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The Mystery

The Jolly Roger
Feeling the way forward, the cruiser was soon caught in a maze of cross currents. Hither
and thither she was borne, a creature bereft of volition. Order followed order like the
rattle of quick-fire, and was obeyed with something more than the Wolverine's customary
smartness. From the bridge Captain Parkinson himself directed his ship. His face was
placid: his bearing steady and confident. This in itself was sufficient earnest that the
cruiser was in ticklish case. For it was an axiom of the men who sailed under Parkinson
that the calmer that nervous man grew, the more cause was there for nervousness on the
part of others.
The approach was from the south, but suspicious aspects of the water had fended the
cruiser out and around, until now she stood prow-on to a bold headland at the northwest
corner of the island. Above this headland lay a dark pall of vapour. In the shifting breeze
it swayed sluggishly, heavily, as if riding at anchor like a logy ship of the air. Only once
did it show any marked movement.
"It's spreading out toward us," said Barnett to his fellow officers, gathered aft.
"Time to move, then," grunted Trendon.
The others looked at him inquiringly.
"About as healthful as prussic acid, those volcanic gases," explained the surgeon.
The ship edged on and inward. Presently the sing-song of the leadsman sounded in
measured distinctness through the silence. Then a sudden activity and bustle forward, the
rattle of chains, and the Wolverine was at anchor. The captain came down from the
bridge.
"What do you think, Dr. Trendon?" he asked.
More explicit inquiry was not necessary.
The surgeon understood what was in his superior's mind.
"Never can tell about volcanoes, sir," he said.
"Of course," agreed the captain. "But--well, do you recognise any of the symptoms?"
"Want me to diagnose a case of earthquake, sir?" grinned Trendon. "She might go off to-
day, or she might behave herself for a century."
"Well, it's all chance," said the other, cheerfully. "The man might be alive. At any rate we
must do our best on that theory. What do you make of that cloud on the peak?"
 
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