By the World Forgot: A Double Romance of the East and Westскачать книгу бесплатно
"No one knew of Derrick's presence on the ship except those who were aboard her?"
"Obviously not, since all the detectives in New York, for the past six months, have been endeavoring to find out where he went, stimulated by a reward big enough to arouse them all to the most frantic endeavors."
"But the people on the ship would know?"
"I haven't any doubt that Beekman disclosed his name to the officers so soon as he came to his senses, but I imagine it wouldn't make much of an impression upon them. They wouldn't believe him. Sailors are proverbially happy-go-lucky people. Our agents at San Francisco will pay off these survivors, they will scatter, and that will be the end of them."
"And if he is lost the mystery of his disappearance would never have been solved," whispered the young woman, "unless Mr. Harnash himself had told."
The old man nodded. George Harnash, his back turned to them, listened as if his life hung upon the word.
"But if he had kept the secret," said the girl, illogically but with obvious meaning, "I could never have forgiven him, much as I loved him and still do love him. That doesn't seem to be news to you, father."
"It isn't. Go on."
"In that case I never could have married him, even though he did it for me, but now-"
She walked over toward Harnash and laid her hand on his shoulder. No knight ever received an accolade, no petitioner a benison, no penitent an absolution so precious as that. Harnash turned, coincident with the touch, transfigured.
"Stephanie," he burst out, "you don't mean-"
"A part of the blame is mine," said the girl, facing her father, her hand still on her lover's shoulder. "I was weak where I should have been strong. It was my duty to break with Derrick absolutely since I did not, could not, love him; but because I love you, Father, and because my word had been given, I proposed to go through with the marriage, knowing that I loved this man, letting him see that I did, and allowing myself to hope that he would effect what I refused to attempt; so that for this awful situation I am in a large part to blame."
"I cannot let that statement go unchallenged, Mr. Maynard," protested Harnash, passionately. "She is no more to blame than a baby. She couldn't help being beautiful. She couldn't help my loving her. As God is my judge, she has never done a thing to encourage me. She told me all along that she was going to marry Beekman, that she was in honor bound to do so, that duty and everything made it necessary. It was my own mad passion, for which she is not to blame, that made me do it. Not a vestige of reproach attaches to her. God knows, I wouldn't have had real harm come to him for anything on earth. I never dreamed of this. I never suspected it. I never anticipated it. It's an awful shock to me, but a man must fight for the woman he loves. Beekman didn't care. With him it was a matter of agreement, convenience, and I-" He turned and looked at the girl.
"I think I'd do it again. I'll be honest. Now I'd cheerfully give my own life for Beekman's. If I am not to have you life isn't worth very much to me, and I'm terribly sorry for him; yet when I look at you, Stephanie, and think that in spite of everything I have lost you-"
"You haven't lost me," said the girl, quietly.
"What! You mean?"
"Where do I come in?" asked the elder Maynard with a calmness that matched his daughter's.
"Father," said the girl, "I'm not your daughter for nothing. I suppose I couldn't help loving George Harnash. I have the same fixity of purpose that you have. I showed it when I intended to carry out my agreement to marry Derrick, although it broke my heart. I know I will go on loving him to the end, no matter what he did, or what he is, but I wouldn't have married him if he hadn't of his own free will spoken out and told what he might as easily have concealed without anyone ever finding it out, if Derrick is really dead. And I feel here, somehow," said the girl, laying her hand on her heart, "that you hold the same views exactly."
"His prompt and open acknowledgment, his frank confession, makes all the difference," admitted Maynard. "It does seem to give the affair a different complexion."
"Well, it does, then. Go on."
"It was horribly wrong of George to do what he did, but he did it for me. It was my fault as much as his, and I take part of the blame."
"I swear I will not allow you."
"Let her finish," interposed Maynard. "She has more sense than you have, and I'll be hanged if I don't think she has more than I have."
Stephanie smiled faintly.
"If Derrick is dead none of us here is ever going to forget it. Neither Mr. Harnash, nor I, not even you."
"I fail to see any responsibility attaching to me."
"No, but there will be some."
"Oh, will there?"
"So far as intent goes we can absolve ourselves, but so far as consequences are concerned we shall have to expiate our wickedness."
"Oh, Stephanie, for God's sake don't say that of yourself," Harnash burst forth.
"I must. And we can expiate it together. We can help each other."
"Do you mean that you will actually marry me?"
"Of course," said the girl. "How could you for a moment think otherwise? I mean what I say when I assume part of the blame."
"And so you have settled it without me, have you?" asked her father.
"No. We are going to settle it this way with your approval and consent."
"And I am to give my daughter to a man who would administer knock-out drops to a friend and shanghai him on the eve of his wedding and appropriate that friend's promised wife?"
"It is just, sir," said Harnash bitterly. "Think what you do," he continued, turning to the girl with a gesture of renunciation.
"No," answered Stephanie to her father. "You are giving your daughter to a man who, however he sinned, and your daughter doesn't presume to pass condemnation upon him as she might were she not a party to it, has frankly and openly acknowledged his transgression and expressed himself willing to take the consequences."
"Humph," said the old man, a flicker of a smile appearing on his iron face.
"Remember, he might have kept silent."
"Well," said Maynard, "I believe you are right. There is good stuff in you, Harnash, and your unforced, voluntary confession shows it. I don't think you'll administer knock-out drops to anybody again, and eventually I suppose you'll get Stephanie, but there are conditions."
"You couldn't impose any conditions that I would not gladly meet."
"I was coming to those myself," said the girl.
"Oh, you had thought of this, too, had you?"
"What are they?"
"First of all there must be no public mention by any of us of the possible fate of Derrick until we are satisfied that he is dead."
"Certainly not," said old Maynard.
The assent of Harnash was obviously not necessary to that.
"That's where you come in, father-what is the legal term? – as an accessory after the fact to what we have done."
The old man laughed a little.
"Clever, clever," he murmured, "my own daughter."
"The next condition is that we must satisfy ourselves beyond peradventure that Derrick is dead before any marriage."
"That is a harder proposition," said the old man.
"Because," went on the girl, "I told George when I supposed Mr. Beekman was alive and would turn up some time that I would never marry him until I had got a release from Derrick's own lips, and as long as there is a chance that he is alive that condition holds."
"I'm so glad that I can look forward to getting you at any time under any circumstances," said Harnash fervently, "that I accede gladly to any conditions that you may lay down."
"And how will you settle the affair if by any good fortune we succeed in finding Beekman and he refuses to consent and wishes to hold you to your terms?" asked Maynard thoughtfully. "You don't seem to have counted on that."
Harnash and Stephanie looked at each other with dismay.
"And how if he wants to kill Harnash, as he would have a perfect right to do, for his part in the-er-deplorable transaction?" continued the old man relentlessly.
"I'll take whatever he wishes to give me," said Harnash. "I'll tell him myself, if we are fortunate enough to see him, and I don't believe when he learns everything that he will want to claim as his wife a woman who loves some one else."
"I am sure he will not," said Stephanie.
The girl's father nodded.
"I guess you have it right, but we needn't worry about that now. The first thing is to find out whether he is really dead."
"We must set about that at once," said Stephanie.
"We have already taken steps to that end," said Harnash. "I have cabled Smithfield to ship the men from Honolulu to 'Frisco at our expense, and to say to them that I will meet them on the arrival of the steamer. I find that a steamer sails from Honolulu on Thursday of next week. She is due to arrive on Friday of the week after. My personal affairs are in such a state that I can safely leave them. I have a substantial balance available in the bank. I am going to California to interview the men and then I shall charter a vessel and hunt for the other boat or prosecute whatever search is necessary."
"That's fine," said Stephanie. Then she turned to her father, stretching out her hand. "Father-"
The old man understood perfectly well what she wanted.
"I can amplify that plan a little," he said. "I have been wanting to get away from active business for a long time and my affairs are fortunately in such a shape that I can trust them to others. I should have trusted them to you, Harnash, if you weren't obliged to go along."
"Do you mean-?" cried the girl.
"Yes, I'll send the Stephanie around through the Panama canal immediately" – the Stephanie was a magnificent steam yacht, the greatest, most splendid, and most seaworthy of any of the floating palaces of the millionaires of the seaboard-"and we'll go on that hunt together."
"You mean that I-"
"Of course you can go along. Who has more interest in establishing the fact than you?"
THE BOATSWAIN'S STORY
A seafaring man is less at home in a parlor than anywhere else. He can sit comfortably on anything except a chair. The big boatswain balanced himself gingerly on the edge of the biggest and strongest chair in the private parlor of the Maynard apartment in the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. In his hands, fortunately, for otherwise he would not have known what to do with them, he clasped a large package wrapped in oil silk and carefully tied up. He looked and felt supremely ill at ease and miserable. Back of him, equally uncomfortable, were the other survivors of the Susquehanna. It was proper for the boatswain, who acted as third officer, to be seated. This much was conceded to his rank, but Templin and the other five, deaf to all suggestions looking toward their comfort, remained standing. They did not even lean against anything. They took position in true seamanlike fashion, arms folded or akimbo, feet wide apart, ready for any unexpected roll on the part of the St. Francis Hotel.
George Harnash had met the steamer. Indeed, he had boarded her before she tied up at her berth at the docks. He knew that Beekman would not be with the survivors because their names had been cabled to New York by Smithfield in answer to inquiries. The strangest circumstance was this. A list of the other members of the crew taken from the ship's papers which were in possession of the third officer, for so the boatswain was designated, had also been cabled and the name of Beekman did not appear in that list either. This puzzled Harnash beyond measure. He had delivered Beekman to the crimp and the gang designated by Woywod, certainly. Had anything happened? Were those knock-out drops too strong? Harnash was a miserable man, indeed, a prey to all sorts of fears and anxieties and each worse than the other.
The men, who had landed at Honolulu in a dilapidated condition, two weeks' cruising in an open boat being not conducive to the preservation of wearing apparel, had been thoroughly outfitted by the agent of the Inter-Oceanic Trading Company, and consequently as Stephanie Maynard looked upon them she thought them as fine an appearing body of sailors as she had seen in her various voyagings upon the seas. Old John Maynard, keenly appraising them as they were led in the room, arrived at the same conclusion by a somewhat different process.
"This is the bo's'n of the Susquehanna," began Harnash after he had mustered and marshaled the uneasy sailors. "That is, he was originally shipped as bo's'n, but he has been promoted to third officer. How or why I do not yet know. I thought it best not to question the men until I had brought them here. Mr. Gersey-"
"Jim Gersey, at your service, sirs an' ma'am," said the old seaman, rising and making a sort of sea-scrape with his feet while he knuckled his brow with his hand in true if now somewhat obsolete sailor fashion.
"Mr. Gersey," said Harnash, "this is Mr. John Maynard, president of the company which owned the Susquehanna, and this is his daughter."
"Pleased to meet ye both," said the boatswain.
"In addition to our natural anxiety about the ship and her people we have reason to be deeply interested in one member of her crew," continued Harnash, and his personal suspense was obvious to the dullest person in the room, much more to the girl who loved him in spite of all.
"I didn't ketch your name, sir," said the boatswain.
"Harnash, George Harnash."
The old man furrowed his brow and thought a moment.
"Of Harnash an' Beekman, 33 Broadway, New York?"
"Well, sir, I got a message for you."
"Aye. It was give to me by a man that shipped aboard the Susquehanna as John Smith."
"That's why Beekman's name didn't appear among those sent us," observed Mr. Maynard suddenly.
"I suppose so," answered Harnash, glad to be relieved of one anxiety.
"Which he said it wan't his name, but I ain't never been aboard a ship without a John Smith on her," continued the boatswain, "an' sometimes we gits two or three of 'em. It's a kind-a easy name, an' when nobody knows a man we jest nachurly calls him that. Now this chap's name was Beekman. Leastways, that's what he said it was, an' when we put him overboard-"
"Put him overboard?" cried Stephanie.
"Yes, ma'am. In the ship's whaleboat, for his own safety."
"At the time of the fire?" interposed Harnash.
"Now, gents an' lady, if you'll excuse me, I can't quite steer my course amid so many variable winds, so to speak. I can't shift my helm quick enough to meet all them changes. If you'll lemme heave ahead in my own way I'll git the yarn off'n my chest the quicker an' the plainer."
"Of course," said Maynard; "don't interrupt, young people, let him tell us in his own way."
"Thankee, sir," said the boatswain. "You've got a seaman's instinck an' arter I've told the yarn I'll answer any question I may be axed, pervided they comes at me one at a time."
"Heave ahead," said Maynard, adopting nautical language for the occasion.
"Well, sir, it was this way. Arter Smith or Beekman put a knife into the mate-"
This was too much for Harnash.
The boatswain shot a look at him.
"I was comin' to that," he answered. "Mr. Woywod, as you know, he was the mate of the ship. He was a prime seaman, an' pleasant enough if you done what you was told an' done it quick an' kept out of his way, but when he was roused an' riled-God help us, says I."
"We all says that," put in Templin grimly.
"Well, him an' Smith or Beekman got in an argyment the second day out when Smith come to in the fo'c's'l an' didn't know where he was at or why he was at it, an' Smith knocked the mate down. The mate seed he was green an' raw, an' he passed over that, only he told him if he ever done it agin he'd kill him. The mate battered him up considerably at the time. I sent for him that day an' told him as an old man that had follered the sea all his life that there wan't no use of tryin' to fight the mate; that the officers had everything on their side. They was like God hisself on the ship; that he'd git double irons clapped on him for mutiny, an' mebbe hanged if he didn't knuckle down an' turn to. He told me a long story about him bein' shanghaied. I didn't believe it at first."
"It was true," said Harnash. "Absolutely true."
"An' leavin' a girl on his weddin' day."
"I was the girl," said Stephanie.
"Dash me," said the old boatswain, staring at the girl with quite open admiration, "his was a harder lot than we fancied. Well, he concluded to take my advice. He turned to an' done his work like a man, an' I never seen a feller pick up so. Afore he left us he was as hard as nails, an' by way of bein' a prime seaman, too. The mate didn't manhandle him none, but there was bad blood 'twixt them two men. The mate was allus a pickin' on him an' a bullyin' of him. It was a kind of battle between 'em. The mate anxious to provoke an outbreak on Smith's part, which I means Beekman, an' Beekman determined not to give the mate no handle agin him. We had a hell of a-I beg your pardon, Miss, but that word jest describes the ship an' the v'yage. I never did see such a succession of gales. We was weeks gittin' round the Horn, an' there was a dead beat agin the wind nigh all the way up to the line. One night, I disremember the date, but I got it here" – he tapped the oilskin package to which he clung so tightly-"all hands was called on suddenly to reef tops'ls. The old man was for carryin' on, you know; he'd taken in the r'yals, but the to'gall'nts'ls was still set, an' the sticks was bendin' like whips when he decided to git 'em off her. Now there was a mast-man, a half-witted Dutchman, aboard named Wramm."
"Jacob Wramm," said Templin. "God rest his soul."
"He done a lubberly thing. He cast off the wrong halliards, an' we lost the main to'gall'nt mast. It was in the mid watch, an' Wramm had been takin' a snooze under the lee rail or he wouldn't have done it. The mate was very vi'lent with him. He had kicked him awake, au' when the mast carried away he hit him over the head with a belayin' pin, thinking, doubtless, to let some sense into his thick skull, but instead he let the life out of him."
"Do you mean that he killed him?" asked Maynard in amazement, while the others held their breath at this matter-of-fact description of tyranny and murder.
"Aye, sir, I means jest that. There's a lot o' things that goes on aboard your ships, that neither you nor nobody else in New York knows nothin' about."
"Wramm died the next day, but meanwhile, arter we'd cleared away the wreck an' got the ship snug, we took Wramm, who was still breathin' but unconscious, to his berth in the fo'c's'l. Arter we'd examined him, Beekman said he was goin' aft to see the old man."
"Did Captain Fish permit such brutality?"
"I ain't wishful to say nothin' agin a man that's dead an' that can't defend hisself, but him an' Salver, which he was in charge of the other boat, was much the same kind of men as Woywod, only not quite so vi'lent. The cap'n was an old man an' he wan't so free with his fists, but he allus backed up the mates in whatever they done. Well, Beekman insisted on seein' the cap'n, an' arter the mate had inspected Wramm an' seen he was pretty bad off, he thought best to let him go aft. Templin here was busy about the mizzenmast, an' he can tell what happened, though we've got it all down in writin'."
"If you please, ma'am an' gents," said old Templin, stepping forward and taking up the tale, "I heard v'ices raised high in the cabin, which I could see into it through the skylight which covers it an' lets in light an', when it's open, air. You understand?"
"Wot words passed I couldn't make out, but I seen the mate leap toward Smith, an' Smith hit him. The mate was a big man, an' although it must have been a powerful blow, it didn't phase him; it jest throwed him back agin the cabin bulkhead. Then he gathered hisself up, drew a gun, p'inted it at Smith, an' made for him agin. The cap'n was havin' something to eat afore turnin' in, it bein' about four bells in the mid watch, an' there was a big, sharp carvin' knife layin' on the table. The mate was cursin' like mad, an' Smith was standin' there quiet an' as white as the paint on the cabin bulkheads. Jest as the mate pulled the trigger, Smith grabbed the knife an' buried it to its handle in the mate's breast, the bullet from the pistol passin' harmless like jest over Smith's head an' tearin' a big hole in the bulkhead."
"I seen the hole myself later on," said the boatswain as Templin stopped for breath.
"Mr. Salver, who had the watch," resumed the sailor, "came into the cabin, an' he grabbed Smith, who was standin' kind o' dazed like, lookin' at the mate wrigglin' round the deck; an' Manuel, the steward, did the same. The old man got the mate's pistol an' covered Smith, an' they put him in the bo's'n's cabin an' moved the bo's'n aft to take the watch, ratin' him as third mate, an' givin' Mr. Salver, the second mate, Mr. Woywod's watch."
"Good God, how horrible!" said Harnash, shooting a quick look at Stephanie, who sat staring and as white as Templin's description indicated Beekman had been, as this grim, sordid tragedy of the sea was revealed to them in the picturesque simplicity of this rude sailor's tale.скачать книгу бесплатно