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The Yazoo Mystery by Irving Craddock

Transcriber's note

Minor punctuation inconsistencies have been repaired. Variable spelling has been retained. A list of the changes made can be found at the end of the book.

Mark-up: _italics_

THE YAZOO MYSTERY

THE

YAZOO MYSTERY

A Novel

BY

IRVING CRADDOCK

BRITTON PUBLISHING COMPANY NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY BRITTON PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC. MADE IN U.S.A.

_All Rights Reserved_

TO THOSE WHO LOVE ADVENTURE

The Yazoo Mystery

CHAPTER I

THE harbor-master entered briskly but dubiously the room of the ship's first officer.

"What about the five men for the _Domus_?" he bellowed.

"All ready to sign, sir," assured the manager of the employment agency, pointing toward two saddle colored negroes, a Spaniard, and a limp figure half asleep, slouching in the corner on a narrow bench, one hand clutching an expensive leather bag.

"It is the best I could do on such short notice," assured the agency man in an undertone, noticing that the first officer's inventory was not very encouraging.

"Get them up here to sign. We're anchored in the stream, losing two thousand dollars every hour we stay here. We need five more firemen--anything that looks human," he added impatiently, spreading the ship's articles on the counter that reached across the smelly water-front den.

"Come on and sign up, boys," said the agency man with assumed good nature.

While the two negroes and the Spaniard were signing, the ship's first officer went to the sleeping figure in the corner, took up his free hand and felt of the palm, then dropped it disgustedly as he took the man by the shoulders and shook him vigorously.

"Come on and sign up, Strong," he shouted into his ear.

Strong labored with himself, still holding to his bag, half staggered to the counter and signed on the line indicated--"Hiram Strong, Jr."

The signature was plain and businesslike. Evidently the Candidate had known better days.

"He's been kicked out or disowned," muttered the first officer to me while he was signing up. "He won't be worth a cuss. Look--those hands never did a lick of work--but he will fill the list," he added, walking about nervously and sizing me up with apparent approbation.

The agency man came up at once and held the pen towards me, and without hesitation I signed "Ben Taylor" on the line beneath. While I was thus engaged Hiram leaned against the counter weak and listless, his bag between his feet. We had both signed as firemen or stokers on the steamship _Domus_ for a round trip to an unnamed Gulf, or Mexican port.

Although pretty well awake by this time Strong did not resent my taking his arm and helping him a bit. He made no comment at first, but after he got used to the lively walk along the dock, he began to show signs of saying something.


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