Page:Yule Logs.djvu/36

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20
A FIGHTING MERMAID

flat-roofed buildings of the city across the placid basin, the quaint cathedral spires, and the thousand other curious features of Spain's chief stronghold in the New World.

Carlos Moranza, filled with conflicting emotions at again approaching his native land under such strange conditions, gazed in silence, but as though hoping with the very intensity of his vision to pierce the crowding walls and discover the prison of his beloved sister. Professor Rivers had eyes only for the warships, of which the harbour held half-a-dozen, as he speculated upon the ease with which his little Mermaid could humble their pride and render them powerless.

At this very moment the Spanish spy was regarding, and triumphantly recognising, all three of the Americans through a glass levelled at them from the deck of the steamer on which he was a passenger. Thus it happened that, as the captain of the tug was preparing to go ashore and make formal entry at the custom-house, after having successfully passed examination by both health officers and port authorities, two barges filled with soldiers dashed out from the mole and headed directly towards the new arrivals. One of these took possesion of the tug, while the other, in which sat the exulting spy, ranged alongside the dumping scow.

For nearly an hour the soldiers searched every compartment and corner of the two vessels, even overhauling the coal in the tug's bunkers. When there was no longer an unexplored crevice, even the spy was forced to confess that there was no person aboard unaccounted for in the tug's papers, and that he must have laboured under a delusion as to what he had seen. He was bewildered, mortified, and angry, and was rendered furious by the ridicule heaped upon him by the officer to whom he was obliged to report his failure to discover anything that would justify a seizure of the tug.

This craft the Spaniards would have been glad to