**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Dietz’s 7462 Bessie John
by [?]

“Done it a-purpose, too,” he said angrily.

He had managed to keep the boat afloat until he reached Riverbank, but to fix her up would take more money than he had. So he had hunted a job in his own line, and found Philo Gubb.

The Silver Sides, Captain Brooks, owner, was a small packet plying between Derlingport and Bardenton, stopping at Riverbank, which was midway between the two. No one knowing Captain Brooks would have suspected him of running down anything whatever. He was a kind, stout, gray-haired old gentleman. He had a nice, motherly old wife and eight children, mainly girls, and they made their home on the Silver Sides. Mrs. Brooks and the girls cooked for the crew and kept the boat as neat as a new pin. Captain Brooks occupied the pilot-house; Tom Brooks served as first mate, and Bill Brooks acted as purser. Altogether they were a delightfully good-natured and well-meaning family. It was hard to believe they would run down a helpless motor-boat in mid-river, but Greasy swore to it, and about it.

During the next few weeks Greasy and the detective worked side by side. Greasy had every night and all Sunday for his own purposes. Once Mr. Gubb met Greasy carrying a large bundle of canvas, and Mr. Gubb imagined Greasy was fitting a mast and sail to the motor-boat.

On July 15 the Independent Horde of Kalmucks gave a moonlight excursion on the Mississippi, chartering the Silver Sides for the purpose. The Kalmucks were the leading lodge of the town, and leaders also in social affairs. They gave frequent dramatic entertainments–in their hall in winter, and outdoors in the big yard back of Kalmuck Temple in the summer. In the entire history of the lodge there had never been so much as an untoward incident, but at eleven o’clock on the night of July 15 something frightful did occur. It spread it across the top of the first page of the “Daily Eagle” in the one shocking word–PIRATES!

The Silver Star had started on the return trip and had reached a point about two miles below Towhead Island when a rifle or revolver bullet crashed through the glass window on the western side of the pilot-house. Uncle Jerry–as most people called Captain Brooks–turned his head, stared out at the moonlit waters of the river, and saw bearing down upon him from the northwest a long, low craft. Four men stood in the forward part of the boat, and a fifth sat beside the motor. In the bright moonlight, Captain Brooks could see that all the men wore black masks. He also saw that all were armed, and that from the staff at the stern of the boat floated a jet-black flag on which was painted in white the skull and cross-bones that have always been the insignia of pirates. Even as he looked one of the men in the motor-boat raised his arm: Uncle Jerry saw a flash of fire, and another pane of glass at his side jingled to the floor.

The low black craft swept rapidly across the bows of the Silver Sides; the sputtering of its motor ceased; and the next moment the pirates were aboard the barge, lining up the dancers at the points of their pistols, and preparing to take away their ice-cream money.

And they did take it. They began at the bow of the barge and walked to the stern, making one after another of the excursionists deliver his valuables, and then slipped quietly over the stern of the barge; the pirate craft began to spit and sputter furiously; and the next moment it was tearing through the water like a streak of lightning.

To chase a speed-boat in an elderly river packet would have been nonsense. Uncle Jerry signaled full speed ahead and kept to the channel, where his boat belonged. Presently Mrs. Brooks, panting, climbed to the pilot-house.

“Well, Pa,” she said, “pirates has been and robbed us.”