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/ Hearts of three





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. ., , , , 2018

һ, 2018

Chapter I

Events happened very rapidly with Francis Morgan,[1]1
Francis Morgan


[]
inheritor of many millions, that late spring morning.

Parker,[2]2
Parker


[]
he said to the valet who had been his fathers before him. Parker, Im going fishing.

Yes, sir!

I ordered some rods. Please joint them. Two weeks in the woods is what I need. You remember Sir Henry?[3]3
Sir Henry


[]
The old Sir Henry, the buccaneer?

Yes, sir; Ive read of him, sir.

Parker had paused in the doorway.

Nothing to be proud of, the old pirate.

Oh, no, sir, Parker protested. He was Governor of Jamaica.[4]4
Governor of Jamaica


[]
He was a respectable man.

Hm, we Morgans never found his treasure.

A telephone buzzed. One moment, sir, said Parker. Its Mr. Bascom,[5]5
Mr. Bascom


[]
sir.

Francis went to the phone.

Hello, yes, this is I, Morgan. What is it? To sell? Nothing of the sort Of course, Im glad to know. Nonsense. If it goes down five points,[6]6
if it goes down five points


[]
buy.

Buy all thats offered. Sure yes. Good-bye.

* * *

And while Francis returned delightedly to his arm-chair, Thomas Regan[7]7
Thomas Regan


[]
in his down-town private office arranged his various brokers to buy. Suddenly a clerk told him about a foreign visitor. Regan listened, glanced at the card, and said:

Tell this Senor Alvarez Torres[8]8
Senor Alvarez Torres


[]
that I cant see him.

Five minutes later the clerk was back, this time with a message. Regan read it:

Dear Mr. Regan,

Honoured Sir:

I have the honour to inform you that I know the location of the treasure Sir Henry Morgan buried in old pirate days.

Alvarez Torres.

Regan shook his head.

Let him in![9]9
Let him in! !


[]
At once.

Senor Alvarez Torres English was perfect, though his skin advertised his Latin-American origin.[10]10
Latin-American origin


[]

By great effort, and years of research, I have finally won to the clue to the buccaneer gold of Sir Henry Morgan, he began. Of course its on the Mosquito Coast.[11]11
Mosquito Coast


[]
The nearest town is Bocas del Toro.[12]12
Bocas del Toro --


[]
I was born there, and I know the neighbourhood like a book. A small schooner is cheap, very cheap; but the reward is the treasure!

Senor Torres paused in eloquent inability to describe more definitely.

And sir, Senor Torres continued, I am somewhat embarrassed for immediate funds.

You need the money, the stock operator assured him brutally, and he bowed.

Regan wrote a check, in the name of Alvarez Torres, and when that gentleman glanced at it he read the figures of a thousand dollars.

Now heres the idea, said Regan. I dont believe a word in your story. But I have a young friend, and he is too tired to live in a big town, you understand?

Senor Alvarez Torres bowed.

Now, for the good of his health, as well as his wealth and the saving of his soul, the best thing that could happen to him is a trip after treasure, adventure, exercise, and you readily understand, I am sure.

Again Alvarez Torres bowed.

You need the money, Regan continued. Try to interest him. That thousand is for your effort. If he departs after old Morgans gold, two thousand more is yours. If he remains away three months, two thousand more; six months five thousand. Oh, believe me, I knew his father. We were comrades, partners, I might say, almost brothers. I can sacrifice any sum to his son. What do you say? The thousand is yours to begin with. Well?

With trembling fingers Senor Alvarez Torres folded and unfolded the check.

I I accept, he stammered and faltered in his eagerness. I I How shall I say? I am yours. Mr. Regan, it is true. I need the money. You are so generous, and I shall do my best

Senor Torres went away. In some minutes Francis Morgan came in.

I have come for a bit of counsel, he said, greetings over.[13]13
greetings over


[]
And to whom but you should I apply, who was a friend of my father? You and he were partners, I understand, on some of the biggest deals. He always told me to trust your judgment. And, well, here I am. Whats up with Tampico Petroleum?[14]14
Tampico Petroleum


[]

Tampico Petroleum is up two points,[15]15
Tampico Petroleum is up two points


[]
Regan said.

Thats what I say, Francis answered. I worry. Dont you think somebody is trying to get control?

His fathers associate shook the head.

Why, he said, What do you say?

Of course its good, was Francis warm response. If it drops, Ill buy. I tell you, Regan, its immense. I have a kind of interest, Im doing nicely, and I dont want Tampico Petroleum to go up.

Dont you worry about that, my boy. You go fishing and forget it. Regan paused, with finely simulated sudden recollection, and picked up Alvarez Torres card with the note. Look, whos just been here Senor Alvarez Torres.

Regan retained the card a moment. Why go fishing? After all, its only recreation. Heres a full-size mans recreation. Its about old Morgans treasure. Look, your father always was always proud of that old family pirate.

I was told about his treasure. Look, here is the map.

Francis looked up questioningly from the reading of the card.

Senor Torres, Regan explained. Gave me the map. Here is the treasure buried. Of course, I dont believe a word of it. But You know, Sir Henry died practically a poor man, and they never did find any of his buried treasure. Oh, I wish I were younger! Anyway, good fishing, Regan girded edly.

Id like to meet this Alvarez Torres, the young man responded. Do you know where I can find him?

The next morning the meeting took place in Regans office. Modern maps and ancient charts were studies, as well as old documents, and at the end of half an hour Francis announced that his next fishing would be on the Bull Island,[16]16
Bull Island


[]
where as Torres averred the treasure lay.

Ill catch tonights train for New Orleans, Francis announced. And then Ill go to Colon![17]17
Colon


[]

But dont charter a schooner[18]18
charter a schooner


[]
at Colon, Torres advised. Its better in Belen.[19]19
Belen


[]

I always wanted to see that country down there! Francis said. And you, Senor Torres?

I shall join you later, Mr. Morgan. Alvarez Torres said. I have some little business here.

And, before you start, Regan noticed, it might be well to arrange with Senor Torres some division of the treasure if you ever find it.

What would you say? Francis asked.

Equal division, fifty-fifty, Regan answered, he was talking of something he was certain did not exist.

Fine! Francis cried. And Ive got to rush to pack and break engagements and catch the train. Good-bye, Regan. Good-bye, Senor Torres, until we meet somewhere around Bocas del Toro, or in on the Bull!

And Senor Alvarez Torres remained with Regan some time longer, receiving explicit instructions.

In short, Regan concluded, I dont almost care if he never comes back if you can keep him down there for the good of his health that long and longer.

Chapter II

So Francis Morgan, three weeks after he had said good-bye to Regan, found himself on board his schooner, the Angelique.[20]20
the Angelique ( )


[]
The water was glassy. Francis, through his glass, saw a white hacienda, and, on the beach, a white-clad womans form. He asked the captain to order a small skiff over the side.[21]21
to order a small skiff over the side


[]

Who lives around here? he asked.

The Enrico Solano[22]22
Enrico Solano


[]
family, sir, was the answer. They own the entire general landscape from the sea to the Cordilleras[23]23
Cordilleras


[]
and half of the Chiriqui Lagoon[24]24
Chiriqui Lagoon


[]
as well. They are prideful and fiery as cayenne pepper.[25]25
fiery as cayenne pepper ,


[]

Straight to the white beach of coral sand Francis rowed, not looking over his shoulder to see if the woman remained or had vanished. When the skiff grounded, he stepped out, and with one sturdy arm lifted its nose up the sand to fasten it by its own weight. Then he turned around. The beach to the jungle was bare. He went forward confidently.

Suddenly, the woman sprang out of the green wall of jungle and with both hands seized his arm. She muttered tensely:

Quick! Follow me!

A moment he resisted. She shook him.

Do as I do.

He smiled and obeyed. Abruptly she stopped and sat down, her hand directed him to sit beside her. Thank God!

My dear lady Francis began.

But an abrupt gesture checked him. He heard the movement of men several yards away.

She slipped away down the runway. Francis followed her, through the jungle to the beach. She stopped.

You fool! she cried, lifting her finger to his toothbrush moustache. As if that could disguise you!

But my dear lady he began to protest.

I wont talk with you, she answered. Go back to your schooner, and go away Forever. If you ever come back I shall shoot you. She showed him a revolver.

So Id better go, then, he uttered, as he turned to the skiff. She had followed him. The strange young woman, dropped to her side, was crying. Francis was about to turn to the boat, when she stopped him.

At least you she began, then faltered and swallowed, you might kiss me good-bye.[26]26
kiss me good-bye


[]

She advanced impulsively. Francis hesitated a puzzled moment, then gathered her in to receive an astounding passionate kiss on his lips. She lifted her tear-wet face and kissed him again and again.

Then she menacingly directed him with the revolver to get into the boat.

From the edge of the jungle he saw three men, armed with rifles, run toward her where she had sunk down in the sand. They caught sight of Francis, who had begun rowing. The next moment, one of the tree men on the beach, a bearded elderly man, was directing the girls binoculars on him. And the moment after, dropping the glasses, he was taking aim with his rifle.[27]27
he was taking aim with his rifle


[]

The bullet spat on the water within a yard of the skiffs side, and Francis saw the girl spring to her feet, knock up the rifle with her arm, and spoil the second shot. She was threatening the men with the revolver.

Cayenne pepper, those damned, horrible, crazy Solanos, the captain said.

Yes, youre right, Francis agreed.

The Angelique made the outer rim of Chiriqui Lagoon and the Bull. After breakfast Francis landed to reconnoiter on the Bull.[28]28
to reconnoiter on the Bull


[]

And Francis very immediately found that he had traversed not merely thirty degrees of latitude from New York but thirty hundred years, or centuries. Nearly naked, armed with cruelly heavy hacking blades of machetes,[29]29
machetes ,


[]
the Indians told him that the Bull belonged to them. But there lives a madly impossible Gringo.[30]30
Gringo (, , )


[]

Francis decided to meet the mysterious Gringo. He came down to the beach. On the shore, across the narrow channel, he saw a barefooted young man in the canvas trousers, who stepped from behind a palm, automatic pistol in hand, and shouted:

Get out!

I beg you pardon? Francis grinned, half-humorously, half-seriously.

Nobody invited you, the stranger retorted. Youre intruding. Get off my island. Ill give you half a minute.

Francis arrival behind the trunk was simultaneous with the arrival of a bullet that thudded into the other side of it.

Now, just for that![31]31
Now, just for that! !


[]
he called out, as he centered a bullet into the trunk of the other mans palm.

The next few minutes they were shooting each other.

What gun are you using? Francis asked with cool politeness.

Colts, came the answer.

Francis stepped boldly into the open, saying: Then youre all out.[32]32
youre all out


[]
I counted them. Eight. Now we can talk.

The stranger stepped out, and it seemed Francis had previously known him. It was a replica of himself!

Talk! the stranger sneered, throwing down his pistol and drawing a knife. Now well just cut off your ears, and maybe scalp you.

Gee! Lets wrestle. Francis retorted.

I want your ears, the stranger answered pleasantly, as he slowly advanced.

Sure. The man who wins gets the other fellows ears.

Agreed. The young man in the canvas trousers sheathed his knife.

They began to fight. Francis was winning, but the stranger planted his foot in Francis abdomen. In a moment Francis was lying on his back.

Why do you wear a mustache? the stranger muttered.

Go on and cut my ears, Francis gasped. The ears are yours, but the mustache is mine.

As for your ears, keep them. I never intended to cut them off. Get up and get out of here. And dont come here again!

In greater disgust than ever, Francis turned down to the beach toward his canoe.

Say, will you leave your card? the victor called after him.

My names Morgan, thats enough, Francis answered.

Really? No wonder we look alike. Listen, the stranger said. I am a Morgan, too.

My first name is Francis, Francis returned. And yours?

Henry. We must be remote cousins[33]33
remote cousins


[]
or something or other. What are you doing here? As for me, I am looking for the old Morgans treasure.

So am I, said Francis, extending his hand.

Chapter III

Henry rowed off to the Angelique with orders from his visitor to the skipper to stay at anchor. Francis slept until late in the morning of the following day.

Let me tell you an interesting story, Francis said to Henry. Day before yesterday, I rowed ashore over on the mainland. The moment I landed, the prettiest girl in the world dragged me away into the jungle. I thought she was going to eat me or marry me. I didnt know which. Then she passed uncomplimentary remarks on my mustache and pushed me back to the boat with a revolver. She told me never come back.

Where on the mainland was this? Henry demanded.

The other end of Chiriqui Lagoon, Francis replied. It was the ground of the Solano family, I learned; and they are a tough family. But I havent told you all. Listen. First she dragged me into the jungle and insulted my mustache; next she chased me to the boat with a drawn revolver; and then she wanted to know why I didnt kiss her.

And did you? Henry demanded.

What could a poor stranger in a strange land do? The girl was very pretty.

Oh, my God! That was Leoncia![34]34
Leoncia


[]
Henry said angrily.

What if it was Leoncia? Or Mercedes? Or Dolores? Cant a fellow kiss a pretty girl?

You see, this pretty girl is engaged to marry the ruffian in the dirty canvas pants!

She took me for you,[35]35
she took me for you


[]
Francis said. And your Leoncia pulled her little revolver on a long-bearded old fellow who wanted to kill me.

It was her father, old Enrico[36]36
Enrico


[]
himself, Henry exclaimed. And the other chaps were her brothers.

By the way, Henry, since they all thought it was you, and not I, why did they want to kill you?

Henry looked at him a moment, and then answered.

I quarreled with her uncle. He was her fathers youngest brother.

Was? interrupted Francis.

Was, I said, Henry nodded. He isnt now. His name was Alfaro Solano,[37]37
Alfaro Solano


[]
and one day we quarreled. It was in the little town over there San Antonio.[38]38
San Antonio -


[]
He always was looking for trouble with me, he didnt want me to marry Leoncia, you see. He insulted me all right, and we promised to kill each other. Our threats were heard by many people. Within two hours the Comisario[39]39
the Comisario


[]
himself and two gendarmes found Alfaros body in a back street in the town. He was killed. I havent been back in San Antonio since. Alfaro was very popular, and everybody is sure that I killed him. In Bocas del Toro, a messenger from Leoncia delivered back the engagement ring. I didnt dare go back, so I came over here to dig for Morgans treasure I wonder who killed Alfaro. If ever I find him, then I clear myself with Leoncia and the rest of the Solanos and there isnt a doubt in the world that therell be a wedding.

Hmm, Francis murmured. No wonder her father and brothers wanted to kill me. Why, the more I look at you, the more I see were as like as two peas, except for my mustache-

And for this Henry rolled up his sleeve, and on the left forearm showed a long, thin white scar. I got that when I was a boy. I fell oft a windmill.

Now listen to me, Francis said. I shall help you. You stay here, while I go back and explain things to Leoncia and her people.

If only they dont shoot you first before you can explain you are not I, Henry muttered bitterly. Thats the trouble with those Solanos. They shoot first and talk afterward.

Ill take a chance, old man, Francis wanted to clear up the distressing situation between Henry and the girl.

But the thought of her perplexed him. That lovely creature belonged to the man who looked so much like him! He saw again the vision of her on the beach. He sighed involuntarily.

Leoncia is an exceedingly pretty girl, Francis said. Wheres that ring she returned? If I dont put it on her finger for you and be back here in a week with the good news, you can cut off my mustache along with my ears.

An hour later, Captain sent a boat to the beach from the Angelique. The two young men said good-bye.

Just two things more, Francis. First, and I forgot to tell you, Leoncia is not a Solano at all, though she thinks she is. Alfaro told me himself. She is an adopted child, Alfaro said she wasnt Spanish at all. I dont even know whether shes English or American. You see, she was adopted when she was a baby, and shes never known anything else than that Enrico is her father.

And no wonder she scorned and hated me for you, Francis laughed, She believes that you killed her uncle.

Henry nodded, and went on.

The other thing is fairly important. And thats the law. Or the absence of it, rather. They make it whatever they want it. Its a long way to Panama,[40]40
Panama


[]
and the Jefe Politico[41]41
Jefe Politico


[]
at San Antonio is a very sly man. Hes the little czar of that land, and hes a real scoundrel, believe me. Hes as cruel and blood-thirsty as a weasel. And his only delight is an execution.[42]42
execution


[]
He adores hanging. And, well, so long. And half of whatever I find on the Bull is yours and please get that ring back on Leoncias finger.

* * *

Two days later, after the news that all the men of Leoncias family were away, Francis had himself landed on the beach where he had first met her. As Francis scrawled on a sheet of paper from his notebook, I am the man whom you mistook for Henry Morgan, and I have a message for you from him, he heard Leoncias cry. Note and pencil fell to the sand as he sprang toward the direction of the cry. Soon he saw her. Leoncias face was colorless.

What is it? Francis demanded. Are you hurt? Whats happened?

She pointed at her bare knee with two tiny drops of blood.

It was a viperine, she said. A deadly viperine. I shall be a dead woman in five minutes, and I am glad, glad, for then my heart will be tormented no more by you.

She sank down in a faint.

Francis pulled out his handkerchief and tied it loosely around her leg above the knee. Next, he opened the small blade of his pocket-knife, burned it with several matches, and cut carefully into the two lacerations made by the snakes fangs.

The girl began to move restlessly. Lie down, he commanded, as she sat up.

At the same instant the Indian lad ran out of the jungle, swinging a small dead snake by the tail and crying:

Labarri![43]43
labarri


[]
Labarri!

At which Francis assumed the worst.

Lie down, and be quiet! he repeated harshly. You havent a second to lose.

But watched only the dead snake.

You dare! she threatened him. Its only a baby labarri, and its bite is harmless. I thought it was a viperine. They look alike when the labarri is small.

The constriction of the circulation by the tourniquet pained her, and she glanced down and discovered his handkerchief knotted around her leg.

Oh, what have you done? It was only a baby labarri, she reproached him.

You told me it was a viperine, he retorted.

She hid her face in her hands. He could say that she was laughing.

And now, well talk business, Miss Solano, he said in changed tones. And you will listen. Please, dont interrupt me. He stooped and picked up the note he had been writing. I was just sending that to you by the boy when you screamed. Take it. Read it. It wont bite you. It isnt a viperine.

Though she refused to receive it, her eyes involuntarily scanned the opening line:

I am the man whom you mistook for Henry Morgan

You are not Henry? she gasped.

No, I am not. Wont you please take it and read.

But the name? Your name?

Morgan, Francis Morgan. He bowed. As I explained there, Henry and I are distant relatives, or something like that. Moreover, Henry did not kill your uncle.

To his bewilderment, a great doubt suddenly dawned in her eyes.

Henry, she accused him. This is a devils trick youre trying to play on me. Of course you are Henry.

Francis pointed to his mustache.

Youve grown that since, she challenged.

He pulled up his sleeve and showed her his left arm from wrist to elbow.

Do you remember the scar? he asked.

She nodded.

Then find it.

I I ask your forgiveness. I was terribly mistaken, and Ive treated you

That kiss was delightful, he naughtily disclaimed.

Do you have a message from Henry, she changed the subject abruptly. Is he innocent? This is true? Oh, I want to believe you!

I am morally certain that Henry did not kill your uncle!

Then say no more, at least not now, she interrupted joyfully. First of all, you must go with me now to the house. And you can tell me about Henry on the way.

* * *

Alvarez Torres was sitting on the broad piazza of the Solano Hacienda.[44]44
on the broad piazza of the Solano Hacienda


[]
What he saw was Leoncia and Francis. Next and Torres could scarcely believe his eyes, he saw Francis take a ring, and Leoncia extend her left hand and receive the ring upon her third ringer. Engagement finger it was!





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