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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 7. The Survivors
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Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 7. The Survivors Post by :huberth Category :Long Stories Author :Samuel Hopkins Adams Date :May 2012 Read :3480

Click below to download : Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 7. The Survivors (Format : PDF)

Mystery - Part Three. The Maroon - Chapter 7. The Survivors

PART THREE. THE MAROON CHAPTER VII. THE SURVIVORS

Rest and good food quickly brought Percy Darrow back to his normal poise. One inspection satisfied Dr. Trendon that all was well with him. He asked to see the captain, and that gentleman came to Ives's room, which had been assigned to the rescued man.

"I hope you've been able to make yourself comfortable," said the commander, courteously.

"It would be strange indeed if I could not," returned Darrow, smiling. "You forget that you have set a savage down in the midst of luxury."

"Make yourself free of Ives's things," invited Captain Parkinson. "Poor fellow; he will not use them again, I fear."

"One of your men lost?" asked Darrow. "Ah, the young officer whose body I found on the beach, perhaps?"

"No; but we have to thank you for that burial," said the captain.

Darrow made a swift gesture. "Oh, if thanks are going," he cried, and paused in hopelessness of adequate expression.

"This has been a bitter cruise for us," continued the captain. He sighed and was silent for a moment. "There is much to tell and to be told," he resumed.

"Much," agreed the other, gravely.

"You will want to see Slade first, I presume," said the captain.

"One of your officers whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting?"

The captain stared. "Slade," he said. "Ralph Slade."

"Apparently there's a missing link. Or--I fear I was not wholly myself yesterday for a time. Possibly something occurred that I did not quite take in."

"Perhaps we'd better wait," said Captain Parkinson, with obvious misgiving. "You're not quite rested. You will feel more like--"

"If you don't mind," said Darrow composedly, "I'd like to get at this thing now. I'm in excellent understanding, I assure you."

"Very well. I am speaking of the man who acted as mate in the _Laughing Lass_. The journalist who--good heavens! What arrant stupidity! I have to beg your pardon, Mr. Darrow. It has just occurred to me. He called himself Eagen with you."

"Eagen! What is this? Is Eagen alive?"

"And on this ship. We picked him up in an open boat."

"And you say he calls himself Slade?"

"He is Ralph Slade, adventurer and journalist. Mr. Barnett knows him and vouches for him."

"And he was on our island under an assumed name," said Darrow in tones that had the smoothness and the rasp of silk. "Rather annoying. Not good form, quite, even for a pirate."

"Yet, I believe he saved your life," suggested the captain.

Darrow looked up sharply. "Why, yes," he admitted. "So he did. I had hoped--" He checked himself. "I had thought that all of the crew went the same way. You didn't find any of the others?"

"None."

Darrow got to his feet. "I think I'd like to see Eagen--Slade--whatever he calls himself."

"I don't know," began the captain. "It might not be--" He hesitated and stopped.

Darrow drew back a little, misinterpreting the other's attitude. "Do I understand that I am under restraint?" he asked stiffly.

"Certainly not. Why should you be?"

"Well," returned the other contemplatively, "it really might be regarded as a subject for investigation. Of course I know only a small part of it. But there have certainly been suspicious circumstances. Piracy there has been: no doubt of that. Murder, too, if my intuitions are not at fault. Or at least, a disappearance to be accounted for. Robbery can't be denied. And there's a dead body or two to be properly accredited." He looked the captain in the eye.

"Well?"

"You'll find my story highly unsatisfactory in detail, I fancy. I merely want to know whether I'm to present it as a defence, or only an explanation."

"We shall be glad to hear your story when you are ready to tell it--after you have seen Mr. Slade."

"Thank you," said Darrow simply. "You have heard his?"

"Yes. It needs filling in."

"When may I see him?"

"That's for Dr. Trendon to say. He came to us almost dead. I'll find out."

The surgeon reported Slade much better, but all a-quiver with excitement.

"Hate to put the strain on him," said he. "But he'll be in a fever till he gets this thing off his mind. Send Mr. Darrow to him."

After a moment's consideration Darrow said: "I should like to have you and Dr. Trendon present, Captain Parkinson, while I ask Eagen one or two questions."

"Understand one thing, Mr. Darrow," said Trendon briefly. "This is not to be an inquisition."

"Ah," said Darrow, unmoved. "I'm to be neither defendant nor prosecutor."

"You are to respect the condition of Dr. Trendon's patient, sir," said Captain Parkinson, with emphasis. "Outside of that, your attitude toward a man who has twice thought of your life before his own is for you to determine."

No little cynicism lurked in Darrow's tones as he said:

"You have confidence in Mr. Slade, alias Eagen."

"Yes," replied Captain Parkinson, in a tone that closed that topic.

"Still, I should be glad to have you gentlemen present, if only for a moment," insisted Darrow, presently.

"Perhaps it would be as well--on account of the patient," said the surgeon significantly.

"Very well," assented the captain.

The three went to Slade's cabin. He was lying propped up in his bunk. Trendon entered first, followed by the captain, then Darrow.

"Here's your prize, Slade," said the surgeon.

Darrow halted, just inside the door. With an eager light in his face Slade leaned forward and stretched out his hand.

"I couldn't believe it until I saw you, old man," he cried.

Darrow's eyebrows went up. Before Slade had time to note that there was no response to his outstretched hand, the surgeon had jumped in and pushed him roughly back upon his pillow.

"What did you promise?" he growled. "You were to lie still, weren't you? And you'll do it, or out we go."

"How are you, Eagen?" drawled Darrow.

"Not Eagen. I'm done with that. They've told you, haven't they?"

Darrow nodded. "Are you the only survivor?" he inquired.

"Except yourself."

"The Nigger? Pulz? Thrackles? The captain? All drowned?"

"Not the captain. They murdered him."

"Ah," said Darrow softly. "And you--I beg your pardon--your--er--friends disposed of the doctor in the same way?"

"Handy Solomon," replied Slade with shaking lips. "Hell's got that fiend, if there's a hell for human fiends. They threw the doctor's body in the surf."

"You didn't notice whether there were any papers?"

"If there were they must have been destroyed with the body when the lava poured down the valley into the sea."

"The lava: of course," assented Darrow, with elaborate nonchalance. "Well, he was a kind old boy. A cheerful, simple, wise old child."

"I would have given my right hand to save him," cried Slade. "It was so sudden--so damnable--"

"Better to have saved him than me," said Darrow. He spoke with the first touch of feeling that he exhibited. "I have to thank you for my life, Eagen--I beg your pardon: Slade. It's hard to remember."

Dr. Trendon arose, and Captain Parkinson with him.

"Give you two hours, Mr. Darrow," said the surgeon. "No more. If he seems exhausted, give him one of these powders. I'll look in in an hour."

At the end of an hour he returned. Slade was lying back on his pillow. Darrow was talking, eagerly, confidentially. In another hour he came out.

"The whole thing is clear," he said to Captain Parkinson. "I am ready to report to you."

"This evening," said the captain. "The mess will want to hear."

"Yes, they will want to hear," assented Darrow. "You've had Slade's story. I'll take it up where he left off, and he'll check me. Mine's as incredible as--as Slade's was. And it's as true."

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