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THE VISION SPLENDID (chapter18,part2)

2006-08-28 23:39

    PART 2

    In the wintry afternoon sunlight Beauchamp and Alice were playing a match of shuffleboard against Jeff and the daughter of a Honolulu missionary. The game had reached an exciting and critical stage when they noticed that the ship was no longer quivering from the throb of the engines.

    "A steam yacht, probably from Verden," the ship purser remarked to the first mate as they passed.

    The players gave up their game to watch the boat that was being lowered from the deck of a yacht close at hand. Into it stepped five men in addition to the crew. Presently Jeff, leaning against the rail, borrowed the glasses of a man near. After Alice had looked she handed them to Farnum.

    He gave a little exclamation of surprise.

    "I beg your pardon?" the girl beside him murmured.

    "They are my friends, Miss Frome. Come to meet me, I expect. The little man in gray with one arm is Captain Chunn."

    She was all excitement at once. "Then they must have received your message?"

    "Probably."

    Jeff was the first man to meet Captain Chunn as he walked up the steps. The gray little man gave a whoop of joy.

    "David!"

    Their hands gripped.

    Rawson fell on Farnum from behind and pounded him jubilantly. Instantly the editor was the center of a group of eager, urgent wellwishers.

    Alice explained to Captain Barclay what it was all about and stood

    back smiling while questions and answers flew back and forth.

    "What about our bill?" Jeff inquired as soon as the first hubbub had quieted.

    "Dead as a door nail. Your cousin has substituted H. B. I7. They will pass it to-morrow or the next day."

    A swift sickness ran through Farnum. "James gone back on us?"

    "That's what. He's double-crossed us." Rawson snapped the words out bitterly.

    "Why——why——surely not James." Jeff's mind groped for some possible

    explanation.

    "Says our bill was lost anyhow and it was a question of getting through Garman's bill or none."

    "But Garman's bill was framed by Ned Merrill. It doesn't give us anything."

    Rawson nodded grimly. "That's the idea. We're to get nothing, but it's to be wrapped up like a Christmas present so as to fool us."

    "And isn't there any chance at all for our bill?"

    "Just this one chance." Rawson leaned forward and spoke in a low voice, driving his hand down on the deck railing. "That you've got a charge of dynamite up your sleeve to throw into their camp. If you can't stampede them we're down and out."

    Jeff and his allies presently moved away together to hold a conference of ways and means. The boat crew pulled back to the yacht. The engines began to throb once more. The _Bellingham_ gathered momentum and was soon plunging forward at full speed.

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