A castaway's fortune, or, The hunt for a pirate's gold

A castaway's fortune, or, The hunt for a pirate's gold

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A castaway's fortune, or, The hunt for a pirate's gold
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Fame and fortune weekly : stories of boys who make money
A self-made man (J. Perkins Tracy)
Place of Publication:
New York
Frank Tousey
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1 online resource (29 pages)


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Dime novels -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Wealth ( lcsh )
Entrepreneurship -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Boys ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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F18-00137 ( USFLDC DOI )
f18.137 ( USFLDC Handle )
031588324 ( ALEPH )
842940264 ( OCLC )

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Dick, wrapped completely in the folds of the python, gave himself up for lost. At that moment Joe, followed tiy Ben, appeared at the opening. Taking in the situation, he pulled out his revolver and fired at the serpent' s head.


Fame and Fortune Weekly STORIES OF. BOYS WHO MAKE MONEY "8Med Weeldu Bll Subscriptio n 12.50 per year Entered according to Act bf Congreas, in the flear 1909, i n the o8'ce of IAe Librarialt of Oonvreu, Wa1hington, D. C b11 Frank Touse11, P ub liher, 2' Union Bquaro, Ne w York, No. 191. NEW YORK, MAY 28, 1909. PRICE 5 CENTS. A CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE Dll, THE_ HUNT FOR A PIRATE'S 'GOLD By A SELF MADE MAN CHAPTER I THE YOUNG CASTAWAY. "There's the su n at last thank goodness. I never thought I'd s-ee it rise again. And yet will I be any better off in the daylight, afloat as I am, a mere speck on the ocean, on this bit of a wreck-the last of the old bark J;'olly ?" Thus spoke Dick Danvers, a plucky young American sailor, and the only survivor of the ill fated bark Polly, eighty days out from San Francisco, bound for Sydney, N. S. W., Australia, which had fotlndered the night before during a short;..liv ed but fierce gale in the South Pacific Ocean. Thou gh the s torm had blown itseH out, the waves ran high and were covered with yeasty foam. One moment the bit of wreck to which the bov had la shed himself jus t before the vessel went down, high on their crests, and the next moment it sank out of sight between the s urges. All unknown to the sailor boy the broken spar was steadi l y drifting toward a' lone island, surrounded appar ently on all sides by coral reefs, again s t which the turbulent waves spent their force. There seemed to be no hop e for the lad if he was driven on those sharp barriers of cora l. And yet Providence, that notes the fall of even a sparrow, was guiding the spa r with its living burd en, straight for the solitary opening in those reefs-a pas sage scarcely more than a dozen f eet wide, through which the sea poured in tumultuous confusion and then united with the compara tively smooth water that intervened between the circling reefs and the island itself. Dick Danvers was well nigh exhausted by the l ong hours of buffeting he h8:d undergone from the wind and waves throughout the night, and only that he had taken the precaution of lashing himself to the spar when he realized that the bark was sinking under him, he would long since have been washed off that bit of' :flotsam to his death As morning grew apace, and the sun rose in a compara tively cloudless sky, its beams warmed the boy into new life. At length, as the spar rose on the summit of a wave, he raised himself as far as the rope permitted him and gazed around upon the boun.dless expanse of agitated waters. Then it was he saw the island not a great way off, and for the first time in hours a thrill of hope sent the warm blood tingling through his veins. "Hurrah! An island! I shall be saved after all!" he cried in husky and uncertain tones, as his eyes took in a fleeting glimpse of the tree-dotted land. Then the spar sank with him into a watery valley and the exhilarating sight di sappeared. But the spar was up again in a few moments, and once again the island was in full view. He saw that he was driving straight or it and he uttered another glad cry. The next time the spar came up he saw the barrier 0 reefs, with the sea breaking fiercely upon them, and the n


2 A CAST A WAY'S FORTUNE. his heart sank again, for his experience told him that noon, for the storm had engaged the attention of all hands death lay in wait there for the helpless, storm-tossed victim soon after dinner, and by the time the evening meal was of the sea's fury. usually served by the bark's "doctor," the seas were runThe moments flew by and he saw himself drawing nearer ning so high and the vessel rolling so violently that he and nearer to that fearful barrier of foam-tossed water couldn't use the stove, so the men had to content themthrough which the coral raised its snow-white outlines. selves with a cold bite, got as best they could. The narrow channel was not yet perceptible to his eyes, Now that Dick felt safe for the present at least his and the boy thought he saw his fini s h in actual sight of appetite began to make itself felt. safety. Seeing bunches of cocoanut s hanging high up in their At length he was so close he could hear the roar of the leafy coverts, he lost no time in sh inning up the smooth waves as they broke. stems anq cutting several of the nuts loose after ascerHis span of life seemed now reduced to minutes. taining that they were full of their milky liquid. He closed his eyes and began to pray, for he believed Sliding down to the ground h e seized one of the nuts, in a hereafter, and did not want to enter the presence of punctured a hole in one end with his knife and applied the his Maker without some slight preparation. orifice to his lips. The roar increased. How sweet the milk tasted to the half-famished boy'! The turmoil of the water was all around him. He drained the nut to its last drop, then cut it open and Then the wild idea occurred to him that he had better began chewing its succulent pulp. cut himself loose. He was willing to swear at that moment that it was the The spar was bound to grind him between itself and mos t delicious meal he had ever eaten. the reef if be remained attached to it. A second nut was punctured and he finishea the milk If he were free to leave it just as it struck he might in that, too. be washed over the reef and possibly escape, even half"Lord, but that ta sted good!" he exclaimed with a dead, to the shore. sigh of satisfac tion. "I begin to feel like a new chap altoHe reached for his case-knife attached to the narrow gether. With hundreds of palms all around me I guess I belt that every sailor won't starve to death on this i s land even if I hav e to reDrawing it he slashed at the ropes and soon freed his main h e re some time, which I hope won't be my fat.e, for limbs. I have no desire to play the Tole of Robinson Crusoe. Returning the knife to its sheath, he clung to the spar Such a thing is nicer to read about than put into practice with both arms. H I hadn't read s o many sea s tories in my time I suppose He was now right upon the reef. I nev e r would have run away to sea. I found by sad ex-As the s par rose with the next wave he looked to see how perience that the fine times boys have aboard sh ip in he should leap. stories are a pure :fiction. I s hall never forget my first Then it was that for the first time he detected the narcruise if I live to be a hundred. I found myself up against row channel, and saw that the spar was about to pass it for fair with no chance to run away for many many through the barrier that way. weeks. More than once I felt as if it would be a sati s fac Saved! Saved!" he ejaculated, almost overpowered by tion to jump overboard and end my troubles or good and the revul s ion of feeling. all. However I pull ed throu g h, and now I've got used Then the spar was whirled the channel and to sea life and the hard lot that goes with it; but still I was presently bobbing up and down on the smoother waters don't see a whole lot in it, and I'm going to shake it as insid e the reefs. soon as I can connect with something better." Fifteen minutes later it floated gently almost upon the While Dick was speaking to himself he was walking bard, smooth, sandy shore. slowly along-the shore on a kind of exploring expedition. Dick threw himself off his frail support and crawled He wantecTto find out how big the i s land was :first before tremblingly up on the b e ach a few yards, then rolled over he ventured far from the beach. quite exhausted in the warm sunshine. He knew he was on a coral island, and that these i s lands He lay there a quarter of an hour without making a were of all shapes and sizes. mow. They owed their origin to a peculiar marine insect which By his strength returned and at last he sat up in countless numbers built the m up through ages from the and looked around.. bottom of the ocean. The few he had on were almost dry by this Sometime s the work o:f the insect builders would seem time. to have been interrupted, and the cora l speck r eaching but rrhe air was warm and balmy, and a light breeze blew to the level of the wave s would be wholly unseen-a place in from the ocean, gently rustling the brilliant green of peril to s ome swiftly moving ship-save that a bunch lcaYes at the apex of the tall, slender cocoanut palms that of cocoa palms rose like plumed sentinel s out of the sea seemed to be plentifully distribut e d about the island. to warn the mariner of the pre sence of the hidden reef. When Dick stood up be could see groves of .these trees Sometimes these i s lands were circula r in form, inclo9in different spots within his range of vision, while the ing a lagoon. ground itself was covered with a thick carpet of emeraldThe fairy islet, covered with a circlet of palms, then tinted vegetation that looked particularly refreshing to the looked like a green wreath' borne on the sunlit waves, or eye of the young castaway a ring of emerald in its setting of gold, cast up from the The boy had had but little to eat since the previous treasures of the deep .. j


! 'Ji. CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE. 8 These kind were called atolls, and as the shore of this one seemed to have a steady curve, Dick fancied he was on one of them. At any rate, it appeared to be a good-sized island, which had rested there for centuries, and the boy judged that nature had mB:_de ample provision in the food line at for any number of castaways. "I shall no doubt find shell-fish in abundance along the reefs, and it will be no difficult matter for me to swim out there and hunt for them," he mused as he strode along. "Of course I'll have to eat them raw, for I have no means of cooking them. This is where a magnifying glass would come in handy, for one could eesily start a fire in dried bru s h by bringing the rays of the sun to a focus. How e v er, I haven't got one, so what's the use of talking? The only thing I have is my knife, and that is invaluable." Dick continued on for perhaps twenty minutes when he saw a break in the island right ahead. That convinced him that his supposition about the island b e ing a larg e atoll was correct. The break was a channel connecting with a circular lake or la.goon. The idea that the island contained other inhabitants than hims elf never struck him, so bis surprise was great when, on rounding the point of the channel, he suddenly came face to face with a boy about his own age and a smooth-faced sailor. CHAPTER II. THE UNWELCOME INH.A.BITANT. It would be hard to decide which was the most surprised by the unexpected encounter-Dick Danvers or the other two. stopped short, with an exclamation on his lips, and so did the other boy and the sailor. Both parties surveyed each other in silence for a moment or two and then the other boy stepped forward. "Who are you, and where did you come from ?" he asked eagerly. 1 "My name is Dick Danvers, and I came from the sea," rrplied Dick. 1 "Your vessel is near at hand, then?" said the boy, e'ven more eagerly. "No, it isn't. My vessel is down in Davy Jones's locker, or at the bottom of the ocean, I am sorry to say." The boy's face fell, while his companion also looked dis appointed. "Then you've been shipwrecked on this island?'" "Not exactly. My vessel, the ba.rk Polly, of San Francisco, foundered last night many miles from here. I came here lashed to a broken spar. I landed about an hour ago." "Then you're as bad off as were are." "So you two came ashore here also from a lost vessel?" said Dick. "Our was wrecked on the reef yonder," said the boy, pointing. "Ben and I were the only ones who es cnped." "When did that happen?" "About a month ago." "Wlrnt's your name?" "Joe Deering. My companion is an A. B., named Ben Brace." "Glad to make your acquaintance. Misery, you know, always likes company," lB.ugbed Dick. His cheery manner and honest-looking face took with the other two and the three became good friends at once. "The more the merrier, so long as they're the right sort," said Joe. "I hope I shall prove the right sort," replied Dick. "I'll bet you are. I've taken a fancy to you already." "Are there more inhabitants on this island?" "Not to our lmowledge." "You've been all over it, I suppose?" "In a rough way we have." "No wild animals on an atoll, I believe?" "There's only one on this." "One!" "Yes, a boa constrictor." "A what?" almost gasped Dick. "A big snake about thirty feet Jong and as big round as Ben's thigh." "Good Lord How did that reptile get here? Never heard of such a thing being, on a coral island "We brought it here." "You did?" -. "Our brig. We td'ok it aboard at Batavia in Java, where we took in our cargo of rice, coffee, spices, vegetable oils, indigo, cocoa, and other merchandise too numerous to men tion. It was put aboard in a big box. We were taking it to San Francisco, where we were bound. It was consigned to a circus, and was to be sent East by rail. As things have turned out, the public is not likely ever to see it." "If you two were the only people saved of the brig's company, how in thunder did the serpent get ashore alive?" '

A CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE. "The snake would hardly keep its head stationary long enough for you to get a good aim. You know how they act They swing their necks to anQ. fro when out for action." "I know they do." "If the snake got a coil or two around your arms and body you couldn't use your revolver, anyway." "That's true, too So Ben and I are constantly on the wa h, night and day, to p'I'event that boa constrictor from stealing a march on us "The prospect of being obliged to remain on this island for a 8'_Pell doesn't look so comfortable as it did before you told me about that snake," said Dick. "It's bette.r to know it's hera. than not, for now you'.ll be on your guard, too." "It's bad enough. to be wTecked here without being cpn on edge over the presence of a vicious reptile that may catch one unawaroo at any moment and make a meal of you," growled Dick with a nel"l'ous look aromi.d. "How often have you seen it?" "Only once. A week after we got here." "Did it go for you?" No. It gave a loud; hiss and sneaked But it wasn't so hungry then as it must be now." "That's a cheerful reflection Where are you hanging out?" "In a: smaU cora1 cavern:. a short distance from here." "Is there room in it for me?" "Sure. We keep a fire going at night outside the entrance." "How do you make the fire?" ''We have plenty of matches." "The dickens you have Where did you get them?" "From the wreck of the brig. We brought a s hore a lot of stuff before she finally broke up the other day." "Good enough." "Yes. We saved a good man3r,. cases of canned goods and other ship stores, so our bill of fare is a good deal bet ter than one would expect on this island.''. "That's fine. Now if the snake were out of the way--" "I suppose you think we'd be having the time of our lives," laughed Joe. "You'd be well fixed, at any rate. I'm lucky to find you here All I had since yesterday noon has been a couple of cocoanuts, and they tasted mighty good." "I suppose you're hungry, then?" "Not extremely so; but I wouldn't turn down a square meal if it was offered to me," laughed Dick. "Ben and I were going for a mess of shell -fish for a change. If you don't mind waiting a little while, we'll give you a royal spread for dinner "I'll wait, though your suggestion of a royal spread is making my mouth water already." "Well, come along. We can ta.lk as we go along," said Joe, linking his arm into Dick's. The two boys started off like old chums, with Ben in the lead Down the beach they went in the direction Dick had come till they came abreast of a rnas s of coral that began near the water's edge and projected outward about a dozen ya_rds. "Here's where we get our shell-fish," s aid Joe. "The re's loads of them above water at low tide." Dick picked his way out with De e ring and th e s ailor, and the three were presently gathering a supply of the bivalves, which they wrapped up in seaweed to k eep moi s t. When they had secured all that the y could conv eni e ntly carry they turned back toward the lagoon. "This is as good as a picnic, don t you think?" s aid Joe. "Yes, if it wasn't for that sna1rn," repli e d Dick, who couldn't get the boa constrictor out of hi s mind. "Oh, never mind about the snake. The re are three of us now and it will be easier to watch for it." "I hope so; but if it gets de s perately hungry there is no saying what it'll do when it sees three s quare meal s in sight "I wish it was out of the way so we could explore this island thoroughly. Ben and I hav e b e en con s id ering about doing it anyway and taking our chances." "I should advise you to go slow. I don't believe in look ing for trouble "There's our cave yonder," said Joe, pointing out an opening in a wall of coral. A closer inspection of the cave s how e d that Joe and hi s companion had barricaded the greater part of th e entrance with boxes, some of them empty, bnt the larger portion full of canned. provisions. A fire at night, howev e r, was regarded as a s urer pro tection against the prowling reptile. Ben Brace lighted a fire right away, and when it burned to a mass of live coals the shell-fish were buried in the hot embers and soon cooked to a turn. While the sailor was attending to this business the two boys got out some of the canned goods and a box of crackers. A hearty meal was then made, which was was hed down with cocoanut juic e They bad finished their dinner and w e re sitting back in the shade of the opening, whe n s udd e nly a long, s inuou s object appeared dangling in front of the cave. Its reared head darted about a foot into the place near the roof, and a pair of beady eye s seemed to search out every nook and corner. T110 sailor and the boys, with exclamations of conster nation, scrambled to their feet and retired behind the bar ricade CHAPTER III. A GREWSOME DISCOVERY The snake l ooked as if it meant business, and Joe drew his revolver Brace picked up a stout club and prepared to lend a helping hand. Dick looked startled when he saw the ugly, flat-shaped head investigating the entrance to the cave, as if figuring on some mode of attack. The sunlight glistened on its striped scales, reflecting a kind of prismatic luster. "The blamed reptile has got us spotted now," said Dick. "It may stand guard out there and hold us prisoners. That be a nice pickle for us."


A CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE. 5 He picked up a can that had been emptied at dinner, filled it full of coral dust and sand, and then taking aim flung it at the serpent's head. His aim was true, and the loaded can struck its mark. With an angry hiss the snake disappeared. "A cheap but effective way of getting rjd of undesirable visitors," laughed Joe. Ben walked cautiously to the entrance and looked out, casting his eyes upward. The boa constrictor had disappeared into the vegetation around the cave. "It's gone," said the sailor. The boys then ventured outside. "It gave us something of a scare," said Dick. "Rather; but you settled its hash, for the time being, at any rate," replied Joe. "It knows where we are now and may try to sneak in after dark to get one of us," said Dick, with an uncom fortable look. "Oh, the fire 'fill keep it away," answered Joe confidently. "You can't be certain of that. We ought to stand watch in turn." "Of course. 'J'hat's the way Ben and I have been doing for the past three :weeks. In fact, we've been doing most of our sleeping in the daytime." "Isn't there some way that we could get the best of that reptile?" "Ben and I would be glad to know of some way, wouldn't we, Ben?" "I reckon we would," replied the sailor. "We might set some kind of a trap," suggested Dick. "What kind?" "That's what we must :figure out. We've got plenty of rope here. If we could rig a noose and catch its head in it, that would give us a chance to kill it." "Where would you put the noose?" "Hang it in front of the entrance, and let it dangle from a block :fixed in t'he roof. If the snake poked its head through the loop we would pull on the rope and jam its head up against the block. Then we'd have it dead to rights." "Your scheme isn't a bad one if the snake would do its part toward making it a success; but the are against it." "It's worth trying, isn't it?" "What do you think, Ben?" asked Joe. The sailor thought the experiment rather a dubious one, but said there was no harm in trying it if there was any way of rigging the pulley to the roof: The only feasible way of accomplishing this was to at tach the pulley to a long piece of rope and tie the end of the rope to a projecting piece of coral on the top of the cave outside. This was done, and the pulley hung down a foot below the line of the roof. Another long line, with a slip noose, was rove through the pulley, and the slack end carried behind the barricade. That completed the trap, but the trio were not very sang uine as to results. What will we do now?" asked Joe. "Let's walk around the beach of the lagoon," suggested Dick, "and circumnavigate the island along the shore." "Ben and I have done that. There is nothing to see but the ocean on one side and vegetation and palm trees on the other," replied Joe. However, I'm willing to make the trip again for your benefit. Ben needn't come unless he wants to." The sailor said he'd rather go than remain behind, so the party started. lagoon was about half a mile around, and the tide being low they had a wide expanse of beach to walk upon. It was almost a perfect circle, broken only at the point where the channel pierced it. This channel was about sixty feet wide. When the party had gone entirely around it they came out on the shore of the island and followed that. "What's that?" asked Dick, after they had gone a short distance. The others looked where Dick pointed and saw the top of a kind of hut showing through a thick grove of palm trees. "Looks like a hut, doesn't it?"" said Joe "We didn't notice it when we passed this way on our tour of investi gation." "Let's got and take a look at it," suggested Dick. Joe and the sailor agreed. So they made their way into the grove. The hut proved to be. a make-shift affair, constructed of pieces of ship timbers, roofed over with palm leaves and dried vegetation. It looked as if it had been there a great many years. A door, hanging by one leather hinge, was almost shut. "Somebody was shipwrecked here long before us," said Joe; "but they evidently got away eventually. Let us hope we will pretty soon." "He wasn't much of a carpenter, that's certain," said Brace, as they stood gazing at the rude habitation. "What's the difference if the shack kept off the weather ?" replied Dick. "It isn't as good as our cave," said Joe. "The chap evidently didn't know about the cave or he wouldn't have gone to the trouble of building this." "I don't see how he could have been on the island a great while without finding t'he cave," said Dick "Probably he built the hut before he found the cave." "How do you know there was only one chap? There might have been two or three, or even more," put in Bract:;. "The hut isn't large enough to hold more than one man comfortably," replied Dick. As he spoke he walked to the door and pushed against it. It moved only a few inches, when an obstacle prevented it from going any further. Dick shoved on it and gradually it moved back. Finally be got the door open far enough to admit his head, a:pd he looked in. "What do you see?" asked Joe, behind him. Dick didn't see much at first. He saw that it was the end of a small sea-chest that held the door. It was an chest, too. By degrees be made out other objects-some canvas that


A CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE. was rotting away, a small keg against one of the walls, various other marine odds and ends in a state of decay, and finally a rude bunk of dry vegetable substance, on which lay the outline of what appeared to be a man. "Good Lord!" ejaculated Dick. "What's the matter? The snake ain't in there, is it?" asked Joe. "No," replied Dick, drawing out his head; "there's a man." "A man!" exclaimed Joe. "A dead one, I should judge." "A corpse!" "Take a squint yourself." Joe did so. "By George! You're right," he said after a look. "Here, Ben, put your shoulder against the door and shove it in. It's too much for me." The sailor complied, but it was a hard job to get the door even half-way open. / The space, however, was wide enough for them to enter, and they did in Indian file. They advanced gingerly toward the couch and looked down at the dead man. Then. they discovered that little else than a skeleton, covered with moldering garments, remained of the cast away. "He turned up bis toes a good many years ago," said the sailor. "I should say all of twenty at lea.st. It takes time to put a chap in that etate." "That w.ould show that whoever visited the i sland since did not .discover hint, else I should think be would have been buried," replied Dick. "'l'hat will have to be our duty." "I don'.t fancy the job/' said Joe. "Besides, we haven't a shovel." "We'll manage somehow to make a hole deep enough to put him in." "What's the matter with shutting the door and leaving him here? This hut has been his tomb so long that it oughtn't to make any difference if he stays here a few years more. In the end he'll crumble away, anyhow. If I was a corpse I think I'd rather he above the ground than under it." "Well, let 's take a look into the chest and see if we can find out what the man was," said Dick. Joe agreed to that, so he and Dick hauled the away from the door, and then pushed the door wide open so they could get light. The chest was locked and the key missing. "The key must be in his clothes or around his body," said Dick. "It will stay there, then," answered Joe. "I'm not go ing to monkey with that skeleton. We can smash in the cover with a piece of coral, or we can come here to-morrow with a hammer and chisel. There's no hun:y. I don't believe there's anything in it but clothes, which can't amount to a whole lot." So it was agreed to defer the examination of the chest until the following day, and accordingly the party left the hut and continued on their way around the island. CHAPTER IV. WHAT DICK FOUND IN THE DEAD MAN'S SEA-CHEST. They made the entire circuit of the i s land, and :finally returned to the cave and sat down on the beach away from the entrance, for they did not propose to let the boa con strictor, if it was in the neighborhood, steal on them unawares over the roof of their habitation. "I suppose no vessel has come within signaling distance of this island while you have been here?" said Dick. "Not to our knowledge,'' replied Joe. "Of course several vessels may have passed close to the reef on the oppo site side and we couldn't have known about it. At any rate, we haven't seen any chance to get away from here." "If this island isn't in the regular track of vessels we're likely to stay here some time." "I'm afraid you're right; but Ben and I are in hopes that a vessel will show up soon close enough to be signaled." "A vessel can't come any too quick to suit me," said Dick. "If it wasn't for the presence of that snake I wouldn't mind staying here a month or so, for the island seems to be a regular paradise." "I agree with you, Danvers. This is a bang-up place to lay off and take the world easy; but that blamed snake certainly alters the situation a whole lot." The conversation gradually veered around to other sub jects,' and when sundown came a fire was lighted, the bal ance of the shell-fish was cooked, and the trio sat down to their evening meal. They cast lots to see who would stand the fir s t four hour s watch; and Dick got the short end, which entitled him to that honor. Joe and Ben turned in on their soft grassy bunks at the back of the cave, while Dick took up his post at the en trance of the barricade. It was part of his duty to keep the fire going during his watch, a supply of fuel having been gathered for that purpose. A clock which Joe had brought ashore from the wreck of the brjg enabled Dick to keep track of the time. Nothing happened to alarm him durii;ig the four hours he watched, and at midnight he aroused Joe to take his place. Then he tumbled in on Deering's bunk and was soon asleep It was a little after six when he awoke, and the sun was shining brightly into the mouth of the cave. Ben Brace was on watch and Joe was sleeping on the opposite bunk. The sailor had a pot of water suspended over a small blaze, and was waiting for it to boil. "What are you going to use the water for, Brace?" asked Dick. "To make a pot of coffee for breakfast," was the r ep ly. "You've got coffee, have you? Say, what haven't you got?" "Oh, there are quite a number of things we haven't got Money for one thing." "Money wouldn't do you any good here." "No, but I don't expect to remain here the rest of my


A CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE. '1 life, like that poor chap in the hut. When I get back to There wasn't a particle of writing on it. c i v ili z ati o n once more I shall be strapped ; which isn't a Dick examined it carefJJlly, but could see no reason 1Vhy cheerful r e flection." it had been so carefully kept ih the tin box. "The r e' ll be wages due you from the owners of your "The letter might explain the mystery if the ink h adn't bri g, won't there?" fad e d away As it is, I don't see that thi s find i s going to "Yes, but what's comin' to me don't amount to a great do me any good. However, I'll keep it as a kind of relic d eal. I'll have to sh1p right away or go on my up of this island, which I can exhibit to my friends when I per s After the experience I've had this la s t voyage I'm g e t back to 'Frisco. not stu c k on goin' to sea again in a hurry if I could help He returned the two papers to the box, wrapp e d the box myself." up again in the cloth and started back for the inl et "I don't blame you. I feel the same way myself. I Tying the bundle on top of hi s head with a b\t of v ine, coul d n t come n e ar e r connecting with the n e xt world and he waded into the channel and swam across in a few min miss it than I did the night before last," replied Dick soutes. b e rly, a s he thought of hi s narrow escape "W. here did you go?" asked Ben Brace, as Dick came A ft e r some mor e talk Dick asked Brace if it was safe out of the water and began to dress. to tak e a s wim in the lagoon. "To the hut." "We do it every mornin' and afternoon, as a rule," re"You must like skel etons." plie d th e sailor. "We haven't seen anythin' that looked "I didn't go there on account of the s k e leton, but to lik e a s hark s ince we came here look the place over." Acc ordingly Dick peeled off his clothes and plunged in. "What did you find that we didn't see there yesterday?" A f ter spla s hing around for a while in the ohannel he "I found the key to the chest." s wam across to the oth e r side and landed. "What did the ches t contain?" asked Bruce uriously. Th e n h e starte d along the shore, his destination being "Most l y clothes, so old that they are falling to pieces. tpe hut in th e coc oanut palm grove There was also a l ot of junk s uch as some s ailors carry H e found thing s a s th e y had left them, and paying no about with them. Lastly, I found this," and Dick showed atte ntion to the sk e l e ton he looked the plac over. him the bundle. H e found nothing worth carr y ing away "What's in that? Somethin' valuable?" B e fore leaving h e took another look at the bony remains. "The dead man must have considered it valuable, or Th e n it a s h e saw a ru s t y key lying bes ide the couch he had it wrapped up carefu ll y e nough ; but as far as I "Mayb e thi s i s the k e y to the chest," he s aid to himself. can make out it doesn t amount to a hill of beans." H e cl e an e d it as well as. he could and then inserted it in "Let's see." t h e lock. Dick handed it t o him. It fitt e d and though it worked with difficulty he man He unwrapped the box, which h e opened and took out aged to unlo c k the the parchment and the letter. Throwing up the cover, a lot of woolen s hirts and coarse "Is that all that was in it?" g arm e nts met his view. "That's a ll." They had lain s o long undisturbed that they a lmo st came Brace looked at the l e tter. to pieces in the boy's fingers. "I can't make out a word of it. Might have been a letH e pull e d th e m all out, tog e ther with a lot of odds and ter from his sweetheart or his wife. Some chaps think a e nds s u c h a s made up the outfit of a s ailor of over half a whole lot of s u ch things. What are you goin' to do witli c entury a go. your find?" At the bottom in one corner was a small bundle, the it as a kind o f curiosity." out e r c overing of which was part of a daily newspaper "It's a blamed poor one I think," replie d Brace, returnDi c k took off the paper and saw that it was the Sydney ing the box and cloth to him "Breakfast is ready and H e rald" of June 5, 1850. it's nearly eight o'clock. Go in and rouse Joe up. He's "Ge e! That's a long time ago," he muttered. "Pity s lept long enough." the whole paper isn't here. I'd like to read the ancient Dick awoke Deering, and they came outside together. news it must have contained. I wonder what is wrapped "I ought to have a dip before I eat," he eaid. up s o carefully," he added, as he unrolled a length of cloth. "We' ll wait for you if you don't take over five minutes," It proved to be a tin box marked with the name of a s aid the sailor. s nuff manufacturer of Glasgow, Scotland. Joe g-0t out of his clothes and plunged in. It was very light s o Dick judged it couldn't contain "Time is up," shouted Brace after the lapse of seven much. minutes. He opened it and found a piece o f folded parchment. Joe came out, dressed himself\ and sat down with his Underneath this was a folded piece of paper, companio,ns. a l e tter, but the writing had faded away so much that During the meal Dick told Joe about hi s visit to the hut though Dick carried it into the open air he could not de-on the other side of the c hannel and showe d him what he ciph e r it. had brought awh. Ope ning the parchment with great curiosity, expecting Joe examined the cont ents of the box with great inthat it contained some communication of importance, he I terest was surpri sed and di s appointed to find that it was nothing "The letter must pave been written a long time ago, or but a blank s heet with a mighty poor quality of ink, for it is faded almos;


8 A CASTAWAY'S FORTU}.E. entirf3ly away," he said. "As for this piece of parchment, it does not seem ever to haYe written on." He replaced the parchment in the box and was about to refold the letter when Ben asked him if he wanted anoilher cup of coffee. "Sure thing," he replied, la ying the letter clown on the sand in the full glare of the sun, and holding his cup over to be refilled. After drinking the coffee h e picked up the letter again. "Great saucepans!" he ejaculated, staring at the paper in great astonishment. "vVhat's the matter?" asked Dick and the sailor in uni. iOn. "Matter! Look at the letter now, both of you." They looked and Dick gave a gasp. The heretofore illegible and faded writing had suddenly blossomed into plain jet-black characters, every word as distinct as though just placed there with a pen CHAPTER V. A MAGICAL LETTER. "What kind of witchcraft i s this?" said Di ck, gazing, with a feeling of awe, at the writing. "You've got me," replied Joe. "What did you do with it?" "Nothing. Just laid it on the sand along s ide of me. 'Vlien I picked it up to put it back in the box this is the way it looked." "Well, if that doesn't beat anything I ever saw in my life," said Dick. "What has caused this remarkable change in it, I'd like to know? Ifs just like a bit of bocus pocus. Now you don't see it and now you do." "M:aybe exposure to the air has put new life into the writing," s uggested Joe. "It has probably been hidd e n away in that chest anywhere from five to twenty years. Writing, they say, always fades in time, after it has los t a part of its chemical composition." "So I've heard, but I never heard that exposure to the air would make good the chemical loss. All writing doesn't fade in twenty years or so, for I've seen letters that had been written all of thirty years, and they were almost as plain as the day they were penned "Well, let's hear what is in the letter," said Joe. Dick, who had turned the paper, writing down, on his knee while talking, picked it up with the intention of read ing it aloud. But as he gazed o n the paper he gave another gasp of astonishment "What are you gaping at?" asked Joe. "Why don't you begin?" "I can't," answered the bewildered Dick. "Why can't you? Isn't it written in English?" "I can't read it because it looks now a s it did at first." "'\Vhat do you mean by that?" asked Joe, somewhat astonished. "Look yourself and you will see what I mean." Joe looked and uttered a low whistle. 'l'be paper presented the same appearance as it did when he first looked at it. "Well, I'll be jiggered "'hat in thunder is the matter with you two chap s ?" the sailor, who could not under s tand their action s "The matter is thi s letter has faded away again. See!" Ben saw and was as much astonished as the boys. "That paper is a hoodoo, I guess," he said; "better throw it away. The dead man doesn't want us to read it." "What has the dead man got to do with it?" asked Dick. "A whole lot for all we know," replied Brace solemnly, for like many sailors his head was full of superstitious notions. Dick and Joe, however, were not thus influenced They had no particular belief in the supernatural. After their first surprise wore off they ascribed the mag ical appearance and disappearance of the writing to natural agencies. Joe maintained that it was exposure to the air that had temporarily brought the writing out, and that it had now faded for good. Dick wasn't sure whether Joe's explanation was right or not, but be was willing to accept it for want of a better one. He refolded the letter, replaced it in the box, and put the box in his pocket. "Too bad we didn't read it right away and then we'd have known what it said," he remarked regretfully. "Who d have thought it would fade away again so quickly?" repli e d Joe. "None of us thought so, that's why we got lelt." "He llo! What's that?" interrupted Brace, looking out at the water between the island and the reef. Th e bovs looked and saw a smal l rowboat :floating: along. "It's a' boat," said Joe. "With nobody aboard," said Dick. "l!"loated in here from the sea outside the reef." "I'm going to swim out and get her," said the sailor "No, you won't, not yet," put in Joe. "Why not?" "Because it isn't right to go into the water so soon after eating." "Pooh!" returned the sailor. "It's coming in toward the channel, anyway," s aid Joe. "Maybe it will float ashore here. If it doesn't it will beach it self at some point on the lagoon. They watched the boat as it came slowly but steadily on. It entered the channel and then swung over toward their side of the lagoon. They followed it along the beach. Finally it got so close that the sai lor waded in and pulled it ashore. Then they all looked into it. A magazine rifle was lying across the seats with a car tridge belt thrown the butt. A shallow .box lay forward with two fis h lines, fully equipped, in it. There was a breaker of fresh wat er and a bask e tful of stale sandwiches and other eatables, as well as two pocket :flasks of whisky. A pair of oars ran lengthwise of the seats, and completed the catalogue of the boat's freight. "It's :fitted out for a fishing expedition of two appar-


! A CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE. 9 ently," said Joe. "It has journeyed some distance all by itself." "Maybe it has floated away from a vessel that's hove to on the other side of the island," Eaid Dick, as the thought struck him. "We'll find that out mighty quick, mates," said Brace "Follow me Led by the sailor the party started off with rapid strides along the beach for the other side of the island. Whatever hopes they had entertained of a possib l e res cue from the island were dissipated when they had tramped almost all around the atoll, and they saw not the slightest sign of a vessel anywhere, even as far off as the horizon "We've had our trouble for nothin'," grumbled Brace, who was sorely disappointed because they were as far off as ever from a rescue. "Better luck next time," replied Joe philosophically. "That rifle and cartridge belt are a lucky acquisition," said Brace. "We can defy the snake now, and give him a bellyful of lead if he comes around after us." "We've got a boat, at any rate, and could go off to meet any vessel that may come within reasonable distance of this island," said Joe. "That's a big advantage, too The party retraced their steps to the cave, in front of which Ben moored the boat. I "I propose that we-start out after dinner and investigate the interior of the island," said Dick. "The rifle will be a good protection for us against that boa constrictor, and we might possibly get a chance to kill it. Are you a good shot, Ben?" "Pretty fair. I have hit many a bull's-eye at thirty yards," replied Brace. "That was a stationary mark. Have you had any prac tice at moving objects?" "I have shot birds and such like on the wing with a fowling-piece." "Well, what do you say, Joe-shall we do as I pro posed?" "I'm with you," replied Deering. "Anything for a change." "We may find some other kinds of tropical fruit besides cocoanuts-bananas possibly, and maybe bread fruit. The latter is fine when baked right. Our cook on the Polly could serve them up in dandy shape." "You make tny mouth water," said Joe. "I've never ta s ted any bread-fruit." "I guess I'll take the boat and go out shin'," said the s ailor. "Nothin' like havin' a change in our bill of fare. Want to come along?" "Sure," replied Joe; "but only two of us can fish at a time." "You chaps can tak turns, can't you?" "I guess I wont go," said Dick. "You can carry me across the channel and I'll take another look in at the hut and see if I missed anything in that chest. It's a good chest, anyway. I'm going to carry it away when a vessel comes to our relief. I've taken quite a fancy to it." "You're welcome to it," grinned Joe "I wouldn't have the old thing for a gift. I never cared for anything old fashioned. I like my things to .be up to date." Dick said take the rifle as a protection against the snake in it turned up near the hut. "If you fellows should hear a shot you'll know I've s.ighted him/ he said. After Ben had provided a can of shell-fish for bai t, the three got into the boat, and after Dick was landed on the opposite beach of the channel the other two rowed off t o the line of reefs to fish. Dick went to the hut. He pulled the che .st out of t he hut and d own on t h e shore. There he amused himself examining all the o dds and ends it contained The clothes he had left at the hut, for they were of no use at all He decided to keep a few of the things as mementoes of his visit to the island, then he locked the chest, and attach ing the key to a piece of cord placed it around his neck. Joe and Ben were still fishing some distance away, so Dick threw himself on the sand and waited for them to return. After a while his thoughts recurred to the letter in the tin box in his pocket, and he thought he would take an other look at it. Getting it out he tried in vain to make out a single word, at last gave it up as a hopelesi; job. Laying the letter on top of the chest, with the writ ing in the sun, he examined the piece of parchment all over He had never handled parchment before, and it infer ested him. It was deeply creased in the two folds, but otherwise it seemed as good as the day it was which was undoubt edly a good many years since. He spread it out on the warm lid of the trunk and tried to smooth out the creases. He was not very successful at this. While he was thus engaged he casually g l anced at the letter. Wonder of wonders! The faded writing once more stood out bold and clear in every detai l. Truly it seemed to be an enchanted l etter and Dick gazed at it in spellbound amazement. CHAPTER VI. PIRATE GOLD "Gee! This is the most remarkable thing I ever saw. At one moment when :you look at the blamed letter the writing is so faded you can't read it to save you; when you look at it a.gain it is as bright as though it were just written. I'd give to !mow the cause qf this mysterious appearance. and disappearance Well, let's sec what it says before it gives me the slip again." It was not an educated hand, l{ut the characters were plain and bold, and Dick had no difficulty in reading it. What he read caused him to sit up and t ake notice, as the saying is This is what the letter contained : "Dear Bill-Im feelin purty good for a chap as has a half ounce ball in his vitals that the doctor says is sure to fetch him inside of 48 hours I aint got no time to tell you how me and the ball come together. Its a long story


10 A CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE. and time is short. Youve been a good pal and Im sory you aint here to see the last of me. Howsumever it cant be helped. Now listen Bill Im goin to make you a rich man. I expected that you and me would both be rich men but as Im all in you will have my share too. Im sendin you a parchment with full directions how to find the island where the pirates gold is, and the place where its hid after you git there. You wont see no writin on the parchment cause its written in invisible ink To find the writin hold the smooth side of the parchment before a fire or set it out in the sun, then it will come out and you can read it same as print. Ive writ this letter so it will fade out after ten days, but youll git it afore that. If you want to read it any time after that hold it before a fire or out in the sun. I would like to say a lot more but I guess it aint necessary. Go to the island, which is a atoll in lat and long given in parchment, git the money and enjoy it. I wish you luck and long life Goodbye. JIM." As the astonished Dick read the writing it gradually faded under his eyes, so that by the time he reached the signature he could hardly make it out. However, that didn't matter, for he had discovered the secret of its appearance and disappearance, and he knew when he wanted to read it again all he had to do was to lay it in the sunshine and it would come out as bright as "So that parchment contains directions for finding a pirate's gold, and it's written in invisible ink, so all I have to do is to let the sun shine on its smooth side in order to bring the writing out. It shows how to find the island where the gold is, and then gives directions how to find the treasure its elf At the end of the letter Jim, the writer, says it's an atoll, so I guess this is the island. That skeleton in the hut must be all tnat's left of Bill, who doubtless came here to get the gold, and did not live to discover it. Probably he was taken sick and died before he could do -anything. Now the treasure will come to me if I'm lucky enough to read the directions right, and every thing turns out all right. Gee! Talk about luck! If I find that treasure I'll be swimm in g in it. Joe and Ben ought to have a sharE: in it, for we're companions in mis fortune, and they seem to be first-class cl1aps. I think.one half for me as discoverer of the secret, and the other half divided between them for helping me get it, is a fair deal. At any rate, I'll let them decide. If they say it ought to be a third all around I'll l et it go at that. But I'm count ing my chickens before they're hatched. Everything de pends on the parchment. I must put the smooth side in the sun and bring out the writing. If for some reason or another the writing fails to come out that will be the end of the priate's gold at the very start." Dick, in no little excitement, reached for the parchment, to see which was the smooth and which the rough side of it. The moment his fingers touched it he saw that the here tofore blank surface was covered with writing and figures. It had been lying in the sun all the time Dick was read ing and musing over the letter, and the material was quite hot. Apparently the smooth side had been turned to the sun shine. Without loss of time the young castaway began eagerly to master the words and characters he saw before him. The writing was different from that of the letter, and clearly it was not Jim who had written, or rather printed, it. It was the hand of an uneducated man, and was scrawled so badly that at :first Dick could not make bead qr tail of it. Gradually he began to get the hang of it, and after go ing over it half a dozen times things looked clearer. Still, for all that he could not translate its real meaning. It would be useless for us to transcribe the contents of the parchment, for the reader wouldn't understand it any better than Dick did. Jim had evidently been able to get at its sense, and no doubt Bill had been equally fortunate, but so far as the young castaway was concerned it might just as well have been a Chinese puzzle. After figuring over it in vain for twenty minutes the fading of the characters, as the paper grew cold, settled the matter for the time being, and Dick folded it up, returned it with the letter to the tin box and put the box in hi s pocket. "The three of us will have to study this thing out some how. If we fail we'll have to try some other means of finding the pirate's gold. likely that we'll have lots of time in which to do it, for I'm afraid this island is out of the general track of vessels, and that it is likely to be some weeks before we are so fortunate as to be rescued. The knowledge that there is a pirate's treasure on this island will afford us all the excitement bunting for it that we need to keep time from hanging hea vily on our hands." At that moment Dick heard a hail. Looking toward the water he saw the rowboat, propelled by Brace, rapidly approaching the beach. Joe held up two strings of good-sized fish to show him how lucky they had at the sport. Dick got up and walked over to the water's edge. "I see you've been taking things easy, Dick," said Deer ing, as the boat's bow swung around close to the beach. "We piped you off every once in awhile and you seemed to be doing nothing more strenuous than sunning yourself. Want to put the chest aboard? I'll give you a lift." Joe sprang ashore and helped Dick place the chest athwart the boat. Then they both jumped in and Ben resumed his rowi11g, heading straight for the entrance to the channel. "I see you've caught quite a mess of fish," said Dick, "and they're fine ones, too." "There's lots of them over along the reef. We could have had twice as many as you see. In fact, we threw overboard all but the best ones," replied Joe. "I'll have to go with you next time and take a hand." "You could have gone with us this time if you hadn't been so bent on going to the hut again. You and the skel eton ought to be on pretty good terms by this time," chuckled Joe. "Bet your life we are. He has made me his heir," an swered Dick. "His heir What do you mean?" "He's left me a dandy legacy, if I can only get hold of it." i


A CASTAWAY'S FORTUNE. ll "How could a skeleton leave you a legacy?" "The re's more ways than one of doing it. I'll have to explain or you'd never understand. You know that letter I found with the piece of parchment in the chest?" Of course." "I've read it." CHAPTER VII. l

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