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CHAPTER III.


THE LOSS OF THE ORIGINAL MAP.


It is perhaps time that I described the documents left to Oliver by Watt Brown, the second mate of the ill-fated schooner Dart.

They were but two in number, and had originally been but one, having been torn asunder by Gaston Brown or somebody unknown to us.

The documents were two portions of a sheet of parchment such as was used for legal papers a hundred years ago. They were yellow and faded with age, and it was with great difficulty that we made out what each contained—the one some written instructions for finding the Cave of Pearls and the second a map of the volcano Kilauea and vicinity, showing, not the new roads, but the old trails running from the south and east coasts to this interesting territory.

In the written description a Kanaka named Holo Koloa was mentioned as knowing something of the trail to the hidden cave. In a footnote on this sheet, Gaston Brown had written that Holo Koloa was dead, but that he had left all his secrets to Joe Koloa, a half-educated Kanaka, who, however, was said to be very superstitious about going near the great volcano, and especially near the cave, for fear of offending the great fire-goddess Pele. Nothing was said about where this Joe Koloa might be located. For all we knew to the contrary, he might be dead.

Many times had we pored over the written instructions, but could make out but little excepting that the cave was located a good four hours' journey from "the face on the rock, where the sun came up." What this meant we could not tell, excepting it might be some rock fronting the ocean on the eastern coast of Hawaii.

"We'll solve this mystery sooner or later," said Oliver confidently. "It may take time, but fifty thousand dollars' worth of pearls are not to be sneezed at."

"The value may be overrated," I answered. "Still, let us make the hunt and see what there is in it."

"Perhaps the pearls are underrated," said Dan. "Oliver may be a hundred thousand dollars richer when he comes away from the islands."

"If I am I'll give each of you a quarter of the find," laughed Oliver.

On the morning following the talk on the veranda we drove down to the office of the Oceanic Steamship Company and engaged passage on the commodious steamer Mariposa, of three thousand tons' burden. The steamer lay at her wharf at the foot of Folsom Street, and having procured our tickets we hurried hither to inspect our staterooms before going back to Oliver's home to pack our valises, having previously decided that no trunks should be taken on the trip.

Steamship and wharf were busy places, and we had to fairly elbow our way through the crowd to the Mariposa's deck.

We had secured three berths in two adjoining staterooms. This left a berth in one of the staterooms vacant, and we wondered who would take this, hoping it would be some party who would be agreeable.

"If he isn't agreeable the seven days' trip will seem like a month," I said, for it was understood that Dan and Oliver would bunk together and I must pair off with the stranger.

"Perhaps you'll have the whole stateroom to yourself," answered Dan. "Then you'll be better fixed than we are."

As yet the berth remained untaken, nor did anybody come to claim it while we remained on board. Having made as much of an inspection as we desired, we hurried ashore once more, and set off to drive back to Oliver's home.

We had come into the city in a low two-seat carriage drawn by a pair of small but powerful ponies, and now, having gained a stretch of level road, Oliver, who loved horseflesh, "let them out," as Dan expressed it, until we fairly flew past the rocks, trees, and fences which lined the highway.

"Hullo!" yelled Dan suddenly, as we rounded a somewhat sharp curve. "Stop!"

"What's up?" queried Oliver, as he brought the team down a bit.

"There is that rascal of a one-armed sailor!"

"Where?" I cried.

"There he goes, behind yonder clump of trees. He saw me and shook his fist at me."

"Shall I turn back for him?" questioned Oliver. "Perhaps we can catch him this time."

"We might try it," was my answer. "But we can't waste much time—with all that packing to do before we go to bed."

"You are sure it was the right man, Dan?"

"He had one arm, and he dove out of sight as soon as he saw us."

"Then it must have been the fellow," said Oliver. He brought the ponies about, and in a twinkle we were speeding back to where Dan had seen the man.

Of course he was now out of sight. But there was only a small patch of bushes there, back of which was a large open field. Leaving the team tied to a convenient tree, we rushed into the brush. As we gained the field we saw the one-armed sailor standing near the lower end.

"There he is!" came from all of us simultaneously.

"And there he goes!" added Oliver, as the rascal began to run again. "Hi, stop there!" he called out.

"Go back, or I'll shoot somebody!" roared the sailor in return, but without slackening his pace.

"We ought to be able to catch him," I put in. "I don't believe he will shoot, even if he has a pistol, which I doubt."

"Don't be too sure," answered Dan. "But come on," and he set the pace, which put me in mind of our foot races at Broxville Academy. Soon I was up to him and by a spurt I passed him.

The one-armed sailor had gained the edge of the big field. But we were less than fifty feet from him, and now we saw him trip on a dead tree branch and roll over and over down a hillside leading to a slimy pool of water. Before he could save himself he went into the pool with a loud splash and disappeared from view.

The whole scene was so comical I burst into a loud laughter, and my two friends joined in. By the time we had gained the edge of the pool the one-armed sailor had reappeared, dripping with stagnant and foul-smelling liquid, and with his face completely covered with the muck which lay at the bottom of the pool.

"Whow!" he spluttered, and wiped his face with his coat sleeve. Then he floundered out of the pool, looking thoroughly crestfallen and miserable.

"So we've caught you after all," said Oliver, as sternly as he could, although I saw that he felt like laughing.

"Oh, gents, don't be hard on me!" was the pitiful return. "I never stole before in my life."

"Do you expect us to believe that?"

"It's the truth, indeed it is. You've got your spoons back. Let me go, please."

"How about those other things? " asked Dan.

"I took nothing else—upon my honor, I didn't, gents."

"You took four napkin-rings and a golden fish-knife," I said. "We must have those back, whether we let you go or not."

At the mentioning of the articles, the rascal's face fell. It was easy to see that he was a hypocrite, whining only when cornered, a person that is a regular snake in the grass.

"I—I—there must be a mistake," he began.

"There is no mistake. You took the articles and you must give them up again," said Oliver coldly.

"Well I—er—to tell the truth, gents, I pawned the things. I did it to buy something to eat with."

"And something to drink," I added, for his breath smelled of liquor, although he was not intoxicated.

"No—only something to eat."

"Where are the tickets?" was Oliver's question, and after some hesitation, the one-armed sailor brought forth two wet and greasy bits of pasteboard issued by a San Francisco pawnbroker, showing all of the articles had been pawned for a dollar and seventy-five cents.

"Have you got that money?" demanded Oliver, as he placed the tickets in the envelope to an old letter he happened to be carrying.

"I've got fifty cents of it, and that's all."

"Hand it over."

The one-armed sailor did so, his face in the meantime growing full of bitter hatred.

"Now vamose," cried Oliver. "And if you ever show your face in these parts again I'll have you arrested."

"I won't show myself, don't you fear," was the quick answer, and in a moment the sailor had turned and was walking back to the highway. Once there, he turned, shook his fist at us, and disappeared around a bend.

"A bad egg," was Dan's comment. "I never want to see him again."

"Nor do I want to see him," answered Oliver. "But hop in, boys, and we'll get home. All told, we are only out a dollar and a quarter on the robbery, which is not much, considering what might have been taken."

"You have the tickets safe?" questioned Dan, as we got into the carriage.

"The pawnbroker's tickets? Oh, yes—and the steamer tickets, too."

Then of a sudden Oliver placed his hand into his coat pocket and drew out another envelope, that which had contained the documents left by Gaston Brown.

"I was careless about this map," he began. "I should have left it at home with the letter. I might—— Creation! it's gone!"

"Gone? The map?" came from Dan and me.

"Yes, the map is gone—lost!"