John Quincy emerged from sleep the next morning with a great effort, an_ragged his watch from under the pillow. Eight-thirty! Good lord, he was du_t the office at nine! A quick bath and shave, a brief pause at the breakfas_able, a run past the Public Gardens and the Common and down to School Street—
He sat up in bed. Why was he imprisoned under mosquito netting? What was th_eaning of the little lizard that sported idly outside the cloth? Oh, yes—Honolulu. He was in Hawaii, and he'd never reach his office by nine. I_as five thousand miles away.
The low murmur of breakers on the beach confirmed him in this discovery an_tepping to his window, he gazed out at the calm sparkling morning. Yes, h_as in Honolulu entangled in a murder mystery, consorting with Chines_etectives and Waikiki Widows, following clues. The new day held interestin_romise. He must hurry to find what it would bring forth.
Haku informed him that his aunt and Barbara had already breakfasted, and se_efore him a reddish sort of cantaloupe which was, he explained in answer t_he boy's question, a papaia. When he had eaten, John Quincy went out on th_anai. Barbara stood there, staring at the beach. A new Barbara, with the ol_ivacity, the old joy of living, submerged; a pale girl with sorrow in he_yes.
John Quincy put his arm about her shoulder; she was a Winterslip and th_amily was the family. Again he felt in his heart that flare of anger agains_he "person or persons unknown" who had brought this grief upon her. Th_uilty must pay—Egan or whoever, Brade or Leatherbee or the chorus girl. Pa_nd pay dearly—he was resolved on that.
"My dear girl," he began. "What can I say to you—"
"You've said it all, without speaking," she answered. "See, John Quincy, thi_s my beach. When I was only five I swam alone to that first float. He—he wa_o proud of me."
"It's a lovely spot, Barbara," he told her.
"I knew you'd think so. One of these days we'll swim together out to the reef, and I'll teach you to ride a surfboard. I want your visit to be a happy one."
He shook his head. "It can't be that," he said, "because of you. But becaus_f you, I'm mighty glad I came."
She pressed his hand. "I'm going out to sit by the water. Will you come?"
The bamboo curtain parted, and Miss Minerva joined them. "Well, John Quincy,"
she said sharply, "this is a pretty hour for you to appear. If you're going t_escue me from lotus land, you'll have to be immune yourself."
He smiled. "Just getting acclimated," he explained. "I'll follow you in _oment, Barbara," he added, and held open the door for her.
"I waited up," Miss Minerva began, when the girl had gone, "until eleven- thirty. But I'd had very little sleep the night before, and that was my limit.
I make no secret of it—I'm very curious to know what happened at the polic_tation."
He repeated to her the story told by Mrs. Compton and Leatherbee. "I wish I'_een present," she said. "A pretty woman can fool all the men in Christendom.
"Maybe," admitted John Quincy. "But wait a minute. Later on, Chan, and _ollowed up your newspaper clue. And it led us to a startling discovery."
"Of course it did," she beamed. "What was it?"
"Well," he said, "first of all, I met a missionary on the boat." He told he_he Reverend Frank Upton's tale of that morning on Apiang, and added the new_hat a man named Thomas Macan Brade was now in Honolulu.
She was silent for a time. "So Dan was a blackbirder," she remarked at last.
"How charming! Such a pleasant man, too. But then, I learned that lesson earl_n life—the brighter the smile, the darker the past. All this will mak_elightful reading in the Boston papers, John Quincy."
"Oh, they'll never get it," her nephew said.
"Don't deceive yourself. Newspapers will go to the ends of the earth for _ood murder. I once wrote letters to all the editors in Boston urging them t_rint no more details about homicides. It hadn't the slightest effect—though _id get an acknowledgment of my favor from the Herald."
John Quincy glanced at his watch. "Perhaps I should go down to the station.
Anything in the morning paper?"
"A very hazy interview with Captain Hallet. The police have unearthe_mportant clues, and promise early results. You know—the sort of thing the_lways give out just after a murder."
The boy looked at her keenly. "Ah," he said, "then you read newspaper account_f the kind you tried to suppress?"
"Certainly I do," snapped his aunt. "There's little enough excitement in m_ife. But I gladly gave up my port wine because I felt intoxicants were ba_or the lower classes, and—"
Haku interrupted with the news that John Quincy was wanted on the telephone.
When the boy returned to the lanai there was a brisk air of business abou_im.
"That was Charlie," he announced. "The day's work is about to get under way.
They've located Mr. and Mrs. Brade at the Reef and Palm Hotel, and I'm to mee_harlie there in fifteen minutes."
"The Reef and Palm," repeated Miss Minerva. "You see, it keeps coming back t_gan. I'd wager a set of Browning against a modern novel that he's the man wh_id it."
"You'd lose your Browning, and then where would you be when the lecture seaso_tarted?" laughed John Quincy. "I never knew you to be so stupid before." Hi_ace became serious. "By the way, will you explain to Barbara that I can'_oin her, after all?"
Miss Minerva nodded. "Go along," she said. "I envy you all this. First time i_y life I ever wished I were a man."
John Quincy approached the Reef and Palm by way of the beach. The scene wa_ne of bright serenity. A few languid tourists lolled upon the sand; others, more ambitious, were making picture post-card history out where the sur_egan. A great white steamer puffed blackly into port. Standing in water up t_heir necks, a group of Hawaiian women paused in their search for luncheo_elicacies to enjoy a moment's gossip.
John Quincy passed Arlene Compton's cottage and entered the grounds of th_eef and Palm. On the beach not far from the hotel, an elderly Englishwoma_at on a camp stool with an easel and canvas before her. She was seeking t_apture something of that exotic scene—vainly seeking, for John Quincy, glancing over her shoulder, perceived that her work was terrible. She turne_nd looked at him, a weary look of protest against his intrusion, and he wa_orry she had caught him in the act of smiling at her inept canvas.
Chan had not yet arrived at the hotel, and the clerk informed John Quincy tha_iss Carlota had gone to the city. For that interview with her father, n_oubt. He hoped that the evidence of the check would bring about Egan'_elease. It seemed to him that the man was being held on a rather flims_retext, anyhow.
He sat down on the lanai at the side, where he could see both the path tha_ed in from the street and the restless waters of the Pacific. On the beac_ear by a man in a purple bathing suit reclined dejectedly, and John Quinc_miled in recollection. Mr. Saladine, alone with his tragedy, peering out a_he waters that had robbed him—waiting, no doubt, for the tide to yield up it_oot.
Some fifteen or twenty minutes passed, and then John Quincy heard voices i_he garden. He saw that Hallet and Chan were coming up the walk and went t_eet them at the front door.
"Splendid morning," said Chan. "Nice day to set out on new path leadin_nevitably to important discovery."
John Quincy accompanied them to the desk. The Japanese clerk regarded the_ith sullen unfriendliness; he had not forgotten the events of the day before.
Information had to be dragged from him bit by bit. Yes, there was a Mr. an_rs. Brade stopping there. They arrived last Saturday, on the steamshi_onoma. Mr. Brade was not about at the moment. Mrs. Brade was on the beac_ainting pretty pictures.
"Good," said Hallet, "I'll have a look around their room before I questio_hem. Take us there."
The clerk hesitated. "Boy!" he called. It was only a bluff; the Reef and Pal_ad no bell-boys. Finally, with an air of injured dignity, he led the way dow_ long corridor on the same floor as the office and unlocked the door o_ineteen, the last room on the right. Hallet strode in and went to the window.
"Here—wait a minute," he called to the clerk. He pointed to the elderly woma_ainting on the beach. "That Mrs. Brade?"
"Yes-s," hissed the clerk.
"All right—go along." The clerk went out. "Mr. Winterslip, I'll ask you to si_ere in the window and keep an eye on the lady. If she starts to come in, le_e know." He stared eagerly about the poorly furnished bedroom. "Now, Mr.
Brade, I wonder what you've got?"
John Quincy took the post assigned him, feeling decidedly uncomfortable. Thi_idn't seem quite honorable to him. However, he probably wouldn't be calle_pon to do any searching himself, and if policemen were forced to d_isagreeable things—well, they should have thought of that before they becam_olicemen. Not that either Hallet or Chan appeared to be embarrassed by th_ask before them.
There was a great deal of luggage in the room—English luggage, which i_sually large and impressive. John Quincy noted a trunk, two enormous bags, and a smaller case. All were plastered with labels of the Sonoma, and beneat_ere the worn fragments of earlier labels, telling a broken story of othe_hips and far hotels.
Hallet and Chan were old hands at this game; they went through Brade's trun_apidly and thoroughly, but without finding anything of note. The captai_urned his attention to the small traveling case. With every evidence o_elight he drew forth a packet of letters, and sat down with them at a table.
John Quincy was shocked. Reading other people's mail was, in his eyes, something that simply wasn't done.
It was done by Hallet, however. In a moment the captain spoke. "Seems to hav_een in the British civil service in Calcutta, but he's resigned," h_nnounced to Chan. "Here's a letter from his superior in London referring t_rade's thirty-six years on the job, and saying he's sorry to lose him."
Hallet took up another letter, his face brightened as he read. "Say—this i_ore like it!" He handed the typewritten page to Chan. Chan looked at it, an_is eyes sparkled. "Most interesting," he cried, and turned it over to Joh_uincy.
The boy hesitated. The standards of a lifetime are not easily abandoned. Bu_he others had read it first, so he put aside his scruples. The letter wa_everal months old, and was addressed to Brade in Calcutta.
"DEAR SIR: In reply to your inquiry of the sixth instant, would say that Mr.
Daniel Winterslip is alive and is a resident of this city. His address is 394_alia Road, Waikiki, Honolulu, T.H."
The signature was that of the British consul at Honolulu. John Quincy returne_he epistle to Hallet, who put it in his pocket. At that instant Chan, who ha_een exploring one of the larger bags, emitted a little grunt of satisfaction.
"What is it, Charlie?" Hallet asked.
Chan set out on the table before his chief a small tin box, and removed th_id. It was filled with cigarettes. "Corsican brand," he announced cheerfully.
"Good," said Hallet. "It begins to look as though Mr. Thomas Macan Brade woul_ave a lot to explain."
They continued their researches, while John Quincy sat silent by the window.
Presently Carlota Egan appeared outside. She walked slowly to a chair on th_anai, and sat down. For a moment she stared at the breakers, then she bega_o weep.
John Quincy turned uncomfortably away. It came to him that here in this so- called paradise sorrow was altogether too rampant. The only girls he knew wer_iven to frequent tears, and not without reason.
"If you'll excuse me—" he said. Hallet and Chan, searching avidly, made n_eply, and climbing over the sill, he stepped on to the lanai. The girl looke_p as he approached.
"Oh," she said, "I thought I was alone."
"You'd like to be, perhaps," he answered. "But it might help if you told m_hat has happened. Did you speak to your father about that check?"
She nodded. "Yes, I showed it to him. And what do you think he did? H_natched it out of my hand and tore it into a hundred pieces. He gave me th_ieces to—to throw away. And he said I was never to mention it to a soul."
"I don't understand that," frowned John Quincy.
"Neither do I. He was simply furious—not like himself at all. And when I tol_im you knew about it, he lost his temper again."
"But you can rely on me. I shan't tell any one."
"I know that. But of course father wasn't so sure of you as—as I am. Poo_ad—he's having a horrible time of it. They don't give him a moment'_est—keep after him constantly—trying to make him tell. But all the policeme_n the world couldn't—Oh, poor old dad!"
She was weeping again, and John Quincy felt toward her as he had felt towar_arbara. He wanted to put his arm about her, just by way of comfort and cheer.
But alas, Carlota Maria Egan was not a Winterslip.
"Now, now," he said, "that won't do a bit of good."
She looked at him through her tears. "Won't it? I—I don't know. It seems t_elp a little. But"—she dried her eyes—"I really haven't time for it now. _ust go in and see about lunch."
She rose, and John Quincy walked with her along the balcony. "I wouldn't worr_f I were you," he said. "The police are on an entirely new trail thi_orning."
"Really?" she answered eagerly.
"Yes. There's a man named Brade stopping at your hotel. You know him, _uppose?"
She shook her head. "No, I don't."
"What! Why, he's a guest here."
"He was. But he isn't here now."
"Wait a minute!" John Quincy laid his hand on her arm, and they stopped. "Thi_s interesting. Brade's gone, you say?"
"Yes. I understand from the clerk that Mr. and Mrs. Brade arrived here las_aturday. But early Tuesday morning, before my boat got in, Mr. Brad_isappeared and he hasn't been seen since."
"Mr. Brade gets better all the time," John Quincy said. "Hallet and Chan ar_n his room now, and they've unearthed some rather intriguing facts. You'_etter go in and tell Hallet what you've just told me."
They entered the lobby by a side door. As they did so, a slim young Hawaiia_oy was coming in through the big door at the front. Something in his manne_aught the attention of John Quincy, and he stopped. At that instant a purpl_athing suit slipped by him, and Mr. Saladine also approached the desk.
Carlota Egan went on down the corridor toward room nineteen, but John Quinc_emained in the lobby.
The Hawaiian boy moved rather diffidently toward the clerk. "Excuse me, please," he said. "I come to see Mr. Brade. Mr. Thomas Brade."
"Mr. Brade not here," replied the clerk.
"Then I will wait till he comes."
The clerk frowned. "No good. Mr. Brade not in Honolulu now."
"Not in Honolulu!" The Hawaiian seemed startled by the news.
"Mrs. Brade outside on the beach," continued the clerk.
"Oh, then Mr. Brade returns," said the boy with evident relief. "I cal_gain."
He turned away, moving rapidly now. The clerk addressed Mr. Saladine, who wa_overing near the cigar case. "Yes, sir, please?"
"Thigarettes," said the bereft Mr. Saladine.
The clerk evidently knew the brand desired, and handed over a box.
"Juth put it on my bill," said Saladine. He stood for a moment staring afte_he Hawaiian, who was disappearing through the front door. As he swung roun_is eyes encountered those of John Quincy. He looked quickly away and hurrie_ut.
The two policemen and the girl entered from the corridor. "Well, Mr.
Winterslip," said Hallet, "the bird has flown."
"So I understand," John Quincy answered.
"But we'll find him," continued Hallet. "I'll go over these islands with _rag-net. First of all, I want a talk with his wife." He turned to Carlot_gan. "Get her in here," he ordered. The girl looked at him. "Please," h_dded.
She motioned to the clerk, who went out the door.
"By the way," remarked John Quincy, "someone was just here asking for Brade."
"What's that!" Hallet was interested.
"A young Hawaiian, about twenty, I should say. Tall and slim. If you go to th_oor, you may catch a glimpse of him."
Hallet hurried over and glanced out into the garden. In a second he returned.
"Humph," he said. "I know him. Did he say he'd come again?"
Hallet considered. "I've changed my mind," he announced. "I won't questio_rs. Brade, after all. For the present, I don't want her to know we're lookin_or her husband. I'll trust you to fix that up with your clerk," he added t_he girl. She nodded. "Lucky we left things as we found them in nineteen," h_ent on. "Unless she misses that letter and the cigarettes, which isn'_ikely, we're all right. Now, Miss Egan, we three will go into your father'_ffice there behind the desk, and leave the door open. When Mrs. Brade come_n, I want you to question her about her husband's absence. Get all you ca_ut of her. I'll be listening."
"I understand," the girl said.
Hallet, Chan and John Quincy went into Jim Egan's sanctum. "You found nothin_lse in the room?" the latter inquired of the Chinese man.
Chan shook his head. "Even so, fates are in smiling mood. What we have now ar_lentiful."
"Sh!" warned Hallet.
"Mrs. Brade, a young man was just here inquiring for your husband." It wa_arlota Egan's voice.
"Really?" The accent was unmistakably British.
"He wanted to know where he could find him. We couldn't say."
"No—of course not."
"Your husband has left town, Mrs. Brade?"
"Yes. I fancy he has."
"You know when he will return, perhaps?"
"I really couldn't say. Is the mail in?"
"Not yet. We expect it about one."
"Thank you so much."
"Go to the door," Hallet directed John Quincy.
"She's gone to her room," announced the boy.
The three of them emerged from Egan's office.
"Oh, Captain?" said the girl. "I'm afraid I wasn't very successful."
"That's all right," replied Hallet. "I didn't think you would be." The cler_as again at his post behind the desk. Hallet turned to him. "Look here," h_aid. "I understand some one was here a minute ago asking for Brade. It wa_ick Kaohla, wasn't it?"
"Yes-s," answered the clerk.
"Had he been here before to see Brade?"
"Yes-s. Sunday night. Mr. Brade and him have long talk on the beach."
Hallet nodded grimly. "Come on, Charlie," he said. "We've got our work cut ou_or us. Wherever Brade is, we must find him."
John Quincy stepped forward. "Pardon me, Captain," he remarked. "But if yo_on't mind—just who is Dick Kaohla?"
Hallet hesitated. "Kaohla's father—he's dead now—was a sort of confidentia_ervant to Dan Winterslip. The boy's just plain no good. And oh, yes—he's th_randson of that woman who's over at your place now. Kamaikui—is that he_ame?"