Off for Hawaii/Chapter 2

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CHAPTER II.


THE ONE-ARMED SAILOR.


"And so you three boys have finally decided to take this trip," said Mr. Raymond, when we told him of our plans. "Very well, I have no objections. But you must be careful and keep out of such dangers as fell to your lots in Cuba and the Philippines."

"Oh, there is no war going on in the Hawaiian Islands, Mr. Raymond," I answered, with a laugh. "We'll only have peaceful natives to deal with. The most that could happen to us is to get lost, and I reckon we could easily find ourselves again—each island being rather small."

"Not so small as you may think, Mark. Besides, you may be mistaken about the natives. The average Kanaka is indeed a peaceful man, but there are others who are ignorant and superstitious, and if you attempt to disturb their superstitions by tampering with this two-headed idol, which the documents mention, you may get into serious trouble."

"We won't let them know what we are up to, father," broke in Oliver. "Do you suppose we want them to locate the Cave of Pearls and run off with the precious things? Not much! We won't even tell this Joe Koloa what we are up to until we feel certain he is thoroughly trustworthy."

"I place but little confidence in this story of a hidden treasure worth fifty thousand dollars," said my father, who sat by, smoking a favorite Havana cigar. "I am inclined to think that this Gaston Brown's head was just a bit turned. His mode of living showed that he was eccentric."

"Well, the boys want to see the volcano anyway, Carter," said Mr. Raymond, "so let them go."

"Oh, I am willing—but they must take good care of themselves." My father turned to me. "When do you want to start?"

"I'll leave that to Oliver," I answered. "He is the head of this expedition."

"The regular steamer for Honolulu sails day after to-morrow," said Oliver. "We might rather take that than to wait—if we can get staterooms. I understand the travel to the Hawaiian Islands since they have been annexed to the United States has been very heavy."

"We might make the trip in a sailboat," suggested Dan, but with a twinkle in his eye which showed that he did not mean what he said.

"Yes, and be wrecked again, as we were on the Dart," burst out Oliver. "No, thank you, no more schooners for me. The steamer will do very well."

"Yes, you had better take the steamer," said Mr. Raymond. "Such a trip will take but seven days, whereas to go by sailing vessel may take six weeks or longer."

"If we only knew just where to look for this Joe Koloa," mused Dan. "I wonder if he is in Honolulu."

"I think it is more likely that we will find him on the island of Hawaii, where the volcano is. Let me see, what is the principal city there?"

"Hilo," answered Oliver's father. "It is a pretty place, located on the eastern coast of the island and about one day's journey from the volcano."

"Then we had better go to Honolulu first and to Hilo next," said Dan; and so it was arranged. But a good many things were yet to happen to upset all of our plans.

We were sitting on the veranda of Mr. Raymond's home, a beautiful place overlooking San Francisco Bay and the world-renowned Golden Gate. The veranda rested on the side of a sloping grass bank, dotted here and there with flowering bushes, and running down to a tiny brook which gushed along peacefully in the springtime sun.

While our arrangements were being concluded I grew tired of sitting in the rattan chair I had occupied, and, boy fashion, sprang up and leaped over the veranda railing to the bank below.

As I came down and turned partly around to prevent myself from rolling over on the sloping grass, I caught sight of a flannel shirt and a straw hat peeping from out of the bushes surrounding the veranda.

"Hullo, who's that?" I cried out, and shoved the bushes aside, to uncover a man who lay on the ground with his eyes closed, as if asleep. He was dressed like a sailor, and his left arm was missing from the elbow.

"Who's who?" asked Mr. Raymond.

"Here's a man asleep under the veranda."

"A man? Can it be that good-for-nothing gardener?" cried Mr. Raymond, and ran down the steps. "He's a stranger—a tramp, most likely," he added, a second later. "Hi, wake up here and give an account of yourself," he cried, and caught the one-armed man by the foot.

He had to shake pretty thoroughly before the sailor opened his eyes sleepily. "What are ye doin'?" he mumbled, then sat up and rubbed his eyes. "Guess I was asleep, cap'n."

"You were." Mr. Raymond eyed him sharply. "What brought you into my grounds?"

"No offense, sir. I am—well, I'm down on my luck, as the sayin' goes. I stopped in here to ask a little assistance."

"Then why didn't you ask it, instead of crawling in under there?"

"I—er—well, I hate to beg." The sailor shifted uneasily from one foot to the other. "Excuse me, cap'n, an' I'll be on my way." And he started to walk off.

"Hold on, not so fast," put in Oliver, who had come down with the others. "How long have you been here?"

"I didn't touch anything," was the reply, and the face of the one-armed man grew dark.

"Didn't you? What is that sticking out of the bosom of your shirt? It looks a good deal like a set of silver spoons—and it is!"

As Oliver concluded he stepped closer, and before the sailor could prevent him, he pulled from the shirt twelve spoons which we instantly recognized as some which belonged to the Raymond household.

"A sneak thief!" ejaculated Mr. Raymond. "We've caught you very nicely, my man."

"Hang the luck!" burst from the one-armed man's lips. "Let me go!"

Before we could realize what he was up to he had hurled Oliver and his father to one side and was bounding down the grassy bank at a speed that would have done credit to a trained athlete.

"Stop him!" burst from several lips, and away went Dan and myself in pursuit, with the others following in short order.

But the sailor had the start of us, and with a vision of arrest in his mind, continued to run with all the speed at his command. Reaching the brook, he leaped over and made through a hedge lining the highway; and that was the last we saw of him for the time being.

"I wonder if he got away with anything," was Mr. Raymond's query, as he gathered up the spoons, which had been scattered in all directions. "He probably got these from the dining-room sideboard. I'll take a look inside."

He and Oliver entered the residence, while we hunted outside, to see if there were any more undesirable strangers at hand. It was late in the afternoon, and by the time we rejoined the Raymonds it was dark.

"Four silver napkin rings and a gold-plated fish-knife missing," announced Mr. Raymond. "Thank fortune, the loss is not greater."

"I don't believe that fellow was asleep at all," I ventured. "When I spotted him he thought to play a game on me."

"If that is so, I wonder if he heard our talk about the Cave of Pearls?" put in Dan.

"Oh, I hope not!" burst out Oliver. "He would be just the kind to blab it to some of his cronies who were bound for the Hawaiian Islands."

"It's a great pity he got away," said Mr. Raymond. "The only safe place for such a rascal is behind the bars."

"Perhaps that sailor rig was only a disguise," suggested my father, who had not seen the man very closely.

"No; he had the regular cut and swing of a sailor," I answered. "But he was no man-o'-warsman even if he was an arm short."

"So you think you can tell an ordinary seaman from a navy man," laughed my father. "Well, perhaps. Would you know him again if you saw him?"

"We'd know one arm was missing," laughed Dan.

"Yes, I'd know him again," I answered. "He had fishy, shifty eyes that are not easily forgotten. I would like to know his name."

We talked about the one-armed sailor for the balance of the evening, but reached no conclusion concerning him, excepting that he might have become "stranded" in San Francisco and had taken to stealing for a living in preference to signing articles for another cruise. I did not know it then, but I was destined to meet the one-armed man again, much to my sorrow.