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Hughie and Allerton sur. Goble, apparently in no hurry, veyed each other.

was leaning over the bulwarks “Which boat are you going in the darkness not far from in?” inquired Allerton.

Hughie and Allerton, dispas“None,” said Hughie. sionately regarding the crew's “Going to stay on board ?” preparations for departure. Hughie nodded.

He approached nearer. “But she'll sink under our “There's a wheen fowk in feet.”

thae boats," he observed. “I “I don't believe she's as doot we'd be safer on board.” badly damaged as all that. Hughie turned to him and There's some game on here." nodded comprehendingly. don't suppose

she's “That's my opinion too,” he damaged at all,” said Allerton, said — “and Percy's. We're “but you can be sure they thinking of staying here." won't be such blamed fools as Mr Goble regarded him reto leave the ship floating about flectively. to be picked up. Old Angus “Is that a fact?” he said. will let water into her before “Weel, I'll bide too." he leaves, if he hasn't started And so a third member was the process already."

co-opted on to the Board of “Well, I'm not going in Directors. any of those

boats," said “We'd better get out of Hughie.

"If the Orinoco sight,” said Hughie. “They sinks, I'll float to Europe on won't like leaving us behind. a hen-coop.”

I think I know a good place to “May I have half of it?” wait. Come along.said Allerton.

The trio slipped round behind “ You may,” said Hughie. the chart-house and passed And so the S.S. Orinoco along a deserted stretch of the

80 Salvage Company, Limited, deck. Finally they disappeared was floated, and the Board of down the engine-room hatchDirectors entered upon their way. . new duties at once.

The engine-room was illuminBy this time the boats had ated by a couple of swinging been swung outboard and their lanterns. A black and greasy provisioning completed. They flood of water glistened on the

now lowered from the iron floor below, filling the davits, and the men began to crank-pits and covering the take their places. There was propeller - shaft. The doors no panic, for the night was leading to the stokehold were calm and the Orinoco showed standing open, and they could no signs of settling deeper. see that the floors there too Messrs Gates and Dingle were were flooded, though the water already at their respective had not reached the level of tillers. Captain Kingdom and the fire- bars. Owing to the Mr Angus were standing by immobility of the ship its the davits to which the whale- oily surface was almost unboat was still shackled. Mr ruffled, and the engine-room

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itself was curiously quiet after bed-plates of the engines, en-
the turmoil on deck. The sconced himself behind a con-
fires were burning low, but venient cross - head, with his
occasionally a glowing clinker feet in a flooded crank - pit
slipped from between the bars and his body squeezed back
into the blood-red flood be- as far as possible into the
neath, with a sizzling splash. shadow of the condenser.
The steam was hissing dis- He had not long to wait.
contentedly in the gauges. Presently cautious feet were
The Salvage Board stood heard descending the

the iron knee-deep in the water of the ladder, and Mr Angus, comengine-room.

paratively sober, stepped heavHughie picked up & smoky ily into the flood a

the inspection-lamp-a teapot-like floor. affair with a wick in the His first proceeding was to spout — lit it,

lit it, and peered wade to the stokehole end about.

of the engine-room-Hughie “Now look here," he said. thought at first that he was “I don't quite know where going right through into the this water came from, and it arms of Allerton and Goble, doesn't much matter, as and wondered what they would more is coming in at present. do with him,—where he began If the old man means to sink to manipulate the great valvethe ship he will have to come

wheel which kept the steam down here to do it. He has imprisoned in the boilers; and probably got

dodge presently Hughie could hear arranged by which he the roar of the escape far just turn a wheel and open a

above his head. This was a valve and send her to the purely precautionary measure, bottom. Isn't that the idea, and could do no harm to Goble ? (I'll explain to you any one. afterwards, Allerton.) My im- Then Mr Angus splashed his pression is that he'll pop way to the corner by the down and turn the valve on donkey - pump, where the majust before he leaves. In that chinery for controlling the case one of us must stand by bilge and water-ballast valves and turn it off again. You was situated, and began to two go through into the stoke- twist

another wheel. hole. He's not likely to come Presently there was

a gurgin there. If he does, you must ling bubbling sound in the use your own discretion. I'll bowels of the ship, followed wait here, on the far side of by a slight hissing and whisthe cylinders, up against the pering on the surface of the condenser. He's not likely to water on the engine-room floor. see me, but I shall be able to The valve was open. watch him and which Mr Angus turned and lurched valve-wheel he turns on.” heavily through the rising flood

The other two obeyed, and to the iron ladder. Thirty Hughie, scrambling across the seconds later a glistening figure

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crawled out of the crank - pit tion. The gurgling and hissand vigorously turned the ing ceased. The valve was wheel in the opposite direc- closed.

CHAPTER NINE, - LITERA SCRIPTA MANET.

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“Mr Marrable, did yo ever would have observed, which see a drookit craw ?

gave little much - needed “No."

artistio verisimilitude to the “Well, see me!” announced Bimbo Brothers' bald and unMr Goble complacently.

eonvincing narrative of disHe crawled out of the aster. Incidentally he had engine - room companion - way flooded the forehold and enand sat down upon the deck. gine-room with sufficient water Excessive spruceness had never to give those members of the been a foible of his, but now ship's company who were not he was an unrecognisable mass in their employer's ence of coal - dust, oil, and tallow. the impression that she was He was dripping wet, for he sinking, and to furnish those had spent the last hour in who were with a prima facie an exhaustive examination of argument for deserting her. the Orinoco's waterlogged in- But these thoughtful precauternal economy. The morning tions, though sufficient to prosun was warm, and he steamed cure the abandonment of the comfortably as he detailed the Orinoco, were by no means result of his investigations to sufficient to send her to the Hughie, who in some imper- bottom, a consummation to be ceptible but inevitable manner achieved at any cost; for to had taken command of the tiny leave your ship lying about in ship's company.

mid-ocean, to be picked up by Shorn of technicalities and the first chance - comer, while irrelevant excursions into the you go hurrying home to extract regions of pawky philosophy, à cheque from the Insurance Mr Goble's report came to Company, savours of slipshod this.

business methods; and Mr Mr Angus had pumped out Noddy Kinahan was nothing the after ballast-tank" during if not thorough. the night, allowing the water, Now every steamer which by means of a specially rigged plies under Lloyds’ ægis is return - pipe, to flow into the fitted, below the water - line, bilges of the ship instead of with a set of what are called escaping overboard. By this bilge-valves. Through these it device he had altered the is possible to expel any water Orinoco's centre of gravity in which may have found its way such a manner as to produce into the body of the vessel. the afore-mentioned down-hill As it is even more desirable to slant of her decks & cor- prevent the entrance of water roborative detail, as Pooh-Bah into your ship than to assist its

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exit, these valves are of a should have thought of this strictly “non-return " variety, sooner. and

amount of pressure Then he uprose from his from the outside should ever seat on an inverted bucket. prevail upon them to play the “Before I gang ben, sir," he part of Mr Facing-Both-Ways. concluded, “tae change ma The very life of the ship de- feet and ma breeks, I'll tak’the pends upon them; and the liberty tae inquire of you what enterprising individual who you propose tae dae next. tampers with their mechanism Maircy me! Yon's Walsh." in such a manner as to convert Two figures had appeared what is meant to be an Emer- round the corner of the chartgency Exit into a sort of Early house, their presence on the far Door for the rolling deep, does side thereof having been adverso at the risk of coming into tised for some time by the immediate and painful collision clanking of the deck-pumps. with the criminal laws of his (Mr Angus's precaution of blowcountry.

ing off steam before leaving had Mr Angus, it appeared, had put mechanical assistance in been employing some of his getting rid of the water out spare time during the voyage of the question for the time in reversing one of these bilge- being.) valves, with such skill and “Yes, it's me," said Walsh, finesse that, as we have seen, who, it will be remembered, was one had only to give a turn to the Second Engineer, to whom a worm-and-wheel gear in the Hughie had recently been actengine - room to admit the ing as deputy. “I should have Atlantic Ocean in large come on duty at eight bells to quantities.

relieve Angus, but I slept right “Oh, he has a heid on him, through everything till Mr has Angus !” commented Mr Marrable found me in my bunk Goble with professional ap- an hour or two ago. I expect preciation —"even when he's they put something in my grog fou'. He made a rare job o't. last night.” But how he managed tae con- “It's quite a hobby of theirs," trive that imitation o' a colli- said Allerton drily. “ Mr Marsion, merely through some rable, I have found something jookery-packery wi'the reverse that may be useful to us. ' gear and throttle, wi'oot tearin' He handed his superior the guts oot o' her, I div not officer a damp but undamaged ken. Man, it was a fair con- little packet of papers.

. jurin' trick! By rights the “Where did you find them?"

“ link motion should be twisted asked Hughie. “I thought I intil a watch-chain and the had gone through Kingdom's cross - heids jammit in the kit pretty thoroughly.” guides. But they're no. It's “They were sticking in the jist Providence, I doot,” he falls of the davits belonging to added rather apologetically, the boat Kingdom went off in," with the air of

of one who replied Allerton. “I saw him

no

on

hurrying along the deck from stand how Kinaban could have his cabin just before his de- been such a mug as to commit parture, carrying the log-book these schemes to paper, and and some papers and instru- how Kingdom should have ments. I expect he dropped been such a fool as to want these as he went over the side.” to keep them. I'd have let

“Sit down, everybody," said them go down in the Orinoco.the commander, “and we'll see “I expect one explanation this through. It may concern covers

both
cases,

said us all.”

Hughie. “Kingdom probably The packet contained two demanded his orders in black letters, together with some in- and white, as a guarantee that voices and bills of lading re- he would get his money when ferring chiefly to the Orinoco's he had done his job. Othercargo of astringent claret. wise he had claim

Hughie glanced through the Kinahan for a penny, beyond letters. Then he re-read them his ordinary wage as skipper. with some deliberation. Then Kinahan probably agreed, he whistled, low and express- stipulating that the letters ively. Then he sat up and should be handed back to him sighed, gently and contentedly. when they squared accounts.

“ Mr Noddy Kinahan,” he It was a risky thing to do, said, “is shortly going to wish, but when two thieves can't with all his benevolent and trust each other, and go philanthropic little heart, that dropping about documentary he had never been born. And evidence to that effect-well, we are the people that are that's where poor but deserving going to

to make him wish. people like ourselves come in. Listen!”

No, I shouldn't think Kingdom He read the two letters would want to leave these bealoud. They were brief, but hind; and I opine that he's explicit. One contained Kina- a pretty sick man by this time han's orders to Kingdom as if he has missed them." to the disposal of the Orinoco. He folded the letters up,

and The other was a sort of invoice, put them away carefully. or consignment-note, relating “Now, gentlemen," he said to the person of one Marr- briskly, “I propose that we go able, who had apparently been below and see if there is suffishipped on board the night cient steam on the Orinoco to before the ship sailed. Each pump the rest of the water out of these documents, it may of her and get the propeller be added, contained sufficient revolving again. We'll have matter to ensure penal servi- to damp down most of the tude for their author.

fires, because we can't run to Hughie stopped reading, and many firemen, but I think we there was a long and appreci- ought to knock four or five ative silence. Then Allerton knots out of her in ordinary said

weather. Luckily, seventy-five “What beats me is to under- per cent of the ship's company

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