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Serialised in Macleans, Toronto, Canada, 15 Aug-1 Oct 1934

First book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020©
Version Date: 2020-12-05

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from PDF image files of the serial published in
Macleans, 15 Aug-1 Oct 1934

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This RGL special is the first book edition of Talbot Mundy's "lost" novel Solomon's Half-way House—a thrilling tale of a quest for lost treasure in the wilds of Portuguese Mozambique. It was published as a four-part serial without chapter breaks in the Canadian fortnightly Macleans on 15 August, 1 September, 15 September and 1 October 1934. This format has been preserved in the present RGL digital edition.

The serial was illustrated with a series of vivid, action-packed drawings by the American artist John F. Clymer (1907-1989). These illustrations are not yet in the public domain and cannot, therefore, be included in this edition of Solomon's Half-way House.

—Roy Glashan, February 2020.




Maclean's, 15 August 1934, with first part of "Solomon's Half-way House"

THE Portuguese doctor had binoculars; and, as usual, the telegraph line was broken, somewhere in the swamp to the southward toward Lourenço Marques. So all the other officials clustered around the doctor, on the sun-baked wharf, amid the sour stench of vino tinto from the empty barrels in front of the government warehouse, to learn who was coming. They were a bit convivial. It was New Year's day. Miguel Braganza, for instance, was already two-thirds drunk. Most of the others were still sober enough to read the mail that they expected. They kept nudging the doctor for information, but all he could see yet was the steamer's masts threading a course along the winding Limpopo amid papyrus and mangroves, toward the pool that is Chai-Chai's one excuse for being.

Jack Hanno, tired of Miguel Braganza's talk, although in a way he felt grateful to him, stood alone with his hands in his pockets, with plenty to think about. His little thirty-eight-foot ketch lay tied to a mooring on the far side of the pool against a background of papyrus. He had spent the previous day cleaning her up and she looked more spruce and lovely than anything else he had seen since he took departure from Nova Scotia and rounded the Cape of Good Hope all alone. He liked being alone. He was wondering what madness had induced him to listen to Charles Dumaurier and go looking for treasure away inland amid the Libomba Hills. He knew he was lucky to have come out with his life, lucky that the Portuguese had not looted the ketch during his absence, lucky that he had left most of his cash with Miguel, who hadn't stolen it—he wondered why not.

Miguel strolled up—squat, fat, the sweaty black hair glistening on his chest through a buttonless shirt; three days' growth of black beard on a puffy face; a coarse nose; soft, thoughtful, sly eyes, and a voice like a hippo's:

"Car—rr—amba! What are you looking at? Your yacht again?" He took an amazingly active kick at a nigger and sent him staggering into the crowd of laughing stevedores. "Voelsak—filo da puta!" Then, with an equally sudden grin at Hanno: "Want to bet? I bet you, if you get a dredge and dig there, where your yacht is, you will find one of King Solomon's ships or else the Queen of Sheba's."

"Dig all you like," said Hanno. "Keep what you find. I'd be gone now if I could have got those niggers to load my fuel and water." Suddenly the steamer appeared around the bend—a tug already ancient when the British sold her to the Portuguese, and that was donkey's years ago. The lower deck was crowded with natives homeward bound from the Rand—strong-muscled, healthy, homesick, curiously quiet because of a week or two ahead of them on foot before they could reach their women.

On the upper deck were three white passengers. One was a Portuguese, who conveyed a vague impression of having been snubbed by the girl. She wasn't Portuguese; you could tell that from a quarter-mile away. She created a stir on the wharf. Shirts were tucked into pants in a hurry. The customs officer spat on his brass buttons and polished them with his sleeve before fastening up his tunic. Miguel ran through the warehouse door to shave with the port doctor's safety razor.

BUT the girl had eyes for nothing except Jack Hanno's little yacht that nodded at its mooring in the wash as the steamer turned around in the pool and bumped the wharf. She didn't see Jack Hanno. He had plenty of time to stare at her before they had made the tug fast and hoisted the heavy gangplank. He hadn't spoken to a good-looking girl of his own race since he left Nova Scotia, and he was not sure he wanted to speak to this one. But a girl in a wide-brimmed hat—no spectacles, no sunshade, not much lipstick, no mascara—is a girl. He looked.

The third passenger was as obviously her father as he was from the Canadian Middle West. He looked at first glance like a missionary, but he couldn't be one because he said "dammit!" when he tripped on the gangplank. Then he turned and grinned at his daughter. That changed his entire expression; he had a good- natured, obstinate, companionable, boyish grin. It made him look as if he had never grown up, for all his fifty-odd years. He looked like a man who rode a bicycle, and drank cold tea and collected butterflies. None of his features resembled the girl's. He had a large, bony nose and a very long, mobile mouth. He was thin, dry, wrinkled, and wore gold-rimmed spectacles under a hat like a boy scout's. He in no way resembled the girl, even in gesture; it was impossible to say why one knew she was his daughter, but so it was. One knew it.

She looked plucky. That was due to a sort of wistfulness. One could tell she was not where she wanted to he; she abandoned even the discomforts of that tug without enthusiasm. She looked not more than twenty-one or twenty-two—good-looking, healthy—much too good for Gazaland, and too good to be tagging that fool of a father around. Jack Hanno wished he wasn't wearing shorts and a khaki shirt.

They had lots of luggage. The first net-load from the lug's derrick was all bundles of tents. Hanno glanced at the name:


THE Portuguese were making themselves Portuguesely agreeable and there was no getting near the gangway for several minutes. Even Miguel Braganza, with soap in his ear—steamship agent, magistrate and banker though he was, and even though everyone in Chai-Chai owed him money—had to kick and shove to get through to the front rank. But he knew more English than the others and soon got command of the situation. Hanno overheard him:

"No, there is no hotel—no boarding-house. To pitch a tent is suicidal. Snakes. Fever. You must stay at my house."

Hanno approached. Miguel made room for him, but his cordiality had unaccountably vanished. He had changed toward Hanno as suddenly as the light does when a cloud passes over the sun. However, he put a hand on his shoulder:

"Ask this man; ask him if it isn't nice at my place. A verandah, a beautiful garden, a bath."

Hanno introduced himself.

"From Canada?" asked Professor Girdlestone. They shook hands, but Hanno's eyes were on the girl. She was asking questions, entirely wordless but as eloquent as envy always is.

"Yes, that's my yacht." Then he had to answer the professor. "Senhor Braganza is right, there's nowhere else to stay. That's his house that you see on the hillside. I've been staying there. He's a good host and he doesn't overcharge you."

Two officers from the fort garrison were vying with the doctor for the girl's attention. The doctor pointedly asked Jack Hanno how soon he was leaving. That was a crass mistake. It was a cue. She snatched it.

"Oh, I was hoping—I mean, are you going away? When?" "Tomorrow's tide," said Hanno, on the spur of the moment. One more day could hardly matter. He was out to look at the world, not to hurry around it.

"But my house will now be full," said Miguel with one of his hippopotamus snorts. His manner had changed even more perceptibly, it had become hostile. But a man who likes to sail the oceans of the world alone isn't easily hectored. "I will sleep on my boat," Hanno answered.

Then he grinned at Miss Girdlestone. He noticed she seemed to like his grin. He liked hers. But the native stevedores were swarming around them now, making such a din greeting their friends on the lower deck that you couldn't hear anything else. Professor Girdlestone was shouting at the customs officer, who was demanding non-existent and unnecessary papers in order to pose presently as a personage entitled to waive formalities—a trick that was old in Noah's day but still works in out-of-the-way places. Jack Hanno had time to think before a moment's lull in the uproar gave him another chance to speak. This girl wanted to confide in someone. She wasn't pitying herself either. She looked okay. She had a sense of humor.

"Care to see my boat?" he suggested. "Come this evening. Or shall I call on you up at the house?"

Miguel Braganza heard that. He let out another of his hippopotamus snorts.

"I will send your suitcase to your yacht!" he almost shouted. The word yacht sounded like a tin can dumped into the river, done with.

"Thanks," said Hanno. He made up his mind that instant he would stay another week in Chai-Chai if he had to. Friendly Miguel had been, in his own way, a man of his word and a good host. But of the $400 that Charles Dumaurier had stolen, how much was Miguel's share? Perhaps none. Perhaps half. No knowing.

Chai-Chai, he reflected, is no place for a good-looking girl with a fool for a father. Girdlestone must be a fool or he wouldn't have brought her there. The oftener he glanced at Girdlestone the more sure he felt that the man was an easy mark. Easy marks are out of luck anywhere between Lourenço Marques and Mozambique. He grinned, nodded, raised his hat and walked away to find a couple of natives to get his gasoline and water loaded. No hurry. Life's long. He had a hunch. That girl also had one, if he knew his stuff, Anyhow, if he waited for tomorrow morning's tide he might not have to anchor at the Bar to wait for high water.

THE moon shone on the misty Limpopo that sucked at the sides of Hanno's ketch. It turned the air into silvery gauze, through which papyrus loomed. Insects droned interminably, but there was a mosquito net over the cockpit, and beneath that, with a pipe in his teeth, Hanno sat and listened for the sleepy quack-and- squatter of wild ducks disturbed by dreams or enemies. He had paid off the Ronga watchman and was thoroughly enjoying solitude. Loneliness doesn't exist for people who look and think and listen. He heard the snort of a hippo, half a mile up-river, An occasional drunken yell from Mendoza's bar at the back of the custom shed only accented peace.

But it was Gazaland. He had a feeling of premonition.

He was nearly sure he had recognized Charles Dumaurier, just as night fell, in the stem of a rowboat, going upstream.

There was a riding light at the masthead, unnecessary though it might be. The steamer had gone and would not return for a week. A light did seem like a waste of kerosene, But when, at about ten o'clock, he caught the thump of muffled oars on rowlocks he was pleased with himself, not only because of the light. He liked to be able to trust his hunches. He fetched his automatic from the cabin, cocked it and resumed his seat beside the tiller. There was a boat coming much too silently along the shadow beneath the right bank. Anyone on honest business should be in midstream to take advantage of the current and moonlight.

Suddenly he got up and went forward with a boat hook—shouted, thrust, shoved. The oncoming boat's bow missed its aim, but there was a clatter of oars alongside and an oath from the boat's stern.

"You saw my light. What are you doing to my mooring?"

No answer. A man in the boat's stern growled in the Shironga dialect at three native rowers, who backed oars. The boat came back upstream stern first and a man jumped out of her. He had a rifle. He clambered overside pretty actively and clung with his left hand to the port shrouds.

"Touch me with that boat hook and see what you get!" he snarled. "You know me. You better know me. Charles Dumaurier—hah?"

The boat retreated to the shadow beneath the bank, twenty-five feet away. Jack Hanno returned along the starboard deck to the cockpit, where he took the automatic off the seat and shoved it, cocked, into his belt.

"What do you want?" he asked then.

"You soon find out."

Charles Dumaurier walked aft, rolling in his gait with the deliberate, calculated swagger that no mixed-breed bully can deny himself. Four strides, and he was near enough for the teeth to show beneath his black mustache.

"Well, are you going to raise that net for me?" he demanded.

Hanno had the drop on him. Dumaurier stood in full moonlight; like all brash outlaws he was counting on the normal man's disinclination to shoot first.

"No. Stay where you are. What do you want, Dumaurier?"

"You get away! Understand that? Chai-Chai isn't safe for you. Get going! You've a tide, haven't you? What's keeping you—a wench? You get downriver!"

Hanno heard the boat's oars again. The rowers were creeping up to his mooring to cut him adrift.

"Order your men away, Dumaurier. I'll take a chance with the law."

"You know me—and you say that?"

The rifle moved. So did Jack Hanno. He knew his boat by dark or daylight. He was out under the net and along the narrow strip of deck with the speed of familiarity. The half-breed stepped backward for room to use his rifle; he was still stepping backward when a fist struck him under the jaw. He clutched the shroud. A harder, better aimed blow broke his hold. He fell into the river backward, rifle and all. Hanno shouted to the rowers, but there was no need; they found their master by his splashing, hoisted him in, and vanished down-stream into a bank of mist and reeds.

HANNO felt it was almost worth $400 to have punched and ducked that swine. But he guessed he wasn't through with him yet. He picked up a knotted rope fender, returned to the cockpit and crouched on the cockpit floor.

After waiting a few minutes he slowly raised the fender above the level of the transom. The fender was about the size of a man's head. The mosquito net jerked suddenly against the wind and a bullet knocked the fender out of his hands. Charles Dumaurier's reputation as a crack shot was true, even if there was no other truth in all Gazaland.

However, there was no need to flatter the brute. Let him think he had missed. There must be a limit to the amount of shooting he would dare to do so close to Chai-Chai. Hanno pushed up the fender again. It had hardly topped the transom when a second shot grazed it. Then, however, there was a hullabaloo on the far bank. Somebody came running with a lantern. A third shot smashed the riding light. A boat at the far bank clattered as oars were thrown in. Bare feet thumped on the thwarts. A sleepy Portuguese policeman had himself rowed to the yacht in a hurry, but there was ample time to unload the automatic and hide it away.

Hanno knew no Portuguese worth mentioning. The policeman knew even less English, but he did know who Charles Dumaurier was. At the mention of the name he laughed and shrugged his shoulders. He accepted a packet of cigarettes and gabbled Portuguese for two or three minutes. It appeared he was offering Hanno a place in his boat, and was puzzled or else disgusted by refusal of the offer.

However, he shrugged his shoulders again and was rowed away, grumbling something about Mañana—threat or promise, no knowing which. Night swallowed the sound of his oars, and in a few minutes African silence settled down again—a harmony of infinitely tiny sounds amid which a soft wind whispered, wreathing the thin mist into fantastic shapes. But the feeling of peace and independence had gone; not even the pleasure of having ducked the worst blackguard in Gazaland could recapture it.

Hanno found his spare riding light and sent it to the masthead. The lawless countries have the most law; that an outlaw's bullet had smashed his light would make no difference if the Portuguese had decided to show their teeth; he would be heavily fined, and lord knew what else, and they would probably invent a lot of other infractions of laws that nobody remembered until someone was due for a dose of trouble. Dumaurier's visit, taken by itself, might mean nothing, or next to nothing. He was probably capable of shooting anyone for mere amusement: or he might have acted from resentment at having failed to strip a sucker of all he owned. There was no doubt at all in Hanno's mind that he had been a sucker. Maybe he still was one. If he had sense he would be down off the Bar already, thankful to have escaped malaria and bullets. What was he waiting for? A girl's smile?

But was he? Were those Girdlestones headed for the trap he had barely escaped? It might be. Girdlestone looked crazy enough. The girl had looked wistful—perhaps frightened. Should he go and call on them at Miguel Braganza's house? He had said he would. But he had no tender. You don't swim the Limpopo, not if you're sane. It only takes one crocodile to cheat the undertaker. Sharks, too; big ones.

He was silly to have invited the girl to visit him. How could she cross the river at night? He decided to start up the engine and cross over to the steamer wharf, but it wasn't likely she would come alone, three quarters of a mile in the dark, to the wharf on the off chance of finding him there. All the same he had better be there in case she did come. It was a nuisance to slip the mooring in the dark, but...

Suddenly he saw a lantern on the far bank and heard voices. One voice was a woman's. Chai-Chai women are the crow-voiced native mistresses of Indians and Portuguese, who know better than to disturb a policeman's slumber. There was a dickens of an argument going on. Someone—it must be Girdlestone—was stuttering Portuguese with a Middle-Western Canadian accent. Why didn't the fool offer money and save his nervous energy for something worth while? If he could talk Portuguese, didn't he know that whatever you want, it's only a question of price? He hoped Girdlestone wasn't coming aboard.

Should he cross the river? Not yet. He decided it was better to wait awhile and see what happened. Presently he heard the oars being thrown into the policeman's boat, and then, after a minute or two, the steady, lazy thump and swish as the boat crossed the pool toward him. Warm, moist wind had begun to stream the mist down-river, so he could not see who was in the boat until it swung alongside.

"I hope we don't intrude," said Girdlestone.

Instead of answering—it was the silence of antagonism, suspicion, dislike—Jack Hanno reached out his arm and helped the daughter aboard. Her silence was as determined as his. She sat down beside the tiller while he gave Girdlestone a hand. There was no policeman, only three native rowers. The boat returned to the wharf. Hanno fetched a lantern from the cabin, frowning at Girdlestone's footprints on the clean deck. Then he looked straight at the girl. "You'd find it stuffy below. Better sit here. Well—?"

"You invited us," she answered.

"I invited you."

"I couldn't let her come alone," said Girdlestone. "This isn't a white girl's country, is it?"

"Or a white man's either. Are you in trouble?"

"No. But Doris—"

"Let me tell him." Doris Girdlestone looked angry. But she looked good, too, in the lantern light. And she didn't start in at once on her own troubles. Hanno liked that. "Did I hear shooting?" she asked.

"You may have. Someone shot my riding light."

"For a joke?"

"I think not."

"Miguel Braganza tried to talk us out of coming to see you. He said you'd be gone already. He refused to come with us. Father says Miguel Braganza told him he likes you personally, but you're a dangerous person to know. He says you make enemies."

"Yes?" said Hanno.

"But I thought that perhaps you would be able to give us information."


"Do you know who is Charles Dumaurier?"

"He is the man who shot my riding light. Why? What do you know about him?"

"Very little. He claims he has the key to King Solomon's mine."

"Well, he hasn't."

"But perhaps he has," said Girdlestone. "Perhaps you know less about that than I do. It's my subject. My researches have convinced me that Zimbabwe in Rhodesia was the headquarters of Solomon's gold miners. Why shouldn't Dumaurier have stumbled on something? We don't know who Solomon was. He may be a myth. More probably the name Solomon represents a dynasty. No matter. Solomon sent out colonists who built Zimbabwe, settled there and dug gold. Later, they abandoned the place, nobody knows why; there may have been an epidemic, conceivably due to a protracted drought. Or they may have been attacked and destroyed by enemies. In three places—Palestine, Arabia and Egypt— I have come across and checked up a legend, in one case documented, although the document probably dates from only about 400 B.C., that relates how Solomon's men buried three years accumulation of gold before abandoning their mines."

"So Dumaurier told me," said Hanno.

"Did he mention my name?"


"Well, perhaps he wouldn't. I have been in correspondence with him for more than three years, but this is my first chance to pay him a visit." Girdlestone was all steamed up now for a monologue. He ignored his daughter. His intellectual forehead and mobile mouth tweaked with excitement; behind his spectacles his eyes were pools of acquisitive eagerness. "I have visited Zimbabwe. Dumaurier's story is very convincing. He claims Solomon's men's route was from Chai-Chai across the Libomba Mountains, and that his house stands on the site of one of their more or less permanent camps."

"Yes, he told me that," said Hanno.

DORIS GIRDLESTONE interrupted. She had probably heard the story too often; it plainly bored her.

"Did you believe Dumaurier?"

"Yes, I'm afraid I did. He's a foul-looking brute, but he can talk like an insurance salesman." Hanno glanced at Girdlestone. "See here," he said, "suppose I tell you the story. I met Dumaurier in the Greek bar at Lourenço Marques. He's a mixed- breed bully, originally from Mauritius. There are three or four warrants out against him, for murder and one thing and another, but I didn't know that then. I was told he was tough but on the level. I have since learned that the Portuguese are afraid to arrest him because he has a flock of outlaw brothers in the mountains who are quite capable of reprisals. And besides, he stands in with the political element. Dumaurier told me he has a stone tablet—he calls it a plaque—inscribed with characters that he can't read."

"He sent me a photograph of it," said Girdlestone. "I can't read them either. They look to me like an attempt by a rather illiterate Phoenician to write pre-Mishnaic Hebrew in a hurry. His theory is—"

"Let Mr. Hanno tell."

Girdlestone shut up savagely. His daughter grinned. Hanno continued:

"Dumaurier told me a Portuguese professor of ancient languages who is now dead examined that tablet and said it undoubtedly gives directions how to find a store of gold abandoned by someone because there were no men left alive to carry it. Dumaurier said he's afraid to show it to the Portuguese authorities, because they would probably set their troops to hunting for the treasure."

"Yes," said Girdlestone. "That's plausible, isn't it? That's why I have to keep secret what I know."

"I'd say it's a pretty open secret. Dumaurier invited me to come and see the tablet and some other traces of Solomon's men."

"Why? Did he think you have money?"

"He got four hundred of my money. It was all I took with me. His proposal was that I should return home and get people interested who would know how to drive a bargain with the Portuguese Government in Lisbon. What Dumaurier asks is a lump sum down. Ten per cent for me. On receipt of the cash he would turn over the plaque and all his other information, subject to a twenty-five per cent share for himself of whatever's found. Ten per cent of that for me, too."

"Fair enough," said Girdlestone. "Worth looking into, isn't it?"

"You agreed?" asked Doris.

"No. But I did look into it. I was curious. I bought a couple of mules from Miguel Braganza, hired a native guide and set out for Dumaurier's place. The guide ran away. Not knowing the native language, I had a deuce of a time. The natives are afraid; they don't dare direct you to where Dumaurier lives or say a word about him. However, I found him at last and spent a week with him.

"He showed me a photograph, not the tablet, and he wouldn't let me have a copy of the photo. But he did show me around the hills. He pointed out what he said was the trail of King Solomon's men. I decided he was a crook with a variation of the old Spanish prisoner racket. And I thought he thought I might be useful as a shill to interest the suckers. But I suppose I didn't show enough enthusiasm to suit him. Anyhow, he stole my money and mules and gave me marching orders—said I'd called him a liar. I was lucky he didn't shoot me. I think he didn't because he felt so confident I'd die on the march. I darned nearly did die of starvation; the natives are so scared of Dumaurier that more than half the time I couldn't beg a bite to eat. It was a tough journey. I got lost in a swamp. I've been about three weeks recovering from malaria at Miguel Braganza's house."

"And he—?" asked Doris.

"Oh, he made a profit on the mules, but not too much. He's an honest crook— maybe. I don't believe he'd murder anyone. I think he either stands in with Dumaurier, or else is so afraid of him that he daren't disobey orders. It's obvious he wants me out of the way for fear I'll tell you too much."

"We were not expected until next week," said Doris. "That was my idea. I thought, if it's a trap, we might find that out by coming ahead of time."

Hanno nodded.

"I know more than I care to tell," said Girdlestone. He folded his arms and crossed his knees.

HANNO felt he would like to wring Girdlestone's leathery neck. What sort of professor was he anyhow? Probably a chiropodist. In the shadowy lantern light he looked like a thin tortoise in cheaters. He felt good and mad at Girdlestone, and sorry for his daughter. No, that wasn't it either. He felt—darned if he knew how he did feel. Romantic? Nights on the Limpopo are like a voluptuous dream without reason or logic. They go to a fellow's head. Being shot at doesn't help much. He had better be careful. These people were none of his business. He had done the decent thing by staying an extra night to tell what he knew.

"I've warned you," he said abruptly. He wished they would go. He wanted to sleep until daybreak, and then start down-river to catch the tide over the Bar.

"Who are you?" Girdlestone asked, equally abruptly.

It was an impudent question as a matter of fact. However, Hanno told him, in twenty words. Good country stock, no worse than others, and better than some.

"Who are you?" he retorted, not that he cared, but he wouldn't mind some information to support prejudice.

"I haven't a card," said Girdlestone. "Until recently I had the chair of ancient history at E.U."

So the man was a genuine highbrow after all. Well, what of it?

"Father wrote a History of Semitic Colonization," said Doris. "It has reached the ten-cent boxes on its way to glory." Trust a reedy old prof. not to know better than to bring his daughter to a place like Chai-Chai! The silence became strained. Hanno could think of nothing more worth saying. Girdlestone was staring at him through those saucer-size cheaters.

"I will tell you why I asked," said Girdlestone suddenly. "But tell me first where you're going—where next?"

"Lourenço Marques for clearance papers."

"And there isn't a steamer from here in a week?"


"It's an impossible journey overland, across the swamps and three rivers. But I have seen enough not to want Doris on this expedition. She's against it, anyhow. How long will it take you to reach Lourenço Marques?"

"If I catch the morning tide and use the engine or pick up a fair wind, I might make it in a day. Day-and-a-half, I should say, at the outside."

"If I pay for the gasoline, would it be too much to ask you to take Doris to Lourenço Marques? She could wait for me there at a hotel."

"Delighted." But he wasn't. He had another hunch. He sensed predicament. But he didn't see how to refuse. "I start at daybreak. How about her baggage?"

"Just two suitcases," said Doris.

He decided after all he didn't like her. She was too willing to desert the prof.—too darned willing to presume on a chance acquaintance.

"Can you get 'em aboard?"

"Yes," said Girdlestone. He became astonishing. He stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled, so long and shrill that the birds awoke in the reeds and a hippo up river deserted dry land in a panic, plunging in off the bank with a noise like a landslide.

"You see," he said, "if I should get shot it won't much matter. But Doris—aha! Here they come." The oars thumped in the boat on the far bank. "I thought that would wake 'em."

NO policeman again—just the rowboat and three natives. No one spoke until Girdlestone was seated in the boat's stern. It occurred then to Hanno to get what he thought off his mind.

"See here," he said, "bring your own bag. I'll take you both to Lourenço Marques. If you go to the Libombas with Dumaurier you haven't a chance."

"Thanks. It's kind of you. But I know what I'm doing."

"He doesn't know," said Hanno as the boat slid away across a patch of moonlight into streaming mist.

"He knows more than he tells," Doris answered. "But the worst of it is, I agree with you."

"Why should you? You don't know me."

"Don't let's argue," she retorted. "You're being kind and I'm grateful. You don't like either of us, and I don't blame you. Senhor Braganza said you are sailing alone around the world, so of course you don't want your solitude disturbed by an absolute stranger."

"Oh, you're welcome all right."

"Please. Don't let's even pretend. I know I'm not welcome, and I hate imposing on you. But it won't be for long. I'm not going with you to Lourenço Marques. I want you to put me ashore a few miles down the river."


"I will walk back to Chai-Chai."

"It's mean walking—snakes, ticks, as hot as Tophet. What for?"

"Well, I think I'll be safe enough in Chai-Chai. They behave as if they haven't seen a white woman since they all left Lisbon, but I don't think they're dangerous. I intend to risk that, and to make friends if I possibly can."

"In a place like this they have only one use for a good- looking girl," said Hanno.

"Well, I'd rather risk that than let father be murdered. He didn't tell you, but he had a conference with Charles Dumaurier ten days ago in Lourenço Marques, and Dumaurier returned here on last week's boat to wait for us. Father is almost unmanageable. You see, he thinks I'm timid and have no imagination. Perhaps you don't know how intense an antiquarian's enthusiasm is to prove a theory. He will be gone tomorrow morning with two thousand pounds in an envelope pinned to his waistband."

"For Dumaurier?"

"Yes, if Dumaurier satisfies him."

"They'll divide that money six or seven ways," said Hanno. "When I was in Dumaurier's house for a whole week, he boasted to me of how he used to make a steady income shooting blacks on their way from Kimberley with stolen diamonds for the Hindu buyers in Delagoa Bay. Your father has a fat chance."

"Unless I'm clever."

"Are you?"

"I don't know. I'm pretty desperate. I don't care about the money. Let them have it. Are they all real bad men?"

"You mean in Chai-Chai? Oh, no. Just crooks, like our own politicians. They don't do their own murdering—not as a rule. They hire that. Cheap as vino tinto. A couple of barrels of that stuff hires a half-breed to do anything short of washing the back of his neck."

"I thought of telling Miguel Braganza."


"About father's money."

"He'd bite. Then what?"

"Isn't he a magistrate?"

"Sort of."

"I thought I would promise him half the money if he rescues father. I might even persuade him to follow up with enough witnesses to frighten Dumaurier. I'd go along, just to keep them moving. If we were close behind, Dumaurier would hardly dare to commit murder, would he?"

"Probably not, but I wouldn't bet. Twenty-five years of immunity have made him reckless. Either you have courage, young woman, or else you're too dumb to judge danger."

"What else could I do?"

"Darned if I know."

"Will you put me ashore down river?"

"I'll think that over."

SILENCE. If she had argued, Hanno very likely would have said no, but she had sense enough to let him smoke and think. It didn't take much thought to imagine that if she went with her father she would be a fine catch for Dumaurier. Most of his women were black, but he boasted of having had three white ones who hadn't known enough to keep out of reach.

"Won't your father let you stay in Chai-Chai?" he asked suddenly.

"No. He won't hear of it. He doesn't say so, but he doesn't trust me not to try to have him brought back."

Silence again, for a long time, with the water sucking at the boat's stem and the moon descending in luminous mist. Then a lantern in the distance—probably Girdlestone and the suitcases. Hanno had made up his mind. There was no use beating about the bush. He was a fool, but who isn't? He said it bluntly:

"I will come back to Chai-Chai with you."


He kicked the fender toward her. "Argue with that. It might change its mind."

"I don't know what to say to you."

"Why say anything?"

So he was to have one more crack at Dumaurier? Well, no bunk about it, he was glad of the chance. Dumaurier had won the first trick and lost the second. Let the third decide which was the fool.

"Do you know," he said suddenly, knocking out his pipe on the palm of his hand, "I'm keen on this. I never killed a man. I'm going to find out what it feels like."

"But if he kills you—"

"Bury me, bones and all. I'd not be fit to live if I'd let that Charles Dumaurier repeat. He's for it."

He was surly with Girdlestone—didn't invite him aboard when he brought the suitcases. He took down the mosquito net and told Doris to stow it below. Then he spoke in a low voice:

"Has she money for the hotel?"


"Well, we're off now."

"Take good care of her. I can't tell you how grateful I feel for—"

"She'll be all right. Steer clear, will you, or we'll swing around on top of you when I let go."

He started the engine, slipped the mooring and ran back to the helm.


"Good-by," said Girdlestone. His voice seemed half-choked in the mist. Whatever else he said was drowned out by the motor's exhaust. Doris didn't realize they were under way until she stuck her head out of the cabin.

"Light the stove and make coffee," said Hanno.

HE was taking chances. The reedy river banks slid by, vague shadows, formless, widened by their own reflection on the oily surface. It was next to impossible to see the channel marks. It was no moment for explanations. The main thing was to keep her from talking while he gave attention to the course. But it gave him a line on her, too. He had time to notice that she went right to work and found things without asking. When she had made coffee and discovered a tin of biscuits she brought them out to the cockpit, and then went forward without a word to coil down the mooring warp that he had had to leave for later. After that, she lit the running lights and hauled down the lamp from the masthead. Then she came aft and poured the coffee. No questions. Swell. It was he who spoke first: "How early does your father expect to get away?"


"In the heat?"

"Yes. Miguel Braganza promised nine o'clock—mules, porters, everything all ready. Are three hours too few to allow for contingencies?"

"About right. Miguel can hustle if he's well paid. Dumaurier?"

"Was to meet us at Pearson's Place. Do you know where that is?"

"Two days journey. Listen. We'll go halfway to the Bar, to a place where the river widens and we can moor among the mangroves. We'll wait there for tomorrow afternoon's tide. Back at Chai-Chai at moonrise, and find Miguel; he's the best bet. Turn in now and get some sleep; it'll be hot in the cabin after sunrise."

He still felt like a fool. Beyond the Bar the sea was waiting for him, and a whole wide world to wander over and enjoy. He liked exploring rivers, but he hated tick-and-mosquito-ridden fever lands. He hated the kind of people who live there and pose as heroes just because they can bully and exploit the blacks. There was no sensible reason why he should risk his boat and his neck for a fool like Girdlestone. Would Girdlestone do the same for him? Not likely! The thought of Girdlestone made him angry; he denied that he cared a hoot whether Girdlestone got killed or not. Very well, why was he making an ass of himself?

He had not answered the question an hour after daybreak when he sluiced the deck to make it cooler below. Soon afterward he ran into a creek and moored to a mangrove root where he could not be seen from any boats that might happen to pass. Then he rigged the awning over the mizzen boom, hung the mosquito net and sat smoking until Doris awoke.

She called out that she was getting breakfast. He counted eleven crocodiles before she brought up the plates to the cockpit. She had put on a clean frock and looked as neat as the yacht. She could fry bacon and eggs. They were good. There was another thing about her that was darned good; she didn't pull any gratitude stuff, or make out she was embarrassed, or suggest that he wasn't doing what he did because he chose to do it. He decided after all that he liked her; she was on the level, knew how to accept a fellow's hospitality without making him wish she wasn't there.

"Your turn," she said presently. "I've made up the bunk."

"Been sailing before?"

"Lots. I love it."

He turned in. But before he fell asleep he heard her grope for the fishing tackle in the locker under the cockpit seat. Not bad that, either. She knew how to amuse herself. And he noticed she had taken a book on deck. The cabin was as tidy as she herself had looked when she showed up.



Maclean's, 1 September 1934, with second part of "Solomon's Half-way House"


AT Chai-Chai, in Portuguese Gazaland, Jack Hanno has been defrauded of $400 by Charles Dumaurier, who induced him to put that amount into a project for locating treasure from King Solomon's mines.

Hanno, a Nova Scotian, had been sailing around the world, alone, in his ketch. He is about to resume his voyage when Professor Girdlestone and his daughter, Doris, arrive, the former full of enthusiasm for Dumaurier and anxious to join him in his treasure hunt. Hanno decides to remain in Chai-Chai a while longer, despite Dumaurier's attempts to frighten him away. He tells the professor that Dumaurier is a scoundrel, but Girdlestone will not listen. When Hanno points out that Chai-Chai is no place for a white girl, the professor asks him to take her to the nearest suitable port.

Doris starts off with Hanno in his ketch, but becomes convinced that her father is in danger and insists on returning to Chai-Chai. Hanno takes her back and realizes that he is becoming interested in her.

MOON again on the Limpopo—mystic, a dream, music without sound. As Hanno walked inland, mounting the slope on which stood Miguel Braganza's house, and looked backward, it was easy to imagine the masts of his ketch might be King Solomon's and the date three thousand years ago. They were no doubt little bits of ships in which the ancients found their way over the world. But in those days the roaring of lions would have filled a man's ears. Miguel Braganza's roar, wooing ribaldry with gin on his screened verandah, dated the scene. The Portuguese have plenty of songs of their own, but Miguel never sang unless he felt he had to justify a state of mind. Then he always used English. He admired the vices of the English, not their virtues.

The song ceased abruptly as if someone had hit him. His screen door slammed. Miguel, came striding down between the pineapples and pawpaws that marked out the path.

"You!" he said. "Back again? Where is the senhora? Has there been an incident?"

"Did Girdlestone go?" Hanno asked.


"Did he leave any camp equipment?"


"I want a guide, mules, porters. Can you get them for me?"

"Possibly, but—"

"Somebody at your house?"

"Yes. El senhor capitán Don Vasco Jesus Maranhao da Cuyaga."

"Who's he?"

"A gentleman. An officer. A sport. He talks your language. He is what you call it?—a chevalier sans peur et sans répute—no credit at the moment exile—soldier who knew no better than to interfere with politics. He is in love, I think. If you have lost the senhora, he will kill you. Where is she?"

EL SENHOR CAPITÁN came striding down the path.

He looked bored and a bit truculent. He introduced himself, since his host was too drunk to remember to do it. Hanno recognized him instantly as the other first-class steamer passenger, the man who had looked snubbed. He realized now that the appearance might have been due to his wearing mufti; lots of officers look like nothing much in civilian clothes. Now, in khaki, with a Sam Browne belt and spurs, there was a totally different air of dignity, charm, self-confidence. However, moonlight is not reliable. First impressions have a way of persisting: and besides, the man was in the way. Hanno wanted to talk privately with Miguel Braganza. But he said he was pleased and tried to look the part. El senhor capitán announced, with a pretty good imitation of an American accent, that he was tickled to bits.

"Senhor Braganza has been telling me about your voyage in your little yacht. I envy you. You know, we Portuguese are nothing if not sailors. I have always wished to do what you are doing. If I could afford to do it, I would resign my commission and build a boat, and see life."

"Car-rramba!" Miguel Braganza slapped his stomach.

"Come and have some drinks. You two understand each other. You may talk until sunrise and save me the trouble of talking."

"On duty here?" asked Hanno as they drew three chairs together on the screened verandah.

"Theoretically, yes."

"Tell him," said Miguel, "Senhor Hanno is a shut-mouth. There is no way to make him talk unless you interest him. If he finds you interesting he will open up."

"Not much to tell," said the officer. "Portugal is a little country and its politics would bore you. We have a dictatorship at present. I am a lover of gaiety to whom the same perennial dictator becomes monotonous. I have an unfortunate habit of telling lovely women what I think. So I was lucky merely to be sent here. Men have been shot before breakfast for saying less than I did. One should love a lady. That is what they are for. They are not meant to be told secrets."

Miguel was mixing drinks, but he was listening with both ears.

"All the same," he said, "el senhor capitán Don Vasco Cuyaga has a reputation for conquests. Ladies like to be conquered. They forgive anything but failure to enslave them. One betrayed him, but what is one among so many? Others came to his rescue, did they not?" The impression was that Miguel didn't believe what he was saying, but perhaps wished to believe it. He continued: "So here he is, instead of in a prison or a coffin."

"And with no more to do than if I were in prison," said Cuyaga. "The commandant has refused to assign me to duty."

"The commandant is jealous," said Miguel. "I know him too well." He passed the glasses "You should take advantage of enforced idleness to look around—"

"Nothing to do drives me crazy."

"—and prove to the authorities in Lisbon what a loyal officer you are," said Miguel. Hanno again suspected him of talking for the sake of probing Cuyaga. "Then they will recall you to Portugal, to be a danger again to the ladies rather than to a system that gets along nicely without any zeal for goodness. Bold officers for troubadours and sneak thieves for administrators—presto, the millennium! But where is the senhora?"

"Yes, where is she? That cold young woman with the warm eyes and the lips that tempt but say only Thou shalt not! Where is she? I owe her a riposte. She called me a Gilbert and Sullivan soldier. I was so enamored, and at the same time so scandalized by being told the truth to my face, that I could think of no retort. Not at the moment. But I have thought of one since. Produce her! Where is she?"

"On my yacht," said Hanno.

Cuyaga stared. He made a mock bow.

"How do you do it?"

"She and I leave at daybreak to overtake Professor Girdlestone. That swine Dumaurier needs watching. He'll give Girdlestone the works unless—"

"What can you do?" Miguel retorted.

Hanno stared straight at him.

"You told me, and I had proof of it, too, that every native in the country is a spy for Dumaurier. He has a grapevine telegraph system that works. He will soon learn Girdlestone is being followed up. That ought to make him a bit careful." Cuyaga interrupted:

"How so? Careful of what?"

"Instead of murdering Girdlestone he may treat him the way he did me—merely rob him and make him walk back. Okay. We'll meet the fool and bring him in. We'll follow up until we find him. Even that pig Dumaurier will hardly dare to murder three of us, one a woman."

"Pah!" said Miguel. His eyebrows were up. He didn't like the turn things were taking. "You don't know Dumaurier. He has eleven brothers, each with his own little nest in the Libombas, just like robber barons. They are worse savages than he is but less intelligent. Charles Dumaurier restrains them: otherwise they would cut throats for the fun of it. Charles pulls political strings. He makes such friends in high places that not even the army is free to move against them. Not kill you? Listen. Charles Dumaurier would murder anybody, or would cause it to happen, which is the same thing only safer for Charles. He would come here to my house and shoot me, if he as much as suspected me of being his enemy."

"Are you?" asked Cuyaga. He tossed the remainder of his drink through the verandah screen and stood up. "Twelve Dumauriers?"

"No. One, and eleven obedient jackals. Sit down. I do not dare to be his enemy. Let me tell you what happened in 1916. Charles Dumaurier was doing finely, running supplies and ammunition to the Germans away up north toward Tanganyika. So the British—I suppose it was the British—got nasty. Our commandant at Chai-Chai had to take a full company and go after Charles Dumaurier. They sent him the men from Lourenço Marques and some smart young officers.

"They caught Dumaurier and brought him to Chai-Chai. The commandant locked him up in the fort in leg-irons. But that night there came news of an attack by natives on some Portuguese traders in an outlying village. It was false news, but most of the soldiers had to hurry away to attend to it—a night march. So we have a new fort. That is why we have it. The eleven brothers came when the soldiers were gone and rescued Charles. They burned the old fort. The ammunition did not fit their rifles, so they burned that also. It made a noise like a battle, so that most people believe the Dumauriers had a hundred men with them. The few soldiers who remained in the fort had been courteous to Charles because they feared him, so they did nothing much to the soldiers beyond stripping them naked and burning their uniforms. But the commandant had ordered leg-irons for Charles, so they stripped the commandant and hanged him by the thumbs to the branch of a tree. Then they flogged him unconscious and left him hanging."

"What happened after that?" asked Cuyaga.

"Nothing. The commandant was sent to Lisbon in disgrace. But he died on the ship on the way home. And they say it cost Dumaurier most of the money he had made from the Germans. He was always sensible about politics. He pays the strategic people. That is why he is neither a millionaire nor a dead man. But nothing happened."

"Something shall," said Cuyaga. He stared at Hanno.

"You start after him at daybreak? I also."

"Don't be a fool," said Miguel. "You are not by any means the first newly arrived officer to imagine himself the genuine St. George who would slay that dragon! One, a very handsome young one, did shoot Charles Dumaurier—through the arm or the leg, I forget which. It was said that that officer died of malaria. But what were said to be his bones were found on an anthill, picked clean. And I know of three other officers whose bones lie somewhere between here and the Libombas. The best policy is honesty—to oneself!"

"But the senhora must remain here," said Cuyaga.

"You fools! Listen to me!" Braganza struck his own forehead. But Cuyaga continued:

"I am told the commandant takes tea at daybreak. I will be there waiting for him. The sight of me disturbs his philosophic calm. He will wish me at the devil and he won't know what to do about it, not at that hour of the morning. I will ask for ten days leave of absence for a hunting trip, and I bet you I get it. Half an hour after daybreak I will meet you—where?"

"On my yacht."

Cuyaga turned to Miguel: "Two mules, then."

"Three," said Hanno.

Cuyaga stared hard. "Seriously, this is no amusement for a lady. We shall not be playing dominoes."

"I will tell her that." Hanno turned to Miguel: "Can I trust you to take care of my boat?"

"Oh, yes, you shall have the same watchman, but—"

"Porters who won't run away?"

"I will do my best, but—"

"Girdlestone left some camp equipment?—provisions for three, for ten days—ready by daybreak?"

"Yes, but—"

"Momentito!—your pardon, Senhor Miguel." Cuyaga took Hanno's arm and led him to the far end of the verandah. He whispered: "You and I don't know each other, but we must work together. A man who sails a small boat, alone, around the world has courage and self-reliance. So I feel you are dependable. Besides, I think I like you. If you do not like me, nevertheless you must trust me. It is essential that we trust each other. We will bag this brute Charles Dumaurier. We will fix him for keeps. But I do not trust this Miguel Braganza. Unless I watch him he may send a message to the commandant and warn him not to give me leave of absence. I suspect there is nobody here who isn't secretly hand-in-glove with those Dumauriers. There is only one way to end such a state of affairs. The unexpected—the improbable—the drastic. Are you willing?"

"I'll take a chance with you," said Hanno. "But can't you bring some of your countrymen?"

"I will try to do that. But I doubt it, because I am not acquainted with them, and we must keep this secret. Have you a rifle?"




"I also. But we must not take the lady with us. Can't she stay on your yacht?"

"Yes. But will she? That's a question. She was ready to go it alone, without me. She thinks Dumaurier won't dare to touch her; thinks he will think she stayed behind to arrange for official protection and is following her father now she has it."

"Feminine! Ingenious! But she assumes Dumaurier is reasonable. A mistake! She must not come with us."

Miguel approached. He added an emphatic warning: "Tell that senhora to remain in Chai-Chai. Say that, drunk or sober, I am proud to offer her my services. No possible harm can come to her, if she will place her confidence in me. You had better tell her also that Charles Dumaurier has only some black women at the present time. He has had three white ones who did not know enough to keep out of his clutches. They are dead. They were not happy."

"Bring her here!" Cuyaga clutched Hanno's elbow. "Bring her to this house. Do you know the nature of those mixed breeds? Dumaurier is part Indian, part negro, part Frenchman, with a touch of Portuguese and English. He is a relic of the Duke of Wellington's army. Go and fetch her. We will all three talk to her."

THAT seemed the best way. Hanno went off without another word to see about it. But he felt an unexplainable distaste for leaving Doris Girdlestone behind. He also doubted being able to persuade her. She was quiet. She seemed to have a level head and to know her own mind. Of course, the Portuguese authorities, if appealed to, could forbid her to leave Chai-Chai. But they could easily include himself and Cuyaga in the same restraining order. And they would very likely warn Dumaurier. With the girl held out of harm's way, they probably wouldn't care what happened to Girdlestone. Accident, of course. Deplorable incident. Blame it on the natives. Official regrets. Hang a nigger or two, and squeeze Dumaurier for two thirds of the loot. No, silence was better.

The right thing to do was to get away at daybreak before anyone could find out what was doing. Barring the climate—and, being young and healthy, she could probably stick that for ten days—he could see no serious objection to taking Doris along. She might lessen the risk. This is the twentieth, not the eighteenth century. Even a Dumaurier would hesitate—or would he?

Hanno walked fast. He had left the yacht at the steamer wharf. He had to pass the little office where the police officer on night duty usually snored away his time between coffee and snacks. The door was shut. He tried it—locked. No sign of the three native rowers, always in attendance. Probably gone up- river—yes, the boat was not then? Perhaps gone fishing. Or perhaps on the look-out for a bargeload of mealies that some Indian trader might be trying to smuggle down-river without paying dues-tax on everything in Portuguese country. Curse him. Now there would be nobody to keep an eye on the yacht if he should take Doris up to Miguel's house.

The yacht looked small but mighty beautiful in moonlight, just clear of the shadow of the wharfside buildings. He stood and admired. Good. Perfect. Fast, stiff—beauty of strength, strength of true design—all boat, no flub-dub, built to go offshore and take it. There was a change, though. Things weren't the same; and they weren't worse, either. That girl did make a difference. She sort of belonged.

Suddenly he noticed there was no light in the cabin. Asleep? Well, he would have to wake her. Better make a noise now, so as not to give her a scare when he jumped aboard. He whistled and waited. No answer. He whistled again. She had good healthy nerves if she could sleep through that noise. The yacht was kept clear of the wharf by a couple of floating logs spiked together, so he had to jump for the shrouds. Then he listened again. He didn't care to peer in through the port in the side of the cabin-trunk, so he walked aft rather noisily and jumped into the cockpit listened no sound, and peered through the open hatch.

There was a flashlight handy. He found it and switched it on. She was not there. Her bags were gone. His eyes took in everything. A floorboard had been pulled up, no doubt to get at the sea-cock. Someone had tried to sink the yacht. Luckily no one could open that cock without using a wrench. All else was tidy, except for a cigar butt and three men's footprints on the clean deck. Nothing smashed or stolen. Gun padlocked in the rack. Time, a quarter to ten. She might have been gone three-quarters of an hour. Dumaurier? He felt for his money; it was there in its proper hiding place.

ANGER, deadlier than dynamite but silent. Hanno was no less dangerous for being quiet. He turned white. He made no sound, no gesture. But he had detonated; changed that instant into devastating violence directed by intelligence that wastes no strength on non-essentials. Instead of explosion, there was concentration. He knew exactly what he would do. He began at the beginning, in the right order, without hurry, without the waste of a minute.

He found a rowboat, made it fast to the yacht, moved the yacht across the pool and let go both anchors, taking care there was full room to swing with the tide. Then he got out rifle, pistol, ammunition, chucked some clothes into a duffle bag, threw in a first-aid kit, filled his water bottle, changed his shoes for stouter ones, locked the sliding hatch and rowed back to the wharf. For the first time since he had owned the yacht he did not pause on the wharf to enjoy the view of her at anchor. He had begun to fight. He would continue until he won, unless someone meanwhile killed him—an alternative on which he did not even hesitate to waste contempt.

Shouldering duffle bag and rifle, unselfconscious because concentrated, looking like a moonlit ghost amid the shadows of the baobab and eucalyptus trees, he walked without apparent haste but rapidly toward Miguel Braganza's house. His feet made no noise in the dust. He was sweating. It was a hot night. The thought of Doris Girdlestone in the hands of a filthy mixed breed was no mental refrigerator.

Miguel and Cuyaga, naked to the waist, sprawled on canvas chairs in the darkness of the verandah. Miguel had put out the gasoline lamp; its light had looked hot, even if it made no real difference. They were not talking. There was an eerie silence. They did not even greet Hanno as he stepped on to the verandah and let the screen door slam behind him. Miguel was not quite sober, but he sensed crisis. Cuyaga, who had drunk very little, snapped his teeth tight shut and made a gesture with a lighted cigarette.

"Dumaurier has carried her off," said Hanno. He dumped the duffle bag on the floor and leaned his rifle against the doorpost.

"Filo da—how do you know that?" Miguel sat forward suddenly. With the edge of moonlight on his sweat-wet hairy torso, he looked like a man in a bathtub.

"Three men's footprints on the deck and a cigar stub on the cockpit floor. Nothing missing except her handbags."

"Pooh!" The chair creaked under Miguel's weight. He relaxed, sprawled backward. "She has abandoned you. Perhaps you offended her. It is the way of women to take offense at trifles. In the morning she will show up—somewhere."

Cuyaga came and stood beside Hanno. Their eyes met. Hanno had never guessed a Portuguese could convey so much feeling as that without saying a word. He had the usual Nordic belief that all Latins, even gentlemen, boast and splutter to hide insincerity. He accepted in utter silence Cuyaga's unspoken offer to stand by him and to go all limits. There was no mistaking what Cuyaga meant.

"You two had better sit down and have some drinks," said Miguel. He detected good faith ganging up, and he had enough shreds of good faith of his own to recognize it—dangerous, unmanageable stuff.

Hanno stood over him. Cuyaga re-lighted the gasoline lamp, then turned his back to examine Hanno's rifle.

"Braganza, which side are you on?" asked Hanno.

MIGUEL'S eyebrows rose until they almost met the line of his hair. His mouth framed oaths, unuttered. He was not used to being hectored in his own house. But it was not the right moment to bluster. One perceived that. The result might be humiliating, even painful. Miguel swallowed something.

"On which side, you say? I do not understand."

"I'll make it plain. This is my show. If anybody stops me—anybody, get that?—your number's up. You're Dumaurier's go-between. I'll let Dumaurier know somehow, if it's the last thing I ever do, that you've squawked. What I'll tell the British consul at Lourenço Marques about Dumaurier, I'll say you told me. That puts you on the spot. They'll all turn on you. The officials won't weep when Dumaurier gives you the works. He's in your debt, too, isn't he? A bullet would be easy payment. Now then, which side are you on?"

"Senhor, even yet I do not understand you."

Cuyaga intervened—cool, almost casual, his voice a little less restrained than Hanno's his manner less rigid, more amused.

"We are going to kill Dumaurier. You understand that?"

"Now," said Hanno. "Camp equipment now. Mules now. Porters now."

"And silence today, tomorrow, always!" Cuyaga added.

A quarter-century of skimming the cream of intrigue creates a habit. People who insist on silence are afraid of something; can be made to pay for silence. Miguel Braganza's self-confidence bluffed to the surface. He sneered.

"So? You guarantee his debts?" He was sobering up. "Who will pay what he owes me? You?"

Hanno glanced at Cuyaga, who nodded. Those two strangely understood each other.

"Come with us," said Hanno. "There'll be a showdown. You can help yourself if you're there."

Miguel swayed to his feet. He stared from one man to the other.

"Yes," he said, "I do that." But he could not keep treachery out of his eyes. "Dumaurier has strong political allies who wink at lawlessness. But this is too much, that he steals a woman. I believe we better wake the commandant and—"

"Nothing doing! The commandant, if he were on the level, would have caught and hanged all the Dumauriers pronto when he first got here. We'll consult the commandant about it when the job's done."

SUCH talk was a bit too scandalous even for Miguel. He shook a fat forefinger close to Hanno's face.

"Careful! You are young; you don't know much. It is not your business to police this country."

Cuyaga took Hanno's pistol, cocked it. "Let me see," he said in English, "a suicide shoots with his right hand; that is to say, from this side, touching the muzzle against the skin, at about this angle—"

"Car-rr-amba! You would shoot me? Put away that pistol!"

"Shoot you! Who could imagine a motive, Senhor Miguel Braganza? Drink and guilty knowledge of Dumaurier's doings—an abduction—suicide seems indicated."

Miguel swore.

"But I have said I do it. I come with you—for the honor of a lady—that is the side I am on."

"Good," said Hanno. "Let's go."

"At daybreak, senhor. We must wait for mules—"

"Now! Wake your servants and get busy. Have that watchman sent aboard my ketch, and tell him to change the anchor chains over each time she swings. Send for the mules, porters." Hanno glanced at his watch "We start at one a.m., so step lively. I'll lend you a hand to lug out Girdlestone's stuff. We won't need much of it. We'll travel light, but we'll need good grub. Tell your servants we're going hunting." Miguel's nerve gave out. He began snatching at straw's of equivocation.

"But you have no hunting license. The law is strict. Better wait until morning and get one."

"You have a license. Bring yours."

"As an officer, I need none," said Cuyaga. "And none is needed for suicide. What do you wish written on the gravestone?"

Miguel exploded. "How can I do the impossible?"

"Begin," said Hanno. He took Miguel's arm and walked with him to the shed where the servants slept. Cuyaga followed, overhearing the instructions, taking care that Miguel should send no message to the commandant. Then, while Miguel hauled out Girdlestone's belongings—tent, cots, groceries, Cuyaga whispered:

"Go ahead with him. I follow. If I don't first get leave of absence from the commandant. I am a technical deserter. That would make it too easy to suppress me—you understand? I will try to get a soldier to come with me; the delay will be worth it, if I can get one—a good one. Ride fast. Don't wait for me. I will overtake you even if I have to kill a mule. Kill Braganza if he tries to trick you."

"He's bad," said Hanno, "but not quite rotten. He has some scruples."

"Don't trust him! What route do you take?"

"As straight as we can go to Pearson's Place. That's where Dumaurier is supposed to meet Girdlestone."

"Do you believe he will take Miss Girdlestone within reach of her father?"

"I don't know where he'll take her. He may have shot Girdlestone already. If I don't get news of Dumaurier between here and Pearson's Place, I'll carry on to his nest in the Libombas and burn it. That may make him show' up."

"Shoot on sight! No warning!" said Cuyaga.

"Sure thing. Him or any of his brothers. But it isn't going to be as easy as all that. He'll have left some spies behind. They'll signal we're after him. He may set an ambush. Why not? But if he learns that Miguel is with us he may risk a parley, to find out what Miguel means. However, my guess is, he'll have ridden straight home, where he thinks he's safe against all comers. If he hadn't been in such a hurry, he'd have sunk my yacht. He did try to open the sea-cock. Either someone scared him, or He's in an awful hurry. I believe he'll avoid Girdlestone, cache Doris at his place in the Libombas, then ride back and meet Girdlestone as if nothing had happened. So I hope to reach Pearson's Place before Dumaurier; and if Girdlestone's any good, that gives us an extra rifle."

"Can Miguel Braganza shoot?" Cuyaga asked.

"He's going to have to, or get shot."

"Should he shoot you, senhor, you may depend on my avenging you."

THEN came the mules, from an Indian's stable, followed by a string of porters, sleepy, bewildered, not too reluctant. Miguel notoriously paid a little more than other men. A hunting trip would mean plenty of meat. They were given loads and sent packing at once, with orders to take a boat and row up-river to the ford ten miles away; there, further orders would await them. Meanwhile, if questioned, they were to say they belonged to Miguel Braganza's hunting party. Hanno and Cuyaga shook hands.

"See you later."

"Good luck."

They had shaded the time by a trifle; it was twelve forty- eight when Miguel Braganza swung into a saddle with wooden stirrups and began to ride, swag-bellied, stooping, but born to horseback, as so many Portuguese are. Hanno was no horseman; he could manage the mule, but he had none of the older man's grace in the saddle. He knew Miguel noticed it, and he knew it was not going to pay to let Miguel feel superior. Forcing the pace made conversation difficult, but something had to be done. Hanno chose blunt words:

"If I catch you trying to warn Dumaurier—" he threatened.

"It is too late for that. It is sauve qui peut. I hope you shoot straight and are not a fool. That Cuyaga will ruin all of us unless we use our senses, senhor. Are you deceived by his sudden friendship?"

"I'd sooner trust him than you. He means! business."

"Undoubtedly. Do you believe that story about his being sent here in disgrace for having talked too much?"

"It was your story, Miguel. You told it."

"Senhor, it is his story. But I know better. It means this: that Lisbon, having learned about Dumaurier, intends to liquidate him with the least possible scandal. If Dumaurier's tongue should wag—it must not wag! You understand me?"

"Awkward for you if it did, eh?"

"Dangerous for many people."

"So you think Cuyaga is an under-cover man?"

"I know it, senhor. I suspect that Dumaurier also knows it. Someone in Lisbon may have warned him. El capitán Don Vasco Jesus Maranhao da Cuyaga is the keenest of all the young men in the Army Secret Service. Do not flatter yourself that he befriends you because he likes your red hair or your seamanship. You are a windfall to him, a stroke of luck. He uses you—just as Dumaurier thinks the Senhora Doris is a stroke of luck. I know Cuyaga, but he does not know I know him. There must be someone who has warned Dumaurier; otherwise he would not be such a fool as to seize Miss Girdlestone. He thinks he now has a hostage for his own safety. But he does not know Cuyaga, to whom a woman's fate is of no more importance than yours or mine. But he will get Dumaurier no matter what happens to her! It is no time to be on Dumaurier's side."

Miguel grinned unpleasantly; the moonlight gleamed on his teeth. He showed unexpected spirit:

"Curse Dumaurier! The misbegotten son of avarice and treachery! I should have poisoned him in my house. Now I must risk my neck against him. For if I do not, that Cuyaga will expose me along with certain others. Shoot straight, Senhor Hanno! Should we kill Dumaurier there may be a chance for me to clear myself. There is nothing in writing. And perhaps Cuyaga's orders are to avoid an avalanche—of careers, of reputations!"

The saddle was chafing Hanno's skin. The sweat was in his eyes. The pace was far too slow. He exploded:

"Curse you, I hope you all get found out!"

Miguel Braganza grinned. He looked diabolical under his broad- brimmed black hat.

"Let us pray, however, senhor, that your wish does not descend upon us all too soon for the convenience of Miss Girdlestone! It is not said hereabouts that Charles Dumaurier is sentimental about women. It is said he tortures them until they yield. Shall I tell you of—"

"No," said Hanno.

"Nevertheless, senhor, pray accept my thanks for your good wishes."

"Shut up!"



Maclean's, 15 September 1934, with third part of "Solomon's Half-way House"


AT Chai-Chai, in Portuguese Gazaland, Jack Hanno has been defrauded by Charles Dumaurier, who induced him to put money into a project for locating King Solomon's mines.

Hanno, a Nova Scotian, had been sailing around the world, alone. He is about to resume his journey when Professor Girdlestone and his daughter, Doris, arrive; the former anxious to join Dumaurier in the treasure hunt. The professor will not listen to Hanno's statement that Dumaurier is a scoundrel, so Hanna remains in Chai-Chai, despite Dumaurier's attempt to frighten him away, in order to protect Doris.

The professor goes off into the hills with Dumaurier, leaving Doris in Hanno's care. At the house of Miguel Braganza Hanno meets Captain da Cuyaga, a Portuguese army officer without a command. Hanno finds that Doris has vanished, evidently kidnapped by Dumaurier; and, with Miguel, he starts after Dumaurier. Cuyaga says he will join the rescue party later.

THE ford was almost like a change of consciousness—a dream-place, shadowed by a wooded, dim bank, moonlit in the middle, and beyond that vague with reeds and flowing mist.

"A mule is not a yacht," said Miguel. "A mule needs rest,"

They had ridden ten miles, fast. The mules were about finished. Hanno rode his into the water: it lay down and tried to roll on him. He struggled clear and got the mule up again, but it was only by sheer luck that he didn't lose his rifle. Miguel laughed and said they had better wait there for Cuyaga.

"And besides," he added, "we must find someone with whom to leave a message for our porters."

"Come on," said Hanno. "Cross first, anyhow."

He had no intention whatever of waiting there—of waiting anywhere. He would walk if he had to. Loyalty to Cuyaga made him take Miguel's rein and compel him to follow. He had promised Cuyaga he would not trust Miguel. That meant he must keep an eye on him, doubt his motives, oppose his wishes. That Miguel wished to wait was good reason for making him cross the river. The ford was shallow. Hanno waded waist-deep, dragging both mules, feeling better for it; the wetting cooled his chafed skin. But the far bank looked mysterious—ominous. It was the kind of moonlit landscape that suggests dread—no place for a nervous man. No place for a native, either. Natives know where the dead men's ghosts walk. It was all even Hanno could do to keep his nerves from going jumpy. Miguel protested.

"Fever," he warned. "You don't know this country. Ague. Wait for sunlight and the day air."

He might as well have begged the crocodiles for time out. Hanno towed at the reins. He only paused at intervals to splash his face, to keep the swarms of mosquitos from stinging him raw. Luck, he knew, plays favorites; he gave his own luck opportunity to show some stuff. He had a notion Dumaurier's spies might be on the far bank, possibly in ambush. The only way to know that was to go and find out. Two or three thousand to one are about the odds against a bullet on a misty night. It's more risky to cross Fifth Avenue. Suddenly Miguel let out a frightened half- shout:

"Look out! What's that?"

He tried to snatch the reins and turn back. Failing, he slipped the rifle off his shoulder, opened the breach, fumbled, dropped the first load in the river.

BOATMEN remember boats. The moment he realized it wasn't a shadow among the reeds, Hanno recognized the rowboat's peculiar sheer and flair. It was Dumaurier's. It was tied to a root on the far bank. There was someone in it—a native, cloaked in a cotton blanket. He stuck his head up, stared, made a big noise as he jumped on a thwart, upset the oars and leaped ashore. Miguel fired; missed him, probably on purpose, swore unconvincingly.

Hanno was silent. No use saying anything. Miguel had done his damage. Anyone within a mile had heard that rifle shot. Hanno let go the mules' heads and ran for the bank, took cover, crawled for high ground, lay still, listened, cursing the ants and thirty million mosquitos.

Someone swore a streak of Portuguese. A short, slight, wiry- looking figure in a slouch hat stepped out from behind a clump of bushes just as Miguel reached dry land with both mules.

"Miguel Braganza?"


Hanno knew no Portuguese. He had to guess. Miguel seemed to be urging something. Hanno guessed he was urging Anatole Dumaurier to go, or send and warn Charles. Anatole was in a raging temper. He was threatening Miguel; seized his rein; appeared to be ordering him back across the river. Miguel seemed likely to obey him; he glanced toward the far bank.

That was good; if he had seen Hanno he might have betrayed him by a change of expression. Anatole heard Hanno's footfall before Miguel saw him. He turned sharply. He had a Browning automatic. Hanno struck it out of his hand and followed up with a left-hand haymaker that missed because Miguel's bullet spat into the mixed- breed's brain. It was a bullet meant for Hanno. Nothing you could prove. You just knew it.

Hanno snatched the rifle from him with a twist of the wrist that made Miguel curse. He threw the Browning automatic into the river. Then he began to hunt for that nigger who had been in the boat. There was only one place where he could be. Anatole had stepped out from behind a clump of bushes. Hanno rushed the bushes. Nigger, scared stiff; two mules, saddled, fresh by the look of them. He stuck the muzzle of his rifle in the nigger's ribs and marched him back to where Miguel knelt, going through Anatole's pockets.

"Findings keepings," said Miguel with a snarl like a dog's at a kill. He was pocketing paper money.

"Sure. Your pickings. You killed him. Sharp now—make this nigger talk. Charles Dumaurier came up-river in that boat. I know that much. There's the dung of six or eight mules behind those bushes. So he's gone westward on mule-back, I know that. How long ago? And is Doris with him?"

MIGUEL BRAGANZA tried two or three dialects before he hit on the click-cluck Shangaan-Zulu that the native understood.

"He says 'Yes.'"

"Doris crying? Hurt? Look beaten?"

"He says 'No,' she was unhurt. She said nothing at all."

"How many men had Dumaurier?"



"Two of his brothers, Jacques and Henri, and two Nubians—ex-soldiers, bad ones who deserted from the German army near Lake Nyassa before the Armistice. They left Anatole here to watch the ford and send word."

Hanno gave him back his rifle. "You were lucky that time."

"Lucky? I forgive you, senhor, on account of your youth. To witness death unaccountably sometimes causes nervous—"

"Cut that! Next time you take a shot at me, aim straighter, or you'll get yours. Watch that nigger."

There was a long rawhide rein on the ground beside Dumaurier's mules. He fetched it; tied the nigger's hands behind him. Then he drove him into Dumaurier's boat and lashed him seamanly to two thwarts.

"Come on—fresh mules—leave these—get a move on!"

"But our porters—"

"A loaded boat—they'll have the tide against them before they're halfway. We've come ten miles. What is it by river —fifteen? Twenty? Sun'll be up before they get here. Cuyaga can give 'em orders. He'll find that nigger in the boat and get the news from him. Dumaurier can't be more than a few miles ahead of us."

"Three Dumauriers! Two Nubians!"

"Step lively."


"Pray as you go."

THEY were splendid mules, those fresh ones—rangy low- veldt veterans that knew their job and how to do it with the least exertion. Even with his chafed skin, Hanno began to enjoy the luxury of motion. He felt, too, that the luck was flowing like a strong tide under him. He rode stirrup to stirrup with Miguel, hour after hour, until the sun rose and they could see the tracks of five mules at the edge of a swamp. There they breathed the mules, while Miguel bewailed the soft-boiled eggs, fruit, coffee, biscuits, for which his belly clamored.

"You don't know this climate! On an empty stomach—"

"We'll eat in the enemy's camp! Let's get a move on. You understand mules. I don't. So lead the way and set pace. I'll ride behind you."

"But what are we going to do, senhor?"

"Bust things wide open."

"But Dumaurier—"

"Bah—that crook's luck'll crack. It can't last. You're wasting time. Ride!"

HE felt safer behind Miguel, who couldn't bolt now without warning; couldn't shoot him in the back and gallop on to make his peace with Charles Dumaurier by claiming he had avenged Anatole. They both had Winchesters, of identical bore. Nobody could prove who shot Anatole. At the moment, as far as Hanno could judge, the worst risk was of Miguel's treachery. Luckily there wasn't much he could betray. The only plan in Hanno's head was to come up with Charles Dumaurier and kill him, giving him no chance; kill him before he could think of a ruse, then trust to luck and Cuyaga to deal with Dumaurier's gang.

But were they gaining on Dumaurier? There was no knowing. Part of the time they could follow his spoor, but not always. It took too long to dismount and go hunting for dung and hoof-prints in the tufty undergrowth. Did he know he was followed? Perhaps—else why did he pick such a curious course? Apparently he knew of short cuts through the swamps that Miguel dared not take. Riding around the edge of one swamp cost about two hours, according to Hanno's estimate. What a land! No villages? No natives? If there were any, the trail avoided them.

At about noon they reached a barren, burning-hot wilderness of sheet-rock and iron-hard earth on which hoof-prints left no mark. But there were none at the edge. Dumaurier had turned off somewhere. They had missed him. They were halfway to Pearson's Place now. Hanno wasn't likely to forget the walk across that hot plain. He dismounted and blazed the last tree, hacking off bark with his clasp-knife, hoping Cuyaga would see it and guess which way they took.

He knew now he had no chance to overtake Dumaurier before he reached home. His first guess had been right. Dumaurier had followed a secret trail across the swamps. He would hide Doris somewhere up in the Libombas, and then head back by the regular road to Pearson's Place to deal with Girdlestone. Well, he would be in time to save Girdlestone.

"No hurry now," said Miguel. He said it blandly. "May as well take it easy. Rest the mules, and get to Pearson's Place at midnight."

"Midnight, no! Sunset," Hanno answered.

"But the mules, senhor, they—"

"We'll take Girdlestone's mules."

"Those also will be tired out."

"Then we'll walk! Let's go. This isn't a funeral—yet."

It pleased him to make Miguel sweat across that fiery wilderness. He was more than half sure Miguel knew the swamps, knew Dumaurier's route; had purposely misled, to let Dumaurier gain time and get away to safety. He would have liked to spare the mules a bit. He enjoyed Miguel's discomfort—hungry, thirsty, sleepy, saddle-weary, pestered by the flies, and scared sick. His thought was:

"Shoot me, would you?"

THERE is a telegraph line to Pearson's Place across the swamps from Chai-Chai. They came on the last section of it at nightfall—eighteen little heaps of stones where the steel rails had stood that did duty for poles. Miguel spoke for the first time in three hours:

"Charles Dumaurier took those steel rails long ago to build his place in the Libombas. But the telegrapher still draws his salary."

The telegrapher ran a general store. It loomed in the deepening dusk—a big, round, thatch-roofed hut in a clearing amid weary trees. Not far beyond it was Girdlestone's lamp-lit camp—two small tents, three mules at a picket, red-cotton-blanketed porters huddled in a group, a small, smoky fire. There were a few signs of cultivation, but the locusts had been busy, not huge swarms but enough to keep down vegetation; they had stripped the pawpaws. There were three trails meeting at the general store, outlined by the inevitable pineapple plants that mark all trails, all boundaries in Gazaland.

Girdlestone sat in a canvas chair with his shirt undone, exhausted, his feet on a pile of picks and shovels. He looked half asleep. He jumped as if a snake had bitten him when Hanno and Miguel rode up almost silent in the deep dust. His jaw dropped.

"Where is Doris?"

No time to answer. Miguel, dry-throated and half-dead from fatigue, made a noise as if he were being strangled. He almost fell out of the saddle and stepped quickly around his mule—crouched low, peering beneath the mule's neck. Out from the general store came two men, bearded, in khaki. Rifles—no bandoleers—ammunition in duck-hunters' bags, slung from their shoulders. They had the confident swagger of bullies. Gloom turned to utter darkness, as if they, too, had turned off the light. They were only dimly visible, with a light behind them through the open hut-door.

"Aristide and Pierre Dumaurier!" said Miguel under his breath.

"Yes, yes," said Girdlestone. "The Dumauriers. They are all right. Where is Doris?"

Suddenly the porters cleared out—shadows flitting into darkness, gone. Someone brought a lantern from the general store. Aristide and Pierre Dumaurier separated and approached from different angles to see who was behind that other mule. Hanno dismounted, hesitating between rifle and automatic; it was too dark now to see along the sights of a rifle, but he doubted his skill with a pistol. He chose the rifle. Its click startled Girdlestone.

"Doris has been carried off by Charles Dumaurier," he said savagely. "Duck and run if you can't fight. Look sharp!"

GIRDLESTONE seemed hardly awake yet. Suddenly he ran for the tent. In another second he was out again with a loaded Winchester. The Dumaurier who was farthest from Hanno fired his rifle, hit Miguel's mule and laughed—a loud, bold bully- laugh, up from the stomach. The mule staggered away and fell kicking.

"Oh, all right," said Hanno. He fired back, point-blank at the nearest Dumaurier—hit him, after which he drew a bead on the other, fired again, and this time, missed.

Miguel came out from behind his mule and began to shoot like a madman. The man Hanno had hit began to crawl toward the big hut. The other fired at Miguel and shot his hat off. Hanno returned the fire. So did Girdlestone. Hanno's mule fell dead. Whoever had the lantern dropped it and ran. The unhit Dumaurier followed him, running around the hut. A moment later they just got a sight of him—a shadow, riding westward or the glimpse may have been imagination. They heard him anyhow.

"He goes to warn Charles," said Miguel. "And now we are in trouble." He hawked and tried to spit to get his mouth fit for speech. "We have shot two Dumauriers. The others will come and avenge them. You'll see."

Hanno turned and shot the wounded mule dead. Like an echo to that, a bullet spat from the door of the big hut. The man Hanno had shot had crawled there, set the door ajar and was shooting between door and doorpost. He fired three times.

Hanno ran to the side of the hut and crept around it toward the door, going slowly for fear Miguel would hit him. Miguel kept up a rapid fire, not stopping even when the door slammed; his bullets thudded on the thick boards. Hanno set fire to the thatch. It blazed up instantly; the flame leaped, roared, crackled in a two-foot thickness of grass as dry as tinder. The heat drove him twenty yards away. The entire hut was a holocaust, stores and all. A powder-barrel blew up—scattered burning thatch a hundred yards in all directions and set fire to Girdlestone's tent; his three mules tore their picket loose and bolted, tied head to head, until a tree stopped them. Girdlestone's tent was a total loss. Hanno ran and recovered the mules; he had a hard time doing it, but he got them separated at last and tethered to the roots of the tree that had stopped them. The entire hut had collapsed by that time into a blazing heap beneath a red-bellied cloud of smoke.

"That was government property," Miguel remarked. "For that the sentence is life imprisonment. You did it. I saw you."

"Now what?" said Girdlestone. "For heaven's sake, tell me about Doris." Hanno told him, in words of one and two syllables, slowly, to save having to repeat it.

"And now a drink. Quick, we're parched."

GIRDLESTONE went to the unburned tent, found a syphon, whisky and a tin cup. Hanno gave Miguel first drink, with the unconscious air of authority of a man in command. Then he swilled his own mouth, gargled, and drank half a cupful.

"Chai-Chai now," said Miguel, "before Charles comes!"

"Suit yourself," Hanno answered. "Put your saddle on one of those mules and get going."

"Alone? Senhor, you mock me?"

Hanno spoke straight at Girdlestone. "Are you game? This other bozo isn't. Will you come with me, or go with him?"

"My dear man, I wouldn't dream of leaving you."

"Since you choose to insult me, senhor," said Miguel, "I ride forward alone."

"Not you!" Hanno turned to Girdlestone. "Give him another drink. He's upset. He'll be all right in a minute." Miguel gulped straight whisky.

"Now," said Hanno, "Any chance of rounding up those niggers?"

"None, senhor."

"Why not?"

"They know what to expect from Charles Dumaurier. Even their own homes are hardly far enough away. They know he will come here like a raging devil and—"

"Isn't this a town? Is there no one else here?"

"The telegraphist. He, too, will not have waited for Charles Dumaurier."

"Was he in that hut?"

"It may be, senhor. Who knows?"

"He happens to be hiding in my tent," said Girdlestone. He went and fetched him—a fever-stricken Goanese, shaken with ague, straightening himself and trying to look dignified. He said something in Portuguese. Miguel interpreted.

"You are under arrest," he said, "for setting fire to the post-office."

"Where's your jail?" asked Hanno. "Go back and stay in the tent until El Senhor Capitán Don Vasco Jesus Maranhao da Cuyaga comes. And when he does come, tell him we three have ridden forward. Tell him to ride hard and overtake us or he may come too late."

Miguel translated that, chesting himself to impress the Goanese. One would have thought it was he who was giving orders. The Goanese did think so. He obeyed with a courteous bow and a murmur of Miguel's name. He ignored the others. Girdlestone, his throat creaky with emotion, squeaked a question:


"You've met him—on the steamer. He's our one bet. Nothing for us to do but crowd Dumaurier. Those niggers haven't run far. They're watching. The minute we ride forward, someone's sure to hurry by short cuts to Dumaurier's and warn him we're coming."

"We three—just we three?" said Girdlestone.

Miguel chimed in: "Tired out, and on tired mules, senhor!"

"If you two are scared, I'll go alone," said Hanno. "If Dumaurier thought there were a dozen of us, he might take to the mountains. When he learns we are only three and who we are, he'll think we're crazy on Doris's account—he'll know it. He may elect to wait where he is and shoot us at daybreak as we ride through the gap to his hide-out. Much more likely he'll come storming down the pass with some more of his brothers, to kill us on the march and blame our deaths on the natives. That's his usual trick. When he learns we've shot two of his brothers he'll be a raging maniac."

"And you prefer to face him?" asked Girdlestone.

"Sure. Force a fight and hold him until Cuyaga can catch up. Keep him rattled."

"But you look tired out," said Girdlestone.

"I am. That cuts no ice. I need sleep. Guess I'll get some if we find a likely ambush. Miguel's asleep on his feet. Come on, help me saddle the mules."

THEY rode fifteen miles, Hanno and Girdlestone holding Miguel. He slept swaying like a sack in the saddle between them. Ten miles beyond the shallow tributary of the Umbuluzi River, where the trail starts winding upward between foothills of increasing size and ruggedness, Hanno reached about his limit of endurance. They had brought food from Girdlestone's camp and ate as they rode, but Hanno felt his attention wandering; the dark landscape faded into a dream and out again. His eyes ached. He must depend for a while now on Girdlestone.

"Can you stay awake?" he asked him.

Girdlestone said he had slept that afternoon. So Hanno stared about him and used his last lees of wakefulness to prepare an ambush. There would be no moon for an hour yet, but there was lots of starlight. The landscape was all one shadow, crowded with darker detail very difficult to make out.

However, the trail just there looked innocent and therefore suitable for a trap. There were acres of slightly undulating level land between scrub-lined hills. There was a clump of trees at the edge of a hollow that did not look like a hollow until one reached it. He picketed the mules in the hollow, made a fire and heaped half-dead weeds on it to make it burn slowly with plenty of smoke.

He set his hat on a lump of wood, so that it showed above the rim of the hollow. Then he led Girdlestone and Miguel across the trail to a shallower depression where there were no trees. It was unnoticeable; he didn't see it until he stumbled into it—good cover for three riflemen. It was a bit far from the mules, and a bit far from where the way turned into a pass between sombre cliffs, but it commanded the trail both ways, and they could shoot from where they lay without much chance of being hit by anyone approaching. They were doing what the enemy wouldn't expect. Luck would have to do the rest of it.

They had brought some of Girdlestone's blankets. Hanno threw one over Miguel, rolled himself in another and was asleep in a second. No trick that, for a man used to snatching sleep at the helm of a small yacht in dirty weather. As a rule, however tired, he could wake himself at half-hour intervals, take a look around and fall asleep again. He meant to do that now. But when Girdlestone shook him awake at last, the full moon, high overhead, was bathing the trail in weird, wan light, and he could see the jaw of the pass like a notch in a dark wall. He kicked Miguel awake and instantly smothered his face in a blanket to keep him silent.

THERE were noises both ways. The one down-hill, in the direction they had come from, was far off and uncertain; it might be an animal prowling, perhaps a lion. But the other sound was quite definite. There were men on mule-back in the throat of the pass. They were invisible just beyond the edge of moonlight. Bits jingled. Voices. Presently five men rode forward and spread out fanwise—not good targets, just a bit too far away and sketchy in the uncertain light. There was no knowing for certain who they were. It would be bad business to shoot chance travellers on their way to the coast. However, they didn't behave like honest men. They advanced slowly toward the clump of trees, one leading by about twenty yards, who might be Charles Dumaurier. He looked a bit like him. The smoke was distinctly visible, rising straight up from the hollow. The hat was no good—too like a shadow and yet too sharp for a shadow. It would suggest a trick to anybody on the qui vive.

The man in the lead made signs with both arms. He had a rifle in his right hand. It was Charles Dumaurier—his gesture, his silhouette. What seemed to change the outline of his bullet head was probably a three-day growth of bristle. He appeared to intend to rush what he thought was a bivouac. His men manoeuvred to get behind him, riding along the trail in single file in order to make less noise.

That brought three of them in full moonlight within a range of about seventy yards.

"Let 'em have it!" said Hanno. He fired first, but he couldn't see his fore-sight. He hit a mule. It fell and lay kicking. Miguel's rifle dropped a man, whose scared mule bolted. The man with the shot mule caught its rein, remounted. That was all over in about five seconds.

Girdlestone fired last. The man who had just remounted reeled and fell from the saddle. Girdlestone ejected the empty shell.

"Is it still etiquette," he asked, "to notch your butt?"

"You'll do," said Hanno. "Watch out!"

Two more riders spurred out from the pass. That made five again; and all five faced the real ambush. They let go a ragged volley—straight, but it whined too high. Then Charles Dumaurier—no mistaking his voice—yelled, and they wheeled and rode at full gallop into the hollow where Hanno had tethered the mules. Three shots pursued them. All three missed as far as anyone could judge.

"And now," said Girdlestone, "the game begins."

"Spread!" said Hanno. "Girdlestone, you crawl to the right and find cover. Leave Miguel here. I'll take the left wing."

THEY were nearly fifty yards apart when four men crawled out of the hollow opposite—very difficult to see against the trees behind them. But there were sounds to the right. There was someone coming up the trail from Pearson's Place. Hanno began shooting, more with the hope of giving Cuyaga information—if it was Cuyaga—than of hitting anyone at that range. There were no answering shots. The enemy were crawling closer for a fight to the finish. But Girdlestone opened fire on the far right, imitating Hanno's dodge of not firing twice from the same place. Then Miguel opened up, and that seemed to puzzle Dumaurier's men; they didn't know how many rifles they had to deal with. They halted, hugging cover. Plenty of time to reload and to choose a better position, between an anthill and a clump of scrub—until it occurred to Hanno he was making a mistake. He should take the offensive. He felt now he could count on Girdlestone. But how about Miguel?

He was about to shout to Girdlestone when Charles Dumaurier let out a yell like a wild beast's roar from behind the clump of trees. His rifle stabbed the darkness down-trail. Three shots answered it from down-trail. Two of Dumaurier's men joined their rifle fire to their chief's. The other two fired at Hanno. Girdlestone began sniping steadily; then Miguel, then Hanno, from a new position. Six rapid shots again from down-trail. No hits apparently. One couldn't tell what was happening.

Suddenly Charles Dumaurier let out another yell and rode up out of the hollow. There he roared at the top of his lungs, shook his rifle and rode along a diagonal line for the jaw of the shadowy pass, crouching on the mule's back. He was too far off— moving too fast. Hanno missed him three times before he vanished in total darkness in the gut of the pass. He had loosed all the mules; they were scattering right and left, like goblins.

Hanno crawled forward. Dumaurier's men were firing wildly. Better to go in close and make an end of it. But he had to be careful; there were three men working their way uptrail in regular military style, two men firing while the other advanced. They were likely to shoot at anything they could see. There was a good chance, too, of being shot in the back by Miguel, unless he has used up all his ammunition; he had seemed to be trying to imitate a machine gun for the last couple of minutes.

Suddenly Dumaurier's men took to their heels; tried to catch the mules. Panic—sauve qui peut. It became a simple massacre—no guessing whose bullet had done the work—one mule shot dead as it crossed the line of someone's fire—a battue—a searing slit on Hanno's cheek—a ripped shirt-sleeve—four men dead of fourteen bullets. Then Cuyaga, with a flashlight.

HE was so weary, he swayed as he stood.

He could scarcely speak. Girdlestone gave him whisky from a flask. Miguel took his flashlight and examined the dead.

"All four of them Dumauriers," said Miguel, crossing himself. "Six Dumauriers dead! Senhores, let this be a lesson to us."

"Charles?" asked Cuyaga.

Hanno answered him: "Gone."

"It is just like Charles," said Miguel, "to loose the mules. It is a wonder he didn't shoot them. He is a rat. I hope I kill him. Imagine it—loosing the mules to compel his own brothers to stay and fight, while he escaped!"

Two Portuguese soldiers, leading three mules, staggered into the circle. They and their exhausted animals looked scarcely able to stand, but at a sign from Cuyaga they led the mules toward the trees and left them there as an inducement to tempt the runaways to come and be caught.

"No time to lose," said Hanno.

"Less time than you think," Cuyaga answered. But he didn't say why. He was watching his two soldiers. They had found the rope and bridles in the hollow. One of them made a noose in the rope, and they were artfully catching the strayed mules, one by one, as they came up to nuzzle the new arrivals that were too tired to move.

Cuyaga looked sharply at Hanno, then at Miguel. The glance was not exactly unfriendly; it was calculating. But he said nothing to explain it. He merely took back the flashlight from Miguel and glanced at his watch. Then:

"Charles Dumaurier will ride like the devil. He will wear out his mule. You have a chance to overtake him if you use your heads and spare your animals. There you are—there are three mules ready. Take them and ride on. And mind, now: kill him!"

Girdlestone coughed dryly.

"And you, senhor? You propose to look on?"

Cuyaga turned his back. He addressed Hanno:

"You know the way, I believe."

"Me, I know the way," said Miguel. He seemed suddenly to have become afraid of Cuyaga. He did everything short of touching his forelock. He ran to be first to climb into the saddle. Girdlestone stalked along behind Miguel. Hanno looked at Cuyaga.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing—yet, Senhor Hanno, except that you are wasting time. Adios, senhor."



Maclean's, 1 October 1934, with forth part of "Solomon's Half-way House"

"LEAD on," said Hanno.

But Miguel demurred: "Car-rr-amba, senhor, Dumaurier is no longer my friend! He would rather shoot me than you. I should ride last. What say you?"

Girdlestone promptly took the lead—half-seeing; he had smashed one lens of his spectacles. He didn't know the way. He looked exactly what he was—a rather prematurely ageing scholar, fit to take charge of a summer vacation camp. But he was a strangely gallant figure, upright, moonlit, on a mule that had already sensed his inexperience. He was having hard work to manage reins and rifle.

Hanno knew the way well enough. But Miguel knew it better and was a much better judge of what the mules could do.

"I had begun to think you were a man," said Hanno. Miguel shrugged, swore, seemed to hesitate, then suddenly rode forward. In another moment Girdlestone was last. Night thudded to the steady ambling hoofbeat of three mules that knew there was work to be done. They thumped along a sandy uphill trail into gloom that deepened as the flanking hills grew higher and as clouds began banking below the moon. Girdlestone shouted from the rear:

"What chance of rain?"

Miguel answered over-shoulder:

"Never! No rain yet for a month. If there is justice in heaven, let it not rain!"

But Charles Dumaurier's favorite boast—"the devil serves me"—seemed more accurate than the almanac. First came rain and then the wind—hail—thunder—blasts from the Libombas screaming through the gaps all ways at once. No shelter until lightning revealed an overhanging granite rock, blackened by the bivouac fires of generations. Miguel rode beneath it and drew rein until the steaming mules were nose to nose.

"Let us wait here until daylight."

"Are you out for your health?" asked Hanno. "Senhor, no less than you am I chivalrous. Nor am I superstitious—heaven forbid it! But this is not yet the season for rain. This is a warning to prevent our going forward."

Hanno interrupted: "See here. Use your brains. Dumaurier will count on this to stop us. So he may ease up a bit, to save himself if not his mule. He has had no rest lately, remember."

Girdlestone agreed. His teeth were chattering. "We'll catch our death of chill here. Let's go." A flash of lightning revealed the wet track—the terror in Miguel's eyes, the flint in Girdlestone's. The leathery old prof. was lost, limp, bewildered, but he'd die before he'd quit. Hanno wheeled his mule into the rain and rode on. They followed, splashing behind him. The mules began to put some stingo into it to get the sooner to the journey's end. They were Dumaurier's mules; they knew the distance to the stable.

On, then, in the drenching dark, by bridle-paths that seemed to hang, when the lightning flashed, between roaring chaos and the blue-black home of Thunder. Streams crashed upon unseen shelves of rock and tumbled in roaring tumult amid boulders, rolling them until the cannonade of rock on rock outbid the storm. It was up to the mules and their homing sense. The haunting dread in Hanno's mind was Dumaurier's mule, that would also be yearning for cracked corn in a warm, dry shed.

A nightmare ride—worse than a storm at sea. What could Hanno imagine? Doris? How imagine her? He only knew her as a quietly unobtrusive girl with grey eyes who had spent a night and a day as his guest; whose company he liked because she hadn't any affectations. She had been so natural and companionable that he hardly remembered what he said to her or what she said to him, except for their talk about Girdlestone. He tried to remember Dumaurier's place—it was almost a village—and imagine where she might be. He couldn't imagine. But he could imagine too easily Charles Dumaurier, somewhere ahead in the rain. What chance had Doris Girdlestone against a bully so contemptuous of manhood as to leave his brothers in the lurch to save his own neck? He might mean to carry her off as a hostage. He might not. Part Mauritius-French, part negro, part Portuguese, a trace of back-street English, murderer—perhaps a maniac!

Ride, ride, ride—with wrinkled khaki chafing raw skin, counting hoof-beats, measuring the ill-remembered miles— counting again and again his unused ammunition—staring ahead, to miss no glimpse of the trail through driving rain when lightning flashed it into view. He wondered how Girdlestone felt. His fault. His daughter. He could hardly be enjoying himself. He could hear Miguel snorting as loud as his mule, but no sound from the prof. except the splash of his animal's hoofs now and then where the water lay deep. Kill him? Maybe. Pity. Not a bad sort the prof. after all. Kill Miguel? Serve him right. But a tough guy, Miguel—hard-bitten and hard to kill—good sense, cowardice and cynicism all mixed. Not a bad sort, in his own way.

A bad night. Hungry. Bones, nerves, muscles, eyes, all aching. But daylight at last and the end of the storm. Sunrise, turning swamps below to southward into opal splendor. Mules' ears up again at last, set forward. Girdlestone—he hardly dared to look—bolt upright, grim as death, eyes straight ahead of him, his long lips tight, his rifle across his knees and reins loose on the mule's neck. All in—an automaton; his strength of will had burned all the strength of his body. He was no more good.

Miguel? Wet, fat, sullen—Portuguesy—head between his shoulders—sodden black hat drooping over his ears. Saving himself. Sulky. No spurt left in him, no humor, no enthusiasm—no fear, either. Murderous. Probably dependable, at something less than half-speed.

The smell of wet earth, even stronger than the smell of wet mules—mist steaming upward—and at last a glimpse of Dumaurier's gap, in a notch of the range of hills ahead. If he was home he could see them coming. His nest was well placed; he could view every yard of the trail for ten miles; he could set an ambush in any one of a hundred clumps of low scrub. The trail dipped downward for a mile, then upward—

Suddenly he saw him!

Was his mule lame? He was down in the dip. He seemed stuck in the stream that crossed the trail—no—perhaps letting the mule drink—out—on—slowly—the mule was walking.

"If his mule has drunk too much—" said Miguel.

No one else spoke. Girdlestone seemed asleep. He wasn't, but he didn't react; his nerves had quit. Hanno bullied his tired mule to a faster stride and Miguel kept pace, but Girdlestone lagged in the rear.

It was a funeral pace, a snail's pace. Hanno tried to ride like Tod Sloan, but the mule wouldn't respond. Then Dumaurier saw them.

FOR a moment he looked like putting up a fight, right there where he was. No. He rode on. He was having trouble with his mule. Hanno, his eyes strained from staring through the night, couldn't make out what was happening. Miguel gained, stride by stride, until his mule's nose was at Hanno's knee.

"He rode too hard," said Miguel. "His mule is half-dead. Quick now, and we overtake him!"

Miguel was heavier than Hanno, but he knew how to get that last ounce out of a spent mule. It was like a cavalry charge—a real one, not a painting—men and animals too foundered to think speed, too numb to feel, too nerveless to do more than strain and strain, carried along by each other's half- conscious nightmare rivalry. Miguel led by a yard until they staggered through the watercourse and began to breast the rise.

Then Dumaurier's mule fell. He shot it—no one knew why; it looked like the rage of a cornered maniac. He put three shots into it. He shot it after it was dead. Then—at a range that was proof conclusive he had lost all judgment—he fired three shots at Miguel and Hanno. Then he ran—to the right—the wrong side of a dyke in the flank of the rise—in full view.

A man could have walked almost as fast as the mules were going. Miguel tried a pot-shot from the saddle—you could see where his bullet knocked a lump of rock from the dyke fifteen or twenty feet away from the scrambling target. What was Dumaurier doing? Scrambling like a madman, pulling away stones. Building a wall to fight behind? Not likely; there were scores of good chances to take cover.

Suddenly the mules quit. They refused to pass the dead mule. Girdlestone was jog-jog-jogging down the trail, best part of half-a-mile away; he hadn't reached the stream yet. Hanno rolled out of the saddle and reeled. His legs wouldn't function. He had to waste about a minute exercising them. As for his arms—he knew he couldn't shoot straight—no use kidding himself—go close—shoot at short range where he couldn't miss—perhaps his arms would steady up a bit when he used them for something else than holding reins and rifle hour after hour. A bullet from Dumaurier whined so wide that the odds of fatigue seemed pretty evenly divided. Miguel threw up the sponge:

"I can't walk!"

Hanno led him; shoved him up on to a rise at the side of the track.

"Lie there. Blaze away when you see him—and try not to hit me!"

Nothing for it but to follow Dumaurier's course up the flank of the dyke. Not so difficult after a minute or two. Down near the trail it was as rough as the devil—all loose rock, but after fifty or sixty feet there was a regular groove of smooth rock, almost like a gutter, washed clean by the rain. But no cover—and no sign of Dumaurier.

However, Miguel's rifle spat—three times. Better hurry. Take a chance on being hit by Miguel. Dumaurier couldn't fire two ways at once.

"Can I shoot straight when I see him? Go close! Go close!"

Sudden then, so sudden it was paralyzing. Tumbled rock to right and left, a stink of animals, a dark hole—one shot from Miguel, chipping the rock three feet away—then the flash of Dumaurier's rifle—flash, din, stink of powder—still alive, anyhow!—forward, down into a dark hole—headlong. Hanno jumped, in an instinctive effort to fall spread-eagled. He kicked something. Someone grabbed his leg. He fell on his shoulder-blades on soft dirt, and the jolt did him good but he lost his rifle. He could see daylight through the hole—saw Dumaurier—no rifle, either—he had kicked him in the eye.

They grappled. He didn't remember his pistol until Dumaurier tried to get it. He couldn't see. They gasped in each other's faces. He couldn't get his arm free. He fired with the pistol jammed against Dumaurier's torso somewhere, then crawled clear and sat with his back to a wall. He sat still for a long time—an eternity—perhaps four—five minutes.

MIGUEL and Girdlestone were in a sort of dumb conference, staring at each other across a mule that was too tired to move away and let Girdlestone collapse. Hanno tapped his pistol to explain what had happened. Then he got the flask out of Girdlestone's haversack and made him drink some whisky.

Miguel pointed back along the trail. Away in the distance were three men on mule-back, vague against the skyline, visible only because they moved. Cuyaga was coming. A new emotion, unexplainable and irrational, seized all three and yet no two of them alike. Miguel spoke:

"So Charles Dumaurier is dead? I will wait here. I will tell Cuyaga." He was in no danger, with no Charles Dumaurier alive to betray confidences. He didn't propose to exert himself or to run risks for nothing. The girl was Girdlestone's—or Hanno's—anyhow, not Miguel's. Miguel took the flask from Girdlestone and helped himself.

Girdlestone grinned. Fatigue and whisky had released whatever it was that underlay stubbornness. There was a kind of cunning on his strained face. His broken spectacles magnified one eye; the other stared dull through a glassless rim. He stared at Miguel.

"You know—what?" he demanded. It hurt him to speak. But it hurt him more to think Miguel knew where to look for the treasure. He hated to leave Miguel alone.

"Stay here, both of you," said Hanno. "Mules are all in. So are you. You can't walk."

He turned and left them. Weariness had stripped him, too, down to essentials. A lone-handed man. No dramatics for him, no audience; none but himself, and above all not Girdlestone. Why? He couldn't have answered; didn't ask himself. He walked on. Thank goodness, his feet weren't sore. He was bruised all over and bleeding somewhere—or perhaps the blood was Dumaurier's. He tucked the rifle under his arm, washed his hands on the wet leaves that overhung the trail and wiped them on his pants. He wished he had something to smoke. His pipe was broken. His matches and his one packet of cigarettes were all pulp from the rain. He didn't once glance backward. Treasure? Let 'em have it!

HE arrived in the gap and stood still. It was like a dream. He rubbed his eyes on the back of his hand and stared. Dumaurier's house wasn't there. Had he gone blind or something? Stables, yes. Huts, yes—some of them. Sheds, yes. Wagons, cattle kraal, some goats, a cur dog. Half a dozen snuff-and-butter-colored brats, all staring and ready to run. But no house. It was nearly a minute before he realized the house had burned down. It was a tangle of blackened iron and charred wood. Last night's rain had put the fire out. Nine-tenths of the ruin had fallen through the burned floor to the cellar. Seven of thirteen thatched huts —"separate apartments" as Dumaurier called them, in which he kept his black wives—had burned, too. The six unburned ones were beyond the ruin.

Lightning? Not likely. It must have burned before the rain came. Arson? Was that why Dumaurier bolted homeward? If so, how had he received the news? By native runner? Too late to ask Dumaurier!

Not a human being in sight, except those bare-bellied brats. Not a word of English, open-mouthed, pop-eyed, stupid—might as well question the dog. One of the brats ran to a hut on the far side—big hut, bigger than the others. Hanno followed. The kid vanished. So did all the other kids.

"Better watch out for Dumaurier's Nubians; they're killers."

But he walked across the open with his rifle in the crook of his arm, cold-eyed, steady. His hands weren't shaking now. Nothing shook. Nothing wavered. If he had come too late, it was not too late for vengeance, although he didn't think of it as vengeance. He would know. He would act.

The hut was the middle one—oval, low-eaved. A woman —fat, with a broken nose; he recognized her—stuck her head out through the low door, slammed the door shut and shot the bolt. He tried to kick the door down, but he couldn't. He took a sharp stick and began to dig at the dry mud wall. The door opened. He shoved his rifle through, and followed that—a fool trick; someone could have grabbed the rifle, but nobody did. He had to duck low to go in. It was very dark in there. Full of women—he could hear them. They smelt like mice. He saw eyes, shapes—eight; no, nine women—and a heap of sacking. The sacking moved. He stepped toward it; sensed or imagined something, and ducked quick. A hatchet missed him. A woman crawled into the darkest corner. The sacking writhed.

He fired a pistol shot into the thatch. They understood that. Silence—breathless.

"Pull those sacks off!" he commanded.

One of them understood that. She pulled the sacks off one by one, using one hand, groping beneath with the other. Hanno took a step toward her, so she went to work like a terrier in hay, with both hands. There were fifty or sixty sacks. They stank of stables.

BOUND, gagged, tied to a crowbar driven deep into the earth floor. He pulled out his knife and cut her loose.


"No. Where's father?"

"Half a mile away. He's all right."

He led her outside, limping because the leather rein had bitten deep into her ankle. Her eyes were valiant. The gag had pressed her lips white. A woman slammed the hut door behind them and shot the stinkwood bar into its notch in the post.

"Can you walk?"


Silence. Not a word about herself. Swell girl. She was in pain, too. When they came to the gap she had to stop and chafe her ankle. She sat on the rock where Dumaurier used to sit with his spyglass to see who was coming. There were those brats again. They stared, expecting something. There was lots of cover for a rifleman. The women's huts were hardly beyond pistol range. Hanno stood and faced the compound with his rifle ready.

"Charles Dumaurier?" she asked.

"Dead." He didn't look at her.

"Did you kill him?"

"Did you think I'd kiss him?"

He turned and looked down the trail. He could count six mules where he had left three, this side of the dead one. Where was Cuyaga? Miguel? Girdlestone? Strange customer, Cuyaga; you'd have thought he'd ride on. Treasure? Maybe. Come to think of it, Dumaurier had acted like a maniac, unless—maybe that hole was the cache he had said was Solomon's.

HE didn't want to talk. He felt too good, and he wanted her to feel good, too. The sun was 'way up and the mist was going. Earth smelled good, looked good. Away in the distance he could see the Limpopo River, blue between green banks, winding seaward. In his mind's eye he could see his little ketch at anchor. The sea was waiting for him. However, when he saw she could walk without too much distress, he asked a question, taking care to grin, so that she'd begin to recover humor even if she couldn't feel it yet.

"Who tied you?"

"The women. When we got here Dumaurier pulled the sack off my head, and gave me some food. I felt better. Then one of Dumaurier's brothers tried to kiss me, and there was a fight. Charles Dumaurier knocked him down. I thought he'd killed him. But he got up, and went out of the house spitting blood. I heard him gallop away. After that they locked me in a bedroom, and I was glad to lie down. But I heard Charles and his brothers ride away. I fell asleep. When I woke up it was getting dark, but I felt fit for anything, so I knelt on the cot and looked through the window, thinking of escape. I could see the young Dumaurier that Charles had knocked down. He was talking to the two Nubians. They were quite near, but of course I couldn't understand a word, except when the Nubians couldn't understand him either and he used a little English; but when he did that he dropped his voice. I thought I understood him to say Charles was done for, or as good as done for. He may not have said that. He came into the house and I heard him break a door down. Perhaps he took money; I don't know. He took something. I know he drank, and I know he gave some to the Nubians. Then he rode off. It was dark. I had no lamp. I heard the Nubians drinking in the other room. I was scared."

"Better talk about something else then."

"No, I'm all right now. The black women came in, lots of them, and began to quarrel with the Nubians. I broke the cot and took a piece of it to break out the iron window-bars—they were only set in a wooden frame. But the Nubians smashed the door and came in. There was an awful fight. The Nubians had left their guns in the other room and one of the women ran off with them. All the other women tried to keep the Nubians from dragging me out of the house. They fought like tigers, and I tried to escape, but two women held me—they had hands like vises; I couldn't break their hold. One of the Nubians broke loose and found a full can of kerosene. He swished it all over the floor of the big room, and then set fire to it with the table lamp.

"We had to run. The house burned like tinder, and the sparks fired the roofs of the huts. The Nubians still tried to carry me off, and I kept trying to escape, although I don't know what I'd have done if I had escaped. At last one of the women hit a Nubian with an axe, from behind, and the other one dragged him away. I don't know where they went. The women tied me hand and loot, and buried me under a heap of sacks, and I don't know what happened after that, except that there was a thunderstorm, until about fifteen minutes before you came, when they pulled off the sacking and gagged me, and then heaped on more sacking."

"Well, it's all over," said Hanno. "There's nothing so good as the fine weather after a storm."

HIS eyes were on the skyline. She was looking at him. He knew it. After about a minute she switched her thought to the other track again:

"Are those black women Dumaurier's wives?"

"His widows."

"Then I think my guess was right. I believe they were trying to save me for Charles Dumaurier."

"Sure. Good dogs, guarding the master's loot. Do you play hunches?" His eyes were again on the skyline. "I've a hot one. There's a showdown coming. Pretend you know more than you do. But say nothing."

"Very well."

She was looking at him again, and again he knew it, although he stared ahead. The wind came straight along the trail toward them. There was a noise like machine-gun firing in the distance. There were small objects moving toward them—not mules; too low, too swift. Motor cycles.

The six mules were grazing. Miguel, arm in arm with Girdlestone, came staggering down the track at the side of the dyke. Girdlestone fell where the going was rough, near the bottom. He was drunk. Not very drunk, but incapable. He had no restraint now—nothing left but the ten-year-old boy that had read books and promised himself to become a great explorer. No manners left. He leered at Doris. Miguel dragged him to his feet.

"Well, so there you are. 'Shamed of yourself, I daresay—all the trouble you've been. See this? See it? Who said I was looney? Eh? Who's looney?"

He produced his handkerchief, unknotted it. It was full of finely crushed quartz.

"Gold! Shipping ore! Refractory—they couldn't extract it. So they carried it on slaves' heads to the Limpopo, to be shipped home and treated. This was half-way house."

"That cave is full of this," said Miguel. "Charles was afraid to ship it, for fear the Government would find out."

"Skeletons!" said Girdlestone. "Lots. Skulls all broken. Slaves killed—stop 'em talking. What do I care!" He flung the crushed quartz at Miguel. "I've found what he called his plaque. It's genuine. Pre-Mishnaic Hebrew! Idiot—he never pried it loose. More than a hundred others underneath it. Priceless. Ha ha!" He pulled out a big stiff envelope. "Agreement with the Portuguese in Lisbon—certified by U.S. consul- general. They get the bullion—all theirs. I get what's worth having. Ha ha!"

He shook the envelope at Doris. "Who said I was looney?"

CUYAGA had been standing near the mouth of the hole, shading his eyes with his hand. He stared until two motor-cycles crackled to a standstill near the dead mule. Down at the stream were four more motor-cycles, one with a side-car having hard work to get through. Away behind, uphill, was what looked like a motor-ambulance. Cuyaga came down on the run. Nobody spoke. Two Portuguese soldiers, lolling at ease beside their motor cycles, sprang to attention and saluted Cuyaga. He stared at Hanno.

"The commandant," he said. "From Chai-Chai." He beckoned Hanno aside, stared hard and spoke swiftly: "I have taken possession in the name of the Republic of Portugal. He"—he glanced at Girdlestone—"has authority, given in Lisbon. I was sent from Lisbon to investigate." He tapped his breast. "I have authority that I must show to the commandant—now, before he—take care that he doesn't investigate you! You understand me? Excuse me a moment." He strode away to meet the side-car coming up-hill.

Miguel walked up, green-grey.

"Senhor, you and I must stick together. Cuyaga lingered to search the Dumauriers' pockets. This is the commandant. To shut my mouth, and perhaps yours also, he will arrest us both for having burned the postoffice. Cuyaga is betraying us now!"

"Not he," said Hanno. "Watch Cuyaga. He's a man, if I know one."

They watched Cuyaga. He and the commandant stood alone, out of earshot of the soldiers. The commandant's shoulders and arms were working, but Cuyaga stood quite still. It was worth watching. Suddenly the commandant stiffened. Cuyaga saluted him; he walked to his side-car, got in, gave a command, a horn tooted a signal. The two near the dead mule started their engines and rode forward. In another moment the commandant in his side-car whizzed past, looking straight ahead and seeing nothing. Cuyaga came leisurely uphill. Girdlestone was laying down the law to Doris; he sounded half-crazy, but it was only whisky on a tired brain. She was pretending to listen, but watching Hanno.

Cuyaga approached Hanno, smiling.

"He has gone," he said, "to wipe out all the rest of the Dumauriers or—or be investigated. There are twenty more men on the way, but he came in a hurry to settle my hash, if that is the right phrase. My American is rusty. He will settle yours unless you step lively. He has had a close call. He may try to save his self-esteem by setting his teeth into someone else. And you burned the office at Pearson's Place. So clear out."


"The Girdlestones are all right. He has official documents. Girdlestone is mentioned in my letter of authority. But you—get to sea!"

"I have to go to Lourenço Marques for clearance papers first."

"Do you see that ambulance? I will send you in that as far as the ford. Take the rowboat from there to Chai-Chai, weigh your anchor, and go! There's no telegraph wire between here and Lourenço Marques. Get your clearance papers and put out to sea without wasting a minute."

Cuyaga was looking at Doris. Anticipation was in his eyes. Hanno went up and interrupted Girdlestone.

"I'm going. Cuyaga says you're safe enough."

"Going? Alone?"

Hanno looked straight at Doris. There was a second's silence.

"No, not alone," he answered.

Girdlestone seemed dazed. "Going where?"

"Lourenço Marques for papers. Then Reunion, Mauritius, Zanzibar, Seychelles, Socotra—and all islands east. Doris will probably write to you from—"

"Zanzibar," said Doris.

"Well, I'll be darned!" said Girdlestone.

Cuyaga grinned and shook his fist.

"Trust you, Hanno, to steal the only girl in sight! I congratulate her. You annoy me. Get going. Shake hands."

Miguel sighed.

"Romance?" he said. "Romance? I never even guessed it! Senhora—senhor—Miguel Braganza's felicitations!" He bowed with a dancing-master motion of the right foot, making a perfect Old World gesture with his broad- brimmed, battered black hat.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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