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    The "Gloria Scott"

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    Chapter 4
    Previous Chapter
    I have some papers here," said my friend Sherlock
    Holmes, as we sat one winter's night on either side of
    the fire, "which I really think, Watson, that it would
    be worth your while to glance over. These are the
    documents in the extraordinary case of the Gloria
    Scott, and this is the message which struck Justice of
    the Peace Trevor dead with horror when he read it."

    He had picked from a drawer a little tarnished
    cylinder, and, undoing the tape, he handed me a short
    note scrawled upon a half-sheet of slate gray-paper.

    "The supply of game for London is going steadily up,"
    it ran. "Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, had been now
    told to receive all orders for fly-paper and for
    preservation of you hen-pheasant's life."

    As I glanced up from reading this enigmatical message,
    I saw Holmes chuckling at the expression upon my face.

    "You look a little bewildered," said he.

    "I cannot see how such a message as this could inspire
    horror. It seems to me to be rather grotesque than

    "Very likely. Yet the fact remains that the reader,
    who was a fine, robust old man, was knocked clean down
    by it as if it had been the butt end of a pistol."

    "You arouse my curiosity," said I. "But why did you
    say just now that there were very particular reasons
    why I should study this case?"

    "Because it was the first in which I was ever

    I had often endeavored to elicit from my companion
    what had first turned is mind in the direction of
    criminal research, but had never caught him before in
    a communicative humor. Now he sat forward in this arm
    chair and spread out the documents upon his knees.
    Then he lit his pipe and sat for some time smoking and
    turning them over.

    "You never heard me talk of Victor Trevor?" he asked.
    "He was the only friend I made during the two years I
    was at college. I was never a very sociable fellow,
    Watson, always rather fond of moping in my rooms and
    working out my own little methods of thought, so that
    I never mixed much with the men of my year. Bar
    fencing and boxing I had few athletic tastes, and then
    my line of study was quite distinct from that of the
    other fellows, so that we had no pints of contact at
    all. Trevor was the only man I knew, and that only
    through the accident of his bull terrier freezing on
    to my ankle one morning as I went down to chapel.

    "It was a prosaic way of forming a friendship, but it
    was effective. I was laid by the heels for ten days,
    but Trevor used to come in to inquire after me. At
    first it was only a minute's chat, but soon his visits
    lengthened, and before the end of the term we were
    close friends. He was a hearty, full-blooded fellow,
    full of spirits and energy, the very opposite to me in
    most respects, but we had some subjects in common, and
    it was a bond of union when I found that he was as
    friendless as I. Finally, he invited me down to his
    father's place at Donnithorpe, in Norfolk, and I
    accepted his hospitality for a month of the long

    "Old Trevor was evidently a man of some wealth and
    consideration, a J.P., and a landed proprietor.
    Donnithorpe is a little hamlet just to the north of
    Langmere, in the country of the Broads. The house was
    and old-fashioned, wide-spread, oak-beamed brick
    building, with a fine lime-lined avenue leading up to
    it. There was excellent wild-duck shooting in the
    fens, remarkably good fishing, a small but select
    library, taken over, as I understood, from a former
    occupant, and a tolerable cook, so that he would be a
    fastidious man who could not put in a pleasant month

    "Trevor senior was a widower, and my friend his only

    "There had been a daughter, I heard, but she had died
    of diphtheria while on a visit to Birmingham. The
    father interested me extremely. He was a man of
    little culture, but with a considerable amount of rude
    strength, both physically and mentally. He knew
    hardly any books, but he had traveled far, had seen
    much of the world. And had remembered all that he had
    learned. In person he was a thick-set, burly man with
    a shock of grizzled hair, a brown, weather-beaten
    face, and blue eyes which were keen to the verge of
    fierceness. Yet he had a reputation for kindness and
    charity on the country-side, and was noted for the
    leniency of his sentences from the bench.

    "One evening, shortly after my arrival, we were
    sitting over a glass of port after dinner, when young
    Trevor began to talk about those habits of observation
    and inference which I had already formed into a
    system, although I had not yet appreciated the part
    which they were to play in my life. The old man
    evidently thought that his son was exaggerating in his
    description of one or two trivial feats which I had

    "'Come, now, Mr. Holmes,' said he, laughing
    good-humoredly. 'I'm an excellent subject, if you can
    deduce anything from me.'

    "'I fear there is not very much,' I answered; 'I might
    suggest that you have gone about in fear of some
    personal attack with the last twelvemonth.'

    "The laugh faded from his lips, and he stared at me in
    great surprise.

    "'Well, that's true enough,' said he. 'You know,
    Victor,' turning to his son, 'when we broke up that
    poaching gang they swore to knife us, and Sir Edward
    Holly has actually been attacked. I've always been on
    my guard since then, though I have no idea how you
    know it.'

    "'You have a very handsome stick,' I answered. 'By
    the inscription I observed that you had not had it
    more than a year. But you have taken some pains to
    bore the head of it and pour melted lead into the hole
    so as to make it a formidable weapon. I argued that
    you would not take such precautions unless you had
    some danger to fear.'

    "'Anything else?' he asked, smiling.

    "'You have boxed a good deal in your youth.'

    "'Right again. How did you know it? Is my nose
    knocked a little out of the straight?'

    "'No,' said I. 'It is your ears. They have the
    peculiar flattening and thickening which marks the
    boxing man.'

    "'Anything else?'

    "'You have done a good deal of digging by your

    "'Made all my money at the gold fields.'

    "'You have been in New Zealand.'

    "'Right again.'

    "'You have visited Japan.'

    "'Quite true.'

    "'And you have been most intimately associated with
    some one whose initials were J. A., and whom you
    afterwards were eager to entirely forget.'

    "Mr. Trevor stood slowly up, fixed his large blue eyes
    upon me with a strange wild stare, and then pitched
    forward, with his face among the nutshells which
    strewed the cloth, in a dead faint.

    "You can imagine, Watson, how shocked both his son and
    I were. His attack did not last long, however, for
    when we undid his collar, and sprinkled the water from
    one of the finger-glasses over his face, he gave a
    gasp or two and sat up.

    "'Ah, boys,' said he, forcing a smile, 'I hope I
    haven't frightened you. Strong as I look, there is a
    weak place in my heart, and it does not take much to
    knock me over. I don't know how you manage this, Mr.
    Holmes, but it seems to me that all the detectives of
    fact and of fancy would be children in your hands.
    That's you line of life, sir, and you may take the
    word of a man who has seen something of the world.'

    "And that recommendation, with the exaggerated
    estimate of my ability with which he prefaced it, was,
    if you will believe me, Watson, the very first thing
    which ever made me feel that a profession might be
    made out of what had up to that time been the merest
    hobby. At the moment, however, I was too much
    concerned at the sudden illness of my host to think of
    anything else.

    "'I hope that I have said nothing to pain you?' said

    "'Well, you certainly touched upon rather a tender
    point. Might I ask how you know, and how much you
    know?' He spoke now in a half-jesting fashion, but a
    look of terror still lurked at the back of his eyes.

    "'It is simplicity itself,' said I. 'When you bared
    your arm to draw that fish into the boat I saw that J.
    A. Had been tattooed in the bend of the elbow. The
    letters were still legible, but it was perfectly clear
    from their blurred appearance, and from the staining
    of the skin round them, that efforts had been made to
    obliterate them. It was obvious, then, that those
    initials had once been very familiar to you, and that
    you had afterwards wished to forget them.'

    "What an eye you have!" he cried, with a sigh of
    relief. 'It is just as you say. But we won't talk of
    it. Of all ghosts the ghosts of our old lovers are
    the worst. Come into the billiard-room and have a
    quiet cigar.'

    "From that day, amid all his cordiality, there was
    always a touch of suspicion in Mr. Trevor's manner
    towards me. Even his son remarked it. 'You've given
    the governor such a turn,' said he, 'that he'll never
    be sure again of what you know and what you don't
    know.' He did not mean to show it, I am sure, but it
    was so strongly in his mind that it peeped out at
    every action. At last I became so convinced that I
    was causing him uneasiness that I drew my visit to a
    close. On the very day, however, before I left, and
    incident occurred which proved in the sequel to be of

    "We were sitting out upon the lawn on garden chairs,
    the three of us, basking in the sun and admiring the
    view across the Broads, when a maid came out to say
    that there was a man at the door who wanted to see Mr.

    "'What is his name?' asked my host.

    "'He would not give any.'

    "'What does he want, then?'

    "'He says that you know him, and that he only wants a
    moment's conversation.'

    "'Show him round here.' An instant afterwards there
    appeared a little wizened fellow with a cringing
    manner and a shambling style of walking. He wore an
    open jacket, with a splotch of tar on the sleeve, a
    red-and-black check shirt, dungaree trousers, and
    heavy boots badly worn. His face was thin and brown
    and crafty, with a perpetual smile upon it, which
    showed an irregular line of yellow teeth, and his
    crinkled hands were half closed in a way that is
    distinctive of sailors. As he came slouching across
    the lawn I heard Mr. Trevor make a sort of hiccoughing
    noise in his throat, and jumping out of his chair, he
    ran into the house. He was back in a moment, and I
    smelt a strong reek of brandy as he passed me.

    "'Well, my man,' said he. 'What can I do for you?'

    "The sailor stood looking at him with puckered eyes,
    and with the same loose-lipped smile upon his face.

    "'You don't know me?' he asked.

    "'Why, dear me, it is surely Hudson,' said Mr. Trevor
    in a tone of surprise.

    "'Hudson it is, sir,' said the seaman. 'Why, it's
    thirty year and more since I saw you last. Here you
    are in your house, and me still picking my salt meat
    out of the harness cask.'

    "'Tut, you will find that I have not forgotten old
    times,' cried Mr. Trevor, and, walking towards the
    sailor, he said something in a low voice. 'Go into
    the kitchen,' he continued out loud, 'and you will get
    food and drink. I have no doubt that I shall find you
    a situation.'

    "'Thank you, sir,' said the seaman, touching his
    fore-lock. 'I'm just off a two-yearer in an
    eight-knot tramp, short-handed at that, and I wants a
    rest. I thought I'd get it either with Mr. Beddoes or
    with you.'

    "'Ah!' cried Trevor. 'You know where Mr. Beddoes is?'

    "'Bless you, sir, I know where all my old friends
    are,' said the fellow with a sinister smile, and he
    slouched off after the maid to the kitchen. Mr.
    Trevor mumbled something to us about having been
    shipmate with the man when he was going back to the
    diggings, and then, leaving us on the lawn, he went
    indoors. An hour later, when we entered the house, we
    found him stretched dead drunk upon the dining-room
    sofa. The whole incident left a most ugly impression
    upon my mind, and I was not sorry next day to leave
    Donnithorpe behind me, for I felt that my presence
    must be a source of embarrassment to my friend.

    "All this occurred during the first month of the long
    vacation. I went up to my London rooms, where I spent
    seven weeks working out a few experiments in organic
    chemistry. On day, however, when the autumn was far
    advanced and the vacation drawing to a close, I
    received a telegram from my friend imploring me to
    return to Donnithorpe, and saying that he was in great
    need of my advice and assistance. Of course I dropped
    everything and set out for the North once more.

    "He met me with the dog-cart at the station, and I saw
    at a glance that the last two months had been very
    trying ones for him. He had grown thin and careworn,
    and had lost the loud, cheery manner for which he had
    been remarkable.

    "'The governor is dying,' were the first words he

    "'Impossible!' I cried. 'What is the matter?'

    "'Apoplexy. Nervous shock, He's been on the verge
    all day. I doubt if we shall find him alive.'

    "I was, as you may think, Watson, horrified at this
    unexpected news.

    "'What has caused it?' I asked.

    "'Ah, that is the point. Jump in and we can talk it
    over while we drive. You remember that fellow who
    came upon the evening before you left us?'


    "'Do you know who it was that we let into the house
    that day?'

    "'I have no idea.'

    "'It was the devil, Holmes,' he cried.

    "I stared at him in astonishment.

    "'Yes, it was the devil himself. We have not had a
    peaceful hour since--not one. The governor has never
    held up his head from that evening, and now the life
    has been crushed out of him and his heart broken, all
    through this accursed Hudson.'

    "'What power had he, then?'

    "'Ah, that is what I would give so much to know. The
    kindly, charitable, good old governor--how could he
    have fallen into the clutches of such a ruffian! But
    I am so glad that you have come, Holmes. I trust very
    much to your judgment and discretion, and I know that
    you will advise me for the best.'

    "We were dashing along the smooth white country road,
    with the long stretch of the Broads in front of us
    glimmering in the red light of the setting sun. From
    a grove upon our left I could already see the high
    chimneys and the flag-staff which marked the squire's

    "'My father made the fellow gardener,' said my
    companion, 'and then, as that did not satisfy him, he
    was promoted to be butler. The house seemed to be at
    his mercy, and he wandered about and did what he chose
    in it. The maids complained of his drunken habits and
    his vile language. The dad raised their wages all
    round to recompense them for the annoyance. The
    fellow would take the boat and my father's best gun
    and treat himself to little shooting trips. And all
    this with such a sneering, leering, insolent face that
    I would have knocked him down twenty times over if he
    had been a man of my own age. I tell you, Holmes, I
    have had to keep a tight hold upon myself all this
    time; and now I am asking myself whether, if I had let
    myself go a little more, I might not have been a wiser

    "'Well, matters went from bad to worse with us, and
    this animal Hudson became more and more intrusive,
    until at last, on making some insolent reply to my
    father in my presence one day, I took him by the
    shoulders and turned him out of the room. He slunk
    away with a livid face and two venomous eyes which
    uttered more threats than his tongue could do. I
    don't know what passed between the poor dad and him
    after that, but the dad came to me next day and asked
    me whether I would mind apologizing to Hudson. I
    refused, as you can imagine, and asked my father how
    he could allow such a wretch to take such liberties
    with himself and his household.

    "'"Ah, my boy," said he, "it is all very well to talk,
    but you don't know how I am placed. But you shall
    know, Victor. I'll see that you shall know, come what
    may. You wouldn't believe harm of your poor old
    father, would you, lad?" He was very much moved, and
    shut himself up in the study all day, where I could
    see through the window that he was writing busily.

    "'That evening there came what seemed to me to be a
    grand release, for Hudson told us that he was going to
    leave us. He walked into the dining-room as we sat
    after dinner, and announced his intention in the thick
    voice of a half-drunken man.

    "'"I've had enough of Norfolk," said he. "I'll run
    down to Mr. Beddoes in Hampshire. He'll be as glad to
    see me as you were, I dare say."

    "'"You're not going away in any kind of spirit,
    Hudson, I hope," said my father, with a tameness which
    mad my blood boil.

    "'"I've not had my 'pology," said he sulkily, glancing
    in my direction.

    "'"Victor, you will acknowledge that you have used
    this worthy fellow rather roughly," said the dad,
    turning to me.

    "'"On the contrary, I think that we have both shown
    extraordinary patience towards him," I answered.

    "'"Oh, you do, do you?" he snarls. "Very good, mate.
    We'll see about that!"

    "'He slouched out of the room, and half an hour
    afterwards left the house, leaving my father in a
    state of pitiable nervousness. Night after night I
    heard him pacing his room, and it was just as he was
    recovering his confidence that the blow did at last

    "'And how?' I asked eagerly.

    "'In a most extraordinary fashion. A letter arrived
    for my father yesterday evening, bearing the
    Fordingbridge post-mark. My father read it, clapped
    both his hands to his head, and began running round
    the room in little circles like a man who has been
    driven out of his senses. When I at last drew him
    down on to the sofa, his mouth and eyelids were all
    puckered on one side, and I saw that he had a stroke.
    Dr. Fordham came over at once. We put him to bed; but
    the paralysis has spread, he has shown no sign of
    returning consciousness, and I think that we shall
    hardly find him alive.'

    "'You horrify me, Trevor!' I cried. 'What then could
    have been in this letter to cause so dreadful a

    "'Nothing. There lies the inexplicable part of it.
    The message was absurd and trivial. Ah, my God, it is
    as I feared!'

    "As he spoke we came round the curve of the avenue,
    and saw in the fading light that every blind in the
    house had been drawn down. As we dashed up to the
    door, my friend's face convulsed with grief, a
    gentleman in black emerged from it.

    "'When did it happen, doctor?' asked Trevor.

    "'Almost immediately after you left.'

    "'Did he recover consciousness?'

    "'For an instant before the end.'

    "'Any message for me.'

    "'Only that the papers were in the back drawer of the
    Japanese cabinet.'

    "My friend ascended with the doctor to the chamber of
    death, while I remained in the study, turning the
    whole matter over and over in my head, and feeling as
    sombre as ever I had done in my life. What was the
    past of this Trevor, pugilist, traveler, and
    gold-digger, and how had he placed himself in the
    power of this acid-faced seaman? Why, too, should he
    faint at an allusion to the half-effaced initials upon
    his arm, and die of fright when he had a letter from
    Fordingham? Then I remembered that Fordingham was in
    Hampshire, and that this Mr. Beddoes, whom the seaman
    had gone to visit and presumably to blackmail, had
    also been mentioned as living in Hampshire. The
    letter, then, might either come from Hudson, the
    seaman, saying that he had betrayed the guilty secret
    which appeared to exist, or it might come from
    Beddoes, warning an old confederate that such a
    betrayal was imminent. So far it seemed clear enough.
    But then how could this letter be trivial and
    grotesque, as describe by the son? He must have
    misread it. If so, it must have been one of those
    ingenious secret codes which mean one thing while they
    seem to mean another. I must see this letter. If
    there were a hidden meaning in it, I was confident
    that I could pluck it forth. For an hour I sat
    pondering over it in the gloom, until at last a
    weeping maid brought in a lamp, and close at her heels
    came my friend Trevor, pale but composed, with these
    very papers which lie upon my knee held in his grasp.
    He sat down opposite to me, drew the lamp to the edge
    of the table, and handed me a short note scribbled, as
    you see, upon a single sheet of gray paper. "The
    supply of game for London is going steadily up,' it
    ran. 'Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, has been now
    told to receive all orders for fly-paper and for
    preservation of you hen-pheasant's life.'

    "I dare say my face looked as bewildered as your did
    just now when first I read this message. Then I
    reread it very carefully. It was evidently as I had
    thought, and some secret meaning must lie buried in
    this strange combination of words. Or could it be
    that there was a prearranged significance to such
    phrases as 'fly-paper' and hen-pheasant'? Such a
    meaning would be arbitrary and could not be deduced in
    any way. And yet I was loath to believe that this was
    the case, and the presence of the word Hudson seemed
    to show that the subject of the message was as I had
    guessed, and that it was from Beddoes rather than the
    sailor. I tried it backwards, but the combination
    'life pheasant's hen' was not encouraging. Then I
    tried alternate words, but neither 'the of for' nor
    'supply game London' promised to throw any light upon

    "And then in an instant the key of the riddle was in
    my hands, and I saw that every third word, beginning
    with the first, would give a message which might well
    drive old Trevor to despair.

    "It was short and terse, the warning, as I now read it
    to my companion:

    "'The game is up. Hudson has told all. Fly for your

    "Victor Trevor sank his face into his shaking hands,
    'It must be that, I suppose,' said he. "This is worse
    than death, for it means disgrace as well. But what
    is the meaning of these "head-keepers" and

    "'It means nothing to the message, but it might mean a
    good deal to us if we had no other means of
    discovering the sender. You see that he has begun by
    writing "," and so on. Afterwards he
    had, to fulfill the prearranged cipher, to fill in any
    two words in each space. He would naturally use the
    first words which came to his mind, and if there were
    so many which referred to sport among them, you may be
    tolerably sure that he is either an ardent shot or
    interested in breeding. Do you know anything of this

    "'Why, now that you mention it,' said he, 'I remember
    that my poor father used to have an invitation from
    him to shoot over his preserves every autumn.'

    "'Then it is undoubtedly from him that the note
    comes,' said I. 'It only remains for us to find out
    what this secret was which the sailor Hudson seems to
    have held over the heads of these two wealthy and
    respected men.'

    "'Alas, Holmes, I fear that it is one of sin and
    shame!' cried my friend. 'But from you I shall have
    no secrets. Here is the statement which was drawn up
    by my father when he knew that the danger from Hudson
    had become imminent. I found it in the Japanese
    cabinet, as he told the doctor. Take it and read it
    to me, for I have neither the strength nor the courage
    to do it myself.'

    "These are the very papers, Watson, which he handed to
    me, and I will read them to you, as I read them in the
    old study that night to him. They are endorsed
    outside, as you see, 'Some particulars of the voyage
    of the bark Gloria Scott, from her leaving Falmouth on
    the 8th October, 1855, to her destruction in N. Lat.
    15 degrees 20', W. Long. 25 degrees 14' on Nov. 6th.'
    It is in the form of a letter, and runs in this way:

    "'My dear, dear son, now that approaching disgrace
    begins to darken the closing years of my life, I can
    write with all truth and honesty that it is not the
    terror of the law, it is not the loss of my position
    in the county, nor is it my fall in the eyes of all
    who have known me, which cuts me to the heart; but it
    is the thought that you should come to blush for
    me--you who love me and who have seldom, I hope, had
    reason to do other than respect me. But if the blow
    falls which is forever hanging over me, then I should
    wish you to read this, that you may know straight from
    me how far I have been to blame. On the other hand,
    if all should go well (which may kind God Almighty
    grant!), then if by any chance this paper should be
    still undestroyed and should fall into your hands, I
    conjure you, by all you hold sacred, by the memory of
    your dear mother, and by the love which had been
    between us, to hurl it into the fire and to never give
    one thought to it again.

    "'If then your eye goes onto read this line, I know
    that I shall already have been exposed and dragged
    from my home, or as is more likely, for you know that
    my heart is weak, by lying with my tongue sealed
    forever in death. In either case the time for
    suppression is past, and every word which I tell you
    is the naked truth, and this I swear as I hope for

    "'My name, dear lad, is not Trevor. I was James
    Armitage in my younger days, and you can understand
    now the shock that it was to me a few weeks ago when
    your college friend addressed me in words which seemed
    to imply that he had surprised my secret. As Armitage
    it was that I entered a London banking-house, and as
    Armitage I was convicted of breaking my country's
    laws, and was sentenced to transportation. Do not
    think very harshly of me, laddie. It was a debt of
    honor, so called, which I had to pay, and I used money
    which was not my own to do it, in the certainty that I
    could replace it before there could be any possibility
    of its being missed. But the most dreadful ill-luck
    pursued me. The money which I had reckoned upon never
    came to hand, and a premature examination of accounts
    exposed my deficit. The case might have been dealt
    leniently with, but the laws were more harshly
    administered thirty years ago than now, and on my
    twenty-third birthday I found myself chained as a
    felon with thirty-seven other convicts in 'tween-decks
    of the bark Gloria Scott, bound for Australia.

    "'It was the year '55 when the Crimean war was at its
    height, and the old convict sips had been largely used
    as transports in the Black Sea. The government was
    compelled, therefore, to use smaller and less suitable
    vessels for sending out their prisoners. The Gloria
    Scott had been in the Chinese tea-trade, but she was
    an old-fashioned, heavy-bowed, broad-beamed craft, and
    the new clippers had cut her out. She was a
    five-hundred-ton boat; and besides her thirty-eight
    jail-birds, she carried twenty-six of a crew, eighteen
    soldiers, a captain, three mates, a doctor, a
    chaplain, and four warders. Nearly a hundred souls
    were in her, all told, when we set said from Falmouth.

    "'The partitions between the cells of the convicts,
    instead of being of thick oak, as is usual in
    convict-ships, were quite thin and frail. The man
    next to me, upon the aft side, was one whom I had
    particularly noticed when we were led down the quay.
    He was a young man with a clear, hairless face, a
    long, thin nose, and rather nut-cracker jaws. He
    carried his head very jauntily in the air, had a
    swaggering style of walking, and was, above all else,
    remarkable for his extraordinary height. I don't
    think any of our heads would have come up to his
    shoulder, and I am sure that he could not have
    measured less than six and a half feet. It was
    strange among so many sad and weary faces to see one
    which was full of energy and resolution. The sight of
    it was to me like a fire in a snow-storm. I was glad,
    then, to find that he was my neighbor, and gladder
    still when, in the dead of the night, I heard a
    whisper close to my ear, and found that he had managed
    to cut an opening in the board which separated us.

    "'"Hullo, chummy!" said he, "what's your name, and
    what are you here for?"

    "'I answered him, and asked in turn who I was talking

    "'"I'm Jack Prendergast," said he, "and by God! You'll
    learn to bless my name before you've done with me."

    "'I remembered hearing of his case, for it was one
    which had made an immense sensation throughout the
    country some time before my own arrest. He was a man
    of good family and of great ability, but on incurably
    vicious habits, who had be an ingenious system of
    fraud obtained huge sums of money from the leading
    London merchants.

    "'"Ha, ha! You remember my case!" said he proudly.

    "'"Very well, indeed."

    "'"Then maybe you remember something queer about it?"

    "'"What was that, then?"

    "'"I'd had nearly a quarter of a million, hadn't I?"

    "'"So it was said."

    "'"But none was recovered, eh?"


    "'"Well, where d'ye suppose the balance is?" he asked.

    "'"I have no idea," said I.

    "'"Right between my finger and thumb," he cried. "By
    God! I've go more pounds to my name than you've hairs
    on your head. And if you've money, my son, and know
    how to handle it and spread it, you can do anything.
    Now, you don't think it likely that a man who could do
    anything is going to wear his breeches out sitting in
    the stinking hold of a rat-gutted, beetle-ridden,
    mouldy old coffin of a Chin China coaster. No, sir,
    such a man will look after himself and will look after
    his chums. You may lay to that! You hold on to him,
    and you may kiss the book that he'll haul you

    "'That was his style of talk, and at first I thought
    it meant nothing; but after a while, when he had
    tested me and sworn me in with all possible solemnity,
    he let me understand that there really was a plot to
    gain command of the vessel. A dozen of the prisoners
    had hatched it before they came aboard, Prendergast
    was the leader, and his money was the motive power.

    "'"I'd a partner," said he, "a rare good man, as true
    as a stock to a barrel. He's got the dibbs, he has,
    and where do you think he is at this moment? Why,
    he's the chaplain of this ship--the chaplain, no less!
    He came aboard with a black coat, and his papers
    right, and money enough in his box to buy the thing
    right up from keel to main-truck. The crew are his,
    body and soul. He could buy 'em at so much a gross
    with a cash discount, and he did it before ever they
    signed on. He's got two of the warders and Mereer,
    the second mate, and he'd get the captain himself, if
    he thought him worth it."

    "'"What are we to do, then?" I asked.

    "'"What do you think?" said he. "We'll make the coats
    of some of these soldiers redder than ever the tailor

    "'"But they are armed," said I.

    "'"And so shall we be, my boy. There's a brace of
    pistols for every mother's son of us, and if we can't
    carry this ship, with the crew at our back, it's time
    we were all sent to a young misses' boarding-school.
    You speak to your mate upon the left to-night, and see
    if he is to be trusted."

    "'I did so, and found my other neighbor to be a young
    fellow in much the same position as myself, whose
    crime had been forgery. His name was Evans, but he
    afterwards changed it, like myself, and his is now a
    rich and prosperous man in the south of England. He
    was ready enough to join the conspiracy, as the only
    means of saving ourselves, and before we had crossed
    the Bay there were only two of the prisoners who were
    not in the secret. One of these was of weak mind, and
    we did not dare to trust him, and the other was
    suffering from jaundice, and could not be of any use
    to us.

    "'From the beginning there was really nothing to
    prevent us from taking possession of the ship. The
    crew were a set of ruffians, specially picked for the
    job. The sham chaplain came into our cells to exhort
    us, carrying a black bag, supposed to be full of
    tracts, and so often did he come that by the third day
    we had each stowed away at the foot of our beds a
    file, a brace of pistols, a pound of powder, and
    twenty slugs. Two of the warders were agents of
    Prendergast, and the second mate was his right-hand
    man. The captain, the two mates, two warders
    Lieutenant Martin, his eighteen soldiers, and the
    doctor were all that we had against us. Yet, safe as
    it was, we determined to neglect no precaution, and to
    make our attack suddenly by night. It came, however,
    more quickly than we expected, and in this way.

    "'One evening, about the third week after our start,
    the doctor had come down to see one of the prisoners
    who was ill, and putting his hand down on the bottom
    of his bunk he felt the outline of the pistols. If he
    had been silent he might have blown the whole thing,
    but he was a nervous little chap, so he gave a cry of
    surprise and turned so pale that the man knew what was
    up in an instant and seized him. He was gagged before
    he could give the alarm, and tied down upon the bed.
    He had unlocked the door that led to the deck, and we
    were through it in a rush. The two sentries were shot
    down, and so was a corporal who came running to see
    what was the matter. There were two more soldiers at
    the door of the state-room, and their muskets seemed
    not to be loaded, for they never fired upon us, and
    they were shot while trying to fix their bayonets.
    Then we rushed on into the captain's cabin, but as we
    pushed open the door there was an explosion from
    within, and there he lay wit his brains smeared over
    the chart of the Atlantic which was pinned upon the
    table, while the chaplain stood with a smoking pistol
    in his hand at his elbow. The two mates had both been
    seized by the crew, and the whole business seemed to
    be settled.

    "'The state-room was next the cabin, and we flocked in
    there and flopped down on the settees, all speaking
    together, for we were just mad with the feeling that
    we were free once more. There were lockers all round,
    and Wilson, the sham chaplain, knocked one of them in,
    and pulled out a dozen of brown sherry. We cracked
    off the necks of the bottles, poured the stuff out
    into tumblers, and were just tossing them off, when in
    an instant without warning there came the roar of
    muskets in our ears, and the saloon was so full of
    smoke that we could not see across the table. When it
    cleared again the place was a shambles. Wilson and
    eight others were wriggling on the top of each other
    on the floor, and the blood and the brown sherry on
    that table turn me sick now when I think of it. We
    were so cowed by the sight that I think we should have
    given the job up if had not been for Prendergast. He
    bellowed like a bull and rushed for the door with all
    that were left alive at his heels. Out we ran, and
    there on the poop were the lieutenent and ten of his
    men. The swing skylights above the saloon table had
    been a bit open, and they had fired on us through the
    slit. We got on them before they could load, and they
    stood to it like men; but we had the upper hand of
    them, and in five minutes it was all over. My God!
    Was there ever a slaughter-house like that ship!
    Predergast was like a raging deveil, and he picked the
    soldiers up as if they had been children and threw
    them overboard alive or dead. There was one sergeant
    that was horribly wounded and yet kept on swimming for
    a surprising time, until some one in mercy blew out
    his brains. When the fighting was over there was no
    one left of our enemies except just the warders the
    mates, and the doctor.

    "'It was over them that the great quarrel arose.
    There were many of us who were glad enough to win back
    our freedom, and yet who had no wish to have murder on
    our souls. It was one thing to knock the soldiers
    over with their muskets in their hands, and it was
    another to stand by while men were being killed in
    cold blood. Eight of us, five convicts and three
    sailors, said that we would not see it done. But
    there was no moving Predergast and those who were with
    him. Our only chance of safety lay in making a clean
    job of it, said he, and he would not leave a tongue
    with power to wag in a witness-box. It nearly came to
    our sharing the fate of the prisoners, but at last he
    said that if we wished we might take a boat and go.
    We jumped at the offer, for we were already sick of
    these blookthirsty doings, and we saw that there would
    be worse before it was done. We were given a suit of
    sailor togs each, a barrel of water, two casks, one of
    junk and one of biscuits, and a compass. Prendergast
    threw us over a chart, told us that we were
    shipwrecked mariners whose ship had foundered in Lat.
    15 degrees and Long 25 degrees west, and then cut the painter and
    let us go.

    "'And now I come to the most surprising part of my
    story, my dear son. The seamen had hauled the
    fore-yard aback during the rising, but now as we left
    them they brought it square again, and as there was a
    light wind from the north and east the bark began to
    draw slowly away from us. Our boat lay, rising and
    falling, upon the long, smooth rollers, and Evans and
    I, who were the most educated of the party, were
    sitting in the sheets working out our position and
    planning what coast we should make for. It was a nice
    question, for the Cape de Verds were about five
    hundred miles to the north of us, and the African
    coast about seven hundred to the east. On the whole,
    as the wind was coming round to the north, we thought
    that Sierra Leone might be best, and turned our head
    in that direction, the bark being at that time nearly
    hull down on our starboard quarter. Suddenly as we
    looked at her we saw a dense black cloud of smoke
    shoot up from her, which hung like a monstrous tree
    upon the sky line. A few seconds later a roar like
    thunder burst upon our ears, and as the smoke thinned
    away there was no sign left of the Gloria Scott. In
    an instant we swept the boat's head round again and
    pulled with all our strength for the place where the
    haze still trailing over the water marked the scene of
    this catastrophe.

    "'It was a long hour before we reached it, and at
    first we feared that we had come too late to save any
    one. A splintered boat and a number of crates and
    fragments of spars rising and falling on the waves
    showed us where the vessel had foundered; but there
    was no sign o life, and we had turned away in despair
    when we heard a cry for help, and saw at some distance
    a piece of wreckage with a man lying stretched across
    it. When we pulled him aboard the boat he proved to
    be a young seaman of the name of Hudson, who was so
    burned and exhausted that he could give us no account
    of what had happened until the following morning.

    "'It seemed that after we had left, Prendergast and
    his gang had proceeded to put to death the five
    remaining prisoners. The two warders had been shot
    and thrown overboard, and so also had the third mate.
    Prendergast then descended into the 'tween-decks and
    with his own hands cut the throat of the unfortunate
    surgeon. There only remained the first mate, who was
    a bold and active man. When he saw the convict
    approaching him with the bloody knife in his hand he
    kicked off his bonds, which he had somehow contrived
    to loosen, and rushing down the deck he plunged into
    the after-hold. A dozen convicts, who descended wit
    their pistols in search of him, found him with a
    match-box in his hand seated beside an open
    powder-barrel, which was one of a hundred carried on
    board, and swearing that he would blow all hands up if
    he were in any way molested. An instant later the
    explosion occurred, though Hudson thought it was
    caused by the misdirected bullet of one of the
    convicts rather than the mate's match. Be the cause
    what I may, it was the end of the Gloria Scott and of
    the rabble who held command of her.

    "'Such, in a few words, my dear boy, is the history of
    this terrible business in which I was involved. Next
    day we were picked up by the brig Hotspur, bound for
    Australia, whose captain found no difficulty in
    believing that we were the survivors of a passenger
    ship which had foundered. The transport ship Gloria
    Scott was set down by the Admiralty as being lost at
    sea, and no word has ever leaked out as to her true
    fate. After an excellent voyage the Hotspur landed us
    at Sydney, where Evans and I changed our names and
    made our way to the diggings, where, among the crowds
    who were gathered from all nations, we had no
    difficulty in losing our former identities. The rest
    I need not relate. We prospered, we traveled, we came
    back as rich colonials to England, and we bought
    country estates. For more than twenty years we have
    led peaceful and useful lives, and we hoped that our
    past was forever buried. Imagine, then, my feelings
    when in the seaman who came to us I recognized
    instantly the man who had been picked off the wreck.
    He had tracked us down somehow, and had set himself to
    live upon our fears. You will understand now how it
    was that I strove to keep the peace with him, and you
    will in some measure sympathize with me in the fears
    which fill me, now that he has gone from me to his
    other victim with threats upon his tongue.'

    "Underneath is written in a hand so shaky as to be
    hardly legible, 'Beddoes writes in cipher to say H.
    Has told all. Sweet Lord, have mercy on our souls!'

    "That was the narrative which I read that night to
    young Trevor, and I think, Watson, that under the
    circumstances it was a dramatic one. The good fellow
    was heart-broken at it, and went out to the Terai tea
    planting, where I hear that he is doing well. As to
    the sailor and Beddoes, neither of them was ever heard
    of again after that day on which the letter of warning
    was written. They both disappeared utterly and
    completely. No complaint had been lodged with he
    police, so that Beddoes had mistaken a threat for a
    deed. Hudson had been seen lurking about, and it was
    believed by the police that he had done away with
    Beddoes and had fled. For myself I believe that the
    truth was exactly the opposite. I think that it is
    most probable that Beddoes, pushed to desperation and
    believing himself to have been already betrayed, had
    revenged himself upon Hudson, and had fled from the
    country with as much money as he could lay his hands
    on. Those are the facts of the case, Doctor, and if
    they are of any use to your collection, I am sure that
    they are very heartily at your service."
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