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and your people a passage to Sydney and the five thousand dollars or,
better, seven thousand five hundred. You've worked hard."
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Without commotion or muscular movement the other man became alert
and tense. His round-faced geniality went out like the flame of a snuffed
candle. No laughter clouded the surface of the eyes, and in their depths
showed the hard, dangerous soul of the man. He spoke in a low, deliberate
voice.
"Now just what in hell do you mean by that?"
Grief casually relighted his cigar.
"I don't know just how to begin," he said. "The situation is er is
embarrassing for you. You see, I'm trying to be fair. As I say, you've
worked hard. I don't want to confiscate the pearls. I want to pay you for
your time and trouble, and expense."
Conviction, instantaneous and absolute, froze on the other's face.
"And I thought you were in Europe," he muttered. Hope flickered for a
moment. "Look here, you're joking me. How do I know you're Swithin
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Hall?"
Grief shrugged his shoulders. "Such a joke would be in poor taste, after
your hospitality. And it is equally in poor taste to have two Swithin Halls
on the island."
"Since you're Swithin Hall, then who the deuce am I? Do you know that,
too?"
"No," Grief answered airily. "But I'd like to know."
"Well, it's none of your business."
"I grant it. Your identity is beside the point. Besides, I know your
schooner, and I can find out who you are from that."
"What's her name?"
"The Emily L."
"Correct. I'm Captain Raffy, owner and master."
"The seal-poacher? I've heard of you. What under the sun brought you
down here on my preserves?"
"Needed the money. The seal herds are about finished."
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"And the out-of-the-way places of the world are better policed, eh?"
"Pretty close to it. And now about this present scrape, Mr. Hall. I can put
up a nasty fight. What are you going to do about it?"
"What I said. Even better. What's the Emily L. worth?"
"She's seen her day. Not above ten thousand, which would be robbery.
Every time she's in a rough sea I'm afraid she'll jump her ballast through
her planking."
"She has jumped it, Captain Raffy. I sighted her bottom-up after the blow.
Suppose we say she was worth seven thousand five hundred. I'll pay over
to you fifteen thousand and give you a passage. Don't move your hands
from your lap." Grief stood up, went over to him, and took his revolver.
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"Just a necessary precaution, Captain. Now you'll go on board with me. I'll
break the news to Mrs. Raffy afterward, and fetch her out to join you."
"You're behaving handsomely, Mr. Hall, I must say," Captain Raffy
volunteered, as the whaleboat came alongside the Uncle Toby. "But watch
out for Gorman and Watson. They're ugly customers. And, by the way, I
don't like to mention it, but you've seen my wife. I've given her four or
five pearls. Watson and Gorman were willing."
"Say no more, Captain. Say no more. They shall remain hers. Is that you,
Mr. Snow? Here's a friend I want you to take charge of Captain Raffy.
I'm going ashore for his wife."
VIII
David Grief sat writing at the library table in the bungalow living- room.
Outside, the first pale of dawn was showing. He had had a busy night.
Mrs. Raffy had taken two hysterical hours to pack her and Captain Raffy's
possessions. Gorman had been caught asleep, but Watson, standing guard
over the divers, had shown fight. Matters did not reach the shooting stage,
but it was only after it had been demonstrated to him that the game was up
that he consented to join his companions on board. For temporary
convenience, he and Gorman were shackled in the mate's room, Mrs.
Raffy was confined in Grief's, and Captain Raffy made fast to the cabin
table.
Grief finished the document and read over what he had written:
To Swithin Hall, for pearls taken from his lagoon (estimated) $100,000
To Herbert Snow, paid in full for salvage from steamship
Cascade in pearls (estimated)
$60,000
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To Captain Raffy, salary and expenses for collecting pearls 7,500
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To Captain Raffy, reimbursement for schooner Emily L., lost
in hurricane
7,500
To Mrs. Raffy, for good will, five fair pearls (estimated) 1,100
To passage to Sydney, four persons, at $120. 480
To white lead for painting Swithin Hall's two whaleboats 9
To Swithin Hall, balance, in pearls (estimated) which are to
be found in drawer of library table
23,411
$100,000
$100,000
Grief signed and dated, paused, and added at the bottom:
P.S. Still owing to Swithin Hall three books, borrowed from library:
Hudson's Law of Psychic Phenomena, Zola's Paris, and Mahan's Problem
of Asia. These books, or full value, can be collected of said David Grief's
Sydney office.
He shut off the electric light, picked up the bundle of books, carefully
latched the front door, and went down to the waiting whaleboat.
A Goboto Night
(First published in The Saturday Evening Post, v. 184, September 30, 1911:
20-21, 65-66)
I
At Goboto the traders come off their schooners and the planters drift in
from far, wild coasts, and one and all they assume shoes, white duck
trousers, and various other appearances of civilization. At Goboto mail is
received, bills are paid, and newspapers, rarely more than five weeks old,
are accessible; for the little island, belted with its coral reefs, affords
safe
anchorage, is the steamer port of call, and serves as the distributing point
for the whole wide-scattered group.
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Life at Goboto is heated, unhealthy, and lurid, and for its size it asserts
the
distinction of more cases of acute alcoholism than any other spot in the
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world. Guvutu, over in the Solomons, claims that it drinks between drinks.
Goboto does not deny this. It merely states, in passing, that in the Goboton
chronology no such interval of time is known. It also points out its import
statistics, which show a far larger per capita consumption of spiritous
liquors. Guvutu explains this on the basis that Goboto does a larger
business and has more visitors. Goboto retorts that its resident population
is smaller and that its visitors are thirstier. And the discussion goes on
interminably, principally because of the fact that the disputants do not live
long enough to settle it.
Goboto is not large. The island is only a quarter of a mile in diameter, and
on it are situated an admiralty coal-shed (where a few tons of coal have
lain untouched for twenty years), the barracks for a handful of black
labourers, a big store and warehouse with sheet-iron roofs, and a
bungalow inhabited by the manager and his two clerks. They are the white
population. An average of one man out of the three is always to be found
down with fever. The job at Goboto is a hard one. It is the
policy of the company to treat its patrons well, as invading companies
have found out, and it is the task of the manager and clerks to do the
treating. Throughout the year traders and recruiters arrive from far, dry
cruises, and planters from equally distant and dry shores, bringing with
them magnificent thirsts. Goboto is the mecca of sprees, and when they
have spread they go back to their schooners and plantations to recuperate.
Some of the less hardy require as much as six months between visits. But
for the manager and his assistants there are no such intervals. They are on [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]