The night promised to be clear. The moon would rise, just beyond the full, a few hours after sunset. It was a warm and breathless night, with less wind than usual. Most of the people crowding the streets and the restaurants were in white linen--themselves suggesting the white and ghostly enemy.
Mr. Dorrance was occupied at the Government House. Jane, Don and I had supper in a restaurant on Queen Street. It was nearly eight o'clock and the crowd in the restaurant was thinning out. We were seated near the street entrance where large plate-glass windows displayed a variety of bakery products and confections. Jane had her back to the street, but Don and I were facing it. Crowds were constantly passing. It was near the end of our meal. I was gazing idly through one of the windows, watching the passing people when suddenly I became aware of a man standing out there gazing in at me. I think I have never had so startling a realization. It was a man in white doeskin trousers and blue blazer jacket, with a jaunty linen cap on his head. An abnormally tall, muscular man. And his smooth-shaven, black-browed face with the reflection from the restaurant window lights upon it, reminded me of the apparition we had seen the night before!
"Don! Don't look up! Don't move! Jane, don't look around!" I whispered, almost frantically.
I must have gone white for Don and Jane gaped at me in astonishment.
"Don't do that!" I murmured. "Someone outside, watching us!" I tried to smile. "Hot night, isn't it? Did you get a check, Don?" I looked around vaguely for the waitress, but out of the tail of my eyes I could see the fellow out there still peering in and staring intently at us.
"What is it?" Don whispered.
"Man watching us! See him out there--the right-hand window! Jane, don't look around!"
"Good Lord!" murmured Don.
"Looks like him, doesn't it?"
"Good Lord! But I say--"
"What is it?" murmured Jane. "What is it?"
"Waitress!" I called. "Check, please. There's a man out there, Jane--we're crazy, but he does look like that ghost we saw on the Fort Beach."
If the fellow knew that we had spotted him he gave no sign. He was still apparently regarding the bakery display in the window, but watching us nevertheless. I was sure of that.
The waitress gave us our check. "Nine and six," Don smiled. "Thank you. But didn't you forget that last coffee?"
The colored girl added the extra sixpence, and left us.
"You think that's the same--I say, good Lord--"
Don was speechless. Jane had gone white. The fellow moved to the other window, and Jane had a swift look at him. We all recognized him, or thought we did. What necromancy was this? Had one of the apparitions materialized? Was that ghost we saw, this gigantic fellow in doeskins and blazer who looked like a tourist standing out there at the window? Were these ghosts merely human enemies after all?
The idea was at once terrifying, and yet reassuring. This was a man with whom we could cope with normal tactics. My hand went to the pocket of my blazer where I had a little revolver. Both Don and I were armed--permits for the carrying of concealed weapons had been issued to us this same day.
I murmured, "Jane! There are the Blakinsons over there. Go join them. We'll be back presently."
"What are you going to do?" Don demanded.
"Go out and tackle him--shall we? Have a talk. Find out who he is."
"No!" Jane protested.
"Why not? Don't you worry, Jane. Right here in the public street--and we're both armed. He's only a man."
But was he only a man?
"We'll have a go at it," said Don abruptly. He rose from his seat. "Come on, Jane, I'll take you to the Blakinsons."
"Hurry it up!" I said. "He's leaving! We'll lose him!"
The fellow seemed about to wander on along the street. Don brought Jane over to the Blakinsons' table which was at the back of the restaurant. We left our check with her and dashed for the street.
"Where is he? Do you see him?" Don demanded.
He had gone. But in a moment we saw him, his white cap towering above the crowd down by the drugstore at the corner.
"Come on, Don! There he is!"
We half ran through the crowd. We caught the fellow as he was diagonally crossing the street. We rushed up, one on each side of him, and seized him by the arms.
Tako, the Mysterious The fellow towered head and shoulders over Don, and almost that over me. He stared down at us, his jaw dropping with surprise. My heart was pounding; to me there was no doubt about it now; this heavy-featured handsome, but evil face was the face of the apparition at whom Don had fired as it hung in the air over the Fort Beach path. But this was a man. His arm, as I clutched it, was muscularly solid beneath the sleeve of his flannel jacket.
"I say," Don panted. "Just a minute."
With a sweep of his arms the stranger angrily flung off our hold.
"What do you want?"
I saw, within twenty feet of us, a policeman standing in the street intersection.
"I beg your pardon," Don stammered. We had had no time to plan anything. I put in: "We thought you were a friend of ours. This night--so much excitement--let's get back to the curb."
We drew the man to the sidewalk as a physician's little automobile with two soldiers in it waded its way slowly through the crowd.
The man laughed. "It is an exciting night. I never have seen Bermuda like this before."
Swift impressions flooded me. The fellow surely must recognize us as we did him. He was pretending friendliness. I noticed that though he seemed not over forty, his close-clipped hair beneath the white linen cap was silver white. His face had a strange pallor, not the pallor of ill health, but seemingly a natural lack of color. And his voice, speaking good English, nevertheless marked him for a foreigner--though of what nation certainly I could not say.
"We're mistaken," said Don. "But you look like someone we know."
"Do I, indeed? That is interesting."
"Only you're taller," I said. "You're not a Bermudian, are you?"
His eyes, beneath the heavy black brows shot me a look. "No. I am a stranger; a visitor. My name----"
He hesitated briefly; then he smiled with what seemed an amused irony. "My name is Tako. Robert Tako. I am living at the Hamiltonia Hotel. Does that satisfy you?"
I could think of nothing to say. Nor could Don. The fellow added, "Bermuda is like a little ship. I understand your inquisitiveness--one must know everyone else. And who are you?"
Don told him.
"Ah, yes," he smiled. "And so you are a native Bermudian?"
"And you," he said to me, "you are American?"
"From New York, yes."
"That is more interesting. Never have I known an American. You are familiar with New York City?"
"Of course. I was born there."
His contemplative gaze made me shiver. I wondered what Don was planning as an outcome to this. The fellow seemed wholly at ease now. He was lounging against the drug store window with us before him. My eyes were level with the negligee collar of his blue linen shirt, and abruptly I was galvanized into alertness. Just above the soft collar where his movements had crushed it down I saw unmistakably the loop of a tiny black thread of wire projecting upward! Conclusive proof! This was one of the mysterious enemies! One of the apparitions which had thrown all Bermuda into a turmoil stood materialized here before us.
I think that Don had already seen the wire. The fellow was saying nonchalantly, "And you, Mr. Livingston--are you also familiar with New York City?"
"Yes," said Don. He had gone pale and tight-lipped. I caught his warning glance to me. "Yes," he repeated. "I lived there several years."
"I would like to know you two better. Much better--but not tonight."
He moved as though to take his leave of us. Then he added to Don, "That most beautiful young lady with you in the restaurant--did I not see you there? Is that your sister?"
Don made his decision. He said abruptly, "That's none of your business."
It took the fellow wholly by surprise. "But listen--"
"I've had enough of your insolence," Don shouted.
The man's hand made an instinctive movement toward his belt, but I seized his wrist. And I added my loud voice to Don's. "No, you don't!"
A group of onlookers was at once collecting around us. The giant tried to cast me off, but I clung to him with all my strength. And suddenly we were struggling to keep the fellow from breaking away from us. He muttered a strange-sounding oath.
"Let me go! You fools!"
"Not such fools," Don shouted. "Officer! I say--officer!"
Don's revolver was in his hand; people were pressing around us, but when they saw the revolver they began scattering. The giant made a lunge and broke away from us, heedless that Don might have shot him.
"What's all this? I say, you three, what are you up to?"
The policeman came on a run. A group of soldiers passing on bicycles, flung the machines aside and came dashing at us. The giant stood suddenly docile.
"Officer, these young men attacked me."
"He's a liar!" Don shouted. "Watch him! He might be armed--don't let him get away from you!"
The law surrounded us. "Here's my weapon," said Don. "Bob, give up your revolver."
In the turmoil Don plucked the policeman aside.
"I'm nephew of the Honorable Arthur Dorrance. Take us to your chief. I made that uproar to catch that big fellow."
The name of the Honorable Arthur Dorrance was magic. The policeman stared at our giant captive who now was surrounded by the soldiers.
"But I say--"
"Take us all in and send for Mr. Dorrance. He's at the Government House."
"But I say--That big blighter--"
"We think he's one of the ghosts!" Don whispered.
"Oh, my Gawd!"
With the crowd following us we were hurried away to the police station nearby.
The sergeant said, "The Chief will be here in a few minutes. And we've sent for Mr. Dorrance."
"Good enough, Brown." It chanced that Don knew this sergeant very well. "Did you search the fellow?"
"Yes. No weapon in his clothes."
I whispered, "I saw a wire under his collar."
"Sh! No use telling that now, Bob."
I realized it. These policemen were frightened enough at our captive. Don added, "Before my uncle and the Chief arrive, let me have a talk with that fellow, will you?"
They had locked him up; and in the excitement of our arrival at the station both Don and I had completely forgotten the wire we had seen at his collar. But we remembered it now, and the same thought occurred to both of us. We had locked up this mysterious enemy, but would the prison bars hold him?
"Good Lord!" Don exclaimed. "Bob, those wires--Sergeant, we shouldn't have left that fellow alone! Is he alone! Come on!"
With the frightened mystified sergeant leading us we dashed along the little white corridor to the windowless cell in which the giant was confined. At the cell-door a group of soldiers lounged in the corridor.
"Smooth talker, that fellow."
"Gor blime me, who is he?"