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Strange Adventure Series.--No. 2.

UP THE FORKED RIVER

Or,

Adventures in South America

by

SEWARD D. LISLE,

Author of "TEDDY AND TOWSER," etc., etc.

Illustrated







Philadelphia:
Henry T. Coates & Co.

Copyrighted, 1904,
by
Henry T. Coates & Co.




[Illustration: "I AM BETRAYED--SINK THE TUG."]




UP THE FORKED RIVER

OR

ADVENTURES IN SOUTH AMERICA

CHAPTER I.


Two friends were seated in the private office of Rowland & Starland,
Montgomery Street, San Francisco, not long ago, discussing a subject
in which both were much interested.

Each gentleman was past three-score, but they were well preserved, of
rugged health, well to do and prosperous. They had got on for many
years without so much as a shadow of difference between them. They had
made the tour of Europe together, had engaged in many an outing and
now as the evening of life was drawing on, they took matters with that
complacency and comfort which was creditable to their good sense and
which was warranted by their circumstances.

Mr. Thomas Starland, the junior partner, removed his cigar, leaned
back in his chair, and, looking kindly into the face of his friend,
said:

"Teddy, you came to California a number of years before I did."

The other, who was in a reminiscent mood, smoked in silence for a
minute or so, looking up to the ceiling, and, when he replied, it was
as if communing with himself:

"Yes; it is close upon half a century. How times flies! I was a small
boy, and I often wonder how it was Providence took such good care of
me."

"True, you were a young lad, but you had the best of companions."

"That is hardly correct, so far at least as one was concerned. When I
left home in the East to join my father, who had come to California
ahead of me, my companion was an Irishman named Micky McGuigan, who
was as green as I."

"I have heard you speak of another comrade--a four-footed one."

"Ah, yes, our dog Towser, one of the most faithful and intelligent
brutes that ever lived. He died long ago of old age and I have showed
my gratitude and love for his memory by placing a monument over his
remains. Micky--peace to the memory of the good fellow--has also
rested in the tomb for years, and it was not long after that my good
father followed him,--so of all my companions on my first coming to
the Pacific coast, not one remains."

"You could hardly have passed safely through the many dangers without
the help of others," suggested Mr. Starland.

"I admit that. No braver man than Micky McGuigan ever lived. He had
the traditional Irishman's love of a fight and he got plenty of it.
But, Tom, our perils began, as you know, before we touched foot in
California. Off the southern coast our steamer, the _Western Star_,
was sunk in a collision. Teddy and I were left on the uninhabited
coast (so far as white people are concerned), without so much as even
a gun or pistol. Finding ourselves marooned, we struck into the
interior, stole a couple of guns and some ammunition (what's the use
of denying it at this late day?) from some Indians, and then went it
blindly."

"I recall something of a partnership you made with an experienced
miner."

"Yes; good fortune brought us together, and it was a lucky thing
indeed for us that we were picked up by Jo Harman, who piloted us
through no end of dangers. We spent weeks in hunting for gold in what
was then one of the wildest regions in the world."

"How did you make out?"

"We picked up a few particles, just enough to keep hope alive, but, in
the end, had to give it up and take our chances in the diggings like
the rest of the fortune hunters."

"Well, Teddy, we have proved that there are other ways of getting
treasure than by digging in the earth for it."

"Yes, though it takes digging in any circumstances, and we had as hard
times, at the beginning, as any of those who now dwell on Nob Hill."

From the above brief conversation, you will recall the principal
character whom you met in the story of "Teddy and Towser." The lad who
passed through more than one trying adventure had become a man well
along in middle life. After settling in California, he made it his
home. He married a lady of Spanish descent, to whom a single child was
born,--Warrenia, now a miss almost out of her teens. Although Mr.
Starland was younger than his partner and married later in life, his
son Jack was several years the elder of the daughter of Mr. Rowland.

Since these two young people have much to do in the chapters that
follow, the reader must be given a clear understanding of them and
their peculiar relation to each other.

While the parents had been partners in prosperity, they were also
united in affliction, for each had lost his wife by death, when the
children were small. Neither married again, for they had loved their
life companions too deeply and profoundly to think seriously of trying
to replace them.

Another minor but curious coincidence must be noted. Years after the
marriage of the partners, Mr. Starland employed a Spanish priest to
trace the genealogy of his wife, who felt a strong curiosity in the
matter. In doing so, he discovered that several generations earlier,
during the time of the Spanish settlement of the Southwest, the
ancestors of Mrs. Starland and Mrs. Rowland were related. This was
surprising but peculiarly pleasing to both families. Because of this
remote relationship, so triturated indeed that it had really vanished
into nothingness, Jack Starland and Warrenia Rowland called
themselves cousins.

It was just like the headstrong, impulsive, mischievous youth to go
still further. He hinted that the priest had not told the whole truth,
having been bribed to suppress it by the father of Warrenia, for
mysterious reasons, which he dared not divulge. What did this young
hopeful do but insist that he and Warrenia were brother and sister!
The idea, grotesquely impossible on the face of it, caused no end of
merriment and ridicule, but Jack stubbornly maintained his claim. He
declared further that the real name of Warrenia was the same as his
own,--that is Starland. He often addressed her as Miss Starland, and
she, with her fun-loving disposition, pretended to agree with him.
When together, they almost invariably spoke to or of each other as
brother and sister, and there were not lacking those who believed they
were actually thus related.

The odd whim gave the parents no little amusement and they too at
times humored it. The very absurdity of the fancy gave it its
comicality.

You can understand how deeply each parent loved his child. Nothing
seemed more natural than that the son and daughter should become man
and wife when they grew up, though neither father as yet had made any
reference to such an event which would have been pleasing to both and
eminently fit in every respect.

Jack and Warrenia grew to maturity as if they really were brother and
sister. She was sent East to attend one of the most famous young
ladies' schools in the country. Jack was on the point of entering
Harvard, when he received an appointment to West Point. There under
the strict regulations he gained few opportunities of seeing his
"sister." When he did so, it was when she and some of her classmates,
under proper chaperonage visited the model military institution on the
banks of the Hudson.

Jack was graduated in time to take part in our war with Spain. He won
a fine reputation at San Juan Hill, and would have received his well
merited promotion, but when a Major by brevet, he resigned to become
interested in his father's business, which was growing to a degree
that new blood and vigor were required for its full development.




CHAPTER II.


Perhaps Jack Starland's most noticeable trait in boyhood was his
fondness for the water. He was a magnificent swimmer and learned to
handle a small boat with the skill of a veteran sailor. Some of his
dare-devil exploits in cruising among the Farallones and down the
coast caused his father great concern. He placed such severe
restrictions upon the lad that he rebelled. One day he slipped out of
the house, went down to the wharf and engaged to go as cabin boy on a
South Sea whaler. At the critical moment, however, his conscience
asserted itself and he drew back. His father never knew of this
particular episode in the life of his son. Had it been carried out, it
would have broken the parent's heart.

It was shortly after this that Jack received his appointment to the
Military Academy. He had told his "sister" Warrenia of his narrow
escape from playing the part of a fool and ingrate, and naturally she
was horrified.

"There never would have been the slightest excuse for such folly and
wickedness," said she, as the two sat in a palace car of the overland
train, flying eastward; "you have the kindest of fathers and you can
never do enough to repay your obligations to him."

"I admit all that," replied the young man smiling, "but what's the use
of rubbing it in when I _didn't_ run away?"

"But you started to do so," she persisted.

"And stopped in time: what was wrong in _that_?"

"It was wrong that you should have had a minute when you seriously
intended to commit the crime."

"Commit the crime!" he repeated, with a reproving look; "perhaps it
would have been a crime, but I'm not so sure about that."

"I am; Jack I'm ashamed of you."

"So am I; but don't forget that I was younger then than now."

"Yes; two or three months; persons sometimes grow a good deal in that
period."

"They may not grow so much in stature, but they do in sense."

"I have heard of such instances, but I do not remember to have met
any."

"Come now, sister," laughed the youth who admired his friend's
brilliancy, "I beg you to let up; I confess all you have charged; I am
a base villain, for whom hanging would be too good; you will be filled
with remorse when I become General of the army and you recall all the
harsh words you have said of me."

"_When_ you become General I will mourn my cruelty in sackcloth and
ashes.



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