Jelland’s Voyage

“‘Why, man, we all have to die, and it’s only the pressing of a trigger. I swear that I shall never be taken alive. Will you? If you don’t, I leave you to your fate.’

“‘All right. I’ll do whatever you think best.’

“‘You swear it?’


“‘Well, mind, you must be as good as your word. Now we have two clear days to get off in. The yawl Matilda is on sale, and she has all her fixings and plenty of tinned stuff aboard. We’ll buy the lot to-morrow morning, and whatever we want, and get away in her. But, first, we’ll clear all that is left in the office. There are 5,000 sovereigns in the safe. After dark we’ll get them aboard the yawl, and take our chance of reaching California. There’s no use hesitating, my son, for we have no ghost of a look-in in any other direction. It’s that or nothing.’

“‘I’ll do what you advise.’

“‘All right; and mind you get a bright face on you to-morrow, for if Moore gets the tip and comes before Monday, then——’ He tapped the side-pocket of his coat and looked across at his partner with eyes that were full of a sinister meaning.

“All went well with their plans next day. The Matilda was bought without difficulty; and, though she was a tiny craft for so long a voyage, had she been larger two men could not have hoped to manage her. She was stocked with water during the day, and after dark the two clerks brought down the money from the office and stowed it in the hold. Before midnight they had collected all their own possessions without exciting suspicion, and at two in the morning they left their moorings and stole quietly out from among the shipping. They were seen, of course, and were set down as keen yachtsmen who were on for a good long Sunday cruise; but there was no one who dreamed that that cruise would only end either on the American coast or at the bottom of the North Pacific Ocean. Straining and hauling, they got their mainsail up and set their foresail and jib. There was a slight breeze from the south-east, and the little craft went dipping along upon her way. Seven miles from land, however, the wind fell away and they lay becalmed, rising and falling on the long swell of a glassy sea. All Sunday they did not make a mile, and in the evening Yokohama still lay along the horizon.

“On Monday morning down came Randolph Moore from Jeddo, and made straight for the offices. He had had the tip from some one that his clerks had been spreading themselves a bit, and that had made him come down out of his usual routine; but when he reached his place and found the three juniors waiting in the street with their hands in their pockets he knew that the matter was serious.

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