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“Why!” came the voice of Percy Darrow, awestricken. “With fifty centigrammes only you could–you could transmute any substance–why, you could make anything you pleased almost! You could make enough diamonds to fill that chest! It is the philosopher’s stone!”
“Diamonds–yes–it is possible,” interrupted the doctor impatiently, “if it was worth while. But you should see the real importance—-”
The ship careened to a chance swell; a door slammed; the voices were cut off. I looked up. The Nigger’s head was thrust forward fairly into the glow from the companionway. The mask of his sullenness had fallen. His eyes fairly rolled in excitement, his thick lips were drawn back to expose his teeth, his powerful figure was gathered wit nike air max 90 h the tensity of a bow. When the door slammed, he turned silently to glide away. At that instant the watch was changed, and in a moment I found myself in my bunk.
Ten seconds later the Nigger, detained by Captain Selover for some trifling duty, burst into the forecastle. He was possessed by the wildest excitement. This in itself was enough to gain the attention of the men, but his first words were startling.
“I found de treasure!” he almost shouted. “I know where he kept!”
They leaped at him–Handy Solomon and Pulz–and fairly shook out of him what he thought he knew. He babbled in the forgotten terms of alchemy, dres cheap nike air max sing modern facts in the garments of mediaeval thought until they were scarcely to be recognised.
“And so he say dat he fine him, de Philosopher Stone, and he keep him in dat heavy box we see him carry aboard , and he don’ have to make gol’ with it–he can make diamon’s–_diamon’s_–he say it too easy to fill dat box plum full of diamon’s.”
They gesticulated and exclaimed and breathed hard, full of the marvel of such a thought. Then abruptly the clamour died to noth nike air max 1 ing. I felt six eyes bent on me, six unwinking eyes moving restless in motionless figures, suspicious, deadly as cobras—-
Up to now my standing with the men had been well enough. Now they drew frankly apart. One of the most significant indications of this was the increased respect they paid my office. It was as though by prompt obedience, instant deference, and the emphasising of ship’s etiquette they intended to draw sharply the line between themselves and me. There was much whispering apart, many private talks and consultations in which I had no part. Ordinarily cheap nike air max they talked freely enough before me. Even the reading during the dog watch was intermitted–at least it was on such days as I happened to be in the watch below. But twice I caught the Nigger and Handy Solomon consulting together over the volume on alchemy.
I was in two minds whether to report the whole matter to Captain Selover. The only thing that restrained me wa nike air max 90 sale s the vagueness of the intention, and the fact that the afterguard was armed, and was four to the crew’s five. An incident, however, decided me. One evening I was awakened by a sound of violent voices. Captain Selover occasionally juggled the watches for variety’s sake, and I now had Handy Solomon and Perdosa. The Nigger, being cook, stood no watch.
“You drunken Greaser swab!” snarled Handy Solomon. “You misbegotten son of a Yaqui! I’ll learn you to step on a s cheap nike air max 95 eaman’s foot, and you can kiss the book on that! I’ll cut your heart out and feed it to the sharks!”
“Potha!” sneered Perdosa. “You cut heem you finger wid your knife.”
They wrangled. At first I thought the quarrel genuine, but after a moment or so I could not avoid a sort of reminiscent impression of the cheap melodrama. It seemed incredible, but soon I could not dodge the conclusion that it was a made-up quarrel designed to impress me.
Why should they desire to do so? I had to give it up, but the fact itself was obvious enough. I laughed to see them. The affair did not c cheap nike air max trainers ome to blows, but it did come to black looks on meeting, muttered oaths, growls of enmity every time they happened to pass each other on the deck. Perdosa was not so bad; his Mexican blood inclined him to the histrionic, and his Mexican cast lent itself well to evil looks. But Handy Solomon, for the first time in my acquaintance with him, was ridiculous.
About this time we crossed into frequent thunders. One eveni cheap air max 95 ng just at dark we made out a heavy black squall. Not knowing exactly what weight lay behind it, I called up all hands. We ducked the staysail and foresail, lowered the peak of the mainsail, and waited to feel of it–a rough and ready seamanship often used in these little California windjammers. I was pretty busy, but I heard distinctly Handy Solomon’s voice behind me.
“I’ll kill you sure, you Greaser, as soon as my hands are free!”
And some muttered reply from the Mexican.
The wind hit us hard, held on a few moments, and moderated to a stiff puff. There followed the rain, so of course I knew it would amount to nothing. I was just stooping to throw the stops off the staysail when I felt myself seized from behind, and forced rapidly toward the side of the ship.
Of course I struggled. The Japanese have a little trick to fool nike air max sale a man who catches you around the waist from behind. It is part of the jiu-jitsu taught the Samurai–quite a different proposition from the ordinary “policeman jiu-jitsu.” I picked it up from a friend in the nobility. It came in very handy now, and by good luck a roll of the ship helped me. In a moment I stood free, and Perdosa was picking himself out of the scuppers.
The expression of astonishment was fairly well done–I will say that for him–but I was prepared for histrionics.
“Senor!” he gasped. “Eet is you! _Sacrosanta Maria!_ I thought you was dat Solomon! Pardon me, senor! Pardon! Have I hurt you?”
He approached me almost wheedling. I could have laughed at the villain. It was all so transparent. He no more mistook me for Handy Solomon than he felt any real enmity for that person. But being angry, and perhaps a little nike air max 95 scared, I beat him to his quarters with a belaying pin.
On thinking the matter over, however, I failed to see all the ins and outs of it. I could understand a desire to get rid of me; there would be one less of the afterguard, and then, too, I knew too much of the men’s sentiments, if not of their plans. But why all this elaborate farce of the mock quarrel and the alleged mistake? Could it be to guard against possible failure? I could hardly think it worth while. My only theory was that they had wished to test my strength and determination. The whole affair, even on that supposition, was childish enough, but I referred the exaggerated cunning to Handy Solomon, and considered it quite adequately explained. It is a minor point, but subsequently I learned that this surmise was correct. I was to be saved because none of the con nike air max spirators understood navigation.
The next morning I approached Captain Selover.
“Captain,” said I, “I think it my duty to report that there is trouble brewing among the crew.”
“There always is,” he replied, unmoved.
“But this is serious. Dr. Schermerhorn came aboard with a chest which the men think holds treasure. The other evening Robinson overheard him tell his assistant that he could easily fill the box with diamonds. Of course, he was merely illustrating the value of some scientific experiment, but Robinson thinks, and has made the others think, that the chest contains something to make diamonds with. I am sure they intend to get hold of it. The affair is coming to a head.”
Captain Selover listened almost indifferently.
“I came back from the islands last year,” he piped, “with three hundred thousand dollars’ worth of pe nike air max classic arls. There was sixteen in the crew, and every man of them was blood hungry for them pearls. They had three or four shindies and killed one man over the proper way to divide the loot after they had got it. They didn’t get it. Why?” He drew his powerful figure to its height and spread his thick arms out in the luxury of stretching. “Why?” he repeated, exhaling abruptly. “Because their captain was Ezra Selover! Well, Mr. Eagen,” he went on crisply, “Captain Ezra Selover is their captain, _and they know it_! They’ll talk and palaver and git into dark corners, and sharpen their knives, and perhaps fight it out as to which one’s going to work the monkey-doodle business in the doctor’s chest, and which one’s going to tie up the sacks of them diamonds, but they won’t git any farther as long as Captain Ezra is on deck.” “Yes,” I ob air max 95 jected, “but they mean business. Last night in the squall one of them tried to throw me overboard.” ③

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