“I’ll give you as much as the bank offers,” said Mr. Botayne.
“Very sorry, sir; but can’t,” replied the detective. “We’d be just as bad then in the eyes of the law as before. Reward, five thousand, bank lose twenty-five thousand—thirty thousand, in odd figures, is least we could take. Even that wouldn’t be reg’lar; but it would be a safe risk, seeing all the bank cares for’s to get its money back.”
Mr. Botayne groaned.
“We’ll make it as pleasant as we can for you, sir,” continued the detective, “if you and the lady’ll go back on the ship with us. We’ll give him the liberty of the ship as soon as we’re well away from land. We’d consider it our duty to watch him, of course; but we’d try to do it so’s not to give offense—we’ve got hearts, though we are in this business. Hope you can buy him clear when you get home, sir?”
“I’ve sacrificed everything to get here—I can never clear him,” sighed Mr Botayne.
“I can!” exclaimed a clear, manly voice.
Millicent raised her eyes, and for the first time saw Jim Hockson.
She gave him a look in which astonishment, gratitude and fear strove for the mastery, and he gave her a straightforward, honest, respectful look in return.
The two detectives dropped their lower jaws alarmingly, and raised their eyebrows to their hat-rims.
“The bank at San Francisco has an agent here,” said Jim. “Colonel, won’t you fetch him?”
The colonel took a lively double-quick, and soon returned with a business-looking man.
“Mr. Green,” said Jim, “please tell me how much I have in your bank?”
The clerk looked over a small book he extracted from his pocket, and replied, briefly:
“Over two thousand ounces.”
“Please give these gentlemen a check, made whatever way they like it, for the equivalent of thirty thousand dollars. I’ll sign it,” said Jim.
The clerk and one of the detectives retired to an adjacent hut, and soon called Jim. Jim joined them, and immediately he and the officer returned to the prisoner.
“It’s all right, Maxley,” said the officer; “let him go.”
The officer removed the handcuffs, and Ethelbert Brown was free. His first motion was to seize Jim’s hand.
“Hockson, tell me why you helped those detectives,” said he.
“Revenge!” replied Jim.
“For what?” cried Brown, changing color.
“Gaining Millie Botayne’s love,” replied Jim.
Brown looked at Millicent, and read the story from her face.
He turned toward Jim a wondering look, and asked, slowly:
“Then, why did you free me?”
“Because she loved you,” said Jim, and then he walked quietly away.
“Why, Miss Peekin!”
“It’s a fact: Eben Javash, that went out better’n a year ago, hez got back, and he wuz at the next diggins an’ heerd all about it. ’T seems the officers ketched Brown, an’ Jim Hockson gave ’em thirty thousand dollars to pay them an’ the bank too, and then they let him go. Might’s well ha kept his money, though, seein’ Brown washed overboard on the way back.