THE SCHOONER

They started for the fishing ground next morning immediately after
breakfast, and set to work at once. They had bad luck for the first
hour, and then, as if popped into their hands by the hand of luck, came
a beauty, a perfect white pearl, twice the size of a marrow-fat pea,
maybe even a little bigger, worth five thousand dollars if a penny–so
Schumer said.

They sat down to congratulate themselves and feel their luck. You
cannot feel your luck standing. Schumer lit a pipe and Floyd followed
his example. They put a bit of seaweed on a shell and the pearl on the
seaweed, and with it in front of them began to speculate and talk.
They felt now that time was theirs, and Schumer knew, though Floyd was
still to learn, that the flower of success blooms only on the youngest
shoots, that the joy of striking it rich lives only in perfection
during the first early days of the stroke, that the fever of life and
the enchantment of triumph both die down and fade, that the fully
grasped is nothing to the half grasped.

To be given a pearl lagoon by luck and to work it as a hog works a wood
for truffles would be to act like a hog.

The stuff was all there; this and the success of the first day’s work
was ample confirmation of the riches lying under that green water, and
Schumer expatiated on the matter.

“You wouldn’t believe it,” said he, “but the value of a single pearl
grows in proportion as you can match it with others exactly like it.
It takes eighty or a hundred pearls to make a woman’s necklace. Eighty
or a hundred pearls like that one would each be worth two or three
times what each pearl is worth alone. Even twenty pearls exactly alike
would be worth much more than if they were different, for they would
form the basis for a collection. You would never dream of the work
that goes on in the world matching these things. There are men at it
all the time in Paris and London and Amsterdam. A perfect necklace of
pearls once formed is always held together; it becomes an individual,
so to speak, and is known to the trade by a name. The women belonging
to the royal families of Europe hold a number of these collections, but
there are lots of private ones, and every great collection is known and
tabulated. So you see it won’t pay us to peddle our stuff out little by
little–we must hold all the pearls we get and match them.”

“Look here,” said Floyd, “one thing we have never settled–our shares
in this business. There’s Isbel, too; she has done her bit.”

Schumer laughed.

“What’s the use of money to a Kanaka?” said he. “We’ll give her
something, of course, but we need not take her seriously into our
calculations. Our shares–well, don’t you think it’s a bit early to
come to that? All this is a dream in the air at present; it may never
go farther.”

“Well, it’s this way,” said Floyd, “I always think it’s well to start
out knowing exactly where you are going to, and what you are to
get. When you sign on in a ship you know your pay, and you know the
latitudes you have got to work in, and you know the time you are to be
on the job. I think it would be better here and now to settle up this
business, and I think we ought to go half shares.”

“Half shares?” said Schumer meditatively.

“I have been figuring it out in my head,” said Floyd. “What have we
each contributed to the business? I have brought my work and a boat;
now, without a boat we’d have been done completely, because you can’t
reach here by the reef, and we couldn’t have discovered the beds
without a boat. Then there’s my work. You have brought your knowledge
of pearling, and, what is more, all that trade stuff and provisions
from the wreck, your energy and enterprise and your work. When I said
half shares I did not mean that all the trade and provisions of the
_Tonga_ should not be taken into consideration. I would suggest that
when we settle up I should pay you for all that out of my share. Then
there is the money of the _Tonga_ and the _Cormorant_. While I hold
that Coxon’s money belongs by right to his next of kin, I think what
I have suffered through his relative, Harrod, permits me to use that
money to further our speculation, paying it back with interest to the
next of kin when all is through. So I would be nearly equal to you in
ready cash, and the question resolves itself into my boat and work
against your work and knowledge of pearling.”

“I must point out to you,” said Schumer, “that I discovered the beds.”

“That is true, but without the boat where would you have been? If a
ship had come along and you had borrowed a boat to explore the lagoon,
the whole affair would have been given away. I am not arguing to make a
profit out of the business at your expense, only to give my full views
on the matter.”

Schumer sat silent for a minute, and Floyd again noticed that profile,
daring and predominant, hard and predatory. It was as though the spirit
of a hawk were gazing over the sea through the mask of a man.

“It seems to me,” said Schumer, “that the boat belonged to Coxon.”

“And the _Tonga_?” said Floyd.

Schumer shifted uneasily; then he laughed.

“Well, let it be so,” said he; “half shares, and you pay for the trade
and provisions; it’s early to talk of dividing what we have not got.
Still, as you wish it, I agree.”

He spoke without enthusiasm. Then he rose up. They had been sitting on
the weather side of the reef, with their backs to the lagoon and their
faces to the sea; the wind had almost died away, and now as they turned
they saw, away across the lagoon, a thin column of black smoke rising
from the camping place through the almost windless air.

“It’s the signal!” said Floyd.

“A ship!” cried Schumer.

He sheltered his eyes, and Floyd, doing the same, saw the figure of
Isbel moving about near the fire. She was putting fresh brushwood on
the flames, and even as they looked the smoke increased.

Schumer picked up the pearl that was still lying in the shell and put
it in his pocket. He glanced at the heaps of shell still untouched.
There was no time to cast all that back in the lagoon or hide the
evidence of their work; it was necessary to get back at once, and,
returning to the boat, which was beached on the sand, they shoved off,
Floyd taking the sculls.

When they reached the beach, Isbel was there, and helped to run the
boat up.

“A ship,” said she. “Schooner, I think, away over there.”

She pointed across the reef toward the outer sea.

The deck of the _Tonga_ had always given them a vantage point and a
lookout station; even without it now, just by standing on the reef
where the wreck had been they could see the sail, and Schumer, after a
brief glance, went off to the tent, which they had re√ęstablished by the
grove, and fetched a pair of glasses.

Through them she leaped into view, a topsail schooner, with all sail
set, making a long board for the island.

“She’s coming here, sure,” said Schumer; “a hundred and fifty or maybe
a hundred and eighty tons I reckon her to be; but it is deceitful at
this distance. Wonder what she is? Wonder what she’s doing down here?
She may have been blown out of her course by that storm; but she hasn’t
lost any sticks. Well, we’ll soon see.”

They watched the sail as she grew white as a pearl against the sky. The
sea had lost all trace of the late storm, and there remained only the
undying swell of the Pacific.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with her,” said Floyd, as he took a
spell with the glasses; “but she seems to be handled by lubbers. Either
they have not enough men to work the sails, or the officers are fools.”

Schumer took the glasses and watched her, but said nothing.

One of the coconut trees at the entrance end of the grove stood apart
from its fellows; it had been stripped of nuts and pretty well stripped
of leaves by the storm. At the suggestion of Schumer, Floyd, with a
flag tied round his neck like a huge muffler, and with a hammer and
some nails in his pocket, swarmed up the tree and nailed the flag to
the wood. The wind was strong enough to make it flutter, and with a
glass aboard the schooner it would be easily visible.

It evidently remained unseen, for no answer showed.

“She’s blind, as well as stupid,” said Floyd.

“There’s something wrong with her,” said Schumer, “and if she comes
blundering into the lagoon she may hit that reef we noticed the other
day on the left of the entrance. We had better get the boat out and
show her the way in when she gets a bit closer.”

The schooner was two miles from the reef when they began launching the
boat. They rowed out through the break in the reef, and then hoisted
the sail.

“She sees us now,” said Floyd.

A flag had been run up to the peak; it was the Stars and Stripes. Then
it was run down again, then again hoisted.

“Crew of lunatics,” said Schumer, as the American flag went down again
and was replaced by the Union Jack. “What are they at now?”

“They seem to be a mixed nationality,” said Floyd, “and rather
confused in their mind. Look, she’s heaving to!”

The wind shivered out the canvas and the topsails flattened.

She was, as Schumer had guessed, a schooner of some hundred and fifty
tons, and well found, to judge by her general appearance, her canvas,
and what they could judge of her sticks.

As they came alongside they saw that her decks were crowded with men,
all natives; not a white face showed, and as they boarded her a hubbub
rose such as Floyd had never heard before.

Forty Kanakas, mad with excitement and all trying to explain
themselves, some in broken English and some in native, produced more
impression than understanding.

Schumer took hold of affairs by seizing on a big man whom he judged
with unerring eye to be in some position of authority. Then he held up
his fist and yelled: “Silence!”

The row ceased in a second, and only Schumer’s voice was heard:

“You talk English?”

“Me talk allee right,” replied the big man. “Me savvee English me—-”

“Shut up and answer my questions! What schooner is this, and where
from?”

“She de _Sudden Cross_.”

“The _Southern Cross_; where from?”

“Sydney long time ‘go; lass po’t in de Sol’mons. Capen, off’cers, all
gone; fish p’ison.”

“Fish poisoning, was it? What was your captain’s name?”

“Capen Watters.”

“Walters, most like,” said Schumer. “Well, what are all these men–they
aren’t the crew?”

“Some de crew; some labor picked up down de Sol’mons, an’ islan’s away
dere.”

“And your cargo?”

“Copra, most.”

While Schumer was talking, Floyd was looking about him at the men on
deck. There were a dozen Solomon Islanders, some wearing nothing but G
strings, nearly all with shell rings through their nostrils, and some
with tobacco pipes stuck in their perforated ear lobes.

He thought he had never seen a harder lot of natives than these. The
others were milder looking.

Schumer, meanwhile, went on with his inquiries. The name of the big man
was Mountain Joe; he was bos’n. The schooner, since the loss of her
officers, had been in a hopeless state, as not a soul on board knew
anything of navigation. There had been four white men–the captain,
two mates, and a third man, evidently a trader or labor recruiter–and
the fish that had done the mischief had been canned salmon; evidently
ptomaine poisoning in its most virulent form had attacked the only
people who had partaken of it.

When Schumer had received all this intelligence, he ordered the boat to
be streamed astern on a line, and took command of the schooner.

Without with your leave or by your leave, he gave his orders no less to
Floyd than to Mountain Joe.

The Solomon Islanders and the other natives who had no part in the
working of the vessel fell apart from the crew, who sprang to the
braces at the order of their new skipper, the sails took the wind, and
the _Southern Cross_ began to forge ahead.

The wind was favorable for the lagoon opening, and as they neared it
Schumer ordered Floyd forward to con the ship while he himself took the
wheel.

As he steered, he gave his orders to Mountain Joe to get ready with the
anchor. The _Southern Cross_ responded to her helm as a sensitive horse
to the bit, and like a great white cloud she glided over the swell at
the reef opening, and like a great white swan she floated into the
lagoon.

Then the wind shook out the sails, and the rumble-tumble of the anchor
chain sounded over the water as she came to in five fathoms, and within
a pistol shot of the camping place.

Isbel was standing on the beach sheltering her eyes with her hand, and
some of the Kanaka crew, recognizing her as a native, waved and shouted
to her. She waved her hand in reply.

The schooner now swinging safely at her anchor, Schumer continued to
give orders till all of the remaining sail was stowed.

Then he turned to Floyd.

“Now, we have her safe and sound,” said he, “I propose we go down and
have a look at the manifest, and so forth.”

“You aren’t going to land any of these people yet?” asked Floyd,
following him down the companionway to the saloon.

“Not yet,” said Schumer; “and when I do land them it won’t be at our
camping ground. Hello, you nigger!” this to Mountain Joe, who had
followed them down; “what you doing here? Get on deck or I’ll boot you
up the ladder–cheek!”

Mountain Joe vanished.

“Look here,” said Floyd, as he shut the door of the saloon, “do you
believe that yarn of the fish poisoning?”

“I don’t,” said Schumer; “I believe the white men were done up. They
were a hard lot, most likely, and they met their match. There was
fighting on deck, for there was a bullet mark on the wheel, one of the
spokes was injured; not only that, I could tell from the manner of
those fellows that the big Kanaka was lying. Ah, what’s this?”

He went to one of the panels of the saloon by the door. It was split by
a bullet.

“Look at that!” said he.

“It’s clear enough,” replied Floyd, “there has been fighting down here,
too. Devils!”

“Oh, well,” said Schumer, “we haven’t heard their side of the story
yet. Come on, let us search and see what we can find.”

They entered the biggest cabin opening off the saloon. It was evidently
the captain’s. Here things were in order, the bunk undisturbed, and a
suit of pajamas neatly folded on the quilt.

“Bunk hasn’t even been lain on,” said Schumer, “and where would a sick
man lie but on his bunk or in it? These Kanakas are fools–soft heads;
they can’t put two and two together, or imagine other people doing it.
Now, let’s look for the ship’s papers.”

They hunted, but though they discovered the box which evidently had
contained the papers, sign of papers or money there was none. Neither
was there sign of the log.

“They have done away with them,” said Floyd.

“Looks so,” replied Schumer. “Unless the old man swallowed them before
he died. Ah, here’s a coat of his!”

A coat hanging from a peg by the bunk attracted his attention.

He examined the pockets, and discovered a number of letters, an
American dollar, a tobacco pouch, and a pipe. He returned the pipe and
the pouch, and placed the letters in his pocket.

“We’ll examine them later on,” said he; “they may give us some news.
Now let’s look at this chest and see what it holds.”

He raised the lid of a sea chest standing opposite the bunk, and began
to explore the contents. It contained mostly clothes, boots, some
island curios, and down in one corner another packet of letters, which
Schumer took possession of.

On the inside of the lid was nailed the portrait of a stout woman–the
unfortunate man’s wife, perhaps.

To Floyd there was something mournful in the sight of these few
possessions–all that was left on earth of a man living a few weeks
ago, or maybe a few days ago, and now vanished utterly; done to death,
most probably, by the savages on deck. But Schumer did not seem at all
disturbed by any reflections on the matter. With speed but no hurry he
went through the business, closed the lid, and rose up.

“Let’s get on deck,” said he; “we can overhaul the other cabins later
on. I have seen what I wanted to see, and there’s no use in leaving
those fellows on deck too long without attention. I’ll have another
talk with the big Kanaka, and then we’ll go ashore and have a council
of war.”

“Shall we let any of these chaps land?” asked Floyd.

“Not yet; and when we do we’ll land them at the reef by the fishing
ground. Looks like Providence, doesn’t it? We wanted labor, and it
seems we’ve got it.”

“They seem a tough crowd,” said Floyd, as he followed his companion up
the saloon stairs.

“They are,” said Schumer grimly; “but they’ll be softer when I have
done with them.”

On deck, the crew and the Solomon Islanders were scattered about,
mostly smoking. Some were seated on the deck; others, leaning over the
bulwark rails, were staring at the shore. There was no sign of disorder
or danger; the unfortunates were too glad to be in a place of safety,
after their experience of driving about the Pacific without a navigator.

The open sea is a terrific place to the Pacific islander when he does
not know in what part of it he is, and when he is left to his own
resources. Schumer’s prompt action in bringing them into the lagoon,
the way he handled the ship, and the manner in which he had given his
orders at once raised him to the position of the man in authority.

He ordered the boat, which was still streaming astern, with the rope
held taut by the outgoing tide, to be hauled alongside, then he told
Mountain Joe to get in, and, following him with Floyd, they pushed off
for the shore.

When they landed, Schumer called to Isbel, who came out of the bushes.
He told her to look after the big Kanaka and give him some refreshment,
and then, taking Floyd by the arm, he led him over to the windward
side of the reef, and at a point protected by trees from the lagoon
they sat down.

Said Schumer:

“When you are starting out on any business everything depends on
whether you have got a plan to go on _at the start_. A lot of darned
fools blunder along in the businesses they take up without even a plan.
If they have a plan, it’s one that turns up by accident.

“Now, here’s our position: Luck has sent us a schooner and a certain
quantity of labor. Good management and foresight has given us a lot of
trade, provisions, and arms; all that will be useless if we don’t act
at once on a plan.

“If we let those fellows land here, and if they discover the position
of the cache, it’s quite on the cards they might try to rush us. They
mustn’t touch the ground here; they must be segregated over there at
the fishing ground. We have a splendid strategical position, with a
section of the reef impassable, or next to impassable, for if they
tried to come along it they’d have to go so slow we could pick them off
with our Winchesters.

“But that’s all meeting trouble halfway. Our policy is to keep them
happy after putting the fear of God into them.

“I shall land them to-night over there, but first of all I am going to
show them exactly how things stand, and what they may expect if they
make trouble.

“Now come back, and we will have a talk with Mr. Mountain Joe.”

They came back to the tent, where the dusky bos’n was wiping his mouth
with the back of his hand.

Isbel, who had been giving him refreshments, was standing by. When she
saw Floyd and Schumer approaching, she went off toward the tent, and
the three men found themselves alone.

Out in the lagoon lay the schooner, the crowd on her deck leaning on
the bulwark rails, and evidently speculating on what might be going on
ashore.

Joe, who had been seated, rose up, and Schumer, taking his seat on the
sand beside Floyd, ordered the Kanaka to stand before him.

Schumer, taking a tobacco pouch from his pocket and a book of cigarette
papers, proceeded to roll a cigarette. As he ran the tip of his tongue
along the gummed edge of the paper he looked up at Joe.

“What made you tell that lie,” said he, “about the fish poisoning?”

Joe started as though some one had made an attempt to strike him.

“What fish p’isonin’, sah?”

“Now, don’t you try any games with me,” said Schumer, who had lighted
his cigarette. “I know all about the affair, and I am going to see
justice done. Your captain was killed, the mates were killed, and the
other white man was done away with and hove overboard. I take it he was
not a trader, but a labor recruiter. Don’t open your mouth to lie, or
I’ll put a bullet in it!”

He put his hand in his pocket and drew out a revolver, which he placed
on his thigh.

“You just hear me through, for I am going to tell you things. To begin
with, I doubt if you had any hand in the killing. I judge you by your
face. Had you any hand in it? You may speak.”

The man’s lips were dry; his tongue could scarcely form the words:

“No, sah, it was not me.”

“It was some of those Solomon Islanders?”

“Yes, sah.”

“Which was the one that did it? There’s always one that takes the lead.”

Joe was silent.

“Which was the one that did it?” asked Schumer again, without the least
change in his voice, but with his hand now on the butt of the revolver.

“De big one, sah, wid de woolly head an’ eyes so.”

He tried to squint.

“Ah, that chap! I noticed him, and I took his measure.”

Then, little by little, he drew out the whole story. It had been a bad
voyage for the _Southern Cross_. They had been recruiting down in the
Solomon Islands, and the recruiter, Markham by name, had been nearly
cut off.

He had adopted the usual methods, landing on the beach with a box
of trade goods and without any weapons, while a covering boat hung
offshore to protect him in case of attack.

The natives had seemed friendly, but all at once they had drawn off,
scattering toward the bush, from where next moment had come a flight of
their deadly spears, one of which had pierced Markham’s arm. With the
spear still in his arm, he had managed to get off, and under protection
of the fire from the covering boat had succeeded in reaching the
schooner. The spear had been cut out, or, rather, cut off at the barb
and drawn out, but the wound had bothered him a lot.

The thirty natives he had managed to secure before the business
suffered a good bit at his hand in return for it. The captain and the
mates had not been behindhand; some of the crew had run away, and
the schooner was shorthanded; that did not add to their good temper.
They tried to make the Solomon Islanders help in the working of the
vessel, but these gentry had not engaged themselves for ship work, but
plantation work, and they said so. The captain had booted some of them
and threatened to shoot others, and generally the schooner seemed to
have been a hard ship. There seemed the distinct evidence of a trail
of drink over the whole business, and the upshot was death for the
afterguard.

Death dealt with belaying pins and an ax wielded by the woolly-headed
individual with the squint.

Two natives had been shot dead on the spot, one had been wounded,
and had died of his wounds. Then the decks had been swabbed, and the
precious crew, without a navigating officer or the faintest notion of
their exact position, had made sail, or, rather, made a fair wind that
was blowing, trusting to chance to take them somewhere.

They had touched the skirt of the big storm, but they managed to
weather it, and, seeing the island in sight, had made for it.

“Well,” said Schumer, “I believe you have been telling me the truth. I
am here to do justice, and justice shall be done.”

He rose up, and drawing Floyd aside, walked a few paces with him along
the beach.

“That fellow with the squint was evidently the leader in this
business,” said he. “I am not thinking so much of the trouble on
board the schooner, for it’s pretty evident that the old man and the
mates and the recruiter deserved their gruel. What I am thinking of is
the time before us. I am going to make these chaps work the fishery,
and I don’t want a potential murder leader among them. That wouldn’t
do at all. Besides, they must be shown at once their position in the
scheme of things, and that position is laborers working for decent pay,
but under a strong hand. Besides, all these fellows have murder on
their conscience–or the thing, whatever it is, that serves for their
conscience. That will always make them nervous and distrustful of white
men. I can’t clear their consciences, but I can clear their minds of
the fear of consequences, and I am going to do it now.

“You have your revolver in your pocket; get your rifle, also, and come
with me. We may have to fight; there’s no knowing.”

“I shouldn’t mind if we have,” said Floyd; “rotten murderers!”

“Oh, they are all right! They are only savages, doing according to
their lights. They only require firmness to do according to the lights
of civilization.”

He went to the tent with Floyd, and they got their rifles and some
extra ammunition. Then, with the help of Joe, they pushed the boat off.

The fellows on board watched the coming of the boat, evidently
suspecting nothing, though they must have seen the rifles.

Schumer was the first to come on board, followed by Floyd.

They walked aft, and Joe, when he had finished securing the boat,
followed them.

Schumer sent him below for two deck chairs which he had seen in the
saloon; they were placed close to the wheel, and the white men, taking
their seats, and with the rifles across their knees, Schumer threw his
old panama hat on the deck about fifteen paces away from where he was
sitting, and ordered all hands aft for a palaver.

No man was to take a step beyond the hat.

They came up, some of them still smoking, some chewing, and all
evidently wondering what was up, and what the bearded white man with
the fixed, determined face had to say to them.

Though he could speak in the dialect of the Solomons, he made Joe his
interpreter.

He asked the labor hands first what wages the recruiter had promised
them for plantation work.

They were very explicit on this point. They were each to receive in
trade goods, tobacco, knives, and so forth what would be the equivalent
of about seven pounds a year. They were, of course, to be fed and
looked after.

Schumer, taking a pencil and a piece of paper from his pocket, made
calculations. Then he addressed them through Joe. He said that he and
Floyd were owners of this island, which was a very pleasant place, as
they could see for themselves, with plenty of food, both grown here and
brought to them regularly by a ship, which they also owned.

To allow this to sink into their intelligence, he proceeded to roll a
cigarette; when he had lit it, he went on.

He would offer them work here, and a happy life, and a return home
at the end of a year, if they desired to return. The work was very
easy, and play, compared to plantation work; it was simply diving for
shellfish. They could all dive?

A flashing of white teeth answered this question in the affirmative.

He would pay them exactly the same wages as that offered for plantation
work; each man would have to collect so much shell–the amount would be
fixed later–and for all shell collected over and above the stipulated
amount, a bonus would be paid in tobacco or whatever they liked.

The bonus business had to be explained to them, and the idea took hold
upon their imaginations at once.

They agreed to everything. The island pleased them; there was evidence
of what Schumer had stated all round–plenty of trees, fruit, and in
the lagoon fish. It seemed to them that they had dropped on their
feet at last. They broke up into little groups and chattered over the
business while Schumer sat watching them with a brooding eye.

Any other man, one might fancy, would have been more than satisfied by
the success which had apparently met his offer. In reality, he had only
begun what he had set out to do.

When they had talked together long enough, he gave orders to Joe, and
they were lined up again. Asked if they agreed to the terms offered to
them, they replied, “Yes.”

Then Schumer, throwing the end of his cigarette away, crossing his
knees, and nursing the rifle lying across his lap, began speaking to
them in their own dialect without the aid of Joe.

He talked to the Solomon Islanders, but the others quite understood his
words.

He pointed out that from what he had seen below stairs, he knew for a
fact that the captain of the _Southern Cross_ and the other white men
had not died from fish poisoning, but from blows. He told them that
an English man-of-war was cruising in the neighborhood of the island,
and that if she caught them they would undoubtedly be hanged to a man;
he gave them a pantomime with his hand at his throat to help their
imaginations, and, seeing the effect produced, at once started on a new
line.

They had nothing to fear if they trusted in him and in the white man
beside him, but justice must be done. It was impossible for white men
to allow other white men to be murdered or killed without bringing the
murderers to book.

He did not believe that they were all implicated, but he did believe
that there was one among their number who had led them to this act.

Dead silence among the audience, whose faces laughing a moment ago,
were now a picture representing all the emotions that range between
furtiveness and fright.

No one spoke.

“Very well,” said Schumer, still speaking in the native, “if you will
not speak it will be the worse for you. I am not your enemy. I am your
friend, and am able to protect you all from the consequences of what
has been done; but I will not do so unless I can punish the man who was
chief in this business. You will not show him to me; well, then, I will
find him for myself, for I have been born with the means of knowing
men, and I can see their thoughts, just as you can see the fish that
swim in the lagoon.”

He rose from his seat and walked toward where they were standing. The
line bent back for a moment, as though they were going to break away
and run, then they stood their ground; every eye was fixed on him as he
went from one to the other, lifting this one’s chin with his finger,
resting his hand on that one’s head.

Floyd, still seated, had his rifle ready in case of accidents, but it
was not needed. The diplomacy of Schumer had made the crowd afraid, not
of him, but of the consequences of their act, and to cap that, they
were held by the fascination of this business and the curiosity to see
what was about to happen.

When Schumer reached the squint-eyed individual he placed his hand on
his head. Then he snatched it away, as though something had stung him,
and looked at the palm.

“You are the man,” said he. “Look!”

He held up his palm for a second; there was nothing in it, but every
man in that crowd saw something, according to his imagination.

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