"I'm not their guardian. I can't watch over them after theyleave the store. They are paid the current rate of wages--asmethereum hashrate cpuuch as any other store pays." As he spoke, the anger provokedby this unexpected assault on him out of the mouth of a convictflamed high in virtuous repudiation. "Why," he went onvehemently, "no man living does more for his employees than I do.
After Kindell left him, he continued to sibitcoin login attemptst in motionless thought, as he faced one of the most perilous hours that his life of successful criminality had so far known.Only once before had he become so closely involved in the drug-smuggling activities which he largely controlled; never had he faced crisis with such a feeling of being bankrupt of expedient or resource. Since his last conversation with Kindell, he was increasingly disposed to think that he had been misinformed concerning his connection with the police. If that were so, it reduced, to some extent, the presence of surrounding danger. But what a fool it made of himself! How abortively the precious hours had been lost! How silly that business of Myra and the smuggled parcel had been. . . . He picked up the service telephone, and said that he would have some refreshment served at once in his own room. Yes, at once. He was leaving by the boat-train. . . . Gustav knew what he liked. Perhaps he could bring it up?
It was within ten minutes that his favourite waiter appeared, with a meal which might be all he desired, but to which he gave no immediate attention; and the conversation which followed was not such as is usual between waiter and guest."They've just arrested Monsieur Kindell," the man said, as he closed the door, after wheeling the dumb-waiter into the room. "But," the Professor asked, "did it look like the real thing?""He looked sick enough. But I wouldn't say that I'm sure yet.""Well, we've got to make up our minds. It seems most probable that Prestwick gave us a bad tip.""He's never done that before."
"But he seems to have done it now. . . . Anyhow, Kindell's out of the way, and that's given us a chance that we mustn't miss."For whatever degree of error the Professor might blame himself in the events of the last week, he was instant now to perceive the possibility which was opened by Kindell's arrest, and, as he spoke, he had abandoned the hazardous plan which he had been driven to entertain, and had substituted another, not only such as would give a greater probability of success, but which shifted the penalties of failure from his own shoulders, as he had always previously contrived."And what did you come on board my ship for?"
"Nothing.""And what do you expect from me now?""Nothing.""Who are you? An American, as letters seem to prove?" Crockston did not answer.
"Boatswain," said James Playfair, "fifty lashes with the cat-o'-nine-tails to loosen his tongue. Will that be enough, Crockston?""It will remain to be seen," replied John Stiggs' uncle without moving a muscle.
"Now then, come along, men," said the boatswain.At this order, two strong sailors stripped Crockston of his woollen jersey; they had already seized the formidable weapon, and laid it across the prisoner's shoulders, when the novice, John Stiggs, pale and agitated, hurried on deck."Captain!" exclaimed he."Ah! the nephew!" remarked James Playfair.
"Captain," repeated the novice, with a violent effort to steady his voice, "I will tell you what Crockston does not want to say. I will hide it no longer; yes, he is American, and so am I; we are both enemies of the slave-holders, but not traitors come on board to betray the Dolphin into the hands of the Federalists.""What did you come to do, then?" asked the Captain, in a severe tone, examining the novice attentively. The latter hesitated a few seconds before replying, then he said, "Captain, I should like to speak to you in private."Whilst John Stiggs made this request, James Playfair did not cease to look carefully at him; the sweet young face of the novice, his peculiarly gentle voice, the delicacy and whiteness of his hands, hardly disguised by paint, the large eyes, the animation of which could not bide their tenderness-all this together gave rise to a certain suspicion in the Captain's mind. When John Stiggs had made his request, Playfair glanced fixedly at Crockston, who shrugged his shoulders; then he fastened a questioning look on the novice, which the latter could not withstand, and said simply to him, "Come."John Stiggs followed the Captain on to the poop, and then James Playfair, opening the door of his cabin, said to the novice, whose cheeks were pale with emotion, "Be so kind as to walk in, miss."
John, thus addressed, blushed violently, and two tears rolled involuntarily down his cheeks."Don't be alarmed, miss," said James Playfair, in a gentle voice, "but be so good as to tell me how I come to have the honour of having you on board?"
The young girl hesitated a moment, then, reassured by the Captain's look, she made up her mind to speak."Sir," said she, "I wanted to join my father at Charleston; the town is besieged by land and blockaded by sea. I knew not how to get there, when I heard that the Dolphin meant to force the blockade. I came on board your ship, and I beg you to forgive me if I acted without your consent, which you would have refused me."
"Certainly," said James Playfair."I did well, then, not to ask you," resumed the young girl, with a firmer voice.The Captain crossed his arms, walked round his cabin, and then came back."What is your name?" said he."Jenny Halliburtt.""Your father, if I remember rightly the address on the letters, is he not from Boston?"
"Yes, sir.""And a Northerner is thus in a southern town in the thickest of the war?"
"My father is a prisoner; he was at Charleston when the first shot of the Civil War was fired, and the troops of the union driven from Fort Sumter by the Confederates. My father's opinions exposed him to the hatred of the slavist part, and by the order of General Beauregard he was imprisoned. I was then in England, living with a relation who has just died, and left alone, with no help but that of Crockston, our faithful servant, I wished to go to my father and share his prison with him.""What was Mr. Halliburtt, then?" asked James Playfair.
"A loyal and brave journalist," replied Jenny proudly, "one of the noblest editors of the Tribune, and the one who was the boldest in defending the cause of the negroes.""An Abolitionist," cried the Captain angrily; "one of those men who, under the vain pretence of abolishing slavery, have deluged their country with blood and ruin."
"Sir!" replied Jenny Halliburtt, growing pale, "you are insulting my father; you must not forget that I stand alone to defend him."The young Captain blushed scarlet; anger mingled with shame struggled in his breast; perhaps he would have answered the young girl, but he succeeded in restraining himself, and, opening the door of the cabin, he called "Boatswain!"The boatswain came to him directly."This cabin will henceforward belong to Miss Jenny Halliburtt. Have a cot made ready for me at the end of the poop; that's all I want."
The boatswain looked with a stupefied stare at the young novice addressed in a feminine name, but on a sign from James Playfair he went out."And now, miss, you are at home," said the young Captain of the Dolphin. Then he retired.
Chapter IV CROCKSTON'S TRICKIt was not long before the whole crew knew Miss Halliburtt's story, which Crockston was no longer hindered from telling. By the Captain's orders he was released from the capstan, and the cat-o'-nine-tails returned to its Place.
"A pretty animal," said Crockston, "especially when it shows its velvety paws."As soon as he was free, he went down to the sailors' berths, found a small portmanteau, and carried it to Miss Jenny; the young girl was now able to resume her feminine attire, but she remained in her cabin, and did not again appear on deck.
As for Crockston, it was well and duly agreed that, as he was no more a sailor than a horse-guard, he should be exempt from all duty on board.In the meanwhile the Dolphin, with her twin screws cutting the waves, sped rapidly across the Atlantic, and there was nothing now to do but keep a strict look-out. The day following the discovery of Miss Jenny's identity, James Playfair paced the deck at the poop with a rapid step; he had made no attempt to see the young girl and resume the conversation of the day before.Whilst he was walking to and fro, Crockston passed him several times, looking at him askant with a satisfied grin. He evidently wanted to speak to the Captain, and at last his persistent manner attracted the attention of the latter, who said to him, somewhat impatiently:"How now, what do you want? You are turning round me like a swimmer round a buoy: when are you going to leave off?"
"Excuse me, Captain," answered Crockston, winking, "I wanted to speak to you.""Speak, then."
"Oh, it is nothing very much. I only wanted to tell you frankly that you are a good fellow at bottom.""Why at bottom?"
"At bottom and surface also.""I don't want your compliments."