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JAMES FANCIS DWYER

THE LITTLE GREEN DEVILS

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First published in Romance, January 1920

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2021
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Romance, January 1920, with "The Little Green Devils


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Illustration

James Francis Dwyer


JAMES FRANCIS DWYER (1874-1952) was an Australian writer. Born in Camden Park, New South Wales, Dwyer worked as a postal assistant until he was convicted in a scheme to make fraudulent postal orders and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in 1899. In prison, Dwyer began writing, and with the help of another inmate and a prison guard, had his work published in The Bulletin. After completing his sentence, he relocated to London and then New York, where he established a successful career as a writer of short stories and novels. Dwyer later moved to France, where he wrote his autobiography, Leg-Irons on Wings, in 1949. Dwyer wrote over 1,000 short stories during his career, and was the first Australian-born person to become a millionaire from writing. —Wikipedia




Illustration



THE Broadway subway trains running northward take a sudden leap out of their black burrow when they get up near Manhattan Street and, apparently much to their own surprise, rush along for a few hundred yards in the full light of day. Riding the high trestles they roar noisily, palpably endeavoring to attract attention to their elevated position, but the dark tunnel again springs up before them, and, with a strange purring sound that might be construed into a note of thankfulness, they disappear into the darkness.

One can make curious comparisons with the Broadway trains. Poets, politicians, actors, authors, pugilists, pragmatists, parsons, et al., imitate the trains. They burrow for years in a darkness lit only by the dim lights of ambition; then suddenly they roar into the limelight, prance for a moment upon the high trestles of Fame, then on into oblivion. A little unlike the trains, though, they never come back!

But, and here we come to the subject of this story, there are gems in the world—great and wonderful gems with careers analogous to the subway trains. They are what the big jewelers call "unpedigreed gems." At long, long intervals they appear upon the market, carrying with them no history of their wanderings, and they excite suspicion. They are spoken of in whispers; their value depreciates. They become the Magdalenes of the trade, very beautiful without a doubt, but they are not listed correctly in the "Who's Who" of the gem world in which proper legitimate gems like the Kohinoor have records that rival that of Caesar's wife. Two such outlaws are "The Little Green Devils."


FREDERICK OSWALD BARNARD, the original "F.O.B." of Detroit, Michigan, knew a little of outlaw gems when the small Tatar, with the microscopic brow and the eyes in which terror danced on pin-points of light, called upon him. Old F.O.B. was in his own suite at the Grand Hotel des Wagons-Lits in Pekin, and the undersized Tatar had been brought to the rooms by two fat and important Chinamen who had much difficulty in keeping him there.

A wild suspicious bird was the Tatar. He pulled his sheepskin coat tighter and watched every movement of F.O.B., the secretary and the two men who had introduced him. He was taking no chances with the company and he did not conceal his distrust. Old Barnard, who indexed every person at first sight and never altered the entry, spoke to his secretary in a whisper when the Tatar was being cajoled to enter the reception room.

"If I had a billion for every throat that little hound has cut," he growled, "I'd buy up every Liberty-loan bond in the U.S."

"And you'd have a little left then, sir," murmured the secretary.

The largest and more elaborately robed of the two Chinamen introduced the Tatar, gripping him firmly by the collar as he spoke.

"This is the man, your Excellency," he said, speaking perfect English. "They are now with him."

"Very good," said the man from Detroit. "Take no notice of me. Go ahead in your own little way and make him put his goods upon the table. I'm ready to examine them. I have an expert in the next room."

The two Chinamen did proceed in their own way. The smaller poured out a stream of unintelligible abuse upon the Tatar, but the owner of the sheepskin coat drew that article tighter around his lean body and whined curiously.

"He wants all the doors and windows locked and bolted." explained the big Chinaman. "He is afraid of the friends of The Little Green Devils."

"What friends?" asked old F.O.B.

"Friends we can not see," said the Chinaman gravely. "The friends of the air that they know."

Barnard spoke to his secretary.

"Let Kuhn in here," he said, "then bolt the doors."

The secretary brought the expert, a tall lean and very solemn person, who, like all experts, looked as if he thought a trap was being constructed into which it was hoped he would fall and smash his carefully built-up reputation. He mistrusted the yielding carpet, the three Orientals, the quick, sure-footed secretary. He clutched the magnifying glass in his coat pocket, it was the only thing upon which he relied implicitly.

"Now," said Barnard, smiling at the two Chinamen, "the little set is ready. Shoot!"

Again the smaller of the two Celestials spoke hurriedly to the Tatar, whose suspicions were evidently not completely allayed. The appearance of the expert had startled him, but at last convinced that Kuhn was not dangerous, he thrust his hand within the hairy sheepskin jacket and drew forth a ball of the thick, knot-covered linen they make on the hand looms in the northern provinces. He unrolled it with fierce quick gestures, tearing off the last yard of wrapping to the accompaniment of a little crooning song; then, with a flourish, he laid something down upon the teakwood table.

The heads of Kuhn, F.O.B., the secretary and the two Chinamen came slowly forward, drawn by the invisible halters of a curiosity that strangled nonchalance, and a choking silence came into the room.

It was the big Chinaman who broke the stillness.

"Those, your Excellency," he said, addressing Frederick Oswald Barnard, "are The Little Green Devils."

Old F.O.B. looked at the two Chinamen, the expert, the secretary, and the small-eyed Tatar, who still held high the linen bandage as if threatening the things upon the table; then F.O.B. laughed in a queer, strained manner.

"Just so," he murmured. "Just so. Well we might—we might get down to business."

The secretary looked at his chief. He had seen Barnard take over a three-million-dollar business without the least excitement. Now his chief was stammering like a youth making his first investment!

The long fingers of Kuhn went slowly out and clutched one of The Little Green Devils. He brought it toward the magnifying glass and thrust it beneath it. A careful man was Kuhn. He had been brought to the Wagons-Lits to examine a pair of ear-rings whose value was enormous, and he intended to do the work thoroughly. Very slowly, very carefully, without bestowing a glance or a word upon the others, he made his examination, submitting the stones to careful tests, scrutinizing them intently for flaws.

After a long, long time he pushed the pair back to the center of the table, frowned as if their flawless beauty still puzzled him, put his glass back into his coat-pocket and whispered softly into the ear of Barnard who had lowered his head to receive the report.

Old F.O.B. straightened himself and signaled the secretary.

"Go and ask Miss Stephanie to come here," he said. "It is silly to buy them unless she likes them."

The Tatar immediately intimated that the gems should be covered while the door was open, and Kuhn placed a jade bowl over them, lowering it gently, reluctantly, on the little bed of green fire that burned in the center of the black table. Kuhn loved them, and yet, with the curious mental twist of the detector of flaws, he hated them. Beauty is detestable to the critic; the skillful vice investigator dislikes the spotlessly pure who offer no opportunities to the art of spying.

As it is impossible to describe the fire and deviltry of the wonderful gems, so, also, must the beauty and sweetness of Stephanie Barnard be left to the reader's imagination. Yuan Shih-Kai, who had a quick tongue, said upon seeing Stephanie Barnard:

"Then the American Beauty is not a flower! I am a fool because I always thought it the name of a rose!"

She came into the room looking a little startled, a little afraid, showing in her gentle movements a belief that she was a little out of place. And she certainly was. The room when she entered it was charged with a peculiar hectic atmosphere brought about by the presence of the gems. But the entry of the girl brought a soothing, quieting effect. The secretary, who was the most self-possessed of the six men, noted the immediate effect her arrival had upon old F.O.B. Barnard was a little wrought up after his first glimpse of the gems, but the coming of his daughter acted like a charm. He pulled himself together, obtained control of his face and brought back to his voice the quiet firm timbre that momentary excitement had destroyed.

"Stephanie," he said, pointing to the jade bowl, "we have here a pair of stones that I thought you might like."

Kuhn lifted the bowl, and the girl, with exquisite grace, moved forward and leaned over the little bed of green fire. All watched her. Even the half-crazed Tatar stopped tugging at his sheepskin coat and stared at the lovely face and the splendidly graceful throat, the latter showing to advantage as the girl leaned forward to examine the gems.

The men sensed their own queerness in her presence. Kuhn, the expert, felt a little ashamed of his morbid hatred of the gems—a hatred born of his inability to detect a flaw in their matchless beauty. The two Chinamen endeavored to crush the greed that broke down the barriers of celestial stoicism and paraded boldly upon their faces. The featherweight intellect of the Tatar worked manfully to keep his fingers from the suffering sheepskin coat.

For fully five minutes the girl stared at the gems without speaking; then with a look of absolute amazement tinged with something akin to supernatural fear upon her beautiful face, she turned to her father.

"Oh, Daddy!" she cried. "I—I have never seen anything so wonderful! They are so strange that they make me just a little—just a little afraid of them!"

Barnard laughed softly, then stepped forward and patted her little white hands.

"I'm glad you like them, Stephanie," he said. "I am going to buy them for you as a birthday present. Mr. Kuhn has just examined them and he thinks the stones are perfect."

Kuhn, who at the moment had his suspicious glance still upon the gems as if his eyes were unable to believe in the absolute flawlessness of The Little Green Devils, turned quickly and bowed to the girl.

"They are without equal," he said grudgingly. "I have never seen such stones. I have heard of these, heard of them years and years ago when I was at Canton, but I thought the story that was told to me was something from a child's fairy-book. They told me then that the gems possessed some strange power."

The larger of the two Chinamen seized the opportunity to air his knowledge. He stroked his fat throat, patted his silken vestlet and addressed Stephanie.

"They have a power as this gentleman observes," he said, his voice as oily as his moon-shaped face. "It is an extraordinary power. It can be obtained by those who own them, and then only at the expense of the gems. It is so, my lady. If any person who owns these beautiful jewels should desire something very, very much, they must throw the gems away, throw them away in a manner which to them makes recovery impossible."

He stepped closer to Stephanie Barnard and lowered his voice.

"It is said," he whispered, "and I who am a fool know not how true it is, that the glorious Empress Dowager of China once owned these stones. Yes! Yes! She, and again I speak from hearsay, flung them into the Yangtze-Kiang from the window of her palanquin when she was crossing the river on her way to Peking. She wanted a throne, and she was willing to sacrifice everything!"

"Oh!" murmured the girl. "And how were they recovered?"

"By a fisherman beneath the bridge." answered the narrator. "The gems must be tied together before they are thrown away, and as they came through the air they made an arc of green fire which the fisherman saw. He thought a god was falling from the heavens and he flung out his hand-net and into it fell the gems. The people who wonder at the circumstances that brought an unknown woman to the throne of China know nothing of The Little Green Devils."

The narrator's countryman nodded his head viciously as if his, forehead was a hammer that drove the nails of truth into the story. After he had performed this work to his own satisfaction he decided to add further glory to the gems.

"There was a girl at Tai-ping," he began, his voice full and sonorous, "a girl to whom a rich merchant Of Nanking had done a dreadful wrong. And this girl's father bought The Little Green Devils from the fisherman who caught them as they fell from the bridge. The father gave the jewels to the girl as a wedding present, but the girl knew that there would be no wedding. And in the madness that came upon her she held up her hands to the sky and offered The Little Green Devils for the rich man's heart!

"She flung the gems from the edge of a great cliff, O beautiful lady, first tying them together with a lock of her hair, and then went her way home. But on her way she came to a place where a robbery had been committed. Some one had killed a merchant. The girl knelt down and looked at the battered face, and lo, it was the face of her lover! And his heart, the heart for which she had offered the gems, was nailed to a tree near-by!"

"Oh, how dreadful!" gasped Stephanie. "How horrible!"

"I tell it to show the power of the gems," said the Chinaman. "They have great power. When the girl flung them from the cliff they fell at the feet of the man who murdered the merchant and who was even then fleeing down the side of the mountain, and he brought them to my partner and me. Listen, lady, the murderer is in this room, but do not look at him. He has cut many throats, and he would cut mine, too, if he knew what I am telling you!"

Stephanie Barnard tried hard to keep her splendid eyes from surveying the person in the sheepskin coat, but she failed. And the Tatar; catching her frightened glance, felt sure that the Chinaman had been dragging his iniquities into the light.

His little ferret eyes flashed malignantly, and the low brow was transformed into three furrows of hate.

It was Barnard's secretary who averted a breach of the peace. He presented a great bundle of bills to his master, and the sight of the money made the Tatar forget the Chinaman. He became a whining, money-mad pariah, his hairy hands outstretched to F.O.B., and his yellow teeth made a peculiar clicking sound as Frederick Oswald Barnard counted the bills into his hands. The two Chinamen smiled as they received their commission; then Kuhn, the expert, took up The Little Green Devils and passed them to Barnard who handed them to Stephanie.

The Tatar, going out the door, his money hidden beneath his sheepskin coat, spoke rapidly to the larger of the two Chinamen, and the Chinaman translated to Stephanie Barnard.

"He says," remarked, the unsmiling celestial, "that the last owner of the gems got the heart of a dead man in return for them, but it is far better to get the heart of a live man. Therefore, he says, if you want something great do not delay the sacrifice of the stones. I bid you good morning, my lady."


F.O.B. and his beautiful daughter left Peking two days later, Stephanie hugging to her bosom The Little Green Devils for which her father had paid a price that was unbelievable. She thought often of the stories which the two Chinamen had told of the power they wielded. She visualized both stories they told. She saw the ambitious girl who wished to rule an empire passing over the yellow Yangtze-Kiang in her palanquin. She pictured her, suddenly overcome by the desire to rule, tearing from her ears the wonderful gems and tossing them into the tumbling waters.

"Oh, how could she?" she would murmur again and again, when in the privacy of her own bedchamber she would study the carving of the devils, the work, of some long-dead Eastern lapidary who, so it would seem, had made the pattern strange and intricate with the desire to hold the gems in his possession for a long, long time. "I wouldn't throw you away for a thousand thrones!" she would cry. "No, no, no!"

And she thought often that the cunningly-carved little devils grinned back at her as if they had heard similar protestations through the years. At times they looked strangely alive to Stephanie. Wonderfully old they were, those two little pariahs of the world of gems!

She thought of the other story with a shudder. She wondered what the girl thought when she came upon the heart for which she had hurled the gems into space!

"But you didn't kill him!" Stephanie would cry, kissing one green emerald, and then, with a "Neither did you!" kissing its companion. "It was the horrid man in the sheepskin coat that murdered her lover!"

Very, very childish and believing was Stephanie Barnard. She had at twenty the precious power of belief that the years unfortunately destroy. Implicitly and firmly she believed in the power of The Little Green Devils that she loved.


BARNARD and Stephanie drifted away over hot, scented seas away up to Yokohama, and then over roads deep with cherry blossoms they went to Nikko. It was Stephanie's wish to go to Nikko.


Where the holy come and go,
Where the cherry blossoms blow,
Where the gods speak soft and low—
At Nikko in the Spring.


And at Nikko, wonderful to relate, Stephanie Barnard of Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., met a townsman! He was painting there—painting the sanctuaries built by the great shoguns of the Tokugawa dynasty. His name was Jack Beecher, and way back in a misty beautiful past, way back before Frederick Oswald Barnard had seized opportunity by the forelock and hog-tied the creature by forming overnight The Great American Production & Distribution Company, Jack and Stephanie had played together in the yards of two wooden houses in a very unaristocratic neighborhood in old Detroit.

And the years rolled away at Nikko—Nikko where the old grow young, and where the youthful become children again. Jack was poor, very poor, while Stephanie was dreadfully rich, but at Nikko worldly riches do not count. The prince prays with the beggar in the century-old shrines, so Jack Beecher and Stephanie were not aware of the abyss that separated them as they strolled around in the sweet stillness and examined holy places that the little green hands of the dead years had patted softly.

Old F.O.B. noticed, but to F.O.B. Nikko was a place where people did unconventional things which they viewed with a shudder when they reached Chicago, London, Detroit, or whatever other spot where their social gods sat in judgment. Mr. Barnard's ideas upon art were very vague. Some one had once told him that a great artist had said that art invaded the hovel of the pauper as well as the palace of the prince, and old F.O.B., with the story in mind, devoutly hoped that it would dodge his Detroit mansion which was midway from hovel and the palace. But he was kind to Stephanie and he let her have her own way.


THE Barnards journeyed up to Yamagata and then came back to Yokohama where F.O.B. had engaged the finest suites on the S.S. Mongolia homeward-bound to San Francisco. And it was on the morning when Mr. Barnard and Stephanie rickshawed down the Bund from the Grand Hotel that F.O.B. realized the wisdom of that old motto which asserts that a stitch in time saves nine. It was while the rickshaws were threading a way through the crowded thoroughfare that Stephanie's wonderful eyes found Mr. Jack Beecher, and Mr. Beecher, without being told that F.O.B. and his daughter were returning to the United States on the Mongolia, hurriedly announced that he had just been able to get the last available berth upon that steamer.

"Extraordinary luck!" he cried. "Amazing good fortune!"

"H'm," said F.O.B.

"I stupidly left it till the last minute," burbled the artist. "Didn't think about going till the other day, then I got homesick and all that and packed hurriedly."

"Quite so," said Barnard dryly. "But it's unwise to leave things till the last moment. You should have booked your berth when we booked ours. I wired the agents from Nikko."

"You going on the Mongolia?" cried Beecher. "You and Miss Stephanie? Why that—that is perfectly splendid! It's bully!"

How amazed he was! He said it was one of the most extraordinary coincidences that he had ever heard of, and, although old F.O.B. gave no manifestations of astonishment, Stephanie was brave enough to support Beecher in his assertions.

"It is a strange happening," she stammered, her beautiful face warmed with soft blushes. "We—we say good-by to you at Nikko and find now that you are going back to America by the same boat!"

Old F.O.B. coldly ventured an pinion regarding the weather, and the interview ended. Later, however, as he and Stephanie sat upon the deck of the Mongolia, he broached the Beecher matter.

"Stephanie," he said, "that young painter is chasing you."

"Chasing me, daddy?"

"Sure! That bronze idol in your cabin could tell you that. I've got no objection to what he is but I object to what he does. Nobody loves an artist, at least no one that has a million and a beautiful daughter."

"But, daddy!" cried Stephanie, "Jack does—"

"Don't let us quarrel. You're a sensible girl and you know that things that go at Nikko would raise old Nick at Detroit. It's a bad pun, girlie, but it carries my meaning."


LOVE, say the Arabs, uses the little grains of the desert, the scents of the flowers and the breezes of the dawn. The wild doves are the slaves of love, and the date-palm signals messages with its waving fronds. And so, as the Mongolia moved eastward, the ocean equivalent to Cupid's desert helpers, brought Jack Beecher and Stephanie Barnard closer to each other. There was little conversation between them and no meetings that F.O.B. could frown at; but the winds, the sunshine, the stars and the blue, blue sky fought against parental control as they always have fought since the first primitive wench put a chain of red berries around her neck and crept out of the sleeping kampong to meet a lover in the moonlight.

F.O.B. seemed perfectly happy. On the first day out he found in the smoke-room of the Mongolia a dandified person who seemed to exude wealth, and later he introduced the dandy to Stephanie.

"The Baron Rossino," he said, leading the dandy to his daughter's deck chair.

"The Baron has been in every port in the world."

The Baron admitted unblushingly that he had traveled extensively, and a few minutes later, when F.O.B. went in search of a steward, he pointedly informed Stephanie that in all his travels he had never seen a vista more beautiful than the one he was enjoying at that moment. Stephanie was uneasy, and when the Baron gave a further exhibition of bad taste by commenting upon The Little Green Devils, she was only too willing to hide her embarrassment by telling the story of the gems.

Baron Rossino was interested. He was more than interested. He asked where they were purchased, and from whom; and after much skillful maneuvering he endeavored to find out their value.

"I don't know what they are worth," said Stephanie, then as she glanced at the little eyes of the Baron she was startled by the light of greed that showed within them.

"I don't like him!" she told Jack Beecher when Jack rescued her from the Baron's conversational grip. "I think he's horrid! No American would be half as impertinent."

The artist gritted his teeth, but he said nothing. He had overhead the Baron as he bragged to old F.O.B. in the smoking room, and he realized that the titled person would be his particular bÍte noire on the voyage. Half-formed plans of irritating the Baron sprang into his head. He thought of jumping hard upon Rossino's patent leather shoes, of pouring a glass of liqueur over his glossy black hair; he even thought of a dark night and a quick push over a deck-rail!

For three days the Baron Rossino devoted to Stephanie all the time he could spare from the card-tables. A girl in a deck chair is the victim of a persistent male, and Stephanie shuddered at the dandy's approach. Books were no shield against him, neither was feigned sleep. Jack Beecher, always watchful, loafing in the distance, was the girl's only salvation.

"You promised to walk with me, Miss Stephanie," he would remark, "Sorry, Baron, to interrupt your story."

Old F.O.B. at times regretted his action in introducing the Baron to his daughter. On the third day out an American cavalry officer had refused to sit in a card game with the Baron at the table, and the Baron had not resented the insult.

And then on the fifth night out from Yokohama a coral reef built by polyps through innumerable years was brought into the game by Daniel Cupid. This uncharted point that had climbed inch by inch toward the surface and had cunningly evaded those who map the waters of the deep drove itself deep into the hull of the Mongolia, and the good ship quivered at the thrust. The vicious sword that the years had made tore a tremendous hole, and twenty minutes after the vessel struck, the captain decided that the boats were much safer than the unfortunate ship.

Jack Beecher found Stephanie and her father on the deck, the old man endeavoring to protect the girl from the feet and shoulders of sailors who rushed backward and forward to carry out the commands that came from the bridge. The girl was calm and she spoke in a whisper to the artist.

"Would you do me a great, great service?" she asked. "Would you? My—my ear-rings are in my cabin. On the dressing-table. I—I want them. You know they have a great power and—and if father's life was in danger—Oh, Jack, please go and get them! Please!"

The lights went out as Jack Beecher reached the door of Stephanie's stateroom. Through a darkness that was stifling he groped his way toward the dressing-table. He moved carefully, his feet muffled by the thick carpet.

Beecher's hand touched the table, and his fingers moved forward gropingly in search of The Little Green Devils. Stephanie, with her childlike belief in their power, wanted them to save the life of her father, and he was determined that he would get them if he stayed in the cabin till the Mongolia took her long dive.

Slowly, carefully, the sensitive fingers of the artist moved across the table, feeling each object they touched. Suddenly the fingers of the right hand came in contact with something that made Beecher quickly withdraw his hands and brace himself for a shock. His fingers had touched a human hand, a hand that was moving slowly across the dressing-table as if its owner sought the same objects as the artist!

Beecher waited. There was absolute stillness in the cabin. The other occupant, aware of the artist's presence, was also awaiting an attack.

For over a minute there was no movement on the part of either; then the artist took a step forward, and the step provoked an immediate attack on the part of the unknown. Beecher's shoe struck the leg of the table, and something heavy, evidently a small mirror, hurtled by his head and smashed itself into fragments against the cabin wall. The artist sprang into the darkness, cannoned heavily against a body braced to receive his attack, and the battle was on.

They fell upon the floor and threshed around like a pair of gigantic reptiles. They clawed themselves up by the aid of chairs and tables and fell again to the carpeted floor, because the list of the ship made it impossible for them to battle while standing erect.

There was no attempt at science. It was a mad, wild rough-and-tumble fight in the dark. From above and around them came harsh cries and the patter of feet, the creaking of blocks and the wild clatter of breaking china; but they fought in silence.

They broke apart and for an instant lost each other. Beecher leaped forward, and a little fiery shaft of pain struck deep into his right side. He tried to understand what had happened. There was no explosion, so no shot had been fired. Yet he was wounded. He felt his side, and knew that his fingers were wet. Wet with blood! And upon the deck Stephanie was waiting for him to bring her the precious gems in which she had such great faith.

A slight noise came out of a corner of the cabin, and with a howl of rage Beecher sprang. He caught the unknown by the neck, thrust him against the cabin wall, then rolled with him to the floor as the Mongolia took a sharp sudden list to port. The other tried to break the grip but the artist had a death-hold. He saw Stephanie waiting, and his fingers burrowed deeper into the throat of the robber and would-be murderer.

The unknown's struggles lessened, then ceased altogether. Beecher sprang to his feet and staggered to the dressing-table. Hurriedly, madly, he clawed among the little silver knick-knacks that littered it, till with a great cry of joy, he found The Little Green Devils! He felt his way to the door, stumbling over the man with whom he had fought. The half-choked one unloosed an oath, and Beecher for the first time knew with whom he had been fighting. It was Baron Rossino!

On the dark deck of the Mongolia he found Stephanie, her father and the husky first officer who was vainly endeavoring to drag the girl to a boat.

"But I must wait for him!" she protested. "I told him to get them, and I—

"I've got them!" gasped Beecher. "Hurry! Hurry! She's going!"

It seemed as if the Mongolia had waited for Beecher's arrival upon deck to make preparations for her last plunge. She quivered like a cold hound, lifted herself for an instant, then slowly settled.

It was every one for himself at that moment, and Jack Beecher was handicapped by the fact that three inches of steel had entered his ribs some few minutes before.

Clinging to the davit-lines, he helped Stephanie into the boat—Stephanie clasping her Little Green Devils. Down went Barnard and the first officer; then, as if dissatisfied with her exit, the Mongolia humped her stern suddenly, and Beecher, faint with loss of blood, was thrown from the ropes into the water!

Stephanie screamed as the first officer shouted out an order. The boat was thrust away from the side of the ship, and a sailor swung a lantern in a circle.

"We'll get him!" cried the officer. "He'll come up!"

There was an interval of intense quiet. The Pacific sucked at the big ship; no one spoke. The sailor swung the lantern monotonously, and as the light fell upon the white hand of Stephanie Barnard she opened it and looked at the gems it contained. And she saw more than The Little Green Devils. Her hand was wet—wet with blood that was upon the jewels when Beecher handed them to her!

In an instant the girl realized the cause of his delay below deck. With frantic haste she knotted her tiny lace handkerchief around the two wonderfully carved gems and thrust them quickly over the side of the boat!

A sailor in the bow shouted a warning and the boat shot forward. The big first officer leaned far out and gripped something, two sailors came to his assistance, and Jack Beecher was dragged into the boat.

"Pull away!" shouted the officer, "Give it to her. Every ounce, boys! The old ship is going!"


FIVE minutes later, Jack Beecher whispered to Stephanie, who had managed to bind up the knife wound.

"I did give you your earrings, didn't I?" he murmured. "Things got a bit mixed with me after I got that jab. But I did give them to you; tell me I did?"

"Yes, yes," stammered the girl. "You gave them to me, Jack."

"Show them to me so that I won't think you're trying to let me down easy," he gasped. "I—I was a little silly when I got on deck, Stephanie, but if I saw them——"

"Jack," she said, her face close to his, "they—they slipped from my hand a moment after you fell into the water."

And old F.O.B. of Detroit, Michigan, sitting close to them in the darkness, overheard. It was then that he recalled the remark of the great Whistler about Art entering the hovel of the pauper and the palace of the prince. F.O.B. had a mighty big idea that the Detroit mansion would house it, too!


THE END


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