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A FAIR TRAITOR
"Now will you be good?" cried Reggie Vanderpool to DeMille as Monty went down the companionway. The remark was precisely what, was needed, for the pent-up feelings of the entire company were now poured forth upon the unfortunate young man. "Subway" Smith was for hanging him to the yard arm, and the denunciation of the others was so decisive that Reggie sought refuge in the chart house. But the atmosphere had been materially cleared and the leaders of the mutiny were in a position to go into executive session and consider the matter. The women waited on deck while the meeting lasted. They were unanimous in the opinion that the affair had been badly managed.
"They should have offered to stay by the ship providing Monty would let Mr. DeMille manage the cruise," said Miss Valentine. "That would have been a concession and at the same time it would have put the cruise on an economical basis."
"In other words you will accept a man's invitation to dinner if he will allow you to order it and invite the other guests," said Peggy, who was quick to defend Monty.
"Well that would be better than helping to eat up every bit of food he possessed." But Miss Valentine always avoided argument when she could and gave this as a parting thrust before she walked away.
"There must be something more than we know about in Monty's extravagance," said Mrs. Dan. "He isn't the kind of man to squander his last penny without having something left to show for it. There must be method in his madness."
"He has done it for us," said Peggy. "He has devoted himself all along to giving us a good time and now we are showing our gratitude."
Further discussion was prevented by the appearance of the conspiring committee and the whole company was summoned to hear DeMille's report as chairman.
"We have found a solution of our difficulties," he began, and his manner was so jubilant that everyone became hopeful. "It is desperate but I think it will be effective. Monty has given us the privilege of leaving the yacht at any port where we can take a steamer to New York. Now, my suggestion is that we select the most convenient place for all of us, and obviously there is nothing quite so convenient as Boston."
"Dan DeMille, you are quite foolish," cried his wife. "Who ever conceived such a ridiculous idea?"
"Captain Perry has his instructions," continued DeMille, turning to the captain. "Are we not acting along the lines marked out by Brewster himself?"
"I will sail for Boston if you say the word," said the thoughtful captain. "But he is sure to countermand such an order."
"He won't be able to, captain," cried "Subway" Smith, who had for some time been eager to join in the conversation. "This is a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool mutiny and we expect to carry out the original plan, which was to put Mr. Brewster in irons, until we are safe from all opposition."
"He is my friend, Mr. Smith, and at least it is my duty to protect him from any indignity," said the captain, stiffly.
"You make for Boston, my dear captain, and we'll do the rest," said DeMille. "Mr. Brewster can't countermand your orders unless he sees you in person. We'll see to it that he has no chance to talk to you until we are in sight of Boston Harbor."
The captain looked doubtful and shook his head as he walked away. At heart he was with the mutineers and his mind was made up to assist them as long as it was possible to do so without violating his obligations to Brewster. He felt guilty, however, in surreptitiously giving the order to clear for Boston at daybreak. The chief officers were let into the secret, but the sailors were kept in darkness regarding the destination of the "Flitter."
Montgomery Brewster's guests were immensely pleased with the scheme, although they were dubious about the outcome. Mrs. Dan regretted her hasty comment on the plan and entered into the plot with eagerness. In accordance with plans decided upon by the mutineers, Monty's stateroom door was guarded through the night by two of the men. The next morning as he emerged from his room, he was met by "Subway" Smith and Dan DeMille.
"Good morning," was his greeting. "How's the weather to-day?"
"Bully," answered DeMille. "By the way, you are going to have breakfast in your room, old man."
Brewster unsuspectingly led the way into his stateroom, the two following.
"What's the mystery?" he demanded.
"We've been deputized to do some very nasty work," said "Subway" as he turned the key in the door. "We are here to tell you what port we have chosen."
"It's awfully good of you to tell me."
"Yes, isn't it? But we have studied up on the chivalrous treatment of prisoners. We have decided on Boston."
"Is there a Boston on this side of the water?" asked Monty in mild surprise.
"No; there is only one Boston in the universe, so far as we know. It is a large body of intellect surrounded by the rest of the world."
"What the devil are you talking about? You don't mean Boston, Massachusetts?" cried Monty, leaping to his feet.
"Precisely. That's the port for us and you told us to choose for ourselves," said Smith.
"Well, I won't have it, that's all," exclaimed Brewster, indignantly. "Captain Perry takes orders from me and from no one else."
"He already has his orders," said DeMille, smiling mysteriously.
"I'll see about that. Brewster sprang to the door. It was locked and the key was in "Subway" Smith's pocket. With an impatient exclamation he turned and pressed an electric button.
"It won't ring, Monty," explained "Subway." "The wire has been cut. Now, be cool for a minute or two and we'll talk it over."
Brewster stormed for five minutes, the "delegation" sitting calmly by, smiling with exasperating confidence. At last he calmed down and in terms of reason demanded an explanation. He was given to understand that the yacht would sail for Boston and that he would be kept a prisoner for the entire voyage unless he submitted to the will of the majority.
Brewster listened darkly to the proclamation. He saw that they had gained the upper hand by a clever ruse, and that only strategy on his part could outwit them. It was out of the question for him to submit to them now that the controversy had assumed the dignity of a struggle.
"But you will be reasonable, won't you?" asked DeMille, anxiously.
"I intend to fight it out to the bitter end," said Brewster, his eyes flashing. "At present I am your prisoner, but it is a long way to Boston."
For three days and two nights the "Flitter" steamed westward into the Atlantic, with her temporary owner locked into his stateroom. The confinement was irksome, but he rather liked the sensation of being interested in something besides money. He frequently laughed to himself over the absurdity of the situation. His enemies were friends, true and devoted; his gaolers were relentless but they were considerate. The original order that he should be guarded by one man was violated on the first day. There were times when his guard numbered at least ten persons and some of them served tea and begged him to listen to reason.
"It is difficult not to listen," he said fiercely. "It's like holding a man down and then asking him to be quiet. But my time is coming."
"Revenge will be his!" exclaimed Mrs. Dan, tragically.
"You might have your term shortened on account of good conduct if you would only behave," suggested Peggy, whose reserve was beginning to soften. "Please be good and give in."
"I haven't been happier during the whole cruise," said Monty. "On deck I wouldn't be noticed, but here I am quite the whole thing. Besides I can get out whenever I feel like it."
"I have a thousand dollars which says you can't," said DeMille, and Monty snapped him up so eagerly that he added, "that you can't get out of your own accord."
Monty acceded to the condition and offered odds on the proposition to the others, but there were no takers.
"That settles it," he smiled grimly to himself. "I can make a thousand dollars by staying here and I can't afford to escape."
On the third day of Monty's imprisonment the "Flitter" began to roll heavily. At first he gloated over the discomfort of his guards who obviously did not like to stay below. "Subway" Smith and Bragdon were on duty and neither was famous as a good sailor. When Monty lighted his pipe there was consternation and "Subway" rushed on deck.
"You are a brave man, Joe," Monty said to the other and blew a cloud of smoke in his direction. "I knew you would stick to your post. You wouldn't leave it even if the ship should go down."
Bragdon had reached the stage where he dared not speak and was busying himself trying to "breathe with the motion of the boat" as he had called it.
"By Gad," continued Monty, relentlessly. "This smoke is getting thick. Some of this toilet water might help if I sprinkled it about."
One whiff of the sweet-smelling cologne was enough for Bragdon and he bolted up the companionway, leaving the stateroom door wide open and the prisoner free to go where he pleased. Monty's first impulse was to follow but he checked himself on the threshold.
"Damn that bet with DeMille," he said to himself, and added aloud to the fleeing guard, "The key, Joe, I dare you to come back and get it!"
But Bragdon was beyond recall and Monty locked the door on the inside and passed the key through the ventilator.
On deck a small part of the company braved the spray in the lee of the deck house, but the others had long since gone below. The boat was pitching furiously in the ugliest sea it had encountered, and there was anxiety underneath Captain Perry's mask of unconcern. DeMille and Dr. Lotless talked in the senseless way men have when they try to conceal their nervousness. But the women did not respond; they were in no mood for conversation.
Only one of them was quite oblivious to personal discomfort and danger. Peggy Gray was thinking of the prisoner below. In a reflection of her own terror, she pictured him crouching in the little stateroom, like a doomed criminal awaiting execution, alone, neglected, forgotten, unpitied. At first she pleaded with the men for his release, but they insisted upon waiting in the hope that a scare might bring him to his senses. Peggy saw that no help was to be secured from the other women, much as they might care for Brewster's peace of mind and safety. Her heart was bitter toward everyone responsible for the situation, and there was dark rebellion in her soul. It culminated finally in a resolve to release Monty Brewster at any cost.
With difficulty she made her way to the stateroom door, clinging to supports at times and then plunging violently away from them. For some minutes she listened, frantically clutching Brewster's door and the wall-rail. There was no guard, and the tumult of the sea drowned every sound within. Her imagination ran riot when her repeated calls were not answered.
"Monty, Monty," she cried, pounding wildly on the door.
"Who is it? What is the trouble?" came in muffled tones from within, and Peggy breathed a prayer of thanks. Just then she discovered the key which Monty had dropped and quickly opened the door, expecting to find him cowering with fear. But the picture was different. The prisoner was seated on the divan, propped up with many pillows and reading with the aid of an electric light "The Intrusions of Peggy. "