On the opposite side of the saloon, not far from the door to his own quarters, Monk lay semi-prone with a purple face and protruding eyeballs, far gone toward death through strangulation. Phinuit, on his knees, was removing a silk handkerchief that had been twisted about that scrawney throat.
At the foot of the companionway steps, Popinot, no phantom but the veritable Apache himself, was writhing and heaving convulsively; and even as Lanyard looked, the huge body of the creature lifted from the floor in one last, heroic spasm, then collapsed, and moved no more.
Viewing this hideous tableau, appreciating what it meant—that Popinot, forearmed with advice from a trusted quarter, had stationed himself outside the door to Monk’s stateroom, to waylay and garotte the man whom he expected to emerge therefrom laden with the plunder of Monk’s safe—Lanyard appreciated further that he had done Mr. Mussey a great wrong.
For he had all the time believed that the chief engineer was laying a trap for him on behalf of his ancient shipmate, that unhappy victim of groundless jealousy, Captain Whitaker Monk.
CA VA BIEN!
Fearful lest, left to herself, Liane Delorme would do an injury to his eardrums as well as to her own vocal chords, Lanyard stepped across the dead bulk of the Apache and planted himself squarely in front of the woman. Seizing her forearms with his two hands, he used force to drag them down to the level of her waist, and purposely made his grasp so strong that his fingers sank deep into the soft flesh. At the same time, staring fixedly into her vacant eyes, he smiled his most winning smile, but with the muscles of his mouth alone, and said quietly:
“Shut up, Liane! Stop making a fool of yourself! Shut up—do you hear?”
The incongruity of his brutal grasp with his smile, added to the incongruity of an ordinary conversational tone with his peremptory and savage phrases had the expected effect.
Sanity began to inform the violet eyes, a shrill, empty scream was cut sharply in two, the woman stared for an instant with a look of confusion; then her lashes drooped, her body relaxed, she fell limply against the partition and was quiet save for fits of trembling that shook her body from head to foot; still, each successive seizure was sensibly less severe. Lanyard let go her wrists.
“There!” he said—“that’s over, Liane. The beast is done for—no more to fear from him. Now forget him—brace up, and realise the debt you owe good Monsieur Phinuit.”
With a grin, that gentleman looked up from his efforts to revive Captain Monk.
“I’m a shy, retiring violet,” he stated somewhat superfluously, “but if the world will kindly lend its ears, I’ll inform it coyly that was some shootin’. Have a look, will you, Lanyard, like a good fellow, and make sure our little friend over there isn’t playing ’possum on us. Seems to me I’ve heard of his doing something like that before—maybe you remember. And, mademoiselle, if you’ll be kind enough to fetch me that carafe of ice water, I’ll see if we can’t bring the skipper to his senses, such as they are.”