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not over dependable, but the authorities were taking no chances. Accordingly, a most trustworthy and efficient man was sworn onto the force for the express purposes of the occasion, and in the guise of a private citizen on a short vacation, set out for the bay where Jabez was literally monarch of all he surveyed.
He was most hospitably received, was treated to a delicious meal, the best of old rum and the best of cigars, which, as he smoked them, he reflected had undoubtedly been smuggled. Jabez was most interesting talker and the time passed quickly. The afternoon was waning and the hour was approaching when the boat might be expected to appear in the distance. Jabez had mentioned the threats made by the natives; he had declared that at any time he expected an attempt to be made to assasinate him, and he even stated that already he had been shot at from ambush. Suddenly, breaking the silence of the peaceful valley, there was the report of a gun from the hillside, and a bullet whined uncomfortably close to the heads of Jabez and his visitor, and buried itself in the woodwork.
Jabez leaped to his feet with an oath. “Didn't I say so?” he cried excitedly. “Some cursed coward is trying to kill me! Come on, it's lucky you're here. We'll go after him.”
Rushing into his house, he seized a gun and
dashed to the courtyard where horses always stood saddled and bridled. Shouting to his servants to follow and join in the chase, he galloped off, accompanied by the somewhat dazed and rather nervous officer who felt that the would be assasin might easily pot one or both of his pursuers.
Up through the weed-grown, lime orchards and cacao groves they rode, following scarcely visible trails, forcing a way through jungles of banana and plantain trees, urging their sure-footed ponies up rocky slopes. But there was no sign of the lurking man who had fired the shot. For hours they searched until the sun had sunk behind the mountains across the valley; until the short tropic twilight turned to inky night, and, unable to search farther, they reluctantly,-on the part of Jabez, though thankfully on the part of the other,-plodded slowly back on their jaded, sweating mounts.
And not until the weary officer noted a long and speedy boat drawn upon the beach where previously no boat had been, and saw swaggering French West Indian boatman drinking uproariously with the natives, and found most suspicious tell-tale marks of laden cart wheels leading from the boat across the beach, did he realize how he had been hoodwinked and outwitted. Of course Jabez had been suspicious of a stranger; the shot and the subsequent chase had been all prearranged, and while
they had been searching the hillsides, the boat had come safely to port with its contraband cargo.
It was all very plain, very evident to the officer, but there was no proof, no evidence on which to act, and as Jabez, once again all smiles and suave politeness, filled up the glasses with ambertinted fifty-year old rum, he remarked: “I always dream true, M'sieu. I dream when I am watched and enemies seek to injure me. Oui, M'sieu, you may laugh at Obeah, but the spirits come to me.”
"Yes," drawled the other reflectively. “I suspect they do, but not the kind of spirits you're referring to.”
A very different type from friend Jabez was another fellow-islander of his, though like him, Alex was a man of slight color. Like Jabez also, he had been highly educated in England. Like him he had inherited wide estates and wealth, but there all similarity ceased. Alex was in thought, character, brains, beliefs, and in everything but his light brown skin and slightly curly hair, pure white. He was the frankest, merriest, best natured and honest fellow one could wish to meet; a thorough Christian, and instead of wasting his patrimony he had doubled and tripled its value until he was reputed the wealthiest man in the islands, and worth probably fully half a million. So, when Alex smuggled, as he sometimes did, it was
for pure love of adventure and an insatiable desire to play a practical joke upon the customs officials, who to their credit, realized this and cherished no ill feelings when Alex got the best of them.
Near Alex's estate was a large safe harbor wherein, from time immemorial, the Yankee whaleships had been wont to congregate. Here they secured fresh water, wood for their try-works fires, fresh vegetables and meats. Also, it was an excellent spot for giving the men shore leave, and for transfering the catches of oil to a station ship. And whenever the whalemen were in port they invariably visited Alex and were right royally entertained.
On one such occasion, when several whaleships were anchored in the bay and the weather-beaten skippers were making merry at Alex's cosy home high up the mountain side, one of the whalemen mentioned the fact that he had a quantity of most excellent brandy on board his ship, but that owing to the constant presence of customs officers on the vessel, he had been unable to bring the choice liquor ashore as a gift to his old friend.
Alex chuckled. Here was an opportunity to play a fine trick on the officials. Having assured the skipper that such little matters as customs guards would never prevent him from getting contraband ashore, he laid a wager that he could smuggle the brandy from the ship by the customs boat.
This matter attended to, he requested a written order from the captain, authorizing his mate to deliver the brandy to bearer, and calling to his overseer, he issued rapid instructions in the Creole patois which the whalemen could not understand. The mulatto grinned, pocketed the order, and mounting his horse, cantered off to the port. Drawn upon the beach was a native canoe, and with a few instructions to the half naked boatmen lounging near, the overseer embarked and was paddled swiftly to the whaleship.
Alongside was the revenue boat, a speedy gig manned by negroes in neat blue uniforms, and making his craft fast a few feet astern of the other boat, the mulatto and his boatmen clambered aboard the ship.
“Captain Williams sent me for a cask of oil,” he explained to the natty customs officer on deck. "Mr. Alex requires it.”
The other nodded. “Very well,” he agreed. “Sling it into your boat, and I'll tell my men it's all right.”
Making his way aft, the overseer drew the mate aside, showed him the order from the captain and revealed Alex's plans. The mate laughed heartily. This was a matter as much to his taste as to Alex's.
With due caution the brandy was broken out from the cabin stores and carried to the 'tween decks. Then, quite ostentatiously, the hatch was