GOING DOWN WELL DOWN UNDER: Thumbing for Gold

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And I was so nervous. So he held my hand. To give me courage. Much as Nancy tried, she could not break the habit of nibbling her nails, and, whenever she was troubled, chewing them right to the quick. Something wrong? At least, around me. And when I got home last night he started that again. Later on, when we go off to Manhattan, everything will seem a new world. Because you and Bobby are a very happy thing. Or as though I loved him less.

She lived alone with her mother, who taught music at the Holcomb School, and she did not remember her own father very clearly, for years ago, in their native California, Mr. Kidwell had one day left home and not come back. Susan, however, was privileged. When she had first appeared in Holcomb, a melancholy, imaginative child, willowy and wan and sensitive, then eight, a year younger than Nancy, the Clutters had so ardently adopted her that the fatherless little girl from California soon came to seem a member of the family.

For seven years, the two friends had been inseparable, each, by virtue of the rarity of similar and equal sensibilities, irreplaceable to the other. But then, this past September, Susan had transferred from the local school to the vaster, supposedly superior one in Garden City. It was the usual procedure for Holcomb students who intended going on to college, but Mr. Clutter, a diehard community booster, considered such defections an affront to community spirit; the Holcomb School was good enough for his children, and there they would remain. Thus, the girls were no longer always together, and Nancy deeply felt the daytime absence of her friend, the one person with whom she need be neither brave nor reticent.

Nor, very likely, would any visitor to the Clutter home, which was pointedly devoid of ashtrays. Slowly, Susan grasped the implication, but it was ludicrous. Regardless of what his private anxieties might be, she could not believe that Mr. Clutter was finding secret solace in tobacco. Katz is here. Dick was driving a black Chevrolet sedan. It was an old Gibson guitar, sandpapered and waxed to a honey-yellow finish.

A flashlight, a fishing knife, a pair of leather gloves, and a hunting vest packed with shells contributed further atmosphere to this curious still-life. Dick rapped his knuckles against the windshield. Excuse me, sir. If we could use the phone. A capable mechanic, he earned sixty dollars a week.

He deserved no salary for the work he planned to do this morning, but Mr. Sands, who left him in charge on Saturdays, would never know he had paid his hireling to overhaul his own car. With Perry assisting him, he went to work. They changed the oil, adjusted the clutch, recharged the battery, replaced a throw-out bearing, and put new tires on the rear wheels—all necessary undertakings, for between today and tomorrow the aged Chevrolet was expected to perform punishing feats.

On account of she was holding money for you. Fifteen hundred dollars. I could see—the ineffable way they looked at me. Dick shrugged. As such. At noon, they put down their tools, and Dick, racing the engine, listening to the consistent hum, was satisfied that a thorough job had been done. Jolene urged that they sample the pie at once—no nonsense about leaving it to cool. Clutter, who had come into the kitchen. I just love her to death. Well, everybody does. Do you know what Mrs.

Stringer says? Clutter, though unrelaxed herself, had a relaxing quality, as is generally true of defenseless persons who present no threat; even in Jolene, a very childlike child, Mrs. An aunt—that seemed possible: a visiting spinster aunt, slightly odd, but nice. She weighed ninety-eight pounds; rings—a wedding hand and one set with a diamond modest to the point of meekness—wobbled on one of her bony hands. Jolene cut a piece of pie. Clutter and Kenyon, I know they never get tired of them. But the cook does—Nancy just turns up her nose.

No, no—why do I say that? Clutter, who wore rimless glasses, removed them and pressed her eyes. Jolene was silent. The note of panic in Mrs. Presently, more calmly, Mrs. Tiny things? Daddy and Mama—all of us—spent part of most years in California. By the ocean. And there was a shop that sold such precious little things.

These cups. The only daughter of a prosperous wheat grower named Fox, the adored sister of three older brothers, she had been not spoiled but spared, led to suppose that life was a sequence of agreeable events—Kansas autumns, California summers, a round of teacup gifts. When she was eighteen, inflamed by a biography of Florence Nightingale, she enrolled as a student nurse at St. However, Herb was handsome, he was pious, he was strong-willed, he wanted her—and she was in love. But wherever he goes, he remembers how I dote on tiny things.

It only cost a penny. The second year of the marriage, Eveanna was born, and, three years later, Beverly; after each confinement, the young mother had experienced an inexplicable despondency—seizures of grief that sent her wandering from room to room in a hand-wringing daze. Between the births of Beverly and Nancy, three more years elapsed, and these were the years of the Sunday picnics and of summer excursions to Colorado, the years when she really ran her own home and was the happy center of it. But with Nancy, and then with Kenyon, the pattern of postnatal depression repeated itself and, following the birth of her son, the mood of misery that descended never altogether lifted; it lingered like a cloud that might rain or might not.

And so, along paths bordered by tender regard, by fidelity, they began to go their semi-separate ways—his a public route, a march of satisfying conquests, and hers a private one that eventually wound through hospital corridors. But she was not without hope. You can carry them in a shoebox. Some years earlier, Mrs. Clutter had travelled to Wichita for two weeks of treatment and remained two months. Afterward, Mrs. Clutter was alone in the house. Kenyon and Mr. Helm, to whom she could confide anything, did not come to work on Saturdays. She might as well go back to bed—the bed she so rarely abandoned that poor Mrs.

Helm had to battle for the chance to change its linen twice a week. There were four bedrooms on the second floor, and hers was the last at the end of a spacious hall, which was bare except for a baby crib that had been bought for the visits of her grandson. If cots were brought in and the hall was used as a dormitory, Mrs. Clutter estimated, the house could accommodate twenty guests during the Thanksgiving holidays; the others would have to lodge at motels or with neighbors. Clutter despaired of surviving either project. Both involved the necessity of making decisions—a process she had always disliked, and had learned to dread, for when her husband was off on one of his business journeys she was continually expected, in his absence, to supply snap judgments concerning the affairs of the farm, and it was unendurable, a torment.

What if she made a mistake? What if Herb should be displeased? The room she so seldom left was austere; had the bed been made, a visitor might have thought it permanently unoccupied. An oak bed, a walnut bureau, a bedside table—nothing else except lamps, one curtained window, and a picture of Jesus walking on the water. It was as though by keeping this room impersonal, by not importing her intimate belongings but leaving them mingled with those of her husband, she lessened the offense of not sharing his quarters. She always wore a pair of these socks to bed, for she was always cold.

And, for the same reason, she habitually kept her windows closed. Summer before last, on a sweltering August Sunday, when she was secluded here, a difficult incident had taken place. Like most of the people who were often entertained by the Clutters, Mrs. Kidwell declined; a city-bred woman, easily fatigued, she wished to remain indoors. Later, while she was awaiting the return of the mulberry pickers, she heard the sound of weeping, heartbroken, heartbreaking. When she opened it, the heat gathered inside the room was like a sudden, awful hand over her mouth; she hurried to open a window.

Lord, Lord, Lord! Kidwell sat down on the bed; she wanted to hold Bonnie in her arms, and eventually Bonnie let herself be held. All of you. Having a good time. The best years, the children—everything. A little while, and even Kenyon will be grown up—a man.

And how will he remember me? As a kind of ghost, Wilma. Now, on this final day of her life, Mrs. Clutter hung in the closet the calico house dress she had been wearing and put on one of her trailing nightgowns and a fresh set of white socks. Then, before retiring, she exchanged her ordinary glasses for a pair of reading spectacles. The two young men had little in common, but they did not realize it, for they shared a number of surface traits. Both, for example, were fastidious, very attentive to hygiene and the condition of their fingernails.

After their grease-monkey morning, they spent the better part of an hour sprucing up in the lavatory of the garage. Dick stripped to his briefs was not quite the same as Dick fully clothed. In the latter state, he seemed a flimsy dingy-blond youth of medium height, fleshless and perhaps sunken-chested; disrobing revealed that he was nothing of the sort but, rather, an athlete constructed on a welterweight scale.

The tattooed face of a cat, blue and grinning, covered his right hand; on one shoulder a blue rose blossomed. It was as though his head had been halved like an apple, then put together a fraction off center. Something of the kind had happened; the imperfectly aligned features were the outcome of a car collision in —an accident that left his long-jawed and narrow face tilted, the left side rather lower than the right, with the result that the lips were slightly aslant, the nose was askew, and the eyes were not only situated at uneven levels but of uneven size, the left eye being truly serpentine, with a venomous, sickly-blue squint that, although it was involuntarily acquired, seemed nevertheless to warn of bitter sediment at the bottom of his nature.

Because you have a wonderful smile. One of those smiles that really work. Actually, he was very intelligent. While he had fewer tattoos than his companion, they were more elaborate—not the self-inflicted work of an amateur but epics of the art contrived by Honolulu and Yokohama masters. Blue-furred, orange-eyed, red-fanged, a tiger snarled upon his left biceps; a spitting snake, coiled around a dagger, slithered down his right forearm; and elsewhere skulls gleamed, a tombstone loomed, a chrysanthemum flourished.

Having discarded his work uniform, he wore gray chinos, a matching shirt, and, like Perry, ankle-high black boots. Perry, who could never find trousers to fit his truncated lower half, wore blue jeans rolled up at the bottom, and a leather windbreaker. Scrubbed, combed, as tidy as two dudes setting off on a double date, they went out to the car. The distance between Olathe, a suburb of Kansas City, and Holcomb, which might be called a suburb of Garden City, is approximately four hundred miles.

A town of eleven thousand, Garden City began assembling its founders soon after the Civil War. An itinerant buffalo hunter, Mr. Buffalo Jones, had much to do with its subsequent expansion from a collection of huts and hitching posts into an opulent ranching center with razzle-dazzle saloons, an opera house, and the plushiest hotel anywhere between Kansas City and Denver—in brief, a specimen of frontier fanciness that rivalled a more famous settlement fifty miles east of it, Dodge City. Along with Buffalo Jones, who lost his money and then his mind the last years of his life were spent haranguing street groups against the wanton extermination of the beasts he himself had so profitably slaughtered , the glamours of the past are today entombed.

Anyone who has made the coast-to-coast journey across America, whether by train or by car, has probably passed through Garden City, but it is reasonable to assume that few travellers remember the event. It seems just another fair-sized town in the middle—almost the exact middle—of the continental United States. Not that the inhabitants would tolerate such an opinion—perhaps rightly. Swell schools with every kind of sport.

A temporary thing, I never planned to stay. But when the chance came to move, I thought, Why go? What the hell for? Beautiful churches. Nothing like that here. All equal, regardless of wealth, color, or creed. An occasional Methodist is welcomed, and once in a while a Democrat infiltrates, but on the whole the Establishment is composed of right-wing Republicans of the Presbyterian and Episcopalian faiths.

As an educated man successful in his profession, as an eminent Republican and church leader—even though of the Methodist church—Mr. Clutter was entitled to rank among the local patricians, but, just as he had never joined the Garden City Country Club, he had never sought to associate with the reigning coterie. Clutter was acting as chairman of a meeting of the Finney County 4-H Club. Nancy and Kenyon had been conscientious members from the age of six.

Toward the end of the meeting, Mr. Hideo Ashida. Know how the Ashidas moved here from Colorado—started farming out to Holcomb two years ago. As anyone will tell you. Anyone who has been sick and had Mrs. Ashida walk nobody can calculate how many miles to bring them some of the wonderful soups she makes. And last year at the county fair you will recall how much she contributed to the success of the 4-H exhibits. So I want to suggest we honor Mrs. Ashida with an award at our Achievement Banquet next Tuesday. Ashida was bashful; she rubbed her eyes with her baby-plump hands and laughed.

She was the wife of a tenant farmer; the farm, an especially windswept and lonesome one, was halfway between Garden City and Holcomb. After 4-H meetings, Mr. Clutter usually drove the Ashidas home, and he did so today. Ashida as they rolled along Route 50 in Mr. But thanks. All through that first hard year, gifts had arrived of produce that the Ashidas had not yet planted—baskets of asparagus, lettuce.

And Nancy often brought Babe by for the children to ride. Hideo says the same. We sure hate to think about leaving. Starting all over again. Maybe in Nebraska. Clutter, she turned to other matters. What he needs is teeth. Now, if your wife was to give you three gold teeth, would that strike you as a wrong kind of present? His reaction delighted Mrs.

Ashida, for she knew he would not approve her plan unless he meant it; he was a gentleman. She ventured to obtain a promise now. At the banquet—no speeches, huh? Not for me. The way you can stand up and talk to hundreds of people. And be so easy—convince anybody about whatever. By midafternoon, the black Chevrolet had reached Emporia, Kansas—a large town, almost a city, and a safe place, so the occupants of the car had decided, to do a bit of shopping.

They parked on a side street, then wandered about until a suitably crowded variety store presented itself. The first purchase was a pair of rubber gloves; these were for Perry, who, unlike Dick, had neglected to bring old gloves of his own. Nothing can go wrong. Next, they were interested in rope. Perry studied the stock, tested it. Having once served in the merchant marine, he understood rope and was clever with knots. He chose a white nylon cord, as strong as wire and not much thicker. They discussed how many yards of it they required.

The question irritated Dick, for it was part of a greater quandary, and he could not, despite the alleged perfection of his over-all design, be certain of the answer. Dick tried. The kid and the girl. And maybe the other two. They might have guests. The only sure thing is every one of them has got to go. Kenyon had built the chest himself: a mahogany hope chest, lined with cedar, which he intended to give Beverly as a wedding present. Now, working on it in the so-called den in the basement, he applied a last coat of varnish.

Together Kenyon and Nancy had made a paint-splattered attempt to deprive the basement room of its unremovable dourness, and neither was aware of failure. Adjoining the den was a furnace room, which contained a tool-littered table piled with some of his other works-in-progress—an amplifying unit, an elderly wind-up Victrola that he was restoring to service. This defect, aggravated by an inability to function without glasses, prevented him from taking more than a token part in those team sports basketball, baseball that were the main occupation of most of the boys who might have been his friends.

He had only one close friend—Bob Jones, the son of Taylor Jones, whose ranch was a mile west of the Clutter home. Not far from River Valley Farm there is a mysterious stretch of countryside known as the Sand Hills; it is like a beach without an ocean, and at night coyotes slink among the dunes, assembling in hordes to howl. Equally intoxicating, and more profitable, were the rabbit roundups the two boys conducted. But what meant most to Kenyon—and Bob, too—was their weekends, overnight hunting hikes along the shores of the river: wandering, wrapping up in blankets, listening at sunrise for the noise of wings, moving toward the sound on tiptoe, and then, sweetest of all, swaggering homeward with a dozen duck dinners swinging from their belts.

But lately things had changed between Kenyon and his friend. I used to think the same as you: Women—so what? If Bob was unavailable, then he would rather be alone, for in temperament he was not the least Mr. Leaving the varnish to dry, he went on to another chore—one that took him out-of-doors. When he got there, he found one of the hired men loosening earth with a spade—Paul Helm, the husband of the housekeeper. Helm the late Mr. Helm; he died of a stroke the following March was a sombre man in his late fifties whose withdrawn manner veiled a nature keenly curious and watchful; he liked to know what was going on.

Helm grunted. Helm were now tying plants. Suddenly, Nancy herself came jogging across the fields aboard fat Babe—Babe, returning from her Saturday treat, a bathe in the river. Teddy, the dog, accompanied them, and all three were water-splashed and shining. Nancy laughed; she had never been ill—not once.

Sliding off Babe, she sprawled on the grass at the edge of the garden and seized her cat, dangled him above her, and kissed his nose and whiskers. How that Skeeter could take a fence! By Thanksgiving? Helm picked up his spade. Crows cawed, sundown was near, but his home was not; the lane of Chinese elms had turned into a tunnel of darkening green, and he lived at the end of it, half a mile away. But once he looked back.

The boy rooting around in the garden. Nancy leading old Babe off to the barn. Like I said, nothing out of the ordinary. The black Chevrolet was again parked, this time in front of a Catholic hospital on the outskirts of Emporia. While Perry waited in the car, he had gone into the hospital to try and buy a pair of black stockings from a nun. The notion presented one drawback, of course: nuns, and anything pertaining to them, were bad luck, and Perry was most respectful of his superstitions. Some others were the number 15, red hair, white flowers, priests crossing a road, snakes appearing in a dream.

The compulsively superstitious person is also very often a serious believer in fate; that was the case with Perry. During the first of his three years in prison, Perry had observed Willie-Jay from a distance, with interest but with apprehension; if one wished to be thought a tough specimen, intimacy with Willie-Jay seemed unwise. That was what amazed Perry. You exist in a half-world suspended between two superstructures, one self-expression and the other self-destruction. You are strong, but there is a flaw in your strength, and unless you learn to control it the flaw will prove stronger than your strength and defeat you.

The flaw? Explosive emotional reaction out of all proportion to the occasion. Why this unreasonable anger at the sight of others who are happy or content, this growing contempt for people and the desire to hurt them? But these are dreadful enemies you carry within yourself—in time destructive as bullets.

Mercifully, a bullet kills its victim. This other bacteria, permitted to age, does not kill a man but leaves in its wake the hulk of a creature torn and twisted; there is still fire within his being but it is kept alive by casting upon it faggots of scorn and hate. He may successfully accumulate, but he does not accumulate success, for he is his own enemy and is kept from truly enjoying his achievements.

A cinch, the Perfect score. Or Willie-Jay. But they had both been much in his thoughts, and especially the latter, who in memory had grown ten feet tall, a gray-haired wise man haunting the hallways of his mind. In the solitary, comfortless course of his recent driftings, Perry had over and over again reviewed this indictment, and had decided it was unjust. He did give a damn—but who had ever given a damn about him? His father? Yes, up to a point. He drove to Las Vegas, sold his junk-heap car, packed his collection of maps, old letters, manuscripts, and books, and bought a ticket for a Greyhound bus.

That much he had learned by telephoning the Reverend Mr. A decent job, and a home with some good people who are willing to help him. But what, he wondered when the anguish subsided, had he really expected from a reunion with Willie-Jay? Dick returned empty-handed. After they had travelled in silence awhile, Dick patted Perry on the knee. What the hell would they have thought? Clutter uncap a Parker pen and open a checkbook. Like royalty, he was famous for never carrying cash. When those tax fellows come poking around, cancelled checks are your best friend.

With the check written but not yet signed, he swivelled back in his desk chair and seemed to ponder. Herb was hardheaded, a slow man to make a deal; Johnson had worked over a year to clinch this sale. But, no, his customer was merely experiencing what Johnson called the Solemn Moment—a phenomenon familiar to insurance salesmen.

The mood of a man insuring his life is not unlike that of a man signing his will; thoughts of mortality must occur. Clutter, as though conversing with himself. Take Kenyon.

In Cold Blood: The Last to See Them Alive | The New Yorker

Don Jarchow? Vere, too. Vere English—the boy my girl Beverly had the good sense to settle on. Johnson, a veteran at listening to ruminations of this sort, knew it was time to intervene. Clutter straightened, reached again for his pen. And pretty optimistic. The time was ten past six, and the agent was anxious to go; his wife would be waiting supper. They shook hands. Then, with a merited sense of victory, Johnson picked up Mr. It was the first payment on a forty-thousand-dollar policy that, in the event of death by accidental means, paid double indemnity.

With the aid of his guitar, Perry had sung himself into a happier humor. Dick, however, was choosy, and in bars his usual choice was an Orange Blossom. They passed the bottle to and fro. Though dusk had established itself, Dick, doing a steady sixty miles an hour, was still driving without headlights, but then the road was straight, the country was as level as a lake, and other cars were seldom sighted.

He hated it, as he hated the Texas plains, the Nevada desert; spaces horizontal and sparsely inhabited had always induced in him a depression accompanied by agoraphobic sensations. He still has stitches in his tongue from the accident. The debate is now on about where White, now 31, stands in the pantheon of Olympic stars, or sports stars in general. Even with the tantalizing prospect of him heading to the Summer side for skateboarding's debut in , then possibly returning to Winter in , he'll never match the nine gold medals Usain Bolt collected, the 28 overall amassed by Michael Phelps or the 13 that cross-country skier Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway has won.

Then again, White only gets one event in which to shine. And he puts his life on the line every time he steps into the arena. Nobody has been harder on himself over the years than White. But after headlining a day on the halfpipe that won't soon be forgotten, he was in no mood to argue. Click Here to access the online Public Inspection File. Viewers with disabilities can get assistance accessing this station's FCC Public Inspection File by contacting the station with the information listed below.

Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at , TTY , or fccinfo fcc. Home Olympics Article. Shaun White wins 3rd Olympic gold in contest for the ages.

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Posted: Wed PM, Feb 14, They will definitely still be talking about Shaun White. It was the way he did it. See there! They are right down on the beach. And there's Ambrose Bent and Rufe the nigger, and two more—five in all. Tide's high, and they can't get along the foot of the cliff. Just where are we, Dudley? We're right on top of Crooked Cliff, and there's Hidden Bay over to the left, where the bushes hang over the edge. They're liable to find us any time if they beat the scrub through. Remember that deep little cleft that came down right on to the ledge? But I guess if we're going to try it we've got to do it right now.

Those fellows will be right back again as soon as they see there are no tracks on the beach. Keep right along, inside the palmetto. It was good advice, and Dick took it. But the scrub was thick as a hedge, and it was terribly slow work wriggling along through the tough, saw-edged stems. Dudley came up alongside. Dick's head was over the edge of a wall of sheer rock. It was the cleft all right, but it was between twenty and thirty feet deep, and the bottom one mass of loose boulders, while the cliff-face itself was smooth, and sheer as the wall of a house.

A monkey could not have climbed it. Worst of all, it ran inland, as far as they could see, until it grew so narrow that the palmettoes arched over it. It seemed endless, and every minute they expected to hear their pursuers crashing on their track. At last Dick ventured to peer out again. He gave a sigh of relief. As he spoke he slipped out, and, catching hold of a palmetto- stem which projected over the edge of the narrow ravine, lowered himself slowly.

There was a slight rustle and a grating of loose stones. Next moment he was beside him. The words were hardly out of his mouth before a rifle rang out. For the moment he was confused, but Dick dragged him down behind a boulder big enough to shelter them both.

Step by step Wilding decreased the distance separating him from the crouching pair, and all the time the black muzzle of his rifle promised death to the first that stirred. Now he was only twenty yards away, and the boys were forced to almost crush themselves against the ground. Step by step Wilding decreased the distance separating him from the crouching boys. Then, without the slightest warning, there burst out a strange, hooting roar—the selfsame sound that the boys had heard last night and the night before.

Only now it sounded infinitely louder than on either of the previous occasions. Badly startled, Wilding's head jerked round, and for an instant the barrel of his rifle dipped. It was all the chance Dick wanted. Quick as a flash up came his gun, and he fired both barrels almost at once. The roar of the reports filled the rocky cleft with a deafening bellow, which echoed and rolled like thunder, and two charges of heavy duck-shot, tearing through the air, struck Wilding at point-blank range.

With a yell, he jumped straight up into the air, to pitch, with a sickening thud, right down into the ravine, full on the masses of broken rock which littered the bottom. For an instant Dick stood staring. His face had gone suddenly white, and he was shaking all over. It was him or us. You had to do it. There'll be more of 'em in two twos. With an effort Dick pulled himself together, and they started down the ravine. They had to pass close by the shattered body of the man Wilding.

It was not a pretty sight, and even Dudley, in spite of his brave words, shuddered as he glanced at the twisted face of the dead man. As they struggled frantically forward over the heaped-up masses of rocks again came the geyser-like boom and hoot. But this they hardly noticed. They were both too busy in their wild struggle for life. The slope became steeper. The walls on either side were so lofty that they out off the sunlight. The two moved in a shadowy gloom, so deep that they could hardly see. Of a sudden they came to a monstrous rock which seemed to bar further progress, for it lay right across the ravine like a huge gate.

Flinging himself on his face, Dudley stretched down, and Dick, with a leap, caught his outstretched hands. A frantic scramble, and he was beside his friend. And, sure enough, through the gap at the bottom of the gorge, the blue rollers of the gulf were visible, gleaming in the hot afternoon sun. The rest of the way, if steep, was comparatively easy, and within another two or three minutes they were on their ledge, and had dashed into their cave. Both flung themselves down. They were dripping with perspiration and panting with the fearful strain of the past half-hour.

Dudley laughed.


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It did him good to hear Dick joke. He had been afraid of the effect of the killing of Wilding, for he knew that Dick had never before fired a shot in anger. For himself it was different. He had seen rough work in the Far West before coming to Florida. He and Bent'll be mad as hornets when they find Wilding.

From now on, it's them or us! Plugging at us without a word of warning! I tell you, Dudley," he continued, with a grim quietness that was rather impressive, "it will be shoot on sight from now on! We've got to rid the earth of this crowd, and I'll do it with as little pity as I'd blow out a nest of rattlesnakes! So I guess we'd better get busy, and make some sort of a breastwork.

You've got to remember that, when the tide goes down, they can get along the beach just like we could, and then there's always the chance of their rushing us. There was any amount of loose stuff about, and they soon had formidable walls piled across the ledge at points which they could command from the cave-mouth. Anyone trying to reach the cave would have to climb one or the other. In the daytime they would be in plain sight; at night they would certainly make themselves heard by the fall of the small, loose stones which the boys had heaped on top of each barrier.

While they were at work the moaning roar was heard at its usual regular intervals, but after about an hour died away. Dick and Dudley, however, had become so accustomed to the sound that they hardly paid any further attention to it. The barriers finished, the two returned to the cave. What with their long morning at gold-digging, the chase, and the strenuous shifting of rocks, they were both pretty well done. But what about it if they find where we are, and settle down to starve us out?

I never thought of that. Well, we've got a keg full, anyhow. That'll last us till we can think the thing out. After all, we could surely make a sally by night, and fill up at the creek-mouth? The water question is the very first that he's going to think of. Before he's twenty-four hours older he'll know, like we do, that the creek is the only drinking water on the island, and he'll take his measures accordingly.

Ezra Cray's figuring on. Round the tall cape to the left a large sail-boat with a crew of half a dozen men had just come into sight. As they watched her the sheet was hauled, and she stood in towards the land. Lying flat on the bare rock behind a low breastwork of stone which they had erected before the narrow mouth of the cave, they waited to see what their assailants would do.

Another minute and they'll be in range, and we can plug the whole outfit without a chance of their touching us. As he spoke. Dudley raised his rifle softly and poked the muzzle through a chink in the breastwork. You can just bet he's got a very fair notion of our whereabouts. Another minute dragged by, while the big boat, with the soft breeze filling her mainsail, came steadily towards them.

It was deep water very nearly up to the shore, and the reefs which covered the entrance to the cove were a good way off to the right. Don't ye know enough for that? Haul your wind at once, or you'll get a dose of lead double quick! Ezra Cray, who was at the tiller, had certainly put the helm over; but instead of putting his craft on the other tack, he had merely thrown her up into the wind, so that she lay almost motionless, with her leeches quivering.

But thet's only fer just so long as your grub lasts out. Then you've got ter starve or put your hands up. We knows as it's only a matter o' time and o' watching you. Now, see here. I ain't a hard man, and no more is Bent, here. You kin get to your boat, load her up with the grub as you've brought along, and then git out.

Give us your word as you won't come back or won't go shooting off your mouth to any o' the folk at Lemon Bay, and we won't interfere with you no more one way or t'other. There, ef that ain't fair, I don't know what is. So we're to slope off with our tails between our legs, and leave you to mop up all the gold and generally raid everything worth having on the island. Is that the idea? I tell you straight, it won't. They're just about as trustworthy as a pack of range wolves. There's no risk from those rocks. The words were hardly out of his mouth when, as if at a given signal, all five of Cray's motley crew suddenly ducked down under the high gunwale, and five rifle barrels appeared instead.

The ragged volley sent the echoes crashing along the face of Crooked Cliff, and the bullets shrieked overhead or phutted harmlessly against the breastwork of rocks. They're out of range of my scatter-gun. Dudley had not waited for Dick's orders. He was already firing. His rifle, a sound if rather old fashioned Winchester, was of.

And Dudley, instead of snap shooting at the heads which just bobbed up above the gunwale, was firing deliberately at the boat itself, aiming as near the water-line as possible. The first shot was short, and, striking the water, ricocheted over the boat; but the second hulled her, and at the third again splinters flew white, and there came a howl of dismay or pain from one of the crew.

In a hurry, Cray let her drop off, and she darted ahead at greatly increased speed, while her crew fired as fast as they could pull trigger. But apart from the difficulty of accurate shooting from a moving boat, the boys were safe enough behind their breastwork, and so long as the boat was within range Dudley, caring nothing for the bullets that sang and whizzed overhead, continued to fire carefully-aimed shots at the hull of the fleeing craft.

Should You Use a Long or a Short Left Thumb Grip?

One was a bit high, but the rest got her right where she needed it. And I'll lay that more'n one of 'em went through both sides of her. Dudley, I'll bet that it will take 'em the best part of a week to make that old tub seaworthy again. Dick, I kind of think that Cray's wishing he hadn't tried that trick—eh! Only I guess we were both so rattled just then we never thought of it.

I fancy they'll have to go round to the other bay, and, anyhow, they'll have to go pretty slow. The water must be fairly squirting into the boat, and they'll have to handle her mighty easy. Dudley glanced again at the big boat, which was now just disappearing around the point of land to their left. This is our chance while they are out of sight.

Let's only hope that none of their crew have been left ashore. We'll slick together, whatever happens. And, anyway, that gorge is no place for one chap to go strolling alone. There's that big boulder to cross, and that's more than a one-man job. They wasted no time, but still they were not in such a tearing hurry as before. So the difficulties did not seem so great as they had previously, and, barring a meeting with a rock rattlesnake, a small, dark-coloured, evil-looking brute, which Dick killed by smashing a heavy stone upon it, they had no special adventures on the way.

Wilding's body lay where it had fallen, and Dick shuddered again as he noticed two great, dusky buzzards perched on the ledge overhead, their bare, wrinkled heads almost buried between their hunched-up wing-tips. I don't reckon that buzzards or anything else will get him there. Dick nodded, and after taking the dead man's rifle and his cartridge-belt, they rolled the body into the cleft, and it dropped out of sight into unknown depths below. This dreadful business finished, they hurried back.

The sun was already getting low, and there was still a good deal to be done in the way of making their position impregnable to attack. Most like he'll put a guard somewhere up there ready to drill us if we do go out that way. Then in that case he may try to attack us from that side. Reaching the ledge, they slopped and took a cautious survey of the surroundings. But there was no sign of the enemy, and they reached the cave without seeing any. He got up wearily from the rock on which he was sitting, took up the cup, and turned to the five-gallon keg in which they had brought up their drinking-water.

His cry of dismay brought Dick to his feet. But unless one of us had been potted, they could hardly have hit us harder. There's not a drop of water anywhere up in these rocks, and it's precious unlikely to rain at this time of year. Cray knows that as well at we do, and he'll not run any chances of letting us get to the creek. And the nights are dark now. Seems to me we ought to be able to hit off some place where the creek's not guarded, and fill the keg.

We have to be fresh for this business. When do you reckon we'd better go? We'll try it. Meantime, we may as well divvy up the remains of the water, and have some food. We'll have to leave those walls till to-morrow. I'm not expecting any attack for the present. Cray's policy will be to starve us out. They boiled the remains of the water on their oil-stove, and it gave them just one cup of tea each.

Then Dudley had the happy thought of digging out and opening a tin of peaches. These were floating in rich juice, which did as much to quench their thirst almost as the tea. They did not stint themselves, for they knew they would need all their strength and energy before morning, and although neither put the thought into words, yet both knew that if they failed to get the keg filled they would neither of them come back alive.

Dick took first nap, and Dudley, while he watched, carefully plugged the holes in the keg. By dint of beating out a piece of tin flat, and tacking it over the holes, he made a very good job of it. No one disturbed the quiet of their haunt in Crooked Cliff, and not a sound betrayed the fact that there was a soul beside themselves on the island. A little before one o'clock they started out.

It was a warm, still night, and though there was no moon, it was lighter than they liked. The stars were brilliant, and down in these latitudes they give far more light than even on the brightest of summer nights in England. The creek fed into the sea about three-quarters of a mile from Crooked Cliff. It came down in a series of rapids from the higher ground, and reached the sea in a little cove beyond the rocky one in which they had originally come ashore. They had talked the job over between them, and had decided that it would be foolish to risk attempting to fill their keg at or near the beach.

One of Cray's men would almost certainty be on guard there. Their idea was to strike a little way inland, where they would have the scrub to shelter them, then to chance finding a place where they could get to the stream under cover of the brush. The worst of it was that in order to get to the top of the cliff it was absolutely necessary to cross a part of the beach—the same beach where they had first come ashore.

Barring the ravine, this was their only way up on to the higher ground. Still, there was not much likelihood of this being guarded, for, as Dudley said, "Cray won't be reckoning on our wanting water to-night, nor for a couple of days yet. However, there was the oft-chance that someone might be watching, so they resolved to act exactly as though there was, and not run any risk that could be avoided.

Dick carried the keg. They had rigged a sort of harness of rope, so that he could carry it on his back. Dudley, who was the better shot of the two, carried his rifle, and went on a little way ahead. It was arranged that if he saw or heard anything suspicious he was to drop at once, and Dick would follow the same example.

Clambering softly over their barricade, they reached the strip of sand at the foot of the cliffs. It was now half-tide, and the beach would be passable for about the next two hours. They kept close in under the rocks, and moved slowly and carefully until they reached the break in the cliffs, where the ground ran up at a steep slope towards the scrub. Here they went down on hands and knees, and crawled the whole distance until they gained the shelter of the palmetto where they paused a moment to rest and look about. Sound will carry like the mischief. I guess we'd best keep along under the rim of the scrub, and chance finding an opening of some sort.

So long as we're close to the sea, the waves on the beach will cover any small noises. A couple of hundred yards further on they found what they were looking for—namely, a break in the dense line of scrub. A belt of rocky ground seemed to run inland from this point, so hard and barren that scarcely anything grew on it. Bending double, and taking all the cover they could find, they pressed steadily on. The opening took them right through the palmetto belt, and they found themselves among the stunted live- oak and blackjacks, which formed the main woods of the island.

Now they bore away to the left. By this time they were out of all sound of the sea, and as there was not a breath of air stirring, the silence was intense. Each time that either happened to tread on a dead stick or dry leaves the sound seemed to carry like a pistol-shot. And here, in these thick trees it was so dark that it was impossible to tell exactly where they were treading. Every now and then Dudley, who was still leading, would stop and listen, and it was during one of these pauses that he distinctly caught the faint tinkle of running water.

He dropped back to Dick, and told him that they were nearing the brook. Another hundred paces, and the trees broke away, showing an open space about fifty yards wide, carpeted with tall grass. By the sound, the brook ran down through the centre of this open space. So far, I've heard nothing suspicious. Have you! I suppose this creepy, crawly game has got on my nerves or something!

Dudley did not answer at once. He was puzzled and uneasy. This was something quite new. Dick Daunt was so hard-headed and practical that what he had said was distinctly upsetting. This is good enough. I'll go ahead, and fill the keg. And, see here, Dudley, you stick where you are! You'll be able to see plainly enough if anyone comes out into the open. On the other hand, if I'm right, and someone is really following us, you'll be hidden, and able to cut him off.

Dudley hated to stay behind, but had to agree that Dick's plan was the best. Rifle in hand, he took his stand under a thick, low-spreading tree just at the edge of the glade, and watched Dick slip out and go creeping snake-like through the tall grass. The starlight was enough to show his movements, and Dudley's heart was beating a good deal faster than usual. If he could see Dick, so could anyone else who happened to be prowling round, and what Dick had said about being followed had upset Dudley considerably.

Dick was not given to fancying things. Dick was quite near the stream, when suddenly he seemed to stop. Dudley, peering forward anxiously, saw him apparently struggling. The horrible thought came to him that Dick had stepped on a water viper, and been bitten. Up went one of Dick's arms, waving wildly, and Dudley, with a deadly fear at his heart, darted forward, and, scorning all concealment, tore across the open towards his chum. Don't come too near! I'm bogged! Dudley's gasp was one of relief. Anything was better than snake-bite. But as he cautiously advanced he saw that the matter was serious enough.

Dick was up to his waist in a horrible compound of evil-smelling, dark-coloured mire. What was worse, in spite of all his efforts, he was rapidly sinking deeper. If you can do that and throw me one end, I'll soon have you out. Dick lost no time in following this advice. But there were many knots, and he sank fast.

Luckily, he got it loose in time, and then pulled the keg round in front of him, so that it held him up like a life-buoy. Dudley came as near as he dared, and at much risk managed to get hold of the loose end of the rope. Then he scrambled back as far as he could, but the ground was so rotten that he had to wait and cut some armfuls of reeds with his knife before he could get foothold. All this took time, and they both knew that in this bright starlight their movements could be seen from quite a distance. Dudley put his weight on the rope and hauled.

The mud was like so much glue, and at first he feared that he could never get Dick out unaided. Indeed, if it had not been for the keg he never would, for there was no bottom under Dick's feet. But Dick was able to lift himself a little with the help of the keg, and at last he began to rise. Dudley put all his remaining strength into a tremendous pull, and Dick's body came out like a tight cork from a bottle, and was hauled to firmer ground.

Wait here, Dudley. I'll get the keg filled, and then we'll have to scoot. The tide'll be up if we don't hurry! You must be done in. And, staggering to his feet, he circled widely round the bog- hole, and went cautiously across to the brook. In a very few minutes he was back, carrying the keg filled to the top.

Then there was further delay while the rope was fitted up again into the harness. It was later than either of them liked before they started back again. The two were walking together now, for the barrel was heavy, and they had to change it from one to the other every now and then. They came out of the trees on to the rock strip, and now the sound of the waves breaking softly on the shingle was again in their ears.

Dick, glancing up, saw the figure of a man looming through the night. He was coming up from the direction of the beach, and had just topped the rise. He was so clearly visible that they could even see the rifle which he carried over his shoulder, and he was so near that they could plainly hear the rustle of his booted legs as they brushed against the saw-toothed stems of the cabbage palmetto. It will certainly bring the whole bunch down on us. The negro's heavy brogans came clumping leisurely across the rock. He was looking from one side to another, but had not seen them yet.

Yet if he kept on in the same direction for another few steps he was bound to walk right on top of them. All of a sudden the silence was broken by a cry, a cry so weird and wild and horrible that it seemed to freeze the blood in their veins. As for Rufe, he stopped in his tracks, and glared round. Then he, too, gave an unearthly yell, and, dropping his rifle, started running like a lunatic, or, rather, like a man scared almost out of his senses. In his blind panic be ran right past the two boys, passing them so near that he almost trod upon them, yet without even seeing them.

His nailed soles struck sparks from the rocks as he tore by, racing for the thick woods at the head of the gap. No sooner was he past than Dudley popped up his head to see what had scared the man. He dropped again quicker than he had risen. He, or it, was right across there, on the edge of the thick scrub opposite. I caught just one glimpse of it, and when I looked again, it was gone.

Cobra Gold

He was a very matter-of-fact person, and Dudley's story annoyed him oddly. Yet he could not doubt the truth of it. For one thing, Dudley was not given to romancing; for another, the nigger's terror was plain proof that he, too, had seen something which had given him a real bad scare.

He glanced round. Rufe was out of sight—out of hearing, too. He got up, and adjusted the water-keg on his back. It was. There was not a sign of any of Cray's ruffians, and the ghost, demon, or whatever it was that had so terrified Rufe, appeared to have vanished into thin air. At any rate, they saw no more of it. Reaching the beach, they found that the tide had just covered the narrow strip of shingle at the turn of the cliff. They had to wade in the creaming edges of the waves.

But the sea was calm, the night was warm, and both were badly in need of clean water to wash off the ill-smelling slime which clung thickly to their clothes. They took their time, and presently arrived safely at Crooked Cliff, and climbed up the steep ascent to their cave. That ought to see us through for the best part of a week. I guess we're safe enough for the rest of the night," Dudley answered. He rolled himself in his blanket, and stretched out. Dick did the same, and in a very few minutes they were both in the land of dreams. It may have been risky, but for nights past they had both been terribly short of sleep.

In any case, the risk was justified, for when they were at last awakened by the increasing heat of the day, they found that nothing had been disturbed, and that there was no sign anywhere of the enemy. Well, I feel a heap better, anyhow. I guess we'll have a right good, leisurely breakfast while we're about it. There's no gold to be dug to-day. Then he pulled himself up.

Distillations

Well, go ahead and spread yourself Dudley. Let's have flapjacks and coffee. Meantime, I'll slip out and have a squint around. It was a perfectly gorgeous morning, with the sun shining brilliantly on miles of azure-blue sea. Barring an occasional heavy storm, autumn is the finest season of the year in the Gulf of Mexico, and you get days on end of hot sun and gentle breezes. But, though Nature was so pleasing, Dick did not forget that man was vile, and that this lovely island was at present inhabited by some of the vilest of the whole bunch.

Cray, too, was not only a conscienceless scoundrel, but a very cunning one into the bargain, and he was taking no risks that could be avoided. Dick crept out on hands and knees, and carried Wilding's rifle, which was a. He peered first over the right-hand barricade, from which he could catch a glimpse of the beach.

There was nothing there, and he turned to the other side. Here no beach was visible, for the tide, now falling, still washed the foot of the cliffs. All was quiet, and he went back into the cave, where Dudley was busy over the oil-stove. Anyway, we'd best be on the safe side. The coffee's boiling. Help yourself and open a tin of that beef. They took their time over breakfast.

It was their first leisurely meal for two days, and they made the most of it. Then they went out, and set to work on the loose stone walls which barred the approaches on either side. There was any amount of loose stuff lying about, and they kept at it until the place was turned into a regular fortress. They finished by raising a wall in front of the cave-mouth high enough to protect it from any shooting from the sea. Sheriff Anderson would be pleased as Punch to help us.

But the worst of it is that if we do that we lose our gold. The place will be proclaimed as a gold-field. Uncle Sam will take hold, and I don't suppose we shall get a dollar out of it. All right, Dick, we'll play a lone hand, if you say so. We'll hit on some way of getting the better of Cray and his gang yet. And the first thing to do, if you ask me, is to try and find some other way up on to the top. So long as we have to cross the beach, or go up that gorge, we're absolutely at their mercy.

May as well start in at once, I guess," replied Dudley. He's just rounded the point beyond the entrance to Hidden Bay. BENT it was. He was a long way off, yet in the clear light there was no mistaking his massive figure and great head sunk between vast shoulders. He was prowling slowly along the base of the cliff, and every stop brought him nearer to the cleft which was the mouth of Hidden Bay. Besides, you can only see him once in a while. Those broken rocks give him all the cover he needs. Chances are that one of his pals is up on the top somewhere, keeping guard. And if we move out any further, we'll be under fire ourselves.

We'll never get off in this world if they smash our boat up. Dudley nodded, and began to crawl forward. So far, they had been protected against attack from above by the overhang of the cliff. Now they had reached a spot where there was no longer any overhang, and where they could be seen by any person posted on the top. Dick knew the danger, and kept on glancing upwards. They had gone about fifty yards when his quick eyes caught a movement of some sort almost exactly overhead. It might have been an end of a creeper swaying in the sea-breeze, or even a snake crawling over the lofty rim of the cliff.

But Dick did not think so, and he was just in time to shove Dudley violently back when a rifle barked sharply, and a bullet flattened itself viciously against the brown rock not a yard ahead, leaving a dull grey splash on the stone.