The Boy Fortune Hunters in the South Seas - L. Frank Baum - ebook

The Boy Fortune Hunters in the South Seas ebook

L. Frank Baum

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If you like the books by Iain Lawrence „The Wreckers”, „The Smugglers”, and „The Buccaneers” you’ll love the adventures of Sam Steele. „The Boy Fortune Hunters” series began in 1906 with the novel „Sam Steele’s Adventures on Land and Sea” (later re-published as „The Boy Fortune Hunters in Alaska”). The series lasted six novels, ending in 1911 with the novel „The Boy Fortune Hunters in the South Seas”. Here, Sam Steele and crew are shipwrecked on a forbidding and mysterious island where the natives worship a powerful Pearl God in a temple overflowing with the most luxurious pearls in the world. Sam is delighted at the prospect of such enormous riches – but the boy-king of the island is forced to sentence Sam to a watery grave. Airplane rescues, uncharted islands, revolutionaries, a lost king, and riches beyond imagination await you as you travel with the Boy Fortune Hunters to fabulous adventure in the South Seas!

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Liczba stron: 219

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Contents

CHAPTER I. SENOR DE JIMINEZ

CHAPTER II. I ADVANCE A PROPOSITION

CHAPTER III. WE MEET SOME QUEER PEOPLE

CHAPTER IV. NUX AND BRYONIA

CHAPTER V. A SOUTH PACIFIC TYPHOON

CHAPTER VI. A FREAKISH SHIPWRECK

CHAPTER VII. THE PEARL PEOPLE

CHAPTER VIII. THE REEF PATROL

CHAPTER IX. ALFONSO’S ANTOINETTE

CHAPTER X. THE PEARL CITY

CHAPTER XI. A KING, A PRIEST AND A BOY

CHAPTER XII. THE “CROOKED ONE”

CHAPTER XIII. LIVING SHIELDS

CHAPTER XIV. A DESPERATE ATTEMPT

CHAPTER XV. MY EXECUTION

CHAPTER XVI. THE WAY IT HAPPENED

CHAPTER XVII. THE CONSEQUENCES

CHAPTER XVIII. A RUN FOR LIFE

CHAPTER XIX. A CAPRICIOUS EARTHQUAKE

CHAPTER XX. KING BRYONIA

CHAPTER I. SENOR DE JIMINEZ

“There’s one thing certain,” said my uncle, Naboth Perkins, banging his fist on the table for emphasis. “If we don’t manage get a cargo in ten days we’ll up anchor an’ quit this bloomin’ island.”

My father the skipper, leaning back in his easy-chair with his legs–one of them cork–stretched upon the table and his pipe in his mouth, nodded assent as he replied:

“Very good.”

“Here it is five weeks since we finished unloadin’ that machinery,” went on Uncle Naboth, “an’ since then the Seagull’s been floatin’ like a swan in the waters o’ Port Phillip an’ lettin’ the barnacles nip her. There ain’t a shipper in Melbourne as’ll give us an ounce o’ cargo; an’ why? Jest because we’re American an’ float the Stars an’ Stripes–that’s why. There’s a deep-seated conspiracy agin American shipping in Australia, an’ what little truck they’ve got to send to America goes in British ships or it don’t go at all.”

Again Captain Steele nodded.

“S’pose we try Adelaide,” suggested big Ned Britton, our first mate.

“That’s jest as bad,” declared Uncle Naboth. “It’s an off season, they say; but the fact is, Australia sends mighty little to the United States, an’ those that ship anything prefer English bottoms to ours. Everything’s been contracted for months ahead, and the only chance the Seagull has of going home freighted is to grab some emergency deal–where time counts–an’ load an’ skip before any Britisher comes into port.”

“Well?” said my father, inquiringly.

“Well, that’s what we’ve been waitin’ for, an’ I’m gettin’ desprit tired o’ the job. So now I’ll give these folks jest ten days to rustle up a cargo for us, an’ if they don’t do it, away we goes in ballast.”

I laughed at his earnestness.

“Why, Uncle Naboth, it won’t hurt us to go home without freight,” said I. “In fact, we’ll make better time, and for my part I see no use in waiting ten days longer for such a ghostly chance.”

“Don’t be foolish, Sam,” returned my uncle, impatiently. “Boys never have any business instincts, anyhow. It’s our business to carry cargoes, so to make the long voyage back home light-waisted is a howlin’ shame–that’s what it is!”

“We were paid so much for the cargo we brought that we can well afford to run home in ballast,” I remarked.

“There you go–jest like a boy. You’ve got a fat bank account, Sam Steele; an’ so hev I; an’ so’s the Cap’n, your father. An’ we three own the Seagull an’ can do as we blame please with her. But business is business, as Shylock says to the lawyers. We’re runnin’ this schooner to make money–not one way, but both ways–an’ our business is to see that every league she travels counts in dollars an’ cents. Nice merchantmen we’d be to float off home in ballast, jest ’cause we got a big lump fer bringin’ a load of farm machinery here; wouldn’t we, now?”

“Oh, I don’t object to your trying for a cargo, Uncle Naboth. That’s your part of the business, and if any man could make a contract you can do so; but I see no use in getting annoyed or worried in case we find it impossible to secure a consignment of freight.”

Uncle Naboth smiled grimly.

“I ain’t worried, Sam,” he said more mildly. “I’m only tellin’ you an’ the Cap’n what my sentiments is.”

We were seated in our pleasant sitting-room at the Radley Arms, one of the cosiest inns I ever stopped at. It was a place much patronized by mariners of the better class and Mrs. Wimp, our landlady, was certainly a wonderful cook. Joe Herring, my chum and a lad who, although only about my own age, served as second mate of the Seagull, had aroused my uncle to speech by remarking that as far as he was concerned he wouldn’t mind boarding all winter at the Radley Arms. But Joe was a silent fellow, as was my father Captain Steele, and having evoked the above tirade he said nothing further. Uncle Naboth had a perfect right to issue his ultimatum concerning our freight, being supercargo and part owner, and as our recent voyages had been fairly prosperous and we were already amply paid for our present trip to Australia we were all in a mood to take things philosophically.

I think Ned Britton, the mate, was the most uneasy of our party, but that was because he disliked the land and was only comfortable when afloat. Ned even now lived on shipboard and kept everything taut and in running order, while my father, Uncle Naboth and I had rooms at Mrs. Wimp’s admirable inn. I am free to confess that I like a bit of land loafing now and then, while poor Ned is never happy unless he knows the water is sliding under the keel.

Joe and I had ransacked sleepy old Melbourne pretty well by this time and had enjoyed every day of the five weeks we had been ashore. There wasn’t a great deal of excitement in town, but we managed to have a good time and to keep amused. Our little group had sat in silent meditation for a few moments following my uncle’s last remark, when Mrs. Wimp stuck her head in the door and said:

“’Ow’d yer loike to see a gent as wants to see yer?”

We looked at one another inquiringly.

“Who is it?” demanded Uncle Naboth.

“’E didn’t say.”

“Didn’t say what, Mrs. Wimp?”

“Didn’t say ‘oo ‘e were.”

“Did he say who he wanted to see?”

“No sir.”

“Then never mind. Tell him to call again, Mrs. Wimp,” I ventured to say, amused at the landlady’s noncommittal manner.

“No, no!” exclaimed my uncle. “It may be somethin’ about a cargo. Who did he ask for, Mrs. Wimp?”

“’E jus’ dropped in an’ said: “Is the Seagull people stoppin’ ‘ere?’ “They is,’ says I. “Then I wants to see ‘em,’ says ‘e. So I comes up to see if it’s agreeable.”

“It is, Mrs. Wimp,” asserted Uncle Naboth. “Be kind enough to show the gentleman up.”

Thereat Mrs. Wimp withdrew her head and closed the door. My father filled his pipe anew and relighted it. Joe looked thoughtfully out of the window into the alley below. I turned over a newspaper that lay upon the table, while Ned and my uncle indulged in a few remarks about the repairs recently made to the ship’s engines. Not one of us realized that the next few minutes were destined to alter the trend of all our lives.

Then came the visitor. He silently opened the door, closed it swiftly behind him and stood with his back to it shrewdly eyeing us each one in turn.

The man’s stature was quite short and he was of slight build. His hair, coarse in texture, sprinkled with gray and cropped close, stood straight up on his forehead like a scrubbing brush. His eyes were black and piercing in expression; his nose rather too fat; his chin square and firm; his face long and lean, and his skin of the dusky olive hue peculiar to natives of southern climes. His apparel was magnificent. The velvet coat had gold buttons; he sported a loud checked vest of purple and orange, and his cravat was a broad bow of soft white ribbon with gold fringe at the edges.

At once I began speculating whether he was a vaudeville actor or a circus barker; but either idea was dispelled when I noticed his diamonds. These were enormous, and had a luster that defied imitation. His shirt buttons were diamonds as big around as my little finger nail; he had another monster in the center of his bow tie and his fingers fairly glittered with gems of the same character. Every link of a huge watch guard was set with diamonds, and his cuff buttons were evidently worth a small fortune.

The appearance of this small but gorgeous individual in our dingy sitting-room produced an incongruous effect. The air was fogged with tobacco smoke; my father still lazily rested his legs across the table-top; the rest of us lounged in unconventional attitudes. However, being Americans we were more astonished than impressed by the vision that burst upon us and did not rise nor alter our positions in any way.

“Which it is the gentleman who the ship Seagull owns?” demanded the stranger, mixing his English in his agitation, although he spoke it very clearly for a foreigner.

Uncle Naboth became our spokesman.

“There are three owners,” said he.

“Ah! where they are?”

“All in this room,” replied my uncle.

“Excellent!” exclaimed our visitor, evidently pleased. He glanced around him, drew a chair to the table and sat down. My father moved his wooden leg a bit to give the stranger more room.

“What is price?” he inquired, looking at Mr. Perkins, whom he faced.

“Price for what, sir?”

“Ship,” said the man.

“Oh, you want to buy the ship?” gasped my uncle, fairly staggered by the suggestion.

“If you please, if you like; if it is rais–rais–raison–a–ble.”

Uncle Naboth stared at him. My father coolly filled his pipe again. The man’s quick eye caught Joe and I exchanging smiling glances, and he frowned slightly.

“At what price you hold your ship?” he persisted, turning again to my uncle.

“My dear sir,” was the perplexed reply, “we’ve never figured on selling the Seagull. We built it to keep–to have for our own use. We’re seamen, and it’s our home. If you’d ask us offhand what we’d sell our ears for, we’d know just as well what to answer.”

The man nodded, looking thoughtful.

“What the ship cost?” he asked.

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