It seems as if Catty and I have a lot of luck, and this summer we had
more than usual, for Mr. Browning, who lived in New York, and was
interested in all kinds of businesses, invited us to go for a cruise on
his yacht. He was out to our town to see Mr. Atkins on some sort of
business, and before we knew it Catty and I were friends with him, and
took him fishing, and went around with him—and the day he left he said
we were to come for the cruise.
We were to start in July, and it was hard for us to wait for the time to
come around, but it did come. We were kind of surprised that it actually
did, but as Mr. Atkins says, if you only wait long enough _any_ time
will come. We packed our stuff and took the train, and when we woke up
next morning we were coming into New York.
Mr. Browning met us and we went to a big hotel, the biggest I ever saw,
and after breakfast we got into his automobile and drove out into the
country on Long Island. In about an hour we got to the town where Mr.
Browning kept his yacht anchored off a club. We didn’t know what kind of
a boat it was going to be, but you can bet we were anxious to find out.
There were about a hundred yachts anchored there—all kinds, from great
steam yachts and enormous sailing yachts to little thirty-foot launches.
There was a power dinghy tied to the float and a man in it dressed in
“whites.” The name _Albatross_ was on the dinghy in gold letters, so we
knew it belonged to Mr. Browning, for that was the name of his yacht.
Mr. Browning walked out on the float and says, “Hello, Naboth.
“Ready as human hands kin git it—considerin’,” says Naboth.
“Help get the baggage aboard. Here’s the rest of our crew, Naboth. Catty
Atkins and Wee-wee Moore.”
“Huh. Eat more ’n they’ll work,” said Naboth.
“We’ll set them polishing brass,” says Mr. Browning.
“Won’t nuther. Don’t calc’late to have no boys tinkerin’ with my brass.
’Tain’t ’s if it was ord’nary brass. Uh-uh. Seems like I _raised_ that
brass from a pup. Hain’t nobody goin’ to tetch a polishin’ rag to it but
me, not so long’s I’m able to waggle a fist…. You hear that?” he says,
turning to us kind of fierce.
We said we heard, and he said we’d better hear and heed, and then we all
got into the dinghy and Naboth started the engine, and we went
skittering out toward the fleet. In about three minutes we came up under
the stern of a big white boat with _Albatross_ across her stern, and
Naboth brought the dinghy up against her jacob’s ladder as soft as if it
was an egg and he was afraid of breaking it.
“Make ’em git rubber soles on quick, so’s they won’t scratch up my
deck,” says he.
I began to wonder who owned the yacht—whether it was Mr. Browning or
Naboth, but I didn’t say anything, and neither did Catty. As Catty says,
“You never make a fool of yourself by keeping your mouth shut and your
We climbed up to the deck, and then Mr. Browning took us down into the
cabin. You’d be surprised how big that room was. Why it was almost as
big as the parlor at home! Behind it was Mr. Browning’s stateroom, with
two berths in it, and forward of the cabin was a bath room and the
galley, and then came the engine room with the biggest six-cylinder
engine I ever saw, and still ahead of that was the crew’s quarters. The
boat was seventy feet long! And clean! And shining!
In the main cabin were four Pullman berths that folded into the wall,
and Mr. Browning said Catty and I were to sleep there. He showed us how
to take them down, and there they were, with the bed clothes all
strapped on, and behind them some shelves for our clothes. He told us to
fix things up and then to come on deck, for we would be getting under
way in a few minutes.
We hustled and then went up on the bridge where we found Mr. Atkins
talking to a young man who was introduced to us as Mr. Topper. He looked
as if he was about twenty-six or seven, and was so long and thin and sad
looking we didn’t know what to make of him. He hardly said a word, but
just sat on the leather cushion looking off at the water and wiggling
The crew, Mr. Topper said, was Naboth and the engineer, whose name was
Tom, and the cook, whose name was Rameses III.
“Rameses III?” says I. “Is he a king or something?”
“He’s a king of a cook. No, that’s his name. Rameses Third. Comes from
Cape Cod some place. Always fighting with Naboth,” said Mr. Browning.
Pretty soon the crew cast off the mooring, and we were on our way. Mr.
Browning was at the wheel, and we started out of the harbor for Long
Island Sound. It was a lovely day, and the water was as smooth as glass.
Lots of small boats were all around us, and everybody seemed happy
except Mr. Topper, and he was about the gloomiest looking man I ever
Just as we came out of the harbor we saw a black yacht, almost as big as
we were. It was going along slow, and I saw somebody on deck watching us
through glasses. Mr. Topper sat up and made a face and says, “What
“Never saw her before,” says Mr. Browning. “Why?”
“I don’t like her looks,” says Mr. Topper. “There’s something about that
boat that goes against my grain.”
“Fiddlesticks,” says Mr. Browning.
“She’ll follow us,” says Mr. Topper.
“Nonsense. Nobody knows you’re here. Nobody knows anything about what
we’re up to.”
“You can’t tell. If that boat follows us——”
“But it won’t,” says Mr. Browning.
I looked at Catty and Catty looked at me. That was funny kind of talk,
and I wondered what we were getting into.
We turned up the sound, and, sure enough, the black yacht circled and
turned and came right along in our wake, about half a mile behind us.
Topper pointed. “There,” says he, “what did I tell you?”
“You’re seeing things,” says Mr. Browning. “Black boat, isn’t there?”
“Turned and followed us, didn’t she?”
“She turned, but not to follow us. Why, Topper, what in the world would
anybody follow us for?”
“You know that as well as I do,” said Mr. Topper.
“But nobody knows but you and I.”
“Can’t ever tell. You can’t keep anything secret in this world.”
“We’ve kept this secret. Nobody knows what you know, and nobody knows
what I know.”
“But somebody may know I’ve been there, and somebody may suspect—what I
“You’ve got the shivers,” says Mr. Browning.
“I don’t want to lose out now, after all the trouble I’ve been through.”
“And you won’t,” says Mr. Browning. “Forget it.”
I was interested, you can bet, but just then I heard a racket on the
after deck that sounded as if we had been boarded by pirates, and when I
looked back, there were Naboth and Rameses III going it like all git
out. Naboth had Rameses backed against the rail and was whacking at him
with a dirty rag, and Rameses was whacking back with might and main, and
the way they hollered at each other was a caution.
“You will go monkeyin’ with my brass, will ye?” Naboth hollered. “You
hip-shouldered, bow-legged, cow-eyed wampus! Hain’t I told you time and
again that I’d chaw ye up if I ketched you layin’ a rag to that rail?
Eh? What d’you know about polishin’ brass, you soup-stirrin’,
“You hit me with that there rag, and I calc’late to show you. I was
polishin’ brass when you was cuttin’ eye teeth. I know more about brass
polishin’ in a minute than you do in a year. I got a right to shine
brass if I want to. Hain’t I part of this here crew, you leather-necked
“They’re at it again,” says Mr. Browning. “Been at it just like that
ever since anybody ever heard of them. They always ship on the same
yacht. You can’t separate them, but they never do a thing but fight.
Next row’ll be because Naboth pokes his nose into the galley. Rameses
thinks he’s a sailorman, and Naboth believes he’s a cook.”
“Why not let them swap jobs,” says Catty.
“Some day I’m going to try it,” says Mr. Browning, and then the noise
got so loud he turned and yelled at the men. “Hey,” he says, “stop the
noise or I’ll heave you both overboard. You get below Rameses III and
get lunch. You Naboth, get things stowed away shipshape in the
They quit in a second and Rameses III ducked below. I turned to look
behind, and there was the black yacht, not more than half a mile behind,
cutting through the water as business-like as could be.
Catty motioned to me and jerked his head aft. I saw he wanted to say
something to me, so I got up and went to the after deck and he came
along in a minute.
“Hear that talk?” says he.
“Not being deaf,” says I, “I did.”
“What did you make out of it?”
“Nothing,” says I, “unless Mr. Topper is crazy, or he’s running away
from somebody with something.”
“Um. He doesn’t look crazy to me.”
“That settles it then,” says I, kind of sarcastic.
“And he isn’t running away from the police. Mr. Browning wouldn’t have
that kind of a man aboard.”
“What then?” says I.
“Treasure,” says he, “buried treasure. Old Captain Kidd used to hang
around these parts.”
“Piffle,” says I. “All the treasure’s been dug up long before this.”
“Bet it hasn’t,” says he. “Bet Mr. Topper’s got a map, and that black
yacht is full of folks who know it, and they’re going to attack us and
take it away from him.”
“You’ve been reading books,” says I. “Look, there’s New York back there.
Over there is Connecticut. This is Long Island. You’re off your base.”
“All right,” says he, “you wait and see. Come on, they may suspect we’re
talking about it.”
We walked forward, and just as I got to the bridge I heard Mr. Browning
say, “Hush. Here come the kids. You’ll be scaring the lives out of
Well we chugged along and Mr. Browning showed us how to keep the log and
navigate by chart. He showed us how to set a course, and all day we were
busy checking up lights and nuns and bell buoys and beacons and red and
black stakes. It was a lot of fun, and Mr. Browning said if a fog was to
come up, that would be how we would find our way. Every time we passed a
mark we would put it down in the log with the exact hour and minute.
Along about five o’clock—we had crossed the sound diagonally and were
running up the Connecticut shore just near enough so we could see how
lively it was through the glasses—Mr. Browning says, “There we are. The
Thimbles. It’s a hard place to get into. All rocks and reefs.” He
slacked speed and headed for what looked like a solid cliff of rock, and
on both sides we could see the water lapping on nasty ledges of rock. In
a few minutes we swung into a channel of deep water, with high rocks
lifting on either side, and on the rocks were summer cottages. And
pretty soon we were right among the Thimbles, and could see dozens and
dozens of little rock islands, all with cottages on them, and channels
running every which way.
“This used to be a refuge for pirates, years and years ago,” said Mr.
Browning. “They used to run in here and hide, and folks have dug up
every inch of this place for buried treasure.”
“Ever find any?” says Catty.
“I don’t know,” says he.
“Do you think there is any—anywheres? Must have all been dug up years
ago,” says Catty.
“Oh, I don’t know,” says Mr. Browning. “I guess a lot of it was buried,
and it isn’t likely it’s all been found.”
“Gosh,” said Catty, “I wish we could get a chance to dig for some.”
“Well,” says Mr. Browning, with a grin, “you may before this cruise has
ended. Never can tell what will happen when you’re on salt water.”
Catty looked at me and wrinkled his nose, as much as to say, “I told you
And then—the black yacht nosed through the passage and dropped her
anchor not a hundred yards from us.
Mr. Topper just pointed with the longest, boniest finger I ever saw, and
I thought he was going to cry.
“There,” says he. “Look at that.”
“Fiddlesticks,” says Mr. Browning. “Ninety yachts out of a hundred come
in here for anchorage the first night out of New York.”
Mr. Topper grabbed the glasses and stared at the black yacht. “Her
name’s _Porpoise_,” he said.
“See anybody you know?”
Mr. Topper shook his head. “Everybody’s below except a man in dungarees.
Part of the crew. Smoke’s coming out of the funnel. Galley stovepipe
must come up there. Probably all getting ready for dinner.”
“Then,” said Mr. Browning with a chuckle, “whether they’re friendly or
hostile, we won’t have to worry for an hour.” And just then Rameses III
poked his head above deck and stood there mumbling.
“Food’s on the table. Gittin’ cold. Work myself to the bone gittin’ hot
grub for folks and they never do nothin’ but dally and loiter till it’s
colder’n dead fish. Dunno whatever I took up with bein’ a cook fer. Git
no thanks. Nothin’ but kicks and dishwashin’. Nothin’ to me whether
folks eats hot food or not. Sp’ile their stummicks if they want to. I do
_my_ duty, and if they hain’t willin’ to profit by it, why, ’tain’t no
skin off’n my neck.”
We filed down and took our seats, and for a while nobody said a word,
because we were hungry and the things Rameses III had cooked were mighty
good. Then Mr. Browning says, “Got to row up to the village to send a
telegram. Better come along, Topper…. Why don’t you boys wait around a
while and go for a swim before you turn in?”
“Sounds good,” says Catty.
So, when dinner was over, Mr. Topper and Mr. Browning piled into the
dinghy and Naboth went along to run the engine, and Catty and I were
left alone on the _Albatross_ with Rameses III and Tom, the engineer.
Tom was one of the silent kind. All the time we spent on that boat I
never heard him say a word. All he ever did was to shake his head for
yes or waggle it for no.
We took the phonograph onto the after deck and started her going and
just sat and enjoyed ourselves. We were full of grub and our lungs were
full of fine air, and everything was growing still and shadowy so that a
fellow didn’t want to do much and was mighty well satisfied just to be
there. After a while a ramshackle launch came alongside. It was loaded
with vegetables and melons and such, but Rameses III shooed the man off
and wouldn’t buy anything. After that things were quiet for a while, and
the shadows sort of sprawled out from the high rocks toward us, and you
couldn’t see any more what was rock and what was water—and then lights
began to twinkle off on the shore, and a fellow started to tune up on a
cornet. Our riding lights were lit, and the only way we could tell the
black yacht was still there was by the light at her masthead. It looked
kind of like a star that had got lost and settled down close to the
water. Then a young fellow and a girl came sliding past in a canoe and
Catty and I joked with them some.
“Well,” says Catty after a while, “guess my dinner’s settled. Let’s go
in for a swim.”
We dropped off our clothes and stood up on the rail and dove in. Wow!
I’ve been in some pretty cold water, but that water in the Thimbles was
colder than I’d expect to find it at the North Pole. It wasn’t so bad
after a minute though, and we swam around enjoying it to beat
“Say,” Catty says after a minute, “let’s swim over and have a look at
“What pirate?” says I.
“Only pirate there is. Here we are, you and I. We’ve been sent in by a
frigate that’s chasing pirates to spy out this hiding place. We don’t
know anybody’s here, but we’ve got to find out, and go back and guide
the cutters in to attack. They always had cutters, didn’t they? And they
called it ‘cutting out.’ Well we’re going to cut out this pirate, and
burn their stockade and rescue prisoners, and maybe find bales and boxes
and heaps of rich merchandise that’ll make us wealthy. Come on.”
“All right,” says I, “but let’s not get lost.”
“Always can see the riding light,” he says. “Swim as still as you can.”
So we started off towards the pirate, swimming so quiet we could hardly
hear ourselves. It wasn’t much of a swim, though there was quite a
little current. We got to the pirate and all around her. There wasn’t a
light except her riding light, and for a while we couldn’t hear a sound.
It was just as if she was deserted. But when we got just under her tail
we could hear a murmur of voices and Catty reached out and touched my
shoulder and whispered, “Grab hold of her stern and listen.”
[Illustration: WHEN WE GOT JUST UNDER HER TAIL WE COULD HEAR A MURMUR OF
So we grabbed and lay still on the water. But we couldn’t make out a
word for quite a while. Then one of the men got up and stood right over
us and says, “Well, so far—so good.”
“Any fool can chase a boat in broad daylight,” says the other man, who
came and stood by him.
“But we aren’t sure he’s aboard.”
“I am,” says the other man.
“Wish I was. If we’ve been fooled——”
“Oh, he never suspected a thing. How should he?”
“A man that knows what he knows is suspicious of everybody and
everything—if he’s got any sense. And this fellow’s got _some_ sense. We
shouldn’t have hung to his heels so close.”
“And, as I said, he may have fooled us. I didn’t see him aboard that
“Why don’t you row and pay him a friendly call? Nothing unusual in that.
Here we are anchored side by side and nobody would think anything of it
if you made a call.”
“He doesn’t know me, but I don’t want him to see me. If he never sees me
at all—so much the better…. By jove!”
“I’ve a notion to slip into the water and swim over. Kind of take a look
“Go it,” says his friend, “if it’ll make you feel any better.”
Catty nudged me.
In a couple of minutes we heard the man say, “Well, here goes,” and then
there was a faint splash.
“Everybody’s spying tonight,” Catty whispered. “Let him get a little
start and we’ll follow him.”
So we did, and you can bet we swam mighty silently. We had the advantage
because we knew he was there, and he didn’t know we were there. Of
course we couldn’t see him because it was so dark and we couldn’t hear
him, so we just swam straight for our light and kept our eyes peeled.
When we got almost to the _Albatross_ we lay still and floated and
listened, but there wasn’t a sound. Then we swam around the yacht
keeping so close our hands almost touched her sides, and still we didn’t
see or hear our pirate friend. I was just a little ahead when we came
under the stern and started up the starboard side toward the jacob’s
ladder, which was down. I was just slipping along as still as a fish,
and then, all of a sudden, as I reached out to grab the lower step of
the ladder, I didn’t grab the step at all, but I did take right hold of
a man’s arm.
“Wow!” says he, startled, and he kicked out like he thought a shark was
trying to eat him.
“Wow yourself,” says I, and then he twisted his arm away and slipped
into the water and began to swim like all git out.
“What’s the hurry, Mister?” says Catty, but he didn’t answer a word.
Catty and I scrambled up the ladder and rubbed down as quick as we could
and got into our clothes.
“Well,” says Catty, “I guess we kind of scairt him.”
“He acted so.”
“And he didn’t find out anything, either.”
“Neither did we.”
He looked at me kind of pitying and says, “Oh, we didn’t, eh. How about
finding out they really were following us? How about finding out one of
them wasn’t sure Topper was aboard? How about making certain they really
are some kind of pirates, and don’t mean us any good? Pretty fair
night’s work, seems to me.”
“Guess that’s right,” says I, “but now we know it, what do we do?”
“I was wondering,” says he.
“Better tell Mr. Browning,” says I.
“Maybe he won’t like our butting in. He didn’t tell us anything, and it
looked like he was trying to keep Mr. Topper quiet so we wouldn’t hear
how worried he was. Nobody ever loses any money by keeping his mouth
“Maybe not,” says I, “but what then?”
“Why,” says he, “we know something’s up and we’re warned. The thing to
do is to keep our eyes and ears open until we find out what it’s all
about. Guess we better mind our own business, except when we’re alone
and can get some fun out of it.”
“All right,” says I, “just as you say.”
It wasn’t more than ten minutes later when the dinghy came back with Mr.
Topper and Mr. Browning and Naboth. Mr. Browning asked us if we’d been
in for a swim, and we told him we had, and we guessed we’d turn in for
the night. I was feeling kind of sleepy and Catty said he was, too. So
we went below and opened our berths and rolled in. It felt mighty good.
The air was cool and fresh and the yacht swayed just enough in the
current to give it a dandy kind of soothing motion, and I’d have been
asleep in two minutes if Naboth and Rameses III hadn’t started a rumpus
in the galley. They were arguing at the top of their voices.
“I tell you he could do it,” says Naboth. “A whale could swaller a man
if he wanted to, and anyhow this here Jonah was a skinny man accordin’
to all the pictures I ever seen of him. Why, you ol’ lunkhead, a feller
as skinny as Jonah could go slippin’ and slidin’ down a whale’s gullet
as smooth and slick as soft soap. I’ve seen whales.”
“I’ve seen more whales ’n what you have, says Rameses III, and no whale
I ever see could swaller anythin’ bigger’n a two months old pickaninny
baby like they use for alligator bait in Africy. Naw. A whale might
swaller up a man after it had chawed him, but the’ wa’n’t a tooth mark
onto Jonah nowheres. Not a tooth mark. My idee is this here Jonah was
one of them fellers that always wants to git his friends all het up with
a tall story, and that he never even _seen_ a whale.”
“Let’s try and settle this here thing scientific,” says Naboth. “How
long’s a whale?”
“Good. How long be you?”
“Nigh six feet.”
“Any whale that amounts to anythin’ is ten times as long as you be,
“Calc’late he is.”
“But a whale runs to mouth and head, don’t he? Whale’s mouth’s more’n
ten times as big as _your’n_?”
“Yes,” says Rameses III, “but I hain’t sure it’s ten times bigger’n
“It’s fifty times bigger,” says Naboth.
“Why? I ask you why. Tell me that, consarn ye. Tell me why has a whale
got a mouth as big as that.”
“To chaw with,” says Rameses III.
“Naw. To fit his stummick. Got to have a big mouth to keep company with
his stummick. A feller can stand up and walk around inside a whale’s
stummick, can’t he?”
“Hain’t never seen it proved.”
“The size of the mouth proves it. No use havin’ a big mouth ’less you
got a big stummick. No use havin’ a big stummick ’less you got a big
mouth. And, here’s where the science comes in, by gum! It ’ud be foolish
to have a stummick bigger’n a cave and a mouth bigger’n a cellar if the’
wa’n’t some hole connectin’ ’em that was big enough to let sumthin big
through it, because the mouth it takes in big things and the stummick
has to have big things to fill it, and neither the mouth nor the
stummick would be any good if big things couldn’t git from the one to
the other. And there you be, and that’s _proof_. It’s science. It’s how
I jest know a whale could ’a’ swallered Jonah if he’d ’a’ wanted to—even
a medium sized whale, and the one we’re talkin’ about is a extry big
“It couldn’t,” says Rameses III, “because it didn’t; and that hain’t
science, it’s common sense; and how do I know it? I’ll tell you: because
nobody but this here feller Jonah ever claimed to be swallered by a
whale, and there’s been tall liars since _his_ day. The’s been men had
all sorts of things happen to ’em but never another but jest this here
one Jonah feller dared claim a whale swallered him and then spit him up
’cause he didn’t like the taste of him. And this here Jonah wa’n’t no
American, either. He was some kind of a furriner, and them furriners is
as full of lies as an egg is of meat, and that’s common sense. If this
here whale in question was to up and swaller an American, and this here
American was to come back and tell it and hold up his hand and cross his
heart, why, mebby I’d b’lieve him. But not no Dago, or whatever this
And then I sort of lost track of things, and the next I knew it was
morning and Mr. Browning was shaking me to get up.
Next morning we hauled up our anchor and left the Thimbles early.
Rameses III did not have breakfast ready until we were well out in the
Sound and had headed for Point Judith. It was another beautiful day. The
Sound was as smooth as a piece of glass and there wasn’t a thing to do
but be lazy, and there are times when I like being lazy a lot. Catty
said he felt like he could lay back in a chair on deck and look at the
water and snooze for a month. But I knew he couldn’t. Snoozing wasn’t in
his line. No, sir, says I to myself. In half an hour that kid will be
down taking the engine to pieces or doing something else to get us both
into trouble. That’s the kind he is. He can’t sit still, and if there
isn’t a thing to do, why, he invents something.
This time it was the engine room, and we hadn’t been through breakfast
half an hour when he was down there sure enough, gassing with Tom, the
engineer, and learning how to run the thing. By noon he knew all the
parts of the engine by their nicknames, and it was all Tom could do to
stop him from commencing with a screwdriver and a monkey wrench to find
out what it looked like inside. He was daubed with grease from head to
foot where he’d tried to crawl into the shaft tunnel to see how the
clutch worked, and his fingers were blistered from monkeying with the
hot cylinders. But he was happy, and what more can you ask.
I wasn’t het up much over engines, but I did want to learn how to steer,
so I hung around the bridge until Mr. Browning explained the compass to
me and let me steer a while. Mr. Topper just sat on the cushion behind
the wheel looking like somebody had poisoned his oatmeal, and kept his
eyes fastened on the black yacht that followed us out of the Thimbles
and was about half a mile behind us now.
We made pretty good time that day, keeping just off the Connecticut
shore, and rounding Point Jude, and then cutting across to Newport. We
got there just before six o’clock. I was kind of excited, because I was
never in a naval base before, and I was never anywhere where
millionaires were thick like I’d heard they were in Newport. I don’t
know which I was hottest to see—a warship or a multi-millionaire.
The _Albatross_ nosed into the harbor past the big coast defense guns
that nose out over the rock, and past the old fort, and then we turned
to the right around a kind of an island with officers’ houses on it, and
cast our anchor near the station of the New York Yacht Club. I enjoyed
it a heap, and so did Catty. The place was full of destroyers anchored
side by side like sardines in a sardine tin. There were dozens of them,
and a couple of cruisers and other boats of the navy.
We had hardly cast anchor when the black yacht poked her snout around
the island and anchored about a hundred yards from us. Mr. Topper
snorted and Mr. Browning shrugged his shoulders, but Catty and I—we
_knew_. We knew that yacht was after us and Mr. Topper and meant
business of some kind, and we made up our minds we would keep our eyes
pretty wide open to see what it was.
After supper we went ashore with Mr. Browning and walked around looking
for millionaires, but we didn’t see any to speak of. Catty claimed he
saw one, but I didn’t believe it, because he didn’t wear a silk hat and
hadn’t any diamonds to speak of. Catty claims millionaires don’t always
wear silk hats and diamonds, but I know better. Anybody that can afford
them, wears them; I should, and everybody’s kind of like me, I’ll bet.
If I was a millionaire I’d _sleep_ in a Prince Albert coat and patent
leather shoes, and when I got up in the morning, the first thing I’d put
on would be a dozen diamond rings. No sense having all that money if you
can’t kind of dazzle folks that haven’t.
The dinghy of the black yacht followed us in, and Catty and I kept our
eyes on the man that came in with it. He was kind of big and wide with
black hair and real nifty yachting clothes, white pants and all, and
buttons with anchors on them. I got a good close look at him. Just as we
were turning to go back to the boat Catty saw him go into the telegraph
office on the corner and he nudged me.
“Let’s see what he’s up to,” said he, and then he says to Mr. Browning,
“Wait just a minute at the boat for us, will you, Mr. Browning? We’ll be
“All right. Don’t get lost, and don’t let a millionaire bite you,” says
So we hiked back, and there was our man standing at the counter writing
a message. Catty nosed up beside him and made believe _he_ was writing a
message, but he wasn’t. Pretty soon the man handed in his message, and
Catty and I came away.
“Well?” says I.
“Got it,” says he.
“What did it say?” says I.
“It was to a man named Jonas P. Dunn in New York, and it said: ‘Followed
them to Newport. Can’t lose them. Will act when advisable.’ And his name
is House. That’s all.”
“It’s something,” says I. “I don’t like that part that they’ll act when
advisable. It doesn’t sound cheerful. Wonder how they’ll act, and when
it’ll be advisable.”
“That,” said Catty, “is for us to find out.”
It began to cloud up and get cold by the time we were getting back to
the _Albatross_, and pretty soon it began to rain. The yacht began to
roll a little, not so much because of the waves but on account of us
laying at anchor with the wind blowing against us. I was pretty sleepy
and so was Catty, so we went below and fixed up our berths and rolled
in. It was the finest motion to go to sleep by that I ever felt. Regular
rock-a-bye-baby, and before I knew it I was dreaming about pirates and
desert islands and thingumbobs. I don’t know how long I slept, but all
at once something waked me up and I lay still, kind of scairt. Then
there came a sort of grinding bump and the _Albatross_ rolled like a
rolling pin, and I landed right out in the middle of the floor. Catty
got there about the time I did.
“What’s the matter?” says he.
“Don’t know. Feels like we’re wrecked,” says I.
“How’s a boat going to get wrecked that’s lying at anchor?” says he.
“How should I know?” says I, and then Mr. Browning dashed out of his
stateroom and up on deck, and we dashed after. It was raining like all
git out. The wind was driving the rain along in a straight line, and it
was so dark you couldn’t see the back of your neck. Just as we got there
another bump came that threw me flat on the deck.
“Anchor’s dragging,” shouted Mr. Browning. “We’re drifting down onto
Well, I didn’t know what to do, nor how serious it was, and I did know
it was mighty cold and wet and uncomfortable, so Catty and I huddled
together and waited to see. In a few minutes our eyes got used to the
dark so we could see we had drifted down onto a big schooner yacht, and
the two boats were bumping and grinding together and wearing off each
other’s paint. Mr. Browning and Naboth and Tom and Rameses III were
running around with fenders, and somebody was yelling at us and calling
us pet names, and Naboth was yelling names back.
“Hey, you fat-bellied sardine can, what you rampagin’ down on top of us
fer, hey? A-scrapin’ our paint off on your dirty nose…. You
gasoline-stinkin’ bum-boat!” bellowed a voice out of the dark.
“Shet up,” howled Naboth, “you slab-sided lobster pot. You ornery
garbage scow. Think you kin take up all the harbor with your ol’
she-camel? Sheer off there! Sheer off, or we’ll jest up and ride right
over the top of ye.”
There were all kinds of compliments, and then Mr. Browning told Tom to
start the engines, and ordered Naboth to see to the anchor. We got under
way, and backed off from the other boat about a hundred yards and
dropped anchor again. “There,” says Mr. Browning, “hope she holds this
time.” So we started to turn in again, but before we could get below
Naboth and Rameses III had started a quarrel about a rope fender that
had got itself dropped overboard. Naboth claimed Rameses should have
held the end of the rope, and Rameses claimed Naboth just let go out of
pure meanness. In a minute they had forgotten the fender and veered
around to Rameses III’s coffee, which Naboth claimed was made out of
shavings and varnish, and from there they touched on legs and hair and
relatives and laziness, and moved on to Jonah’s whale, and how much of
an iceberg floats under water, and what makes the Gulf Stream hot—and
then we turned in and let them go it.
In the morning when we woke up it was still cold and drizzly, and the
wind was blowing a gale, so Mr. Browning said we’d stay right there in
the harbor for the day and wait to see if the weather didn’t improve. It
didn’t seem very bad in there, but I guess he thought the open water
outside would be pretty rough. There was a lot of it out there to get
rough, anyhow. So we got fixed to loaf all day and wait for the wind to
There were some books down in the cabin, and I got settled to read, but
Catty wasn’t in a reading humor. He wanted to do something, and finally
he made up his mind to take the little dinghy and row ashore. So I went
along with him. We walked all over Newport in the rain, and bought some
post cards to send home, and some candy. Then we stopped in the yacht
club station, and there was a book on the table called Lloyd’s Register
of Yachts, or something like that, and we looked in it, and there was
the name of every yacht in America with its dimensions and who owned it.
We found our boat, and then Catty says, “Let’s see who _owns_ the
_Porpoise_.” So we looked it up; it belonged to Jonas P. Dunn.
“H’m,” says Catty, “that’s the man the telegram went to.”
“So it is,” says I.
“Then he’s the boss pirate,” says Catty, “and these fellows here are
only hired men, like you might say.”
“Sure,” says I, “but what of it?”
“We might find out,” says he, “if Topper ever heard of a man named
“And then what?”
“Why,” says Catty, “then we’d know.”
“If he’d ever heard of him,” Catty says with a grin.
Well, we loafed around some more, and then rowed back to the
_Albatross_, and it was _some row_ right into the teeth of the wind.
Catty had rowed in, and it was my turn to row back. I kind of wondered
why he volunteered to take the first turn, but I saw now. He’d figured
out the wind would blow us into the dock, but it would take tough work
to get us back.
“You’re a sweet one,” says I.
“What’s the matter?” says he, as innocent as a pint of cream.
“Why,” says I, “rowing in so’s I’d have to row back against this wind,
and bust my spine.”
“Um,” says he, kind of satisfied with himself, “it pays to kind of keep
your eyes open. But you’ll learn, Wee-wee. A few years knocking around,
and you’ll learn to think it over before you take the first proposition
We got back safe, but I was some tuckered out, and went down in the
cabin where Mr. Topper was reading a book and smoking.
“Say, Mr. Topper,” says Catty, “did you ever hear of a man by the name
of Jonas P. Dunn?”
“Jonas P. Dunn!” says he, jumping up like he’d been shot, “Jonas P.
Dunn! Where’d you hear that name?”
“Why,” says Catty, “it’s just the man’s name that owns the
_Porpoise_—that black yacht over yonder.”
“His boat!… His boat!… Are you sure?”
“Dead certain; Lloyd’s Register says so.”
Well, sir, Mr. Topper jumped for Mr. Browning’s door and hammered on it
and Mr. Browning, who was taking a nap, hollered out kind of cross to
know what the racket was, and Mr. Topper says to come out quick. So out
came Mr. Browning.
“D’you know who owns that black yacht?” says Mr. Topper kind of sharp.
“No…. Who?… And what of it?”
“Jonas P. Dunn,” says Mr. Topper.
Mr. Browning whistled and then bit his lip.
“Does look as if there was something to worry about, doesn’t it?”
“Jonas P. Dunn is the man I’m more afraid of than anybody else in the
“And that’s his yacht?”
“It says so in Lloyd’s.”
“Well, if that is Dunn’s boat, and I guess it must be, then we want to
go mighty easy. Dunn is the kind of a man who sticks to a thing he
starts after. He’s got all the money in the world, and he doesn’t care
much how he gets more…. Um…. We’ll have to give that yacht the
“Let’s run now,” says Topper.
“We’d have a lovely time out there in this gale,” says Mr. Browning. “We
might make New Bedford, and we might make Davy Jones’ Locker. No,
there’ll be no running out before tomorrow. When we get up into Buzzards
Bay we can give them the slip some place—among among the islands. Lots
of places to dodge in and hide.”
“I wish we were there this minute,” says Mr. Topper.
“Well,” says Mr. Browning, “I don’t mind owning I feel that way myself.”
The bad weather kept up all the next day, but by night the wind went
down, and next morning after that it was warm and fine. Mr. Browning got
us up mighty early, because he had planned with Mr. Topper to try to
sneak out at daylight and so dodge the _Porpoise_. We got up the anchors
as quietly as we could and off we went, and no sign of life aboard the
enemy ship. It was fine, but as we came out of the harbor we found out
that the sea doesn’t always go down the minute the wind does. There was
a big sea running, a sort of enormous swell, and our course was right in
the trough of it. I was kind of scared at first when I saw those waves.
Why, when we got on top of one and looked down, it seemed as if we were
a hundred feet in the air, and when we slid down between two waves, with
one of them racing right down onto us, it seemed as if we were in a
valley and one of the sides was sure to fall right over on us and finish
us. But the motion was so easy and the waves were so big, that it got to
be real pleasure, like sliding down hill. There didn’t seem to be a bit
of danger, though we could see where the waves dashed against the rocks
on the shore and the spray was thrown a hundred feet into the air. It
was easy to imagine what would happen to us if we got swept in there. It
would be good-by _Albatross_ and good-by Wee-wee and good-by everybody
But we didn’t get swept.
There weren’t many boats out, though we did see a few lobster men, and a
destroyer wallowed past us going like the mischief. I noticed that Catty
stuck to the after-deck, with Mr. Browning’s glasses, watching the mouth
of the harbor, and every little while Mr. Topper would go back there and
strain his eyes over the course we had taken. All at once Catty sung
out, “Here she comes,” and sure enough, there was the black yacht, four
or five miles back, just nosing between the rocks. We hadn’t dodged her
worth a cent.
There was nothing to do but keep on going, so we kept. I was helping
navigate and keep the log, marking down when we passed each spar and
buoy and nun and lighthouse. In a few hours we passed the Hen and
Chickens, and a little while afterward we sighted the lightship, and
then we turned to the northward and entered Buzzards Bay. It got
smoother right away, because we got under shelter of the islands that
shut the bay off from the ocean, and then we picked our course up the
channel and rounded the lighthouse just this side of New Bedford, and
wiggled through the opening in a stone breakwater, and cast anchor in a
harbor full of yachts. There must have been close to a hundred of
them—all kinds. It was Padanaram, where the New Bedford Yacht Club has a
clubhouse and where most of its yachts lay.
About half an hour later in came the _Porpoise_ and dropped her anchor
not far from a whopping big schooner yacht. She sort of settled down
with a grunt of satisfaction that she had come up with us again. Well,
we hadn’t gained anything.
Catty and I went in for a swim. It was Catty’s idea and it turned out he
wanted to go in so we could swim around out of earshot and talk things
“The trouble with this crowd,” says he, “is that they don’t plan
anything. They just run, and trust to luck to throw the _Porpoise_ off
our track. No sense in that. The enemy is planning. They’re keeping
watch all the time, and they’re ready. The only way we can duck them is
to plan _better_ than they do.”
“All right,” says I, “go ahead and plan.”
“I’m going to,” says he. “I’ve been studying the chart of these waters,
and it ought to be easy to give them the slip. Over across there are a
lot of islands, and harbors and channels to fiddle around in. Off at the
end is Penikese Island where the Leper colony is, and next is Cuttyhunk,
and the chart shows a little land-locked basin that you get into through
a sort of canal. I bet if we could manage to duck in there, nobody could
see us from outside. Then there’s Robinson’s Hole and Wood’s Hole, and
farther up the bay are inlets and things. Then, once we get through one
of the Holes, we’re in Vineyard Sound, and across that is Martha’s
Vineyard and Nantucket. I’d say this was a part of the coast made on
purpose to hide in.”
“Suits me,” says I, “let’s hide.”
“Yes,” says he, “but the _Porpoise_ won’t blind and be it while we hide.
If we could get them to count up to a couple of thousand while we find a
place to hide, it would be all right.”
“Might ask ’em,” says I.
“Wish they’d run on a sandbar,” says he.
“But they won’t,” says I.
“No chance. So we’ve got to plan it. We’ve got to fix it so we can go
while they’ve got to stay. They’re pirates, aren’t they? Well? It’s fair
and lawful to do anything to pirates.”
“Sink ’em,” says I.
“Guess we hadn’t better go that far,” he says with a grin, “but there’s
something we _can_ do. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’ll find out.”
“What,” says I, “do you s’pose they’re after? What has Mr. Topper got
that they want?”
“Treasure,” says he.
“What kind of treasure?”
“Oh, gold and precious stones, and rings and jewelry and all the things
old Captain Kidd and those other pirates used to hide in chests.”
“Think he’s got a map?”
“Yes,” says Catty.
“Um …” says I.
“Say,” Catty says, and he lifted his head out of water, “wouldn’t it be
a joke if we could send them off on a wild-goose chase?”
“By letting them get hold of the wrong map,” says he. “We could fix up a
map, and let it fall into their hands—and make them think they’d got
hold of the right one. Then they’d leave us alone and go hiking off as
fast as they could to get the treasure before we could.”
“Good idea,” says I, “but how could we fix it so’s they’d get the map?”
“That’s what we’ve got to figure out,” says he.
“Let’s get back, then,” says I, “and make the map.”
So we swam back and dressed. Catty hunted up Mr. Browning and asked him
if he had an extra chart of that part of the coast, and Mr. Browning
said he had an old one we could have. Well, Catty and I took that chart
and studied over it, and picked out a place a long way off. We thought
it would be a good idea to send them sailing as far as we could get them
to go handily. The island we picked was Nantucket, because that looked
like it was about as far as sounded reasonable, and then we went to
We studied over the map of the island, and figured out where we would
bury treasure if we were pirates. The island is shaped kind of like a
long claw. There’s a channel into a harbor right at the town of
Nantucket where the old whalers used to sail from, and the harbor looks
like it stretched quite a ways back from the town, and almost through to
the ocean on the other side.
“I’ll bet there weren’t many people living there when the pirates were
doing business,” says Catty. “The pirates would use that harbor, because
it’s sheltered, and they could go in and out without being seen. Most
likely they would have hid their treasure some place where they could
get to it in any weather, so it wouldn’t have been on the open coast. It
would be some place where they could row to it in a small boat. So the
likeliest place is off at the far end of that basin somewheres. It looks
on the chart as if it was all low and sandy. There’s a good spot back
there,” he says, pointing with a pencil.
“Good enough,” says I, “let’s bury our treasure there.”
So we did. We didn’t try to make believe we had an old map, but just a
copy of one on a modern chart. As careful as we could we measured off on
the chart by the scale of miles, and made a cross in ink. Then we wrote,
or printed rather, down at the bottom of the chart. What we printed was:
“Intersection of lines drawn N. by E. from Steamship Dock, and S. by S.
E. from light on tip of claw. Fifty feet from highwater mark. Six feet
“There,” says Catty, “that looks interesting, eh?”
“You bet,” says I, “but now what do we do with it?”
“That,” says he, “is for us to find out.”
A little while afterward Mr. Browning said he was going ashore to
telephone, and asked if we didn’t want to go along, which we did. We
used the little dinghy, and hauled her up on the club float. Then we
walked up the dock to the clubhouse, and the steward met us and made us
welcome. Mr. Browning went inside to telephone, while we sat on the
porch. Pretty soon he came out again, and said he would have to go down
to New Bedford on some business, and that we could go along if we wanted
to, but Catty says, “Thanks, but I guess we better stay here where we
can keep an eye on the yacht. Kind of an int’resting place, this is, and
I’d like to hang around and see what’s to be seen.”
“All right,” says Mr. Browning. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
“Now what?” says I, when Mr. Browning had gone.
Catty pointed and there was a dinghy coming in from the _Porpoise_. It
rowed up to the float and Mr. House stepped ashore and walked up toward
the clubhouse. Right then Catty pulled the chart out of his pocket and
pretended like he was studying it hard. When Mr. House came up the steps
Catty looked up and says, “Good afternoon,” and Mr. House spoke back as
pleasant as pie.
“Fine day,” says he, stopping and looking us over. “Bully harbor. Live
here, you boys?”
“No,” says Catty, “we live aboard a yacht. Just came in. There she
“Um….” says Mr. House, “the _Albatross_, you mean?”
“Who owns her? We’ve seen her quite a bit on this cruise.”
“Mr. Browning, of New York.”
“Just cruising, or going somewhere?”
“Same here,” says he. “What you doing? Studying navigation?”
“No,” says Catty, “this is just an old chart we picked up on deck this
morning. Got some funny marks on it, and we’re trying to figure what
they mean. Guess Mr. Topper threw it away.”
“Oh…. Funny marks, eh? I’m quite a navigator, maybe I can help you
“Here you are,” says Catty, and he handed over the map. Mr. House took
it, and we watched his face. He bit his lips, and that was the only sign
he gave of anything going on inside his head. He studied it over.
“Old chart,” he said. “Out of date. The new surveys and new channel
markings aren’t here. Kind of a curiosity.”
“Yes,” says Catty, “but what’s the idea of those marks in Nantucket
harbor? Nobody’s been charting a course like that.”
“Looks like somebody had checked a place to dig clams or something,”
says Mr. House. He kind of hesitated like he was thinking, and then he
says: “Say, if you haven’t any special use for this chart, I’d like to
have it. I was arguing with my friend last night about the old harbor
markings over at Cuttyhunk. He claimed they had been the way they’re
shown now for six years. I was sure they were changed a couple of years
ago. This shows I was right. I’d sort of like to show it to him to prove
“Go ahead,” says Catty. “It’s no use to us. Mr. Topper threw it away.
“Much obliged,” says Mr. House, and right there he forgot all about what
he came ashore to do, but hurried right back to his dinghy and had
himself rowed back to the _Porpoise_.
“He bit,” says Catty. “He swallowed hook, line, and sinker. In about ten
minutes we’ll see the _Porpoise_ hauling up her anchor and making away.”
“On a wild-goose chase,” says I, “and that’s the last we’ll see of
But I was just a little mistaken in that last guess.