The Mystery eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about The Mystery.

ILLUSTRATIONS

“And you know a heap too much”

A schooner comporting herself in a manner uncommon on the Pacific

A man who was a bit of a mechanic was set to work to open the chest

Slowly the man defined himself as a shape takes form in a fog

“These sheep had become as wild as deer”

The firing now became miscellaneous.  No one paid any attention to any one else

With a strangled cry the sailor cast the shirt from him

“Sorry not to have met you at the door,” he said courteously

PART ONE

THE SEA RIDDLE

I

DESERT SEAS

The late afternoon sky flaunted its splendour of blue and gold like a banner over the Pacific, across whose depths the trade wind droned in measured cadence.  On the ocean’s wide expanse a hulk wallowed sluggishly, the forgotten relict of a once brave and sightly ship, possibly the Sphinx of some untold ocean tragedy, she lay black and forbidding in the ordered procession of waves.  Half a mile to the east of the derelict hovered a ship’s cutter, the turn of her crew’s heads speaking expectancy.  As far again beyond, the United States cruiser Wolverine outlined her severe and trim silhouette against the horizon.  In all the spread of wave and sky no other thing was visible.  For this was one of the desert parts of the Pacific, three hundred miles north of the steamship route from Yokohama to Honolulu, five hundred miles from the nearest land, Gardner Island, and more than seven hundred northwest of the Hawaiian group.

On the cruiser’s quarter-deck the officers lined the starboard rail.  Their interest was focussed on the derelict.

“Looks like a heavy job,” said Ives, one of the junior lieutenants.  “These floaters that lie with deck almost awash will stand more hammering than a mud fort.”

“Wish they’d let us put some six-inch shells into her,” said Billy Edwards, the ensign, a wistful expression on his big round cheerful face.  “I’d like to see what they would do.”

“Nothing but waste a few hundred dollars of your Uncle Sam’s money,” observed Carter, the officer of the deck.  “It takes placed charges inside and out for that kind of work.”

“Barnett’s the man for her then,” said Ives.  “He’s no economist when it comes to getting results.  There she goes!”

Without any particular haste, as it seemed to the watchers, the hulk was shouldered out of the water, as by some hidden leviathan.  Its outlines melted into a black, outshowering mist, and from that mist leaped a giant.  Up, up, he towered, tossed whirling arms a hundred feet abranch, shivered, and dissolved into a widespread cataract.  The water below was lashed into fury, in the midst of which a mighty death agony beat back the troubled waves of the trade wind.  Only then did the muffled double boom of the explosion reach the ears of the spectators, presently to be followed by a whispering, swift-skimming wavelet that swept irresistibly across the bigger surges and lapped the ship’s side, as for a message that the work was done.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
The Mystery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.