Page images


it. If you

[ocr errors]

gift, and, for his pleasure, it saw daily use. “Yes, I made up my mind to go to work, To Barbie it was a constant trial, and her once upon a time, and I went. Then I debrother's complacency nettled her more than cided to quit—and I quit." she would have wanted him to know. "It's Barbie's book fell to the floor. "Younothing in the world but a waffle-iron," she what?" ached to remind him. “We had a perfectly “Quit. It was a shabby trick, Barb, dogood one before. Its cost would have

Its cost would have ing what I knew Dad would n't approve bought my ring, and a nice collar for Mother, when he was n't here to forbid it. I knew I and you 'd have had your waffles just the had no business to plan for anything that same. If I don't mind cooking them in the would cut school out, but I was bound to do kitchen, why should you care?"

had fussed at me, Barb, I'd have Morning after morning her disappoint- rebelled good and plenty, but you 've been ment rankled in her heart as she poured bat- so—sort of-patient, and you did n't give a ter with a ringless hand and then turned to fellow a chance to argue himself into thinkher own breakfast of buttered toast. But ing he was right." she fought down the ugly words and smiled "I—I 'm glad, Date," was the subdued determinedly at her brother's pleasure. reply. "I ought to own up that I did n't al"Waffles are good," she conceded, when ways feel patient. called to account, “but I seem to be a little “Jeminy, I know that! You could n'ttired of them.”

that 's why I appreciate it. I 'll make a Dayton sniffed disgustedly, and never once clean breast of the whole thing in my next suspected that disappointment had turned letter to the folks, and then it's me for hard his favorite edible into ashes for his sister. work. I 'll make up this lost time on my

But Barbie's search for patience brought studies—you 'll see if I don't.” its reward. As she fought her fight, the "Oh, Date, I 'm so glad! You don't

! angry thoughts grew calmer and the daily know what a load I 've had on my heart, task less irksome. Slowly Dayton's jubila- thinking of Daddy's disappointment.” tion over the birthday gift grew easier to "Well, here's where it rolls off. Oh, by bear, and into his sister's heart there crept the way, I saw Sue Cole going into Ewing's an appreciation of the pleasure he had meant this afternoon. Said she was after her class to give and the self-denial so expensive a ring. I remembered hearing you speak of purchase had entailed. “It has taught me wanting one, once, so I just went in with her some self-control, at least,” she said to her- and we got two. Here 's yours—like it?' self. "I have n't enjoyed learning it, but Like it? I love it to death! Oh, Date, that does n't affect the value of the lesson. I am so happy-it 's such a dear, dear I needed it and yes, I'm glad it happened beauty! Are you sure you could afford it?as it did.”

Barbie was almost crying in her joy, and her It was the last of August when Barbie be- brother looked at her curiously. gan sorting her books and putting her pos- “Are n't girls some queer?” he asked of sessions in readiness for school, soon to begin. space. “Say, Barb, would you rather have Her brother came in, shutting the door with had the ring for your birthday than the a vigor that shook the house. Barbie looked waffle-iron?" up. "There 's never any uncertainty as to Barbie caught her breath and shivered a whether you close the front door, Date,” she little. Then she looked up and answered told him.

steadily. "It was best just as it was, Date," "I don't like uncertain people," Dayton she told him. "I needed the waffle-iron remarked, disposing himself astride the big then, and I'm going to enjoy the ring now."

' chair. “Make up your mind to do a thing Well, you sure have made good use of the and then do it—if it's only shutting a door. electric contraption," declared the boy. That 's my belief.”

But even Dayton did n't know how good that "So I suspected," laughed Barbie.

use had been.

[ocr errors]



the Smithsonian Museum or any other mu

seum, so there's no use of your asking me. THE BEGINNING

“I had no intention of asking you for anyIt was a bushmaster which started the Quest thing,” returned Professor Ditson, severely. of the Emerald-and only a possible bush- “I had understood that you were a collector master at that. One May evening in Corn- of gems, and I came to place at your disposal wall, Big Jim Donegan, the lumber-king, sat certain information in regard to the finest in the misty moonlight with his slippered emeralds probably now in existence. I too feet on the rail of the veranda of his great am a collector,” he went on abstractedly. house at the top of the hill in which he lived “Humph!" grunted Big Jim. "What do all alone. He was puffing away at a corn- you collect?” he inquired, regarding his cob pipe as placidly as if he did not have visitor shrewdly. more millions than Cornwall had hills- “Bushmasters," responded Professor Ditwhich is saying something, for Cornwall son, simply. has twenty-seven of the latter. Along the "Come again," returned Big Jim, much gravel walk, which wound its way for nearly puzzled, "I don't quite get you. What are half a mile to the entrance of the estate, came bushmasters?" the sound of a dragging footstep. A mo- "The bushmaster," announced Professor ment later, from out of the shadows stepped Ditson, with more animation than he had a man over six feet in height, a little stooped, yet shown, “is the largest, the rarest, and and who wore a shiny frock-coat sur- the deadliest of South American serpents. mounted by a somewhat battered silk hat. It attains a length of over twelve feet and The stranger had a long, clean-shaven, lan- has fangs an inch and a half long. You will tern-jawed face. His nose jutted out like a hardly believe me,” he went on tapping Mr. huge beak, a magnificent, domineering nose, Donegan's knee with a long, bony forefinger, which, however, did not seem in accord with "but there is not a single living specimen in his abstracted blue eyes and his precise voice. captivity at present even in our largest

“What do you want?” snapped Big Jim, cities." bringing his feet to the floor with alarming The lumber-king regarded the scientist suddenness.

with undisguised astonishment. The stranger blinked at him mildly for a “Professor Amandus Ditson,” he moment with a gaze that seemed to be cata- nounced solemnly, "so far as I 'm concerned, loguing the speaker.

there can continue to be a lack of bushmas“This is Mr. James Donegan,” he finally ters not only in our great cities, but everystated.

where else. Snakes of any kind are absoHow do you know?" demanded the lum- lutely nothing in my young life.” ber-king.

“Tut! tut!” responded the professor, re"You have all the characteristics of a mag- provingly. “I think I could convince you nate," returned the other, calmly; "energy, that you are wrong in your unfortunate confidence, bad temper, worse manners,

aversion to reptiles." and"

“No you could n't," returned Big Jim, “Whoa there!" shouted Big Jim, whose positively, "not if you were to lecture all the bark was worse than his bite and who always rest of the year.” respected people who stood up to him. “Well," responded Professor Ditson, “Never mind any more statistics. Who are soothingly, "suppose we discuss your hobby, you!"

which I understand is precious stones.” "My name is Ditson," responded the "Now you 're talking," returned the other, other, sitting down without invitation in the enthusiastically. "I suppose I've about the most comfortable chair in sight. "Professor finest collection of gems in this country, and Amandus Ditson. I am connected with the in some lines, perhaps the best on earth. Smithsonian National Museum."

Take pearls, for instance," he boasted. "Well," returned Mr. Donegan, stiffening, "Why, Professor Ditson, some boys right "I don't intend to subscribe any money to here in Cornwall helped me get the finest



examples of pink and blue pearls that there "I found this ten feet from the shore,” he are in any collection. When it comes to emer- said simply. alds, there are half a dozen collectors who The lumber-king gasped as he studied the beat me out. What 's all this dope you have stones with an expert eye. about them, anyway?"

"Professor Ditson," he admitted at last, “Last year,” replied the other, “I was in "you 're all right and I'm all wrong. That's Peru at a time when they were repairing South American gold. I know it by the one of the oldest cathedrals in that country. color. African gold is the deepest, and A native workman, knowing that I was inter- South American the palest. Those stones ested in rarities of all kinds, brought me an are emeralds,” he went on; “flawed ones, to old manuscript, which turned out to be a be sure, but of the right color. The common map and a dresciption of the celebrated Lake emerald from the Ural Mountains is grassof Eldorado.”

green," lectured Mr. Donegan, fairly started "That 's the name of one of those dream on his hobby. “A few emeralds are grayplaces," interrupted Mr. Donegan, impa- green. Those come from the old mines of tiently. “I've no time to listen to dreams." the Pharaohs along the coast of the Red Sea.

Professor Ditson was much incensed. They are found on mummies and in the

“Sir," he returned austerely, “I deal in ruins of Pompeii and along the beach in facts, not in dreams. I have traveled one front of Alexandria, where treasure-ships thousand miles to see you, but if you can not have been wrecked.” speak more civilly, I shall be compelled to Professor Ditson yawned rudely. terminate this interview and go to some one “Once in a blue moon,” went on the old with better manners and more sense."

collector, earnestly, "a real spring-green “Just what I was going to suggest,” mur- emerald with a velvety luster, like these mured Big Jim, taken aback, but much stones, turns up. We call 'em 'treasure pleased by the professor's independence. emeralds,' " he continued, while Professor

, “So long, however, as you 've beat me to it, Ditson shifted uneasily in his chair. "Most go on. I 'll hear you out anyway."

of them are in Spanish collections, and they Professor Ditson stared at him sternly. are supposed to be part of the loot that Cor

"For nearly four hundred years,” he began tez and Pizarro brought back to Spain when at last, “there have been legends of a sacred they conquered Mexico and Peru. How lake somewhere in Bolivia or Peru. Once a large did these old Peruvian emeralds run?" year, before the Spanish conquest, the chief of he inquired suddenly. the Incas, the dominant race of Peru, covered He had to repeat his question before Prowith gold-dust, would be ferried out to the fessor Ditson, who had been dozing lightly, center of this lake. There he would throw roused himself. into the lake the best emerald that had been “Ah yes, quite so, very interesting, I 'm found in their mines during the year and then sure," responded that scientist, confusedly. leap in himself. At the same time the other ‘As to the size of South American emeralds,' members of the tribe would stand on the he went on, rubbing his eyes, "the Spanish shores with their backs to the lake and throw records show that Pizarro sent several back into the water over their shoulders emeralds to Spain which were as large as a man's fist, and gold ornaments.”

and there is a native tradition that the last “Why?' exclaimed the old collector.

Inca threw into Eldorado an oval emerald as “As an offering to the Spirit of the Lake,” large as the egg of a rhea, the South American returned the professor. “The Spaniards, ostrich." when they heard the story, named the lake Donegan's face flushed with excitement. Eldorado—The Lake of the Golden Man. “Professor Ditson," he said at last, “I've As the centuries went by, the lake has been got to have one of those emeralds. Come lost-until I found it again."

in," he went on, getting up suddenly, "and There was a long pause, which was broken I 'll show you my collection.” at last by the lumber-king.

Professor Ditson sat still. “Have you any proof that this story of "No, Mr. Donegan," he said, "it would be yours is true?” he inquired sarcastically. a waste of time. To me, gems are just a lot

For answer, the scientist fished a dingy of colored crystals.” bag from his pocket and shook out on the The old lumber-king snorted. table a circlet of soft, pale gold in which “I suppose you prefer snakes,” he said gleamed three green stones.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Professor Ditson's face brightened at the course," finished the scientist, generously, word.

“if we catch several bushmasters, I should “There,” he said enthusiastically, "is have no objection to your having one." something worth while. I only wish that I Heaven forbid!" returned the lumberhad you in my snake-room. I could show king. “Professor," he went on with great you live, uncaged specimens that would interest you deeply."

“They sure would," returned Mr. Donegan, shivering slightly.

“Well,” he went on, “every man to his own taste. What 's your idea about this emerald secret? Can we do business together?"

The professor's face assumed an air of what he fondly believed to be great astuteness.

"I would suggest," he said, “that you fit out an expedition to the Amazon basin under my direction, to remain there until I collect one or more perfect specimens of the bushmaster. Then I will guide the party to Eldorado and assist them, as far as I can, to recover the sunken treasure."

He came to a full stop.

“Well," queried the lumber-king, "what else?

The professor looked at him in surprise. "I have nothing else to suggest," he said. "Suppose we get


EMERALD FOUND DURING THE YEAR" be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars-what percentage will emphasis, "I am perfectly willing that you you claim?" persisted Mr. Donegan.

shall have absolutely for your own use and “I thought that I had made it plain," benefit any and all bushmasters, crocodiles, returned the professor, impatiently, "that snakes, toads, tarantulas, and any other I have no interest whatever in emeralds. similar bric-à-brac which you may find in If you will pay the expenses of the expedition South America. Moreover," he continued, and allow me to keep as my own property “I 'll fit out an expedition right here from any specimens of bushmasters obtained, it Cornwall that will do the business for both will be entirely satisfactory to me. Of of us. There 's a good-for-nothin' old trap

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

per an' prospector named Jud Adams in this town who has been all over the north huntin' an' trappin' an' prospectin'. In his younger

' days he was a pearl-diver. Then there 're two young fellows here that went off last year with him for me and brought back the finest blue pearl in the world. I ain't got no manner of doubt but what all three of 'em will jump at the chance to go after emeralds and bushmasters.”

"Bushmasters and emeralds, please,” corrected the professor.

“Just as you say,” responded the lumberking. “Now you come right in and I 'll put you up for the night and we 'll send over at once for the crowd that I have in mind and get this expedition started right away.”

"The sooner the better," responded the professor, heartily. "Any day, some collector may bring back a bushmaster and beat me out with the Smithsonian."

"I feel the same way,” agreed the lumberking. "I want Jim Donegan to have the first crack at those Inca emeralds."

While all this talk about gold and emeralds and bushmasters was going on in Big Jim's big house, over in a little house on the tiptop of Yelpin Hill, Jud Adams, the old trapper, was just sitting down to supper with two of his best friends. One of these was Will Bright, a magnificently built boy of eighteen with copper-colored hair and dark blue eyes, and the other was his chum Joe Couteau, silent, lithe, and swart as his Indian ancestors. Jud himself was not much over five feet tall, with bushy gray hair and beard and steel-sharp eyes. These three, with Fred Perkins, the runner, had won their way to Goreloi, the Island of the Bear, and brought back Jim Donegan's most prized gem, as already chronicled in “The Blue Pearl.” They had learned to care for each other as only those can who have fought together against monsters of the sea, savage beasts, and more savage men. Joe and Will, moreover, had shared other life-and-death adventures together, as told in "Boy Scouts in the Wilderness,” and starting without clothes, food, or fire had lived a month in the heart of the woods, discovered the secret of Wizard Pond, and broken up Scar Dawson's gang of outlaws. Will never forgot that Joe had saved him from the carcajou, nor Joe that it was Will who gave him the first chance of safety when the bloodhounds were hot on their heels through the hidden passage from Wizard Pond. Each one of the four, as his share of the blue pearl and the sea-otter pelt

brought back from Akotan, had received fifteen thousand dollars. Fred had invested his money in his brother's business in Boston, had left Cornwall, and bade fair to settle down into a successful business man. Will and Joe had both set aside from their share enough to take them through Yale. As for Jud, the day after he received his winnings in the game which the four had played against danger and death, he had a short interview with his old friend Mr. Donegan.

“All my life long," began Jud, “I've been makin' money; but so far, I have n't got a cent saved up. I know how to tame most any other kind of wild animal, but money allers gets away from me. They do say, Jim,” went on the old man, “that you've got the knack of keepin' it. Probably you would n't be worth your salt out in the woods, but every man 's got somethin' that he can do better 'n most. So you just take my share of the blue-pearl money an' put it into somethin' safe an' sound that 'll bring me an income. You see, Jim," he went on confidentially, “I ain't so young as I used to be.”

“I should say you ain't!" exclaimed Big Jim, knowing how Jud hated to be called old. “You 're most a hundred now."

“I ain't! I ain't!" howled Jud, indignantly. "I ain't a day over fifty-or thereabouts.'

"Well, well,” said his friend, soothingly, "we won't quarrel over it. I 'll take care of your money and see that you get all that's comin' to you for the two or three years which you 've got left”; and with mutual abuse and affection, the two parted as good friends as ever.

To-night the old trapper and his guests had just finished supper when the telephone rang.

"Jud,” came Mr. Donegan's voice over the wire, "what would you and Bill and Joe think of another expedition-after emeralds this time?"

“We'd think well of it," returned Jud, promptly. “The kids are here at my house now."

"Good work!” exclaimed the lumberking. “All three of you come right over. I 've got a scientist here who 's going to guide you to where the emeralds grow.”

“You got a what?” queried Jud.

A scientist!" shouted Big Jim, “a perfesser. One of those fellows who know all about everything except what's useful."

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »