Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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First published in Chums, Cassell & Co., London, 27 September 1919

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2023
Version Date: 2023-07-29

Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

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YOUNG Robert Tremayne looked round the big room with an air of great satisfaction on his brown, sea-tanned face. A very wheezing orchestra had just stopped playing, there was a gabble of voices in half a dozen different languages, and shabby- looking waiters hurried across the bare, boarded floor, carrying dishes and drinks as outlandish as the customers they were serving.

"My word, Tim," said Robert, "it's good to be back in civilisation again."

Tim Hayle, the slim, black-haired youngster who sat opposite Bob, gazed at him a moment with a rather scornful look.

"My good Bob," he said, "you don't mean to call Punta Arenas civilised?"

Bob laughed good-humouredly. "Perhaps it doesn't appear so to you. But if you'd been monkeying around in these Antarctic seas for weeks on end, even Sandy Point would seem like Paradise."

"Ah, well," said Hayle, "I suppose it's all a matter of contrast. Last restaurant I was in was at Buenos Ayres. That's a town for you, if you like. A bit different from this deadly hole. I shall be jolly glad to get away, I can tell you. The Dorset sails to-morrow. When are you going?"

"Can't say for certain. If depends on my brother. We are doing salvage work, and might he called to the Falklands or Valparaiso or any other old place. We came here to catch your ship and put aboard her a package which we had a lot of trouble in getting.

"Hope you got well paid for it."

"You bet we did," replied Bob with a smile. "Netted us a cool thousand."

Hayle's eyes widened. "Fine!" he said. "Wish I could get a chance like that."

"You've got to work for it," said Bob more gravely. "We risked our lives getting that little lot. We had that filthy pirate Pedro Juarez after us. I've a hole in my leg still where he put a bullet through me."

Tim Hayle's eyes widened. "Great ghost! it sounds like the days of the buccaneers."

"That's just what it is," replied Bob. "In spite of steam, things are still pretty barbarous down at this jumping-off place of South America. So you sit tight at your wireless, Tim. You'll find it a lot safer and more comfy."

"And a lot duller, too. Jove, I'd like a cruise with you chaps."

Bob glanced at Tim's smart uniform. "I doubt it," he said dryly.

They finished their supper. Tim yawned. "Let's shift," he said.

But Bob was not listening—at least, not to Tim.

"What's up over there?" he said in a low voice.

Before Tim could answer there was a crash. A table was upset. Four men were on their feet. Three of them appeared to be setting on the fourth, the smallest of the lot, and next instant he went down.

"That's a bit too thick," cried Bob, springing to his feet.

He dashed across the room, and Tim, who in spite of his dandified appearance had plenty of pluck, followed.

Next moment the pair were in the midst of as brisk a rough-and-tumble as heart could wish. While one of the three aggressors held the small man down the other two turned on the boys.

The restaurant was in an uproar. Some people bolted out of the room; others crowded up to see the fight. Bob, hard as nails, drove his fist into the middle of a sallow, scowling face, and was following up his advantage when out of the tail of his eye he saw Tim go down. He had been tripped by the man on the floor.

Bob leaped back, stooped, and was in the act of hauling his friend to his feet when there was a warning shout, of "Police," and three blue-uniformed Chileans came rushing in at the door.

A click, and black darkness. Someone had turned off the lights at the main. The place was so dark you could hardly see your hand in front of your face.

Bob stood quite still. He had hold of Tim, but could not tell which way to go.

There came a voice in his ear. "This way! Come on, you two. I know a way out."

The voice was strange to Bob, but the words were in good English. And Bob knew the danger of getting into the hands of the Chilean authorities. It would mean a heavy fine, and very probably imprisonment. He did not hesitate. "Right you are," he said. "Come on, Tim."

He felt a tug at his sleeve, and, following, was guided forward through the gloom. They stumbled against tables, bumped against other people. Men were shouting, and someone in the background was scratching matches and yelling for candles.

Then came the click of a lock, a door opened, and a patch of faint light showed.

"Came on," said his guide curtly, and the three hurried down a short flight of steps, dashed along a passage, then passing through a second door found themselves in the open air.

They were in a narrow alley. A thin rain was falling, and it was very cold and dark.

"Come," said their guide again. "Hurry! Those blighters will be after us in about two ticks. This way."

Still holding Bob's arm, he went hurrying down the alley, turned sharp into another, raced down it, and suddenly Bob saw a gleam of water just ahead.

"There's the quay, Tim," he panted. "Now we're all right."

Before he could say another word a heavy rug dropped over his head, a pair of powerful arms clipped him round the body, and he was flung to the ground. He kicked out desperately, but it was no use. A second man flung his weight on his chest, knocking all the breath out of him. He felt a rope passed round him, then his legs were tied, and he was left helpless as a sausage.

"Got 'em both," he heard a voice say. It was that of the man who had been his guide. Then another voice said something in Spanish, and there was a low, ugly chuckle. "Shanghaied!" muttered Bob. Then two men seized hold of him, and he was hurried away. He still struggled, but the heavy rug was fast suffocating him. His head spun, he gasped for breath, then all went dark and he knew no more.

The Master of Magellan

"BOB! Bob!" It was Tim's voice that roused Bob. He tried to answer, but could only make a croaking sound. His lungs hurt abominably.

"Bob!" This time he managed to answer.

"Is that you, Tim?"

"Yes. What's happened?"

"Shanghaied, apparently," growled Bob, trying vainly to pierce the darkness that surrounded them. "Any notion where we are?"

"In the hold of some craft, by the smell of it," said Tim in a rather faint voice. "It was all a plant, then?"

"I suppose it was. Probably the scrap and all was got up for our benefit, Tim, I'm sorry to have let you in for this."

"Don't worry on my account, old chap. Anyone would have chipped in when it was three to one." He paused. "I say," he added presently, "you were about right when you talked of pirates."

"Are you tied up, Tim?" asked Bob.

"Bet your life I am. Tight as a registered parcel. Are you?"

"Just the same. Well, they won't keep us down here long. The ship's under way already."

The words were hardly out of his mouth before there was a grating sound above, and a square patch of light showed overhead. Two men came down the iron ladder. One had a lantern, the other a club.

"Dagoes," whispered Tim Hayle.

Bob said nothing, but an ugly suspicion crept into his mind.

The two men caught hold of Bob and Tim, untied the cords which bound their ankles, and pulled them roughly to their feet. Then they ordered them to climb the ladder. They spoke in Spanish, which Bob understood. But he pretended not to, and waited while the two yellow-faced ruffians made angry signs as to what they meant.

Bob kept his eyes about him as he went up. The first thing he saw was that this was a sailing craft they were aboard of; the second that she had a motor auxiliary engine. His heartbeats quickened, but it was not until he was driven into the low-roofed main cabin that he was certain as to what craft he was aboard of. For there, at the opposite end of the table, sat a man with a dark, swarthy face, black curly hair, and deep-set, sullen eyes.

He was Pedro Juarez, skipper of the fast schooner El Capitan, the formidable scoundrel known as "The Master of Magellan."

He watched the two boys enter, and a sardonic smile twisted his cruel mouth.

"So, my young friend," he said, addressing Bob, "this time the boot is on the other leg."

Bob looked him full in the face.

"I thought as much," he answered with contempt. "No one but you would come down to such a dirty trick."

An ugly light gleamed in Juarez's deep-set eyes.

"I should advise you to keen a civil tongue in your head, you British brat," he said harshly. "Your fine brother is not here to protect you."

"If he was you'd sing a very different song," retorted Bob.

Juarez half rose, then, biting his lips, he dropped back in his chair.

"I will teach you a song or two, my bantam, before I have finished with you," he threatened. "Now listen to me. As I have told you, you are absolutely in my power. No one knows where you are, and we are already outside the three-mile limit. If I chose to tie a firebar round your neck and throw you overboard no one would be the wiser. But I am a merciful man, and I will spare your life on conditions."

He paused and licked his lips. He strongly reminded Bob of a cat with a mouse between its paws. But if he had expected Bob to speak, he was mistaken. He scowled and went on. "Here are my conditions. Your brother will restore to me the native Billy Button, whom you stole from me. He will also hand over to me the thousand pounds paid him by Professor Carnforth as salvage money, and will leave the Straits for good. Those are my terms."

Bob laughed outright. "Do you really suppose my brother would accept them?" he answered. "Or I either?" he added.

Juarez glared balefully. "He will accept fast enough when he hears the penalty for refusing them," he hissed out.

"You will have your work cut out if you want to kidnap him," retorted Bob.

"There is no need for that," sneered Juarez. "I have you. When he hears that his brother will be kept without food until he does comply, I fancy he will think twice before he refuses."

Bob started slightly. Juarez saw it and chuckled triumphantly.

"I mean it, he said, and suddenly turned to Hayle.

"You are the wireless operator of the Dorset?"

"I am," replied Tim. "And I can tell you there will be a fine row if you don't put me back ashore to-night. She sails to-morrow."

"She will sail without you, my friend," sneered Juarez "Now see here. I have rigged an installation, and it is you who will call up Tremayne's ship, the Camel, and give her the message. If you refuse, you shall be kept not only without food, but without water also."

Tim looked at Bob.

"Yes," said Bob quietly, "you'd better do it, Tim. My brother David may just as well know where we are."

Juarez laughed harshly. "Don't fancy you can get ahead of me in that way," he snarled. "I know enough of the Morse code to stop you from playing any tricks."

Thanks to the Tide

"YES, I got your brother all right," said Tim Hayle.

It was an hour or so later, and Tim had just been thrust into the lazaretto where Bob was confined.

"Speak lower," said Bob in a whisper. "Ten to one there's someone listening. What did he answer?"

"It came through pretty curt and dry," replied Tim in an equally low tone. "He simply told the Dago that he'd meet him and talk it over."

"And then?"

"Then Juarez made me tell him that if he tried any tricks to get us back he would chuck us both overboard, and told him that he would meet him to-morrow at a place called Stone Island. Seemingly, that rendezvous didn't suit your brother. He declared that there was no need to go so far, and suggested Scull Passage."

"Scull Passage!" Bob muttered sharply. "Yes, what do you know about it?"

"Never mind. Did Juarez agree?"

"He didn't seem to know where it was. Your brother told him, and finally Juarez came to it. So that's where we are bound. We meet there at six to-morrow morning. Now tell me what you know about it."

"Not much," answered Bob. "Only"—he lowered his voice to the merest whisper—"it's the most poisonously dangerous place even in these deadly waters. Hanged if I can see what David wants to risk the Camel in a place like that."

"What's the matter with it?"

"You'll see when you get there. Don't talk any more now. Let's try to sleep. The more we sleep the better, if we are not going to get any grub."

The lazaretto was cold yet stuffy, the schooner was bumping harshly through short waves. Yet the two boys managed to sleep. When Bob woke a dim light was coming through the hatch above. It was just dawn. By the feel of the schooner her sails were furled, and she was forging slowly through the sea by means of her screw.

Bob shook Tim. "Getting near," he said. "Rouse up, old son."

The same two men who had fetched them on the previous night arrived presently and escorted them up on deck. Bob drew a long breath of the cold sea air and looked around. He had seen this strange place, but only once before.

The Magellan Straits are the crookedest in the world, and the mountains that fringe them are cut by the most amazing tangle of fiords and channels, which run in every direction. There must be thousands of miles of them, and some are hardly even charted.

This was one of the channels in question, and one of the ugliest. The passage, which was perhaps a third of a mile wide, cut at right angles through the wild and desolate cliffs, and as Bob knew, led into a great sea loch lying some four miles inland. Into this loch the rising tide poured itself furiously, but here was the curious part of it. To fill it to the height of the sea outside during the few hours of the flood was impossible. Consequently, before the level could be adjusted, the ebb had begun, and the water that had poured in so fiercely came rushing out with equal speed.

Just at present it was slack water, and the channel appeared peaceful enough. Bob alone of all those aboard the El Capitan knew what a boiling fury would be racing between those bare cliffs within the next hour.

"A beast of a place," Bob said under his breath as he looked round uneasily. The morning was calm and misty. Patches of fog drifted over the cold green waters. And suddenly emerging from one of these mist clouds he saw the clean cut lines of the stout little Camel. His heartbeats quickened. He felt that his brother would not fail him.

Juarez, standing by the rail, saw the salvage steamer at the same moment. An ugly grin parted his thin lips, and he gave a sharp order in Spanish to a man beside him. A string of flags fluttered up to the masthead.

Bob watched them, and saw the answering flags.

"David's telling him to run in behind the island," he whispered to Tim. "He says there's a Chilean sealer coming through the Straits, and that he won't have anyone watching him having any truck with a pirate."

"That won't improve Juarez's temper," replied Tim.

He was right. Juarez's swarthy face was convulsed with rage. Turning, he saw the two boys. He swung round on them savagely.

"I have warned him," he snarled. "Any treachery, and you both go over the side. More than that. He is under my guns. I will blow him to pieces."

"My brother is no fool," retorted Bob. "And as you have the guns and he hasn't, how can he possibly play any tricks? So far as treachery goes, the boot is more likely to be on the other leg."

Juarez snarled like an angry dog. His hand flew to his pocket and for a moment Bob thought he meant to shoot. But Bob did not. finish, and it was Juarez's eyes that fell. In his heart he was afraid of this English boy whom nothing seemed to cow. Once more he snapped out orders, and the big schooner, swinging slowly, followed the Camel into the mouth of the passage.

A little way up was the island. It was a slab sided mass of bare black rock round which the sea birds swung and screamed Behind this the Camel disappeared, and the schooner, driven by her motor engine, followed slowly.

"What's going to happen?" breathed Tim in Bob's ear.

"I don't know," answered Bob, "but trust David."

Rounding the island, there was the Camel lying to, head on to the current which was already beginning to flow inwards from the broad strait outside. Juarez pushed up within hailing distance of the English steamer. He put a speaking trumpet to his month.

"Ahoy, there," he roared. "You English dogs, you have heard my terms. Do you accept them?"

Bob could plainly see his brother on the bridge of the Camel. But David paid no attention to the hail.

"Ahoy, there, are you deaf?" screamed Juarez.

"No," came the answer. "I am merely waiting until you can speak to me with reasonable courtesy."

Juarez burst into a torrent of oaths. "Don't you know I can blow you out of the water?" he shrieked.

"I know that very well," replied David Tremayne coolly. "But I also know that you will do nothing of the sort, for if you do you lose the thousand pounds you are so keen about."

"You agree to my terms?" snarled Juarez.

"No. I think you are asking too much. I offer you a hundred apiece for the two youngsters."

Losing his temper altogether, Juarez wasted several minutes in furious abuse of David, ending with a threat to pitch both boys overboard if a boat with the money was not sent across immediately.

David took it all very coolly. He began to bargain again, offering five hundred, but objecting to that part of the agreement dealing with his leaving the Magellan.

Bob listened in a maze of wonder. He realised that David had some object in view, but so far he could not imagine what it was.

Tim touched his arm. "The tide's beginning to run pretty hard," he whispered. "This is a nasty place."

Bob gasped. Suddenly he saw light. "Quiet, Tim," he muttered. "I see what David is after."

At last David Seemed to agree to the terms. He gave orders for a boat to be lowered. The men seemed strangely clumsy. There was a long delay. And now the tide was quickening every moment, and El Capitan's engine was working full power to keep her in her place. Bob's heart was thumping. He could hardly breathe.

Juarez, his eyes on the Camel, did not seem to notice the danger.

Quicker and quicker the outer waters began to pour in. A line of hissing white showed along the cliffs. The schooner began to swing, and all of a sudden Juarez wakened to the peril.

"Get her round," he roared. "Get out of this place at once."

A man ran up to him.

"We can't do it, captain. The engine is already working at full pitch."

"Bunk," whispered Bob to Tim. "Get out of his sight."

The two slipped behind the deck house,

"Now you see," said Bob rapidly to Tim. "This was what David planned. He was hanging on and bargaining until the tide got hold of the schooner. The Camel can stick it. She's got engines to stick anything."

"But what about us?" asked Tim.

"David will look after us. Don't you worry."

Past the Camel went the schooner. Juarez yelled to fire at her, but even if his men had not been too scared to obey orders they could not have got the guns to bear. A moment later El Capitan was carried round a curve in the channel, and fresh screams rose from her crew as they saw the water boiling white over a tangle of rocks and reefs.

Juarez yelled orders to drop an anchor. They did it, but the bottom was rock, and it would not hold. They dragged and dragged.

There was a dull crash. A shock which threw everyone down. Masts and shrouds snapped like packthread and fell over the sides. El Capitan lay hard and fast on a great sloping ledge.

"You are helpless. Do you give in?" came David Tremayne's clear voice. The Camel was close alongside.

Juarez' answer was unprintable.

"You fool," said David. "Your only chance is for me to give you a tow. Give up the boys, and I'll pull you off and let you go. Otherwise, when the tide rises, you will be swept over the ledge on to the pointed rocks beyond. That will see your finish and that of every soul aboard."

Even Juarez, mad as he was, could not but realise that this was true.

Sullenly he gave assent.

The Camel lay off and sent a boat down on a rope. Bob and Tim were taken off. Then a hawser was rigged and the crippled schooner was towed off into the Straits, and left there, on safe anchorage.

As the Camel steamed away, the two Tremaynes and young Hayle stood on her bridge and looked back.

"Jolly smart of you, David," said Bob. But his brother was not listening.

"I wish I could have left her there," he said slowly. "I do hate the notion of letting those swine go."


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.