MONEY, like youth, will not be denied, and Francis Morgan, who
was the man-legal and nature-certain representative of both youth
and money, found himself one afternoon, three weeks after he had
said good-bye to Regan, becalmed close under the land on board his
schooner, the Angelique. The water was glassy, the smooth roll
scarcely perceptible, and, in sheer ennui and overplus of energy
that likewise declined to be denied, he asked the captain, a breed,
half Jamaica negro and half Indian, to order a small skiff over the
"Looks like I might shoot a parrot or a monkey or something," he
explained, searching the jungle-clad shore, half a mile away,
through a twelve-power Zeiss glass.
"Most problematic, sir, that you are bitten by a labarri, which
is deadly viper in these parts," grinned the breed skipper and
owner of the Angelique, who, from his Jamaica father had inherited
the gift of tongues.
But Francis was not to be deterred; for at the moment, through
his glass, he had picked out, first, in the middle ground, a white
hacienda, and second, on the beach, a white-clad woman's form, and
further, had seen that she was scrutinising him and the schooner
through a pair of binoculars.
"Put the skiff over, skipper," he ordered. "Who lives around
here? white folks?"
"The Enrico Solano family, sir," was the answer. "My word, they
are important gentlefolk, old Spanish, and they own the entire
general landscape from the sea to the Cordilleras and half of the
Chiriqui Lagoon as well. They are very poor, most powerful
rich … in landscape and they are pridef ul and fiery as
As Francis, in the tiny skiff, rowed shoreward, the skipper's
alert eye noted that he had neglected to take along either rifle or
shotgun for the contemplated parrot or monkey. And, next, the
skipper's eye picked up the whiteclad woman's figure against the
dark edge of the jungle.
Straight to the white beach of coral sand Francis rowed, not
trusting himself to look over his shoulder to see if the woman
remained or had vanished. In his mind was merely a young man's
healthy idea of encountering a bucolic young lady, or a half-wild
white woman for that matter, or at the best a very provincial one,
with whom he could fool and fun away a few minutes of the calm that
fettered the Ang clique to immobility. When the skifl grounded, he
stepped out, and with one sturdy arm lifted its nose high enough up
the sand to fasten it by its own weight. Then he turned around. The
beach to the jungle was bare. He strode forward confidently. Any
traveller, on so strange a shore, had a right to seek inhabitants
for information on his way was the idea he was acting out.
And he, who had anticipated a few moments of diversion merely,
was diverted beyond his fondest expectations. Like a
jack-in-the-box, the woman, who, in the flash of vision vouchsafed
him demonstrated that she was a girl-woman, ripely mature and yet
mostly girl, sprang out of the green wall of jungle and with both
hands seized his arm. The hearty weight of grip in the seizure
surprised him. He fumbled his hat off with his free hand and bowed
to the strange woman with the imperturbableness of a Morgan, New
York trained and disciplined to be surprised at nothing, and
received another surprise, or several surprises compounded. Not
alone was it her semi-brunette beauty that impacted upon him with
the weight of a blow, but it was her gaze, driven into him, that
was all of sternness. Almost it seemed to him that he must know
her. Strangers, in his experience, never so looked at one
The double grip on his arm became a draw, as she muttered
"Quick! Follow me!"
A moment he resisted. She shook him in the fervor of her desire,
and strove to pull him toward her and after her. With the feeling
that it was some unusual game, such as one might meet up with on
the coast of Central America, he yielded, smilingly, scarcely
knowing whether he followed voluntarily or was being dragged into
the jungle by her impetuosity.
"Do as I do," she shot back at him over her shoulder, by this
time leading him with one hand of hers in his.
He smiled and obeyed, crouching when she crouched, doubling over
when she doubled, while memories of John Smith and Pocahontas
glimmered up in his fancy.
Abruptly she checked him and sat down, her hand directing him to
sit beside her ere she released him, and pressed it to her heart
while she panted:
"Thank God! Oh, merciful Virgin!"
In imitation, such having been her will of him, and such seeming
to be the cue of the game, he smilingly pressed his own hand to his
heart, although he called neither on God nor the Virgin.
"Won't you ever be serious?" she flashed at him, noting his
And Francis was immediately and profoundly, as well as
"My dear lady… " he began.
But an abrupt gesture checked him; and, with growing wonder, he
watched her bend and listen, and heard the movement of bodies
padding down some runway several yards away.
With a soft warm palm pressed commandingly to his to be silent,
she left him with the abruptness that he had already come to
consider as customary with her, and slipped away down the runway.
Almost he whistled with astonishment. He might have whistled it,
had he not heard her voice, not distant, in Spanish, sharply
interrogate men whose Spanish voices, half-humbly, half-insistently
and half-rebelliously, answered her.
He heard them move on, still talking, and, after five minutes of
dead silence, heard her call for him peremptorily to come out.
"Gee! I wonder what Regan would do under such circumstances!" he
smiled to himself as he obeyed.
He followed her, no longer hand in hand, through the jungle to
the beach. When she paused, he came beside her and faced her, still
under the impress of the fantasy which possessed him that it was a
"Tag!" he laughed, touching her on the shoulder. "Tag!" he
reiterated. "You're It!"
The anger of her blazing dark eyes scorched him.
"You fool!" she cried, lifting her finger with what he
considered, undue intimacy to his toothbrush moustache. "As if that
could disguise you!"
"But my dear lady … " he began to protest his certain
unacquaintance with her.
Her retort, which broke off his speech, was as unreal and
bizarre as everything else which had gone before. So quick was it,
that he failed to see whence the tiny silver revolver had been
drawn, the muzzle of which was not presented merely toward his
abdomen, but pressed closely against it.
"My dear lady… " he tried again.
"I won't talk with you," she shut him off. "Go back to your
schooner, and go away… " He guessed the inaudible sob of the pause,
ere she concluded, "Forever."
This time his mouth opened to speech that was aborted on his
lips by the stiff thrust of the muzzle of the weapon into his
"If you ever come back the Madonna forgive me I shall shoot
"Guess I'd better go, then," he uttered airily, as he turned to
the skiff, toward which he walked in stately embarrassment,
half-filled with laughter for himself and for the ridiculous and
incomprehensible figure he was cutting.
Endeavoring to retain a last shred of dignity, he took no notice
that she had followed him. As he lifted the skiff's nose from the
sand, he was aware that a faint wind was rustling the palm fronds.
A long breeze was darkening the water close at hand, while, far out
across the mirrored water the outlying keys of Chiriqui Lagoon
shimmered like a mirage above the dark-crisping water.
A sob compelled him to desist from stepping into the skiff, and
to turn his head. The strange young woman, revolver dropped to her
side, was crying. His step back to her was instant, and the touch
of his hand on her arm was sympathetic and inquiring. She shuddered
at his touch, drew away from him, and gazed at him reproachfully
through her tears. With a shrug of shoulders to her many moods and
of surrender to the incomprehensibleness of the situation, he was
about to turn to the boat, when she stopped him.
"At least you… " she began, then faltered and swallowed, "you
might kiss me good-bye."
She advanced impulsively, with outstretched arms, the revolver
dangling incongruously from her right hand. Francis hesitated a
puzzled moment, then gathered her in to receive an astounding
passionate kiss on his lips ere she dropped her head on his
shoulder in a breakdown of tears. Despite his amazement he was
aware of the revolver pressing flat-wise against his back between
the shoulders. She lifted her tear-wet face and kissed him again
and again, and he wondered to himself if he were a cad for meeting
her kisses with almost equal and fully as mysterious
With a feeling that he did not in the least care how long the
tender episode might last, he was startled by her quick drawing
away from him, as anger and contempt blazed back in her face, and
as she menacingly directed him with the revolver to get into the
He shrugged his shoulders as if to say that he could not say no
to a lovely lady, and obeyed, sitting to the oars and facing her as
he began rowing- away.
"The Virgin save me from my wayward heart," she cried, with her
free hand tearing a locket from her bosom, and, in a shower of
golden beads, flinging the ornament into the waterway midway
From the edge of the jungle he saw three men, armed with rifles,
run toward her where she had sunk down in the sand. In the midst of
lifting her up, they caught sight of Francis, who had begun rowing
a strong stroke. Over his shoulder he glimpsed the Angelique, close
hauled and slightly heeling, cutting through the water toward him.
The next moment, one of the trio on the beach, a bearded elderly
man, was directing the girl's binoculars on him. And the moment
after, dropping the glasses, he was taking aim with his rifle.
The bullet spat on the water within a yard of the skiff's side,
and Francis saw the girl spring to her feet, knock up the rifle
with her arm, and spoil the second shot. Next, pulling lustily, he
saw the men separate from her to sight their rifles, and saw her
threatening them with the revolver into lowering their weapons.
The Angelique, thrown up into the wind to stop way, foamed
alongside, and with an agile leap Francis was aboard, while
already, the skipper putting the wheel up, the schooner was paying
off and filling. With boyish zest, Francis wafted a kiss of
farewell to the girl, who was staring toward him, and saw her
collapse on the shoulders of the bearded elderly man.
"Cayenne pepper, eh those damned, horrible, crazyproud Solanos,"
the breed skipper flashed at Francis with white teeth of
"Just bugs clean crazy, nobody at home," Francis laughed back,
as he sprang to the rail to waft further kisses to the strange
Before the land wind, the Ang clique made the outer rim of
Chiriqui Lagoon and the Bull and Calf, some fifty miles farther
along on the rim, by midnight, when the skipper hove to to wait for
daylight. After breakfast, rowed by a Jamaica negro sailor in the
skiff, Francis landed to reconnoiter on the Bull, which was the
larger island and which the skipper had told him ho might find
occupied at that season of the year by turtle-catching Indians from
And Francis very immediately found that he had traversed not
merely thirty degrees of latitude from New York but thirty hundred
years, or centuries for that matter, from the last word of
civilisation to almost the first word of the primeval. Naked,
except for breech-clouts of gunnysacking, armed with cruelly heavy
hacking blades of machetes, the turtle-catchers were swift in
proving themselves arrant beggars and dangerous man-killers. The
Bull belonged to them, they told him through the medium of his
Jamaican sailor's interpreting; but the Calf, which used to belong
to them for the turtle season now was possessed by a madly
impossible Gringo, whose reckless, dominating ways had won from
them the respect of fear for a twolegged human creature who was
more fearful than themselves.
While Francis, for a silver dollar, dispatched one of them with
a message to the mysterious Gringo that he desired to call on him,
the rest of them clustered about Francis' skiff, whining for money,
glowering upon him, and even impudently stealing his pipe, yet warm
from his lips, which he had laid beside him in the sternsheets.
Promptly he had laid a blow on the ear of the thief, and the next
thief who seized it, and recovered the pipe. Machetes out and
sun-glistening their clean-slicing menace, Francis covered and
controlled the gang with an automatic pistol; and, while they drew
apart in a group and whispered ominously, he made the discovery
that his lone sailor-interpreter was a weak brother and received
his returned messenger.
The negro went over to the turtle-catchers and talked with a
friendliness and subservience, the tones of which Francis did not
like. The messenger handed him his note, across which was scrawled
"Guess I'll have to go across myself," Francis told the negro
whom he had beckoned back to him.
"Better be very careful and utmostly cautious, sir," the negro
warned him. "These animals without reason are very problematically
likely to act most unreasonably, sir."
"Get into the boat and row me over," Francis commanded
"No, sir, I regret much to say, sir," was the black sailor's
answer. "I signed on, sir, as a sailor to Captain Trefethen, but I
didn't sign on for no suicide, and I can't see my way to rowin' you
over, sir, to certain death. Best thing we can do is to get out of
this hot place that's certainly and without peradventure of a doubt
goin' to get hotter for us if we remain, sir."
In huge disgust and scorn Francis pocketed his automatic, turned
his back on the sacking-clad savages, and walked away through the
palms. Where a great boulder of coral rock had been upthrust by
some ancient restlessness of the earth, he came down to the beach.
On the shore of the Calf, across the narrow channel, he 'made out a
dinghy drawn up. Drawn up on his own side was a crank-looking and
manifestly leaky dug-out canoe. As he tilted the water out of it,
he noticed that the turtle -catchers had followed and were peering
at him from the edge of the coconuts, though his weak-hearted
sailor was not in sight.
To paddle across the channel was a matter of moments, but
scarcely was he on the beach of the Calf when further inhospitality
greeted him on the part of a tall , barefooted young man, who
stepped from behind a palm, automatic pistol in hand, and
"Vamos! Get out! Scut!"
"Ye gods and little fishes!" Francis grinned, half-humorously,
half-seriously. "A fellow can't move in these parts without having
a gun shoved in his face. And everybody says get out pronto."
"Nobody invited you," the stranger retorted. "You're intruding.
Get off my island. I'll give you half a minute."
"I'm getting sore, friend," Francis assured him truthfully, at
the same time, out of the corner of his eye, measuring the distance
to the nearest palm-trunk. "Everybody I meet around here is crazy
and discourteous, and peevishly anxious to be rid of my presence,
and they've just got me feeling that way myself. Besides, just
because you tell me it's your island is no proof."
The swift rush he made to the shelter of the palm left his
sentence unfinished. His arrival behind the trunk was simultaneous
with the arrival of a bullet that thudded into the other side of
"Now, just for that!" he called out, as he centered a bullet
into the trunk of the other man's palm.
The next few minutes they blazed away, or waited for calculated
shots, and when Francis' eighth and last had been fired, he was
unpleasantly certain that he had counted only seven shots for the
stranger. He cautiously exposed part of his sun-helmet, held in his
hand, and had it perforated.
"What gun are you using?" he asked with cool politeness.
"Colt's," came the answer.
Francis stepped boldly into the open, saying: "Then you're all
out. I counted 'em. Eight. Now we can talk."
The stranger stepped out, and Francis could not help admiring
the fine figure of him, despite the fact that a dirty pair of
canvas pants, a cotton undershirt, and a floppy sombrero
constituted his garmenting. Further, it seemed he had previously
known him, though it did not enter his mind that he was looking at
a replica of himself.
"Talk!" the stranger sneered, throwing down his pistol and
drawing a knife. "Now we'll just cut off your ears, and maybe scalp
"Gee! You're sweet-natured and gentle animals in this neck of
the woods," Francis retorted, his anger and disgust increasing. He
drew his own hunting knife, brand new from the shop and shining.
"Say, let's wrestle, and cut out this ten-twenty-and-thirty knife
"I want your ears," the stranger answered pleasantly, as he
"Sure. First down, and the man who wins the fall gets the other
"Agreed." The young man in the canvas trousers sheathed his
"Too bad there isn't a moving picture camera to film this,"
Francis girded, sheathing his own knife. "I'm sore as a boil. I
feel like a heap bad Injun. Watch out! I'm coming in a rush! Anyway
and everyway for the first fall!"
Action and word went together, and his glorious rush ended
ignorainiously, for the stronger, apparently braced for the shock,
yielded the instant their bodies met and fell over on his back, at
the same time planting his foot in Francis' abdomen and, from the
back purchase on the ground, transforming Francis' rush into a wild
The fall on the sand knocked most of Francis' breath out of him,
and the flying body of his foe, impacting on him, managed to do for
what little breath was left him. As he lay speechless on his back,
he observed the man on top of him gazing down at him with sudden
"What d' you want to wear a mustache for?" the stranger
"Go on and cut 'em off," Francis gasped, with the first of his
returning breath. "The ears are yours, but the mustache is mine. It
is not in the bond. Besides, that fall was straight jiu
"You said 'anyway and everyway for the first fall,' the other
quoted laughingly. "As for your ears, keep them. I never intended
to cut them off, and now that I look at them closely the less I
want them. Get up and get out of here. I've licked you. Vamos! And
don't come sneaking around here again! Git! Scut!"
In greater disgust than ever, to which was added the humiliation
of defeat, Francis turned down to the beach toward his canoe.
"Say, Little Stranger, do you mind leaving your card?" the
victor called after him.
"Visiting cards and cut-throating don't go together," Francis
shot back across his shoulder, as he squatted in the canoe and
dipped his paddle. "My name's Morgan."
Surprise and startlement were the stranger's portion, as he
opened his mouth to speak, then changed his mind and murmured to
himself, "Same stock — no wonder we look alike."
Still in the throes of disgust, Francis regained the shore of
the Butt, sat down on the edge of the dugout, filled and lighted
his pipe, and gloomily meditated. "Crazy, everybody," was the run
of his thought. "Nobody acts with reason. I'd like to see old Regan
try to do business with these people. They'd get his ears."
Could he have seen, at that moment, the young man of the canvas
pants and of familiar appearance, he would have been certain that
naught but lunacy resided in Latin America; for the young man in
question, inside a grassthatched hut in the heart of his island,
grinning to himself as he uttered aloud, "I guess I put the fear of
God into that particular member of the Morgan family," had just
begun to stare at a photographic reproduction of an oil painting on
the wall of the original Sir Henry Morgan.
"Well, Old Pirate," he continued grinning, "two of your latest
descendants came pretty close to getting each other with automatics
that would make your antediluvian horsepistols look like thirty
He bent to a battered and worm-eaten sea-chest, lifted the lid
that was monogramed with an "M," and again addressed the
"Well, old pirate Welshman of an ancestor, all you've left me is
the old duds and a face that looks like yours. And I guess, if I
was really fired up, I could play your Port-au-Prince stunt about
as well as you played it yourself."
A moment later, beginning to dress himself in the ageworn and
moth-eaten garments of the chest, he added:
"Well, here's the old duds on my back. Come, Mister Ancestor,
down out of your frame, and dare to tell me a point of looks in
which we differ."
Clad in Sir Henry Morgan's ancient habiliments, a cutlass
strapped on around the middle and two flint-lock pistols of huge
and ponderous design thrust into his waist-scarf, the resemblance
between the living man and the pictured semblance of the old
buccaneer who had been long since resolved to dust, was
"Back to back against the mainmast, Held at bay the entire
crew … "
As the young man, picking the strings of a guitar, began to sing
the old buccaneer rouse, it seemed to him that the picture of his
forebear faded into another picture and that he saw:
The old forebear himself, back to a mainmast, cutlass out and
flashing, facing a semi-circle of fantastically clad sailor
cutthroats, while behind him, on the opposite side of the mast,
another similarly garbed and accoutred man, with cutlass flashing,
faced the other semi-circle of cutthroats that completed the ring
about the mast.
The vivid vision of his fancy was broken by the breaking of a
guitar-string which he had thrummed too passionately. And in the
sharp pause of silence, it seemed that a fresh vision of old Sir
Henry came to him, down out of. the frame and beside him, real in
all seeming, plucking at his sleeve to lead him out of the hut and
whispering a ghostly repetition of:
"Back to back against the mainmast
Held at bay the entire crew."
The young man obeyed his shadowy guide, or some prompting of his
own profound of intuition, and went out the door and down to the
beach, where, gazing across the narrow channel, on the beach of the
Bull, he saw his late antagonist, backed up against the great
boulder of coral rock, standing off an attack of sack-clouted,
machetewielding Indians with wide sweeping strokes of a driftwood
And Francis, in extremity, swaying dizzily from the blow of a
rock on his head, saw the apparition, that almost convinced him he
was already dead and in the realm of the shades, of Sir Henry
Morgan himself, cutlass in hand, rushing up the beach to his
rescue. Further, the apparition, brandishing the cutlass and laying
out Indians right and left, was bellowing:
"Back to back against the mainmast, Held at bay the entire
As Francis' knees gave under him and he slowly crumpled and sank
down, he saw the Indians scatter and flee before the onslaught of
the weird pirate figure and heard their cries of:
"Heaven help us!" "The Virgin protect us!" "It's the ghost of
Francis next opened his eyes inside the grass hut in the midmost
center of the Calf. First, in the glimmering sight of returning
consciousness, he beheld the pictured lineaments of Sir Henry
Morgan staring down at him from the wall. Next, it was a younger
edition of the same, in three dimensions of living, moving flesh,
who thrust a mug of brandy to his lips and bade him drink. Francis
was on his feet ere he touched lips to the mug; and both he and the
stranger man, moved by a common impulse, looked squarely into each
other's eyes, glanced at the picture on the wall find touched mugs
in a salute to the picture and to each other ere they drank.
"You told me you were a Morgan," the stranger said. "I am a
Morgan. That man on the wall fathered my breed. Your breed?"
"The old buccaneer's," Francis returned. "My first name is
Francis. And yours?"
"Henry straight from the original. We must be remote cousins or
something or other. I'm after the foxy old niggardly old Welshman's
"So'm I," said Francis, extending his hand. "But to hell with
"The old blood talks in you," Henry smiled approbation. "For him
to have who finds. I've turned most of this island upside down in
the last six months, and all I've found are these old duds. I'm
with you to beat you if I can, but to put my back against the
mainmast with you any time the needed call goes out."
"That song's a wonder," Francis urged. "I want to learn it. Lift
the stave again."
And together, clanking their mugs, they sang:
"Back to back against the mainmast,
Held at bay the entire crew … "