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"H.M.S. Amphibian will proceed out of harbour under sealed orders." So read the message, and speculation ran high as to what was in the wind.

There was a "lower deck yarn," of course. There always is a lower deck yarn on these occasions. Curiously enough, although the lower deck generally gets hold of the wrong end of the stick, you may bet your last perruque of 'baccy that it gets hold of the right stick.

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I may perhaps explain that in the days which I am talking about tobacco was served out in the leaf, and had to be made up in a certain way. It was compressed into a tight roll by wrapping it round with canvas, and then serving it over with spun-yarn. The process of "serving" a thing, in the Navy, consists of winding it round and round with a protecting cover of spun-yarn. The finished article had about the size and appearance of a periwig or perruque.

The lower deck yarn on this occasion was to the effect that

were detailed to sail for Cocos Island and hunt for buried treasure.

In a sense it was true. Not officially, of course.

Early in the morning we left the delightful little harbour of Esquimalt, and were soon on our way south with every stitch of canvas drawing. We were not a sailing ship, but we were square-rigged for'ard, and excessively proud of it. On our main and mizzen-masts, I may as well admit, we had nothing but fore and aft rig.

Our captain was never better pleased than when he could bank fires and proceed under sail alone, but it must be confessed that this was only possible when we had time to waste. Under all plain sail we could make about three knots.

We had shipped a mysterious guest-the most virulent type of Yank. His lips were not sealed, though no doubt he had been given to understand that he was expected to be discreet. As far as I remember, he was berthed with us in the wardroom. Anyhow, we wardroom officers saw a great deal of him, and wardroom officers are not accustomed to suffer that type of man gladly. They instinctively start to educate him. Chaff, however, ran off this fellow's back like water

off a duck. He simply could not be made to realise that self-advertisement was no criterion on board a man-of


As a consequence his company was not very much in demand. This was a slice of luck from my point of view. Being at the time one of the most junior members of the mess, I was in the position least favourable for attracting the attention of a popular guest. The man had some interesting stories to relate. I made no notes at the time, and much that he told me has gone by the board, but sufficient remains to enable me to put together the chief points of this yarn.

He showed me an old sort of diary that had been passed on to him by his father. Obviously it had seen bad times. Much of the writing was faded, and it was stained by damp. I can vouch for the fact that, as far as I could judge, it appeared to be exactly what he said it was. He was very jealous of letting it go out of his hands, even for a moment, and it was only towards the end of our acquaintance that I managed actually to handle it.

obtaining the services of a surgeon without delay. The doctor was enticed on board, having no notion of the character of the ship to which he was proceeding. His suspicions were aroused, and he began putting some awkward questions, with the result that the ship was got under weigh and he found himself a prisoner.

In the diary the doctor described his philosophy pretty well. In the event of capture, the most precious document to have about him would be a diary of events starting from the day of departure from Panama. It would be almost certain to preserve him from short shrift, and it would contain statements that could be corroborated at Panama. The book used was a pocketbook, such as a doctor would be likely to carry about with him for making notes. always carried it about his person, and wrote it up in the privacy of his cabin.


He seems to have won the confidence of the pirate from the start, who, it appears, was a man of some education. The presence of the doctor was a perfect godsend to him in the way of companionship.

Once more the ship put into Panama. By this time the doctor had acquired an interest in treasure that had been sacked in a successful raid upon the town of Acapulco. He obtained permission to land and settle his private affairs. Doubtless the pirate thought

This diary was the work of a doctor who had served with a pirate, and won his confidence to a great extent. According to the story as it was told to me, the pirate brought his ship into Panama with a lot of wounded men, and was under the urgent necessity of the treasure was sufficient tie.

He was to join the ship at some port farther south, whither he would proceed overland. There was also some business which he was to perform for the captain, the nature of which I have forgotten.

The doctor was landed, and the ship proceeded south upon her last cruise, as it turned out, for she fell in with a British man-of-war and was captured. The pirates were taken home to England, where they were duly tried and hanged, lining the bank of the river Thames with a row of gibbets.

There must be a record of these things available to those who wish to test the main points of my yarn for what they are worth. I am here only concerned in giving personal reminiscences.

In the meantime the doctor, intent upon escaping from the reach of his late shipmates at all costs, made his way north. He carried with him the precious diary, now perhaps more than ever valuable, in that it possessed notes upon the exact location of the loot from Acapulco. He was overcome with fever in the marshes near the frontier of Costa Rica, and was finally given shelter by a settler. This settler would be, I suppose, the grandfather of our friend the Yank.

The doctor died after having given some account of his adventures, and the diary remained in the possession of his benefactor. It contained rough plans of Cocos Island, an account of the pirate colony

established there, and crossbearings of the spot in which the treasure had been buried.

The diary appears to have been more or less neglected until it came into the possession of the grandson, who, having received an education in New York, had acquired, among other accomplishments, a very lusty desire for wealth. He was sufficiently businesslike to realise that half a loaf was better than no bread, and after making a fruitless attempt to find the treasure by himself, he had returned to the mainland and worked his way north to Esquimalt, where he managed to get an introduction into high places.

A certain British admiral became interested in his yarn, and having tested the evidence, took an opportunity to visit the island while cruising in the vicinity. Our friend was taking a passage in the flagship on that occasion, and went ashore in company with the admiral. It was clear that the digging operations would occupy more time than was at the disposal of the flagship then, so there was nothing for it but to leave the matter until some excuse for cruising in these waters should bring one of the ships in the vicinity of the island.

We had some duty to perform at one of the Costa Rican ports. That settled, we proceeded straight to the lonely little island that had served the pirates so well as a haven of refuge.

On the third day out from

Esquimalt all hands were mustered aft. After a short preliminary explanation by the captain, the regulations concerning "treasure trove" were read out, and it was explained that what share fell to the ship's company would be distributed according to the regulations relating to salvage. Our captain was very scornful about the prospects of finding any treasure. He announced that any share that fell to himself, and it would, of course, be very considerable, would be divided among the ship's company.

So the secret was out. The lower deck yarn, which as usual had been strongly denied as an absolute invention of the ship's cook, once again proved the general trustworthiness of that oracle.

The American guest had not waited for any official confirmation. With characteristic foresight he had seized the opportunity to build up a reputation, and had been spreading himself among "the boys" long before the appointed time.

"Say now, kid, what sort of money d'you reckon you're gettin'. Say I'll bet you'll all be makin' a li'l' gold statue of sure."


This sort of thing might have gone down well enough among his own people, but it did not impress the British bluejacket any more than it impressed his officer in the wardroom, and, though it provided a certain amount of entertainment, it also gave

scope for a considerable amount of plain speaking. The bluejacket does not go to much pains in concealing his contempt for a man who has made a mess of winning his approval. He was obviously the worst kind of liar.

Our friend scored heavily when, at noon on the third day, the captain made his announcement.

"Good old son; why, you were right all the time, and we did not know it. Put it there, and no ill-feelin's."

The yarn that he had put over happened to be a true one, but the man himself was absolutely impossible. The whole ship's company looked for an opportunity to catch him napping.

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It was the gunner's mate who finally laid the trap. According to his own estimation, there was no handier man with a gun than our gallant hero. The opportunity presented itself shortly after we had completed our business at Costa Rica.

The boatswain and his party were engaged in getting up one or

two mysterious - looking things from the storeroom, and there was a suggestive display of red bunting.

"Say, boss, wat 'n thunder's them red flags for? Looks 's if you was out t' scare bulls 'n these regions. Say 'r you out t' scare porpoises, or wat's this new game, anyway?"

He was enlightened as to the naval procedure before engaging in target practice.

"'N is them things th' targets you reckon to hit at two thousand yards? Say, I guess you don't need to make mor'n about one 'v 'em."

"Why not, son?"

"Waal, I reckon th'r ar'n't much 't hit with them things 't that sort er distance. Wat yer reckon 't hit boss, th' flag?

"No, boy, the staff, of course. The flag is only there to show up agin the water. A bare staff is hardly visible at two thousand yards."

"'N d'you reckon th' boys 'is goin' t' make away with many 'v them staffs? Calls fer some shootin', I guess."

"Well, you can't tell what they may do. It depends on the nature of the light. I've seen days when they'd be calling for another target pretty well every other round." Boatswains are not always truthful.

“"Zzat so ? "

For a moment the Yank was nonplussed. Then he moved off, and his next remark was addressed to the gunner's mate.

"Say, 'z that there boatswain a relative of Thommas A. Edison? "

The sarcasm was lost upon the gunner's mate, who did not understand the allusion.


'e ?"

"Edison I said, not Addison. Ain't you ever bin put wise to America's slappest - up inventor?"

called a funnygraph, sort of copy of the grammyphone. You ain't got as far as grammyphones in your country, maybe."

The Yank ignored the insult. "Say you calls yerself boss gunman on this hooker? queried.



"Guess again, sonny. rated gunner's mate, an' don't yer ferget it. Anybody that goes callin' me names that I don't rekkernise is liable to get a tap over the clock with this 'ere."

The gunner's mate held out a pretty useful closed paw quite good-naturedly.

"Waal, Mr Gunner's Mate, sir, askin' y'r pardon, d'you reckon your boys is goin' to hit them little bits of sticks that th' bos'n 's stickin' up on them red thin's. Hit 'em at two thousand yards."

The gunner's mate spat scornfully over the side. "You don't know nothin' about shootin' with guns. This ain't pottin' at bottles with a saloon rifle. Look 'ere!

The instinct of the gunnery instructor was on him, and he proceeded to explain the principal points. He showed how, by aiming at a red flag, a mere red point set out in bold relief

Thommas Addison; 'oo's against the blue of the ocean, it was easy to note, by the white splashes, what sort of shooting was being made. This was not prize-firing to be counted by actual hits upon the target. It was what is known as aiming practice. Of course it was possible that now

"No-yes. I might 'ave 'eard of a bloke of that name. Somethin' to do with a thing

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