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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMystery - Part Two. The Brass Bound Chest - Chapter 16. The Murder
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Mystery - Part Two. The Brass Bound Chest - Chapter 16. The Murder Post by :huberth Category :Long Stories Author :Samuel Hopkins Adams Date :May 2012 Read :2867

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Mystery - Part Two. The Brass Bound Chest - Chapter 16. The Murder


I took no chances, but began at once to shout, as soon as I saw the men had noticed his coming. It was impossible for me to tell whether or not Dr. Schermerhorn heard me. If he did, he misunderstood my intention, for he continued painfully to advance. The only result I gained was to get myself well gagged with my own pocket handkerchief, and thrown in a hollow between the dunes. Thence I could hear Handy Solomon speaking fiercely and rapidly.

"Now you let me run this," he commanded; "we got to find out somethin'. It ain't no good to us without we knows--and we want to find out how he's got the rest hid."

They assented.

"I'm goin' out to help him carry her in," announced the seaman.

A long pause ensued, in which I watched the deep canopy of red-black thicken overhead. A strange and unearthly light had fallen on the world, and the air was quite still. After a while I heard Handy Solomon and Dr. Schermerhorn join the group.

"There you are, Perfessor," cried Handy Solomon, in tones of the greatest heartiness, "I'll put her right there, and she'll be as safe as a babby at home. She's heavy, though."

Dr. Schermerhorn laughed a pleased and excited laugh. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was strung high, and guessed that his triumph needed an audience.

"You may say so well!" he said. "It iss heafy; and it iss heafy with the world-desire, the great substance than can do efferything. Where iss Percy?"

"He's gone aboard."

"We must embark. The time is joost right. A day sooner and the egsperiment would haf been spoilt; but now"--he laughed--"let the island sink, we do not care. We must embark hastily."

"It'll take a man long time to carry down all your things, Perfessor."

"Oh, led them go! The eruption has alretty swallowed them oop. The lava iss by now a foot deep in the valley. Before long it flows here, so we must embark."

"But you've lost all them vallyable things, Perfessor," said Handy Solomon. "Now, I call that hard luck."

Dr. Schermerhorn snapped his fingers.

"They do not amoundt to that!" he cried. "Here, here, in this leetle box iss all the treasure! Here iss the labour of ten years! Here iss the _Laughing Lass_, and the crew, and all the equipmendt comprised. Here iss the world!"

"I'm a plain seaman, Perfessor, and I suppose I got to believe you; but she's a main small box for all that."

"With that small box you can haf all your wishes," asserted the Professor, still in the German lyric strain over his triumph. "It iss the box of enchantments. You haf but to will the change you would haf taig place--it iss done. The substance of the rocks, the molecule--all!"

"Could a man make diamonds?" asked Pulz abruptly. I could hear the sharp intake of the men's breathing as they hung on the reply.

"Much more wonderful changes than that it can accomplish," replied the doctor, with an indulgent laugh. "That change iss simple. Carbon iss coal; carbon iss diamond. You see? One has but to change the form, not the substance."

"Then it'll change coal to diamonds?" asked Handy Solomon.

"Yes, you gather my meanings--"

I heard a sharp squeak like a terrified mouse. Then a long, dreadful silence; then two dull, heavy blows, spaced with deliberation. A moment later I caught a glimpse of Handy Solomon bent forward to the labour of dragging a body toward the sea, his steel claw hooked under the angle of the jaw as a man handles a fish. Pulz came and threw off my bonds and gag.

"Come along!" said he.

All kept looking fearfully toward the arroyo. A dense white steam marked its course. The air was now heavy with portent. Successive explosions, some light, some severe, shook the foundations of the island. Great rocks and boulders bounded down the hills. The flashes of lightning had become more frequent. We moved, exaggerated to each other's vision by the strange light, uncouth and gigantic.

"Let's get out of this!" cried Thrackles.

We turned at the word and ran, Thrackles staggering under the weight of the chest. All our belongings we abandoned, and set out for the _Laughing Lass with only the tatters in which we stood. Luckily for us a great part of the ship's stores had been returned to her hold after the last thorough scrubbing, so we were in subsistence, but all our clothes, all our personal belongings, were left behind us on the beach. For after once we had topped the cliff that led over to the cove, I doubt if any consideration on earth would have induced us to return to that accursed place.

The row out to the ship was wet and dangerous. Seismic disturbances were undoubtedly responsible for high pyramidic waves that lifted and fell without onward movement. We fairly tumbled up out of the dory, which we did not hoist on deck, but left at the end of the painter to beat her sides against the ship.

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