The Mystery HTML version
The Laughing Lass
The falling of dusk on June the 3d found tired eyes aboard the Wolverine. Every officer
in her complement had kept a private and personal lookout all day for some explanation
of the previous night's phenomenon. All that rewarded them were a sky filmed with lofty
clouds, and the holiday parade of the epauletted waves.
Nor did evening bring a repetition of that strange glow. Midnight found the late stayers
still deep in the discussion.
"One thing is certain," said Ives. "It wasn't volcanic."
"Why so?" asked the paymaster.
"Because volcanoes are mostly stationary, and we headed due for that light."
"Yes; but did we keep headed?" said Barnett, who was navigating officer as well as
ordnance officer, in a queer voice.
"What do you mean, sir?" asked Edwards eagerly.
"After the light disappeared the compass kept on varying. The stars were hidden. There is
no telling just where we were headed for some time."
"Then we might be fifty miles from the spot we aimed at."
"Hardly that," said the navigator. "We could guide her to some extent by the direction of
wind and waves. If it was volcanic we ought certainly to have sighted it by now."
"Always some electricity in volcanic eruptions," said Trendon. "Makes compass cut
didoes. Seen it before."
"Where?" queried Carter.
"Off Martinique. Pelée eruption. Needle chased its tail like a kitten."
"Are there many volcanoes hereabouts?" somebody asked.
"We're in 162 west, 31 north, about," said Barnett. "No telling whether there are or not.
There weren't at last accounts, but that's no evidence that there aren't some since. They
come up in the night, these volcanic islands."
"Just cast an eye on the charts," said Billy Edwards. "Full of E. D.'s and P. D.'s all over
the shop. Every one of 'em volcanic."
"E. D.'s and P. D.'s?" queried the paymaster.