The usual pursuit followed.
It was the gala night at the Royal Circus. Ricardo Harringtoni, the wonderful new acrobat of whom everybody was talking, stood high above the crowd on his platform. His marvellous performance on the swinging horizontal bar was about to begin. Richard Harrington (for it was he) was troubled. Since he had entered on his new profession—as a disguise from the police who were still searching for him—he had had a vague suspicion that the lion-tamer was dogging him. Who was the lion-tamer? Could it be Jasper?
At that moment the band struck up and Richard leapt lightly on to the swinging bar. With a movement full of grace he let go of the bar and swung on to the opposite platform. And then, even as he was in mid-air, he realized what was happening.
Jasper had let the lion loose!
It was waiting for him.
With a gasping cry Ricardo Harringtoni fainted.
When he recovered consciousness, Richard found himself
on the S.S.
“Boracic,” which was forging her way through the—
[MANAGER. Somewhere where there are sharks.]
—the Indian Ocean. Mr. Bellingham was bathing his forehead with cooling drinks.
“Forgive me, my boy,” said Mr. Bellingham, “for the wrong I did you. It was Jasper who stole the compromising documents. He refuses to give them back unless I let him marry Hyacinth. What can I do?”
“Where is she?” asked Richard.
“Hidden away no one knows where. Find her, get back the documents for me, and she is yours.”
At that moment a terrible cry rang through the ship, “Man overboard!” Pushing over Mr. Bellingham and running on deck, Richard saw that a woman and her baby were battling for life in the shark-infested waters. In an instant he had plunged in and rescued them. As they were dragged together up the ship’s side he heard her murmur, “Is little Jasper safe?”
“Jasper?” cried Richard.
“Yes, called after his daddy.”
“Where is daddy now?” asked Richard hoarsely.
“Can’t you see the likeness?” whispered Richard to Mr. Bellingham. “It must be. The villain is married to another. But now I will pursue him and get back the papers.” And he left the boat at the next port and boarded one for America.
The search through North and South America for Jasper was protracted. Accompanied sometimes by a band of cowboys, sometimes by a tribe of Indians, Richard scoured the continent for his enemy. There were hours when he would rest awhile and amuse himself by watching the antics of the common mosquito [Manager. Good!] or he would lie at full length and gaze at a bud bursting into flower. [Manager. Excellent!] Then he would leap on to his steed and pursue the trail relentlessly once more.