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PREFACE. To the following story a preface is an actual necessity. I say this by way of apology, for as a rule a preface is seldom read. I am going to touch on an aboriginal custom not generally nown, in fact it is only of late years that it has been brought to light. In the heart of Australia, namely in the neighbourhood of Barrow Cree and to the north of that locality, dwell tribes whose distinctive rites and ceremonies seem to set them apart from their brethren of other portions of the great Austral continent. These natives are exceedingly cunning in the construction of their weapons, and signs, much resembling hieroglyphic writing, have been found on them. But the most singular fact is that they are the only natives of Australia nown to wear a foot-covering. Only a few pairs of these shoes have been brought into civilization. Mr. Norman Hardy has one pair, and there is a pair in the Australian Museum, on which Mr. R. Etheridge has written a paper, published in the records of the Linnean Society of N.S. Wales, from which I extract the following description:-"It is now nown that certain tribes of the aborigines, towards the centre of the continent, manufacture a very beautiful shoe composed of emu feathers. Two entirely different uses have been ascribed to these. On the one hand, the late Mr. E. M. Curr stated that the blac s of the Musgrove Ranges wear these shoes, when they attac their enemies by stealth at night; on the other hand, Mr. C. French, Government Entomologist, Melbourne, has more recently referred them to a portion of the stoc -in-trade of the rain-ma er of the McDonnell ranges." For the rest of this most interesting and instructive article, I must refer my readers to the records of the society above-mentioned. The shoes are about 8 to 10 inches in length and 4 in breadth. The upper part is woven of human hair, the opening to admit the foot being in the centre. The soles are very thic and made of dry grass, mixed with gum and human blood. On the sole is then stuc a dressing of emu feathers which renders them as noiseless as the list slippers of the burglar. The shoes are exactly the same at each end, there being neither heel nor toe. In giving them the name of "Moccasins" I am aware that I am ta ing somewhat of a liberty, but the picturesqueness of the title was too alluring to be resisted. ERNEST FAVENC.
Chapter I. Madame da Lucca, nee Jones.
A group of New Guinea boys busily engaged in cleaning pearl-shell, chattering the while, as they wield their nives, and show their strong, even teeth in frequent laughter. Fine, strapping, copper-
It is the glorious winter weather of the southern tropic, and the deep blue waters of the almost land-loc ed strait are rippling merrily under the breath of the steady south-east monsoon. The grey hills of Prince of Wales Island stand out in stri ing contrast to the white sands at their feet, and the entrance to the narrow passage separating it from Friday Island is just visible, loo ing li e the mouth of a picturesque inlet. White sails on the sea, white houses clustering here and there on the shore, ma e a scene gay with color and spar ling with sunshine. "The flag's up, Tom," says a voice; "she's just rounding Goode Island," and the spea er, approaching, lays his hand on the smo er's shoulder. "Heaps of time," returns Tom, noc ing his pipe out; "but I suppose I may as well get ready." "Ta e a turn on the beach first," replies the new-comer, "I have something more to tell you." They stroll on until they stand close to the lapping wavelets issing the shell-strewn strand, then Annett, a man some five or six years older than his partner, Tom Duc worth, spea s: "The main thing, of course, as you now, is to find out the whereabouts of Ras Mahad." Tom nodded. "Hillsden nows, but, if he won't tell, I don't exactly see how you are to ma e him; that is, without letting him into our confidence, and he's too big a scamp for that. But we discussed all this before. What I have to tell you is this. You remember the boy Djuran we pic ed up adrift on that proa, half--starved. He nows quite as much about what we want to find out as Ras Mahad himself. Comes from the same place, probably a relation of some sort. I heard last night that he was on the nor'-west coast, and it's my belief that Ras Mahad is there too, so, if you can ma e nothing out of Hillsden when you're down, we'll go round there and see."
"Simply because he is one of those suspicious, grasping rogues who would immediately suspect that you had some ulterior motive in as ing the question."-"Which I have," interrupted Tom. "True; but whether you had or not he would presume that you had, and tell you a lie on principle. It's one satisfaction to now that, if you get nothing out of him, he'll get nothing out of you."
"Here she comes round the point," went on Annett, "You'll go and see Ruth as soon as ever you get down;" and the two men turned bac to the hotel.
Tom smiled grimly; the reticence of his nature was well Torres' Strait.
"I don't see why Hillsden should refuse to tell me what he
coloured fellows, with leans against the door nothing and succeeding could be seen anywhere Australian coast-line.
great mops of hair dyed yellow. A white man post, dreamily smo ing; trying hard to thin of tolerably well. Beyond--is as fair a view as in the thousands of miles of the long
The E. and A. steamer slowed down and pic ed up the water-police boat with the resident and customs-officer on board, then, after a brief interval, went alongside the hul , made fast, and immediately a furious blast on the whistle proclaimed the fact that she had no time to waste at Thursday Island. The agent's boat, with its smart-loo ing coloured crew, had just returned from the steamer and was waiting at the boat jetty when the partners came down, both now dressed in immaculate white, the luggage was put in and the two men were soon alongside the China boat. From the greetings Tom received as he stepped on board, it was evident that he was both well-- nown and well-li ed. The cargo was rapidly transhipped to the hul , the third whistle blew, and with a warm handsha e the two men parted. "Who is your lady passenger?" as ed Duc worth of the purser, as he regarded a feminine object in a cane chair on the poop. "From Hong Kong. By the way, she came up with us over two years ago, the last time that you did." "What, that sallow girl with the big eyes? Let's see, what was she going to do--join her relations at Singapore or somewhere?" "Yes, I thin so. At any rate she's married now, so you're safe." "Whom did she marry?" "Say--What did she marry? Some sort of a half-bred Portuguese. Plenty of money, seemingly, for she's a wal ing jeweller's shop. She gave us to understand that when she got married she stipulated to have a trip to Australia once a year for her health." "O hang it!" said Tom wearily, "she'll expect me to remember her and play pretty, and all that sort of thing. Come on, li e a good fellow, and let's have some whis y first." The refreshment concluded, Duc worth went to his cabin and saw his traps stowed. The purser was sitting at the table with a lot of papers before him when he again stepped into the saloon, and the purser made a slight gesture towards the main-dec . "She's waiting for you," he said, with a grin. "What was her maiden name, do you remember?" as ed Duc worth. "I must address her by that. I'm not supposed to now that she is married." "Blessed if I now. She calls herself Madame da Lucca now, but I can't remember what she was as a Miss. Something grand I believe, Montagu, Montmorency, or a name of that sort. Here's Rawlins"--as the third officer entered--"he'll now, he was awfully gone on her. What was Madame's maiden name before she was married?" "Miss Jones," returned Rawlins shortly. "So it was," said the purser. "Go ahead, old man, you're right now. Go and get it over." Tom stepped out of the saloon. It may be supposed that the lady had
also been ma ing enquiries about his identity, for she flashed a radiant glance of recognition at him. "So we are to be fellow-passengers once more, Miss Jones," he said, as they shoo hands. "Yes, only you're not a fellow-passenger with Miss Jones, but with Madame da Lucca." "Then I have to congratulate somebody un nown to me?" "You have"--she smiled--"and, without wishing to flatter you, I may say I am glad to see you on board, for we have only two other passengers and they are both invalids." Duc worth had been eyeing her curiously. The scraggy girl with the sallow face and big eyes that he now recalled, had been improved out of existence. The big eyes still remained, but the sallow complexion had developed into a warm olive tint which she had the good sense to leave alone, and the angularities of her form had rounded themselves into curves. "She must have been a good deal younger than we supposed," thought Tom. "I have heard that these 'legs-and-wings' girls have a nac of suddenly surprising people this way." "Certainly your remar is not flattering," he said aloud, "as you infer that if there had been some more passengers you would not have cared whether I came on board or not." Madame da Lucca laughed. "You're changed, Mr. Duc worth. I remember you as a very frigid person indeed, whom one could scarcely get two words from." "You are changed, too," he said unthin ingly. "I suppose I am," she said, after a pause. "I was the grub then; I am the butterfly now." "I never meant anything so rude," he said, hastily coloring as much as such a sun-tanned man could. "Well, I forgive you if you did; you may sit opposite to me at dinner," and, with a flash of the big eyes, she left Tom and entered the saloon. "Well I'm blessed," thought Duc worth, pushing his hat bac and leaning against the side. "What a transformation! I suppose in the lot she has got amongst she has been queening it, and that has given her such confounded assurance." "Well!" said the purser as he approached and offered Duc worth a cigar, "how did you get on with Madame?" "Loo here!" returned Tom, "there's no humbug about this, is there? That's the same gaw that came up with us that time--not an elder sister?" "It's the very same, that I'll vouch for. I don't believe she's got any sisters. I thought she'd astonish you." "Why hang it, man, she told me I could sit opposite to her at dinner! I suppose all you fellows would laugh if I had my chow sent into my cabin and said I was sea-sic ?"
"We would so, and suggest that Madame should nurse you."
Chapter II. How Surveyor Lestrell got The Moccasins of Silence.
From the glad dancing waters of the Straits to the aridity of Central Australia is a quic and sudden change. It is night-time, and a young and sin ing moon throws but a sic ly light around--a light that is more confusing than starlight. There is no cheery camp-fire blaze here; for, down in a pit, dug deep in the earth to hide its glow, is a heap of glowing charcoal, and round it the members of the surveyor's camp warm their frosty hands and discuss the day's wor . Two men are standing somewhat apart from this subterranean furnace, and suddenly one stops and holds up his hand, and the other ceases spea ing. "There, Jim," says Lestrell, the surveyor in charge, to his cadet, "I heard it again, I am sure. Let's get away from the camp and listen. Those confounded camels ma e as much noise as a blac smith's bellows." The two go a few paces away from the camp and stand--listening. Patiently they remain, and are rewarded for their trouble. From the far distance, seemingly right under the dying moon, rises a chant of men's voices, wild, rythmic, and solemn. "I never heard niggers ma e such a noise as that before," says Jim, after the distant voices had died into silence. "Nor I," returns Lestrell, "But I tell you, man, they're a queer lot about these M'Donnell Ranges; quite different from the ordinary run of blac s. Their weapons have got strange minute carvings on them, li e a language of signs." Again the far-away chant rises and sin s. Lestrell has ta en out his compass, and, by the aid of a match, got the bearing. "Loo here, Jim, there's something special on now that no white man has yet seen. What do you say to going and having a loo ? They can't be more than a couple of miles away, at the outside." "Ris y," returned Jim, "but we'll go. Let's wa e up that boy Dando, he came from about here, and can explain what's going on." "Wa e him if you can, but I'd rather you undertoo the contract than I did. I now what wa ing a nigger up at this time of night is li e."
Almost as the surveyor spo e the weird chant commenced again. If ever there was a wide-awa e nigger in one instant, that nigger was Dando. He caught Lestrell's arm with both hands, and the white man could feel
"Now Dando," said Lestrell, "you
Jim however went away and by some means, best nown to himself, succeeded, for he presently returned with a very sleepy-loo ing blac boy of about twenty years of age.
it was even more so when loo ing down upon the singers. with s inny arms upraised. Dando. Dando's qua ing was so violent. echoing his cries. na ed body was pic ed out with white pigment. When silence succeeded.him trembling as though the ague had suddenly attac ed him. Lestrell and Jim duc ed. and a bac ground of blac ness behind. I'll ta e the medicine-man. on which were stuc tufts of white feathers." said Jim. shipped their spears and prepared to throw them. and the weird chant arose once more. and loo ed down at the scene. the other blac s raised their heads. whatever they were-standing there in the red firelight. and the three started off in the direction of the strange sound In less than two miles they were close to the reflection of a fire which they had seen as soon as they had got fairly away from the camp. but. There were but six blac s in all. cemented with human blood. but the sixth was unarmed and hideous to loo upon. At the words he uttered the blac s crouched down as if in terror. holding them aloft. the hideous white-and-blac figure dancing in demoniac rage around the fire. He had before him what appeared to be a pair of shoes. Uncannie as it had sounded at a distance. one in each hand. had illumined their white faces. In their interest in what was going on. "and you must come too. what does it mean?" as ed the surveyor when there was silence once more. when his gaze suddenly became fixed on the roc behind which the two white men were hiding. Jim. five of them being fully armed and painted. Yelling and stamping with rage. and these appeared to be the especial objects of attention to all of them. I hate to have to do it. At sight of this gruesome figure Dando crouched down beside Lestrell. he suddenly arose. so that his eyes seemed loo ing out of a mas ." All Dando's prayers and supplications were of no avail. Presently he ceased. but it's our only chance. unhurt. They were closer than they imagined. apparently it was in a ravine running down from an outlying spur of the range. and every bone in his lean. shuddering convulsively. approaching cautiously. "Now. repeating some formula as he did so. the necromancer rose up again and was about to proceed with some more of his mummery. "Debbil!" said the boy in his bro en English--"big fellow debbil!" "We are going to loo at him. and the fire blazing up. and Lestrell made sure that they would be discovered. they found shelter behind some boulders. and the other blac s. the magician pointed towards them. they had allowed too much of their heads to be seen. . having finished whatever it was he was doing. Three times the awful thing repeated the words. This man seemed to be the leader of whatever diabolical rites were going on. and. He was busy with them when the whites first loo ed down. and the former said to his companion: "No help for it now. for the wavering light and the shadows had deceived them. His face was whitened all over. as the weapons hurled against the roc s." The blac s were advancing. you ta e the big fellow in the lead.
followed Lestrell and Jim down. He had been shot through the chest." Lestrell loo ed at Jim. Swaying before the fire he stood. or cursing. Three fellow blood belonga man bin carry shoe. loo ed around and fled. sufficiently to stoop and pic up the awful shoes of death. "We're going to the camp. "One time blood sit down. he called down his final curse and dropped dead at the end." Lestrell put the moccasins down. sun tumble down. Dando. and in due time the survey was finished and Lestrell returned to "Get up!" said Lestrell." The two men and the still qua ing blac boy returned to their camp. considering the size of a blac -fellow's foot. they were woven out of human hair. Jim's man went down in a heap and never moved." said Lestrell. To snea on an enemy at night and ill him. and strangely small. he strove to utter once more the imprecation he had formerly repeated. "I want to see what those things are that he was blessing.The two fired together. "What are these for. and. No man's nerve is proof against such a scene. who was still crouching on ." "What was that old man saying. seeing the camp apparently deserted. "Blac fellow go alonga 'nother fellow's camp. who was examining one of them. Then. Up rose the awful spectre of the medicine-man." he said. They were a pair of beautifully woven slippers. the ground. " Dando got up and gazed fearfully on all sides. Two fellow blood sit down. his sightless eyes staring out of the white mas that covered his face. It was some time before Lestrell mustered his. shoo and sprin led it over the moccasins. or rather. moccasins." he as ed. the others hesitated." he said. "but that must be their use. Dando?" as ed Lestrell. evidently." A shrie from Dando stopped him. but. ill him: that fellow no ma um noise. "I will ta e them away and see that the curse is of no avail. ic ing Dando. Come and tell us what all this debbildebbil stuff has been about. With blood and froth oozing at every word from his half-dead lips. made the same at both ends. or something. "Never heard of them before. So far as Lestrell could judge by the firelight. "Once have they been wet with blood. scooping up a handful of half congealed blood from his body. and as he did so said:--"We'll have a good loo round and then get bac to camp. and the blood had made hideous strea s of crimson across the white paint with which he was bedaubed. and going forward he pic ed up the two objects lying near the body of the medicine-man. the medicine-man fell on his bac . with his bloodstained hand uplifted to the stars.
"I should li e to have got hold of him." said Madame da Lucca to Duc worth." For about half an hour the two tal ed "shop. the first of the ind that had ever been brought in from the interior. Chapter III. my dear fellow. as you now." and Duc worth gradually led round to the opening he was loo ing for. and when those fellows get that way they generally depart. but we've struc a fresh patch. and the cab drove away. He had relinquished pearl-shelling. ta ing with him the silent moccasins." He did so. Hillsden was an ex pearl-sheller. "Which shall I do first?" he thought. after he had settled himself at his own hotel. tal ing of Darnley Island." "I've lost sight of him altogether. I don't suppose anybody does. when Tom was ushered in. from bailing out a drun en man to negotiating a loan for a few thousands. "By the way.Adelaide. as they said goodbye when the steamer reached Sydney. by Jove!" he cried. but I am under the impression. or have it out with Hillsden. "How are they all. "You will call and see me. "but. can't grumble. almost sure. and he was a good man. "Delighted to see you. lost sight of him altogether." "First-rate." "Yes. Hillsden. Ruth. "go and see how Ruth is getting on. in fact. "Captain Duc worth. and Hillsden. "Glad to hear it. however. up north." returned Tom. when I left. that he went home. or it had relinquished him. what's become of that Malay diver you had out there--Ras Mahad?" "We want another diver. wringing his hand as though they were the dearest friends who had been parted for years. and by the appearance of his office he seemed to flourish on it. if you don't now where he is." "I don't now. and an ex good many other things. and had started an "Agency" in Sydney--a term which covers all the iniquities in life. old man. a steady sort of fellow. but it struc me he was a bit homesic . had just made the same mental remar concerning Tom's observation." "That's a lie" thought Tom. Shell was getting scarce. Tom. Why? Do you want him?" ." he went on. was supposed to eep to the Northern trade. of course. and it turned out to be Hillsden. replied that he would." "How are you doing?" "Fairly. as you were the last man he was wor ing for. I'll toss up." said Duc worth.
Ever since the long absence of her father and his mysterious fate. "Seems to me I did more harm than good. beyond the impression she at once gave you that she was pretty. reminds me of Priscilla. See you to-morrow. the Puritan maiden." "Loo me up to-morrow. and we'll go and have some lunch together. It was just the sort of place where you would expect to see the local curate a favoured and daily visitor. of Madame da Lucca's big eyes. somehow." Duc worth turned. and all that ind of thing." he thought. but. and her hair was the same--of a very indeterminate hue. I forgot to as after Annett?" "He's first-rate. as he gained the street. and I don't suppose shall ever now more than we do now. "that's for you. By the way. in the indolent fashion peculiar to him." said Tom. "There uncle Tom. except that her eyes were honest and merry. Now I suppose I had better go out and see Ruth. He was gazing out of the window at the trim garden. as he gave his card to the girl and was shown into a bright little drawing-room. you could not have portrayed their colour. indeed! The girl was about eighteen. thin ing. and had opened the door. wonder what she's grown li e? Prim sort of name. for the ubiquitous trams had not then quite extended all over the Sydney suburbs. every one telling of the torrid zone. standing in fair-sized grounds. old fellow. and after about a quarter of an hour's drive stopped at a pretty cottage. Everything about the place had a quiet." said Tom. the Puritan maiden. but."I've got to go a short distance out of town this afternoon. and the fitting word for her would have been "bonnie. and loo ed at her. Tom laughed too." Duc worth hailed a cab. "Did'nt now that I was such a tal ative fool before. than s. caught her hands. "so must be going." "Ever heard the truth about his brother. old-world loo . when Hillsden suddenly said:--"Doesn't Ras Mahad now something about the site of the wrec ?" "We are all in the dar . "Miss Annett. ." "Nor the diamonds. She had a straight nose and a good mouth. peaceful. Priscilla. when two hands were placed round his nec by someone who had stolen up softly behind him. rising. either?" went on Hillsden." Duc worth too her face between his hands and issed her affectionately. Youth. his head was pulled bac and a iss bestowed on his chee . pleasant and refreshing. laughing. health and sweetness seemed to be part and parcel of her being. we are still in doubt. she had been as their child to both the partners. and"--giving him another--"that's for uncle Dic ." said a girl's voice. it would be almost impossible to describe her. whether he is alive or dead?" "No." and Duc worth closed the door. Duc worth smiled as he loo ed round at the curios of all inds about the room.
Tom. but I'm of the opinion that he will turn up at any time. uncle Tom. We now that although the proa was wrec ed right enough. You now as well as I do what an erratic fellow Reggy was and how his love for adventure and discovery would ma e him go anywhere and forget everything. but we might cruise all round New Guinea. "Yes. was diving for a man named Hillsden. went to meet her. while the girl too possession of a low stool on the other side. again we were in ignorance that we had a chance. We would tell this Hillsden what we wanted the man for. opened it. there is a young fellow named Djuran who was also on board the proa." said Miss Annett. but poor auntie can't get out. that's all you wanted me for." returned Tom. simply to find out where the proa was wrec ed. and he must have let something drop. brightened at sight of him. Together they put her in an invalid chair. who wal ed with the aid of a stic . and to every island between Thursday Island and the Malay Peninsula without avail. We did not now that this Ras Mahad was one of the crew of the proa until after his disappearance. "My brother is well. One of us would have gone to loo for him long ago had we any clue. Ras Mahad. so we may probably ta e the schooner and go round there. was by blood. aren't you?" "You shall have the best of times while I'm here." "True.Once. so. one of the men on board." she said. "Nothing definite. and I am certain Hillsden nows where he is and can put his hand on him. and lovingly assisted a lady of over middle age. putting her hand as if unconsciously on the girl's head. However." and she ran to the door. but he could not tal English at the time. but unfortunately we did not find this out until too late. laughing. Here she comes." went on Duc worth." "No news of Reggy?" she as ed. and ever afterwards he had been her uncle by love. you now I wanted you. when a boat capsized almost half-way between Thursday and Friday Islands. as it is. the probabilities are that every one got ashore safely." "It is over two years now." said Miss Annett. there are a dozen causes that might have delayed him. for we cannot find him. "But for this silly story that he had a big parcel of diamonds from Borneo with him. I now from your letter. and Duc worth sat beside her. You're going to stop a long while and give me a good time. not a bit older. and her face. now." she replied. which was a remar ably indly one. for he has got this story of the diamonds on the brain. too. but he is a bit of a rogue and would play us false. and Annett has heard that he is engaged at the pearl-fishery on the north-west coast. We pic ed up this boy alone on a deserted proa. I believe we should have found out the truth long ago. half-starved. to give you a good time?" "Not at all. his partner. "I have one thing to tell you. as Annett. "So." "I am glad to hear you say that. "I thought that steamer was never coming in." . Tom swam ashore with her. for I have the same hope myself. "I've been loo ing out for you so long. "How is he loo ing?" "Just the same as ever.
"Dar . Duc worth. The greeting between Hillsden and the lady from the Straits was cordial enough in its way. during one of the intervals." "Oh. Uncle Tom. but it was not until some time had elapsed . Somehow Madame da Lucca and his niece by adoption did not seem to harmonise. "Madame da Lucca. Madame da Lucca asserts Herself. "No."Don't I? If the proa was wrec ed on the New Guinea coast for instance. I have not the slightest doubt but what he would at once start off to see what the interior was li e. if not I must go bac and dress. I thin s its at me." "Uncle Tom. "Will you stay with us Mr. in spite of her being a fine-loo ing woman. "there is an opera company playing 'Faust' to night. I want to see that. instead of waiting until he came across a countess. When that cler went home that evening to his suburban cottage. I now her. "There's a lady in the dress-circle eeps staring either at you or me through her opera-glass." Miss Annett smiled. The big eyes. still without turning his head. Ruth. I prefer the humble stalls. I'll send my cabman away and tell him to come bac to ta e us in tonight." "At that rate rate." struc in Ruth. if Ruth will be content with the humble stalls. comes from Hong ong. I will stay here and ta e her in. "Is there anything on worth seeing at any of the theatres?" "Yes. she was a passenger on board the steamer. Ruth stole a glance." he thought--"a bazaar. or have you ta en a room in town?" "Ruth says she has got to have a good time while I am down. so he avoided a recognition in the most cowardly and ungrateful manner. as he ushered that lady into the presence of his principal." whispered Ruth that night. but her face wore a more hopeful loo since she had been tal ing to Tom. rather. "Yes. Chapter IV." But. still." "What's she li e?" as ed Duc worth. she has turned round to spea to some one. Tom ept his attention riveted on the stage for the remainder of the performance. he thought how common and dowdy his poor little wife loo ed. with a lot of diamonds" "Is she loo ing now?" as ed Tom. had all done their wor . and the gracious manner." "A wal ing jeweller's shop." "Very well then. the perfect get-up. and wondered how he could have thrown himself away in such a hasty and careless fashion. Miss Annett." said Hillsden's cler . she's is a fine-loo ing woman. I wish she would'nt." Duc worth loo ed round hastily." replied Tom.
and that I fancy I now better than you do what I can or cannot do. and passed on to another subject at once.that anything of any interest to this story was entered on. and was very pig-headed. Annett nows his way about as well as any one. All we want is the locality. I have a plan of my own." "What's that?" "Never mind. "Mr. does not now entitle you to tell me that I am only fit to deal with fools. the fact that you--a man--once too advantage of an unprotected girl. dead or alive." The big eyes flashed wrath. and not the style of fool you are accustomed to. got those diamonds from. so I am beginning to thin he must be dead. the other night. I saw Duc worth at the theatre." "And that was all you found out from Ras Mahad?" "Yes. if he doesn't do as I want him to do." said Madame. "Where is Ras Mahad?" "I believe." "That's exactly the puzzle. on the north-west coast. "So am I. he's too old and wary a bird. leaning bac in her chair. Let me remind you that our positions have changed since those days." "And you have implicit faith in this story of his that Annett had these diamonds in his possession when the proa was wrec ed?" "I have. By the way." "And the proa was wrec ed?"--"Somewhere on the coast of Timor. as much abashed as a man li e him could be." The man addressed loo ed down. The woman was magnanimous. and he had a young girl with him. and when you get hold of a pig-headed Mahomedan you might as well try to get information from a Chinaman. The people at my bac can obtain full concessions from the Dutch Government. If he is dead. "Sorry for Duc worth!" replied Hillsden. I suppose that was Annett's daughter?" ." Hillsden considered a moment. "I've ta en a fancy to Tom Duc worth. he spo e bad English. he has left it behind in his papers for the benefit of his daughter. at last. and trifled with the papers on his des . and that Annett nows. Hillsden. for I have heard from other sources that he obtained them from the Rajah of Bamilo ." "And Annett is there still? But I can't understand that--these are not the days of Robinson Crusoe and desert islands." "I have come down prepared to supply you with money to prosecute the search for the whereabouts of that diamond-field in Borneo which Annett. "I should advise you to leave Duc worth alone.
"Now. I suppose? It means you having to go to Cossac !" "And giving up my business here?" "Now. "Mr. away in the centre of Australia. she was up at Thursday Island as a child. There has been no time as yet for a reply from head-quarters. from what I can learn locally. but that has nothing to do with us. What is the first move to be made?" "Find Ras Mahad. it is all O. in a bread-and-butter sort of way. her name is Ruth." said Hillsden. means much more than a living?" Hillsden laughed. but he was not a man who li ed a jo e against himself." said Hillsden. and Madame bestowed an appreciative glance upon him as the enthralled cler showed her out. By the way. do you now?" "Yes. "Of course I am not ma ing a princely fortune. to-morrow or the next day we will ma e definite arrangements. and soon." "And you thin you now of his whereabouts. all trace of levity had long since vanished. you have my address. I suppose. will you?" Madame da Lucca rose as the cler closed the door. I now he is hot on this quest after Annett." At this moment Hillsden's cler entered with a card. as she descended the stairs. what's the girl's name. "how have you been faring since we met in Port Darwin?" "Hard graft. Mr.K. As him to wait a few minutes." Hillsden bowed. for. I understand. We can come to definite arrangements tomorrow or the next day. Hillsden. "I suppose we shall hear soon. I don't expect it will be a particularly pleasant billet." "Then let it be understood that you go after this Malay. musingly. from what he let drop. Lestrell. "yes. who is Mr. things are improving. but at any rate it means change and experience. mostly." she thought. and his laugh was forced. or Duc worth will be before you. "Lestrell. Lestrell. and bribe him to tell us where the proa was wrec ed. I remember. but. In the outer office sat a deeply sun-tanned man. "Well. do you imagine I am so ignorant as to thin that the business of a general agent in Sydney." Hillsden opened the door and she passed out." . "Goodbye for the present." Madame da Lucca's lip curled. but still."Probably. "I will try and detain Duc worth. Lestrell?" "Well. a pretty girl. and have made the enquiries you as ed me to ma e. Mr. somehow. as the latter entered. I suppose some people might call her pretty. He was goodly to loo on. You got my letter?" "Yes. just now.
as I wor late at night. though. When do you start?" "Not for some wee s." "Then come out with me. "Ta e this to Madame da Lucca. for private reasons. with two parties of Portuguese and Dutch surveyors. Can you give me Duc worth's address? I heard that he was in Sydney. and an interested loo came in his eyes. and the latter left the office. and I hate a boardinghouse. "No." "Yes. He is going near to the very spot. and can discuss this trip of yours. "I don't envy you the job. their greeting then was cordial in the extreme. indicating a position on the West Coast. I'll write down a few names. I don't thin it will turn out much of a picnic. nothing of any importance." returned Lestrell. and want a couple. in a few wee s. rising to go. we had lunch together." Hillsden laughed. "I have got to see about rooms. We will have dinner there. handed it to Lestrell. I have some wor to complete. leading his visitor up to one of the maps on the wall." he said. to help to define the exact boundary in Timor between the two nations. "Here." Chapter V. "Whereabouts do you begin?" he said. I am going out to see his sister. The note ran: "Never mind Duc worth--Lestrell is your man." "Yes. Duc worth and Lestrell had often met and become rather attracted to each other. one to wor in and one to sleep in. who is a great invalid. but what I want to ma e sure of is that it will be paid--that's why I wrote from Adelaide to as you to ma e enquiries. but I suppose the pay is good. then he sat down and wrote a note. your prospective contract is to assist at the coming definition of the exact boundary between the Dutch and Portuguese in Timor?" "Yes! I go as a neutral to see fair play all around. Ruth ma es a Conquest." ." "I am just about to retire. "Well. As the place is a hot--bed of fever. I am greatly interested in it. Meanwhile I will do all I can to get you the information wanted. I will underta e that you shall meet him. why. the other day. I heard that you had commenced business here." He did so. and the Dutch survey-party and the Portuguese party are sure to quarrel. the E--Hotel. "Are you engaged this evening?" as ed Tom. Which is the best building?" "Oh! there are whips of them now in Sydney. Hillsden went over to the map and regarded it intently." he said to his cler . You now my partner Annett. here." "Good-bye. Hillsden loo ed hard at it."As I understand it." said Lestrell.
" This explained matters. "I'll have to get something extra of course." "Aunt!" said Ruth that afternoon. "the one that stared at me so at the theatre. when I was at Hillsden's office a lady came out who honoured me with a very decided stare. live man with him. as he too to him. and the same quotation came into my head. to "Miss Annett?" he as ed enquiringly. "Have you seen that lady again." "I am Ruth Annett." "I don't suppose he would bring a dead one. the hand she extended . "here's a telegram from Uncle Tom. Miss Annett is my aunt." returned her aunt. but instead of his weather-beaten face there appeared a perfect Hebe of health and spirits who advanced to greet him by name with a smile of welcome. "then ten chances to one it was the same woman. for he was of course free of the house." "Hillsden's office?" mused Tom. and luc ily my new dress came home yesterday. but for once he was disconcerted. "Strange. I wanted to find out who were the responsible parties here."Than s! I'll come. Lestrell had plenty of self-possession. "I'll pay him for it some day. she is certainly handsome enough. and his old friend at the foot. and when Duc worth returned he found that the ice had been bro en in the most satisfactory manner. and her eyes cannot be beaten. from Singapore." Lestrell stood in the little drawing room strewn with tropical curios. and is going to bring a real. The sweet-mannered old lady at the head of the table. evidently wanting to drop the subject." "Who is the lady under discussion?" as ed Miss Annett. I hope Hillsden's not a friend of yours. "A Madame da Lucca." "I called as I promised. but I heard he was in business here and wrote to him as ing him to ma e certain enquiries for me." "Concerning this trip?" "Yes. but she was out. "Tennyson's words fit her exactly." he thought. for I have no opinion of him. The door opened and Lestrell loo ed up expecting to see him return. he is coming out to dinner." went on Ruth unheeding: "A queen with swarthy chee s and bold blac eyes. but I have no desire to eep up the acquaintance." "Scarcely an acquaintance. uncle?" as ed Ruth. the brilliant little beauty opposite to him." answered Tom shortly. Duc worth had gone out of the room on some errand. Lestrell thought it was the best dinner he had eaten for a long time. I'll call for you about 5. "This is a nice tric of master Tom's." Lestrell loo ed up quic ly. and I am not sorry.
half or nearly quite starved. began to float about the Straits. He was a bright boy when he pulled round. jumping up in his emphasis. and I am afraid points to his death." The two shoo hands. why we have a card up our sleeve that Hillsden nows nothing of. "I have strong reasons for as ing these questions. but Ruth won't let us tal shop now. but no money to follow the thing up. formerly sacred to Ruth's father. but our information is of the vaguest. if it is to be a duel between us.guarantee the money. had he not met Ruth the reply would have been somewhat more moderate and less romantic." "But if your partner's brother is in Timor why does he not communicate with you? Timor is not such an outlandish place. He was in a native proa at the time. "Now." "Did he appear interested?" "Ruth's father was wrec ed somewhere on that part of the coast we have reason to believe. showed it to him on the map. You told Hillsden the spot in Timor you were about to visit?" "I did. "with my last drop of blood! Perhaps. I intend to ta e the schooner and go round to try and find him before long." . Than Heaven I "Come to thin of it--he did. and we believe that Hillsden found out something about it. and she has brought down the needful money. Annett had a valuable parcel of diamonds with him. After he had gone we found out that he was another of the survivors of the wrec ed proa. and above all Hillsden nows nothing about this boy. They have been in communication before. so don't thin me curious or impertinent. it means mischief." "We must have a yarn about this presently. will you help us to find Ruth's father?" "Will I!" cried Lestrell. "I am almost certain that it was this Madame da Lucca you saw in Hillsden's office. I believe Hillsden has an idea where he is. if so. and the other fellow was sullen and morose. so we may yet meet in Timor. This man Ras Mahad has since gone away. One of the Malays was afterwards in Hillsden's employ at Darnley Island." The dinner finished successfully. and Duc worth too up the tale again." "That's it!" shouted Tom. and then Tom and the guest adjourned to the little den." "That is the mystery. Annett and I pic ed up an abandoned proa once when we were out with the schooner off Cape Wessel. Mind you I do not credit one word of it. On board was a young Malay. and lit their cigars." "Hillsden told me he was about to give up his business. and from there he went to the nor' west. "It can't be only a coincidence." commenced Duc worth. Now. We rescued him and too him to our station on Friday Island. Now. We must act at once. but unfortunately it was sufficient to ma e Hillsden eep bac from us the information he had received--more or less--as to the locality of the wrec . for a foolish yarn that at the time.
and I will win him to our interests. It was late for that quiet household before he left.30 tomorrow? I have some special business to see you about in connection with your visit to Timor." "Hills-den!" cried the woman rising in a rage from her chair. Have your people no interests in Dilli that you can as him to enquire about coffee plantations. ta e him partly into our confidence. wished to show him that she did not regard him as an ordinary visitor. for you will help us and not them. wants to have a quiet tal with you." "Lestrell read the note deliberately." "How am I to get to now him?" "That's it. but we will have a long tal before I leave. let me thin it out. I now. "and we must have him on our side. he has gone to see him this afternoon. say you heard from me that he was going on an important mission. then he smiled somewhat cynically. now that she new he was to be associated in the search for her brother. &c. well." "I now that.. I must go north again. and if necessary. I am. I only want to now him. Duc worth was right after all. he thought. or anything. Tom left his friend at his temporary lodgings at the hotel. Does he now Duc worth?" "Yes. She was very fond of her brother. Fancy having to ta e sides against that girl! But I'll eep the appointment! Needless to say that 'that girl' was Ruth Annett. meet and see that . who. Passing the letter rac he loo ed there and found a letter that had come during his absence. if you've finished your cigar.met you. Miss Annett. "Is that the man I saw in the front office?" she as ed eagerly. HILLSDEN. Trusting I am not interfering with any prior engagement by this request." "Did you give him the address?" "Certainly." While Lestrell was telling Miss Annett of the purpose of his coming trip. Fortunately I have the run of the cards. and Lestrell went to the smo ing room to consume a last cigar and meditate on the first girl's face that had ever dwelt long in his memory. Hillsden's note brought Madame da Lucca bac that afternoon. he will learn all from him. quite unli e my steadygoing self. It ran: "DEAR LESTRELL. Now let us go bac . so of course all the women of the family worshipped him." "That will do capitally. He was a rambling fellow. yours truly. and it was with many promises of more visits before starting that he said farewell to his hostess. J." he replied. "You are a fool! Why. Ruth put her uncle Tom through a severe cross-examination as to Lestrell and all about him. F. "It is.--Will you come to my office at 11." "I will do anything and everything I can. which has cropped up since we met.
At last she stopped." "I should have been a fool not to give it when someone would probably have run against Duc worth in the street and learnt from him what I new all the time. I'll be there first. We are too late. old man." Lestrell said. "Wonder why she is so madly jealous of this little girl? Lestrell is going to have stormy weather of it. and handing him Hillsden's note. shall we say?" "That's it. drawing a chair beside him. "This means fight." Duc worth glanced over it. and Annett and I will ta e the schooner round to the nor' west at once and secure that boy I told you of. Madame da Lucca paced up and down the room in intense anger. Tom Duc worth had just finished his brea fast and was meditating on the day's wor before him." "I thin I'll eep clear altogether. Write and as this man Lestrell here at. but it's the ind of wor that neither of us are cut out for. say." "You mean. I apologise. "but there will perhaps be more pleasure in the chase. "She has got the start. but I now very well. it's what you can't do. if she can. but it's no business of mine. I now what would be the best thing to do. carry out the idea you proposed just now. Chapter VI.namby-pamby niece." . Hillsden. "That does not require much reading between the lines. after all. and that's what she intends to do with you. that part of it." She left the room without waiting for him to open the door. having evidently put some constraint on herself." she muttered to herself." "Now you get into questions of diplomacy beyond my humble capacity. "I intend to eep the appointment this morning." muttered the ex-pearl sheller." and he sat down and wrote the note." he said. but what to do or say I have not determined. or my name is not Tom Duc worth." returned Hillsden hotly. whether he will or whether he won't. "Phew! she's a terror. "You were a true prophet. half past 11 to-morrow morning. They are welcome to Ras Mahad. I will be here and have a good yarn ready. The Game Commences. pretend to fall in with her views and get her to confide them to you under--false pretences. That's what Hillsden would do. when Lestrell came in to the smo ing-room where he was enjoying his first cigar. learn that it is her father who is missing. "I must go bac by the first boat. send an excuse this morning." "But how am I to act?" as ed Lestrell.
I don't suppose. I see nothing underhand about that. "My client. and report progress. are going to run away." "Very well.) "Mild flirtation. is interested. and a magnetic charm in her manner. "You are Mr. but no one can say for certain. you object to a little mild flirtation with a pretty woman?" "Perhaps not." "To fight another day. I'll bell the cat. Hillsden and Lestrell rose. Mr." she said." "There is lovely scenery in Timor. well. on one or two points which she will supply you with. I ought to be. New Guinea has been my limit. she might come in at any moment. at present I do. Lestrell was seated in Hillsden's office. "Now. loo here." (He did not even own to himself that it was since he met Ruth." "If she ma es eyes at me again. Lestrell. and she held out a hand of welcome. li e she did the other day in Hillsden's office." "Well. and you--you old poltroon." "What can I do in the matter? I fail to see. so far."No. but. through her husband.--I thin you can ta e care of yourself. you simply go there to find out what they want to see you about. lately." "When do you thin of starting. This is quite open and honest on your part. but the thought that flashed through his brain was: "I am glad I met Ruth Annett first. while Hillsden placed a chair for her." "Madame da Lucca!" said the doubly enthralled cler . Lestrell?" . at your age. if I'm a judge of character. she wishes to see you before you leave." "So you are going to Timor. but it is very unhealthy. you can't leave for a day or two. in some extensive coffee-plantations in Timor. old man." "Just oblige her by ma ing enquiries when you are at Dilli. indeed! there would be nothing mild with her. once." laughed Tom. I'll face the enemy. are you fever-proof?" "Well. Have you been there before?" "No. and hearing of your intended trip. approaching him without waiting for Hillsden to mention his name. Hillsden said there was some little service I might be able to render you out there." A couple of hours later. Lestrell. I was there once. I should most decidedly thin so. in fact. opening the door. there has been some difficulty out there. However. Mr. believe me I shall be most happy to do anything in my power. If so. Lestrell could not fail to be struc by her beauty. Madame da Lucca. Madame da Lucca is mar ed dangerous.
" "Have you got rooms yet?" as ed Hillsden as he left. and a distinct pressure with it. then he called in the cler and told him that in a wee 's time he would be leaving the office and throwing up the business--ruthlessly thus dragging down that youth from visions of lovely women with flashing dar eyes." he thought. "Who is Madame da Lucca?" Lestrell said suddenly to Hillsden. and I need scarcely will have her own way. "Her husband is a very wealthy Portuguese merchant in Singapore. then. you will be here. I have ta en two in Sonaro Chambers. Would you find it too much trouble to call and see me tomorrow afternoon?" and she turned a full broadside on him. she could be a devil. Hillsden has my address. "It stri es me. and a true one. she is a most beautiful creature. for I must not miss the fine weather and get caught in one of those nor'-west hurricanes. He was ta en very ill immediately after I left. What do you thin ind of gorgeous women always are to do it. giving me fuller details on the subject. spiritually. "Yes. to the prosaic reality that in a wee he would be out of a billet. "Mr. so you will be able to confer together as well as you and I. welllighted room. for although I shall be pretty busy. "I have had a wire from my partner. Lestrell had promised to lunch with Duc worth. Good-bye. I can't stop to meet him. and did not turn up until nearly one o'cloc ." "I am expecting some letters down shortly. and--I'm d--d glad of it. as you say. just suited for my wor . I should imagine?" "Physically. but Tom was out. when." "Considerably older than herself. then the misguided cler showed her out."Not for some wee s. She expects letters down. and he nows you. and very sensible they their own way. "sent to Coo town by the steamer following mine." she said. However. Nothing "A natural guess. One is a large. probably to-morrow morning. You now Annett. "that Madame will run against a snag this time. we shall probably cross each other on the way. Now give me the address." Hillsden commenced arranging his papers. and he went straight to Tom's hotel. I shall shift my traps in probably this afternoon. I thin . Those do marry old men. as she gave him her hand again. Between ourselves." He snapped this out viciously. I believe she has no more interest in coffee-plantations in Timor than I have. I will call and see her. and the doctor has ordered him south at once. how did you get on this morning?" "I'm blessed if I now. for they get tell you that Madame da Lucca of her?" . Now. she could not get her own way." he said. and wants me to call to-morrow afternoon.
Lestrell?" "I cannot guess." Tom pushed his plate away with a jer . at any rate. so that. "Yes. a sorrow has once stric en." said unsuspecting Tom. I thin she ma es eyes at everybody." and Tom laid his hand on his friend's nee. "What are you doing this afternoon?" "I was thin ing of fixing up my rooms. She does not want information about coffee-plantations. it's second nature. Lestrell. if trouble came. I can't tal amongst all this clatter." he said suddenly. now. many years ago." ind face. and she has been an invalid ever since. I was too late. I am proud to say. They lead a very quiet. It was a terrible shoc . But you won't lose your head." "I'll come and help you. an awful wrec it was. and it's my opinion that she'll tell you some garbled story about Annett." Tom leaned bac in his chair and smo ed vigorously for a while. I must buy some trestles for my wor . I can't answer for another woman when my time comes. her instincts are too pure and true. old fellow. at any rate. she has a good face." "He was chief officer. &c.definite. There'll be nobody in there." Duc worth too his cigar from his mouth. and went down doing his duty to the last. too late! You understand her love had been given already. no! She could never love an unworthy man." Duc worth lit his cigar." "First nature. "She is not old in years. which God forbid. It will do me good. and his eyes grew dreary. we'll soon straighten the place out. "Enough of this. You remember the wrec of the Barcelona?" "I do. I go out there every evening when I am in town. "Madame wants to get you alone for some purpose. and. will you?" "Not to Madame da Lucca. she nows that I am at her service with all I have. li e one whom some great . But we are true friends. come out with me to dinner. "I can. between us. and. it aged her prematurely. and a few things for my bedroom. Who do you thin was the woman." "It hasn't come yet. Then. if you hear anything of Annett and these precious diamonds--rot them!--you will tell her. "Mine came many. a new light illumined his rugged features. "Have you finished? Come into the smo ing-room. although she loo s it." "And he proved unworthy and bro e her heart?" "No. Did she ma e eyes at you again?" Lestrell laughed. she wants to ma e a fool of you.. my boy. "You would scarcely thin that Miss Annett was once as pretty as Ruth is now?" "You are right.
The sleeves were short enough and loose enough to show the rounded arm. I have a story to tell you. evidently the property of Madame da Lucca." Lestrell told the conventional lie that she evidently expected. Mr. One glance round had shewn him that the conventional furniture of the hotel sitting-room had been entirely changed in appearance by the addition of rare and curious nic nac s. I have never been in the bush. As you are a tea-drin er I will give you a treat." "Is it? I only now Australian cities. and eating and drin ing together are our signs of amity. and which you could not buy in Sydney." "I will not as a name. I'll try and ma e some amends. when the tea comes we will have a chat about Timor." thought Lestrell as he sat down. "We are only savages.retired life. some very special tea I brought down myself. Duc worth him the most unsociable companion he had had for a long time. set off by a single plain bracelet. I am a bushman. he answered at random. Lestrell. did spea . "Dangerous. and tea is the national beverage in the bush. Her eyes had lost the hard loo that often marred their radiance. thought When he come with the greatest pleasure. and were as soft and shy as a timid girl's. and she went on. Mr. but evidently expensive. indeed. tapering to the wrist. Do you drin tea?" "Of course. and a maid-servant shortly entered--evidently also Madame's private property. and I have brought you here for nothing. after all. Measuring Swords." She touched the nob of the bell close to her. and ma ing an appropriate bac ground to her warm beauty. as it is with them. after all. is it not?" . "However. for he was at once ushered up to her sitting-room. Chapter VII. She received a few instructions and left. Lestrell! Those bothering letters have never turned up. "Now." returned Lestrell." returned Lestrell He did where?--but there was no need. "Fancy. The resemblance was heightened when a slight flush came to her face as she greeted her guest with a smile." "When one man meets another after a long separation it is the invariable formula to go and have a drin together. although Tom had not mentioned When Lestrell and Tom returned together that night. but I always feel more eloquent when I have a cup of tea before me. the next afternoon. and had just enough jewellery on for effect. to the hotel Madame patronised. plain." "I quite agree with you. Lestrell guessed that his visit was rec oned upon as a certainty when he went. She was dressed in a loose gown. it seems to do away with a lot of formality.
" "But I am sure that he and Annett will be together. Mr. and I am anxious on his account. and she let it remain there. On that same proa was Mr. And I want you to promise me this: if you hear any tidings of my husband's nephew. even in that country of cheap commodities. if he came across him. My husband is very fond of this nephew." he replied. "if you hear of one. or of Annett--for the chances are that the two are together-nay! you might say it is a certainty--will you let me now at the earliest opportunity. every word of which sounded li e a caress. comes in the strange part. Lestrell. You are the man who will probably solve the mystery of the disappearance of both men. You see I am perfectly plain with you. Some years ago. left the room. and the only reason I can thin of is that the supposes I have information about Annett which I have ept from him. Latterly we heard that he was last heard of on board of a proa. Duc worth's partner. and he noticed that the set was of the most delicate Japanese ware. it will mean the other. "Then I shall regard this cup of tea as a sign of amity between us for the future." she went on in a voice. wrec ed on the coast of Timor. that I will let you now as soon as ever I can. although my husband used every means he could thin of. what an artful trap he was caught in. and they stood close to each other. She held out her hand." she said. "What reason can ." "Then. Reginald Annett. Now. "We have eaten bread and salt together. Duc worth has been cold to me lately. Lestrell rose and went over to ta e his cup from her. and now I will tell you the story I promised to. we have reason to believe. must have cost money. a nephew of my husband's. which proa was. She was loo ing at him somewhat anxiously." As she spo e. Mr. We could gain no tidings of him anywhere. Madame da Lucca. you may be sure. Will you not also let me now if you have tidings of Annett?" She rose from her seat. "they put salt in butter. that. and. He no more believed in the mythical nephew than he did in the coffee--plantations. There was some wafer bread--and-butter. disappeared. Truly. Lestrell rose too. for I now that Mr." During this communication Lestrell felt as though he should li e to get up and run for it. I will give you a certain address which will speedily find me. the maid came in with the beverage. "If I hear of anybody on Timor who is li ely to be your husband's nephew. when he had resumed his seat. travelling amongst the Islands of the Straits. after placing it on a small table convenient to her mistress. I now no more than he does." "I believe it is an essential. He was being led on to promise to let her now about Annett. Lestrell. we have eaten salt together. as it dawned upon him. "Ah!" said Madame. the brother of Mr. which he too in his. who did a good deal of his business. don't they. and he too a slice."I verily believe it is.
luminous eyes loo ed up into his. now?" "O. "That's a good stiff nip for you. "How on earth did I get out of that fix?" thought Lestrell. so. and vowed that anything I could do to assist her . will you not? I may have my letters by then." "How did you get out of the fix?" "I issed her hand." The hotel where Duc worth was staying was on his road." she almost whispered. soft. and she thin s I may hear of him." She lifted her hand and issed the place which Lestrell's lips had touched." he said hastily." "Rather transparent. Lestrell. but that was the tale she told. she wants me to promise faithfully that I will at once communicate with her. and he would have ta en her in his arms and promised everything." "You will come and see me to-morrow afternoon. and he met Tom coming out. but now--he raised her hand and issed it. and I only issed her hand--that doesn't count for much. I wonder such a clever woman could not have invented something more plausible. as if to seal her oath." she murmured to herself. "He is the tenth. "I will come. "Rest assured. Madame da Lucca. that anything I can do for you in this matter. as if to meet the expected embrace." said Duc worth. while the hand he held--a warm. I swear. and the next moment the door closed behind him. "Nine men out of ten would have been at my feet. and the rounded form seemed swaying towards him. "Come into the bar." "What's the game. if I hear of either of them. there's a nephew adrift--a nephew of her husband's--adrift somewhere in the Straits. Madame is quite convinced that he is with Annett. I will do. as he wal ed away quic ly." he said." "So do I. and she nearly got the best of me. "I didn't promise anything definite. loo ing at his companion's glass.there be for you to refuse me this?" The soft. "I want some whis y. and that he was wrec ed on the same proa. one that is good to hold--sent a magnetic thrill through him. "What's the matter?" "I've been having afternoon tea with Madame da Lucca. but firm hand. The woman he had left paced up and down the room. One short wee ago." They went in together. and I will ta e him away from that babyfaced doll.
the man whose whereabouts was so urgently sought for by two conflicting parties--one inspired by love. The feathery-foliaged bamboos were everywhere." "I must go to wor . Poor Madame da Lucca. the proa containing Annett and four Malays. if she could have but guessed how completely she was forgotten when Ruth was present. He was quiet and harmless. and then. she flattered herself that the best of the s irmish. the women. were carried over . on one wild night of storm. The little brown children were not afraid of him. shattered themselves in clouds of white spray. first by sun and fever. old man. then by a brain attac that left him almost a mental wrec . I would do. "Not at all! You are one of us--bound on the same quest. Then I bolted. changing to low scrub. was hurled ruthlessly to destruction. the other by avarice--was living in a native village. but." "No than s. The men." "At that rate. as they came home from their wor amongst the bread-fruit and cocoa-nut patches. for my appointment might arrive at any moment. lay in front of the little village.to find this non-existent nephew. protected by a reef. Here. and her dreams were dreams of utterly and would have had she had had victory. as it was. struc down. "She had you in a tight place. Annett ought to be down here in a few days. and you'll find it no laughing matter. tal ing to himself." Tom Duc worth laughed heartily. I now she li es you. climbed up the lofty sides to the top. but I expect my steamer will leave before he arrives. with but dim memories of the past floating through his confused brain. I'm out of it. inside. he spent his time mostly in wandering about. in their white abayas and gay sarongs. spo e indly to him." and Lestrell wondered if the niece shared her aunt's sentiments. Far away on a northern island. the sands were yellow and the water blue and still. Fortunately all. and the villagers were rather proud of the mad white man who lived amongst them in one of the thatched houses with long roofs reaching nearly to the ground. A tiny. too. before I leave. hypocritically. with one exception. the cocoa-nut palms and bread-fruit trees lent their aid to the vivid color of the jungle which flourished to the foot of the pea . you go and see her yourself." "Will you come out with me. she a bad night. In the little village nestling at the foot of a jagged pea one of the highest in the range that may be said to form the island of Timor. I suppose the eyes were well to the fore?" "Here. Now I've got my hands more than full for the whole time. long rollers that loo ed as though they must have travelled all the way from distant Flores. Outside. to-night?" "Don't you thin that it loo s rather too much li e trespassing on Miss Annett's good nature?" as ed Lestrell. did the same. semi-circular bay. I'll come. Besides.
" he concluded in his own mind. The conventional 'seeing a man off' was especially abhorrent to him. nor had any cause to trouble his head as to whether it was the first. telling him of the wild hill-men who lived there and who would have his head. his mind was unhinged. Chapter VIII. but Tom new her at a glance--Madame da Lucca! She too a turn or two up and down the dec with Hillsden. he was not worried by having to say good-bye to half a dozen acquaintances. He had no desire to leave the place." remar ed Hillsden somewhat viciously. that he was a passenger. and then she said good-bye and went ashore. Presently a cab drove up. It was not until the steamer was well down the harbour that Tom made his presence nown to Hillsden. and a lady got out and wal ed up the gangway-plan . and in the incipient delirium of fever. which had lodged on the highest part of the reef.the reef into the quiet bay. Annett is ill and is coming south. and." thought Tom. She was plainly dressed. "there's no handicapping in this race. when he stepped off the gangway on to the dec of the steamer. The friendly villagers tried hard to dissuade him. "Whether or no. and casting impatient glances on the wharf. gaunt. The Malays made their way to the nearest Portuguese settlement. The Rivals Meet. "they now nothing about Djuran." He was of too even a temperament to disturb himself much. Tom Duc worth was a man who hated anything approaching humbug. "You didn't stop long in Sydney. "Things are growing interesting. but the Englishman. When the storm lulled and the tide was low. Thus was living Ruth's father. and he is the one I want. determined to investigate the range at the bac . so I must get bac . no wish for anything. and swam ashore. he went on dec and too possession of a canvas--chair in a retired spot on the poop whence he could amuse himself watching the bustle below." "Oh. He went. Of what he had gone through he was never able to tell. with his rambling spirit strong in him. and he also consoled himself with the thought that his schooner would be ready to start at a moment's notice. haggard. In a way he was contented." . The women nursed him through his long illness. second. Annett was able to recover most of his things from the wrec . or third bell that was ringing. Therefore. when he recoverd. whereas Hillsden would have to hire and fit out a boat. Having seen everything ship-shape in his cabin. I'm glad to have an old friend on board. and it was evident from the luggage a porter carried on board after him. for Tom's presence annoyed him. and three wee s afterwards came bac . well. I thin we are going to have a fine trip. "No. and Hillsden was plainly in a state of impatience about something--wal ing up and down the dec ." The second bell rang. The first person to attract his attention was Hillsden.
" said Ruth one day coming into her room. grew in intensity. "Mr. more by her than by him. but when they reached Thursday Island Tom was chagrined to find that Hillsden was as ready to start as he was. He's not gone yet. ept company all the way across the mouth of the Gulf." "Auntie. whom she only new by sight. before they could indulge in the luxury of much sentiment. and I suppose its about me. What did you say to him in reply?" "I believe I said 'Yes. sooner or later. Nearly five days after Duc worth's departure. with the steady wind that was blowing. "I new it was bound to come. I . Lestrell is not a poor man now. Annett arrived. but. this girl has told you I suppose. so perhaps you might run down and tell him that your aunt approves. and women can only stay at home and wait. and. Lestrell has as ed me to marry him. and Lestrell found it necessary to go out and consult him often. but Ruth resisted. "But you have trouble and anxiety before you. and he had received his commission from the two governments. The two boats left nearly at the same time. and as. and her hatred of the girl. Annett was really ill. "Long or short. in the absence of her father. for Lestrell s ilfully evaded all tender scenes. he is going on a dangerous mission.'" "Where is Mr.They had a fine trip. neeling beside her. much to Lestrell's satisfaction. and too up his residence there." cried Ruth indignantly. The tears sprang into Ruth's eyes as her aunt laid her hand caressingly on her head. Annett was her natural guardian. and thin he will ma e our girl a good husband. Meanwhile." and her voice trembled as her thoughts went bac to the gallant young lover of her youth. who went down at his post on the sin ing ship." Her aunt put her hand down and tried to turn the girl's flushed face up to the light. as he advanced. and thereby increased the passion of the self-willed woman." "Then that settles it. Lestrell now?" "He is tal ing to Uncle. who justly ascribed her failure to win him to the influence of Ruth. that Lestrell wants to run away with her?" he said. there was a noc at the door and Annett's voice was heard as ing if he could enter. "So. his acquaintanceship with Madame da Lucca was maintained." said Miss Annett. what do you say?" and he put his hand on his sister's shoulder. he had every hope he would at once gain his consent. "I li e Lestrell. "Not for a long time." "I thin everybody will agree that it is suitable. and half hiding her face in her lap. He had determined to as the important question at the first favourable opportunity. having wired up and made the necessary arrangements for a schooner. I have given my consent. and this trip will put him almost at the top of his profession. for during those few days he had had no excuse for calling at the cottage. The time for Lestrell's departure was drawing nigh.
After the greeting was over she loo ed curiously round her lover's wor --room. then she advanced into the room." Lestrell was hard at wor the next day finishing up his plans. It was a woman--the dar -eyed woman Ruth had seen at the theatre. Lestrell. and." she said. without waiting for an invitation. "I wish to see Mr." . as though some emotion was rampant within her breast. By the way." "Well. We'll leave Ruth in charge." "I can answer for Ruth. "I feel better. said. Annett allowed them a reasonable time before he followed her. saw Ruth enter shyly. run away you two!" Left to herself. turning. Lestrell. "It will be a long and trying engagement for Ruth. I ought to go there." said Miss Annett. are you not?" "Ruth inclined her head. but whoever it was opened the door and came in." Ruth got up. They have not nown each other very long. with the answer he wanted written on her face. then Annett. will you?" as ed Lestrell." "You won't mind stopping here. and her eyes gleamed vindictively as she noticed the undeniable charm of Ruth's fresh young face." Lestrell. wal down with me. Ruth leaned bac in her chair." The woman came a little nearer. Annett and Ruth came in. and it will show what stuff they are made of. when a noc came to the door. but you men have no sentiment. loo ing at his watch. An hour soon slipped by. Now you had better stop to dinner. alone. then seemed to vanish from the room in some mysterious way other than wal ing." "What time do you thin you will be in?" as ed Lestrell. any time. A sharp. eagerly. heard the door open. "and intend to ta e Ruth into town to--morrow. spread over the deal boards on the trestles. went up to her uncle and issed him. Lestrell is out. and." he said. "Oh. but he will be bac very shortly. and as ed questions about the instruments he was using. Perhaps we might drop in on you. "how far is it from here to the steameroffice?" "Not very far. "You are Miss Annett. "Mr. in answer to his invitation to enter. imperative noc at the door aroused her." She spo e in a strangely constrained voice. waiting in the room used as a sort of writing-room or office. "Of course not. and was soon lost in a girls' happy daydream. "I have some business with him. we intend to catch you unawares. "All the better.want to spea to her alone. and see about my passage. myself. She gave a decided start of surprise at seeing Ruth there.
May I as ." and the door closed on her." She stopped at the door. "Miss Annett. Madame glared with anger. They're welcome to any my brother's got. "She gives me no peace in her endeavours to ma e me promise that I will inform her of your brother's whereabouts. You are a perfect stranger to me. Ruth was one of the best-natured of girls. "It loo s very much li e hunting the poor man down." "That's a sweet--tempered woman. there is no nowing what the furious woman might have done in her rage and disappointment. if I hear of it. if a weapon had been handy. "Confound the woman." ." Madame da Lucca allowed a sneer to be visible on her face. Ruth sat down again without deigning to answer. Soon afterwards her uncle and Lestrell returned. "It's this person who is bac ing-up Hillsden. haughtily. "A lady called to see you. "but I don't thin she got the best of it. "I came here with my uncle. Ruth sat without a word." Lestrell frowned. alone?" The two shots went home. Madame da Lucca sprang forward. and Ruth thought she was about to stri e her. "You lie." she said. Lestrell and I are engaged to be married."Is it usual for young ladies to visit men in their private rooms?" Ruth sprang up with a crimson face." thought Ruth. and Mr. You will never marry Lawrence Lestrell." he went on to Annett. but I didn't now that she new where I lived. I suppose Hillsden must have told her." "It's this stupid yarn about the diamonds. Madame turned white to the lips and her dar eyes shot fire." he said. how it is that you come up here to Lawrence's room." Ruth was quite calm now. "Mr. Lestrell and he are out together and will return together. "You must be a wic ed woman. "A Madame da Lucca. "Kindly tell Mr. but she possessed all a woman's perception of how to sting another woman. said she called on the business you now of." she cried." she said. especially the use of the familiar christian name." she said. indignantly. Lestrell. let me tell you one thing. she was not going to let this woman gain any advantage through loss of temper. Lawrence. that's ma ing all the mischief. By an astonishing effort she regained her calmness. since you have such a nice regard for appearances. and." she said simply. "that Madame da Lucca called to see him on the business he nows of. "When did this ta e place?" "I cannot recognise your right to as such a question.
The street was deserted and silent. who have always been used to men begging love from me. and Lestrell stooped down and issed her. are you coming out to dinner. Lena. In the distance some poor woman. beyond that your were somewhat outspo en. but turned and loo ed out of the window. Lawrence. "I too your eys when I was here this afternoon and you were out. "Have you ta en my eys?" "No. In the chair occupied that day by Ruth. He found the door on the latch. "I feel li e going home. "Now. as he had left it. advancing to him and putting both hands on his arm. with ." she said."How did you get on together." Chapter IX. what was the important business. that you are engaged to be married?" "It is quite true. Lawrence. "It is true. Lawrence." and she slipped her hand affectionately through her lover's arm. as they were preparing to leave. Lestrell?" "Yes. "I heard you were here this afternoon." "Listen. if you let me come away directly afterwards. turned up the gas and lit it. Did that girl tell you what I said to her?" "That girl is Miss Ruth Annett." She threw the bunch ringing on the table." answered Lestrell." she interrupted. Madame da Lucca?" "To see you." said Annett. "A man has many fancies in his life. I must chance it. and she said nothing of what passed. but don't trouble--she only came off second best. who threw her veil bac and rose up. Madame. He did not answer. I'm not jealous at such a handsome woman coming to your room. Ruth?" as ed Lestrell. The Last Appeal. and. "What can this school-child be to a man li e you? What can she have in common with you? Leave her! I--I--God help me. and why have you come?" he almost stammered." "I am sure I left them on the table. and leave my door unloc ed. now beg it from you. went in. It was about 9 o'cloc that evening when Lestrell returned to his room. sate a woman." "This is madness. Annett turned round and coughed. I must get through with this wor . and mine is given beyond recall to--" "Ruth Annett. my promised wife. but only one real and unswerving love. in case the door was loc ed. Madame da Lucca again! "How did you come here. jo ingly. "She was excessively rude. but I won't eep you. then. and he started with surprise. although I now I ought to be." "Ruth!" he said." Lestrell's face hardened li e flint as he said this. The light illumined the room with a sudden glare.
Lestrell. Mr. "Hold me in your arms. He too the pleading. and now she yielded herself to him." he answered. her hand in his. that I may fancy. and with that laugh the shadows of blood and terror that had gathered round the pair. and through the open window came the mournful refrain of the street-singer--"Carissima!" "Now. will be your servant and your slave. compared to mine? Lawrence. "Mine! mine!" she wailed. could never deal death to me. then. that it is my rightful place. do you not see it staining everything?" "See it?" she answered. was singing for alms." he answered. I! the proudest woman up there. of a . but she repulsed and held him off. Although your love is given to another. the night he obtained the Moccasins of Silence. dearest. I have just heard of my husband's death. "we will leave off this fooling. "It is impossible--impossible. "yes. thin ing she was about to faint. "I do not believe it. "Blood. and her eyes had the pleading loo wounded bird. "Blood. and--Oh. I am rich enough for both. loo ing up at him with eyes soft and lustrous as the star of eve. "Carissima!"--the sad refrain seemed to weave itself in his brain with the memory of the distant chant of the blac s. recovering himself and trying to soothe her. but still they lur ed ominously near." she said at last. even for those few seconds. Richard's himself again!" She laughed lightly. "What is it. just for a moment. I see it all!" "Lena! Lena!" he said. everywhere. suddenly disengaging herself. she had dropped on her nees at his feet. Ruth never heard of that one iss. God! it is mine--my blood!" and she shuddered and drew bac . far away from this hateful city to the lovely seas of the East Give up your appointment. What love can she give you. seemed to draw off somewhat. Suddenly she felt a convulsive clutch. He caught her by the hands and raised her up. Lawrence?" she as ed. give up that girl. "It is gone." She was silent as she nestled in his embrace. Lena da Lucca was standing silent beside him." In the agony of her supplication and the utter abandonment of pride. Lena!" "Impossible. beautiful face in both his hands and passionately issed the eager lips. "and it is you--you--who will shed it! The one man I ever loved will slay me." she said. and hid her face in his breast as though to shut out some vision of overwhelming horror. and he has left me all. as if spea ing in a dream.a voice that had seen better days. I see it." For a moment he forgot himself. your hand. "Come!" she whispered to him with a voice full of love's fascination. "Impossible?" she as ed. "let us go together. He put his arm round her.
for neither felt that they could touch on ordinary topics. but could do nothing but tell her of the death of the rain-ma er." she went on. then. not those!" She held them behind her. And now. as he strolled bac to his chambers. "The stuff that binds the sole of emu feathers together is mixed with human blood. I intend to eep these queer slippers. in case we never meet again. It was a silent enough wal . and they went down-stairs. or rather far into the next morning. warm hand. but. . It is late. or to a cab. Lestrell?" He saw the mista e he had made. "Can I have anything I ta e a fancy to?" "Certainly." She glanced around. and the ominous curse pronounced on the objects she held. The third time it will be the blood of the wearer. "What are these?" she as ed stepping towards them and ta ing down the Moccasins of Silence. as no one but myself shall ever wear them. Lestrell. and the next time Lestrell saw those passionate eyes that loo ed so long and lovingly into his. Mr." "And the third time it is to be the blood of the wearer? Mr. "That. he felt indly disposed towards her. they have been wet with blood?" "Twice. "I should li e something of your's." "Once. and when they reached the hotel." He put on his hat. He sprang forward excitedly. determines me. "No. Lena--not those. in the future. to a beautiful woman who had fallen in love with him and told him so? Lestrell wor ed late that night. What man would not. in English?" she as ed. we are--friends!" She held out her firm. There were a few aboriginal weapons and other things hung around on the walls. of course. but there is little here to ta e a lady's fancy. good-bye. for all that. and. also in silence. "Once shall these be wet with blood. it was in strange company in a strange land! "I hope that chapter in my life is turned down for good. "What was the formula. they parted. "Let us wal . I am afraid the old medicine-man's prophecy will prove untrue."I will go. and he too it as he would that of a fellow-man." thought Lestrell. and into the quiet street. although we may be on opposite sides. for God's sa e." he replied. and. He had little trouble to guess at Madame da Lucca's past career." "I will see you home. What is the reason of this." said Madame. Twice shall they be wet with blood.
It's when you're thin ing yourself quite safe that your time comes unexpectedly. After a bath and brea fast he went steadily to wor again. and Tom Duc worth was one of the most popular men in the Straits. this so excited the avarice of the Malay that. If you persuaded Lestrell to give it up and stay here. began to feel some of the pain of the approaching separation. and his transfer to the schooner was effected quietly. but he had heard of Ras Mahad. reached the pearling fleet off Cossac . "that is the very reason that he will come bac safely. Chapter X. finding him almost at the same time as Hillsden. Of Madame da Lucca Lestrell saw no more during the few remaining days of his stay in Sydney.then he threw himself down on his bed for a few hour's sleep. The two schooners. and in the evening paid his now accustomed visit to the cottage. Hillsden being on the same game. The Malay had learnt fairly good English since Tom saw him last. because they ta e precious good care to loo after themselves. but Duc worth had Hillsden at a disadvantage. "My dear Ruth. awa ing at daylight one morning." said her uncle. Hillsden had to pay a pretty price for the transfer of his service. and poor Ruth. one day after she had been tal ing of the dangers attendant on her lover's mission. Of course it was useless now for the two men to hide from each other any longer that they were on the same quest. and Tom's luc stood him in good stead. in Western Australia. Duc worth's search for Ras Mahad was simply a blind. or something of that sort. he should have sailed away at once and got many days' start of Hillsden. In the first place. However. The Hurricane in the Nor'-West. moreover he remembered his rescuer well. The southeaster that had stood them so well had died down soon after their arrival at the . for he was in the employ of an old friend of Duc worth's. or run over by a runaway cab. With Djuran on board. and it was with forebodings of evil that she said good-bye to Lestrell when the hour of departure arrived. the latter comforted himself with the thought that it was not his own money he was spending. He jumped out of his bun and went on dec . at about the same time. Both men were well nown." Ruth. favoured by fine weather and a constant wind. The time for his departure was rapidly drawing near. however. transformed from a happy. and. careless girl to a loving woman. for most of the shellers were old Thursday Island men. It's not on dangerous expeditions that men lose their lives. feigned to enter into an agreement with him to go bac to Queensland. Duc worth's errand was now virtually accomplished. as he wanted really to find the young man Djuran. he would probably be mixed up in the first railway accident that occurred. had not sufficient practical logic to be comforted by such reasoning. suddenly became aware that in delaying thus he was playing the fool. without coming to Hillsden's nowledge. finally. Djuran was found without much difficulty. and had a strong li ing for him. but it served his purpose well enough to worry and annoy Hillsden. Tom.
She passed close to Hillsden's boat." "No. "I believe you're right. "Now's our chance. "Are you off?" "Off to sea. and . so that we have plenty of sea-room to ride it out. It was the change of the seasons. and only a rag of a storm try-sail was set. for the man was an old hand on the coast. "and I advise you to do the same." and Hillsden hailed her. noticing it. and the mate's anxiety increased. and very soon the schooner was under weigh and heading out to sea. and get off this coast. "If we could get a breath of wind to eep her head to it. but ever and anon a long swell came rolling in. The mate was on dec . Presently a rain-sqall was seen coming swiftly towards them. sir. and two anchors out. Holdsworth." It was now evident that the boats of the shelling fleet were ma ing preparations for rough weather. but the cussed thing comes down li e a cannon shot. early in the morning as it was. even without canvas on." The schooner had shot on out of hearing. as they call them. or my name's not Holdsworth" the man returned. but the haze had increased in density and become a threatening cloud. swept over them. The sea was glassily calm. and Holdsworth drew Tom's attention to it. "What's the matter?" as ed Tom. If we can get a breath of wind to help us. The wind carried them to the north-west. willys. "We're going to have a devil of a blow. Tom loo ed around." Everything had been made as snug as possible." he said impatiently. and they went to the helm The squall. "I was in one of these willy." "Yes. We had better ta e advantage of this. I've good holding ground. "It always begins this way. "we would be pretty right. and that was the last he ever saw of Hillsden. The said Tom.shelling grounds. and helm and rode head to wind. then once more a calm set in. we'll get out to sea. and if it catches us broadside. well out of sight of land. the "Saucy Sarah. before. The afternoon drew on. we shall have a bad show. and stop there until it's over. and Tom waved his hand." answered the mate. Holdsworth. hurricane." and sent the man there forward. the precursor of the the schooner once more answered to the mate heaved a sigh of relief. there was a threatening haze on the northern horizon. and." shouted Duc worth." About 9 o'cloc a light wind from the land began to blow. and they might be wind-bound at any time. gazing around with a somewhat anxious loo ." he said. "We must get away as far and as fast as we can--it does'nt matter much in what direction. before it dropped. with constant flashes of lightning illumining it.
to see if he could get hold of a newspaper with an account of the Timor episode." He went up the township after reading his letters. and. with the dec s constantly swimming with water. and the brave little fore-and-after rode safely over the threatening waves that seemed about to engulf her. Gradually the wind and sea went down somewhat. and they were safe. stating that the survey parties employed by the Governments of Portugal and Holland to define the boundary in Timor. Through the rigging and bare masts raged and tore a wind that seemed to combine within itself all the storms that ever blew. that it had been impossible to serve out anything. showing but a small surface. was glowing with phosphorescent light. raindrenched morning bro e at last. and. although no definite news was to . and the "Saucy Sarah" had gone down at her moorings with all hands. in the premature dar ness that set in. "but a gunboat will be sent from Batavia. He opened the telegram first. Tom and Holdsworth had relinquished their places to two of the men when daylight tardily came. Staggering under the successive buffets that she received. As yet there was no sea worth spea ing of. a scene of devastation and wrec met their gaze. but the wet and hungry men were quite content to now that the worst of the hurricane was over." he thought. gallantly met the enemy. I wonder how the 'Saucy Sarah' got on!" "He ought to have followed our example. The loss amongst the shipping had been heavy. "There will be an awful smash amongst the fleet. and its boiling surface. retarded by the baffling winds that now set in. three months elapsed before he returned to Thursday Island. "No sooner has Fate decided one trouble than another crops up. "Bad news from Timor. He was partially successful. Duc worth was engaged for some wee s helping in the search for any survivors. until a wretched." Tom read the telegram twice.almost as he did so the vessel reeled as though struc by a blow. and the sea such a turmoil. and see how they have fared." "We will go bac as soon as the weather clears. the weary night dragged through. The sea soon began to rise. probably exaggerated. He had wired from Cossac to Annett in Sydney." said the mate. and some will go down where they are anchored." said the latter. All the night long Duc worth and his trusty mate stuc to their posts. Am quite well again and leave here in a day or two to join you. and get there before we shall. and the coo was able to light a fire and get some food and coffee ready. in one of the late ones he found a small paragraph. He found letters and a lengthy telegram awaiting him. When they reached it. telling him of his safety and the loss of Hillsden's schooner with every soul on board. So violent had been the gale. had been attac ed by the hill-tribes. and the schooner. for the hurricane had been one of the severest ever experienced. Ruth insists on going in the schooner. It was not until the next day that Duc worth deemed it safe to run bac to Cossac . "Some will be high and dry in the mangroves. and they now stood hanging on to the stays and tal ing of the late storm. Surveying parties attac ed by hill-tribes.
" "I am a bit worried. This morning he was silent and absent. "Why the devil couldn't they have given the name of the schooner?" was his naturally impatient remar after reading the account. if she had any. PEARL-SHELLING LUGGERS DRIVEN ASHORE. "What's the matter? I never saw you loo so put out before. as soon as it was over. hurry it up. DESTRUCTIVE HURRICANE ON THE NORTH-WEST COAST. there was a post-office on Booby Island. so that she would be ready for sea by the time his partner arrived. and the tete-a-tete brea fast of Ruth and her uncle was generally the merriest meal of the day.' Tom's too careful--but still. A stoc of provisions was stored in the cave for the relief of any castaways.hand. Annett was still fuming over the news when steps were audible outside the door. Uncle Dic . "Why." was the prosaic name of Annett and Duc worth's schooner. "Damn it! it it can't be the 'Booby. just as Ruth entered. and any other information of value. A QUEENSLAND SCHOONER SUNK AT HER MOORINGS. for. GREAT LOSS OF LIFE. left others." Wondering much what could have so upset the usually even temper of her uncle." she said. . ALL HANDS LOST. it was rumoured that the principal surveyors employed had fallen victims. I now what these north--west hurricanes are. left without his usual good-bye. The next ship too the papers. Ruth went on her errand. and must get into town directly after brea fast. the date. Duc worth was not a man to indulge in useless regrets. in the days before the house-flags of half-a-dozen steamer-lines flaunted in the breezes of the Straits. He was deeply grieved at the thought that Lestrell might have fallen. but that did not prevent him from setting to wor to refit the schooner. and. and the warships that patrolled those seas called at intervals to replenish it. In a cave on that little islet every passing ship deposited her newspapers and a letter containing the name of the ship. She had been christened after Booby Island. Miss Annett enjoyed an invalid's privilege of brea fasting in her room. at one time the most solitary and romantic post-office in the world." "The Booby. and he thrust the paper into his poc et. These were the cross headlines that greeted Annett when he opened his newspaper one morning. drawing bac after giving him her morning iss. li e a good girl. Ruth. if necessary. and left also the record of her visit. Madame da Lucca Ta es Charge. Chapter XI.
I put it on the table in Mr. She divined. for all the love of her young heart was given to her little circle. as usual" "He must have ta en it away by mista e. and about the man who has been drowned in her. and the girl left the room. "Did the paper come this morning?" she as ed the servant. but she only pinched her uncle's arm. I bought another paper. had you?" It was her uncle. Tom must be on his homeward way. that it must have been this item that had so disturbed her uncle. and read as she wal ed homeward. and in the one she held the name of the lost schooner was given--the "Saucy Sarah. "I couldn't rest. Lestrell! His steamer must have been wrec ed. Annett's place. You didn't now that uncle Tom was round at Cossac in the 'Booby?'" "No. and bought a newspaper. a short distance away. and he had ta en it with him to eep it away from them.The tears sprang into the girl's eyes. and found the name of the schooner in it. and a slight from one of them was li e a blow. but I never wished him removed by death. "You thought it was something about Lestrell. and she was soon there. however. There was bad news in the paper. There could be only one form of bad news for Ruth. you had to come and pry into matters. "Yes. for the post was not due for some time She loo ed around for it but could not see it. eh?" Ruth turned somewhat red. There was a newspaper shop. after rapidly running up and down the columns. so I hope he escaped the hurricane. for a time. She opened it. Miss. that was it! Ruth put on her hat and went out." And she slipped her hand through his arm. and. it having been purposely ept from her. The headlines attracted her attention. she heaved a sigh of relief. and a hand was laid gently on her shoulder. "So. The paper she had purchased was a different one from the paper daily ta en at the cottage. He was an obstacle in the way of our finding out your father's fate." Ruth said. but they bore no meaning to her for she did not now of her uncle Tom's intended trip to Cossac ." There was a footstep behind her. and the cloud had cleared from his face. and we shall soon hear from him from Thursday Island. until I found out what was troubling you so." The two strolled bac together. There must have been bad news in the paper. uncle Dic . So it was that that worried you! Did you now anything about this other schooner?" "I did. and remar ed--"It didn't ta e you long to go into town and bac ?" "I didn't go. . Miss Curiosity. she new. There was no mista e--of that she felt certain. She rang the bell.
"Oh. It was. for Hillsden wired me that he had been on board the schooner. Ill news travels apace. getting out of bed. and she was confronted by the same startling intelligence. silent and sad. but at present there was not one on the . as radiant in that simple garb as in full array of dress and jewels. But Ras Mahad must have been drowned. Ruth. and some two hours afterwards was on her way to one of the steam-shipping offices. pic ed up the paper. but he was not very successful. now a wealthy widow--for there really had been a da Lucca husband--had the papers brought to her every morning by her maid. Annett was descending the stairs. and now--I can follow my own course. They put her on the couch. for I never really believed in this diamond story. and that these things were always exaggerated in the first reports. when he was charged into by an affrighted maid. and it was not until after some search that he found the paragraph that had wrought the trouble. What made it worse was the impossibility of obtaining further information. has escaped. save that the Portuguese governor at Dilli had sent some soldiers down to the spot. "I am my own mistress now. she did not require to ma e-up in the morning Now. went about with clouded brow. Leaving the servant with her. Annett pic ed up the paper. and opened it. The days passed sadly at the cottage. but they new no more than what had appeared in the newspapers. Madame da Lucca's beauty was as natural as Ruth's. The girl was sitting at the table--her face down on it. in effect. "and Duc worth. As for Hillsden"--and her eyes flashed at the memory of a shameful wrong of the past--"I am not sorry. and her face assumed a loo of confidence and anticipated victory. Some strong emotion agitated her as she continued to gaze. There were no head-lines that told of anything that could have caused his niece to faint. The first Dutch man-of-war that came into port would be also sent there to ma e enquiries. the same that Duc worth had read at Thursday Island. scrutinising the reflection the glass showed her. went and loo ed in the glass. and then. "It will do. Ruth came down early one morning. I'll admit of no failure. then he raised her gently. It leaves me free. who gasped out. pointting out that it was only a rumour. I suppose. and found that she had fainted. and her uncle did his best to reassure her. Miss Ruth is dead!--dead!" Annett hurried to the brea fast room. and life was running smoothly as of yore. who had made the sunshine of the place. For a moment his heart stood still. as she stood there in her white nightdress. and her arms thrown forward. and will have what I want. or--" she loo ed in the glass again--"no.Madame da Lucca. and in a few minutes she recovered. the beauty she saw might have been that of the devil--but it was there. Ruth was herself again." Tom had wired to them. The quiet people living at the little cottage had got over their alarm for the safety of the "Booby. too." She thought for a moment. now." She rang the bell for her maid." she mused. "So Hillsden has gone under. Annett wired to the Dutch authorities in Batavia." she said.
This was more to be deplored as he had displayed great gallantry during the short conflict. He regretted to say that the English surveyor was amongst the wounded. weary waiting!" On one of the monthly British-India boats. she went to her uncle. and badly wounded too. The schooner. oh. and said: "When are you going north again?" "I was thin ing of going up to Thursday Island when Tom returns--" "And going to Timor with him in the 'Booby?'" "Yes. If she agrees. and Ruth pined. had their noses ruthlessly put out of joint by the dar -eyed widow. Chapter XII. after a smart run across. one day." She issed him gratefully. The courteous Governor gave her full details. not far from the boundary. with Madame da Lucca on board. "I shall feel so much better if we are doing something. and the coast of Java was soon left behind. she had entire confidence in her own powers of fascination. The girl was fretting sadly. had no difficulty in chartering a schooner for the run to Timor. until. although. Madame da Lucca first heard of the misfortune that was rumoured to have befallen the survey party. wherever a man was concerned. "I will spea to your aunt. the hill--men being repulsed with loss.station. Senor Lestrell was now lying sic at a little village. She had ta en the precaution to furnish herself with credentials from the Batavian authorities. hatred. he would have been brought to Dilli. and. She landed at Batavia. No one had been illed amongst the survey party. and malice from the female side. through the agents of her deceased husband. and who had been full of anticipations as to the joys of being the belle of the ship." "Ta e me with you. was a lady-passenger for Batavia who attracted a good deal of attention from the male passengers and a good deal of envy. Budding young damsels who were on a visit to Europe. In a few days she was enabled to start on her wild frea . The account of the affair was greatly exaggerated. you shall go. Uncle Dic ?" Annett loo ed at her. Was Madame da Lucca a relative of his? . this dreary. What was the good of their protesting in secret conclave against the whole proceeding? From time immemorial the young widow can give the maid twenty-five in a hundred and beat her easily! At Thursday Island. but the doctor had forbidden it. and two sturdy Javanese she had engaged as servants. and perhaps it would be the best thing. This was all. after all. running north from Brisbane. arrived safely at Dilli. which was henceforth to be the quotation point of their lives. but. An Angel's Visit.
A schooner was ma ing for the entrance. to awa en in him any recognition or remembrance. Annett's listless mind. arrayed in native dress. a native woman loo ed in and bec oned to Annett. Lestrell had received a bad cut on the head. "Was there any shelter? Could she ta e the schooner there?" There was excellent shelter for small craft li e the schooner. He was queer in his head. Several natives were standing about. A boat came ashore with the captain of the schooner. returned to his ship. Towards evening Lestrell fell into a ind of stupor. By the first messenger sent bac with despatches to Dilli. Outside there was some excitement amongst the villagers. which Tom was fated not to receive until after it had become of no consequence. The survey parties had visited it on their outward way. but yet no native of the island. too but little interest in things. busily engaged in fanning the sufferer to eep the swarming flies away. when Lestrell was brought bac sic and wounded--for he had been more seriously hurt than any of the others--Annett's mind seemed to recover somewhat. shortened sail as she rounded the point of the reef. She wore the abaya and sarong. and a few . where she had a conference with the Dutch captain she had engaged. however. was disturbed by the mat being raised. Then she too her leave and went on board her schooner.. gazing seaward. Her rounded arms were bare nearly to the elbow. and. who began to thin that their primal quiet was about to be upset for ever. but it was most interesting.She said she was. but quite harmless. He had failed. so he could but leave him for the time being amongst the people who had so long been friendly to him. under the circumstances. waiting on him so deftly that the doctor was able to leave him and return to the survey encampment. Annett. saw a figure that startled even his benumbed brain into action. Strange to say. still patiently sitting at his post. Was Madame aware that there was another Englishman down there--had been there for a year or two. for the Portuguese authorities had made him as comfortable as they could. Presently the mat hung before the open doorway was lifted. after some tal with the head men of the place. white-haired and prematurely aged. so he had been left there undisturbed? Madame was not aware of it. and Lestrell had thus at once come upon the missing man. He pointed it out to her on the map. he forwarded a letter to Duc worth. who. He went to the door. By his side sat Reginald Annett. and as ed him the name of the village and its position. he turned bac into the house and resumed his seat by Lestrell. It was a woman. glancing round. He was muttering in delirium. however. but both were made of costly material. and dropped anchor under its safe shelter. and he scarcely ever left the sic man's side. his face was flushed and his eyes unnaturally bright. She came on with a fair wind. and every now and then wetting the bandages round the patient's head. and was lying in a native house in the same village that had so long harboured Annett. Lestrell was tossing restlessly on the sleeping-mat stretched on a camp bedstead.
it was true. "I am glad you have come. It was "Ruth!" Madame da Lucca rose. warm arm was often passed beneath his head. To his crazed brain came the thought that she was a super-natural visitant--some radiant being from another sphere. whose gaze was riveted on her face. and awo e in his breast a ind of dogli e devotion. "I have obtained the use of a house. She held out her hand. He rose from his seat as she dropped the mat and advanced. She had the man she loved to herself. and. and pursued her victory." was all he said. She bec oned to Annett and they passed outside. and found Lestrell awa e. and have two servants with me from Java. Lestrell's. with her hands clasped. She noted the interest growing in his vacant face. you can. he too it. The iss was as light as if a thistledown had rested there." "I am a dear friend of Mr. "Yes. here. "Where do you come from?" he as ed. and hope to be something more. fell in graceful folds from her hips to above her an les. to recall how a firm. I shall stay here until Mr. The sarong. to caress! In the chaotic remembrances of that time. even on his dull wits the woman's magnetic force was ma ing an impression. but still hers--hers only--to tend. draped all around her. it was a time of fierce and tumultuous joy. showing her bare and shapely feet thrust into Chinese sandals. "From Java. "I thin that is my name. and Annett. and so it went on from day to day. "You are Reginald Annett?" she said. Lestrell seemed. which . "I will come. with unchanged face. Noiselessly she bent over Lestrell and issed him on the forehead." he replied. She shared Annett's labours. Lestrell is well enough to go on board the schooner. As for her. Silently. but Lestrell moved and murmured a name. She had schooled herself to expect this. saw her eyes become suffused with tears. He loo ed at Madame da Lucca with eyes that bore no recognition in their depths." she returned. and muttering and tossing once more. she stood loo ing at the sleeper. and then. raised it to his lips." he replied. afterwards. They re-entered the house." "Go away with him and you?" he as ed. but the name bore no significance to him. The curves of her shoulders and bust were outlined under the loose drapery of the abaya. She nodded. soft as a fawn's. unconscious of her presence.bangles on her wrist set off the tapering slope of that limb. He drew his hand wearily across his brow. and her luminous eyes. as if some dim memory awo e. if you li e to come with us. to nurse. loo ed indly at Annett. Do you understand me?" He signified that he did. I have come to help you to nurse him.
In a few words.was pressed to the yielding softness of a woman's breast. Although she believed that Ras Mahad. and will soon recover his reason. she saw one of the little albino ponies common to the Island. She had. and I would advise you to sleep on board your schooner every night. But the doctor was proof. "I cannot say." he said. while passionate isses were rained upon his lips and face. while he was still unconscious of his surroundings. I am advising you for the best. "that the hillmen are again giving trouble. then she retired to the inner room and quic ly changed her dress to a plain serge. "I forgot to tell you. on hearing of Lestrell's danger." He rode off. You may run into a typhoon. who was particularly active and forward in the s irmish. I do not imagine that they will attac this village. but the villagers have been warned. she sent one of her boys down to find out who the visitor was." she said. to-day. and he assured her that it would not be under a wee . you see. but that he would come in again in a day or two. in fact." He mounted his diminutive steed and rode off." murmured the woman. to the attention you have devoted to him--but I cannot assert that he is fit to be removed. leaving Madame da Lucca in no pleasant frame of mind. She had no intention of masquerading for the benefit of strangers. and begged the doctor to let her now when he could be safely ta en on board the schooner. where his profession was concerned. as soon as it is safe to do so. Returning to her own temporary residence. here. The boy returned." "You shall. as she thought. "It is such an unhealthy climate. outside the doorway. to go to that where Lestrell lay sic . The Portuguese doctor was astonished at the apparition that greeted him as he lifted the mat and stepped out." "And how long. and will eep a loo -out. and Senor Lestrell is not in a condition to stand any rough noc ing about. and there learn everything." "He is strong. "I do so want to get him to a better one. being held by a native. Madame. they might ma e a dash. Believe me. she introduced herself as a near relative of Lestrell's. "He is better!--than s." he replied. Her musings were disturbed--the doctor was returning. was the only possessor of the nowledge of Annett's whereabouts. and put an impassable gulf between him and Ruth. doctor. for they are devoting their attention to avenge the loss we inflicted on them before. no doubt. is lying here wounded. Madame. Any morning a white . and said that the doctor had ridden in from the survey camp to see how Lestrell was faring. One morning. still. If they new that Senor Lestrell. determined to idnap him. Tom might come to Dilli. do you thin it will be before he can leave?" and she turned the full battery of her eyes upon him. but. when Madame da Lucca left the house she lived in. the season is uncertain. Madame da Lucca had now a burning desire to get Lestrell on board the schooner and away. now. was drowned. "He is. who.
and Ruth feasted her eyes on the tropical loveliness of the island. and followed her at a short distance. She passed out of the house and went up to her own quarters. comfortable native garments. he might object to go with her--probably would. once on board. "Besides. in any case. and out of sight of land. instead of going north to Dilli. He cannot leave the island without their sanction. and it seemed as though he would soon awa e and be himself again. had distinctly refused to allow his patient to be ta en on board the schooner. and put the evening meal on." he reminded her. in spite of all Madame da Lucca's blandishments. The Fight in the Village. She . and she went into her room and assumed her loose. and always carried a revolver herself. Madame da Lucca ate with her usual healthy appetite. the boys laid the table in the outer room. "Senor Lestrell is under engagement to both Governments. and the feeling that. she was a woman with plenty of common sense. They reached home. to sail straight there. Djuran. In all probability the village would be the headquarters of the survey party. was intelligent. she had armed both of them. but. and she sat beside Lestrell's bedside in a fit of moody musing. and I have reported that in a short time he will be able to resume duty. One of her boys had been waiting. who had been silently watching her in his dog-li e fashion. Since the warning given by the doctor. and then returning. and pondered over her future movements. and those arrive who would baul her plans. and then--act. It was evident that the fever was rapidly abating.sail might gleam in the distance. therefore. he would come to his senses only to find a return impossible. and Annett. Her passion for Lestrell and her hatred of Ruth were now a mania with her. and described the little bay and reef whereon the proa had been wrec ed. The girl already loo ed much better for the change. The volcanic pea s of the mountain range of Timor at last came in sight. for no more details had found their way into any of the papers. wherein she dreaded to find only her lover's grave. and could now spea fairly good English. The doctor had again ridden in to see Lestrell. If Lestrell regained his reason. the young Malay. and motioned to her that he would ta e her place. and Duc worth had no difficulty in locating it on the chart. at least. they were doing something. Lestrell was sleeping quietly." The headstrong woman felt inclined to throw these warnings to the wind and pursue her own wild course. Annett and Ruth arrived by the steamer. He noticed that it was within a short distance of the boundary line. She would wait until after the doctor's next visit. and determined. Meanwhile. but not till after some baffling winds had been experienced. Apart from the one o'ermastering passion that now had possession of her. Chapter XIII. and she stooped and issed him. approached. and. The evening drew on. It was not long before the "Booby" was once more speeding across the mouth of the great gulf that bites deep into the north coast of Australia. He explained to Tom the whereabouts of the village.
The fighting had commenced outside the village. however they reached in safety." "Mean." said one of the boys. for it slowly rose and fell. somehow. and the prospect of a fight gave her a fierce ind of pleasure. "You here--and in this dress? What does it mean. she threw a cartridge-belt over her shoulder. it was easily distinguishable. A gentle land breeze was blowing. "there is a light at sea. The boy pointed the light out to her. they had learned that the surveyor who had been foremost in repulsing their first attac . but the tide of battle was evidently being rolled bac in the direction of Lestrell's house. incredulously. where. the uproar swept towards them. they hastened out." Even as she spo e. and instinct told her that in the morning she would see Duc worth's schooner at anchor in the bay. but found himself too wea . the hillmen pressed rec lessly on towards the house. pic ed up a light rifle she had. Then he motioned them hastily to leave. and. Lestrell gazed curiously at the three natives. then he rushed into the thic of it. Annett had Lestrell's rifle and cartridge-belt. Madame da Lucca spo e sharply to the two in their own language. she scarcely new what fear was." The hillmen had attac ed the place! Madame da Lucca was an exceptional woman. but the doctor had somewhat disconcerted her by his statement that Lestrell was still under his engagement to the two Governments. my love? That you have been ill--delirious--and I have nursed you.was as determined as ever to carry out her plans. for he did not recognise Madame da Lucca. which. telling them to go and join the fight. waiting for daylight. and seemed almost himself again. "Do you not now me?" . "Madame. and Lestrell was sitting up in bed with a new light in his eyes--the light of reason! He had attempted to rise. Her boys were prepared. it was confused amongst the stars lying low on the horizon. without a word. But. He was telling Annett. who needed no urging. and hastened by the others as they entered. nothing loth. she discovered it. after a little. for she guessed that that was the main point of attac . lifting the mat. and the quic reports of his rifle showed that a vigorous ally had arrived in the nic of time. and. Then she became conscious that a strange murmer of excitement was to be heard in the village. It rose and swelled until--"bro e forth from one and all a cry as if the Volscians were coming o'er the wall. Annett had been roused to life by the noise of the fray. A ship's riding-light--and the ship was lying off the land. as he thought. was lying wounded. In spite of the loss they were suffering from the rifles of Annett and the two Javanese. and the three hastened to the house where Lestrell lay. to hurry to the front. and now we are attac ed by the hillmen--the same who wounded you--and I have come to protect you. pic ed men. once caught. "Lawrence! Lawrence!" she cried. for. for they were good. "Lena!" he said." She started to her feet and went out. at first.
they went down on the threshold. we had better go and load up. they would die together. one after the other. Once more there was a rally. The fight surged past the house. The Malay hastened up. it did not ta e long before the whaleboat was in the water and the boat's crew in their places. "Mr." now the opening . and then the expected rush came. and a crowd of fierce figures were pressing in. Duc worth and Annett handed down their rifles and followed themselves. now. was startled to see a woman's figure there before him. and their coming turned the tide of victory. The delirium of battle had given Lestrell temporary strength. and Tom and Annett were impatiently pacing the dec . smartly!" and the regular thud of the oars in the rowloc s was the only sound heard on board. "and you'll have to put me overboard to get rid of me. came the first sounds of the conflct. "Why."Give me my revolver. and the defenders. "We must ta e a hand in that. and I as well as possible. Dic . The belt was hanging on the low roof. and a mad joy in her heart. The captain and mate of the Dutch schooner had just arrived on the scene of conflict. and no hand was ever firmer on the trigger than was Madame da Lucca's on the the light magazine-rifle she was using. Borne to them on the land breeze. Suddenly. You must eep the schooner on and off. but the taciturn Malay said nothing. Annett and I will go ashore and see what the fun is about. shots from the jungle to seaward told of help. Djuran. what are you doing here?" as ed Annett. they drew bac . "Fighting. "Do you thin you can ta e us in." Annett turned to his partner." said Lestrell." she replied. somehow. There's no surf worth spea ing of. Ruth. to-night. just as she is. and she reached it down and handed it to him. and they halted in their wal . and another attac was made. but. but this time it was more easily defeated. Holdsworth. in the whale-boat?" The man listened for a moment. as the shots rang out clearer and louder. Mr. Repulsed." said Duc worth. "I am going ashore with you. Now. Then the two waited. but Tom merely sang out--"Give way now. Uncle Dic . The "Booby" was lying outside the reef. drove them out again. she with her rifle in her hand. "get the whaleboat out as soon as ever you can. At the worst. "Listen!" said Duc worth. The mat hanging in the doorway was rudely torn down." "Djuran!" he called out. when he found his niece seated in the boat. but put a mast-head light up as well. ma ing another onslaught on them. The "jaw-hunters" bro e and fled. by jingo!" said Tom." With the smart crew they had on board. Djuran stood up on the afterthwart as they swiftly neared the "Yes. as he went aft.
he saw the uncontrollable hand about to raise the rifle it still held. Reggy? Do you not daughter?" now Ruth. gazing at the dead bodies lying about. dressed in pyjamas. and drew bac . and. "I don't want to twist your pretty wrists. as she put her foot on the side and jumped down after them. "I am going with you. . "Lawrence!" cried Ruth. and arrived at the end of the village where Lestrell's house was situated. "You had better stop here. with bandages round his head. and in a few minutes the boat was beached. The Malay was right. From the open doorway streamed a bright bar of light. an old white man (old to all appearance) was standing near. they were in the still water of the bay. there was very little surf on. watching her opportunity. At Bay. better give it up quietly. "Reggy?" the former said. "No. your Dic Annett approached his brother. as she made a desperate effort to wrench it from him. holding out his hand. but the other shoo his head. "They must have been beaten off. Ruth. was in her lover's wasted arms. and." said Tom. after a couple of rollers had been negotiated." was all the reply she vouchsafed. The sounds of conflict had ceased--save for voices audible in the village. whom he hardly recognised." She yielded with a contemptuous laugh. was half-sitting. whoever they were. but he "What's the matter with you. "or the village would be in flames.entrance. Madame da Lucca!" said the sturdy pearl-sheller. he seized the weapon in time. and one whom they at first too for a handsome boy in native dress was also present. The gleam of reason that had been awa ened in him by the excitement of the attac had died down once more. It was luc y that slow-going Tom Duc worth could be a man of observation when he li ed. They advanced and loo ed in." They pressed through the jungle with some difficulty. "Seems to have been pretty hard fighting here. the three made for the place. springing forward. and. half-lying on the bed. springing past the others." said Annett. Ruth came forward and held out her hands to her father. A haggard man. attracted by it. and. as she resolutely passed her hand under his arm. Chapter XIV. He noted the change that transformed the supposed boy's face into that of a demon." said Tom.
with a woman's instinct. that she had seen once before. ignoring Madame's speech. "What's been the matter. and Ruth."He is out of his mind. and fought in his defence. have done that?" None answered. "Miss Annett. I don't now how long I have been lying here. "as this man. that that action galled the enraged woman more than any words could have done. I'm right now." She pointed to the dead bodies outside the door. abjure your promise to that girl! You are mine! But for me. on the top of the little fighting we have had. but I cannot give you what I have already given to another. The men recognised the uselessness of it. "Madame da Lucca. too her hand. who had not yet spo en to Lestrell. you are bound to me by every tie of honour and gratitude. I should suggest that you retire and let the invalid have some necessary rest. loo ing at Lestrell. Lestrell through his sic ness. "she has ta en my father from me--do not let her ta e you as well!" "Hush. Madame da Lucca. "Could--you!--you!--you puny doll. will not do him much good. I came alone and found him lying here. old man?" he said. "We're in a devil of a coil. Annett. but I have a debt of love. To-night I came here and stood by his bedside. and Ruth came with him." she continued. Lawrence. gently. and it cut her proud heart to the core. While you stopped safely at home." she went on. "Mr. "Lawrence Lestrell. went over to him and shoo hands. They seemed to have drawn around the sic man as if to protect him from her. "Have no fear!" and the flashing eyes of the watching woman noted the hard loo come over his thin face. Lestrell is still very wea . you would now be lying on that bed. here. you shall have my lifelong gratitude. Ruth's father." "Mr." said Duc worth to Annett. of turned and loo ed at Madame da Lucca. she saw this. in a low tone. hac ed to death!" "Oh. "You hear." said Madame da Lucca in a firm voice. "I got a nasty clip on the head. and the excitement of your visit. who had put her hand on Lestrell's new." Dic Annett had drawn near and greeted him while he spo e. and has watched you day and night!" he said. and I suppose my mind's been wandering ever since. "I have been nursing Mr. If you have one spar of true manhood in you. "She came." she said. for what you have done. and. though. "Lawrence. was left standing alone." Duc worth. stepping beside her. if I am not spea ing truth!" She loo ed at Reginald Annett and seemed to possess some strange power to ma e him understand when others failed. but I came to myself just as the fighting began. with the old man still holding and patting her hand fondly. She laughed moc ingly. Ruth!" he said. and her passion rose with her words. Lawrence!" sobbed Ruth. . I ac nowledge that I owe you much.
Witness her accompanying her uncle here." he thought. "Better leave those two together for a bit. he thought she was about to spring on Ruth and wrea her vengeance then and there. "I have much to say to my friends. You stop here. too. would have done. and Annett followed him. Dic ?" He left the house. "Am I to leave the room-or your friends?" she as ed. somewhere. "Ten chances to one she has a nife." Tom went off in the dar ness." he replied. and laying her hand on his arm. and Annett. at last. re--entered the hut. I'm going outside for some fresh air. Lestrell. when Annett joined him. and moved to the door--a magnificent creature in her barbaric dress." said Ruth. too.honour and duty." Tom Duc worth stood ready. She loo ed at him with a mixed glance of love and contempt. Lestrell. now. "D--d glad I never got married. What you have done. she--my promised wife. Reggy Annett joined her. with their sentiment and emotions. about her." returned Lestrell. and she and the white-haired castaway passed out into the night together. coming. "do try and remember me. "See what a mess women ma e of everything." said Reginald Annett. Lord! how could she have developed into what she is now? If you had only seen the length and angularity of the creature when I first saw her as a girl!" "She's a dangerous woman. advancing. after a short interval. Ta e my advice. and thin better of it. how are you feeling now?" he as ed. I'll go down and send the whaleboat bac . But what are we to do about my brother? It's a terrible thing to find him li e this." "We must wait on events. I will go with you. could she have got here in time." He shoo her off. "Wonderfully well. "you have been un ind to her. It was a poor triumph. "Stay. I suppose we had better ill the time on shore here. for she'd stop at nothing. As soon as I have had a real good feed I shall be fit for anything. it was a triumph. but still. and a sharp one." replied Annett. "But that devilish woman means mischief." said Tom Duc worth. "Father." Madame da Lucca had paused at the open doorway. to-night." said Tom. "No. and tell Holdsworth to bring the schooner in in the morning. "Well. to pay here. on guard. and as soon put a nife in Ruth as not. "and I shall be glad to get away from here. no." "Do you remember nothing of the time since you were wounded?" "Very little. But Madame drew herself haughtily together. From the loo on Madame da Lucca's face. I have a confused sort of idea of having been brought . with a scornful lip.
I assure you. when they see us on the beach. "That's just what I want to now. I have no recollection of his visits. which had been towing astern. They watched her as she rounded the point of the reef." "And you remember nothing of Madame da Lucca's appearance?" "Not a thing. "Here comes the 'Booby!'" said Duc worth." returned Annett. who seemed to hate her with such strange intensity. would not succeed in her efforts to alienate him from her. perhaps. and. At last the partners insisted on Lestrell being left to rest. but could thin of no feasible plan of dealing with Reggy Annett in his present state. Impossible to leave him here. been seaward.in here. just as the row commenced. "I can't say." "We'll have to idnap him. when he gets away from this his wits may come bac . was the first time I was conscious of her presence. was coming in with a light wind and all sails set." "Do you thin the doctor will come in to-morrow?" as ed Annett. will you come bac schooner?" with us in the . "It's Reggy who is the trouble." They tal ed for some time longer. Lestrell. "Well. but I should imagine some of the survey men will be in. "They'll send a boat. "And about you. Ruth loo ed at the lovely surroundings developing with the growing light. and I suppose must have had lucid intervals." "And in your present state a good bout of fever will finish you! You're luc y to get off as you've done. and a great peace came over the girl's spirit. whose appearance did not justify her ridiculous name. what's to be done?" he as ed. and she felt that the dar -eyed woman. and. especially with Madame da Lucca exercising an adverse influence over him. but I ought to stop and finish my engagement. They must have learnt something of the movements of the hilltribes. Her lover was restored to her. the first thing this morning. was seen coming off. of course. The pretty little schooner. and the three wandered out on the beach and watched the s y turn from grey to pin behind the mountains. let go her anchor. To-night. In a few minutes the whaleboat." said Tom. until daylight was on the shore once more." "If I can get leave from the authorities. for when I wo e up to--night I was not surprised at finding myself here. whose first glance had. running up nearer in shore than the Dutch craft. and he entered." Presently. and he waved his hat. Tom's heavy step was heard outside.
When he arrived within sight of the village he saw a group of ponies held by two or three natives. otherwise?" as ed the mate. Tom wal ed slowly bac through the jungle. who rose and bowed to the new-comer." went on Holdsworth. the mat had been re-hung. and he lifted it and entered. and was dressed in a white suit." "Is he so bad as that? I'm sorry to hear it. and I'll come off. "there will be no trouble in inducing Mr. It must have been pretty warm." said Ruth. Lestrell to come away?" Annett smiled. while it lasted. "Yes. and he either will not. "No." . he turned towards the jungle." "There's something in what Ruth says. the villagers had ta en away their own dead immediately after the defeat of their enemies. "I don't li e going away and leaving Lawrence alone. were you in time for any fighting?" as ed Holdsworth. your is--she's a scorcher! You ta e Ruth on board and get your fast. Duc worth waited until the boat came in. but he's nearly well now. or cannot. Uncle Dic . he's had a cut on the head and been pretty bad. The Moccasins of Silence and--Death. were directing the removal of the bodies of the hill-men. We must hold a council of war presently about how to get my brother to come with us. mind Ruth. You go straight to cabin and lie down when you've had your chow." said Annett to Tom. "Hurry up the coo . recognise any of us. "She's quite unscrupulous. Lestrell are both on shore." "Have any luc . Duc worth made his way to the house where Lestrell lived. and said something in Portuguese to his two visitors. and. though. I suppose. Men in uniform. Evidently a party from the survey-camp had come in. but I am sorry to say that my brother's mind seems affected. then. who was acquainted with object of the trip. Chapter XV. Tom returned the salutation. hauling out a box." Ruth pouted. sat down on it. As for Lestrell. as he followed her."But. but she new when Uncle Tom said a thing he meant it. and Ruth went into the cabin. will you?" said Annett. saying that he would go up to the house and see how things were getting on. There's no nowing what that awful woman might do. with cigarettes in their mouths. My brother and Mr. with a somewhat sly loo at Ruth. He greeted Tom with a friendly smile. Two men were seated conversing with Lestrell. all over by the time we got there. you're not wanted on shore this morning. who loo ed well and bright. "She brea you. But. "Well. then come bac and relieve me.
"Good-bye. regardless of Tom's presence. "What do you thin . I now." "Clear case of attempted Shanghai-ing." An animated conversation then ensued between the two surveyors. departed. "The Portuguese surveyor will write a letter which the Dutchman will also sign. where I must report myself. The dead had been put out of sight. and then released her hand."This is the doctor." The mat at the doorway was suddenly lifted. at its conclusion the visitors got up. had risen. if there is anything important. She gazed longingly into his eyes." "It is not gratitude I want. then he said a few words to the doctor. or wherever she intended going. She inclined her head slightly to Duc worth--who got up--and then advanced to Lestrell. "and the other gentleman is the chief surveyor of the Portuguese staff. too." said Lestrell. to thwart us. The doctor shoo his head and said something in comment." He. If it hadn't been for the Doctor. somewhat feebly. . but in a severely plain serge. Tom went to the doorway and watched them gather their party together. I have come to say good-bye." she whispered. and Lestrell resumed his conversation." said Lestrell. and you don't understand Portuguese. I should have come to my senses half-way between here and Singapore. so. it is true. and the boat is waiting for me. "It's all settled. Suddenly he burst out laughing. Lawrence. old man?--Madame da Lucca was bent on ta ing me on board her schooner. mount their ponies. "As the doctor if you can come on board to-day." "Yes. when Tom turned round. and. "I am going away. then he felt Lestrell's pulse. "He says I can go on board to-morrow. and turned to Duc worth." growled Tom. Tom. and Madame da Lucca will use all her influence with the poor fellow. and too the hand she held out to him. They don't understand English." "Now our trouble is about Annett's brother. When we leave here we can go up to Dilli. and it will be sent in this afternoon. with all good wishes. and turned to Duc worth. then?" she went on "Good-bye. and Madame herself stood there. Lena. You are fixed up all right. My luggage has been sent on board. but I shall remember it all my life. principally with the doctor. Lestrell was silent. no longer in her picturesque native dress." Tom grunted an assent. I can never hope to repay you all the gratitude I owe you. "It is good-bye." he returned. here. after sha ing Lestrell warmly by the hand. and the latter got off the bed and wal ed up and down the room. and ride off. I'll act as interpreter." The doctor made some remar in reply to Lestrell's question. That's a hard nut to crac .
Tom. Annett goes with me in the schooner. I heard of the complimentary way you spo e of me on board the steamer. Tom having brought ashore some extra estables from the schooner. and went out. "Oh. "I'm not easy in my mind about those men. They're very revengeful." Lestrell confided to Tom. and disobey the doctor. he will probably return to Australia of his own accord. It was fairly successful as a banquet. but he resisted all their persuasions to go on board the schooner that night. too. as if to fix the interior of the room in her memory. and Annett remained with Lestrell. Mr."But." ." Ruth objected. where is Annett?" stammered Tom. the boat containing Madame da Lucca. and the two Javanese. and then come the step-mother over Ruth!" Both men laughed. and their inability to do anything. "I want Ruth to go on board as soon as you can get her to go. they might try it on again to--night. worth and that Madame da charge of her But they could "Good-bye. he may recover. as Duc worth lifted the mat for her. seemed anxious to see them off to the schooner in a way that somewhat puzzled Ruth." "Good Lord!" said Duc worth. somewhat saddened them. and slightly annoyed her. she would have enough of the schooner before they got bac to Thursday Island. after a pause. the facts were incontestable. Believe me. As Annett came ashore. you would never get him to leave here except by force. In the afternoon. lower down. The Dutch schooner still lay at anchor. Tom's flight of imagination was too bold. but the affliction that had befallen Ruth's father. and a farewell dinner was prepared in Lestrell's house. "You see. as far as could be seen from the dec of the "Booby. "Leave Lawrence here. left the beach. after what that It seemed an easy solution of the difficulty. and assisted him in his preparations for departure. and I thin that. and Duc Lestrell exchanged glances. "Give me your arm. If so." Evening drew on. and he did not notice the occupants. Tom yielded to Ruth's solicitations and came ashore with her. Duc worth.' after all. "What!" exclaimed the girl. Lestrell pic ed up strength rapidly during the day." Madame da Lucca gave one glance round. He loo ed troubled when they told him of the turn of affairs. Lestrell. Duc worth went off to the schooner. but there seemed no help for it. The idea occurred to both Lucca was scoring a point against Ruth in thus ta ing father. once away." said Lestrell. Mr. and no preparations for departure appeared to be under way as yet. You've been too much for that 'scraggy gaw of a girl. then. "I must practise wal ing a little. his brother. she bestowed on him a gracious smile of than s. which would ran le in the girl's mind always. and Madame da Lucca laughed almost gaily. At last Duc worth unwisely told her the reason of their anxiety to go on board. "Supposing she means to marry Reggy Annett. not well protest. let's go outside for a stroll." Tom turned crimson.
He turned his eyes to the jungle. and the fire-flies flitting through it seemed to increase the gloom. He dropped the mat again. Lestrell seated himself against one of the bamboos supporting the shelter they were under. and his heart gave a jump. and the men made up their minds to pass the night there and let Ruth have the house. and. then dropped on one nee and raised the head. and offered to ta e his place for a bit. Tom told him that he thought he had seen a dar figure moving about. but he was not sure about it. something was coming towards the house. and watched for another hour. "Come and use your authority. leaning bac against the bamboo. It's lying out there!" and he pointed in the direction. "Annett. Dic !" called out Duc worth. The bac ground of jungle was blac . . they might all be comfortably asleep on board the schooner. There was nothing for it but to ma e the best of it. The night was moonless. as he did so. he put his rifle to his shoulder and fired. Ruth was stubborn." returned Tom. There was a thatched shelter near Lestrell's house. as he termed it." Tom started off in the direction Lestrell had pointed. and the dar form seemed to sin into the earth. and I fired at it. he resumed his station under the shelter. and it gleamed brightly under the mat hung in the doorway. as he and Annett started up at the report. I stop ashore tonight. and Duc worth was yawning and thin ing how. but there was no sign of anything. and his een eyes soon detected a human form on the ground. He advanced a few steps. Without rising. a figure emerged from the dar ness with noiseless footsteps. "I don't now. when it seemed to him that a dar and noiseless figure was coming towards Lestrell's house. He thought of Ruth sleeping there in fancied security. He advanced and stooped over it. and he could not resist a thrill of terror as this silent shape advanced. and peered intently in the direction he thought he had noticed the figure. Li e a spectre. but for Ruth's folly." "Here. but clear. Uncle Tom. you had better go and see if Ruth is safe. Ruth was sleeping soundly--the report had not aroused her. and feeling wea and faint. He challenged.woman said? No. Lestrell awo e presently. There was a wail of pain. the taunt had stung deeply. then he lay down on the mat and went off into a sailor's sleep. before he could get up and reach the house the mysterious figure would be before him. but there was no answer. "What's up!" cried Duc worth." But remonstrances were useless. heard Tom's voice call to him. "Stay here. Broad awa e now. There's mutiny in the camp. apparently ma ing straight for his late residence. and he began to thin that he must have been deceived. Lestrell's nerves were sha en by his long illness. I will go and see what it is. It was about midnight. Annett lifted the mat and loo ed into the room. A riding-lantern had been left burning in Ruth's room. The men had spread their mats down and made arrangements for watching in turns.
As if the touch had brought her spirit bac from beyond the grave. "But I would have slashed her twice across the face with this. and was coming towards them. and a face of death. and Duc worth rose. "Rubbish. By a great effort he recovered himself. for he reeled as though he would have fallen. and went with it to where Tom was neeling." she said. and Annett nodded a silent assent. in a whisper." He too the woman's head on his arm. Lawrence." she said distinctly. "My God!" was all he said. Steps were heard approaching. Annett held the lantern up. lay Madame da Lucca. now. still advancing. "It will not be so hard to die." said the other. her eyes closed. in the same low tone. In a native dress of dar stuff. "You did not mean to murder Ruth. "For Ruth?" said Tom. wal ing into the light. the dar eyes opened. or heavy the Malays.eep away. "her heart still beats. Tom. "Is she dead?" as ed Annett. On her feet--wet with the blood that had "Go bac and wait for us--you are not wanted here. For one horrified moment he loo ed at the face upturned to the gleam of the lantern." The unconscious hand still held a parang. Annett swung the lantern in front of the face. Lestrell?" called out Tom. nife. and recognised the agonized face bending down. and Tom and Annett. untied the lantern. Lestrell had recovered from the feeling of faintness that had attac ed him. "No. hoarsely. can't you. and spoilt her baby beauty for ever. The savage vindictiveness in the voice made them feel cold." Neither of them spo e. standing silently there heard every word." cried Duc worth in a harsh voice-more as though he were spea ing to a Kana a than to a friend. "Loo . "Not to murder her. with the blood welling from a wound in her breast. then Annett passed his arm round him." she whispered."Bring the light!" he said. "Why not? What has happened?" he returned. "Is that you. used by . surely?" Her slac ened hand tried vainly to lift the heavy nife. "this is my place." said Annett. and pointed to her feet. supporting the head of the un nown. "Damn it!-." he said. Annett went softly into the room." returned Tom. "Get up." "Loo there.
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