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CHAPTER XI.


ON THE WAY TO MAUI.


For the moment after I made my terrible discovery, my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth and I could not utter a sound.

I saw that poor Dan had been struck over the head, for the blood was streaming over his cheek and down his chin. His struggle to get away from his enemy was but a feeble one at the best.

"Drop him!" I yelled at last, in hoarse tones. "Drop him, Delverez!"

The Spaniard looked down and started in dismay upon sight of me. "Americano!" he muttered. "Why you come here?" he questioned.

"Let him alone!" I continued. "Don't you dare to throw him over, or as sure as my name is Mark Carter you shall hang for it!"

"He shall suffer for his treatment of me!" hissed the Spaniard. "I know how he and you and that Raymond went to Señor Palmer and spoke against me."

"We told only the truth. Now let him go."

"I will not," and Ramon Delverez stepped closer to the edge of the cliff than ever.

My blood seemed to stop pulsating and I fully expected to see poor Dan go crashing past my head into the waters below. As for my chum, the violence of his exertions had now caused him to faint dead away.

But then I thought of my pistol, and of what Oliver had said about firing a shot to attract attention. Quickly I drew the weapon and fired a shot into the air.

The discharge of the weapon frightened Ramon Delverez greatly, as he, no doubt, thought I was aiming at him. Up went his hands and Dan dropped like a lump of lead upon the very edge of the cliff, one arm hanging limply down toward me.

"Ha! you will shoot at me!" screamed the Spaniard, and now brought out his own pistol. "Perhaps I can do some shooting myself."

He pointed the long weapon, and I lost no time in skipping out of sight under the bulge of the cliff upon which he stood.

I must admit that my situation was a truly uncomfortable one, bodily and mentally: bodily on my own account, and mentally when I thought of Dan's peril.

A few minutes passed in silence. I strained my ears to learn what Delverez was doing, but could hear absolutely nothing.

Soon I heard a call from Oliver, and presently he came in sight, all out of breath with running. "Where is he?" he asked quickly.

"Up above!" I called back. "Look out, or Ramon Delverez may fire at you!"

"Is that rascally Spaniard around?"

"He is, and has Dan in his power—on the cliff above."

"He shan't hurt Dan!" ejaculated Oliver, and ran for the path leading to the upper cliff. Seeing this I went with him, and we reached the vicinity together.

Ramon Delverez heard us coming evidently, for as we advanced he retreated. We caught a brief glance of him between the trees, and then he was gone.

"Shall we follow him up?" cried Oliver.

"Let us find out about Dan first," I answered.

Dan was just coming to his senses, and would have fallen over the cliff had I not caught him and dragged him back.

"Oh, my head!" he moaned. "Where is Delverez?"

"Gone."

"He wanted to—to——"

"I know all about it, Dan. Here, let me bind up the wound. It doesn't seem to be such a severe one, after all." And it wasn't, although poor Dan felt sore over it for several days after his adventure.

As soon as Dan could be left alone, Oliver and I started on the Spaniard's trail.

"He doesn't deserve any mercy," said Oliver. "We ought to shoot him on sight."

"If we do that we may get ourselves into trouble, Oliver. Remember, we are in a strange land."

"No, we are not—since the Stars and Stripes float over these islands. Come on," and on we went, Oliver holding his weapon ready for use, in case of need.

But a search lasting half an hour convinced us that Ramon Delverez had left the vicinity, and at last we returned to where Dan was resting, and, making a boy's "armchair," carried him down to where we had left our horses.

It was a thoughtful trio that made its way into Honolulu that evening. No one had much to say, as we turned the horses over to the livery-stable keeper and betook ourselves to our rooms at the hotel.

"That Spaniard doesn't know that the war is over," remarked Dan.

"Oh, he is mad because you broke off that deal he wanted to make with Mr. Palmer and Mr. Carson," I answered. "I sincerely trust we never lay eyes on him again and that he never comes near us."

"Such men are snakes in the grass," put in Oliver. "He won't forget us, and he'll try to get square if it takes a lifetime to do it."

The steamer for Maui left at nine o'clock in the morning, and half an hour before that time found us on board, watching the preparations for departure. The passengers were a motley collection, mostly planters and Chinese helpers, for the island of Maui contains some of the finest sugar and rice plantations to be found anywhere.

"What a grand sea!" burst out Oliver, as the little vessel left the harbor and started on her trip to the southeastward. And it was indeed a grand sea, with its long, swelling waves dancing in the sunshine. Outside, the mighty Pacific was as smooth as a mill-pond, as if hurricanes and fierce gales were things of which it had never heard.

It was cool, too, with a steady trade wind blowing, and all day long we remained on deck, drinking in our fill of salt air and talking over the prospects.

"I trust we have left all of our trials and troubles behind," sighed Dan. "I've had enough of perilous adventure." Alas! little did any of us dream of what fate still held in store for us. Had we done so, I am afraid one or another of the party would have been strongly tempted to turn back.

On the vessel we made several inquiries about Joe Koloa, and at last struck a Chinaman who had met the carriage-driver about six months before.

"He very strange man," said the Celestial, who had lived in San Francisco and spoke English fluently. "Sometime he no workee but go round so,"—he threw up his arms,—"and say he makee much money an' be Pearl King."

"Pearl King!" cried Oliver, and looked at Dan and me. "That looks as if he knew something."

I motioned for him to be careful of what he was saying. "It would appear as if this Koloa was somewhat crazy," I observed.

"Great Scott! don't say that," put in Dan. "We've had bad enough men to deal with, without falling in with somebody who is out of his mind."

"You want to see dis Koloa?" asked the Celestial curiously.

"Yes, if we can find him."

"He no in Wailuku any more. He go to some place back of the coast—little village called Rulukoa. He great man in that village."

This was all the Chinaman could tell us, and we thanked him kindly, and Oliver slipped a silver quarter into his yellow palm, which made him grin with pleasure. The Celestial was a rice-planter, and later on told us how he raised the rice plants and then transplanted them by hand in a field several inches deep with water and muck. All rice-planting is done in this fashion, neither machinery nor tools being employed for the purpose.

We speculated a good deal upon what sort of a man Koloa would prove to be, but could arrive at no definite conclusion. "It's more than likely that the thought of such a treasure of pearls has turned his head," said Oliver, and we agreed with him, but could not help wondering why he did not take the pearls if he knew where they were located, and sell them.

"There is some mystery about the whole business that I can't understand," observed Dan. "I'll wager the treasure is not so easy to get as we suppose."

"Something is wrong somewhere," I answered; and there the subject was dropped, not to be taken up again until we landed at Wailuku.