December 05 , 2010

Devil's Cargo


The stake was ten million in gold. Life was cheap for that—but when the Sea-Devil made his desperate play with a gun in his hand and a swarm of cut-throats at his back, he overlooked one small detail— the mad laughter of a fear-crazed man. THE warning bell had rung aboard the R. M. S. Coristan, and the friends of the passengers were flocking ashore. The marine superintendent, standing on the landing stage, with his open watch in his hand, glanced quickly to where the roadway led up into the city’s teeming heart, and stamped his foot impatiently. The gangways were drawn ashore one by one; first the steerage, then the second-class, until only the one reserved for saloon passengers remained. Pilot, captain and officers had taken up their positions on the navigating bridge; the surgeon, having examined every intending passenger, was resting behind a ventilator as he twirled a cigarette; and the purser was hurrying to and fro with a strange air of having undertaken a bigger job than he could handle. “What’s all the waiting for, mister?” asked a tall, portly man, a Frenchman by his accent, of the second officer, who was following the quick glances of the superintendent’s eyes. “Waiting for a passenger?” “Something more important,” said the second officer. “We’re carrying out a lot of specie to the New York banks—on account of the general shortage of cash, I suppose. They reckon it at about two millions, I fancy
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