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The Mystery

Captain Selover Loses His Nerve
I lived in the place for three weeks. We were afoot shortly after daybreak, under way by
sun-up, and at work before the heats began. Three of us worked on the buildings, and the
rest formed a pack train carrying all sorts of things from the shore to the valley. The men
grumbled fiercely at this, but Captain Selover drove them with slight regard for their
opinions or feelings.
"You're getting double pay," was his only word, "earn it!"
They certainly earned it during those three weeks. The things they brought up were
astounding. Besides a lot of scientific apparatus and chests of chemical supplies,
everything that could possibly be required, had been provided by that omniscient young
man. After we had built a long, low structure, windows were forthcoming, shelves,
tables, sinks, faucets, forges, burners, all cut out, fitted and ready to put together, each
with its proper screws, nails, clamps, or pipes ready to our hands. When we had finished,
we had constructed as complete a laboratory on a small scale as you could find on a
college campus, even to the stone pillar down to bed-rock for delicate microscopic
experiments, and hot and cold water led from the springs. And we were utterly unskilled.
It was all Percy Darrow.
I was toward the last engaged in screwing on a fixture for the generation of acetelyne gas.
"Darrow," said I, "there's one thing you've overlooked; you forgot to bring a cupola and a
gilt weather-cock for this concern."
After the laboratory was completed, we put up sleeping quarters for the two men, with
wide porches well screened, and a square, heavy storeroom. By the end of the third week
we had quite finished.
Dr. Schermerhorn had turned with enthusiasm to the unpacking of his chemical
apparatus. Almost immediately at the close of the freight-carrying, he had appeared,
lugging his precious chest, this time suffering the assistance of Darrow, and had camped
on the spot. We could not induce him to leave, so we put up a tent for him. Darrow
remained with him by way of safety against the men, whose measure, I believe, he had
taken. Now that all the work was finished, the doctor put in a sudden appearance.
"Percy," said he, "now we will have the defence built."
He dragged us with him to the narrow part of the arroyo, just before it rose to the level of
the valley.
"Here we will build the stockade-defence," he announced.
Darrow and I stared at each other blankly.
 
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