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To-day's Short Story. I


To-day's Short Story. I CISTGUARD'S MUTINY, For two weeka the Pkraiginjgi Fettrel, a. big, three-masted schooner, had ploughed its way through the placid waters of the Pacific with a sameness that was exasperat- ing. "Since leaving port nothing—not even a threatened storm or a lively gale-llad í broken the monotony. The t-hip was bound for Brazil. with a cargo of wheat, and I was her only passen- gL-r—seekiug hea-ith in this manner accord- ing to my physician's urgent request. She wad captained by a sturdy old navigator, a man who on first, acquaintance might appear to he coid. di-;tent, and reserved, but, who proved in my case, at. least, to be exactly the opposite, for I soon found him a genial, heaxty, good fellow. He was strict with his men, but. nor, tyrannical, and he was a good story-teller. But monotony wad not to last all through the voyage. There was soon a singular and s initr change. One day. auouc' noon, at the beginning of tae third week a sailor named Bates was placed in irons for striking a meod-mate with a marlinspike and breaking his arm. The punishment was undoubtedly deserved, but there were angry Ulut trings and moe than one sullen face among the crew in con- sequence; for Bates, whose only fault was an uncontrollable temper, was a general favourite. But when the unfortunate man was found dead next morning, things began to look black for the officers. There wa» no sign of wound or struggle upon the body of the dead man. bat the atmosphere or the forecastle where he had been confined was odorous with the fumes of chloroform. I called the captain s atten- tion to thi. but he thought I must be mis- taken, and would noit be convinced, even vhen the ■xni^swain and one of the mates argued on my side. He declared that there wan norte of the drug on board, and uev-er h id oeen. Ami bo it happened that poor Late?? *as buried in the deep t?ea at the very hour at which he was to have been iibe- rated. At eight bells the following night, when tho first mate went on deck to relieve his fc- E t,%w--k) ttic ethe teitter had disappeared, and could iioc be found. I h^p-pened to be lean- j ing against the mizzen-niast smoking when, the alarm wiu given, and could have sworn that I had n smelling ohloroforai for half an hour, alchougii I did not caii the fact to mliid imtii the dreadful cry of Man over- was ttonrmled and hands piped on deck. A boat containing the fiNOt mate and four nieh was lowered it once, the ibbi,P was brought, about, aad two hours werl- spent in fruitless search. In the meantime every I accessible nook in the ship, which was tacking Ooaoek and forth in the locality, was inspected witn like r-svuLtts. At last the searching Party was taken on board and the ship rumed its course. The captain now took turns at the watch with the mate. and everything ran smoothly j1 till t.he following ni'gtot, or, rather, the next mortiim:—four bells of the first watch, Then. when he turned out to reli-eve the mate, that officer could not be found. The same efforts were made to fimd the missing man. and with the same results ad on the previous night, aDd the captain was nearly frantic. He was not only deeply grieved at the d-eath of his two officers, but greatly shocked and mystified at the strange manner of their disappearance. On both occasions the water aside from the heavy t)weH wa" conrp-ara lively smooth, the wind only brisk enough to fill the sails, and the Hj ars were shining. This, together wrth the fact- that both the mates were knowij to be «xp^'rt swimmers, so that they should, under ordinary circurasftances, have been able to keep afloat for hours, deepened the myft-erv. The captain would not admit that the •pm-ience of chloroform, i'f it existed at all, had anything to do with the mystery. On the afternoon following the second disappearance, the cap-tain called me into the cabin, shut and locked the door, and beckoned me to a chair at a ¡;;ma-U ta.ble. I saw nothing remarkable about this, •believing thai he only wished to talk over his troubles; but when he took a seat opposite me I noticed that his face was deathly pale and that his ligs were tightly compressed. My two owi-cerr, have been murdered, he fairly gapped. "Murdered!" I exclaimed. "I have foul play from the first. Ra-ve you etnv evidence?" "The best in the world. You have noticed the big Dane. Cist-guard?" That mild-looking fellow with, the re4 j be^rd?" Yes." j Why, certalniy; but you don't suspect j him. I hope?" Of course not. On the contrary, there is a. inn tiny on foot, and he—but here is a note he slipped into my hand a moment agD. Read it yourself. Unless you and I and this faithful fellow can outflght or outwit fifteen Iiell hooinds, we are doomed." With a face that must have been as white a^ the one before me, and a hand that was anything but steady, I picked up a sheet of paper which the oe-pta-in had thrown on the table, and wt-etd the following: CaPta,in.-I have just discovered a horrible plot. All the crew, except myself, ha-ve mutinied. The mates were knocked on the head and thrown overboard. You will share the same fate when you come on deck to relievo the watob to-night. unless you heed this warning. Meet me ten minutes before the close of the second dog-watch jkiit, aft the main hatchway, or send for m-e, for we are closely watched. I am surppoeed to side with the crew. The least mistake would be futal. Don't 1! the passenger. He may be all right, but I doubt it. For God's sa-ke, Captain, don't go near the rail. Don't tell the passenger," I muttered, as I looked at the oa.pt am, not only hQlM'Q-1 strkken at the contents of the note, bat surprised and hurt at the ameomplimentary reference to mye?eK. But the captain, who must have divined my thoughts, relieved my mind on this point, by eaying: That's all right. The fellow is only a trifle over-cautious. Don't mind. him. I would trust. you with the ship, and my life, too, for that matter. You see I have showed my conndence by allowing you to read the note. Now. I want your advice. Yoar assistance I shall count on without asking when the time comes." "Thank you, captain," I anawpred. "To start with, I should certainly not go on deck till it is tnne to meet the Dane, if I were you." My companion had now regained his composure to a certain extent, and sat for a moment drumming the talble with, his fingers. Who has the watch now?" I contiwaed presently. "Rut--n. the tail seaman with the red on the back of his hand," was the janswer He is acting as finst-ma-te, and I cave decided to give Jones the position of — j| DOWLAIS GIRLS' SCHOOL.-STANDARD IVA. A beautifully-printed Photograph mounted an cardboard, ready for framing, of any of the School Glasses whioh have appeared in the Eveaing Express will be Given Free in Exchange for 24 Front Pace Efiadingw, not more than six weeks old. cut out and sent to this office. This offer applies only to troupe marked Evening Express Photo. [" EVENING EXF-;Z:SS PROTO. second to-morrow. Both. are fairly good na-vigators. and I can't, unkierstand it. I could have sworn that thefce two men were How would it do to batten down the hatoh- way of the forecastle ?en part of the dogs are below at sup per and pumrp leaq into the rest of them.? I don t believe they are orm-ed, unless they have a, few knives. We ooald then make for the nearest I)ort." Better wait till you see the Dane," I replied. He maly be able to give you the name of the leader." For an hour or more we continued to plan. but without being able to decide on anything definite. At last it was agreed that I should go on deck and aee what could be learned there. In half an hour I returned with anything but good news. The men were talking guardedly in groups, and when I patoed near them they quickly dispersed. The big Dane was leaning over the rail near the log. silent and apparently watching with absorbed attention the receding, foam-clapped wavee in the Miip's wake. Before sundown all our weapons had been oaled, examined, and loaded, the captain and myself secreting the revolvers about OUT persons. and leaving the rifle for the Dane. The sky had clouded over late in the after- moon, and night, gloomy and foreboding, settled down on the schooner. "The very elements seem to be in sympathy with thifll cursed business," said the captain, when it begun to grow so dark in the cabin that we coald hardly make out each other's faces; "• and I feel as if the jig- was about up with me." As soon a? the la&, &treak of day had disappeared, the captain, revolver in hand, mounted the companion ladder, and stole softly on deck. I followed him part of the "way, but stopped, according to his directions, and stood with my head and .shoulders above the companien way, ready in ca.se of ieTBersreaey. to lend any assistance that might lie in my power. I never looked into a blacker night. The air was soft and warm, and fitful gusts Qf wind dashed a few cooling raindrops against nxv face as I held on to my revolver and tried to keep the receding form of the captain in view. But he disappeared aJmot-t hxstant-ly, and, owi-rag to the whistle of the wind iA the rigging, the groaning of the masts, and the creaking of the yiard-arrne, I a-s true ad the dead n).&t-fs ever were, until I got this wtarning from Cistguard. But he is right, my boy; he is right. All this comee from that unfortuniate Bates affair. I wonder who is the leader? If he could be snot cr placed hi irons, it might quell the others. Have you a pwt-ol?'' A smali pocket affair," I answered. "I havc, two large ones and a repeating rifle in my chest," continued the captain, could not hear his footsteps after he had gone half a down paces. He carried no lantern, but Several lights glimmered fore and- aft, dianoin-g and shifting unsteadily about, like veritable wi 1 l-o'-the-wisjfps. None, however, was near the mciin hatch-way, the place of meeting. Anxiously I waited, five, ten, fifteen minmtes, as nearly as I could reckon time, but neither sight nor sound brought intelligence of the captain. At last, I oould bea.r the suspense no longer, and I began to walk slowly alomlg tcwa-rds the bow. When I though I had reached the location of the hatchway, and was on the point of coming to a imit, I struck my foot against some- thing amd f«C—the planks of the deck seem- ing to open and engulf me- Whilst srtill descending through, space I realised wlnait had ha.ppen.ed-the hatchway bad been opened, and I had fallen into the hold. A second Later I found myself lying between two bags of wheat, more frightened than hart, and with the fum-es of chloroform aimofit suffocating me. Before trying to rise I discovered that I was not in total dark- nes, and that a dim light came from some- where, but not from above, I was sure. Presently a muffled groan reached me from the direction of the stern, and on looking over my shoulders I saw the stoopimig form of a man out limed by the rays of a lantern to front of him, about 20ft. awaor. I ga-iried my feet with wme difficulty, and was about to step forward, when the ship gave a lurch, and I was thrown lengthwise a-gainst the hull. Before I could stand up agaip the bent form assumed an upright pOiStdre, and I recognised the bag Dane. Muttering incoherently, he picked up the lantern and started towards the place where I had first fallen, off to my left. W'hether it was fear, the shock caused by J striking the hull, or the effects of the chloroform tliat kept me from trying to get up, I am not prepared to say, but I did not attempt to move hand or foot. .As the light drew near I discovered a rope dangling from the deck. When the Dane drew near this rope he deposited his lantern beside him, rubbed his big hard hands together with a loud rasping noise, and laughed a low, fiendish sort of chuckle, which chilled my blood. A moment later his merriment subsided, and, taking hold of the rope with one hand, he picked up the lantern with the other. I expected to see him run his arm through the handle of the lantern and go, hand over hand. through the hatchway, but he wae in no htrrry. and began to talk in a harsh undertone. So far, so good. Kirug Cistguard," he said, a million pounds of diamonds, sewed up in I sacks of silk, and all my own. Oh, what a royal present for my ebony princess! Fifteen days more and I shall reign supreme. The two mates and the captain I are now my loyal subjects, and to-morrow Slight the passenger will join them. Then come my hearties, Hntton and the little Jones, and so on down the list. Ha! ha! ha.! h,-a. Never until tha.t awful momerpt had I heard the blood-curdling laugh of a maniac, but I recognised it as quickly as if I had passed all my days inside the walls of a. madhouse. Before I knew it, my strength or oourage, or both, suddenly returned, and I arose cautiously to my feet, discovering at the same time the revolver which bad fallen from my hand when I stumbled on the deck. It was lying almoet at the feet of the Dane. Advancing slowly, I stooped, and was about to piok up the weapon, but before I could get hold of it the ship lurched aigain. I collided with the madman, and we both went down together. The revolver escaped me, the light in the lantern was extinguished, and there wae a beream, a. piercing cry of fright and a.rjguish, such as only a terror-stricken madman, can utter. And then with that awful shriek ringing in my ears, and the strong fingers of the demented Dane clutch- ing my throat, I became insensible. When consciousness returned I was lyirag in my berth; it was daylight; and Hutton was standing beside me. As soon as I was able to talk he told me tha/t just after dark on the previous evening a horrible cry was heard coming from the direction of the main hatchway, and that when the little Jones and several other sailors ruehed to the spot, the raving Dane was seen to elimtb up a rope from the hold. As soon as he gained the deck he ran sereamtng to the rail and threw himself into the sea. I was found more dead than alive, and taken to my cabin. Soon after the ca-ptain and the two mates were discovered gauged and bound near the spot where I hvad first seen the Dane. The captain recovered from the effects cf the chloroform which had been administered to him, and he was removed with the two officers who were still alive, butt too weak a;nd exhausted to stand on their feet for rnanlv hours. In two days all had recovered, and the Plunging Petrel was manned and officered as before, soave for the absence of Bates and the big Dane. All went well to the end of ) the voyage. The mutiny was only a,inyth in I the mind of the -madnyan.









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