Roy Glashan's Library
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First published in Chums, Cassell & Co., London, 23 October 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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The Meeting

BATTERED and broken, the wreck of her former trim self, the stout little salvage steamer Camel limped into the harbour of Punta Arenas. Her captain and owner, David Tremayne, who stood on the bridge coursing her in, wore a white bandage around his head, while his young brother Robert, who stood beside him, showed by his white, pinched face what he had been through during the past weeks.

"It's good to be in again," said the latter to David as they came creeping to their anchorage.

"Mighty good, Bob," replied David, with a faint smile on his grave face. "We've had a pretty good doing the last month."

"But it was worth it, David," said Bob quickly. "You don't make twelve thousand pounds in a month twice in a lifetime."

"Once is enough for me," David answered. "Well, we've done with the Straits of Magellan this time. Now as soon as ever we can get refitted it's Eastward ho! for us."

Bob heaved a sigh of deep relief.

"Hurray for you, Dave! That's what I wanted to hear you say."

David looked at his younger brother in some surprise.

"What do you mean, Bob? Aren't you satisfied? I am."

"I was afraid you were not," explained Bob. "I had half a notion you might want to go back and round up Juarez."

David was silent a moment.

"No, Bob," he said at last. "I've had enough of the Antarctic and enough of that pirate who calls himself 'Master of the Magellan.' With Captain Harter's help, we've done him down and come out safe with the cash. Much as I should like to see him get his deserts, I don't feel that it's up to us to chase him. The Camel was never built for fighting. The job is for the Chilean Government, and if they don't do it pretty soon I rather fancy England or America will take a hand in the game."

"Talking of England, there's a British gunboat in the harbour," said Bob.

David nodded. "The Kestrel. She must have come across from the Falklands. Hamlyn commands her."

"Good old Devonshire name," smiled Bob. "Jove, it's fine to see the old flag here at the ends of the earth. We might go and pay him a call, David. What do you say?"

"We shall have plenty of time for it," said David dryly. "If we get the Camel in shape again inside a month we may think ourselves lucky—"

He broke off short, and called down the speaking tube to reverse the engines. A moment later the cable was rushing through the hawse hole with a welcome roar, and the Camel began to swing to her anchor.

Bob had talked of calling on the Kestrel. As a matter of fact, it was the Kestrel or rather her commander, who called on them. That evening, just, as they had finished supper, a cutter came smartly alongside, and a lean, thin-flanked, deep-chested man in naval uniform, with three gold bands around his cuffs, stepped lightly over the side.

"Captain Tremayne?" he asked in a quiet, even voice; then, as David stepped forward and shook hands. "I am Commander Hamlyn," he said. "I believe I know some of your people down west."

"And I'm quite sure I know some of yours," replied David with that pleasant smile of his. "Come below, captain. It's raw up here. I can offer you coffee and a decent cigar."

"That's very good of you," answered Hamlyn, and said no more until the three were comfortably seated around the stove in the snug little saloon cabin below.

He lit his cigar, and glanced at David's bandaged head.

"You will forgive my saying it, but both you and your ship look as if you had been in action. Your funnel has evidently been shot away, and surely it must have been a shell that smashed your stern!"

"You are perfectly right, Captain Hamlyn," said David. "I was attacked—not for the first time—by a gentleman known as Pedro Juarez, who—"

"Who owns a big black motor schooner called El Capitan," cut in Hamlyn. "Oh. I know the gentleman's record. True, I had not heard of the attack upon you, but only a few weeks ago he rifled and burnt a British sealer, the Walrus. It was news of that which brought me across."

"Are you going after him, sir?" asked Bob quickly.

"I'd love to," said Hamlyn. "The trouble is that these waters belong to Chili, and though I dare say they would not object to my acting as policeman, I haven't the vaguest notion where to look for the fellow. But before we go further, perhaps you would tell me your experiences with this pestilent person."

David paused. "Well," he said slowly, "he and I fell out first over a small matter of salvage. He wanted to rob me, and we got ahead of him, and incidentally took from him a native called Billy Button whom he'd been ill-using.

"He retaliated by kidnapping Bob here, but I managed to manoeuvre him into an ugly tide rip, where he got aground. I ransomed Bob by pulling the schooner off. He had another shot at trapping me in a loch called the Seal Pit, and that went wrong too. But he's a persevering beggar, and his next scheme was to send me a message which was supposed to come from an old pal of mine, telling me of treasure in an ancient Spanish ship."

"You didn't fall to that?" put in Hamlyn.

"I did, captain. And underneath you this minute there's twelve thousand pounds' worth of silver which I got out of her."

Hamlyn's grey eyes widened. David went on quietly.

"It seems Juarez thought he would use me to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, but once more his little scheme failed to work. At the critical moment his screw got caught up in a fishing net, and we cleared with the loot. This seems to have really annoyed him seriously, for he chased me right round into Nassau Bay, and that time he had us properly. If it hadn't been for my good friend, Captain Harter of the Narwhale, who chipped in just at the right moment with a muzzle-loading cannon and a keg or two of nails, I'm quite sure we should not have been telling you this story here to-night."

Hamlyn gave a sharp bark of laughter.

"You seem to have had Juarez all ends up. I don't wonder he is peevish. I say, haven't you fellows any ambition to settle your score with him?"

David looked at Bob. Bob looked at Dave.

"That depends," said David softly.

"On ways and means," answered Hamlyn. "What I was going to suggest was that while your ship is in dock you two should come a little cruise with me—what?"

Bob sprang to his feet. "We're with you, sir. Aren't we, Dave?"

David stared at his brother in evident surprise. "Why, Bob, I thought you were crazy to get home?"

For a moment Bob looked a trifle embarrassed. Then he laughed. "Can't a chap change his mind. David?"

"It's quite a good thing to do at times," said Captain Hamlyn with a twinkle in his keen, grey eyes.

The Peak of Death

IT was a cold and empty sea across which H.M.S. Kestrel steamed steadily. For seventeen long days she had threaded the dangerous water of the Magellan and the maze of cliff-bound fiords which ramify in all directions from the Straits, yet so far had not had a glimpse of the black schooner.

Bob Tremayne was standing by the rail, and staring up at a vast cone of glistening ice which rose like a sugar cake against the pale blue sky.

"Ever see such a spike, Dave?" he said to his brother who was beside him. "What do they call it?"

"El Monte del Morte—in other words, the Peak of Death," replied David.

"Cheerful sort of title," remarked Bob. "I say, Dave, to change the subject, where's Juarez got to?"

David shook his head. "It's my belief he has got wind that we are after him, and is lying up somewhere."

"We've looked pretty near everywhere," said Bob.

Dave smiled. "My dear boy, it would take the whole British navy to search these channels. There are thousands of miles of them."

Bob was silent a minute. Then he looked round at Dave. "I wonder how the dear old Camel is getting on?"

"Are you fed up, Bob?" demanded the other.

"No," replied Bob quickly. "I don't mean that. I'm as keen as anyone to square accounts with Juarez. What I am fed up with is these desolate cliffs and channels, and the will-o'-the wisp sort of game we are playing. If Juarez really knows we are on his track, he may dodge us till kingdom come."

"I don't know so much about that," said Dave slowly, and there was a queer tone in his voice which made Bob start. "What about that?"

He was pointing up past the peak to the sky, and Bob, looking in the same direction, could hardly believe his eyes. For there, apparently suspended in the air and upside down, was a perfect picture of the black schooner El Capitan.

"Well, I'm blowed!" was all Bob could find to say.

David laughed. "Is that the first mirage you've ever seen, Bob?"

"Mirage—is that what it is? No, I never saw anything like that before. Dave, is it really the schooner?"

"Certainly it is, or, rather, her reflection in the sky."

"And where is she?"

"That I can't tell, but within twenty miles probably, and somewhere the other side of the island."

"Tremayne. I say, Tremayne." It was Captain Hamlyn's voice. "That's our friend at last, isn't it?"

"That's her picture, sir. And once we are round the Point we ought to see the schooner herself."

Hamlyn called for full steam, and as smoke poured from her funnels the Kestrel began to drive forward at such a pace that two tall cushions of foam heaped themselves on either side of her bows.

The Pirate's Secret

"THERE she is!" Bob's keen eves had been the first to catch sight of the schooner. "There she is. But what the mischief is she up to? She'll be on the rock in two twos."

"Juarez is not fool enough for that," said David curtly. "Where's Billy Button?"

The queer little native, with his fuzzy hair and spindle shanks, was close behind, and hearing his name came up.

"But where's he going, Billy?"

"He's gwine into de bay, sah. Mighty big bay in dar, sah."

"Then it's got a mighty small mouth," replied David dryly. "Does it go far in?"

"Right into dat big mountain, sah. All dem cliffs in dar is nuffin but ice."

"A glacier, he means, Dave," put in Bob quickly.

"Yes, but what is he doing it for?" demanded David, puzzled. "He must know as well as you or I that he's bottling himself."

"I'll bet he's got some trick up his sleeve," growled Bob.

"We shall soon see, anyhow," said David.

The Kestrel was fairly racing for the spot where the ill-omened schooner had disappeared, and as she neared it every soul aboard was eagerly making ready for the last scene in this long and weary business. The guns were being run out, ammunition brought up. All believed that the pirate's last hour had come.

All except Bob and David. Knowing Juarez as they did, they were sure that he had something still up his sleeve. He was the last to run his head into a trap of this kind. It only remained to see what his defence would be.

They had not long to wait. Rounding a tall shoulder of black cliff, they saw the fiord open before them. The mouth was no more than a couple of hundred yards wide, and was set with rocks like the fangs of a steel trap. Dark, jagged crags they were, thick with weed, and among them the tide rip babbled and roared with the sound and fury of the Niagara Rapids.


Hamlyn shouted an order, and the Kestrel swung back from this perilous passage. Bob turned to Billy, who was still beside him.

"Has Juarez gone through that?" he demanded.

"You bet he have, sah," replied Billy calmly. "He know de way."

"Do you know the way?" asked Bob sharply.

Billy's beady black eyes went blank. "No, sah. I ain't nebber been in dar befoah."

Bob ran up on to the bridge.

"Captain Hamlyn, Billy says Juarez has gone through."

"That's plain," replied Hamlyn grimly.

"Question is, can Billy show us the way to follow?"

"He can't. He says he has never been in there."

Hamlyn stared at the boiling tide streaming fiercely in through the gaps in the saw-toothed reef. He shrugged his broad shoulders.

"It's very certain none of the rest of us have. And to give the devil his due, Juarez must have had plenty of pluck to steer through that maze. It seems to me we are up against it. It's a case of either waiting till he comes out or going home again."

There was silence for some moments. A cloud was on the faces of all three on the bridge. Suddenly Bob spoke out.

"If you could see the schooner, couldn't you shell her, captain?"

"Why, yes, if she was anywhere within four or five miles," replied Hamlyn wonderingly.

"Then why shouldn't two of us land?" demanded Bob; "land and climb the cliffs and look over into the fiord. Then when we found out where the schooner was we could signal her position to you."

Hamlyn looked doubtfully at the tall black cliffs.

"Well find a way up," Bob assured him. "Let me take Billy, and I'll bet we'll do it somehow. Do let me try it, sir."

Hamlyn turned to Dave. "What do you think of this crazy scheme, Tremayne?"

"I think I'll go with my brother," replied David in his quietest tone, "that is, if you will give permission."

"You needn't worry about that," said Hamlyn with a smile.


AT the top of the cliff Bob stopped and looked back.

"Ugh!" he panted, as he stared down the giddy height at the waves which crawled to its foot. "I wouldn't climb that again for a farm. How on earth shall we ever get down again, David?"

"Time enough to think of that when we've done our job," replied his elder brother dryly. "Got those flags, Billy? Come on."

Though at the top of the actual cliff, the ground still rose steeply before them. It was a mass of rocks, loose, difficult and dangerous. Billy Button, light-footed as a goat, led the way, and at last they found themselves on the ridge of the long tongue of land which formed the northern edge of the fiord into which the pirate schooner had escaped. From this great height the fiord itself was plain. It ran some five miles inland, widening into a considerable sheet of water.

The great peak, the "Monte del Morte," rose at the inner end of the fiord. The sun shone dazzlingly upon its vast cone of ice. It looked to be at least six thousand feet high. On the near side the peak split into a steep valley, which seemed to be a continuation of the fiord, and this valley was half filled with a vast river of ice, a glacier fed by the eternal snows of the Mountain of Death.

The lower end of the glacier ran out into the water for some distance, and broke off short in a wonderful cliff of pure blue ice, which looked to be at least three hundred feet in height. The deep, dark-looking water of the fiord itself was dotted here and there with bergs and floes, swarming like white islands on its chill breast.

Bob's eyes roved over the sheet of water.

"Where the mischief is the schooner?" he growled.

"Must be under the northern cliff," said David. "But keep down, Bob. If we can't see them, it's no certainty they can't see us; and just remember that Mauser rifles will carry a mile."

"What are we going to do?"

"Push on," said Dave. "It will be easier going farther in."

They had been going for an hour, and had covered about two miles, when David suddenly stopped and raised his hand. "I heard something," he said. "Wait here while I go to the edge of the cliffs and look over."

The tone in which he spoke left Bob no option. He dropped on a rock and waited. David crept away, disappeared for a time, but in about ten minutes was back.

"She's there," he said in a satisfied tone, "right under us. She's well within range of the Kestrel's guns."

Bob looked round. "How are we going to signal to the ship?" he asked. "She can't see our flags from here."

David pointed to a high point of rock about half a mile away. "That's what we'll make for," he said. "Hamlyn will see us there easily enough."

Flags in hand, David climbed the last dozen feet of the steep ascent. Bob's heart was in his mouth as he saw him take his stand fearlessly on the flat table-like summit.

"It's all right, Bob," he called. "I can see the Kestrel plainly. As he spoke he began to wave his flags, sending his message in Morse code.

"They've got me," he called again presently. "They are answering."

"Dem schooner folk, dey get him too," grunted Billy under his breath, and the words were hardly out of his mouth before a faint distant crack was followed by the thin whistle of a bullet cutting the cold air overhead.

"Be quick, David," cried Bob. "They're shooting at you from the schooner."

Next moment David stopped signalling and came leaping down. "Lie flat!" he ordered sharply. "The beggars are loading a gun. Get behind this ledge. Flat now. If they get the range the splinters will be the deuce and all."

He shoved Bob close in under a projecting ledge, and he and Billy had just got into comparative safety when a gun roared. The cliffs took up the echoes with a sound like rolling peals of thunder.

A stunning crash. The 4-inch shell, filled with high explosive, had burst right against the peak. A huge rock came crashing down and the air was dark with flying splinters.

"Good range," muttered David.

"Darned sight too good!" growled Bob.

Boom! went the gun again, and a second shell burst clean on the top of the peak, shattering it to fragments and sending loose stuff leaping in every direction. Bob drew a long breath. If the next shot was equally good the shell would burst right on top of them.

The echoes crashed as before. But this time they did not cease. They increased in volume. The sound grew into a roar like that of an earthquake. They could actually feel the solid rock quivering beneath them.

"What's up?" gasped Bob, but his voice was lost in the frightful clamour.

David sprang to his feet. "Come on!" he shouted, and Bob, though he could not hear the words, leaped up and followed.

They reached the top of the ridge. If the sound had been appalling, the sight before them was dreadful and terrific beyond words. David pointed, and Bob, staring speechless, saw the whole front of the vast ice cliff breaking away with a series of ear-splitting reports and leaning forward towards the sea.

Down it came. Thousands upon thousands of tons of solid ice. For a moment it seemed to hang suspended in mid-air. Then with a majesty beyond description the whole vast mass struck the water. It seemed to cleave the abyss to its very depths. Then, as it dipped, up rose a wave like a wall.

Fifty foot high, it filled the wide bay from cliff to cliff, and went rolling outwards in roaring majesty.

Breathless, unable to speak, the brothers stood side by side, their eyes fixed upon the monstrous roller. Its giant size made it appear to move slowly, but in reality it travelled outwards as fast as a horse could gallop.

Juarez and his pack of ruffians saw it too. The schooner swung round, and with her motor going at top speed, faced the horror.

It was useless. The biggest liner ever built would have been a toy before that mighty billow. For a second or two it towered above the doomed craft, its white crest level with her main truck. Then—then it was past, and the pirate schooner was swallowed like a chip in a whirlpool. Not a trace of her ever reached the surface again.

Then at last David wrenched his fascinated eyes from the terrible scene.

"No need for our guns, Bob," he said hoarsely. "It was their own that brought down the glacier and destroyed them."

Bob shivered. "Let's go back," he said. "I've seen enough."


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.