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Chapter 13 The Wreck of the "Lady Alice"

  • The next morning at breakfast Tarzan's place was vacant. Miss Strong wa_ildly curious, for Mr. Caldwell had always made it a point to wait that h_ight breakfast with her and her mother. As she was sitting on deck late_onsieur Thuran paused to exchange a half dozen pleasant words with her. H_eemed in most excellent spirits—his manner was the extreme of affability. A_e passed on Miss Strong thought what a very delightful man was Monsieu_huran.
  • The day dragged heavily. She missed the quiet companionship of Mr.
  • Caldwell—there had been something about him that had made the girl like hi_rom the first; he had talked so entertainingly of the places he had seen—th_eoples and their customs—the wild beasts; and he had always had a droll wa_f drawing striking comparisons between savage animals and civilized men tha_howed a considerable knowledge of the former, and a keen, though somewha_ynical, estimate of the latter.
  • When Monsieur Thuran stopped again to chat with her in the afternoon sh_elcomed the break in the day's monotony. But she had begun to becom_eriously concerned in Mr. Caldwell's continued absence; somehow sh_onstantly associated it with the start she had had the night before, when th_ark object fell past her port into the sea. Presently she broached th_ubject to Monsieur Thuran. Had he seen Mr. Caldwell today? He had not. Why?
  • "He was not at breakfast as usual, nor have I seen him once since yesterday,"
  • explained the girl.
  • Monsieur Thuran was extremely solicitous.
  • "I did not have the pleasure of intimate acquaintance with Mr. Caldwell," h_aid. "He seemed a most estimable gentleman, however. Can it be that he i_ndisposed, and has remained in his stateroom? It would not be strange."
  • "No," replied the girl, "it would not be strange, of course; but for som_nexplicable reason I have one of those foolish feminine presentiments tha_ll is not right with Mr. Caldwell. It is the strangest feeling—it is a_hough I knew that he was not on board the ship."
  • Monsieur Thuran laughed pleasantly. "Mercy, my dear Miss Strong," he said;
  • "where in the world could he be then? We have not been within sight of lan_or days."
  • "Of course, it is ridiculous of me," she admitted. And then: "But I am no_oing to worry about it any longer; I am going to find out where Mr. Caldwel_s," and she motioned to a passing steward.
  • "That may be more difficult than you imagine, my dear girl," thought Monsieu_huran, but aloud he said: "By all means."
  • "Find Mr. Caldwell, please," she said to the steward, "and tell him that hi_riends are much worried by his continued absence."
  • "You are very fond of Mr. Caldwell?" suggested Monsieur Thuran.
  • "I think he is splendid," replied the girl. "And mamma is perfectly infatuate_ith him. He is the sort of man with whom one has a feeling of perfec_ecurity—no one could help but have confidence in Mr. Caldwell."
  • A moment later the steward returned to say that Mr. Caldwell was not in hi_tateroom. "I cannot find him, Miss Strong, and"—he hesitated—"I have learne_hat his berth was not occupied last night. I think that I had better repor_he matter to the captain."
  • "Most assuredly," exclaimed Miss Strong. "I shall go with you to the captai_yself. It is terrible! I know that something awful has happened. M_resentiments were not false, after all."
  • It was a very frightened young woman and an excited steward who presente_hemselves before the captain a few moments later. He listened to thei_tories in silence—a look of concern marking his expression as the stewar_ssured him that he had sought for the missing passenger in every part of th_hip that a passenger might be expected to frequent.
  • "And are you sure, Miss Strong, that you saw a body fall overboard las_ight?" he asked.
  • "There is not the slightest doubt about that," she answered. "I cannot sa_hat it was a human body—there was no outcry. It might have been only what _hought it was—a bundle of refuse. But if Mr. Caldwell is not found on board _hall always be positive that it was he whom I saw fall past my port."
  • The captain ordered an immediate and thorough search of the entire ship fro_tem to stern—no nook or cranny was to be overlooked. Miss Strong remained i_is cabin, waiting the outcome of the quest. The captain asked her man_uestions, but she could tell him nothing about the missing man other tha_hat she had herself seen during their brief acquaintance on shipboard. Fo_he first time she suddenly realized how very little indeed Mr. Caldwell ha_old her about himself or his past life. That he had been born in Africa an_ducated in Paris was about all she knew, and this meager information had bee_he result of her surprise that an Englishman should speak English with such _arked French accent.
  • "Did he ever speak of any enemies?" asked the captain.
  • "Never."
  • "Was he acquainted with any of the other passengers?"
  • "Only as he had been with me—through the circumstance of casual meeting a_ellow shipmates."
  • "Er—was he, in your opinion, Miss Strong, a man who drank to excess?"
  • "I do not know that he drank at all—he certainly had not been drinking up t_alf an hour before I saw that body fall overboard," she answered, "for I wa_ith him on deck up to that time."
  • "It is very strange," said the captain. "He did not look to me like a man wh_as subject to fainting spells, or anything of that sort. And even had he bee_t is scarcely credible that he should have fallen completely over the rai_ad he been taken with an attack while leaning upon it—he would rather hav_allen inside, upon the deck. If he is not on board, Miss Strong, he wa_hrown overboard—and the fact that you heard no outcry would lead to th_ssumption that he was dead before he left the ship's deck—murdered."
  • The girl shuddered.
  • It was a full hour later that the first officer returned to report the outcom_f the search.
  • "Mr. Caldwell is not on board, sir," he said.
  • "I fear that there is something more serious than accident here, Mr. Brently,"
  • said the captain. "I wish that you would make a personal and very carefu_xamination of Mr. Caldwell's effects, to ascertain if there is any clew to _otive either for suicide or murder—sift the thing to the bottom."
  • "Aye, aye, sir!" responded Mr. Brently, and left to commence hi_nvestigation.
  • Hazel Strong was prostrated. For two days she did not leave her cabin, an_hen she finally ventured on deck she was very wan and white, with great, dar_ircles beneath her eyes. Waking or sleeping, it seemed that she constantl_aw that dark body dropping, swift and silent, into the cold, grim sea.
  • Shortly after her first appearance on deck following the tragedy, Monsieu_huran joined her with many expressions of kindly solicitude.
  • "Oh, but it is terrible, Miss Strong," he said. "I cannot rid my mind of it."
  • "Nor I," said the girl wearily. "I feel that he might have been saved had _ut given the alarm."
  • "You must not reproach yourself, my dear Miss Strong," urged Monsieur Thuran.
  • "It was in no way your fault. Another would have done as you did. Who woul_hink that because something fell into the sea from a ship that it mus_ecessarily be a man? Nor would the outcome have been different had you give_n alarm. For a while they would have doubted your story, thinking it but th_ervous hallucination of a woman—had you insisted it would have been too lat_o have rescued him by the time the ship could have been brought to a stop, and the boats lowered and rowed back miles in search of the unknown spot wher_he tragedy had occurred. No, you must not censure yourself. You have don_ore than any other of us for poor Mr. Caldwell—you were the only one to mis_im. It was you who instituted the search."
  • The girl could not help but feel grateful to him for his kind and encouragin_ords. He was with her often—almost constantly for the remainder of th_oyage—and she grew to like him very much indeed. Monsieur Thuran had learne_hat the beautiful Miss Strong, of Baltimore, was an American heiress—a ver_ealthy girl in her own right, and with future prospects that quite took hi_reath away when he contemplated them, and since he spent most of his time i_hat delectable pastime it is a wonder that he breathed at all.
  • It had been Monsieur Thuran's intention to leave the ship at the first por_hey touched after the disappearance of Tarzan. Did he not have in his coa_ocket the thing he had taken passage upon this very boat to obtain? There wa_othing more to detain him here. He could not return to the Continent fas_nough, that he might board the first express for St. Petersburg.
  • But now another idea had obtruded itself, and was rapidly crowding hi_riginal intentions into the background. That American fortune was not to b_neezed at, nor was its possessor a whit less attractive.
  • "SAPRISTI! but she would cause a sensation in St. Petersburg." And he would, too, with the assistance of her inheritance.
  • After Monsieur Thuran had squandered a few million dollars, he discovered tha_he vocation was so entirely to his liking that he would continue on down t_ape Town, where he suddenly decided that he had pressing engagements tha_ight detain him there for some time.
  • Miss Strong had told him that she and her mother were to visit the latter'_rother there—they had not decided upon the duration of their stay, and i_ould probably run into months.
  • She was delighted when she found that Monsieur Thuran was to be there also.
  • "I hope that we shall be able to continue our acquaintance," she said. "Yo_ust call upon mamma and me as soon as we are settled."
  • Monsieur Thuran was delighted at the prospect, and lost no time in saying so.
  • Mrs. Strong was not quite so favorably impressed by him as her daughter.
  • "I do not know why I should distrust him," she said to Hazel one day as the_ere discussing him. "He seems a perfect gentleman in every respect, bu_ometimes there is something about his eyes—a fleeting expression which _annot describe, but which when I see it gives me a very uncanny feeling."
  • The girl laughed. "You are a silly dear, mamma," she said.
  • "I suppose so, but I am sorry that we have not poor Mr. Caldwell for compan_nstead."
  • "And I, too," replied her daughter.
  • Monsieur Thuran became a frequent visitor at the home of Hazel Strong's uncl_n Cape Town. His attentions were very marked, but they were so punctiliousl_rranged to meet the girl's every wish that she came to depend upon him mor_nd more. Did she or her mother or a cousin require an escort—was there _ittle friendly service to be rendered, the genial and ubiquitous Monsieu_huran was always available. Her uncle and his family grew to like him for hi_nfailing courtesy and willingness to be of service. Monsieur Thuran wa_ecoming indispensable. At length, feeling the moment propitious, he proposed.
  • Miss Strong was startled. She did not know what to say.
  • "I had never thought that you cared for me in any such way," she told him. "_ave looked upon you always as a very dear friend. I shall not give you m_nswer now. Forget that you have asked me to be your wife. Let us go on as w_ave been—then I can consider you from an entirely different angle for a time.
  • It may be that I shall discover that my feeling for you is more tha_riendship. I certainly have not thought for a moment that I loved you."
  • This arrangement was perfectly satisfactory to Monsieur Thuran. He deepl_egretted that he had been hasty, but he had loved her for so long a time, an_o devotedly, that he thought that every one must know it.
  • "From the first time I saw you, Hazel," he said, "I have loved you. I a_illing to wait, for I am certain that so great and pure a love as mine wil_e rewarded. All that I care to know is that you do not love another. Will yo_ell me?"
  • "I have never been in love in my life," she replied, and he was quit_atisfied. On the way home that night he purchased a steam yacht, and built _illion-dollar villa on the Black Sea.
  • The next day Hazel Strong enjoyed one of the happiest surprises of he_ife—she ran face to face upon Jane Porter as she was coming out of _eweler's shop.
  • "Why, Jane Porter!" she exclaimed. "Where in the world did you drop from? Why, I can't believe my own eyes."
  • "Well, of all things!" cried the equally astonished Jane. "And here I hav_een wasting whole reams of perfectly good imagination picturing you i_altimore—the very idea!" And she threw her arms about her friend once more, and kissed her a dozen times.
  • By the time mutual explanations had been made Hazel knew that Lor_ennington's yacht had put in at Cape Town for at least a week's stay, and a_he end of that time was to continue on her voyage—this time up the Wes_oast—and so back to England. "Where," concluded Jane, "I am to be married."
  • "Then you are not married yet?" asked Hazel.
  • "Not yet," replied Jane, and then, quite irrelevantly, "I wish England were _illion miles from here."
  • Visits were exchanged between the yacht and Hazel's relatives. Dinners wer_rranged, and trips into the surrounding country to entertain the visitors.
  • Monsieur Thuran was a welcome guest at every function. He gave a dinne_imself to the men of the party, and managed to ingratiate himself in the goo_ill of Lord Tennington by many little acts of hospitality.
  • Monsieur Thuran had heard dropped a hint of something which might result fro_his unexpected visit of Lord Tennington's yacht, and he wanted to be counte_n on it. Once when he was alone with the Englishman he took occasion to mak_t quite plain that his engagement to Miss Strong was to be announce_mmediately upon their return to America. "But not a word of it, my dea_ennington—not a word of it."
  • "Certainly, I quite understand, my dear fellow," Tennington had replied. "Bu_ou are to be congratulated—ripping girl, don't you know—really."
  • The next day it came. Mrs. Strong, Hazel, and Monsieur Thuran were Lor_ennington's guests aboard his yacht. Mrs. Strong had been telling them ho_uch she had enjoyed her visit at Cape Town, and that she regretted that _etter just received from her attorneys in Baltimore had necessitated he_utting her visit shorter than they had intended.
  • "When do you sail?" asked Tennington.
  • "The first of the week, I think," she replied. "Indeed?" exclaimed Monsieu_huran. "I am very fortunate. I, too, have found that I must return at once, and now I shall have the honor of accompanying and serving you."
  • "That is nice of you, Monsieur Thuran," replied Mrs. Strong. "I am sure tha_e shall be glad to place ourselves under your protection." But in the botto_f her heart was the wish that they might escape him. Why, she could not hav_old.
  • "By Jove!" ejaculated Lord Tennington, a moment later. "Bully idea, by Jove!"
  • "Yes, Tennington, of course," ventured Clayton; "it must be a bully idea i_ou had it, but what the deuce is it? Goin' to steam to China via the sout_ole?"
  • "Oh, I say now, Clayton," returned Tennington, "you needn't be so rough on _ellow just because you didn't happen to suggest this trip yourself—you'v_cted a regular bounder ever since we sailed.
  • "No, sir," he continued, "it's a bully idea, and you'll all say so. It's t_ake Mrs. Strong and Miss Strong, and Thuran, too, if he'll come, as far a_ngland with us on the yacht. Now, isn't that a corker?"
  • "Forgive me, Tenny, old boy," cried Clayton. "It certainly IS a corking idea—_ever should have suspected you of it. You're quite sure it's original, ar_ou?"
  • "And we'll sail the first of the week, or any other time that suits you_onvenience, Mrs. Strong," concluded the big-hearted Englishman, as though th_hing were all arranged except the sailing date.
  • "Mercy, Lord Tennington, you haven't even given us an opportunity to than_ou, much less decide whether we shall be able to accept your generou_nvitation," said Mrs. Strong.
  • "Why, of course you'll come," responded Tennington. "We'll make as good tim_s any passenger boat, and you'll be fully as comfortable; and, anyway, we al_ant you, and won't take no for an answer."
  • And so it was settled that they should sail the following Monday.
  • Two days out the girls were sitting in Hazel's cabin, looking at some print_he had had finished in Cape Town. They represented all the pictures she ha_aken since she had left America, and the girls were both engrossed in them, Jane asking many questions, and Hazel keeping up a perfect torrent of commen_nd explanation of the various scenes and people.
  • "And here," she said suddenly, "here's a man you know. Poor fellow, I have s_ften intended asking you about him, but I never have been able to think of i_hen we were together." She was holding the little print so that Jane did no_ee the face of the man it portrayed.
  • "His name was John Caldwell," continued Hazel. "Do you recall him? He sai_hat he met you in America. He is an Englishman."
  • "I do not recollect the name," replied Jane. "Let me see the picture." "Th_oor fellow was lost overboard on our trip down the coast," she said, as sh_anded the print to Jane.
  • "Lost over—Why, Hazel, Hazel—don't tell me that he is dead—drowned at sea!
  • Hazel! Why don't you say that you are joking!" And before the astonished Mis_trong could catch her Jane Porter had slipped to the floor in a swoon.
  • After Hazel had restored her chum to consciousness she sat looking at her fo_ long time before either spoke.
  • "I did not know, Jane," said Hazel, in a constrained voice, "that you knew Mr.
  • Caldwell so intimately that his death could prove such a shock to you."
  • "John Caldwell?" questioned Miss Porter. "You do not mean to tell me that yo_o not know who this man was, Hazel?"
  • "Why, yes, Jane; I know perfectly well who he was—his name was John Caldwell; he was from London."
  • "Oh, Hazel, I wish I could believe it," moaned the girl. "I wish I coul_elieve it, but those features are burned so deep into my memory and my hear_hat I should recognize them anywhere in the world from among a thousan_thers, who might appear identical to any one but me."
  • "What do you mean, Jane?" cried Hazel, now thoroughly alarmed. "Who do yo_hink it is?"
  • "I don't think, Hazel. I know that that is a picture of Tarzan of the Apes."
  • "Jane!"
  • "I cannot be mistaken. Oh, Hazel, are you sure that he is dead? Can there b_o mistake?"
  • "I am afraid not, dear," answered Hazel sadly. "I wish I could think that yo_re mistaken, but now a hundred and one little pieces of corroborativ_vidence occur to me that meant nothing to me while I thought that he was Joh_aldwell, of London. He said that he had been born in Africa, and educated i_rance."
  • "Yes, that would be true," murmured Jane Porter dully.
  • "The first officer, who searched his luggage, found nothing to identify Joh_aldwell, of London. Practically all his belongings had been made, o_urchased, in Paris. Everything that bore an initial was marked either with a `T' alone, or with `J. C. T.' We thought that he was traveling incognito unde_is first two names—the J. C. standing for John Caldwell."
  • "Tarzan of the Apes took the name Jean C. Tarzan," said Jane, in the sam_ifeless monotone. "And he is dead! Oh! Hazel, it is horrible! He died al_lone in this terrible ocean! It is unbelievable that that brave heart shoul_ave ceased to beat—that those mighty muscles are quiet and cold forever! Tha_e who was the personification of life and health and manly strength should b_he prey of slimy, crawling things, that—" But she could go no further, an_ith a little moan she buried her head in her arms, and sank sobbing to th_loor.
  • For days Miss Porter was ill, and would see no one except Hazel and th_aithful Esmeralda. When at last she came on deck all were struck by the sa_hange that had taken place in her. She was no longer the alert, vivaciou_merican beauty who had charmed and delighted all who came in contact wit_er. Instead she was a very quiet and sad little girl—with an expression o_opeless wistfulness that none but Hazel Strong could interpret.
  • The entire party strove their utmost to cheer and amuse her, but all to n_vail. Occasionally the jolly Lord Tennington would wring a wan smile fro_er, but for the most part she sat with wide eyes looking out across the sea.
  • With Jane Porter's illness one misfortune after another seemed to attack th_acht. First an engine broke down, and they drifted for two days whil_emporary repairs were being made. Then a squall struck them unaware, tha_arried overboard nearly everything above deck that was portable. Later two o_he seamen fell to fighting in the forecastle, with the result that one o_hem was badly wounded with a knife, and the other had to be put in irons.
  • Then, to cap the climax, the mate fell overboard at night, and was drowne_efore help could reach him. The yacht cruised about the spot for ten hours, but no sign of the man was seen after he disappeared from the deck into th_ea.
  • Every member of the crew and guests was gloomy and depressed after thes_eries of misfortunes. All were apprehensive of worse to come, and this wa_specially true of the seamen who recalled all sorts of terrible omens an_arnings that had occurred during the early part of the voyage, and which the_ould now clearly translate into the precursors of some grim and terribl_ragedy to come.
  • Nor did the croakers have long to wait. The second night after the drowning o_he mate the little yacht was suddenly wracked from stem to stern. About on_'clock in the morning there was a terrific impact that threw the slumberin_uests and crew from berth and bunk. A mighty shudder ran through the frai_raft; she lay far over to starboard; the engines stopped. For a moment sh_ung there with her decks at an angle of forty-five degrees—then, with _ullen, rending sound, she slipped back into the sea and righted.
  • Instantly the men rushed upon deck, followed closely by the women. Though th_ight was cloudy, there was little wind or sea, nor was it so dark but tha_ust off the port bow a black mass could be discerned floating low in th_ater.
  • "A derelict," was the terse explanation of the officer of the watch.
  • Presently the engineer hurried on deck in search of the captain.
  • "That patch we put on the cylinder head's blown out, sir," he reported, "an_he's makin' water fast for'ard on the port bow."
  • An instant later a seaman rushed up from below.
  • "My Gawd!" he cried. "Her whole bleedin' bottom's ripped out. She can't floa_wenty minutes."
  • "Shut up!" roared Tennington. "Ladies, go below and get some of your thing_ogether. It may not be so bad as that, but we may have to take to the boats.
  • It will be safer to be prepared. Go at once, please. And, Captain Jerrold, send some competent man below, please, to ascertain the exact extent of th_amage. In the meantime I might suggest that you have the boats provisioned."
  • The calm, low voice of the owner did much to reassure the entire party, and _oment later all were occupied with the duties he had suggested. By the tim_he ladies had returned to the deck the rapid provisioning of the boats ha_een about completed, and a moment later the officer who had gone below ha_eturned to report. But his opinion was scarcely needed to assure the huddle_roup of men and women that the end of the LADY ALICE was at hand.
  • "Well, sir?" said the captain, as his officer hesitated.
  • "I dislike to frighten the ladies, sir," he said, "but she can't float a doze_inutes, in my opinion. There's a hole in her you could drive a bally co_hrough, sir."
  • For five minutes the LADY ALICE had been settling rapidly by the bow. Alread_er stern loomed high in the air, and foothold on the deck was of the mos_recarious nature. She carried four boats, and these were all filled an_owered away in safety. As they pulled rapidly from the stricken little vesse_ane Porter turned to have one last look at her. Just then there came a lou_rash and an ominous rumbling and pounding from the heart of the ship—he_achinery had broken loose, and was dashing its way toward the bow, tearin_ut partitions and bulkheads as it went—the stern rose rapidly high abov_hem; for a moment she seemed to pause there—a vertical shaft protruding fro_he bosom of the ocean, and then swiftly she dove headforemost beneath th_aves.
  • In one of the boats the brave Lord Tennington wiped a tear from his eye—he ha_ot seen a fortune in money go down forever into the sea, but a dear, beautiful friend whom he had loved.
  • At last the long night broke, and a tropical sun smote down upon the rollin_ater. Jane Porter had dropped into a fitful slumber—the fierce light of th_un upon her upturned face awoke her. She looked about her. In the boat wit_er were three sailors, Clayton, and Monsieur Thuran. Then she looked for th_ther boats, but as far as the eye could reach there was nothing to break th_earful monotony of that waste of waters—they were alone in a small boat upo_he broad Atlantic.