” she said. “Perhaps 
because I feel I must—must.” 

“Being angry isn’t any good—it’s a boomerang,” said he. 

“Let me come,” she pleaded, all suddenly a woman. “Do 
let me.” 




92 TREASURE TRAIL 

He thought for a moment, and, queerly enough, his 
thoughts were remote from what they spoke about. He 
thought how different life might have been if they had met 
a little sooner. There had been no woman in his life to 
guide and be guided by. And now his life was over and the 
page was to end in a blot instead of a full stop. He would 
have to say something if only to secure solitude for making 
the finish. 

“Then if you insist/’ said he, “you shall have a place in 
the same boat with the rest of them.” 

“You mean that?” 

“I mean it. But don’t be in a hurry to throw up your 
job at Fleet Street. It takes time, you know, to launch a 
vessel for the Islands of the Blest.” 

“I’ll leave my deposit at your rooms in the morning,” 
said she. 

He pondered for a moment, biting the end of his pen. 

“No, bring it round here. There may be a newspaper 
story waiting for you.” 

“What kind of a story?” 

“Quite short. Good night.” 

“Good night,” said she. “I trust you.” 

He nodded gloomily. 

“I seem to inspire trust, do I not?” 

“I shan’t come too early. You look as if you want a 
good rest.” 

“Yes,” he replied, “I shall have that.” 

She had reached the door when he rose and came toward 
her. 

“I say, shake hands, will you?” 

“Of course, but why?” 

“Oh, I don’t know—I just felt I—I’d like someone to— 
to see me off.” 

“See you off?” she repeated. 

“Did I say that? What a fool I am! Good night.” 

He held her hand a moment longer than is usual. After 
she had gone he felt that the room had become suddenly 
cold. He shivered as he folded the notes and began putting 


TREASURE TRAIL 93 

them in envelopes—shivered and looked round for his 
coat. It lay across a chair-back, and he walked towards it, 
only to stop half-way with the reflection of how useless it 
would be to put it on. Very soon it would take more than 
an overcoat to keep him warm. The notion struck him how 
absurd it was to provide breakfasts for condemned men on 
the morning of execution. He was standing irresolute, a 
note and an envelope in his hand, when the door opened and 
Mr. Isinglass came into the room. 


CHAPTER XIII. 


M R. ISINGLASS was wearing a gorgeous silk 
dressing-gown, and lie carried a japanned tin 
deed-box. The smile still played over his wrinkled 
features. His quick, restless eyes took a rapid inventory 
of Vernon’s face and of the writing-table beyond. 

“I hope you are not getting tired of me,” he said dis¬ 
armingly, “but I could not rest without expressing my 
admiration for you.” 

Vernon moved his head from side to side. 

“May we take all that as said?” he implored. 

“No,” said the old man, “for at present it has not been 
said. You, Winslowe, by accident or design, have brought 
a little gossamer into a world of hobnailed boots. It was 
as though you had opened the doors of the true romance to 
a lot of weary people. Did you notice that young man with 
the inky fingers? Looking, it seemed to me, I saw his hand 
resting on the tiller of an argosy. The same with the others 
—everywhere a limitless horizon. That’s no small achieve¬ 
ment for a youngster like yourself. You have launched a 
ship of dreams, and it is my mission to keep its sails filled 
with wind.” 

“Your mission?” 

“Yes, I regard it almost as a call.” 

“I don’t follow you.” 

“Then let me make my meaning clear. Winslowe, I am 
an old man, and for nearly fifty years I have lain on my 
back like a log, unable to move either hand or foot. As 
a boy of fourteen I fell from a ladder in an orchard and 
injured my spine. It starts like an advertisement for a 
patent medicine, does it not? Do you see my hands? They 
are like a child’s, unscarred by the labour of this world. 

94 


TREASURE TRAIL 95 

Only my brain has been free of the high roads and from 
where I lay has excnrsioned into odd corners of life and 
of other men’s minds. A man must have occupation, or 
he is better dead—and I chose for occupation a form of 
philosophy that had as its object an effort to acquire tolera¬ 
tion and understanding of human frailties. For what small 
success I may have achieved I do not thank myself, but the 
Almighty for the help and companionship He has given 
me. You are surprised at that, Winslowe—it strikes you 
as an awkward remark to have made—for in this modern 
world of ours the name of the Almighty is rarely used in 
other than frivolous or violent relation. You are too young 
to use it simply and sincerely as you would speak of the 
name of a friend. I, on the other hand, have come to look 
on the Almighty as the one true friend whose doors are 
open day and night and at whose table there is a place 
laid against the arrival of the tardy visitor. You must 
remember I was a log for fifty years—an immovable mass, 
and it was not to be expected that from the ranks of living 
men and women I should find one idle enough, patient and 
generous enough, or with time enough to spare to offer fifty 
years of companionship to a useless log. Had such a thing 
been possible, I would not have accepted the sacrifice. But 
with the greatest Host of all we cannot outstay our wel¬ 
come. So upon the mercy of the greatest Host I threw 
myself. It happens, therefore, through that companionship 
that I can see sometimes with clearer vision than is common 
to all—and understand a fathom or two below the angry 
surface of a man’s mind. But understanding is of no 
great value without the power to use it for a wider benefit 
than mere accumulation of knowledge. There came to me, 
therefore, a great longing to rise up and move about among 
my fellow-men and women, being of what service I might 
in their needs and distressses. This longing I expressed 
in the form of a prayer very earnestly repeated to my 
Maker. In all reverence I made with Him a compact that 
should my strength return I would devote what years of 
life still remained to me to the service of happiness. It 


96 TREASURE TRAIL 

must have been thought that the prayer was worthy of 

answer—for one morning- Ah, Winslowe! You will 

laugh at this—you will say that to the surgeon who operated 
upon me is the credit due. I would not blame you; though 
for my part I remember very vividly, under the whirling 
daze of the anaesthetic, a figure that laid healing hands 
upon me and said in a voice that might not be disobeyed: 
‘Arise and walk.’ ” 

While he spoke he had taken a piece of bread from the 
supper table and was rolling pellet after pellet between his 
forefinger and thumb. 

“Choose what reason you will for my recovery, I am 
now beyond question an extremely sprightly old man, who 
has spent the last few years hopping about from place to 
place in search of the adventure of happiness. Will you 
deny it was the hand of fate itself led me to the Times ad¬ 
vertising office on the day you visited it? It was neither 
accident nor design brought me there, Winslowe; it was com¬ 
pulsion—a certain sense that I should find there what I 
sought—a way to happiness through the columns of agony.’’ 
He broke off abruptly and looked at Yernon with twinkling 
eyes. 

“Dear me! I have been talking a disgraceful amount, 
and I am sure you want to be rid of me. Let us conclude 
our business and get to bed.” 

“Mr. Isinglass,” said Vernon, with an effort, “I may as 
well say straight out there is no possible business that you 
and I could have in common. ’ ’ And then he added brokenly: 
“I wish to God there were.” 

“Then if you wish that,” said the old man, “there is.” 
He moved across to the writing-table and picked up one of 
the addressed envelopes. “There is a line of Shakespeare 
I would remind you of: 

u ‘What to ourselves in passion we propose, 

The passion ending doth the purpose lose.’” 




Yernon nodded. 
“That’s true enough. 



TREASURE TRAIL 97 

‘‘Possibly, but here is a purpose that is much too good 
to lose—as you yourself will be first to admit. Ah. These 
envelopes! I see you are already sending out the call for 
our next meeting. ” 

“As a matter of fact, I-” 

“But isn’t it a mistake to leave money lying about?” 
He picked up the notes and squared them into a packet. 
“Will you allow me to be your banker? I have brought 
with me a little cash-box. Youth is notoriously careless.” 

“Those notes-” Vernon began. 

“Will be much safer under lock and key.” So saying, 
Mr. Isinglass dropped them in the box and fastened down 
the lid. “These envelopes won’t be wanted until we have 
something definite to communicate.” He tore them across 
and dropped the pieces into the fire. 

“But don’t you understand?” cried Vernon desperately. 

“I understand it is very risky for a young man on the 
verge of bankruptcy to handle public funds-” 

“How did you know that?” 

“I have had two days to find things out.” His wander¬ 
ing finger plucked at the handkerchief and revealed Vernon’s 
automatic pistol lying beneath. He picked it up gingerly. 

“Yours?” he asked. 

“Aline.” 

“Ha!” 

There was a silence while the two men looked at one 
another. It was broken by Mr. Isinglass. 

“As you have so good-naturedly entrusted the notes to 
my care, you will be good enough to lend me this to protect 
them with.” 

He did not wait for consent, but dropped the pistol in 
the pocket of his dressing-gown. 

“Excellent. I think there is nothing more to be done 
at present, so I will bid you good night. We meet to¬ 
morrow for our trip to the Solent. Do not forget the train 
goes at ten forty-five, and I shall be waiting at the barrier.” 

He had reached the door when Vernon’s voice recalled 
him. 





98 TREASURE TRAIL 

“I want my pistol,” he said. * 1 Will you please return 
it to me?” 

But Mr. Isinglass shook his head. 

“You are all wrong about that,” he said. “You don’t 
want it a bit. It’s the greatest mistake in the world to be¬ 
lieve in moments of emergency fire-arms are a protection.” 

“Have it your own way,” said Yernon, and his eyes 
travelled to the window, through which could be seen the 
lights of warehouses reflected in the sluggish water of the 
Thames. The old man followed the direction of his gaze 
and of his thoughts. Then he spoke crisply, incisively: 

“There is one important point, Winslowe.” 

“Well?” 

“We are going on this treasure hunt, you know. We 
are going—we are. Good night.” 

He disappeared. For a long while Yernon stood staring 
at the open doorway. Presently the maiire d’hotel made 
a ceremonious entrance. 

“Look here,” said Yernon, “I don’t know how much 
this supper cost, but-” 

M. Bendigo made a gesture of surprise. 

“The bill is already paid, monsieur.” 

“Paid?” 

“By M. Isinglass.” 

“Oh,” said Yernon dully. “Oh, is it?” 

“Mais ouil Monsieur’s bedroom is ready, if he wishes to 
retire.” 

“My bedroom—who said I wanted a room?” 

“M. Isinglass. As monsieur has no luggage, M. Isinglass 
has arranged for a pair of his own pyjamas-” 

A desire to laugh suddenly shook Yernon by the throat. 

“Seems I’ve ceased to be a free agent,” he exploded. 
“Has Mr. Isinglass arranged everything else for my 
comfort?” 

He instructed me to ask if monsieur desired to see the 
captain.” 

“What captain?” 

“Of monsieur’s yacht, the Mascot .” 




99 


TREASURE TRAIL 
“My yacht!” 

The utter impossibility of escape from the consequences 
of his act smote Yernon blindingly. He had set into motion 
forces he was powerless to resist—he was caught in the 
cogs of his own machinery. The wheels had begun to turn, 
and he must turn with them. The last thread of resistance 
broke with a snap. 

“Here,” he said tamely, “lead the way to that bedroom. 
Ill follow you.” 

As he passed down the corridor Mr. Isinglass popped 
out a head to wish him good night. He stopped with a 
gesture almost childish in its impotence. 

“What must I do?” 

And the old man replied: 

“You surely don’t imagine a lovely idea like yours was 
sent for nothing. Don’t worry. You’ll see. Pleasant 
dreams. ’ ’ 


CHAPTER XIV. 


G IVE a man a job of work—the command of a 
situation—place him in the position of leader 
and accept his advice and ruling, withal acclaim 
him as a good fellow, and assuredly he shall become one. 
This, in all its variants, was what happened to Vernon 
Winslowe. 

The following morning he went to the bedroom of Mr. 
Isinglass with the intention of making a clean breast of every¬ 
thing, and the peculiar old man resolutely declined to hear 
a word of any kind. Indeed, he did all the talking himself 
while he dressed, declaring that time was short and there 
was much too much to do to waste it in speech. 

“I shall want your help in everything, Winslowe,” he 
said, “for, to speak the truth, I’m not a practical man at all. 
I imagine you came here to say that the whole business is 
built on rather a shaky foundation and as such it might be 
as well to drop it.” 

“I did.” 

“Well, we are not going to drop it. All treasure hunts 
are equally unsound in their origin, so we are no worse off 
than any of our predecessors. I don’t suppose a single one 
of us really expects to find what we are seeking, wherefore 
we shall have no reason for disappointment if we return 
empty-handed. My collar-stud is somewhere under the bed 
and bending is an accomplishment I do not possess. Thank 
you very much. There’s some fluff on your elbows and 
knees. If you wet that clothes-brush it will take it off. I 
said clothes-brush, not hair-brush. That’s the one! And 
now I’ve broken my braces and they’re the only pair I’ve 
got.” 

Vernon repaired them with a piece of string. 

100 


TREASURE TRAIL 101 

“Capital. What a clever knot! You ought to be a 
sailor. ’’ 

“I was.” 

“Of course you were, I remember—what a lucky thing, 
you’ll be able to put old Masterman through his paces.” 

“Masterman?” 

“Captain of my yacht. He was here at six this morn¬ 
ing and in a very nasty temper, too. I told him to come 
back at eight.” 

“It’s that now.” 

Mr. Isinglass held a repeater to his ear and it chimed 
the hour. 

“So it is.” He remained silent half a minute, then 
frowned deply. “Masterman is late,” said he. “I’ve a 
good mind to give him the sack. To tell the truth, Wins- 
lowe, I’ve an idea Masterman is scared of this cruise. He’s 
a Mediterranean skipper, Cannes, Nice and Naples, and 
hasn’t been through the Canal for years. D’you know any¬ 
thing about the Indian Ocean yourself?” 

“I think I know every drop of it.” 

“Then put old Masterman through his paces and don’t 
mind what you say to him. Shake him up.” 

Captain Masterman arrived at this moment flying an 
ensign of disfavour. He was disagreeable to a point of 
rudeness. He offered no apology for being late and replied 
curtly to his owner’s questions. 

“Now you have a go at him, Winslowe,” said Mr. 
Isinglass. “Masterman, this is Lieutenant-Commander Wins¬ 
lowe, R.N., and I hope you’ll show him more respect than 
you’ve shown to me.” 

But this devout wish was not realized. Captain Master- 
man’s truculence increased and his replies to Vernon’s 
catechism revealed an abysmal ignorance of the South Seas 
and all pertaining thereunto. In conclusion he offered a 
statement to the effect that if he was to sail the ship he 
would do so under no other guidance than his own. 

“I tell you straight, sir,” he blustered through his beard, 
“I won’t stand for none of this Senior Service fiddle-faddle.” 


102 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Masterman,” said Mr. Isinglass, shaking a soapy shaving- 
brush in his skipper’s face, “I’m surprised at you. Go 
into the next room and wait.” 

This Masterman did, surlily enough, and when he had 
gone Mr. Isinglass turned to Vernon with a despairing 
gesture. 

“Well?” 

“The man is an incompetent humbug,” said Vernon. 
“He’s utterly unfit for his job.” 

“You really think so?” 

“I’m certain of it.” 

Mr. Isinglass shaved for *a moment in silence. Then he 
hurried across the room, opened the door^ popped his head 
through and said: 

“Masterman, you’re fired.” 

He slammed the door quickly to obliterate the counter¬ 
blast—faint echoes of which went rumbling down the passage. 

“And now, Winslowe,” said Mr. Isinglass, “there’s noth¬ 
ing for it but you’ll have to sail the yacht yourself.” 

“What!” gasped Vernon. 

“A hundred pounds a month and all found. Good! 
That’s settled. Help me into my coat and we’ll have some 
breakfast. If we swallow it down quickly there ’ll, be time 
to step round to your chambers for a bag of kit—as, of course, 
you’ll want to stay aboard the yacht. On our way to the 
station we’ll drop in at my agents’ and get you signed up. 
There! If I haven’t forgotten to brush my teeth! Slip 
down to the breakfast-room and order a dish of kidneys and 
bacon for two. “I’ll be along in a jiffy.” 

Vernon carried out his instructions in a kind of daze. 
Things were moving too fast for him to interfere with them 
now. Something else was happening, too, within his mind 
—an utterly unreasonable schoolboy joy was taking posses¬ 
sion and driving away the sinister thoughts which had filled 
it. So tremendous was this new feeling that he descended 
the stairs three at a time. The past was dead—the future 
must look out for itself—but the present—for some astonish¬ 
ing cause—was pregnant with the glorious possibilities. 


TREASURE TRAIL 103 

Where youth is, the distance between despair and elation is 
immeasurably small. The burden of responsibility seemed 
to have been shifted from his shoulders. He had got a job 
—a ship to sail—the seas awaited him—and- 

The first person he met in the hall was Averil. Averil 
neatly dressed in a little dove-grey tailor-made suit and a 
grey hat with a scarlet wing in it. 

“ Hallo!” she said. 

And: 

“Hallo, you/’ said he, and shook hands as though they 
had not met for years and years. 

“You seem very blithe this morning.” 

“I feel it,” he answered. “It’s just occurred to me 
somewhere between the seventh and the eighth stair that 
we’re off to the South Seas on a treasure hunt.” 

“I know. Isn’t it marvellous?” 

“Isn’t it marvellous?” he repeated. 

“I’ve brought my deposit,” she said, holding out an 
envelope. “It was a pair of silver candelabra half an hour 
ago. I rang and rang at a pawnbroker’s bell until he came 
down and answered it.” 

He became serious. 

“You shouldn’t have done that.” 

“Oh, nonsense. I had to. Who wouldn’t sacrifice things 
for experience? I worked out ways and means while you 
were talking last night. There are two Ming vases and a 
five-border ruby-back plate that I can raise the five hundred 
on.” She spoke seriously, then added with a laugh: “I 
kept them out of the wreckage of the home to have a glorious 
bust with if the opportunity arose.” 

“But suppose,” he said, “there is no treasure after all?” 

“Well, I don’t suppose for one moment there is,” she 
replied. “Any more than I suppose I’m going to win when 
I buy a ticket for the Calcutta Sweep.” 

“If I told you it was the unlikeliest expedition a mortal 
ever started on?” 

“You’d find me at the starting-post just the same.” 

“You’re a gambler.” 



104 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Yes, on the outside chance.” 

He found he had taken possession of her hand. 

“Look here,” he said, “bear me company in a sublime 
piece of folly.” 

“Well?” 

“Let’s believe an outsider may win. Let’s admit he never 
ought to have entered—but, having entered, let’s try and 
believe there’s a bare chance he may cover the course.” 

“You say queer things,” said she. 

“Let’s believe,” he pleaded. “Sometimes an inspiration 
comes to a crock and gives it wings.” 

“But I do believe,” she answered, smiling at the tangle 
of racehorses and angels in his effort to express himself. 

“You’re a trump,” he said. 

“And where’s the inspiration to come from?” she asked. 

“I think we shall take it with us,” said he. “At least, 
I think I shall.” 

“To the Island of the Blest?” 

He nodded. 

“D’you know I’m to captain the vessel? The old man is 
signing me on this morning.” 

“Mr. Isinglass?” 

“Yes. His own skipper was a washout, and I found 
myself with the job before I could turn round.” 

“He’s queer, that old man,” said Averil. “Very queer. 
I’ve a feeling that but for him all this would never have 
happened.” 

“I’ve heard of woman’s instinct before,” said Vernon. 
“This is the proof positive.” 

“He’s like a force, you know. Queer he is, and rather 
lovely. When he talks do you have a feeling that it is part 
of yourself that is talking—the better part?” 

“I hadn’t thought of that.” 

“It seemed so to me. As though he was using the best 
of everyone for the best.” 

“I wonder.” He hesitated. “I say, if you’re right about 
him it’s an idea to cling to. I’d tremendously like to believe 
you are right.” 


105 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“Then let’s.” 

“Yes, let’s.” He pulled himself together with a start. 
“Heavens above, I’ve forgotten his kidneys.” 

“Why,” she exclaimed, “there’s nothing wrong-” 

A burst of pealing laughter swept over Vernon. 

“For breakfast,” he said. “See you at Waterloo at 

10.45.” 

“I shall be there.” 

With a wave of the hand he made a dash for the restaurant. 

On his way down the stairs Mr. Isinglass dropped into a 
private room to have a word with Captain Masterman. That 
truculent man smiled amiably at his employer over a dish of 
bacon and eggs. 

“Bravo, Masterman!” said Mr. Isinglass. “I would not 
have believed you were so good an actor. Your combination 
of moroseness and stupidity was most convincing. I’ve no 
time to waste, so tell me in as few words as possible what 
you think of Winslowe. Would you trust him with a ship?” 

The reply was brief and satisfactory. 

“From here to hell and back,” said Captain Masterman. 



CHAPTER XV. 


T OMMY GATES, Nurse Banbury, and William 
Carpenter were the absentees from the expedition 
to the Solent. Tommy was in bed wondering 
whether the doctor who gave him three months to live was 
not a bit of an optimist. Very ill indeed was Tommy Gates. 
Olive Banbury was in it up to the elbows at the hospital. 
There was no escape for her until the ultimate date of de¬ 
parture was fixed. The same applied to William. 

The S.Y. Mascot, trim, white, elegant, produced upon the 
visitors an admiration that was speechless. At the first 
glance, as they skimmed across the water in a motor-launch, 
Mary Ottery was so awestruck that she never dared to raise 
her eyes above the level of the yacht’s mirrored reflection. 
It seemed to her that she was seeing everything upside down 
that morning. 

The Morgans were ecstatic, but managed, for the dignity 
of the city of their birth, to keep their ecstasy within decent 
bounds—bounds which did not extend beyond each other. 

The phrase “Mother, contain yerself!” was frequently 
upon Joshua Morgan’s lips. “Mother” in the meantime kept 
up a running fire of protective admonitions. 

“Ee! Mind where you put your foot. You know that 
ankle of yours! It ’ll be a rare to-do if you give it a twist. ’ ’ 
Lydia La Rue maintained an unbroken silence and smoked 
heaps of cigarettes. She had entered another world. 

Henry Julius, not unnaturally, spoke of other yachts with 
which he was familiar—better yachts whose owners possessed 
very splendid names with an Eastern flavour. He did not 
disparage the Mascot —in fact, he patted it, so to speak, upon 
the beam. Nevertheless, he wished to convey the impression 
that whatever might be the case with the rest of the company, 


TREASURE TRAIL 107 

his own marine experiences had been conducted on luxurious 
lines. Ever susceptible to environment, his language as¬ 
sumed a salt-sea flavour more effective to the ignorant hearer 
than to the informed. 

“You never saw the Elsinore, Mr. Morgan. Old Selig¬ 
man’s yacht—Otto Seligman—the chap that bought the 
Naveby Velasquez—asked my advice about that, he did— 
splendid picture—sold it to the Chicago Gallery for half a 
million. Dollars, of course. Ho, the Elsinore was a boat— 

clipper-built, lovely lines—and move- He wanted to put 

me up for the Royal Yacht Club, Seligman did, but I 
couldn’t spare the time. Done much yachting yourself?” 

“Me and the missus once had a trip in Skylark,” was 
Joshua Morgan’s reply, delivered in a manner calculated to 
suggest that he had heard all he wanted to hear about the 
Elsinore. 

Henry Julius was driven to deliver the remainder of his 
nautical experiences into the ear of Mary Ottery, who was 
much too far advanced in amazement to understand a word 
he said. 

While he talked Henry became sadly aware that the 
braided coat and vest, the check trousers and patent leather 
boots he was wearing were a trifle out of keeping with his 
surroundings. He made a mental note to refit for the cruise 
on appropriate lines. 

Meanwhile Vernon Winslowe was occupied in taking over 
and inspecting his new command. His delight in the Mascot 
was unalloyed. From truck to counter she was perfect. 
With a navy man’s thoroughness he made an inspection of 
every part of the yacht, from one end to the other, cabin 
and engine-room alike. He emerged from his inspection hot, 
greasy and exuberant. He grasped Mr. Isinglass by the hand 
and declared: 

“She’s a pearl beyond price.” 

“You’re pleased with her?” 

“Oh, man!” said Vernon, for he had been speaking a 
moment before to a Scotch engineer. “Oh, man!” Then, 
with a fall in tone : ‘ ‘ But I don’t deserve her. ’ ’ 



108 TREASURE TRAIL’ 

Here was an incoherence that was eloquent. 

“And when will you be ready to sail?” 

4 ‘ Give me ten days.” 

The news went round like wildfire. 

Ten days—then freedom—treasure—and the world beyond. 
In the motor-launch that took them ashore Mrs. Morgan 
broke a long silence to say: 

“It’s rum to think that place we’re going to is under our 
feet at present moment.” 

And: 

“Is it?” said Mary Ottery. “It seems to me it’s right 
above our heads,” and she looked up into the blue. 

The manner in which these various people spent the eve 
and morning of the departure is perhaps worthy of note. 

Joshua Morgan gave a banquet in the Masonic Room at 
the Royal Bull hotel, at which a great deal was eaten and 
drunk of good solid foods and ripe wines. At the close of the 
meal he delivered himself of a pioneer address of such pro¬ 
digious length that many of his audience fell asleep and his 
loving wife was driven to pinch him back to his seat again. 

The address began with the words: 

“Councillors, colleagues, fellow-tradesmen and your good 
ladies. ’ ’ 

It told how he and Kate had worked hard to advance 
themselves and the glory of Bradford. It offered violence to 
any m^n who should arise and declare that his business 
methods had ever been less than “fair and above-board.” 
(“Hear, hear.”) 

“Though,” with a twinkle, “I’m not above admitting 
I’m a hard man when it comes to a bargain and I know 
which end of stick to lay m’ hand on.” 

Appreciative laughter from those present, who felt they 
could claim a parallel virtue. 

“They do say,” he pursued, “as travel broadens the mind 
of a man—as doubtless some of you will admit when I come 
back and reveal new attributes of business and urban kind.” 

This theme he developed to such an extent that it would 


TREASURE TRAIL 109 

appear that the future welfare of the Midlands mainly re¬ 
posed in the most immediate departure for the South Seas. 
Nothing short of that—it seemed—could save civilization. 

At last he was pinched and jolted back into his chair, 
amidst a tumult of applause heartily supported by the 
rudely awakened sleepers. 

On the curb outside the hotel, Joshua rocked a trifle un¬ 
steadily upon his heels. The moon was playing tricks with 
the chimney-stacks, twisting and curving their upright 
silhouettes into the likeness of waving palm fronds. 

“Old Bradford,” said Joshua Morgan, “old Bradford, and 
we’re leaving her.” He blinked and put out a hand to 
find his wife’s arm. “Lead me gently, Kate, for there’s a 
strange feeling within.” 

His was not the only party given that night, for Lydia 
La Rue had sent out invitations and there had come to 
supper at her flat in Charing Cross Road three gentlemen 
with very good evening-dress suits and very bad manners. 
It was clear that they were surprised and resentful at meet¬ 
ing one another. The supper party was a departure from 
the conventional tete-a-tete to which they were more accus¬ 
tomed. They could not understand. Lydia supplied them 
with lobster mayonnaise and champagne—and enlighten¬ 
ment. She said, at the conclusion of the meal: 

“I got you together here—all three of you—to say this: 
I’m going away and I pray God it will be so far away that 
I never meet any more beasts of your sort. That’s all, and 
now you can get out.” 

The three gentlemen with very good evening-dress suits 
—never forgetting their bad manners—went out leaving 
Lydia to fling herself on the bed and cry noisily and chuck 
things about and sweep a whole trayful of creams and cos¬ 
metics on to the floor—from which, half an hour later, she 
rescued and packed them. 

On the last day of his employment by the G.P.O., 
William Carpenter brooded in silence the while he prepared 
in his mind words to prelude his departure. They were 
burning words destined for all to hear—words such as should 


110 TREASURE TRAIL 

break down prison walls and set men thinking with shame 
in their hearts of the cowardice of accepting captivity. 
William Carpenter estimated that what he had to say would 
take at least ten minutes. Then, with head thrown back, 
he would march out gloriously and none should bid him 
stay. 

Eight o’clock was the time chosen for this fine panegyric, 
and until eight William was busy at its preparation. 

The clock struck with unexpected clarity and a man at 
the next section marked “Telegrams” said: 

“Awfully sorry you’re going, ol’ man, awfully sorry.” 

“Yes,” stammered William, “so am I rather.” 

“Was hoping we might have had a few more evening 
walks when the days got longer.” 

“Yes,” said William again. “They were jolly, those 
walks. ’ 

“Well, best of luck, ol’ man.” 

“Best of luck,” he replied. 

Then he took his hat and coat from a peg and went to 
the South Seas, with a lump in his throat. 

Tommy Gates spent his last night ashore with a bronchitis 
kettle and a Saratoga trunk. 

There was nothing spectacular about Nurse Olive Ban¬ 
bury’s departure. She kept a taxi with her luggage aboard 
waiting in a side street by the hospital. She was busy until 
the last moment at a particularly vile operation for cancer. 
When it was finished she slipped away quietly to clean up. 
It was not until then she knew she was free, and she marked 
the knowledge in a peculiar way. An open window adjoined 
the lavatory-basin, and through it she cast a square of car¬ 
bolic soap. Then from a pink wrapper with a floral paper 
seal she drew a tablet of Roger & Gallet’s Carnation soap 
and with it luxuriously washed her hands to the smell of 
cottage gardens. 

Meanwhile the activities of Henry Julius were many and 
various, being mainly divided between sundry firms of 
Theatrical Costumiers and the promotion of a small com¬ 
pany for the future success of which he was not so sanguine 


TREASURE TRAIL 111 

as to consider his continued residence in Great Britain would 
be either necessary or expedient. He purchased his travel¬ 
ling-kit from Theatrical Costumiers in preference to orthodox 
tailors, because they were better able to supply his multi¬ 
farious needs. A small picture-dealing business which he 
conducted in the name of Botticelli, Ltd., was sold under 
the hammer at an agreeable profit—he himself acting as 
agent for the purchaser and netting a trifling matter of five 
per cent, on the deal. Thus he was free to go his ways with 
the pleasant sense of having spent his time to advantage. 

Viewed in comparison with all previous experience, the 
adventure confronting Mary Ottery was so stupendous as to 
deprive her of the power to refer to it to anyone. Her 
emotions were terrific and she bottled them up in her own 
small bosom, where they greatly interfered with the normal 
working of her heart and lungs. As a result she was per¬ 
manently out of breath and subsisted mainly on essence of 
peppermint and hot water. On the day following her visit 
to the Mascot she bought herself a Willesden canvas cabin- 
trunk, three cotton frocks, a Panama hat, a sketch-book, 
and a diary. And every night she was busy until the small 
hours were beginning to get bigger, packing and repackings 
those purchases and such of her old belongings as might 
prove useful on the voyage. And all the while she was 
obsessed with the ghastly fear that at any moment she would 
wake up and find it was all a dream. The very sound of an 
approaching postman brought about an instant syncope. 

On the last night of all she did not sleep a wink, but 
sat by the open window of her room until the dawn fringed 
the black horizon of the east and the sun came creeping up 
above the blue network of slates and chimney-stacks. Even 
her landlady was ignorant of Mary’s plans. The most she 
had been able to say was: 

“I shan’t be wanting my room for a little while, so if 
you care to let it-” 

At nine o’clock on the fateful day she knocked at the 
kitchen door and wondered if Mrs. Mitcham could spare her 
son to get a taxi. 



112 TREASURE TRAIL 

Mrs. Mitcham could. 

The taxi duly arrived and Mary’s beautiful Willesden can¬ 
vas trunk was placed upon it. 

“And where should I forward letters, miss, should any 
arrive ? ’ ’ was asked. 

Mary Ottery took a tremendous grip on herself, fighting 
against the forces of silence that almost strangled her. 

“Poste Restante, Honolulu,” she gasped, and dived shame¬ 
fully into the protective gloom of the taxi. 

At three o’clock that afternoon the Mascot steamed slowly 
down the Solent. Opposite Ryde she spread tier upon tier of 
beautiful white wings and slanted through the dipping water 
towards the South. 


CHAPTER XVI. 


T O the untravelled, first impressions of a sea voyage 
are very much alike. They begin with admiration 
for the neatness and completeness of a ship’s cabin 
—an admiration changing into doubt as to where all one’s 
belongings shall be bestowed. Follows an immediate desire 
for something to eat, which when realized gives place to 
vague dislike for the queer ship flavour which seems to per¬ 
meate everything. Persons unaccustomed to the cardboardy 
taste of dried milk begin to wonder what tea would be like 
drunk neat—and find the experiment a disappointment. 
The business of unpacking being concluded, the womenfolk 
take vital interest as to the particular spot on which their 
deck chairs shall be placed—a proceeding not infrequently 
accompanied by jealous feelings directed against more suc¬ 
cessful competitors. The men being denied their usual 
avocations, and having leaned against the bulwarks for as 
long as their natures can endure, revise the drinking laws 
which in the past have governed them and decide that four 
o’clock in the afternoon is not too soon for “having one.” 
And since the practice of “having one” is merely a euphe¬ 
mistic way of expressing having several, the first few hours 
of a sea voyage are usually marred by alcoholic excesses. 
Following on the temporary exuberance thus engendered, 
come misgivings as to one’s ability to “stand very much of 
this sort of life,” come calculations as to what is the earliest 
date one may hope to reach a port of landing. In short, 
gloom descends where originally happiness and delight tran¬ 
scended. And since gloom is the doorkeeper to mal de 
mer, grief of mind is quickly transformed into grief of 
body. The sea, from having been complimented on its ami¬ 
able smoothness, is condemned as a restless, turbulent fel- 

113 


114 TREASURE TRAIL 

low, without a kindly thought for other people’s troubles. 

Little matters which at first proved entertaining, such as 
the clanging of the ship’s bell—an operation which, to the 
landsman, appears to have no conceivable relation to ac¬ 
cepted measurements of time—become of a sudden a source 
of irritation. Bunks, which when tested in port provided 
an acme of luxury, reveal themselves to be barren of comfort 
and fruitful of despair. 

There is nothing in the world more difficult of adjust¬ 
ment than the temperament of a landsman to life at sea. 
He suspects and dislikes nearly everyone. He is sullen and 
morose by turns. He is sorry for himself and no one else. 
He is sick, sore, angry and bored. He cannot read with 
interest nor eat with comfort. He is tired of sitting down 
and cannot be bothered to stand up. If it chances he is 
acquainted with modern poetry, the thought of Mr. Mase¬ 
field’s “Sea Ballads” fills him with murderous indignation. 
That a man who by experience should have known better 
could set his pen to the task of writing such lines as: 

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, 

And all I need is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,” 

is a matter that should be dealt with by the public executioner. 

It may be that the passengers of the Mascot were un¬ 
usually unfortunate, for the fine weather that smiled on 
them in the Solent gave place to wind and running seas 
ere they came abreast of Portland Bill. The waves ran 
steep and sent great slaps of spray over the yacht’s side, 
ruining a pair of white ducks Henry Julius was wearing, and 
filling Joshua Morgan’s tobacco pouch with water. These 
two gentlemen—who were feeling far from well—showed 
a disposition to blame each other for this mishap, and words 
were exchanged on both sides. 

Tommy Gates had retired to his cabin, and lay gasping 
in his bunk. The sea had no terrors for the boy; he was 
too ill in other ways for so minor an affair as rough water 
to affect him. Olive Banbury sat on a camp stool in his 
cabin for as long as she could stand it. Wheels were 


TREASURE TRAIL 115 

revolving in her head, and she was scarcely able to keep 
her eyes open, since the dreadful vision of an appearing and 
disappearing horizon made her giddy. It occurred to her 
as odd that the first day of her freedom should be spent at 
a bedside. Her sense of duty, however, was too strong to 
shirk the responsibility. She had wanted to be on deck, 
watching the coast of England go slowly by, and instead 
here she was back at her job again and listening to a man 
fighting for breath. It is terribly difficult to escape from 
one’s accustomed self. 

“But I must get over these beastly qualms,” she thought, 
“or I’ll be a precious lot of good to the boy.” 

Presently he said: 

“It’s frightfully nice of you sticking here with me—why 
not go on deck for a spell? You look awfully green. Is it 
rough or something?” 

“Rough,” she repeated. “Good Lord!” 

“Don’t bother about me.” 

“No bother. Besides, I’ll be sick if I move.” She 
paused for a moment and pressed her forehead with both 
hands. “Come to that, I’ll be sick anyway.” Then, sud¬ 
denly: “Sorry,” and she fled. 

Olive Banbury believed in saying what she meant. She 
possessed the quality of frank coarseness which belongs to 
naturally refined beings. 

In the little corridor she passed Lydia La Rue, who was 
disgustedly smoking a Russian cigarette. 

“That’s swank,” she said as she hurried by. 

“No, it isn’t,” said Lydia, but as she wanted to create a 
good impression she threw away the cigarette—glad of the 
chance, perhaps. She had already lost her temper once since 
she came on board, and did not want to gain a reputation 
for ill humour. The cause of her temper was William Car¬ 
penter, who had made himself a nuisance by offering to do 
odds and ends to promote her comfort. Lydia was a good 
analyst of other people’s minds, and in half a glance had 
read the admiration she had inspired in the big hulking 
young man. She did not want admiration—certainly not 


116 TREASURE TRAIL 

his. Of all types she had the least use for your clumsy, 
calf-like fellow. If he fancied he was likely to cut ice with 
her, the sooner he was disillusioned the better. She had told 
him she could put up her own chair and fetch her own coat— 
and advised him to get a piece of string and amuse himself 
tying knots in it. So William went away disconsolate, and 
presently, seeing a nice little “ladder,” he climbed up and 
found himself alongside Yernon on the bridge. 

Yernon was going to order him below peremptorily when 
a kindly instinct warned him that the intrusion was born 
of ignorance. 

“This is a jolly place,” said William. “I’d like to stop 
here—may I ? 

Yernon grinned at him amiably and shook his head. A 
quartermaster at the wheel also grinned. 

“Sorry,” said Yernon, “reserved for navigation and all 
that. Old sea law, Carpenter, that mustn’t be abused. 
Love to have you otherwise.” 

So William Carpenter went down blushfully, and thought 
what a good sort Yernon Winslowe was and wondered what 
he could do to show it. 

Yernon himself was happier than he would have believed 
possible. He had but to lick his lips and a taste of salt 
was upon them. Beneath his feet the little yacht thrilled 
and pulsed with life as she drilled through the leaping seas. 
He was in his element—gorgeously and completely. Now 
and again his eyes shifted from the mottled grey horizon to 
the figure of a girl in brown oilskins who leant over the 
prow of the Mascot and laughed at the slapping spray that 
drenched her face and hair. 

That night, to the best of her ability, Mary Ottery made 
her first attempt as a diarist. 

“The weather is beginning to be rough,” she wrote, “so 
rough that I foresee I shall have to postpone writing what 
I feel about it until other feelings which I have feel easier.” 

That was all. A brief entry, but eloquent. The phrase 
“beginning to be rough” was prophetic, and for four days 
the Mascot cavorted in a Bay of Biscay circus that included 


TREASURE TRAIL 117 

every possible item in the program. Vernon was scarcely 
of! the bridge, and the esteem he won from passengers and 
crew alike was boundless. The first officer, a competent 
young fellow named Rogers, declared that but for his sea¬ 
manship they might well have had to send out “the old how- 
do-you-do” (this being his particular method of referring 
to an S.O.S.). For twenty-four hours they scarcely made 
any headway to speak of. The decks were swept from end 
to end by heavy seas. Three of the lifeboats were staved 
in, and their davits were twisted like spaghetti. Stays and 
rigging were swept overboard and a skylight was smashed, 
the saloon below and some adjoining cabins being flooded 
with water. From a mariner’s point of view it was lively 
enough; from a passenger’s, it was hell. The relief of every¬ 
one was immense when, on the evening of the fifth day, they 
slipped into the harbour at Cadiz and dropped anchor. 


CHAPTEE XVII. 


T HEY spent a week in Cadiz undergoing repairs. In 
an English port the work could have been carried 
out in a couple of days, but the Spanish habit of 
Manana prolonged operations. Vernon was anxious to get 
under way again as soon as possible, but the majority of the 
passengers were grateful enough for the respite ashore. 

Their initiation to the seas had been a trifle over the odds, 
and had it not been that they awoke on the morning after 
the ordeal of the storm to find a bright sun shining on a 
white, close-packed town, to the smell of flowers and foreign 
ports, and a general hint and promise of a brighter, smoother 
future, it is possible some of them would have thrown in 
their hands and returned to England. 

Arrangements were made for a party to go ashore. They 
went, under the asgis of Mr. Isinglass, who revealed new and 
remarkable talents as a linguist. His handling of would-be 
guides, youths importunate to clean even the cleanest boots, 
waiters in cafes, and the army of pedlars who besiege visitors 
for the purpose of selling the claws of crayfish, draughts of 
drinking-water at a halfpenny a mug, and great bunches of 
roses and lilies, was beyond all praise. 

44 It was here,” said Mary Ottery, “that the great Drake 
singed the Spanish king’s—or was it admiral’s?—beard. 
Though,” she added, “I am never very clear in my mind 
how he did it.” 

11 Queer you should have mentioned Drake, ’ ’ observed 
Henry Julius, “for, as it happens, he was a sort of ancestor 
of mine.” 

Joshua Morgan, who overheard this improbable assertion, 
remarked: 

“Aye, I guessed as much from the way that buffeting 

118 


TREASURE TRAIL 119 

turned you up, Mr. Julius. They do say as Drake never 
could stomach a rough passage/’ 

Henry ignored the satire and proceeded to give reasons 
for claiming this distinguished relation. Mary Ottery was 
too filled with amazement at finding herself in a real Spanish 
town to pay much heed to what was being said. Vaguely 
she imagined Henry Julius was lying, but, even so, she was 
not greatly concerned. Nevertheless, she was rather aston¬ 
ished that he should bother to try and produce an effect upon 
anyone so unimportant as herself. After all, what could 
her admiration be worth that he should strut in fine feathers 
to win it ? For a moment the question interested and perhaps 
intrigued her. Life was full of surprises, especially that 
morning. There were surprises in costume, in habit, and in 
architecture—and a whole palette full of surprises in colour. 
Henry Julius was marvellous about colour. Metaphorically 
he squeezed little dabs of it from mental tubes upon a canvas 
of words. “It was very pleasant,” as Mary subsequently 
wrote in her diary, “to hear him talk in art shades.” She 
used this phrase because her aesthetic education had never 
been developed beyond the early stage which believed that 
any scheme of coloration carried out in what she termed 
“pastel tints” (a range which covers all the saddest and 
milkiest moods of cinnamon and green) must surely be 
regarded as the sublime terminus of Art. Had she known 
herself better—as subsequent experience provided knowl¬ 
edge—she would have been quick to realize that in this 
matter she was guilty of an affectation. For though she ex¬ 
pressed polite admiration for graduations of white and eau- 
de-nil, in reality the garden of her soul was laid out with 
scarlet poppies and high plumes of larkspur. Some realiza¬ 
tion of this first came to her when Henry pointed out a wine- 
dark splash of purple bougainvillea spilled across a yellow 
wall. 

“See it,” he cried, pointing with a painter’s thumb. “See 
the fierce intensity of it? That’s Art—true, full-blooded 
Art. Colour, that is—colour that sings with a voice like 
poor Caruso’s.” 


120 TREASURE TRAIL 

It marked an epoch in the life of Mary Ottery. From 
that hour onward her taste for grey broadened into a need 
for something ruddier. It was as though a crimson ray from 
the falling sun had streaked across a leaden sky. Oddly 
enough, what Julius had said had the more far-reaching 
effect of forming a basis of friendship between them. Nor 
was that all, for in the course of the day spent ashore Alary 
Ottery threw away her pince-nez—or, rather, presented them 
to a child—declaring, and with truth, that she “saw a great 
deal better without them.” 

The result was to take years off her appearance. Henry 
Julius had laid aside the super-yachting costume which it 
was his habit to wear on board, and was arrayed in an ultra- 
Riviera suiting embellished with a pair of brown suede shoes. 
There seemed to be no end to his sartorial resources. 

As Mrs. Alorgan remarked in the private ear of her 
husband: 

“Wonder is he didn’t come out as one of them toreadors 
and be done with it.” 

Mr. Morgan made no audible reply—his attention being 
occupied in looking at Lydia. This fact was noted by his 
wife with misgiving. 

“Ee well,” she observed, “there’s strange folks among 
us, and I misdoubt there’ll be trouble afore we gets safely 
home to Bradford.” 

Lydia was attracting more attention than she desired. 
William Carpenter was the chief offender. The homely 
young man was never out of her sight. Even though she 
treated him with calculated rudeness, he always bobbed up 
with fresh offers of service. To make matters worse, Lydia 
was out of temper again. She had asked Vernon to come 
ashore, and he had refused—quite off-handedly, as though 
by refusing he denied himself nothing. It had made her 
angry, for she liked Vernon with one of those fierce, impul¬ 
sive likings which in the past had almost invariably produced 
a reciprocal liking. He appealed to her as a man, with that 
odd nervy quality of his and sudden descents from gaiety to 


TREASURE TRAIL 121 

gloom. There was a recklessness and authority about him 
that attracted her to a point of exasperation. His moments 
of chivalrous regard, followed by lapses of complete in¬ 
attention, as though his mind could not be held long by a 
single interest—his obvious efficiency and command—his 
smile, his hair, his hands—a combination of these qualities 
aroused in Lydia a consuming desire to attract his notice. 
He must have been aware of the fact, and yet he seemed to 
shun rather than court her society. Lydia was not used to 
being shunned. True, she had come away to escape from 
the muddle these insurgent feelings had always involved 
her in—she had come away to escape from herself and the 
consequences of her old self. She had killed her old self on 
the night of the supper party, when the three gentlemen in 
good dress-suits had been sent from her doors. She had 
purged the past with the hot, angry tears she shed, and yet 
here was her old self cropping up again, greedy, predatory, 
yearning. That was why she turned on William Carpenter 
with such savagery when a civil impulse persuaded him to 
take her arm at a crossing. 

“If you touch me again,’’ she stormed, “I’ll hit you across 
the mouth. ’ ’ 

He fell back a pace and gasped. 

“I—I’m awfully sorry—b-b-but you’d have run into that 
b-b-bullock cart—her—hum!” 

“Oh, can’t you cure yourself of that stammer?” 

“I don’t know,” he answered. “I’ll t-try.” 

After all, one can do no more than try. But our natures 
are not susceptible to swift changes. They run their accus¬ 
tomed courses through the channels of long habit. Tide the 
case of Olive Banbury, who had stayed on the Mascot to 
nurse a sick man. And listen to Joshua Alorgan speculating 
as to whether “Young Tim has bought that consignment of 
Manchester goods to advantage.” 

Henry Julius moved to the side of Mr. Isinglass to ask in 
the naivest way: 

“At all interested in mining shares, Mr. Isinglass?” 


122 TREASURE TRAIL 

And Mary Ottery said to Kate Morgan: 

“I’m sure that parcel is bothering you; do let 
carry it.” 

Ethiopians all! 


me 


CHAPTER XVIII. 


V ERNON seldom went ashore. His days were oc¬ 
cupied supervising the repairs to the Mascot, and 
for the most part he spent the evenings in his cabin 
busying himself with ocean charts and his own reflections. 
A firm conviction, inspired by the unfailing optimism of Mr. 
Isinglass in human nature, was growing in his mind that 
somehow he would be given the power to carry the enterprise 
through to a successful conclusion. Clearly it was useless to 
hope that a tangible treasure would be found, but in the last 
two weeks he had come to apply a wider application to the 
word treasure than its mere financial significance. He asked 
himself, of what is treasure composed ? Surely not of 
doubloons and pieces of eight. It came to him that of a 
few hurried words exchanged in an early morning with a 
girl he scarcely knew—that of the knowledge of her near¬ 
ness—of a now and then sight of her with cheeks glistening 
from the upflung spray, a man might fill a treasure chest to 
overflowing. 

He ran over in his mind the motives and ambitions which 
brought together the odd company, drawn by his will-o’-the- 
wisp advertisement. And of them all only Henry Julius 
had declared a desire for money. The magnet pulled the 
rest in many different ways, toward adventure, escape, health, 
toil and amazement. Surely, surely the power might he 
granted to give them generously of these. 

For this reason Vernon spent much time alone, racking 
his brains as to what means he should employ. 

The subscribed capital of the company was five thousand 
pounds, and that money, by hook or by crook, he determined 
should be repaid to the investors on the day they set foot 
on English soil again. Of his own original fortune, nothing 

123 


124 TREASURE TRAIL 

remained. There was a possibility he might raise a bit on 
what he would inherit from his uncle, Fletcher Winslow, in 
accordance with the terms of his late grandfather’s will. 
But Fletcher Winslowe had always lived expensively, and, 
since the administration of thyroid had given him a new 
lease of life, it was unreasonable to suppose that a large sum 
could be raised on the reversion. The question, however, 
was worth investigating, and an idea came to Vernon that he 
would write to Ralph Whittaker and enlist his aid. 

“My dear old Ralph,” he wrote. “If you haven’t chucked 
this into the fire, I w r ant you to help me out of a tangle. I 
dare say if you showed this letter to the police and told them 
what you know of the business, they would make arrange¬ 
ments by cable for my arrest. In case you believe it would 
be a good job if they did, I enclose a list of ports we shall 
call at, with the approximate dates of arrival. You must do 
what you think right about this. As regards that schoolboy 
promise of ours, I call it off and leave you to act as you 
please. I was in a black mood that day you came and looked 
me up—in a black, revengeful temper—and I confess now 
my aim was to get back at the world for the shabby way I 
felt it had treated me. That advertisement of mine was in¬ 
tended to rope in a crowd of sharks whom I meant to bleed 
all I knew how. What’s happened has defeated me, for, in¬ 
stead of sharks, I find myself in such a company of sportsmen 
as I didn’t believe existed.” 

Followed a description of what took place at the supper 
party. 

* ‘ They trusted me, Ralph, and, though it must sound like a 
lie to say so, I hadn’t the heart to tell them the truth. It 
seemed to me I had started something that just had to go on. 
Call it cowardice, if you like, but, having opened the door 
on this adventure, I lacked the courage to bang it in their 
faces. I suppose I am an ass to believe I shall ever scrape 
out of the mess with a rag of character left to me, but, 
win or lose, I’m going to have a shot at it. 

“I’ve been given command of this yacht, and she’s a mar¬ 
vel—yes, and I think I’ve got some sort of command of 


TREASURE TRAIL 125 

myself too. ’Tanyrate, I’m trying to sort out the angry 
muddle I’ve made of things and clean up what’s left. One 
thing is certain, these folk must have a run for their money, 
and, having had it, they must have their money returned. 
And this is where you can help me.” 

Followed a number of details about lawyers and wills 
and reversionary securities, and a good many more or less 
technical queries. 

*‘Even if they’d let me have five thousand, I’d take it,” 
he concluded. “Do your best for me, Ralph, and if you can 
raise the cash send it in a lump c/o Mac Andrews, Ltd., 
Honolulu. You might send a cable if you’re really a 
pal. Western code, for preference. I’ll see a lawyer to¬ 
morrow, and fix up power of attorney for you on my 
behalf. The British Vice-Consul should be able to help me 
in that.” 

He had almost finished writing when there was a knock 
at his cabin door, and Averil came in. 

“Am I being a nuisance?” she asked. 

“Hardly,” he said, “but I thought you were ashore .'* 

“I was, but I came back for something.” 

“Have I got it?” 

She smiled. 

“In a sense, yes. I came back for you.” 

“That was very nice of you.” 

“It’s Sunday,” said Averil. “Nobody ever works on 
Sunday—it’s unhealthy and unreligious. Besides, I want 
an escort.” 

“An escort—where to?” 

She seated herself on the corner of his writing-table and 
stared at the ceiling. 

“There’s some talk of going to a bull-fight. That Julius 
person started it. There’s one at San Fernando this after¬ 
noon. He spoke of hiring a car and taking us over. Of 
course, we pay our own fares and all that, but—well, I 
don’t know.” 

Vernon leant back in his chair. 

“My first impression of you being of a girl who was 


126 TREASURE TRAIL 

extraordinarily nice to her horses, I should say, at a guess 
that you do know.” 

Averil nodded. 

“Oh, of course, I don’t really want to go. I’m certain 
I should hate it. But, as a matter of fact, there aren’t any 
horses—at least to-day there aren’t. It’s one of those—what 
do you call ’em?—Novia affairs— Noviadas” 

“Yes?” 

She continued to stare at the ceiling. 

“In a way, I think I’d like to go rather—not because it’s 
beastly—but to harden one somehow.” 

“To harden one?” he repeated. 

“Yes. It’s a matter of pluck—being frightened of taking 
a risk. Oh! it’s easy enough to say it’s against one’s con¬ 
science to see a thing like that, but I think, sometimes, con¬ 
science is only another name for funk, don’t you?” 

It was Vernon’s turn to nod. 

“If I wasn’t a funk I wouldn’t want to go, but you 
see I rather despise people who shrink.” 

“Do you?” he replied. “Well, it’s a forward policy.” 

“I’d have despised you,” she said with sudden frankness, 
“if you’d shrunk from tackling this treasure hunt.” 

“Even in face of very real doubts as to whether I 
ought to?” 

“Even in face of a certainty,” said Averil. “I think 
one ought to be as brave as one’s impulse—always. It’s a 
certainty, I suppose, that I shall hate this bull-fight. ’ ’ 

“Then you’ve made up your mind to go?” 

“Well, I didn’t much want to go with that Julius person. 
That’s rank snobbery, of course.” 

“Then oughtn’t you to go with him?” asked Vernon, 
with a laugh. 

“Yes, that’s fair enough. But if you’d come I’d rather 
—I don’t want to develop all my virtues in a single 
afternoon. ’ ’ 

“All right,” he said. “But they don’t start these shows 
till five o’clock, and it won’t take more than an hour to get 
there.” 


TREASURE TRAIL 127 

“Oh! There’s not a scrap of hurry if you want to work.” 

‘ ‘ I Ve only this letter to finish, ’ ’ said he, ‘ 1 and an envelope 
to address. Take that chair.” 

“I’m not in the way?” 

“You are not.” 

“May I look at this?” 

He glanced round and saw she had picked up Roger 
Winslowe’s log-hook which an hour before he had taken 
from his uniform case with the vague intention of reading. 
He thought he had put it away, and was surprised to see it 
in her hands. He hesitated a second before answering. 

“I’m afraid you’ll find it very dull.” 

She turned a page and screwed up her face at the writing. 

“Whatever is it?” 

He told her; there was no point in concealing the truth. 

“The book I found, in company with the map, when I 
was a boy.” 

Averil’s eyes sparkled with excitement. 

“How marvellous!” she cried; and down went her head 
over the closely-written pages. 

Vernon wound up his letter to Ralph in an unexpectedly 
cheerful vein, which to one unacquainted with its cause must 
have seemed remarkable. It was as though an orchestra, 
after favouring an audience with a fugue in a minor key, 
suddenly cast melancholy aside and rounded off the enter¬ 
tainment with a few bright major chords. 

He was in the act of addressing the envelope when a sharp 
exclamation arrested him. 

“I say, here are the very words Willie Carpenter read 
from the map.” 

He had overlooked the possibility that she would find 
the entry which he had copied on the calico chart of Trefusis 
Island. That she had done so for the moment deprived him 
of the power to reply. 

He did not turn his head, but continued to write, while 
a sickening sense of having been found out developed 
him. 

“Yes,” he said. “Yes. So you’ve come across that.” 


128 TREASURE TRAIL 

‘‘They’re the very words,” she continued excitedly. 
“Did you know they were here?” 

“Yes, I knew.” 

She brought over the book and laid it on the table before 
him. The light from the low port-hole struck across the 
surface of the paper, sharply defining the deep, scratchy 
writing which floundered across the middle of an otherwise 
blank page. 

“Needle rock meridian , Point of Shadow 15 paces due 
North 3 West and under/ 9 ran the words. 

‘ ‘ How frightfully exciting, 5 ’ she went on. ‘ ‘ Is the writing 
on the map in the same hand?” 

He hesitated—determined not to lie to her. Then: 

“Judge for yourself.” 

A moment later Averil was comparing the entry on the 
map with that in the log-book. 

“They’re exactly alike. But it seems so funny he should 
have written only this and nothing to signify what it meant. ’ ’ 

“I don’t know,” said Vernon. “They were wild days, 
remember. He didn’t want to leave clues lying about, I 
expect.” 

“No—no, of course not.” 

She was on her knees now, staring at the page as though 
by sheer concentration she would wring a secret frOm its 
blankness. Suddenly she gave a start and pointed. 

“I say—look. When the light strikes across it looks as 
if the surface of this page has been scraped or rubbed or 
something—just as if there once were other words which 
have been erased. Do look! No, don’t move it.” 

He knelt beside her, his eyes level with hers and their two 
heads almost touching. She was right; the page had- been 
tampered with. It reflected the light unevenly when seen 
foreshortened. Also the page appeared to be slightly corru¬ 
gated, as though some sharp instrument had scraped across 
it in parallel lines to erase written matter. 

“I believe you’re right,” he exclaimed. His hands were 
shaking and sweat had started from his forehead. 

Averil drummed her fists on the blotting-pad. 


TREASURE TRAIL 129 

“Oh, oh, oh! How perfectly maddening ,’ 1 she wailed. 
“I dare say something frightfully important was written 
there. Hold it up to the light.” 

He did, and the experiment instantly proved the accuracy 
of their theory, for the page was more translucent in some 
places than in others. In one particular spot there was a 
definite perforation where the point of the knife had pierced 
the paper. But this was not the only fact revealed. Who¬ 
ever had been responsible for scraping out the lines had been 
far more thorough at the centre of the page than at the 
edges. In the centre the lines were scraped deeply, but at 
the edges the thickness of the paper was almost the same 
as the untampered-with portions. 

Vernon was breathing hard when he laid the book on the 
table again. 

‘ ‘ Isn’t it a fearful shame! ’’ said Averil. 

He did not reply. He was busy unscrewing the lens from 
a pair of powerful binoculars, an operation considerably 
delayed by excitement. At last: 

“That’s got it,” he exclaimed, and bent to a fresh exam¬ 
ination of the edges of the page. After a minute he stood 
back, shook his head with a kind of savage disappointment. 

“I can make out nothing. Whoever did the job must 
have polished the surface afterwards with a finger-nail.” 

Averil held out her hand for the glass. 

“Do let me see.” 

Women have marvellous nerves. They can be excited 
without tingling. Averil’s hand was steady as a rock while 
she focused the glass. After what seemed an age she laid a 
finger on a particular spot and said: 

“Look there. I’m not sure—but aren’t there some 
scratches ? ’ ’ 

He did as she bade him with a sense of returning hope, 
and sure enough detected some faint scratches covering about 
three-quarters of an inch in the polished trough left by the 
knife and the finger-nail. 

“You’re right. Here, wait a bit. Ring that bell.” 

“What for?” 


130 TREASURE TRAIL 

“I want a piece of bread.’’ 

4 ‘I’ll fetch it. I couldn’t bear a steward to come in now.” 

When she returned with a slice of crumbly bread she 
found Vernon scraping the lead of a hard pencil with a 
razor blade. 

“I believe the real nuts use graphite for this job,” he 
observed. “For all I know, we may dish the whole business, 
but nothing ventured-” 

“What’s the idea?” 

“I’m going to blow this stuff all over those scratches and 
pray that some of it will stick. ’ ’ 

“And the bread?” 

“To clean up afterwards. What’s in the scratches ought 
to be the last to go.” 

“Sounds pretty forlorn,” she said. 

“Shall we risk it?” 

“Of course, risk it.” 

“Here goes, then.” 

He puffed a cloud of the fine lead-dust over the spot, then 
lightly smeared it with a forefinger. 

4 4 All or nothing, ’ ’ he said. 4 4 Give me the bread. ’ ’ 

Their excitement was intense as he rubbed it across the 
grey mark on the page, and their heads bumped as they bent 
forward simultaneously to examine the result. To the naked 
eye nothing was detectable. It was a triumph of chivalry 
to hand her the lens before using it himself. Even Averil 
was shaking then. 

44 Well?” 

44 1 don’t—half a second, though—there’s—it looks like 
numbers.” 

4 4 Numbers. Go on. ’ ’ 

44 There’s a little 4 h,’ then a ‘one,’ and, yes, a ‘five,’ then 
a space and a capital 4 W,’ another space, room for about 
five letters and—well, it might be a ‘three.’ ” 

“And that’s all?” 

She turned despondently. 

“That’s all.” 

“Give me the lens.” The excitement had died out of his 


TREASURE TRAIL 131 

voice. It sounded dull to the point of despair. After he 
had looked for a while he wrote this on the blotting-paper: 

“-h 15-W-3.” 

“It means nothing.” 

“Nothing,” he repeated. 

“Oh, well,” she said, with an effort to be cheerful, “it 
doesn’t matter, does it? We’ve got the map.” 

“Yes, we’ve got the map.” He coloured as he spoke and 
looked across at it shamefacedly. In the top left-hand 
corner under the arrow of orientation was written, Trefusis 
Island, North 159, West 23. 

Crash came his fist on the desk, and he sprang to his feet, 
a wild excitement in his eyes. 

Averil stared at him in amazement. 

“What do you mean?” 

The little cabin fairly rang with the sound of his voice: 

“North 159, West 23.” 

“I don’t understand.” 

‘‘ There, look! ’ ’ pointing at the map—‘ 4 and here ! Fill in 
these gaps. Trefusis Island. Don’t you see?—longitude 
and latitude, and they’re both the same.” 

“Oh, now I see, but”—she looked at him mystified—“but 
how’s that help? It doesn’t. We knew it already.” 

Vernon’s hands dropped to his side. 

“Yes,” he answered lamely. “Of course—stupid of me.” 

“It tells us nothing.” 

“No—only a verification—that’s all.” 

“Well, if we’re going to the fight, I’d better change,” 
said Averil. 

“Right. I’ll put this stuff away and meet you on deck.” 

As she turned to go a sudden impulse drove Vernon to 
throw out a hand and seize one of hers. She did not with¬ 
draw it, but looked up to ask: 

“Yes, why?” 

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I just felt rather wonder¬ 
ful about you, that’s all. 

“Rather wonderful?” 

“Um! Togetherish. I don’t know—but as if you’d done 





132 TREASURE TRAIL 

something tremendous for me and I’d a great wave of 
gratitude. ’’ 

1 ‘ What, those few scratches ? ’ ’ 

“Ah, don’t underrate them,” he pleaded, “because we 
found them together—you and I—kneeling there—our heads 
almost touching.” 

She looked at him half smiling, half puzzled. 

“I may seem to be talking rot, but all through this busi¬ 
ness I’ve felt a bit lonely—isolated—and these few minutes 
we’ve spent together—our discovery-” 

“We haven’t discovered much.” 

“I have,” he said, and tightened his grasp on her hand. 

She gave a little laugh and her cheeks coloured. Then: 

“Hm!” she said; “have you?” and, drawing away her 
hand, ran quickly from the cabin. 

For a long while he stood watching the door through 
which she had passed until slowly his thoughts reverted to 
that other, that lesser discovery he had made. He turned 
and picked up the log-book. 

“Roger, Roger, old man. Am I right—does this entry 
mean that there’s a clean way out—that the treasure’s there 
—is the lie I told going to turn into a truth?” 

It had been Mr. Isinglass’s idea that there should be a 
parrot on board. He had argued that no treasure hunt was 
complete without one. During the last few days the old man 
had busied himself trying to teach the unwilling bird the 
proper slogan for such an adventure. From the deck above, 
its voice rang out in a croaking falsetto: 

“You’re drunk, you fool, drunk! You’re drunk!” 



CHAPTER XIX. 


H OW often it happens in the early stages of some¬ 
thing more than friendship that a sudden impulse 
of intimacy is followed by a mood of awkwardness! 
Averil and Vernon had been very nearly lovers in the 
moment before she left his cabin to change. It was strange 
that ten minutes later, when they met on deck, it should 
have been shyly and almost as strangers. Intimacy builds 
up its own barriers to check its own advance. Those tenta¬ 
tive hours and days between men and women which occur 
before they come out into the light with their real feelings 
for each other are too precious, too unrepeatable for Nature 
to allow her children to scamper through them with hurry¬ 
ing feet. Who does not remember that acute morning 
bashfulness which follows the first clean kiss given and 
returned beneath the overnight moon? For every forward 
step a lover takes, there is a half-one backward in the 
direction of commonplace. Thus is preserved the mystery 
of the world’s greatest gift. Love is too old and exquisite 
a wine to be drunk otherwise than in little sips. The man 
who swallows it at a gulp will find that even though it 
mounts to his head it shall not stay in his heart. Therefore, 
as commonplace beings those two met, and Vernon’s first 
remark was to bid her beware of the step-up at the top 
of the accommodation ladder. His awkwardness, however, 
could not entirely override his sense of exuberance, and he 
showed more than a disposition to sing as the little dinghy 
bounced them towards the shore. Arrived at the landing- 
stage, he must needs take her a long way out of the right 
direction for the purpose of buying a bunch of roses, which 
when bought proved far too large and cumbersome to carry 
on an expedition. 


133 


134 TREASURE TRAIL 

Accordingly he gave away the roses, all save two or 
three which Averil retained, to a knot of small children 
who, with that peculiar evidence of interest invariably excited 
by foreigners, were pattering along in the wake. Further¬ 
more, he exchanged pleasantries with the children, and added 
to their delight by vanishing a penny and producing it again 
from behind a small olive ear. 

Normally he would not have behaved in this fashion— 
shyness was the cause—shyness and apprehension as to what 
he would say next unless he played the fool. 

Meanwhile, Averil watched him with a kind of perplexed 
wonder and half-understanding. She, too, was glad of 
this respite—of this breathing-space in the travel of their 
affairs. 

“For a man who has suffered a big disappointment/’ 
she said, “you seem absurdly high-spirited. I like that 
quality in you awfully. ” 

“If there’s anything in me you like awfully,” he said, 
“I’m glad. But what quality ?’’ 

“I don’t know—bounce, buoyance.” 

He laughed a little awkwardly. Like any other man, he 
was susceptible to praise, but praise from her, which he 
knew was unfairly earned, embarrassed him sorely. 

“We’d better hurry, hadn’t we?” he said. “It’s latish.” 

For they were walking slowly along a cobbled road with 
balconies of eau-de-nil hanging over them on either side. 

“All right,” she said, quickening her pace. “But you’re 
a queer fellow, aren’t you ? ’ ’ 

There came to Vernon a mighty wish that that were all 
that could be levelled against him. 

“Did I say ‘Thank you’ for the roses?” 

“I hope not,” he replied. “I would like you to regard 
them as a right.” 

She looked up. 

“Aright. Why?” 

“Did I say that?—well, why not? You—you look as if 
you ought to have roses—you look-” 



TREASURE TRAIL 135 

A clumsy woman bumped between them, or perhaps it was 
nature ordering: “One step to the rear, march.” They 
were back at the commonplace when they re-formed side by 
side. 

A clock chimed. Clocks and dogs and clumsy pedestrians 
are sworn enemies of lovers—just as sunsets—moons—the 
smell of heather and wood fires and forests are their friends 
and coaxers. 

“If we step out we shall just have time to meet the others 
at the Cafe Ronda, ” said Averil. 

“Need we?” he asked. “Wouldn’t it be fun to have 
this jaunt together? Better still, don’t let’s go to the bull¬ 
fight. Let’s-” 

But she shook her head. 

“It would be cowardly not to go. Besides, we’d better 
join them.” 

“Of course, if you’d rather.” 

“No, it isn’t that—only—well, we’re all together in this 
show, or supposed to be, and if we begin splitting up, things ’ll 
get cliquy and horrid.” 

“You’re very public-spirited,” he said sadly. 

“I’m not really—but I think we ought to try and make it 
a general success. Really, you know, I suppose I’m the self- 
ishest person on board.” 

“What absolute nonsense.” 

“You don’t know.” Her voice was unnaturally grave. 

He looked at her in surprise. For a while they walked 
briskly in silence. 

“I wonder,” she said at last, “what you’d think of me 
if you knew the real reason why I came on this voyage.” 

“I think I do know.” 

She shook her head. 

“No one knows.” 

“If it’s a secret,” said Vernon, “please keep it.” 

“Why? I rather want to tell.” 

“Please don’t. Most of us have a secret that’s .best un¬ 
told. If you confided in me I should feel-” 




136 TREASURE TRAIL 

She cut in quickly before he could finish the sentence. 

“Ah, that’s where men and women are different. When 
men give a confidence, they expect one back.” 

“And women?” 

“They just give.” 

Rather charmingly Vernon replied: “I suppose that’s 
why a man stands up when a woman comes into the room.” 

“Thank you,” she said. “That was nice. You are nice, 
you know, and somehow I feel I owe you my confidence.” 

“You owe me nothing.” 

“But I do. It would have been simple enough to have 
refused to let me come on the cruise. It was pretty beastly 
the way I sneaked in, and you were awfully sporting 
about it.” 

“Awfully selfish,” he replied. 

“Ah, that’s easy to say! But you would have refused 
if you’d known my real motive.” 

“I’m afraid you’re wrong—but I won’t contradict; it’s 
so terribly rude.” 

“I’m going to tell you my real motive now, and you can 
judge for yourself.” 

It being evident she had made up her mind, he shrugged 
his shoulders and waited in silence. 

“You remember our talk that night?” 

“Every word of it.” 

“You spoke about my engagement, didn’t you?” 

“Yes, but I wasn’t-” 

“That didn’t matter. I was—was very fond of him, you 
know.” 

“Frank Sullivan,” replied Vernon bitterly, “was rather 
clever at getting away with things.” 

“He got away with my stupid heart all right.” 

Vernon mastered the wish to ask her if the wound was 
still open. A glance at the deep colour of her cheeks seemed 
to answer the question. 

“Well?” was all he said. 

“I heard he had gone—on the day of your supper party. 
Someone told me in the afternoon.” 



TREASURE TRAIL 


137 


“Yes.” 

“I had written him rather a nice letter in the morning. 
You see, he hadn’t told me he was going away.” 

“Maybe he had reasons for going quickly,” said Vernon, 
“and there was no time to tell you.” Averil took no notice 
of the interruption. 

“Quite a nice letter it was. We’d seen little enough of 
each other lately, but we were still engaged—at least, I 
thought so.” 

“Then he never hinted-?” 

“Not a word. He just went. I would like to have seen 
him before he went, but I wasn’t given the chance.” 

“Wasn’t that—perhaps as well?” 

“No,” said Averil, with unexpected force. “No, because 
I want to see him again—even now.” 

Vernon smothered what he felt in silence. 

“You see this ring—this platinum ring?” 

He nodded—with scarcely a glance at it. 

“It has ‘Faithful unto Death’ written inside.” 

“Has it?” He hesitated. “Then you still believe.” 

“Believe!” said Averil. “I know!” 

They had arrived at the Cafe Ronda. A waiter hurried 
out to greet them. 

“The party? Ah, they leave two minutes already. Bat 
there is here a motor-car if the senor-” 

Vernon gave Averil a hand into a deplorably shabby old 
car that was shaking and coughing at the curb. 

“Plaza de Toros, San Fernando,” he said, and took his 
place by the girl’s side. Somehow the promise seemed to 
have gone out of life. He could find no words to speak to 
her. Presently he saw she was regarding him gravely. 

“I was right, wasn’t I?” she asked. “You wouldn’t have 
taken me if you’d known?” 

He forced himself to deny this. 

“Why not? After all, what affair is it of mine?” 

“No—but I didn’t think you’d—well, I didn’t think men 
liked revengeful women.” 

He repeated the word “revengeful.” 




138 TREASURE TRAIL 

“That's what it amounts to. Although—I don’t know— 
because in a way I feel justified.” 

“It’s stupid of me,” he said, “but I don’t think I under¬ 
stand quite. You came away for forgetfulness—I gather 
that—but the rest-” 

“Forgetfulness—no, no.” 

“I beg your pardon. I should have known that of course 
you couldn’t forget.” 

“But you haven’t seen. It was pride with me, vulgar 
pride, perhaps. You see, when I heard he’d gone away with 
that other-” 

Vernon started and looked at her sharply. 

“Oh, he didn’t go alone, you know.” 

“Then you know that-” 

“Of course, but how did you?” 

“Go on,” he insisted. “What were you going to say? 
Go on.” 

“That revengeful pride in me was wakened. He had 
never told me a word—or given me a hint. He just went, 
and I was left with the ring he gave me, inscribed ‘Faithful 
unto Death.’ ” 

“Well?” 

“They were going to Honolulu, he and that other-” 

“Are you sure?” 

“Yes. Someone broke a confidence to tell me so. When 
I knew that, a great surge of desire swept over me to go to 
Honolulu too, to get there at any price.” 

“In heaven’s name, what for?” 

“Don’t you see? I wanted to return his ring. I wanted 
to go across half the world just for the satisfaction of saying: 
‘Here is something you forgot to collect before you went 
away.’ ” 

Vernon leant back against the shabby cushions and gasped. 
A fierce ecstasy was driving away the gloom into which he 
had descended. 

“Then-” 

“So you see I wasn’t coming on a treasure hunt at all. 
It was an accident of my work brought me to your party 







TREASURE TRAIL 139 

that night. It was another accident that the cruise was going 
to the South Seas. In those two accidents I seemed to see 
Fate giving me the chance I needed.” 

“Not going on the treasure hunt?” he repeated. 

“No, I should have left the ship at the islands, and just 
done what I’d set my mind on doing, and then come back 
somehow. ’ ’ 

It was hard enough to put the question: 

“And that’s still your intention?” 

She hesitated. 

“Partly—I don’t know.” 

“But I don’t understand,” he said. “It’s all so crazy. 
You could have booked a return passage on an ordinary 
steamer for half what you are spending now.” 

“Yes, I know. And I don’t understand that either. But 
it seemed to me—it’s difficult to describe—as if I had to 
come this way, as if I must, as if there was destiny in this 
cruise—some sort of compulsion.” 

“So you’ve felt that too?” 

“All the time. I still want to give back the ring—but 
it’s ceased to be the end of a wish—if you know what I 
mean. From having been everything, it’s become only a 
small part that every day gets less and less.” 

“Averil,” he said, “shall we call each other by our Chris¬ 
tian names?” 

“Yes, Vernon.” 

“You’ll see this through with the rest of us?” 

“D’you know,” she answered, “I believe I shall have to, 
because from that very first instant it’s been driving every 
other thought out of me.” 

“Anger, pride, resentment?” 

“All three. They were giants once, and now they’re 
pygmies almost.” 

The voice of Henry Julius hailed them enthusiastically 
from a car in front which they had overtaken. 

“Ship ahoy!” he cried. “Capital fellow, Winslowe! 
Was afraid you weren’t going to join us.” 


CHAPTER XX. 


I NTO the dazzling sunlit arena of the San Fernando bull- 
ring came the passengers of the S.Y. Mascot. For the 
occasion Henry Julius was in command, Mr. Isinglass 
having declared that this particular form of entertainment 
had neither novelty nor charm for him. 

“I am well aware that cruelty exists/’ he said, “without 
being reminded of it. Do not, however, allow an old man’s 
prejudice to be your dissuader. There is a lot to be learned 
at a bull-fight—especially about oneself.” With which he 
shuffled off to spend the afternoon with a book in a little 
patio he knew of where the air was heavy with the scent of 
myrtle and orange blossom. Mary Ottery would gladly have 
joined him there but for the fact that Lydia had suggested 
her doing so. 

“Why should I?” she asked with a new courage. 

“You’ll never be able to stand a bull-fight with your 
funny grey nature.” 

Mary pulled down her upper lip and her nostrils distended. 
“We shall see,” was her reply. 

With the characteristic talent of his race for learning 
foreign languages, Henry Julius had picked up quite a lot 
of Spanish during his few days ashore. He was competent 
to ask simple questions and understand simple answers. He 
could be absolutely relied upon in all matters concerning 
the paying of bills and of foreign exchange. With rare 
generosity he insisted on the privilege of buying tickets for 
everyone—an insistence that greatly astonished Joshua 
Morgan until he realized that the most expensive seats only 
cost about tenpence halfpenny in English money. As a mat¬ 
ter of fact he was doing Henry an injustice in assuming that 
his charitable impulse owed its origin to this cause. Henry 

140 


TREASURE TRAIL 141 

could be very lavish indeed when the opportunity arose for 
spending money in a spectacular way. He would buy a 
man a stall for the opera, but he would take precious good 
care not to pay his guest’s tube fares as well. If entrance 
to the bull-fight had cost ten times what it did, his note 
would have been first to touch the cash-desk. Their seats 
were the best obtainable, being in the second row and on 
the shady side of the ring. 

Although this particular occasion was but a small affair 
—equivalent in interest to a scratched-up game of cricket on 
a village green—it had attracted a great number of people. 
A ceaseless avalanche of arrivals poured in through the 
narrow entrances and flooded the tiers of stone seats, rudely 
pushing each other, and edging and crushing their way into 
the already crowded front rows. People of every class and 
condition, townsmen, sailors, hatless girls with bright shawls 
and marvellous dark eyes, full-breasted women in funereal 
black, soldiers in all the infinite variety of uniforms supplied 
by the Spanish Government, workers from the fields and 
salt marshes, boatmen, big children, little children and chil¬ 
dren in arms and a whole regiment of ragged bare-footed 
street arabs with little mince-pie hats and cunning, angry 
faces. There was no pretence of order nor any machinery 
for maintaining discipline. Good places were gained by 
squabblings and thrustings. As Henry Julius remarked: 

“What a providence we came early. I say, look there! 
I call that smart.” 

His admiration was inspired by a small band of youths 
who, having paid the cheaper price which only privileged 
them to sit in the sun, were skilfully and unobtrusively sid¬ 
ling along the back of a circular gallery toward the more 
expensive shade. Having reached their objective, they split 
up and divided among the crowd. 

Julius was highly delighted. 

“First signs of a business intelligence I’ve seen in this 
country,” he said. 

Presently it became apparent that the practice was a 
usual one. The leakage from sunlight into the shadow from 


142 TREASURE TRAIL 

this modest beginning became general. Indeed, several 
hundreds of the audience dropped brazenly into the arena 
and poured across from one side to the other, greatly in¬ 
creasing the discomfort and congestion of those who had 
already found seats. Henry was not so enthusiastic when a 
leery-mouthed lout of a fellow made an unwelcome appear¬ 
ance in their midst and disposed himself against the rail im¬ 
mediately in his line of sight. In his best Spanish he invited 
the fellow to be off, an invitation which was wholly ignored. 
It was William Carpenter who cleared away this obstacle 
in a wholly unexpected manner. 

“Are you going to move?” he asked without a vestige 
of his accustomed nervousness. 

The young Spaniard did not even look his way. Where¬ 
upon William rose slowly from his seat, and, taking the 
youth by the collar of a very shabby coat and by the seat of 
a pair of very perforated pants, he picked him up and cast 
him away. And although there followed a rapid drumfire 
and highly expert swearing, the intruder showed no disposi¬ 
tion to return. William must have been surprised at his own 
strength and daring, for when he returned to his seat he 
was blushing and apologetic. 

“My word!” said Henry Julius, and even Lydia threw 
a glance at him that for once was not seasoned with contempt. 

“Good for you,” said Vernon. “You’re a handy sort of 
chap to have about the place. So you chuck people about 
that way ?” 

“Never before. I don’t know what made me do it, quite.” 
Then in a lower voice: “Was it very bad manners?” 

“No, you silly ass,” came the hearty rejoinder, which, to 
William, was like receiving a present of pearls. 

High above the shouting and murmuring of the audience 
rose the cries of hawkers of fruits, cakes, water and wine, 
of sweetmeats and pink bull’s-eyes on little sticks. Of the 
latter Mary bought several to present to some children in 
the row behind. Tiny children they were, dressed in starchy 
overalls and nothing else—very starchy overalls—so starchy 


TREASURE TRAIL 143 

that they provided little or no protection, and it was there¬ 
fore upon their own uncovered selves they sat upon the cold 
stone seats. 

“To bring them here at all!” said Mrs. Morgan, favour¬ 
ing the mother of this small quartet with a soul-blistering 
glance. 

“Well, let’s hope,” Mary wished, “they just suck those 
bull’s-eyes and don’t look.” 

“So long as they don’t mess me up with the sticky things, 
I don’t care what they do,” said Lydia. She was wearing 
rather an attractive frock—much too attractive to be spoilt. 
“Children with sweets are too awful.” 

“Well, if you think so, I shouldn’t say it,” said William. 
Heaven knows where he got the courage from. Mr. Isin¬ 
glass was right—a bull-fight reveals surprising qualities in 
those who witness it. 

Lydia made no reply; perhaps her attention had been 
diverted by a feeble brass band which had suddenly begun 
to play. 

A length of dirty bunting fluttered from the president’s 
box, a bugle croaked, and the main doors of the arena were 
flung open. 

It could not be said that the procession of matadors and 
bandarillos was an impressive one. Viewed aesthetically, it 
was a tawdry affair, being composed of rather grubby¬ 
looking men apparelled in cheap silks and satins and em¬ 
broidered cloaks. There was neither majesty nor grace in 
their bearing, nor any hint of athletic quality. Indeed, a 
short-sighted person, or one unacquainted with the perilous 
work that lay before them, might have been excused for 
entertaining the belief that here were eight gentlemen whose 
business in life was not unconnected with the sale of onions. 

After rather an off-hand salutation to the president, each 
man divested himself of his embroidered cloak, handing it 
to individual members of the audience as a mascot. Then, 
re-arming themselves with cloaks of baser quality, they went 
to their stations. Once more the bugle croaked and at the 


144 ' TREASURE TRAIL 

note the eyes of the audience turned by common consent to 
focus on a single doorway, to the accompaniment of a hiss 
of indrawn breath. 

“Now for it,” said Henry Julius, over an uplifted 
shoulder. 

Mrs. Morgan had out her salts and was sniffing them 
furiously. 

“I only pray,” said Mary Ottery, 4 ‘that I shan’t scream.” 

The door was flung back on its hinges and into the sunlit 
arena came the bull. Black and shiny as a silk hat, light- 
spirited and debonair, he entered with a rush, a toss of the 
head and a caper. A splendid creature seemingly all a-joy 
to find himself, after long hours of darkness, captivity and 
narrow confinement, in the dazzle of light and open spaces. 
Like a dog released from a chain, like a boy at the end of 
school, his spirits bore him along in a joyous chase which 
had no other meaning than gaiety and the rapture of free¬ 
dom. But out of this rapture came quick irritation. He 
was not allowed to caper as he would, for here before him was 
a fellow flapping a vilely-coloured cloak and mocking him 
with derisive sounds. Here was something that might not be 
endured by a proud descendant of a proud race. The ancient 
Andalusian blood that coursed through his veins boiled in¬ 
stantly to avenge the affront. Head down he charged, the 
black, sharpened horns breast-high. With the force of a 
battering-ram he charged—and charged into nothing. The 
cloak fluttered beside, below and above him, while his tor¬ 
mentor stepped this way and that, pirouetting like a dancer, 
and avoiding death by the barest margin. So ran the game 
until at last, tired of the sport, the man insolently turned 
his back and strolled away to gather plaudits from the 
audience, while another leapt forward to engage the bull 
in similiar wise. 

For perhaps ten minutes, punctuated with bursts of 
applause, this frolic pursued its course, until from behind 
one of the many hidey-holes in the sides of the arena came 
a youth bearing six long darts with paper-covered shafts, 


TREASURE TRAIL 145 

and cruel barbed points. At the sight of him the heads of 
the spectators craned forward and hands gripped thighs 
eagerly. Even the smallest children forbore to suck at their 
sweetmeats. A man on a seat in front of Mary Ottery 
passed the back of a hand across his mouth and smacked 
his lips with a foretaste of the relish to come. Mary re¬ 
membered it against him, and turned her head with a snort. 
Two from where she sat was Lydia La Rue watching with 
the stillness of a sphinx. Her lids were drooping and a smile 
had begun to curl her short, full upper lip. Mary could not 
understand that smile—she only knew she hated it—and 
hated, too, Lydia’s languor and stillness and the seeming of 
some exquisite age-old pleasure that she could not share or 
comprehend. It was good to turn from it to the angry flush 
on the face of William Carpenter. 

“They’re not going to stick those damn things in the 
poor beast?” he said. 

Yernon Winslowe was fiddling with a flask, taking it from 
one pocket and restoring it unopened to another. He did 
not know how many good marks Mary scored up to him 
on this account. Enormously she admired that reticence in 
the man, that would not allow him to rely on any other 
courage than his own. 

Averil Chester was saying apparently to her knees: 

“Beastly, beastly, beastly.” 

Mary took a firm grip on her umbrella and her bag, and 
faced the arena again. 

It was an unhappy moment she chose, being the exact 
time that the first two darts were plunged home into 
the hump at the back of the bull’s neck. That the fellow 
who did this thing was brave there could be no two opin¬ 
ions. He met a head-on charge, drove in his darts, and 
twisted out of the maw of death by a miracle of neatness. 
Then the crowd roared, the bull bellowed and the blood ran. 
The pace quickened. Came charge after charge; and at 
each more darts were plunged into the great black body, 
more yells were raised to the sky and more blood was spilled 


146 TREASURE TRAIL 

upon the sand. And every dart that sunk into the hot, 
angry flesh of the bull reflected its agony in the quivering 
soul of Mary Ottery. 

Up and down charged the bull, and round and round the 
wooden sides of the arena over which the arms of blood- 
lusting men and women hung to snatch at the darts and 
tear them from the bleeding flesh and stab them back again. 
And some spat at the creature as he passed beneath them, 
and lashed out with umbrellas and cursed and shook their 
fists at him as though he were the common enemy of man¬ 
kind or the very devil himself. 

“Ta—ta!” from the bugle. Another youth had rushed 
forward to hand a scarlet cloak to the matador and a long 
espada with a blood-red hilt. 

The supreme moment was at hand. The power of its 
supremacy was reflected in every face. 

The matador smiled, bowed, and, stepping like a tight¬ 
rope walker, approached the bull. What followed was 
pretty enough in its insolence and its cool disregard of 
danger. He teased the bull to fresh fury with his capers, 
until at last, dizzy and baffled and despairing, he stood with 
head slightly lowered as it were, contemplating a charge 
such as should obliterate all mankind. But the charge was 
never made, or rather was frustrated at its bare beginning. 
Coolly the matador took a sight along his sword with its 
blade cradled on the crook of his left arm. As the bull 
moved forward, out went the point to meet him. Dead 
centre between the mighty span of his horns—flashing for 
an instant over his eyes, three feet of cold steel driven hilt- 
up through heart and lungs. The matador had gone ere 
the lumbering, stricken creature reached the spot whereon 
he stood. What followed seemed so little after what had 
gone before. Like a drunken man the bull tottered on a 
little distance, to lean limply against the arena sides, with a 
lolling tongue and eyes in which were written wonder and 
pain and great surprise. 

It happened that he chose to die immediately beneath 
the spot where the party from the Mascot were seated. 


TREASURE TRAIL 147 

When the death-stroke was struck, the “curved archaic 
smile” upon Lydia’s mouth reached its zenith—as though 
only by something so exquisitely simple and final as death 
could the jest be completed. A second later she had her 
fingers through her copper-coloured hair and was in hysterics. 
Reflexes were at work with a vengeance. The audience was 
stamping and screaming their delight, and already a team 
of gaily-caparisoned mules were galloping into the arena to 
to # w out the carcass. But life was not quite extinct—there 
was still a thrill left in the creature’s nerves, still an agony 
untasted, and that it might know all of suffering before 
spirit and flesh were divided, the man who had smacked his 
lips flung himself half over the low rail and, seizing the bull 
by the tail, drove the point of a stick at his glazing eye. 

What happened was as sudden as it was unexpected. 

“Devil!” said Mary Ottery, and the crook of her um¬ 
brella circled the man’s craning neck and brought his body 
back with a jerk. Something whizzed in the air—then— 
crash! There were opera-glasses in Mary Ottery’s bag, to 
say nothing of a number of silver douros and other odds 
and ends. The bag and its contents weighed at least a 
pound and a half. Add to a pound and a half the venom 
with which the blow was struck, and you shall have in¬ 
sensibility. 


CHAPTER XXI. 


I T is a wise policy to assume that you cannot come as a 
visitor to a foreign land and interfere with the classic 
and traditional enjoyment of the masses. To do so will 
assuredly result in unpleasant consequences. Mary Ottery, 
with the loftiest motives, had knocked out her man com¬ 
pletely and thoroughly, but in so doing had overlooked the 
fact that eighty per cent, of the audience were in sympathy 
with that act of his which had offended her, and if their 
situation had admitted of it, would themselves have behaved 
in a similar manner. There is a line of cruelty in the Span¬ 
ish temperament which finds one of its principal outlets 
in inflicting death and agony on bulls. This exists to such 
an extent that the mere sight of a live or unwounded example 
of the species appears to excite in the Spaniard a sense of 
personal reproach and indignation. 

Fortunately, of the eighty per cent, of sympathizers but 
very few were aware of what she had done. Those few, 
however, instantly took up the cudgels on behalf of their 
fallen compatriot. The next item on the program was the 
voice of Henry Julius, crying out: 

“Don’t dare to touch that lady.” 

His words may have been misunderstood, or his authority 
questioned, for a greasy hand shot out and seized Mary by 
the wrist. Vernon Winslowe upper-cut the owner of the 
greasy hand on the exact point of the jaw. Space was a 
little cramped as he had to lean in front of Mrs. Morgan to 
do it. He was, however, an accurate hitter. William Car¬ 
penter was on his feet, and had begun throwing people 
away again. He seemed to have a natural gift for that. 

“We don’t want a fight—we don’t want a fight,” cried 
Henry Julius; but since the person to whom this remark 

148 


TREASURE TRAIL 149 

was addressed had produced a knife with unexpected rapid¬ 
ity, Henry violated his own principles and hit his assailant 
in the stomach just low enough for a foul to have been 
claimed. 

“Out of this,” said Vernon. 

They were lucky in being alongside one of the exits, a 
narrow opening leading to a short flight of wooden steps. 
Joshua Morgan was first to follow the advice, and, seizing 
his wife by the shoulders, he bustled her towards the open¬ 
ing. Escape, however, was not to be so easily won. A 
stout Spaniard, whose figure in some ways resembled 
Joshua X endeavoured to force his way between the retreat¬ 
ing pair. Joshua, whose hands were occupied manipulating 
Kate, had perforce to resort to other measures than the 
ordinary form of attack. Slewing sideways with unlooked- 
for nimbleness, he delivered that portion of his frame more 
generally employed for sitting upon into the round stomach 
of the Spaniard. Apart from its somewhat ridiculous aspect, 
the manoeuvre was entirely successful. The unhappy re¬ 
cipient of what legitimately might be termed a rearguard 
action deflated and doubled up like a burst balloon, his fall 
for a moment blocking the way of new assailants who were 
hurrying into the fight. Vernon took advantage of the 
moment to marshal the three remaining women through the 
opening to the comparative safety of the stairs beyond. 

“Get ’em into the car, Julius,” he shouted. “You, too, 
Morgan, in case there’s trouble at the door. Here, Willie 
Carpenter! Shoulder to shoulder.” 

The party disappeared and the two men closed the gap 
behind them. 

Glancing back, Averil saw the lithe, athletic figure of 
Vernon Winslowe—his body thrown slightly forward and 
his arms shooting out straight and clean as the action of a 
piston-rod. Beside him stood William Carpenter, thumping 
great heavy blows into the half-circle of inflamed faces that 
bore down upon them. 

Walking-sticks were the chief danger—a stick is an awk¬ 
ward weapon to parry with bare hands—and the ferrule 


150 TREASURE TRAIL 

of a stick is both painful and disagreeable when thrust into 
the body or the face. Vernon lost a strip of flesh from his 
forehead in this way, and the wash of blood spilling into his 
eyes made fighting difficult. 

“This is all right,” he gasped, “but how we’re to manage 
the get-away puzzles me.” 

“Dash for it. I’ll hold ’em,” came the answer. William 
Carpenter had the small matter of courtesy Vernon had 
shown him on the bridge of the Mascot to repay. 

“Thanks, but—I—don’t—think so.” * 

Curious that even in the midst of a fight a man can blush 
at his mistakes. The problem of retreat would have to be 
solved in another way, and William Carpenter solved it. A 
baluster-rail ran down at a sharp angle beside the opening 
at which the fight was taking place. It looked a rickety 
affair. William went for it with both hands, tore it free and 
flung it plonk into the body of the crowd. The obstacle was 
inconvenient to pursuit, and while their assailants strove to 
disentangle themselves from its meshes, Vernon and William 
made a bolt for freedom. 

Lying across the exit leading to the market-place was the 
figure of the doorkeeper just recovering from a count of ten. 
Blood trickled from a cut in his chin, and since Joshua 
Morgan never wore jewellery of any kind, it was to be sup¬ 
posed that here was an example of the fighting ability of 
Henry Julius. The fellow showed no disposition to resist 
them and they reached the waiting car and stumbled into it 
unmolested. And taking into consideration the age of the 
engine and the inequalities of the track, the speed of their 
departure from the Plaza del Toros was very creditable 
indeed. 

It was a long while before anyone spoke. Joshua Morgan 
broke the silence with: 

“Well, you know, that was a thing to have seen.” 

And: 

“Heaven be praised we’re out of it,” said Kate. Then, 
with eyes of admiration for her husband: “But the way you 
rumped that fellow aside, Joshua!” 


TREASURE TRAIL 151 

Henry Julius was looking lovingly at a diamond ring on 
the third finger of his right hand and murmuring to himself: 

44 Surprising—surprising. ’ ’ 

Everyone was saying something, even Yernon Winslowe 
to Averil: 44 No, no, it’s all right, only skin-deep.” Every¬ 
one save Mary, who sat rigid, upright, breathing through 
her nose and every now and again shutting her mouth like 
a trap. 

A new woman was being bora. 


CHAPTER XXII. 



ERNON went ashore next morning and had an inter¬ 


view with the British Vice-Consul. His object was 


to secure for Ralph Whittaker power of attorney to 


act on his behalf, and in this matter he was successful. 

‘‘Right,” said the consul. “I’ll fix it for you.” So 
Vernon signed some papers and was preparing to depart 
in a spirit of thankfulness when he was recalled by the words: 
“What was this about a fight yesterday?” 

Vernon told him the story. 

“It was a peach of a scrap,” he concluded with a grin. 
“A real peach.” 

“It may have been all that and more,” came the answer. 
“On the other hand, I have it on good authority that some 
of the less successful competitors are out for your blood. I 
do not think I should be giving away state secrets in saying 
that at any moment warrants for arrest may be issued 
against members of your party—in particular a lady who 
appears to have gone to the bull-ring armed with a sand¬ 
bag. Things move slowly in this country, nevertheless I 
think it would be advisable to melt away as quickly as 
possible. ’ ’ 

“We are sailing at three o’clock,” said Vernon. 

“Then make it one o’clock, and be on the safe side. 
And to avoid trouble I should return to the quay by the 
most circuitous route.” 

Excellent advice it proved to be, since from a distance 
Vernon saw two heavily-moustached Spanish policemen loll¬ 
ing against a goods truck overlooking the flight of steps 
beneath which floated the gig which had brought him ashore. 
Their object being fairly obvious, Vernon removed himself 
to a distance of security, where he hired a fishing-boat to 


152 


TREASURE TRAIL 153 

take him back to the Mascot. The gig was signalled to 
return, which it did after some small argument with the 
officers of the law, an argument which resulted in one of 
them being obliged to test his ability as a swimmer in 
full uniform. It is an unfortunate characteristic of British 
sailors that in discussions with foreigners they fall into the 
habit of talking with their hands. Viewed through a pair 
of binoculars from the deck of the Mascot, it appeared that, 
despite their rifles and sundry small arms and accoutrements, 
the two officials were no match for the “crew of the captain’s 
gig-” 

“We had to cut the painter, sir,” as one of them subse¬ 
quently explained, “but while old Jack was a-doing of it, I 
give the big bloke a sweet little clip in the ear ’ole.” 

And old Jack, not to be out of it: 

“Yer see, sir, they ’ad rifles, them rozers, and furuners 
never can be trusted, not with firearms. I ’ad to shove off 
from summing, so I plants the blade of my oar in the pit o’ 
t’other bloke’s stummick and pushes ’ard. It was summing 
beautiful the way e’ took to water. Like a duck, as you may 
say.” 

Mary Ottery, who heard it all, nodded in vigorous 
approval. 

Vernon laughed. 

“You must subdue this fighting strain,” he said. There’s 
a warrant for your arrest waiting ashore. That fellow you 
bagged is still unconscious, they say.” 

“And I hope he stays so,” said Mary grimly. 

And Mr. Isinglass, perched on an adjacent skylight, 
chuckled to himself. 

“It amuses you, sir?” said Vernon. 

“Amuses, no! Pleases and delights me, yes! Ah, Wins- 
lowe, Winslowe, I told you to beware of face values.” He 
leaned toward Vernon and beckoned him to come nearer, 
then, with a drop in his voice: “They have begun to stretch 
their limbs—these folks—to stretch their souls. Freedom, 
and they’re tasting it.” His voice fell still lower. “What 
shall we say to them on the day the prison doors are re- 


154 TREASURE TRAIL 

opened and they are called upon to enter?” A sudden 

chill stole through Vernon, and he shivered. 

“Eh, eh?” The query squeaked thin and high like the 
sound of a cricket. 

“That day won’t come,” and there was a confidence in 
his voice. 

“But who’s to prevent it? You—I—Fate or what?” 

“Look here-” Vernon began. 

“It’s a puzzle, you know—a puzzle to be solved.” 

“Why do you say this now?” 

Mr. Isinglass made no direct reply; he chuckled again 
and pointed toward the shore. 

“I wonder if that steam pinnace has trouble aboard,” 
he said. “D’you see it just putting off from the shore? 
One never knows from what quarter trouble will come. 
Wise men leave as little as possible to chance.” Vernon 
looked, then turned with a sigh of relief. 

“You were meaning a Spanish prison?” 

“Was I?” repeated Mr. Isinglass tantalizingly. “Was 
I? I wonder.” 

Vernon was smiling in a queer way as he mounted to 
the bridge. 

The anchor chain clanked noisily through the guides and 
the Mascot turned her prow toward the sea. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 


T HAT night Vernon Winslowe took counsel with him¬ 
self on divers matters, such as should control his, 
future actions. In the first place it was manifest 
from what he and Averil had found in the old log-hook that 
a real excuse existed for the belief that treasure was hidden: 
on the island, which the fact of vital words having been 
erased from the page was sufficient to warrant. The pos¬ 
sibility that the words which had been obliterated dealt onljr 
with the marooning of the man Trefusis, Yernon dismissed 
as unlikely, since Roger Winslowe never hesitated to chron¬ 
icle such doings in other parts of the book. True, the whole 
affair rested upon a shadowy foundation, but was it more 
shadowy than those upon which many similar enterprises; 
had reposed ? He asked himself whether or no he would have 
formed the syndicate had the present information been in his; 
hands when first the scheme suggested itself to his imagina¬ 
tion, and he knew he would have done so. He knew, more¬ 
over, that he would have set about it in precisely the same' 
manner as the one he had adopted—an advertisement and a; 
haphazard selection of persons from the answers received. 
In forging a lie it appeared he had forged a truth; in e,^ 
barking upon a swindle he had taken steps which might I'eartf 
to a fortune. Fate, accident and a girl had changed the 
entire complexion of the affair, and provided a moral justi-' 
fication for allowing the enterprise to pursue its course. 
The question as to whether or not the little they knew was 
sufficient to warrant a treasure hunt had been answered 
by the unanimous consent of every member of the company 
the night of their first meeting. Heaven knew success was 
a doubtful quantity, but since the rest had thought it good 
enough to invest their lives and fortunes and trust in the 

155 


156 TREASURE TRAIL 

quest, there was no excuse for Vernon himself to shrink 
from the risk. Nor would he. For the future his energies 
should be concentrated upon making success assured. 
Doubt, misgiving and melancholy should be cast aside, and 
that dull intermittent ache of conscience which even in his 
happiest moments had pricked him with a kind of shame¬ 
fulness should be banished. He rose, with an outward 
breath, and stretched his arms and into his trouble-cleared 
thoughts marched Averil. 

He knew then that he was in love with her—had been 
ever since those old days in the hunting-field, before ever 
they had spoken to one another. But his love now had taken 
different shape; it was fired and magnified by her presence 
and the occasional contact of her hand against his. From 
something pleasing, tame, reflective, it had developed into a 
passion insurgent and possessive. He longed to seek her 
out and tell her about it, to take her in his arms—kiss her 
and keep on kissing her—to say the words—to drive from 
her thoughts all memory of that stupid affair with Sullivan— 
all sense of anything but himself. He laughed at his rec¬ 
ognition of the melancholy fact that there are no florists 
in mid-ocean. He became poetic and wished he might pick 
her a posy of stars. Even the wish she might fall into the 
sea and that he might rescue her raced through his mind, 
a whole panorama of deeds and acts and chivalries that he 
might perform for her sake, and each of them was imprac¬ 
ticable save one. That one stood out with firm definition 
could not be mistaken. All things he might be to her 
saye her lover—all things he might say save the declaration 
of his love. Here was a fact admitting no argument, for 
love must offer love credentials and his were forged. They 
must be friends and no more until such a time as effort was 
crowned with success, and he could go to her with a full 
confession of the whole business. It was not altogether a 
joyous conclusion to the debate he had held with himself, 
but if it did no more, it provided him with the doubtful 
satisfaction of knowing that to the best of his ability he 
would be steering an honourable course. 


TREASURE TRAIL 157 

A change in the weather from savage to benign had the 
result of turning the thoughts of the passengers from per¬ 
sonal discomforts to considerations of wider interest. Thus 
the object of the cruise reverted in the conversation of 
everyone, and there was talk of treasure, treasure, treasure 
to the exclusion of other subjects. They discussed what 
they were going to do with their individual shares—how 
much it would amount to and of what it would be composed. 
To foster these healthy discussions Yernon produced a copy 
of Lethbridge’s “Life of Roger Winslowe,” which recounted 
colourfully and at length the infamous details of the old 
pirate’s career. It became a fashion for different members 
of the company to read a chapter aloud after dinner at night 
very much after the manner of a Shakespeare reading 
society. In the course of this entertainment criticism was 
never lacking. William Carpenter was the heaviest sufferer 
on account of his halting delivery and an unfailing habit 
of reading old-fashioned long S’s as F’s. Thus he would 
read the sentence, “such doings at sea” as “fuch doings at 
fea,” thus becoming the author of a catch phrase which was 
directed against him with tiresome persistence. Tremendous 
was the interest and excitement these readings evoked even 
when delivered through the medium of Mary’s level lavender 
voice which retained its timbre in face of the most ghastly 
descriptions of plank walkings or bowel-ripping encounters 
with rival pirates. Even Nurse Banbury, who seldom left 
the bedside of Tommy Gates for more than a few minutes 
at a time, would pop in and out of the saloon to garner 
an earful of these delicious adventures and patter away 
again like a hen who has snatched a morsel from under 
the beaks of her greedier and luckier sisters. It appeared 
that old Roger Winslowe was addicted to the use of fearful 
language. The words he employed were innocent enough 
individually but assumed a terrifying quality in association 
with their fellows. In the heat of battle he would roar, 
“Blood and brine,” and thus strike terror into the hearts 
of those who sought to board his ship. It is sad to relate 
that the phrase “Blood and brine” achieved a sudden 


158 TREASURE TRAIL 

popularity among the passengers of the Mascot. Joshua 
Morgan shouted it when accused by Kate of spending too 
much time in the company of 41 that Miss La Rue ”; Julius 
kissed it when searching beneath his bunk for a fallen 
collar-stud; and it was suggested that Mary Ottery said 
something very like “Blood and brine” when a lurch of the 
ship caused her to fall on a companion-way and bruise a 
knee. Subsequently she declared that the charge was unjust 
—admitting to the use of the word “brine” and hotly deny¬ 
ing having made any reference whatsoever to blood. It was 
not unnatural as a result of these hair-raising adventures 
that premonitions of disaster, mutiny and collision with 
Chinese pirates should have arisen in some of the simpler 
minds of the ship’s company. Kate Morgan, from having 
slept with her cabin door on the hook, now insisted that it 
should be shut and bolted, since without some such pre¬ 
caution she could not sleep without fears of a slit throat. 
Henry Julius looked to the mechanism of his .32 automatic 
.and decided for the future to keep it loaded; while Wil¬ 
liam Carpenter paced up and down the white decks of the 
!Mascot wishing with all his soul that he was wearing a 
knotted kerchief about his head, a coloured sash about his 
middle and a slung cutlass at his side. Failing these satis¬ 
factions, he lay awake half the night reading “Treasure 
Island.” 

Life was too easy, too soft; the fear of and the desire for 
something to happen possessed everyone alike. 

And then one night they had a thrill. Joshua Morgan was 
responsible, and for a man who had never even taken part in 
amateur theatricals he worked up the situation with no 
small histrionic ability. It began at the dinner table in the 
form of a question, the putting of which was delayed. 

“Captain Winslowe, is there a safe aboard this ship?” 

“A safe? No,” said Vernon. 

The steward returned. 

“It doesn’t matter,” said Joshua, and made a peculiar 
gesture with his fork. 


TREASURE TRAIL 159 

Some curry was introduced, consumed, and the plates 
carried away. 

His next remark was even more significant. 

“That map of the island—it’s in a secure place?” 

“My bureau.” 

“Under lock and key?” 

“Yes.” 

“Ah!” A pause, then: “Still a wooden bureau isn’t 
much protection against desperate men.” 

Eyes were beginning to open wide on both sides of the 
table. 

“What are you driving at?” said Yernon. 

“One more question—how many men comprise the crew of 
this here ship?” 

“Fourteen,” 

“Fourteen!” He repeated the number slowly. “Four- 
teen, and we number six, and one of us is an ill man.” 

“Here, what is all this?” Yernon demanded. 

“It’s rather over two to one,” came the reply in measured 
tones, “but as I hear the steward returning I’ll take leave 
to say no more.” 

Yernon looked at Averil and grinned. Lydia intercepted 
the grin, and sent it shimmering back. But there was a 
germ in the room—a germ of exquisite fear. Its workings 
were manifested by catches of breath and faint patches of 
white blotching the lower halves of faces. 

“You seem to be talking awful rot,” said Yernon genially, 
and was signalled into silence this time with a spoon. 
Joshua Morgan always anticipated the arrival of a course by 
possessing himself of the implement to deal with it. His, 
was a forward policy at table; his appetite brooked no delay. 
As a plate was deposited, so he attacked it. 

But that night there were many plates which left the 
table untouched; excitement will always beat victuals as an 
article of diet. A trembling expectancy kept everyone 
chained until the board was cleared and talk should be free 
of listeners. 


160 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Now then/’ said Vernon, trying to appear serious, 
“what’s all this about?” 

“Before I say a word,” said Joshua, “I put it to all that 
door should be locked.” 

“What on earth for?” 

It was Mr. Isinglass who overruled the objection. 

“By all means,” he said, “let us lock the door. There is 
to me something extremely attractive about a locked door; it 
bestows an air of gravity on any situation.” 

The door was locked—breaths were held, and Joshua 
Morgan cleared his throat. 

“Captain Winslowe,” he said, “I wish to ask you this: 
How long have you been personally acquainted with various 
members of this crew?” 

“Most of them were signed on at Southampton after I 
took command.” 

Joshua looked round at the company as though he had 
scored a prodigious point. 

“Then,” said he, “we’re justified in the assumption that 
these men for the most part are strangers and, for all we 
know to the contrary, may be no better than a lot of cut¬ 
throats. ’ ’ 

“Look here,” said Vernon hotly, “I don’t want to be 
rude, but talk of this kind is dangerous stuff. I congratulate 
myself that we have a thoroughly loyal crew—loyal to a 
man. There’s not a vestige of excuse of thinking other¬ 
wise. ’ ’ 

And from Mary Ottery: 

“I quite agree with Captain Winslowe. Why, only 
yesterday one of them told me how to spell ‘ahoy’ when I 
was writing it in my diary.” 

But Joshua Morgan was not to be so easily subdued. 

“In the course of a long business career,” he said, “I’ve 
never once been associated with a deal that had as its object 
a financial gain without finding there was others out on the 
same tack. Information leaks out, and when that happens 
opposition steals in, and opposition isn’t over-particular what 
weapons it employs.” 


TREASURE TRAIL 161 

“Ah!” from Henry Julius. “There you’re talking sense. 
Now I can remember-” 

But he was not allowed to voice his memory, for Mr. 
Isinglass had leant across the table to ask: 

“To the point, Mr. Morgan. Do you suggest there is 
likely to be a mutiny on board?” 

“Taking one thing with another, yes.” 

“I never heard such utter rot,” said Vernon. 

Mr. Isinglass held up a finger. The affair was altogether 
too serious to be wiped away by a word of contempt. 

“Perhaps Mr. Morgan will supply us with his reasons for 
this conclusion.” 

“I’m about to do so. Maybe there’s some here will think 
’em unconvincing, but that’s a matter for them to decide 
after I’ve spoken.” He drew from his pocket a folded sheet 
of note-paper, consulted what was written upon it, and said: 
“Indictment number one. At half-past four yesterday 
afternoon, happening to pass fo ’castle, I glanced down and 
saw one of the seamen—a short, fat chap—sharpening a 
hooked knife on sole of his boot. Having completed this to 
his satisfaction, he runs the ball of his thumb along edge 
and makes some passes with knife in air.” 

The effect of this news upon the ladies was prodigious. 
Lydia licked her lips, and Mrs. Morgan beseeched her hus¬ 
band to desist until such a time as the stopper of her salts 
should consent to come out of the bottle. 

“A short, fat man,” said Vernon. “That would be 
Jenkins. He’s in charge of the sail locker, and he uses that 
knife all day long in the course of his duties.” 

“Have it your own way,” said Joshua, “but I haven’t 
done yet. An hour later I fell into conversation with one; 
of the deck hands. ‘So,’ says he, ‘this ’ere is a treasure 
hunt.’ I tries to put him off with a negative, but he shakes 
his head at me and looks sideways, knowing like. ‘Treas¬ 
ure ships is unlucky,’ he says, ‘begging pardon for speak¬ 
ing so free. Them as looks for treasure finds sorrow, 
if nothing worse.’ Aye, and then he adds, impressive 
like: 



162 


TREASURE TRAIL 


“ ‘Who seeks a treasure they’ve not got, 

Their bones in Davy’s locker rot, 

They meets disaster out at sea. 

Pestilence and mutiny, 

And learns the tale so often told, 

That there’s -no health in buried gold.’ ” 

A little gasp went up—a gasp and a shiver. 

“Yes, but hang it all,” Yernon cut in, “you must know 
sailors are superstitious folk, and there’s nothing they like 
better than putting the wind up a longshoreman.” 

“If you ask me,” said Joshua hotly, “that man was giving 
ns the straight office, and it would be criminal lunacy to 
ignore his words. Aye, and if that isn’t proof enough of 
corruption on board, what do you think of this-?” 

By this time the condition of nervous tension he had 
produced was almost painful. 

“For heaven’s sake, Josh, don’t say there’s worse to 
come, ’ ’ gasped Kate. 

“You can judge for yourself. At dusk this evening I 
happened to overhear voices behind one of the deck-houses. 
Fdging a bit nearer, I heard these words: ‘ ’Ow long are 
we going to put up with him?’ ” 

At this point Mary Ottery pricked up her ears. 

“I didn’t catch the answer, but the next question was 
significant. ‘It’s a case of goin’ on indefinite or one of us 
tacklin’ ’im.’ Then says number two: ‘Aye, but ’oo’s 
going to do it? These navy chaps carry guns.’ To which 
number one answers. ‘There’s a risk, and nothing’s to 
be gained by actin’ hasty. The chap what does it must 
bide his time and choose a moment when he’s off guard 
like-’ ” 

“Good God!” exclaimed William. “Do you m-mean the 
p-plot to mur-murder Winslowe?” 

“May I speak?” said Mary Ottery. 

But her request was swept away by a chorus of horrified 
exclamations and questionings from everyone else. 

'“Look here,” said Yernon, “I can’t make head or tail 




TREASURE TRAIL 163 

of all this. I)'you know who these men were, because if 
so-” 

“Oh, please!” from Mary. 

But once more Joshua held up the traffic of speech. 

“Listen to the last thing I heard said. ‘The best time 
’ud he after dinner, when Vs 'aving a smoke on deck and 

is feelin’ peaceful like. Then if one of us slips up and-' 

but he drops his voice and I never heard the rest.” 

“No,” cried Mary, “but I did.” And there was so much 
emphasis in her voice that she riveted attention upon her¬ 
self. “I overheard it all, and it had nothing whatever to 
do with murdering Captain Winslowe.” 

“If you imagine you're a better judge-” 

“I was in a deck chair quite near, and I heard every 
word. They were talking, and they did say what Mr. Mor¬ 
gan says they said, but it wasn't about murder at all.” 

“Then what was it about?” Lydia demanded. 

Mary hesitated. 

“It—it was about rum.” 

“Rum?” Everybody repeated the word. 

“Yes, rum. It seems that the boatswain, or quarter¬ 
master, or whoever's responsible for serving out the rum, 
doesn’t give the men their fair share, but keeps some back 
for himself. Yes, and they were trying to pluck up courage 
to ask Captain Winslowe to do something about it.” 

For an appreciable time there was silence. Then, at first 
slowly, but with gathering impetus, Kate Morgan began to 
laugh. 

It is, perhaps, the prerogative of a wife to laugh at her 
husband. Certainly it is one she exercises with no less zeal 
than loving, honouring and obeying. Kate Morgan leant 
back in her chair while great billows of laughter shook her 
fat little body this way and that like a country-side tossed 
by an earthquake. Laughter of such a kind is infectious, 
especially when it follows so tense a situation as the one 
which had preceded it. 

“Blood and brine,” squealed Henry Julius. “Never were 
fuch doings at fea.” 





164 TREASURE TRAIL 

But Joshua Morgan did not join in the general gaiety. 
He sat with clenched hands and a face that was peony-red. 

“Aye, laugh away,” he said, when at last there was room 
for the sound of human speech. “Maybe it was rum those 
fellows was discussin’, but when you all wake up to find 
your necks twisted, the laugh’ll be on t’other side of your 
faces.” 

He rose and went ceremonially towards the door. 

“I say,” said Yernon, intercepting him, “don’t take it 
so seriously. After all, no treasure hunt is complete with¬ 
out a mutiny—and if you’ve done nothing else you’ve given 
us all the sensations of a mutiny.” 

“I take nothing seriously,” came the lofty rejoinder, 
“except the sight of my old woman shimmy-shakin’ in her 
chair. When I married her,” he added, “I reckoned I had 
taken a helpmate; ’stead of which it seems I’m tied up to 
one of these here table jellies you see advertised.” 

The majesty of his exit was somewhat marred by the door 
being locked and his having to return to the table for the key. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 


M EDITERRANEAN! Blue days and sapphire 
nights. The lapping of waves, scurries of flying 
fish, and phosphorus in the sea, the sweet balm of 
desert-dried breezes, and the endless jewellery of stars. 
Shall not the weary find repose in you, Mediterranean? In 
your expanse of swaying water, gemmed with islands, 
margined by a hundred coloured coasts, how shall folly, 
anger or greediness abide? 

Why is not nature in her serenest mood all-powerful to 
iron out the creases in the minds of men and women and 
leave them white and smooth? Of all masters, a perfect 
environment should be the greatest autocrat. It should not 
be possible to squabble underneath the stars, and yet the 
petty failures of men and women—sickness, misunderstand¬ 
ings, unkindnesses and false judgments—go their appointed 
way unhindered by nature’s gentlest moods. It may be best 
that this is so, and that we are given an armour to protect 
us against over-susceptibility and remain ourselves unaltered 
by this or that in beauty or ugliness. We are fashioned of 
such excellent clay, perhaps, as to be unaffected by climate 
or condition. Our faults are not redressed, nor are our 
favours enhanced by the frame we are put into. If it were 
otherwise, there would be no great satisfaction in kisses 
given in slums—nor for that matter could men sink shafts 
into the sides of virgin mountains and litter them with 
lumps of coal. The achievement of happiness and content¬ 
ment reposes on more subtle foundations than a change of 
scenery. Take a steam-roller over the beauty spots of the 
world and cover the flattened surface with asphalt, and there 
shall be just as many happy people afterwards. Plant the 
East End of London with honeysuckle and roses, and misery 

165 


166 TREASURE TRAIL 

will be as rife. The treasure of happiness is in ourselves, 
to give or take, find or lose, according to our skill or want of 
skill. And thus, though nature smiled upon the Mascot, 
discord and illness and distrust and doubt worked, like 
worms in the wood, to rot the fabric of success. 

Boredom was the root of the matter—boredom which 
cannot be content with its own insufficiency. Almost in¬ 
variably at some stage of a long cruise boredom makes an 
appearance, and sweeps over the entire ship’s company like 
a pestilence. 

Since the night Joshua Morgan introduced the startling 
phantom of mutiny, there had been a general reticence to 
make any further reference to treasure-hunting or its 
attendant risks. It would be time enough to revive those 
interests when they should have arrived at the island; mean¬ 
while fear of laughter drew a veil of silence over those at¬ 
tractive topics, and the passengers of the Mascot drifted 
back into considerations of their own personalities and 
criticisms of each other. Henry Julius unloaded his auto¬ 
matic, and tried to persuade people into the greater danger 
of playing poker with him. This, after one or two dis¬ 
astrous experiences, they positively declined to do, and 
there was ill feeling on both sides. William Carpenter no 
longer walked the decks with piratical longings, but spent 
his time mooning round after Lydia, whose callous treatment 
of his advances became a matter for general obloquy. 
Lydia’s stock was very low on account of “the curved 
archaic smile” she had worn at the bull-fight. Kate Morgan 
had declared a war of silence against her, and was thoroughly 
outraged that Joshua declined to take part in it. 

“How you can speak to that young woman at all is a 
fair disgrace,” she said. 

Joshua affected innocence. 

“What, Miss Ottery?” 

But Kate was not to be turned aside by such transparent 
devices. True, she and her husband had undertaken the 
cruise in a spirit of belated honeymoon, but this fact did 
not discourage Kate from employing weapons of offence 


TREASURE TRAIL 167 

against Joshua in the use of which marriage had provided 
her with skill and familiarity. By day he avoided her 
society, but by night he got all that was coming to him—the 
most scathing indictments against his morals ascending from 
the lower bunk, and impacting against the small of his back 
with the force of a mule’s kick. In all of this there was 
much injustice and a good deal of human nature. 

“The wonder is you’re not ashamed of yourself,” she 
would say, “and it’s no use lying up there pretending to 
be asleep.” 

Sometimes Joshua persisted in this pretence, but it availed 
him nothing, for the arc of his body was within reach of 
Kate’s hand, and it is not possible for a man to affect slumber 
while he is being subjected to assaults from the rear. 

“Aye, and the way she chases that poor Captain Winslowe 
is fair disgusting.” 

There was truth in this claim, for Yernon was never on 
deck for five minutes together without Lydia flitting up to 
his side. Here was an embarrassment he had? not foreseen, 
and one with far-reaching and distressing consequences. 
Without positive rudeness it was impossible to escape her 
company, and Yernon had vowed to himself that so far as 
lay within his power he would make the cruise a success. 
To do this he must avoid coming into conflict with any of 
the passengers. It distressed him terribly, however, that 
he was never given the opportunity of having a quiet talk 
with Averil. No sooner had they exchanged a few words 
than Lydia was at his side, turning what might have been 
a delightful a deux into a disastrous d trois, which dissolved 
into an d deux again as Averil drifted away. It was always 
Averil who was first to go—Averil who was disappointed 
that the friendship between herself and Yernon which had 
made so valiant a beginning should have retrogressed into 
something negative and ordinary. He was conscious of the 
disappointment she felt, but it was impossible to dispel with¬ 
out making a declaration of his real emotions. Politeness 
and common courtesy is a very poor fuel wherewith to keep 
the fires of a love affair burning. And it was not unnatural 


168 TREASURE TRAIL 

Averil should have wondered whether after all he did not 
prefer Lydia’s society to her own. They were always to¬ 
gether, and he was always civil to Lydia. If he disliked the 
woman, surely he would have shown it in some way or 
another. The inference was that he did not dislike her, or 
perhaps even encouraged her continual companionship. 

The affair touched her pride, and Averil determined in no 
way to press her friendship where it was not sought. But 
pride is a poor consolation, and the idleness of life aboard 
a ship gave her ample opportunity to feel miserable. The 
sense that something tremendously worth having had been 
almost hers, and then inexplicably had vanished, hurt her to 
the quick. 

Then one morning when she was early awake and on deck, 
Vernon came up and spoke to her. 

“I say, is anything wrong? You look rather down 
and-” 

“I’m perfectly all right,” she replied. “One gets a bit 
sick of a long voyage and nothing to do.” 

He nodded. 

“I know. It’s a tedious business. By the way, did you 
speak of what we found in the log-book together?” 

“No.” 

“Then I think we won’t,” he said. “For the present, for 
what it’s worth we’ll keep it to ourselves.” 

Absurd as it must seem, the thought of sharing a secret 
with him was pleasant to her—so pleasant that she did not 
bother to wonder what his reasons were. He went on: 

“We don’t seem to see anything of each other these days.” 

“You’re busy,” she replied, “and occupied.” 

He shrugged his shoulders. 

“Oh, after a fashion, but one misses talks—at least, I do. 
This chit-chat of a ship is tedious stuff.” 

She looked at him. 

“Captain Winslowe.” 

“Hallo! I thought we were to call each other by friendlier 
names.” 



TREASURE TRAIL 169 

“No,” she said, “that’s stupid. You’re Captain Wins- 
lowe to everyone else.” 

“Yes, but still-” 

“So I think I’d rather be like the rest.” 

11 Even when we ’re alone ? ’ ’ 

“We are hardly ever alone, so what’s the good of that?” 

He had gone farther than he meant to go. 

“As you like, of course,” he said. 

Then quite suddenly she asked: 

“Why are you different?” 

“Different ?” 

“It’s a silly question, perhaps—but I’ve been wondering. 
You have been different, you know, ever since I told you 
about Frank Sullivan—and that ring I wanted to return to 
him.” 

“I don’t know that-” 

“Not that it matters, only men and women look at things 
in different ways—and I wondered when you thought over 
what I told you—calmly, as I know you do think—whether 
what I meant to do seemed a very puny, rotten thing.” 

“Good Lord, no.” 

“Don’t just say that. I’d much rather you said yes, if 
you meant yes. We seemed to be friends, and then it 
stopped.” 

“It hasn’t stopped, Averil.” 

“Then it’s been spoilt somehow—and I wonder what’s 
spoilt it—and I wonder if it’s me.” She forced a little 
laugh. “It’s so easy to go cheap in other people’s esteem.” 

“Cheap,” he repeated. “You!” 

“It might be so—from your standard.” 

It was the word standard that got him—for she said it 
as though his was a standard anyone might be proud to 
follow. In that instant a sudden determination to tell her 
everything surged over him. 

“Look here,” he said, “look here! If you want to know 
the truth, here it is.” 

And he threw out his arm with the fingers extended. 




170 TREASURE TRAIL 

It was the very cream of irony that the gesture he made 
should have pointed at Lydia La Rue—Lydia in a pink 
neglige, smiling after her morning tub, smiling and picking 
her way daintily towards him. 

“I see,” Averil said. 

“No, no,” he replied hotly. 

“Then what?” 

After all, had he any right to tell her the truth? The 
opportunity to do so had gone, and with it much of the 
impulse. Just because he loved this girl, had he any right 
to make her a confidence in a matter that affected everyone 
alike ? 

“Oh, nothing,” he said. “There is no reason.” 

Friendship will not thrive upon concealment. Averil bit 
her lip and turned away. 

“What a morning,” said Lydia as she passed by. But 
Averil did not seem to have heard. 

Mediterranean, blue coverlet for lovers! What a failure 
you can be. 


CHAPTER XXV. 


T HEY were in the Red Sea. It was terribly hot with 
that sticky kind of heat that makes the nerves snap. 
“Shall I read some more?” said Mary Ottery. 
Kate Morgan, her knitting in her lap and her eyes half 
closed, nodded acquiescence. 

“If it isn’t troubling, dear. I do love a book with lords 
in it.” 

Mary turned to chapter twenty-three of “The Cherished 
One.” She drew a breath that was half a sigh and began 
to read. Very stupid the words sounded to her, with all 
this high-life nonsense about earls who stooped to imprint 
kisses, and so forth—very stupid! However, Mrs. Morgan 
seemed to like it, and for want of more active employment 
Mary had fallen back into her old way of service and 
companionship. 

With the fans going it was cooler below than on deck, but 
even in the card-room the sense of suffocation was almost un¬ 
bearable. The frightful oppression of atmosphere had af¬ 
fected everyone. Joshua Morgan was blowing and bubbling 
by the deck-house above. Henry Julius had sworn venom¬ 
ously when his fourth white collar that day collapsed like 
melting wax. 

In his cabin in the forward part of the yacht Tommy Gates 
was behaving like a man who was going to die, which is 
to say he was staring at the cabin ceiling and through it at 
some place beyond. Lydia La Rue had passed through the 
card-room while Mary was reading the last chapter. Her 
eyes were hot and feverish and her mouth drooped. A sec¬ 
ond later William Carpenter followed, carrying a vanity bag 
she had left in the saloon. There was something odd about 

171 


172 TREASURE TRAIL 

his expression, too. More or less, everyone was at the end 

of their tether. 

The day before, a stoker—crazed with the heat below—had 
rushed on deck and thrown himself into the sea. Vernon 
went overboard after him, and there was a fight in the water, 
where the attempted suicide had to be struck into insensibility 
before he could be saved. The affair had done little to quiet 
anyone’s nerves. 

When the two men were hauled dripping over the side, 
Lydia met them. 

“You might have been drowned yourself,” she said, with 
truly wonderful eyes for Vernon. 

“I might,” he replied brusquely. “Not that it would have 
mattered. ’ ’ 

That was all. He would not accept hero-worship. 

Henry Julius explained that he never saw the fellow go 
in, and Joshua remarked that it would have made precious 
little difference if he had. Followed words I A very dis¬ 
jointed ship’s company. 

The air was charged with electricity. Even Mary was won¬ 
dering how long it would be before a storm broke. 

“Well, dear?” said Kate. 

Mary flattened out the book and read how a certain Lady 
Rosita Tillington “cast herself on a couch with truly Eastern 
abandon and flashed her wonderful eyes at Reginald.” She 
broke off to say: 11 Life’s not a bit like that really. ’ * 

Kate Morgan looked up surprised. 

“Eh, my dear?” 

“All this about languorous smiles and parted lips and 
breath that drugs people. Life’s not like that.” 

“Well, dear, I never supposed it was, but reading of 
such doings makes for a bit of entertainment.” 

“All lies, this stuff,” said Mary. “Foolish lies. Life’s 
an ordinary affair we take along with us wherever we go— 
rather ugly, I think, with just here and there, in patches 
ever so far between, some—something that makes up for 
the ugliness—more than makes up for it. I don’t know, 
but that’s the way it strikes me. I’d better go on reading.” 


TREASURE TRAIL 173 

“If you’d rather not, dear, I’ve a skein of wool we might 
wind,” suggested Kate by way of a cheerful variety. 

“No, I’ll go on.” She gave the book a kind of shake 
and read: 

“ ‘Life with you, Rosita, would be one long dream. Some¬ 
times as I lie awake at night, I conjure up a vision of our 
future. And I see roses clambering over the door of the 
cottage where we dwell with one another. And there are 
children, Rosita—our little children—with happy laughing 
faces. They play in the sunlight at their innocent games. 
I see them, too, kneeling by the little cots at night to say 
their prayers.’ ” Again she broke off. 

“I don’t,” she snorted. “That’s not children—not chil¬ 
dren as I see them. There’s a better picture of children in 
that ugly vest you’re knitting than all this innocent games 
and little cots business. I don’t want children like those— 
but natural ones—wild, naughty, and with dirty faces from 
what they’ve picked up with their hands and rubbed into 
their cheeks. Real children who come for help sometimes and 
are angry if you give them the wrong help. Laughing faces 
and prayers! That isn’t children. It isn’t honest—isn’t 
ugly enough to be honest. Honesty is ugly, you know, like 
things that hurt.” 

“Miss Ottery, what are you saying? Honesty hurting!” 

“Of course it hurts. For the twelve years I was a com¬ 
panion, I was never honest once, and I never hurt anybody 
once—I only irritated them.” 

“Miss Ottery!” 

She swung to the book again. 

“ ‘And, leaning forward, he gathered her in his arms and 
crushed his lips to hers with a kiss that was agony.’ Ah, 
that rings true—that’s honest. Love would hurt—must. 
The only prizes worth having are won by pain.” Then she 
threw up her head and exclaimed: “Like children.” 

The book fell from her lap and she went quickly to the 
deck. 

Kate watched her go in mild amazement, then stooped, 
recovered the book, and hid it beneath a cushion where 


174 TREASURE TRAIL 

Joshua was unlikely to find it. Then she, too, went on deck 
to look for Joshua, who had been left too long alone—or 
did she go in case he was not alone ? 

Mary was not left long to herself, for presently Henry 
Julius appeared with a word about the heat of the night 
and a request that she should sew a button on the sleeve of 
his nautical jacket. 

“Yes, all right,’’ said Mary, who always had a needle in 
her bag. 

While she sewed, Henry favoured her with a sample of 
his shrewdness in the matter of a picture deal. A canvas 
picked up for a tenner and afterwards sold for seven thou¬ 
sand pounds. 

“And how much of that did you give the man you bought 
it from?” she asked. 

“He had his ten-pound note,” was the frank reply. 

Mary took out her scissors and snipped off the button she 
had sewn. 

“I don’t mind life being ugly,” she said, “but when it’s 
mean! ’ ’ 

She threw the button into the sea. 

“I call that hard,” said Henry Julius. Meanwhile Kate 
was asking Joshua to fetch her salts. 

“Do you need ’em?” he replied wearily. 

And she flared up to answer: 

“Very well, I’ll get them myself. You know full well 
how I hate them narrow passages and bumping from side 
to side agen them rails. M’ hips look like zebras as ’tis.” 

And in the uncanny stillness of the night Vernon Winslowe, 
from the bridge, heard all the frets and troubles on the deck 
below. He heard a row between Joshua and Julius on the 
refusal of the former to play a hand of cards—he heard the 
bitter tones of Lydia when her faithful slave William brought 
her bag—even the coughing and harsh breathing of Tommy 
Gates reached his ears. All this he heard as his eyes rested 
on a lonely figure leaning against the prow of the yacht, 
and he knew that he was steering a ship of failure to a port of 
disillusionment. There had been no cable at Port Said from 


TREASURE TRAIL 175 

Ralph Whittaker in answer to his letter, and since that morn¬ 
ing in the Mediterranean he and Averil had barely exchanged 
a word. Then a voice behind him said: “ May I come up f ” 

He assented, and Mr. Isinglass joined him on the bridge. 
By the light of the moon the old man looked like an aged 
satyr. His smile was exasperating. 

“Well, Winslowe, what of the night?” 

Vernon did not trust himself to reply. 

“Anything wrong?” said Mr. Isinglass. 

“What should be?” 

“Satirical young man.” 

“No, resentful.” 

“What do you resent?” 

“You chiefly.” 

“Me?” 

“You’re laughing at us.” 

For a moment a hand rested on his sleeve. 

“No, no, no. I am smiling, though, that is all. Why not 
join me? Sailors, I heard, were jolly fellows.” 

Vernon turned his head sharply. Was the old man trying 
to bait him—to make a jest of his doubts and perplexities? 
But the expression on the face of Mr. Isinglass was the very 
soul of innocence. Vernon turned away again. 

“It’s a bit hot to-night,” he said, “too hot to be a really 
jolly sailor. ’ ’ 

“I know, and nerves get jangled in a high temperature. 
That’s so, isn’t it?” 

Vernon nodded. 

“By the way, I haven’t congratulated you yet on your 
bravery of yesterday. ’ ’ 

“Don’t bother.” 

“A plucky rescue like that deserves praise.” 

“Sometimes,” said Vernon slowly, “I wonder if one has 
any right to rescue people.” 

“Rubbish,” said Mr. Isinglass, and repeated: “Rubbish. 
But that’s not all I wanted to say. I start with the jam to 
get to the .powder. I’ve been asking myself just lately 
whether you are quite doing justice to yourself—whether 


176 TREASURE TRAIL 

a little more raffishness—more confidence—more dash— 
wouldn’t help things along in this difficult temperature. It’s 
only a suggestion, mind you—and a humble one.” 

“You mean I’m letting things down?” 

“Not at all. But there’s a vast difference between letting 
things down and cocking ’em up.” 

Vernon thought in silence for a while, then: 

“I know what you’re driving at,” he said at length. “The 
thing’s a failure—that’s patent to both of us.” 

“No, no, no.” 

“Yes, a failure, and we may as well face the issue. What’s 
the good of going on?” 

“Shush, shush, shush. We’ve barely begun.” 

“Maybe, but the spirit has died out of everyone.” 

“It hasn’t been born yet.” 

Vernon lifted his shoulders hopelessly. 

“The tire’s flat,” he said, “and we’re running on the rim.” 

“That being so, it’s for you and me to blow it up again.” 

“What’s the good! Mr. Isinglass, in spite of the fact that 
I honestly believe now a treasure may be found on the island, 
it’s in my mind to chuck the whole business.” 

“I would not bother about that,” said the old man; he 
had started at Vernon’s words about the treasure. “I would 
not bother with beliefs or make-beliefs, honest or otherwise. 
For my own part, I know there is treasure there. ’ ’ 

“You know?” 

“As I know there is treasure everywhere if we are clever 
enough to find it. But that doesn’t matter. Our duty— 
your duty—is toward the emergency of the present time— 
however out of joint it may be.” 

“And is.” 

“For you, perhaps.” 

“Not only for me.” 

“But for you in particular.” 

Vernon made no reply. Once more the old white hand 
rested on his arm. 

“It is very difficult to think clearly when one is in love, 
is it not?” said Mr. Isinglass, addressing a star. 


177 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“Who said that I-” 

‘‘My dear boy, I’m not blind—I know well enough the 
cause of your depression and what fills your mind to the 
exclusion of all else. Let me say I have greatly admired the 
reticence you have shown in that matter. It’s all gone down 
in the book.” 

“What hook?” 

“A strange book I keep, sometimes adding a page or two, 
and sometimes tearing them out. It’s like a game of beggar- 
my-neighbour, never knowing from moment to moment 
whether one will gain a few cards or lose them. Great fun.” 

“Yes,” said Vernon. “Fun for the watcher, Mr. Isin¬ 
glass—the player doesn’t always have such a good time.” 

“I suppose the rebuke was merited, but, after all, I am too 
old to be other than a referee.” 

A sudden anger swelled up in Vernon and made him say: 

“What good is a man who can’t referee his own battles? 
You came and robbed me of my own command.” 

“Yes—at the command of someone greater than either or 
any of us.” 

“You forced your way in—uninvited.’’ 

Mr. Isinglass seemed to grow bigger in the moonlight, and 
a strange fervour filled his voice. 

“It is only those invitations I do not receive I hasten to 
accept. This is not the first time I have been a nuisance.” 

“You make it a habit?” 

“A habit of mind.” 

“You were not wanted.” 

“Had that been so, I should not be here. It is my great¬ 
est ambition not to be wanted, but never have I felt more 
welcome than when I entered the room on that memorable 
night, and found a man mutilating an inspiration. I did not 
know what I should find, but I felt at work in the air around 
me the forces of doubt, misgiving and disappointment. And 
so I knew how welcome my arrival must be, and knew I 
had already arrived even before I turned the handle of the 
door.” 

Away to the left the faint grey silhouette of a mountain 



178 TREASURE TRAIL 

arose out of the dull rust of the desert shore. Mr. Isinglass 

pointed. 

“Mount Sinai,” he said. “It was there the Ten Command¬ 
ments were written. Sometimes I think an eleventh should 
have been added: ‘ Thou shalt not inspire with promises that 
are not fulfilled. ’ ” 

His body went small again, and he passed a hand across 
his forehead, which was glistening with beads of sweat. 

“It’s hot to-night—very, very hot. What have I been say¬ 
ing, I wonder? In this temperature one loses the thread of 
things. ’ ’ 

Vernon stared at him perplexed. The tangible heat of the 
brassy night was like a band about his head. 

“You talk,” he said, “and I listen, and all my own judg¬ 
ment falls away and—God knows, I can’t tell whether you 
stir my conscience or numb it. Every sane impulse is shout¬ 
ing out in me: ‘ End it now. ’ 1 ’ 

“It’s too late,” fluted Mr. Isinglass. 

“Then answer this: Who’s in command of this show— 
you, or am I?” 

“You,” was the answer. 

“Very well, then I shall follow my own judgment, and 
the moment I am convinced beyond doubt that we shall fail, 
I shall make a clean breast of everything and put the ship 
about. ’ ’ 

“Have it your own way, Winslowe, you are in command 
—for until such a time as you come to regard me otherwise, 
I am merely a passenger. The matter rests now on judg¬ 
ment—sane, natural judgment—not pique—not anger—not 
resentment—but judgment .” 

From the saloon below blared forth the scrapy voice of a 
gramophone, piercing the hot night with the roar and rattle 
of a ragtime tune. 

“What fool started that?” cried Vernon. 

He went down the steps three at a time. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

L YDIA LA RUE was alone in the saloon. She was 
leaning against a pillar with half-closed eyes, heat¬ 
ing time to the music with the toe of a silver shoe. 
Vernon walked straight to the gramophone, lifted the 
needle from the record, and stopped the motor. 

‘‘I’m sorry,” he said. “Tommy Gates may be asleep.” 

“I forgot,” she answered, without moving. 

“That’s all right. But in case he is, I thought-” 

“Quite.” 

“Beastly hot, isn’t it?” said Vernon, and moved towards 
the door. 

“Are you going?” 

“Back to the bridge.” 

He had scarcely closed the door when the gramophone 
started again. He came back. 

“Why-?” 

“Because I want to talk to you,” she answered, “and, fail¬ 
ing that-” Her shoulders went up expressively. 

Once again Vernon stopped the gramophone. 

‘ ‘ Well ? ” he asked. It was too hot to use more than a mini¬ 
mum of words. 

Lydia thought for a moment, then came smack to the 
point: 

“What’s the idea in avoiding me?” 

“I didn’t know I-” 

“Oh, rot. Sorry, I didn’t mean that, but Vernon-” 

“Eh!” at the sound of his Christian name. 

“I’m not going to call you Captain or Mister or what¬ 
ever it is. Vernon, why can’t you be ordinary?” 

“Ordinary? I should have thought-” 

179 








180 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Like other men, instead of keeping anyone at arm’s 
length.” 

It was difficult. Something in her eyes argued that a light 
answer would precipitate the storm. 

I ‘ I think, ’ ’ he replied, ‘ * I am the same with you as with the 
rest.” 

“Possibly, but you see I’m not the same as the rest.” She 
put her arms above her head and stretched the muscles tight. 
“And oh, Vernon, I’m so bored, so utterly, utterly bored!” 

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but a long voyage is a tedious 
business, and in this awful heat-” 

“Oh, not that. I’m bored by neglect. Not used to neg¬ 
lect.” She moved away and dropped in the cushioned seat 
beneath the row of sapphire port-holes. “Phew, that’s the 
trouble, my friend. Moods! You don’t get ’em, I expect. 
Yes you do, though, only yours are different. Moods are 
beastly things. You wouldn’t think I’d tried to cure myself 
of mine, would you? Well, I have—tried hard—but it’s no 
use, somehow. You see, I can’t laugh at myself like some 
people—like the lucky ones. If one can laugh, one can do 
anything, but without laughter—moods.” 

“Why tell me all this?” he asked. 

“Because you’re one of my moods-” 

He shook his head. 

* ‘ Oh, you won’t teach me to laugh at myself by smiling at 
me. Don’t think it’s a pleasure to me to tell you this. I 
don’t even know if I care for you or like you, but I do know 
I love you. I do know that.” 

“I say,” said Vernon sharply, “stop saying these things, 
d’you mind? It’s the sort of talk that can do neither of us 
any good, and I think it’s rather silly to-” 

But before he could finish she was on her feet and stood 
before him with blazing eyes. 

II Silly! ’ ’ she cried. ‘ 1 Silly to be in love—love’s silly, eh ? ” 
It was the word “love” fired a spark in Vernon. 

“Look here,” he said, “for everyone’s sake let’s behave 
like normal beings, but-” 






181 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“Don’t you know when a woman loves you?” 

“Yes. Yes—and that’s why, if we’re to talk together, I 
ask you to use the right words.” 

“The right words?” 

“Say I’m a mood—a passing fancy—or anything else like 
that, and it doesn’t matter; but “love” is a word that does 
matter—“love” is a word we have got to keep for where it 
belongs.” 

‘ ‘ And when I say mine belongs to you ? ’ ’ 

“That’s not true, and you know it isn’t true.” 

He stopped with a half-pleading gesture. “I say, I say, 
let’s stop this. Things are difficult enough without compli¬ 
cating them further.” 

“Difficult—what’s difficult?” 

“Oh, never mind,” he said. 

For a moment she watched him in silence. Then: 

“I see. It’s like that. You—you’ve fallen for this Averil 
girl, eh ? Oh, don’t be frightened, I shall say nothing against 
her—but it’s true, isn’t it?” 

“Yes,” he answered. “Yes—it’s true.” 

“Ha!” she went. “Ha!” and turned away with the back 
of a hand streaking across her eyes. 

And, for want of something better, he said: 

“I’m sorry to have made you angry.” 

“Angry! So you think these are angry tears? Oh, you 
men! Well, you needn’t start being apologetic, because I 
don’t want it. I wonder, though, what it is in me you don’t 
like. You think I’m a rotter, perhaps! Well, I’d take a 
bet you’re not all saint.” 

“And you’d win,” he said bitterly. 

“Yes, I don’t often make mistakes—at least of this kind. 
Why do you suppose I came on this voyage ? ’ ’ 

“You told us.” 

“Yes, and I dare say I thought I was speaking the truth 
at the time. I came because I liked you.” 

“That was not the reason you gave.” 

She threw up her head. 


182 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Reason—reason—reason. A fine ship’s company you’d 
have had if reason had been the lure.” 

“I dare say.” 

“We came for adventure, and all of us have our own idea 
of what adventure is.” 

“Yes.” 

“Yes. Mine hasn’t led far, has it?” She gave a short 
laugh. “This talk can’t have been too easy for you. Not 
much fun being fired at when you’ve no fancy for being the 
target.” 

He did not dispute it. 

“Well, if it’s any interest to you to know, I’d gladly have 
followed you to the devil.” 

He laughed then. 

“You seem to have got my direction right,” he said. 
They stood and looked away from each other for a while, then 
Lydia said: 

“Not much point in prolonging the interview, eh?” And 
before he was aware of what she intended, she leaned forward 
and kissed him. 

“Because I love you,” she said, and raced up the short 
companion-way into the arms of Joshua Morgan. And be¬ 
cause he had seen what had taken place, he put out a hand 
to stop her. 

“Miss La Rue—Miss La Rue—as a man old enough to be 
thy father-” 

“Or the father of my children,” she retorted. “Oh, let 
me go, can’t you?” With a cross between a sob and a cry 
she thrust her way past him and disappeared at a run. 



CHAPTER XXYII. 


F OR a long while after Lydia had gone, Vernon stayed 
in the saloon staring at the sticky sea through an open 
port. The tingling heat of the night was like the 
breath from a furnace shrinking and tightening every tissue 
in his body. After the quick rafale of Lydia’s words the 
silence was oddly unreal. “I’d follow you to the devil.” 
The sentence rang in his ears with hateful persistence. How 
hateful, too, had been the whole scene between them—hateful 
—detestable. The reserve he had shown—the remoteness— 
the touch of something superior in his manner—detestable! 
An awful situation arises when a man will not accept what 
a woman offers, and in refusing cannot choose but place him¬ 
self upon some kind of cheap pedestal. There is no other 
foothold. But how wretched was this assumption of a virtue 
that in reality was no more than a distaste. It must ever be 
a situation crammed with hideous complexities where giving 
is one-sided. There is no possible way out that does not lead 
down ugly, gravelled paths. Try the alternatives. “Here 
is your gift returned; I do not like it.” “Here is your gift; 
I do not want it.” “I return your gift of love, being in 
possession of all I require from another source.” What 
else? “Let us forget this ever took place.” A fool’s pro¬ 
posal! Time may in time achieve forgetfulness—but cold 
words sprinkled on a passion split into steam like water in 
a furnace. 

What he had said about love and the quality of love—his 
plea for the right definition of what she offered—recurred, 
and he hated himself for the bruising intensity of that out¬ 
burst. Who was he to say what this or that was worth or 
might be worth? If what she offered had been pure, shiny 
and most innocent, his anger, since he wanted her not. would 

183 


184 TREASURE TRAIL 

have totalled to the same. A priggish disregard—and he of 

all men to be a prig! 

Which was worse, he wondered, to refuse a love for which 
one has no desire—or desire a love for which one may not 
plead ? 

And in the humming heat of that Red Sea night the weak¬ 
ness and the strength of his character were revealed. He be¬ 
came aware that in all his actions he was ruled by a longing 
never to hurt, never to inflict an injury. Here was not kind¬ 
ness—unless it were a kindness to himself—for in hurting 
others he drove the deepest wound in his own side—as a few 
moments before had been the case. He saw clearly that he 
would go to almost any length—any lie—any stretch of post¬ 
ponement, rather than be proved author of a pain. All his 
decency lay at the feet of this fact, and all his weakness too 
—tremendously his weakness. He had not the general cour¬ 
age to be unkind. This whole cruise was built on that foun¬ 
dation, as was the whole of the trust that men and women 
bore for him. Upon it lay his avoidance of Averil, his sub¬ 
mission to the will of Mr. Isinglass, and all and everything. 
The scalpel of truth was in his hand, and he feared to use 
it. He was no more than an anaesthetist at whose doors was 
a lying brass plate bearing the word (1 surgeon.” Yes, and 
when his patients awoke and opened questioning eyes and 
wondered why the operation was still unperformed, he knew 
well enough what would happen. He would lack the courage 
to tell the facts, and, instead, would drowse them back to 
happy insensibility with a whiff of chloroform. Truth that 
might hurt! It was not in him. 

Through the tangled skeins of these heat-inspired thoughts 
his mind stumbled on blindly. He had lost all track of the 
upright, generous impulses of his nature which so much 
governed the situation. He could see himself only as a weak¬ 
ling striving at any cost to save himself from the pain of 
inflicting pain. The rational side of him was at that moment 
non-existent. Cool judgment was gone—burnt out by the 
heat of the night—cloyed and clinkered by unsifted thought- 
ash that had been given no outlet from his brain. 


TREASURE TRAIL 185 

He turned suddenly from the port-hole with arms stiff at 
his sides and his face set. 

“They shall know all about me to-night,” he said. There 
was a hand-bell on a side table, and he rang it furiously. A 
steward came in. 

“Ask anybody you can find to come here, please.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

The man went out. 

From the seamen’s quarters came the faint sound of a man’s 
voice singing to the accompaniment of an accordion: 

“I used to cry for the silvery moon, 

I used to sigh for the silvery moon.” 

The sound came in waves, rising above the pulse and drone 
of the engines. The words were strangely coincident with 
his thoughts. He raised his head to listen as the notes rose 
and fell—distinct and indistinct—merging with the noises of 
the ship. 

Then the door burst open, and Tommy Gates stumbled in. 
Tommy was the last person on earth Vernon expected to see 
at that moment. The boy was in pyjamas, his hair was dis¬ 
ordered, his face was the colour of lead, and in his eyes a 
ghastly fear of some unknown thing was written plain. 
Gasping for breath, he tottered forward, seized the edge of 
the table, and collapsed like a broken box in one of the swivel 
chairs. 

In an instant Vernon was beside him, an arm about his 
shoulders. 

“Tommy—Tommy, old man—Tommy, for God’s sake, 
what’s wrong?” 

But there was no coherent answer. The fight for breath 
continued, punctuated by small, frightened cries like those 
of a child who has met a terror in the woods. 

A patter of feet, and Mary Ottery ran in, followed by 
Averil and Mrs. Morgan. 

“Gracious, what’s the matter?” exclaimed Kate. 

“He was asleep,” gasped Mary. “My cabin is next to 


186 TREASURE TRAIL 

his. I promised to listen so as to give Nurse Banbury a 

chance to rest. Whatever shall I say to her?” 

Then Tommy, gripping the chair-arms and staring out 
before him with ghosts in his eyes: 

“Hang on to me—hang on! Oh, God, Fm afraid. A 
dream—a beast—a hell of a dream.” 

He covered his eyes and rocked to and fro. The second 
door of the saloon flew open, and Olive Banbury came in. 
At a single glance she took in the situation. 

“I knew what it would be,” she rapped out. “Shut 
that port. Turn off that fan. Get a blanket, someone.” 

She was in command, and the women went in all directions 
to obey her. 

“Give me a hand, somebody—a hand,” wailed Tommy. 

“Here, old man,” said Vernon. 

But Olive swept him aside. There was to be no poaching 
on her professional preserves. She went down on her knees 
beside the poor scared boy and gripped his hands like a 
vice. 

“Quite enough of this,” she ordered. “Stop it, Tommy, 
do you hear? Stop it.” 

But the terror was too deep to be willed out of him by 
a stronger personality. He jerked his head this way and 
that. The words he spoke were broken and hysterical. 

“It was horrible—horrible—all liars they were, every one 
of them—a crew of jeering liars. No island—no treasure— 
only lies—lies.” 

“Brandy,” said Olive. The word rang like the note of 
a fire-bell. 

There was an unopened bottle of brandy in a locker a few 
feet away. Vernon went for it, nearly colliding with Mr. 
Isinglass and Joshua Morgan en route. He did not wait to 
find a corkscrew, but smashed the neck of the bottle against 
the table edge and tipped some of the spirit into a glass. 

“Here!” 

Olive did not release her grip on Tommy until he had 
swallowed every drop. 

“Come on now with that blanket,” she said. “Shift him 


TREASURE TRAIL 187 

over here to these cushions. That’s better—much better, 
isn’t it? Now, Tommy, take it easy. You’re a fine one! A 
lot of fuss about nothing—you and your dreams. Goodness 
me! There you are! Comfortable? That’s the way.” 

Slowly but perceptibly the gasping and terror died. Then, 
after a few moments, Tommy turned his head and looked at 
Vernon. 

“Winslow©,” he muttered in a voice that was barely 
audible, ‘ 1 want—to—ask—you—something. ’ ’ 

Vernon felt what was coming. 

“Go ahead,” said he. 

Tommy propped himself on an elbow. 

“This—adventure of ours—my last shot in life—this— 
wonderful—treasure hunt—and being part of a Stevenson 
book—it’s—it’s a real show, isn’t it? No, wait a bit. I’m 
almost played out—just hanging on by a thread.” He 
stopped, drew breath, and concentrated as though he were 
winding up the main spring of his poor, worn-out machinery 
for its last run. “That thread hurts damnably—sorry, 
everyone, but it hurts damnably. And if—if all this show 
is, as it seemed in my dream, a lie—a fake—I’d snap the 
thread here and now—snap it, see?—break the thing—chuck 
myself overboard to-night.” Again he stopped. The silence 
that followed was terrible. One could hear the ship’s clock 
ticking. “So I ask you, Winslowe, man to man, and to give 
me your word one way or the other. If—if it’s a fair show, 
I’ll take a grip on myself. Yes, and I’ll beat this death busi¬ 
ness—I’ll beat it yet. So speak up—out with it—you can’t 
lie to a chap who’s dying.” 

“No,” Vernon repeated. “I can’t lie to a chap who’s 
dying.” His muscles tightened, and his brows came down 
in a straight, black line across his eyes. “I can’t do that, 
Tommy, and yet-” 

No one but Mr. Isinglass understood the full depth of 
agony that the choice of answer must inspire—or the full 
measure of responsibility imposed in making that choice. 
For just as surely as a lie blisters, so may a truth destroy. 
In this grim game of life we play, there are no simple rights 



188 TREASURE TRAIL 

and wrongs that we can paste upon the windows of our souls to 
point the true direction. There is no course by land or sea 
that does not turn a thousand corners and round a hundred 
capes. So it was Mr. Isinglass who stepped up to Vernon’s 
side, and fastened his fingers on Vernon’s arm. And through 
those thrilling fingers flashed a message that plainly read: 
4 4 Lie on—time is not ripe for truth—lie on. ’ ’ And the power 
and the mercy and the kindness of a lie that was torture to ut¬ 
ter took Vernon by the throat and forced the words: 

44 Rot, Tommy! Would I have dragged you all into this 
business—would Mr. Isinglass have lent us his yacht if it 
were a fraud ? There is an island—there must be a treasure. 
There must—must.” 

44 Honest to God?” 

Once again the fingers closed on Vernon’s arm. 

44 Honest to God,” he repeated. 44 I believe so.” 

The tenseness and the fear died out of Tommy’s face. His 
head drooped forward to loll against Olive Banbury’s breast. 
No one stirred, and very soon an even to and fro of breathing 
said that Tommy was asleep. 

From a distance came the sound of the sailor’s voice again. 

44 I used to cry for the silvery moon.” 

4 4 Sh! ’ ’ whispered Olive Banbury, and nodded in the direc¬ 
tion of the sound. 

44 What?” said Vernon dully. 44 Oh, yes.” 

As he turned to the companion-way he met Mr. Isinglass. 
And Mr. Isinglass smiled at him like a man who was giving 
away medals. 


CHAPTER XXVIII. 


S OMETIMES a man is cured of his diseases by the skill 
of doctors—by the kindness of nurses—by a sudden 
ease of mind—by a shock—or by the subtle dominance 
of self-will. Should it be by the latter, then, if he shall 
believe in himself sufficiently and cause others to do like¬ 
wise, he may acquire a comfortable income by combining 
faith-healing, Christianity and a consulting-room in Bond 
Street. 

Asthma, with its attendant miseries, is ever a perplexing 
ailment, for which there would seem to be no standard form 
of cure. Tommy Gates had got it badly—and had got all the 
side shows as well—particularly the left side show of a 
troubled heart. He was, so to speak, fit to die, but with 
death’s door ajar at his bedside he thought fit to put forth 
an unsocked foot and close it with a slam, so vigorous and 
resonant that its vibrations brought him on deck to be a 
convalescent in a deck-chair, and a delight and amusement 
to his friends. 

This recovery may have been brought about by climatic 
change, by Vernon’s assurance on that terrible night when 
he nearly died, or by a chance remark of Henry Julius to 
the effect that he had always been given to understand that 
a body dropped over the side into the Persian Gulf qever 
reached the bottom, but provided an agreeable change of 
diet for the sharks. 

Tommy Gates did not greatly want to offer himself as a 
gratuity to a shark’s larder, and he said so emphatically. 

“If I’ve got to die,” he said, “I’ll die ashore, or at any 
rate I’ll die near enough inshore to cheat those darned sharks 
of a free meal.” 

"With this determination he proceeded to get well so rapidly 

189 


190 TREASURE TRAIL 

that Olive Banbury found herself bereft of any other occu¬ 
pation but that of common friendship. 

Tommy’s mysterious recovery was so complete that when 
some ten days later the Mascot dropped anchor behind the 
breakwater at Colombo, he barraged everyone within ear¬ 
shot with unrefusable demands to be allowed to go ashore. 

“I’m going to the Gaul Face,” he said. “I’m going in 
a rickshaw. I’m going to see cows pull hansom-cabs made 
of rushes if I die for it. ’ ’ 

And since a man who has been ill has a distinct advantage 
over persons in robust health, permission, albeit reluctantly, 
was granted. Tommy went ashore in company with Olive 
Banbury. He hired two rickshaws, he consumed a long pro¬ 
gram of iced drinks, and enjoyed himself exuberantly. 

Nor was he the only one to enjoy himself, for the spirits 
of the entire ship’s company had risen in ratio to Tommy’s 
surprising recovery. Everyone went ashore, and they ate a 
great many curried prawns and peculiar Eastern dishes, and 
they gasped at the huge scarlet flowers that look like bits of 
a letter-box blown into trees, green as the heart of a lettuce, 
and they bought a great many moonstones and collar-boxes, 
and bits of embroidered silk imported from Bokhara and 
Kurdistan and Manchester, and they conducted themselves 
in a manner highly advantageous to the revenue department 
and general trade conditions of Ceylon. 

It was a marvellous day marked by many astonishing 
incidents. Mary had her first cocktail and felt all the better 
for it, and Lydia refused to have any cocktails at all and felt 
all the better for that. Kate Morgan nursed a brown baby 
two days old whose little stomach was so distended that 
she feared it must have swallowed an air ball. Joshua 
Morgan met a man he knew in Bradford. Henry Julius saw 
several “Colour Combinations” which he had never dreamed 
existed, and William Carpenter, who, heedless of protest, had 
dragged off Lydia to witness some native wrestling, accepted 
an open challenge and, by sheer beef and grit, confounded 
the art and science of the professor and laid him upon his 
back amid loud plaudits from the assembled multitude. 


TREASURE TRAIL 191 

A marvellous day! Fellowship and good feeling ran 
high. The essence of the East had entered into and taken 
possession of everyone. And, marvel of marvels, Averil had 
come to Yernon with the suggestion that they should spend 
the day together. 

So off they went on their own—not intentionally on their 
own, because the pilgrimage to Mount Lavinia had started 
as a trio. They had, however, scarcely reached the cab-rank 
and chosen the little canopied vehicle which should carry 
them, when Mr. Isinglass, who was making the third corner 
of the triangle, suddenly remembered that he wanted to spend 
the day alone—or rather in the company of a certain native 
goldsmith with whom he claimed acquaintance. The old 
man, indeed, got quite excited about the necessity of passing 
his time in this fashion. He shook his head violently at 
the polite opposition that was forthcoming, and, sticking a 
bread pill on one of the buttons of the cab’s upholstery, he 
ambled off under the shade of a holland umbrella with a 
green lining. 

So Yernon and Averil, left to their own devices, drove 
along that astonishing Mount Lavinia road, with its high 
screen of bowing palms, its native huts, and the shops of 
potters and weavers, and the ever-changing escort of tiny, 
naked children who raced beside the vehicle crying out 
“Mamma ver’ good, Papa ver’ bad—give penny,” or sing¬ 
ing a quaint, breast and elbow-rapping version of the once 
popular ditty, “ Yip-i-addy-i-ay.” 

They had little need to talk, for the Mount Lavinia road 
is one of the best conversationalists in the world, being ever 
ready with a change of subject or a quick glimpse of some¬ 
thing new. It is a shady avenue charged with pleasant 
thoughts and pictures that are strange as dreams. It talks 
away in terms of shadow and of light and the hundred moods 
of colour; it entertains with peep-shows of the sea and the 
unfamiliar ways of native life. Silence it inspires, and 
admiration and delight, and sometimes laughter too. There 
is no end to the resources of the Mount Lavinia road. That 
great producer whose name is Orient has flung all the wealth 


192 TREASURE TRAIL 

of his genius and ideas into the making of this road. And 
the result is the happiest chaos of tiny dwellings and busy 
temples daubed with splashes of bright paint—of queerly 
clothed and unclothed men and women—of lush, green 
gardens, cross-hatched with fronds of palm and blazing with 
fruits and flowers. He has turned nature into a circus com¬ 
plete to the smallest item. There are elephants and monkeys, 
and yoked oxen and yellow dogs and snakes and mongooses, 
and bananas and coco-nuts, and heaven knows what else 
besides. 

So Averil, who had never seen the like before, and Yernon, 
who liked it none the less for knowing it already, sat in 
glowing admiration and adored everything they saw, and 
perhaps each other into the bargain. 

At last Yernon said: 

“What made you suggest we should spend the day 
together ?’’ 

“Why? Would you rather we didn’t?” 

“I won’t waste time answering that. You know there is 
no one that I’d rather-” 

“Then perhaps that was the reason—that and a feeling 
that you deserve a holiday.” 

“Do I?” 

She nodded. 

“Yes. Besides”—there was a moment of hesitation— 
“Mr. Isinglass ticked me off about you.” 

“Ticked you off?” 

“Well, talked to me—or I talked to him—anyway, we 
talked—although I did most of the listening. Do you mind 
having been talked about ? ’ ’ 

His reply was honest. 

“No man does.” Then curiosity prompted—“But he can’t 
help wondering-” 

“What was said? I’ll tell you if you like.” 

“If you like.” 

“Well, it was—well, I could see you were miserable and 
harassed and a bit overcrowded with responsibilities—at least, 




TREASURE TRAIL 193 

I thought you were, so I asked Mr. Isinglass what he 
thought.’ ’ ’ 

“H’m!” 

“His reply was so quaint. He said: ‘My dear, when a 
man builds a sand castle he’s sure to be troubled as to 
whether he will get it done before the tide comes in.’ I sup¬ 
pose it is a sand castle.” 

Vernon nodded. 

“Then he went on to say: ‘Most folks stand around doing 
nothing and prophesying failure for the builder, which, to 
say the least, is a bit dispiriting. But the real friend is the 
one who hops along, without a lot of questioning and advice, 
and dips a spade and heartens the fellow with a bit of cheery 
companionship.’ ” 

“I wonder what he was driving at,” said Vernon. 

“I don’t know,” said Averil, “but something like this, 
perhaps. He told me, too, that most people waste their 
friendship in adjustment. That’s true, anyway, for heaps 
of hours that might be happy are spent puzzling about 
things.” 

“I know,” said Vernon. Then: “Let’s not waste 3 
minute of to-day puzzling about things, Averil. You’re a 
brick to offer me this holiday. Let’s spend it like kids and 
forget that there’s anything difficult in the world.” 

“Right oh. We’ll make a compact, shall we? that we 
won’t allow anything at all to interfere with our being com¬ 
pletely and utterly happy in this utterly and completely 
lovely place.” 

“That’s a bet,” he answered, “but it ought to be easy 
without a compact.” 

“Yes; but we’ll have one just the same. After all, one 
never knows what’s going to turn up.” 

“State the terms,” he replied gravely, “and I’ll comply 
with ’em.” 

“That to-day and for all to-day we’ll be youngsters, with¬ 
out a serious thought in our heads.” 

“Agreed.” 


194 TREASURE TRAIL 

“And that even if a serious thought does come sneaking 
in, we’ll take it by the shoulders and-” 

“Kick it down the steps.” 

She laughed. 

“Exactly.” 

“And we shake on this?” 

“We shake on this.” 

Their hands met dramatically. 

“The word goes, pard.” 

“It goes.” 

That was a fine start—but perhaps finer still, though in 
a different way, had been a few hurried words from Lydia 
rustled into Vernon’s ear just before he went ashore: 

“Look here, that night in the Red Sea—forget it. I like 
you too well to treat you as one of my moods. There’s no 
resentment, old chap; you came out pretty well. I was— 
well, never mind. Sorry and all the rest of it.” 

So with that, and with Averil by his side, with the knowl¬ 
edge that Tommy had rounded the worst corner, with the 
splendid golden sun blazing down, and with the sweet smell 
of yesterday’s rain in his nostrils, Vernon had reason enough 
to be glad. 

And glad he was. 

“What’s it like, this Mount Lavinia Hotel?” Averil asked. 

“Oh, I don’t know—kind of pagodarish, I think—with 
verandas and things, and a rocky garden that runs down to 
a beach where there are rows and rows of those outrigger 
boats tied up to the palms. I know one eats prawns there— 
which mostly feed on—well, p’raps they don’t—’tany rate, 
it’s a serious thought, and as such is barred expression. And 
I know one sits on the grass after lunch, and native wizards 
grow mango-trees very fast under a dirty bit of cloth and 
say: ‘Gali-gali’—and the surf roars at you, and it always 
rains at five o’clock.” 

“Um! Sounds nice,” said she. 

Then they talked about hunting and polo and English 
cottages, and West End shops and theatres, because it is the 
loyal habit of British subjects in attractive foreign places 



TREASURE TRAIL 195 

to talk about the good things in their Mother Country. Out 
of some such instinct springs patriotism. 

“Do you remember that day when you put your mare— 
the little roan—at that sunken road by Ranee’s Farm?” 

She remembered with a nod. 

“Were you there?” 

“Very much so. My heart dropped fourteen beats when 
I saw what you were up to.” 

“Pff,” said Averil. “Bess could take that ditch on her 
head.” 

“Yes,” he replied, “that was what I was expecting. 
You were a villain to do it.” 

“Where were you at the time?” 

‘ ‘ Not far behind with my eyes shut. ’ ’ 

“Why?” 

* ‘ Oh, I don’t know! I’m a public-spirited sort of beggar. ’ ’ 

“If you’d been that, you’d have gone through the gate 
with the rest of the field.” 

“Never occurred to me.” 

“Fancy you remembering my little roan.” 

His reply was disappointing. 

“I took a snapshot at the meet. Dare say that helped to 
keep her in my mind.” 

“Did you so often look at it, then?” 

“It got hung up on a wall somehow.” 

“A snapshot?” 

“Well, an enlargement of it.” 

“Oh,” said Averil, and seemed satisfied. 

“I say,” she said after a little interval, “do you like 
me?” 

“Of course I like you.” 

“Did you like me before you knew me?” 

“I must have done.” 

“Why? Because you took that snapshot?” 

It is all nonsense to say that a girl should not offer what 
help she can in the initial stages of friendship or courtship 
or affection. Our Victorian grandmothers said “No,” but 
they did it all the same with an “Oh, sir!” with dropped 


196 TREASURE TRAIL 

eyes and a protective gesture of the hands. The Georgian 
girl has a franker method and says the words and asks the 
questions and throws out a hand where it is needed. Really 
nice men are timid creatures when their hearts are con¬ 
cerned. They need a lot of help if they are not to be left 
at the post. 

“It was a jolly group,’’ he answered, “and I wanted to 
keep a record.” 

Averil looked at him gravely, as a nurse might look at 
her charge. 

“You’re a queer one, Vernon,” she said. “I haven’t be¬ 
gun to understand you yet. I know you like me, and I know 
I like you, and that’s a jolly thing to share. Does it sound 
frightfully immodest to say I think it’s a pity we don’t share 
our liking for each other more openly? I often know you 
want to talk to me, and yet I see you preventing yourself, 
just as if I should resent it if you did. I don’t feel we’re 
making the most of this liking of ours. That isn’t said minx- 
ishly—it’s true—and I believe in speaking the truth to peo¬ 
ple I like.” She stopped and went on: “Of course, I may 
be wrong, and you don’t really like me a bit, but I’m sure 
if that were so-” 

“It isn’t so,” he said. “Most tremendously, Averil, it 

isn’t so. Of all the-” He broke off sharply. “But 

look here, I can’t go on without being serious, and that’s 
breaking the rules of our compact.” 

“Oh, bother the old compact,” said Averil. 

But secretly Vernon was grateful for it. 

“One day,” he said, “I shall really talk to you, and like 
enough I shall say so much that you’ll never want to hear 
another word.” 

And quite outrageously she asked: 

“Which day?” 

“I don’t know, but it won’t be a holiday. Hullo! here 
we are.” 

The vehicle stopped at the door of a low-built hotel, 
where Averil and Vernon were taken possession of by a num¬ 
ber of native servants who said, “Sahib” and “Huzoor” and 




TREASURE TRAIL 197 

“Memsahib, ” which to properly educated people who have 
read and love their Kipling is as music to the ears. And just 
as they were parting to wash away the dust of the Mount 
Lavinia road, Averil slipped her hand into Vernon’s and 
tightened her fingers about his. 

“I think you’re a first-rater,” she said. 

He was so surprised that “What?” was all he could reply. 

“I deliberately tried to make you break our compact, and 
you stuck to it.” 

“Oh, chuff!” said he. 

“No, really. I was thoroughly bad and I’m well ashamed 
because you wanted to talk, didn’t you?” 

“I always want to talk to you, Averil.” 

“That’s good to hear—but it doesn’t let me out for cheat¬ 
ing. As a penance I swear to frivol all the rest of the 
day.” 

He accepted the news gloomily. 

“Through thick and thin I’ll stick to the compact. Shan’t 
be a minute.” 

With a wave of the hand she was gone. Vernon ordered 
lunch and chose a table near an open window. They were 
early, and there were few other guests in the dining-room. 
Presently Averil came in fresh and smiling. She looked as if 
she had had a bath and done her hair and put on a new 
frock—an effect that women are able to produce in about 
ten seconds with a face towel and a hand mirror and a speck 
of powder. 

“I say,” she exclaimed, “what a heavenly view. Will our 
island be like this ? ’ ’ 

“Not unlike, I expect.” 

“We are lucky people, Vernon. Let’s talk about islands 
and treasure, shall we? It’s so much more real in this 
sort of place. Tell me again how you just found the map— 
you and that other boy—digging in the cellar.” 

11 But you know that story. ’ ’ 

“Um! But tell it again—excitingly—with thrills, like a 
serial in a daily paper. You must work up to tremendous 
climaxes, and then stop suddenly while you help yourself to 


198 TREASURE TRAIL 

the next course. Then I’ll say: ‘Another splendid instal¬ 
ment to-morrow,’ and off you’ll go again with your mouth 
full. ’ ’ 

Yernon accepted a sardine and some vegetable salad from 
a waiter, then cleared his throat and began. 

“Here she goes, then. The Granite House was built in one 
of those high crags of rock which abound in North Cornwall. 
The back windows faced the sea, and in times of storm and 

stress- I say, what are we going to drink? Hock and 

Perrier is a sound idea.” 

“Go on,” said Averil. 

“The Atlantic breakers thundered against the rocks below 
and blurred our windows with flying fulmar.” 

“What’s fulmar?” 

“Don’t interrupt—it’s stuff that covers windows.” 

Averil laughed. 

“Sometimes the patch of garden beneath the shale wall 
was white with spindrift.” 

“Is spindrift stuff that whitens gardens?” 

He frowned at her. 

“You eat your bun and listen. A wild lot were the 
Winslowes. ’ ’ 

“With a yo-heave-ho,” she interpolated gaily. 

“Look here,” said Yernon, “are you going to-” 

He looked up and saw that her face had become suddenly 
blank and all the colour had gone from her cheeks. With a 
quick intake of breath she half rose from her chair and was 
staring over his shoulder. Yernon turned his head to follow 
the direction of her gaze, and as suddenly as the change had 
come to her came a change in him. 

At the farther side of the room a tall, good-looking man 
in riding-suit of white drill was holding out a chair for a 
girl with a very pink and white complexion and a peevish 
mouth. 

“Beastly table! Can’t we get nearer a window?” she 
said. 

The man shrugged his shoulders, but in deference to the 




TREASURE TRAIL 199 

girl’s wish threw a glance round the room. In so doing his 
eyes met Vernon’s—shifted quickly, and met Averil’s. 

For a long moment none of the three actors in this silent 
drama moved. Then with a barely audible “Sullivan,” 
Vernon took a step forward. But quick as was his move¬ 
ment, Averil’s was quicker. Her hand flashed out and 
touched his sleeve. 

“No,” she said. “No, Vernon, no.” 

He did not even look at her as he replied: 

“You don’t understand, I-” 

“I do understand—I understand our compact that nothing 
—nothing was to interfere with-” 

“That man-” he began, but he did not finish. 

“If I can stand it, you can,” she said simply. 

For a moment he fought down the impulse to spring across 
the floor and confront Sullivan. Everything that had hap¬ 
pened to him—his fall from honesty to roguery, his lying, his 
cheating, his misery, was all accounted against Sullivan. The 
enemy had been delivered into his hands to destroy, and he 
was called upon to declare an armistice. Why? Because he 
had promised Averil nothing should spoil their day together. 
Sullivan had begun to move. He had whispered something 
hurriedly in the girl’s ear, and they were moving away. A 
second more and the chance of a requital would be lost, per¬ 
haps for ever. 

“Please,” said Averil, and there was something in her 
voice that could not be denied. Vernon swung round and 
sat down heavily in his chair. A waiter brought soup. In 
the mirror opposite, Vernon saw the main doors close as 
Sullivan and the girl went out. After that, for a long while 
there was silence. 

Then Averil’s voice again forced to hold itself in a steady 
note: 

“Go on telling me, please.” 

“What?” 

“The next splendid instalment. I think the—the last one 
was rather fine.” 





200 TREASURE TRAIL 

He kept his word—it took some keeping—bnt he kept it. 
“A wild lot, we Winslowes—a rough lot, who made the sea 
their trade/’ 

And, with glistening eyes, Averil said: 

“Yes, go on—I like sailors best.” 


CHAPTER XXIX. 


A T the stroke of twelve midnight, Vernon Winslowe 
went out on business of his own. Until then he had 
kept faith with Averil, and neither by word nor deed 
had interfered with their enjoyment of the day. With the 
undercurrent of anger and resentment that coursed through 
them both, the effort at gaiety had been a poor pretence. 
There was a dance at the Great Oriental Hotel—better known 
as the G.O.H.—which with the rest of the ship’s company 
and sundry passengers from an Australian liner they had 
attended. At twelve o’clock Vernon shed his garment of 
high spirits and melted away. Rooms had been taken ashore 
for the days they were to stay at Colombo, and after the 
ball Averil went to hers and changed into a walking-frock 
and presently went out into the night. 

She was not very certain what she intended to do—per¬ 
haps she would just walk about—or perhaps- 

The concierge had told her that Sullivan was staying at the 
Bristol—everyone knows everyone else’s business in Colombo 
—there is not much else to do but gossip. Of course, he 

might have gone—on the other hand- 

If she did meet him she would say—what would she 
say-? 

All her thoughts that night ran into unknown quantities. 
She wondered why Vernon had gone into speechless anger 

at the sight of Sullivan. Could it be because-? 

She wondered why she admired Vernon so tremendously— 
wondered what it was he was keeping back from her—what 
secret. Wondered if he cared—wondered what he would 
think of a woman who set out to act as she meant to act— 
who would smash her own dignity on the altar of her own 

201 






202 TREASURE TRAIL 

pride—wondered why she wished to return the ring to Sulli¬ 
van—wondered—wondered—wondered- 

Vernon walked straight to the Bristol Hotel and up the re¬ 
ception bureau. He said: 

“ There was a man staying here called Sullivan. I sup¬ 
pose he left this afternoon. I want to know where he’s 
gone.” 

The reception clerk, a Bengali with round specacles and a 
moon-like face, blinked, shook his head, and revealed the 
fact that the palms of his hands were paler than the backs. 

“Mr. Sullivan, he not go,” said he. “He here now, Mr. 
Sullivan, in lounge—he smoking.” 

So Vernon went to the lounge. At the first glance it ap¬ 
peared to be deserted, then he saw the top of a man’s head 
above the back of a cane arm-chair; beyond it, in perspec¬ 
tive, shone a pair of patent leather shoes which rested on a 
tub containing a palm. 

Vernon recognized the back of the man’s head. He walked 
to the chair and stood behind it debating what he should do 
first. For a considerable time he stood there thinking. 
Then Sullivan, who had not moved, stretched himself lux¬ 
uriously and said into the air with the sweetest tones im¬ 
aginable : 

“Going to have a drink, Winslowe?” 

Vernon came round and faced him. 

“I think not.” Then: “I thought you would have run, 
Sullivan.” 

“Yes,” came the answer in an easy, comfortable tone of 
voice. “I thought I should myself, old soul, but the need 
no longer exists.” 

“Discovered a bit of pluck?” 

“Nothing to speak of, old fellar. I came across a bit of 
information which is much more useful. Take a pew, won’t 
you ? ’ ’ 

“I shall take more than that before I’m through with you,” 
said Vernon. “Yes, and give something into the bargain. 
For a start I’ll bother you to ring for a chequebook.” 



203 


TREASURE TRAIL 

Sullivan shook his head. 

“I shan’t do that, old fellar—it’s pointless to spend money 
when you needn’t.” 

4 ‘Even another man’s money?” 

“All money is another man’s money in some shape or 
form. It was queer our runnin’ into one another like this.” 

“Not so queer after all. There’s still a bit of justice 
knocking about in this world, you know. ’ ’ 

Sullivan sat up and put down an empty glass. 

“Ah, now you’re talkin’ sense, old fellar. Good sense. 
If you don’t mind my sayin’ so, you seem to have wised 
considerably since our last meetin’. Everything points to 
that conclusion.” 

“I think,” said Vernon, “that everything points to this 
conclusion, that the sooner you pay up what’s left of the 
money you stole from me, the better.” 

Sullivan shook his head. 

“Not a penny,” said he. “Not a red cent. If I’d thought 
there was a dog’s chance of havin’ to do that, d’you imagine 
I’d be here now? My dear boy, no one has ever accused me 
of being a fool—as a matter of fact, I’m rather a bright 
young thing when you get to know me.” 

“What are you driving at?” 

“Just this. I spent the evenin’ with a very pleasant young 
fellow from the Mascot. One of your officers—nice chap 
named Rogers—nice talkative young chap, but perhaps a 
bit given to sayin’ too much when he’s had one over the 
eight.” 

“Well?” 

“Well, he told me about this treasure jaunt, that’s all.” 

“Well?” 

“Well, my dear old horse—surely—surely—surely! 
Young Rogers took a count of six from the brewer and spun 
the whole yarn. He was full of it—and full of you, too. 
How you contrived to cod that entire ship’s company into 
buyin’ stock in hidden treasure story not only fills me with 
amazement but with very solid admiration. You were a bad 


204 TREASURE TRAIL 

starter, Winslowe, but once away you deserve the cup.” 

Vernon did not say anything for a moment; he just looked 
and thought and wondered what precise feature of Sullivan’s 
face he should hit first. At last: 

“I see,” he said. “Then you’re of opinion that the whole 
business is a ramp ? ’ ’ 

“The very word I was lookin’ for.” 

“And can you prove it?” 

“Shouldn’t be difficult. A hint that you were dead broke 
when that advertisement went into the Times —dead broke, 
old soul, and rather angry—-well, I don’t say it would, but 
it might shake folks ’ faith a bit. ’ ’ 

“Perhaps you knew I was almost broke when you got me 
to back that bill?” 

“I didn’t know, but I rumbled it. Otherwise I should 
have returned the bill to you and gone out for a larger chunk 
a bit later on.” 

“I see,” said Vernon. “You—you’re a decent sort of 
chap, aren’t you?” 

“Well, old top, as I read the card, a fellar’s got to live. 
You must have said the same thing to yourself when you 
planned this show. At its easiest, livin’s a problem, and I 
do congratulate you on having found a pro tem. solution. ’ ’ 

“Yes, I suppose you would,” said Vernon, and his right 
hand closed into a fist. 

With as much grace as was compatible with precaution, 
Sullivan slipped out of his chair on the off-side, leaving it 
as an obstacle between them. 

“I wouldn’t cut into any of the Jimmy Wilde stuff, Wins- 
lowe,” he said, “honest to God, I wouldn’t. A little calm 
judgment, old friend, ’ud serve you better all the time. A 
black eye to me ’ud be a poor compensation for what you’d 
lose in givin’ it. You were always one for a bit of popu¬ 
larity, and from what I can see, you’re gettin’ a fair share 
on this cruise. Pity cut loose from that. Nice ship, nice 
company, and unless I was mistaken in my estimate at lunch 
to-day, just a speck of the old heart stuff thrown in.” 

If Sullivan had left out his last remark, it is possible he 


TREASURE TRAIL 205 

might have escaped punishment. A careless overstepping 
the line was his downfall. Wit he had and shrewdness, too, 
but he lacked sensibility. Insensible himself to any fine feel¬ 
ings, he assumed that the rest of the world was like him. He 
was wrong about that. 

Vernon twined a foot round the leg of the cane chair, 
kicked it sideways, and smashed a straight left into Sulli¬ 
van’s mouth. 

And when Sullivan rose, doing unpleasant things with 
blood and teeth, Vernon’s right crooked back to put him down 
again. But the second blow was never struck. His hand 
was imprisoned by a double grasp from behind, and Averil’s 
voice cried out: 

“No, don’t—no, please—even though you did it for me.” 

He turned. 

“You—but I-” 

“Don’t say anything—it was—but I wish so much you 
hadn’t. 

She dropped her head, and tugging the ring from her 
finger held it out to Sullivan, who was dabbing at his mouth 
with a crumpled handkerchief. There was not much breath 
in him, but he mumbled something that sounded like: 

“Put up between you.” 

“No,” said Averil. “I came here hoping to find you alone 
to return this. He knew about—about us—because I told 
him. I wouldn’t have told him if I had thought he— I’m 
sorry. I didn’t know that it—what you had done—how it 
would seem to another man.” 

She turned and looked at Vernon, and in her eyes was not 
only reproach but something marvellous beside. So marvel¬ 
lous was that look she gave him that Vernon shut it out with 
a sleeve across his forehead, and, swinging round, said to 
Sullivan: 

“Go on, tell her—here’s the chance you want—tell her. 
Tell her the truth, man, for it is the truth, how I cheated 
everyone with lies of a hidden treasure. Go on, I order you 
to tell her now.” 

The expression died out of Averil’s face. 



206 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Then it wasn’t for-” 

“No—oh, in a way it was for you—but no. I came here 
because he robbed me.” 

Then Sullivan, cutting in: 

“It’s a lie—he’s lying—I never robbed him—it was just 
a loan—a loan he wanted back. Good Lord! He was nasty 
about it, so I twitted him on this treasure hunt. Winslowe’s 
all right—wouldn’t do a shabby thing—straight as a die.” 
Then a tremendous glance that read: “For God’s sake, do 
you want to ruin the pair of us?” 

Averil stood very still for a minute, then she said: 

“Both cheats.” 

“Both cheats,” Vernon repeated. 

“I see, and the price of his silence is the loan?” 

“Five thousand.” 

She thought in silence—standing between the two men, 
silently thinking bit by bit, from the beginning of the adven¬ 
ture—then forward until her thoughts were back in the room 
again. At last: 

“I should pay,” she said. 

She left them then without another word. Sullivan picked 
up the ring and dropped it in his pocket. He was still 
fumbling at his mouth with the other hand. 

“Well,” he mumbled, “d’you accept the verdict?” 

For a moment Vernon made no reply. He jerked back 
his head and laughed. It was horrible laughter—cracked 
and mirthless. It ended abruptly, then he looked up and 
said: 

“No choice—no choice. I’ll buy your dirty silence, Sul¬ 
livan. But there is a treasure on the island—there is— 
though I didn’t know it until too late.” 

He turned and stumbled out like a drunken man. 

Frank Sullivan watched him go with a strange expression 
on his battered face. He appeared to have forgotten the 
injuries he had received. They had faded into insignificance 
beside a new thought. 



CHAPTER XXX. 


S HE did not go to bed. There was a balcony to her 
room, and, leaning against the rail, Averil looked out 
across the grey sea, spangled with coloured reflec¬ 
tions of the riding lights of ships. The faint roar of surf 
breaking against the mole came to her ears mingled with the 
thin drone of mosquitoes and notes of a temple bell. From 
the far-away bazaar rose and fell the even beating of tom¬ 
toms, and the wail of a woman whose man was dead. 

But Averil was unconscious of these sounds except to be 
vaguely aware that together they formed a symphony of 
sadness which dulled the senses like warmth or swiftly- 
running water. 

Very alone she felt—very lost—very much without an ob¬ 
ject. Much that is fine in imagination fades with perform¬ 
ance into nothingness. That piece of pride—the return of 
the ring—how insignificant it seemed now it was accom¬ 
plished. It had passed unnoticed, a trivial and neglected 
side show, overwhelmed by the crisis of a greater occasion. 
With all her soul she wished she had never done it, had 
never accepted that chance opening which had made its doing 
possible. To have been part of a vulgar brawl, to have al¬ 
lowed a primal instinct of her nature to exult in the belief 
that the brawl had been inspired out of respect, out of love 
for her by another man, to have shown him the exultation 

she felt, and then to have found- That was the bitterest 

part of all—to have revealed, even though in words she had 
protested, to have revealed to Yernon the pride, the admira¬ 
tion, the gratitude she felt for a man who would fight for 
her and then to learn that the fight had been for the vulgar 
cause of money—not of chivalry—a rough-and-tumble be¬ 
tween a blackmailer and a cheat in which her presence was 
the least important factor. 


207 



208 TREASURE TRAIL 

A cheat, self-confessed, and he was the man whose pres¬ 
ence had driven from her mind all the smallest sense that 
there were other men in the world as well as he. A rogue, 
a swindler, a pirate—one of the pirate breed that had taken 
to the old sea roads again, choosing for his victims sim¬ 
plicity and faith and trust and even love itself. 

Averil straightened her body and held out her arms. 

“For I did love him,’’ she said. ‘‘I did—I did.’’ 

And as if in answer to her cry came a sharp knock at the 
door. Averil stepped back into the room with: 

“Who’s there?” 

“It’s I.” The reply was in Vernon’s voice. 

“What do you want?” 

“To speak to you. Can you come down to the garden?” 

She thought. It was maddening that the sound of his 
voice should still stir her. 

“You may come in,” she said. 

He turned the handle and entered. His face was very 
white and set, but he seemed oddly composed. 

“I offer no apology for coming here,” he said. “The 
position demands that I should know what you mean to do.” 

Averil turned on a light by the dressing-table. Her voice 
shook when she replied: 

“You mean do I intend to give you away?” 

“Put it like that if you wish.” 

“I—I haven’t decided yet.” 

11 Then with your permission I ’ll wait until you do. ’ ’ 

She flared up at that. 

“I give no permission,” and she made a half-gesture to¬ 
ward the door. 

“I’m sorry,” said Vernon, “but I can’t go. By an ac¬ 
cident no one could have foreseen, you have tumbled on the 
truth about this treasure hunt. I want to find out what 
action you mean to take.” 

“And to find out,” she said, “you come to my room at 
two in the morning, knowing it’s impossible for me to ring 
and have you turned out.” 

“That’s unfair. I asked you to come down to the garden. 


TREASURE TRAIL 209 

But rather than-” He left the sentence unfinished and 

turned toward the door. 

* 4 Wait, what is it you want?” 

“You mean I may wait?” 

“Yes, what’s it matter?” 

“I’ll be as quick as I can. You found out the truth—• 
what action shall you take in regard to the rest?” 

Averil rubbed the palm of a hand against her forehead. 
“Tell them, I suppose.” 

“I see.” 

“I should have thought it was obvious I must do so.” 
“Not quite,” he replied. “You have just found out and 
you want to tell. I found out what a low swindle it was 
on the night I floated the scheme.” 

“What do you mean?” 

“Found out how much I hated myself.” 

“And yet you let it go on.” 

“Yes. That’s what I ask you to remember.” 

“Because you had something to gain?” 

“Had I?” he answered wearily. “Oh, well, let it go at 
that. But I haven’t finished yet.” 

“Well?” 

“I was not the only one who found out that night.” 
“Who else?” 

“Mr. Isinglass.” 

She repeated the name incredulously. 

“But he—but why-?” 

“And he, too, allowed it to go on.” 

Averil moved her head from side to side. 

‘ ‘ Do you ask me to believe he had something to gain, too ? ’ 1 
“Yes.” 

“You are in partnership?” 

“You may call it a partnership.” 

“I don’t understand—it’s horrible. What did you—what 
do you mean to do with us?” 

“Make amends,” he said. 

“Make amends?” 

He nodded. 




210 TREASURE TRAIL 

4 ‘Just that. Turn a lie into a truth. Here is an enter¬ 
prise which, even though it began as a fraud, may develop 
into an honest and even a splendid achievement. Here are 
a number of simple, trusting people who, without question, 
have delivered their empty lives into my hands and expect 
me to fill them in several ways.” 

“But—but it’s all wrong—how can you? It’s impose 
sible!” 

“Nothing is impossible until it’s proved so. A hundred 
times a day I have said to myself it can’t be done and a 
hundred times a day I seem to hear an answer: ‘It may 
be done.’ ” 

“How?” 

“Let’s look at our gains so far. A little, timid woman 
who day by day develops in strength and courage—Mary 
Ottery. Tommy, a dying boy, who-” 

“You lied to,” said Averil, with a flash of memory. 

“Yes. I saved his life with that lie. William Carpen¬ 
ter-” 

“Oh, I know,” she said, “I know—but what’s the use, 
what’s the use when we are certain what the end must 
be—?” 

“Even if the end results in no more than the gains al¬ 
ready made, isn’t it enough? Doesn’t it justify our going 
on?” 

“But when the truth comes out—when they know that 
from first to last—the cynicism of it all.” 

“Will the cynicism be any the less if we end it now?” 

She covered her eyes and rocked silently. 

“I don’t want to influence you one way or the other, but 
those are the facts. It’s for you to decide what to do.” 

“Then there’s Frank Sullivan,” she said suddenly. 

“He’ll say nothing. It would cost him too much.” 

Again a silence. 

“If I spoke—it would mean you—they’d put you in 
prison.” 

“That hardly matters,” he said. 

“There is an island?” 





TREASURE TRAIL 


211 


“Yes.” 

“But the treasure?” 

“I forged the words about the treasure from that book.” 

She started. 

“Then what we found out that day at Cadiz-” 

“Is the one practical reason for hoping.” 

“That was why you were so-” 

“Yes. But I wouldn’t pin too much faith to our discov¬ 
ery. It may—and probably will—lead nowhere. The deci¬ 
sion turns on the personal element—no other!” 

A faint lemon light had shown in the east. Dawn was 
breaking. Averil got up and went out on the balcony. 
Vernon did not move. 

After a long while she said: 

“Very well, I won’t speak.” 

She turned, expecting to see gladness in his face, but in¬ 
stead it was grey and lined with misery. 

“You should be glad. I don’t understand.” 

“Yes,” he murmured dully, “I should be glad, I suppose; 
but if you knew—if you knew how much easier it would have 
been if you had decided the other way. You are right, 
though—we must go through with it.” 

“We?” 

“All of us.” 

“But I—I’m not going through with it.” 

“What?” 

“My part ends with to-night. It’s ended differently to 
what I expected, that’s all-” 

He seemed rather dazed. 

“Oh—the ring—yes, yes, I forgot.” His brain cleared 
sharply. “Then what are you going to do?” 

“I’ve still a little money—I shall return to England on 
the next boat. To-morrow I’ll say good-bye to everyone 
and wish them good luck.” 

“Wait a bit,” said Vernon. “Wait a bit. If you go it’ll 
destroy everything—everything—we shall never be able to 
explain. Doubt will come in and distrust—everyone will 


imagine- 






212 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Not if I tell them the facts and the reasons why I came.” 

“No, perhaps—oh, yes, it would—it would. If one goes 
—all go.” And then suddenly, at the end of his tether: 
“God! If you did that, I should never have the human 
strength to ” 

And she broke out with: “What difference—what differ¬ 
ence can it make to you?” 

With every ounce of his will-power Vernon suppressed a 
torrent of words. 

“Have it your own way,” he said. “Go, if you must. 
I’ll manage somehow. God knows you’ve reason enough.” 
He sat down brokenly on the bed and took his head in his 
hands. 

And: 

“Vernon,” Averil cried, “Vernon, I won’t go. Oh, my 
dear, I won’t leave you, I won’t leave you.” 

And her arms went round his neck and her cheek was 
crushed against his. 

And all the mother in her and the lover in her and the 
adorable, unquenchable woman in her went out to him in 
that embrace. 

He did not move—dared not—he remained utterly still 
while that great surge of forgetfulness, sympathy and kind¬ 
ness flowed through him. Then very gently he untwined 
her arms and moved toward the door, where he turned. 

“Averil,” he said, “I shall believe you would have done 
that to a stranger child who had been hurt somehow. No, 
don’t interrupt me—it’s difficult—to-morrow, I think, you 
may be glad to tell yourself the same thing. Just a great, 
kind impulse it was—something to be very proud of and 
never to regret.” He stopped, fumbling for words. “We 
only regret a kindness like that when the subject’s unworthy 
—or reads another meaning. I’ve just this to say: It’s 
splendid of you to promise to come on with us—and—and— 
I want you to know that—that I shall never bother you in 
any way—never.” 

Then he went out, silently closing the door. 



TREASURE TRAIL 213 

But Averil was scarcely conscious of the words he had 
spoken. She only knew that she had put her arms round the 
neck of a swindler and pressed her cheek to his. This she 
knew, and she was glad. A rogue, a vagabond, a murderer 
he might be—still she was glad—gloriously—gloriously glad. 


CHAPTER XXXI. 


A KBAH RANA KHAN removed some exquisite pieces 
of goldwork from a stool of carved ebony and be¬ 
sought Mr. Isinglass to be seated. 

“The boy Mohammed,” said he, “hath already told me 
that the protector deigned to visit my poor shop yester¬ 
morning. ’ ’ 

“I did, and you were out.” 

“Alas! that the burial of a most wretched cousin should 
have robbed me of so high an honour.” 

“Rubbish,” was the practical rejoinder. “I’ve a lot to 
talk about, and we won’t waste time paying compliments.” 

“The protector’s years are many, and with each year his 
wisdom increases.” 

“Nice of you to say so, but let’s get to business. They tell 
me, Rana Khan, you are the finest goldsmith in the East. ’ ’ 

The old craftsman made a deprecatory gesture. 

11 1 have some small skill in the working of metals, but what 

is my poor skill compared with-” 

“Never mind about comparisons.” 

“As my lord wills. I was about to name one who is dead 

these two thousand years-” 

“Well, as he’s out of the running,” said Mr. Isinglass, 
“we’ll leave him to rest in peace. Now, Rana Khan, take a 
look at these.” 

So saying, he poured a few coins from a wash-leather bag 
into the old craftsman’s open palm. For a few moments 
Rana Khan fingered and considered them in silence. At 
length: 

“Does my lord wish me to say what coins these be?” 
“You recognize them?” 

“Assuredly. Here is a piece of Chinese gold—an early 

214 




TREASURE TRAIL 215 

piece—minted over three centuries ago. These be of Span¬ 
ish origin—a doubloon is the name of this—while the other 
—but its name defeats my poor power of speech—besides, I 
have forgotten. ” 

“A gold moidore,” said Mr. Isinglass. 

Akbah Rana Khan looked up in admiration. 

“In truth my lord knows all things. Strange is it indeed 
that he seeks enlightenment from one so ignorant as Rana 
Khan.” And once again he embarked upon a recital of his 
client’s brilliant scholarship and amiable qualities, winding 
up with an inquiry as to how he could be of service. 

Infected, perhaps, by this flowery method of expression, 
Mr. Isinglass set about to state his need in much the same 
fashion. 

“Rana Khan, I am a rich man-^-a very rich man—indeed, 
I am so rich that I am sorely put to it to find means of 
distributing my wealth. While turning over this problem 
in my mind an agreeable thought came to me that I would 
like to supply myself with a large quantity of coins similar 
to the ones you have in your hand.” 

“Were I a rich man like my lord,” came the reply, “I 
could conceive no worthier object than to act in similar wise.” 

“Nonsense,” said Mr. Isinglass, dropping back into the 
commonplace. “You think I’m a fool, but let me go on. I 
want a lot of these coins—hundreds—thousands, in fact— 
and there is nowhere in the world where I can get ’em.” 

“Alas!” said Rana Khan, “that aught my lord desires 
should be denied him.” 

“I don’t intend to be denied.” 

“Here is a noble obstinacy,” said Rana Khan, who was 
sure he was dealing with a fool. 4 ‘ Of such determination are 
empires built.” 

“I don’t want to build an empire,” said Mr. Isinglass, 
“but I do want to fill a treasure chest, a chest about the size 
of that box which you are leaning against.” 

Rana Khan gasped. 

“There’s no need to fill it entirely with coins, you under¬ 
stand—indeed, I would rather not.” 


216 TREASURE TRAIL 

“My lord sees clearly the folly of waste/’ 

“So I thought we might line the bottom half with bar 
gold and fill in an odd corner or two with a bag of jewels.” 

Only with the very greatest difficulty was Rana Khan 
able to reply: 

“In all matters, even in life itself, variety is a blessing.” 

“Just so. Now the question is whether you, Rana Khan, 
with the skill and knowledge you possess, could fix up such 
a treasure chest—strike the coins and bar the gold and do 
all the rest of it in such a way that anyone finding it would 
believe beyond all doubt that they had tumbled on a hidden 
treasure that had been buried for a matter of three hundred 
years.” 

A considerable time passed before Rana Khan was able 
to speak a word, the while he mopped his brow with a hang¬ 
ing corner of his sari cloth. 

“Is my lord serious?” 

“I am.” 

“He desires his servant to furnish and to fill such a 
chest ? ’’ 

“I do.” 

“But, my lord, to do so would be to expend a prince’s 
ransom.” 

“As to that,” replied Mr. Isinglass, “I never quite know 
how much a prince’s ransom is, but I am prepared to go 


He named a very large sum of money. Rana Khan blinked 
incredulously. 

“And my lord offers this work to me?” 

“On the proviso that you say nothing about it to a soul 
and get it done in record time.” 

Rana Khan nodded. 

“With me,” he said, “silence is a second part of nature. 
For that reason I have espoused myself to the goldsmith’s 
craft and never taken a wife. I know of such a chest as the 
one my lord desires, an iron chest, brass-bound and studded, 
and built in the period of which he spoke. As to making 
a die for the coins, there should be no great difficulty, 



TREASURE TRAIL 217 

since here are examples from which I may work to pattern.’’ 

“I take it, then, you accept the commission?” 

“I live to do so. There will be some little trouble to 
render upon each coin a seeming of time’s corrosion, hut 
doubtless it is a trouble care will overcome.” 

Mr. Isinglass leant forward and took the small brown 
hand in his small white hand. 

“Your best work, Rana Khan,” he said, “for upon your 
success depends the happiness of many.” 

It was the handshake that swept away humilities. 

“My brother may rest assured.” 

“And how soon?” 

“The need is urgent?” 

“Urgent.” 

Rana Khan debated. 

“From this hour the bolts of my doors are shut, nor shall 
any answer be given to whosoever may beat upon the panel. ’ ’ 

“And how long?” 

“Eight days, my lord—maybe less.” 

Mr. Isinglass took from a small bag he was carrying a 
huge pile of banknotes. 

“If you need more, you know where to find me.” 

“I know.” 

At the door he turned. 

“You may think I am mad, Rana Khan, hut I’m not really 
mad. You see, I’m trying to turn a failure into a success— 
I’m banking everything in an effort to create a bit of per¬ 
manent happiness. Perhaps that is madness. I’m not sure.” 

“If it be madness to seek to create something that shall 
endure,” replied Rana Khan, fingering a piece of delicate 
gold filigree at which for years he had been working, “if 
that be madness, then is every artist a madman, my lord.” 

Mr. Isinglass went out into the sunlight smiling to him¬ 
self and swinging his cane. 

A week later, in the small hours of early morning, a crate 
covered with rush matting was brought aboard the Mascot. 
Mr. Isinglass superintended the operation and skilfully ar- 


218 TREASURE TRAIL 

ranged that even the look-out was unaware of what was tak¬ 
ing place. The crate was conveyed privately to his cabin, 
where, after the wrappings had been removed, it was con¬ 
cealed in a locker. And all the remainder of that night Mr. 
Isinglass rubbed his hands and rolled bread pills and chuckled 
to himself. 

Next day the Mascot put out to sea again. 


CHAPTER XXXII. 


T HE voyage between Colombo and Singapore;. and 
thence on to the last port of call in North Borneo* 
was happy and uneventful. Excitement ran high, 
however, when the white yacht steamed away from Sanda- 
kan and the last stage of their travels had begun. When 
next they set foot on terra firma it would be at the island of 
their dreams. 

It was after midnight when Yernon came down from the- 
bridge. In the empty saloon he stayed to mix himself 
a whisky and soda and smoke a cigarette before turning in.. 
The passengers and stewards were all in bed, and, save for 
the familiar noises of the ship and the lapping of water along 
the sides, all was silent. A door behind Vernon’s chair 
opened and closed as though it were swinging on its hinges.. 

1 ‘Hullo!” he said, without turning round. “Who’s 
there ? ’ ’ 

“It’s me—or rather, it’s I,” said a sleek, silty voice., 
“Hope I don’t intrude.” 

Vernon spun round in the swivel-chair. 

“Sullivan!” he cried. “Where the blazes-” 

11 Don’t make a noise, old top—if you start cursing now;, 
it’ll be so difficult to explain me away afterwards.” 
“Explain you away-” 

1 * Certainly. It must be obvious to everyone that I’mi here*; 
as the guest of my dear old friend, Vernon Winslowe.”' 

He approached the decanter, but Vernon checked him., 
“How did you get aboard?” 

“Oh, that was easy stuff. Just walked aboard; nobody 
stopped me. But I’ve had a deuced hot and uncomfortable 
time under the canvas of that port-side long-boat. Sixteen: 
hours, and precious little to drink.” 

219 




220 TREASURE TRAIL 

“You came aboard at Sandakan?” 

“That’s it—Sandakan, old boy—a very jolly little place, 
too.” 

For the moment Vernon was too perplexed and stunned 
to seek other than explanations. He had left Sullivan, as he 
believed, thousands of miles away, and now like some vile 
apparition he had arisen out of the sea. 

“You realize there’s nothing to stop me putting you in 
irons as a stowaway?” 

Frank Sullivan possessed himself of the decanter and 
splashed a heavy tot of spirits into a glass. 

“By gad, I needed that,” he said; then: “Nonsense, old 
fellow. There’s everything to stop you. Irons wouldn’t be 
much use unless you gagged me as well.” 

“What’s your idea? Out with it!” 

Sullivan dropped uninvited into a chair. 

“To begin with, I resented that blow.” 

“So you put yourself in the way of fresh resentments?” 

Sullivan waved a hand. 

“I’ll take a bet you won’t hit me again. You’re much too 
sensible to do that.” 

With an effort Vernon checked the impulse to make him 
lose his bet. 

“I ask what you’re here for.” 

“Ain’t it obvious? Treasure, old friend. I had your word 
that this show is a sound one—even though you didn’t dis¬ 
cover the fact until it was too late to save your awkward con¬ 
science. Treasure, of course. I flatter myself I can always 
tell when a fellow’s speaking the truth, and truth fairly 
radiated from your honest countenance when you cried dra¬ 
matically, ‘The treasure is there.’ ” 

“I see; you hope to blackmail a way into this show. Well, 
you’ll be unlucky. For one thing, we’re a syndicate, and 
if you imagine anyone’s going to favour splitting their share 
to oblige you, I can tell you straight they won’t.” 

4 ‘Now isn’t that a pity? WTiat do you suggest as an 
alternative ? ’ ’ 

“That you get off this yacht and swim.” 


TREASURE TRAIL 221 

“No,” said Sullivan. “No. I never tackle anything when 
the odds are all against me. A much better notion would 
be for you to divide your share with me. After all, it isn’t 
much to pay for preserving your reputation, is it, now? I’d 
just hate to have to give you away as a swindler.” 

‘‘Yes, I suppose you would.” 

“Whereas, if you accept me in a spirit of resignation, I 
promise, old fellar, I’ll be the best friend you’ve got on 
board.” 

“I see. That’d be nice.” 

“So let’s make up our minds to shake hands and work 
together. ’ ’ 

Vernon did not reply at once. It was hot in the cabin, 
and he rose to switch on a fan. Incidentally the movement 
brought him within striking distance of Sullivan, but Sulli¬ 
van made no effort to protect himself. He sat smiling and 
sipping his whisky, the very expression of a man who is con¬ 
fident of success. Meanwhile Vernon’s mind was working 
quickly. He saw that a false move would mean the collapse 
of everything. 

At his next question all the indignation had gone out of 
his voice. He sounded instead like a man driven against 
his will to accept unwelcome terms. His tone was dull with 
impotence. 

“But you’ve no kit. How can I explain your being 
aboard without a-” 

But here was an objection Sullivan waved aside. 

“My dear old boy, we’re much of a size and these tropical 
suits are much of a muchness. By necessity I had to travel 
light. I didn’t want to draw attention to my departure 
from Colombo, so I sent the little girl up to Neuralia with 
most of the luggage and said I’d follow in a day or two 
after I’d settled a bit of business.” 

“You hadn’t talked over your plans with her?” 

Sullivan shook his head. 

‘ * Talking to women is a mistake, old friend. Always avoid 
a scene if you can.” 

“Did you leave her any money?” 



222 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Oh, she’ll rub along all right, though, to tell the truth, 
I’m not oyer-interested. That little episode had run its 
course.” 

Vernon nodded. Under the cover of a hand he was biting 
Iris lip hard. 

“How did you know Sandakan would be our last port of 
call!” 

“Through young Rogers. That evening he and I spent to¬ 
gether was really helpful. He told me, too, you’d be stopping 
a week at Colombo. That gave me a good start. So, having 
brained out the scheme the day after our little chat, I booked 
a passage on the mail steamer to Singapore, caught the Borneo 
boat by the skin of my teeth, and hung around at Sandakan 
until you showed up. I think you’ll agree the old grey mat¬ 
ter worked pretty well.” 

“Yes—very, very well. You must have been pretty con¬ 
fident I shouldn’t kick.” 

“ Didn’t see how you could. After all, you were ready to 
pay five thou, for my silence, and on the face of it you’d 
be good for a bit more.” 

“That’s logic,” said Vernon. “That’s sound. What is 
It the lawyers say?—if once you pay a blackmailer, you’re 
done for.” 

“If we’re to be friends,” said Sullivan, “don’t let’s call 
each other rude names.” 

“No—no, certainly not. I must make the best of it, 
mustn’t I? You’re here, and, unless I chuck you over¬ 
board, you look like remaining.” 

“Sensible lad,” said Sullivan. “It’s a truce, then?” 

“Looks like a truce.” 

“Capital, and to-morrow morning you’ll introduce me 
Tound as your friend?” 

Vernon nodded. 

“After breakfast.” 

“If there’s any difficulty explaining how I came aboard, 
might be a notion to say we had a bet and-” 

“You can safely leave all that to me,” said Vernon. “I’ll 



TREASURE TRAIL 223 

think of something. It’s late now, and we’d best turn in.. 
There’s an empty cabin next to mine, if you don’t mind 
sleeping in blankets for to-night.” 

Frank Sullivan rose and stretched himself luxuriously. 
He was a big, handsome beast, and with a terribly attractive 1 
smile. Tall, lithe, debonair and conscience-free, he was a man 
dangerous to men and women alike. A sudden realization of 
this fact set the nerves and muscles in Vernon’s body snap* 
ping with antagonism. "Would it not be better to end th& 
affair here and now rather than expose the whole enterprise 
to the risk of this man’s society? If it came to a fight,, 
they were well matched, and the chances were even. A fight 
—a real fight, and no quarter! The idea was irresistibly 
tempting. Vernon had fought so many difficulties with his 
brain, and it would be a welcome change to meet this new 
emergency with his hands. 

Then Sullivan said: 

“Put it out of your head, old boy—what’s the use?” 

Vernon laughed, for suddenly an inspiration had come 
to him. 

“You’re quite right,” he said. “No use at all. Come 
on, then.” 

He led the way to the vacant cabin. 

“Well, come,” said Sullivan, with admiration, “this isn’t 
too bad at all.” 

And Vernon replied: 

“ ’Tany rate, it’ll do for to-night. We’ll fix you up with 
different quarters to-morrow.” 

“That’s the spirit. You and I’ll get on first-rate. Night- 
night, old man!” 

“Sleep well,” said Vernon. 

But, despite Frank Sullivan’s prophecy of future bliss and 
accord between them, he turned the key and shot the bolts 
of his cabin door. He was not a man who left anything 
to chance. 

And for long hours Vernon Winslowe sat at his writing- 
table thinking and staring out before him until the light of 


224 TREASURE TRAIL 

dawn filtered its pink rays through the triple port-holes. 
There was not a vestige of fear or distress on his face; 
instead, it was illumined with a new and vital excitement. 

“We’ve carried it through so far,” he said, “and, by 
heaven, we’ll carry it through to the finish.” 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 


T HERE was a knock at Averil’s door. 

“Yes; who’s there?” she said. 

Vernon’s voice replied: 

“Something’s happened. Dress as quickly as you can and 
come on deck.” 

“Right. Three minutes.” 

But she took less. 

Vernon was waiting at the top of the companion-way. She 
was astonished to see how excited he looked. 

“Well? What’s up?” 

“Come over here where we shan’t he overheard. First, 
I must put you on your guard. Frank Sullivan’s on board.” 
“Frank! But—he-” 

“Yes, stowed himself away under a boat tarpaulin at San- 
dakan. No one knows he’s here except myself.” And in a 
few hasty words he described Sullivan’s dramatic appearance 
of overnight. 

“But what’s he want?” 

“To join in this treasure hunt, of course.” 

“He believes in it?” 

“Yes; I told him that night in Colombo that I believed 
in it.” 

Averil wrinkled her forehead. 

“But this is awful,” she said. “No one would con¬ 
sent-” 

“Of course they wouldn’t—but he says he’d be content 
with half of my share.” 

“The beast,” said Averil. “Hasn’t he done enough?” 
“Apparently not. Now the question is this: Am I to 
accept that arrangement or refuse?” 

“If you refuse he’d-” 


225 





1226 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Naturally, he intends to explode the whole business.” 

“And he could?” 

“He could try. Now what shall I do? Accept him or 
fight him?” 

Averil’s features were working angrily and her hands were 
clenched. Her reply was in the form of a question—seem¬ 
ingly irrelevant: 

“Where’s that girl that he-?” 

“Jettisoned,” said Vernon. “Packed off to the hills so 
that he could escape.” 

“The beast,” said Averil again. Then: “Poor little 
devil.” Suddenly she turned to Vernon with flaming cheeks. 
“Fight him,” she said; “we can’t let a beast like that get 
away with it every time. Fight him. D’you think I could 
hear you to accept terms from such a beast?” 

“Oh, you wonder, you darling!” cried Vernon. “I was 
praying all night you’d say that. There’s a risk—a terrific 
risk, hut with you backing me I believe I can pull it 
through.” 

“Does that help,” she said, “me backing you?” There 
was a glorious light in her eyes—a light of battle—love— 
whatever he cared to read. 

“Help?” Impulsively he seized her hands and covered 
them with kisses. Then: 

“There! I’m a rotter—anything you like to call me— 
why, I can’t even keep my word to you—but I couldn’t help 
it, Averil.” 

And she answered: 

“Have I seemed to want you to?” 

A minute later Vernon stopped at the door of Sullivan’s 
cabin to whisper: 

“Don’t show up until I come and fetch you. It’ll be best 
to spring you on the company when everyone’s present.” 

“Pight-oh, old top! You’re running this show.” 

“Yes,” said Vernon, “I am.” 

He was very silent throughout breakfast, and at its con¬ 
clusion he asked everyone to remain seated, as he had an 
important announcement to make. 



TREASURE TRAIL 227 

“But nothing important ever happens at sea, especially 
after breakfast,’’ said Henry Julius. There was a little laugh 
at the sally. 

Yernon turned to the steward: 

“Go to the cabin next to mine and ask the gentleman 
who is there if he will kindly come here, please.” 

“What?” “Gentleman!” “Good Lord, who-” 

“I’ll explain in a minute,” said Yernon. 

All eyes were riveted on the doorway through which the 
steward had passed. Then Frank Sullivan appeared, trim, 
shaved and smiling. 

“Allow me,” said Yernon, “to introduce an acquaintance 
of mine, Mr. Frank Sullivan.” 

There were one or two rather halting greetings and a 
really hearty ‘ ‘ Hullo, everybody! ’ ’ from Sullivan himself. 

Mr. Isinglass had put on his pince-nez and was looking at 
Yernon with a puzzled expression. There was something 
about him he did not understand. 

“I expect,” said Yernon, “you will be wondering how 
this gentleman came on board. The answer is simple enough; 
he stowed himself away in the port side whaleboat and made 
his first appearance at one a.m. last night.” 

“Great joke, wasn’t it?” laughed Sullivan, who had an 
unpleasant feeling that Yernon was making a mess of the 
introduction and that he could have handled it far more 
capably himself. 

“H’m!” said Joshua Morgan. “Captain Winslowe, were 
you aware of his presence when we left port?” 

“Not an idea,” was the airy rejoinder. “It was a com¬ 
plete surprise to me.” 

“I say—I say,” from Frank Sullivan. “Don’t forget the 
bet, old boy. The bet I’d get aboard without being spotted.” 

“There was no bet.” 

Things were becoming interesting. Frank Sullivan had 
begun to frown. 

“Then what’s the jolly fellar want?” asked Tommy. 

“That’s easily told. He wants to join us on this cruise 
and have a share of any treasure we may find. ’ ’ 



228 TREASURE TRAIL 

The silence which followed was painful. It was broken 
by Henry Julius: 

“That’s all very fine and large; but isn’t the gentleman 
aware the syndicate is already formed?” 

“Oh, yes, he knows that.” 

“Then I, for one, say what the devil-?” 

“Here, here,” from Joshua Morgan. “I don’t know as 
I sets much store in treasure-findin’, but us have put up 
capital, and this here company isn’t going to issue fresh 
stock if I have aught to say.” 

Then Frank Sullivan: 

“I hadn’t dreamt of such a thing. A little private 
arrangement with Winslowe himself, perhaps, but that would 
cut into no one else’s interest.” 

“Yes,” said William Carpenter, speaking for the first 
time, “but is Winslowe agreeable to that?” 

“Of course he is.” 

“On the contrary,” said Yernon slowly, “I haven’t the 
slightest intention of making any such arrangement.” 

It was a declaration of war. 

“Have you not?” said Frank Sullivan. “Have you not, 
old friend? Isn’t it rather a mistake to be so emphatic?” 

“I don’t think so,” came the answer, and every word 
seemed to weigh a ton. 

Joshua Morgan leant back in his chair and banged a fist 
down on the table. 

“Seems to me there’s a mystery here as wants clearing 
up. We haven’t come thirteen thousand miles to be made 
fools of.” 

“There’s no mystery,” said Yernon. “The whole affair 
is as clear as daylight. If you will give me your attention 
for a few minutes, I hope to prove that to you.” 

It was perfectly clear to Frank Sullivan that the game 
was up so far as a profitable share in it was concerned. For 
some motive he could not begin to understand, this fool 
Winslowe preferred exposure to accepting his terms. Yery 
good! If it was to be war, he, Sullivan, would fire the first 
round. 



TREASURE TRAIIi 229 

1 ‘Before he speaks,” he said, “let me tell you this man 
is a common swindler—and you are the simpletons he’s duped. 
The whole of this treasure business is a ramp devised by 
a man who was nearly broke to line his pockets at your 
expense.” 

The battle had begun now with a vengeance. Averil, her 
hands clenched beneath the table, shot a glance round the 
circle of faces to mark the effect of the words. 

Mr. Isinglass was polishing the lens of his pince-nez, 
while little stabs of light seemed to be shooting from his 
half-lowered eyes. Olive Banbury, who had been sitting next 
to Vernon, rose from her chair and passed quickly to the 
side of Tommy Gates. Her cheeks were crimson. The 
Morgans were staring at one another, speechless; while Henry 
Julius was switching quick glances from Sullivan to Vernon 
and back again, trying, as it were, to see which of the two 
men might be trusted. Half audibly William Carpenter was 
repeating over and over again: “I don’t believe it—don’t 
believe it.” Only Mary Ottery was calm—changeless—sit¬ 
ting with hands folded in her lap like a member of the 
congregation in a church. 

Mr. Isinglass was the first to speak. He spoke in his 
normal bird-like tones, just as though nothing unusual were 
taking place. 

“Dear me, we are having some surprises this morning— 
quite a change. A common swindler, eh? And what has 
our friend Winslowe to offer by way of denial?” 

Vernon had made no attempt to interrupt Sullivan’s de¬ 
nunciation. Throughout that ordeal and the moments that 
followed, he had been leaning back in his chair staring at 
the cabin skylight and stroking his chin with a solitary 
finger. He appeared oddly detached and unconcerned by 
the whole business. Even to the question Mr. Isinglass had 
put his showed no disposition to reply. 

Then in his best Bradford manner Joshua boomed: 

“We’re waiting for that denial, Captain Winslowe.” 

Vernon stirred himself and, coming to attention, said 
crisply: 


230 TREASURE TRAIL 

“I have no denials to offer.” 

There was a horrified gasp at the words, governed by Henry 
Julius. 

‘‘No denials?” 

“Certainly not.” 

“Then may I ask-?” 

But Vernon cut him short with a gesture. 

“This matter is far too important to turn on either ac¬ 
cusations or denials. The question as to whether I’m a 
swindler or he is a liar does not materially affect the case. 
What we have to decide is whether the business in hand is 
genuine or a fraud.” 

“Then,” said Sullivan, cutting in, “it’s a fraud.” 

“You stick to that?” 

“Emphatically.” 

“Very well,” said Vernon. “Then I’ve only one question 
to ask. If you believe the business to be a fraud, if you 
believe there is no hidden treasure on the island, what per¬ 
suaded you directly you were aware of the object of our 
cruise, what persuaded you to take the mail from Colombo 
to Singapore, another steamer from Singapore to Sandakan, 
and finally stow yourself away aboard this yacht?” 

The question was so utterly unexpected that Sullivan 
stumbled uselessly for an answer. 

“Good shot!” exclaimed Henry Julius, and there was a 
chorus of excited “Ah’s” from the others. 

“Just let me add one or two details about this man,” 
said Vernon, hastening to consolidate the ground he had 
won. “He lives by his wits at the expense of other people. 
To my cost I knew him in England—he got out of the country 
with five thousand of mine. As chance would have it, we 
ran into one another in Colombo, and I knocked him down. 
You may say that that is enough to explain his appearance 
in our midst to-day—a desire to get his own back.” 

Sullivan tried to interrupt. 

“Carpenter,” said Vernon, “stand beside that man, and 
if he attempts to speak, shove a gag in his mouth and hold it 
there. Thank you, ’ ’ as William stepped forward menacingly. 



TREASURE TRAIL 231 

“To return to my point. If his only object had been to 
expose me as a fraud, why didn’t he do it at Colombo and 
save himself the expense of a long sea voyage and the danger 
of getting aboard as a stowaway? The reason is that he got 
some information about this cruise, and believed that in it 
was a chance of making a fortune. He gambled on the 
likelihood that there was something shady in my life that 
I’d pay a long price to conceal, even to splitting my share 
of the treasure, assuming we find one. Well, in that pious 
hope he’s backed a loser. I don’t know what he has against 
me, but if anyone’s curious to know, let ’em ask, I shan’t stop 
’em. It’s been a nasty business, but, like other nasty busi¬ 
nesses, it’s not without a bright side. Whatever else may be 
said against Frank Sullivan, no one who’s met him has ever 
denied that he has a sure sense of personal gain. That being 
so, his presence here, instead of proving the affair to be a 
fraud, seems to me the most encouraging argument in favour 
of our future success. That’s all I have to say, and if Sul¬ 
livan cares to reply to it he can.” 

But whatever Sullivan’s wishes may have been, he was not 
given the chance to express them. Vernon Winslowe had 
won the day gloriously, and his adherents—who were bang¬ 
ing the table and exalting him—loudly declared that the 
matter admitted of no further argument whatever. Henry 
Julius went so far as to say if ever a man deserved keel¬ 
hauling, that man was Frank Sullivan. It would not have 
taken a great deal of encouragement to persuade them to 
pitch the intruder overboard. 

Vernon rang the bell. To the steward who answered it 
he said: 

“My compliments to Mr. Rogers, and ask him to come 
below.” 

Young Mr. Rogers, first officer of the S.Y. Mascot , gasped 
when he saw Frank Sullivan. 

“Mr. Rogers,” said Vernon, “this man came aboard as 
a stowaway. Hand him over to Mr. Macdonald for work in 
the engine-room.” 

“All pretty good,” said Sullivan, as he was led out. 


232 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Pretty damned good, old friend.” Then, with veins which 
suddenly looped into purple knots on his forehead: “By 
God, though-!” 

“If he shows the slightest insubordination, put him in 
irons until he’s cooled down.” 

“Very good, sir,” said Rogers. 

As Vernon turned to go on deck, Averil’s hand brushed 
against his. 

“I’m so proud of you,” said her eyes, and in the babel of 
tongues he was able to whisper: 

“I did it without a lie, Averil.” 

And she nodded at him. 

“What a triumph for Winslowe,” exclaimed Henry Julius 
ecstatically. “By James, Mr. Isinglass, but he rolled that 
fellow up in the proper style.” 

“Ye—es,” responded the old man slowly. “I think we 
congratulate ourselves on our leader. A brave and able 
fellow. ’ 

Then quite suddenly he began to tremble and clenched his 
hands. 4 ‘ That Sullivan! How dare a man stand in the path 
of happiness?” 

“You’re right. If I’d been in command, I’d have tarred 
and feathered the swine.” 

Mr. Isinglass composed himself. 

“I’m not as a rule given to violence,” he said, “but so 
would I, Julius—so would I.” 


CHAPTER XXXIY. 


* * "T EEDLE rock, meridian. Point of shadow, 15 

paces due North, 3 West and under.’’ 

1 ^1 Everyone knew those words by heart, and it 

would have been easy to prove whether or no the treasure 
actually lay buried in this spot had they been able to find a 
rock in any way resembling a needle. It was here the trouble 
began and ended as it began, in a complete impasse. Rocks 
there were in plenty, but none of the formation they sought. 
There was a rock that was like a Negro’s head, another with 
the outline of a maned lion, a third which at a distance sug¬ 
gested one of the old monoliths at Stonehenge, but the rest 
were just rocks, rugged and formless, which by no stretch 
of imagination looked like a needle. 

Yet in spite of this initial reverse no one betrayed the 
smallest anxiety or perturbation. The island itself was so es¬ 
sentially lovely, with its bowing palms mirrored in the water 
of a sleeping lagoon, with its coral reefs, golden sands and 
rivulets that clucked and chattered through wooded glades, 
that there was no room in their hearts for any feeling other 
than of gladness. From the smoke of tall chimneys, the press 
of petty affairs, • the pinched horizon of hospital wards, of 
counter, of suburban villas and West Kensington flats, they 
had been released into a paradise, and like children free of 
school, they stretched their limbs and cried aloud their new 
joy to the skies. 

Vernon had insisted, once they had landed on the island, 
that they should rely on no other service than their own. 

“We’ll have no idlers,” he said. “It’s not my idea to let 
this affair degenerate into a country-house shooting-party, 
with flunkeys to dish out the grub. There’ll be work for 
everyone. ’ ’ 


233 


234 TREASURE TRAIL 

Supplies were landed from the yacht, groceries, a camp 
outfit and a number of little tents, but the highly qualified 
chef and the stewards were left on board. 

Mr. Isinglass heartily supported Vernon’s decision, but 
to the surprise of everyone he announced his intention of 
remaining on the yacht and taking no part in the activities 
ashore. 

“This being in the nature of a Swiss Family Robinson 
business, shaken up with a dash of Robert Louis Stevenson, 
the presence of a non-worker is to be discouraged. I shall 
stop on board and read the ship’s library and lead an utterly 
useless life. From time to time, if permitted, I will invite 
myself ashore for a day or two.” 

The real reason of his refusal to join the company was 
an ambition to study at intervals how everybody was getting 
on. Daily contact is a sure deadener of the senses. Changes 
for better or worse are more clearly revealed by a, series of 
glimpses than by prolonged observation. 

It is sad to relate that Joshua Morgan showed a regrettable 
tendency to follow the old man’s example and bear him 
company on the Mascot, but Kate would have none of this. 

“Us two,” she said, “is supposed to be on our honey¬ 
moon; and if you fancy I’m goin’ honeymooning without 
a man, you’ve made a mistake.” 

Joshua protested feebly. 

“Aye, but my idea of a honeymoon doesn’t tally with the 
program awaitin’ us. My idea is a slap-up hotel with a 
terrace and comfortable chairs to sit on after a bit o’ good 
food.” 

“It’s a pity you didn’t think o’ that before,” replied 
Kate. 

Joshua agreed that it was a pity, for the gentle, calming 
influences of the South Seas were upon him, and he had no 
fancy for being “one of a gang.” His objections, however, 
were overruled, and he was carried off, albeit reluctantly, 
to do a job of work with the rest. 

The day they landed, Frank Sullivan asked for and was 
granted an interview. From the morning of his dramatic 


TREASURE TRAIL 235 

appearance, lie liad become, from the passengers’ point of 
view, as non-existent as any other stoker aboard a ship. 
Very occasionally he was glimpsed hanging np a shirt to 
dry, or leaning for a moment against the bulwarks, but he 
made no attempt to address anyone and no one addressed 
him. From having provided an acute sensation, he had 
become absorbed as part of the machinery. The engineer 
reported favourably upon him, stating that he performed 
his duties well and had given no trouble. Indeed, he ap¬ 
peared to have accepted misfortune in excellent good part, 
and had even contrived to earn some small popularity with 
members of the crew. 

Having regard to all this, Vernon did not refuse his re¬ 
quest for an interview, and Frank Sullivan, sweaty and 
grimed with coal dust, was shown into the cabin. Being in 
the presence of his captain, he touched his forelock in the 
approved style and waited until he should be spoken to. 

“Yes, what is it you want?” 

“Primarily, I want to go ashore. I have taken my gruel 
without grousing, and I put it to you as a sportsman that 
a touch of the old free pardon would be an act of grace.” 

“Why do you want to go ashore ?” 

“Because, without offence, I’ve had enough of this ship 
—and the company I’ve been thrown into—to last me a 
lifetime.” 

Vernon thought for a moment. 

“I shall not put you ashore,” he said, “for two reasons. 
First, that no one would welcome your presence on the 
island. ’ ’ 

“As to that, I’m perfectly prepared to fend for myself.” 

“And the second is that steamers only call here at rare 
intervals, and it might mean your staying for months or 
even longer.” 

“I’d take a chance of that.” 

“I’m sorry,” said Vernon. 

“But, damn it, man, do you intend to keep me a prisoner 
on the yacht?” 

“You will remember you came on the yacht of your own 


236 TREASURE TRAIL 

accord. Added to that, Mr. Rogers will shortly be taking 
her to Honolulu for coal and supplies. I shall give him 
orders to leave you there.” 

“Oh, you will, will you?” Then with an angry flare j 
“A nd what the devil am I going to do at Honolulu?” 

“You can do what you like,” came the answer. 

“And that’s your last word?” 

“It is.” 

“By God, Winslowe, you’ll come the top dog a bit too 
much one of these days.” 

There was a light in Sullivan’s eyes that was not quite 
normal, a crooked light revealing, for a second, through the 
mask of amiability that he wore, the secret of his crooked 
nature. It flashed out and was gone, but while it lasted 
Vernon could plainly read the depth of this man’s enmity. 
And it was no ordinary enmity, but rather a rabid, homi¬ 
cidal thing, made more dangerous by the leashes of apparent 
good nature that restrained it. 

“Look here, Sullivan,” he said warningly. “Take my 
advice and don’t go looking for trouble. You’ve played a 
hand and lost, and I tell you fairly, if you try any funny 
games, you’re for it.” 

“Yes,” said Sullivan slowly. “I’ve lost, but perhaps 
the game isn’t quite played out yet, old friend.” He moved 
towards the door and turned. “By the way, how’s the love 
affair going on?” 

Without waiting for an answer, he darted across the deck 
and clattered down the fo’c’sle companion-way. 

Frank Sullivan was leaning over the bulwarks when the 
landing party went ashore. He even waved a hand to wish 
them God-speed. 

“Ee,” sighed Kate Morgan. “I can’t help feeling thank¬ 
ful we’ve left that chap behind. ’ ’ 

“You’ve seen the last of him,” said Vernon. “When the 
Mascot goes to Honolulu, they’ll drop him there.” 

“And a good riddance, too,” said Henry Julius. Then: 
“My God, isn’t that beautiful?” 

The loveliness of the island had smitten him like a blow. 


TREASURE TRAIL 237 

A duty roster was drawn up, framed and hung to a tree 
in the camp, and the passengers of the Mascot busied them¬ 
selves with preparations and arrangements. The only work 
that was not compulsory was treasure-seeking. This being 
the object of the enterprise, it was absurd to make it a duty. 

For the first three weeks after their arrival, in twos and 
threes they searched every square foot of the island for the 
rock, but no success rewarded their labours. The island 
itself was small, a typical South Sea atoll, and it seemed 
improbable that any portion of it could have been over¬ 
looked. Yet day followed day and no rock in the form of 
a needle was located. Many were the theories put forward 
to account for this mysterious fact, prominent among them 
the suggestion that it might have been toppled over in an 
earthquake, to which that part of the world is no stranger. 

Vernon’s activities were tireless. Never for an instant 
would he reveal the disappointment he felt, but rather he 
worked the harder because of it. Long after the others 
had knocked off work for the day he would be combing the 
woods and the rising ground and the seashore until forced 
to return for lack of light. Then with the dawn he would 
be up and about before the rest had stirred, reappearing at 
early breakfast with plans and dispositions for the day. 

At first everyone, even Kate Morgan, with whom walking 
was never a strong point, eagerly joined in the search, but 
after about three weeks one by one they began to fall away 
and turn their attentions to other matters less strenuous but 
more profitable. 

Sometimes strange and often familiar were the reasons 
which drew them from their primary object. William Car¬ 
penter, for example, had developed an unquenchable ambi¬ 
tion to build things. His ideas in this direction were 
catholic. He did not in the least mind what he built as long 
as he was allowed to build something. As a builder he was 
a great success. He built field-ovens, a fence, a trough for 
washing clothes, and, as a supreme triumph of his archi¬ 
tectural genius, a recreation-room. In the construction of 
this latter, which was composed of an upright framework 


238 TREASURE TRAIL 

of bamboos plaited with palm fronds and daubed with clay, 
he was driven to refer to Vernon’s superior mechanical 
knowledge. The walls he could manage, but the roof de¬ 
feated him. His first attempt was discouraging, having 
collapsed and enveloped those who recreated themselves 
beneath. So Vernon made sketches of a king post truss, 
the simplicity and efficiency of which excited William’s un¬ 
bounded admiration. Thereafter king post trusses featured 
in everything he made. The roof of the cookhouse was sus¬ 
tained in this way, as also was the shelter he made beneath 
which they took their meals when the sun was at its height. 
Naturally such important operations could not be carried 
out single-handed, and Lydia found herself pressed into ser¬ 
vice as a mate. William proved a hard taskmaster who 
never hesitated to criticize her roundly if she failed to work 
to his satisfaction. William had achieved a moral victory 
over Lydia, and he did not intend to relinquish the spoils. 
The victory had taken place a few days after they landed on 
the island. Viewed in retrospect, it was a simple affair. He 
had shown her some small courtesy in a matter of no import¬ 
ance—it was one of those nervous, anxious courtesies which 
invariably provoked all that was worst in her. 

“I can’t stick you,” she had said. “Can’t stick your 
nervous, namby ways. Lord, I don’t believe there’s any¬ 
thing you’re not f—f—frightened of.” 

The stammer was in perfect imitation of his natural 
hesitancy. It cut his anger to the quick and fired the reply: 

“Say that again—just once again.” 

She did, this time with the loud pedal down. 

There were sharks in the lagoon—two of them—not fifty 
yards away. Like small black sails their fins cut the smooth 
surface of the water as they ranged for food. William went 
into the lagoon head first and swam towards them—between 
them—around them. Lydia, white and silent, stood stock¬ 
still—frozen—then she screamed piercingly, terribly. A suc¬ 
cession of screams. Presently William was standing before 
her again, the water pouring from his clothes. 


TREASURE TRAIL 239 

4 4 Say it again, ’ ’ he demanded. 4 4 Will you say that again ?’ 9 

But she would not. Perhaps she had screamed her voice 
away. There may have been excuse for what followed. 
It is difficult to judge. William Carpenter had sustained 
many injuries from the hands of Lydia La Rue; he chose 
this moment to repay them with interest. He was wearing 
sand-shoes, plimsolls with whippy soles. One of these he 
removed, and with it he whacked Lydia—not in temper— 
but systematically—thoroughly and ceremonially. When he 
had finished, he did not read her a lecture, he did not say he 
was sorry, he did not say anything. He just put on his 
shoe and walked away. And Lydia walked after him. The 
matter was never referred to again except tacitly in every 
subsequent word Lydia ever spoke to him. So she was 
quite satisfied to be his mate and to hold a board which was 
being sawn or fill her mouth with tacks or do anything else 
he told her to do. And, strange though it may sound, in 
this new submission she discovered happiness. Obviously, 
then, it was waste of time to go hunting all over the place 
for a treasure that might never be found. 

Tommy Gates was the real enthusiast as a treasure- 
seeker. He was almost as indefatigable as Vernon. He 
would have been quite as indefatigable had Olive Banbury 
let him. 

44 Oh, yes, the place suits you all right, and you’re 
better than you’ve been for years. I know all about that,” 
she said, 44 but you’ll please to remember you’ve got a heart.” 

44 I don’t forget it,” he replied, and threw a compliment 
at her, which she condemned in words but secretly rejoiced 
over. 

44 You’ve got to take care of yourself.” 

44 As long as you’re about, I can’t see the need. That’s 
a graceless way of putting it, but you know what I mean. 
Never was a fellar who owed so much to a woman as I do. 
You gave up everything to make me fit again. Can’t think 
why.” 

4 4 Habit, ’ ’ said Olive. 


240 TREASURE TRAIL 

‘ 4 Then thank God for habits/’ said he. 

It was just after dawn and the orange rim of the horizon 
was changing to pearl and turquoise. 

“You are a brick to get up bright and early and bear me 
company. ’ ’ 

“I’m as keen to find the treasure as you are. No one 
else seems to bother.” 

“I know, and somehow one hates jogging ’em. Why, 
even Henry Julius has given up work in favour of a water¬ 
colour box. He wants to rechristen this island The Hay¬ 
stack because it’s so jolly hard to find the needle.” 

“And look at Alary!” 

It was generally agreed that Mary had not been at all 
companionable of late. As Mr. Isinglass observed, here 
again were reflexes at work. She seemed to prefer wander¬ 
ing off on her own, gathering flowers, picking up shells, and 
sometimes talking to the natives of the island, who had a 
few words of English which they could produce upon occa¬ 
sion. There was one old fellow in particular with whom she 
spent a lot of time, not on account of his gifts as a talker, 
but because in earlier manhood he had frequently nourished 
himself upon human flesh. Kaifulu was the old fellow’s 
name, and his disposition, possibly from dietic causes, was 
benign. He took an immediate fancy to Ma,ry, and re¬ 
counted to her orgies of a fearful kind in language so simple 
as to deprive them of their horror. 

Oddly enough, Mary did not mind Kaifulu having been 
a cannibal; if anything, she rejoiced in the knowledge, not 
because she esteemed the practice of cannibalism as being 
a worthy one, but for the delicious thrill it gave her to con¬ 
verse with such a man. In the past her conversations had 
mainly been with persons whose chief article of nutriment 
was arrowroot; it was an agreeable variation, therefore, to 
talk with one who had been nourished on stronger meat and 
had, as a result, preserved in later years a superior diges¬ 
tion and a more agreeable outlook on life in general. 

Kaifulu did not confine himself to a single topic; he had 
a wide experience in other matters, and often would talk 


TREASURE TRAIL 241 

about island devils, claiming personal acquaintance with, 
several; also he talked of trade, of epidemics, of leprosy 
and earthquakes and love, and all the other plagues and 
scourges of humanity. He knew the history of the island 
from its earliest beginning. He never told the same story 
twice because, generally speaking, he invented them as he 
went along, and it was easier to invent a new story than re¬ 
member an old. 

It was a long walk to the hut of Kaifulu, but Mary never 
noticed it. She went there eagerly and returned too full of 
amazement to be aware of distances. 

In the course of these walks she would sometimes meet 
Henry Julius, a palette on his thumb, a fly whisk in one 
hand, and a sable water-colour brush in the other. Henry 
was busy making “colour notes,” and he treasured Mary’s 
appreciation. As works of art the “colour notes” were not 
of outstanding merit. For one thing, he could not draw, 
but he saw with amazing fidelity and refinement and his 
sense of values was exceptional. His poverty as a draughts¬ 
man was, in some measure, balanced by his conversational 
abilities, for what he lacked in line he supplied in words. 
His explanations of his sketches were probably their strongest 
feature. He worked very much as Max Beerbohm works, 
by combining clever drawing and clever descriptive sentences, 
but whereas Max writes his sentences with an exquisitely- 
sharpened pencil point, Henry Julius supplied enlightenment 
through the medium of spoken words and gestures. 

“All this part to look as if insects are droning over it— 
see! A kind of greyness—a bloom—that’s what I mean 
by that purply note. Colour to suggest sound. Why not? 
Whistler did it—those rockets, you know—Cremorne. Now 
on beyond there the surf—I’ve left it out—it beats me. The 
roar—impossible. ’ ’ 

He would ramble on for ages like that—absorbed, obsessed, 
feeling like a god in the joy of creation. Then: 

“It’s marvellous how you understand me—my ambitions, 
Miss Ottery, what I’m trying to get at—marvellous.” 

“I used not to understand you,” she replied gravely, add- 


242 TREASURE TRAIL 

ing with that new courage of hers: “I used to think you 

were a thoroughly disreputable person. ” 

“Yes, perhaps, I don’t know. I think sometimes there 
are dividing lines in my nature, the one leads to apprecia¬ 
tion, the other to success.” 

Mary nodded. 

“And just now you’ve left the line of success to take care 
of itself.” 

“Yes, I suppose. You see, Winslowe is looking after us in 
that direction, so I’m free to follow the other.” 

“You trust him?” 

“More than I trust myself,” came the sincere assurance. 
“Winslowe isn’t the man to let anyone down.” 

“What I’d like to think,” said Mary, “is that it wouldn’t 
matter if he did, that all he promised has been given.” 

“Ye—es,” replied Henry dubiously. “Still, we are on a 
treasure hunt, you know. 

“Has it ever struck you why some of us have given up 
looking ? ’ ’ 

“How do you mean, exactly?” 

“Why, we’ve drifted away into the quiet places of 
ourselves. ’ ’ 

“There’s so much here that’s new.” 

“I think it is,” she went on, “because the lines of appre¬ 
ciation and the lines of success have met in most of us— 
and in you, too—more than you imagine.” 

“I dare say—at least for the moment. There’s no know¬ 
ing, of course, where I may drop all this and go off again 
on a get-rich-quick stunt.” 

“Let’s hope,” said Mary, “it won’t be at someone else’s 
expense this time.” 

At which he laughed. 

Mary did not approve of that laugh. It argued that the 
predatory strain, although dormant in his nature, was still 
unconquered by sudden contact with and sudden apprecia¬ 
tion for real beauty. A sense of inanimate beauty is at best 
only skin-deep., His eyes had been softened, but his heart 
was unchanged. 


TREASURE TRAIL 243 

“Well, good-bye,” she said, and proceeded with her walk. 

“Don’t you get very lonely on these long marches all 
by yourself?” he called after her. 

And she replied without turning round: 

“Good Lord—they’re heaven!” 

After which mighty digression let us return to the 
dialogue between Olive Banbury and Tommy Gates which 
inspired it. 

“Why didn’t you wear your coat this morning?” 

“It’ll be hot as blazes in an hour,” he answered. 

“Then you should have brought a hat.” 

“Sun never hurt anyone.” 

“Tommy, you are an ass,” said she. 

“Thank God, I’m a happy one. Oh, Olive, ain’t that 
sunrise marvellous?” 

“Pretty good,” she nodded. 

He turned and looked at her thoughtfully. 

“I can’t make you out—why you won’t let yourself go 
a bit more—seems to me you are always on the edge of 
enjoying yourself but won’t take that one step forward.” 

“The answer’s simple. I’m a practical woman, and as 
such I mean to be dead sure how I stand before I let my¬ 
self go.” 

“Stand.” 

“Yes—I want to know past misunderstanding, whether 
what I am living now is what I am going to keep or whether 
it is only an episode that’s going to finish where it began, 
with a smell of iodoform. ’ ’ 

“I see. Much the same here; but the future is on the 
knees of the gods, who are being pretty generous as to the 
present. ’ ’ 

“Got any money, Tommy?” 

“I used to be very well off. That’s to say, I was well 
off when I only had three months to live—but now I’ve an 
extension of the time limit-” 

“Like that ?” 

‘ 1 To quote from the immortal Rudyaj*d: * The meat is very 
near the bone.’ ” 



244 TREASURE TRAIL 

She tapped her foot on the ground. 

“Ss! That’s what I was afraid of. It’ll be such an in¬ 
fernal shame-” 

“Oh, come,” said he. “I ought to be satisfied and I am 
satisfied. I exalt the name of Winslowe every night before 
I turn in. That fellow’s filled my cup with gratitude, what¬ 
ever bad luck may be waiting ahead. He’s a genius.” 

“Yes—but I’d be a deal more grateful myself if his genius 
led him to that needle rock.” And she looked steadily at 
the boy that she and the balm of the South Seas breezes had 
saved from dying. In the dawn light his face was rosy as 
a cherub’s. He looked so fresh, so well, so deserving of life. 

With sudden angry determination she swung the pick to 
her shoulder and tilted her head toward the bush. 

“Come on, let’s dig.” 

“Right-oh! Here, give us your hand. It’s rough going.” 

“I can manage.” 

“What’s that matter?” 

Hand in hand they made their way through a path in the 
undergrowth. 



CHAPTER XXXY. 


** T OW anyone expects a body to make vegetable soup 

I-1 without shallots is a question without an answer. ’ ’ 

1 1 So said Kate Morgan, a ropy-looking carrot in 
one hand and a kitchen knife in the other. Before her 
crackled a wood fire over which, from a tripod, hung a black 
pot from which issued a savoury smell. Kate’s sleeves were 
rolled up, revealing at her elbows two absurdly large dimples. 
She was sitting on a piece of rock chipping the carrot into 
the trough of her apron. 

Sprawling on the ground at her feet was Lydia, vulgarly 
employed removing the insides from a basketful of multi¬ 
coloured fish. Her face was brown as a chocolate bean, her 
hair was twisted up anyhow to keep it out of the way, and 
her clothes, which consisted of a man’s tennis-shirt and an 
old skirt, were in rather a pickle. She looked like one of 
Rossetti’s girls, who had flung away her robes and lilies and 
come down to facts. She looked splendid. The nature of 
her task had attracted a great many flies, who buzzed round 
her greedily. 

“Oh, damn the flies,” she said, then quickly covered 
her mouth with the back of her hand and glanced over her 
shoulder. 

“It’s all right,” said Kate, “he’s not about.” 

“Who isn’t?” 

“Your William, to be sure. He’s having his swim.” 

“H’m,” said Lydia. “Still, I promised to tell him if I 
swore and I’ve done it eight times already to-day.” 

“Have you kept count?” 

“Yes. If I go over the ten, I’m for a ducking.” 

Kate shook with a curious form of suppressed laughter, 
which she reserved for the most agreeable kind of jokes. 
Ordinarily speaking, she laughed right out. 

245 


246 TREASURE TRAIL 

“I’d like to see Joshua duck me,” she said. 

Lydia sniffed. 

“I don’t mind a ducking now and then—I like it—I like 
anything determined.” 

Kate shook her head and smiled. 

“You’re a queer one, Lydia, so you are—a proper sur¬ 
prise packet and all.” 

“I don’t see why.” 

“The manner of your change—it beats me to fathom it.” 

“This place has changed most of us. I’m not the only 
one. ’ ’ 

Kate admitted the truth of this with a nod. 

“Still, you had a long way to go, my dear. When I think 
of that first time I saw you—the dress you was wearing and 
your manner, and compare it with-” 

“Comparisons are rotten.” 

“I’m sorry,” said Kate, and dropped a fat hand on Lydia’s 
shoulder. 

Lydia squeezed the hand and left it rather fishy as a result. 

“You needn’t be sorry,” said she, splitting open a new 
fish whose scales embodied every colour of the rainbow. “I 
know well enough the sort I was. Oh, get away or be 
swatted” (this to a very persistent bluebottle). “Don’t 
expect you met many of my sort before, that’s all.” 

“Well, you see,” Kate admitted, “I was ever too busy 
for goin’ out much at night—and meeting people.” She 
hurriedly attached the last three words, being suddenly 
appalled by the significance of what had been intended as an 
innocent remark. 

Lydia laughed. 

“I like you, you speak out of your heart, and it gets you 
in all sorts of difficulties, doesn’t it?” 

Kate, abashed, and furiously red in the face, admitted her 
conversational shortcomings and added: 

“It isn’t that I want to say things, they just slip out.” 

“That’s it, and don’t I know it? We’re a pair in that 
way, only it wasn’t saying things, it was doing them with 
me.” 



TREASURE TRAIL 


247 


“Eh?” 

“Oh, we’re just alike. Emotion rules the pair of us, 
only there was always plenty of sense to govern yours. 
That’s upbringing, perhaps—mine was rotten. Father 
drank because he was a failure and mother was always a 
coward when she ought to have been brave. Funny child¬ 
hood, mine. I was educated on rows. Things were never 
told me any other way. So I got into the habit of having 
rows with myself instead of thinking things out quietly. 
What a muddle! Mother’s weakness made me terribly fright¬ 
ened of being afraid. That’s why I stole something one 
day—nothing much—a pair of cotton gloves from a haber¬ 
dasher’s—I sent ’em back.” 

“Stole?” 

“Um! You see, I was scared of doing it—so I did it. 
Ha! Lots of things I used to be scared of until they became 
easy. Then, of course, I hated ’em—and myself. Once when 
I was about sixteen I stopped with some cousins—awfully 
pious cousins they were. They left a Bible by my bedside 
and a candle for me to read it by. I started to read it for 
a joke—and then it ceased to be a joke and something tre¬ 
mendous happened inside me. Pooh! This fish is a goner.” 
She threw out her arm and the fish described a silver arc 
through the air and fell with a splash in a rock pool. 

“While you’re about it,” said Kate, “shove them guts 
on fire, dear. They ’re a bit over-savoury in this hea,t. ’ ’ 

Lydia did so. 

“That’s better. You was sayin’?” 

“Oh, about that Bible. Something happened inside me 
—can’t describe what—felt like glory. I remember I made 
a cross out of a shoe-horn and an ivory comb, and I put the 
candle on the mantelpiece and prayed and prayed until it 
had gone out and dawn was breaking. Kind of religious 
fervour, I suppose.” 

“How do you mean, dear—fervour?” 

“Same as any other kind of fervour—falling in love, for 
instance—the feeling is just the same.” 

“Getting religion.” 


TREASURE TRAIL 


248 

“Hum!” 

Kate turned her attention to a pail of potatoes that needed 
peeling. 

“How did you come to lose it again?” 

“I don’t know. At least, I do know. I went and saw 
the vicar of the place next morning and told him I’d found 
the light. I couldn’t help not knowing the words to use— 
said I wanted to serve the Lord. He was all right, I sup¬ 
pose, hut he was fat and smug and too well fed. I don’t 
think he was used to enthusiasts like me, for I’d have died 
at the stake that morning. He said: ‘Excellent, excellent,’ 
with a smile, and he pinched my cheek. That did it. I 
don’t know why, but he pinched every scrap of religion out 
of me—like pinching out the burning wick of a candle. 

After that-” but she changed her mind about going on 

with the chronological details of her career, and instead 
threw in a word of self-pity. “I don’t think I was a bad 
lot at heart—it was never getting one’s knuckles rapped— 
no discipline—no one to be afraid of—that and a tempera¬ 
ment. Anything reacts on me, you know. If I go into a 
cathedral I want to cry—if I go into a cabaret I want to 
dance—and here in this island, with the clear sea and the 
sun, I want to be healthy.” 

Once again Kate’s fat dimpled arm went out and this time 
circled the girl’s neck. 

“I understand,” she said. “And it seems to me, Lydia, 
you’re like some lovely instrument no one yet has found the 
knack of playing on. But mark my words, dear, that some¬ 
one isn’t far off.” 

In a sudden impulse of confidence Lydia put her arms 
round Kate and clung to her tightly. 

“Tell me!” she cried. “Tell me honestly, you do believe 
it’s going to last, don’t you?” 

“What’s going to last, dear?” 

“This new me—this healthier me—this out-of-doors me 
that likes to laugh, to work, even to be bullied. Tell me it’s 
going to last, because if I thought—if it happened that—oh! 
I just couldn’t bear slipping back again to that old life with 



TREASURE TRAIL 249 

all the vile ugliness of it—the moods—the temper—the— 
I’ve learnt to laugh at myself now—to see myself—why, I 
can even like myself, but if all that is going to-” 

“Hush, dear,” said Kate, “working yourself up like that.” 

“But you don’t know—you can’t know what it means to 
be able to laugh at yourself because for the first time on 
record you’ve a right to take yourself seriously.” 

Kate Morgan missed that. Her answer was a practical 
one: 

“Depend upon it, what with excavations here, there and 
everywhere, and Captain Winslowe working his fingers to 
the bone on the haft of a spade, that treasure’ll come to 
light, and then you’ll be able to choose your own path, my 
dear, and follow it to journey’s end.” 

Lydia nodded thoughtfully. 

“Yes, I suppose it comes down to that. If we find the 

treasure, why, then, good enough—if not-! Lord, though, 

it’s a damned poor confession to make. I’ve come out here 
to find something and I’ve found it. It’s a damned rotten 
state of affairs if I can only reckon to keep it by finding 
something else.” 

She stopped suddenly to ask: 

“Did I use some language then?” 

“Aye, dear, two ‘damns.’ ” 

“Two, and that makes ten.” 

She rose and covered the basket of fish with a handful 
of wet rushes. 

“You don’t want me for half an hour, do you?” 

“Where are you off to?” 

“To get what’s coming to me, that’s all.” 

“Oh, your ducking. See here, if you like I’ll pretend 
I didn’t catch them last two ‘damns.’ ” 

“No fear, I’m through with lies.” 

And, sticking her hands in the pockets of her skirt, she 
marched off to the lagoon. 

William Carpenter, in a pair of blue dungaree breeches 
and nothing else, was sitting on a rock baiting a line. His 
duty for the morning was to provide supplies, in which there 




250 TREASURE TRAIL 

was always considerable competition. Tommy Gates, whose 
job it had been the day before, had been surprisingly success¬ 
ful. The fish he had caught had been numerous, the birds 
he had shot had been excellent, and he had further distin¬ 
guished himself by swapping with one of the natives a bead 
necklace of no merit whatsoever for a countless supply of 
fresh eggs. To rival this high percentage of successes, 
William’s work was cut out. 

‘‘Hallo!” he said to Lydia. ‘‘I thought you were on 
kitchen fatigue. ’ ’ 

11 1 was, but I ’ve knocked off for a bit. ’ ’ 

“Did you get your pass signed?” 

William was a stickler for duty. 

“Yes, she said I could go. I wanted to see you.” 

“If you want me to do anything you’ll be unlucky. My 
time’s full up. Stand clear a moment.” 

He swung the plummet three times round his head and 
released it. The neatly coiled line sailed out in a beautiful 
parabola and the lead fell with a plonk far out into the 
lagoon. 

“They are biting badly, so I’m trying them with a bit 
of squid. Look out! Don’t sit on it. Don’t see what you 
want to sit down for at all. ’ ’ 

“To talk to you.” 

“Well, talk away.” 

She said nothing for a moment, then: 

“I’ve been swearing again.” There was real penitence 
in her voice. She looked up to see how he accepted the news. 
He accepted it without any sign of sympathy. 

“Who was there?” 

“She was.” 

“Mrs. Morgan?” 

Lydia nodded. 

“I should have thought she’d be the last one you’d want 
to swear in front of.” 

“I didn’t want to swear.” 

“That means you couldn’t stop yourself?” 

“Suppose it does.” 


TREASURE TRAIL 251 

William was silent the while he baited a new line with 
pieces cut from the squid. When he had finished he wiped 
his forefinger and thumb on the seat of his bags. 

“That’s a, pretty poor confession—couldn’t help yourself.” 

“I know it is.” 

“It isn’t that I particularly mind your swearing. It’s 
silly, but there’s no great harm in a few ‘damns.’ ” 

“Look here,” she retorted, “I don’t want you to make 
excuses for me.” 

“I wasn’t—I was going on to say what I do mind is the 
utter feebleness of not being able to stop when you want to.” 

“H’m! That’s the way I’m made, I suppose.” There 
was a touch of insurrection in the reply. 

“You’re best judge of that,” he answered. “Still, I 
shouldn’t boast about it.” 

“I wasn’t boasting.” 

“Glad to hear it. Well, how many times did you swear?” 

“All the lot.” 

“Ten?” 

“Yes.” 

“And you’ve come for your ducking?” 

“Yes.” 

There was an indefinable air of guilty satisfaction about 
her. 

William noted that and frowned. 

“This crime and punishment stuff is getting too regular,” 
he said. “I think you want a change of diet. So you can 
go and duck yourself this morning, Lydia.” 

She looked at him resentfully, and seeing that he became 
bitterly angry with her, with an anger inspired by a quick 
realization that in some subtle sense she derived a kind of 
gratification from the punishments he inflicted on her. 

“For the future you can do your own ducking as well 
as your own swearing.” 

There was more than a touch of the old Lydia in the blaze 
of her eyes. 

“All right. Yes—all right—I will.” 

“Do,” he said, and slowly turned to cast his second line. 


252 TREASURE TRAIL 

Somehow it got tangled with his foot and snagged badly. 
Stooping to clear the coil, he saw she was no longer beside 
him. She was lying on a flat shelf of rock a few yards away, 
her head was submerged in a pool which they called the 
ducking-pool. He watched her for a while, then, with sudden 
enlightenment, leapt across the intervening space and picked 
her up in his arms. Her face was almost black, and water 
ran from her mouth. 

“Good God!” he cried, and began to work her arms 
fiercely. Also he hung her over his shoulder upside down 
and thumped her lungs. % 

When the salt water was out of her and she had begun 
to breathe normally, he propped her up against a rock and, 
kneeling opposite, he stared at her in great amazement. 

At last: 

“Lydia,” he said. “Lydia, are you mad? What were 
you thinking of to do that?” 

But she only smiled, and it was a queerly innocent smile 
and a queerly satisfied smile and tremendously for him. 

But even so he did not kiss her. 

For one thing, she would not have let him. 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 


N O child believes in its heart that a perfect holiday 
will ever end. It is a realization that only comes 
when the sudden clangor of the school-bell startles 
the birds into silence, and like a magnet draws unwilling 
feet from the green shade of forests and the sun-drenched 
expanses of yellow sand back to the wooden desks and 
benches of routine. 

But Vernon knew—and knew, moreover, that unless a 
kindly providence led to the finding of the treasure that end 
was drawing rapidly in view. 

Save for himself, Averil, Tommy Gates and Olive, the 
rest had been lulled by the balm of the South Sea breezes 
into happy inactivity. While these four worked, the others 
dreamed, and the hastening weeks went by. 

Of the original capital little now remained, barely enough 
for another month’s stay on the island and the provisioning 
of the yacht for the homeward journey. 

If only Ralph Whittaker ha,d replied to Vernon’s appeal 
and succeeded in raising a few thousands on his uncle’s will, 
the case would not have been so bad. But Ralph’s silence, 
taken in conjunction with their failure to discover the old 
pirate’s cache, was tormenting. It seemed that Vernon was 
to be denied even the chance to repay the original investments. 

In that respect something would have to be done and 
done quickly. 

The following day the yacht would be sailing for Hono¬ 
lulu. Accordingly, Vernon wrote a long letter to a firm of 
solicitors at that port, instructing them to act on his behalf 
in the matter of raising a reversion. This letter he gave 
to Mr. Isinglass with the request that it should be delivered 
personally in the event of there being no registered package 
awaiting him at the firm of McAndrews, Ltd. 

253 


254 TREASURE TRAIL 

Mr. Isinglass frowned and cocked an eyebrow when asked 
to do this; he consented, however, without demur or question. 

It had been arranged that Joshua Morgan should go 
with Mr. Isinglass on the trip, he of all the company having 
found life on the island a trifle irksome. Work with pick 
and shovel was not much in his line, nor were there any 
Bradford men with whom he could discuss Midland trade 
conditions over a mug of brown ale. His time had been 
spent idling and smoking too much. Faithful to original 
intention, he had made one or two attempts to “walk out” 
Kate beneath the moon and talk to her in the tones of a 
suitor, but these experiments were not a pronounced success. 
They found themselves too old for the job, and conversa¬ 
tions erotically begun quickly reverted to the practical affairs 
of every day and not infrequently to a sharp exchange of 
rebukes. They talked about their children rather than 
themselves, and seemed entirely unable to recapture a spark 
of a thirty-year-old romance. As Joshua remarked: 

“It was a deal easier to talk to thee, Kate, when us used 
to go for them walks by the gasworks and I was counter¬ 
jumping at Harris’s and you was helping your mother.” 

Then Kate would remember there were plates to wash up 
and would return to those humble duties, leaving Joshua to 
smoke a pipe on the dreary beaches. 

So Joshua was granted leave of absence, and a farewell 
supper was given on the night the Mascot was to sail. 
Rather a sad affair it proved, for with the imminence of 
his departure Kate cried in her plate and her gloom was 
reflected upon everyone else. There was about the affair a 
hint of a general break-up, as must be so when even in¬ 
significant units of a happy party are removed. Even Mr. 
Isinglass found it hard to preserve an air of gaiety, though 
he chattered away in a light-hearted vein and prophesied on 
their return the treasure would have been found. Probably 
William Carpenter was the most cheerful member of the 
circle. He had been happily employed throughout the day 
in fixing up an aerial and a wireless receiving-station. It 
was fun to think that the Mascot would be in communication 


TREASURE TRAIL 255 

with the island and could send messages of love and hope 
from the vasty deep. Arrangements had been made that 
William should preside at the instrument for two separate 
half-hours each day, between 9 and 9.30 a.m. and p.m. 
After so many years in a post office, it was not unnatural 
that William was acquainted with signaj services. He was 
proud, however, of being in possession of a specialized talent 
shared by no one else. 

It was approaching midnight when they all filed down 
to the landing-place to bid farewell to the voyagers. 

With Midland heartiness, or possibly to conceal his 
emotions, Joshua Morgan kissed all the ladies not once but 
many times. His wife he did not kiss particularly, but he 
hugged her a great deal—their two fat little bodies bouncing 
off each other on the release of the terrific pressure of each 
embrace. Then the little boat put out from the shore and 
diminishing farewells boomed to apd fro across the glassy 
water. Fainter and fainter they grew until at last Kate’s 
voice cracked and she sat down abruptly on a hard rock and 
threw her apron over her head. 

Vernon and Averil picked their way along the half-circle 
of the coral reefs to watch the Mascot steam out of the 
mouth of the lagoon. Presently she came, dim and ghostly, 
surmounted by the gleam of her masthead lights. They 
could hear the soft pulsing of her engines and the lap, lap, 
from the wash of waves she set in motion. The night was 
dark and her passing was more a matter of feel than of 
sight. Like a mist upon the water, she drifted by within a 
hundred yards of where they stood. 

“Au ’voir—bon voyage,” called Averil. 

And: 

“Good luck,” came trailing back. 

The sound of the engines died away. The masthead 
lights became little stars. And suddenly Vernon cried out: 

“We must make it a success, Averil. We must—we 
must! ’ ’ 

It was a cri de coeur, the first he ha,d uttered in her pres¬ 
ence. She slipped her arm through his and held it tight. 


256 TREASURE TRAIL 

“We will,” she said. 

Then a silence. Then: 

“This seems all so much a part of it,” he muttered. 
“Our standing close together as if for me the treasure were 
found, Averil, by just this. And yet-” 

He felt her nod. 

“I know what you would say—I feel that, too.” 

“It’s standing in the shadow—and wanting-” 

He broke off and pointed to where something moved in 
the shoal waters by the head of the reef. 

“What’s that? There! D’you see?” 

The dark object came nearer, stayed still, then rippled 
away into the obscurity of the night. 

“I don’t know,” she said. “A porpoise?” 

“May have been, although- It’s late, we’d best get 

back now.” 




CHAPTER XXXVII. 


44 X^>J0MING out?” said Tommy Gates, popping a head 

■ into Vernon’s tent. ‘‘It’s seven o’clock and I’ve 
J l got a notion.” 

“Yes, in half a jiffy.” 

Vernon dressed and shaved, and was standing irresolute, 
casting a roving eye round the appointments of his tent. 

“You look like a man whose collar-stud has given him 
the slip. Lost anything?” 

“No—at least—Tommy, when we were out yesterday I 
had my rifle, didn’t I?” 

“Yes, you were hoping to bag-” 

‘ ‘ I know. I leant it against that rock when we were 
digging.” 

“That’s so! Why?” 

“I couldn’t have left it there, could I?” 

“No, I’m certain you brought it. Of course you did. 
You let off at an old shag on the way back. And I was in 
here when you cleaned it.” 

“Well, it’s damned funny.” 

“Has it gone?” 

“Um! And a, box of cartridges.” 

“One of the lads borrowed it.” 

“I dare say—still! Now where the blazes is my hat?” 
Tommy pointed. 

“No, the other one. Never mind, this’ll do. Come on, 
what’s the notion?” 

It was the morning following the departure of the Mascot 
—a glorious morning of dazzling sunlight that turned the 
insects in the air into flying gems. 

“May be nothing in it,” said Tommy, “springs out of 
something Mary said as we were walking ba,ck last night.” 

257 



TREASURE TRAIL 


258 

“■Weill” 

“That old chap Kaifula or whatever he calls himself was 
showing off his treasures to her, and among them was an 
old gold coin and a weapon, which from her description 
sounded to be like a cutlass of sorts. Seems Mary didn’t 
ask any questions about them and only mentioned them to 
me by chance.” 

“You’re thinking they possibly may be-” 

“Oh, I don’t know—but it might be worth while to step 
over and have a look at the stuff. It would be interesting to 
know how he came by them.” 

Yernon nodded. 

“We certainly will. Any idea what the cutlass looked 
like?” 

“Mary’d know. Why?” 

“We had a few relics of my disreputable ancestor at 
home.” 

“Then you’d be able to recognize it-” 

“I’ve a fair idea of the type of weapon they used.” 

Tommy was tingling with excitement. 

“Come on, then, let’s shout for breakfast and make a 
start.” 

There was no need to shout, for Kate had already pre¬ 
pared the meal. 

“You haven’t got what I intended to give you,” she 
announced, “which was a lovely ham—but somehow or 
another, what with the fuss of poor Joshua’s going away, 
I’ve mislaid it.” 

“But you can’t mislay a ham,” Lydia laughed. 

“I don’t propose to argue the point,” said Kate. 
“There’s a rare lot of stuff in store-room and maybe, after 
all, I never put out tin as I intended.” 

“Bother the old ham,” said Olive. “There’s something 
much more important to talk about. Go on, Tommy, 
tell ’em.” 

Tommy told—and excitement, which will prosper on a 
very small excuse, ran high. It ran higher still when Mary, 



TREASURE TRAIL 259 

who was a little late that morning, put in an appearance 
and proceeded to describe with faithful accuracy a sixteenth- 
century cutlass. 

It ran so high that nothing would satisfy them but that 
the whole company, Kate included, should instantly set forth 
for the hut of Kaifulu. 

“Although/ 7 said William, “on second thoughts, you, 
Lydia, had better stop here and mind Marconi House in 
case I’m a bit late.” 

1 ‘"But I can’t understand that silly buzzing, ’ ’ she protested. 

“Of course, if you’d rather I stayed,” said William in 
his best strong and silent style. 

“Oh, go on then,” said she. “I’ll stay.” 

It was a very excited company that gathered at the door 
of Kaifulu’s abode. The old cannibal came forth and offered 
them a great variety of greetings and resolutely refused to 
show them any of his treasures until many preliminary 
courtesies had been observed. His manners were charming 
if irritating, for he insisted on producing articles of no con¬ 
ceivable interest to his audience, and withholding until the 
end the very things they had come to see. With each article 
was a history of prodigious length, and their patience was 
well nigh exhausted when at last the cutlass and the coin 
were exhibited. 

“Well?” said Tommy eagerly. 

Henry Julius was examining the coin with a watch¬ 
maker’s lens. He always had some odd thing like that in 
his pocket—a trick lighter—a hook for removing stones 
from horses’ hoofs—a corkscrew or a roll of lint. 

“Early Spanish,” he answered. 

“And the cutlass?” 

That was Vernon’s province. 

“Undoubtedly sixteenth century.” 

Tommy and William gasped in unison, and Old Kaifulu 
was besieged with questions as to how he had come by them. 
In effect his reply was the rather improbable statement that 
the earth opened and delivered them into the hands of his 


260 TREASURE TRAIL 

fathers, which, when analysed, argued that these relics of a 
bygone age had been vomited out of their resting-place as 
the result of an earthquake. 

“And this would be?” 

“When my grandfather was even smaller than the little 
ones who play yonder.” 

A very fine story he made of it; a story of a mighty 
storm that drove the sea to frenzy and swept canoes up the 
beach to hang like nests in the palm-tops. Followed a great 
trembling of the earth, in which huts fell and many perished, 
and the sea ate up long stretches of what once was land. 
Many things were changed. 

“Yes, by God,” said Henry Julius, “and ten to one that 
needle-rock came tumbling down.” 

After the storm the great-grandfather of Kaifulu went 
forth to take stock of the havoc and perchance to seek com¬ 
fort from wreckage which had come ashore. And then it 
was beside a fresh-opened fissure in the ground he came 
across the coin and the cutlass in the midst of a tangle of 
crumbled bones, which turned to dust even as he stretched 
out a hand to touch them. The cutlass, the coin, and a few 
buttons, since lost, were all he was able to bring away. 

“Do you know where he found these bits?” Henry 
demanded. 

Old Kaifulu shook his head. 

“It was never told.” 

Throughout the length of this recital Yernon had never 
taken his eyes off the hilt of the cutlass. Something about 
it seemed to fascinate him. 

“Kaifulu,” he said, “will you trade this weapon with me? 
I would give many English pounds.” 

Kaifulu thought and stroked his chin. 

“It has been long in my family, but-” 

Henry touched Vernon’s arm. 

“Shouldn’t waste any money. We’ve learnt all we can 
from the thing.” 

“Yes, but have we?” came the reply. “I don’t know.” 

“Please yourself, of course.” 



TREASURE TRAIL 261 

A bargain was struck and the party started homeward. 

As they neared the camp William smote one hand against 
the other. 

“Good Lord, if I haven’t forgotten all about Marconi 
House. 7 ’ 

“It's too late to worry now,” said Tommy Gates, glanc¬ 
ing at his watch. “After all, there’s not likely to be any 
news. By gad, that old chap’s story was pretty thrilling — 
wonder if it’ll do us any good.” 

“You’re a beauty,” said Lydia when they arrived. 
“That beastly thing’s been buzzing away like a hornet’s 
nest.” 

“Aye,” added Kate Morgan, “and if it isn’t enough that 
you wasn’t there to take down old Josh’s love messages, I 
can’t lay my hands on that missing ham, nowhere.” 



CHAPTEE XXXVIII. 


T HIS day, so eventfully begun, was to provide fur¬ 
ther incident. After the midday meal the company 
broke up to pursue their various vocations. The 
search party searched, Mary wandered by the sea, and Henry 
drifted off into the bush with paint-box and easel. All this 
was normal enough, but, coming back in the late evening, 
Tommy saw a figure half a mile away across the beaches. 
Thinking it was William, he gave a hail, but instead of 
responding the figure vanished into the fringe of coco-nut 
palms and was seen no more. 

This incident, small enough in itself, was the precursor 
of others more mysterious. For example, Mrs. Morgan dis¬ 
covered that not only the tinned ham had vanished from her 
store, but other comestibles as well. There being no ready 
explanation for the fact, she concluded that some of the 
island boys had raided the camp during the night. This 
theory was supported by Lydia’s statement that a spare 
blanket which she kept rolled up in her tent had disappeared. 

Vernon, to whom these mysterious losses were reported 
at the evening meal, shook his head at Kate’s solution, and 
expressed the view that in the main these island boys were 
an honest crowd and would hardly risk the chance of picking 
up a stray bullet by robbing a well-armed camp. 

“Well, you don’t suggest I’ve buried the ham,” said Kate 
tartly; “or poor Lydia’s blanket either?” 

“No—but-” He stopped as his thoughts reverted to 

the strange disappearance of his rifle and his hat, which, in 
the other excitements of the day, had passed from his mind. 
“No—but—it’s certainly very peculiar.” 

“One thing I am sure,” said Mary, “that that nice 
Kaifulu would never permit his people to steal.” 

262 



TREASURE TRAIL 263 

“Then who has bagged the stuff?” asked Tommy. Then 
to Vernon: “By Jove, and there was that-” 

But Vernon waved him into silence. 

“We’ll look into the matter in the morning,” he said. 
“William, lend me a pair of pliers, there’s a good chap.” 

Armed with the pliers, and taking Tommy for company, 
he made off for his tent. 

“No good scaring the women with the loss of that rifle,” 
he said. 

“No, I was an ass—still, it’s an odd business. What do 
you want the pliers for?” 

“An act of vandalism. Ever since I was a hoy I seem to 
have been breaking up sixteenth-century relics.” 

“You’re going to pull that cutlass to pieces?” 

Vernon nodded. 

“H’m. Though Lord knows what persuades me. I seem 
to remember reading somewhere that these old-time fellows 
sometimes hid important documents in the hilts of their 
weapons.” 

Tommy’s eyes always sparkled at anything like that. 
They were glittering in the candlelight as Vernon took up 
the rusty old cutlass and examined it. 

“You see, the blade passes right through the hilt and 
is riveted off in this rusty old boss. There’s a hollow space 
between the barrel and the socket.” 

“By gad, yes! But d’you think the chap it belonged to 
was one of Winslowe’s men?” 

“He may have been. In which case we shall probably 
find nothing. On the other hand, there’s a chance the earth¬ 
quake threw up the body of John Trefusis.” 

“That was the fellow he marooned on the island?” 

Vernon nodded. 

“Lord, what a thrill,” exclaimed Tommy, clasping his 
hands. “You are a provider, Winslowe.” 

Vernon looked across the flickering candles at the gleam¬ 
ing face opposite. 

“Tommy, has this show—this cruise come up to 
expectation ? ’ ’ 



264 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Old man/’ came the answer, “it’s been marvellous.’’ 

“But suppose it all fizzles out in nothing?” 

“It will still have been marvellous.” 

“For you, perhaps.” 

“For us all.” 

“Not quite all,” said Vernon slowly. “If we fail, there’s 
one of us at least who will feel like a murderer.” 

Tommy flushed angrily. 

“I won’t hear you say that. D’you think I could ever 
forget the wonderful months of life you’ve given me?” 

“Couldn’t you?” 

And emphatically the answer came: 

“No!” 

“All right,” said Vernon, “don’t lose your temper. Get 
a towel and hang on to the blade and I’ll see if I can snap 
off this boss.” 

The aged steel, brittled by years, broke with the report 
of a child’s pistol. 

“Easy now how you draw out the socket.” 

It came away with a half-twist and a little easing. After 
that it was simple to reduce the hilt to its component parts. 

“Now,” said Vernon, taking the grip in his hand, “we 
shall see what we shall see.” He rapped it smartly on the 
table edge and from the cavity within a cylinder of parch¬ 
ment detached itself. 

For a breathing-space the two men looked at one an¬ 
other. At last: 

“Open it,” said Vernon. 

Tommy shook his head and clicked a dry tongue against 
the roof of his mouth. 

“No, you—your hands are steadier.” 

And at that moment the flap of the tent was flung aside 
and Henry Julius, gasping and with a brow upon which the 
sweat stood out in beads, burst in. 

“The map!” he cried. “Stolen! My tin box—where 
we put it for safety—burst open—and it’s gone.” 

Vernon and Tommy came to their feet. 

“Gone?” 


TREASURE TRAIL 265 

Henry nodded and threw his beautiful hands over his 
head. 

“Gone. I went to the box a minute ago for some medium 
I wanted. Hasn’t been opened for days—and then-” 

No one had noticed the arrival of William Carpenter until 
his enormous shadow was cast against the walls of the tent. 
In his hand fluttered a sheet of white paper. His voice 
cut sharp and clear across the agitation of the moment. 

“Marconigram from the Mascot —just taken it down.” 

Yernon took the paper and read: 

“ ‘Frank Sullivan not on board. A.A.A. Message 
ends.’ ” 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 


V ERNON’S mind was occupied with too many other 
affairs for immediate speech. He was thinking of 
that strange dark object which he and Averil had 
seen in the water as the Mascot passed out through the heads, 
of the loss of his rifle and cartridges, the provisions, the 
map, and the mysterious figure that had not replied to 
Tommy’s hail in the dusk. And at last, but not least, he was 
thinking of the crooked light which had showed for an 
instant in Frank Sullivan’s eyes that day in his cabin. An 
armed menace had appeared among them; this easy picnic 
adventure upon which they had embarked had suddenly been 
transformed to one of danger. 

It was Tommy Gates who broke the silence. 

“Well,” said he, “that explains a good many things. 
D’you think he means mischief?” 

“If not mischief, then competition,” said Vernon slowly, 
and added: “Probably both. I’d be a, lot happier, though, 
if he hadn’t got away with that rifle.” 

“But the map?” wailed Henry. 

“We can afford the map. It hasn’t been much use to us 
so far, and at any rate we know it by heart. It’s the fellow 
being armed.” 

“We must round him up, that’s all,” from William. 
“Not so easy. I’d guarantee to hide for a twelvemonth 
in this bush.” 

“But dash it,” exclaimed Tommy Gates, “the fellow’s 
civilized. He’s not going to be such an ass as to shoot 
people.” 

“Let’s hope you’re right. After all, his quarrel is only 
with me, but there’s a queer streak in Sullivan I don’t like. 
I’ve met the type before; they behave very prettily while 

266 


TREASURE TRAIL 267 

the forces of law and order are about them, but there’s no 
telling what they’ll get up to when those forces are not 
there. Solitude and a grudge acts on that kind of tempera¬ 
ment in funny ways.” 

“That’s true enough,” nodded Henry. “I’ve known a 
man shut himself away and pickle a little mole-hill of a 
grievance into a mountain. Chap I was thinking of was 
hanged for murder.” 

“What do you think brought him ashore?” asked Tommy. 
“Vengeance? Must have been a pretty hefty emotion to 
risk swimming in the lagoon with those sharks.” 

“Possibly vengeance, but probably greed,” Vernon replied. 
“I don’t imagine he’ll do anything desperate as long as the 
treasure is unfound—but assuming we find it-” 

He left the sentence expressively incomplete. 

“Then what’s our plan of campaign?” 

“For the present I suggest we borrow a watchdog and 
go on as if nothing had happened.” 

“How about telling the women?” 

William answered that question. 

“There’s not a woman here who hasn’t every bit as much 
pluck as we men. I’m for telling them.” 

Vernon nodded. 

“So am I.” 

“Carpenter’s right,” Julius assented. “After all, they 
should be put on their guard.” Suddenly he sniggered. 
“I must tell Mary to carry that bag she put that fellow out 
with at the bull-fight.” 

It was good to have something to laugh about. Laughter 
relieved the situation of its tension. 

“Shall we call ’em in? 

“Yes,” said Vernon, “off you go, Tommy.” 

Mrs. Morgan was retiring for the night when summoned 
to Vernon’s tent. She appeared in a dressing-gown made of 
some kind of bed-ticking. It was very voluminous and had 
had a toby frill at the neck. In a sense it helped the beholder 
to understand her trepidation as to her husband being 
brought too closely into the society of attractive females. 



268 TREASURE TRAIL 

Her mouse-coloured hair was in papers. Mary Ottery, look¬ 
ing rather like Toots in Peter Pan, appeared in pyjamas and 
offered no apology for the immodesty of her attire. The 
others were clad in their ordinary clothes. 

The little tent was crowded when Vernon made his an¬ 
nouncement, and nothing could have exceeded the calmness 
with which the news was accepted. Mary Ottery borrowed 
a cigarette from Henry, and Kate Morgan remarked that it 
was a comfort to know that as Frank Sullivan was on the 
island there was no chance of his slitting poor Joshua’s 
throat. That was all. Nobody was going to be frightened 
because a dog was snarling at their heels. Let him snarl. 

“One thing is certain,” said Kate. “I should never have 
slept a wink if I hadn’t found out where that ham had 
gone.” 

Somehow their courage and equanimity put a lump in 
Vernon’s throat. 

“You’re splendid, all of you,” he said rather gulpily. 
“You’ve taken your powder like good ’uns, and now maybe 
there’s a bit of jam to make up for it.” He picked up the 
little scroll of parchment. “He and I,” nodding to Tommy, 
have been fiddling about with that old cutlass and in the 
hilt we found this. Like as not, it won’t help us much, 
but-- Who cares to open it? You?” 

Averil took it tenderly as though at a clumsy pressure 
it might perish into dust. But the dead man had taken care 
to protect his message against the ravages of time. It was 
encased by a covering of skin, possibly the skin of a bird, 
which passed through the centre of the cylinder and was 
sewn at the edges. The age-old stitches snapped one by 
one at the touch of a finger-nail. The outer skin was peeled 
off and three minutes later everyone’s head was craned over 
a curve of parchment held out beneath the flickering candles. 

Then Averil drew breath and read: 

“ ‘I, John Trefusis-’ ” 

The name was repeated like a whisper of wind stirring 
dead leaves. 




TREASURE TRAIL 269 

“ 4 1, John Trefusis, of Polseth, Cornwall, write these 
lines of pardon for the pirate, Roger Winslowe, who left me 
marooned upon these shores in the year 1638, to perish 
miserably. It was said that treasure was hidden on the 
island, but whether this he true or was but told to mock me, 
I cannot say—nor have I ever sought to prove. Of what 
virtue is the treasure of riches to one removed from his 
fellows? But certain it is I found great treasure of another 
kind. I have found treasure in solitude and in reflection— 
in the company of bird and beast and the music of the insects 
and the sea. I have found the treasure of simplicity—of 
the power to forgive the wrongs done to me and of repent¬ 
ance for my own misdeeds. Thus I, who was left miser¬ 
ably to die, have instead received from this lonely island a 
treasure of health and happiness, great enough to fill my 
heart to overflowing, and to leave in it no corner for malice 
against any man.’ ” 

Perhaps it was to hide emotions that Henry spoke. Cer¬ 
tainly his eyes were strangely wet and he had blown his nose 
moistly after Averil fininshed reading. 

“Ha—ha! Still, it doesn’t help us much.” 

“I think it does,” said Alary Ottery, and her voice rang. 

“Yes,” came from Tommy. “Yes, by gad. A treasure 
of happiness and health, eh?” 

Then Olive said: 

“You brought us here,” and gripped Vernon by the hand. 

The action was infectious—an idea which came to everyone 
alike. A moment later they were all holding hands in a 
circle, with the tent-pole as the axle of the wheel. Impos¬ 
sible to say what folks will do when they share a common 
emotion, but surely it will be something very simple. It was 
Kate who started singing “Auld Lang Syne.” Perhaps the 
circle of hands suggested it. The rest joined in and the 
neglected parchment of the happy John Trefusis curled itself 
up on the table like a dog before a fire. 

Then something happened—a whine, a sliver of wood 
pecked as though by magic out of the tent-pole, a tiny star 


270 TREASURE TRAIL 

peering through a sudden hole in the canvas, and from far 
away in the distance the pop of a rifle. 

There was one man on the island who stood in the path¬ 
way of happiness. 

That night a guard was mounted over the camp. 


CHAPTER XL. 


“Dear Everybody, 

“For the next few days I shall be busy looking for the treasure. 
As I do not intend to be disturbed, I issue this warning that the 
whole island, except for a quarter of a mile radius round your camp, 
is placed out of bounds. I do not want to harm anybody, and you 
can feel perfectly safe as long as my instructions are obeyed. If, 
on the other hand, you are foolish enough to ignore them, you do so 
at your own risk. My shot last night was not fired in any spirit of 
malice, but merely as a reminder that I am here. Behave yourselves 
nicely and I shall not repeat the practice. I would hate to get on 
your nerves and have no wish to start a reign of terror. Later on I 
may have something to say to your gas-bag leader, but that must 
wait until more important affairs have been settled. 

“Further instructions will be published from time to time. 

“[Signed] Frank Sullivan, 

“Winner of the King’s Prize at 
Bisley, 1912-13.” 

This insolent message, which was tied to the stem of a 
palm-tree within a hundred paces of the camp, was dis¬ 
covered by Tommy Gates early the following morning as he 
and Olive were starting off for their day’s work. 

“For profound cheek,” he exploded, “this takes the 
biscuit. Come on, Olive, we’ll show him whether the island 
is out of bounds or not.” 

They only waited long enough to circulate the news among 
the rest of the company, then, with picks upon their shoul¬ 
ders, started off into the bush. 

“One can’t help smiling at that Bisley Prize stuff,” said 
Henry, while collecting his sketching-materials. “Man must 
be an awful cad. Suppose he wears a marksman’s badge 
on his dress-coat. Out of bounds, indeed! The idea of such 
a thing. Well, so long, everybody.” 

271 


272 TREASURE TRAIL 

But before going Henry contrived to tbink of many means 
for preventing Mary leaving the camp that day. 

“Terrible,” he said, “the way I wear my socks into holes 
—haven’t a decent pair left—not one.” 

Mary’s silence was disappointing. 

“What’s more,” he continued, “unless I give up a morn¬ 
ing to washing some shirts and trousers, I won’t be fit to 
be seen.” 

More silence. 

“And I very particularly didn’t want to give up a morn¬ 
ing just now, ’ ’ he added, with a beseeching glance. 

“I’ll wash your shirts and darn your socks,” said Mary. 

He brightened perceptibly. 

“I’ll do them to-night.” 

His face fell. 

“Why not now?” 

“Because,” said she, “if I shirked having my usual walk 
this morning, I could never hold up my head again.” 

She was breathing through her nose as she said the words, 
and Henry, who had come to understand Mary Ottery, 
realized by the same token that further argument would be 
wasted. 

“Suppose I were to lend you a gun?” he suggested. “A 
little beauty with a mother-o’-pearl handle?” 

Mary debated the point in silence. 

“Please, Mary.” 

“A gun—a pistol—it would kill a man?” 

“Dead as an ox.” 

She looked at her hands. They were brown and hard, 
they had lost the feel of mittens. Suddenly she nodded. 

“All right—I’ll take it.” 

A moment later: 

“Look out,” he cried, “it’s loaded.” 

“Well, I should hope so,” said she. 

She dropped the tiny automatic into a pocket of her coat 
and gave its hard contour a slap. Laughing a little to her¬ 
self, she marched off along the beach. 

“There goes a woman,” mused Henry Julius, “a woman 


TREASURE TRAIL 273 

who would shoot a man if she believed the cause was just.” 

Curiously enough, the reflection gave him an extraordinary 
sense of personal security. 

U I dare say she’d shoot me if she thought I deserved it.” 

Vernon did not talk of what he intended to do that 
morning. 

1 ‘Everyone must act as they think fit,” he said. “Though 
I confess I’d be happier if the women didn’t go too far afield 
until we get some idea of this fellow’s temper. It may all 

be bluff, of course; still-” His eyes rested anxiously on 

Averil. “We ought to avoid any chance of-” 

He left the sentence unfinished. 

A few minutes later he was examining the sand at the 
foot of the palm where Sullivan’s message had been found. 
Footprints led away from the spot into the bush. Here they 
were lost, but broken twigs and flattened grass showed where 
a man had passed. Vernon followed these vague indications 
for a half-mile or more. Something bright which reflected 
the sunlight attracted his notice. He picked it up. It was 
an empty brass shell of a rifle cartridge. Evidently it was 
from here Sullivan had fired the shot. After that, though 
he searched diligently, Vernon could find no further traces. 
It was a hundred to one against stumbling on Sullivan’s 
hiding-place without a clue, but that clue suddenly came 
to him through a natural cause. The sun was hot, he was 
thirsty, and had forgotten to bring a water-bottle. Water 
was the clue; a man who was hiding in the bush without 
proper equipment would choose a, spot where there was water 
close at hand. 

Once in the course of his wanderings Vernon had come 
upon a little spring not very far from where he was standing 
now. The water bubbled out of the rock into a kind of 
natural basin and disappeared again a few yards below. It 
was a wild, rocky spot, surrounded by trees and tangled 
undergrowth, an ideal hiding-place for a fugitive. There was 
no reason to suppose Sullivan knew anything about it; on 
the other hand, he had had many hours of freedom and was 
pretty certain to have spent them to advantage. The fact 




274 TREASURE TRAIL 

that he had advertised his presence on the island argued that 
he had discovered what he thought was a safe retreat. 

Yernon struck away to the left, and twenty minutes later 
was forcing a passage through the undergrowth. The sun¬ 
light dappled the tiny clearing where the water ran and a 
wisp of jewel-like birds glittered in the air. Yernon stood 
upright and looked about him. There was no evidence of 
human occupation. With a “Humph” of disappointment 
he threw himself on his face a,nd took a long draught from 
the pool. As he was raising himself he saw the imprint of 
a man’s fingers in the soft clay that margined it. 

“Then I wasn’t so far wrong, after all,” he thought. 

Skirting the pool, he began to poke about in the rocks 
and bushes on the far side. Then he laughed, for, neatly 
hidden under a screen of branches, was Lydia’s blanket, a 
number of tins of meat, and the missing ham from Kate’s 
storehouse. It was clearly evident this discovery could be 
turned to tactical advantage, and he was on the point of 
retreating with the object of returning later when a voice 
behind him rapped out the words: 

“Hands up!” 

Pivoting on his heels, Yernon looked down the barrel of 
his own rifle. 

Frank Sullivan was standing on the far side of the 
pool. 

1 ‘ Hands up! ” he repeated in a voice which trembled with 
anger. “D’you hear? Put ’em up.” 

“I hear,” said Yernon, “but I’m damned if I’ll put up 
my hands for you.” And he sat down on a shelf of rock 
with a ten-foot drop behind him. 

“Better be quick, old friend; I’ll give you till I’ve 
counted ten.” 

“If I refuse to put ’em up for a rifle, hearing you count 
ten isn’t likely to make me.” 

Frank Sullivan looked puzzled. 

“What have you got?” he demanded. “Don’t I look like 
business? Do you think I’m afraid to shoot?” 


TREASURE TRAIL 275 

Vernon took a packet of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. 
It was risky, but he took the chance. 

11 Going to give me a match, or shall I use my own ? ’ ’ 

“I think you’ll postpone that smoke.” 

“I’m certain I shan’t.” He never even looked at Sullivan 
as he produced a match-box and struck a light. 

“All right,” said Sullivan. “I can afford to wait.” 

“That’s just where you’re wrong. You can’t. There’s 
only one thing you can afford to do, Sullivan, and that is 
make yourself scarce. I warned you on the yacht to keep 
out of trouble and you hadn’t the sense to take the warning. 
Well, I’ve looked you up to-day to repeat it. I’ve looked 
you up to tell you that we won’t stand for funny notices 
pinned to our trees, or for this Afghanistan border stuff at 
night. I’ve looked you up-” 

“Looked me up!” cried Sullivan shrilly. “You liar! 
You tracked me here by a fluke, and if I hadn’t come along 
when I did you’d have sneaked off and fetched the others to 
ambush me.” 

Vernon shook his head. 

“Nonsense. I should have sat down and waited for you. 
It’s perfectly obvious someone had to come and tell you how 
to behave.” 

Frank Sullivan fingered the trigger of the rifle lovingly. 

“I put the island out of bounds,” he said. “Out of 
bounds, do you hear ? ’ ’ 

“Do you know,” said Vernon slowly, “I sometimes think 
you must have a tile loose, Sullivan. No man in his senses 
could kid himself he’d be able to intimidate a whole crowd. 
Still, that doesn’t matter. The point is, this mad-dog busi¬ 
ness has got to stop. I shall take you down to the camp 
with me, where you’ll stop until I’ve arranged with some of 
the native boys to paddle you over to one of the adjoining 
islands.” 

Frank Sullivan put back his head and laughed. 

“Ho! you’ll do that, will you? Ain’t that sense of 
humour of yours getting the better of you? Ain’t you for- 


276 TREASURE TRAIL 

getting which end of the rifle you’re sitting at? Lord! 
Winslowe, I can enjoy a joke with any man, but sometimes 
it goes a bit too far—gets a bit too practical.” 

He was working himself up to something which approached 
hysterical fury. He was letting his anger outride his 
vigilance. Vernon’s right hand had dropped to his side and 
his fingers closed upon a moss-covered boulder about the size 
of a boxing-glove. 

“By God,” cried Sullivan, “I think you’re asking for a 
bullet through the knee-cap—through the knee-cap—hurts 
like ten thousand furies, old friend—nothing like it to bring 
a man to his senses.” 

“Sullivan,” said Vernon, “if you talk like that I’ll have 
you proscribed. Either you come down to the camp with 
me or I give orders that you’re to be shot on sight like a 
dog.” . 

Sullivan made no attempt to reply, but slowly brought the 
rifle to his shoulder and took aim. 

Vernon saw how he drew breath before taking the first 
pressure on the trigger, the inevitable preliminary of any 
marksman. 

At the sight he cried out: 

“Let fly, William.” 

An ancient dodge, but it gave him a second’s grace. 
Sullivan threw a quick glance behind him, and as he did so 
Vernon was on his feet and flung the boulder. As bad luck 
would have it, the sides were moist with moss; it slipped from 
his fingers and fell with a mighty splash into the pool, 
drenching Sullivan from head to foot and filling his eyes 
with unflung spray. The bullet which should have split his 
knee-cap splashed harmlessly into the ground. Vernon was 
on the rock now crouched for a spring, and as a second 
cartridge clashed into the breech he leaped far out over 
netted undergrowth, slithered down a ramp of loose stones, 
and, to an accompaniment of whining bullets, plunged into 
the protection of the bush. 

“Blaze away,” he cried. “There are only fifty cartridges, 
Sullivan; blaze ’em away.” 


TREASURE TRAIL 277 

The shooting stopped, and presently he heard a voice say 
very clearly: 

4 ‘Honours to you, Winslowe; but wait till I begin to feel 
lonely, old friend—till I begin to feel lonely.” 

Very cold and threatening sounded the words. 


CHAPTER XLI. 


T'OU saw him?” said Averil. ‘‘You talked to 
Y him?” 

1 Vernon nodded. 

“For five minutes.” 

“At the end of a rifle?” 

Again he nodded. 

“I don’t understand. Weren’t you afraid—or don’t you 
want to live ? ’ ’ 

“Yes, I want to live—but I wasn’t afraid—at least, I don’t 
think so.” 

‘ ‘ He might have shot you. ’ ’ 

“No. I knew pretty well he wouldn’t shoot until I meant 
him to. Men who’ve never committed a murder before 
aren’t generally in a great hurry to begin. Even in the war 
you saw that—two fellows holding each other up and not 
firing—never firing. I’ve known men throw away their 
weapons and go for each other with bare hands. There’s a 
—a nicety about these things.” 

‘ ‘ A nicety—with him ? ’ ’ 

“Yes, I know what you’re thinking.” 

Averil seemed to be looking back at something which was 
past. 

“I remember—when he and I were—were friends—that 
time you know—I’d see a streak in him sometimes—a yellow 
streak—not a bit normal. I was a fool then; I knew nothing 
and even found something attractive in that mood—strong. 
He’d say impossible things to people and look—oh! I can’t 
explain.” 

“Crooked?” 

She nodded her head quickly. 

278 


TREASURE TRAIL 279 

“Yes, almost mad—but with laughter to conceal it—to 
make you believe it was just his humour.” 

“I’ve seen that mood too.” 

“He would be terribly brave, too, in a stupid way. The 
maddest things. Once he jumped his mare over a peram¬ 
bulator with babies in it. Oh, awful! I blazed up at him 
and he laughed the temper out of me. I was furious with 
myself afterwards.” She gave a little shiver, and reverted 
to the present. “What did he say?” 

“Nothing that mattered—except after I’d got away.” 

“Yes?” 

“ ‘Wait till I feel lonely.’ Queer sort of threat. I’ve 
been racking my brains what he could have meant.” 

“ ‘Wait till I feel lonely,’ ” she repeated, and once again 
shivered. Then: “Are you going to wait?” 

“No,” said Vernon. “No. I hate the job, but somehow 
I daren’t let that fellow roam about at large. We must hunt 
him up, I’m afraid. ’Tanyrate, he must be scared off this 
section of the island.” 

But though they searched high and low and fired large 
tracts of the bush, not a sign of Frank Sullivan was found. 
He had vanished like a cloud, and as day succeeded day, and 
a week, a fortnight passed without further incident, the 
threat of his presence diminished, and the normal courses of 
their lives were resumed. Happiness picked up dropped 
stitches, and the shuttle of pleasant affairs slipped to and 
ffro across the loom of their life. 

But, strange as it must seem, Vernon did not rejoice in 
Frank Sullivan’s disappearance. With a tangible foe to 
fight there was no leisure for gloomy considerations. Thus 
the imminence of danger had in a sense been a joy to him. 
It is so much easier to walk with one’s life in one’s hands 
than with the responsibility of other people’s futures upon 
one’s shoulders. They had not advanced one step towards 
finding the treasure, and all the doubts and misgivings which 
had assailed him in the past came crowding back with club¬ 
footed tread. 

And as hope cannot live in the company of despair, 


280 TREASURE TEAIL 

Vernon lost all belief that the treasure would be found. 
There was so little money left, and because of that so little 
time. Of course they would find nothing; of course there 
would be no registered letter awaiting him at Honolulu; of 
course he would have to confess that the whole business had 
been started as a fraud. And that would mean good-bye to 
Averil, to his reputation, to anything and everything he held 
dear in life. A man was insane to believe there was a 
straight way out of a crooked deal. What was God’s justice 
for save to confound such belief? Fool not to have driven 
Frank Sullivan to put a bullet through him. 

He took to going out by himself, avoiding all company save 
his own. And they—his dupes—exalted him—talked of his 
bravery and resource—rejoiced in the knowledge that in him 
reposed the governance of their affairs—and they were happy, 
happy, happy. Almost he could curse their credulity, their 
unshakable trust. Fools. Why couldn’t they see they had 
nailed their ensigns to a rotten mast which one day would 
snap and bring them fluttering to the muddy ground? 

Then he would remember the faded words of happy John 
Trefusis; or the island would sing to him of its thousand 
other treasures; or some spark of youth and faith would re¬ 
ignite the dead embers of extinguished hope, and drive him 
back to the camp to hearten them with fresh excuses and 
inventions why they should believe the treasure would be 
found. 


CHAPTER X L11. 


M ARY was walking fast, for her thoughts ran fast 
that morning, speeded by a tale of island devils 
which the old Kaifulu had told with more than his 
usual vigour. 

In her hand was a, scarlet flower gathered by the way. In 
a small clearing she came upon Henry Julius folding up his 
easel. A still wet sketch was leaning against his camp stool. 
It was a very bad sketch, and as a creator of works of art 
Henry was out of conceit with himself. Seeing in Mary 
an unexpected target for his woes, he greeted her en¬ 
thusiastically. 

“Hullo, you look very different this morning!” he ex¬ 
claimed. Then, with appreciation of the cause: 11 Gracious! 
you’ve bobbed your hair.” 

“I have.” 

“Whatever made you do it?” 

“I was tired of pins,” she replied gravely. 

* 1 Restraints ? ’ ’ 

“Yes. Why shouldn’t my hair have a little freedom?” 
“Why, indeed? It certainly becomes you.” He made a 
picture frame with his hands, and peered at her through it. 
“You know there’s something very strong and sweet about 
your face. If I were a real painter I’d like to catch you 
in that mood with the scarlet flower and the sunlight stream¬ 
ing through the trees.” 

“Catch me?” 

“Paint you.” 

“Oh!” 

“Curious thing a majPs development—the changes in him. 
I’ve always been an art-lover—always looked at nature in 
terms of art; it’s only lately I’ve acquired appreciation for 
the unpainted picture—if you understand me.” 

281 


282 TREASURE TRAIL 

“I think I do.” 

“And the odd thing is it gives me just as much satis¬ 
faction as getting rich quick gave me in the. old days. * ’ 

Mary smiled encouragingly. It was one of the nicest 
things she had ever heard him say. 

“It’s a tremendous asset, you know/’ he added. “Tre¬ 
mendous—to he able to carry in one’s head a sense of pic¬ 
tures. Free pictures, too, that you can shut your eyes and 
look at with your memory. I tell you the walls of my mind 
are as crowded with pictures as the Royal Academy used to 
be before the new hanging committee had a go at it.” 

Mary laughed. She knew nothing of the old congestion, 
or of the new selection at the R.A., but she understood what 
Henry was driving at. 

“There was a time,” he said, “when I resented the Na¬ 
tional Gallery being free, and that anyone could walk in out 
of the street without paying a cent, and find themselves, before 
those great masterpieces. That resentment’s gone because 
I’ve come to see that the beautiful things in life are free.” 

“Of course they are.” 

“These sketches I paint mean nothing; they’re no more 
than tributes to a new state of mind. Look at this horrible 
daub I’ve made this morning.” 

“If it’s so bad, why not tear it up?” 

“My word!” he exclaimed admiringly. “That’s an idea. 
But it takes courage to destroy.” 

“But you have courage.” 

He tore the thick Whatman paper into small squares and 
scattered them. 

“By George, I feel better for that,” said he, and looked 
at her with great curiosity. 

“It would never have occurred to me to tear it up. And 
yet how simple. S’pose we could apply the same action to 
other mistakes one commits. Phew! that’s a notion. Ter¬ 
rific. But then, of course, we would want an overseer— 
someone to point out where the rubbish lay.” 

“The bugle’s gone,” said Mary. “We shall be late for 
dinner. ’ ’ 


TREASURE TRAIL 283 

“Half a jiffy.’’ He bundled bis sketching-materials into 
a knapsack, and slung it across his shoulder. They started 
off briskly. 

“You must have had a very plain life, Mary.” 

It was the first time he ha,d used her Christian name, but 
she did not resent it. 

“And haven’t you?” 

“Mine’s been twopence coloured.” He hesitated and 
plucked up his courage. “What’s your intention if we find 
the treasure?” 

“I shall travel—travel everywhere—keep on going about.’” 

“H’m! not a bad idea; but in a round world the further 
you go, the nearer it brings you home.” 

“Home,” said Mary, “is a word that hasn’t much mean¬ 
ing for me.” 

It shocked the traditions of his race to hear her say that;; 
it hurt him for her sake. Of all the peoples of this earth a 
Jew is most faithful to the home idea. 

“And supposing we don’t find a treasure?” 

1 ‘ I shall have found it in memories, ’ ’ she answered! 
“What you said about pictures on the walls of your mind— 
well, in that way. ’ ’ 

“It’s good to think we’ve something in common, but I 
can’t bear the thought of you being a companion again— 
at least-” 

“Yes.” 

“Oh, I don’t know—just an idea I had—an alternative- 
P’r’aps you’d let me talk it over with you one day?” 

“Of course.” 

“It may be best to wait and see what turns up, especially 
if you’ve set your mind on travelling. ’ ’ 

“I don’t think it’s quite that. Only, if it’s possible, I 
want to escape knowing from day to day just what’s going 
to happen. I want to spend my life within reach of a sur¬ 
prise or two—something that has to be faced—difficulties, ’ ’ 

“Ye—es,” murmured Henry. “The notion I had in my 
mind might supply those requirements perhaps.” 

And that was afl he said about it, fearful, maybe, that. 



284 TREASURE TRAIL 

Mary might cause him to tear up a sketch plan which out¬ 
lined her future as well as his. 

They walked slowly, thoughtfully, sharing that silence 
which is composed of too many words for utterance. The 
soft, green carpet of growing things smothered the sound 
of their footsteps. In the distance sounded the notes of a 
bugle, the summons to the midday meal, but they did not 
quicken their pace. Then through a narrow aisle of trees 
they saw Tommy, his sleeves rolled up, digging furiously in 
the ground. Tommy was always digging. His belief was 
unshakable, his energy boundless. It was a case of ambition 
spurred by necessity. Any rock was a needle rock to Tommy 
Gates. Sometimes he would take a twig in his hands, and 
try and divine the treasure, wrest the secret of its hiding- 
place out of the warm earth by sheer concentration. Henry 
nodded in the direction of the boy. 

“A lovely enthusiasm,” he said. 

By common consent they stopped to watch. Tommy 
straightened his back and jerked the sweat out of his eyes. 
Then from close by a shot rang out. They heard Tommy 
exclaim: “Oh!” He rocked on his heels, then, as though 
tired of standing, sprawled on the ground, and lay there very 
still, with his face buried in the grass. 

Neither Mary nor Henry moved. They stood like dead 
things in the silly postures of surprise. Another figure had 
appeared now—suddenly—unexpectedly. A man, tall, lithe, 
and with something animal in his tread. Sullivan! He 
trailed a rifle in his hand, from the muzzle of which issued 
a tiny curl of smoke. He moved to where the body lay, and 
turned it over with his foot. Across Tommy’s white fore¬ 
head was a purple stain. Sullivan looked at it for a long, 
long while. He seemed hypnotized. His face was ashy 
white, and he was clicking a dry tongue. His eyes were 
ghastly. "With a quick movement he clapped a hand over 
his mouth, and his shoulders heaved up and down spas¬ 
modically. He was fighting against an impulse to be sick. 
It was horrible! The rifle slipped from his grasp, and he 
leaned his head against a tree. Then, like a figure in a farce, 


TREASURE TRAIL 285 

the dead body on the ground came to sudden life. It sat 
bolt upright, and exclaimed: “Oh—oh!” and the man who 
was trying not to be sick screamed something unintelligible, 
and made a dive for his rifle, and Mary Ottery walked for¬ 
ward and began to shoot. 

“For God’s sake, look out!” cried Henry. But she 
did not heed his warning. The little mother-o’-pearl auto¬ 
matic was streaming lead at Sullivan at an ever-diminishing 
range. Mary had one eye closed, and was taking trouble 
with her aim. At every shot she muttered: “He deserves 
it—he must die.” 

Frank Sullivan had got his rifle, and was tugging madly 
at the breech bolt. 

Like a lunatic Henry was trying to unship his sketching- 
materials and get at his own pistol. 

“He must die,” said Mary, and fired the last round. 

There was a loud squeal—a curse—and Frank Sullivan,, 
leaping in the air like a Russian dancer, leaping and brand¬ 
ishing the rifle above his head, fled away in the direction 
of the camp. 

Mary stood clicking the empty pistol, and wondering why 
it made no sound. 

Altogether a queer business. No one seemed to know what 
to say or do next. 

Henry held out his hand. 

“Hadn’t you better give that to me?” he said. 

Mary shook her head blankly. She would not part with 
the pistol. 

“I didn’t kill him,” she said, and sat down to cry in a 
lost sort of way. 

Over and over again Tommy was repeating: 

“I was standing there and then—what did happen—what 
did happen? I’m bleeding—look—look! I’m bleeding. 
Wliat did happen?” 

They could hear Frank Sullivan go roaring through the 
wood. 


CHAPTER XLIII. 


T HE camp was in an uproar when Tommy, supported 
by Mary and Henry, came stumbling through the 
gap in the palisade. Tommy was still a bit stunned, 
stupid from the bullet which had scored his forehead. 

“If he hadn’t, just that moment, tossed the sweat out of 
his eyes, he’d have been a goner,” said Henry. 

He repeated it several times, sandwiched between details 
of the affair and the amazing conduct of Mary. 

“He’d have been a goner—and I couldn’t get my gun 
out. That Sullivan! Must have believed Tommy had found 
the treasure. Mad he was—then sick—and Mary walking 
towards him—shooting—shooting—like an executioner— 
I never saw such a thing. Marvellous! Hit him, too. 
Squeal! I can hear him now.” 

Mary said nothing; she just sat there biting a finger-nail 
and eyeing a jug of water within reach of her hand but too 
remote for her energy. Vaguely she was wondering why she 
had never been taught to shoot. 

Olive was busy with a bandage, walking round and round 
Tommy as if he might have been a maypole. 

Then Vernon, scarlet from a burst of running, brought to 
camp by the crackle of distant shots, out of breath, bright- 
eyed and with nostrils distended at the smell of danger. 

And the story was told all over again for his benefit, this 
time by several voices instead of one. Suddenly he inter¬ 
rupted to ask: 

“Where’s Averil?” 

She was not of the company. 

* 1 Ran out when the shots were fired, ’ 9 from Lydia. 

Then Henry: 


286 


TREASURE TRAIL 287 

“He came towards the camp, squealing like a mad thing 
—great bounds.” 

Vernon caught William’s eye. 

“Just you,” he said. 

They stopped long enough to collect rifles, that was alL 

“Which way?” 

Someone pointed. Side by side they raced out of the 
camp. A quarter of a mile away they stopped. 

“Call her name.” 

William’s mighty voice raised distant echoes. They lis¬ 
tened, and very clearly from somewhere down by the beach 
came the words: 

“Don’t follow me.” 

The two men looked at one another dismayed. 

“Don’t follow me.” 

“WHY NOT?” 

A long silence, then another voice: 

“I told you to wait till I was lonely.” Followed some¬ 
thing that sounded like a laugh—obscenely inspired. 

“Come on,” said Vernon, and made for the beach. 

As they broke through the fringe of vegetation and coco¬ 
nut palms, a bullet pecked up the sand at their feet. Vernon 
jerked William back into shelter as a second whined past, 
head high. 

“Steady, you fool—no good facing that.” 

William’s face was black with anger. It was the first time 
he had been shot over, and it took him that way. The war 
to him had been a distant affair of rumbling guns, muted by 
the buzzing of a telegraph instrument. 

“But he’s shooting at us—at me-” 

A couple more bullets worried their way through the screen 
of bushes which protected the two men from view. Vernon 
lay down and, moving the tall grasses, peered out. 

Sullivan was sitting on a rock two hundred yards away, 
gripping Averil’s shoulders with his knees. It was obvious 
he was using her as a shield. From the straightness of her 
pose it seemed that her feet and wrists must be tied. Vernon 
knew it was impossible with safety to risk a shot, especially 



288 TREASURE TRAIL 

with a rifle with which he was unfamiliar. They must wait 
developments. At the moment Sullivan held all the winning 
cards. There was not long to wait, for presently Sullivan 
rose, bringing Averil up with him in a single movement. 
Stooping, he slung her across his shoulder, and, keeping near 
to the sea, walked off briskly. 

“Now’s our chance,” gasped William. 

Vernon shook his head. 

“With a hundred yards of sand to cover before we can 
reach him—not an earthly. He’d bag the pair of us before 
we’d covered ten paces. Keep low and follow—something’ll 
happen before long.” 

He was right. Quite a variety of things happened. 
Sullivan capered, for instance—insanely—and once he 
stopped to put Averil down and kiss her before throwing her 
over his shoulder again. 

Hearing Vernon groan, William felt he had been given the 
greatest confidence one man might share with another. 

“Tell you what,” he whispered. “Let me race on and 
come out ahead of him. That way you might get a shot 
while he’s levelling up at me.” 

Vernon shook his head. 

“Thanks, no. My responsibility goes deep enough with¬ 
out that. We’ll stick together.” 

For a full mile the slow pursuit proceeded, punctuated 
every now and then with little halts. Frank Sullivan ap¬ 
peared to be in no hurry. A change had come over him, and 
save for occasional capers he mouched along like a man with 
nothing else to do but kill time. He was too far off for the 
expression of his face to be visible, but once William drew 
Vernon’s attention to a spreading purple stain on the left 
shoulder of his shirt. 

4 4 Miss Ottery’s bullet! ’ ’ 

William Carpenter clung to polite prefixes even in mo¬ 
ments of stress. 

Vernon hardly seemed to notice. He could not under¬ 
stand why Averil was so passive, so inert. Never once had 
she shown the least rebellion. It was impossible for him 


TREASURE TRAIL 289 

to have solved that subtle problem, for he had not seen 
Sullivan’s eyes at close range and marked the demented ani¬ 
mal light that burned in them. She told him afterwards it 
was not fear that gripped her, but a self-protective canni¬ 
ness, an inspiration that by her very passivity he would lose 
consciousness of her. 

“He carried me as if I were a sack,” she said, “and I don’t 
think he even knew what he carried. 

Mary’s bullet, those weeks of solitude, disappointment, and 
that queer twist in his nature had dulled his realization of 
facts—and even his sense of touch. He was marching along 
oblivious of everything but a vague obsession of vengeance 
and a kind of protective strategy by which he kept a stretch 
of open sand between himself and a possible assault. It is 
doubtful whether he had any fixed idea what he intended to 
do next. 

‘ ‘ All through that dreadful walk I am certain he was quite 
mad,” she said. “Even his kisses were utterly without 
meaning, as if he was kissing me under compulsion.” 

Sometimes he talked to himself very loudly, bawling out 
words about hidden treasure and the map reference which 
had been given for finding it. 

11 I’ve been done—done!” he roared. Then: “Not yet, 
old friend.” 

And great cracks of laughter. 

Quite mad! 

After that another change seemed to come over him—his 
actions lost all appearance of purpose. Once he started to 
sing a snatch of song from an old musical comedy. 

“I feel so lonely, lonely, 

I want someone to love me only; 

Some little, dear little miss 
To squeeze and kiss-” 

He brdke off for lack of memory and screamed out like an 
angry child. 

“This blasted shoulder! It hurts—hurts.” 


290 TREASURE TRAIL 

They came to a spot where the margin of the sea and the 
fringe of palms narrowed funnel-wise, and presently pursuer 
and pursued were moving side by side, separated by barely 
twenty paces. A little further on, a native canoe lay upon 
the sand, the incoming waves swilling gently against its 
prow. Sullivan looked sideways at the white, flitting shapes 
who moved beneath the palms. 

“Go away/’ he shouted. “Off you go—don’t want you.” 
Then to Averil: “Tell ’em to go away.” 

Obediently she called: 

“Go away.” 

No notice was taken. 

Sullivan went on a little and stopped. They could see 
his face now, wrinkled in puzzled lines. The sun was beat¬ 
ing down on his bare head, for he had lost his hat back in 
the clearing where Mary had fired at him. 

“Don’t they hear—why won’t they go away?” There was 
a quality of tears in his voice—an almost pathetic impotence. 

“Lord, the man’s crazy!” gasped William. 

Then Sullivan put Averil on the ground beside him, an 
arm around her waist, and said: 

“I don’t know what your name is, but you look a very 
nice girl. I feel so lonely. Would you like to sit on this 
canoe for a bit? Do you know I feel very lonely? Can’t 
you walk? Look, your feet are tied up. I’ll lift you, then.” 

The watchers could hear Averil reply: “Thank you.” 
They saw Sullivan gently lift and seat her on the gunwale 
of the canoe beside him. The rifle was resting across his 
knees. His expression was blank and amiable. 

14 ‘I’ve killed a lot of people to-day,” he said. “Such a lot 
—quite a heap.” 

“Have you?” came softly. 

“Oh, yes. Yes, rather. I wonder why. But never 
mind. ’ ’ 

“Leave your rifle behind that tree,” Yernon whispered. 
“Go on, man, don’t ask questions.” 

Unarmed, he walked out into the sunlight, approached the 
canoe, and said in an easy tone: 


291 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“ Hallo, Sullivan!” 

There was a moment of terrible risk as a wave of half¬ 
recognition came and went. Sullivan raised his rifle, put it 
down again, and peered. 

* ‘Hallo !” Vernon repeated. 

Sullivan seemed to he struggling with something but could 
not be sure what it was. Politeness—vengeance. Every¬ 
thing seemed to be jolly. At last he decided. 

‘‘Half a second. Yes, of course—met you out huntin' 
years ago—Winslowe, isn’t it? How’s things?” 

Afterwards Averil confessed she was more ashamed of 
herself for fainting at that moment than for anything else 
in life. It was an instance of relief being harder to bear 
than danger. 

William Carpenter, obedient to an eyebrow order from 
Vernon, caught her as she fell and carried her into the shelter 
of the palms. Vernon did not move a muscle. Sullivan was 
smiling now and nodding his head in the direction William 
had taken. 

“That fellow’s got a way with the girls.” 

In the same language Vernon replied: 

“Altogether too fresh.” Then: “Been shooting? Nice 
rifle.’’ 

He put out his hand and took it. There was no opposi¬ 
tion. With a few sharp movements he emptied the magazine 
and dropped the cartridges in his pocket. Sullivan en¬ 
couraged him. 

“Damn dangerous, rifles,” he said, “damn dangerous.” 

“And now,” said Vernon briskly, “what about getting 
back to camp ? Dare say you could do with a spot. ’ ’ 

It was the word ‘ ‘ camp, ’ ’ with its echo of the last talk they 
had together, which brought Sullivan to his senses—re¬ 
maddened him—what you will. The deadening effects of sun 
and solitude melted like a mist, and with a sudden snarl 
realization came rushing back. It all happened too quickly 
for Vernon to protect himself. He was dulled, off his guard 
by the easiness of success. Sullivan kicked him smashingly 
on the shin, and before he had recovered from the black and 


292 TREASURE TRAIL 

starry agony the blade of a canoe paddle sent him spinning 
half senseless to the sand. When, a moment later, dazed 
and stupid, he raised himself on an elbow, things were hap¬ 
pening in many directions. Sullivan had seized the canoe 
and was pushing it out to sea. Averil was running towards 
him, William Carpenter was rushing from palm to palm seek¬ 
ing the one where they had left their rifles. Failing to find 
them, he came bounding across the sand in pursuit of Sulli¬ 
van. Vernon picked up Sullivan’s rifle and snapped it 
uselessly. Then Averil cried out: “You can’t shoot a 
madman.” 

The canoe was afloat by now with Sullivan aboard. Lean¬ 
ing over the stern, he struck out at William’s head and the 
hand which had closed on the gunwale. William fell back, 
splashing and cursing. With a few quick strokes of the 
paddle the tiny craft shot out into deeper water. 

“Come back,” cried Vernon, “come back.” 

Soaking and scarlet of countenance from water, rage and 
mortification, William Carpenter came splashing up the 
shore. A dark fin appeared upon the surface, went sailing 
round the canoe and beneath it. 

“Give me that rifle,” said William. 

“You can’t,” said Averil. “It would be too horrible.” 

The black fin reappeared ahead of the canoe, piloting it 
out of the bay. 

Sullivan was shrieking vile epithets and working the 
paddle furiously. The watchers on the beach stood motion¬ 
less. The canoe grew smaller and smaller. 

Half a mile from the shore the track of a current curling 
like a snake towards the horizon greyed the water’s surface. 
Presently the canoe was drawn into the current and possessed 
by it. They saw Sullivan, a tiny toy figure, battling to force 
it shoreward. The effort was useless. The canoe merely 
spun round and round and was drawn farther and farther 
away until at last it vanished over the rim of the sea. 

“It would have been too horrible to shoot a madman,” 
said Averil, in a dry voice, “and yet-” 

She shuddered. She was thinking of alternatives. 



293 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“Come,” said Vernon gently. 

“I say,” whispered William, “wouldn’t you two like to 
walk back together?” 

“Thanks, old man,” said Vernon. 

But he shook his head. 


CHAPTER XLIV. 


I T was a thoughtful and subdued party who sat round 
the camp fire that night. Their talk was inconsecutive, 
fragmentary, made up of half-phrases. They had been 
drawn very close together by a common danger, and it was 
difficult to realize the danger was over; they could not help 
thinking of what might have happened. Very little had 
separated them from tragedy. 

“Makes one believe we’re under some protection,” mut¬ 
tered Henry, his eyes on Tommy’s bandage. 

Then Kate, thinking no longer of Sullivan as of a menace 
to safety, but as some poor mother’s son: 

“One can’t help pitying.” 

And William—very human again: 

“There was a gourd in that canoe. Somehow I hope there 
was water in it. I saw the gourd.” 

And Mary, fingering a bitten nail: 

“I hope that shot I fired-” 

“You acted in the cause of justice, Mary.” 

Her answer: 

“Who am I?” 

“We ought to be grateful, I suppose,” said Lydia. “What 
is it the Bible says, 4 The wicked shall perish’? It seems a 

bit of a shame they don’t get a second chance—when-” 

Another unfinished sentence. 

In the face of stern justice, resentment quickly turns to 
sympathy. 

Only Olive Banbury was unchangingly severe. That 
could be understood. 

“He got his deserts.” 

Vernon rose very quickly and moved away. A second 
later Averil was by his side. 


294 




295 


TREASURE TRAIL 

‘‘Don’t, dear,” she said. “Please don’t.” 

“That’s all right,” said he. “Only—rather a trying day, 
you know, and—deserts, eh! After all, why not? There’s 
plenty to be thankful for.” 

He turned to join the others. 

“You will be alone,” she said reproachfully. 

He muttered something she did not entirely hear. 

“Must get into training,” it sounded like. 

A moment later William came pelting up with news that 
the Mascot would arrive about noon the day after to-morrow. 

“Just in on the wireless.” 

“We’ll have something to tell them, anyway,” said Tommy, 
with a laugh. 

For the next forty-eight hours great preparations were 
made against the return of the yacht. Everybody was in¬ 
volved doing something. Then on the morning of its ex¬ 
pectation news came through that it would not reach the 
island before two or three o’clock. 

Kate was in despair. She had tuned herself up to em¬ 
brace Joshua at noon precisely, and further delay was almost 
more than her patience could endure. Throughout his ab¬ 
sence she had been tormented with fears of ills that might 
have befallen him. 

“I won’t believe he’s all right till the yacht comes in,” 
she confessed. 

“But it’s absurd,” said Averil. “Of course he’s all right, 
and don’t forget he’ll be bringing letters from home.” 

Kate brightened perceptibly. 

“Aye, that’s so, and I’ll hear about how our Annie has 
fared.” 

Lydia swallowed a mouthful of food to ask: 

“Your first granddaughter, isn’t it?” 

“Grandson, if you please.” 

Lydia laughed. 

“You seem very certain about it.” She would have said 
more but that William’s bare big toe torpedoed her shin 
under the trestle table. 


296 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Our Annie knows what’s expected of her,” said Kate 
with proper dignity, and turned to upbraid Mary and Henry 
for being late. 

Yernon was too excited to do more than pretend to eat. 
He made some excuse for slipping away. 

“Dropped my watch up there,” he said, “and I’m lost 
without it. The rest of you will be down when the boat 
comes ashore. Say I’ll be along directly in case I’m late.” 

He chose a path which led to the highest knoll in the 
island, where he sat upon a great wedge of rock and looked 
down over the tree-tops and the palm-tops at the lagoon 
below. There was in the scene a marvellous tranquillity, 
colour and sound merging with one another in the making 
of what at once was picture and harmony. The smooth feel 
in the air, the vast blue rotunda of sea and sky, the brush 
of the surf on the beach, the warm drone of insects and 
wanton patches of scarlet flowers together melted and mingled 
into a single entity. A verse of Stevenson’s flashed half- 
remembered, half-forgotten, across his mind: 

“To make this earth our hermitage.” 

Then a line he could not remember, and the final couplet: 

“God’s bright and intricate device 
Of days and seasons doth suffice.” 

But did it suffice, or was all this beauty no more than a 
background to the ugly facts of every day? 

Presently he saw the Mascot steam slowly into the lagoon, 
starting across the still surface two slants of golden ripples 
that stretched and widened until they lipped against the 
coral reef on either side. Though he started to his feet, 
Yernon did not dare go down to meet the little boat which, 
with Mr. Isinglass and Joshua Morgan aboard, was being 
rowed to the landing-place. He would have to choose a 
moment when the old man was alone to find out whether 
or no the registered letter had come. He lacked the courage 


TREASURE TRAIL 297 

to face a negative shake of the head before the rest of the 
company. 

A roar of welcome from William, reduced by distance to 
something less than the humming of a mosquito, came up 
to him. He saw hands stretched out to help Mr. Isinglass 
ashore—Mr. Isinglass in a black tail-coat and white duck- 
trousers and an absurd solar topee. He saw Joshua and his 
little fat wife lock and relock themselves in each other’s 
arms, and almost could hear their breathlessness and feel 
th^ir emotions. Then one of the sailors heaved a bag ashore 
which William took possession of with a familiar postal- 
service touch. Surely this was the mail. Yes, for a seal 
was broken at the neck of the bag and presently a heap of 
tiny white specks, like bits of confetti, was spilled upon the 
rocks, sorted over and distributed. After that there were 
people sitting down and heads bending forward and white 
sails spread that were newspapers. He could see them talk¬ 
ing, laughing, passing letters to each other, and tossing them 
away. Those two so close together were the Morgans, who 
were fighting for a slip of paper and bumping their heads 
in eagerness to read it together. Suddenly they leapt up 
simultaneously, jubilantly. The white slip of paper was 
fluttering on high and a huge Midland voice broadcasted on 
so mighty a carrier wave of sound that all the Pacific might 
have heard: 

“Twins—our Annie—twins!” And all else was in abey¬ 
ance for a while until handshakes and back-slappings and 
words of congratulation were exhausted and old Joshua had 
been carried off by Kate to celebrate the occasion with a 
bottle of Bass which she had been cooling in the creek against 
his return. 

Prom where Yernon sat it was like looking down upon 
happiness through the wrong end of a telescope. Infinitely 
far away and small it was—immeasurably remote from him¬ 
self. He waited until one by one the tiny figures had drifted 
away—only Mr. Isinglass remained. When the last had 
vanished behind the palms that screened the shore, Mr. Isin- 


298 TREASURE TRAIL 

glass scrambled to the top of a rock, and, standing erect, he 
beckoned. Impossible to define what instinctive knowledge 
caused him to act thus. Three times he beckoned, then he 
climbed off the rock again and, spreading out a coloured 
handkerchief, he put up his umbrella and sat down. 

Vernon waited no longer. He took a straight line through 
the trees, and in three minutes he had reached the rocks. 

Mr. Isinglass tilted back his umbrella and shot a glance 
at Vernon. 

“So here you are,” he said. “I had begun to fear you 
had left us.” 

“I wanted to find you alone.” Then, with overmastering 
impatience: ‘ ‘ Have you got the letter ? ’’ 

“Letter?” 

“Yes, yes. I asked you to call for a letter at 
McAndrew’s.” 

Mr. Isinglass thought for a moment, then nodded. 

“I remember perfectly; but I thought it was a registered 
package you-” 

“It’s all the same.” 

“Is it? Hardly. A registered package might contain 
money.’ ’ 

“It would have contained money.” 

Very slowly Mr. Isinglass put down his umbrella and 
poked the ferrule into the sand. 

“For God’s sake,” cried Vernon, “answer my question.” 

“Mr. Isinglass lifted his eyes. 

“In the name of honesty, Winslowe,” he demanded, 
“what do you want with money?” 

Vernon’s hands fell to his sides. 

“It hasn’t come.” 

“What did you want with money?” the old man re¬ 
peated. “You have been given faith, trust, love—what 
better service could money bring you than these ? Winslowe, 
I talk to you now, not as to an angry man with a grievance 
against the world, but as to an honest man with a whole 
world of responsibility upon his shoulders. The problem of 
these people’s future is still unsolved and you ask for money 



TREASURE TRAIL 299 

—and I ask what for. Is it that you may leave the problem 
unsolved—find for yourself a way of escape?” 

4 ‘No, by God, no,” cried Vernon, and he was trembling 
with rage from head to foot. 

“Then for what other reason?” 

“Why should I explain my acts to you and say what I 
wanted the money for? If you care to think it was for 
myself, think it. My words won’t alter your opinion. I 
tried to raise five thousand on a reversion, and I’ve failed. 
I was fool enough to hope I could repay the capital these 
people entrusted to me, and I’ve failed. But I don’t fail 
alone, Isinglass. You dragooned me into this business, re¬ 
member, backed up the lie I told, egged me on, made it 
possible. We go down together, you and I.” 

The face of Mr. Isinglass was shining. 

“I don’t believe we shall go down,” he said, and quoted 
at memory: “ ‘ There are some lies on which men mount as 

on bright wings towards heaven. There are some truths 
which bind men down to earth with leaden chains.’ ” 

He fumbled in his pocket and drew forth a registered 
package and held it out. 

“Yours. From the very first I’ve never doubted you; 
but in this I wanted to be very sure. Money sometimes— 
but no—never with an honest man. You forgive me?” 

Vernon stood awhile without a word. Suddenly he thrust 
the registered package back into the old man’s hand, saying: 

“Take it. Be my banker, Mr. Isinglass.” 

“Not this time,” came the answer. 

For a moment it seemed Vernon might do anything— 
laugh—cry. He certainly felt very strange, his feet were 
light, and something had ceased troubling inside his head. 

“But look here, I—look here, I-” he gasped. 

“There, hop along and read it by yourself,” said Mr. 
Isinglass. 



CHAPTER XL Y. 


LUTCHING the letter against his side, Yernon Wins- 



lowe strode on and on. He would walk a mile, two 


miles, before seeing what it contained. Not from 


fear, but rather from gratitude, he delayed seizing the life¬ 
line that had been thrown to him. He was like a traveller 
within sight of an inn who slows his speed to better his thirst. 
He made a wide detour of the camp, swept over the rising 
ground, and came down into the tangled undergrowth on 
the far side. Thorns tore at his flesh and prickly vines 
trailed from his clothes, but they did not deter him; the 
quick physical pain they inflicted spurred him on. He had 
no goal save the limit of his own patience. He had waited 
so long and so hopelessly for this moment that, now it was 
at hand, he wilfully postponed it. 

Presently the bush thinned to more open country, starred 
with flowers and bright with birds and butterflies. Through 
a natural avenue of trees he saw the rush-thatched huts of 
some of the islanders. Children were playing before the open 
dorways and old men were sitting in the sun. They were 
curious folk, these islanders, and Yernon knew if he were 
seen young and old would gambol up and amble up to have 
a look at him. Wherefore as quietly as possible he retreated 
by the way he had come until at last, in the shade and 
solitude of a big umbrella-like tree, he drew the letter from 
his pocket and broke the seal. 

It was a long letter. 

“My inclination,” it said, “when I got yours from Cadiz, was to 
take no notice. I had cut adrift from you that day at your flat. It 
took some doing, because in old days we were friends, and that kind 
of friendship sticks. Here’s what’s happened, then. I put your 
letter out of my head. You wouldn’t be advised or discouraged 


300 


TREASURE TRAIL 301 

before the thing began, so I saw no reason why yon shouldn’t stew 
in your own juice. I let three months go—then I knocked up against 
a fellow who gave me a few facts about the way you’d been treated 
by what he called ‘the bunch at home.’ He didn’t tell the story 
sympathetically, but as though it were rather a sound joke which 
reflected glory on the chaps who separated you from your cash. 
Somehow that fellow made me angry—unreasonably angry—and I 
hit him. It happened in my own club, and he was my visitor, and, 
as you ean guess, there was a devil of a row about it. That episode 
set me thinking that if an outsider could lose his temper plus his 
sense of what not to do in his own club for no better cause than 
a tone of voice, the treatment you met with might have supplied 
some excuse for going off the deep end and running amuck. ’Tany 
rate, I dug out your letter and pushed round to see what could be 
done about it. What I found out must be stale news to you by 
now, as I imagine old Fletcher Winslowe’s lawyers will have cabled 
you that he died a few days after you left England. Apparently 
the monkey gland was a wash-out, for when I dropped round to 
look up the old boy I found he had been under the green sward at 
Finchley for about ten weeks. A few days later I fell in with a 
crony of his who said you were his sole legatee and would collect 
between twenty-five and thirty thousand pounds when everything 
was cleared up. I can’t tell you, old chap, how glad I was, since 
it gave you the chance you were looking for—a way of cleaning up 
decently. Knowing what an age these lawyer blokes take proving 
wills, I’m whacking up our old friendship with a loan of five hundred 
in case there’s a temporary shortage. I’m sorry I blackguarded you 
that morning, but I liked you more than a little, and, if it comes 
to that, I still do. It’s queer, but I can’t help believing there is 
a treasure in that island if only you could find it. 

“Well, the very best to you. Tell me when you’re back. 

“Ralph.” 

He read the letter four times, then threw himself face 
down in the grass, and the troubled thoughts filtered out of 
him into the warm earth currents and relief filled in the 
empty spaces they had left behind. For half an hour he lay 
there utterly relaxed—dimly conscious of Fate’s generosity 
and of nothing else, and while he lay, without a conscious 
mental effort, his plans for the future developed and ordered 
themselves and fell into appointed slots in his mind. 


302 TREASURE TRAIL 

It was all beautifully clear when he rolled over and sat up, 
hugging his knees and staring out before him—marvellously 
clear. They had come to the island and had found the 
treasure. Yes, and it was old Roger Winslowe’s treasure 
too, or at least the remnant which had passed down from 
generation to generation and had come to the hands of the 
last of the line in a lonely islet of the very seas where 
the treasure had been harvested. There was not a flaw in the 
argument—it was so simple as to solve itself. The old treas¬ 
ure was theirs to divide—the same treasure save that the 
currency had changed and the doubloons and golden moidores 
had, with the passing of time, been rehatched into Bank of 
England notes. 

He did not stop to ask himself how the money should 
be split up; he only knew that he wanted none of it. He 
did not regard the inheritance as personal property. It 
belonged away from him, and there was not a thought of 
charity in his mind as he accepted this fact. What must be 
done was so perfectly obvious; the only thing that was not 
obvious was the method of doing it. His reward lay in 
relief, unspeakable relief and gratitude. By the grace of 
circumstance the chance had been given to him to expunge 
ugly scratches from a slate and start clean. 

With glorious and overwhelming force came the thought 
of what, with Averil’s help, might be mapped upon that 
slate for his future and hers. He must get to her at once— 
tell her everything—enlist her aid, and- It seemed ter¬ 

rible that she was an hour’s walk away. He wanted her 

beside him that very instant. He wanted- But the 

detail of his wants was lost in the knowledge that the need 
for restraint which in the past had governed all his dealings 
with her had vanished. He could go to her now as a school¬ 
boy to his chum with marvellous news and marvellous hours 
of comradeship for the telling of it. 

They must get away by themselves somewhere, somewhere 
absolutely alone. Then he thought of the yacht’s dinghy 
and the great open sea it was the door to. There must be 
nothing ordinary, nothing casual or everyday about their 




TREASURE TRAIL 303 

meeting. This was to be an hour that one day should be 
a memory. He jumped to his feet and started briskly 
down the hill. The village children ran out to meet him. 
They had flowers in their hair, and their little faces were 
flowering with smiles. From the doorway of his hut Kaifulu 
called a greeting, and Kaifulu’s young wife dropped her 
eyes and fingered a little necklace of seed pearls at her 
throat. A slant of sunlight shining on the pearls started a 
thought in Vernon’s head. He passed by, stopped, and. 
came back. 


CHAPTER XLVI. 


B Y the happiest chance Vernon found Averil alone. 
She was sitting on a rock within a hundred paces of 
where the dinghy was moored. It seemed she must 
have known he would seek her there, for as he approached 
she looked up with a welcoming smile, a smile which turned 
to puzzled amazement at the extraordinary change in him. 
Never before had she seen him swing along so gaily, plant¬ 
ing his feet upon the ground as though he owned it. He 
broke into a run as he saw her, came up, and stopped 
breathlessly. His face was glowing with pleasure and excite¬ 
ment. All trace of those troubled lines at his eyes and mouth 
had vanished. She stared at him as at another man, a 
younger, better man, a man whom for long months she had 
searched for in vain. 

Her question, ‘‘Something’s happened?” sounded terribly 
banal. 

He nodded vigorously. 

“Yes, beyond belief.” 

“I’m so glad.” 

“I’ve looked for you everywhere. It’s shot me up in the 
air, this thing—winded me. Let’s get away by ourselves.” 
“You want to tell me?” 

“Oh, Lord!” he replied. 

It was the youngest thing he had ever said to her. One 
of those revealing things. She rose and stood by his side. 
“I’m ready.” 

He pointed at the lagoon a few hundred yards away. 

“The dinghy’s down there—let’s-” 

“All right.” 

The fat little dinghy bobbed out into the lagoon, bouncing 
over the waves that warped its surface by the rift in the 

304 



TREASURE TRAIL * 305 

coral reefs. The sea beyond was brushed by a steady breeze. 
Vernon socketed the mast, spread a small lugsail, and, taking 
the sheet in his band, sat beside her. Even then they did 
not speak. On and on they sailed, with slaps of water 
clopping against the gunwale. The slant of wind tilting the 
boat more and more as they passed out of the shelter of 
the island brought them close together. Then his bare arm, 
resting on the tiller bar, touched hers, and she said: 

“Tell me/' 

From his breeches pocket he took Ralph's letter, and, turn¬ 
ing to the middle page, pointed to the passage which told 
of his inheritance. 

“Read that.” 

She read it slowly, then, without lifting her head: 

“Yes. Well?” 

“Don’t you see what it means to me? Don’t you realize 
the amazing mercy of it?” 

“To you,” she repeated, still looking away. 

“Yes. Averil, haven’t you grasped it? It’s a way out. 
Averil, aren’t you glad?” In his enthusiasm he gripped 
her hand. She drew it away sharply and faced him. 

“No. Why should I be glad? You say there’s some¬ 
thing wonderful you want to tell me, and it boils down to 
a hit of money—the same as last time; it was money then. 
A way out, you say—yes, it’s a way out for you, I suppose 
—a money way. Oh! it seems to me that you can only be 
miserable and only be glad for money’s sake.” 

He was looking at her stonily. Far away on the horizon 
a, black whorl of cloud, the shape of a sand-glass, spun up¬ 
ward into the sky. The sail flopped as the wind emptied 
out of it; the boat ran forward a few yards, steadied, and 
lay motionless in a treacly calm. 

“I’m sorry. Perhaps it’s unjust to say that, but money 
and no more than money seems such a wretched thing to 
share. I’m glad that you will be able to—to get yourself 
out safely.” 

The fault was his. It had seemed so obvious the money 
was not intended for him—too obvious to abuse her intuition 


306 TREASURE TRAIL 

by saying so. He had assumed she would have thought 

the best of him, but instead- Well, she had justice in 

thinking the worst. Love may be blind—not so intelligence. 
The magic hour he had planned was not for him; the joy 
they might have shared was shattered by misunderstanding. 
There was nothing to be said. He got to his feet, lowered 
the sail, unstepped the mast, and taking the oars, brought 
the dinghy round toward the shore with powerful, savage 
strokes. The storm cloud in the east had risen higher and 
was swelling visibly. Huge and menacing, it swept towards 
them a giant in copper armour and a purple cloak. 

Vernon had not seen it, had not noticed how the sunlight 
winced at its approach. Her words had dulled all but his 
personal senses. He was terribly, bitterly wounded. Im¬ 
potent anger checked the impulse to put himself right with 
her—anger and a hard pride which drew the blood from 
his face and set it in the mould of a man who is suddenly 
ill. With a queer recognition of a quality of pain that some¬ 
times comes to a man, he remembered an incident of many 
years before when, as a small boy at a prep, school, he had 
been accused and caned for a fault he had not committed. 
The same old hard pride had kept him silent under the cane. 
He had denied the offence, and had suffered the more 
severely on that account. That was bad enough, but what 
was worse was the rankling impotence of being up against 
something too big for his strength to compass. He would 
have given anything to have been able to row with his back 
to Averil, while the pattern of these thoughts was revealed 
in the twitching of muscles at the corners of his mouth and 
the dull red of his temples. Though he did not meet her 
steady gaze, he knew her eyes were upon him, weighing 
up his misery or even, perhaps, rejoicing in what she must 
have felt was the justice of it. The silence was so complete 
that all the little noises, the dipping of oars, the clucking 
of water along the gunwale, sounded big. She had not 
taken her eyes from his face since he began to row. She 
watched him perplexed, wondering, and slowly enlightened. 
She would have spoken then were it not that her sudden 



TREASURE TRAIL 307 

failure in intuition had ungoverned her power to say the 
right thing. Then suddenly: 11 1’m so ashamed, ’ ’ she cried. 

He looked up to see her filmed with thin gold from the 
melting sunlight, luminous against a great wall of banked-up 
clouds. 

“No, don’t speak; let me show I’ve some understanding. 
That money—it wasn’t for you—you never thought of it 
for yourself—you were going to give it all up—it was for 
those others—treasure you’d found for them.” 

All he could do was nod. But the illness had gone out 
of his face. He was still red, but not with anger—a kind 
of abashed red. He looked like a schoolboy, awkward at 
having been apprehended in an act of unlooked-for generosity 
—fearful of praise, yet glowing at the thought of having 
well earned it. 

She put out her hands to him, and he had to get rid of 
the oars to take them, and laughed at his clumsiness in 
doing so. 

“Can you ever forgive me?” 

“Forgive—it was my fault,” he said. “I-” But he 

didn’t want to talk about that. There were better things. 
“I spent a bit of the money—only a bit—I just had to. 
Don’t know if it was wrong—didn’t stop to think. It’s in 
the pocket of the jacket you’re sitting on—the right pocket 
—or left, perhaps. Um! in that little wooden box. It’s for 
you. Chuck ’em away if you’d rather. You see, I shan’t 

touch another penny but this- Averil, it’s been terrible 

loving you as I have and never saying so.” 

The little necklace of island pearls trickled through her 
fingers, hanging from the last, and shining simply against 
the angry threat of the sky. 

“For me?” 

He nodded. 

“I stole them for you, I suppose—but somehow I can’t 
make myself mind.” 

Neither, it seemed, could she, for she lowered her head 
for him to fasten the clasp. Then they looked at one 
another—breathed—and he said: 




308 TREASURE TRAIL 

“The future’s safe—now.” 

Up above them two huge masses of clouds met and 
battled for the high road of the air. Regiments of storm 
troops that frothed and writhed in spinning whirls of black 
and white. 

“Averil,” he said, “I want to kiss you more than any¬ 
thing else in the world, but until I can come and say it’s all 
splendidly over—it’s all- Oh, you know what I’m driv¬ 

ing at.” 

“I know what you’re driving at,” she answered. 

He threw up his head and stretched out his arms. 

“I’m a boy again,” he cried. 

Then the rain fell—straight—grey—obliterating. Then 
a scurry of wind, whipping the sea to white spume and 
flattening it as with a mighty iron. Then great jags of 
lightning cracking in the air like pistol-shots, and the split 
and rumble and roar of the thunder. 



CHAPTER XLVII. 


P UFFING from the exertion of the climb, Mr. Isinglass 
reached the spot where Vernon had looked down on 
the arrival of the Mascot. It was the first time he 
had ventured so far inland, and the heat that preluded the 
storm, plus the steep ascent, exhausted him. He sat down 
on a patch of grass and slowly recovered his breath before 
attempting to inspect the surroundings. The first thing he 
noticed was the dinghy, a tiny white speck in the open sea; 
the second was the vanguard of the storm, and the third the 
huge wedge of rock upon which Vernon had been sitting. 
He examined these three objects in turn. At the first he re¬ 
marked, “Well, well”; at the second, “Hullo”; and at the 
third he whistled. Indeed, the third interested him to such 
an extent that he continued to look at it and continued 
whistling as he looked. The rock lay at a slant, the wide butt 
of the wedge was flush with a circular bed of rock, but there 
was, however, a pointed end which was clear of the ground 
by two or three feet. Mr. Isinglass got up and walked round 
it twice. The result convinced him that the position of the 
rock was perfectly normal, that it had neither been moved 
to its present position nor at any other time could have been 
standing vertically. This was proved by the fact that the 
bed upon which it lay was an integral with the rock itself. 
True, the rock bore no resemblance to a needle, but there was 
this virtue to his discovery, it was situated in a prominent 
part of the island, it possessed a point, and the point, in the 
slanting rays of the afternoon sun, cast a substantial shadow. 
Mathematics were never a strong suit with Mr. Isinglass; he 
succeeded, however, in making a rough guess where the point 
of the shadow would fall at noontide, and, having done so, 
marked the place with a bread pill pressed into the rough 

309 


310 TREASURE TRAIL 

surface of the bed-rock. Having no compass in his possession, 
he took out his watch and laid it over the bread pill. Years 
before, someone had shown him how to find out the points 
of the compass through the agency of sun and time. 
Although Mr. Isinglass could never accomplish this feat with¬ 
out considerable difficulty, it was one of which he was in¬ 
ordinately proud. Having collected his thoughts, he set to 
work, and ten minutes later was satisfied that he had suc¬ 
ceeded in locating the north. As an actual matter of fact, 
he had missed his reckoning by several degrees. 

Laying a twig on the ground to act as a finger-post for 
future operation, he produced a penknife which boasted in 
one of its metal sides a four-inch rule. 

4 ‘Now,” said he, “a pace is thirty inches, and the map 
said fifteen paces due north, three west and under. Let’s 
see where that will bring us.” 

Accordingly he cut a cane, measured and marked thirty 
inches upon it, and cut it again to that exact length. 

While so doing, he became aware of the rapid approach of 
the storm. 

“Bless me, I must hurry, or I shall lose the sun.” 

With all dispatch he busied himself measuring up the 
fifteen paces to the north. He needed the sun’s rays to help 
him find the west. It had not occurred to him that this 
could be done by taking an angle of ninety degrees from 
the line he had drawn to the north. Persons who occupy 
their minds with the affairs of men and women are often 
incorrigibly stupid in the simplest mathematical problem. 
Brave as a lion in face of human emergency, Mr. Isinglass 
could not approach the thought of long division without 
trembling. His attempt to find the west before the storm 
put out the sun’s eye was a pathetic example of earnest but 
inaccurate endeavour. The only relief to an otherwise pain¬ 
ful situation lay in his complete assurance that, although 
hurried, he had not allowed himself to be misled. The three 
paces took him to the edge of a five-foot drop, at the bottom 
of which was a disorder of ferns and rocks. 

With great agility and no small personal risk he scrambled 


TREASURE TRAIL 311 

down, and was delighted to find that the earth beneath was 
soft and friable. 

“It’s a gift,” he remarked, as he dug his fingers into the 
soil. “It’s a gift. All I have to do is invent some nonsense 
about that needle rock, and the trick’s done.” 

He was laughing and chuckling when the first blast of 
wind and deluge of rain smote him. 

“God bless me,” he cried with sudden memory. “Now I 
wonder who was in that dinghy. God bless me, we don’t 
want a tragedy at this stage.” 

Heedless of angry elements and the infirmities of age, he 
made for the beach at a run. As he came through the final 
fringe of palms he saw William Carpenter and Tommy Gates 
racing up the coral reef, their drenched shirts flattened 
against them by the wind. 

Seeing the old man, they stopped, and, coming back, seized 
him by the arms and bore him along between them. 

“They’re in the dinghy—Winslowe and Miss Chester,” 
gasped William. ‘ ‘ Out there they are ! Hidden by the rain, 
but the lightning—there.” 

As he spoke there was a blinding flash, and by its light 
they saw the dinghy bucketing shoreward in the trough of 
the waves beyond the line of creaming surf. 

Vernon and Averil were huddled together in the stern. 
The wind, which at the beginning of the storm had blown 
indifferently from any quarter, was now roaring down upon 
the island from the nor’-east. To row in such a gale was 
impossible, and, taking a chance, Vernon had hoisted the 
little jibsail. Even with so small a surface of canvas the 
dinghy was lying over at an acute angle and, like a fast 
motor-boat, was cutting a swath of water as she leapt along. 

“God,” said William, “they’re done for. They’ll never 
find the opening in this gale.” He released his hold upon 
Mr. Isinglass and, tearing off his shirt as he ran, raced up 
the coral reef to the gap. Whipped by the wind’s fury, the 
surf had spread across it—leaping, churning breakers that 
reformed into waves as they entered the lagoon, and swept 
over its surface in vast, diminishing corrugations. 


312 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Here, here!” roared William, his arms above his head 
and the shirt flying. Impossible to say whether or no they 
heard or saw, hut as the dinghy came level with the month 
of the lagoon Vernon put his helm hard down. What fol¬ 
lowed was terrible for the watchers. The tiny boat straight¬ 
ened up, then heeled over nearly flat upon the water. They 
saw Vernon seize Averil, and throw their mutual weight 
backward. It was a forlorn hope, but luck was with them, 
and half full of water, the dinghy righted herself, was 
snatched at by the wind, and came leaping over the triple 
bars of surf into the relative calm of the lagoon. 

William could stand no more. With a wild halloo he 
went into the sea head first, and in a dozen mighty strokes 
had gripped the dinghy’s gunwale. Presumably he imag¬ 
ined he would find its occupants too exhausted and helpless 
to bring the boat ashore. What he saw gave him the great¬ 
est surprise of his life. The man and the girl were looking 
at each other with faces which glowed with happiness and 
content. What he heard seemed to have no conceivable re¬ 
lation to the ordeal through which they had passed. 

Vernon was saying: 

“I love you—I love you—I love you.” 

“D’you want any help?” gasped William. 

But the roar of the tempest was too great perhaps to 
allow them to hear. Marvelling greatly, William Carpenter 
released his hold, and swam silently to the shore. 


CHAPTER XLVIII. 


T HAT night there was a jamboree at which everyone 
went quite crazy. The storm had swept on and 
away, and the great blue bowl of night tinkled with 
little metal stars. A concert was given. There were many 
reasons for this celebration—chief among them Vernon’s and 
Averil’s delivery from the terror of the deep. Then, again, 
William had made the startling announcement that he was 
going to marry Lydia—a fact which he had not thought fit 
to communicate to her either in terms of enlightenment or 
of proposal. He had been fired perhaps by what he over¬ 
heard in the boat, coupled with the fact that he had seen 
Lydia destroy, unread, a batch of letters from home, pre¬ 
sumably relating to a past that no longer interested her. 
Among the destroyed correspondence were a number of 
dressmakers’ catalogues, which hitherto had provided Lydia 
with her chief article of literature. Taking these matters 
into consideration, William, with brutal frankness, said: 
“We’re going to get married,” and he accompanied the 
statement with a glare at the woman of his choice that boded 
her ill should she deny it. But Lydia did not deny it; in¬ 
stead she ran her fingers through his hair and tugged it, 
and said: 

“That’s right, old man.” 

As Mary wrote in an odd page of her diary: “She 
seemed to be hanging on to him with both hands.” 

There were two reasons why the Morgans desired to cele¬ 
brate. First, there was their reunion after a separation of 
nearly a month; second, the glorious tidings that their Annie 
had at a single coup presented them with two grandsons. 
Joshua, in a speech of characteristic length, dealt with this 
supreme feat of maternity, largely attributing it to the fact 

313 


314 TREASURE TRAIL 

he and Kate had come to the South Seas. He admitted that 
in many ways the trip was not all a man of his years could 
ask for, but if it had done nothing else it had cured a rather 
misplaced ambition “on part of old woman and self to go 
trapesing. ’ ’ 

“All that talk about an honeymoon/’ he went on, “works 
out as being no more than talk. She’s satisfied with me 
and me with her, and always have been. We are a couple 
of fools to fancy we could go off spooning at our time of 
lives. Fools we was if no worse, taking into consideration 
that we was potential grandparents.” 

At this point Kate interrupted the proceedings by draw¬ 
ing attention to the fact that Joshua’s nose needed attention, 
and by offering her handkerchief for the service. Joshua 
slapped her away and proceeded: 

“With young folk it’s different. They must travel far to 
find out where they belong; but old folks know, or should 
know, where they belong, and that place is before their own 
hearthstones, where old woman has rocked cradle and old 
man has warmed his feet and warmed his beer. Well, we’ve 
had trip and we’ve had lesson, and we’ve got the treasure 
of a future generation to look forward to.” 

“I wish to heaven you wouldn’t talk as if it were all over, 
though,” said Tommy, when the clappings and beatings had 
subsided. 

“As to that,” Joshua replied, “I may have a word to say 
in a day or so. But one thing’s certain, us can’t stay here 
poking about under rocks for a lifetime.” 

It was rather an unhappy conclusion to an otherwise pop¬ 
ular speech, sounding as it did a note of failure on an occa¬ 
sion of rejoicing. Feeling this to be the case, Mary Ottery 
made the surprising suggestion that she should sing, and, 
without waiting for assent or denial, she stood up in their 
midst with her hands behind her back like a properly be¬ 
haved school-child, and sang the old song: “I shot an arrow 
into the air.” She made no effort to impart the smallest 
dramatic force to her rendering. Like a trusting linnet she 
opened her throat and sang. When they cried for more, she 


TREASURE TRAIL 315 

gave them “Cherry Ripe” and “Rocked in the cradle of 
the deep,” and, lastly, a hymn, because her repertoire was 
exhausted. And everything she sang sounded as innocent 
as water—a breeze—or a bird. 

When she had finished, Lydia put her arms round Mary’s 
neck and hugged her, and said: 

“You brave darling.” 

And perhaps it was the bravest thing Mary had ever done, 
because the distance between being a companion and being 
an entertainer is enormous. 

After that, Henry fished out a banjo and the men kicked 
up a frightful row, losing the original melody of every tune 
through persistent ambition to sing seconds. In the midst 
of the pandemonium Mr. Isinglass plucked at Vernon’s 
sleeve and whispered: 

“Have you ever noticed how rapidly the last few grains 
of sand fall through the hour-glass, hastening their own end, 
as it were?” 

And Vernon replied: 

“I know, but it doesn’t matter now—the end is safe. I 
want to talk to you.” 

“Not to-night. I’m tired. To-morrow at ten o’clock— 
up there.” And he pointed at the black silhouette of the 
hill-top. “At ten—not earlier. I’m going to slip away 
now. ’ ’ 

But before he went he looked at everyone in turn, then 
stooped to whisper: 

“Take your mind back a few months, Winslowe. The 
same circle of faces, a few months ago—that night in the 
restaurant. ’ ’ 

“I know.” 

“Can you wonder, then, that never for an instant I 
doubted there was treasure on the island? Good night!” 

Silently he melted away into the shadows. Henry Julius 
was tearing at the strings of his banjo, and in a stentorian 
voice William roared: 

“Motherland—motherland, 

See thy sons at thy right hand.” 


316 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Mother,” said Joshua, his head on Kate’s fat shoulder, 
“are ye ready for home, mother?” 

She nodded, then a doubt assailed her. 

“Aye! but there’s these boys and girls, Josh.” 

“I was thinking,” he replied, “when I was over there 
in Honolulu—thinking there might be grand possibilities of 
opening an island branch of our business—and if that were 

done, well, one’d have to have someone to run it and-” 

“Ee, Josh!” said Kate, and clung to him for very pride. 
“Now don’t excite yourself,” said he. 

But they talked over the project long after everyone else 
was asleep—everyone, that is, except Mr. Isinglass, who all 
night long was toiling up the hill carrying bags that jingled, 
and returning with them empty to the beach. On the last 
journey of all he bore upon his back an old box strapped 
with brass, beneath the weight of which his knees bent almost 
to the ground. 



CHAPTER X LI X. 


bound to make a bash of the thing/ ’ said Henry 
I Julius; “that’s a certainty, but I’d like to have a 
1 shot at it all the same. Just as you were last night— 
singing—with nothing beyond but the blue sky.” 

“But it was night,” said Mary. 

“M’yes, but one can’t paint at night—at least, I can’t; 
besides, I want that innocent blue—the purity note.” 

“Very well.” 

She finished her breakfast quickly and joined him. 

“I shall never be able to sit for more than ten minutes, 
though. I’ve lost the knack of keeping still.” 

“Ten minutes’ll do; I haven’t the craft which keeps a 
man from getting stale at a long stretch.” 

Together they mounted toward the higher ground. 

“Starts a thought, that does,” said Henry, after a rumina¬ 
tive silence. “A thought on constancy. One ought to be able 
to say I’ll be this or that—I’ll do this or that indefinitely. 
See what I mean?—apart from moods and impulses, to know 
our own power and be able to govern it. If we can hold 
down a thought, an ability—what you like—for ten minutes, 
one ought to be able to go on holding it down for good. 
That’s always been the trouble with me—bright flashes—I’ve 
never learnt to burn steadily.” 

They reached a clearing in the thicket just below the 
high rock, and not more than a dozen yards from the spot 
where Mr. Isinglass had buried the treasure. 

“Here, I thought, where the shade falls, for me,” said 
Henry, “and you over there. I won’t be a minute fixing 
up.” He unstraddled his easel, and squeezed some dabs of 
colour on a folding palette. 


317 


318 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Now Winslowe is the type of man that I admire—the 
solid purpose of him. He’s got character and sticking- 
plaster too. I was amusing myself the other day analysing 
his character against mine, the service mind against the 
opportunist. I can’t say the result was altogether flattering 
to myself.” 

Mary smiled. 

“I mean that. Look at it this way. Heaps of times in 
my life I’ve been tricky—in and out quick with a profit 
gained at the cost of a loss in credit. Yes, I’ve done things 
to be ashamed of—and, what’s more, I have been ashamed 
of them too. But I’ve never gone back to the people I 
diddled and said: ‘Look here, this wasn’t altogether a 
straight deal.’ Instead I made guarantees with myself that 
I wouldn’t behave in the same way again. I’ve left old 
scores outstanding to settle themselves, if you see what I 
mean. Now Winslowe isn’t like that. If Winslowe cut the 
cloth he wouldn’t slip away and pretend someone else had 
done it; he’d call the marker, own up, and pay for a new 
one.” 

“I think he would,” said Mary. 

“And that’s why,” said Henry Julius, filberting his paint 
brushes with wet lips, “that’s why I admire him, and if ever 
I got a chance of doing him a good turn I’d take it. ’ ’ 

He squinnied his eyes at Mary, and made a gesture that 
she should raise her chin. 

“That’s fine. Hold it now; breathe through your mouth. 
Splendid!” 

Inspiration had descended upon him that morning, and 
the sketch he dashed up, viewed by comparison, showed a 
marked advance in skill and understanding. 

“I must move,” she said at last. 

“All right—p’r’aps you’ll come back later on. No, don’t 
look at it—not yet at least.” 

Mary wandered away, while Henry, head down over his 
palette and wholly absorbed, set about the terrific under¬ 
taking of mixing an “innocent blue.” 

The remarkable discovery that the colour he sought could 


TREASURE TRAIL 319 

be obtained by a small speck of Indian red worked into a 
mass of flake-white and cerulean blue released his conscious¬ 
ness to more everyday affairs, and presently he became aware 
of voices on the other side of a separating screen of bushes. 
At first he was too wrapt up in his work to pay heed to what 
was said, but a few words louder than the rest brought up 
his head sharply and quickened his hearing. 

The words were spoken by Vernon Winslowe in a voice 
Henry had never heard him use before. 

“Ever since I launched the swindle, I’ve racked my brains 
for a way out. And now I’ve got it.” 

He did not speak like a man who was contrite, but rather 
as one charged with excitement. 

“Swindle”—“a way out.” Henry stiffened and, putting 
down his palette and brushes, edged a little nearer. Next 
came the thin bird-like tones of Mr. Isinglass. 

“Since we approach the end, Winslowe, let us have the 
story from its beginning.” 

“You know the beginning well enough.” 

“Does she?” 

Then Averil’s voice: 

“He told me everything last night.” 

“Then tell it to me,” said Mr. Isinglass. “For although 
you may not credit it, all I knew of you when I determined 
to take a hand in this adventure was that you were a retired 
naval officer with a pretty good war record at the back of 
you.” 

“I would have thought,” said Vernon, “my conduct as a 
civilian would have helped you to forget that.” 

“On the contrary, it urged me to remember it. You were 
angry, and angry people are seldom responsible for their 
words and deeds.” 

“That’s true,” said Averil, “as I know.” 

Air. Isinglass went on evenly. 

“After all, anger taken in relation to the rest of a man’s 
life occupies a small proportion of time. I think sometimes 
we are given our tempers to make mistakes with, and our 
characters repair the mistakes we have made. Come on y 


320 TREASURE TRAIL 

Winslowe—from the beginning, then we can come to the 

solution in due course.” 

So rather haltingly Vernon related the chain of circum¬ 
stances that led him to his present predicament. He con¬ 
cealed nothing either in his favour or against it. 

When he told how he had forged the entry in the old 
map, Mr. Isinglass started violently. 

“Good heavens!” he exclaimed. “Surely you don’t mean 
you invented those words about the treasure?” 

“I wrote them in.” 

Mr. Isinglass removed his hat and wiped his forehead. 

“Oh, dear me,” he muttered. “Oh, Winslowe, but this 
makes it terribly difficult—it means there is no treasure.” 

Henry Julius, concealed behind the screen of bushes, bit 
his short moustache, and shut and opened his hands, which 
were sticky with perspiration. 

“No treasure,” the old man went on; “but I had set my 
heart on there being one. And the map reference was all 
lies ? ’ 9 

“For practical purposes, yes.” 

Mr. Isinglass took his head in his hands and moaned very 
much as a child might have done who had been told that 
the institution of Christmas and birthdays was to be 
abolished. 

Then came Averil’s voice, clear, cool and incisive. 

“That’s not quite true.” 

“Averil, I asked you not to mention what-” 

“I know, but I’m going to.” And, regardless of protest, 
she told what they had found in the log-book that day at 
Cadiz. 

The effect of this information upon Mr. Isinglass was 
astonishing. Peering through the leaves, Henry saw the old 
gentleman rise to his feet and execute a danse de joie upon 
the grass. When he had satisfied his need to celebrate, he 
breathlessly returned to his seat on the rock. 

“I tell you what we’ll do, Winslowe,” he said. “We’ll 
go down to the yacht and crack a bottle of Pommery. I’ve 
never been so pleased about anything in my life.” 



321 


TREASURE TRAIL 

Vernon looked at Averil. 

1 ‘You see what you’ve done?” 

“I don’t care,” she replied; “it’s true; it was in the 
log-hook. ’ ’ 

He shook his head. 

“Haven’t we inspired enough false hopes without start¬ 
ing a fresh one?” 

“Well, well, well, Winslowe, what do you suggest?” 

“I come to you for suggestions; my imagination has run 
dry.” 

“Ah, that five thousand pounds?” 

“It isn’t five thousand—it’s thirty thousand.” 

And in a few words he told the amazing news of his 
inheritance. ’ ’ 

“H’m!” said Mr. Isinglass gravely. “And you propose 
to pool that sum to the common advantage?” 

“Yes. I leave myself out, of course.” 

Mr. Isinglass repeated the exclamation “H’m!” and 
added: “Odd young man.” After that he fell into a 
reverie. His next remark was surprising. 

“Eight into thirty—three thousand, seven hundred and 
fifty pounds apiece. A nice little hit.” He whisked his 
head round and looked at Averil. “What are you going to 
do with your share?” 

She flushed hotly. 

“That’s rather unkind, isn’t it? Obviously I couldn’t 
take a share.” 

“How’s that?” 

“Well-” 

“Pride?” 

“We’re friends, he and I—it would be unthinkable 


“Come to that, we’re all friends, Miss Averil.” 

“I know, but-” 

Then from Vernon: 

“You’d have to take your share.” 

“How could I?” said she. 

“Well, if you refuse,” said Mr. Isinglass, “I don’t see 





322 TREASURE TRAIL 

very well how I can accept. Then of course some of the 

others may refuse and-” 

“But you must invent a way by which they will accept.’’ 

“My dear Winslowe, I’m not a magician, and do you 
know, I think I should be very sorry to use what powers I 
may possess in persuading folks for whom I have a bound¬ 
less respect to take a gratuity.” 

“That isn’t fair,” said Vernon. “I’ve cheated them and 
I’ve a right to repay.” 

“Yes, but it’s a simpler proposition to rob than to repay 
—what you suggest is very quixotic and very creditable to 
yourself—but I don’t see how you can treat this business as 
though it were a kind of children’s country holiday fund.” 

Averil came over and put a hand in Vernon’s. 

“That’s what I felt; but I couldn’t hurt you last night 
by saying so.” 

“You see, Winslowe,” Mr. Isinglass went on, “your whole 
premise is wrong. You can’t in one breath expose yourself 
as a blackguard and in the next as a benefactor.” 

“Yes, hut-” Vernon‘began. “But don’t you see?” 

“I’m afraid I don’t.” 

“The money was Roger Winslowe’s just as surely as the 
treasure would have been.” 

Mr. Isinglass shook his head. 

“It’s too far-fetched.” 

Vernon’s face was drawn with pain. 

“God, it’s awful,” he said, “if I can’t—if there isn’t any 
way. Did I inherit this money just to mock me ? Look here, 
I shall force them to take it—I shall chuck it on the beach 
and leave it there.” 

“If you omitted to mention the fact beforehand, you might 
do worse than that,” said Mr. Isinglass, with a twinkle. 

Vernon got up and gripped him by the arm. 

“Are you going to help me?” 

“To the best of my ability, of course, but I am more than 
over convinced that the only solution to the puzzle lies in 
finding the treasure.” 

Vernon looked at him hopelessly and jerked back his head. 




TREASURE TRAIL 323 

“If that’s so,” he answered bitterly, “we may as well 
throw in onr hands straight away.” 

Then he stopped and added: 

“After all, you made a mistake not to let me-” 

It was because of Averil he did not finish the sentence. 
But the unspoken words started a new train of thought in 
his head. There was a way out, after all—a sure way by 
which no one could refuse to accept his money. Some hint 
of the thought must have revealed itself in his face or Mr. 
Isinglass had an uncanny gift for reading other men’s minds. 
Taking the lapel of Vernon’s coat, he drew his head down 
and whispered: 

“Quick thinking, Winslowe.” 

Vernon started. 

“How do you mean?” 

“Pff, you can’t hide your thoughts from me. I’ve seen 
that expression on your face before.” 

“I don’t understand.” 

“A pistol shot in the dawn, eh? A letter in your breast 
pocket: 1 1 will and bequeath my entire estate real and per¬ 
sonal to-’ then a list of eight names.” 

“Well, if all-else fails, why not?” 

Mr. Isinglass smiled and shook his head. 

“I do admire your sincerity,” said he, “but you’re a 
clumsy thinker, Winslowe. Besides, all else hasn’t failed— 
yet. Give me an hour to think things over—I’ve a solid 
belief that something always turns up.” Then in a louder 
voice: “Take him away for an hour, Miss Averil.” 

Then, as they were turning to go: 

“Aren’t you proud of him? I am,” said Mr. Isinglass. 

They left him seated on the rock. 




CHAPTER L. 


H ENRY JULIUS took off his hat and wiped his brow. 

His eyes were wide open and his month sticky and 
parched. His first conscious desire on recovering 
from his surprise was for a drink. Among his painting- 
materials was a little tin bottle. He unscrewed the cap and 
raised it to his lips, only to be reminded that he was paint¬ 
ing in oils that morning and that the bottle contained me¬ 
dium and not water. The ridiculous aspect of this perform¬ 
ance, even though it failed to quench his thirst, did something 
to restore his normal frame of mind. 

He sat down on the grass and collected his thoughts. 
Presently he said: 

“My stars, it’s amazing.” 

To realize the significance of this remark, it should be said 
that his amazement was not so much inspired by having 
discovered the swindle as by having heard a man’s voice 
wrung with misery at being unable to find a way of making 
a gift of his entire fortune to a company of men and women 
with whom he had only recently become acquainted. He 
appreciated well enough why Vernon had started the swindle 
—it was a natural outcome of ill usage received at the hands 
of others—but the suicidal quixotism he now revealed de¬ 
feated him altogether. 

“I was right in my estimate of him, though,” he mut¬ 
tered. “The poor fellow must have suffered.” 

Not in a single respect had Vernon’s stock depreciated 
from Henry’s valuation. If anything, it had improved. 
But he wished above all things he had not overheard the 
conversation—or had had the decency to slip away at the 
outset. He disliked himself for eavesdropping, and even 
the knowledge that his presence was accidental failed to re- 

324 


TREASURE TRAIL 325 

store his good opinion of himself. And so there was no treas¬ 
ure, and he, a shrewd business man with a wide knowledge 
of the pitfalls which beset the feet of investors, had allowed 
himself to be trapped. Here was a thought which rankled 
until it was followed by consciousness of what he would have 
missed had not Fate brought him to the island. 

No treasure! Which meant that instead there was a 
tragedy. Dimly he began to understand how Vernon felt 
about it all. The tragedy of failure. A sudden memory 
came to mind of that little company he had floated before 
he left England, the company for the future success of which 
he was not so sanguine as to consider it advisable to stay 
at home. 

“I wish I’d never launched the thing,” he muttered, for 
there had arisen in his imagination a picture of Tommy 
Gates’ face when he should hear the truth, and from that it 
was not difficult to imagine other faces, unknown to him, 
who would be wearing similar expressions as a result of his 
financial shrewdness. 

“One thing is obvious,” he argued. “I mustn’t know 
anything about this business.” 

Acting on this intention, he packed up his sketching- 
materials and tiptoed away into the bush. Arrived there, he 
retraced his steps and mounted to the rock, whistling as 
he walked. 

“Hallo,” was his guileless greeting when he saw Mr. Isin¬ 
glass. “Fancy you being here.” 

Mr. Isinglass, who had moved into the shade, smiled a 
greeting and patted the grass at his side. 

“If you’re not in too great a hurry.” 

Henry unshipped his painting-gear and sat down. 

“I’d enjoy a breather, and a chat with you is always 
pleasant.” 

“H’m! Nice of you.” 

“Been taking a little walk, sir?” 

“Did you think I came on the wings of Chance?” 

“It wouldn’t surprise me.” 

Mr. Isinglass chuckled. 


326 TREASURE TRAIL 

“Well, p’r’aps I did. I’ve been thinking, Julius-” 

“Yes?” 

“That it’s about time we found that treasure, and really, 
you know, some of you are unaccountably lazy.” 

Henry Julius assented with a nod. 

“There’s something in the air,” he said, “that-” 

Mr. Isinglass shook his head. 

“Oh, I dare say. And I observe that everyone is very 
happy. But it occurs to me that in their happiness they 
aren’t being quite fair to Winslowe—to our leader.” 

“Not fair?” 

“Um—um! It’s a big responsibility to take people on a 
treasure hunt and find nothing. You see yourself what a 
painful position it puts him in?” 

“Yes—I hadn’t thought of that—but quite so.” 

“So, as I look at it, everyone’s obligation is to help— 
if not for their own sakes, then for his. You may say that 
with a good many of us there is no real excuse for scrabbling 
in the earth for a few pieces of gold—that many of us have 
already found a treasure out here in various other ways.” 

“I think we have, Mr. Isinglass.” 

“Yes, but that isn’t quite the point. We should never 
forget that we owe our presence here to the idea of a mate¬ 
rial treasure. Therefore, no effort should be spared to prove 
that Winslowe did not bring us on a wildgoose chase.” 

“That’s all very well,” Henry assented dubiously, “but 
what’s to be done?” 

“The answer is simple. Find the treasure.” 

Henry laughed. 

“The answer may be simple, but the finding isn’t so easy. 
Suppose, for example, there is no treasure?” 

“I decline to suppose anything of the kind. Why 
should I?” 

“We haven’t even found the needle rock yet.” 

Mr. Isinglass flicked a bread pill into the air. The talk 
had taken the turn he was waiting for. 

“Let’s put our heads together, Julius. Let’s do a little 
theorizing. Do you, as a business man, imagine an old 




TREASURE TRAIL 327 

scallywag like Roger Winslowe would have written a plain 
statement of where he had buried his fortune?” 

“We’ve the proof he did.” 

“Ah, the map—the log-cabin—needle rock, meridian, and 
all that! Yes, but has anyone found a rock that looked like 
a needle?” 

“That’s been the trouble.” 

Mr. Isinglass leant forward mysteriously. 

“Perhaps it was meant to be. Now, what does the word 
* needle’ suggest to you?” 

Henry made a thoughtful face. 

“I suppose a sharp rock pointing upwards—Cleopatra’s 
needle—a thing women use.” 

“But Roger Winslowe was neither a woman nor an Egyp¬ 
tian queen. What was he?” 

“By all accounts he was a bit of a scoundrel.” 

“Just so—a scoundrel—a pirate—a seafaring man. Is a 
seafaring man going to look for adjectives in a lady’s 
work-basket ? ’ ’ 

“I don’t—how do you mean?” 

“It strikes me as being far more likely he would choose 
them from articles of his own trade. Look up the word 
‘needle’ in a dictionary and you will find it has several 
applications. A geologist might use it to define an aciform 
crystal; a builder speaks of a temporary wooden support as 
a needle.” 

“Does he, indeed?” 

“But we are dealing with a man of the seas—a mariner 
—so these applications of the word may be dismissed.” 

Henry nodded and dismissed them with a gesture. 

“What remains?” 

“I really couldn’t say.” 

“No, but I could. You may accuse my solution of being 
far-fetched, but it’s worthy of consideration.” 

“Well?” 

“A mariner’s compass. The movable bar—the pointer of 
a mariner’s compass is called a needle. Did you know 
that?” 


328 TREASURE TRAIL 

Henry leaned back with real admiration. 

“That’s damn smart.” 

“Ah, it appeals to you. Assume we take it to have been 
the needle of a compass to which Roger referred, to what 
conclusion does that lead us?” 

Henry Julius shut his eyes and screwed up his face. At 
last: 

“I’ve got it,” he cried. “A rock which points horizon¬ 
tally—not vertically. ’ ’ 

“Julius,” said Mr. Isinglass, “you are a man of vision,” 
and in his excitement he took a great piece of bread from 
his pocket and began to work on the largest pill he had 
ever made. 

“Exactly, Julius, horizontally—horizontally. In fact,” 
he added in an exultant tone, “just such a rock as the one 
that faces us now.” 

Henry opened his eyes and stared. 

“Good Lord,” he exclaimed. “Good Lord.” 

Black against the sky was the great wedge of rock, its 
point casting a shadow upon the bed across which it lay. 

“Good Lord. Is it possible, I wonder?” 

Something new had come into his face. Something 
strangely unlike the expression he had worn half an hour 
earlier when he was painting Mary Ottery. 

Mr. Isinglass, who passed nothing by, marked it with 
melancholy disapproval. 

“And we may be sitting within a few rods of a fortune.” 

He rose to his feet and stood biting a finger-nail. 

“Have you tested the theory, Mr. Isinglass, worked out 
the formula for finding the treasure given in the map?” 

Mr. Isinglass shook his head. 

“Not I,” he replied. “The notion has just come to me. 
There are probably a hundred similar formations of rock on 
the island. This one was merely convenient to illustrate my 
theory. ’ ’ 

There was a quality of deliberate innocence in his voice 
that sounded a note of sharp familiarity in the ears of Henry 
Julius. Thus in the past—lightly and in terms of disparage- 


TREASURE TRAIL 329 

meut—had many men talked to him to conceal eagerness to 
achieve an object. Even in moments of excitement or emer¬ 
gency, Henry Julius did not forget the lessons he had learnt 
in the hard school of life. The deliberate innocence of Mr. 
Isinglass instantly awoke in him a sense of caution which he 
took good care to conceal. 

“As you say,” he retorted, “probably there are hundreds. 
I can think of a dozen myself. After all, the whole idea is a 
bit fantastic.” He glanced at his watch. The time was 
half-past eleven. 

“To be sure,” said Mr. Isinglass, rising and brushing the 
grass from his trousers. “At best, theorists are dangerous 
folk to put faith in.” 

“Just so. Just so.” 

"With the most casual air in the world, Henry strolled to 
the rock head down and attention riveted on the point of 
shadow it cast. Something attracted his eye, and under 
cover of tucking in a shoe-lace he stooped and picked it up. 
It was the bread pill Mr. Isinglass had pressed into the rock 
bed the day before. The shadow of the point had not yet 
reached the spot to which it had adhered. Possibly within 
half an hour it would do so. Henry Julius was wondering 
about many things when Mr. Isinglass spoke. 

“I think I’ll be moving down to the beach now. It’s a 
trifle hot up here. You will stay and make a sketch, I 
suppose ? ’ ’ 

“Yes, I think so.” 

“Good-bye, then.” 

“Oh, by the way,” Henry called after him, “have you 
mentioned this idea of yours to anyone else?” 

“Not a soul. I hardly thought it worth while. False 
hopes, you know.” 

“But you thought it worth while to tell me.” 

“I saw no harm in it. You’re a business man.” 

“Just so. But you didn’t think it worth while to dip a 
spade and see what turned up?” 

“I’m not much of a digger.” 

“No.” It was all very puzzling. Henry shot a glance at 


330 TREASURE TRAIL 

Air. Isinglass, who seemed rather nervous; his forefinger and 
thumb were revolving very fast one against the other. The 
action gave Henry an idea. 

“You must have made a tremendous lot of bread pills in 
your time, Mr. Isinglass. The marvel is what becomes of 
them all. ,, 

“I hadn’t thought of that—but I dare say you’re right.” 

“No, you hadn’t thought of it,” Henry repeated, “but 
you should think—men give themselves away by trifles, you 
know. ’ ’ 

“Eh?” 

“Queer your having told me and no one else.” 

“About my pills?” 

“About this rock.” 

“You happened to come along.” 

“Yes, and I happen to be a business man, and you happen 
to be going away and leaving me—a business man—alone 
with the possibility of finding a great fortune.” 

Mr. Isinglass said nothing. He was watching Henry’s face 
closely. 

“Did it ever occur to you, Mr. Isinglass, that I might be 
a bit of an opportunist, that I might not be the ideal man 
to leave alone with, say, a bag of diamonds that hadn’t been 
counted and didn’t belong to anyone in particular?” 

“If the cases are parallel, surely my present action proves 
that I think you are the ideal man.” 

“H’m!” said Henry Julius. “That’s a neat answer. 
Surprising, too. Were you really going down to the beach?” 

“I was.” 

“Not to some spot behind these bushes where you could 
see without being seen?” 

“I was not.” 

His next shot was very direct. 

“I suppose there’s no doubt about the treasure being there, 
Mr. Isinglass?” 

“That remains to be proved.” 

Henry Julius thought for a while before answering. 


TREASURE TRAIL 331 

“Then, by your leave, we’ll delay proving it until a few 
more witnesses are present.” 

“Julius,” said Mr. Isinglass slowly, “I wish I were a 
younger man.” 

“Eh! Why?” 

“Because then I should ask you to knock me down.” 

“Good Lord!” Henry ejaculated, with a half-laugh. “I 
don’t blame you for ringing a coin on the counter. If I 
hadn’t found that bread pill sticking to the rock, I might 
never have tumbled that you were trying me out—and if I 
hadn’t—well, who knows-?” 

“That’s honesty run riot,” whooped Mr. Isinglass. 
“Let’s be thorough schoolboys and shake hands.” 

They did, and afterwards Henry made a characteristic 
remark. 

‘ ‘ I wish Mary had seen us doing that and knew why. ’ ’ 

It is a strange reflection that through his business sense 
a man may find a pathway to his soul. 

“As it approaches noon,” said Mr. Isinglass, glancing at 
his watch, “I think we will postpone our descent to the beach 
and follow up our theory straight away. Run down to the 
camp, Julius, and let’s get the folks together. A pick- 
and-shovel parade up here—at once.” 

Henry Julius made off at a run. 



CHAPTER LI. 


A YERIL and Vernon were talking together when 
Mary came upon them. 

i i Hallo, ’’ she said. 11 Not working this morning ? ’ ’ 
“No,” Vernon replied. “We were theorizing for a 
change. Disgraceful, isn’t it?” 

“I expect it will do you good. You’ve both been working 
too hard lately. I mustn’t stop. Good-bye.” 

“Where are you going in such a hurry?” Averil asked. 
“I’m supposed to be sitting for my portrait. I left Henry 
to put in the background. He’s up there by the big rock. ’ ’ 
“Up where?” 

Mary pointed. 

“The studio is just below the table top. We had our first 
sitting an hour ago.” 

Vernon and Averil exchanged glances. 

“An hour ago—and you left him there?” 

11 Yes—absorbed. ’ ’ 

Then Vernon said: 

“Was there anyone else by the big rock?” 

“No.” 

“Not Mr. Isinglass and-” 

“No, I should have heard if he’d been there. There was 
no one when I came away. Did you want him? If you 
like, I’ll ask if Henry has seen him and give you a shout.” 
“It doesn’t matter,” said Vernon. “Any time’ll do.” 

“I must run. Good-bye.” 

They waited until she was out of sight, then turned and 
looked at one another. 

“He would have heard,” said Averil slowly. 

“Bound to.” 

“Oh!” 


332 



TREASURE TRAIL 333 

“Look here, don’t take it like that. I don’t know why, 
hut I’m glad he heard. It simplifies the business. Now 
there’s nothing left to do but face the cards.” 

“Then you think he’ll tell?” 

“Honestly I don’t know. He’s a shrewd man; he might 
even try and turn his knowledge to account. No, that’s 
unfair, and at any rate it’s not the point. The telling is up 
to me now, and the sooner it’s over, the better.” 

“I shan’t stop you,” she said. 

“Then let’s get down to the camp. They’ll he along for 
dinner directly—couldn’t find a better moment.” 

“You won’t see Mr. Isinglass first?” 

“No.” 

Now that the end was in sight, he seemed strangely un¬ 
concerned, as though by the very determination to expose 
himself a weight had been lifted from his mind. 

“I never was much of a hand at bottling things up,” he 
said in answer to a query in her eyes, * ‘ and these last months 
I’ve done nothing else. I dare say it’s been a healthy lesson, 
but waiting for a thing is the worst part. Are you coming?” 

“Do you want me to come?” 

“It’d he easier if you stayed away. I don’t know, though 
—everyone ought to be there. Yes, you’d better come. But 
first let’s shake hands and say good-bye.” 

“Didn’t I tell you-” she began, but he stopped her 

with: 

“I know you did, hut I answered that, Averil—besides, 
after it’s all over I shall—well, it’s no good talking about 
that. Young Rogers will take command of the Mascot . 
He’s a good chap and a decent navigator. Let’s shake hands 
and say good-bye.” 

“You won’t come back to England?” 

“Well, hardly. I don’t imagine anyone would ask me to 
do that. It would put rather a severe strain on tolerance, 
wouldn’t it?” 

“You accept the idea of saying good-bye very easily.” 

It took all his strength to reply in an everyday voice: 

“There’s no alternative. After all, we’re two people 



334 TREASURE TRAIL 

who’ve met and liked and—I’m fatalist enough to believe 
our ways separate here.” 

Then Averil said: 

“I fell in love with you the first day I saw you.” 

“Are you going to shake hands?” he asked. 

“No,” she answered. “No—no—no.” 

In silence they walked to the camp and found it deserted. 
There were signs that its occupants had left in a hurry—a 
pot was boiling over—a half-peeled potato and a knife lay 
on the ground—one of the benches was overturned. From 
the high ground above came the shouts and halloos and the 
notes of a bugle. 

“H’m!” said Vernon. “He hasn’t lost much time.” 


CHAPTER L11. 


T HERE was something infectious in the way Henry 
Julius sounded the rally. In the past he had 
earned notoriety as an inspirer of confidence —vide 
his successes as a company-promoter; this day his methods 
were less professional if more thrilling. He had dashed into 
the camp and roared: 

“Boys, picks and shovels!” 

Having seized a foot rule and a compass from a table in 
his tent, he dashed off again with the young and healthy ones 
after him. Even Mrs. Morgan, a wooden kitchen-spoon in 
her hand, joined breathlessly in the chase with that curious 
rolling gait peculiar to old ladies in pursuit of trams. 

Arrived at the hill-top, Henry was besieged by eager 
questioners. 

“Don’t crowd round me,” he implored. “Give a man a 
chance. Where’s Winslowe ? ’ ’ 

Lydia, as bugler, was told off to sound the rally. 

“What’s all the excitement?” said Mary, who had just 
arrived. 

“Mr. Julius has an idea, that’s all,” returned Mr. Isin¬ 
glass. “An idea that the needle might refer to the needle of 
a compass.” 

“He thought of it,” Henry threw over his shoulder. 
‘ ‘ Here, get out of the light, William. ’ ’ 

Then William Carpenter, who had suddenly realized what 
the excitement was all about, delivered himself of a rock- 
echoing roar. 

“What’s the time?” someone shouted. 

Mr. Isinglass, a repeater to his ear, answered: 

“Twelve o’clock.” 

“Stand away there,” cried Henry, and, lying flat on his 

335 


336 TREASURE TRAIL 

face, lie placed the compass on the point of the shadow. 
“The damn needle won’t keep still. That’s better. A pick, 
Tommy. The shaft, man.” Some manoeuvring—then: 
“There you are—there’s the north.” 

Vernon and Averil arrived as a chorus of voices shouted. 

“Fifteen paces due north.” 

No one seemed to notice their arrival, though for the mo¬ 
ment he thought the shout was to deride him. Then his eyes 
met Henry’s, Henry who was searching his pockets for the 
foot rule. 

“Have you told them?” he demanded. 

“Shut up!” came the answer. “Shut up, you fool; can’t 
you see what’s happening?” 

“No, I-” 

Everyone was talking excitedly—much too excitedly for 
anyone to listen. 

“Shut up, can’t you?” 

Averil’s fingers closed on Vernon’s arm as he was about 
to reply. 

“Not now,” she implored. 

“Yes, but-” 

“Not now.” 

Tommy was pointing at the rock and yelling. 

“Needle-rock—needle of a compass, Winslowe—look!” 

“That damn foot rule—dropped it somewhere,” from 
Henry Julius. 

A germ of the general excitement suddenly infected 
Vernon. 

“Good God!” he said, “it can’t-” 

He whipped from his pocket a tape-measure in a leather 
case, and, springing forward, shouldered Henry out of the 
way. 

“Got your north? Yes, that’s good enough. Here, hold 
this ring.” 

There was a scramble, in which William was victorious, 
for the honour of holding the ring at the end of the measure. 
Henry had to satisfy himself by reducing fifteen paces to a 
common measurement. 





337 


TREASURE TRAIL 

“Thirty feet, nine inches.’’ 

11 Take a sight along the compass needle, William, to be 
sure the line’s straight.” 

Mr. Isinglass had scrambled to the top of the rock, where 
he sat hugging his knees and looking down at the workers 
beneath. 

Vernon had begun to walk backwards, unwinding the tape 
as he went. 

“Cut down this cane, Tommy, she throws us out of 
line.” 

What was that? The forehead of Mr. Isinglass creased 
into puzzled wrinkles. The line he had followed had met 
with no interference—it had cleared that cane by two feet 
or more. 

The temporary obstacle was removed. 

“Thirty feet nine inches, you said?” 

“Yes.” 

11 Good enough. That’s here. Sure I’m straight, William ? ’ ’ 

William, with one eye closed: 

“A speck more to your left.” 

“So?” 

“So.” 

“Chuck us a bit of wood.” 

Vernon caught a gold pencil thrown by Henry and drove 
its point into the ground. 

“Three north—that’s ninety-” 

“Seven foot six.” 

Henry’s ready reckonings were a tremendous asset; he 
could keep his head for figures in any emergency. 

“Compass,” said Vernon. 

No one spoke while he steadied the compass to find the west. 
The silence, after the babel of tongues which preceded it, was 
almost painful. The men’s hearts could be seen beating un¬ 
der their shirts. Olive Banbury had a hand to her throat 
because it had begun to ache. Lydia was stifling an emo¬ 
tional upheaval with tight-closed lips. She knew if she 
opened them she would laugh, and once she laughed there 
would be no stopping it. Mary was stroking her knee as 



338 TREASURE TRAIL 

though it were a cat. Averil was staring at Vernon, amazed 

at the steadiness of his hands. 

Mrs. Morgan, although she did not know it, was digging 
into the sandy earth with her wooden spoon and throwing it 
all over her husband, who was unconscious of everything. It 
is an unnerving business to find oneself within seven feet six 
inches of a fortune. 

At length, in an unnaturally calm voice, Vernon said: 

“That should do.” 

He dropped the ring over the embedded pencil and walked 
away with the tape and stopped. Where the measure was 
marked seven feet six inches took him to the centre of a piece 
of moss-covered rock about the size of a paving-stone. 

Mr. Isinglass had kept his eyes closed for the last two 
minutes; he opened them as Vernon said: “Here!” He 
opened, then he closed them again, and his face went 
grey with pain. That none might see the agony he suf¬ 
fered, he slipped from the rock and, going round to the 
far side, laid his head against it. The place where the com¬ 
pass and the tape had led Vernon was at least a dozen feet 
from where he had buried his treasure. The generous de¬ 
ception he had designed to put a crown to their endeavours 
was wasted—lost. His plans had come to nothing—they 
were muddled and destroyed by his own carelessness. It 
would be hopeless now to reveal his hiding-place without 
arousing suspicions. It had been such a charming dream. 
For weeks and months he had looked forward to this day of 
happy awakening—content in the belief that no one would 
ever realize the source from which their treasures had flowed. 
But, instead, they would dig in the ground and, finding noth¬ 
ing, a man would be broken—lovers would divide—a boy 
would die—and disillusionment and distrust and resentment 
would rust the gains that had been made. Crashing into his 
thoughts came the first blow of a pick, but, before a second 
was struck, Tommy's voice: 

“Hold on a second before we take the plunge. Just in 
case, Winslowe—in case it’s all a wash-out—treasure here or 
not, we’re damn grateful to you.” 


339 


TREASURE TRAIL 
Then from Lydia: 

“And so say all of us.” 

And then the clink of metal against rock—the tearing of 
roots as the big stone was levered up—the thud as it toppled 
over sideways—the scoop of spades and the plop-plop and 
rustle of earth tossed aside. 


CHAPTER L111. 


Thus wrote Mary Ottery: 

“I think what pleased me most was the way Henry came over to 
me when first the treasure was found and said: ‘You get your 
wish, Mary. You’ll be able to travel now/ It was strange he 
should have thought of that before all else; but, then, everything 
that morning was strange. We thought it would be an old box we 
should find buried, and we could hardly believe our eyes when the 
treasure, all mixed with sand and earth and the roots of flowers, 
came up in spadefuls and was scattered at our feet. It was like a 
bran dip at a children’s party except that the laughter was missing. 
I don’t think anyone was even excited, for somehow feelings had 
gone beyond excitement—numbed would describe them better. It 
was terribly solemn, like a miracle, and it grew more and more 
solemn as the pile of gold coins and jewellery mounted up to a 
heap. Until somebody laughed, no one thought of speaking. It 
was Olive who laughed, and she told me afterwards it was because 
he was out of danger. She meant Mr. Gates, of course. I think I 
laughed too, or felt I should, but that was because all those riches 
made me feel so small and stupid, and I had to do something to get 
back to my own size again. Besides which, Henry had stooped to 
rescue his gold pencil, which seemed funny to me. It was all too 
big for ordinary people—much too easy, and for that reason very 
difficult. I remember seeing Captain Winslowe when the first spade¬ 
ful came up. I never saw a man look so white. He made a kind 
of hopeless gesture, and Averil came and took his hand and smiled, 
and big tears were running down her cheeks, and catchily she said 
over and over again: ‘It’s all right—all right.’ Then Mr. Isinglass 
joined them, walking on tiptoe as people do when someone is ill in 
a house. He didn’t speak, but just looked at Captain Winslowe 
and shook his head. They looked so funny standing there shaking 
their heads at one another. They reminded me of the china 
mandarins on Miss Hornby’s mantelpiece who would nod and nod 

340 


TREASURE TRAIL 341 

for the littlest causes—a draught or banging of a distant door. And 
presently Mr. Isinglass tiptoed away again, and I saw him spread 
out a coloured handkerchief and go down on his knees with his eyes 
shut and his lips moving. Then Captain Winslowe said: ‘I feel 

extraordinarily queer. I think I’m going to-’ It was Henry 

who stopped him from falling and who made a knee for his head to 
rest against and who fanned him with a branch of fern and who 
said: ‘Give him air/ as though someone would run and fetch a 
little. I never saw Henry nicer than he was then. He was like a 
very nice nurse, and when Captain Winslowe opened his eyes and 
said: ‘I was a fool to do that/ Henry gave him a kind of hug and 
said: ‘That’s all right, old man—you had a bad spell, but you’re 
out of the wood now.’ Then, for some reason I couldn’t under¬ 
stand, he laid a finger on his lips and nodded reassuringly, and 
although doing that didn’t mean anything to me, Captain Winslowe 
seemed pleased and said huskily: ‘I expect you’re right, Julius.’ I 
do like Henry, because somehow he seems to see a little farther than 
most people.” 

Thus she wrote that night by a flickering candle in her 
tent. She would have written more had not Henry Julius 
called her away for clerical duties in connexion with the 
accountancy of the fortune. A syndicate composed of 
Joshua, Henry and Tommy had been formed to arrange and 
classify the treasure and arrive at an approximate valuation. 
It was a tremendous undertaking in which Vernon refused 
to take part. 

“You’ll do much better without me,” he insisted. 

“Well, one thing is certain,” said Joshua; “when it 
comes to the divide, it’s you who should have lion’s share.” 

They were astonished at the violence of his reply: 

“If there’s any question of that—if there’s another word 
suggesting anything of the kind, I swear I ’ll chuck the whole 
boiling lot into the lagoon.” 

“A very proper sentiment, too,” ejaculated Henry Julius, 
his fingers flicking like a bank cashier’s among the aged coins. 
“Here, Tommy, you’re collecting the doubloons. Lord! 
how it’s all mixed up.” 

Averil and Vernon passed out of the circle of light into 
the darkness of the woods. With everything to say, they 


342 TREASURE TRAIL 

could find no words to make a beginning. In the really great 
joys and crises of life, one seeks a great expression often 
to find it in silence. At last Averil said: 

4 ‘What’s wrong with being ordinary and just saying any¬ 
thing to each other?” 

“I was thinking,” he answered, “how crazy life is when 
its whole course can be turned topsyturvy by a bit of luck.” 

“You mean if we hadn’t found the treasure you’d 
have-” 

“Yes—but I’m just the same man. I don’t love you dif¬ 
ferently—and yet I feel I may love you now. It’s so crazy— 
I’m not a bit better—worse, probably, because in justice to 
everyone I mustn’t tell them the whole thing was a fluke, 
must I?” 

“It would be wicked-” 

“Yes, I believe it would. So there it stands, and here am 
I trashier than before, but with everything chucked into my 
lap. Luck—just luck has pulled me through, and not a sac¬ 
rifice made and nothing owed to myself. It’s all too easy, 
so easy I almost funk asking for more.” 

He meant that too, and they walked on side by side in 
silence. Perhaps it was Luck who had unbarred the root of 
a tree to make a trip-wire for Averil’s feet. She stumbled, 
and he caught her, and, being in his arms, he could not let 
her go. 

And after that there were no more puzzles, worries and 
misgiving; everything was clear, simple, sufficient and ex¬ 
plained. They awoke out of that moment like children on 
the first morning of a holiday,, opening eyes upon unfamiliar 
trees beyond an unfamiliar window to the scent and the 
voices of a farm-yard, to a slant of white sunlight pitching a 
pattern of diamond panes across a time-scarred floor. To 
the immeasurable possibilities the future held they awoke, 
and in the clean joy of awakening, being unable to speak, 
like children they took hands and ran, running, as it were, 
to leave plain memories behind. Away through the palms, 
across the beach, leaping over pools and splashing through 
the ripples that swilled across the sand. It was terrific, mag- 




TREASURE TRAIL 343 

nificent, idiotic. They ran too fast for care to cling to them 
—care, which has no taste for the company of love and 
laughter, fell away grumbling as they sped. Then she broke 
from him, crying : 

“To the treasure rock,” and started off afresh up the twist¬ 
ing path to the hill-top. But they could not reach it at so 
high a speed. Gasping and breathless, they fell to a walk, 
a walk that dawdled to a wander, until when at last they 
came to the high plateau it seemed they were moving but 
little faster than shadows cast by the moon. 

Then, just ahead, a match was struck, and by its light they 
saw Mr. Isinglass on his knees by the big rock. He was 
looking at a compass, and grunted to himself: 

“Yes, fifteen due north would do.” He started off like a 
tight-rope walker, with one foot in front of the other, and 
counting aloud to himself: 

“And nineteen west. Bless me, no; that won’t work—it 
isn’t west—and it’s paces, not feet.” 

He stood a moment indecisively—a black silhouette against 
the night sky—next moment he was gone. 

The watchers stared at one another in amazement, then 
started forward. The grass dulled the sound of their feet. 

“What is it? Has he gone mad?” 

Vernon shook his head and checked her with a gesture. 

“I don’t know—but there’s something queer. Wait a 
second.” 

Stooping, he moved to the spot where the old man had been 
standing, leaned over, and peered down the little rock-face. 
Mr. Isinglass was immediately below, mightily employed in 
trying to shift a large boulder. Vernon beckoned to Averil, 
and together they watched the singular operation. Then Mr. 
Isinglass began to address the boulder. 

“Couldn’t you be a little more helpful and less heavy?” he 
pleaded. “It isn’t much to ask. I don’t want rain and 
wind to expose my secret to the first passer-by.” But the 
boulder would not budge an inch, and with a sigh the old 
man abandoned the effort and straightened his back. In so 
doing, his eyes and Vernon’s met. 


344 TREASURE TRAIL 

“God bless me!” he said. “Who would have foreseen 
this?” There was not a trace of surprise or alarm in his 
expression. “As you’ve turned up so opportunely, be a good 
fellow and lend a hand.” 

“But I don’t quite see-” Vernon began. 

“No, but need you? I’d very much rather you didn’t.” 

“You spoke of a secret.” 

“Yes, but it wouldn’t be a secret if I told anyone.” 

In the darkness it was impossible to see faces. 

“You’re hiding something?” 

“Yes-” 

“But-” 

Mr. Isinglass appealed to Averil. “Need I tell him my 
secret ? ’ ’ 

“He told you his.” 

“Now, that’s very true,” he said thoughtfully. “Give her 
a hand down, my boy. Capital. Now we’re all on the same 
level. But I doubt if I shall be able to justify myself in 
your eyes. You see, we’re all conspirators in one way or an¬ 
other, and the greatest conspirator of all is a power outside 
ourselves. It would have been a selfish indulgence, Wins- 
lowe, if the way out of this tangle had been by your confes¬ 
sion. It would have been a selfish indulgence if the way 
out had been by my solution. Yet, in our separate ways, 
we’re both disappointed and a trifle humbled that the affair 
passed out of our hands.” 

“What was your solution?” said Averil. 

“Almost stupid in its simplicity, and it makes me feel very 
awkward to talk about it, for since men are far removed from 
gods, I am wondering if they have the right to try and rule 
chance.” 

As he spoke his eyes dropped to the little cairn of stones 
he had erected, and suddenly Averil understood. 

“You brought a treasure with you?” 

11 Oh, don’t, ’ ’ he pleaded; “ it does sound so asinine, such a 
disgusting piece of conceit. But I’d set my mind on a happy 
ending to the business.” 

Vernon said nothing for a long while. Then: 





TREASURE TRAIL 345 

“Pretty marvellous. So I suppose never for a moment did 
you believe-” 

4 ‘ Oh, but I did believe—I knew a treasure would be found. 
This was only—what shall I say?—a safety-valve, a toy for 
happy children to play with. After all, a very old man who 
is much too rich ought to be allowed to spend a trifle on toys 
if his fancy suggests it.” 

“Toys,” Averil repeated. Then: “Aren’t you a lovely 
person! ’ ’ 

And the three of them stood there saying nothing and 
feeling warm and kind for each other. At last: 

“Come, Winslowe, ” said Mr. Isinglass, “your arm round 
this boulder and a big heave.” 

“But I don’t understand—you are leaving this treasure 
to rot in the ground?” 

Mr. Isinglass smiled and shook his head. 

“Not to rot—to mature, for, you see, instead of making a 
gift, I am obliged to accept one. What’s buried here is only 
a trifle compared with the treasure of which, in common 
decency, I must take my share.” 

“But no one would ever know-” Averil began. 

“Maybe not—but you must let me have my way in this. 
Who knows but what we found to-day may be the last of the 
buried treasures? It is a pleasant thought to me that in 
taking it away we leave another behind. Perhaps if you 
read your Times at some future date you may find in the 
agony column an advertisement which starts: ‘Adventurers 
wanted.’ Then perhaps you will look across a breakfast- 
table at each other and smile, because you will guess there is 
still an old fraud poking his nose into other people’s happi¬ 
ness—an old fraud who isn’t ashamed to pattern himself 
upon a man who had the courage of his own inventions.” 

A faint breeze stirred the grasses at their feet, a puff of 
silver dust greyed the eastern sky. The taste of dawn was 
in the air. 

Averil shivered, and Vernon put an arm round her. 

“You’re an odd man, Mr. Isinglass,” he said. “You 
nearly backed a loser in me.” 




346 TREASURE TRAIL 

1 ‘ 1 Conscience makes cowards of us all, ’ ’’ said the old man, 
“or heroes. Life is so full of wonderful things which drab 
people pass by unnoticed. If we try hard enough, blindfold 
chance more often than not throws out a helping hand.” He 
sniffed the new morning air with a kind of ecstasy. 

“This beautiful old, young world of ours is like a coin, 
I sometimes think, with heads and hearts upon it—a coin 
we are given to toss.” He turned and looked where they 
stood with arms about each other, and added with a smile 
which lit up every wrinkle in his face: 

“And I am sentimental enough to believe it is generally 
the hearts which fall uppermost.”