THE TURNING UP OF A BAD PENNY AND ITS RESULTS

Nattie’s duties as warehouseman and shipper of the firm took him aboard
the shipping of the port day by day. When a consignment of tea or silk
was conveyed from the “go-down” in lighters to the steamers riding at
anchor in the bay, the lad would visit the vessels to see that the goods
were checked properly.

Also when the smaller coasting craft would arrive from other ports with
cargoes from the local agents of the firm, Nattie’s duty carried him on
board to sign the receipts.

One morning while on the latter journey to a coaster from Kobe he was
surprised to see an old acquaintance among the crew. It was the recreant
watchman, Patrick Cronin.

Still harboring resentment for the fellow’s actions on that memorable
night when Willis Round made his dastardly attempt to fire the “go-down”
with its valuable contents, Nattie passed him without recognition. After
attending to his business on board, he started to leave the little
steamer.

As he was preparing to descend to his cutter, he felt a touch upon his
shoulder. Turning, he saw Patrick with an expression of great humility
upon his rugged face.

“What is it?” asked Nattie, sharply.

“I beg your pardon, sir, but could Oi have a bit of a talk wid yer?”
replied the Irishman, pleadingly.

“Well, what do you wish to say? Make haste; I am in a hurry.”

“Could yer step back here a bit where we won’t be overheard, sir? It’s
something of interest to yourself Oi have to say, sir. Maybe ye’ll think
it’s valuable information Oi have before Oi’m through.”

Laughing incredulously, Nattie walked over to the break of the
forecastle, and bade his companion proceed with his yarn. He thought it
would prove to be a sly attempt to secure another position with the
firm, and he firmly intended to refuse the request.

“Now what is it?” he again demanded, impatiently.

“It’s mad ye are at me, Oi suppose?”

“See here, Patrick Cronin, if you have anything to tell me, speak out.
My time is too valuable to waste just now. If you intend to ask for a
situation with the firm you had better save your breath. One experience
with you is enough.”

Instead of becoming angry at this plain talk, Patrick set to chuckling
with good humor.

“Oi don’t blame yer for being down on me,” he said, with what seemed
very like a wink. “Oi should not have let that spalpane tempt me wid th’
drink. Oi have it in for him, and by th’ same token that’s why Oi’m now
talking to yer.”

“Do you know where Willis Round is?” quickly asked Nattie.

“Maybe Oi do, and maybe Oi don’t. It’s for you to say, sir.”

“For me to say? What have I to do with it?”

“Would yer like to capture him?” asked Patrick, cunningly.

Nattie thought a moment before replying. Would it really be worth the
candle to bring the ex-bookkeeper to justice? The chase might entail a
journey and some expense. But then would it not be advisable for the
sake of future peace to have Round behind prison bars?

“As long as he is at liberty,” thought the lad, “we can expect trouble.
This chance of disarming him should not be neglected.”

“Yes; I would very much like to capture the fellow,” he added, aloud. “I
suppose you know where he is, or you would not mention the subject.”

“I do know his whereabouts this blessed minute.”

“Well?”

The Irishman leered significantly.

“Ah, you wish to sell the information, I suppose?” said Nattie, a light
breaking in upon him.

“It’s wise ye are.”

“Can you tell me exactly where he is, so that I can send and have him
arrested?”

“No, no. Ye mustn’t send the police, sir. If ye want to capture the
spalpane ye must go yerself, or wid a friend. The boobies of officers
would spoil everything. If Oi give the man away Oi must be sure he will
be put in prison, as he’d kill me for informing on him.”

“Oh, I see,” said Nattie, contemptuously. “You wish to save your
precious skin. Well, if it is worth while I’ll go for him myself, or
probably take Mori. Now where is he?”

“Is the information worth twenty pounds, sir?”

“No; decidedly not.”

Patrick looked discomfited.

“But think of th’ good Oi’m doing yer,” he pleaded. “Mister Round is a
bad man, and he’ll keep yer in a torment of suspense until ye put him
away. Won’t ye make it twenty pounds, sir?”

“No.”

“Then how much?”

“Half that is a big amount for the information.”

“Call it twelve pounds, and it’s a bargain.”

“All right; but understand, you are not to get a cent until the man is
captured.”

“Oh, Oi’ll agree to that. Oi’ll go wid yer if ye pay the fare.”

“Very well. Now where is Willis Round?”

“He’s stopping in Nagasaki.”

“Nagasaki? What part?”

“That Oi’ll show yer in due time. He’s hid away in a place ye wouldn’t
dream of lookin’ into. When do you want to start, sir?”

“As soon as possible. We can leave on the evening train and reach there
by daylight. Get your discharge from the steamer and report to me at the
station about six o’clock.”

“And who will ye take besides me, sir? It’ll be just as well to have a
mate, as there’s no telling what’ll happen.”

Nattie eyed the speaker keenly.

“So you think there will be no trouble in effecting the capture, eh?” he
said.

“No; but it’s a good thing to be prepared in this worruld.”

“There is more truth than poetry in that,” was the grim reply. “I think
Mr. Okuma will accompany me. He intended to run down in that direction
before long, anyway. Now don’t fail, Patrick. Be at the station at six.”

The ex-watchman waved his hand in assent as the lad entered his boat,
then he retreated to the forecastle with an expression of great
satisfaction upon his face. During the balance of the morning he
proceeded about his work with evident good humor.

Shortly before noon he borrowed a piece of paper and an envelope from
the purser, and laboriously indited a letter with the stump of a lead
pencil. Sealing the epistle, he wrote upon the back:

“MISTER JESSE BLACK, ESQ.,
“The Bund, forninst Main Street,
“Yokohammer, Japan.”

After regarding his work with complacency, he asked the captain for his
discharge. On being paid off, he went ashore and disappeared in the
direction of the general post office.

In the meantime Nattie had returned to the office, supremely unconscious
of Patrick’s duplicity. He found Grant and Mori making up the invoices
for a cargo of lacquered ware. He explained his news at once.

“It’s a good chance to strike Black & Son a blow they will be not
likely to forget in a hurry,” he added, throwing himself into a chair.
“Perhaps we can get a confession from the fellow, also.”

“You mean about that debt?” asked Mori.

“Yes. When he is compelled to face a five years’ sentence for attempted
arson perhaps he’ll ‘split’ on his confederates. In that case if it
turns out as we suspect, the English firm will be wiped out.”

Grant shook his head doubtfully.

“I do not like the source of your information, Nattie,” he said. “In my
opinion, Patrick Cronin is not to be trusted.”

“Oh, he’s all right. He has it in for Round for playing him such a
trick, and he is trying to get even. Then the twelve pounds is something
to him.”

“We might run down to Nagasaki,” thoughtfully remarked the Japanese
youth. “I intended to drum up trade in that direction, anyway. It will
be a nice little trip, even if nothing comes of it.”

“Something tells me that it will be a wild-goose chase,” replied Grant.
“You can try it, though. I can spare both of you for three or four days
about now. You need a vacation, anyway.”

“What about yourself, brother?” asked Nattie, generously. “You have
worked harder than either of us. Why can’t you come also?”




“What, and leave the business go to the dogs! Oh, no, my dear boy. What
would I do with a vacation? I am never happier than when I am pouring
over accounts in this office, believe me. Get away with you now. Run
home and pack up for your trip. But let me give you a bit of advice.”

“What is it?”

“Take revolvers, and see that the cartridges are in good condition.
Also, don’t go poking about the suburbs of Nagasaki without a squad of
police.”

“One would think we are bound after a band of outlaws in the Indian
Territory at home,” laughed Nattie. “Willis Round is not such a
formidable man as all that.”

“No; but you don’t know who else you may have to contend with. Another
thing: keep your eye on Patrick Cronin. Good-by.”

On reaching the station that evening Mori and Nattie found the Irishman
awaiting their arrival. He was all smiles and good humor, and his rugged
face was as guileless as that of a new-born babe. Verily the human
countenance is not always an index to one’s true nature.

“It’s plazed Oi am to see yer, gentlemen,” he said, suavely. “I did
think ye might be after changing yer minds. It’s near train time now.”

“We are here,” replied Nattie, briefly. “Get into the car.”

He purchased three tickets, for Nagasaki by way of Kobe and followed
them into the train. A moment later the long line of coaches left the
station and rolled rapidly on into the night.

After a brief stop at Kobe, which was reached shortly before daybreak,
the train resumed its course along the edge of the sea. A short distance
from the city the tracks were laid directly upon the coast, only a
parapet of stone separating the rails from the water’s edge.

Feeling restless and unable to sleep, Nattie left his bed, and throwing
on his outer clothing, stepped out upon the platform. He was presently
joined by Mori, and the twain stood watching the flitting panorama.

A storm, which had been gathering in the south, presently broke, lashing
the broad surface of the sea into an expanse of towering waves. As the
gale increased in force, the caps of water began to break over the
parapet in salty spray.

“Whew! I guess we had better beat a retreat,” exclaimed Mori, after
receiving an extra dash of moisture.

“Wait a moment,” pleaded Nattie. “I hate to leave such a grand scene.
What a picture the angry seas make! My! that was a tremendous wave! It
actually shook the train.”

“Murder and saints!” groaned a voice at his elbow. “Phwat is the matter,
sir? Is it going to sea we are in a train of cars? ‘Tis the first time
Patrick Cronin ever traveled on a craft without masts or hull. Oi think
it do be dangerous along here, saving yer presence.”

Before either Nattie or Mori could reply to the evidently truthful
remark, a line of water, curling upward in threatening crests, dashed
over the parapet and fairly deluged the platforms. It was with the
greatest difficulty the three could retain their hold.

Now thoroughly alarmed, they endeavored to enter the car. Suddenly the
speed of the train became lessened, then it stopped altogether. A moment
later the grinding of heavy driving wheels was heard, and the line of
coaches began to back up the track. It was a precaution taken too late.

Before the cars had obtained much headway a wall of glistening water was
hurled over the parapet with resistless force, sweeping everything
before it. Amid the shouts and screams of a hundred victims the coaches
and engine were tumbled haphazard from the track, piling up in a mass of
wreckage against the cliff.