The Dollar Chasers by Earl Derr Biggers
First published in The Saturday Evening Post, Feb 16 & 23,
IT was a lovely, calm evening in San Francisco, and the sun
was going down on Simon Porter's wrath. An old habit of the
rose to find Simon in an equally turbulent mood, for twenty years of daily
newspaper editing had jangled Simon's nerves and wrath sprang eternal in his
He crossed the city room in his quest of the youngest—and, as it
happened, the ablest—of his reporters. The boy he sought was seated
one of the copy-desk telephones, gazing fondly into the transmitter and
speaking honeyed words.
"Say, that's mighty kind of you, Sally.... No, haven't heard about it yet,
but I probably will.... To-morrow night at six. Pier 99. I'll be there. And I
may add that in the interval, time will go by on lagging feet. No, I said
lagging. It's poetry. See you to-morrow, Sally. Good-by."
He turned to meet the chill eye of his managing editor.
"Ah," Simon Porter said, "so you call her Sally."
"Yes, sir," Bill Hammond answered respectfully. "It saves time."
"Does old Jim Batchelor know how you address his only child?"
"Probably not. He's a busy man."
"He'll be a lot busier when he hears about you. He'll have you boiled in
oil. A newspaper reporter at fifty a week!"
"A mere pittance," Bill Hammond agreed, and would have pursued that topic
"All you're worth," added the editor hastily. "I suppose the girl told
you. I begin to see now. The whole idea came from her."
"She mentioned a delightful possibility," said the boy. "However, I take
my orders from you."
Simon Porter relapsed into wrath.
"Gives me about enough reporters to get out a good high-school magazine,"
he cried. "And then sends one of them off on a picnic to please a girl!"
"Yes, sir," put in Bill Hammond brightly.
"I'm speaking of our respected owner. He's just called up—you're to
aboard Jim Batchelor's yacht for a week-end cruise to Monterey. Golf at Del
Monte and Pebble Beach; and if there's anything else you want, ask for it.
The launch will be at Pier 99 to-morrow evening at six. But you appear to
know all this."
"It sounds more authentic when you say it, sir."
"Bah! It's an assignment. I don't suppose she told you that."
"No, sir. She didn't mention sordid things."
"There's been an Englishman named Mikklesen afflicting this town for the
past week. He's just back from ten years in the Orient and he isn't fond of
the Japs. Neither is Jim Batchelor. Neither is our beloved owner. You're to
listen to Mikklesen talk and write up his opinions."
"Sounds easy," commented Bill Hammond.
"It's a cinch. Listening to Mikklesen talk is what those who hang round
with him don't do nothing else but. All rot though. With real news breaking
every minute—and me short of men!"
He started to move away.
"Er—I presume I don't come in to-morrow," suggested the reporter.
His chief glared at him.
"Who says you don't? That line you got off about time going by on lagging
feet—you spoke too soon. It won't lag. I'll attend to
report to-morrow as usual."
"Yes, sir," answered Bill Hammond meekly. A hard man, he reflected.
"And listen to me." The managing editor retraced his steps. "About this
Sally Batchelor—I suppose she's easy to look at?"
"No trouble at all."
"Well, you keep your mind on your work." His expression softened. "Not a
chance in the world, my lad. Old Jim Batchelor couldn't see you with the
telescope over at Lick Observatory. It's money, money, money with him."
"So I've heard."
"He's still got the first dollar he ever earned. He'll show it to you.
Where is the first dollar you earned?"
"Somebody," said Bill Hammond, "got it away from me."
"Precisely. That's where you and old Jim are different. I'm telling you. I
don't want to see a good reporter go wrong."
"A good reporter, sir?"
"That's what I said."
Bill Hammond smiled. It brightened the corner where he was.
"To-morrow," he ventured, "is Friday—the day before the pay
"I'll give you an order on the cashier," said Simon. He wrote on a slip of
paper and handed it over.
"Twenty-five dollars!" Bill Hammond read. "And I was thinking of a
Simon Porter smiled grimly.
"You take your other shirt and go aboard. Your role is not to dazzle. I've
just got through telling you."
And he strode away to the cubby-hole where he did his editing.
His departure left Bill Hammond alone in the city room, for this was an
evening paper and the last edition was on the street. Jim Batchelor's
prospective guest remained seated by the copy desk. He was, to judge from his
expression, doing a bit of thinking. Some of his thoughts appeared to be
pleasant ones, while others were not so much so. The grave mingled with the
gay, and this had been true of his reveries ever since that exciting day when
he first met Sally Batchelor.
Sent by his paper to cover a charity fete for the benefit of some
orphanage, he had caught his first glimpse of Sally's trim figure while she
was yet afar off. Instantly, something had happened to his heart. It had
been, up to that moment, a heart that had lain singularly dormant in the
presence of the opposite sex. But now it leaped up, threw off its lethargy
and prepared to get into action. It urged him to fight his way at once to
this young woman's side.
Arrived in that pleasant neighborhood, he realized that his initial
impression, startling and vivid as it had been, had not done the poor girl
justice. She smiled upon him, and his heart seemed to say that this was the
smile it had been waiting for. She was selling flowers, her prices were
exorbitant; but the soft, lovely voice in which she named them made them
sound absurdly reasonable. The somewhat unsteady Bill Hammond became her
steady customer. Gladly he handed her all the money he had; and in other
ways, too, it would have been evident to an onlooker that he was ready and
willing to take her as his life's companion. If not, why not?
The answer was not slow in coming. Some busybody insisted on introducing
them, and at mention of her name Bill Hammond knew that this girl was, alas,
not one of the orphans. True, she had at the moment only one
Jim Batchelor, president of the Batchelor Construction Company, was the
sort of man who never let an obstacle stand in his way; but as an obstacle he
himself had, off and on, stood firmly in the way of a good many other people.
And he would certainly make the stand of his life in the path of any
practically penniless young man who had the audacity to admire his
This bitter thought clouded the remaining moments Bill Hammond spent in
the girl's company, and presently he left the charity fete, resolved never to
speak to her again. But as time went on it began to appear that the afternoon
had been more eventful for him than for any one else, the orphans included.
He had fallen in love.
Love comes to many as a blessed annoyance, and so it came to Bill Hammond.
Up to that moment he had been happy and carefree; which is to say, he had
been young in San Francisco, no more appropriate city in which to spend one's
youth having as yet been built by man. Now he had a great deal on his mind.
Should he give up all thought of the girl and go his way a broken man? Or
should he get busy and acquire such wealth that his own paper would speak of
the subsequent marriage as the union of two great fortunes? Generally, he
favored the latter course, though the means to wealth did not appear to be at
hand, as any one who has worked on a newspaper will appreciate.
Meanwhile he was accepting dinner and dance invitations of the sort he had
previously eluded. If his plan was to avoid Sally Batchelor, it did not work.
She was frequently among those present, and, seemingly unaware of the vast
difference in their stations, she continued to smile upon him. A sort of
friendship—nothing more, of course—grew up between them. She
escort occasionally, had tea with him at the St. Francis. And now she had
arranged for him to go on this yachting trip and meet her famous father. He
was to beard the mighty lion in his palatial floating den.
He was, there in the dusk of the city room, a bit appalled at the idea.
Ridiculous, of course. Why should he fear Jim Batchelor? As far as family
went, he had all the better of it. His ancestors had been professional men
and scholars, while Jim Batchelor's were neatly placing one brick in close
juxtaposition to another. But money—ah, money. Those few bonds his
had left him, the paltry additional bunch that would be his when Aunt Ella
died—chicken feed in the eyes of Batchelor, no doubt. In this cold world
only cash counted.
Cynical thoughts, these; he put them from him. The spirit of adventure
began to stir in his broad chest. Sally had been kind enough to arrange this
party; she would find he was no quitter. He would go and meet this demon
father face to face. He would discover what it was all about—the awe
which men spoke of the money king. Probably a human being, like anybody else.
Yes, as Simon had suggested, he would take his other shirt Suddenly his
thoughts took a new and more practical turn. He pictured himself arrayed for
dinner on the Batchelor yacht. In what? There was, he recalled, not a single
clean dress shirt in his room, and his laundry would not be returned until
Saturday. As for buying new linen, the dent in that twenty-five dollars would
be serious. What to do?
He pondered. Beyond, in the cubby-hole known—secretly—among the
reporters as the kennel, he saw Simon Porter frowning savagely over a rival
paper's last edition. Should he ask more money from Simon? The profile was
not encouraging. Then into his mind flashed the picture of a Chinese laundry
on Kearny Street he had passed many times. It was, according to the sign, the
establishment of Honolulu Sam, and a crudely lettered placard in the window
bore this promise:
LAUNDRY LEFT BEFORE EIGHT A.M. BACK SAME DAY
What could be fairer than that? Honolulu Sam solved the problem.
Bill Hammond rose, called a good night to the man in the cubby-hole and
was on his way. It was his plan to go somewhere for a brief and lonely
dinner, then hurry to his apartment, gather up his laundry and place it in
the hands of the speedy Honolulu Sam at once. After which he would return
home and get a good night's sleep. It had been a long time since he'd had
one, and he felt the need of it—
But such resolutions are rarely kept in San Francisco. Men hurry to their
work in the morning, promising themselves that it will be early to bed that
night for them. And then, late in the afternoon, the fog comes rolling in,
and vim and vigor take the place of that cold-gray-dawn sensation. As a
consequence, another pleasant evening is had by all.
Bill Hammond met some friends at dinner, and when he finally returned to
his apartment it was too late to disturb the Chinese from Hawaii. He made a
neat bundle of his proposed laundry, set his alarm clock for six and turned
"Get lots of sleep on the yacht," he promised himself.
At seven-thirty next morning he stood at the counter of Honolulu Sam.
"Back five-thirty this afternoon," he ordered loudly.
"Back same day. Maybe seven, maybe eight."
"Five-thirty," repeated Bill Hammond firmly.
Sam stared at him with a glassy eye and slowly shook his head.
"Dollar extra for you if you do it," added Bill, and laid the currency on
Sam appropriated it.
"Can do," he admitted.
"All right," said Bill. "I'll depend on you." He had meant the dollar only
as an evidence of good faith, to be paid later. But no matter. A Chinese
always kept his word.
He went out into what was practically the dawn, feeling confident of the
future. With five clean shirts and other apparel in proportion, let them
bring on their yacht. Easy, nonchalant, debonair, he would make himself the
pride of the deep—and of Sally. Ah, Sally! At the corner of Post and
the flower venders were setting out their wares. Bill took a deep breath.
Life was a garden of blossoms.
When he reached the office, Simon Porter robbed the garden of its
fragrance by sending him on a difficult assignment. All day he was kept
hustling, with no time for lunch. It was exactly five-thirty when he grabbed
his suitcase and set out for the bounding wave. Simon met him at the door and
"Bon voyage, little brother of the rich," he said. "By the way, I've just
heard you're to have a very distinguished fellow passenger."
"Of course. The Prince of Wales."
"Nobody so jolly—Henry T. Frost."
"What? Old Henry Frost?"
"Our beloved owner, our dear employer, the good master who has it in his
power to sell us all down the river—and would do it without batting an
Here's your chance. Make the most of it, win his love and respect, and when I
die of overwork, as I certainly shall inside a week, maybe he'll give you my
"I can't say I'm yearning to meet him," admitted Bill Hammond.
"You're talking sense. I've met him at least three hundred times, and I've
always had cause to regret it. You know, something tells me you'd better stay
at home. You could develop whooping cough, and I could send one of the other
"To-day is Friday."
"What of it?"
"Friday the thirteenth. Does that mean nothing to you?"
"Not a thing, sir. See you later."
"Well, fools rush in " began Simon, but Bill Hammond had disappeared.
* * * * *
YOUNG Mr. Hammond felt not at all foolish as he hurried down
Market Street, bound first for the establishment of Honolulu Sam and later
for Pier 99. The going was slow, for the street was crowded with commuters on
their way to the ferries. This little cruise, he thought, might very well
prove the turning point in his life. The next few days were as bright with
glittering possibilities as a Christmas tree decked for the great
He turned down Kearny Street, that thoroughfare of adventures, and at Post
an adventure befell him. The traffic was held up, and he was hurrying to
cross in front of a very wealthy-looking automobile, when a familiar voice
called, "Whoo-hoo, Bill!" He looked, and from the window of the car he
beheld protruding the head of Sally Batchelor. It was a lovely sight, but one
he would gladly have dispensed with at the moment. However, he had gazed
straight into her bright eyes, and to pretend not to see her was now out of
the question. He circled a plebeian taxi and reached her side. She was
holding open the door of the car.
"This is luck," she cried gayly. "We're on our way to the pier. Jump
Jump in! Without his laundry! A cold shiver ran down his spine. Luck, she
called this meeting, but he was not so sure. He noted that there were three
other people in the car—an elderly woman and two men. One of the
undoubtedly Jim Batchelor, and—yes, the other was Henry Frost. Millions
"I—I'm sorry," Bill stammered. "I've got a very important errand
I'll see you later."
"What sort of errand?" inquired Sally.
"It's—it's just round the corner—"
"Get in. We'll take you there."
He shuddered at the thought of this fifteen-thousand-dollar car, with two
Japanese servants on the driver's seat, pulling up before the headquarters of
Honolulu Sam, laundry left before eight a.m. back same day.
"Oh, no, no, really—you go along, Sally. I'll follow in a taxi."
The traffic cop had signaled for an advance and a presumptuous flivver was
honking indignantly just behind Jim Batchelor's magnificence.
"Go along, Sally," urged Bill Hammond nervously. A passing car flipped his
"We'll draw up at the curb in the next block and wait for you," she
answered, smiling sweetly. Obedience wasn't in her, evidently. "Here, give me
your suitcase. I'll keep it for you."
"Ah—er—no—no." He hugged it tight. "I'll keep it. I
Another picture anguished him—the vision of himself rushing back
Bachelor's presence with a large package all too obviously laundry. The
clamor in the rear increased; the traffic cop was approaching.
"What's the idea here?" he wanted to know.
"Go along, Sally," Bill pleaded again.
Now that he had the law on his side, she obeyed. Sinking back into the
car, she closed the door in the policeman's face.
"Don't be long, will you?" she smiled.
The car began to move, and Bill dodged between it and the flivver, holding
the precious suitcase close. Leaping for his life, he made the opposite curb,
while angry chauffeurs inquired as to his sanity. He hurried on, groaning. Of
all the inopportune meetings—
A bell clanged loudly behind him as he entered the steamy precincts of
Honolulu Sam. He tossed a red check on the counter, and plumping his suitcase
down beside it, began to unfasten the clasps.
"Come on," he called. "Little speed here. Give me that wash."
The figure that emerged from the rear was not that of Honolulu Sam, but of
a bent and aged Chinese wearing a pair of badly steamed spectacles. Sam,
having business over on Grant Avenue, had left the place in charge of his
uncle, down from Sacramento on a visit.
"Hurry, man, hurry!" cried Bill Hammond, waiting impatiently above his
But speed was not one of uncle's inborn traits. He deliberately wiped his
spectacles on the tail of a handy shirt, took up the red check, and stood
helplessly in front of the finished work.
"Please, please!" cried Bill. "It's done—I know it's done. I paid a
dollar extra to make sure. Where's Sam? Say, listen, we're keeping all the
money in San Francisco waiting. Let me help you—oh, I can't read that
But please get a move on."
The old man made a gesture as of one requesting peace. He turned reproving
spectacles upon the customer. They were steaming up again. Once more he
studied the rack, while Bill Hammond chattered wildly at his elbow. Finally
the Chinese reached up and captured a fat package. Bill snatched it from him,
tossed it into his suitcase and began to strap the latter up. The Chinese was
holding the two pieces of the check close to his eyes.
"One dolla," he announced.
"And very cheap too," said Bill.
He paid with a five-dollar bill, receiving in change four of those heavy
silver dollars still in circulation on the coast. As he dashed out the door
the bell rang again like an alarm. The old Chinese was once more applying the
tail of the shirt to his spectacles.
Making admirable speed, Bill Hammond returned to Post Street and located
the splendid equipage that awaited him. One of the Japs stood ready to take
his bag and open the door. A bit breathless, he climbed in and established
himself on one of the little collapsible chairs in front, the other of which
was occupied by Sally. He sat sidewise and Sally sat sidewise, and the
"Aunt Dora, this is Mr. Hammond." Bill bowed. The large, commanding woman
on the rear seat, who was mainly responsible for the congestion there, bowed
also—sternly. "And do you know Mr. Frost?" Sally continued. "You ought
to—you work for him."
Bill looked into the cold, fishy eyes of his employer. Henry Frost had the
appearance of a deacon, though such was not by any means his reputation.
"How do you do, sir?" said Bill, uncomfortably. "Mr. Frost can't possibly
know all those who labor in his cause," he added.
"And Father. Father, this is Mr. Hammond."
Father held out a thin small hand. He was, indeed, a thin small man, quite
unlike the accepted figure of the great financier. His face was ascetic, his
eyes rather dreamy; there seemed, at first glance, nothing about his
personality that would strike terror to an opponent. The aunt, towering like
Mont Blanc at his side, was far more impressive, and knew it.
"I'm glad to meet you, Mr. Hammond," said the millionaire. "Sally has
spoken of you, I believe."
"It's mighty kind of you, sir, to take me along like this—"
"An office assignment, I understand," put in Henry Frost in a high,
"Oh, that's merely incidental," said Batchelor. "You'll find Mikklesen
very interesting, Mr. Hammond. Ought to get a good story. But you're not to
let work interfere with your outing, even if Henry—Mr.
Frost—does happen to
be with us."
"I'll try not to, sir," Bill answered, smiling too. He felt much better. A
human being, after all.
"I'm afraid my party's going to be rather a stag affair," Jim Batchelor
said, as the car swung into the broad expanse of Market Street.
"Well, we're used to that," said Sally. "Aren't we, Aunt Dora?"
"We ought to be by this time," sniffed that lady.
"There'll be Mrs. Keith, however," Batchelor went on.
"Mrs. Keith!" Henry Frost raised his bushy eyebrows.
"A very charming woman, Henry," said Jim Batchelor. "Lived in China a
great deal, I believe. I want to have a talk with her about conditions over
there. You see, this isn't only a pleasure cruise for me. There are two
rather important questions I have to decide before I get back. There's that
contract with the Chinese Government for bridging the Yang-tse-Kiang. I guess
I mentioned it to you. I haven't made up my mind whether to make a bid for
the job or not. Talking with Mrs. Keith and Mikklesen may decide me."
"I understand that Blake has already put in hi9 figures," said Frost.
"He'll probably underbid you."
"Very likely. But everybody knows Blake is a crook. I imagine I can get
the contract away from him if I go after it. They tell me he's waiting
anxiously to know what move I'll make. I'll spoil his game if I go in."
Batchelor smiled, and it was no dreamer smiling then. "However, I've got
several days. The bids don't close until next Thursday."
"And the other question, Jim?" asked Frost.
"Oh, the senatorship. I'm still thinking of entering the primaries."
"Nonsense!" growled his friend. "Why get mixed up in that sort of
"Just what I tell him," said Aunt Dora. "Still, Washington would be
"Well, I don't know," mused Batchelor. "Every man has ambitions that way,
I guess. At any rate, I'm taking O'Meara, the lawyer, along on this cruise to
talk over the situation. When it comes to politics, he's one of the
"O'Meara!" Mr. Frost spoke rather sourly.
"It's a very mixed crowd, I'm sure," said Aunt Dora, and Bill Hammond felt
that the glance she cast at him was a bit personal.
"A lot more interesting than a bunch of society folderols," Batchelor told
her. "And when it comes to elegance, that end's taken care of too. I've
invited Julian Hill."
"Good news for Sally, I'm sure," remarked Aunt Dora, and again the look
she gave Bill Hammond had a meaning all its own.
Bill knew that they were speaking of the third vice-president of the
Batchelor concern, a young man of good family and social position whose
engagement to Sally Batchelor had more than once been rumored. He glanced at
the girl, but she was staring straight ahead, and her charming profile told
The car was gliding along the Embarcadero now, that romantic threshold to
the Orient. Ships that were destined for far ports waited motionless but
ready, and on the piers was abundant evidence of the great business done upon
the waters. Suddenly Henry Frost spoke.
"It's a wonder to me you could get any one to go with you today," he
"Why, what do you mean?" asked Batchelor.
"Friday, the thirteenth," explained the newspaper owner.
"The thirteenth! Say, I didn't realize that!" Batchelor's tone was
serious, and glancing back, Bill Hammond was amazed at the gravity of his
"I didn't think you did," smiled Frost, "knowing your weakness as I
"What do you mean—weakness? I'm not superstitious." And Jim Batchelor
smiled, as though he had just remembered something pleasant. "Besides, no bad
luck can happen to us—not while I've got my little lucky piece in my
His lucky piece? Bill Hammond looked at Sally.
"For goodness' sake," she laughed, "don't ask him to show it to you! That
calamity will befall you soon enough, and at a time when I'm elsewhere, I
The car came to a halt before Pier 99, the property of a steamship company
in which Jim Batchelor was a heavy stockholder. At the end of the pier, close
to where a smart launch was waiting, they found the remaining four guests who
had been invited on Jim Batchelor's week-end cruise.
An oddly assorted quartet, Bill Hammond thought, as Sally hastily
introduced him. Mike O'Meara he already knew, having more than once sought to
pry an interview out of him. A huge, bluff, ruddy man, the lawyer was
decidedly out of his element and seemed to know it, but he had a gift of gab
to see him through. Julian Hill proved a suave, polished man in his thirties,
garbed in just the right apparel; he had no interest whatever in meeting Bill
Hammond and didn't pretend any. Mrs. Keith was at that age where a woman
knows that youth is going despite her gallant struggle. She had been, Bill
sensed, a clinging vine in her day; but now she was a bit too plump and no
doubt found the sturdy oaks elusive.
As for Mikklesen, he delighted the eye; he made the senses reel; he was
magnificent. Tall, languid, with china-blue eyes and yellow hair, his slim
figure clothed in tweeds, the Englishman added an artistic touch to any scene
he chose to adorn. Save when he looked at Sally Batchelor, boredom afflicted
him, and the indifference he showed in meeting Mr.—er—Hammond
attitude of Julian Hill seem a bit too eager by comparison.
When the Japanese had got all the luggage aboard the launch, the guests
followed. Bill Hammond had intended to sit beside Sally, but Mikklesen and
Hill beat him to it, and he reflected that competition was going to be keen
in the near future. He sank down beside Mrs. Keith. The launch sputtered and
was on its way to where the seagoing yacht Francesca waited haughty and
aloof, lording it over the more plebeian craft that lay about her.
"Isn't this thrilling!" gushed Mrs. Keith. "You know I haven't been on a
yacht for ages."
"Same here," said Bill. "Grand to be rich, don't you think?"
"It must be," sighed the woman. "I never could manage it. You must tell me
all about it."
"Me?" Bill Hammond laughed. "You've got the wrong number—excuse it,
please. I happen to be one of the humble poor—only a newspaper
"Oh, indeed!" Her smile faded. "How exciting—a reporter! You have the
most wonderful experiences of course. You must tell me all about it."
Evidently one of the you-must-tell-me-all-about-it sisterhood, a species
that dated back a bit.
"Well," said Bill Hammond cautiously, "if I'm not too busy with my work,
I'll be delighted."
"Work—on the yacht?"
"I'm supposed to interview Mr. Mikklesen on conditions in the Orient."
"Oh, really? Mr. Mikklesen is an old acquaintance of mine. I knew him in
China. I'm sure he'll tell you the most interesting things—only you
believe all you hear.
"He's a dear boy, but—imaginative. Oh, so very imaginative." She
across to where Mikklesen was bending close to Sally Batchelor. The look in
her eyes was not friendly.
On the deck of the Francesca her captain waited to greet his owner.
Japanese in white coats appeared to receive the baggage.
"Dinner's at seven-thirty," Jim Batchelor announced. "After the boys have
shown you to your quarters, I suggest that you gentlemen join me in the
"'Stag party' is right," smiled his daughter.
"Oh, well, the ladies too, of course," amended the owner of the
"I thought they'd be too busy—"
As a matter of fact, he had forgotten all about the ladies. It was his
habit; he was a man's man.
One of the Japs, burdened with luggage, politely requested Bill Hammond to
follow, and led the way to the deck below. Mikkleson also was in the
procession, and Bill wondered if they were to share a stateroom. It was not a
happy prospect, for he knew the Englishman would coolly take seven-eighths of
any room assigned them. They entered a passageway off which the cabins
evidently opened, and at the third door the Jap dropped Bill's modest
suitcase and, staggering under the load of the Englishman's traps, led
"This is your cabin," Bill heard him say.
"Thank heaven," Bill thought. The Jap emerged, took up the solitary bag
and led the way to the next door.
"So this is mine, eh?" Bill said. "Fine! Got it all to myself, I
"Yes-s," hissed the Jap. "Francesca sleep fifteen guests."
"Good for the Francesca."
"Bath here," the servant said. He nodded toward an open door, beyond which
gleamed spotless plumbing. Even as Bill looked, Mikklesen appeared in the
doorway, gave him a haughty glare, shut the door and locked it.
"Bath for two cabins," the Jap said. "Yours too." He seemed
"Well, you'd better explain that to him," suggested Bill. "Otherwise I'll
never see the inside of that room again," he added.
The servant disappeared. There was the sound of voices in the next cabin.
Then the lock clicked in the bathroom door and the Jap was again in Bill's
"All right now," he smiled.
"Maybe," said Bill. "What's your name?"
He handed him a bill. The smile broadened.
"He leave door locked, you go through his room, unlock," said Tatu.
"Some judge of character, Tatu. You got his number, boy. Don't worry about
me, I'll bathe all right."
The Jap disappeared, and Bill stood for a moment staring through the port-
hole at San Francisco's interesting sky-line. This was the life, he
reflected, sailing gayly off into the unknown. His heart sank. Had he
remembered to bring his shirt studs? Feverishly he opened his
heaven, there they were.
He went out in search of the smoking-room. On the upper deck he
encountered Jim Batchelor.
"Ah, my boy, come along," said the millionaire. "Maybe we can scare up a
They found Henry Frost already in the smoking-room.
"When do we get to Monterey?" he wanted to know.
"Early to-morrow," said Batchelor. "There'll be plenty of time for me to
trim you a round of golf before lunch."
"You hate yourself, don't you?" answered Frost. "Ten dollars a hole is my
answer to that."
"Piker!" chided Batchelor. "Play golf, Hammond?"
"In a fashion," Bill said. "Not so expensively as that, however."
"Oh, it wouldn't cost you anything to take him on," Batchelor replied. "He
always pays. Henry's golf's a joke to everybody but Henry himself."
O'Meara came in. "Some boat you got here, Mr. Batchelor," he said, "I'll
tell the world."
"Yes, it's quite a neat little craft."
"Little! It's the Leviathan of the west coast."
"Say, look here, O'Meara," Frost put in, "Jim here's got a crazy idea he's
going to enter the senatorial primaries. Now you know the game—I'm
on you to tell him he hasn't got a chance."
"I can't do that, and speak true," O'Meara replied. "He's got as good a
chance as any of them. You put up your name, Mr. Batchelor," he added, "and
leave the rest to us."
"Well, I haven't decided," the millionaire answered. "We'll talk it over
later. Ah, Mr. Mikklesen, come in. Are you comfortably settled?"
"Oh, quite," said the Englishman. "It was most frightfully good of you to
"Well, my reasons weren't wholly unselfish," Batchelor admitted. "I've
sort of lost track of things in China lately—thought you could set me
"Any information I have, my dear sir, is yours. I believe you're thinking
of that bridge contract."
"Of course, it's a bit risky," he said. "The government isn't any too
stable, to put it mildly. There are other difficulties—I'll speak of
later. Yes, it's decidedly risky."
"You bet it is," remarked Julian Hill, who had just come in.
"But I like risks," smiled Batchelor.
"I know, Governor, but this is the limit." Mr. Hill seemed very much in
earnest. "I'm bitterly opposed."
"You were opposed to that lighthouse job in South America too," Batchelor
"I happened to be wrong that time. But something tells me I'm not wrong
now. Let's keep out. Don't you say so, Mr. Mikklesen?"
"I will say this"—the Englishman studied the end of his
you do go in, it will be a matter of what you call the breaks. They may be
for you; they may be against you. You'll need all the luck in the world."
"Ah, luck," smiled Batchelor. "That's where the Batchelor Construction
Company shines. For more than thirty-five years the breaks have been our way.
And I've still got my lucky piece." He took from his waistcoat pocket a
Frost and Hill smiled at each other and turned away, but the three other
men regarded the coin with interest.
"Gentlemen," said Jim Batchelor softly, "there it is. The first dollar I
ever earned. I was a kid of eleven at the time. My father was a mason and he
was working on an apartment building they were putting up on Russian Hill. He
heard they wanted a water boy and he got me the job. I had to fetch the water
from a well that was a block away—a block down the hill. I carried an
pail the easy route, but coming back it was filled, and I puffed and sweat
and staggered up the grade. It was my first lesson in how hard money comes.
On the first Saturday night I got my pay—this dollar—and I
walked home with
my father past shop windows that were one long temptation. 'What you going to
spend it for, Jim?' my father asked. 'I'm not going to spend it,' I told him.
'I'm going to keep it—always.' And I have. For thirty-seven years it's
my lucky piece and it's made good on the job. I've felt it in my pocket at
the big moments of my life, and it's given me confidence and courage. A
little silver dollar coined in 1884." He appeared to be holding it out to
Mikklesen, and the Englishman reached forth his hand to take it. But Jim
Batchelor restored it to his pocket.
"And it's still working for me, gentlemen," he added.
"Poppycock!" said Henry Frost.
"Maybe," smiled Batchelor. "But I hear there is a standing offer of one
thousand dollars in the office of Blake & Co. for that little lucky
piece. Poppycock, eh?"
"Oh, well, Blake & Co. know what a fool you are," said Frost. "They
realize the psychological effect on your mind if you lost that thing. They're
willing to pay for that."
"They'll never get the chance," answered Batchelor, and his eyes flashed.
"I think I will go into that China thing. In fact I know I will. Gentlemen,
here are the cocktails."
They stood about a table, each with a glass in his hand. As Bill Hammond
looked around him, he saw that the eyes of each man present were on the
pocket that held the little silver dollar. Mikklesen lifted his glass.
"Here's to your good luck, sir," he said. "May it continue."
"Thank you," answered Jim Batchelor, and they drank.
At seven o'clock Bill Hammond set out for his stateroom to dress for
dinner. At the top of the main companionway he met Sally—Sally in a
taking gown and looking her loveliest.
"Hurry up," she said. "I'm eager for some one to help me enjoy the
"Keep the place open," he begged. "I'm really the best man for the job.
Sally, I know who it is I have to thank for this little outing. You're always
doing something for the orphans, aren't you?"
"Were you glad to come?"
"Glad? What weak words you use!"
"I thought you would be. The yacht's a lot of fun, really."
"It's not the yacht I'm thinking of. If you'd invited me out in a rowboat
my joy would have been the same. You know—
Henry Frost and Hill came up behind them.
"Dear me," said Sally, "what a long cocktail hour! I'm afraid Dad's been
telling you the story of the dollar."
"He did mention it," said Hill.
"And I'm glad he did," Bill Hammond said. "It made him seem mighty human
to me. The picture of him struggling up Russian Hill with that water
"Dear Dad!" Sally smiled. "There is something rather appealing about the
story. The first time you hear it, I mean. But when you've had it pop up
constantly for twenty years, as I have, you're bound to get a little fed up
on it. I've been very wicked. There've been times when I wished to heaven
he'd lose that dollar."
"Here too," said Julian Hill. "Particularly when it leads Mr. Batchelor
into some wild adventure like this China bridge contract."
"Lose it!" cried Henry Frost. His little eyes glittered. "Why, it would
"Yes, I rather think it would," said Hill; and it wasn't so much what he
said, Bill Hammond reflected as he hurried off to his cabin. It was the way
he said it.
* * * * *
MIKKLESEN had left the smoking-room some time before, and as
Bill Hammond passed the door of the Englishman's cabin he was glad to hear a
voice lifted in song inside. But when he reached his own room and tried to
enter the bath, he found himself locked out. As he savagely rattled the knob
he was happy to recall that George Washington won his war. Confound this
Mikklesen—had he no consideration for anybody?
The answer was that he hadn't; one look at him told that.
As Bill turned angrily back into his room, Tatu entered from the
"Very late, very busy," said the Jap. "Now I lay you out." And he lifted a
dinner coat from Bill's suitcase.
"Never mind, I'll attend to that," Bill told him. "You go in and lay that
Englishman out. Lay him out cold, and then unlock this bath for me."
Tatu hastened away, and again there was the sound of voices in the next
cabin. Again the lock in the door leading to the bath clicked, and Tatu
emerged. Bill dashed by him and turned the key in Mikklesen's door. He was
sorry that the gentle click resulting didn't begin to express his
"You run along, Tatu," he said. "I'm in too much of a hurry to learn how
to be valeted to-night. Some time when we're both free you can give me a
"You want me, ring bell," suggested Tatu, going.
Bill was hastily peeling off his clothes. If he was to have a few moments
alone with Sally and the sunset, speed was the watchword. But he had been
known to rise in the morning, bathe, shave, dress and reach the office in
less than twenty minutes, and he was out now to smash the record.
As he was putting the finishing touches on an elaborate shave, Mikklesen
began to rattle the door-knob. He rattled long and earnestly, and it was
music to the reporter's ears.
"Oh, I say, old chap, you're not annoyed, are you?" Bill murmured. "Not
really? How beastly!"
"Damn!" said a voice, and the clatter ceased.
Bill hurried from the bathroom, leaving the lock in statu quo. By
preparation, he laid out his diamond shirt studs—rich-looking, if old-
fashioned—the property of poor Uncle George, handed to Bill by Aunt
day after the funeral.
Humming happily to himself, he lifted the great fat package of laundry
into the open. Good old Honolulu Sam, he had certainly come across as
promised. That back-same-day thing was on the level. Must have hurried some.
Great little people, the Chinese; you could bank on them. If they said they'd
do a thing, they did it. He snapped the string with his fingers and gently
laid back the wrapping-paper. A bright pink shirt stared up at him.
It is astonishing sometimes, in the crises of our lives, how slow we can
be in comprehending. Bill's first reaction was to wonder how this sartorial
atrocity had got in with his things. He tossed it aside and was confronted by
the purplest shirt he had ever met. Next in the line of march came a green
shirt that would have made excellent adornment on St. Patrick's Day. Then
some rather shabby underwear and eloquent socks. A few collars. But no more
Bill Hammond sat down weakly on the berth.
"Good lord," he cried. "It's not my laundry!"
And if comprehension had been slow in coming, it came now with a rush.
Alone, alone, all, all alone on a restless ocean, and without a dress shirt
to his name. Dinner in fifteen minutes. At least two rivals for Sally's favor
present, and each an elegant dresser on and off.
And this was the cruise on which he had hoped to make a dashing
impression, to win Sally's family, to say nothing of the girl herself, by his
charm. How did one do that without a shirt?
Anger overcame him. Nor did he have any trouble locating the object of his
wrath. That half-blind old Chinese with the steaming spectacles—there
the guilty party.
The old idiot! In one careless moment he had destroyed the priceless
reputation of his race for accuracy, built up laboriously through many years
of giving back the right shirt to the right customer—destroyed it
doomed his race to extinction. For Bill Hammond would attend to that
personally, and he would begin in the establishment of Honolulu Sam.
But time was passing; he mustn't waste any more of it planning the
massacre of an aged Chinese. The problem was here and now. What to do? The
weather was calm enough, but the Francesca was tossing about a bit.
retire to his birth and plead seasickness. And leave Sally to the company of
Mikklesen and Julian Hill? Not likely! No, he must have a shirt—must
one—robbery—a killing or two, maybe—but he had to have a
Was there any one aboard who would help him? O'Meara, perhaps; but no,
O'Meara's shirt would go round him at least twice. As for the other men,
there was not one to whom he would consider revealing his plight.
he could bring himself to tell her—would be sympathetic, but Sally had
dress shirts to distribute. That left—hold on—that left Tatu.
he had given Tatu five dollars.
He rang the bell, and while he waited put on his underclothes. Tatu
appeared. Frankness, it seemed to Bill, was the only course.
"Terrible thing's happened, Tatu," he said. "See"—he indicated the
frightful pink shirt—"Chinese laundry returned the wrong wash. I
"Chinese not reliable people," commented Tatu.
"You've said it, my boy. Sometime you and I'll have a long talk about
that. But now, Tatu, now—dinner coming on like this. What to do?" An
flashed into his mind. "You haven't an extra shirt, have you?" he inquired
Tatu opened his coat and revealed a fine white bosom—but no shirt
"Have extra bosom," he said. "Maybe you would like—"
Bill recoiled in horror.
"No, no, I couldn't take a chance. Must have an entire shirt. There's five
more dollars waiting for you if you can dig one up."
"Maybe," he said. "I find out."
He went on his momentous errand. Bill, left alone, put on stockings and a
pair of pumps. Slowly but surely the structure was approaching completion.
But the shirt! Would that necessary, that vital bit of facade come to hand?
Or must he sit shirtless in his cabin while the gay diners made merry round
the festal board?
Something in Tatu's eye had made Bill feel that this was a moment for
caution. He turned off his light and opened the door leading into the dim
passageway. No one in sight. Where was that Jap anyhow? The door of the cabin
at the end of the corridor began to open slowly, and a man emerged. He looked
warily about him, and then, walking on tiptoe, started down the passageway. Tatu? No, it wasn't Tatu. Bill Hammond, peering from the darkness as the man
passed his stateroom, saw clearly who it was. He watched him open the door of
a stateroom farther down and disappear.
Nervously Bill sat down on his berth. Would Tatu never come? Why, he'd had
time enough to scare up a whole outfit—Tatu appeared in the doorway.
leaped up, closed the door behind him and snapped on the light.
Rapture! There was a gleaming dress shirt in the Jap's hand. Like a
drowning man going after the well-known straw, Bill pounced upon it.
Tatu hung on to it.
"Maybe too big," he said. "I put in studs."
He took up one of Uncle George's diamonds and began to struggle with the
shirt. "Very stiff bosom," he announced. "Oh, very stiff."
"What size is it?" demanded Bill, feverishly investigating the collars
bequeathed him by the owner of the pink shirt. He had a vision of sending the
Jap out again for a collar.
"Doesn't tell size," whispered Tatu. "No name of maker, also. That very
Bill experienced a momentary qualm.
"Where'd you get this shirt, Tatu?" he demanded sternly.
"I get him," replied Tatu. "Here, try on."
"A little large," said Bill. "But it's a shirt. And say, look—this
fits. Luck, Tatu, luck. Wow, the bosom is stiff! Got to be proud and
unbending to-night." He was silent, working on his tie.
"Everything fine," Tatu hinted.
"Oh, yes, the five dollars. Here you are. Say, listen, Tatu, I'm not sure
that we ought to have—er—borrowed this. We'll have to return
"I return it," Tatu agreed.
"That's right; of course we'll give it back, along with a dollar to cover
depreciation and washing. Honesty, Tatu—the best policy. Ask
"Yes-s, thank you."
"Always be honest and you'll fear no man." The Jap was at the door. "Say,
Tatu, I really ought to know where you got it."
"I got him," smiled the Jap, and went out.
Well, a desperate situation required a desperate remedy. Bill leaped into
his trousers and was slipping on his waistcoat and coat when the first notes
of The Roast Beef of Old England, played falteringly on a bugle by a pantry
boy with ambitions, floated down to him. Mikklesen was once more rattling at
the bathroom door, and first extinguishing all lights, Bill noiselessly
unlocked it, then hurried up-stairs to the after deck to find Sally. Her eyes
"The sun went down," she said, "and you never came up."
"I know," he answered; "forgive me." He straightened his collar nervously.
"I was detained."
"That's not much of an explanation," she told him.
"Thank you," he said absently. He was thinking that the owner of the pink
shirt certainly needed some new collars. This one had a razor edge and seemed
to have been recently honed.
"You're perfectly welcome," smiled Sally, "whatever it is you're thanking
me for. Pardon me for mentioning it, but are you in your right mind?"
"Of course not," he said. "I knew you were lovely, but somehow to-
night—well, as the fellow said, my senses reel."
Sally rose. "We'd better have the next reel in the dining saloon," she
suggested. "Dad hates people to be late."
Bill found he was to sit on Sally's right, and the discovery cheered him,
particularly as Henry Frost was on the other side of her—an
couldn't be improved upon. His spirits rose rapidly. A moment before plunged
in the depths of despair, he had emerged triumphant and all was right with
the world. What a lot of difference somebody's shirt had made!
During the first course Jim Batchelor suggested that Mikklesen tell
something of his experiences in the Orient, and from that point on the dinner
was a monologue. But like most Englishmen of his class, Mikklesen was a
charming talker and well worth attention. He spoke of his adventures as
subeditor of an English newspaper in Shanghai, of the time he had typhoid in
the General Hospital in Yokohama, of the fight he got into one gory night at
the old Danish hotel where the beach-combers hold forth in that lovely port.
He took his hearers into the interior of China on a scientific expedition,
thrilled them with a hold-up by bandits, and brought them back in time for an
audience with an ambassador or two in Peking. Life as he had known it had
It was not until the coffee that he appeared to run down and the
conversation became general. Suddenly there was one of those inexplicable
lulls in the gentle buzz of talk, and the voice of Jim Batchelor rang out in
converse with Mrs. Keith at his right.
"And I have kept it—all these years. In the big moments of my life
felt it in my pocket, and it has given me courage to go on. A little silver
dollar coined in the year—"
"Oh, dear," Sally laughed, "he's telling her about his lucky piece."
"Thrilling!" Mrs. Keith said. She smiled encouragingly on the millionaire.
"You've got it with you still?"
"I certainly have." He removed something from his pocket. "My little lucky
piece." He stared at it, his face paled slightly. "This—is
he said slowly.
A tense silence fell. Sally finally spoke:
"Not your dollar, Dad? What do you mean?"
"Just what I say. This is a dollar coined in 1903." He threw it down on
the table and began a search of his pockets. Again the silence. His search
was evidently fruitless. "I—I'm very-sorry this has happened," said
Batchelor. "It may seem rather trivial to you, but to me it's almighty
important. If—if it's a joke of some sort, I—I don't appreciate
However, I'll overlook it if the joker will speak at once. In heaven's
name"—his voice trembled—"is it a joke?"
He looked eagerly into each face about the table. No one spoke.
Batchelor's eyes hardened.
"Then there's some more sinister motive back of it," he said.
"Nonsense, Jim!" said Aunt Dora. "You're making a mountain out of
"I'm the judge of that," the millionaire told her, and his voice was like
chilled steel. "However"—with an effort he managed to
in a way. I mustn't spoil the party."
The tension lessened somewhat, and Mrs. Keith took that moment to show
"What a pity!" she said. "Perhaps one of your crew—"
"No, Mrs. Keith," Jim Batchelor said; "my crew has been with me for years.
The servants—I'm not so sure. They will all be examined before leaving
yacht. And before we drop the subject, has any one else missed anything?"
Bill Hammond's heart stood still. The shirt! Somebody would speak up
regarding the mysterious disappearance of a shirt, and where would that lead?
Little beads of perspiration stood on his forehead. But no one said anything.
Evidently the owner of the shirt was still ignorant of his loss. Bill
"Well, that's that," said Batchelor. "We'll let the matter drop."
"One minute!" O'Meara was on his feet. "Before we do that I've got a
suggestion to make. Mr. Batchelor here has lost something of value, and until
it's found we're all under a cloud. I for one want to be searched, and I
guess every honest man here feels the same way."
"Nonsense!" Batchelor cried. "I won't hear of it!"
"But Mr. O'Meara is right," said Mikklesen. "I recall a dinner at the
British Embassy in Peking two years ago, when the hostess lost a diamond
necklace. It was a most distinguished party, but we were taken one by one
into an anteroom and gone over with amazing thoroughness." He, too, stood up.
"I also insist," he said.
"Rot! I wouldn't insult my guests," Batchelor was still protesting.
"You'll have nothing to do with it, Governor," Julian Hill told him.
"We're going through with this for our own satisfaction. If the ladies will
wait for us in the saloon—"
Reluctantly Aunt Dora, Mrs. Keith and Sally left the room. O'Meara
promptly removed his coat and waistcoat.
"Now one of you go over me," he said, "and I'll do the job for the rest of
Julian Hill stepped forward to oblige. With a none too easy conscience,
Bill Hammond also removed coat and waistcoat. That shirt was a none too
successful fit—suppose some one recognized it. O'Meara, having been
pronounced innocent, went at his work with enthusiasm. Evidently he had been
in similar situations before. But the search had no results. Through it Jim
Batchelor sat staring at the table as though the matter held no interest for
him. O'Meara finished, red- faced and empty-handed.
"Well, if you boys have done with your nonsense," remarked Batchelor,
"we'll join the ladies. And as a favor to me, we won't speak of this
Aunt Dora was superintending the placing of two tables for bridge in the
main saloon. It appeared there was just the right number—with one left
After she had disposed of the usual impassioned pleas from those desiring to
be the one left out, Julian Hill was elected to that position, and shortly
disappeared from the room. They cut for partners, and to his horror Bill
found himself seated opposite Aunt Dora. She had the air of being the person
who invented bridge, and so she had, practically.
Bill dealt. Majestically Aunt Dora took up her hand and glanced through
"Count your cards," she ordered. "That's the first rule. What rules do you
play by, Mr. Hammond?"
"Rules?" repeated Bill wanly. "I don't know. I just play."
"We'll pivot," said Aunt Dora promptly.
"I'm afraid I don't understand," said Bill meekly.
"I mean to say, we'll change partners frequently."
"Oh," said Bill heartily, "I'm for it."
The glare she turned on him moved him to look the other way, and his eyes
met those of the man he had seen creeping along the corridor just before
dinner. He became suddenly thoughtful, so that Aunt Dora's voice suggesting
that he bid seemed miles away. However, it came rapidly nearer.
* * * * *
AUNT DORA found, as the play progressed, that she alone
seemed to be giving the matter her best thought. She was a woman of superb
endurance, but after a distressing rubber with O'Meara as partner, she called
it an evening and rang the gong. The ship's clock had recently struck six
bells, and after a careful calculation and a look at his watch, Bill Hammond
knew that to mean that it was now just after eleven.
Mikklesen and Julian Hill both seemed determined on a bedtime chat with
Sally, but after a meaning look at Bill Hammond the girl dissuaded them.
"Wait till I get a wrap," she whispered to Bill. "I want to tell you about
He had nothing in particular to do, and maybe he would have waited anyhow.
When she returned she led the way to a couple of chairs that stood close
together in a secluded spot on the after deck.
"Wonderful night," Bill murmured. He had sized it up about right too. The
Pacific was calm—for the Pacific—the water was liquid silver in
moonlight, the breeze was not too chill. A great night to be young, and they
"Glad you like it," said Sally. "It's just what I ordered."
They sat silent for a moment.
"How was the sunset anyhow?" Bill inquired.
"Not bad at all," said Sally, "for the sun. I think I prefer the moon
myself." A long, long silence. "Bill, say something," the girl protested at
length. "What are you thinking?"
"I'm just wishing. I'm wishing your name was Sally Jones and your father
was principal of a high school—and paid accordingly. It's what I've been
wishing ever since that day at the charity bazaar."
"Dad never wasted any time on high schools," she said. "Still, it does no
harm to wish."
A cooler breeze arrived from the Pacific. Bill rose, took up a rug from a
near- by chair and tucked it about her. His hand touched hers, and contrary
to his intention, he seized and held it.
"Sally!" he said ecstatically.
"Bill!" she answered.
He gave up the idea and sat down. Another silence.
"How—how do you like my father?" she asked presently.
"Oh, he's all right. But it doesn't matter what I think of him. He'd be
just as interested to get the opinion of one of those goldfish in the main
"Well, I don't know," said Sally. "Dad's pretty human. You must remember,
he hasn't always traveled on yachts. At one time he was a stonemason, earning
a hundred a month."
"How long ago was that?"
"About the time he was—married."
The way she said it, somehow; the night, the moon, the bracing effect of
ocean air—whatever the cause
"Sally," Bill heard himself saying, "I'm in love. With you, I mean. But I
guess that isn't news, is it?"
"Not precisely," she answered slowly. "However, I'm glad you said it. We
couldn't have got anywhere if you hadn't."
"Sally!" The moon was under a cloud. It was just as well.
"It's no use, Sally," said Bill, coming to. "Your father would never hear
"He'd be bound to."
"You know what I mean. He'd have me—boiled in oil."
"He'd have to boil me too."
"Sally, you're wonderful! Will you—will you take a chance with
"I don't like the way you put it. I'll marry you, if that's what you
"On our own—that's what I'm getting at. I've seen so many men marry
girls and degenerate into lap dogs. I wouldn't take a cent from your
father—nor a job either."
"Don't worry, you wouldn't get either."
"Sally, I never intended to tell you this. I was just going to eat my
heart out in silence, like the great strong man that I am."
"Well, that would have been romantic. But I think I like it better this
way. My role is a bit more active."
"Darling! Wha—what do you think I'd better do? Should I speak to your
father the next time I see him?"
"Of course. Say good night or good morning, as the case may be, and that's
"Well, I suppose he would hit the ceiling."
"He wouldn't stamp round and forbid it, if that's what you think. It's not
his way—he's too subtle. He'd just quietly queer it; nobody would ever
sure how it was done either. He's fathoms down, Dad is."
"Certainly sounds too deep for a frank, wholesome lad like me.
"I think we'd better—just drift along," Sally said. "Give him a
take a fancy to you."
"You believe in long engagements, then?"
"Nonsense! I'm fond of you. And Father and I are much alike." She
pondered. "If you could only make a hit with him somehow. I'd never be quite
happy about marrying anybody—not even you—if he was opposed.
wild about me."
"Poor Dad. He's broken-hearted. That silly little dollar meant so much to
It was Bill's turn to ponder.
"You know, Sally," he said, "I've done considerable police reporting, and
on more than one occasion a hard-boiled detective has complimented me. I've
dug up some rather important evidence."
"Oh, Bill, that's an idea!"
"If I found that dollar for him, do you think he'd give me you as a
"He wouldn't stop there. He'd throw in Aunt Dora and the yacht."
"You give me pause. I mean—I couldn't afford the yacht."
"Bill!" Her eyes were shining. "Let's work on the case together. What's
the first move? We talk over the suspects, don't we?"
"That might be a good idea. We'll start with you. You said yourself there
were times when you hoped he'd lose it."
"Yes, I know. I'm sorry I said it now. Do be serious, Bill. Aunt
wouldn't take it."
"But you can't eliminate anybody that way."
"Yes, you can. A woman's intuition. Mr. Mikklesen—no motive. Mr.
O'Meara—how about him?"
"He's a politician. Their ways are deep and dark."
"I feel that; and he was so insistent on being searched. That's always
"I thought it was rather fine of your father"—said Bill—"his
his guests. He was against the search."
"Don't be fooled by Dad's courtesy," she warned. "He knew darn well nobody
would be fool enough to steal his dollar and then walk in to dinner with the
thing in his pocket. Dad's the soul of hospitality and all that, but he wants
that dollar back, and before he gives up he'll put all his guests through the
third degree, if necessary. Let's see, there's Julian Hill. He seems awfully
keen to keep Dad out of that China job."
"Yes, Hill's a possibility. And how about Mrs. Keith? Know anything about
"Not a thing."
"Well, she's poor," said Bill. "She told me so. But then, so am I. By the
way, don't let's overlook me."
"Nonsense! You wouldn't take anything that didn't belong to you."
"You think not?" Certainly a stiff bosom on that shirt.
"Oh, Bill, it's all so hopeless," she sighed. "If we only had a shred of
evidence to go on!"
"Maybe we have."
"You've forgotten one guest. What motive would Henry Frost have in
stealing that dollar?"
"None whatever, so far as I know."
"That's the way I feel," Bill went on. "Yet as I understand it, your
father's cabin is the one at the end of the corridor off which our rooms
open." She nodded. "And just before dinner I certainly saw Henry Frost come
out of that room, acting very queerly. He tiptoed along the corridor and
slipped into his own room very unostentatiously."
"Bill! It seems ridiculous!"
"I know it does. My saintly employer! He'll be awfully pleased with me if
I can fasten this thing on him."
"What are you going to do?"
"I don't know. It's a delicate situation. If I go to your father with my
story, Frost will probably have some simple explanation that will make me
look like a fool. It seems to me it wouldn't be a bad scheme if I put the
matter up to Frost and let him explain to me—if he can."
"Probably; but in the interests of justice—and there are other
"Well, if you really think it's the best plan—"
"Maybe not, but I'm going to try it. I can't treat old Frost as a
criminal, and shadow him. I don't really think he took the dollar anyhow. But
I should like to know what he was doing in that room. I'd better see if I can
"How thrilling!" Sally said. "We're in this together, remember. Sherlock
Holmes and Doctor Watson. Do you think I'll do for Watson?"
"No, you're altogether too intelligent," Bill told her.
"Oh, Bill, do you think I've got brains? I love brains."
"And I love you. You—you really meant all that—about marrying
doesn't seem possible."
"It's more than that; it's probable. Good night—and good luck."
"This is my lucky night," he told her. And it was, for she was in his
His luck held even after he left her, for he found Henry Frost sitting
alone over a highball in the smoking-room. His employer evinced no joy at
seeing him, but Bill casually lighted a cigar and seated himself.
"Unusually smooth passage," he remarked.
"Smooth enough," said Mr. Frost.
"Awfully jolly cruise, it seems to me. Nothing to mar it—except, of
course, the disappearance of that dollar. Too bad about that."
"A great pity."
The old man drained his glass and seemed about to rise.
"Just a moment, Mr. Frost," Bill said. "You're an older man than I am, and
I'd like to ask your advice."
"If any one of us has any evidence that might prove useful in tracing
the—er—thief, it should be passed on to our host. Don't you
"No question about it."
"I'm in a rather difficult position, sir. I happened to be standing at my
door just before dinner—the light was off at my back—¦ and I saw
a man come
out of Mr. Batchelor's cabin and go down the corridor to his own. His actions
"Now what would you do in my position, sir?"
"I'd certainly tell Jim Batchelor all about it."
"But, Mr. Frost—you were the man."
Business rivals sometimes referred to Mr. Frost's countenance as a great
stone face. Not without reason, thought Bill as his employer sat grimly
"How much," said Frost, "do they pay you at the office?"
Bill drew himself up.
"This is not a case of blackmail, sir," he said.
The old man's eyes flashed dangerously.
"Who said anything about blackmail? I was just going to add that whatever
you get you're overpaid, for you're the stupidest whippersnapper I've ever
met. Why should I take Jim Batchelor's dollar?"
"I don't know, sir."
"No, nor does anybody else. I did go to his room, and I filched something
from him; but it was nothing of importance. I'll explain it to you, though I
don't know that I'm under any necessity to do so. For years Jim and I have
had an argument about valets. He claims I need one, and I claim I'm still
competent to dress myself. When I opened my bag to-night I discovered that I
had foolishly come aboard without any collars."
"No collars?" repeated Bill. Then millionaires had their troubles too.
"Precisely. I wasn't going to tell him—I never would have heard the
of it. I knew we wore the same size shirts, so when he was in his bath I
slipped in and annexed one of his collars. That explains what you saw, and
you're at liberty to go to him with your story any time you like."
"You sound fishy, old boy," Bill thought. But then, so would his tale
about the shirt. "I'm not going to say anything to Mr. Batchelor," he
announced. "Not for the present, at least."
"Just as you please." Frost stood up. "I'll bid you good night."
"One moment, sir. Should I go on with that interview with Mikklesen? I
mean—am I still working for you?"
For a long moment they stared into each other's eyes. It was the employer
who first looked away.
"Ah, yes, the Mikklesen story. Go on with it by all means."
Bill smiled knowingly as he watched Henry Frost leave the room.
"Who said anything about blackmail?" he murmured to himself.
The decks of the Francesca were deserted as Bill hurried to his
The little old berth looked good. Hastily he removed his coat, his collar,
and then the ill-fitting shirt. Glad to get that off. Still, it had been
better than none. He laid it down on the narrow settee that would have been
requisitioned as a berth had the Francesca been sleeping her maximum
Uncle George's studs seemed to flash up at him reprovingly. A Hammond in a
"Get Tatu to return it in the morning," he thought. "I can buy another in
Once in the berth, he lay for a time reflecting on the great event of the
evening. Sally loved him. It had seemed a dream too remote to consider, yet
here it was, coming true. Life was certainly kind to him—all this
happiness—obstacles in the way, of course
Ho-hum. Must find that dollar. Who had it? Funny about old Frost.
Explanation didn't sound right somehow. Yet it might be true. He himself had,
at a vital moment, been minus a shirt. Old boy might be absolutely on the
level. How about the others—Hill, O'Meara, Mrs. Keith? So many
possibilities. Confusing—sure was confusing—possibilities He
He awoke with a start. It was still dark; he could see nothing; but he
knew instinctively there was some one in the room.
"Whoosh there?" he muttered, still half asleep.
A noise—the opening of a door. Bill leaped from the berth, snapped
light and looked out into the corridor. At the far end of that dim passage he
saw a dark figure mounting, two at a time, the stairs to the upper deck. He
grabbed his dressing gown, shuffled into his slippers and followed.
His pause to add a finishing touch to his attire was fatal to the pursuit,
for when he reached the saloon deck he appeared to be alone in the world. He
was fully awake now, but completely at a loss as to his course. He walked
along the rail, uncertainly, toward the stern of the boat. Suddenly he
The sight that arrested him was not on the yacht, but on the calm surface
of the moonlit waters. There, floating rapidly away from the
Francesca on the
wet Pacific, was a white shirt—a dress shirt. The thing was
yet there it was; and—did he imagine it?—were not those Uncle
precious diamond studs sparkling in the bosom that lay on the broader bosom
of a very large ocean?
Farther and farther away drifted the shirt with Uncle George's legacy
aboard, and, fascinated, Bill moved along the rail, his eyes glued upon it in
fond farewell. A voice spoke suddenly and his heart stood still.
"Hello! Out for a stroll?"
He turned. A dark figure was sitting in the lee of the dining saloon, and
the red light of a cigar burned steadily.
"That you, O'Meara?" Bill asked.
"Sure is. Lovely night, ain't it?"
"Have you been here long?"
"About an hour and a half. Seemed a pity to turn in a night
"Never mind the night. Who was it ran up here just before I did?"
"Who was what?"
"Somebody was in my cabin—I followed him up here."
"Say, Kid, you'd better take something for your nerves. You're the first
human being I've seen for an hour and a half."
"Been here all that time, eh?" said Bill. "Yet that cigar's just been
"It happens to be my third," said O'Meara. "And if I was you, I wouldn't
try the detective business. It ain't for kids. There's something doing on
this boat—we all know that. But I'm not in on it. I'm just on a little
cruise for my health—see?
Just out to get a little peace and quiet after a busy week in the city.
And that's what I was gettin' until you dashed up like a wild man and made a
nasty crack about my cigar."
"Oh, no offense," said Bill. "Only—"
"I suppose you were so taken with the peace and quiet you missed that
other fellow completely."
"You go back to bed and rest them nerves."
"That's what I'm going to do," Bill answered, and left him.
He was, indeed, in a great hurry to return. He dashed into his stateroom
and looked anxiously about. It was as he feared—the shirt was gone! And
Uncle George's studs! What would Aunt Ella say?
He sat down on the edge of his berth, trying to grasp this weird turn of
events. Somebody had taken a violent dislike to his having that shirt. Who?
The owner probably. That was it, the owner had recognized his property at the
time of the search, and now But who was the owner? Well, he could find that
out in the morning from Tatu.
He yawned. It was all very confusing. Why should this mysterious stranger
come to claim his property in the silent night? Why, having regained it,
should he toss it on the chill Pacific's bosom? Had all this any connection
with Jim Batchelor's dollar? Questions—questions. All very confusing.
thing was certain—O'Meara had been lying. Bill yawned again; his berth
looked warm and inviting. He rose, turned out the light, left dressing gown
and slippers in the middle of the floor, and was soon deep in slumber.
* * * * *
BILL HAMMOND was awakened next morning by the noise of
Mikklesen singing in his bath. The Englishman had a pretty fair voice,
through which at the moment rang a note of triumph natural to one who was
securely locked in and had the plumbing all to himself.
The splash of water served as a merry accompaniment.
"The same old story," Bill muttered, "Britannia rules the waves." He
looked at his watch—eight-thirty—high time to be up and doing.
If he knew Mikklesen, however, it would do him no good to hurry. He lay
where he was, watching the fresh salt breeze flutter the curtain at his
port-hole. Outside was a clean blue world, an empty world. Restful, this
cruising on one's yacht.
Something pleasant had happened—ah, yes, Sally. She loved him. Other
things had happened, not so pleasant. That silly little dollar he had sworn
to find. Might be more of a job than it had looked last night in the
moonlight with Sally by his side. Somebody had it; somebody who knew only too
well its value and was guarding it close against the time when it could be
traded in for a goodly supply of its little playmates. Somebody—but
He thought of Henry Frost, with his foolish story of a collar shortage. He
thought of O'Meara, falsifying with the ease that comes from long practise,
on the quiet deck at half-past one in the morning. He thought of the man who
had invaded his stateroom, fleeing with that dress shirt in his arms. But
that was too absurd—he must have dreamed it.
He rose hastily and searched his cabin. No dress shirt there—only the
violent pink, purple and green. He had not dreamed it then. Uncle George's
studs were floating far, journeying to some romantic port. A South Sea
Islander, no doubt, would wear them next—in his ears, or maybe through
nose. What would Aunt Ella say?
Aunt Ella's reactions, however, were unimportant just now. He had agreed
to assume the role of detective and his course was clear. He must discover
the owner of that disappearing shirt.
He rang for Tatu and, while he waited, rattled at the door leading to the
bath. Not that he expected to gain anything by it, but it relieved his
Tatu entered, minus his accustomed smile. The boy was worried; there could
be no mistake about that.
"Very much trouble to-day," he announced. "Dollar gone. All Japanese boys
catch hell. You want something, please?"
"How about taking back that shirt?" asked Bill, looking at him keenly.
"Yes-s," said Tatu. All expression left his face.
"Are you ready to take it back?"
"Yes-s," said Tatu.
"Well, you can't. It was stolen from me in the night."
"Yes-s," said Tatu.
No surprise; no interest even. Did Tatu know all about the shirt, or was
this just his Oriental stoicism going full tilt? Bill stared at him, and Tatu
stared back. And the white man felt suddenly hopeless, as though he had just
sighted a stone wall dead ahead.
"Look here, Tatu," he said, "this is very important. I want to know where
you got that shirt."
Tatu looked at the berth, at the bathroom door, through the port-hole, at
the ceiling, then back to Bill. "Forget," he said.
"What? Say, don't try that on me!" Bill was annoyed. "Now we'll start all
over again. W T here did you get the shirt?"
"Forget," said Tatu.
A wonderful little people, the Japanese. Bill Hammond managed to control
"You told me a minute ago you were ready to return it. How could you
return it if you don't know where you got it?"
"Forget," said Tatu.
East is East, and West is West. They stood facing each other, the white
man glaring, the Jap merely staring. Bill Hammond turned away. Never get
anywhere by losing his temper. Patience, amiability might do the trick. Try
them in a minute.
"Morning very nice," said Tatu. "Bathroom door lock? Too bad."
"All right, Tatu," said Bill. "You and I won't quarrel. You helped me out
of a tight place last night and I appreciate it."
"Most welcome," Tatu assured him, busily brushing Bill's dinner coat.
An idea flashed into Bill's mind.
"I tell you, that fix I was in was no joke. And I understand I wasn't the
only one in trouble. I hear that Mr. Frost came aboard with no extra
collars." He paused. Tatu brushed industriously. "Yes, sir, I hear that when
he came to dress he didn't have any more collars than a bathing suit."
Tatu laid down the coat.
"Mr. Frost have plenty collar," he said.
"Oh, he did?" Bill sought to appear casual. "I guess I didn't get it
straight then. Well supplied with collars, was he?"
"Very big box. Maybe ten. Maybe twelve. Plenty."
"You don't tell me!"
"I lay him out. I know."
Bill turned away lest his face betray him. Here was news! Henry Frost's
story disproved already. It certainly began to look as though this Hammond
boy was a born detective.
The ownership of the shirt was of no importance now.
"The morning is O.K., Tatu," he remarked, staring out the port-hole. "I'll
back up all you said about it. When do we get to Monterey?"
"Maybe not go to Monterey," said Tatu. "Anything else, please?"
"Not go to Monterey? What are you talking about?"
"Things very bad this nice morning," answered Tatu. "Hear bell ringing.
Yes- s. Thank you." And he bowed out.
Bill turned again to the bathroom, silent now. He rattled the knob,
called, but there was no answer. Donning dressing-gown and slippers he
stepped out into the corridor, warm with honest anger. He knocked at
The Englishman opened it, smiling sweetly.
"Ah, good morning," he said. "What can I do for you?"
Bill was proud of himself. A grand thing, self-control.
"I believe," he said, "that you and I are supposed to share that bathroom
"Certainly, old chap," agreed Mikklesen. "Any time you feel inclined."
The struggle this time was a bit more difficult, but again Bill won.
"Then will you please unlock the door?" he said through his teeth.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Frightfully careless of me. Just a moment." And
Mikklesen closed his door in Bill's face.
The reporter reentered his cabin and managed to spring into the bath
before Mikklesen had regained his own quarters.
"I'd like to see you to-day sometime," he said to the Englishman.
"Really? I fancy we'll run into each other. Bound to on a yacht. I mean to
say, rather close quarters."
"You never spoke a truer word. You know, I'm supposed to get an interview
from you—for my paper."
"Fancy! You're a pressman then?"
"I work on a newspaper, if that's what you mean."
"Not really? It wouldn't be done in England, you know."
"What wouldn't be done?"
"I mean to say, inviting a pressman as a guest. How
"Well, I'll give you time to get a grip on yourself before we start the
interview," Bill answered. "And now, if you don't mind, even a pressman
prefers to bathe in private."
"Oh, I'm going," said Mikklesen haughtily.
"It's a great idea," said Bill, and turned the lock on him.
"Lovely lad," he muttered; "so frank and open."
But his resentment was short-lived, and by the time he had finished
shaving he had decided that maybe he wouldn't exterminate Mikklesen, after
all. Perhaps the fellow served some useful purpose. Who could say? He
whistled cheerfully as he dressed, though yesterday's shirt was nothing to
whistle about. However, he had it on good authority that clothes don't make
the man, and he sincerely trusted that all aboard had heard that one.
In the dining saloon he found Mrs. Keith and O'Meara breakfasting
together. They appeared to be on excellent terms, and not particularly
pleased at sight of Mr. Hammond's shining morning face.
"Good morning," said the reporter. "We seem to be rather late."
"Frightfully," admitted Mrs. Keith.
"Natural result of staying up half the night," went on Bill. "Late hours
make late breakfasts, eh, O'Meara?"
"Was Mr. O'Meara up late?" asked the woman.
"I ran into him on deck at one-thirty this morning," smiled Bill.
"Yes, and it's lucky you did," growled the lawyer. He turned to Mrs.
Keith. "This kid had a funny dream about seeing somebody in his stateroom,"
he explained. "I had a terrible time quieting him and getting him back to
Mrs. Keith smiled sweetly on Bill.
"So you have queer dreams," she cooed. "How thrilling! You must tell me
all about them. By the way, I hope you play golf. I'm looking for some one to
take me round the Del Monte links this morning."
"Look no further," Bill said. He was face to face with the Californian's
big ordeal—the eating of a California grapefruit.
"Oh, that's awfully good of you," Mrs. Keith smiled.
"I mean," Bill added hastily, "you're not going to Monterey."
"What's that?" O'Meara cried. "Where are we going?"
"Don't ask me," Bill answered. "All I know is, we'd have been at Monterey
long ago if that had been our destination."
"But—I thought it was all settled," O'Meara objected.
Julian Hill came in. He was fresh as the morning in linen so spotless Bill
Hammond began to wonder where his stateroom was. O'Meara at once applied to
him for information.
"It's quite true," said Hill. "We're not bound for Monterey—or any
port. We're just cruising."
"Just cruising?" O'Meara repeated.
"Just wandering about the ocean," Hill went on, "playing for time."
"I don't get you," the politician said.
"You know Jim Batchelor as well as I do. He's lost
great importance—to him. And he's not the sort of man to land his
and crew—and his guests—until he's been over each and every one
vacuum cleaner. Yes," added Mr. Hill, looking hard at O'Meara, "I'd advise
the man who has that dollar to hand it over. Otherwise we may not get back to
town this year."
O'Meara stood up.
"It's an outrage!" he cried. "Oh, of course I know how Batchelor feels.
But this isn't fair to those of us who happen not to be—thieves." And
turn looked hard at Julian Hill. "I've got to be back in town by Monday
morning," he added, and turned away.
"It's all very exciting, at any rate," purred Mrs. Keith. She, too, rose,
and they went out together.
"It begins to look as though there might be an opening here for a
first-class detective," Bill Hammond ventured.
"Not at all," Hill answered coldly. "Mr. Batchelor is quite competent to
manage his own affairs." The rest was silence.
His breakfast over, Bill went in search of Sally. He found her in the
dazzling sunlight on the after deck, and not minding it, hers being that sort
"Hello," he said. "This is a surprise!"
"What are you talking about?" she wanted to know.
"When I'm away from you, I keep thinking how lovely you are. Then I see
you, and you're even lovelier than I thought. That's why I say—"
"Yes, but Bill, where in the world have you been?"
"Eating breakfast. Did you miss me?"
"I certainly did."
"Are we in this detective business together, or are we not? I'm dying to
know what you've found out."
"Oh! Well, I'm here to save your life."
He told her of his interview with Henry Frost and of his more recent
discovery regarding the collars. A puzzled little frown wrinkled her
otherwise perfect brow.
"I can't understand it," she protested. "Henry Frost is father's dearest
"Always dangerous—dearest friends," Bill told her. "How is your
by the way?"
"Worried to death. He claims he didn't sleep a wink, and I believe him.
The first night without his lucky piece in thirty-seven years. I told him you
were on the job, and all about the wonderful evidence you've run down in the
course of newspaper work. I was quite eloquent, really."
"Good! I hope you'll always be eloquent when discussing me."
"I always shall, I'm sure."
"You darling! Go on, expand that idea, please."
She seemed about to obey, but at that moment Jim Batchelor joined them. He
appeared nervous and upset.
"Good morning, Hammond," he said. "Sally's told me that you're willing to
help in this unfortunate affair."
"Well, if it's not presumptuous of me—"
"Nonsense! You've had more experience in this sort of thing than I have,
and I'll be glad of your assistance. Besides"—he glanced about
rather a hard thing to say about one's guests; but—well, I trust you, my
boy." The emphasis on the "you" was marked.
"That's very kind of you, sir. May I ask what steps you have taken in the
"The servants and the crew have all been questioned. They've been
carefully searched, and their quarters too. I may say that I don't suspect
any of them. Some time during the day the guests' cabins and luggage will
be—er—examined. I'm hospitality itself, but this is a vital
business for me
and I'll stop at nothing. I've also given orders to the captain not to put in
anywhere. There are supplies and coal enough aboard to carry us for five
days, and I'll stay out that long if I have to."
"It's a good idea, sir," Bill agreed.
"I've also just posted a notice on the board offering a reward of three
thousand dollars for the immediate return of my lucky piece, and no questions
asked. 'Immediate' is the important word there. The money's yours if you run
down the thief."
"Oh, but I wouldn't take your—money, sir," Bill said. The emphasis
"money" was not so marked as he had intended.
"Rot! Why not? I'd be getting off cheaply at that. Three thousand is a
small price to pay for the peace of mind the return of that dollar would
bring me. My boy, I'll never know a happy moment until I get it back."
"Bill, why don't you tell him?" Sally suggested.
"Tell me what?" Jim Batchelor asked quickly.
"Bill's unearthed the most amazing things, Dad. You'll never
"Good lord, why keep me in the dark?" He was all excitement. "What's
"If you don't mind, sir," Bill said, "I'd like just a moment more before I
let you in on it. You see—"
"A moment? Well, well—if you say so. But only a moment. My boy, don't
keep me waiting."
"I'll make it snappy, sir," said Bill, and hurried off.
Tatu, making up the berth in Henry Frost's cabin, informed him that the
millionaire had slept late and was now at breakfast.
Bill looked round inquiringly.
"How about the collars, Tatu?" he said.
"Him lock collars in suitcase," Tatu explained. "Put key in pocket."
Smiling to himself, Bill went to the dining saloon, where his employer sat
alone at his breakfast.
"Good morning, sir," said Bill.
"Good morning. You breakfast late." Frost's tone implied that it was a bad
"I've had my breakfast, Mr. Frost. I want to speak to you, if you don't
"And if I do mind?"
"I'd have to speak anyhow," said Bill firmly. Henry Frost looked up sourly
from his grapefruit.
"I'll say this for you: You're the most offensive man on my pay-roll."
"I'm sorry, sir. I'm only trying to do the right thing."
"People who are only trying to do the right thing generally make fools of
themselves. What is it now?"
"Last night I told you I didn't intend to go to Mr. Batchelor with certain
information I had picked up. I've been forced to change my mind."
"Really? What forced you?"
"That story of yours about the collars. I've found out it wasn't
"Yes, sir. You say you went to Jim Batchelor's room for a collar. I say
that's a typographical error. You went there for a dollar."
Henry Frost rose and tossed down his napkin.
"Will you come with me?" he said.
"Certainly, sir." Bill followed his employer on deck. "This is all very
painful for me, Mr. Frost."
"Yes, more so than you think. Do you happen to know where Jim Batchelor
"He's on the after deck."
Henry Frost turned in that direction.
"Regarding that interview with Mikklesen, you needn't trouble. You're not
on the paper any more."
"Just as you say, sir," Bill replied smilingly.
But his heart sank. In love and out of work—a great combination.
Jim Batchelor was waiting with Sally on the spot where Bill had left them.
He looked up eagerly as the two men approached.
"Jim, I've got something to say to you," began Frost.
"All right. What is it?"
"This young idiot thinks I took your dollar."
"Oh, nonsense!" said Batchelor, disappointed in Bill. "I know you wouldn't
"Well," continued Mr. Frost, "I—I " His face turned scarlet. "As a
of fact, Jim—I did."
Jim Batchelor leaped from his chair.
"What's that? Say that again!"
"Now, Jim, don't get excited. I give you my word, it was all a joke."
"A joke! You old simpleton! Getting funny at your age! Well, hand it
"I want you to understand how it was," Frost continued.
"I was determined to take you out and trim you at golf today. Last night
somebody happened to say something about your losing that dollar, and it came
over me all at once that if you did you'd be so upset you'd be easy picking
on the links. So just for fun, Jim—that was all—I slipped into
and substituted that other dollar."
"You're a criminal at heart, Henry. I always knew it. But where in Sam
"Of course I never dreamed you'd take it so seriously. And I want to talk
to you about that. Really, Jim, that dollar's become an obsession with you.
No man ought to build his whole life on a thing like that. It's
wrong. Let this be a lesson to you."
"Will you cut out the sermon and produce my dollar?"
"I'll get it. It's in my room. There's no hard feelings, Jim—"
"There will be if you don't shut up and get that dollar."
Frost departed. Jim Batchelor stalked the deck. He was mad and he showed
it, for no one had told him repression was the fashion.
"The old idiot!" he stormed. "What's got into him? Second childhood, I
call it. A joke! You heard him—he said it was a joke!"
"Never mind, Dad, it's all right now," said Sally soothingly. "And you
must remember, it was Bill here solved the mystery."
"Mighty clever of him too. I'll write him a check in a minute."
"Oh, I couldn't allow that, sir," Bill protested. "Not under the
"Rot! Just as serious as a real theft. And for that matter—who
old fox! I never did trust him."
"Dad! Your best friend!" Sally was shocked.
"Well, how do I know what he's up to?"
At that moment Mr. Frost reappeared. For once his famous poker face failed
him. It registered emotion.
"Jim," he said, "I feel like a fool."
"You're certainly acting like one. Where's my dollar?"
Frost slowly extended his bony hand. Eagerly Jim Batchelor reached out a
hand to receive. Into it Henry Frost dropped a bit of paper, a greenback, the
promise of the United States Government to pay one dollar on demand.
"What the devil's this?" roared Batchelor.
"I found it in the place where I'd hidden your dollar, Jim," said Henry
Jim Batchelor did not speak. He cast the paper dollar to the deck. His
face purpled, so that Bill Hammond wondered what one did first in case of
"What can I say, Jim?" Frost pleaded. "I wouldn't have had this happen for
a cool million."
"Apologies!" gurgled Batchelor. "Regrets! What do I care for them? I want
"It was all a joke," said Frost—an unfortunate remark.
"Yeah, a joke! Ha-ha! Fine joke! Somebody else thought so too. Somebody
decided to steal your stuff. And now where are we? Just where we
"With this difference," said Frost. "I'm in on this now. You and I will
run the thief down together. I've something at stake, too, and my first move
will be to add another couple of thousand to that reward you offered."
"A lot of good that will do," shrugged Batchelor. "If three thousand
wouldn't bring it, five won't either. I tell you, we're up against it." tie
turned suddenly to Bill. "You—you haven't any other clue, have you?" he
asked. The trustful note in his voice was pathetic. It made two young people
"Well, I have one," Bill admitted.
"You have?" Batchelor brightened at once.
"Yes; it may not be very important. But I'll work on it. I'd like your
permission to do whatever I think necessary—to invade other people's
staterooms if I think best."
"You go as far as you like." Batchelor turned to Frost. "This boy's
promised to help me."
"Oh, he's a wonder!" sneered Frost.
"You bet he is," Batchelor answered. "He ran you down in record time, and
I'll back him to get the other thief."
"Dad!" Sally reproved.
"All right, Jim," said Frost. "I've got it coming to me."
"I'll say you have!"
Bill bent over and picked up the greenback from the deck.
"I'll take charge of this, if you don't mind. And by the way, Mr. Frost,
did anybody else aboard know you took that dollar?"
"Yes—come to think of it," said Frost. "It seemed best, in case my
motives should be misunderstood, to let a second party in on
joke. So I told Julian Hill."
"When did you tell him?"
"Last evening—before I took it. And afterward I mentioned to him
had it in my stateroom."
In the silence that followed, Bill had a vision of the night
tables of bridge, with Julian Hill wandering alone somewhere outside.
"By the way," said Batchelor, "this may not mean anything; but I heard
this morning that Mrs. Keith lunched last Wednesday at the Palace with Norman
Blake. The Blakes are old rivals of mine," he explained to Bill, "and they've
never made any secret of their interest in that dollar."
"And who told you about Mrs. Keith, sir?"
"Ah, yes," Bill smiled. "Well, I'll do my best."
"I'm sure you will, my boy," said Batchelor. "Don't forget, there's five
thousand in it for you now."
"I hope there's more than that," thought Bill. "Yes, sir," was what he
said. He smiled at Sally and moved away. Frost called after him.
"By the way, Hammond," he said, "if you get the time you'd better do that
Mikklesen story. Simon Porter will be expecting it."
"Thank you, sir," Bill answered. Sally joined him and they went forward
along the rail.
"What did he mean, Bill?" she asked.
"Oh, he was just handing me back my job. You see, he fired me a little
while ago. Now he loves me again. And speaking of that, where do you stand
"Just where I stood last night," she told him.
"The day of miracles arrived last night," he said. "You can sit down now,
my dear—if you'll tell me all about it."
"All about what?" They found a couple of deck chairs.
"All about how you—like me pretty well."
"Never mind that. You tell me. You love me, don't you, Bill?"
"Sally, words can't put it over! I gave 'em a chance last night, and they
fell down on the job."
"When did you start, Bill—being fond, I mean?"
"That day when you were helping the orphans. The moment I saw
Sally, I loved you on the spot. And for ten minutes I madly worshiped you.
Then somebody told me your name. So I went away and never loved you
"Well, that was the idea. Only it didn't work out very well."
"I'm glad it didn't. But business before pleasure, Bill. What's your other
His bright look faded.
"It isn't any good," he said. "I thought for a minute there might be
something in it. I see now I was wrong."
"But what is it, Bill?"
"It's a shirt."
"Yes, we've run the collars to earth, and now we'll get busy on the shirt.
I tell you, Sally, this is beginning to look to me like the annual outing of
the Laundrymen's Benevolent Society."
"You interest me strangely. What's it all about?"
He told her. The misadventure in the steamy laundry of Honolulu Sam, his
agony when he found himself shirtless, Tatu's prompt rescue, the theft in the
night, the Jap's reticence on the morning after—all these he detailed at
"The trouble with the detective game," said Sally, when he had finished,
"is that it's so full of mystery. Whose shirt do you imagine that was?"
"Well, there's Julian Hill. He appears to have an extensive wardrobe."
"Bill, you don't think that Julian—"
"I don't know—just a guess. My job now is to get hold of Tatu and
information out of him."
"Japs are difficult," said Sally.
"You bet they are, and this boy is Gibraltar's little brother. But I'll
make him come across."
"I'm sure you will."
"I'll get the facts out of him if I have to strangle him," Bill told her,
"just to prove to you how tenderly I love you."
* * * * *
BUT Bill Hammond's optimistic prediction failed to come
true. He did not get the facts from Tatu. After fifteen minutes of the third
degree, the little Jap still stood as firm as Gibraltar—or maybe firmer.
Bill cajoled, pleaded, threatened. Tatu looked at him with all the calm
mystery of the Orient in his eyes, and suavely protested that he had
forgotten just where he acquired that shirt. The luncheon bugle came as a
"All right, go along," said Bill. His efforts had wilted him. "But I'm not
through with you, my lad."
"Yes-s, thank you," answered Tatu, and had the audacity to smile as he
Near the door of the dining saloon Sally was eagerly waiting.
"Well?" she asked.
"Salute your hero," said Bill. "He's just been licked by a Jap."
"Tatu wouldn't tell you?"
"Adamant, that boy. He's never heard the word, but he can act it out."
"Why not set Father on him?"
"No," protested Bill, "let's keep Father out of it. I've got to pull this
off alone. You know why."
"But what are you going to do?"
"Just what a regular detective would do," he told her. "Wait for a lucky
"Is that the way they work?" she asked, unbelieving. She was all for
action—her father's daughter.
"It certainly is," said Bill. "I read an interview once with a great
French detective. I didn't pay much attention to it at the time, as I didn't
know then that I was going into the business. But I remember one
said that the detective's chief ally was luck."
"But suppose you're not lucky?"
"Something that happened last night," smiled Bill, "proved I'm the
luckiest man in the world."
Jim Batchelor came up.
"What's doing?" he whispered hoarsely.
"I'm working." Bill tried to make it sound businesslike.
"Results—that's what we want," Batchelor reminded him.
"You bet we do," said Bill, and they went in to lunch.
At the table there was little of the cheery animation of the night before.
The guests ate in preoccupied silence, and Jim Batchelor's intimation that
they might wander about the Pacific for several days added nothing to the
After lunch, Bill Hammond saw Mikklesen enter the smoking-room, and
followed. He sat down opposite the Englishman and offered him a cigar.
Mikklesen took it suspiciously and lighted it in the same spirit. Although
it was a perfectly good cigar, his subsequent expression seemed to indicate
that his worst fears were realized.
"If you've no objection," Bill said, "we might as well get that interview
"As you wish," Mikklesen agreed. "Where's your notebook?"
"My what? Say, listen, it's only in plays that reporters carry those
"But I shouldn't care to be misquoted," the Englishman objected.
"Not a chance. I've got a mind like a phonograph record."
"Ah—er—what shall I talk about?" Mikklesen asked.
"Give me something snappy," Bill suggested. "Something they can hang a
"Oh, but that's hardly my style. Very bad taste, sensationalism. We have
practically none of it at home. If you don't mind, I'd like to talk about the
Chinese. A really admirable people, old chap."
"You think so?" asked Bill Hammond, without enthusiasm.
"I know it. I had charge of a copper mine in one of the northern
provinces, and I found the Chinese absolutely reliable. If they promised a
thing, they did it."
"I heard different," Bill said. "But go on, this is your story."
Mikklesen told his story. Beyond question he had the gift of speech, and
Bill Hammond reflected as he listened that he was getting something. By an
adroit question now and then, he led the talker on. Some ten minutes had
passed, when suddenly the second officer of the France sea, who had charge of
the yacht's wireless, entered.
"Mr. Hammond," he said, "a message for you."
"Oh, thanks," said Bill. The officer handed it over and departed. "Pardon
me just a second."
"Certainly," agreed Mikklesen.
Bill opened the folded paper and read what the second officer had set
down. As he read, he smiled happily to himself. The message was from Simon
"Never mind interview," Simon wirelessed. "Have investigated by cable. A
little black sheep who's gone astray. Kicked out of the English colony in
Yokohama because they didn't like his shirts."
His shirts! Oh, lady luck!
"Anything important?" inquired Mikklesen.
"Not at all," said Bill. "Go on, please. You were saying—"
Mikklesen went on, but Bill no longer listened. The interview was cold,
but the quest of the dollar was warming up. His shirts! They didn't like his
shirts. Well, that might mean much or little; but Mikklesen's shirts
certainly must be looked into.
"I fancy that's about all I can give you," said the Englishman
"That's plenty," Bill answered heartily. He stood up. "You know,
considering how fond you are of the Orient, I'm surprised you came away."
Mikklesen regarded him with a sudden interest.
"Pater's getting old," he explained. "Cabled me to come home. Couldn't
very well refuse—family ties and all that. But sooner or later I shall
return to the East."
"I'm sure you will," said Bill. "Thanks ever so much."
Eagerly he hurried below. Things were certainly looking brighter. Midway
down the passageway he encountered Tatu.
"I want you," he cried, and seizing the Jap by the arm escorted him
energetically into the cabin.
"What now, please?" inquired Tatu.
Bill pointed an accusing finger.
"That was Mikklesen's shirt," he announced.
"Somebody tell," said Tatu, with obvious relief.
"Yes, somebody's told. That lets you out. Now come across with the whole
"Nothing to say," Tatu replied. "I see he have two shirt. You have no
shirt. I hear him talk unkind remarks about Japanese people. I take a shirt.
"It was a noble impulse. But why the dickens wouldn't you tell me this
"Last night, maybe twelve o'clock, Mr. Mikklesen ring," Tatu explained.
"Tell me I take shirt, give to you. I say no, indeed. He say very well, but
will give me fifty dollar I not tell to you whose shirt you have. I accept
with pleasure." His face clouded. "Japanese boy lose fifty dollar," he
"Has he given it to you?"
"Give one dollar for a beginning. Very small beginning."
Bill's eyes narrowed.
"Let me see the dollar," he demanded. Tatu handed over a crisp new
greenback. "You're sure this is the one?"
"Yes-s. Only dollar in pocket," said the Jap.
Bill took out a silver dollar, glanced at it and handed it to Tatu.
"I'll trade with you, if you don't mind. Now listen, my lad! From now on
you and I are friends."
"Yes-s. Very nice," agreed Tatu.
"You stick to me. I'm helping Mr. Batchelor—he's asked me to. No more
secrets with Mikklesen. Otherwise trouble for you—much trouble."
"The first thing in order is an examination of Mikklesen's one remaining
"Can't do," Tatu said. "Shirt locked up."
"I suppose so," Bill replied. "However, I'm going to take a look. Go and
see if there's any one in Mikklesen's cabin."
Tatu departed through the bath. In a second he was back.
"Empty," he announced.
"Fine," said Bill. He stationed Tatu in the corridor with orders to signal
if the Englishman appeared. Then, with the bath offering a way of escape, he
examined the room with care. But Mikklesen had left no dress shirt where
eager hands could find it. Undoubtedly it was in the one piece of luggage
that was securely locked—a huge, battered bag that had a London
"Nothing doing," said Bill finally. He returned to his own cabin, followed
"You want bag open?" inquired Tatu.
"It would be a good idea," Bill admitted.
"Maybe dollar inside," suggested the boy.
"I don't know. It might be."
"Pretty strong lock," mused Tatu.
"Oh, so you noticed that?" Bill stared at the impassive face. "Well," he
continued, thinking aloud, "my chance will come. It's bound to. Mikklesen's
got to wear that shirt tonight, and perhaps Oh, good lord!"
"Yes-s," said Tatu.
"Look here, my boy, what do I wear to-night? I'm worse off than I was last
night. I haven't even got any studs."
"Excuse, please. Hear bell ringing," lied Tatu, and departed in great
Bill Hammond sat down on his berth to consider developments. So it was
Mikklesen's shirt he had worn so jauntily the evening before. Then it must
have been Mikklesen who came in the night to reclaim his property. Knowing
himself closely pursued, he had not dared turn into his own cabin, once he
reached the corridor, and for the same reason he had thrown the shirt
overboard. But why all this fuss about a dress shirt? And how, Bill asked
himself, was it connected with Jim Batchelor's dollar, as he was sure now it
must be. Well, detectives certainly earned their pay.
Bill left the cabin and returned to the upper deck. The Francesca
to be deserted.
He dropped into a chair that stood invitingly in a shady spot and began to
consider his problem. Must get into that bag of Mikklesen's. But how?
Heavy footsteps sounded on the deck and O'Meara passed by. He did not
speak or turn his head. He appeared worried. Bill Hammond began to worry too.
Was he wasting time on a false trail? O'Meara, Julian Hill, Mrs.
possibilities. Ought to be looking them up a bit too.
But no. For the present he would follow that shirt—see where it
get into Mikklesen's bag. How would a regular detective go about it? Break
open the lock perhaps? No, too crude. Find out where Mikklesen kept his keys?
Much better. Find out—how?
It was a rather drowsy afternoon, and a full twenty minutes passed before
Bill had an idea. He rose at once to try it out. When he reached the door of
the smoking-room Mikklesen was just leaving.
"Hello," Bill said. "I've been thinking about that story of ours. We
really need a few photographs to dress it up."
"Oh, no, old chap," said Mikklesen hastily. "I shouldn't care for that at
"I don't mean pictures of you," Bill explained. "Just some snapshots taken
in the Orient. You surely have some of those."
"Well, as a matter of fact, I have," admitted Mikklesen. "I'll give them
to you later."
"But if you don't mind"—Bill summoned his most winning
work on the story now."
For a moment Mikklesen stood regarding him.
"Oh, very well," he said, "come along."
He led the way below and Bill followed close, determined to miss nothing
now. When they reached the Englishman's cabin Mikklesen took a bunch of keys
from his pocket. Bill Hammond tried not to look too interested.
"I keep my bag locked," Mikklesen explained. "Things disappearing right
and left, you know."
"It's the only safe thing to do," Bill agreed.
The Englishman bent over his bag.
"Look there!" he cried.
Bill looked. The lock on Mikklesen's bag had been smashed to bits.
"How beastly annoying!" The Englishman's face was crimson with anger.
"This is too much, really it is. I understood I was to go on a cruise with
gentlefolk, not with a band of thieves." He was hurriedly investigating the
contents of the bag.
"Anything missing?" Bill asked.
"There doesn't appear to be," said Mikklesen, cooling off a bit. "But
whether there is or not, I shall certainly complain to our host." He took out
an envelope and glanced into it. "The photos, old chap. Pick out what you
want and return me the rest, if you will."
"Surely," Bill agreed. He waited hopefully. "If you'd like me to stay here
and keep an eye on things while you look up Mr. Batchelor—"
Mikklesen stared at him. Did he imagine it, or was that the ghost of a
smile about the Englishman's lips?
"Thank you so much," he said. "But I shall ask Mr. Batchelor to come to me
here. I shan't leave my cabin again this afternoon—if you're
If you're interested! Now what did he mean by that? Did he know that Bill
was on to him, or was it a shot in the dark?
"Oh—er—of course " said Bill lamely, and departed.
Back in his own room, Bill tried to think things out. What did "if you're
interested" mean? And who had broken the lock on that bag? Evidently
Mikklesen wasn't the only shady character aboard.
He took out a book and settled down in his berth to read, his ear attuned
to eventualities in the next cabin. Would Mikklesen keep his word and remain
on guard by his mysterious shirt? An hour passed, and it began to appear that
such was the Englishman's intention.
It was, as has been noted, a drowsy afternoon. Bill dropped his book and
lay back on the pillow. Ah, this was the life! No harsh call from his city
editor or from Simon Porter sending him forth for a bit of leg work on the
hard pavements. No feverish hurry to make the last edition. Nothing but the
soft swish of water, the thump of the engines—sounds that suggested
Bill accepted the suggestion.
He was awakened some time later by a sharp knock on his door. Leaping up,
he opened it. A servant stood outside.
"Mr. Hammond, you're wanted above, sir."
Wanted! What now? Some new development in the matter of the dollar, no
doubt. He hastily brushed his hair and went to the upper deck. At the top of
the companionway he encountered Aunt Dora, looking extremely competent.
"Ah, Mr. Hammond," she said, "I hope I haven't disturbed you. We've a
table for bridge and we lack a fourth."
Trapped! Bill looked wildly to the right and left.
"I—I thought it was something important," he stammered.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I mean—you don't want me. I'm a terrible player. You have reason to
"Practise makes perfect. I'll give you a few pointers."
"It's awfully good of you, but—I'm very busy and—my eyes
aren't in very
"I noticed your failing eyesight," she answered, "last night when you
trumped my ace of spades. However, we'll put the table in a strong light.
"I—I'll be very happy to," said Bill, surrendering.
Aunt Dora didn't care whether he was happy or not. She had him. He wasn't
her ideal bridge player, but he was all she could get. And as Bill followed
her into the main saloon he prayed to see Sally there.
But he didn't. Julian Hill and Henry Frost sat glumly at a table, their
manner that of captive slaves on Caesar's chariot wheels. Aunt Dora sat down
and the big game was on. It proved a long and painful session. At the close
of each hand Aunt Dora halted the proceedings while she delved into the
immediate past, pointing out to one and all the error of their ways. Bill got
a lot of undesirable publicity out of these little talks.
The dinner hour was not far away when Sally came in and released him. When
they left the saloon Aunt Dora was going strong. Mr. William Hammond, it
seemed, had done something for which he should have been drawn and
"She'll never forgive me," said Bill. "I got her signals mixed."
"I'm afraid she's rather tiresome at times," Sally smiled.
"Well, she will insist on crossing her bridge after she's got well over
it. There are people like that."
"You were good to play, Bill," Sally said.
"Yes, but I didn't play so good, and I wasted a lot of time when I should
have been sleuthing."
"Has anything happened?" she inquired.
"I should say it has. It was a big afternoon up to the moment I met your
aunt." He told her of Simon's message and the accident to Mikklesen's bag.
"Things are moving," he added.
"They seem to be," she admitted. "What are you going to do now?"
"Ah—er—something very bright, you may be sure. I'm keen eyed
My brain is hitting on all twelve."
"Yes, but what are you going to do?"
"My dear, don't be so literal. Can it be you don't trust me?"
"Oh, I know you're simply wonderful. Only—"
"Never mind the only. We're on the verge of big things. Watch and
His manner was confident, but by the time he had reached his cabin his
confidence had begun to wane. He stood for a moment wondering just what his
preparations for dinner were to be. No evening clothes to-night, that was
certain. He would have to make some sort of apology to Jim Batchelor and let
it go at that. At any rate, he had appeared properly clad the night before,
and the other guests could draw their own conclusions regarding his
appearance to- night.
He tried the door into the bath—locked of course. He rattled and
called—there was no sound within. Have to go and open the door again.
paused outside Mikklesen's cabin something told him not to knock. He entered
The cabin was empty and in semi-darkness. He moved farther into the
room—and his heart stood still. A white blur in the
shirt! It was lying on the settee under the port-hole, within easy reach. He
put his hand down and touched it, and as he did so a faint sound in the bath
startled him. He drew his hand back from the shirt, but in that brief second
he had made an interesting discovery. Mikklesen appeared in the bathroom
"Good lord!" he cried. "You gave me a shock! What are you doing here?
Confound it all, is there no privacy aboard this yacht?"
"I'm sorry," said Bill. "I didn't know you were in the bath, and I was
coming through to unlock it. I thought you'd gone off and left it that
way—it wouldn't be the first time, you know."
"Well, I happen to be using it," said Mikklesen testily, and the fact that
half his face was lathered and he carried a razor seemed to bear him out. "In
the future, I'll thank you to knock before entering my cabin."
Bill considered. He had Mikklesen where he wanted him, but his sense of
the dramatic told him to bide his time. Better an unmasking in Jim
Batchelor's presence than a scene with only two people in a half-dark
"I beg your pardon," he said. "Sorry I disturbed you."
"It's rather upsetting," complained Mikklesen. "First my bag broken into,
and then you popping up like a ghost." He followed Bill to the door and shut
it after him in a manner suggesting extreme annoyance.
Out in the corridor, Bill gave himself up to a moment of unalloyed joy. It
was almost too good to be true. Too easy. A bright lad, this Mikklesen; but
not too bright for young Mr. Hammond, the peerless detective. For Bill knew
where the dollar was now!
He must have a word with Jim Batchelor before he staged his big scene. He
tiptoed down the passage and knocked at the millionaire's door. Batchelor
called an invitation to enter, and when he did so he was glad to find that
Sally also was in the room. She was tying Batchelor's dress tie, for she was
a faithful daughter and didn't like Tatu's work as a valet. Her father broke
from her ministrations at sight of Bill.
"Something doing?" he inquired, with pathetic eagerness.
"I'll say there is," replied Mr. Hammond cheerily.
"You've got it?"
"I've got it located—same thing."
"Not quite." Batchelor's happy look faded. "However, where is it?"
"That'll be revealed at the proper moment," Bill told him. "I just dropped
in to lay my wires for a little scene after dinner to-night. Sally, I'm glad
you're here. After the coffee you're to take your aunt and Mrs. Keith from
the dining saloon and leave us men alone."
"What—and miss the excitement? Not much!"
"Sally, you heard what Mr. Hammond said," reproved her father. "Obey."
"Oh, well, if you think Mr. Hammond knows best," smiled Sally.
"I'm sure he does."
"I'm sorry, Sally," Bill said. "But the subsequent events will be such
that I don't think it the place for the so-called weaker sex. Mr. Batchelor,
I want you to back me up from that point on. Anything I say—and
propose to do."
"Of course. But you might give me a little hint—"
"I will, sir." He handed over Simon Porter's wireless message. "Read that,
"Who's he talking about? Not—Mikklesen!"
"Yes, sir, Mikklesen."
"Good lord! I never thought of him. What about his shirts?"
"You wouldn't believe if I told you, sir. I'll show you after dinner."
"Fine!" Batchelor's spirits rose. "I'll be mighty glad to get this thing
solved to-night. The captain's just told me there's something wrong with the
engines, and we're circling back to Monterey." He submitted while Sally put
the finishing touch on his tie. "By the way, Mikklesen called me into his
stateroom this afternoon and put up a terrible howl because his bag had been
broken into. I was very sympathetic, I didn't tell him the captain was the
"Oh, the captain broke that lock."
"Yes; pretty crude work. He swore he could pick it open with a jack-knife,
but his hand slipped and he ended by smashing it. I didn't approve of his
going quite that far."
"Did he find anything?" asked Bill.
"Nothing. He went over the thing carefully—so he claims."
"He didn't have the combination," smiled Bill. "By the way, sir, I shan't
be able to dress for dinner to-night. I'll come as a plain-clothes man, if
you don't mind."
"Come in your pajamas if you want to," said Batchelor. "Only get me that
"I'll get it," Bill assured him. As he left the cabin he smiled
triumphantly at Sally and Sally smiled back.
The conquering hero—that was how he felt.
* * * * *
A TENSE air hung about the dinner table that evening, as
though all present knew that some important development in the dollar chase
was close at hand. Only one guest was entirely at ease—Mikklesen. He
his tale of far corners and strange adventures, and once more Bill Hammond
had to admit that the boy was good.
When the women had left the saloon a pointed silence fell. Jim Batchelor
sat for a moment staring at the end of his cigar.
"Gentlemen," he said, "I know you'll pardon my mentioning again the matter
of the missing dollar, for I'm sure you're all as interested as I am to see
the property recovered. Mr. Hammond has been making an investigation, at my
request, and I understand he has something to report."
They turned with interest to Mr. Hammond. Bill smiled cheerily about the
"We've made several discoveries," he began. "For instance, we know that
the dollar was taken from Mr. Batchelor in the first place as a rather
ill-advised joke." Frost squirmed in his chair, but Bill mentioned no names.
He told how the unfortunate jokester, on seeking to return the dollar to its
owner, had found in the hiding place a greenback of equal value. He took the
bank-note from his pocket.
"This is a brand-new note," he said, "and its serial number is 2B7654328B.
Some of you may have noticed that when you are paid money by a bank, and
receive new bills, the serial numbers follow in perfect sequence." He removed
another bill from his pocket. "I have here," he added, "another new dollar
note, and the serial number is 2B7654329B. Is it too much to suppose that the
two notes came from the same pocket?"
"Good work!" remarked Batchelor, beaming. "Where'd you get that other
"The second note," Bill explained, "was given to Tatu, the valet, in
return for some trifling service. It was given to him by one of you gentlemen
here present." He paused. No one spoke. "It was given him by Mr. Mikklesen,"
They all turned and looked at the Englishman. His nonchalance was
"That may be true," he smiled. "I may have given the Jap that note—I
don't recall. What of it?"
"Pretty flimsy, if you ask me," said O'Meara. "I'm a lawyer and I want to
tell you, young man—"
"Just a moment, Mr. O'Meara," Bill smiled. "We don't need a lawyer just
yet. I recognize that this evidence is rather inconclusive. I mentioned it
merely because it makes a good prelude to what will follow. The close
relationship of these notes points to Mikklesen. Other things point to
Mikklesen. I point to Mikklesen. I ask him to stand up and be
is, of course, if Mr. Batchelor has no objection."
Batchelor nodded. "Go to it," he said heartily.
"Fine!" Bill said. "Now, Mr. Mikklesen, if you'll be so good—"
"This is an insult," he protested. "Mr. Batchelor, I appeal to you. The
simplest laws of hospitality—"
"You've abused my hospitality, sir," said Batchelor. "I know all about
you. Stand up!"
Slowly the Englishman got to his feet.
"The coat and waistcoat, please," Bill Hammond ordered. "Thanks. Now the
collar and the tie. I'll help you, if you don't mind." He rapidly unfastened
the studs in Mikklesen's gleaming bosom. "Our friend here," he explained,
"has made a close study of his profession. He has perfected the Mikklesen
shirt, for which he was famous in the Orient. The bosom is unusually stiff;
it holds its shape well. And at the bottom, on the left side, an extra strip
of linen makes a convenient pocket. You wouldn't notice it if the shirt were
freshly laundered—I didn't"—he smiled at Mikklesen—"but
after prying it
open you have a handy receptacle for carrying slender booty—bank-
even a silver dollar. And the loot doesn't show, particularly if you are
built concavely, as is young Raffles here." Bill removed from the bosom of
the shirt a silver dollar and tossed it down before Jim Batchelor. His heart
was thumping; this was his big hour. "Your lucky piece, I believe, sir," he
Batchelor's eyes shone.
"My boy, how can I ever thank you " he began. With trembling hand he
picked up the dollar. A hoarse cry of rage escaped him. He threw the dollar
back on to the table and got to his feet. "Damn it," he cried, "how long is
this thing going to keep up?"
"Wha-what thing, sir?" asked Bill, his triumph fading.
"That," roared Batchelor, "is not my dollar! It was coined in the year
"Good lord!" cried Bill; and glancing at Mikklesen, he saw on that
gentleman's face a look of undisguised surprise.
The saloon was in an uproar, everybody talking at once. But above the
clamor Batchelor's voice rang out. He was facing Bill, and he was talking to
"You a detective! You're a defective, that's what ails you! You get my
hopes way up, and then you—you—you—"
"Well, I'm sorry, sir," said poor Bill. He was a bit dazed.
"Sorry! What kind of talk is that? Sorry! I could—I'd like
to—I tell you
this, you unearth any more dollars for me, and I'll skin you alive!" He
turned to Mikklesen, who was tying his necktie as best he could without a
mirror. "And you, sir! What have you to say? What explanation have you to
offer? Honest men don't go about with trick shirts. I know your reputation in
the Orient. How came that dollar where it was?"
"I'm afraid I've been done, sir," said Mikklesen suavely, putting on his
"Done? How so?"
"Under the circumstances, I can't do better than tell you the truth. If
you will pause to consider, there has been no real theft. In each case,
nothing but substitution—one dollar for another. The value of your lucky
piece is purely sentimental. Remember that, if you will."
"Go on," said Batchelor.
"I went to your cabin last night to get that dollar. I'm a bit of a
jokester myself. I heard Mr. Frost at the door and had just time to reach the
closet. From there I watched him make the substitution. I followed him, and
when he left his cabin to go to dinner, I slipped in. After locating your
dollar, I made a little substitution of my own. I had your dollar last night,
I had it this morning—right where our young friend here found this other
one. I put the shirt with the dollar in it in my bag and securely fastened
the lock. Mr. Hammond here will bear me out when I say that some time in the
early afternoon the lock of my bag was broken. That must have been when the
dollars were exchanged."
"Nonsense!" answered Batchelor. "You mean to say you haven't made sure of
that dollar since?"
"I saw that there was still a dollar in the bosom of the shirt and
naturally supposed it was the—er—lucky piece."
Jim Batchelor slowly shook his head.
"I don't get you," he said. "You're too deep for me. However, I know one
thing—you're not the sort of guest I care to have around. Something has
happened to the engines and we're turning back to Monterey. In the morning
you will greatly oblige me by taking your luggage and going ashore."
"Oh, naturally," calmly agreed Mikklesen.
"After you've been searched," Batchelor added. "Shall we join the
As they left the dining saloon, Bill Hammond saw O'Meara seize Mikklesen's
arm and hold him back. The politician's ruddy face was a study in various
emotions, none pleasant.
Entering the main saloon last, Bill encountered Sally just inside the
door. Her eyes were shining with excitement as she maneuvered him
"Oh, Bill, I felt dreadfully," she said. "I mean, to miss your big scene
"Ha-ha," he remarked mirthlessly.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Some triumph, Sally! A dud! A raspberry! As a detective I'm a great
reporter." And he told her what had happened.
"What did Father say?" she inquired when he had finished.
"Ah," he answered, "you go right to the heart of the matter. Father said
plenty, and if a look ever meant poison in the coffee, his look meant that to
me. I tell you, Sally, it's all over now. As far as Father goes, I'm
"Don't give up," she urged. "Haven't you any more clues?"
"Well," he replied slowly, "a little one."
"I knew it!" she cried. "What is it, Bill?"
"Oh, nothing much. But I happened to pick up that dollar we found on
Jim Batchelor and Henry Frost emerged from the main saloon and came
"Ah," said Frost sarcastically, "the young detective."
"Don't kid him, Henry," said Batchelor. "The boy's got a future. He can
dig up more dollars than John D. Rockefeller."
"Mr. Batchelor, I certainly regret—" Bill began.
"Never mind that. Where are we now? Things are more confused than
"If you'll take a suggestion from me," Frost began, "how about your
captain? He opened Mikklesen's bag. Was he alone at the time?"
"Nonsense!" Batchelor answered. "You're wrong as usual, Henry."
"Well, I don't know. What's all this about the engines, and turning
"Rot, I say! The captain's been with me for more than ten years."
Batchelor shook his head. "I tell you, I'm up a tree. A lot of things I don't
understand. Very strange, for example, that Mikklesen should have made that
confession. He could have denied everything and let it go at that."
"Dad," said Sally, "Bill's got another clue."
"I suppose so," her father replied. "He certainly is a marvel for clues. I
shouldn't be surprised if he conjured a dollar out of somebody's ear next.
But it won't be my dollar, I'm sure of that."
"If you'll give me a chance, sir," suggested Bill.
"Well, you're a broken reed, but you're all I've got to lean on. What is
"Mikklesen's luggage was broken into about two-thirty. He didn't discover
it until after three. The captain couldn't have been in there more than ten
or fifteen minutes. What happened in the interval between the time the
captain went out and Mikklesen came in?"
"Tell me that and I'll say you're good."
"I can only surmise, sir. But that 1899 dollar we found on
know who had it last."
"What? You do?" ^
"Yes. That's the dollar I gave Tatu this morning in exchange for the
greenback he got from Mikklesen."
"Tatu! That's an idea! Come into the smoking-room and we'll have Tatu on
The owner of the Francesca led the way, and Frost, Hammond and Sally
followed. Tatu, summoned, appeared a bit lacking in his accustomed calm. He
feared his employer, and showed it.
"You've seen this dollar before, Tatu," said Bill, holding it out. "I gave
it to you this morning. What did you do with it after that?"
Tatu stared at the silver dollar.
"Give him back," he said.
"Back to whom?"
"The truth, Tatu," Batchelor demanded.
"So help," answered the Jap. "Mr. Mikklesen say I do not keep promise.
That not true. Make me give dollar back, anyhow."
That was Tatu's story, and he stuck to it. After a few moments of further
questioning, Batchelor let him go.
"Well, where does that get us?" the millionaire wanted to know.
"The Jap's lying," declared Frost.
"I don't think so," Bill objected. "No, something tells me he speaks true.
Mr. Batchelor, that big confession scene of Mikklesen's was staged with a
"I can't say. But I've a hunch he's still got your dollar."
"That's for me to find out, sir." Bill was again the man of action.
"Sally, I wish you'd go in and lure Mikklesen into a bridge game, if you
will, please. After that's under way, I'll act."
"You sound good," admitted Batchelor. "But then you always do. I wish I
could be sure you'd get the right dollar this time."
"I'll get it," said Bill. His heart sank. He'd said that
result? But this time he must make good—he must! However, he wasn't so
When he saw the Englishman uncomfortably settled as Aunt Dora's partner in
a game, he hurried below. Without hesitation he turned on the light in
Mikklesen's cabin and began to search. He did a thorough job—under the
carpet, in the closet, everywhere. But he found no dollar. Nothing at all of
interest, in fact, save a little coil of flat wire which lay on the floor
almost under the berth. It seemed of no importance, but he put it in his
pocketbook. His heart was heavy as he turned out the light and started to
leave via the bath. He had one foot in the bathroom and the other in
Mikklesen's cabin when the door into the corridor opened.
"Hello," said a voice—O'Meara's—very softly.
Bill fled. He silently took the key out of the door leading from the bath
into his room, and, safe in his cabin, fastened the lock from that side. He
laid his hand gently on the knob of the door and waited. Footsteps sounded
faintly in the bath, and then the knob began to turn slowly in his hand. He
let it turn. A gentle shake of the knob, and then the footsteps receded. As
soon as he dared, Bill unlocked the door and opened it an inch or two. He
made out the occasional glimmer of a flashlight in Mikklesen's cabin.
For a time O'Meara searched industriously. Suddenly the flash went dark.
Some one else had entered Mikklesen's cabin. Who? In a moment the politician
"Mrs. Keith!" he said in a low voice.
"Mr. O'Meara!" came the woman's answer.
"What can I do for you?" O'Meara inquired sarcastically.
"Is this your cabin, Mr. O'Meara?" she asked, equally sarcastic.
"It is not."
"Then what are you doing here?"
"Just what you're doing. Looking for that dollar."
"Why, Mr. O'Meara—"
"Come across. I made you early in the game. See here, our interests are
the same. Let's work together."
"I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, yes, you do. You're here to get that lucky piece for the Blakes; and
I—well, I represent other interests; interests that want to keep Jim
Batchelor out of the primaries. Let me have that dollar until next Wednesday
at six p.m. and you can have it after that."
"But I haven't got it, Mr. O'Meara."
"I know you haven't. I mean, in case we can get hold of it."
"You think it's in this room?"
"I think Mikklesen's got it somewhere. You know, I had my deal all fixed
with him. I caught him last night throwing a shirt overboard, and after a
little talk he admitted he had the lucky piece and agreed to deliver it to me
in Monterey for twelve hundred cash."
"I thought of making him an offer myself," said the woman. "I knew his
talents of old, and I was sure he had it."
"It's just as well you didn't. This morning, when Batchelor offered that
whale of a reward, the dirty crook began to hedge. He'd have double-crossed
me then and there, only I threatened to have him framed before he could get
out of the state. He knew I could do it, so he held off."
"Then that performance to-night was all staged?"
"It sure was," O'Meara said. "I could see it in his eye. It was all for my
benefit. I wouldn't be surprised if he led that young fool of a Hammond right
into it. He wanted me to think he'd lost the dollar. Probably he's figuring
on getting ashore with it, and then sending it to Batchelor by a messenger.
But only over my dead body. Let's get busy."
"Where does this door lead?" asked Mrs. Keith.
"Into a bath. There's a door into another cabin, but it's locked."
And it was, for Bill Hammond took the hint just in time. He went to the
upper deck and left them to their search, confident that it would have no
The bridge game was just breaking up, with the enthusiastic cooperation of
every one save Aunt Dora. Bill took Sally aside in a corner of the saloon,
but before he could say anything her father joined them.
"Anything doing?" he inquired.
Bill told them of the conversation in Mikklesen's cabin. Jim Batchelor was
"Fine business I" he said. "O'Meara, and the woman too! I knew blamed well
I couldn't trust anybody on this boat. Well, they'll go ashore, bag and
baggage, with Mikklesen in the morning. But not until I've been over all
three of them personally."
"Yes, I mean it. Well, Hammond, where are we now? Mikklesen's still got
the dollar, you think? But where's he got it?"
"Well " began Bill.
"You've got a clue, of course," said Batchelor. '
"Not one," Bill answered sadly.
"What?" Batchelor stood up. "Well, if you've run out of clues, then the
skies are dark indeed. Something tells me I'll never see my dollar again. You
may be a good newspaper man, my boy, but as a detective—well—oh,
use? I'm going to bed. Good night."
Sally and Bill followed him outside. In a shadowy spot on the deck they
"Oh, Bill, what are we going to do now?" the girl sighed.
"Well, I have one—one little clue. But it's so silly I didn't have
nerve to tell him about it. Just a little coil of wire I found in Mikklesen's
"What would that mean, Bill?"
"I don't know. But I'm going to think to-night as I never thought before.
I can't lose you, Sally. I won't—that's all."
"Not if I have anything to say about it, Bill, you won't," she answered,
and the wisdom of stopping in a shadow became at once apparent.
In his berth Bill settled down to do the promised thinking. He began to go
over in his mind, carefully, every point in the equipment of a man like
Mikklesen. But somewhere in the neighborhood of the military brushes he fell
* * * * *
THERE is a subconscious self that never sleeps, but applies
itself to any problem in hand. Which probably explains why Bill awoke the
next morning with the hunch of his life. It was very late; and struck by an
unaccustomed quiet, he looked out the port-hole. The little town of Monterey
and the green forest of Del Monte met his gaze, and he knew the
The bathroom door was unlocked, and the door leading into Mikklesen's
cabin stood open. There was no trace of the Englishman, nor of his many
pieces of luggage. Alarmed, Bill rang for Tatu; but from the Jap he learned
that no one had yet gone ashore.
"Hurry," Bill ordered, "and tell Mr. Batchelor not to land any one until
he hears from me." And he prepared himself for a busy morning.
Jim Batchelor arrived just as Bill was tying his necktie.
"Any news?" inquired the young man.
"Not a glimmer," answered Batchelor. He sat down on the berth, his gloomy
face in striking contrast to the sunny morning. "The second officer was in
Mikklesen's cabin while he dressed, and examined everything he put on. We've
been through his luggage again too. But there was nothing doing. Either he
hasn't got that dollar or he's too smart for us."
"Where is he now?" Bill asked.
"He's on deck, waiting to go ashore. The launch is ready. O'Meara and Mrs.
Keith are there too."
"Did you search them?"
"Well, no. There are limits. Besides, I'm sure they're just as much in the
dark as I am. Both of them came to me this morning and said both wanted to
leave the cruise here, so I simply told them to go. There seemed no occasion
for a row."
"You were quite right, sir," Bill agreed.
"You—you sent me word not to let anybody land until you came up,"
"I did," Bill smiled.
"Are you—are you on a new trail?"
"I think so."
"My boy! No, no, I mustn't let you get my hopes up again."
"You're very wise, sir," Bill admitted. "This isn't much—a fighting
chance, that's all."
"Well, let's fight it," said Batchelor as they left the cabin. "I tell you
again, you get that dollar back and there'll be nothing too good for
"Careful!" said Bill under his breath, and they went on deck.
Sally joined them, as lovely as the California morning, but with a worried
look in her eyes. Bill smiled his reassurance. They moved along the deck and
came upon Mikklesen, O'Meara and Mrs. Keith sitting amid their luggage.
"We're losing some of our guests," said Batchelor.
"So I see," Bill answered. "I'd steeled myself to part with Mikklesen, but
these others—I'm awfully sorry—"
O'Meara glared at him. Henry Frost, alert for news, came up.
"Mr. Batchelor," Bill went on, "before Mikklesen goes out of our lives for
ever, I'd like to ask him one question."
"Certainly. Go to it."
"Mr. Mikklesen"—the Englishman stood up, and he and Bill faced each
other—"Mr. Mikklesen," Bill repeated, "what time is it?"
The Englishman's eyes narrowed.
"I don't understand."
"The time—by that watch of yours. I've seen you consult it before.
"My dear fellow"—Mikklesen was quite at ease—"it's a
thing, really. Belonged to my grandfather. Something has happened to it. It's
"Not running? That's too bad." Bill held out his hand. "Let me have a look
at it. I might be able to fix it."
Mikklesen's eyes turned quickly to right and left. He appeared to be
measuring the distance between the Francesca and the shore.
"Come on," said Bill. "There's no way out. Hand it over."
"Why not?" said Mikklesen. He took from his pocket a large ancient
timepiece and unfastened it from the chain. He was smiling. Bill's heart
sank—was he wrong, after all?
His strong fingers closed eagerly on Mikklesen's watch. Anxiously he
opened the back. The thing was packed with tissue-paper. He lifted out the
paper—and smiled, for underneath lay a silver dollar.
"I hope it's the right one this time," he said, and handed it to
"By the Lord Harry!" cried Batchelor. "My lucky piece! The first dollar I
ever earned. Little secret mark and all. My boy—my boy, I take back
Bill glanced at Sally; her eyes were shining. He handed the watch case
back to Mikklesen.
"When you took out the works," he said, "you shouldn't have let the
mainspring get away from you. Lively little things, mainsprings. Elusive,
"I fancy so." Mikklesen, still smiling, still nonchalant, restored the
watch to his pocket. "Mr. Batchelor, I'll toddle along. There's been no
"Who says there hasn't?"
O'Meara, purple with rage, was on his feet. "Batchelor, you turn this
crook over to me. I'll put him behind the bars, where he belongs."
Jim Batchelor shook his head. "Your passion for justice is splendid,
O'Meara," he said, "but I prefer it otherwise. Publicity never did appeal to
me. Mr. Mikklesen, I congratulate you. You must have been a wonder at hide
and seek when you were a kid. You may as well—go along."
"Thanks, awfully," said Mikklesen. "It's been a frightfully jolly cruise,
and all that." He glanced at O'Meara, and his smile faded. "I'm going to ask
one last favor, if I may."
"Well, you've got your nerve," Batchelor said. "What is it?"
"Will you be so good as to send me ashore alone, and let the launch return
The owner of the Francesca was in high good humor. He laughed.
"Of course I will," he replied. "I can't say I blame you either. It isn't
always safe for birds of a feather to flock together. Get into the launch.
And you, O'Meara"—he put himself in the angry politician's
where you are."
Mikkleson indicated his luggage to a sailor and hastily descended the
ladder. The launch putt-putted away. O'Meara moved to the rail and shook a
"I'll get you," he cried, "you low-down crook!"
Mikklesen stood in the stern of the launch and waved a jaunty farewell. He
was off in search of new fields and better luck.
"Oh, Mr. Batchelor," purred Mrs. Keith, "it's a woman's privilege to
change her mind, you know. If you have no objection I'll stay with the
"Oh, no, you won't!" said Batchelor. "I've got my dollar back and I intend
to hang on to it."
"Why, what do you mean?" she said, staring at him with wide, innocent
"I'm on to you—and O'Meara too. I'm sorry you've forced me to say
back to your friends the Blakes, Mrs. Keith, and tell them they've got me to
lick on that China contract—if they can. As for you, O'Meara, my name
be entered in the primaries next week. And I'm glad to know where you
"What's it all about?" O'Meara inquired blandly.
"You know very well what it's about. The second officer has some errands
in the town, but he'll be back with the launch in an hour or so. When he
comes I'll ask you both to leave the Francesca." Batchelor turned and
eyes lighted on Bill Hammond. Smiling, he put his arm about Bill's shoulder.
"Some detective, if you ask me. Come into the saloon, Son. There's a little
matter of business between us. Henry, you're in on this. Got your
"I've got it," said Frost, and he and Sally followed the pair into the
"Two thousand from you, Henry," Batchelor reminded him.
"I know it." Mr. Frost reluctantly sat down at a desk and prepared to
"Wait a minute," Bill interposed. "I don't want any money, Mr. Frost."
"What do you want?" asked Frost.
"A better job."
"And he deserves it too," said Batchelor.
"Well," began Frost, whose first instinct was always to hedge,
"I don't like to interfere at the office " Still, his expression seemed to
say two thousand is two thousand.
"The Sunday editor quit last week," Bill went on. "A word from you and the
job's mine. It pays a hundred, I believe."
Frost stood up.
"All right," he agreed. "We'll consider the matter settled." He patted his
check-book lovingly and departed.
"Now that was sensible," beamed Jim Batchelor. "A job—a chance to
good. Better than money."
"It looks better to me," smiled Bill. "You see, I'm thinking of getting
Batchelor got up and seized his hand.
"Fine! Fine!" he cried. "My boy, I wish you all the luck in the
"Then you approve of it?"
"The best thing that could happen to any young man. A balance
"That's the way I feel, sir," said Bill heartily.
"And it does you credit." Batchelor sat at the desk. "My little check will
come in the way of a wedding present." He stopped. "I hope you're getting the
right sort of girl?"
"I'm sure of that, sir."
"Of course you feel that way. But these modern girls—not the kind I
to know. Flighty, extravagant—they don't know the value of a
"This one," said Bill, "knows the value of one dollar. At least, she ought
"What's that?" cried Batchelor.
"Put away your check-book, sir," said Bill. "It isn't your money I
Batchelor threw down his pen. "I—I didn't dream—Sally, what
She came and sat on his knee.
"Dad, you've never refused me anything yet. You're not going to haggle
over a little thing like Bill."
"But—but I don't—this young man—why, he hasn't
"What did you have when you were married?" she asked.
"I had my brains and a strong right arm."
"So has Bill," she told him.
He turned slowly and looked at Bill.
"I'm thinking of you too," he said. "I like you, my boy—I won't
But this—this—could you get away with it? A girl like
Sally—it isn't so
much the initial expense—it's the upkeep. Could you manage it?"
"With your permission," said Bill, "I'd like to try."
Batchelor kissed his daughter and stood up.
"You'll have to give me time on this," he said. "All so sudden. I'll think
"Yes, sir," Bill answered. "And in the meantime—"
"In the meantime " Batchelor stopped at the door. He looked at Bill
Hammond long and wistfully. "You know," he said, "I'd give a million dollars
to be where you are now." And he went out.
"Poor Dad," said Sally. "Isn't he a darling?"
"It runs in your family," Bill told her. "I've noticed that."
"Bill, you'll always love me, won't you?"
"Love you—and keep you close," said Bill. "In the big moments of my
you'll give me courage to go on. The first wife I ever earned."
"Bill, be careful!" she said. "Somebody might come in."