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gift, and, for his pleasure, it saw daily use. To Barbie it was a constant trial, and her brother's complacency nettled her more than she would have wanted him to know. “It’s nothing in the world but a waffle-iron,” she ached to remind him. “We had a perfectly good one before. Its cost would have bought my ring, and a nice collar for Mother, and you ’d have had your waffles just the same. If I don’t mind cooking them in the kitchen, why should you care?” Morning after morning her disappointment rankled in her heart as she poured batter with a ringless hand and then turned to her own breakfast of buttered toast. But she fought down the ugly words and smiled determinedly at her brother's pleasure. “Waffles are good,” she conceded, when called to account, “but I seem to be a little tired of them.” Dayton sniffed disgustedly, and never once suspected that disappointment had turned his favorite edible into ashes for his sister. But Barbie's search for patience brought its reward. As she fought her fight, the angry thoughts grew calmer and the daily task less irksome. Slowly Dayton's jubilation over the birthday gift grew easier to bear, and into his sister's heart there crept an appreciation of the pleasure he had meant to give and the self-denial so expensive a purchase had entailed. “It has taught me some self-control, at least,” she said to herself. “I have n’t enjoyed learning it, but that does n’t affect the value of the lesson. I needed it and—yes, I'm glad it happened as it did.” It was the last of August when Barbie began sorting her books and putting her possessions in readiness for school, soon to begin. Her brother came in, shutting the door with a vigor that shook the house. Barbie looked up. “There 's never any uncertainty as to whether you close the front door, Date,” she told him. “I don't like uncertain people,” Dayton remarked, disposing himself astride the big chair. “Make up your mind to do a thing and then do it—if it 's only shutting a door. That's my belief.” “So I suspected,” laughed Barbie.
“Yes, I made up my mind to go to work, once upon a time, and I went. Then I decided to quit—and I quit.” Barbie's book fell to the floor. “You— What?” “Quit. It was a shabby trick, Barb, doing what I knew Dad would n’t approve when he was n’t here to forbid it. I knew I had no business to plan for anything that would cut school out, but I was bound to do it. If you had fussed at me, Barb, I'd have rebelled good and plenty, but you 've been so—sort of patient, and you did n’t give a fellow a chance to argue himself into thinking he was right.” “I—I 'm glad, Date,” was the subdued reply. “I ought to own up that I did n't always feel patient.” “Jeminy, I know that! You could n't— that 's why I appreciate it. I 'll make a clean breast of the whole thing in my next letter to the folks, and then it 's me for hard work. I 'll make up this lost time on my studies—you 'll see if I don't.” “Oh, Date, I 'm so glad! You don't know what a load I 've had on my heart, thinking of Daddy's disappointment.” “Well, here 's where it rolls off. Oh, by the way, I saw Sue Cole going into Ewing's this afternoon. Said she was after her class ring. I remembered hearing you speak of wanting one, once, so I just went in with her and we got two. Here 's yours—like it?” “Like it?—I love it to death! Oh, Date, I am so happy—it 's such a dear, dear beauty! Are you sure you could afford it?” Barbie was almost crying in her joy, and her brother looked at her curiously. “Are n’t girls some queer?” he asked of space. “Say, Barb, would you rather have had the ring for your birthday than the waffle-iron?” Barbie caught her breath and shivered a little. Then she looked up and answered steadily. “It was best just as it was, Date,” she told him. “I needed the waffle-iron then, and I’m going to enjoy the ring now.” “Well, you sure have made good use of the electric contraption,” declared the boy. But even Dayton did n't know how good that use had been.
By SAMUEL SCOVILLE, JR.
CHAPTER I THE BEGINNING
IT was a bushmaster which started the Quest of the Emerald—and only a possible bushmaster at that. One May evening in Cornwall, Big Jim Donegan, the lumber-king, sat in the misty moonlight with his slippered feet on the rail of the veranda of his great house at the top of the hill in which he lived all alone. He was puffing away at a corncob pipe as placidly as if he did not have more millions than Cornwall had hills— which is saying something, for Cornwall has twenty-seven of the latter. Along the gravel walk, which wound its way for nearly half a mile to the entrance of the estate, came the sound of a dragging footstep. A moment later, from out of the shadows stepped a man over six feet in height, a little stooped, and who wore a shiny frock-coat surmounted by a somewhat battered silk hat. The stranger had a long, clean-shaven, lantern-jawed face. His nose jutted out like a huge beak, a magnificent, domineering nose, which, however, did not seem in accord with his abstracted blue eyes and his precise voice. “What do you want?” snapped Big Jim, bringing his feet to the floor with alarming suddenness. The stranger blinked at him mildly for a moment with a gaze that seemed to be cataloguing the speaker. “This is Mr. James Donegan,” he finally stated. “How do you know?” demanded the lumber-king. “You have all the characteristics of a magnate,” returned the other, calmly; “energy, confidence, bad temper, worse manners, and—” “Whoa there!” shouted Big Jim, whose bark was worse than his bite and who always respected people who stood up to him. “Never mind any more statistics. Who are you!” “My name is Ditson,” responded the other, sitting down without invitation in the most comfortable chair in sight. “Professor Amandus Ditson. I am connected with the Smithsonian National Museum.” “Well,” returned Mr. Donegan, stiffening, “I don't intend to subscribe any money to
the Smithsonian Museum or any other museum, so there 's no use of your asking me.” “I had no intention of asking you for anything,” returned Professor Ditson, severely. “I had understood that you were a collector of gems, and I came to place at your disposal certain information in regard to the finest emeralds probably now in existence. I too am a collector,” he went on abstractedly. “Humph!” grunted Big Jim. “What do you collect?” he inquired, regarding his visitor shrewdly. “Bushmasters,” responded Professor Ditson, simply. “Come again,” returned Big Jim, much puzzled, “I don’t quite get you. What are bushmasters?” “The bushmaster,” announced Professor Ditson, with more animation than he had yet shown, “is the largest, the rarest, and the deadliest of South American serpents. It attains a length of over twelve feet and has fangs an inch and a half long. You will
hardly believe me,” he went on tapping Mr.
Donegan's knee with a long, bony forefinger, “but there is not a single living specimen in captivity at present even in our largest cities.” The lumber-king regarded the scientist with undisguised astonishment. “Professor Amandus Ditson,” he announced solemnly, “so far as I’m concerned, there can continue to be a lack of bushmasters not only in our great cities, but everywhere else. Snakes of any kind are absolutely nothing in my young life.” “Tut! tut!” responded the professor, reprovingly. “I think I could convince you that you are wrong in your unfortunate aversion to reptiles.” “No you could n’t,” returned Big Jim, positively, “not if you were to lecture all the rest of the year.” “Well,” responded Professor Ditson, soothingly, “suppose we discuss your hobby, which I understand is precious stones.” “Now you're talking,” returned the other, enthusiastically. “I suppose I’ve about the finest collection of gems in this country, and in some lines, perhaps the best on earth. Take pearls, for instance,” he boasted. “Why, Professor Ditson, some boys right here in Cornwall helped me get the finest examples of pink and blue pearls that there are in any collection. When it comes to emeralds, there are half a dozen collectors who beat me out. What's all this dope you have about them, anyway?” “Last year,” replied the other, “I was in Peru at a time when they were repairing one of the oldest cathedrals in that country. A native workman, knowing that I was interested in rarities of all kinds, brought me an old manuscript, which turned out to be a map and a dresciption of the celebrated Lake of Eldorado.” “That 's the name of one of those dream places,” interrupted Mr. Donegan, impatiently. “I’ve no time to listen to dreams.” Professor Ditson was much incensed. “Sir,” he returned austerely, “I deal in facts, not in dreams. I have traveled one thousand miles to see you, but if you can not speak more civilly, I shall be compelled to terminate this interview and go to some one with better manners and more sense.” “Just what I was going to suggest,” murmured Big Jim, taken aback, but much pleased by the professor's independence. “So long, however, as you 've beat me to it, go on. I'll hear you out anyway.” Professor Ditson stared at him sternly. “For nearly four hundred years,” he began at last, “there have been legends of a sacred lake somewhere in Bolivia or Peru. Once a year, before the Spanish conquest, the chief of the Incas, the dominant race of Peru, covered with gold-dust, would be ferried out to the center of this lake. There he would throw into the lake the best emerald that had been found in their mines during the year and then leap in himself. At the same time the other members of the tribe would stand on the shores with their backs to the lake and throw into the water over their shoulders emeralds and gold ornaments.” “Why?” exclaimed the old collector. “As an offering to the Spirit of the Lake,” returned the professor. “The Spaniards, when they heard the story, named the lake Eldorado—The Lake of the Golden Man. As the centuries went by, the lake has been lost—until I found it again.” There was a long pause, which was broken at last by the lumber-king. “Have you any proof that this story of yours is true?” he inquired sarcastically. For answer, the scientist fished a dingy bag from his pocket and shook out on the table a circlet of soft, pale gold in which gleamed three green stones.
“I found this ten feet from the shore,” he said simply. The lumber-king gasped as he studied the stones with an expert eye. “Professor Ditson,” he admitted at last, “you’re all right and I’m all wrong. That's South American gold. I know it by the color. African gold is the deepest, and South American the palest. Those stones are emeralds,” he went on; “flawed ones, to be sure, but of the right color. The common emerald from the Ural Mountains is grassgreen,” lectured Mr. Donegan, fairly started on his hobby. “A few emeralds are graygreen. Those come from the old mines of the Pharaohs along the coast of the Red Sea. They are found on mummies and in the ruins of Pompeii and along the beach in front of Alexandria, where treasure-ships have been wrecked.” Professor Ditson yawned rudely. “Once in a blue moon,” went on the old collector, earnestly, “a real, spring-green emerald with a velvety luster, like these stones, turns up. We call 'em ‘treasure emeralds,’ ” he continued, while Professor Ditson shifted uneasily in his chair. “Most of them are in Spanish collections, and they are supposed to be part of the loot that Cortez and Pizarro brought back to Spain when they conquered Mexico and Peru. How large did these old Peruvian emeralds run?” he inquired suddenly. He had to repeat his question before Professor Ditson, who had been dozing lightly, roused himself. “Ah yes, quite so, very interesting, I 'm sure,” responded that scientist, confusedly. “As to the size of South American emeralds,” he went on, rubbing his eyes, “the Spanish records show that Pizarro sent several back to Spain which were as large as a man's fist, and there is a native tradition that the last Inca threw into Eldorado an oval emerald as large as the egg of a rhea, the South American ostrich.” Donegan's face flushed with excitement. “Professor Ditson,” he said at last, “I’ve got to have one of those emeralds. Come in,” he went on, getting up suddenly, “and I’ll show you my collection.” Professor Ditson sat still. “No, Mr. Donegan,” he said, “it would be a waste of time. To me, gems are just a lot of colored crystals.” The old lumber-king snorted. “I suppose you prefer snakes,” he said cuttingly.
Professor Ditson's face brightened at the word. “There,” he said enthusiastically, “is something worth while. I only wish that I had you in my snake-room. I could show you live, un caged specimens that would interest you deeply.” “They sure would,” returned Mr. Donegan, shivering slightly. “Well,” he went on, “every man to his own taste. What 's your idea about this emerald secret? Can we do business together?” The professor's face assumed an air of what he fondly believed to be great astuteness. “I would suggest,” he said, “that you fit out an expedition to the Amazon basin under my direction, to remain there until I collect one or more perfect specimens of the bushmaster. Then I will guide the party to Eldorado and assist them, as far as I can, to recover the sunken
treasure.” He came to a full stop. “Well,” queried the lumber-king, “‘what else?” The professor looked
at him in surprise. “I have nothing else to suggest,” he said. “Suppose we get emeralds which may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars—what percentage will you claim?” persisted Mr. Donegan. “I thought that I had made it plain,” returned the professor, impatiently, “that I have no interest whatever in emeralds. If you will pay the expenses of the expedition and allow me to keep as my own property any specimens of bushmasters obtained, it will be entirely satisfactory to me. Of
course,” finished the scientist, generously, “if we catch several bushmasters, I should have no objection to your having one.” “Heaven forbid!” returned the lumberking. “Professor,” he went on with great
emphasis, “I am perfectly willing that you shall have absolutely for your own use and benefit any and all bushmasters, crocodiles, snakes, toads, tarantulas, and any other similar bric-à-brac which you may find in South America. Moreover,” he continued, “I 'll fit out an expedition right here from Cornwall that will do the business for both of us. There 's a good-for-nothin' old trapper an' prospector named Jud Adams in this town who has been all over the north huntin' an’ trappin’ an’ prospectin’. In his younger days he was a pearl-diver. Then there 're two young fellows here that went off last year with him for me and brought back the finest blue pearl in the world. I ain’t got no manner of doubt but what all three of 'em will jump at the chance to go after emeralds and bushmasters.” “Bushmasters and emeralds, please,” corrected the professor. “Just as you say,” responded the lumberking. “Now you come right in and I’ll put you up for the night and we 'll send over at once for the crowd that I have in mind and get this expedition started right away.” “The sooner the better,” responded the professor, heartily. “Any day, some collector may bring back a bushmaster and beat me out with the Smithsonian.” “I feel the same way,” agreed the lumberking. “I want Jim Donegan to have the first crack at those Inca emeralds.” While all this talk about gold and emeralds and bushmasters was going on in Big Jim's big house, over in a little house on the tiptop of Yelpin Hill, Jud Adams, the old trapper, was just sitting down to supper with two of his best friends. One of these was Will Bright, a magnificently built boy of eighteen with copper-colored hair and dark blue eyes, and the other was his chum Joe Couteau, silent, lithe, and swart as his Indian ancestors. Jud himself was not much over five feet tall, with bushy gray hair and beard and steel-sharp eyes. These three, with Fred Perkins, the runner, had won their way to Goreloi, the Island of the Bear, and brought back Jim Donegan's most prized gem, as already chronicled in “The Blue Pearl.” They had learned to care for each other as only those can who have fought together against monsters of the sea, savage beasts, and more savage men. Joe and Will, moreover, had shared other life-and-death adventures together, as told in “Boy Scouts in the Wilderness,” and starting without clothes, food, or fire had lived a month in the heart of the woods, discovered the secret of Wizard Pond, and broken up Scar Dawson's gang of outlaws. Will never forgot that Joe had saved him from the carcajou, nor Joe that it was Will who gave him the first chance of safety when the bloodhounds were hot on their heels through the hidden passage from Wizard Pond. Each one of the four, as his share of the blue pearl and the sea-otter pelt
brought back from Akotan, had received fifteen thousand dollars. Fred had invested his money in his brother's business in Boston, had left Cornwall, and bade fair to settle down into a successful business man. Will and Joe had both set aside from their share enough to take them through Yale. As for Jud, the day after he received his winnings in the game which the four had played against danger and death, he had a short interview with his old friend Mr. Donegan. “All my life long,” began Jud, “I’ve been makin' money; but so far, I have n’t got a cent saved up. I know how to tame most any other kind of wild animal, but money allers gets away from me. They do say, Jim,” went on the old man, “that you’ve got the knack of keepin’ it. Probably you would n’t be worth your salt out in the woods, but every man 's got somethin' that he can do better 'n most. So you just take my share of the blue-pearl money an' put it into somethin' safe an' sound that 'll bring me an income. You see, Jim,” he went on confidentially, “I ain’t so young as I used to be.” “I should say you ain't!” exclaimed Big Jim, knowing how Jud hated to be called old. “You ’re most a hundred now.” “I ain't! I ain't!” howled Jud, indignantly. “I ain't a day over fifty—or thereabouts.” “Well, well,” said his friend, soothingly, “we won't quarrel over it. I’ll take care of your money and see that you get all that 's comin' to you for the two or three years which you 've got left”; and with mutual abuse and affection, the two parted as good friends as ever. To-night the old trapper and his guests had just finished supper when the telephone rang. “Jud,” came Mr. Donegan's voice over the wire, “what would you and Bill and Joe think of another expedition—after emeralds this time?” “We 'd think well of it,” returned Jud, promptly. “The kids are here at my house now.” “Good work!” exclaimed the lumberking. “All three of you come right over. I 've got a scientist here who 's going to guide you to where the emeralds grow.” “You got a what?” queried Jud. “A scientist!” shouted Big Jim, “a perfesser. One of those fellows who know all about everything except what's useful.”