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Chapter 8 Steamer Day

  • Out in the harbor, by the channel entrance, the PRESIDENT TYLER stoo_otionless as Diamond Head, and from his post near the rail outside hi_tateroom, John Quincy Winterslip took his first look at Honolulu. He had n_eeling of having been here before; this was an alien land. Several miles awa_e saw the line of piers and unlovely warehouses that marked the water-front; beyond that lay a vast expanse of brilliant green pierced here and there b_he top of a modest skyscraper. Back of the city a range of mountains stood o_uard, peaks of crystal blue against the azure sky.
  • A trim little launch from Quarantine chugged importantly up to the big liner'_ide, and a doctor in a khaki uniform ran briskly up the accommodation ladde_o the deck not far from where the boy stood. John Quincy wondered at th_an's vitality. He felt like a spent force himself. The air was moist an_eavy, the breeze the ship had stirred in moving gone for ever. The flood o_nergy that had swept over him in San Francisco was but a happy memory now. H_eaned wearily on the rail, staring at the bright tropical landscape befor_im—and not seeing it at all.
  • He saw instead a quiet, well-furnished Boston office where at this very momen_he typewriters were clicking amiably and the stock ticker was busily writin_he story of another day. In a few hours—there was a considerable differenc_f time—the market would close and the men he knew would be piling int_utomobiles and heading for the nearest country club. A round of golf, then _alm, perfectly served dinner, and after that a quiet evening with a book.
  • Life running along as it was meant to go, without rude interruption o_isturbing incident; life devoid of ohia wood boxes, attic encounters, unwillingly-witnessed love scenes, cousins with blackbirding pasts. Suddenl_ohn Quincy remembered, this was the morning when he must look Dan Wintersli_n the eye and tell him he had been a bit dilatory with his fists. Oh, well—h_traightened resolutely—the sooner that was done, the better.
  • Harry Jennison came along the deck, smiling and vigorous, clad in spotles_hite from head to foot. "Here we are," he cried. "On the threshold o_aradise!"
  • "Think so?" said John Quincy.
  • "Know it," Jennison answered. "Only place in the world, these islands. Yo_emember what Mark Twain said—"
  • "Ever visited Boston?" John Quincy cut in.
  • "Once," replied Jennison briefly. "That's Punch Bowl Hill back of the town—an_antalus beyond. Take you up to the summit some day—wonderful view. See tha_allest building? The Van Patten Trust Company—my office is on the top floor.
  • Only drawback about getting home—I'll have to go to work again."
  • "I don't see how any one can work in this climate," John Quincy said.
  • "Oh, well, we take it easy. Can't manage the pace of you mainland people.
  • Every now and then some go-getter from the States comes out here and tries t_ustle us." He laughed. "He dies of disgust and we bury him in a leisurel_ay. Been down to breakfast?"
  • John Quincy accompanied him to the dining saloon. Madame Maynard and Barbar_ere at the table. The old lady's cheeks were flushed and her eyes sparkled; Barbara, too, was in her gayest mood. The excitement of coming home had mad_er very happy—or was her happiness all due to that? John Quincy noted he_mile of greeting for Jennison, and rather wished he knew less than he did.
  • "Prepare for a thrill, John Quincy," the girl said. "Landing in Hawaii is lik_anding nowhere else on the globe. Of course, this is a through boat, and i_sn't welcomed as the Matson liners are. But there'll be a crowd waiting fo_he Matsonia this morning, and we'll steal a little of her aloha."
  • "A little of her what?" inquired John Quincy.
  • "Aloha—meaning loving welcome. You shall have all my leis, John Quincy. Jus_o show you how glad Honolulu is you've come at last."
  • The boy turned to Madame Maynard. "I suppose this is an old story to you?"
  • "Bless you, my boy," she said. "It's always new. A hundred and twenty-eigh_imes—yet I'm as thrilled as though I were coming home from college." Sh_ighed. "A hundred and twenty-eight times. So many of those who once hung lei_bout my neck are gone for ever now. They'll not be waiting for me—not on thi_ock."
  • "None of that," Barbara chided. "Only happy thoughts this morning. It'_teamer day."
  • Nobody seemed hungry, and breakfast was a sketchy affair. John Quincy returne_o his cabin to find Bowker strapping up his luggage.
  • "I guess you're all ready, sir," said the steward. "I finished that book las_ight, and you'll find it in your suit-case. We'll be moving on to the doc_hortly. All good luck to you—and don't forget about the okolehau."
  • "It's graven on my memory," smiled John Quincy. "Here—this is for you."
  • Bowker glanced at the bank-note and pocketed it. "You're mighty kind, sir," h_emarked feelingly. "That will sort of balance up the dollar each I'll ge_rom those two missionaries when we reach China—if I'm lucky. Of course, it'_ather distasteful to me to accept anything. From a friend of Tim's, yo_now."
  • "Oh, that's for value received," said John Quincy, and followed Bowker o_eck.
  • "There she is," announced Bowker, pausing by the rail. "Honolulu. The Sout_eas with a collar on, driving a Ford car. Polynesia with a private still an_ll the other benefits of the white man's civilization. We'll go out at eigh_o-night, thank heaven."
  • "Paradise doesn't appeal to you," suggested John Quincy.
  • "No. Nor any other of these bright-colored lands my poor old feet must tread.
  • I'm getting fed up, sir." He came closer. "I want to hang my hat somewhere an_eave it there. I want to buy a little newspaper in some country town an_tarve to death on the proceeds of running it. What a happy finish! Well, maybe I can manage it, before long."
  • "I hope so," said John Quincy.
  • "I hope so, too," said Bowker. "Here's wishing you a happy time in Honolulu.
  • And one other word of warning—don't linger there."
  • "I don't intend to," John Quincy assured him.
  • "That's the talk. It's one of those places—you know—dangerous. Lotus on th_enu every day. The first thing you know, you've forgot where you put you_runk. So long, sir."
  • With a wave of the hand, Tim's friend disappeared down the deck. Amid muc_onfusion, John Quincy took his place in line for the doctor's inspection, passed the careful scrutiny of an immigration official who finally admitte_hat maybe Boston was in the Union, and was then left to his own devices an_is long, long thoughts.
  • The PRESIDENT TYLER was moving slowly toward the shore. Excited figure_curried about her decks, pausing now and then to stare through lifted glasse_t the land. John Quincy perceived that early though the hour was, the pie_oward which they were heading was alive with people. Barbara came and stoo_y his side.
  • "Poor old dad," she said, "he's been struggling along without me for nin_onths. This will be a big morning in his life. You'll like dad, John Quincy."
  • "I'm sure I shall," he answered heartily.
  • "Dad's one of the finest—" Jennison joined them. "Harry, I meant to tell th_teward to take my luggage ashore when we land."
  • "I told him," Jennison said. "I tipped him, too."
  • "Thanks," the girl replied. "I was so excited, I forgot."
  • She leaned eagerly over the rail, peering at the dock. Her eyes were shining.
  • "I don't see him yet," she said. They were near enough now to hear the voice_f those ashore, gay voices calling flippant greetings. The big ship edge_ingerly closer.
  • "There's Aunt Minerva," cried John Quincy suddenly. That little touch of hom_n the throng was very pleasant. "Is that your father with her?" He indicate_ tall anemic man at Minerva's side.
  • "I don't see—where—" Barbara began. "Oh—that—why, that's Uncle Amos!"
  • "Oh, is that Amos?" remarked John Quincy, without interest. But Barbara ha_ripped his arm, and as he turned he saw a wild alarm in her eyes.
  • "What do you suppose that means?" she cried. "I don't see dad. I don't see hi_nywhere."
  • "Oh, he's in that crowd somewhere—"
  • "No, no—you don't understand! Uncle Amos! I'm—I'm frightened."
  • John Quincy didn't gather what it was all about, and there was no time to fin_ut. Jennison was pushing ahead through the crowd, making a path for Barbara, and the boy meekly brought up the rear. They were among the first down th_lank. Miss Minerva and Amos were waiting at the foot.
  • "My dear." Miss Minerva put her arms about the girl and kissed her gently. Sh_urned to John Quincy. "Well, here you are—"
  • There was something lacking in this welcome. John Quincy sensed it at once.
  • "Where's dad?" Barbara cried.
  • "I'll explain in the car—" Miss Minerva began.
  • "No, now! Now! I must know now!"
  • The crowd was surging about them, calling happy greetings, the Royal Hawaiia_and was playing a gay tune, carnival was in the air.
  • "Your father is dead, my dear," said Miss Minerva.
  • John Quincy saw the girl's slim figure sway gently, but it was Harr_ennison's strong arm that caught her.
  • For a moment she stood, with Jennison's arm about her. "All right," she said.
  • "I'm ready to go home." And walked like a true Winterslip toward the street.
  • Amos melted away into the crowd, but Jennison accompanied them to the car.
  • "I'll go out with you," he said to Barbara. She did not seem to hear. The fou_f them entered the limousine, and in another moment the happy clamor o_teamer day was left behind.
  • No one spoke. The curtains of the car were drawn, but a warm streak o_unlight fell across John Quincy's knees. He was a little dazed. Shocking, this news about Cousin Dan. Must have died suddenly—but no doubt that was ho_hings always happened out this way. He glanced at the white stricken face o_he girl beside him, and because of her his heart was heavy.
  • She laid her cold hand on his. "It's not the welcome I promised you, Joh_uincy," she said softly.
  • "Why, my dear girl, I don't matter now."
  • No other word was spoken on the journey, and when they reached Dan's house, Barbara and Miss Minerva went immediately up-stairs. Jennison disappeare_hrough a doorway at the left; evidently he knew his way about. Hak_olunteered to show John Quincy his quarters, so he followed Haku to th_econd floor.
  • When his bags were unpacked, John Quincy went down-stairs again. Miss Minerv_as waiting for him in the living-room. From beyond the bamboo curtain leadin_o the lanai came the sound of men's voices, mumbling and indistinct.
  • "Well," said John Quincy, "how have you been?"
  • "Never better," his aunt assured him.
  • "Mother's been rather worried about you. She'd begun to think you were neve_oming home."
  • "I've begun to think it myself," Miss Minerva replied.
  • He stared at her. "Some of those bonds you left with me have matured. _aven't known just what you wanted me to do about them."
  • "What," inquired Miss Minerva, "is a bond?"
  • That sort of wild reckless talk never did make a hit with John Quincy. "It'_bout time somebody came out here and brought you to your senses," h_emarked.
  • "Think so?" said his aunt.
  • A sound up-stairs recalled John Quincy to the situation. "This was rathe_udden—Cousin Dan's death?" he inquired.
  • "Amazingly so."
  • "Well, it seems to me that it would be rather an intrusion—our staying on her_ow. We ought to go home in a few days. I'd better see about reservations—"
  • "You needn't trouble," snapped Miss Minerva. "I'll not stir from here until _ee the person who did this brought to justice."
  • "The person who did what?" asked John Quincy.
  • "The person who murdered Cousin Dan," said Miss Minerva.
  • John Quincy's jaw dropped. His face registered a wide variety of emotions.
  • "Good lord!" he gasped.
  • "Oh, you needn't be so shocked," said his aunt. "The Winterslip family wil_till go on."
  • "Well, I'm not surprised," remarked John Quincy, "when I stop to think. Th_hings I've learned about Cousin Dan. It's a wonder to me—"
  • "That will do," said Miss Minerva. "You're talking like Amos, and that's n_ompliment. You didn't know Dan. I did—and I liked him. I'm going to stay her_nd do all I can to help run down the murderer. And so are you."
  • "Pardon me. I am not."
  • "Don't contradict. I intend you shall take an active part in th_nvestigation. The police are rather informal in a small place like this.
  • They'll welcome your help."
  • "My help! I'm no detective. What's happened to you, anyhow? Why should yo_ant me to go round hobnobbing with policemen—"
  • "For the simple reason that if we're not careful some rather unpleasan_candal may come out of this. If you're on the ground you may be able to aver_eedless publicity. For Barbara's sake."
  • "No, thank you," said John Quincy. "I'm leaving for Boston in three days, an_o are you. Pack your trunks."
  • Miss Minerva laughed. "I've heard your father talk like that," she told him.
  • "But I never knew him to gain anything by it in the end. Come out on the lana_nd I'll introduce you to a few policemen."
  • John Quincy received this invitation with the contemptuous silence he though_t deserved. But while he was lavishing on it his best contempt, the bambo_urtain parted and the policemen came to him. Jennison was with them.
  • "Good morning, Captain Hallet," said Miss Minerva brightly. "May I present m_ephew, Mr. John Quincy Winterslip of Boston."
  • "I'm very anxious to meet Mr. John Quincy Winterslip," the captain replied.
  • "How do you do," said John Quincy. His heart sank. They'd drag him into thi_ffair if they could.
  • "And this, John Quincy," went on Miss Minerva, "is Mr. Charles Chan, of th_onolulu detective force."
  • John Quincy had thought himself prepared for anything, but—"Mr.—Mr. Chan," h_asped.
  • "Mere words," said Chan, "can not express my unlimitable delight in meeting _epresentative of the ancient civilization of Boston."
  • Harry Jennison spoke. "This is an appalling business, Miss Winterslip," h_aid. "As perhaps you know, I was your cousin's lawyer. I was also his friend.
  • Therefore I hope you won't think I am intruding if I show a keen interest i_hat is going forward here."
  • "Not at all," Miss Minerva assured him. "We shall need all the help we ca_et."
  • Captain Hallet had taken a paper from his pocket. He faced John Quincy.
  • "Young man," he began, "I said I wanted to meet you. Last night Mis_interslip told me of a cablegram received by the dead man about a week ago, which she said angered him greatly. I happen to have a copy of that message, turned over to me by the cable people. I'll read it to you:
  • "JOHN QUINCY SAILING ON PRESIDENT TYLER STOP OWING TO UNFORTUNATE ACCIDENT H_EAVES HERE WITH EMPTY HANDS. SIGNED ROGER WINTERSLIP."
  • "Yes?" said John Quincy haughtily.
  • "Explain that, if you will."
  • John Quincy stiffened. "The matter was strictly private," he said. "A famil_ffair."
  • Captain Hallet glared at him. "You're mistaken," he replied. "Nothing tha_oncerns Mr. Dan Winterslip is private now. Tell me what that cable meant, an_e quick about it. I'm busy this morning."
  • John Quincy glared back. The man didn't seem to realize to whom he wa_alking. "I've already said—" he began.
  • "John Quincy," snapped Miss Minerva. "Do as you're told!"
  • Oh, well, if she wanted family secrets aired in public! Reluctantly Joh_uincy explained about Dan Winterslip's letter, and the misadventure in th_ttic of Dan's San Francisco house.
  • "An ohia wood box bound with copper," repeated the captain. "Initials on it, T.M.B. Got that, Charlie?"
  • "It is written in the book," said Chan.
  • "Any idea what was in that box?" asked Hallet.
  • "Not the slightest," John Quincy told him.
  • Hallet turned to Miss Minerva. "You knew nothing about this?" She assured hi_he did not. "Well," he continued, "one thing more and we'll go along. We'v_een making a thorough search of the premises by daylight—without muc_uccess, I'm sorry to say. However, by the cement walk just outside tha_oor"—he pointed to the screen door leading from the living-room into th_arden—"Charlie made a discovery."
  • Chan stepped forward, holding a small white object in the palm of his hand.
  • "One-half cigarette, incompletely consumed," he announced. "Very recent, no_eather stained. It are of the brand denominated Corsican, assembled in Londo_nd smoked habitually by Englishmen."
  • Hallet again addressed Miss Minerva. "Did Dan Winterslip smoke cigarettes?"
  • "He did not," she replied. "Cigars and a pipe, but never cigarettes."
  • "You were the only other person living here."
  • "I haven't acquired the cigarette habit," snapped Miss Minerva. "Thoug_ndoubtedly it's not too late yet."
  • "The servants, perhaps?" went on Hallet.
  • "Some of the servants may smoke cigarettes, but hardly of this quality. I tak_t these are not on sale in Honolulu?"
  • "They're not," said the captain. "But Charlie tells me they're put up in air- tight tins and shipped to Englishmen the world over. Well, stow that away, Charlie." The Chinese man tenderly placed the half cigarette, incompletel_onsumed, in his pocketbook. "I'm going on down the beach now to have a littl_alk with Mr. Jim Egan," the captain added.
  • "I'll go with you," Jennison offered. "I may be able to supply a link or tw_here."
  • "Sure, come along," Hallet replied cordially.
  • "Captain Hallet," put in Miss Minerva, "it is my wish that some member of th_amily keep in touch with what you are doing, in order that we may give yo_ll the aid we can. My nephew would like to accompany you—"
  • "Pardon me," said John Quincy coldly, "you're quite wrong. I have no intentio_f joining the police force."
  • "Well, just as you say," remarked Hallet. He turned to Miss Minerva. "I'_elying on you, at any rate. You've got a good mind. Anybody can see that."
  • "Thank you," she said.
  • "As good as a man's," he added.
  • "Oh, now you've spoiled it. Good morning."
  • The three men went through the screen door into the bright sunshine of th_arden. John Quincy was aware that he was not in high favor with his aunt.
  • "I'll go up and change," he said uncomfortably. "We'll talk things ove_ater—"
  • He went into the hall. At the foot of the stairs he paused.
  • From above came a low, heart-breaking moan of anguish. Barbara. Poor Barbara, who had been so happy less than an hour ago.
  • John Quincy felt his head go hot, the blood pound in his temples. How dare an_ne strike down a Winterslip! How dare any one inflict this grief on hi_ousin Barbara! He clenched his fists and stood for a moment, feeling that he, too, could kill.
  • Action—he must have action! He rushed through the living-room, past th_stonished Miss Minerva. In the drive stood a car, the three men were alread_n it.
  • "Wait a minute," called John Quincy. "I'm going with you."
  • "Hop in," said Captain Hallet.
  • The car rolled down the drive and out on to the hot asphalt of Kalia Road.
  • John Quincy sat erect, his eyes flashing, by the side of a huge grinnin_hinese man.