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Title: The Exiles and Other Stories
Author: Davis, Richard Harding, 1864-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Exiles and Other Stories" ***

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The Novels and Stories of Richard Harding Davis

THE EXILES AND OTHER STORIES

by

RICHARD HARDING DAVIS

With an Introduction by Charles Dana Gibson

Illustrated

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1919

"The Exiles" and "The Boy Orator of Zepata City" from "The Exiles,"
copyright, 1894, by HARPER & BROTHERS.
"The Other Woman" from "Gallagher," copyright, 1891, by CHARLES
SCRIBNER'S SONS; "On the Fever Ship," "The Lion and the Unicorn," and
"The Last Ride Together" from "The Lion and the Unicorn," copyright,
1899, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS; "Miss Delamar's Understudy" from
"Cinderella," copyright, 1896, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS; "The
Reporter Who Made Himself King" from "Stories for Boys," copyright,
1891, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.



[Illustration: Instead she buried her face in its folds.]



TO MY FRIEND

J. DAVIS BRODHEAD



THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF DAVIS


Dick was twenty-four years old when he came into the smoking-room of
the Victoria Hotel, in London, after midnight one July night--he was
dressed as a Thames boatman.

He had been rowing up and down the river since sundown, looking for
color. He had evidently peopled every dark corner with a pirate, and
every floating object had meant something to him. He had adventure
written all over him. It was the first time I had ever seen him, and
I had never heard of him. I can't now recall another figure in that
smoke-filled room. I don't remember who introduced us--over
twenty-seven years have passed since that night. But I can see Dick
now dressed in a rough brown suit, a soft hat, with a handkerchief
about his neck, a splendid, healthy, clean-minded, gifted boy at play.
And so he always remained.

His going out of this world seemed like a boy interrupted in a game he
loved. And how well and fairly he played it! Surely no one deserved
success more than Dick. And it is a consolation to know he had more
than fifty years of just what he wanted. He had health, a great
talent, and personal charm. There never was a more loyal or unselfish
friend. There wasn't an atom of envy in him. He had unbounded mental
and physical courage, and with it all he was sensitive and sometimes
shy. He often tried to conceal these last two qualities, but never
succeeded in doing so from those of us who were privileged really to
know and love him.

His life was filled with just the sort of adventure he liked the best.
No one ever saw more wars in so many different places or got more out
of them. And it took the largest war in all history to wear out that
stout heart.

We shall miss him.

CHARLES DANA GIBSON.



CONTENTS


The First Glimpse of Davis               Charles Dana Gibson

THE EXILES

THE BOY ORATOR OF ZEPATA CITY

THE OTHER WOMAN

ON THE FEVER SHIP

THE LION AND THE UNICORN

THE LAST RIDE TOGETHER

MISS DELAMAR'S UNDERSTUDY

THE REPORTER WHO MADE HIMSELF KING



ILLUSTRATIONS


INSTEAD SHE BURIED HER FACE IN ITS FOLDS (Frontispiece)

STOPPING FOR HALF-HOURS AT A TIME BEFORE A BAZAAR

THE BOAR HUNT

CONSUMED TEA AND THIN SLICES OF BREAD

"I NEVER SAW A KING," GORDON REMARKED



THE EXILES

I


The greatest number of people in the world prefer the most highly
civilized places of the world, because they know what sort of things
are going to happen there, and because they also know by experience
that those are the sort of things they like. A very few people prefer
barbarous and utterly uncivilized portions of the globe for the reason
that they receive while there new impressions, and because they like
the unexpected better than a routine of existence, no matter how
pleasant that routine may be. But the most interesting places of all
to study are those in which the savage and the cultivated man lie down
together and try to live together in unity. This is so because we can
learn from such places just how far a man of cultivation lapses into
barbarism when he associates with savages, and how far the remnants of
his former civilization will have influence upon the barbarians among
whom he has come to live.

There are many such colonies as these, and they are the most picturesque
plague-spots on the globe. You will find them in New Zealand and at
Yokohama, in Algiers, Tunis, and Tangier, and scattered thickly all
along the South American coast-line wherever the law of extradition
obtains not, and where public opinion, which is one of the things a
colony can do longest without, is unknown. These are the unofficial
Botany Bays and Melillas of the world, where the criminal goes of his
own accord, and not because his government has urged him to do so and
paid his passage there. This is the story of a young man who went to
such a place for the benefit he hoped it would be to his health, and
not because he had robbed any one, or done a young girl an injury. He
was the only son of Judge Henry Howard Holcombe, of New York. That was
all that it was generally considered necessary to say of him. It was
not, however, quite enough, for, while his father had had nothing but
the right and the good of his State and country to think about, the
son was further occupied by trying to live up to his father's name.
Young Holcombe was impressed by this fact from his earliest childhood.
It rested upon him while at Harvard and during his years at the law
school, and it went with him into society and into the courts of law.
When he rose to plead a case he did not forget, nor did those present
forget, that his father while alive had crowded those same halls with
silent, earnest listeners; and when he addressed a mass-meeting at
Cooper Union, or spoke from the back of a cart in the East Side, some
one was sure to refer to the fact that this last speaker was the son
of the man who was mobbed because he had dared to be an abolitionist,
and who later had received the veneration of a great city for his
bitter fight against Tweed and his followers.

Young Holcombe was an earnest member of every reform club and citizens'
league, and his distinguished name gave weight as a director to
charitable organizations and free kindergartens. He had inherited his
hatred of Tammany Hall, and was unrelenting in his war upon it and its
handiwork, and he spoke of it and of its immediate downfall with the
bated breath of one who, though amazed at the wickedness of the thing
he fights, is not discouraged nor afraid. And he would listen to no
half-measures. Had not his grandfather quarrelled with Henry Clay, and
so shaken the friendship of a lifetime, because of a great compromise
which he could not countenance? And was his grandson to truckle and
make deals with this hideous octopus that was sucking the life-blood
from the city's veins? Had he not but yesterday distributed six
hundred circulars, calling for honest government, to six hundred
possible voters, all the way up Fourth Avenue?--and when some flippant
one had said that he might have hired a messenger-boy to have done it
for him and so saved his energies for something less mechanical, he
had rebuked the speaker with a reproachful stare and turned away in
silence.

Life was terribly earnest to young Holcombe, and he regarded it from
the point of view of one who looks down upon it from the judge's bench,
and listens with a frown to those who plead its cause. He was not
fooled by it; he was alive to its wickedness and its evasions. He would
tell you that he knew for a fact that the window man in his district
was a cousin of the Tammany candidate, and that the contractor who had
the cleaning of the street to do was a brother-in-law of one of the
Hall's sachems, and that the policeman on his beat had not been in the
country eight months. He spoke of these damning facts with the air of
one who simply tells you that much, that you should see how terrible
the whole thing really was, and what he could tell if he wished.

In his own profession he recognized the trials of law-breakers only as
experiments which went to establish and explain a general principle.
And prisoners were not men to him, but merely the exceptions that
proved the excellence of a rule. Holcombe would defend the lowest
creature or the most outrageous of murderers, not because the man was
a human being fighting for his liberty or life, but because he wished
to see if certain evidence would be admitted in the trial of such a
case. Of one of his clients the judge, who had a daughter of his own,
said, when he sentenced him, "Were there many more such men as you in
the world, the women of this land would pray to God to be left
childless." And when some one asked Holcombe, with ill-concealed
disgust, how he came to defend the man, he replied: "I wished to show
the unreliability of expert testimony from medical men. Yes; they tell
me the man was a very bad lot."

It was measures, not men, to Holcombe, and law and order were his twin
goddesses, and "no compromise" his watchword.

"You can elect your man if you'll give me two thousand dollars to
refit our club-room with," one of his political acquaintances once
said to him. "We've five hundred voters on the rolls now, and the
members vote as one man. You'd be saving the city twenty times that
much if you keep Croker's man out of the job. You know _that_ as
well as I do."

"The city can better afford to lose twenty thousand dollars," Holcombe
answered, "than we can afford to give a two-cent stamp for
corruption."

"All right," said the heeler; "all right, Mr. Holcombe. Go on. Fight
'em your own way. If they'd agree to fight you with pamphlets and
circulars you'd stand a chance, sir; but as long as they give out
money and you give out reading-matter to people that can't read,
they'll win, and I naturally want to be on the winning side."

When the club to which Holcombe belonged finally succeeded in getting
the Police Commissioners indicted for blackmailing gambling-houses,
Holcombe was, as a matter of course and of public congratulation, on
the side of the law; and as Assistant District Attorney--a position
given him on account of his father's name and in the hope that it
would shut his mouth--distinguished himself nobly.

Of the four commissioners, three were convicted--the fourth, Patrick
Meakim, with admirable foresight having fled to that country from
which few criminals return, and which is vaguely set forth in the
newspapers as "parts unknown."

The trial had been a severe one upon the zealous Mr. Holcombe, who
found himself at the end of it in a very bad way, with nerves unstrung
and brain so fagged that he assented without question when his doctor
exiled him from New York by ordering a sea voyage, with change of
environment and rest at the other end of it. Some one else suggested
the northern coast of Africa and Tangier, and Holcombe wrote minute
directions to the secretaries of all of his reform clubs urging
continued efforts on the part of his fellow-workers, and sailed away
one cold winter's morning for Gibraltar. The great sea laid its hold
upon him, and the winds from the south thawed the cold in his bones,
and the sun cheered his tired spirit. He stretched himself at full
length reading those books which one puts off reading until illness
gives one the right to do so, and so far as in him lay obeyed his
doctor's first command, that he should forget New York and all that
pertained to it. By the time he had reached the Rock he was up and
ready to drift farther into the lazy, irresponsible life of the
Mediterranean coast, and he had forgotten his struggles against
municipal misrule, and was at times for hours together utterly
oblivious of his own personality.

A dumpy, fat little steamer rolled itself along like a sailor on shore
from Gibraltar to Tangier, and Holcombe, leaning over the rail of its
quarter-deck, smiled down at the chattering group of Arabs and Moors
stretched on their rugs beneath him. A half-naked negro, pulling at
the dates in the basket between his bare legs, held up a handful to
him with a laugh, and Holcombe laughed back and emptied the cigarettes
in his case on top of him, and laughed again as the ship's crew and
the deck passengers scrambled over one another and shook out their
voluminous robes in search of them. He felt at ease with the world and
with himself, and turned his eyes to the white walls of Tangier with a
pleasure so complete that it shut out even the thought that it was a
pleasure.

The town seemed one continuous mass of white stucco, with each flat,
low-lying roof so close to the other that the narrow streets left no
trace. To the left of it the yellow coastline and the green
olive-trees and palms stretched up against the sky, and beneath him
scores of shrieking blacks fought in their boats for a place beside
the steamer's companion-way. He jumped into one of these open wherries
and fell sprawling among his baggage, and laughed lightly as a boy as
the boatman set him on his feet again, and then threw them from under
him with a quick stroke of the oars. The high, narrow pier was crowded
with excited customs officers in ragged uniforms and dirty turbans,
and with a few foreign residents looking for arriving passengers.
Holcombe had his feet on the upper steps of the ladder, and was
ascending slowly. There was a fat, heavily built man in blue serge
leaning across the railing of the pier. He was looking down, and as
his eyes met Holcombe's face his own straightened into lines of
amazement and most evident terror. Holcombe stopped at the sight, and
stared back wondering. And then the lapping waters beneath him and the
white town at his side faded away, and he was back in the hot, crowded
court-room with this man's face before him. Meakim, the fourth of the
Police Commissioners, confronted him, and saw in his presence nothing
but a menace to himself.

Holcombe came up the last steps of the stairs, and stopped at their
top. His instinct and life's tradition made him despise the man, and
to this was added the selfish disgust that his holiday should have
been so soon robbed of its character by this reminder of all that he
had been told to put behind him.

Meakim swept off his hat as though it were hurting him, and showed the
great drops of sweat on his forehead.

"For God's sake!" the man panted, "you can't touch me here, Mr.
Holcombe. I'm safe here; they told me I'd be. You can't take me. You
can't touch me."

Holcombe stared at the man coldly, and with a touch of pity and
contempt. "That is quite right, Mr. Meakim," he said. "The law cannot
reach you here."

"Then what do you want with me?" the man demanded, forgetful in his
terror of anything but his own safety.

Holcombe turned upon him sharply. "I am not here on your account, Mr.
Meakim," he said. "You need not feel the least uneasiness, and," he
added, dropping his voice as he noticed that others were drawing near,
"if you keep out of my way, I shall certainly keep out of yours."

The Police Commissioner gave a short laugh partly of bravado and
partly at his own sudden terror. "I didn't know," he said, breathing
with relief. "I thought you'd come after me. You don't wonder you give
me a turn, do you? I _was_ scared." He fanned himself with his
straw hat, and ran his tongue over his lips. "Going to be here some
time, Mr. District Attorney?" he added, with grave politeness.

Holcombe could not help but smile at the absurdity of it. It was so
like what he would have expected of Meakim and his class to give every
office-holder his full title. "No, Mr. Police Commissioner," he
answered, grimly, and nodding to his boatmen, pushed his way after
them and his trunks along the pier.

Meakim was waiting for him as he left the custom-house. He touched his
hat, and bent the whole upper part of his fat body in an awkward bow.
"Excuse me, Mr. District Attorney," he began.

"Oh, drop that, will you?" snapped Holcombe. "Now, what is it you
want, Meakim?"

"I was only going to say," answered the fugitive, with some offended
dignity, "that as I've been here longer than you, I could perhaps give
you pointers about the hotels. I've tried 'em all, and they're no
good, but the Albion's the best."

"Thank you, I'm sure," said Holcombe. "But I have been told to go to
the Isabella."

"Well, that's pretty good, too," Meakim answered, "if you don't mind
the tables. They keep you awake most of the night, though, and--"

"The tables? I beg your pardon," said Holcombe, stiffly.

"Not the eatin' tables; the roulette tables," corrected Meakim. "Of
course," he continued, grinning, "if you're fond of the game, Mr.
Holcombe, it's handy having them in the same house, but I can steer
you against a better one back of the French Consulate. Those at the
Hotel Isabella's crooked."

Holcombe stopped uncertainly. "I don't know just what to do," he said.
"I think I shall wait until I can see our consul here."

"Oh, he'll send you to the Isabella," said Meakim, cheerfully. "He
gets two hundred dollars a week for protecting the proprietor, so he
naturally caps for the house."

Holcombe opened his mouth to express himself, but closed it again, and
then asked, with some misgivings, of the hotel of which Meakim had
first spoken.

"Oh, the Albion. Most all the swells go there. It's English, and they
cook you a good beefsteak. And the boys generally drop in for table
d'hôte. You see, that's the worst of this place, Mr. Holcombe; there's
nowhere to go evenings--no club-rooms nor theatre nor nothing; only
the smoking-room of the hotel or that gambling-house; and they spring
a double naught on you if there's more than a dollar up."

Holcombe still stood irresolute, his porters eying him from under
their burdens, and the runners from the different hotels plucking at
his sleeve.

"There's some very good people at the Albion," urged the Police
Commissioner, "and three or four of 'em's New-Yorkers. There's the
Morrises and Ropes, the Consul-General, and Lloyd Carroll--"

"Lloyd Carroll!" exclaimed Holcombe.

"Yes," said Meakim, with a smile, "he's here." He looked at Holcombe
curiously for a moment, and then exclaimed, with a laugh of
intelligence, "Why, sure enough, you were Mr. Thatcher's lawyer in
that case, weren't you? It was you got him his divorce?"

Holcombe nodded.

"Carroll was the man that made it possible, wasn't he?"

Holcombe chafed under this catechism. "He was one of a dozen, I
believe," he said; but as he moved away he turned and asked: "And Mrs.
Thatcher. What has become of her?"

The Police Commissioner did not answer at once, but glanced up at
Holcombe from under his half-shut eyes with a look in which there was
a mixture of curiosity and of amusement. "You don't mean to say, Mr.
Holcombe," he began, slowly, with the patronage of the older man and
with a touch of remonstrance in his tone, "that you're _still_
with the husband in that case?"

Holcombe looked coldly over Mr. Meakim's head. "I have only a purely
professional interest in any one of them," he said. "They struck me as
a particularly nasty lot. Good-morning, sir."

"Well," Meakim called after him, "you needn't see nothing of them if
you don't want to. You can get rooms to yourself."

Holcombe did get rooms to himself, with a balcony overlooking the bay,
and arranged with the proprietor of the Albion to have his dinner
served at a separate table. As others had done this before, no one
regarded it as an affront upon his society, and several people in the
hotel made advances to him, which he received politely but coldly. For
the first week of his visit the town interested him greatly,
increasing its hold upon him unconsciously to himself. He was restless
and curious to see it all, and rushed his guide from one of the few
show-places to the next with an energy which left that fat Oriental
panting.

[Illustration: Stopping for half-hours at a time before a bazaar.]

But after three days Holcombe climbed the streets more leisurely,
stopping for half-hours at a time before a bazaar, or sent away his
guide altogether, and stretched himself luxuriously on the broad wall
of the fortifications. The sun beat down upon him, and wrapped him
into drowsiness. From far afield came the unceasing murmur of the
market-place and the bazaars, and the occasional cries of the priests
from the minarets; the dark blue sea danced and flashed beyond the
white margin of the town and its protecting reef of rocks where the
sea-weed rose and fell, and above his head the buzzards swept heavily,
and called to one another with harsh, frightened cries. At his side
lay the dusty road, hemmed in by walls of cactus, and along its narrow
length came lines of patient little donkeys with jangling necklaces,
led by wild-looking men from the farm-lands and the desert, and women
muffled and shapeless, with only their bare feet showing, who looked
at him curiously or meaningly from over the protecting cloth, and
passed on, leaving him startled and wondering. He began to find that
the books he had brought wearied him. The sight of the type alone was
enough to make him close the covers and start up restlessly to look
for something less absorbing. He found this on every hand, in the lazy
patience of the bazaars and of the markets, where the chief service of
all was that of only standing and waiting, and in the farm-lands
behind Tangier, where half-naked slaves drove great horned buffalo,
and turned back the soft, chocolate-colored sod with a wooden plough.
But it was a solitary, selfish holiday, and Holcombe found himself
wanting certain ones at home to bear him company, and was surprised to
find that of these none were the men nor the women with whom his
interests in the city of New York were the most closely connected.
They were rather foolish people, men at whom he had laughed and whom
he had rather pitied for having made him do so, and women he had
looked at distantly as of a kind he might understand when his work was
over and he wished to be amused. The young girls to whom he was in the
habit of pouring out his denunciations of evil, and from whom he was
accustomed to receive advice and moral support, he could not place in
this landscape. He felt uneasily that they would not allow him to
enjoy it his own way; they would consider the Moor historically as the
invader of Catholic Europe, and would be shocked at the lack of proper
sanitation, and would see the mud. As for himself, he had risen above
seeing the mud. He looked up now at the broken line of the roof-tops
against the blue sky, and when a hooded figure drew back from his
glance he found himself murmuring the words of an Eastern song he had
read in a book of Indian stories:

  "Alone upon the house-tops, to the north
    I turn and watch the lightning in the sky,--
  The glamour of thy footsteps in the north.
    Come back to me, Beloved, or I die!

  "Below my feet the still bazaar is laid.
    Far, far below, the weary camels lie--"

Holcombe laughed and shrugged his shoulders. He had stopped half-way
down the hill on which stands the Bashaw's palace, and the whole of
Tangier lay below him like a great cemetery of white marble. The moon
was shining clearly over the town and the sea, and a soft wind from
the sandy farm-lands came to him and played about him like the
fragrance of a garden. Something moved in him that he did not
recognize, but which was strangely pleasant, and which ran to his
brain like the taste of a strong liqueur. It came to him that he was
alone among strangers, and that what he did now would be known but to
himself and to these strangers. What it was that he wished to do he
did not know, but he felt a sudden lifting up and freedom from
restraint. The spirit of adventure awoke in him and tugged at his
sleeve, and he was conscious of a desire to gratify it and put it to
the test.

"'Alone upon the house-tops,'" he began. Then he laughed and clambered
hurriedly down the steep hill-side. "It's the moonlight," he explained
to the blank walls and overhanging lattices, "and the place and the
music of the song. It might be one of the Arabian nights, and I Haroun
al Raschid. _And_ if I don't get back to the hotel I shall make a
fool of myself."

He reached the Albion very warm and breathless, with stumbling and
groping in the dark, and instead of going immediately to bed told the
waiter to bring him some cool drink out on the terrace of the
smoking-room. There were two men sitting there in the moonlight, and
as he came forward one of them nodded to him silently.

"Oh, good-evening, Mr. Meakim!" Holcombe said, gayly, with the spirit
of the night still upon him. "I've been having adventures." He
laughed, and stooped to brush the dirt from his knickerbockers and
stockings. "I went up to the palace to see the town by moonlight, and
tried to find my way back alone, and fell down three times."

Meakim shook his head gravely. "You'd better be careful at night,
sir," he said. "The governor has just said that the Sultan won't be
responsible for the lives of foreigners at night 'unless accompanied
by soldier and lantern.'"

"Yes, and the legations sent word that they wouldn't have it," broke
in the other man. "They said they'd hold him responsible anyway."

There was a silence, and Meakim moved in some slight uneasiness. "Mr.
Holcombe, do you know Mr. Carroll?" he said.

Carroll half rose from his chair, but Holcombe was dragging another
toward him, and so did not have a hand to give him.

"How are you, Carroll?" he said, pleasantly.

The night was warm, and Holcombe was tired after his rambles, and so
he sank back in the low wicker chair contentedly enough, and when the
first cool drink was finished he clapped his hands for another, and
then another, while the two men sat at the table beside him and
avoided such topics as would be unfair to any of them.

"And yet," said Holcombe, after the first half-hour had passed, "there
must be a few agreeable people here. I am sure I saw some very
nice-looking women to-day coming in from the fox-hunt. And very well
gotten up, too, in Karki habits. And the men were handsome,
decent-looking chaps--Englishmen, I think."

"Who does he mean? Were you at the meet to-day?" asked Carroll.

The Tammany chieftain said no, that he did not ride--not after foxes,
in any event. "But I saw Mrs. Hornby and her sister coming back," he
said. "They had on those linen habits."

"Well, now, there's a woman who illustrates just what I have been
saying," continued Carroll. "You picked her out as a self-respecting,
nice-looking girl--and so she is--but she wouldn't like to have to
tell all she knows. No, they are all pretty much alike. They wear
low-neck frocks, and the men put on evening dress for dinner, and they
ride after foxes, and they drop in to five-o'clock tea, and they all
play that they're a lot of gilded saints, and it's one of the rules of
the game that you must believe in the next man, so that he will
believe in you. I'm breaking the rules myself now, because I say
'they' when I ought to say 'we.' We're none of us here for our health,
Holcombe, but it pleases us to pretend we are. It's a sort of give and
take. We all sit around at dinner-parties and smile and chatter, and
those English talk about the latest news from 'town,' and how they
mean to run back for the season or the hunting. But they know they
don't dare go back, and they know that everybody at the table knows
it, and that the servants behind them know it. But it's more easy that
way. There's only a few of us here, and we've got to hang together or
we'd go crazy."

"That's so," said Meakim, approvingly. "It makes it more sociable."

"It's a funny place," continued Carroll. The wine had loosened his
tongue, and it was something to him to be able to talk to one of his
own people again, and to speak from their point of view, so that the
man who had gone through St. Paul's and Harvard with him would see it
as such a man should. "It's a funny place, because, in spite of the
fact that it's a prison, you grow to like it for its freedom. You can
do things here you can't do in New York, and pretty much everything
goes there, or it used to, where I hung out. But here you're just your
own master, and there's no law and no religion and no relations nor
newspapers to poke into what you do nor how you live. You can
understand what I mean if you've ever tried living in the West. I used
to feel the same way the year I was ranching in Texas. My family sent
me out there to put me out of temptation; but I concluded I'd rather
drink myself to death on good whiskey at Del's than on the stuff we
got on the range, so I pulled my freight and came East again. But
while I was there I was a little king. I was just as good as the next
man, and he was no better than me. And though the life was rough, and
it was cold and lonely, there was something in being your own boss
that made you stick it out there longer than anything else did. It was
like this, Holcombe." Carroll half rose from his chair and marked what
he said with his finger. "Every time I took a step and my gun bumped
against my hip, I'd straighten up and feel good and look for trouble.
There was nobody to appeal to; it was just between me and him, and no
one else had any say about it. Well, that's what it's like here. You
see men come to Tangier on the run, flying from detectives or husbands
or bank directors, men who have lived perfectly decent, commonplace
lives up to the time they made their one bad break--which," Carroll
added, in polite parenthesis, with a deprecatory wave of his hand
toward Meakim and himself, "we are _all_ likely to do some time,
aren't we?"

"Just so," said Meakim.

"Of course," assented the District Attorney.

"But as soon as he reaches this place, Holcombe," continued Carroll,
"he begins to show just how bad he is. It all comes out--all his
viciousness and rottenness and blackguardism. There is nothing to
shame it, and there is no one to blame him, and no one is in a
position to throw the first stone." Carroll dropped his voice and
pulled his chair forward with a glance over his shoulder. "One of
those men you saw riding in from the meet to-day. Now, he's a German
officer, and he's here for forging a note or cheating at cards or
something quiet and gentlemanly, nothing that shows him to be a brute
or a beast. But last week he had old Mulley Wazzam buy him a slave
girl in Fez, and bring her out to his house in the suburbs. It seems
that the girl was in love with a soldier in the Sultan's body-guard at
Fez, and tried to run away to join him, and this man met her quite by
accident as she was making her way south across the sand-hills. He was
whip that day, and was hurrying out to the meet alone. He had some
words with the girl first, and then took his whip--it was one of those
with the long lash to it; you know what I mean--and cut her to pieces
with it, riding her down on his pony when she tried to run, and
heading her off and lashing her around the legs and body until she
fell; then he rode on in his damn pink coat to join the ladies at
Mango's Drift, where the meet was, and some Riffs found her bleeding
to death behind the sand-hills. That man held a commission in the
Emperor's own body-guard, and that's what Tangier did for _him_."

Holcombe glanced at Meakim to see if he would verify this, but
Meakim's lips were tightly pressed around his cigar, and his eyes were
half closed.

"And what was done about it?" Holcombe asked, hoarsely.

Carroll laughed, and shrugged his shoulders. "Why, I tell you, and you
whisper it to the next man, and we pretend not to believe it, and call
the Riffs liars. As I say, we're none of us here for our health,
Holcombe, and a public opinion that's manufactured by _déclassée_
women and men who have run off with somebody's money and somebody's
else's wife isn't strong enough to try a man for beating his own
slave."

"But the Moors themselves?" protested Holcombe. "And the Sultan? She's
one of his subjects, isn't she?"

"She's a woman, and women don't count for much in the East, you know;
and as for the Sultan, he's an ignorant black savage. When the English
wanted to blow up those rocks off the western coast, the Sultan
wouldn't let them. He said Allah had placed them there for some good
reason of His own, and it was not for man to interfere with the works
of God. That's the sort of a Sultan he is." Carroll rose suddenly and
walked into the smoking-room, leaving the two men looking at each
other in silence.

"That's right," said Meakim, after a pause. "He give it to you just as
it is, but I never knew him to kick about it before. We're a fair
field for missionary work, Mr. Holcombe, all of us--at least, some of
us are." He glanced up as Carroll came back from out of the lighted
room with an alert, brisk step. His manner had changed in his absence.

"Some of the ladies have come over for a bit of supper," he said.
"Mrs. Hornby and her sister and Captain Reese. The _chef's_ got
some birds for us, and I've put a couple of bottles on ice. It will be
like Del's--hey? A small hot bird and a large cold bottle. They sent
me out to ask you to join us. They're in our rooms." Meakim rose
leisurely and lit a fresh cigar, but Holcombe moved uneasily in his
chair. "You'll come, won't you?" Carroll asked. "I'd like you to meet
my wife."

Holcombe rose irresolutely and looked at his watch. "I'm afraid it's
too late for me," he said, without raising his face. "You see, I'm
here for my health. I--"

"I beg your pardon," said Carroll, sharply.

"Nonsense, Carroll!" said Holcombe. "I didn't mean _that_. I
meant it literally. I can't risk midnight suppers yet. My doctor's
orders are to go to bed at nine, and it's past twelve now. Some other
time, if you'll be so good; but it's long after my bedtime, and--"

"Oh, certainly," said Carroll, quietly, as he turned away. "Are you
coming, Meakim?"

Meakim lifted his half-empty glass from the table and tasted it slowly
until Carroll had left them, then he put the glass down, and glanced
aside to where Holcombe sat looking out over the silent city. Holcombe
raised his eyes and stared at him steadily.

"Mr. Holcombe--" the fugitive began.

"Yes," replied the lawyer.

Meakim shook his head. "Nothing," he said. "Good-night, sir."

Holcombe's rooms were on the floor above Carroll's, and the laughter
of the latter's guests and the tinkling of glasses and silver came to
him as he stepped out upon his balcony. But for this the night was
very still. The sea beat leisurely on the rocks, and the waves ran up
the sandy coast with a sound as of some one sweeping. The music of
women's laughter came up to him suddenly, and he wondered hotly if
they were laughing at him. He assured himself that it was a matter of
indifference to him if they were. And with this he had a wish that
they would not think of him as holding himself aloof. One of the women
began to sing to a guitar, and to the accompaniment of this a man and
a young girl came out upon the balcony below, and spoke to each other
in low, earnest tones, which seemed to carry with them the feeling of
a caress. Holcombe could not hear what they said, but he could see the
curve of the woman's white shoulders and the light of her companion's
cigar as he leaned upon the rail with his back to the moonlight and
looked into her face. Holcombe felt a sudden touch of loneliness and
of being very far from home. He shivered slightly as though from the
cold, and stepping inside closed the window gently behind him.

Although Holcombe met Carroll several times during the following day,
the latter obviously avoided him, and it was not until late in the
afternoon that Holcombe was given a chance to speak to him again.
Carroll was coming down the only street on a run, jumping from one
rough stone to another, and with his face lighted up with excitement.
He hailed Holcombe from a distance with a wave of the hand. "There's
an American man-of-war in the bay," he cried; "one of the new ones. We
saw her flag from the hotel. Come on!" Holcombe followed as a matter
of course, as Carroll evidently expected that he would, and they
reached the end of the landing-pier together, just as the ship of war
ran up and broke the square red flag of Morocco from her main-mast and
fired her salute.

"They'll be sending a boat in by-and-by," said Carroll, "and we'll
have a talk with the men." His enthusiasm touched his companion also,
and the sight of the floating atom of the great country that was his
moved him strongly, as though it were a personal message from home. It
came to him like the familiar stamp, and a familiar handwriting on a
letter in a far-away land, and made him feel how dear his own country
was to him and how much he needed it. They were leaning side by side
upon the rail watching the ship's screws turning the blue waters
white, and the men running about the deck, and the blue-coated figures
on the bridge. Holcombe turned to point out the vessel's name to
Carroll, and found that his companion's eyes were half closed and
filled with tears.

Carroll laughed consciously and coughed. "We kept it up a bit too late
last night," he said, "and I'm feeling nervous this morning, and the
sight of the flag and those boys from home knocked me out." He paused
for a moment, frowning through his tears and with his brow drawn up
into many wrinkles. "It's a terrible thing, Holcombe," he began again,
fiercely, "to be shut off from all of that." He threw out his hand
with a sudden gesture toward the man-of-war. Holcombe looked down at
the water and laid his hand lightly on his companion's shoulder.
Carroll drew away and shook his head. "I don't want any sympathy," he
said, kindly. "I'm not crying the baby act. But you don't know, and I
don't believe anybody else knows, what I've gone through and what I've
suffered. You don't like me, Holcombe, and you don't like my class,
but I want to tell you something about my coming here. I want you to
set them right about it at home. And I don't care whether it interests
you or not," he said, with quick offense; "I want you to listen. It's
about my wife."

Holcombe bowed his head gravely.

"You got Thatcher his divorce," Carroll continued. "And you know that
he would never have got it but for me, and that everybody expected
that I would marry Mrs. Thatcher when the thing was over. And I
didn't, and everybody said I was a blackguard, and I was. It was bad
enough before, but I made it worse by not doing the only thing that
could make it any better. Why I didn't do it I don't know. I had some
grand ideas of reform about that time, I think, and I thought I owed
my people something, and that by not making Mrs. Thatcher my mother's
daughter I would be saving her and my sisters. It was remorse, I
guess, and I didn't see things straight. I know now what I should have
done. Well, I left her and she went her own way, and a great many
people felt sorry for her, and were good to her--not your people, nor
my people; but enough were good to her to make her see as much of the
world as she had used to. She never loved Thatcher, and she never
loved any of the men you brought into that trial except one, and he
treated her like a cur. That was myself. Well, what with trying to
please my family, and loving Alice Thatcher all the time and not
seeing her, and hating her too for bringing me into all that
notoriety--for I blamed the woman, of course, as a man always will--I
got to drinking, and then this scrape came and I had to run. I don't
care anything about that row now, or what you believe about it. I'm
here, shut off from my home, and that's a worse punishment than any
damn lawyers can invent. And the man's well again. He saw I was drunk;
but I wasn't so drunk that I didn't know he was trying to do me, and I
pounded him just as they say I did, and I'm sorry now I didn't kill
him."

Holcombe stirred uneasily, and the man at his side lowered his voice
and went on more calmly:

"If I hadn't been a gentleman, Holcombe, or if it had been another
cabman he'd fought with, there wouldn't have been any trouble about
it. But he thought he could get big money out of me, and his friends
told him to press it until he was paid to pull out, and I hadn't the
money, and so I had to break bail and run. Well, you've seen the
place. You've been here long enough to know what it's like, and what
I've had to go through. Nobody wrote me, and nobody came to see me;
not one of my own sisters even, though they've been in the Riviera all
this spring--not a day's journey away. Sometimes a man turned up that
I knew, but it was almost worse than not seeing any one. It only made
me more homesick when he'd gone. And for weeks I used to walk up and
down that beach there alone late in the night, until I got to thinking
that the waves were talking to me, and I got queer in my head. I had
to fight it just as I used to have to fight against whiskey, and to
talk fast so that I wouldn't think. And I tried to kill myself
hunting, and only got a broken collar-bone for my pains. Well, all
this time Alice was living in Paris and New York. I heard that some
English captain was going to marry her, and then I read in the Paris
_Herald_ that she was settled in the American colony there, and
one day it gave a list of the people who'd been to a reception she
gave. She could go where she pleased, and she had money in her own
right, you know; and she was being revenged on me every day. And I was
here knowing it, and loving her worse than I ever loved anything on
earth, and having lost the right to tell her so, and not able to go to
her. Then one day some chap turned up from here and told her about me,
and about how miserable I was, and how well I was being punished. He
thought it would please her, I suppose. I don't know who he was, but I
guess he was in love with her himself. And then the papers had it that
I was down with the fever here, and she read about it. I _was_
ill for a time, and I hoped it was going to carry me off decently, but
I got up in a week or two, and one day I crawled down here where we're
standing now to watch the boat come in. I was pretty weak from my
illness, and I was bluer than I had ever been, and I didn't see
anything but blackness and bitterness for me anywhere. I turned around
when the passengers reached the pier, and I saw a woman coming up
those stairs. Her figure and her shoulders were so like Alice's that
my heart went right up into my throat, and I couldn't breathe for it.
I just stood still staring, and when she reached the top of the steps
she looked up, breathing with the climb, and laughing; and she says,
'Lloyd, I've come to see you.' And I--I was that lonely and weak that
I grabbed her hand, and leaned back against the railing, and cried
there before the whole of them. I don't think she expected it exactly,
because she didn't know what to do, and just patted me on the
shoulder, and said, 'I thought I'd run down to cheer you up a bit; and
I've brought Mrs. Scott with me to chaperon us.' And I said, without
stopping to think: 'You wouldn't have needed any chaperon, Alice, if I
hadn't been a cur and a fool. If I had only asked what I can't ask of
you now'; and, Holcombe, she flushed just like a little girl, and
laughed, and said, 'Oh, will you, Lloyd?' And you see that ugly iron
chapel up there, with the corrugated zinc roof and the wooden cross on
it, next to the mosque? Well, that's where we went first, right from
this wharf before I let her go to a hotel, and old Ridley, the English
rector, he married us, and we had a civil marriage too. That's what
she did for me. She had the whole wide globe to live in, and she gave
it up to come to Tangier, because I had no other place but Tangier,
and she's made my life for me, and I'm happier here than I ever was
before anywhere, and sometimes I think--I hope--that she is, too."
Carroll's lips moved slightly, and his hands trembled on the rail. He
coughed, and his voice was gentler when he spoke again. "And so," he
added, "that's why I felt it last night when you refused to meet her.
You were right, I know, from your way of thinking, but we've grown
careless down here, and we look at things differently."

Holcombe did not speak, but put his arm across the other's shoulder,
and this time Carroll did not shake it off. Holcombe pointed with his
hand to a tall, handsome woman with heavy yellow hair who was coming
toward them, with her hands in the pockets of her reefer. "There is
Mrs. Carroll now," he said. "Won't you present me, and then we can row
out and see the man-of-war?"



II


The officers returned their visit during the day, and the American
Consul-General asked them all to a reception the following afternoon.
The entire colony came to this, and Holcombe met many people, and
drank tea with several ladies in riding-habits, and iced drinks with
all of the men. He found it very amusing, and the situation appealed
strongly to his somewhat latent sense of humor. That evening in
writing to his sister he told of his rapid recovery in health, and of
the possibility of his returning to civilization.

"There was a reception this afternoon at the Consul-General's," he
wrote, "given to the officers of our man-of-war, and I found myself in
some rather remarkable company. The Consul himself has become rich by
selling his protection for two hundred dollars to every wealthy Moor
who wishes to escape the forced loans which the Sultan is in the habit
of imposing on the faithful. For five hundred dollars he will furnish
any one of them with a piece of stamped paper accrediting him as
minister plenipotentiary from the United States to the Sultan's court.
Of course the Sultan never receives them, and whatever object they may
have had in taking the long journey to Fez is never accomplished. Some
day some one of them will find out how he has been tricked, and will
return to have the Consul assassinated. This will be a serious loss to
our diplomatic service. The Consul's wife is a fat German woman who
formerly kept a hotel here. Her brother has it now, and runs it as an
annex to a gambling-house. Pat Meakim, the Police Commissioner that I
indicted, but who jumped his bail, introduced me at the reception to
the men, with apparently great self-satisfaction, as 'the pride of the
New York Bar,' and Mrs. Carroll, for whose husband I obtained a
divorce, showed her gratitude by presenting me to the ladies. It was a
distinctly Gilbertian situation, and the people to whom they
introduced me were quite as picturesquely disreputable as themselves.
So you see--"

Holcombe stopped here and read over what he had written, and then tore
up the letter. The one he sent in its place said he was getting
better, but that the climate was not so mild as he had expected it
would be.

Holcombe engaged the entire first floor of the hotel the next day, and
entertained the officers and the residents at breakfast, and the
Admiral made a speech and said how grateful it was to him and to his
officers to find that wherever they might touch, there were some few
Americans ready to welcome them as the representatives of the flag
they all so unselfishly loved, and of the land they still so proudly
called "home." Carroll, turning his wine-glass slowly between his
fingers, raised his eyes to catch Holcombe's, and winked at him from
behind the curtain of the smoke of his cigar, and Holcombe smiled
grimly, and winked back, with the result that Meakim, who had
intercepted the signalling, choked on his champagne, and had to be
pounded violently on the back. Holcombe's breakfast established him as
a man of means and one who could entertain properly, and after that
his society was counted upon for every hour of the day. He offered
money as prizes for the ship's crew to row and swim after, he gave a
purse for a cross-country pony race, open to members of the Calpe and
Tangier hunts, and organized picnics and riding parties innumerable.
He was forced at last to hire a soldier to drive away the beggars when
he walked abroad. He found it easy to be rich in a place where he was
given over two hundred copper coins for an English shilling, and he
distributed his largesses recklessly and with a lack of discrimination
entirely opposed to the precepts of his organized charities at home.
He found it so much more amusing to throw a handful of coppers to a
crowd of fat naked children than to write a check for the Society for
Suppression of Cruelty to the same beneficiaries.

"You shouldn't give those fellows money," the Consul-General once
remonstrated with him; "the fact that they're blind is only a proof
that they have been thieves. When they catch a man stealing here they
hold his head back, and pass a hot iron in front of his eyes. That's
why the lids are drawn taut that way. You shouldn't encourage them."

"Perhaps they're not _all_ thieves," said the District Attorney,
cheerfully, as he hit the circle around him with a handful of coppers;
"but there is no doubt about it that they're all blind. Which is the
more to be pitied," he asked the Consul-General, "the man who has
still to be found out and who can see, or the one who has been exposed
and who is blind?"

"How should he know?" said Carroll, laughing. "He's never been blind,
and he still holds his job."

"I don't think that's very funny," said the Consul-General.

A week of pig-sticking came to end Holcombe's stay in Tangier, and he
threw himself into it and into the freedom of its life with a zest
that made even the Englishman speak of him as a good fellow. He
chanced to overhear this, and stopped to consider what it meant. No
one had ever called him a good fellow at home, but then his life had
not offered him the chance to show what sort of a good fellow he might
be, and as Judge Holcombe's son certain things had been debarred him.
Here he was only the richest tourist since Farwell, the diamond
smuggler from Amsterdam, had touched there in his yacht.

[Illustration: The boar hunt.]

The week of boar-hunting was spent out-of-doors, on horseback, and in
tents; the women in two wide circular ones, and the men in another,
with a mess tent, which they shared in common, pitched between them.
They had only one change of clothes each, one wet and one dry, and
they were in the saddle from nine in the morning until late at night,
when they gathered in a wide circle around the wood-fire and played
banjoes and listened to stories. Holcombe grew as red as a sailor, and
jumped his horse over gaping crevasses in the hard sun-baked earth as
recklessly as though there were nothing in this world so well worth
sacrificing one's life for as to be the first in at a dumb brute's
death. He was on friendly terms with them all now--with Miss Terrill,
the young girl who had been awakened by night and told to leave Monte
Carlo before daybreak, and with Mrs. Darhah, who would answer to Lady
Taunton if so addressed, and with Andrews, the Scotch bank clerk, and
Ollid the boy officer from Gibraltar, who had found some difficulty in
making the mess account balance. They were all his very good friends,
and he was especially courteous and attentive to Miss Terrill's wants
and interests, and fixed her stirrup and once let her pass him to
charge the boar in his place. She was a silently distant young woman,
and strangely gentle for one who had had to leave a place, and such a
place, between days; and her hair, which was very fine and light, ran
away from under her white helmet in disconnected curls. At night,
Holcombe used to watch her from out of the shadow when the firelight
lit up the circle and the tips of the palms above them, and when the
story-teller's voice was accompanied by bursts of occasional laughter
from the dragomen in the grove beyond, and the stamping and neighing
of the horses at their pickets, and the unceasing chorus of the insect
life about them. She used to sit on one of the rugs with her hands
clasped about her knees, and with her head resting on Mrs. Hornby's
broad shoulder, looking down into the embers of the fire, and with the
story of her life written on her girl's face as irrevocably as though
old age had set its seal there. Holcombe was kind to them all now,
even to Meakim, when that gentleman rode leisurely out to the camp
with the mail and the latest Paris _Herald_, which was their one
bond of union with the great outside world.

Carroll sat smoking his pipe one night, and bending forward over the
fire to get its light on the pages of the latest copy of this paper.
Suddenly he dropped it between his knees. "I say, Holcombe," he cried,
"here's news! Winthrop Allen has absconded with three hundred thousand
dollars, and no one knows where."

Holcombe was sitting on the other side of the fire, prying at the
rowel of his spur with a hunting-knife. He raised his head and
laughed. "Another good man gone wrong, hey?" he said.

Carroll lowered the paper slowly to his knee and stared curiously
through the smoky light to where Holcombe sat intent on the rowel of
his spur. It apparently absorbed his entire attention, and his last
remark had been an unconsciously natural one. Carroll smiled grimly as
he folded the paper across his knee. "Now are the mighty fallen,
indeed," he murmured. He told Meakim of it a few minutes later, and
they both marvelled. "It's just as I told him, isn't it, and he
wouldn't believe me. It's the place and the people. Two weeks ago he
would have raged. Why, Meakim, you know Allen--Winthrop Allen? He's
one of Holcombe's own sort; older than he is, but one of his own
people; belongs to the same clubs; and to the same family, I think,
and yet Harry took it just as a matter of course, with no more
interest, than if I'd said that Allen was going to be married."

Meakim gave a low, comfortable laugh of content. "It makes me smile,"
he chuckled, "every time I think of him the day he came up them
stairs. He scared me half to death, he did, and then he says, just as
stiff as you please, 'If you'll leave me alone, Mr. Meakim, I'll not
trouble you.' And now it's 'Meakim this,' and 'Meakim that,' and 'have
a drink, Meakim,' just as thick as thieves. I have to laugh whenever I
think of it now. 'If you'll leave me alone, I'll not trouble you, Mr.
Meakim.'"

Carroll pursed his lips and looked up at the broad expanse of purple
heavens with the white stars shining through. "It's rather a pity,
too, in a way," he said, slowly. "He was all the Public Opinion we
had, and now that he's thrown up the part, why--"

The pig-sticking came to an end finally, and Holcombe distinguished
himself by taking his first fall, and under romantic circumstances. He
was in an open place, with Mrs. Carroll at the edge of the brush to
his right, and Miss Terrill guarding any approach from the left. They
were too far apart to speak to one another, and sat quite still and
alert to any noise as the beaters closed in around them. There was a
sharp rustle in the reeds, and the boar broke out of it some hundred
feet ahead of Holcombe. He went after it at a gallop, headed it off,
and ran it fairly on his spear point as it came toward him; but as he
drew his lance clear his horse came down, falling across him, and for
the instant knocking him breathless. It was all over in a moment. He
raised his head to see the boar turn and charge him; he saw where his
spear point had torn the lower lip from the long tusks, and that the
blood was pouring down its flank. He tried to draw out his legs, but
the pony lay fairly across him, kicking and struggling, and held him
in a vise. So he closed his eyes and covered his head with his arms,
and crouched in a heap waiting. There was the quick beat of a pony's
hoofs on the hard soil, and the rush of the boar within a foot of his
head, and when he looked up he saw Miss Terrill twisting her pony's
head around to charge the boar again, and heard her shout, "Let me
have him!" to Mrs. Carroll.

Mrs. Carroll came toward Holcombe with her spear pointed dangerously
high; she stopped at his side and drew in her rein sharply. "Why don't
you get up? Are you hurt?" she said. "Wait; lie still," she commanded,
"or he'll tramp on you. I'll get him off." She slipped from her saddle
and dragged Holcombe's pony to his feet. Holcombe stood up unsteadily,
pale through his tan from the pain of the fall and the moment of fear.

"That _was_ nasty," said Mrs. Carroll, with a quick breath. She
was quite as pale as he.

Holcombe wiped the dirt from his hair and the side of his face, and
looked past her to where Miss Terrill was surveying the dead boar from
her saddle, while her pony reared and shied, quivering with excitement
beneath her. Holcombe mounted stiffly and rode toward her. "I am very
much obliged to you," he said. "If you hadn't come--"

The girl laughed shortly, and shook her head without looking at him.
"Why, not at all," she interrupted, quickly. "I would have come just
as fast if you hadn't been there." She turned in her saddle and looked
at him frankly. "I was glad to see you go down," she said, "for it
gave me the first good chance I've had. Are you hurt?"

Holcombe drew himself up stiffly, regardless of the pain in his neck
and shoulder. "No, I'm all right, thank you," he answered. "At the
same time," he called after her as she moved away to meet the others,
"you _did_ save me from being torn up, whether you like it or
not."

Mrs. Carroll was looking after the girl with observant, comprehending
eyes. She turned to Holcombe with a smile. "There are a few things you
have still to learn, Mr. Holcombe," she said, bowing in her saddle
mockingly, and dropping the point of her spear to him as an adversary
does in salute. "And perhaps," she added, "it is just as well that
there are."

Holcombe trotted after her in some concern. "I wonder what she means?"
he said. "I wonder if I were rude?"

The pig-sticking ended with a long luncheon before the ride back to
town, at which everything that could be eaten or drunk was put on the
table, in order, as Meakim explained, that there would be less to
carry back. He met Holcombe that same evening after the cavalcade had
reached Tangier as the latter came down the stairs of the Albion.
Holcombe was in fresh raiment and cleanly shaven, and with the radiant
air of one who had had his first comfortable bath in a week.

Meakim confronted him with a smiling countenance. "Who do you think
come to-night on the mail-boat?" he asked.

"I don't know. Who?"

"Winthrop Allen, with six trunks," said Meakim, with the triumphant
air of one who brings important news.

"No, really now," said Holcombe, laughing. "The old hypocrite! I
wonder what he'll say when he sees me. I wish I could stay over
another boat, just to remind him of the last time we met. What a fraud
he is! It was at the club, and he was congratulating me on my noble
efforts in the cause of justice, and all that sort of thing. He said I
was a public benefactor. And at that time he must have already
speculated away about half of what he had stolen of other people's
money. I'd like to tease him about it."

"What trial was that?" asked Meakim.

Holcombe laughed and shook his head as he moved on down the stairs.
"Don't ask embarrassing questions, Meakim," he said. "It was one
_you_ won't forget in a hurry."

"Oh!" said Meakim, with a grin. "All right. There's some mail for you
in the office."

"Thank you," said Holcombe.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few hours later Carroll was watching the roulette wheel in the
gambling-hall of the Isabella when he saw Meakim come in out of the
darkness, and stand staring in the doorway, blinking at the lights and
mopping his face. He had been running, and was visibly excited.
Carroll crossed over to him and pushed him out into the quiet of the
terrace. "What is it?" he asked.

"Have you seen Holcombe?" Meakim demanded in reply.

"Not since this afternoon. Why?"

Meakim breathed heavily, and fanned himself with his hat. "Well, he's
after Winthrop Allen, that's all," he panted. "And when he finds him
there's going to be a muss. The boy's gone crazy. He's not safe."

"Why? What do you mean? What's Allen done to him?"

"Nothing to him, but to a friend of his. He got a letter to-night in
the mail that came with Allen. It was from his sister. She wrote him
all the latest news about Allen, and give him fits for robbing an old
lady who's been kind to her. She wanted that Holcombe should come
right back and see what could be done about it. She didn't know, of
course, that Allen was coming here. The old lady kept a private school
on Fifth Avenue, and Allen had charge of her savings."

"What is her name?" Carroll asked.

"Field, I think. Martha Field was--"

"The dirty blackguard!" cried Carroll. He turned sharply away and
returned again to seize Meakim's arm. "Go on," he demanded. "What did
she say?"

"You know her too, do you?" said Meakim, shaking his head
sympathetically. "Well, that's all. She used to teach his sister. She
seems to be a sort of fashionable--"

"I know," said Carroll, roughly. "She taught my sister. She teaches
everybody's sister. She's the sweetest, simplest old soul that ever
lived. Holcombe's dead right to be angry. She almost lived at their
house when his sister was ill."

"Tut! you don't say?" commented Meakim, gravely. "Well, his sister's
pretty near crazy about it. He give me the letter to read. It got me
all stirred up. It was just writ in blood. She must be a fine girl,
his sister. She says this Miss Martha's money was the last thing Allen
took. He didn't use her stuff, to speculate with, but cashed it in
just before he sailed and took it with him for spending-money. His
sister says she's too proud to take help, and she's too old to work."

"How much did he take?"

"Sixty thousand. She's been saving for over forty years."

Carroll's mind took a sudden turn. "And Holcombe?" he demanded,
eagerly. "What is he going to do? Nothing silly, I hope."

"Well, that's just it. That's why I come to find you," Meakim
answered, uneasily. "I don't want him to qualify for no Criminal
Stakes. I got no reason to love him either--But you know--" he
ended, impotently.

"Yes, I understand," said Carroll. "That's what I meant. Confound the
boy, why didn't he stay in his law courts! What did he say?"

"Oh, he just raged around. He said he'd tell Allen there was an
extradition treaty that Allen didn't know about, and that if Allen
didn't give him the sixty thousand he'd put it in force and make him
go back and stand trial."

"Compounding a felony, is he?"

"No, nothing of the sort," said Meakim, indignantly. "There isn't any
extradition treaty, so he wouldn't be doing anything wrong except
lying a bit."

"Well, it's blackmail, anyway."

"What, blackmail a man like Allen? Huh! He's fair game, if there ever
was any. But it won't work with him, that's what I'm afraid of. He's
too cunning to be taken in by it, he is. He had good legal advice
before he came here, or he wouldn't have come."

Carroll was pacing up and down the terrace. He stopped and spoke over
his shoulder. "Does Holcombe think Allen has the money with him?" he
asked.

"Yes, he's sure of it. That's what makes him so keen. He says Allen
wouldn't dare bank it at Gibraltar, because if he ever went over there
to draw on it he would get caught, so he must have brought it with him
here. And he got here so late that Holcombe believes it's in Allen's
rooms now, and he's like a dog that smells a rat, after it. Allen
wasn't in when he went up to his room, and he's started out hunting
for him, and if he don't find him I shouldn't be a bit surprised if he
broke into the room and just took it."

"For God's sake!" cried Carroll. "He wouldn't do that?"

Meakim pulled and fingered at his heavy watch-chain and laughed
doubtfully. "I don't know," he said. "He wouldn't have done it three
months ago, but he's picked up a great deal since then--since he has
been with us. He's asking for Captain Reese, too."

"What's he want with that blackguard?"

"I don't know; he didn't tell me."

"Come," said Carroll, quickly. "We must stop him." He ran lightly down
the steps of the terrace to the beach, with Meakim waddling heavily
after him. "He's got too much at stake, Meakim," he said, in
half-apology, as they tramped through the sand. "He mustn't spoil it.
We won't let him."

Holcombe had searched the circuit of Tangier's small extent with
fruitless effort, his anger increasing momentarily and feeding on each
fresh disappointment. When he had failed to find the man he sought in
any place, he returned to the hotel and pushed open the door of the
smoking-room as fiercely as though he meant to take those within by
surprise.

"Has Mr. Allen returned?" he demanded. "Or Captain Reese?" The
attendant thought not, but he would go and see. "No," Holcombe said,
"I will look for myself." He sprang up the stairs to the third floor,
and turned down a passage to a door at its farthest end. Here he
stopped and knocked gently. "Reese," he called; "Reese!" There was no
response to his summons, and he knocked again, with more impatience,
and then cautiously turned the handle of the door, and, pushing it
forward, stepped into the room. "Reese," he said, softly, "its
Holcombe. Are you here?" The room was dark except for the light from
the hall, which shone dimly past him and fell upon a gun-rack hanging
on the wall opposite. Holcombe hurried toward this and ran his hands
over it, and passed on quickly from that to the mantel and the tables,
stumbling over chairs and riding-boots as he groped about, and
tripping on the skin of some animal that lay stretched upon the floor.
He felt his way, around the entire circuit of the room, and halted
near the door with an exclamation of disappointment. By this time his
eyes had become accustomed to the darkness, and he noted the white
surface of the bed in a far corner and ran quickly toward it, groping
with his hands about the posts at its head. He closed his fingers with
a quick gasp of satisfaction on a leather belt that hung from it,
heavy with cartridges and a revolver that swung from its holder.
Holcombe pulled this out and jerked back the lever, spinning the
cylinder around under the edge of his thumb. He felt the grease of
each cartridge as it passed under his nail. The revolver was loaded in
each chamber, and Holcombe slipped it into the pocket of his coat and
crept out of the room, closing the door softly behind him. He met no
one in the hall or on the stairs, and passed on quickly to a room on
the second floor. There was a light in this room which showed through
the transom and under the crack at the floor, and there was a sound of
some one moving about within. Holcombe knocked gently and waited.

The movement on the other side of the door ceased, and after a pause a
voice asked who was there. Holcombe hesitated a second before
answering, and then said, "It is a servant, sir, with a note for Mr.
Allen."

At the sound of some one moving toward the door from within, Holcombe
threw his shoulder against the panel and pressed forward. There was
the click of the key turning in the lock and of the withdrawal of a
bolt, and the door was partly opened. Holcombe pushed it back with his
shoulder, and, stepping quickly inside, closed it again behind him.

The man within, into whose presence he had forced himself, confronted
him with a look of some alarm, which increased in surprise as he
recognized his visitor. "Why, Holcombe!" he exclaimed. He looked past
him as though expecting some one else to follow. "I thought it was a
servant," he said.

Holcombe made no answer, but surveyed the other closely, and with a
smile of content. The man before him was of erect carriage, with white
hair and whiskers, cut after an English fashion which left the mouth
and chin clean shaven. He was of severe and dignified appearance, and
though standing as he was in dishabille still gave in his bearing the
look of an elderly gentleman who had lived a self-respecting,
well-cared-for, and well-ordered life. The room about him was littered
with the contents of opened trunks and uncorded boxes. He had been
interrupted in the task of unpacking and arranging these possessions,
but he stepped unresentfully toward the bed where his coat lay, and
pulled it on, feeling at the open collar of his shirt, and giving a
glance of apology toward the disorder of the apartment.

"The night was so warm," he said, in explanation. "I have been trying
to get things to rights. I--" He was speaking in some obvious
embarrassment, and looked uncertainly toward the intruder for help.
But Holcombe made no explanation, and gave him no greeting. "I heard
in the hotel that you were here," the other continued, still striving
to cover up the difficulty of the situation, "and I am sorry to hear
that you are going so soon." He stopped, and as Holcombe still
continued smiling, drew himself up stiffly. The look on his face
hardened into one of offended dignity.

"Really, Mr. Holcombe," he said, sharply, and with strong annoyance in
his tone, "if you have forced yourself into this room for no other
purpose than to stand there and laugh, I must ask you to leave it. You
may not be conscious of it, but your manner is offensive." He turned
impatiently to the table, and began rearranging the papers upon it.
Holcombe shifted the weight of his body as it rested against the door
from one shoulder-blade to the other and closed his hands over the
door-knob behind him.

"I had a letter to-night from home about you, Allen," he began,
comfortably. "The person who wrote it was anxious that I should return
to New York, and set things working in the District Attorney's office
in order to bring you back. It isn't you they want so much as--"

"How dare you?" cried the embezzler, sternly, in the voice with which
one might interrupt another in words of shocking blasphemy.

"How dare I what?" asked Holcombe.

"How dare you refer to my misfortune? You of all others--" He stopped,
and looked at his visitor with flashing eyes. "I thought you a
gentleman," he said, reproachfully; "I thought you a man of the world,
a man who in spite of your office, official position, or, rather, on
account of it, could feel and understand the--a--terrible position in
which I am placed, and that you would show consideration. Instead of
which," he cried, his voice rising in indignation, "you have come
apparently to mock at me. If the instinct of a gentleman does not
teach you to be silent, I shall have to force you to respect my
feelings. You can leave the room, sir. Now, at once." He pointed with
his arm at the door against which Holcombe was leaning, the fingers of
his outstretched hand trembling visibly.

"Nonsense. Your misfortune! What rot!" Holcombe growled resentfully.
His eyes wandered around the room as though looking for some one who
might enjoy the situation with him, and then returned to Allen's face.
"You mustn't talk like that to me," he said, in serious remonstrance.
"A man who has robbed people who trusted him for three years, as you
have done, can't afford to talk of his misfortune. You were too long
about it, Allen. You had too many chances to put it back.
_You've_ no feelings to be hurt. Besides, if you have, I'm in a
hurry, and I've not the time to consider them. Now, what I want of you
is--"

"Mr. Holcombe," interrupted the other, earnestly.

"Sir," replied the visitor.

"Mr. Holcombe," began Allen, slowly, and with impressive gravity, "I
do not want any words with you about this, or with any one else. I am
here owing to a combination of circumstances which have led me through
hopeless, endless trouble. What I have gone through with nobody knows.
That is something no one but I can ever understand. But that is now at
an end. I have taken refuge in flight and safety, where another might
have remained and compromised and suffered; but I am a weaker brother,
and--as for punishment, my own conscience, which has punished me so
terribly in the past, will continue to do so in the future. I am
greatly to be pitied, Mr. Holcombe, greatly to be pitied. And no one
knows that better than yourself. You know the value of the position I
held in New York City, and how well I was suited to it, and it to me.
And now I am robbed of it all. I am an exile in this wilderness.
Surely, Mr. Holcombe, this is not the place nor the time when you
should insult me by recalling the--"

"You contemptible hypocrite," said Holcombe, slowly. "What an ass you
must think I am! Now, listen to me."

"No, _you_ listen to me," thundered the other. He stepped
menacingly forward, his chest heaving under his open shirt, and his
fingers opening and closing at his side. "Leave the room, I tell you,"
he cried, "or I shall call the servants and make you!" He paused with
a short, mocking laugh. "Who do you think I am?" he asked; "a child
that you can insult and gibe at? I'm not a prisoner in the box for you
to browbeat and bully, Mr. District Attorney. You seem to forget that
I am out of your jurisdiction now."

He waited, and his manner seemed to invite Holcombe to make some angry
answer to his tone, but the young man remained grimly silent.

"You are a very important young person at home, Harry," Allen went on,
mockingly. "But New York State laws do not reach as far as Africa."

"Quite right; that's it exactly," said Holcombe, with cheerful
alacrity. "I'm glad you have grasped the situation so soon. That makes
it easier for me. Now, what I have been trying to tell you is this. I
received a letter about you to-night. It seems that before leaving New
York you converted bonds and mortgages belonging to Miss Martha Field,
which she had intrusted to you, into ready money. And that you took
this money with you. Now, as this is the first place you have stopped
since leaving New York, except Gibraltar, where you could not have
banked it, you must have it with you now, here in this town, in this
hotel, possibly in this room. What else you have belonging to other
poor devils and corporations does not concern me. It's yours as far as
I mean to do anything about it. But this sixty thousand dollars which
belongs to Miss Field, who is the best, purest, and kindest woman I
have ever known, and who has given away more money than you ever
stole, is going back with me to-morrow to New York." Holcombe leaned
forward as he spoke, and rapped with his knuckles on the table. Allen
confronted him in amazement, in which there was not so much surprise
at what the other threatened to do as at the fact that it was he who
had proposed doing it.

"I don't understand," he said, slowly, with the air of a bewildered
child.

"It's plain enough," replied the other, impatiently. "I tell you I
want sixty thousand dollars of the money you have with you. You can
understand that, can't you?"

"But how?" expostulated Allen. "You don't mean to rob me, do you,
Harry?" he asked with a laugh.

"You're a very stupid person for so clever a one," Holcombe said,
impatiently. "You must give me sixty thousand dollars--and if you
don't, I'll take it. Come, now, where is it--in that box?" He pointed
with his finger toward a square travelling-case covered with black
leather that stood open on the table filled with papers and blue
envelopes.

"Take it!" exclaimed Allen. "You, Henry Holcombe? Is it you who are
speaking? Do I hear you?" He looked at Holcombe with eyes full of
genuine wonder and a touch of fear. As he spoke his hand reached out
mechanically and drew the leather-bound box toward him.

"Ah, it is in that box, then," said Holcombe, in a quiet, grave tone.
"Now count it out, and be quick."

"Are you drunk?" cried the other, fiercely. "Do you propose to turn
highwayman and thief? What do you mean?" Holcombe reached quickly
across the table toward the box, but the other drew it back, snapping
the lid down, and hugging it close against his breast. "If you move,
Holcombe," he cried, in a voice of terror and warning, "I'll call the
people of the house and--and expose you."

"Expose me, you idiot," returned Holcombe, fiercely. "How dare
_you_ talk to me like that!"

Allen dragged the table more evenly between them, as a general works
on his defenses even while he parleys with the enemy. "It's you who
are the idiot!" he cried. "Suppose you could overcome me, which would
be harder than you think, what are you going to do with the money? Do
you suppose I'd let you leave this country with it? Do you imagine for
a moment that I would give it up without raising my hand? I'd have you
dragged to prison from your bed this very night, or I'd have you
seized as you set your foot upon the wharf. I would appeal to our
Consul-General. As far as he knows, I am as worthy of protection as
you are yourself, and, failing him, I'd appeal to the law of the
land." He stopped for want of breath, and then began again with the
air of one who finds encouragement in the sound of his own voice.
"They may not understand extradition here, Holcombe," he said, "but a
thief is a thief all the world over. What you may be in New York isn't
going to help you here; neither is your father's name. To these people
you would be only a hotel thief who forces his way into other men's
rooms at night and--"

"You poor thing," interrupted Holcombe. "Do you know where you are?"
he demanded. "You talk, Allen, as though we were within sound of the
cable-cars on Broadway. This hotel is not the Brunswick, and this
Consul-General you speak of is another blackguard who knows that a
word from me at Washington, on my return, or a letter from here would
lose him his place and his liberty. He's as much of a rascal as any of
them, and he knows that I know it and that I may use that knowledge.
_He_ won't help you. And as for the law of the land"--Holcombe's
voice rose and broke in a mocking laugh--"there is no law of the land.
_That's why you're here!_ You are in a place populated by exiles
and outlaws like yourself, who have preyed upon society until society
has turned and frightened each of them off like a dog with his tail
between his legs. Don't give yourself confidence, Allen. That's all
you are, that's all we are--two dogs fighting for a stolen bone. The
man who rules you here is an ignorant negro, debauched and vicious and
a fanatic. He is shut off from every one, even to the approach of a
British ambassador. And what do you suppose he cares for a dog of a
Christian like you, who has been robbed in a hotel by another
Christian? And these others. Do you suppose they care? Call out--cry
for help, and tell them that you have half a million dollars in this
room, and they will fall on you and strip you of every cent of it, and
leave you to walk the beach for work. Now, what are you going to do?
Will you give me the money I want to take back where it belongs, or
will you call for help and lose it all?"

The two men confronted each other across the narrow length of the
table. The blood had run to Holcombe's face, but the face of the other
was drawn and pale with fear.

"You can't frighten me," he gasped, rallying his courage with an
effort of the will. "You are talking nonsense. This is a respectable
hotel; it isn't a den of thieves. You are trying to frighten me out of
the money with your lies and your lawyer's tricks, but you will find
that I am not so easily fooled. You are dealing with a man, Holcombe,
who suffered to get what he has, and who doesn't mean to let it go
without a fight for it. Come near me, I warn you, and I shall call for
help."

Holcombe backed slowly away from the table and tossed up his hands
with the gesture of one who gives up his argument. "You will have it,
will you?" he muttered, grimly. "Very well, you _shall_ fight for
it." He turned quickly and drove in the bolt of the door and placed
his shoulders over the electric button in the wall. "I have warned
you," he said, softly. "I have told you where you are, and that you
have nothing to expect from the outside. You are absolutely in my
power to do with as I please." He stopped, and, without moving his
eyes from Allen's face, drew the revolver from the pocket of his coat.
His manner was so terrible that Allen gazed at him, breathing faintly,
and with his eyes fixed in horrible fascination. "There is no law,"
Holcombe repeated, softly. "There is no help for you now or later. It
is a question of two men locked in a room with a table and sixty
thousand dollars between them. That is the situation. Two men and
sixty thousand dollars. We have returned to first principles, Allen.
It is a man against a man, and there is no Court of Appeal."

Allen's breath came back to him with a gasp, as though he had been
shocked with a sudden downpour of icy water.

"There is!" he cried. "There _is_ a Court of Appeal. For God's
sake, wait. I appeal to Henry Holcombe, to Judge Holcombe's son. I
appeal to your good name, Harry, to your fame in the world. Think what
you are doing; for the love of God, don't murder me. I'm a criminal, I
know, but not what you would be, Holcombe; not that. You are mad or
drunk. You wouldn't, you couldn't do it. Think of it! _You_,
Henry Holcombe. _You._"

The fingers of Holcombe's hand moved and tightened around the butt of
the pistol, the sweat sprang from the pores of his palm. He raised the
revolver and pointed it. "My sin's on my own head," he said. "Give me
the money."

The older man glanced fearfully back of him at the open window,
through which a sea breeze moved the palms outside, so that they
seemed to whisper together as though aghast at the scene before them.
The window was three stories from the ground, and Allen's eyes
returned to the stern face of the younger man. As they stood silent
there came to them the sound of some one moving in the hall, and of
men's voices whispering together. Allen's face lit with a sudden
radiance of hope, and Holcombe's arm moved uncertainly.

"I fancy," he said, in a whisper, "that those are my friends. They
have some idea of my purpose, and they have come to learn more. If you
call, I will let them in, and they will strangle you into silence
until I get the money."

The two men eyed each other steadily, the older seeming to weigh the
possible truth of Holcombe's last words in his mind. Holcombe broke
the silence in a lighter tone.

"Playing the policeman is a new role to me," he said, "and I warn you
that I have but little patience; and, besides, my hand is getting
tired, and this thing is at full cock."

Allen, for the first time, lowered the box upon the table and drew
from it a bundle of notes bound together with elastic bandages.
Holcombe's eyes lighted as brightly at the sight as though the notes
were for his own private pleasures in the future.

"Be quick!" he said. "I cannot be responsible for the men outside."

Allen bent over the money, his face drawing into closer and sharper
lines as the amount grew, under his fingers, to the sum Holcombe had
demanded.

"Sixty thousand!" he said, in a voice of desperate calm.

"Good!" whispered Holcombe. "Pass it over to me. I hope I have taken
the most of what you have," he said, as he shoved the notes into his
pocket; "but this is something. Now I warn you," he added, as he
lowered the trigger of the revolver and put it out of sight, "that any
attempt to regain this will be futile. I am surrounded by friends; no
one knows you or cares about you. I shall sleep in my room to-night
without precaution, for I know that the money is now mine. Nothing you
can do will recall it. Your cue is silence and secrecy as to what you
have lost and as to what you still have with you."

He stopped in some confusion, interrupted by a sharp knock at the door
and two voices calling his name. Allen shrank back in terror.

"You coward!" he hissed. "You promised me you'd be content with what
you have." Holcombe looked at him in amazement. "And now your
accomplices are to have their share, too, are they?" the embezzler
whispered, fiercely. "You lied to me; you mean to take it all."

Holcombe, for an answer, drew back the bolt, but so softly that the
sound of his voice drowned the noise it made.

"No, not to-night," he said, briskly, so that the his voice penetrated
into the hall beyond. "I mustn't stop any longer, I'm keeping you up.
It has been very pleasant to have heard all that news from home. It
was such a chance, my seeing you before I sailed. Good-night." He
paused and pretended to listen. "No, Allen, I don't think it's a
servant," he said. "It's some of my friends looking for me. This is my
last night on shore, you see." He threw open the door and confronted
Meakim and Carroll as they stood in some confusion in the dark hall.
"Yes, it is some of my friends," Holcombe continued. "I'll be with you
in a minute," he said to them. Then he turned, and, crossing the room
in their sight, shook Allen by the hand, and bade him good-night and
good-by.

The embezzler's revulsion of feeling was so keen and the relief so
great that he was able to smile as Holcombe turned and left him. "I
wish you a pleasant voyage," he said, faintly.

Then Holcombe shut the door on him, closing him out from their sight.
He placed his hands on a shoulder of each of the two men and jumped
step by step down the stairs like a boy as they descended silently in
front of him. At the foot of the stairs Carroll turned and confronted
him sternly, staring him in the face. Meakim at one side eyed him
curiously.

"Well?" said Carroll, with one hand upon Holcombe's wrist.

Holcombe shook his hand free, laughing. "Well," he answered, "I
persuaded him to make restitution."

"You persuaded him!" exclaimed Carroll, impatiently. "How?"

Holcombe's eyes avoided those of the two inquisitors. He drew a long
breath, and then burst into a loud fit of hysterical laughter. The two
men surveyed him grimly. "I argued with him, of course," said
Holcombe, gayly. "That is my business, man; you forget that I am a
District Attorney--"

"_We_ didn't forget it," said Carroll, fiercely. "Did _you_?
What did you do?"

Holcombe backed away up the stairs shaking his head and laughing. "I
shall never tell you," he said. He pointed with his hand down the
second flight of stairs. "Meet me in the smoking-room," he continued.
"I will be there in a minute, and we will have a banquet. Ask the
others to come. I have something to do first."

The two men turned reluctantly away, and continued on down the stairs
without speaking and with their faces filled with doubt. Holcombe ran
first to Reese's room and replaced the pistol in its holder. He was
trembling as he threw the thing from him, and had barely reached his
own room and closed the door when a sudden faintness overcame him. The
weight he had laid on his nerves was gone and the laughter had
departed from his face. He stood looking back at what he had escaped
as a man reprieved at the steps of the gallows turns his head to
glance at the rope he has cheated. Holcombe tossed the bundle of
notes, upon the table and took an unsteady step across the room. Then
he turned suddenly and threw himself upon his knees and buried his
face in the pillow.

The sun rose the next morning on a cool, beautiful day, and the
Consul's boat, with the American flag trailing from the stern, rose
and fell on the bluest of blue waters as it carried Holcombe and his
friends to the steamer's side.

"We are going to miss you very much," Mrs. Carroll said. "I hope you
won't forget to send us word of yourself."

Miss Terrill said nothing. She was leaning over the side trailing her
hand in the water, and watching it run between her slim pink fingers.
She raised her eyes to find Holcombe looking at her intently with a
strange expression of wistfulness and pity, at which she smiled
brightly back at him, and began to plan vivaciously with Captain Reese
for a ride that same afternoon.

They separated over the steamer's deck, and Meakim, for the hundredth
time, and in the lack of conversation which comes at such moments,
offered Holcombe a fresh cigar.

"But I have got eight of yours now," said Holcombe.

"That's all right; put it in your pocket," said the Tammany chieftain,
"and smoke it after dinner. You'll need 'em. They're better than those
you'll get on the steamer, and they never went through a
custom-house."

Holcombe cleared his throat in some slight embarrassment. "Is there
anything I can do for you in New York, Meakim?" he asked. "Anybody I
can see, or to whom I can deliver a message?"

"No," said Meakim. "I write pretty often. Don't you worry about me,"
he added, gratefully. "I'll be back there some day myself, when the
law of limitation lets me."

Holcombe laughed. "Well," he said, "I'd be glad to do something for
you if you'd let me know what you'd like."

Meakim put his hands behind his back and puffed meditatively on his
cigar, rolling it between his lips with his tongue. Then he turned it
between his fingers and tossed the ashes over the side of the boat. He
gave a little sigh, and then frowned at having done so. "I'll tell you
what you _can_ do for me, Holcombe," he said, smiling. "Some
night I wish you would go down to Fourteenth Street, some night this
spring, when the boys are sitting out on the steps in front of the
Hall, and just take a drink for me at Ed Lally's; just for luck. Will
you? That's what I'd like to do. I don't know nothing better than
Fourteenth Street of a summer evening, with all the people crowding
into Pastor's on one side of the Hall, and the Third Avenue L cars
running by on the other. That's a gay sight; ain't it now? With all
the girls coming in and out of Theiss's, and the sidewalks crowded.
One of them warm nights when they have to have the windows open, and
you can hear the music in at Pastor's, and the audience clapping their
hands. That's great, isn't it? Well," he laughed and shook his head.
"I'll be back there some day, won't I," he said, wistfully, "and hear
it for myself."

"Carroll," said Holcombe, drawing the former to one side, "suppose I
see this cabman when I reach home, and get him to withdraw the charge,
or agree not to turn up when it comes to trial."

Carroll's face clouded in an instant. "Now, listen to me, Holcombe,"
he said. "You let my dirty work alone. There's lots of my friends who
have nothing better to do than just that. You have something better to
do, and you leave me and my rows to others. I like you for what you
are, and not for what you can do for me. I don't mean that I don't
appreciate your offer, but it shouldn't have come from an Assistant
District Attorney to a fugitive criminal."

"What nonsense!" said Holcombe.

"Don't say that; don't say that!" said Carroll, quickly, as though it
hurt him. "You wouldn't have said it a month ago."

Holcombe eyed the other with an alert, confident smile. "No, Carroll,"
he answered, "I would not." He put his hand on the other's shoulder
with a suggestion in his manner of his former self, and with a touch
of patronage. "I have learned a great deal in a month," he said.
"Seven battles were won in seven days once. All my life I have been
fighting causes, Carroll, and principles. I have been working with
laws against law-breakers. I have never yet fought a man. It was not
poor old Meakim, the individual, I prosecuted, but the corrupt
politician. Now, here I have been thrown with men and women on as
equal terms as a crew of sailors cast away upon a desert island. We
were each a law unto himself. And I have been brought face to face,
and for the first time in my life, not with principles of conduct, not
with causes, and not with laws, but with my fellow men."



THE BOY ORATOR OF ZEPATA CITY


The day was cruelly hot, with unwarranted gusts of wind which swept
the red dust in fierce eddies in at one end of Main Street and out at
the other, and waltzed fantastically across the prairie. When they had
passed, human beings opened their eyes again to blink hopelessly at
the white sun, and swore or gasped, as their nature moved them. There
were very few human beings in the streets, either in Houston Avenue,
where there were dwelling-houses, or in the business quarter on Main
Street. They were all at the new court-house, and every one possessed
of proper civic pride was either in the packed court-room itself, or
standing on the high steps outside, or pacing the long, freshly
calcimined corridors, where there was shade and less dust. It was an
eventful day in the history of Zepata City. The court-house had been
long in coming, the appropriation had been denied again and again; but
at last it stood a proud and hideous fact, like a gray prison,
towering above the bare, undecorated brick stores and the frame houses
on the prairie around it, new, raw, and cheap, from the tin statue on
the dome to the stucco round its base already cracking with the sun.
Piles of lumber and scaffolding and the lime beds the builders had
left still lay on the unsodded square, and the bursts of wind drove
the shavings across it, as they had done since the first day of
building, when the Hon. Horatio Macon, who had worked for the
appropriation, had laid the corner-stone and received the homage of
his constituents.

It seemed a particularly happy and appropriate circumstance that the
first business in the new court-room should be of itself of an
important and momentous nature, something that dealt not only with the
present but with the past of Zepata, and that the trial of so
celebrated an individual as Abe Barrow should open the court-house
with _éclat_, as Emma Abbott, who had come all the way from San
Antonio to do it, had opened the new opera-house the year before. The
District Attorney had said it would not take very long to dispose of
Barrow's case, but he had promised it would be an interesting if brief
trial, and the court-room was filled even to the open windows, where
men sat crowded together, with the perspiration running down their
faces, and the red dust settling and turning white upon their
shoulders.

Abe Barrow, the prisoner, had been as closely associated with the
early history of Zepata as Colonel Macon himself, and was as widely
known; he had killed in his day several of the Zepata citizens, and
two visiting brother-desperadoes, and the corner where his
gambling-house had stood was still known as Barrow's Corner, to the
regret of the druggist who had opened a shop there. Ten years before,
the murder of Deputy Sheriff Welsh had led him to the penitentiary,
and a month previous to the opening of the new court-house he had been
freed, and arrested at the prison gate to stand trial for the murder
of Hubert Thompson. The fight with Thompson had been a fair fight--so
those said who remembered it--and Thompson was a man they could well
spare; but the case against Barrow had been prepared during his
incarceration by the new and youthful District Attorney, "Judge" Henry
Harvey, and as it offered a fitting sacrifice for the dedication of
the new temple of justice, the people were satisfied and grateful.

The court-room was as bare of ornament as the cell from which the
prisoner had just been taken. There was an imitation walnut clock at
the back of the Judge's hair-cloth sofa, his revolving chair, and his
high desk. This was the only ornament. Below was the green table of
the District Attorney, upon which rested his papers and law-books and
his high hat. To one side sat the jury, ranch-owners and prominent
citizens, proud of having to serve on this the first day; and on the
other the prisoner in his box. Around them gathered the citizens of
Zepata in close rows, crowded together on unpainted benches; back of
them more citizens standing and a few awed Mexicans; and around all
the whitewashed walls. Colonel John Stogart, of Dallas, the prisoner's
attorney, procured obviously at great expense, no one knew by whom,
and Barrow's wife, a thin yellow-faced woman in a mean-fitting showy
gown, sat among the local celebrities at the District Attorney's
elbow. She was the only woman in the room.

Colonel Stogart's speech had been good. The citizens were glad it had
been so good; it had kept up the general tone of excellence, and it
was well that the best lawyer of Dallas should be present on this
occasion, and that he should have made what the citizens of Zepata
were proud to believe was one of the efforts of his life. As they
said, a court-house such as this one was not open for business every
day. It was also proper that Judge Truax, who was a real Judge, and
not one by courtesy only, as was the young District Attorney, should
sit upon the bench. He also was associated with the early days and
with the marvellous growth of Zepata City. He had taught the young
District Attorney much of what he knew, and his long white hair and
silver-rimmed spectacles gave dignity and the appearance of calm
justice to the bare room and to the heated words of the rival orators.

Colonel Stogart ceased speaking, and the District Attorney sucked in
his upper lip with a nervous, impatient sigh as he recognized that the
visiting attorney had proved murder in the second degree, and that an
execution in the jail-yard would not follow as a fitting sequence.

But he was determined that so far as in him lay he would at least send
his man back to the penitentiary for the remainder of his life.

Young Harry Harvey, "The Boy Orator of Zepata City," as he was called,
was very dear to the people of that booming town. In their eyes he was
one of the most promising young men in the whole great unwieldy State
of Texas, and the boy orator thought they were probably right, but he
was far too clever to let them see it. He was clever in his words and
in his deeds and in his appearance. And he dressed much more carefully
than any other man in town, with a frock-coat and a white tie winter
and summer, and a fine high hat. That he was slight and short of
stature was something he could not help, and was his greatest, keenest
regret, and that Napoleon was also short and slight did not serve to
satisfy him or to make his regret less continual. What availed the
sharply cut, smoothly shaven face and the eyes that flashed when he
was moved, or the bell-like voice, if every unlettered ranchman or
ranger could place both hands on his shoulders and look down at him
from heights above? But they forgot this and he forgot it before he
had reached the peroration of his closing speech. They saw only the
Harry Harvey they knew and adored moving and rousing them with his
voice, trembling with indignation when he wished to tremble, playing
all his best tricks in his best manner, and cutting the air with
sharp, cruel words when he was pleased to be righteously just.

The young District Attorney turned slowly on his heels, and swept the
court-room carelessly with a glance of the clever black eyes. The
moment was his. He saw all the men he knew--the men who made his
little world--crowding silently forward, forgetful of the heat, of the
suffocating crush of those about them, of the wind that rattled the
doors in the corridors, and conscious only of him. He saw his old
preceptor watching keenly from the bench, with a steady glance of
perfect appreciation, such as that with which one actor in the box
compliments the other on the stage. He saw the rival attorney--the
great lawyer from the great city--nervously smiling, with a look of
confidence that told the lack of it; and he saw the face of the
prisoner grim and set and hopelessly defiant. The boy orator allowed
his uplifted arm to fall until the fingers pointed at the prisoner.

"This man," he said, and as he spoke even the wind in the corridors
hushed for the moment, "is no part or parcel of Zepata City of to-day.
He comes to us a relic of the past--a past that has brought honor to
many, wealth to some, and which is dear to all of us who love the
completed purpose of their work; a past that was full of hardships and
glorious efforts in the face of daily disappointments, embitterments,
and rebuffs. But the part _this_ man played in that past lives
only in the rude court records of that day, in the traditions of the
gambling-hell and the saloons, and on the headstones of his victims.
He was one of the excrescences of that unsettled period, an unhappy
evil--an inevitable evil, I might almost say, as the Mexican
horse-thieves and the prairie fires and the Indian outbreaks were
inevitable, as our fathers who built this beautiful city knew to their
cost. The same chance that was given to them to make a home for
themselves in the wilderness, to help others to make their homes, to
assist the civilization and progress not only of this city, but of the
whole Lone Star State, was given to him, and he refused it, and
blocked the way of others, and kept back the march of progress, until
to-day, civilization, which has waxed great and strong--not on account
of him, remember, but in spite of him--sweeps him out of its way, and
crushes him and his fellows."

The young District Attorney allowed his arm to drop, and turned to the
jury, leaning easily with his bent knuckles on the table.

"Gentlemen," he said, in his pleasant tones of every-day politeness,
"the 'bad man' has become an unknown quantity in Zepata City and in
the State of Texas. It lies with you to see that he remains so. He
went out of existence with the blanket Indian and the buffalo. He is
dead, and he must _not_ be resurrected. He was a picturesque evil
of those early days, but civilization has no use for him, and it has
killed him, as the railroads and the barb-wire fence have killed the
cowboy. He does not belong here; he does not fit in; he is not wanted.
We want men who can breed good cattle, who can build manufactories and
open banks; storekeepers who can undersell those of other cities; and
professional men who know their business. We do _not_ want
desperadoes and 'bad men' and faro-dealers and men who are quick on
the trigger. A foolish and morbid publicity has cloaked men of this
class with a notoriety which cheap and pernicious literature has
greatly helped to disseminate. They have been made romantic when they
were brutal, brave when they were foolhardy, heroes when they were
only bullies and blackguards. This man, Abe Barrow, the prisoner at
the bar, belongs to that class. He enjoys and has enjoyed a reputation
as a 'bad man,' a desperate and brutal ruffian. Free him to-day, and
you set a premium on such reputations; acquit him of this crime, and
you encourage others to like evil. Let him go, and he will walk the
streets with a swagger, and boast that you were afraid to touch
him--_afraid_, gentlemen--and children and women will point after
him as the man who has sent nine others into eternity, and who yet
walks the streets a free man. And he will become, in the eyes of the
young and the weak, a hero and a god. This is unfortunate, but it is
true.

"Now, gentlemen, we want to keep the streets of this city so safe that
a woman can walk them at midnight without fear of insult, and a man
can express his opinion on the corner without being shot in the back
for doing so."

The District Attorney turned from the jury with a bow, and faced Judge
Truax.

"For the last ten years, your honor, this man, Abner Barrow, has been
serving a term of imprisonment in the State penitentiary; I ask you to
send him back there again for the remainder of his life. It will be
the better place for him, and we will be happier in knowing we have
done our duty in placing him there. Abe Barrow is out of date. He has
missed step with the march of progress, and has been out of step for
ten years, and it is best for all that he should remain out of it
until he, who has sent nine other men unprepared to meet their God--"

"He is not on trial for the murder of nine men," interrupted Colonel
Stogart, springing from his chair, "but for the justifiable killing of
one, and I demand, your honor, that--"

"--has sent nine other men to meet their Maker," continued the
District Attorney, "meets with the awful judgment of a higher court
than this."

Colonel Stogart smiled scornfully at the platitude, and sat down with
an expressive shrug; but no one noticed him.

The District Attorney raised his arm and faced the court-room. "It
cannot be said of _us_," he cried, "that we have sat idle in the
market-place. We have advanced and advanced in the last ten years,
until we have reached the very foremost place with civilized people.
This Rip Van Winkle of the past returns to find a city where he left a
prairie town, a bank where he spun his roulette wheel, this
magnificent court-house instead of a vigilance committee. And what is
his part in this new court-house, which to-day, for the first time,
throws open its doors to protect the just and to punish the unjust?

"Is he there in the box among those honorable men, the gentlemen of
the jury? Is he in that great crowd of intelligent, public-spirited
citizens who make the bone and sinew of this our fair city? Is he on
the honored bench dispensing justice, and making the intricacies of
the law straight? No, gentlemen; he has no part in our triumph. He is
there, in the prisoners' pen, an outlaw, a convicted murderer, and an
unconvicted assassin, the last of his race--the bullies and bad men of
the border--a thing to be forgotten and put away forever from the
sight of man. He has outlasted his time; he is a superfluity and an
outrage on our reign of decency and order. And I ask you, gentlemen,
to put him away where he will not hear the voice of man nor children's
laughter, nor see a woman smile, where he will not even see the face
of the warden who feeds him, nor sunlight except as it is filtered
through the iron bars of a jail. Bury him with the bitter past, with
the lawlessness that has gone--that has gone, thank God--and which
must _not_ return. Place him in the cell where he belongs, and
whence, had justice been done, he would never have been taken alive."

The District Attorney sat down suddenly, with a quick nod to the Judge
and the jury, and fumbled over his papers with nervous fingers. He was
keenly conscious, and excited with the fervor of his own words. He
heard the reluctantly hushed applause and the whispers of the crowd,
and noted the quick and combined movement of the jury with a selfish
sweet pleasure, which showed itself only in the tightening of the lips
and nostrils. Those nearest him tugged at his sleeve and shook hands
with him. He remembered this afterward as one of the rewards of the
moment. He turned the documents before him over and scribbled words
upon a piece of paper and read a passage in an open law-book. He did
this quite mechanically, and was conscious of nothing until the
foreman pronounced the prisoner at the bar guilty of murder in the
second degree.

Judge Truax leaned across his desk and said, simply, that it lay in
his power to sentence the prisoner to not less than two years'
confinement in the State penitentiary or for the remainder of his
life.

"Before I deliver sentence on you, Abner Barrow," he said, with an old
man's kind severity, "is there anything you have to say on your own
behalf?"

The District Attorney turned his face, as did all the others, but he
did not see the prisoner. He still saw himself holding the court-room
with a spell, and heard his own periods ringing against the
whitewashed ceiling. The others saw a tall, broad-shouldered man
leaning heavily forward over the bar of the prisoner's box. His face
was white with the prison tan, markedly so in contrast with those
sunburnt by the wind and sun turned toward him, and pinched and
hollow-eyed and worn. When he spoke, his voice had the huskiness which
comes from non-use, and cracked and broke like a child's.

"I don't know, Judge," he said, hesitatingly, and staring stupidly at
the mass of faces in the well beneath him, "that I have anything to
say--in my own behalf. I don't know as it would be any use. I guess
what the gentleman said about me is all there is to say. He put it
about right. I've had my fun, and I've got to pay for it--that is, I
thought it was fun at the time. I am not going to cry any baby act and
beg off, or anything, if that's what you mean. But there is something
I'd like to say if I thought you would believe me." He frowned down at
the green table as though the words he wanted would not come, and his
eyes wandered from one face to another, until they rested upon the
bowed head of the only woman in the room. They remained there for some
short time, and then Barrow drew in his breath more quickly, and
turned with something like a show of confidence to the jury.

"All that man said of me is true," he said. He gave a toss of his
hands as a man throws away the reins. "I admit all he says. I
_am_ a back number; I _am_ out of date; I _was_ a loafer and a
blackguard. I never shot any man in the back, nor I never assassinated
no one; but that's neither here nor there. I'm not in a place where I
can expect people to pick out their words; but, as he says, I _am_ a
bad lot. He says I have enjoyed a reputation as a desperado. I am not
bragging of that; I just ask you to remember that he said it. Remember
it of me. I was not the sort to back down to man or beast, and I'm not
now. I am not backing down, now; I'm taking my punishment. Whatever
you please to make it, I'll take it; and that," he went on, more
slowly, "makes it harder for me to ask what I want to ask, and make
you all believe I am not asking it for myself."

He stopped, and the silence in the room seemed to give him some faint
encouragement of sympathy, though it was rather the silence of
curiosity.

Colonel Stogart gave a stern look upward, and asked the prisoner's
wife, in a whisper, if she knew what her husband meant to say, but she
shook her head. She did not know. The District Attorney smiled
indulgently at the prisoner and at the men about him, but they were
watching the prisoner.

"That man there," said Barrow, pointing with one gaunt hand at the boy
attorney, "told you I had no part or parcel in this city or in this
world; that I belonged to the past; that I had ought to be dead. Now
that's not so. I have just one thing that belongs to this city and
this world--and to me; one thing that I couldn't take to jail with me,
and that I'll have to leave behind me when I go back to it. I mean my
wife."

The prisoner stopped, and looked so steadily at one place below him
that those in the back of the court guessed for the first time that
Mrs. Barrow was in the room, and craned forward to look at her, and
there was a moment of confusion and a murmur of "Get back there!" "Sit
still!" The prisoner turned to Judge Truax again and squared his broad
shoulders, making the more conspicuous his narrow and sunken chest.

"You, sir," he said, quietly, with a change from the tone of
braggadocio with which he had begun to speak, "remember her, sir, when
I married her, twelve years ago. She was Henry Holman's daughter, he
who owned the San Iago Ranch and the triangle brand. I took her from
the home she had with her father against that gentleman's wishes, sir,
to live with me over my dance-hall at the Silver Star. You may
remember her as she was then. She gave up everything a woman ought to
have to come to me. She thought she was going to be happy with me;
that's why she come, I guess. Maybe she was happy for about two weeks.
After that first two weeks her life, sir, was a hell, and I made it a
hell. I was drunk most of the time, or sleeping it off, and
ugly-tempered when I was sober. There was shooting and carrying on all
day and night down-stairs, and she didn't dare to leave her room.
Besides that, she cared for me, and she was afraid every minute I was
going to get killed. That's the way she lived for two years.
Respectable women wouldn't speak to her because she was my wife; even
them that were friends of hers when she lived on the ranch wouldn't
speak to her on the street--and she had no children. That was her
life; she lived alone over the dance-hall; and sometimes when I was
drunk--I beat her."

The man's white face reddened slowly as he said this; and he stopped,
and then continued more quickly, with his eyes still fixed on those of
the Judge:

"At the end of two years I killed Welsh, and they sent me to the
penitentiary for ten years, and she was free. She could have gone back
to her folks and got a divorce if she'd wanted to, and never seen me
again. It was an escape most women'd gone down on their knees and
thanked their Maker for, and blessed the day they'd been freed from a
blackguardly drunken brute.

"But what did this woman do--my wife, the woman I misused and beat and
dragged down in the mud with me? She was too mighty proud to go back
to her people or to the friends who shook her when she was in trouble;
and she sold out the place, and bought a ranch with the money, and
worked it by herself, worked it day and night, until in ten years she
had made herself an old woman, as you see she is to-day.

"And for what? To get _me_ free again; to bring _me_ things
to eat in jail, and picture papers and tobacco--when she was living on
bacon and potatoes, and drinking alkali water--working to pay for a
lawyer to fight for _me_--to pay for the _best_ lawyer! She
worked in the fields with her own hands, planting and ploughing,
working as I never worked for myself in my whole lazy, rotten life.
That's what that woman there did for me."

The man stopped suddenly, and turned with a puzzled look toward where
his wife sat, for she had dropped her head on the table in front of
her, and he had heard her sobbing.

"And what I want to ask of you, sir, is to let me have two years out
of jail to show her how I feel about it. I ask you not to send me back
for life, sir. Give me just two years--two years of my life while I
have some strength left to work for her as she worked for me. I only
want to show her how I care for her _now_. I had the chance, and
I wouldn't take it; and now, sir, I want to show her that I know and
understand--now, when it's too late. It's all I've thought of when I
was in jail, to be able to see her sitting in her own kitchen with her
hands folded, and me working and sweating in the fields for
her--working till every bone ached, trying to make it up to her.

"And I can't!" the man cried, suddenly, losing the control he had
forced upon himself, and tossing his hands up above his head, and with
his eyes fixed hopelessly on the bowed head below him. "I can't! It's
too late. It's too late!"

He turned and faced the crowd and the District Attorney defiantly.

"I'm not crying for the men I killed. They're dead. I can't bring them
back. But she's not dead, and I treated her worse than I treated them.
_She_ never harmed me, nor got in my way, nor angered me. And now,
when I want to do what I can for her in the little time that's left,
_he_ tells you I'm a 'relic of the past,' that civilization's too good
for me, that you must bury me until it's time to bury me for good.
Just when I've got something I _must_ live for, something I've got to
do. Don't you believe me? Don't you understand?"

He turned again toward the Judge, and beat the rail before him
impotently with his wasted hand. "Don't send me back for life!" he
cried. "Give me a few years to work for her--two years, one year--to
show her what I feel here, what I never felt for her before. Look at
her, gentlemen. Look how worn she is and poorly, and look at her
hands, and you men must feel how I feel. I don't ask you for myself. I
don't want to go free on my own account. I am asking it for that
woman--yes, and for myself, too. I am playing to 'get back,'
gentlemen. I've lost what I had, and I want to get back; and," he
cried, querulously, "the game keeps going against me. It's only a few
years' freedom I want. Send me back for thirty years, but not for
life. My God! Judge, don't bury me alive, as that man asked you to.
I'm _not_ civilized, maybe; ways _have_ changed. You are not
the man I knew; you are all strangers to me. But I could learn. I
wouldn't bother you in the old way. I only want to live with her. I
won't harm the rest of you. Give me this last chance. Let me prove
that what I'm saying is true."

The man stopped and stood, opening and shutting his hands upon the
rail, and searching with desperate eagerness from face to face, as one
who has staked all he has watches the wheel spinning his fortune away.
The gentlemen of the jury sat quite motionless, looking straight ahead
at the blinding sun, which came through the high, uncurtained windows
opposite. Outside, the wind banged the shutters against the wall, and
whistled up the street and round the tin corners of the building, but
inside the room was very silent. The Mexicans at the door, who could
not understand, looked curiously at the faces of the men around them,
and made sure that they had missed something of much importance. For a
moment no one moved, until there was a sudden stir around the District
Attorney's table, and the men stepped aside and let the woman pass
them and throw herself against the prisoner's box. The prisoner bent
his tall gaunt figure over the rail, and as the woman pressed his one
hand against her face, touched her shoulders with the other awkwardly.

"There, now," he whispered, soothingly, "don't you take on so. Now you
know how I feel, it's all right; don't take on."

Judge Truax looked at the paper on his desk for some seconds, and
raised his head, coughing as he did so. "It lies--" Judge Truax began,
and then stopped, and began again, in a more certain tone: "It lies at
the discretion of this Court to sentence the prisoner to a term of
imprisonment for two years, or for an indefinite period, or for life.
Owing to--On account of certain circumstances which were--have
arisen--this sentence is suspended. This court stands adjourned."

As he finished he sprang out of his chair impulsively, and with a
quick authoritative nod to the young District Attorney, came quickly
down the steps of the platform. Young Harvey met him at the foot with
wide-open eyes.

The older man hesitated, and placed his hand upon the District
Attorney's shoulder. "Harry," he said. His voice was shaken, and his
hand trembled on the arm of his protégé, for he was an old man and
easily moved. "Harry, my boy," he said, "do you think you could go to
Austin and repeat the speech that man made to the Governor?"

The boy orator laughed, and took one of the older man's hands in one
of his and pressed it quickly. "I'd like d----d well to try," he said.



THE OTHER WOMAN


Young Latimer stood on one of the lower steps of the hall stairs,
leaning with one hand on the broad railing and smiling down at her.
She had followed him from the drawing-room and had stopped at the
entrance, drawing the curtains behind her, and making, unconsciously,
a dark background for her head and figure. He thought he had never
seen her look more beautiful, nor that cold, fine air of thorough
breeding about her which was her greatest beauty to him, more strongly
in evidence.

"Well, sir," she said, "why don't you go?"

He shifted his position slightly and leaned more comfortably upon the
railing, as though he intended to discuss it with her at some length.

"How can I go," he said, argumentatively, "with you standing
there--looking like that?"

"I really believe," the girl said, slowly, "that he is afraid; yes, he
is afraid. And you always said," she added, turning to him, "you were
so brave."

"Oh, I am sure I never said that," exclaimed the young man, calmly. "I
may be brave, in fact, I am quite brave, but I never said I was. Some
one must have told you."

"Yes, he is afraid," she said, nodding her head to the tall clock
across the hall, "he is temporizing and trying to save time. And
afraid of a man, too, and such a good man who would not hurt any one."

"You know a bishop is always a very difficult sort of a person," he
said, "and when he happens to be your father, the combination is just
a bit awful. Isn't it now? And especially when one means to ask him
for his daughter. You know it isn't like asking him to let one smoke
in his study."

"If I loved a girl," she said, shaking her head and smiling up at him,
"I wouldn't be afraid of the whole world; that's what they say in
books, isn't it? I would be so bold and happy."

"Oh, well, I'm bold enough," said the young man, easily; "if I had not
been, I never would have asked you to marry me; and I'm happy
enough--that's because I did ask you. But what if he says no,"
continued the youth; "what if he says he has greater ambitions for
you, just as they say in books, too? What will you do? Will you run
away with me? I can borrow a coach just as they used to do, and we can
drive off through the Park and be married, and come back and ask his
blessing on our knees--unless he should overtake us on the elevated."

"That," said the girl, decidedly, "is flippant, and I'm going to leave
you. I never thought to marry a man who would be frightened at the
very first. I am greatly disappointed."

She stepped back into the drawing-room and pulled the curtains to
behind her, and then opened them again and whispered, "Please don't be
long," and disappeared. He waited, smiling, to see if she would make
another appearance, but she did not, and he heard her touch the keys
of the piano at the other end of the drawing-room. And so, still
smiling and with her last words sounding in his ears, he walked slowly
up the stairs and knocked at the door of the bishop's study. The
bishop's room was not ecclesiastic in its character. It looked much
like the room of any man of any calling who cared for his books and to
have pictures about him, and copies of the beautiful things he had
seen on his travels. There were pictures of the Virgin and the Child,
but they were those that are seen in almost any house, and there were
etchings and plaster casts, and there were hundreds of books, and dark
red curtains, and an open fire that lit up the pots of brass with
ferns in them, and the blue and white plaques on the top of the
bookcase. The bishop sat before his writing-table, with one hand
shading his eyes from the light of a red-covered lamp, and looked up
and smiled pleasantly and nodded as the young man entered. He had a
very strong face, with white hair hanging at the side, but was still a
young man for one in such a high office. He was a man interested in
many things, who could talk to men of any profession or to the mere
man of pleasure, and could interest them in what he said, and force
their respect and liking. And he was very good, and had, they said,
seen much trouble.

"I am afraid I interrupted you," said the young man, tentatively.

"No, I have interrupted myself," replied the bishop. "I don't seem to
make this clear to myself," he said, touching the paper in front of
him, "and so I very much doubt if I am going to make it clear to any
one else. However," he added, smiling, as he pushed the manuscript to
one side, "we are not going to talk about that now. What have you to
tell me that is new?"

The younger man glanced up quickly at this, but the bishop's face
showed that his words had had no ulterior meaning, and that he
suspected nothing more serious to come than the gossip of the clubs or
a report of the local political fight in which he was keenly
interested, or on their mission on the East Side. But it seemed an
opportunity to Latimer.

"I _have_ something new to tell you," he said, gravely, and with
his eyes turned toward the open fire, "and I don't know how to do it
exactly. I mean I don't just know how it is generally done or how to
tell it best." He hesitated and leaned forward, with his hands locked
in front of him, and his elbows resting on his knees. He was not in
the least frightened. The bishop had listened to many strange stories,
to many confessions, in this same study, and had learned to take them
as a matter of course; but to-night something in the manner of the
young man before him made him stir uneasily, and he waited for him to
disclose the object of his visit with some impatience.

"I will suppose, sir," said young Latimer, finally, "that you know me
rather well--I mean you know who my people are, and what I am doing
here in New York, and who my friends are, and what my work amounts to.
You have let me see a great deal of you, and I have appreciated your
doing so very much; to so young a man as myself it has been a great
compliment, and it has been of great benefit to me. I know that better
than any one else. I say this because unless you had shown me this
confidence it would have been almost impossible for me to say to you
what I am going to say now. But you have allowed me to come here
frequently, and to see you and talk with you here in your study, and
to see even more of your daughter. Of course, sir, you did not suppose
that I came here only to see you. I came here because I found that, if
I did not see Miss Ellen for a day, that that day was wasted, and that
I spent it uneasily and discontentedly, and the necessity of seeing
her even more frequently has grown so great that I cannot come here as
often as I seem to want to come unless I am engaged to her, unless I
come as her husband that is to be." The young man had been speaking
very slowly and picking his words, but now he raised his head and ran
on quickly.

"I have spoken to her and told her how I love her, and she has told me
that she loves me, and that if you will not oppose us, will marry me.
That is the news I have to tell you, sir. I don't know but that I
might have told it differently, but that is it. I need not urge on you
my position and all that, because I do not think that weighs with you;
but I do tell you that I love Ellen so dearly that, though I am not
worthy of her, of course, I have no other pleasure than to give her
pleasure and to try to make her happy. I have the power to do it; but
what is much more, I have the wish to do it; it is all I think of now,
and all that I can ever think of. What she thinks of me you must ask
her; but what she is to me neither she can tell you nor do I believe
that I myself could make you understand." The young man's face was
flushed and eager, and as he finished speaking he raised his head and
watched the bishop's countenance anxiously. But the older man's face
was hidden by his hand as he leaned with his elbow on his
writing-table. His other hand was playing with a pen, and when he
began to speak, which he did after a long pause, he still turned it
between his fingers and looked down at it.

"I suppose," he said, as softly as though he were speaking to himself,
"that I should have known this; I suppose that I should have been
better prepared to hear it. But it is one of those things which men
put off--I mean those men who have children, put off--as they do
making their wills, as something that is in the future and that may be
shirked until it comes. We seem to think that our daughters will live
with us always, just as we expect to live on ourselves until death
comes one day and startles us and finds us unprepared." He took down
his hand and smiled gravely at the younger man with an evident effort,
and said, "I did not mean to speak so gloomily, but you see my point
of view must be different from yours. And she says she loves you, does
she?" he added, gently.

Young Latimer bowed his head and murmured something inarticulately in
reply, and then held his head erect again and waited, still watching
the bishop's face.

"I think she might have told me," said the older man; "but then I
suppose this is the better way. I am young enough to understand that
the old order changes, that the customs of my father's time differ
from those of to-day. And there is no alternative, I suppose," he
said, shaking his head. "I am stopped and told to deliver, and have no
choice. I will get used to it in time," he went on, "but it seems very
hard now. Fathers are selfish, I imagine, but she is all I have."

Young Latimer looked gravely into the fire and wondered how long it
would last. He could just hear the piano from below, and he was
anxious to return to her. And at the same time he was drawn toward the
older man before him, and felt rather guilty, as though he really were
robbing him. But at the bishop's next words he gave up any thought of
a speedy release, and settled himself in his chair.

"We are still to have a long talk," said the bishop. "There are many
things I must know, and of which I am sure you will inform me freely.
I believe there are some who consider me hard, and even narrow on
different points, but I do not think you will find me so, at least let
us hope not. I must confess that for a moment I almost hoped that you
might not be able to answer the questions I must ask you, but it was
only for a moment. I am only too sure you will not be found wanting,
and that the conclusion of our talk will satisfy us both. Yes, I am
confident of that."

His manner changed, nevertheless, and Latimer saw that he was now
facing a judge and not a plaintiff who had been robbed, and that he
was in turn the defendant. And still he was in no way frightened.

"I like you," the bishop said, "I like you very much. As you say
yourself, I have seen a great deal of you, because I have enjoyed your
society, and your views and talk were good and young and fresh, and
did me good. You have served to keep me in touch with the outside
world, a world of which I used to know at one time a great deal. I
know your people and I know you, I think, and many people have spoken
to me of you. I see why now. They, no doubt, understood what was
coming better than myself, and were meaning to reassure me concerning
you. And they said nothing but what was good of you. But there are
certain things of which no one can know but yourself, and concerning
which no other person, save myself, has a right to question you. You
have promised very fairly for my daughter's future; you have suggested
more than you have said, but I understood. You can give her many
pleasures which I have not been able to afford; she can get from you
the means of seeing more of this world in which she lives, of meeting
more people, and of indulging in her charities, or in her
extravagances, for that matter, as she wishes. I have no fear of her
bodily comfort; her life, as far as that is concerned, will be easier
and broader, and with more power for good. Her future, as I say, as
you say also, is assured; but I want to ask you this," the bishop
leaned forward and watched the young man anxiously, "you can protect
her in the future, but can you assure me that you can protect her from
the past?"

Young Latimer raised his eyes calmly and said, "I don't think I quite
understand."

"I have perfect confidence, I say," returned the bishop, "in you as
far as your treatment of Ellen is concerned in the future. You love
her and you would do everything to make the life of the woman you love
a happy one; but this is it. Can you assure me that there is nothing
in the past that may reach forward later and touch my daughter through
you--no ugly story, no oats that have been sowed, and no boomerang
that you have thrown wantonly and that has not returned--but which may
return?"

"I think I understand you now, sir," said the young man, quietly. "I
have lived," he began, "as other men of my sort have lived. You know
what that is, for you must have seen it about you at college, and
after that before you entered the Church. I judge so from your
friends, who were your friends then, I understand. You know how they
lived. I never went in for dissipation, if you mean that, because it
never attracted me. I am afraid I kept out of it not so much out of
respect for others as for respect for myself. I found my self-respect
was a very good thing to keep, and I rather preferred keeping it and
losing several pleasures that other men managed to enjoy, apparently
with free consciences. I confess I used to rather envy them. It is no
particular virtue on my part; the thing struck me as rather more
vulgar than wicked, and so I have had no wild oats to speak of; and no
woman, if that is what you mean, can write an anonymous letter, and no
man can tell you a story about me that he could not tell in my
presence."

There was something in the way the young man spoke which would have
amply satisfied the outsider, had he been present; but the bishop's
eyes were still unrelaxed and anxious. He made an impatient motion
with his hand.

"I know you too well, I hope," he said, "to think of doubting your
attitude in that particular. I know you are a gentleman, that is
enough for that; but there is something beyond these more common
evils. You see, I am terribly in earnest over this--you may think
unjustly so, considering how well I know you, but this child is my
only child. If her mother had lived, my responsibility would have been
less great; but, as it is, God has left her here alone to me in my
hands. I do not think He intended my duty should end when I had fed
and clothed her, and taught her to read and write. I do not think He
meant that I should only act as her guardian until the first man she
fancied fancied her. I must look to her happiness not only now when
she is with me, but I must assure myself of it when she leaves my
roof. These common sins of youth I acquit you of. Such things are
beneath you, I believe, and I did not even consider them. But there
are other toils in which men become involved, other evils or
misfortunes which exist, and which threaten all men who are young and
free and attractive in many ways to women, as well as men. You have
lived the life of the young man of this day. You have reached a place
in your profession when you can afford to rest and marry and assume
the responsibilities of marriage. You look forward to a life of
content and peace and honorable ambition--a life, with your wife at
your side, which is to last forty or fifty years. You consider where
you will be twenty years from now, at what point of your career you
may become a judge or give up practise; your perspective is unlimited;
you even think of the college to which you may send your son. It is a
long, quiet future that you are looking forward to, and you choose my
daughter as the companion for that future, as the one woman with whom
you could live content for that length of time. And it is in that
spirit that you come to me tonight and that you ask me for my
daughter. Now I am going to ask you one question, and as you answer
that I will tell you whether or not you can have Ellen for your wife.
You look forward, as I say, to many years of life, and you have chosen
her as best suited to live that period with you; but I ask you this,
and I demand that you answer me truthfully, and that you remember that
you are speaking to her father. Imagine that I had the power to tell
you, or rather that some superhuman agent could convince you, that you
had but a month to live, and that for what you did in that month you
would not be held responsible either by any moral law or any law made
by man, and that your life hereafter would not be influenced by your
conduct in that month, would you spend it, I ask you--and on your
answer depends mine--would you spend those thirty days, with death at
the end, with my daughter, or with some other woman of whom I know
nothing?"

Latimer sat for some time silent, until indeed, his silence assumed
such a significance that he raised his head impatiently and said with
a motion of the hand, "I mean to answer you in a minute; I want to be
sure that I understand."

The bishop bowed his head in assent, and for a still longer period the
men sat motionless. The clock in the corner seemed to tick more
loudly, and the dead coals dropping in the grate had a sharp,
aggressive sound. The notes of the piano that had risen from the room
below had ceased.

"If I understand you," said Latimer, finally, and his voice and his
face as he raised it were hard and aggressive, "you are stating a
purely hypothetical case. You wish to try me by conditions which do
not exist, which cannot exist. What justice is there, what right is
there, in asking me to say how I would act under circumstances which
are impossible, which lie beyond the limit of human experience? You
cannot judge a man by what he would do if he were suddenly robbed of
all his mental and moral training and of the habit of years. I am not
admitting, understand me, that if the conditions which you suggest did
exist that I would do one whit differently from what I will do if they
remain as they are. I am merely denying your right to put such a
question to me at all. You might just as well judge the shipwrecked
sailors on a raft who eat each other's flesh as you would judge a
sane, healthy man who did such a thing in his own home. Are you going
to condemn men who are ice-locked at the North Pole, or buried in the
heart of Africa, and who have given up all thought of return and are
half mad and wholly without hope, as you would judge ourselves? Are
they to be weighed and balanced as you and I are, sitting here within
the sound of the cabs outside and with a bake-shop around the corner?
What you propose could not exist, could never happen. I could never be
placed where I should have to make such a choice, and you have no
right to ask me what I would do or how I would act under conditions
that are superhuman--you used the word yourself--where all that I have
held to be good and just and true would be obliterated. I would be
unworthy of myself, I would be unworthy of your daughter, if I
considered such a state of things for a moment, or if I placed my
hopes of marrying her on the outcome of such a test, and so, sir,"
said the young man, throwing back his head, "I must refuse to answer
you."

The bishop lowered his hand from before his eyes and sank back wearily
into his chair. "You have answered me," he said.

"You have no right to say that," cried the young man, springing to his
feet. "You have no right to suppose anything or to draw any
conclusions. I have not answered you." He stood with his head and
shoulders thrown back, and with his hands resting on his hips and with
the fingers working nervously at his waist.

"What you have said," replied the bishop, in a voice that had changed
strangely, and which was inexpressibly sad and gentle, "is merely a
curtain of words to cover up your true feeling. It would have been so
easy to have said, 'For thirty days or for life Ellen is the only
woman who has the power to make me happy.' You see that would have
answered me and satisfied me. But you did not say that," he added,
quickly, as the young man made a movement as if to speak.

"Well, and suppose this other woman did exist, what then?" demanded
Latimer. "The conditions you suggest are impossible; you must, you
will surely, sir, admit that."

"I do not know," replied the bishop, sadly; "I do not know. It may
happen that whatever obstacle there has been which has kept you from
her may be removed. It may be that she has married, it may be that she
has fallen so low that you cannot marry her. But if you have loved her
once, you may love her again; whatever it was that separated you in
the past, that separates you now, that makes you prefer my daughter to
her, may come to an end when you are married, when it will be too
late, and when only trouble can come of it, and Ellen would bear that
trouble. Can I risk that?"

"But I tell you it is impossible," cried the young man. "The woman is
beyond the love of any man, at least such a man as I am, or try to
be."

"Do you mean," asked the bishop, gently, and with an eager look of
hope, "that she is dead?"

Latimer faced the father for some seconds in silence. Then he raised
his head slowly. "No," he said, "I do not mean she is dead. No, she is
not dead."

Again the bishop moved back wearily into his chair. "You mean then,"
he said, "perhaps, that she is a married woman?" Latimer pressed his
lips together at first as though he would not answer, and then raised
his eyes coldly. "Perhaps," he said.

The older man had held up his hand as if to signify that what he was
about to say should be listened to without interruption, when a sharp
turning of the lock of the door caused both father and the suitor to
start. Then they turned and looked at each other with anxious inquiry
and with much concern, for they recognized for the first time that
their voices had been loud. The older man stepped quickly across the
floor, but before he reached the middle of the room the door opened
from the outside, and his daughter stood in the door-way, with her
head held down and her eyes looking at the floor.

"Ellen!" exclaimed the father, in a voice of pain and the deepest
pity.

The girl moved toward the place from where his voice came, without
raising her eyes, and when she reached him put her arms about him and
hid her face on his shoulder. She moved as though she were tired, as
though she were exhausted by some heavy work.

"My child," said the bishop, gently, "were you listening?" There was
no reproach in his voice; it was simply full of pity and concern.

"I thought," whispered the girl, brokenly, "that he would be
frightened; I wanted to hear what he would say. I thought I could
laugh at him for it afterward. I did it for a joke. I thought--" She
stopped with a little gasping sob that she tried to hide, and for a
moment held herself erect and then sank back again into her father's
arms with her head upon his breast.

Latimer started forward, holding out his arms to her. "Ellen," he
said, "surely, Ellen, you are not against me. You see how preposterous
it is, how unjust it is to me. You cannot mean--"

The girl raised her head and shrugged her shoulders slightly as though
she were cold. "Father," she said, wearily, "ask him to go away. Why
does he stay? Ask him to go away."

Latimer stopped and took a step back as though some one had struck
him, and then stood silent with his face flushed and his eyes
flashing. It was not in answer to anything that they said that he
spoke, but to their attitude and what it suggested. "You stand there,"
he began, "you two stand there as though I were something unclean, as
though I had committed some crime. You look at me as though I were on
trial for murder or worse. Both of you together against me. What have
I done? What difference is there? You loved me a half-hour ago, Ellen;
you said you did. I know you loved me; and you, sir," he added, more
quietly, "treated me like a friend. Has anything come since then to
change me or you? Be fair to me, be sensible. What is the use of this?
It is a silly, needless, horrible mistake. You know I love you, Ellen;
love you better than all the world. I don't have to tell you that; you
know it, you can see and feel it. It does not need to be said; words
can't make it any truer. You have confused yourselves and stultified
yourselves with this trick, this test by hypothetical conditions, by
considering what is not real or possible. It is simple enough; it is
plain enough. You know I love you, Ellen, and you only, and that is
all there is to it, and all that there is of any consequence in the
world to me. The matter stops there; that is all there is for you to
consider. Answer me, Ellen, speak to me. Tell me that you believe me."

He stopped and moved a step toward her, but as he did so, the girl,
still without looking up, drew herself nearer to her father and shrank
more closely into his arms; but the father's face was troubled and
doubtful, and he regarded the younger man with a look of the most
anxious scrutiny. Latimer did not regard this. Their hands were raised
against him as far as he could understand, and he broke forth again
proudly, and with a defiant indignation:

"What right have you to judge me?" he began; "what do you know of what
I have suffered, and endured, and overcome? How can you know what I
have had to give up and put away from me? It's easy enough for you to
draw your skirts around you, but what can a woman bred as you have
been bred know of what I've had to fight against and keep under and
cut away? It was an easy, beautiful idyl to you; your love came to you
only when it should have come, and for a man who was good and worthy,
and distinctly eligible--I don't mean that; forgive me, Ellen, but you
drive me beside myself. But he is good and he believes himself worthy,
and I say that myself before you both. But I am only worthy and only
good because of that other love that I put away when it became a
crime, when it became impossible. Do you know what it cost me? Do you
know what it meant to me, and what I went through, and how I suffered?
Do you know who this other woman is whom you are insulting with your
doubts and guesses in the dark? Can't you spare her? Am I not enough?
Perhaps it was easy for her, too; perhaps her silence cost her
nothing; perhaps she did not suffer and has nothing but happiness and
content to look forward to for the rest of her life; and I tell you
that it is because we did put it away, and kill it, and not give way
to it that I am whatever I am to-day; whatever good there is in me is
due to that temptation and to the fact that I beat it and overcame it
and kept myself honest and clean. And when I met you and learned to
know you I believed in my heart that God had sent you to me that I
might know what it was to love a woman whom I could marry and who
could be my wife; that you were the reward for my having overcome
temptation and the sign that I had done well. And now you throw me
over and put me aside as though I were something low and unworthy,
because of this temptation, because of this very thing that has made
me know myself and my own strength and that has kept me up for you."

As the young man had been speaking, the bishop's eyes had never left
his face, and as he finished, the face of the priest grew clearer and
decided, and calmly exultant. And as Latimer ceased he bent his head
above his daughter's, and said in a voice that seemed to speak with
more than human inspiration. "My child," he said, "if God had given me
a son I should have been proud if he could have spoken as this young
man has done."

But the woman only said, "Let him go to her."

"Ellen, oh, Ellen!" cried the father.

He drew back from the girl in his arms and looked anxiously and
feelingly at her lover. "How could you, Ellen," he said, "how could
you?" He was watching the young man's face with eyes full of sympathy
and concern. "How little you know him," he said, "how little you
understand. He will not do that," he added quickly, but looking
questioningly at Latimer and speaking in a tone almost of command. "He
will not undo all that he has done; I know him better than that." But
Latimer made no answer, and for a moment the two men stood watching
each other and questioning each other with their eyes. Then Latimer
turned, and without again so much as glancing at the girl walked
steadily to the door and left the room. He passed on slowly down the
stairs and out into the night, and paused upon the top of the steps
leading to the street. Below him lay the avenue with its double line
of lights stretching off in two long perspectives. The lamps of
hundreds of cabs and carriages flashed as they advanced toward him and
shone for a moment at the turnings of the cross-streets, and from
either side came the ceaseless rush and murmur, and over all hung the
strange mystery that covers a great city at night. Latimer's rooms lay
to the south, but he stood looking toward a spot to the north with a
reckless, harassed look in his face that had not been there for many
months. He stood so for a minute, and then gave a short shrug of
disgust at his momentary doubt and ran quickly down the steps. "No,"
he said, "if it were for a month, yes; but it is to be for many years,
many more long years." And turning his back resolutely to the north he
went slowly home.



ON THE FEVER SHIP


There were four rails around the ship's sides, the three lower ones of
iron and the one on top of wood, and as he looked between them from
the canvas cot he recognized them as the prison-bars which held him
in. Outside his prison lay a stretch of blinding blue water which
ended in a line of breakers and a yellow coast with ragged palms.
Beyond that again rose a range of mountain-peaks, and, stuck upon the
loftiest peak of all, a tiny block-house. It rested on the brow of the
mountain against the naked sky as impudently as a cracker-box set upon
the dome of a great cathedral.

As the transport rode on her anchor-chains, the iron bars around her
sides rose and sank and divided the landscape with parallel lines.
From his cot the officer followed this phenomenon with severe,
painstaking interest. Sometimes the wooden rail swept up to the very
block-house itself, and for a second of time blotted it from sight.
And again it sank to the level of the line of breakers, and wiped them
out of the picture as though they were a line of chalk.

The soldier on the cot promised himself that the next swell of the sea
would send the lowest rail climbing to the very top of the palm-trees
or, even higher, to the base of the mountains; and when it failed to
reach even the palm-trees he felt a distinct sense of ill use, of
having been wronged by some one. There was no other reason for
submitting to this existence save these tricks upon the wearisome,
glaring landscape; and now, whoever it was who was working them did
not seem to be making this effort to entertain him with any
heartiness.

It was most cruel. Indeed, he decided hotly, it was not to be endured;
he would bear it no longer, he would make his escape. But he knew that
this move, which could be conceived in a moment's desperation, could
only be carried to success with great strategy, secrecy, and careful
cunning. So he fell back upon his pillow and closed his eyes, as
though he were asleep, and then opening them again, turned cautiously,
and spied upon his keeper. As usual, his keeper sat at the foot of the
cot turning the pages of a huge paper filled with pictures of the war
printed in daubs of tawdry colors. His keeper was a hard-faced boy
without human pity or consideration, a very devil of obstinacy and
fiendish cruelty. To make it worse, the fiend was a person without a
collar, in a suit of soiled khaki, with a curious red cross bound by a
safety-pin to his left arm. He was intent upon the paper in his hands;
he was holding it between his eyes and his prisoner. His vigilance had
relaxed, and the moment seemed propitious. With a sudden plunge of
arms and legs, the prisoner swept the bed-sheet from him, and sprang
at the wooden rail and grasped the iron stanchion beside it. He had
his knee pressed against the top bar and his bare toes on the iron
rail beneath it. Below him the blue water waited for him. It was cool
and dark and gentle and deep. It would certainly put out the fire in
his bones, he thought; it might even shut out the glare of the sun
which scorched his eyeballs.

But as he balanced for the leap, a swift weakness and nausea swept
over him, a weight seized upon his body and limbs. He could not lift
the lower foot from the iron rail, and he swayed dizzily and trembled.
He trembled. He who had raced his men and beaten them up the hot hill
to the trenches of San Juan. But now he was a baby in the hands of a
giant, who caught him by the wrist and with an iron arm clasped him
around his waist and pulled him down, and shouted, brutally, "Help,
some of youse, quick! he's at it again. I can't hold him."

More giants grasped him by the arms and by the legs. One of them took
the hand that clung to the stanchion in both of his, and pulled back
the fingers one by one, saying, "Easy now, Lieutenant--easy."

The ragged palms and the sea and blockhouse were swallowed up in a
black fog, and his body touched the canvas cot again with a sense of
home-coming and relief and rest. He wondered how he could have cared
to escape from it. He found it so good to be back again that for a
long time he wept quite happily, until the fiery pillow was moist and
cool.

The world outside of the iron bars was like a scene in a theatre set
for some great event, but the actors were never ready. He remembered
confusedly a play he had once witnessed before that same scene.
Indeed, he believed he had played some small part in it; but he
remembered it dimly, and all trace of the men who had appeared with
him in it was gone. He had reasoned it out that they were up there
behind the range of mountains, because great heavy wagons and
ambulances and cannon were emptied from the ships at the wharf above
and were drawn away in long lines behind the ragged palms, moving
always toward the passes between the peaks. At times he was disturbed
by the thought that he should be up and after them, that some
tradition of duty made his presence with them imperative. There was
much to be done back of the mountains. Some event of momentous import
was being carried forward there, in which he held a part; but the
doubt soon passed from him, and he was content to lie and watch the
iron bars rising and falling between the block-house and the white
surf.

If they had been only humanely kind, his lot would have been bearable,
but they starved him and held him down when he wished to rise; and
they would not put out the fire in the pillow, which they might easily
have done by the simple expedient of throwing it over the ship's side
into the sea. He himself had done this twice, but the keeper had
immediately brought a fresh pillow already heated for the torture and
forced it under his head.

His pleasures were very simple, and so few that he could not
understand why they robbed him of them so jealously. One was to watch
a green cluster of bananas that hung above him from the awning,
twirling on a string. He could count as many of them as five before
the bunch turned and swung lazily back again, when he could count as
high as twelve; sometimes when the ship rolled heavily he could count
to twenty. It was a most fascinating game, and contented him for many
hours. But when they found this out they sent for the cook to come and
cut them down, and the cook carried them away to his galley.

Then, one day, a man came out from the shore, swimming through the
blue water with great splashes. He was a most charming man, who
spluttered and dove and twisted and lay on his back and kicked his
legs in an excess of content and delight. It was a real pleasure to
watch him; not for days had anything so amusing appeared on the other
side of the prison-bars. But as soon as the keeper saw that the man in
the water was amusing his prisoner, he leaned over the ship's side and
shouted, "Sa-ay, you, don't you know there's skarks in there?"

And the swimming man said, "The h-ll there is!" and raced back to the
shore like a porpoise with great lashing of the water, and ran up the
beach half-way to the palms before he was satisfied to stop. Then the
prisoner wept again. It was so disappointing. Life was robbed of
everything now. He remembered that in a previous existence soldiers
who cried were laughed at and mocked. But that was so far away and it
was such an absurd superstition that he had no patience with it. For
what could be more comforting to a man when he is treated cruelly than
to cry. It was so obvious an exercise, and when one is so feeble that
one cannot vault a four-railed barrier it is something to feel that at
least one is strong enough to cry.

He escaped occasionally, traversing space with marvellous rapidity and
to great distances, but never to any successful purpose; and his
flight inevitably ended in ignominious recapture and a sudden
awakening in bed. At these moments the familiar and hated palms, the
peaks, and the block-house were more hideous in their reality than the
most terrifying of his nightmares.

These excursions afield were always predatory; he went forth always to
seek food. With all the beautiful world from which to elect and
choose, he sought out only those places where eating was studied and
elevated to an art. These visits were much more vivid in their detail
than any he had ever before made to these same resorts. They
invariably began in a carriage, which carried him swiftly over smooth
asphalt. One route brought him across a great and beautiful square,
radiating with rows and rows of flickering lights; two fountains
splashed in the centre of the square, and six women of stone guarded
its approaches. One of the women was hung with wreaths of mourning.
Ahead of him the late twilight darkened behind a great arch, which
seemed to rise on the horizon of the world, a great window into the
heavens beyond. At either side strings of white and colored globes
hung among the trees, and the sound of music came joyfully from
theatres in the open air. He knew the restaurant under the trees to
which he was now hastening, and the fountain beside it, and the very
sparrows balancing on the fountain's edge; he knew every waiter at
each of the tables, he felt again the gravel crunching under his feet,
he saw the _maître d'hôtel_ coming forward smiling to receive his
command, and the waiter in the green apron bowing at his elbow,
deferential and important, presenting the list of wines. But his
adventure never passed that point, for he was captured again and once
more bound to his cot with a close burning sheet.

Or else, he drove more sedately through the London streets in the late
evening twilight, leaning expectantly across the doors of the hansom
and pulling carefully at his white gloves. Other hansoms flashed past
him, the occupant of each with his mind fixed on one idea--dinner. He
was one of a million of people who were about to dine, or who had
dined, or who were deep in dining. He was so famished, so weak for
food of any quality, that the galloping horse in the hansom seemed to
crawl. The lights of the Embankment passed like the lamps of a
railroad station as seen from the window of an express; and while his
mind was still torn between the choice of a thin or thick soup or an
immediate attack upon cold beef, he was at the door, and the
_chasseur_ touched his cap, and the little _chasseur_ put
the wicker guard over the hansom's wheel. As he jumped out he said,
"Give him half-a-crown," and the driver called after him, "Thank you,
sir."

It was a beautiful world, this world outside of the iron bars. Every
one in it contributed to his pleasure and to his comfort. In this
world he was not starved nor man-handled. He thought of this joyfully
as he leaped up the stairs, where young men with grave faces and with
their hands held negligently behind their backs bowed to him in polite
surprise at his speed. But they had not been starved on condensed
milk. He threw his coat and hat at one of them, and came down the hall
fearfully and quite weak with dread lest it should not be real. His
voice was shaking when he asked Ellis if he had reserved a table. The
place was all so real, it must be true this time. The way Ellis turned
and ran his finger down the list showed it was real, because Ellis
always did that, even when he knew there would not be an empty table
for an hour. The room was crowded with beautiful women; under the
light of the red shades they looked kind and approachable, and there
was food on every table, and iced drinks in silver buckets. It was
with the joy of great relief that he heard Ellis say to his underling,
"Numéro cinq, sur la terrace, un couvert." It was real at last.
Outside, the Thames lay a great gray shadow. The lights of the
Embankment flashed and twinkled across it, the tower of the House of
Commons rose against the sky, and here, inside, the waiter was
hurrying toward him carrying a smoking plate of rich soup with a
pungent, intoxicating odor.

And then the ragged palms, the glaring sun, the immovable peaks, and
the white surf stood again before him. The iron rails swept up and
sank again, the fever sucked at his bones, and the pillow scorched his
cheek.

One morning for a brief moment he came back to real life again and lay
quite still, seeing everything about him with clear eyes and for the
first time, as though he had but just that instant been lifted over
the ship's side. His keeper, glancing up, found the prisoner's eyes
considering him curiously, and recognized the change. The instinct of
discipline brought him to his feet with his fingers at his sides.

"Is the Lieutenant feeling better?"

The Lieutenant surveyed him gravely.

"You are one of our hospital stewards."

"Yes, Lieutenant."

"Why ar'n't you with the regiment?"

"I was wounded, too, sir. I got it same time you did, Lieutenant."

"Am I wounded? Of course, I remember. Is this a hospital ship?"

The steward shrugged his shoulders. "She's one of the transports. They
have turned her over to the fever cases."

The Lieutenant opened his lips to ask another question; but his own
body answered that one, and for a moment he lay silent.

"Do they know up North that I--that I'm all right?"

"Oh, yes, the papers had it in--there was pictures of the Lieutenant
in some of them."

"Then I've been ill some time?"

"Oh, about eight days."

The soldier moved uneasily, and the nurse in him became uppermost.

"I guess the Lieutenant hadn't better talk any more," he said. It was
his voice now which held authority.

The Lieutenant looked out at the palms and the silent gloomy mountains
and the empty coast-line, where the same wave was rising and falling
with weary persistence.

"Eight days," he said. His eyes shut quickly, as though with a sudden
touch of pain. He turned his head and sought for the figure at the
foot of the cot. Already the figure had grown faint and was receding
and swaying.

"Has any one written or cabled?" the Lieutenant spoke, hurriedly. He
was fearful lest the figure should disappear altogether before he
could obtain his answer. "Has any one come?"

"Why, they couldn't get here, Lieutenant, not yet."

The voice came very faintly. "You go to sleep now, and I'll run and
fetch some letters and telegrams. When you wake up, maybe I'll have a
lot for you."

But the Lieutenant caught the nurse by the wrist, and crushed his hand
in his own thin fingers. They were hot, and left the steward's skin
wet with perspiration. The Lieutenant laughed gayly.

"You see, Doctor," he said, briskly, "that you can't kill me. I can't
die. I've got to live, you understand. Because, sir, she said she
would come. She said if I was wounded, or if I was ill, she would come
to me. She didn't care what people thought. She would come anyway and
nurse me--well, she will come.

"So, Doctor--old man--" He plucked at the steward's sleeve, and
stroked his hand eagerly, "old man--" he began again, beseechingly,
"you'll not let me die until she comes, will you? What? No, I know I
won't die. Nothing made by man can kill me. No, not until she comes.
Then, after that--eight days, she'll be here soon, any moment? What?
You think so, too? Don't you? Surely, yes, any moment. Yes, I'll go to
sleep now, and when you see her rowing out from shore you wake me.
You'll know her; you can't make a mistake. She is like--no, there is
no one like her--but you can't make a mistake."

That day strange figures began to mount the sides of the ship, and to
occupy its every turn and angle of space. Some of them fell on their
knees and slapped the bare decks with their hands, and laughed and
cried out, "Thank God, I'll see God's country again!" Some of them
were regulars, bound in bandages; some were volunteers, dirty and
hollow-eyed, with long beards on boy's faces. Some came on crutches;
others with their arms around the shoulders of their comrades, staring
ahead of them with a fixed smile, their lips drawn back and their
teeth protruding. At every second step they stumbled, and the face of
each was swept by swift ripples of pain.

They lay on cots so close together that the nurses could not walk
between them. They lay on the wet decks, in the scuppers, and along
the transoms and hatches. They were like shipwrecked mariners clinging
to a raft, and they asked nothing more than that the ship's bow be
turned toward home. Once satisfied as to that, they relaxed into a
state of self-pity and miserable oblivion to their environment, from
which hunger nor nausea nor aching bones could shake them.

The hospital steward touched the Lieutenant lightly on the shoulder.

"We are going North, sir," he said. "The transport's ordered North to
New York, with these volunteers and the sick and wounded. Do you hear
me, sir?"

The Lieutenant opened his eyes. "Has she come?" he asked.

"Gee!" exclaimed the hospital steward. He glanced impatiently at the
blue mountains and the yellow coast, from which the transport was
drawing rapidly away.

"Well, I can't see her coming just now," he said. "But she will," he
added.

"You let me know at once when she comes."

"Why, cert'nly, of course," said the steward.

Three trained nurses came over the side just before the transport
started North. One was a large, motherly looking woman, with a German
accent. She had been a trained nurse, first in Berlin, and later in
the London Hospital in Whitechapel, and at Bellevue. The nurse was
dressed in white, and wore a little silver medal at her throat; and
she was strong enough to lift a volunteer out of his cot and hold him
easily in her arms, while one of the convalescents pulled his cot out
of the rain. Some of the men called her "nurse"; others, who wore
scapulars around their necks, called her "Sister"; and the officers of
the medical staff addressed her as Miss Bergen.

Miss Bergen halted beside the cot of the Lieutenant and asked, "Is
this the fever case you spoke about, Doctor--the one you want moved to
the officers' ward?" She slipped her hand up under his sleeve and felt
his wrist.

"His pulse is very high," she said to the steward. "When did you take
his temperature?" She drew a little morocco case from her pocket and
from that took a clinical thermometer, which she shook up and down,
eying the patient meanwhile with a calm, impersonal scrutiny. The
Lieutenant raised his head and stared up at the white figure beside
his cot. His eyes opened and then shut quickly, with a startled look,
in which doubt struggled with wonderful happiness. His hand stole out
fearfully and warily until it touched her apron, and then, finding it
was real, he clutched it desperately, and twisting his face and body
toward her, pulled her down, clasping her hands in both of his, and
pressing them close to his face and eyes and lips. He put them from
him for an instant, and looked at her through his tears.

"Sweetheart," he whispered, "sweetheart, I knew you'd come."

As the nurse knelt on the deck beside him, her thermometer slipped
from her fingers and broke, and she gave an exclamation of annoyance.
The young Doctor picked up the pieces and tossed them overboard.
Neither of them spoke, but they smiled appreciatively. The Lieutenant
was looking at the nurse with the wonder and hope and hunger of soul
in his eyes with which a dying man looks at the cross the priest holds
up before him. What he saw where the German nurse was kneeling was a
tall, fair girl with great bands and masses of hair, with a head
rising like a lily from a firm, white throat, set on broad shoulders
above a straight back and sloping breast--a tall, beautiful creature,
half-girl, half-woman, who looked back at him shyly, but steadily.

"Listen," he said.

The voice of the sick man was so sure and so sane that the young
Doctor started, and moved nearer to the head of the cot. "Listen,
dearest," the Lieutenant whispered. "I wanted to tell you before I
came South. But I did not dare; and then I was afraid something might
happen to me, and I could never tell you, and you would never know. So
I wrote it to you in the will I made at Baiquiri, the night before the
landing. If you hadn't come now, you would have learned it in that
way. You would have read there that there never was any one but you;
the rest were all dream people, foolish, silly--mad. There is no one
else in the world but you; you have been the only thing in life that
has counted. I thought I might do something down here that would make
you care. But I got shot going up a hill, and after that I wasn't able
to do anything. It was very hot, and the hills were on fire; and they
took me prisoner, and kept me tied down here, burning on these coals.
I can't live much longer, but now that I have told you I can have
peace. They tried to kill me before you came; but they didn't know I
loved you, they didn't know that men who love you can't die. They
tried to starve my love for you, to burn it out of me; they tried to
reach it with their knives. But my love for you is my soul, and they
can't kill a man's soul. Dear heart, I have lived because you lived.
Now that you know--now that you understand--what does it matter?"

Miss Bergen shook her head with great vigor. "Nonsense," she said,
cheerfully. "You are not going to die. As soon as we move you out of
this rain, and some food cook--"

"Good God!" cried the young Doctor, savagely. "Do you want to kill
him?"

When she spoke, the patient had thrown his arms heavily across his
face, and had fallen back, lying rigid on the pillow.

The Doctor led the way across the prostrate bodies, apologizing as he
went. "I am sorry I spoke so quickly," he said, "but he thought you
were real. I mean he thought you were some one he really knew--"

"He was just delirious," said the German nurse, calmly.

The Doctor mixed himself a Scotch and soda and drank it with a single
gesture.

"Ugh!" he said to the ward-room. "I feel as though I'd been opening
another man's letters."

       *       *       *       *       *

The transport drove through the empty seas with heavy, clumsy
upheavals, rolling like a buoy. Having been originally intended for
the freight-carrying trade, she had no sympathy with hearts that beat
for a sight of their native land, or for lives that counted their
remaining minutes by the throbbing of her engines. Occasionally,
without apparent reason, she was thrown violently from her course; but
it was invariably the case that when her stern went to starboard,
something splashed in the water on her port side and drifted past her,
until, when it had cleared the blades of her propeller, a voice cried
out, and she was swung back on her home-bound track again.

The Lieutenant missed the familiar palms and the tiny block-house; and
seeing nothing beyond the iron rails but great wastes of gray water,
he decided he was on board a prison-ship, or that he had been strapped
to a raft and cast adrift. People came for hours at a time and stood
at the foot of his cot, and talked with him and he to them--people he
had loved and people he had long forgotten, some of whom he had
thought were dead. One of them he could have sworn he had seen buried
in a deep trench, and covered with branches of palmetto. He had heard
the bugler, with tears choking him, sound "taps"; and with his own
hand he had placed the dead man's campaign hat on the mound of fresh
earth above the grave. Yet here he was still alive, and he came with
other men of his troop to speak to him; but when he reached out to
them they were gone--the real and the unreal, the dead and the
living--and even She disappeared whenever he tried to take her hand,
and sometimes the hospital steward drove her away.

"Did that young lady say when she was coming back again?" he asked the
steward.

"The young lady! What young lady?" asked the steward, wearily.

"The one who has been sitting there," he answered. He pointed with his
gaunt hand at the man in the next cot.

"Oh, that young lady. Yes, she's coming back. She's just gone below to
fetch you some hardtack."

The young volunteer in the next cot whined grievously.

"That crazy man gives me the creeps," he groaned. "He's always waking
me up, and looking at me as though he was going to eat me."

"Shut your head," said the steward. "He's a better crazy man than
you'll ever be with the little sense you've got. And he has two Mauser
holes in him. Crazy, eh? It's a damned good thing for you that there
was about four thousand of us regulars just as crazy as him, or you'd
never seen the top of the hill."

One morning there was a great commotion on deck, and all the
convalescents balanced themselves on the rail, shivering in their
pajamas, and pointed one way. The transport was moving swiftly and
smoothly through water as flat as a lake, and making a great noise
with her steam-whistle. The noise was echoed by many more
steam-whistles; and the ghosts of out-bound ships and tugs and
excursion steamers ran past her out of the mist and disappeared,
saluting joyously. All of the excursion steamers had a heavy list to
the side nearest the transport, and the ghosts on them crowded to that
rail and waved handkerchiefs and cheered. The fog lifted suddenly, and
between the iron rails the Lieutenant saw high green hills on either
side of a great harbor. Houses and trees and thousands of masts swept
past like a panorama; and beyond was a mirage of three cities, with
curling smoke-wreaths and sky-reaching buildings, and a great swinging
bridge, and a giant statue of a woman waving a welcome home.

The Lieutenant surveyed the spectacle with cynical disbelief. He was
far too wise and far too cunning to be bewitched by it. In his heart
he pitied the men about him, who laughed wildly, and shouted, and
climbed recklessly to the rails and ratlines. He had been deceived too
often not to know that it was not real. He knew from cruel experience
that in a few moments the tall buildings would crumble away, the
thousands of columns of white smoke that flashed like snow in the sun,
the busy, shrieking tug-boats, and the great statue would vanish into
the sea, leaving it gray and bare. He closed his eyes and shut the
vision out. It was so beautiful that it tempted him; but he would not
be mocked, and he buried his face in his hands. They were carrying the
farce too far, he thought. It was really too absurd; for now they were
at a wharf which was so real that, had he not known by previous
suffering, he would have been utterly deceived by it. And there were
great crowds of smiling, cheering people, and a waiting guard of honor
in fresh uniforms, and rows of police pushing the people this way and
that; and these men about him were taking it all quite seriously, and
making ready to disembark, carrying their blanket-rolls and rifles
with them.

A band was playing joyously, and the man in the next cot, who was
being lifted to a stretcher, said, "There's the Governor and his
staff; that's him in the high hat." It was really very well done. The
Custom-House and the Elevated Railroad and Castle Garden were as like
to life as a photograph, and the crowd was as well handled as a mob in
a play. His heart ached for it so that he could not bear the pain, and
he turned his back on it. It was cruel to keep it up so long. His
keeper lifted him in his arms, and pulled him into a dirty uniform
which had belonged, apparently, to a much larger man--a man who had
been killed probably, for there were dark brown marks of blood on the
tunic and breeches. When he tried to stand on his feet, Castle Garden
and the Battery disappeared in a black cloud of night, just as he knew
they would; but when he opened his eyes from the stretcher, they had
returned again. It was a most remarkably vivid vision. They kept it up
so well. Now the young Doctor and the hospital steward were pretending
to carry him down a gangplank and into an open space; and he saw quite
close to him a long line policemen, and behind them thousands of
faces, some of them women's faces--women who pointed at him and then
shook their heads and cried, and pressed their hands to their cheeks,
still looking at him. He wondered why they cried. He did not know
them, nor did they know him. No one knew him; these people were only
ghosts.

There was a quick parting in the crowd. A man he had once known shoved
two of the policemen to one side, and he heard a girl's voice speaking
his name, like a sob; and She came running out across the open space
and fell on her knees beside the stretcher, and bent down over him,
and he was clasped in two young, firm arms.

"Of course it is not real, of course it is not She," he assured
himself. "Because She would not do such a thing. Before all these
people She would not do it."

But he trembled and his heart throbbed so cruelly that he could not
bear the pain.

She was pretending to cry.

"They wired us you had started for Tampa on the hospital ship," She
was saying, "and Aunt and I went all the way there before we heard you
had been sent North. We have been on the cars a week. That is why I
missed you. Do you understand? It was not my fault. I tried to come.
Indeed, I tried to come."

She turned her head and looked up fearfully at the young Doctor.

"Tell me, why does he look at me like that?" she asked. "He doesn't
know me. Is he very ill? Tell me the truth." She drew in her breath
quickly. "Of course you will tell me the truth."

When she asked the question he felt her arms draw tight about his
shoulders. It was as though she was holding him to herself, and from
some one who had reached out for him. In his trouble he turned to his
old friend and keeper. His voice was hoarse and very low.

"Is this the same young lady who was on the transport--the one you
used to drive away?"

In his embarrassment, the hospital steward blushed under his tan, and
stammered.

"Of course it's the same young lady," the Doctor answered, briskly.
"And I won't let them drive her away." He turned to her, smiling
gravely. "I think his condition has ceased to be dangerous, madam," he
said.

People who in a former existence had been his friends, and Her
brother, gathered about his stretcher and bore him through the crowd
and lifted him into a carriage filled with cushions, among which he
sank lower and lower. Then She sat beside him, and he heard Her
brother say to the coachman, "Home, and drive slowly and keep on the
asphalt."

The carriage moved forward, and She put her arm about him, and his
head fell on her shoulder, and neither of them spoke. The vision had
lasted so long now that he was torn with the joy that after all it
might be real. But he could not bear the awakening if it were not, so
he raised his head fearfully and looked up into the beautiful eyes
above him. His brows were knit, and he struggled with a great doubt
and an awful joy.

"Dearest," he said, "is it real?"

"Is it real?" she repeated.

Even as a dream, it was so wonderfully beautiful that he was satisfied
if it could only continue so, if but for a little while.

"Do you think," he begged again, trembling, "that it is going to last
much longer?"

She smiled, and, bending her head slowly, kissed him.

"It is going to last--always," she said.



THE LION AND THE UNICORN


Prentiss had a long lease on the house, and because it stood in Jermyn
Street the upper floors were, as a matter of course, turned into
lodgings for single gentlemen; and because Prentiss was a Florist to
the Queen, he placed a lion and unicorn over his flower-shop, just in
front of the middle window on the first floor. By stretching a little,
each of them could see into the window just beyond him, and could hear
all that was said inside; and such things as they saw and heard during
the reign of Captain Carrington, who moved in at the same time they
did! By day the table in the centre of the room was covered with maps,
and the Captain sat with a box of pins, with different-colored flags
wrapped around them, and amused himself by sticking them in the maps
and measuring the spaces in between, swearing meanwhile to himself. It
was a selfish amusement, but it appeared to be the Captain's only
intellectual pursuit, for at night the maps were rolled up, and a
green cloth was spread across the table, and there was much company
and popping of soda-bottles, and little heaps of gold and silver were
moved this way and that across the cloth. The smoke drifted out of the
open windows, and the laughter of the Captain's guests rang out loudly
in the empty street, so that the policeman halted and raised his eyes
reprovingly to the lighted windows, and cabmen drew up beneath them
and lay in wait, dozing on their folded arms, for the Captain's guests
to depart. The Lion and the Unicorn were rather ashamed of the scandal
of it, and they were glad when, one day, the Captain went away with
his tin boxes and gun-cases piled high on a four-wheeler.

Prentiss stood on the sidewalk and said, "I wish you good luck, sir."
And the Captain said, "I'm coming back a Major, Prentiss." But he
never came back. And one day--the Lion remembered the day very well,
for on that same day the newsboys ran up and down Jermyn Street
shouting out the news of "a 'orrible disaster" to the British arms. It
was then that a young lady came to the door in a hansom, and Prentiss
went out to meet her and led her up-stairs. They heard him unlock the
Captain's door and say, "This is his room, miss," and after he had
gone they watched her standing quite still by the centre-table. She
stood there a very long time looking slowly about her, and then she
took a photograph of the Captain from the frame on the mantel and
slipped it into her pocket, and when she went out again her veil was
down, and she was crying. She must have given Prentiss as much as a
sovereign, for he called her "Your ladyship," which he never did under
a sovereign.

And she drove off, and they never saw her again either, nor could they
hear the address she gave the cabman. But it was somewhere up St.
John's Wood way.

After that the rooms were empty for some months, and the Lion and the
Unicorn were forced to amuse themselves with the beautiful ladies and
smart-looking men who came to Prentiss to buy flowers-and
"buttonholes," and the little round baskets of strawberries, and even
the peaches at three shillings each, which looked so tempting as they
lay in the window, wrapped up in cotton-wool, like jewels of great
price.

Then Philip Carroll, the American gentleman, came, and they heard
Prentiss telling him that those rooms had always let for five guineas
a week, which they knew was not true; but they also knew that in the
economy of nations there must always be a higher price for the rich
American, or else why was he given that strange accent, except to
betray him into the hands of the London shopkeeper, and the London
cabby?

The American walked to the window toward the west, which was the
window nearest the Lion, and looked out into the graveyard of St.
James's Church, that stretched between their street and Piccadilly.

"You're lucky in having a bit of green to look out on," he said to
Prentiss. "I'll take these rooms--at five guineas. That's more than
they're worth, you know, but as I know it, too, your conscience
needn't trouble you."

Then his eyes fell on the Lion, and he nodded to him gravely. "How do
you do?" he said. "I'm coming to live with you for a little time. I
have read about you and your friends over there. It is a hazard of new
fortunes with me, your Majesty, so be kind to me, and if I win, I will
put a new coat of paint on your shield and gild you all over again."

Prentiss smiled obsequiously at the American's pleasantry, but the new
lodger only stared at him.

"He seemed a social gentleman," said the Unicorn, that night, when the
Lion and he were talking it over. "Now the Captain, the whole time he
was here, never gave us so much as a look. This one says he has read
of us."

"And why not?" growled the Lion. "I hope Prentiss heard what he said
of our needing a new layer of gilt. It's disgraceful. You can see that
Lion over Scarlett's, the butcher, as far as Regent Street, and
Scarlett is only one of Salisbury's creations. He received his
Letters-Patent only two years back. We date from Palmerston."

The lodger came up the street just at that moment, and stopped and
looked up at the Lion and the Unicorn from the sidewalk, before he
opened the door with his night-key. They heard him enter the room and
feel on the mantel for his pipe, and a moment later he appeared at the
Lion's window and leaned on the sill, looking down into the street
below and blowing whiffs of smoke up into the warm night-air.

It was a night in June, and the pavements were dry under foot and the
streets were filled with well-dressed people, going home from the
play, and with groups of men in black and white, making their way to
supper at the clubs. Hansoms of inky-black, with shining lamps inside
and out, dashed noiselessly past on mysterious errands, chasing close
on each other's heels on a mad race, each to its separate goal. From
the cross streets rose the noises of early night, the rumble of the
'buses, the creaking of their brakes as they unlocked, the cries of
the "extras," and the merging of thousands of human voices in a dull
murmur. The great world of London was closing its shutters for the
night and putting out the lights; and the new lodger from across the
sea listened to it with his heart beating quickly, and laughed to
stifle the touch of fear and homesickness that rose in him.

"I have seen a great play to-night," he said to the Lion, "nobly
played by great players. What will they care for my poor wares? I see
that I have been over-bold. But we cannot go back now--not yet."

He knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and nodded "good-night" to the
great world beyond his window. "What fortunes lie with ye, ye lights
of London town?" he quoted, smiling. And they heard him close the door
of his bedroom, and lock it for the night.

The next morning he bought many geraniums from Prentiss and placed
them along the broad cornice that stretched across the front of the
house over the shop-window. The flowers made a band of scarlet on
either side of the Lion as brilliant as a Tommy's jacket.

"I am trying to propitiate the British Lion by placing flowers before
his altar," the American said that morning to a visitor.

"The British public, you mean," said the visitor; "they are each
likely to tear you to pieces."

"Yes, I have heard that the pit on the first night of a bad play is
something awful," hazarded the American.

"Wait and see," said the visitor.

"Thank you," said the American, meekly.

Every one who came to the first floor front talked about a play. It
seemed to be something of great moment to the American. It was only a
bundle of leaves printed in red and black inks and bound in brown
paper covers. There were two of them, and the American called them by
different names: one was his comedy and one was his tragedy.

"They are both likely to be tragedies," the Lion heard one of the
visitors say to another, as they drove away together. "Our young
friend takes it too seriously."

The American spent most of his time by his desk at the window writing
on little blue pads and tearing up what he wrote, or in reading over
one of the plays to himself in a loud voice. In time the number of his
visitors increased, and to some of these he would read his play; and
after they had left him he was either depressed and silent or excited
and jubilant. The Lion could always tell when he was happy because
then he would go to the side table and pour himself out a drink and
say, "Here's to me," but when he was depressed he would stand holding
the glass in his hand, and finally pour the liquor back into the
bottle again and say, "What's the use of that?"

After he had been in London a month he wrote less and was more
frequently abroad, sallying forth in beautiful raiment, and coming
home by daylight.

And he gave suppers, too, but they were less noisy than the Captain's
had been, and the women who came to them were much more beautiful, and
their voices when they spoke were sweet and low. Sometimes one of the
women sang, and the men sat in silence while the people in the street
below stopped to listen, and would say, "Why, that is So-and-So
singing," and the Lion and the Unicorn wondered how they could know
who it was when they could not see her.

The lodger's visitors came to see him at all hours. They seemed to
regard his rooms as a club, where they could always come for a bite to
eat or to write notes; and others treated it like a lawyer's office
and asked advice on all manner of strange subjects. Sometimes the
visitor wanted to know whether the American thought she ought to take
£10 a week and go on tour, or stay in town and try to live on £8; or
whether she should paint landscapes that would not sell, or
race-horses that would; or whether Reggie really loved her and whether
she really loved Reggie; or whether the new part in the piece at the
Court was better than the old part at Terry's, and wasn't she getting
too old to play "ingenues" anyway.

The lodger seemed to be a general adviser, and smoked and listened
with grave consideration, and the Unicorn thought his judgment was
most sympathetic and sensible.

Of all the beautiful ladies who came to call on the lodger the one the
Unicorn liked the best was the one who wanted to know whether she
loved Reggie and whether Reggie loved her. She discussed this so
interestingly while she consumed tea and thin slices of bread that the
Unicorn almost lost his balance in leaning forward to listen. Her name
was Marion Cavendish, and it was written over many photographs which
stood in silver frames in the lodger's rooms. She used to make the tea
herself, while the lodger sat and smoked; and she had a fascinating
way of doubling the thin slices of bread into long strips and nibbling
at them like a mouse at a piece of cheese. She had wonderful little
teeth and Cupid's-bow lips, and she had a fashion of lifting her veil
only high enough for one to see the two Cupid's-bow lips. When she did
that the American used to laugh, at nothing apparently, and say, "Oh,
I guess Reggie loves you well enough."

"But do I love Reggie?" she would ask, sadly, with her teacup held
poised in air.

[Illustration: Consumed tea and thin slices of bread.]

"I am sure I hope not," the lodger would reply, and she would put down
the veil quickly, as one would drop a curtain over a beautiful
picture, and rise with great dignity and say, "If you talk like that I
shall not come again."

She was sure that if she could only get some work to do her head would
be filled with more important matters than whether Reggie loved her or
not.

"But the managers seem inclined to cut their cavendish very fine just
at present," she said. "If I don't get a part soon," she announced, "I
shall ask Mitchell to put me down on the list for recitations at
evening parties."

"That seems a desperate revenge," said the American; "and besides, I
don't want you to get a part, because some one might be idiotic enough
to take my comedy, and if he should, you must play _Nancy_."

"I would not ask for any salary if I could play _Nancy_," Miss
Cavendish answered.

They spoke of a great many things, but their talk always ended by her
saying that there must be some one with sufficient sense to see that
his play was a great play, and by his saying that none but she must
play _Nancy_.

The Lion preferred the tall girl with masses and folds of brown hair,
who came from America to paint miniatures of the British aristocracy.
Her name was Helen Cabot, and he liked her because she was so brave
and fearless, and so determined to be independent of every one, even
of the lodger--especially of the lodger, who, it appeared, had known
her very well at home. The lodger, they gathered, did not wish her to
be independent of him, and the two Americans had many arguments and
disputes about it, but she always said, "It does no good, Philip; it
only hurts us both when you talk so. I care for nothing, and for no
one but my art, and, poor as it is, it means everything to me, and you
do not, and, of course, the man I am to marry must." Then Carroll
would talk, walking up and down, and looking very fierce and
determined, and telling her how he loved her in such a way that it
made her look even more proud and beautiful. And she would say more
gently, "It is very fine to think that any one can care for me like
that, and very helpful. But unless I cared in the same way it would be
wicked of me to marry you, and besides--" She would add very quickly
to prevent his speaking again--"I don't want to marry you or anybody,
and I never shall. I want to be free and to succeed in my work, just
as you want to succeed in your work. So please never speak of this
again." When she went away the lodger used to sit smoking in the big
arm-chair and beat the arms with his hands, and he would pace up and
down the room, while his work would lie untouched and his engagements
pass forgotten.

Summer came and London was deserted, dull, and dusty, but the lodger
stayed on in Jermyn Street. Helen Cabot had departed on a round of
visits to country-houses in Scotland, where, as she wrote him, she was
painting miniatures of her hosts and studying the game of golf. Miss
Cavendish divided her days between the river and one of the West End
theatres. She was playing a small part in a farce-comedy.

One day she came up from Cookham earlier than usual, looking very
beautiful in a white boating-frock and a straw hat with a Leander
ribbon. Her hands and arms were hard with dragging a punting-hole, and
she was sunburnt and happy, and hungry for tea.

"Why don't you come down to Cookham and get out of this heat?" Miss
Cavendish asked. "You need it; you look ill."

"I'd like to, but I can't," said Carroll. "The fact is, I paid in
advance for these rooms, and if I lived anywhere else I'd be losing
five guineas a week on them."

Miss Cavendish regarded him severely. She had never quite mastered his
American humor.

"But--five guineas--why, that's nothing to you," she said. Something
in the lodger's face made her pause. "You don't mean--"

"Yes, I do," said the lodger, smiling. "You see, I started in to lay
siege to London without sufficient ammunition. London is a large town,
and it didn't fall as quickly as I thought it would. So I am
economizing. Mr. Lockhart's Coffee Rooms and I are no longer
strangers."

Miss Cavendish put down her cup of tea untasted and leaned toward him.

"Are you in earnest?" she asked. "For how long?"

"Oh, for the last month," replied the lodger; "they are not at all
bad--clean and wholesome and all that."

"But the suppers you gave us, and this," she cried, suddenly, waving
her hands over the pretty tea-things, "and the cake and muffins?"

"My friends, at least," said Carroll, "need not go to Lockhart's."

"And the Savoy?" asked Miss Cavendish, mournfully shaking her head. "A
dream of the past," said Carroll, waving his pipe through the smoke.
"Gatti's? Yes, on special occasions; but for necessity the
Chancellor's, where one gets a piece of the prime roast beef of Old
England, from Chicago, and potatoes for ninepence--a pot of bitter
twopence-halfpenny, and a penny for the waiter. It's most amusing on
the whole. I am learning a little about London, and some things about
myself. They are both most interesting subjects."

"Well, I don't like it," Miss Cavendish declared, helplessly. "When I
think of those suppers and the flowers, I feel--I feel like a robber."

"Don't," begged Carroll. "I am really the most happy of men--that is,
as the chap says in the play, I would be if I wasn't so damned
miserable. But I owe no man a penny and I have assets--I have £80 to
last me through the winter and two marvellous plays; and I love, next
to yourself, the most wonderful woman God ever made. That's enough."

"But I thought you made such a lot of money by writing?" asked Miss
Cavendish.

"I do--that is, I could," answered Carroll, "if I wrote the things
that sell; but I keep on writing plays that won't."

"And such plays!" exclaimed Marion, warmly; "and to think that they
are going begging!" She continued, indignantly, "I can't imagine what
the managers do want."

"I know what they don't want," said the American. Miss Cavendish
drummed impatiently on the tea-tray.

"I wish you wouldn't be so abject about it," she said. "If I were a
man I'd make them take those plays."

"How?" asked the American; "with a gun?"

"Well, I'd keep at it until they read them," declared Marion. "I'd sit
on their front steps all night and I'd follow them in cabs, and I'd
lie in wait for them at the stage-door. I'd just make them take them."

Carroll sighed and stared at the ceiling. "I guess I'll give up and go
home," he said.

"Oh, yes, do, run away before you are beaten," said Miss Cavendish,
scornfully. "Why, you can't go now. Everybody will be back in town
soon, and there are a lot of new plays coming on, and some of them are
sure to be failures, and that's our chance. You rush in with your
piece, and somebody may take it sooner than close the theatre."

"I'm thinking of closing the theatre myself," said Carroll. "What's
the use of my hanging on here?" he exclaimed. "It distresses Helen to
know I am in London, feeling about her as I do--and the Lord only
knows how it distresses me. And, maybe, if I went away," he said,
consciously, "she might miss me. She might see the difference."

Miss Cavendish held herself erect and pressed her lips together with a
severe smile. "If Helen Cabot doesn't see the difference between you
and the other men she knows now," she said, "I doubt if she ever will.
Besides--" she continued, and then hesitated.

"Well, go on," urged Carroll.

"Well, I was only going to say," she explained, "that leaving the girl
alone never did the man any good unless he left her alone willingly.
If she's sure he still cares, it's just the same to her where he is.
He might as well stay on in London as go to South Africa. It won't
help him any. The difference comes when she finds he has stopped
caring. Why, look at Reggie. He tried that. He went away for ever so
long, but he kept writing me from wherever he went, so that he was
perfectly miserable--and I went on enjoying myself. Then when he came
back, he tried going about with his old friends again. He used to come
to the theatre with them--oh, with such nice girls!--but he always
stood in the back of the box and yawned and scowled--so I knew. And,
anyway, he'd always spoil it all by leaving them and waiting at the
stage entrance for me. But one day he got tired of the way I treated
him and went off on a bicycle-tour with Lady Hacksher's girls and some
men from his regiment, and he was gone three weeks, and never sent me
even a line; and I got so scared; I couldn't sleep, and I stood it for
three days more, and then I wired him to come back or I'd jump off
London Bridge; and he came back that very night from Edinburgh on the
express, and I was so glad to see him that I got confused, and in the
general excitement I promised to marry him, so that's how it was with
us."

"Yes," said the American, without enthusiasm; "but then I still care,
and Helen knows I care."

"Doesn't she ever fancy that you might care for some one else? You
have a lot of friends, you know."

"Yes, but she knows they are just that--friends," said the American.

Miss Cavendish stood up to go, and arranged her veil before the mirror
above the fireplace.

"I come here very often to tea," she said.

"It's very kind of you," said Carroll. He was at the open window,
looking down into the street for a cab.

"Well, no one knows I am engaged to Reggie," continued Miss Cavendish,
"except you and Reggie, and he isn't so sure. _She_ doesn't know
it."

"Well?" said Carroll.

Miss Cavendish smiled a mischievous, kindly smile at him from the
mirror.

"Well?" she repeated, mockingly. Carroll stared at her and laughed.
After a pause he said: "It's like a plot in a comedy. But I'm afraid
I'm too serious for play-acting."

"Yes, it is serious," said Miss Cavendish. She seated herself again
and regarded the American thoughtfully. "You are too good a man to be
treated the way that girl is treating you, and no one knows it better
than she does. She'll change in time, but just now she thinks she
wants to be independent. She's in love with this picture-painting
idea, and with the people she meets. It's all new to her--the fuss
they make over her and the titles, and the way she is asked about. We
know she can't paint. We know they only give her commissions because
she's so young and pretty, and American. She amuses them, that's all.
Well, that cannot last; she'll find it out. She's too clever a girl,
and she is too fine a girl to be content with that long. Then--then
she'll come back to you. She feels now that she has both you and the
others, and she's making you wait; so wait and be cheerful. She's
worth waiting for; she's young, that's all. She'll see the difference
in time. But, in the meanwhile, it would hurry matters a bit if she
thought she had to choose between the new friends and you."

"She could still keep her friends and marry me," said Carroll; "I have
told her that a hundred times. She could still paint miniatures and
marry me. But she won't marry me."

"She won't marry you because she knows she can whenever she wants to,"
cried Marion. "Can't you see that? But if she thought you were going
to marry some one else now?"

"She would be the first to congratulate me," said Carroll. He rose and
walked to the fireplace, where he leaned with his arm on the mantel.
There was a photograph of Helen Cabot near his hand, and he turned
this toward him and stood for some time staring at it. "My dear
Marion," he said at last, "I've known Helen ever since she was as
young as that. Every year I've loved her more, and found new things in
her to care for; now I love her more than any other man ever loved any
other woman."

Miss Cavendish shook her head sympathetically.

"Yes, I know," she said; "that's the way Reggie loves me, too."

Carroll went on as though he had not heard her.

"There's a bench in St. James's Park," he said, "where we used to sit
when she first came here, when she didn't know so many people. We used
to go there in the morning and throw penny buns to the ducks. That's
been my amusement this summer since you've all been away--sitting on
that bench, feeding penny buns to the silly ducks--especially the
black one, the one she used to like best. And I make pilgrimages to
all the other places we ever visited together, and try to pretend she
is with me. And I support the crossing sweeper at Lansdowne Passage
because she once said she felt sorry for him. I do all the other
absurd things that a man in love tortures himself by doing. But to
what end? She knows how I care, and yet she won't see why we can't go
on being friends as we once were. What's the use of it all?"

"She is young, I tell you," repeated Miss Cavendish, "and she's too
sure of you. You've told her you care; now try making her think you
don't care."

Carroll shook his head impatiently.

"I will not stoop to such tricks and pretense, Marion," he cried,
impatiently. "All I have is my love for her; if I have to cheat and to
trap her into caring, the whole thing would be degraded."

Miss Cavendish shrugged her shoulders and walked to the door. "Such
amateurs!" she exclaimed, and banged the door after her.

Carroll never quite knew how he had come to make a confidante of Miss
Cavendish. Helen and he had met her when they first arrived in London,
and as she had acted for a season in the United States, she adopted
the two Americans--and told Helen where to go for boots and hats, and
advised Carroll about placing his plays. Helen soon made other
friends, and deserted the artists with whom her work had first thrown
her. She seemed to prefer the society of the people who bought her
paintings, and who admired and made much of the painter. As she was
very beautiful and at an age when she enjoyed everything in life
keenly and eagerly, to give her pleasure was in itself a distinct
pleasure; and the worldly tired people she met were considering their
own entertainment quite as much as hers when they asked her to their
dinners and dances, or to spend a week with them in the country. In
her way, she was as independent as was Carroll in his, and as she was
not in love, as he was, her life was not narrowed down to but one
ideal. But she was not so young as to consider herself infallible, and
she had one excellent friend on whom she was dependent for advice and
to whose directions she submitted implicitly. This was Lady Gower, the
only person to whom Helen had spoken of Carroll and of his great
feeling for her. Lady Gower, immediately after her marriage, had been
a conspicuous and brilliant figure in that set in London which works
eighteen hours a day to keep itself amused, but after the death of her
husband she had disappeared into the country as completely as though
she had entered a convent, and after several years had then re-entered
the world as a professional philanthropist. Her name was now
associated entirely with Women's Leagues, with committees that
presented petitions to Parliament, and with public meetings, at which
she spoke with marvellous ease and effect. Her old friends said she
had taken up this new pose as an outlet for her nervous energies, and
as an effort to forget the man who alone had made life serious to her.
Others knew her as an earnest woman, acting honestly for what she
thought was right. Her success, all admitted, was due to her knowledge
of the world and to her sense of humor, which taught her with whom to
use her wealth and position, and when to demand what she wanted solely
on the ground that the cause was just.

She had taken more than a fancy for Helen, and the position of the
beautiful, motherless girl had appealed to her as one filled with
dangers. When she grew to know Helen better, she recognized that these
fears were quite unnecessary, and as she saw more of her she learned
to care for her deeply. Helen had told her much of Carroll and of his
double purpose in coming to London; of his brilliant work and his lack
of success in having it recognized; and of his great and loyal
devotion to her, and of his lack of success, not in having that
recognized, but in her own inability to return it. Helen was proud
that she had been able to make Carroll care for her as he did, and
that there was anything about her which could inspire a man whom she
admired so much to believe in her so absolutely and for so long a
time. But what convinced her that the outcome for which he hoped was
impossible, was the very fact that she could admire him, and see how
fine and unselfish his love for her was, and yet remain untouched by
it.

She had been telling Lady Gower one day of the care he had taken of
her ever since she was fourteen years of age, and had quoted some of
the friendly and loverlike acts he had performed in her service, until
one day they had both found out that his attitude of the elder brother
was no longer possible, and that he loved her in the old and only way.
Lady Gower looked at her rather doubtfully and smiled.

"I wish you would bring him to see me, Helen," she said; "I think I
should like your friend very much. From what you tell me of him I
doubt if you will find many such men waiting for you in this country.
Our men marry for reasons of property, or they love blindly, and are
exacting and selfish before and after they are married. I know,
because so many women came to me when my husband was alive to ask how
it was that I continued so happy in my married life."

"But I don't want to marry any one," Helen remonstrated, gently.
"American girls are not always thinking only of getting married."

"What I meant was this," said Lady Gower: "that, in my experience, I
have heard of but few men who care in the way this young man seems to
care for you. You say you do not love him; but if he had wanted to
gain my interest, he could not have pleaded his cause better than you
have done. He seems to see your faults and yet love you still, in
spite of them--or on account of them. And I like the things he does
for you. I like, for instance, his sending you the book of the moment
every week for two years. That shows a most unswerving spirit of
devotion. And the story of the broken bridge in the woods is a
wonderful story. If I were a young girl, I could love a man for that
alone. It was a beautiful thing to do."

Helen sat with her chin on her hands, deeply considering this new
point of view.

"I thought it very foolish of him," she confessed, questioningly, "to
take such a risk for such a little thing."

Lady Gower smiled down at her from the height of her many years.

"Wait," she said, dryly, "you are very young now--and very rich; every
one is crowding to give you pleasure, to show his admiration. You are
a very fortunate girl. But later, these things which some man has done
because he loved you, and which you call foolish, will grow large in
your life, and shine out strongly, and when you are discouraged and
alone, you will take them out, and the memory of them will make you
proud and happy. They are the honors which women wear in secret."

Helen came back to town in September, and for the first few days was
so occupied in refurnishing her studio and in visiting the shops that
she neglected to send Carroll word of her return. When she found that
a whole week had passed without her having made any effort to see him,
and appreciated how the fact would hurt her friend, she was filled
with remorse, and drove at once in great haste to Jermyn Street, to
announce her return in person. On the way she decided that she would
soften the blow of her week of neglect by asking him to take her out
to luncheon. This privilege she had once or twice accorded him, and
she felt that the pleasure these excursions gave Carroll were worth
the consternation they caused to Lady Gower.

The servant was uncertain whether Mr. Carroll was at home or not, but
Helen was too intent upon making restitution to wait for the fact to
be determined, and, running up the stairs, knocked sharply at the door
of his study.

A voice bade her come in, and she entered, radiant and smiling her
welcome. But Carroll was not there to receive it, and, instead, Marion
Cavendish looked up at her from his desk, where she was busily
writing. Helen paused with a surprised laugh, but Marion sprang up and
hailed her gladly. They met half-way across the room and kissed each
other with the most friendly feeling.

Philip was out, Marion said, and she had just stepped in for a moment
to write him a note. If Helen would excuse her, she would finish it,
as she was late for rehearsal.

But she asked over her shoulder, with great interest, if Helen had
passed a pleasant summer. She thought she had never seen her looking
so well. Helen thought Miss Cavendish herself was looking very well
also, but Marion said no; that she was too sunburnt, she would not be
able to wear a dinner-dress for a month. There was a pause while
Marion's quill scratched violently across Carroll's note-paper. Helen
felt that in some way she was being treated as an intruder; or worse,
as a guest. She did not sit down, it seemed impossible to do so, but
she moved uncertainly about the room. She noted that there were many
changes, it seemed more bare and empty; her picture was still on the
writing-desk, but there were at least six new photographs of Marion.
Marion herself had brought them to the room that morning, and had
carefully arranged them in conspicuous places. But Helen could not
know that. She thought there was an unnecessary amount of writing
scribbled over the face of each.

Marion addressed her letter and wrote "Immediate" across the envelope,
and placed it before the clock on the mantel-shelf. "You will find
Philip looking very badly," she said, as she pulled on her gloves. "He
has been in town all summer, working very hard--he has had no holiday
at all. I don't think he's well. I have been a great deal worried
about him," she added. Her face was bent over the buttons of her
glove, and when she raised her blue eyes to Helen they were filled
with serious concern.

"Really," Helen stammered, "I--I didn't know--in his letters he seemed
very cheerful."

Marion shook her head and turned and stood looking thoughtfully out of
the window. "He's in a very hard place," she began, abruptly, and then
stopped as though she had thought better of what she intended to say.
Helen tried to ask her to go on, but could not bring herself to do so.
She wanted to get away.

"I tell him he ought to leave London," Marion began again; "he needs a
change and a rest."

"I should think he might," Helen agreed, "after three months of this
heat. He wrote me he intended going to Herne Bay or over to Ostend."

"Yes, he had meant to go," Marion answered. She spoke with the air of
one who possessed the most intimate knowledge of Carroll's movements
and plans, and change of plans. "But he couldn't," she added. "He
couldn't afford it. Helen," she said, turning to the other girl,
dramatically, "do you know--I believe that Philip is very poor."

Miss Cabot exclaimed, incredulously, "Poor!" She laughed. "Why, what
do you mean?"

"I mean that he has no money," Marion answered, sharply. "These rooms
represent nothing. He only keeps them on because he paid for them in
advance. He's been living on three shillings a day. That's poor for
him. He takes his meals at cabmen's shelters and at Lockhart's, and
he's been doing so for a month."

Helen recalled with a guilty thrill the receipt of certain boxes of La
France roses--cut long, in the American fashion--which had arrived
within the last month at various country-houses. She felt indignant at
herself, and miserable. Her indignation was largely due to the
recollection that she had given these flowers to her hostess to
decorate the dinner-table.

She hated to ask this girl of things which she should have known
better than any one else. But she forced herself to do it. She felt
she must know certainly and at once.

"How do you know this?" she asked. "Are you sure there is no mistake?"

"He told me himself," said Marion, "when he talked of letting the
plays go and returning to America. He said he must go back; that his
money was gone."

"He is gone to America!" Helen said, blankly.

"No, he wanted to go, but I wouldn't let him," Marion went on. "I told
him that some one might take his play any day. And this third one he
has written, the one he finished this summer in town, is the best of
all, I think. It's a love-story. It's quite beautiful." She turned and
arranged her veil at the glass, and as she did so, her eyes fell on
the photographs of herself scattered over the mantel-piece, and she
smiled slightly. But Helen did not see her--she was sitting down now,
pulling at the books on the table. She was confused and disturbed by
emotions which were quite strange to her, and when Marion bade her
good-by she hardly noticed her departure. What impressed her most of
all in what Marion had told her was, she was surprised to find, that
Philip was going away. That she herself had frequently urged him to do
so, for his own peace of mind, seemed now of no consequence. Now that
he seriously contemplated it, she recognized that his absence meant to
her a change in everything. She felt for the first time the peculiar
place he held in her life. Even if she had seen him but seldom, the
fact that he was within call had been more of a comfort and a
necessity to her than she understood.

That he was poor, concerned her chiefly because she knew that,
although this condition could only be but temporary, it would distress
him not to have his friends around him, and to entertain them as he
had been used to do. She wondered eagerly if she might offer to help
him, but a second thought assured her that, for a man, that sort of
help from a woman was impossible.

She resented the fact that Marion was deep in his confidence; that it
was Marion who had told her of his changed condition and of his plans.
It annoyed her so acutely that she could not remain in the room where
she had seen her so complacently in possession. And after leaving a
brief note for Philip, she went away. She stopped a hansom at the
door, and told the man to drive along the Embankment--she wanted to be
quite alone, and she felt she could see no one until she had thought
it all out, and had analyzed the new feelings.

So for several hours she drove slowly up and down, sunk far back in
the cushions of the cab, and staring with unseeing eyes at the white,
enamelled tariff and the black dash-board.

She assured herself that she was not jealous of Marion, because, in
order to be jealous, she first would have to care for Philip in the
very way she could not bring herself to do.

She decided that his interest in Marion hurt her, because it showed
that Philip was not capable of remaining true to the one ideal of his
life. She was sure that this explained her feelings--she was
disappointed that he had not kept up to his own standard; that he was
weak enough to turn aside from it for the first pretty pair of eyes.
But she was too honest and too just to accept that diagnosis of her
feelings as final--she knew there had been many pairs of eyes in
America and in London, and that though Philip had seen them, he had
not answered them when they spoke. No, she confessed frankly, she was
hurt with herself for neglecting her old friend so selfishly and for
so long a time; his love gave him claims on her consideration, at
least, and she had forgotten that and him, and had run after strange
gods and allowed others to come in and take her place, and to give him
the sympathy and help which she should have been the first to offer,
and which would have counted more when coming from her than from any
one else. She determined to make amends at once for her
thoughtlessness and selfishness, and her brain was pleasantly occupied
with plans and acts of kindness. It was a new entertainment, and she
found she delighted in it. She directed the cabman to go to
Solomons's, and from there sent Philip a bunch of flowers and a line
saying that on the following day she was coming to take tea with him.
She had a guilty feeling that he might consider her friendly advances
more seriously than she meant them, but it was her pleasure to be
reckless: her feelings were running riotously, and the sensation was
so new that she refused to be circumspect or to consider consequences.
Who could tell, she asked herself with a quick, frightened gasp, but
that, after all, it might be that she was learning to care? From
Solomons's she bade the man drive to the shop in Cranbourne Street
where she was accustomed to purchase the materials she used in
painting, and Fate, which uses strange agents to work out its ends, so
directed it that the cabman stopped a few doors below this shop, and
opposite one where jewelry and other personal effects were bought and
sold. At any other time, or had she been in any other mood, what
followed might not have occurred, but Fate, in the person of the
cabman, arranged it so that the hour and the opportunity came
together.

There were some old mezzotints in the window of the loan-shop, a
string of coins and medals, a row of new French posters; and far down
to the front a tray filled with gold and silver cigarette-cases and
watches and rings. It occurred to Helen, who was still bent on making
restitution for her neglect, that a cigarette-case would be more
appropriate for a man than flowers, and more lasting. And she scanned
the contents of the window with the eye of one who now saw in
everything only something which might give Philip pleasure. The two
objects of value in the tray upon which her eyes first fell were the
gold seal-ring with which Philip had sealed his letters to her, and,
lying next to it, his gold watch! There was something almost human in
the way the ring and watch spoke to her from the past--in the way they
appealed to her to rescue them from the surroundings to which they had
been abandoned. She did not know what she meant to do with them nor
how she could return them to Philip; but there was no question of
doubt in her manner as she swept with a rush into the shop. There was
no attempt, either, at bargaining in the way in which she pointed out
to the young woman behind the counter the particular ring and watch
she wanted. They had not been left as collateral, the young woman
said; they had been sold outright.

"Then any one can buy them?" Helen asked, eagerly. "They are for sale
to the public--to any one?"

The young woman made note of the customer's eagerness, but with an
unmoved countenance.

"Yes, miss, they are for sale. The ring is four pounds and the watch
twenty-five."

"Twenty-nine pounds!" Helen gasped.

That was more money than she had in the world, but the fact did not
distress her, for she had a true artistic disregard for ready money,
and the absence of it had never disturbed her. But now it assumed a
sudden and alarming value. She had ten pounds in her purse and ten
pounds at her studio--these were just enough to pay for a quarter's
rent and the rates, and there was a hat and cloak in Bond Street which
she certainly must have. Her only assets consisted of the possibility
that some one might soon order a miniature, and to her mind that was
sufficient. Some one always had ordered a miniature, and there was no
reasonable doubt but that some one would do it again. For a moment she
questioned if it would not be sufficient if she bought the ring and
allowed the watch to remain. But she recognized that the ring meant
more to her than the watch, while the latter, as an old heirloom which
had been passed down to him from a great-grandfather, meant more to
Philip. It was for Philip she was doing this, she reminded herself.
She stood holding his possessions, one in each hand, and looking at
the young woman blankly. She had no doubt in her mind that at least
part of the money he had received for them had paid for the flowers he
had sent to her in Scotland. The certainty of this left her no choice.
She laid the ring and watch down and pulled the only ring she
possessed from her own finger. It was a gift from Lady Gower. She had
no doubt that it was of great value.

"Can you lend me some money on that?" she asked. It was the first time
she had conducted a business transaction of this nature, and she felt
as though she were engaging in a burglary.

"We don't lend money, miss," the girl said, "we buy outright. I can
give you twenty-eight shillings for this," she added.

"Twenty-eight shillings!" Helen gasped. "Why, it is worth--oh, ever so
much more than that!"

"That is all it is worth to us," the girl answered. She regarded the
ring indifferently and laid it away from her on the counter. The
action was final.

Helen's hands rose slowly to her breast, where a pretty watch dangled
from a bow-knot of crushed diamonds. It was her only possession, and
she was very fond of it. It also was the gift of one of the several
great ladies who had adopted her since her residence in London. Helen
had painted a miniature of this particular great lady which had looked
so beautiful that the pleasure which the original of the portrait
derived from the thought that she still really looked as she did in
the miniature was worth more to her than many diamonds.

But it was different with Helen, and no one could count what it cost
her to tear away her one proud possession.

"What will you give me for this?" she asked, defiantly.

The girl's eyes showed greater interest. "I can give you twenty pounds
for that," she said.

"Take it, please," Helen begged, as though she feared if she kept it a
moment longer she might not be able to make the sacrifice.

"That will be enough now," she went on, taking out her ten-pound note.
She put Lady Gower's ring back upon her finger and picked up Philip's
ring and watch with the pleasure of one who has come into a great
fortune. She turned back at the door.

"Oh," she stammered, "in case any one should inquire, you are not to
say who bought these."

"No, miss, certainly not," said the woman. Helen gave the direction to
the cabman and, closing the doors of the hansom, sat looking down at
the watch and the ring, as they lay in her lap. The thought that they
had been his most valued possessions, which he had abandoned forever,
and that they were now entirely hers, to do with as she liked, filled
her with most intense delight and pleasure. She took up the heavy gold
ring and placed it on the little finger of her left hand; it was much
too large, and she removed it and balanced it for a moment doubtfully
in the palm of her right hand. She was smiling, and her face was lit
with shy and tender thoughts. She cast a quick glance to the left and
right as though fearful that people passing in the street would
observe her, and then slipped the ring over the fourth finger of her
left hand. She gazed at it with a guilty smile, and then, covering it
hastily with her other hand, leaned back, clasping it closely, and sat
frowning far out before her with puzzled eyes.

To Carroll all roads led past Helen's studio, and during the summer,
while she had been absent in Scotland, it was one of his sad pleasures
to make a pilgrimage to her street and to pause opposite the house and
look up at the empty windows of her rooms. It was during this daily
exercise that he learned, through the arrival of her luggage, of her
return to London, and when day followed day without her having shown
any desire to see him or to tell him of her return, he denounced
himself most bitterly as a fatuous fool.

At the end of the week he sat down and considered his case quite
calmly. For three years he had loved this girl, deeply and tenderly.
He had been lover, brother, friend, and guardian. During that time,
even though she had accepted him in every capacity except as that of
the prospective husband, she had never given him any real affection,
nor sympathy, nor help; all she had done for him had been done without
her knowledge or intent. To know her, to love her, and to scheme to
give her pleasure had been its own reward, and the only one. For the
last few months he had been living like a crossing sweeper in order to
be able to stay in London until she came back to it, and that he might
still send her the gifts he had always laid on her altar. He had not
seen her in three months. Three months that had been to him a blank,
except for his work--which, like all else that he did, was inspired
and carried on for her. Now at last she had returned and had shown
that, even as a friend, he was of so little account in her thoughts,
of so little consequence in her life, that after this long absence she
had no desire to learn of his welfare or to see him--she did not even
give him the chance to see her. And so, placing these facts before him
for the first time since he had loved her, he considered what was due
to himself. "Was it good enough?" he asked. "Was it just that he
should continue to wear out his soul and body for this girl who did
not want what he had to give, who treated him less considerately than
a man whom she met for the first time at dinner?" He felt he had
reached the breaking-point; that the time had come when he must
consider what he owed to himself. There could never be any other woman
save Helen; but as it was not to be Helen, he could no longer, with
self-respect, continue to proffer his love only to see it slighted and
neglected. He was humble enough concerning himself, but of his love he
was very proud. Other men could give her more in wealth or position,
but no one could ever love her as he did. "He that hath more let him
give," he had often quoted to her defiantly, as though he were
challenging the world, and now he felt he must evolve a makeshift
world of his own--a world in which she was not his only spring of
acts; he must begin all over again and keep his love secret and sacred
until she understood it and wanted it. And if she should never want it
he would at least have saved it from many rebuffs and insults.

With this determination strong in him, the note Helen had left for him
after her talk with Marion, and the flowers, and the note with them,
saying she was coming to take tea on the morrow, failed to move him
except to make him more bitter. He saw in them only a tardy
recognition of her neglect--an effort to make up to him for
thoughtlessness which, from her, hurt him worse than studied slight.

A new _régime_ had begun, and he was determined to establish it
firmly and to make it impossible for himself to retreat from it; and
in the note in which he thanked Helen for the flowers and welcomed her
to tea, he declared his ultimatum.

"You know how terribly I feel," he wrote; "I don't have to tell you
that, but I cannot always go on dragging out my love and holding it up
to excite your pity as beggars show their sores. I cannot always go on
praying before your altar, cutting myself with knives and calling upon
you to listen to me. You know that there is no one else but you, and
that there never can be any one but you, and that nothing is changed
except that after this I am not going to urge and torment you. I shall
wait as I have always waited--only now I shall wait in silence. You
know just how little, in one way, I have to offer you, and you know
just how much I have in love to offer you. It is now for you to
speak--some day, or never. But you will have to speak first. You will
never hear a word of love from me again. Why should you? You know it
is always waiting for you. But if you should ever want it, you must
come to me, and take off your hat and put it on my table and say,
'Philip, I have come to stay.' Whether you can ever do that or not can
make no difference in my love for you. I shall love you always, as no
man has ever loved a woman in this world, but it is you who must speak
first; for me, the rest is silence."

The following morning as Helen was leaving the house she found this
letter lying on the hall-table, and ran back with it to her rooms. A
week before she would have let it lie on the table and read it on her
return. She was conscious that this was what she would have done, and
it pleased her to find that what concerned Philip was now to her the
thing of greatest interest. She was pleased with her own
eagerness--her own happiness was a welcome sign, and she was proud and
glad that she was learning to care.

She read the letter with an anxious pride and pleasure in each word
that was entirely new. Philip's recriminations did not hurt her, they
were the sign that he cared; nor did his determination not to speak of
his love to her hurt her, for she believed him when he said that he
would always care. She read the letter twice, and then sat for some
time considering the kind of letter Philip would have written had he
known her secret--had he known that the ring he had abandoned was now
upon her finger.

She rose and, crossing to a desk, placed the letter in a drawer, and
then took it out again and reread the last page. When she had finished
it she was smiling. For a moment she stood irresolute, and then,
moving slowly toward the centre-table, cast a guilty look about her
and, raising her hands, lifted her veil and half withdrew the pins
that fastened her hat.

"Philip," she began, in a frightened whisper, "I have--I have come
to--"

The sentence ended in a cry of protest, and she rushed across the room
as though she were running from herself. She was blushing violently.

"Never!" she cried, as she pulled open the door; "I could never do
it--never!"

The following afternoon, when Helen was to come to tea, Carroll
decided that he would receive her with all the old friendliness, but
that he must be careful to subdue all emotion.

He was really deeply hurt at her treatment, and had it not been that
she came on her own invitation he would not of his own accord have
sought to see her. In consequence, he rather welcomed than otherwise
the arrival of Marion Cavendish, who came a half-hour before Helen was
expected, and who followed a hasty knock with a precipitate entrance.

"Sit down," she commanded, breathlessly, "and listen. I've been at
rehearsal all day, or I'd have been here before you were awake." She
seated herself nervously and nodded her head at Carroll in an excited
and mysterious manner.

"What is it?" he asked. "Have you and Reggie--"

"Listen," Marion repeated. "Our fortunes are made; that is what's the
matter--and I've made them. If you took half the interest in your work
I do, you'd have made yours long ago. Last night," she began,
impressively, "I went to a large supper at the Savoy, and I sat next
to Charley Wimpole. He came in late, after everybody had finished, and
I attacked him while he was eating his supper. He said he had been
rehearsing 'Caste' after the performance; that they've put it on as a
stop-gap on account of the failure of 'The Triflers,' and that he knew
revivals were of no use; that he would give any sum for a good modern
comedy. That was my cue, and I told him I knew of a better comedy than
any he had produced at his theatre in five years, and that it was
going begging. He laughed, and asked where was he to find this
wonderful comedy, and I said, 'It's been in your safe for the last two
months and you haven't read it.' He said, 'Indeed, how do you know
that?' and I said, 'Because if you'd read it, it wouldn't be in your
safe, but on your stage.' So he asked me what the play was about, and
I told him the plot and what sort of a part his was, and some of his
scenes, and he began to take notice. He forgot his supper, and very
soon he grew so interested that he turned his chair round and kept
eying my supper-card to find out who I was, and at last remembered
seeing me in 'The New Boy'--and a rotten part it was, too--but he
remembered it, and he told me to go on and tell him more about your
play. So I recited it, bit by bit, and he laughed in all the right
places and got very much excited, and said finally that he would read
it the first thing this morning." Marion paused, breathlessly. "Oh,
yes, and he wrote your address on his cuff," she added, with the air
of delivering a complete and convincing climax.

Carroll stared at her and pulled excitedly on his pipe.

"Oh, Marion!" he gasped, "suppose he should? He won't, though," he
added, but eying her eagerly and inviting contradiction.

"He will," she answered, stoutly, "if he reads it."

"The other managers read it," Carroll suggested, doubtfully.

"Yes, but what do they know?" Marion returned, loftily. "He knows.
Charles Wimpole is the only intelligent actor-manager in London."

There was a sharp knock at the door, which Marion in her excitement
had left ajar, and Prentiss threw it wide open with an impressive
sweep, as though he were announcing royalty. "Mr. Charles Wimpole," he
said.

The actor-manager stopped in the doorway bowing gracefully, his hat
held before him and his hand on his stick as though it were resting on
a foil. He had the face and carriage of a gallant of the days of
Congreve, and he wore his modern frock-coat with as much distinction
as if it were of silk and lace. He was evidently amused. "I couldn't
help overhearing the last line," he said, smiling. "It gives me a good
entrance."

Marion gazed at him blankly. "Oh," she gasped, "we--we--were just
talking about you."

"If you hadn't mentioned my name," the actor said, "I should never
have guessed it. And this is Mr. Carroll, I hope."

The great man was rather pleased with the situation. As he read it, it
struck him as possessing strong dramatic possibilities: Carroll was
the struggling author on the verge of starvation; Marion, his
sweetheart, flying to him gave him hope; and he was the good fairy
arriving in the nick of time to set everything right and to make the
young people happy and prosperous. He rather fancied himself in the
part of the good fairy, and as he seated himself he bowed to them both
in a manner which was charmingly inclusive and confidential.

"Miss Cavendish, I imagine, has already warned you that you might
expect a visit from me," he said, tentatively. Carroll nodded. He was
too much concerned to interrupt.

"Then I need only tell you," Wimpole continued, "that I got up at an
absurd hour this morning to read your play; that I did read it; that I
like it immensely--and that if we can come to terms I shall produce
it. I shall produce it at once, within a fortnight or three weeks."

Carroll was staring at him intently and continued doing so after
Wimpole had finished speaking. The actor felt he had somehow missed
his point, or that Carroll could not have understood him, and
repeated, "I say I shall put it in rehearsal at once."

Carroll rose abruptly, and pushed back his chair. "I should be very
glad," he murmured, and strode over to the window, where he stood with
his back turned to his guests. Wimpole looked after him with a kindly
smile and nodded his head appreciatively. He had produced even a
greater effect than his lines seemed to warrant. When he spoke again,
it was quite simply, and sincerely, and though he spoke for Carroll's
benefit, he addressed himself to Marion.

"You were quite right last night," he said; "it is a most charming
piece of work. I am really extremely grateful to you for bringing it
to my notice." He rose, and going to Carroll, put his hand on his
shoulder. "My boy," he said, "I congratulate you. I should like to be
your age, and to have written that play. Come to my theatre to-morrow
and we will talk terms. Talk it over first with your friends, so that
I shan't rob you. Do you think you would prefer a lump sum now, and so
be done with it altogether, or trust that the royalties may--"

"Royalties," prompted Marion, in an eager aside.

The men laughed. "Quite right," Wimpole assented, good-humoredly;
"it's a poor sportsman who doesn't back his own horse. Well, then,
until to-morrow."

"But," Carroll began, "one moment, please. I haven't thanked you."

"My dear boy," cried Wimpole, waving him away with his stick, "it is I
who have to thank you."

"And--and there is a condition," Carroll said, "which goes with the
play. It is that Miss Cavendish is to have the part of _Nancy_."

Wimpole looked serious and considered for a moment.

"_Nancy_," he said, "the girl who interferes--a very good part. I
have cast Miss Maddox for it in my mind, but, of course, if the author
insists--"

Marion, with her elbows on the table, clasped her hands appealingly
before her.

"Oh, Mr. Wimpole!" she cried, "you owe me that, at least."

Carroll leaned over and took both of Marion's hands in one of his.

"It's all right," he said; "the author insists."

Wimpole waved his stick again as though it were the magic wand of the
good fairy.

"You shall have it," he said. "I recall your performance in 'The New
Boy' with pleasure. I take the play, and Miss Cavendish shall be cast
for _Nancy_. We shall begin rehearsals at once. I hope you are a
quick study."

"I'm letter-perfect now," laughed Marion.

Wimpole turned at the door and nodded to them. They were both so
young, so eager, and so jubilant that he felt strangely old and out of
it. "Good-by, then," he said.

"Good-by, sir," they both chorused. And Marion cried after him, "And
thank you a thousand times."

He turned again and looked back at them, but in their rejoicing they
had already forgotten him. "Bless you, my children," he said, smiling.
As he was about to close the door a young girl came down the passage
toward it, and as she was apparently going to Carroll's rooms, the
actor left the door open behind him.

Neither Marion nor Carroll had noticed his final exit. They were both
gazing at each other as though, could they find speech, they would ask
if it were true.

"It's come at last, Marion," Philip said, with an uncertain voice.

"I could weep," cried Marion. "Philip," she exclaimed, "I would rather
see that play succeed than any play ever written, and I would rather
play that part in it than--Oh, Philip," she ended, "I'm so proud of
you!" and rising, she threw her arms about his neck and sobbed on his
shoulder.

Carroll raised one of her hands and kissed the tips of her fingers
gently. "I owe it to you, Marion," he said--"all to you."

This was the tableau that was presented through the open door to Miss
Helen Cabot, hurrying on her errand of restitution and goodwill, and
with Philip's ring and watch clasped in her hand. They had not heard
her, nor did they see her at the door, so she drew back quickly and
ran along the passage and down the stairs into the street.

She did not need now to analyze her feelings. They were only too
evident. For she could translate what she had just seen as meaning
only one thing--that she had considered Philip's love so lightly that
she had not felt it passing away from her until her neglect had killed
it--until it was too late. And now that it was too late she felt that
without it her life could not go on. She tried to assure herself that
only the fact that she had lost it made it seem invaluable, but this
thought did not comfort her--she was not deceived by it, she knew that
at last she cared for him deeply and entirely. In her distress she
blamed herself bitterly, but she also blamed Philip no less bitterly
for having failed to wait for her. "He might have known that I must
love him in time," she repeated to herself again and again. She was so
unhappy that her letter congratulating Philip on his good fortune in
having his comedy accepted seemed to him cold and unfeeling, and as
his success meant for him only what it meant to her, he was hurt and
grievously disappointed.

He accordingly turned the more readily to Marion, whose interest and
enthusiasm at the rehearsals of the piece seemed in contrast most
friendly and unselfish. He could not help but compare the attitude of
the two girls at this time, when the failure or success of his best
work was still undecided. He felt that as Helen took so little
interest in his success he could not dare to trouble her with his
anxieties concerning it, and she attributed his silence to his
preoccupation and interest in Marion. So the two grew apart, each
misunderstanding the other and each troubled in spirit at the other's
indifference.

The first night of the play justified all that Marion and Wimpole had
claimed for it, and was a great personal triumph for the new
playwright. The audience was the typical first-night audience of the
class which Charles Wimpole always commanded. It was brilliant,
intelligent, and smart, and it came prepared to be pleased.

From one of the upper stage-boxes Helen and Lady Gower watched the
successful progress of the play with an anxiety almost as keen as that
of the author. To Helen it seemed as though the giving of these lines
to the public--these lines which he had so often read to her, and
altered to her liking--was a desecration. It seemed as though she were
losing him indeed--as though he now belonged to these strange people,
all of whom were laughing and applauding his words, from the German
Princess in the Royal box to the straight-backed Tommy in the pit.
Instead of the painted scene before her, she saw the birch-trees by
the river at home, where he had first read her the speech to which
they were now listening so intensely--the speech in which the hero
tells the girl he loves her. She remembered that at the time she had
thought how wonderful it would be if some day some one made such a
speech to her--not Philip, but a man she loved. And now? If Philip
would only make that speech to her now!

He came out at last, with Wimpole leading him, and bowed across a
glaring barrier of lights at a misty but vociferous audience that was
shouting the generous English bravo! and standing up to applaud. He
raised his eyes to the box where Helen sat, and saw her staring down
at the tumult, with her hands clasped under her chin. Her face was
colorless, but lit with the excitement of the moment; and he saw that
she was crying.

Lady Gower, from behind her, was clapping her hands delightedly.

"But, my dear Helen," she remonstrated, breathlessly, "you never told
me he was so good-looking."

"Yes," said Helen, rising abruptly, "he is--very good-looking."

She crossed the box to where her cloak was hanging, but instead of
taking it down, buried her face in its folds.

"My dear child!" cried Lady Gower, in dismay. "What is it? The
excitement has been too much for you."

"No, I am just happy," sobbed Helen. "I am just happy for him."

"We will go and tell him so, then," said Lady Gower. "I am sure he
would like to hear it from you to-night."

Philip was standing in the centre of the stage, surrounded by many
pretty ladies and elderly men. Wimpole was hovering over him as though
he had claims upon him by the right of discovery.

But when Philip saw Helen, he pushed his way toward her eagerly and
took her hand in both of his.

"I am so glad, Phil," she said. She felt it all so deeply that she was
afraid to say more, but that meant so much to her that she was sure he
would understand.

He had planned it very differently. For a year he had dreamed that, on
the first night of his play, there would be a supper, and that he
would rise and drink her health, and tell his friends and the world
that she was the woman he loved, and that she had agreed to marry him,
and that at last he was able, through the success of his play, to make
her his wife.

And now they met in a crowd to shake hands, and she went her way with
one of her grand ladies, and he was left among a group of chattering
strangers. The great English playwright took him by the hand and in
the hearing of all praised him gracefully and kindly. It did not
matter to Philip whether the older playwright believed what he said or
not; he knew it was generously meant.

"I envy you this," the great man was saying. "Don't lose any of it,
stay and listen to all they have to say. You will never live through
the first night of your first play but once."

"Yes, I hear them," said Philip, nervously; "they are all too kind.
But I don't hear the voice I have been listening for," he added, in a
whisper. The older man pressed his hand again quickly. "My dear boy,"
he said, "I am sorry."

"Thank you," Philip answered.

Within a week he had forgotten the great man's fine words of praise,
but the clasp of his hand he cherished always.

Helen met Marion as she was leaving the stage-door and stopped to
congratulate her on her success in the new part. Marion was radiant.
To Helen she seemed obstreperously happy and jubilant.

"And, Marion," Helen began, bravely, "I also want to congratulate you
on something else. You--you--neither of you have told me yet," she
stammered, "but I am such an old friend of both that I will not be
kept out of the secret." At these words Marion's air of triumphant
gayety vanished; she regarded Helen's troubled eyes closely and
kindly.

"What secret, Helen?" she asked.

"I came to the door of Philip's room the other day when you did not
know I was there," Helen answered, "and I could not help seeing how
matters were. And I do congratulate you both--and wish you--oh, such
happiness!" Without a word Marion dragged her back down the passage to
her dressing-room, and closed the door.

"Now tell me what you mean," she said.

"I am sorry if I discovered anything you didn't want known yet," said
Helen, "but the door was open. Mr. Wimpole had just left you and had
not shut it, and I could not help seeing."

Marion interrupted her with an eager exclamation of enlightenment.

"Oh, you were there, then," she cried. "And you?" she asked,
eagerly--"you thought Phil cared for me--that we are engaged, and it
hurt you; you are sorry? Tell me," she demanded, "are you sorry?"

Helen drew back and stretched out her hand toward the door.

"How can you!" she exclaimed, indignantly. "You have no right."

Marion stood between her and the door.

"I have every right," she said, "to help my friends, and I want to
help you and Philip. And, indeed, I do hope you _are_ sorry. I
hope you are miserable. And I'm glad you saw me kiss him. That was the
first and the last time, and I did it because I was happy and glad for
him; and because I love him, too, but not in the least in the way he
loves you. No one ever loved any one as he loves you. And it's time
you found it out. And if I have helped to make you find it out, I'm
glad, and I don't care how much I hurt you."

"Marion!" exclaimed Helen, "what does it mean? Do you mean that you
are not engaged; that--"

"Certainly not," Marion answered. "I am going to marry Reggie. It is
you that Philip loves, and I am very sorry for you that you don't love
him."

Helen clasped Marion's hands in both of hers.

"But, Marion!" she cried, "I do, oh, I do!"

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a thick yellow fog the next morning, and with it rain and a
sticky, depressing dampness which crept through the window-panes, and
which neither a fire nor blazing gas-jets could overcome.

Philip stood in front of the fireplace with the morning papers piled
high on the centre-table and scattered over the room about him.

He had read them all, and he knew now what it was to wake up famous,
but he could not taste it. Now that it had come it meant nothing, and
that it was so complete a triumph only made it the harder. In his most
optimistic dreams he had never imagined success so satisfying as the
reality had proved to be; but in his dreams Helen had always held the
chief part, and without her, success seemed only to mock him.

He wanted to lay it all before her, to say, "If you are pleased, I am
happy. If you are satisfied, then I am content. It was done for you,
and I am wholly yours, and all that I do is yours." And, as though in
answer to his thoughts, there was an instant knock at the door, and
Helen entered the room and stood smiling at him across the table.

Her eyes were lit with excitement, and spoke with many emotions, and
her cheeks were brilliant with color. He had never seen her look more
beautiful.

"Why, Helen!" he exclaimed, "how good of you to come. Is there
anything wrong? Is anything the matter?"

She tried to speak, but faltered, and smiled at him appealingly.

"What is it?" he asked in great concern.

Helen drew in her breath quickly, and at the same moment motioned him
away--and he stepped back and stood watching her in much perplexity.

With her eyes fixed on his she raised her hands to her head, and her
fingers fumbled with the knot of her veil. She pulled it loose, and
then, with a sudden courage, lifted her hat proudly, as though it were
a coronet, and placed it between them on his table.

"Philip," she stammered, with the tears in her voice and eyes, "if you
will let me--I have come to stay."

The table was no longer between them. He caught her in his arms and
kissed her face and her uncovered head again and again. From outside
the rain beat drearily and the fog rolled through the street, but
inside before the fire the two young people sat close together, asking
eager questions or sitting in silence, staring at the flames with
wondering, happy eyes.

The Lion and the Unicorn saw them only once again. It was a month
later when they stopped in front of the shop in a four-wheeler, with
their baggage mixed on top of it, and steamer-labels pasted over every
trunk.

"And, oh, Prentiss!" Carroll called from the cab-window. "I came near
forgetting. I promised to gild the Lion and the Unicorn if I won out
in London. So have it done, please, and send the bill to me. For I've
won out all right." And then he shut the door of the cab, and they
drove away forever.

"Nice gal, that," growled the Lion. "I always liked her. I am glad
they've settled it at last."

The Unicorn sighed sentimentally. "The other one's worth two of her,"
he said.



THE LAST RIDE TOGETHER

A SKETCH CONTAINING THREE POINTS OF VIEW


_What the Poet Laureate wrote._

  "There are girls in the Gold Reef City,
    There are mothers and children too!
  And they cry 'Hurry up for pity!'
    So what can a brave man do?

  "I suppose we were wrong, were mad men,
    Still I think at the Judgment Day,
  When God sifts the good from the bad men,
    There'll be something more to say."


_What more the Lord Chief Justice found to say._

"In this case we know the immediate consequence of your crime. It has
been the loss of human life, it has been the disturbance of public
peace, it has been the creation of a certain sense of distrust of
public professions and of public faith.... The sentence of this Court
therefore is that, as to you, Leander Starr Jameson, you be confined
for a period of fifteen months without hard labor; that you, Sir John
Willoughby, have ten months' imprisonment; and that you, etc., etc."

                                          _London Times, July 29th._


_What the Hon. "Reggie" Blake thought about it._

"H.M. HOLLOWAY PRISON,
July 28th.

"I am going to keep a diary while I am in prison, that is, if they
will let me. I never kept one before because I hadn't the time; when I
was home on leave there was too much going on to bother about it, and
when I was up country I always came back after a day's riding so tired
that I was too sleepy to write anything. And now that I have the time,
I won't have anything to write about. I fancy that more things
happened to me to-day than are likely to happen again for the next
eight months, so I will make this day take up as much room in the
diary as it can. I am writing this on the back of the paper the Warder
uses for his official reports, while he is hunting up cells to put us
in. We came down on him rather unexpectedly and he is nervous.

"Of course, I had prepared myself for this after a fashion, but now I
see that somehow I never really did think I would be in here, and all
my friends outside, and everything going on just the same as though I
wasn't alive somewhere. It's like telling yourself that your horse
can't possibly pull off a race, so that you won't mind so much if he
doesn't, but you always feel just as bad when he comes in a loser. A
man can't fool himself into thinking one way when he is hoping the
other.

"But I am glad it is over, and settled. It was a great bore not
knowing your luck and having the thing hanging over your head every
morning when you woke up. Indeed it it was quite a relief when the
counsel got all through arguing over those proclamations, and the
Chief Justice summed up, but I nearly went to sleep when I found he
was going all over it again to the jury. I didn't understand about
those proclamations myself and I'll lay a fiver the jury didn't
either. The Colonel said he didn't. I couldn't keep my mind on what
Russell was explaining about, and I got to thinking how much old
Justice Hawkins looked like the counsel in 'Alice in Wonderland' when
they tried the knave of spades for stealing the tarts. He has just the
same sort of a beak and the same sort of a wig, and I wondered why he
had his wig powdered and the others didn't. Pollock's wig had a hole
in the top; you could see it when he bent over to take notes. He was
always taking notes. I don't believe he understood about those
proclamations either; he never seemed to listen, anyway.

"The Chief Justice certainly didn't love us very much, that's sure;
and he wasn't going to let anybody else love us either. I felt quite
the Christian Martyr when Sir Edward was speaking in defense. He made
it sound as though we were all a lot of Adelphi heroes and ought to be
promoted and have medals, but when Lord Russell started in to read the
Riot Act at us I began to believe that hanging was too good for me.
I'm sure I never knew I was disturbing the peace of nations; it seems
like such a large order for a subaltern.

"But the worst was when they made us stand up before all those people
to be sentenced. I must say I felt shaky about the knees then, not
because I was afraid of what was coming, but because it was the first
time I had ever been pointed out before people, and made to feel
ashamed. And having those girls there, too, looking at one. That
wasn't just fair to us. It made me feel about ten years old, and I
remembered how the Head Master used to call me to his desk and say,
'Blake Senior, two pages of Horace and keep in bounds for a week.' And
then I heard our names and the months, and my name and 'eight months'
imprisonment,' and there was a bustle and murmur and the tipstaves
cried, 'Order in the Court,' and the Judges stood up and shook out
their big red skirts as though they were shaking off the contamination
of our presence and rustled away, and I sat down, wondering how long
eight months was, and wishing they'd given me as much as they gave
Jameson.

"They put us in a room together then, and our counsel said how sorry
they were, and shook hands, and went off to dinner and left us. I
thought they might have waited with us and been a little late for
dinner just that once; but no one waited except a lot of costers
outside whom we did not know. It was eight o'clock and still quite
light when we came out, and there was a line of four-wheelers and a
hansom ready for us. I'd been hoping they would take us out by the
Strand entrance, just because I'd liked to have seen it again, but
they marched us instead through the main quadrangle--a beastly, gloomy
courtyard that echoed, and out, into Carey Street--such a dirty,
gloomy street. The costers and clerks set up a sort of a cheer when we
came out, and one of them cried, 'God bless you, sir,' to the doctor,
but I was sorry they cheered. It seemed like kicking against the
umpire's decision. The Colonel and I got into a hansom together and we
trotted off into Chancery Lane and turned into Holborn. Most of the
shops were closed, and the streets looked empty, but there was a
lighted clock-face over Mooney's public house, and the hands stood at
a quarter past eight. I didn't know where Holloway was, and was hoping
they would have to take us through some decent streets to reach it;
but we didn't see a part of the city that meant anything to me, or
that I would choose to travel through again.

"Neither of us talked, and I imagined that the people in the streets
knew we were going to prison, and I kept my eyes on the enamel card on
the back of the apron. I suppose I read, 'Two-wheeled hackney
carriage: if hired and discharged within the four-mile limit, 1_s_.'
at least a hundred times. I got more sensible after a bit, and when we
had turned into Gray's Inn Road I looked up and saw a tram in front of
us with 'Holloway Road and King's X,' painted on the steps, and the
Colonel saw it about the same time I fancy, for we each looked at the
other, and the Colonel raised his eyebrows. It showed us that at least
the cabman knew where we were going.

"'They might have taken us for a turn through the West End first, I
think,' the Colonel said. 'I'd like to have had a look around,
wouldn't you? This isn't a cheerful neighborhood, is it?'

"There were a lot of children playing in St. Andrew's Gardens, and a
crowd of them ran out just as we passed, shrieking and laughing over
nothing, the way kiddies do, and that was about the only pleasant
sight in the ride. I had quite a turn when we came to the New Hospital
just beyond, for I thought it was Holloway, and it came over me what
eight months in such a place meant. I believe if I hadn't pulled
myself up sharp, I'd have jumped out into the street and run away. It
didn't last more than a few seconds, but I don't want any more like
them. I was afraid, afraid--there's no use pretending it was anything
else. I was in a dumb, silly funk, and I turned sick inside and shook,
as I have seen a horse shake when he shies at nothing and sweats and
trembles down his sides.

"During those few seconds it seemed to be more than I could stand; I
felt sure that I couldn't do it--that I'd go mad if they tried to
force me. The idea was so terrible--of not being master over your own
legs and arms, to have your flesh and blood and what brains God gave
you buried alive in stone walls as though they were in a safe with a
time-lock on the door set for eight months ahead. There's nothing to
be afraid of in a stone wall really, but it's the idea of the
thing--of not being free to move about, especially to a chap that has
always lived in the open as I have, and has had men under him. It was
no wonder I was in a funk for a minute. I'll bet a fiver the others
were, too, if they'll only own up to it. I don't mean for long, but
just when the idea first laid hold of them. Anyway, it was a good
lesson to me, and if I catch myself thinking of it again I'll whistle,
or talk to myself out loud and think of something cheerful. And I
don't mean to be one of those chaps who spends his time in jail
counting the stones in his cell, or training spiders, or measuring how
many of his steps make a mile, for madness lies that way. I mean to
sit tight and think of all the good times I've had, and go over them
in my mind very slowly, so as to make them last longer and remember
who was there and what we said, and the jokes and all that; I'll go
over house-parties I have been on, and the times I've had in the
Riviera, and scouting-parties Dr. Jim led up country when we were
taking Matabele Land.

"They say that if you're good here they give you things to read after
a month or two, and then I can read up all those instructive books
that a fellow never does read until he's laid up in bed.

"But that's crowding ahead a bit; I must keep to what happened to-day.
We struck York Road at the back of the Great Western Terminus, and I
half hoped we might see some chap we knew coming or going away: I
would like to have waved my hand to him. It would have been fun to
have seen his surprise the next morning when he read in the paper that
he had been bowing to jail-birds, and then I would like to have
cheated the tipstaves out of just one more friendly good-by. I wanted
to say good-by to somebody, but I really couldn't feel sorry to see
the last of any one of those we passed in the streets--they were such
a dirty, unhappy-looking lot, and the railroad wall ran on forever
apparently, and we might have been in a foreign country for all we
knew of it. There were just sooty gray brick tenements and gas-works
on one side, and the railroad cutting on the other, and semaphores and
telegraph wires overhead, and smoke and grime everywhere, it looked
exactly like the sort of street that should lead to a prison, and it
seemed a pity to take a smart hansom and a good cob into it.

"It was just a bit different from our last ride together--when we rode
through the night from Krugers-Dorp with hundreds of horses' hoofs
pounding on the soft veldt behind us, and the carbines clanking
against the stirrups as they swung on the sling belts. We were being
hunted then, harassed on either side, scurrying for our lives like the
Derby Dog in a race-track when every one hoots him and no man steps
out to help--we were sick for sleep, sick for food, lashed by the
rain, and we knew that we were beaten; but we were free still, and
under open skies with the derricks of the Rand rising like gallows on
our left, and Johannesburg only fifteen miles away."



MISS DELAMAR'S UNDERSTUDY


A young man runs two chances of marrying the wrong woman. He marries
her because she is beautiful, and because he persuades himself that
every other lovable attribute must be associated with such beauty, or
because she is in love with him. If this latter is the case, she gives
certain values to what he thinks and to what he says which no other
woman gives, and so he observes to himself, "This is the woman who
best understands _me_."

You can reverse this and say that young women run the same risks, but
as men are seldom beautiful, the first danger is eliminated. Women
still marry men, however, because they are loved by them, and in time
the woman grows to depend upon this love and to need it, and is not
content without it, and so she consents to marry the man for no other
reason than because he cares for her. For if a dog, even, runs up to
you wagging his tail and acting as though he were glad to see you, you
pat him on the head and say, "What a nice dog." You like him because
he likes you, and not because he belongs to a fine breed of animal and
could take blue ribbons at bench shows.

This is the story of a young man who was in love with a beautiful
woman, and who allowed her beauty to compensate him for many other
things. When she failed to understand what he said to her he smiled
and looked at her and forgave her at once, and when she began to grow
uninteresting, he would take up his hat and go away, and so he never
knew how very uninteresting she might possibly be if she were given
time enough in which to demonstrate the fact. He never considered
that, were he married to her, he could not take up his hat and go away
when she became uninteresting, and that her remarks, which were not
brilliant, could not be smiled away either. They would rise up and
greet him every morning, and would be the last thing he would hear at
night.

Miss Delamar's beauty was so conspicuous that to pretend not to notice
it was more foolish than well-bred. You got along more easily and
simply by accepting it at once, and referring to it, and enjoying its
effect upon other people. To go out of one's way to talk of other
things when every one, even Miss Delamar herself, knew what must be
uppermost in your mind, always seemed as absurd as to strain a point
in politeness, and to pretend not to notice that a guest had upset his
claret, or any other embarrassing fact. For Miss Delamar's beauty was
so distinctly embarrassing that this was the only way to meet it--to
smile and pass it over and to try, if possible, to get on to something
else. It was on account of this extraordinary quality in her
appearance that every one considered her beauty as something which
transcended her private ownership, and which belonged by right to the
polite world at large, to any one who could appreciate it properly,
just as though it were a sunset or a great work of art or of nature.
And so, when she gave away her photographs no one thought it meant
anything more serious than a recognition on her part of the fact that
it would have been unkind and selfish in her not to have shared the
enjoyment of so much loveliness with others.

Consequently, when she sent one of her largest and most aggravatingly
beautiful photographs to young Stuart, it was no sign that she cared
especially for him.

How much young Stuart cared for Miss Delamar, however, was an open
question and a condition yet to be discovered. That he cared for some
one, and cared so much that his imagination had begun to picture the
awful joys and responsibilities of marriage, was only too well known
to himself, and was a state of mind already suspected by his friends.

Stuart was a member of the New York bar, and the distinguished law
firm to which he belonged was very proud of its junior member, and
treated him with indulgence and affection, which was not unmixed with
amusement. For Stuart's legal knowledge had been gathered in many odd
corners of the globe, and was various and peculiar. It had been his
pleasure to study the laws by which men ruled other men in every
condition of life, and under every sun. The regulations of a new
mining camp were fraught with as great interest to him as the
accumulated precedents of the English Constitution, and he had
investigated the rulings of the mixed courts of Egypt and of the
government of the little Dutch republic near the Cape with as keen an
effort to comprehend as he had shown in studying the laws of the
American colonies and of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

But he was not always serious, and it sometimes happened that after he
had arrived at some queer little island where the native prince and
the English governor sat in judgment together, his interest in the
intricacies of their laws would give way to the more absorbing
occupation of chasing wild boar or shooting at tigers from the top of
an elephant. And so he was not only regarded as an authority on many
forms of government and of law, into which no one else had ever taken
the trouble to look, but his books on big game were eagerly read and
his articles in the magazines were earnestly discussed, whether they
told of the divorce laws of Dakota, and the legal rights of widows in
Cambodia, or the habits of the Mexican lion.

Stuart loved his work better than he knew, but how well he loved Miss
Delamar neither he nor his friends could tell. She was the most
beautiful and lovely creature that he had ever seen, and of that only
was he certain.

Stuart was sitting in the club one day when the conversation turned to
matrimony. He was among his own particular friends, the men before
whom he could speak seriously or foolishly without fear of being
misunderstood or of having what he said retold and spoiled in the
telling. There was Seldon, the actor, and Rives, who painted pictures,
and young Sloane, who travelled for pleasure and adventure, and
Weimer, who stayed at home and wrote for the reviews. They were all
bachelors, and very good friends, and jealously guarded their little
circle from the intrusion of either men or women.

"Of course the chief objection to marriage," Stuart said--it was the
very day in which the picture had been sent to his rooms--"is the old
one that you can't tell anything about it until you are committed to
it forever. It is a very silly thing to discuss even, because there is
no way of bringing it about, but there really should be some sort of a
preliminary trial. As the man says in the play, 'You wouldn't buy a
watch without testing it first.' You don't buy a hat even without
putting it on, and finding out whether it is becoming or not, or
whether your peculiar style of ugliness can stand it. And yet men go
gayly off and get married, and make the most awful promises, and alter
their whole order of life, and risk the happiness of some lovely
creature on trust, as it were, knowing absolutely nothing of the new
conditions and responsibilities of the life before them. Even a
river-pilot has to serve an apprenticeship before he gets a license,
and yet we are allowed to take just as great risks, and only because
we _want_ to take them. It's awful, and it's all wrong."

"Well, I don't see what one is going to do about it," commented young
Sloane, lightly, "except to get divorced. That road is always open."

Sloane was starting the next morning for the Somali Country, in
Abyssinia, to shoot rhinoceros, and his interest in matrimony was in
consequence somewhat slight.

"It isn't the fear of the responsibilities that keeps Stuart, nor any
one of us back," said Weimer, contemptuously. "It's because we're
selfish. That's the whole truth of the matter. We love our work, or
our pleasure, or to knock about the world, better than we do any
particular woman. When one of us comes to love the woman best, his
conscience won't trouble him long about the responsibilities of
marrying her."

"Not at all," said Stuart. "I am quite sincere; I maintain that there
should be a preliminary stage. Of course there can't be, and it's
absurd to think of it, but it would save a lot of unhappiness."

"Well," said Seldon, dryly, "when you've invented a way to prevent
marriage from being a lottery, let me know, will you?" He stood up and
smiled nervously. "Any of you coming to see us to-night?" he asked.

"That's so," exclaimed Weimer; "I forgot. It's the first night of 'A
Fool and His Money,' isn't it? Of course we're coming."

"I told them to put a box away for you in case you wanted it," Seldon
continued. "Don't expect much. It's a silly piece, and I've a silly
part, and I'm very bad in it. You must come around to supper, and tell
me where I'm bad in it, and we will talk it over. You're coming,
Stuart?"

"My dear old man," said Stuart, reproachfully, "of course I am. I've
had my seats for the last three weeks. Do you suppose I could miss
hearing you mispronounce all the Hindostanee I've taught you?"

"Well, good-night then," said the actor, waving his hand to his
friends as he moved away. "'We, who are about to die, salute you!'"

"Good luck to you," said Sloane, holding up his glass. "To the Fool
and His Money," he laughed. He turned to the table again, and sounded
the bell for the waiter. "Now let's send him a telegram and wish him
success, and all sign it," he said, "and don't you fellows tell him
that I wasn't in front to-night. I've got to go to a dinner the
Travellers' Club are giving me." There was a protesting chorus of
remonstrance. "Oh, I don't like it any better than you do," said
Sloane, "but I'll get away, early and join you before the play's over.
No one in the Travellers' Club, you see, has ever travelled farther
from New York than London or the Riviera, and so when a member starts
for Abyssinia they give him a dinner, and he has to take himself very
seriously indeed, and cry with Seldon, 'I, who am about to die, salute
you!' If that man there was any use," he added, interrupting himself
and pointing with his glass at Stuart, "he'd pack up his things
to-night and come with me."

"Oh, don't urge him," remonstrated Weimer, who had travelled all over
the world in imagination, with the aid of globes and maps, but never
had got any farther from home than Montreal. "We can't spare Stuart.
He has to stop here and invent a preliminary marriage state, so that
if he finds he doesn't like a girl, he can leave her before it is too
late."

"You sail at seven, I believe, and from Hoboken, don't you?" asked
Stuart, undisturbed. "If you'll start at eleven from the New York
side, I think I'll go with you, but I hate getting up early; and then
you see--I know what dangers lurk in Abyssinia, but who could tell
what might not happen to him in Hoboken?"

When Stuart returned to his room, he found a large package set upright
in an armchair and enveloped by many wrappings; but the handwriting on
the outside told him at once from whom it came and what it might be,
and he pounced upon it eagerly and tore it from its covers. The
photograph was a very large one, and the likeness to the original so
admirable that the face seemed to smile and radiate with all the
loveliness and beauty of Miss Delamar herself. Stuart beamed upon it
with genuine surprise and pleasure, and exclaimed delightedly to
himself. There was a living quality about the picture which made him
almost speak to it, and thank Miss Delamar through it for the pleasure
she had given him and the honor she had bestowed. He was proud,
flattered, and triumphant, and while he walked about the room deciding
where he would place it, and holding the picture respectfully before
him, he smiled upon it with grateful satisfaction.

He decided against his dressing-table as being too intimate a place
for it, and so carried the picture on from his bedroom to the
dining-room beyond, where he set it among his silver on the sideboard.
But so little of his time was spent in this room that he concluded he
would derive but little pleasure from it there, and so bore it back
again into his library, where there were many other photographs and
portraits, and where to other eyes than his own it would be less
conspicuous.

He tried it first in one place and then in another; but in each
position the picture predominated and asserted itself so markedly,
that Stuart gave up the idea of keeping it inconspicuous, and placed
it prominently over the fireplace, where it reigned supreme above
every other object in the room. It was not only the most conspicuous
object there, but the living quality which it possessed in so marked a
degree, and which was due to its naturalness of pose and the
excellence of the likeness, made it permeate the place like a presence
and with the individuality of a real person. Stuart observed this
effect with amused interest, and noted also that the photographs of
other women had become commonplace in comparison like lithographs in a
shop-window, and that the more masculine accessories of a bachelor's
apartment had grown suddenly aggressive and out of keeping. The
liquor-case and the racks of arms and of barbarous weapons which he
had collected with such pride seemed to have lost their former value
and meaning, and he instinctively began to gather up the mass of books
and maps and photographs and pipes and gloves which lay scattered upon
the table, and to put them in their proper place, or to shove them out
of sight altogether. "If I'm to live up to that picture," he thought,
"I must see that George keeps this room in better order--and I must
stop wandering round here in my bath-robe."

His mind continued on the picture while he was dressing, and he was so
absorbed in it and in analyzing the effect it had had upon him, that
his servant spoke twice before he heard him.

"No," he answered, "I shall not dine here to-night." Dining at home
was with him a very simple affair, and a somewhat lonely one, and he
avoided it almost nightly by indulging himself in a more expensive
fashion.

But even as he spoke an idea came to Stuart which made him reconsider
his determination, and which struck him as so amusing, that he stopped
pulling at his tie and smiled delightedly at himself in the glass
before him.

"Yes," he said, still smiling, "I will dine here to-night. Get me
anything in a hurry. You need not wait now; go get the dinner up as
soon as possible."

The effect which the photograph of Miss Delamar had upon him, and the
transformation it had accomplished in his room, had been as great as
would have marked the presence there of the girl herself. While
considering this it had come to Stuart, like a flash of inspiration,
that here was a way by which he could test the responsibilities and
conditions of married life without compromising either himself or the
girl to whom he would suppose himself to be married.

"I will put that picture at the head of the table," he said, "and I
will play that it is she herself, her own beautiful, lovely self, and
I will talk to her and exchange views with her, and make her answer me
just as she would were we actually married and settled." He looked at
his watch and found it was just seven o'clock. "I will begin now," he
said, "and I will keep up the delusion until midnight. To-night is the
best time to try the experiment, because the picture is new now, and
its influence will be all the more real. In a few weeks it may have
lost some of its freshness and reality and will have become one of the
fixtures in the room."

Stuart decided that under these new conditions it would be more
pleasant to dine at Delmonico's, and he was on the point of asking the
Picture what she thought of it, when he remembered that while it had
been possible for him to make a practise of dining at that place as a
bachelor, he could not now afford so expensive a luxury, and he
decided that he had better economize in that particular and go instead
to one of the _table d'hôte_ restaurants in the neighborhood. He
regretted not having thought of this sooner, for he did not care to
dine at a _table d'hôte_ in evening dress, as in some places it
rendered him conspicuous. So, sooner than have this happen he decided
to dine at home, as he had originally intended when he first thought
of attempting this experiment, and then conducted the Picture in to
dinner and placed her in an armchair facing him, with the candles full
upon the face.

"Now this is something like," he exclaimed, joyously. "I can't imagine
anything better than this. Here we are all to ourselves with no one to
bother us, with no chaperon, or chaperon's husband either, which is
generally worse. Why is it, my dear," he asked, gayly, in a tone he
considered affectionate and husbandly, "that the attractive chaperons
are always handicapped by such stupid husbands, and vice versa?"

"If that is true," replied the Picture, or replied Stuart, rather, for
the Picture, "I cannot be a very attractive chaperon." Stuart bowed
politely at this, and then considered the point it had raised as to
whether he had, in assuming both characters, the right to pay himself
compliments. He decided against himself in this particular instance,
but agreed that he was not responsible for anything the Picture might
say, so long as he sincerely and fairly tried to make it answer him as
he thought the original would do under like circumstances. From what
he knew of the original under other conditions, he decided that he
could give a very close imitation of her point of view.

Stuart's interest in his dinner was so real that he found himself
neglecting his wife, and he had to pull himself up to his duty with a
sharp reproof. After smiling back at her for a moment or two until his
servant had again left them alone, he asked her to tell him what she
had been doing during the day.

"Oh, nothing very important," said the Picture. "I went shopping in
the morning and--"

Stuart stopped himself and considered this last remark doubtfully.
"Now, how do I know she would go shopping?" he asked himself. "People
from Harlem and women who like bargain-counters, and who eat chocolate
meringue for lunch, and then stop in at a continuous performance, go
shopping. It must be the comic-paper sort of wives who go about
matching shades and buying hooks and eyes. Yes, I must have made Miss
Delamar's understudy misrepresent her. I beg your pardon, my dear," he
said aloud to the Picture. "You did _not_ go shopping this
morning. You probably went to a woman's luncheon somewhere. Tell me
about that."

"Oh, yes, I went to lunch with the Antwerps," said the Picture, "and
they had that Russian woman there who is getting up subscriptions for
the Siberian prisoners. It's rather fine of her, because it exiles her
from Russia. And she is a princess."

"That's nothing," Stuart interrupted; "they're all princesses when you
see them on Broadway."

"I beg your pardon," said the Picture.

"It's of no consequence," said Stuart, apologetically, "it's a comic
song. I forgot you didn't like comic songs. Well--go on."

"Oh, then I went to a tea, and then I stopped in to hear Madame Ruvier
read a paper on the Ethics of Ibsen, and she--"

Stuart's voice had died away gradually, and he caught himself
wondering whether he had told George to lay in a fresh supply of
cigars. "I beg your pardon," he said, briskly, "I was listening, but I
was just wondering whether I had any cigars left. You were saying that
you had been at Madame Ruvier's, and--"

"I am afraid that you were not interested," said the Picture. "Never
mind, it's my fault. Sometimes I think I ought to do things of more
interest, so that I should have something to talk to you about when
you come home."

Stuart wondered at what hour he would come home now that he was
married. As a bachelor he had been in the habit of stopping on his way
up-town from the law-office at the club, or to take tea at the houses
of the different girls he liked. Of course he could not do that now as
a married man. He would instead have to limit his calls to married
women, as all the other married men of his acquaintance did. But at
the moment he could not think of any attractive married women who
would like his dropping in on them in such a familiar manner, and the
other sort did not as yet appeal to him.

He seated himself in front of the coal fire in the library, with the
Picture in a chair close beside him, and as he puffed pleasantly on
his cigar he thought how well this suited him, and how delightful it
was to find content in so simple and continuing a pleasure. He could
almost feel the pressure of his wife's hand as it lay in his own, as
they sat in silent sympathy looking into the friendly glow of the
fire.

There was a long, pleasant pause.

"They're giving Sloane a dinner to-night at the 'Travellers'," Stuart
said, at last, "in honor of his going to Abyssinia."

Stuart pondered for some short time as to what sort of a reply Miss
Delamar's understudy ought to make to this innocent remark. He
recalled the fact that on numerous occasions the original had shown
not only a lack of knowledge of far-away places, but, what was more
trying, a lack of interest as well. For the moment he could not see
her robbed of her pretty environment and tramping through undiscovered
countries at his side. So the Picture's reply, when it came, was
strictly in keeping with several remarks which Miss Delamar herself
had made to him in the past.

"Yes," said the Picture, politely, "and where is Abyssinia--in India,
isn't it?"

"No, not exactly," corrected Stuart, mildly; "you pass it on your way
to India, though, as you go through the Red Sea. Sloane is taking
Winchesters with him and a double express and a 'five fifty.' He wants
to test their penetration. I think myself that the express is the
best, but he says Selous and Chanler think very highly of the
Winchester. I don't know, I never shot a rhinoceros. The time I killed
that elephant," he went on, pointing at two tusks that stood with some
assegais in a corner, "I used an express, and I had to let go with
both barrels. I suppose, though, if I'd needed a third shot, I'd have
wished it was a Winchester. He was charging the smoke, you see, and I
couldn't get away because I'd caught my foot--but I told you about
that, didn't I?" Stuart interrupted himself to ask politely.

"Yes," said the Picture, cheerfully, "I remember it very well; it was
very foolish of you."

Stuart straightened himself with a slightly injured air and avoided
the Picture's eye. He had been stopped midway in what was one of his
favorite stories, and it took a brief space of time for him to recover
himself, and to sink back again into the pleasant lethargy in which he
had been basking.

"Still," he said, "I think the express is the better gun."

"Oh, is an 'express' a gun?" exclaimed the Picture, with sudden
interest. "Of course, I might have known."

Stuart turned in his chair, and surveyed the Picture in some surprise.
"But, my dear girl," he remonstrated, kindly, "why didn't you ask, if
you didn't know what I was talking about? What did you suppose it
was?"

"I didn't know," said the Picture; "I thought it was something to do
with his luggage. Abyssinia sounds so far away," she explained,
smiling sweetly. "You can't expect one to be interested in such queer
places, can you?"

"No," Stuart answered, reluctantly, and looking steadily at the fire,
"I suppose not. But you see, my dear," he said, "I'd have gone with
him if I hadn't married you, and so I am naturally interested in his
outfit. They wanted me to make a comparative study of the little
semi-independent states down there, and of how far the Italian
Government allows them to rule themselves. That's what I was to have
done."

But the Picture hastened to reassure him. "Oh, you mustn't think," she
exclaimed, quickly, "that I mean to keep you at home. I love to
travel, too. I want you to go on exploring places just as you've
always done, only now I will go with you. We might do the Cathedral
towns, for instance."

"The what?" gasped Stuart, raising his head. "Oh, yes, of course," he
added, hurriedly, sinking back into his chair with a slightly
bewildered expression. "That would be very nice. Perhaps your mother
would like to go, too; it's not a dangerous expedition, is it? I
_was_ thinking of taking you on a trip through the South
Seas--but I suppose the Cathedral towns are just as exciting. Or we
might even penetrate as far into the interior as the English lakes and
read Wordsworth and Coleridge as we go."

Miss Delamar's understudy observed him closely for a moment, but he
made no sign, and so she turned her eyes again to the fire with a
slightly troubled look. She had not a strong sense of humor, but she
was very beautiful.

Stuart's conscience troubled him for the next few moments, and he
endeavored to make up for his impatience of the moment before by
telling the Picture how particularly well she was looking.

"It seems almost selfish to keep it all to myself," he mused.

"You don't mean," inquired the Picture, with tender anxiety, "that you
want any one else here, do you? I'm sure I could be content to spend
every evening like this. I've had enough of going out and talking to
people I don't care about. Two seasons," she added, with the superior
air of one who has put away childish things, "was quite enough of it
for me."

"Well, I never took it as seriously as that," said Stuart, "but, of
course, I don't want any one else here to spoil our evening. It is
perfect."

He assured himself that it _was_ perfect, but he wondered what
was the loyal thing for a married couple to do when the conversation
came to a dead stop. And did the conversation come to a stop because
they preferred to sit in silent sympathy and communion, or because
they had nothing interesting to talk about? Stuart doubted if silence
was the truest expression of the most perfect confidence and sympathy.
He generally found when he was interested, that either he or his
companion talked all the time. It was when he was bored that he sat
silent. But it was probably different with married people. Possibly
they thought of each other during these pauses, and of their own
affairs and interests, and then he asked himself how many interests
could one fairly retain with which the other had nothing to do?

"I suppose," thought Stuart, "that I had better compromise and read
aloud. Should you like me to read aloud?" he asked, doubtfully.

The Picture brightened perceptibly at this, and said that she thought
that would be charming. "We might make it quite instructive," she
suggested, entering eagerly into the idea. "We ought to agree to read
so many pages every night. Suppose we begin with Guizot's 'History of
France.' I have always meant to read that, the illustrations look so
interesting."

"Yes, we might do that," assented Stuart, doubtfully. "It is in six
volumes, isn't it? Suppose now, instead," he suggested, with an
impartial air, "we begin that to-morrow night, and go this evening to
see Seldon's new play, 'The Fool and His Money.' It's not too late,
and he has saved a box for us, and Weimer and Rives and Sloane will be
there, and--"

The Picture's beautiful face settled for just an instant in an
expression of disappointment. "Of course," she replied, slowly, "if
you wish it. But I thought you said," she went on with a sweet smile,
"that this was perfect. Now you want to go out again. Isn't this
better than a hot theatre? You might put up with it for one evening,
don't you think?"

"Put up with it!" exclaimed Stuart, enthusiastically; "I could spend
every evening so. It was only a suggestion. It wasn't that I wanted to
go so much as that I thought Seldon might be a little hurt if I
didn't. But I can tell him you were not feeling very well, and that we
will come some other evening. He generally likes to have us there on
the first night, that's all. But he'll understand."

"Oh," said the Picture, "if you put it in the light of a duty to your
friend, of course we will go--"

"Not at all," replied Stuart, heartily; "I will read something. I
should really prefer it. How would you like something of Browning's?"

"Oh, I read all of Browning once," said the Picture. "I think I should
like something new."

Stuart gasped at this, but said nothing, and began turning over the
books on the centre-table. He selected one of the monthly magazines,
and choosing a story which neither of them had read, sat down
comfortably in front of the fire, and finished it without interruption
and to the satisfaction of the Picture and himself. The story had made
the half hour pass very pleasantly, and they both commented on it with
interest.

"I had an experience once myself something like that," said Stuart,
with a pleased smile of recollection; "it happened in Paris"--he began
with the deliberation of a man who is sure of his story--"and it
turned out in much the same way. It didn't begin in Paris; it really
began while we were crossing the English Channel to--"

"Oh, you mean about the Russian who took you for some one else and had
you followed," said the Picture. "Yes, that was like it, except that
in your case nothing happened."

Stuart took his cigar from between his lips and frowned severely at
the lighted end for some little time before he spoke.

"My dear," he remonstrated, gently, "you mustn't tell me I've told you
all my old stories before. It isn't fair. Now that I am married, you
see, I can't go about and have new experiences, and I've got to make
use of the old ones."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," exclaimed the Picture, remorsefully. "I didn't
mean to be rude. Please tell me about it. I should like to hear it
again, ever so much. I _should_ like to hear it again, really."

"Nonsense," said Stuart, laughing and shaking his head. "I was only
joking; personally I hate people who tell long stories. That doesn't
matter. I was thinking of something else."

He continued thinking of something else, which was, that though he had
been in jest when he spoke of having given up the chance of meeting
fresh experiences, he had nevertheless described a condition, and a
painfully true one. His real life seemed to have stopped, and he saw
himself in the future looking back and referring to it, as though it
were the career of an entirely different person, of a young man, with
quick sympathies which required satisfying, as any appetite requires
food. And he had an uncomfortable doubt that these many ever-ready
sympathies would rebel if fed on only one diet.

The Picture did not interrupt him in his thoughts, and he let his mind
follow his eyes as they wandered over the objects above him on the
mantel-shelf. They all meant something from the past--a busy,
wholesome past which had formed habits of thought and action, habits
he could no longer enjoy alone, and which, on the other hand, it was
quite impossible for him to share with any one else. He was no longer
to be alone.

Stuart stirred uneasily in his chair and poked at the fire before him.

"Do you remember the day you came to see me," said the Picture,
sentimentally, "and built the fire yourself and lighted some girl's
letters to make it burn?"

"Yes," said Stuart, "that is, I _said_ that they were some girl's
letters. It made it more picturesque. I am afraid they were bills. I
should say I did remember it," he continued, enthusiastically. "You
wore a black dress and little red slippers with big black rosettes,
and you looked as beautiful as--as night--as a moonlight night."

The Picture frowned slightly.

"You are always telling me about how I looked," she complained; "can't
you remember any time when we were together without remembering what I
had on and how I appeared?"

"I cannot," said Stuart, promptly. "I can recall lots of other things
besides, but I can't forget how you looked. You have a fashion of
emphasizing episodes in that way which is entirely your own. But, as I
say, I can remember something else. Do you remember, for instance,
when we went up to West Point on that yacht? Wasn't it a grand day,
with the autumn leaves on both sides of the Hudson, and the dress
parade, and the dance afterward at the hotel?"

"Yes, I should think I did," said the Picture, smiling. "You spent all
your time examining cannon, and talking to the men about 'firing in
open order,' and left me all alone."

"Left you all alone! I like that," laughed Stuart; "all alone with
about eighteen officers."

"Well, but that was natural," returned the Picture. "They were men.
It's natural for a girl to talk to men, but why should a man want to
talk to men?"

"Well, I know better than that now," said Stuart.

He proceeded to show that he knew better by remaining silent for the
next half hour, during which time he continued to wonder whether this
effort to keep up a conversation was not radically wrong. He thought
of several things he might say, but he argued that it was an
impossible situation where a man had to make conversation with his own
wife.

The clock struck ten as he sat waiting, and he moved uneasily in his
chair.

"What is it?" asked the Picture; "what makes you so restless?"

Stuart regarded the Picture timidly for a moment before he spoke. "I
was just thinking," he said, doubtfully, "that we might run down after
all, and take a look in at the last act; it's not too late even now.
They're sure to run behind on the first night. And then," he urged,
"we can go around and see Seldon. You have never been behind the
scenes, have you? It's very interesting."

"No, I have not; but if we do," remonstrated the Picture,
pathetically, "you _know_ all those men will come trooping home
with us. You know they will."

"But that's very complimentary," said Stuart. "Why, I like my friends
to like my wife."

"Yes, but you know how they stay when they get here," she answered; "I
don't believe they ever sleep. Don't you remember the last supper you
gave me before we were married, when Mrs. Starr and you all were
discussing Mr. Seldon's play? She didn't make a move to go until
half-past two, and I was _that_ sleepy I couldn't keep my eyes
open."

"Yes," said Stuart, "I remember. I'm sorry. I thought it was very
interesting. Seldon changed the whole second act on account of what
she said. Well, after this," he laughed with cheerful desperation, "I
think I shall make up for the part of a married man in a pair of
slippers and a dressing-gown, and then perhaps I won't be tempted to
roam abroad at night."

"You must wear the gown they are going to give you at Oxford," said
the Picture, smiling placidly. "The one Aunt Lucy was telling me
about. Why do they give you a gown?" she asked. "It seems such an odd
thing to do."

"The gown comes with the degree, I believe," said Stuart.

"But why do they give _you_ a degree?" persisted the Picture;
"you never studied at Oxford, did you?"

Stuart moved slightly in his chair and shook his head. "I thought I
told you," he said, gently. "No, I never studied there. I wrote some
books on--things, and they liked them."

"Oh, yes, I remember now, you did tell me," said the Picture; "and I
told Aunt Lucy about it, and said we would be in England during the
season when you got your degree, and she said you must be awfully
clever to get it. You see--she does appreciate you, and you always
treat her so distantly."

"Do I?" said Stuart, quietly. "I'm sorry."

"Will you have your portrait painted in it?" asked the Picture.

"In what?"

"In the gown. You are not listening," said the Picture, reproachfully.
"You ought to. Aunt Lucy says it's a beautiful shade of red silk, and
very long. Is it?"

"I don't know," said Stuart. He shook his head, and dropping his chin
into his hands, stared coldly down into the fire. He tried to persuade
himself that he had been vainglorious, and that he had given too much
weight to the honor which the University of Oxford would bestow upon
him; that he had taken the degree too seriously, and that the
Picture's view of it was the view of the rest of the world. But he
could not convince himself that he was entirely at fault.

"Is it too late to begin on Guizot?" suggested his Picture, as an
alternative to his plan. "It sounds so improving."

"Yes, it is much too late," answered Stuart, decidedly. "Besides, I
don't want to be improved. I want to be amused, or inspired, or
scolded. The chief good of friends is that they do one of these three
things, and a wife should do all three."

"Which shall I do?" asked the Picture, smiling good-humoredly.

Stuart looked at the beautiful face and at the reclining figure of the
woman to whom he was to turn for sympathy for the rest of his life,
and felt a cold shiver of terror, that passed as quickly as it came.
He reached out his hand and placed it on the arm of the chair where
his wife's hand should have been, and patted the place kindly. He
would shut his eyes to everything but that she was good and sweet and
his wife. Whatever else she lacked that her beauty had covered up and
hidden, and the want of which had Iain unsuspected in their previous
formal intercourse, could not be mended now. He would settle his step
to hers, and eliminate all those interests from his life which were
not hers as well. He had chosen a beautiful idol, and not a companion,
for a wife. He had tried to warm his hands at the fire of a diamond.

Stuart's eyes closed wearily as though to shut out the memories of the
past, or the foreknowledge of what the future was sure to be. His head
sank forward on his breast, and with his hand shading his eyes, he
looked beyond, through the dying fire, into the succeeding years.

*       *       *       *       *

The gay little French clock on the table sounded the hour of midnight
briskly, with a pert, insistent clamor, and at the same instant a
boisterous and unruly knocking answered it from outside the library
door.

Stuart rose uncertainly from his chair and surveyed the tiny clock
face with a startled expression of bewilderment and relief.

"Stuart!" his friends called impatiently from the hall. "Stuart, let
us in!" and without waiting further for recognition a merry company of
gentlemen pushed their way noisily into the room.

"Where the devil have you been?" demanded Weimer. "You don't deserve
to be spoken to at all after quitting us like that. But Seldon is so
good-natured," he went on, "that he sent us after you. It was a great
success, and he made a rattling good speech, and you missed the whole
thing; and you ought to be ashamed of yourself. We've asked half the
people in front to supper--two stray Englishmen, all the Wilton girls
and their governor, and the chap that wrote the play. And Seldon and
his brother Sam are coming as soon as they get their make-up off.
Don't stand there like that, but hurry. What have you been doing?"

Stuart gave a nervous, anxious laugh. "Oh, don't ask me," he cried.
"It was awful. I've been trying an experiment, and I had to keep it up
until midnight, and--I'm so glad you fellows have come," he continued,
halting midway in his explanation. "I _was_ blue."

"You've been asleep in front of the fire," said young Sloane, "and
you've been dreaming."

"Perhaps," laughed Stuart, gayly, "perhaps. But I'm awake now, in any
event. Sloane, old man," he cried, dropping both hands on the
youngster's shoulders, "how much money have you? Enough to take me to
Gibraltar? They can cable me the rest."

"Hoorah!" shouted Sloane, waltzing from one end of the room to the
other. "And we're off to Ab-yss-in-ia in the morn-ing," he sang.
"There's plenty in my money belt," he cried, slapping his side; "you
can hear the ten-pound notes crackle whenever I breathe, and it's all
yours, my dear boy, and welcome. And I'll prove to you that the
Winchester is the better gun."

"All right," returned Stuart, gayly, "and I'll try to prove that the
Italians don't know how to govern a native state. But who is giving
this supper, anyway?" he demanded. "That is the main thing--that's
what I want to know."

"You've got to pack, haven't you?" suggested Rives.

"I'll pack when I get back," said Stuart, struggling into his
greatcoat, and searching in his pockets for his gloves. "Besides, my
things are always ready and there's plenty of time; the boat doesn't
leave for six hours yet."

"We'll all come back and help," said Weimer.

"Then I'll never get away," laughed Stuart. He was radiant, happy, and
excited, like a boy back from school for the holidays. But when they
had reached the pavement, he halted and ran his hand down into his
pocket, as though feeling for his latch-key, and stood looking
doubtfully at his friends.

"What is it now?" asked Rives, impatiently. "Have you forgotten
something?"

Stuart looked back at the front door in momentary indecision.

"Ye-es," he answered. "I did forget something. But it doesn't matter,"
he added, cheerfully, taking Sloane's arm.

"Come on," he said, "and so Seldon made a hit, did he? I am glad--and
tell me, old man, how long will we have to wait at Gib for the P. & O.?"

Stuart's servant had heard the men trooping down the stairs, laughing
and calling to one another as they went, and judging from this that
they had departed for the night, he put out all the lights in the
library and closed the piano, and lifted the windows to clear the room
of the tobacco-smoke. He did not notice the beautiful photograph
sitting upright in the armchair before the fireplace, and so left it
alone in the deserted library.

The cold night-air swept in through the open window and chilled the
silent room, and the dead coals in the grate dropped one by one into
the fender with a dismal echoing clatter; but the Picture still sat in
the armchair with the same graceful pose and the same lovely
expression, and smiled sweetly at the encircling darkness.



THE REPORTER WHO MADE HIMSELF KING


The Old Time Journalist will tell you that the best reporter is the
one who works his way up. He holds that the only way to start is as a
printer's devil or as an office boy, to learn in time to set type, to
graduate from a compositor into a stenographer, and as a stenographer
take down speeches at public meetings, and so finally grow into a real
reporter, with a fire badge on your left suspender, and a speaking
acquaintance with all the greatest men in the city, not even excepting
Police Captains.

That is the old time journalist's idea of it. That is the way he was
trained, and that is why at the age of sixty he is still a reporter.
If you train up a youth in this way, he will go into reporting with
too full a knowledge of the newspaper business, with no illusions
concerning it, and with no ignorant enthusiasms, but with a keen and
justifiable impression that he is not paid enough for what he does.
And he will only do what he is paid to do.

Now, you cannot pay a good reporter for what he does, because he does
not work for pay. He works for his paper. He gives his time, his
health, his brains, his sleeping hours, and his eating hours, and
sometimes his life, to get news for it. He thinks the sun rises only
that men may have light by which to read it. But if he has been in a
newspaper office from his youth up, he finds out before he becomes a
reporter that this is not so, and loses his real value. He should come
right out of the University where he has been doing "campus notes" for
the college weekly, and be pitchforked out into city work without
knowing whether the Battery is at Harlem or Hunter's Point, and with
the idea that he is a Moulder of Public Opinion and that the Power of
the Press is greater than the Power of Money, and that the few lines
he writes are of more value in the Editor's eyes than is the column of
advertising on the last page, which they are not.

After three years--it is sometimes longer, sometimes not so long--he
finds out that he has given his nerves and his youth and his
enthusiasm in exchange for a general fund of miscellaneous knowledge,
the opportunity of personal encounter with all the greatest and most
remarkable men and events that have risen in those three years, and a
great fund of resource an patience. He will find that he has crowded
the experiences of the lifetime of the ordinary young business man,
doctor, or lawyer, or man about town, into three short years; that he
has learned to think and to act quickly, to be patient and unmoved
when every one else has lost his head, actually or figuratively
speaking; to write as fast as another man can talk, and to be able to
talk with authority on matters of which other men do not venture even
to think until they have read what he has written with a copy-boy at
his elbow on the night previous.

It is necessary for you to know this, that you may understand what
manner of man young Albert Gordon was.

Young Gordon had been a reporter just three years. He had left Yale
when his last living relative died, and had taken the morning train
for New York, where they had promised him reportorial work on one of
the innumerable Greatest New York Dailies. He arrived at the office at
noon, and was sent back over the same road on which he had just come,
to Spuyten Duyvil, where a train had been wrecked and everybody of
consequence to suburban New York killed. One of the old reporters
hurried him to the office again with his "copy," and after he had
delivered that, he was sent to the Tombs to talk French to a man in
Murderers' Row, who could not talk anything else, but who had shown
some international skill in the use of a jimmy. And at eight, he
covered a flower-show in Madison Square Garden; and at eleven was sent
over the Brooklyn Bridge in a cab to watch a fire and make guesses at
the losses to the insurance companies.

He went to bed at one, and dreamed of shattered locomotives, human
beings lying still with blankets over them, rows of cells, and banks
of beautiful flowers nodding their heads to the tunes of the brass
band in the gallery. He decided when he awoke the next morning that he
had entered upon a picturesque and exciting career, and as one day
followed another, he became more and more convinced of it, and more
and more devoted to it. He was twenty then, and he was now
twenty-three, and in that time had become a great reporter, and had
been to Presidential conventions in Chicago, revolutions in Hayti,
Indian outbreaks on the Plains, and midnight meetings of moonlighters
in Tennessee, and had seen what work earthquakes, floods, fire, and
fever could do in great cities, and had contradicted the President,
and borrowed matches from burglars. And now he thought he would like
to rest and breathe a bit, and not to work again unless as a war
correspondent. The only obstacle to his becoming a great war
correspondent lay in the fact that there was no war, and a war
correspondent without a war is about as absurd an individual as a
general without an army. He read the papers every morning on the
elevated trains for war clouds; but though there were many war clouds,
they always drifted apart, and peace smiled again. This was very
disappointing to young Gordon, and he became more and more keenly
discouraged.

And then as war work was out of the question, he decided to write his
novel. It was to be a novel of New York life, and he wanted a quiet
place in which to work on it. He was already making inquiries among
the suburban residents of his acquaintance for just such a quiet spot,
when he received an offer to go to the Island of Opeki in the North
Pacific Ocean, as secretary to the American consul at that place. The
gentleman who had been appointed by the President to act as consul at
Opeki was Captain Leonard T. Travis, a veteran of the Civil War, who
had contracted a severe attack of rheumatism while camping out at
night in the dew, and who on account of this souvenir of his efforts
to save the Union had allowed the Union he had saved to support him in
one office or another ever since. He had met young Gordon at a dinner,
and had had the presumption to ask him to serve as his secretary, and
Gordon, much to his surprise, had accepted his offer. The idea of a
quiet life in the tropics with new and beautiful surroundings, and
with nothing to do and plenty of time in which to do it, and to write
his novel besides, seemed to Albert to be just what he wanted; and
though he did not know nor care much for his superior officer, he
agreed to go with him promptly, and proceeded to say good-by to his
friends and to make his preparations. Captain Travis was so delighted
with getting such a clever young gentleman for his secretary, that he
referred to him to his friends as "my attaché of legation"; nor did he
lessen that gentleman's dignity by telling any one that the attaché's
salary was to be five hundred dollars a year. His own salary was only
fifteen hundred dollars; and though his brother-in-law, Senator
Rainsford, tried his best to get the amount raised, he was
unsuccessful. The consulship to Opeki was instituted early in the
'50's, to get rid of and reward a third or fourth cousin of the
President's, whose services during the campaign were important, but
whose after-presence was embarrassing. He had been created consul to
Opeki as being more distant and unaccessible than any other known
spot, and had lived and died there; and so little was known of the
island, and so difficult was communication with it, that no one knew
he was dead, until Captain Travis, in his hungry haste for office, had
uprooted the sad fact. Captain Travis, as well as Albert, had a
secondary reason for wishing to visit Opeki. His physician had told
him to go to some warm climate for his rheumatism, and in accepting
the consulship his object was rather to follow out his doctor's orders
at his country's expense, than to serve his country at the expense of
his rheumatism.

Albert could learn but very little of Opeki; nothing, indeed, but that
it was situated about one hundred miles from the Island of Octavia,
which island, in turn, was simply described as a coaling-station three
hundred miles distant from the coast of California. Steamers from San
Francisco to Yokohama stopped every third week at Octavia, and that
was all that either Captain Travis or his secretary could learn of
their new home. This was so very little, that Albert stipulated to
stay only as long as he liked it, and to return to the States within a
few months if he found such a change of plan desirable.

As he was going to what was an almost undiscovered country, he thought
it would be advisable to furnish himself with a supply of articles
with which he might trade with the native Opekians, and for this
purpose he purchased a large quantity of brass rods, because he had
read that Stanley did so, and added to these brass curtain-chains, and
about two hundred leaden medals similar to those sold by street
peddlers during the Constitutional Centennial Celebration in New York
City.

He also collected even more beautiful but less expensive decorations
for Christmas-trees, at a wholesale house on Park Row. These he hoped
to exchange for furs or feathers or weapons, or for whatever other
curious and valuable trophies the Island of Opeki boasted. He already
pictured his rooms on his return hung fantastically with crossed
spears and boomerangs, feather head-dresses, and ugly idols.

His friends told him that he was doing a very foolish thing, and
argued that once out of the newspaper world, it would be hard to
regain his place in it. But he thought the novel that he would write
while lost to the world at Opeki would serve to make up for his
temporary absence from it, and he expressly and impressively
stipulated that the editor should wire him if there was a war.

Captain Travis and his secretary crossed the continent without
adventure, and took passage from San Francisco on the first steamer
that touched at Octavia. They reached that island in three days, and
learned with some concern that there was no regular communication with
Opeki, and that it would be necessary to charter a sailboat for the
trip. Two fishermen agreed to take them and their trunks, and to get
them to their destination within sixteen hours if the wind held good.
It was a most unpleasant sail. The rain fell with calm, relentless
persistence from what was apparently a clear sky; the wind tossed the
waves as high as the mast and made Captain Travis ill; and as there
was no deck to the big boat, they were forced to huddle up under
pieces of canvas, and talked but little. Captain Travis complained of
frequent twinges of rheumatism, and gazed forlornly over the gunwale
at the empty waste of water.

"If I've got to serve a term of imprisonment on a rock in the middle
of the ocean for four years," he said, "I might just as well have done
something first to deserve it. This is a pretty way to treat a man who
bled for his country. This is gratitude, this is." Albert pulled
heavily on his pipe, and wiped the rain and spray from his face and
smiled.

"Oh, it won't be so bad when we get there," he said; "they say these
Southern people are always hospitable, and the whites will be glad to
see any one from the States."

"There will be a round of diplomatic dinners," said the consul, with
an attempt at cheerfulness. "I have brought two uniforms to wear at
them."

It was seven o'clock in the evening when the rain ceased, and one of
the black, half-naked fishermen nodded and pointed at a little low
line on the horizon.

"Opeki," he said. The line grew in length until it proved to be an
island with great mountains rising to the clouds, and, as they drew
nearer and nearer, showed a level coast running back to the foot of
the mountains and covered with a forest of palms. They next made out a
village of thatched huts around a grassy square, and at some distance
from the village a wooden structure with a tin roof.

"I wonder where the town is?" asked the consul, with a nervous glance
at the fishermen. One of them told him that what he saw was the town.

"That?" gasped the consul. "Is that where all the people on the island
live?"

The fisherman nodded; but the other added that there were other
natives further back in the mountains, but that they were bad men who
fought and ate each other. The consul and his attaché of legation
gazed at the mountains with unspoken misgivings. They were quite near
now, and could see an immense crowd of men and women, all of them
black, and clad but in the simplest garments, waiting to receive them.
They seemed greatly excited and ran in and out of the huts, and up and
down the beach, as wildly as so many black ants. But in the front of
the group they distinguished three men who they could see were white,
though they were clothed, like the others, simply in a shirt and a
short pair of trousers. Two of these three suddenly sprang away on a
run and disappeared among the palm-trees; but the third one, when he
recognized the American flag in the halyards, threw his straw hat in
the water and began turning handsprings over the sand.

"That young gentleman, at least," said Albert, gravely, "seems pleased
to see us."

A dozen of the natives sprang into the water and came wading and
swimming toward them, grinning and shouting and swinging their arms.

"I don't think it's quite safe, do you?" said the consul, looking out
wildly to the open sea. "You see, they don't know who I am."

A great black giant threw one arm over the gunwale and shouted
something that sounded as if it were spelt Owah, Owah, as the boat
carried him through the surf.

"How do you do?" said Gordon, doubtfully. The boat shook the giant off
under the wave and beached itself so suddenly that the American consul
was thrown forward to his knees. Gordon did not wait to pick him up,
but jumped out and shook hands with the young man who had turned
handsprings, while the natives gathered about them in a circle and
chatted and laughed in delighted excitement.

"I'm awfully glad to see you," said the young man, eagerly. "My name's
Stedman. I'm from New Haven, Connecticut. Where are you from?"

"New York," said Albert. "This," he added, pointing solemnly to
Captain Travis, who was still on his knees in the boat, "is the
American consul to Opeki." The American consul to Opeki gave a wild
look at Mr. Stedman of New Haven and at the natives.

"See here, young man," he gasped, "is this all there is of Opeki?"

"The American consul?" said young Stedman, with a gasp of amazement,
and looking from Albert to Captain Travis. "Why, I never supposed they
would send another here; the last one died about fifteen years ago,
and there hasn't been one since. I've been living in the consul's
office with the Bradleys, but I'll move out, of course. I'm sure I'm
awfully glad to see you. It'll make it so much more pleasant for me."

"Yes," said Captain Travis, bitterly, as he lifted his rheumatic leg
over the boat; "that's why we came."

Mr. Stedman did not notice this. He was too much pleased to be
anything but hospitable. "You are soaking wet, aren't you?" he said;
"and hungry, I guess. You come right over to the consul's office and
get on some other things."

He turned to the natives and gave some rapid orders in their language,
and some of them jumped into the boat at this, and began to lift out
the trunks, and others ran off toward a large, stout old native, who
was sitting gravely on a log, smoking, with the rain beating unnoticed
on his gray hair.

"They've gone to tell the King," said Stedman; "but you'd better get
something to eat first, and then I'll be happy to present you
properly."

"The King," said Captain Travis, with some awe; "is there a king?"

"I never saw a king," Gordon remarked, "and I'm sure I never expected
to see one sitting on a log in the rain."

"He's a very good king," said Stedman, confidentially; "and though you
mightn't think it to look at him, he's a terrible stickler for
etiquette and form. After supper he'll give you an audience; and if
you have any tobacco, you had better give him some as a present, and
you'd better say it's from the President: he doesn't like to take
presents from common people, he's so proud. The only reason he borrows
mine is because he thinks I'm the President's son."

"What makes him think that?" demanded the consul, with some shortness.
Young Mr. Stedman looked nervously at the consul and at Albert, and
said that he guessed some one must have told him.

The consul's office was divided into four rooms with an open court in
the middle, filled with palms, and watered somewhat unnecessarily by a
fountain.

"I made that," said Stedman, in a modest, offhand way. "I made it out
of hollow bamboo reeds connected with a spring. And now I'm making one
for the King. He saw this and had a lot of bamboo sticks put up all
over the town, without any underground connections, and couldn't make
out why the water wouldn't spurt out of them. And because mine spurts,
he thinks I'm a magician."

"I suppose," grumbled the consul, "some one told him that too."

[Illustration: "I never saw a king," Gordon remarked.]

"I suppose so," said Mr. Stedman, uneasily.

There was a veranda around the consul's office, and inside the walls
were hung with skins, and pictures from illustrated papers, and there
was a good deal of bamboo furniture, and four broad, cool-looking
beds. The place was as clean as a kitchen. "I made the furniture,"
said Stedman, "and the Bradleys keep the place in order."

"Who are the Bradleys?" asked Albert.

"The Bradleys are those two men you saw with me," said Stedman; "they
deserted from a British man-of-war that stopped here for coal, and
they act as my servants. One is Bradley, Sr., and the other Bradley,
Jr."

"Then vessels do stop here occasionally?" the consul said, with a
pleased smile.

"Well, not often," said Stedman. "Not so very often; about once a
year. The Nelson thought this was Octavia, and put off again as soon
as she found out her mistake, but the Bradleys took to the bush, and
the boat's crew couldn't find them. When they saw your flag, they
thought you might mean to send them back, so they ran off to hide
again; they'll be back, though, when they get hungry."

The supper young Stedman spread for his guests, as he still treated
them, was very refreshing and very good. There was cold fish and
pigeon pie, and a hot omelet filled with mushrooms and olives and
tomatoes and onions all sliced up together, and strong black coffee.
After supper, Stedman went off to see the King, and came back in a
little while to say that his Majesty would give them an audience the
next day after breakfast. "It is too dark now," Stedman explained;
"and it's raining so that they can't make the street-lamps burn. Did
you happen to notice our lamps? I invented them; but they don't work
very well yet. I've got the right idea, though, and I'll soon have the
town illuminated all over, whether it rains or not."

The consul had been very silent and indifferent, during supper, to all
around him. Now he looked up with some show of interest.

"How much longer is it going to rain, do you think?" he asked.

"Oh, I don't know," said Stedman, critically. "Not more than two
months, I should say." The consul rubbed his rheumatic leg and sighed,
but said nothing.

The Bradleys returned about ten o'clock, and came in very sheepishly.
The consul had gone off to pay the boatmen who had brought them, and
Albert in his absence assured the sailors that there was not the least
danger of their being sent away. Then he turned into one of the beds,
and Stedman took one in another room, leaving the room he had occupied
heretofore for the consul. As he was saying good-night, Albert
suggested that he had not yet told them how he came to be on a
deserted island; but Stedman only laughed and said that that was a
long story, and that he would tell him all about it in the morning. So
Albert went off to bed without waiting for the consul to return, and
fell asleep, wondering at the strangeness of his new life, and
assuring himself that if the rain only kept up, he would have his
novel finished in a month.

The sun was shining brightly when he awoke, and the palm-trees outside
were nodding gracefully in a warm breeze. From the court came the odor
of strange flowers, and from the window he could see the ocean
brilliantly blue, and with the sun coloring the spray that beat
against the coral reefs on the shore.

"Well, the consul can't complain of this," he said, with a laugh of
satisfaction; and pulling on a bath-robe, he stepped into the next
room to awaken Captain Travis. But the room was quite empty, and the
bed undisturbed. The consul's trunk remained just where it had been
placed near the door, and on it lay a large sheet of foolscap, with
writing on it, and addressed at the top to Albert Gordon. The
handwriting was the consul's. Albert picked it up and read it with
much anxiety. It began abruptly

    The fishermen who brought us to this forsaken spot tell me that
    it rains here six months in the year, and that this is the first
    month. I came here to serve my country, for which I fought and
    bled, but I did not come here to die of rheumatism and pneumonia.
    I can serve my country better by staying alive; and whether it
    rains or not, I don't like it. I have been grossly deceived, and
    I am going back. Indeed, by the time you get this, I will be on
    my return trip, as I intend leaving with the men who brought us
    here as soon as they can get the sail up. My cousin, Senator
    Rainsford, can fix it all right with the President, and can have
    me recalled in proper form after I get back. But of course it
    would not do for me to leave my post with no one to take my
    place, and no one could be more ably fitted to do so than
    yourself; so I feel no compunctions at leaving you behind. I
    hereby, therefore, accordingly appoint you my substitute with
    full power to act, to collect all fees, sign all papers, and
    attend to all matters pertaining to your office as American
    consul, and I trust you will worthily uphold the name of that
    country and government which it has always been my pleasure and
    duty to serve.

    Your sincere friend and superior officer,

    LEONARD T. TRAVIS.

    P.S. I did not care to disturb you by moving my trunk, so I left
    it, and you can make what use you please of whatever it contains,
    as I shall not want tropical garments where I am going. What you
    will need most, I think, is a waterproof and umbrella.

    P.S. Look out for that young man Stedman. He is too inventive. I
    hope you will like your high office; but as for myself, I am
    satisfied with little old New York. Opeki is just a bit too far
    from civilization to suit me.

Albert held the letter before him and read it over again before he
moved. Then he jumped to the window. The boat was gone, and there was
not a sign of it on the horizon.

"The miserable old hypocrite!" he cried, half angry and half laughing.
"If he thinks I am going to stay here alone he is very greatly
mistaken. And yet, why not?" he asked. He stopped soliloquizing and
looked around him, thinking rapidly. As he stood there, Stedman came
in from the other room, fresh and smiling from his morning's bath.

"Good-morning," he said, "where's the consul?"

"The consul," said Albert, gravely, "is before you. In me you see the
American consul to Opeki."

"Captain Travis," Albert explained, "has returned to the United
States. I suppose he feels that he can best serve his country by
remaining on the spot. In case of another war, now, for instance, he
would be there to save it again."

"And what are you going to do?" asked Stedman, anxiously. "You will
not run away, too, will you?"

Albert said that he intended to remain where he was and perform his
consular duties, to appoint him his secretary, and to elevate the
United States in the opinion of the Opekians above all other nations.

"They may not think much of the United States in England," he said;
"but we are going to teach the people of Opeki that America is first
on the map and that there is no second."

"I'm sure it's very good of you to make me your secretary," said
Stedman, with some pride. "I hope I won't make any mistakes. What are
the duties of a consul's secretary?" "That," said Albert, "I do not
know. But you are rather good at inventing, so you can invent a few.
That should be your first duty and you should attend to it at once. I
will have trouble enough finding work for myself. Your salary is five
hundred dollars a year; and now," he continued briskly, "we want to
prepare for this reception. We can tell the King that Travis was just
a guard of honor for the trip, and that I have sent him back to tell
the President of my safe arrival. That will keep the President from
getting anxious. There; is nothing," continued Albert, "like a uniform
to impress people who live in the tropics, and Travis, it so happens,
has two in his trunk. He intended to wear them on State occasions, and
as I inherit the trunk and all that is in it, I intend to wear one of
the uniforms, and you can have the other. But I have first choice,
because I am consul."

Captain Travis's consular outfit consisted of one full dress and one
undress United States uniform. Albert put on the dress-coat over a
pair of white flannel trousers, and looked remarkably brave and
handsome. Stedman, who was only eighteen and quite thin, did not
appear so well, until Albert suggested his padding out his chest and
shoulders with towels. This made him rather warm, but helped his
general appearance.

"The two Bradleys must dress up, too," said Albert. "I think they
ought to act as a guard of honor, don't you? The only things I have
are blazers and jerseys; but it doesn't much matter what they wear, as
long as they dress alike."

He accordingly called in the two Bradleys, and gave them each a pair
of the captain's rejected white duck trousers, and a blue jersey
apiece, with a big white Y on it.

"The students of Yale gave me that," he said to the younger Bradley,
"in which to play football, and a great man gave me the other. His
name is Walter Camp; and if you rip or soil that jersey, I'll send you
back to England in irons; so be careful."

Stedman gazed at his companions in their different costumes,
doubtfully. "It reminds me," he said, "of private theatricals. Of the
time our church choir played 'Pinafore.'"

"Yes," assented Albert; "but I don't think we look quite gay enough. I
tell you what we need--medals. You never saw a diplomat without a lot
of decorations and medals."

"Well, I can fix that," Stedman said. "I've got a trunkful. I used to
be the fastest bicycle-rider in Connecticut, and I've got all my
prizes with me."

Albert said doubtfully that that wasn't exactly the sort of medal he
meant.

"Perhaps not," returned Stedman, as he began fumbling in his trunk;
"but the King won't know the difference. He couldn't tell a cross of
the Legion of Honor from a medal for the tug of war."

So the bicycle medals, of which Stedman seemed to have an innumerable
quantity, were strung in profusion over Albert's uniform, and in a
lesser quantity over Stedman's; while a handful of leaden ones, those
sold on the streets for the Constitutional Centennial, with which
Albert had provided himself, were wrapped up in a red silk
handkerchief for presentation to the King; with them Albert placed a
number of brass rods and brass chains, much to Stedman's delighted
approval.

"That is a very good idea," he said. "Democratic simplicity is the
right thing at home, of course; but when you go abroad and mix with
crowned heads, you want to show them that you know what's what."

"Well," said Albert, gravely, "I sincerely hope this crowned head
don't know what's what. If he reads 'Connecticut Agricultural State
Fair. One mile bicycle race. First Prize,' on this badge, when we are
trying to make him believe it's a war medal, it may hurt his
feelings."

Bradley, Jr., went ahead to announce the approach of the American
embassy, which he did with so much manner that the King deferred the
audience a half-hour, in order that he might better prepare to receive
his visitors. When the audience did take place, it attracted the
entire population to the green spot in front of the King's palace, and
their delight and excitement over the appearance of the visitors was
sincere and hearty. The King was too polite to appear much surprised,
but he showed his delight over his presents as simply and openly as a
child. Thrice he insisted on embracing Albert, and kissing him three
times on the fore-head, which, Stedman assured him in a side-whisper,
was a great honor; an honor which was not extended to the secretary,
although he was given a necklace of animals' claws instead, with which
he was better satisfied.

After this reception, the embassy marched back to the consul's office,
surrounded by an immense number of natives, some of whom ran ahead and
looked back at them, and crowded so close that the two Bradleys had to
poke at those nearest with their guns. The crowd remained outside the
office even after the procession of four had disappeared, and cheered.
This suggested to Gordon that this would be a good time to make a
speech, which he accordingly did, Stedman translating it, sentence by
sentence. At the conclusion of this effort, Albert distributed a
number of brass rings among the married men present, which they placed
on whichever finger fitted best, and departed delighted.

Albert had wished to give the rings to the married women, but Stedman
pointed out to him that it would be much cheaper to give them to the
married men; for while one woman could only have one husband, one man
could have at least six wives.

"And now, Stedman," said Albert, after the mob had gone, "tell me what
you are doing on this island."

"It's a very simple story," Stedman said. "I am the representative, or
agent, or operator, for the Yokohama Cable Company. The Yokohama Cable
Company is a company organized in San Francisco, for the purpose of
laying a cable to Yokohama. It is a stock company; and though it
started out very well, the stock has fallen very low. Between
ourselves, it is not worth over three or four cents. When the officers
of the company found out that no one would buy their stock, and that
no one believed in them or their scheme, they laid a cable to Octavia,
and extended it on to this island. Then they said they had run out of
ready money, and would wait until they got more before laying their
cable any farther. I do not think they ever will lay it any farther,
but that is none of my business. My business is to answer cable
messages from San Francisco, so that the people who visit the home
office can see that at least a part of the cable is working. That
sometimes impresses them, and they buy stock. There is another chap
over in Octavia, who relays all my messages and all my replies to
those messages that come to me through him from San Francisco. They
never send a message unless they have brought some one to the office
whom they want to impress, and who, they think, has money to invest in
the Y.C.C. stock, and so we never go near the wire, except at three
o'clock every afternoon. And then generally only to say 'How are you?'
or 'It's raining,' or something like that. I've been saying 'It's
raining,' now for the last three months, but to-day I will say that
the new consul has arrived. That will be a pleasant surprise for the
chap in Octavia, for he must be tired hearing about the weather. He
generally answers, 'Here too,' or 'So you said,' or something like
that. I don't know what he says to the home office. He's brighter than
I am, and that's why they put him between the two ends. He can see
that the messages are transmitted more fully and more correctly, in a
way to please possible subscribers."

"Sort of copy editor," suggested Albert.

"Yes, something of that sort, I fancy," said Stedman.

They walked down to the little shed on the shore, where the Y.C.C.
office was placed, at three that day, and Albert watched Stedman send
off his message with much interest. The "chap at Octavia," on being
informed that the American consul had arrived at Opeki, inquired,
somewhat disrespectfully, "Is it a life sentence?"

"What does he mean by that?" asked Albert.

"I suppose," said his secretary, doubtfully, "that he thinks it a sort
of a punishment to be sent to Opeki. I hope you won't grow to think
so."

"Opeki is all very well," said Gordon, "or it will be when we get
things going our way."

As they walked back to the office, Albert noticed a brass cannon,
perched on a rock at the entrance to the harbor. This had been put
there by the last consul, but it had not been fired for many years.
Albert immediately ordered the two Bradleys to get it in order, and to
rig up a flag-pole beside it, for one of his American flags, which
they were to salute every night when they lowered it at sundown.

"And when we are not using it," he said, "the King can borrow it to
celebrate with, if he doesn't impose on us too often. The royal salute
ought to be twenty-one guns, I think; but that would use up too much
powder, so he will have to content himself with two."

"Did you notice," asked Stedman, that night, as they sat on the
veranda of the consul's house, in the moonlight, "how the people bowed
to us as we passed?"

"Yes," Albert said he had noticed it. "Why?"

"Well, they never saluted me," replied Stedman. "That sign of respect
is due to the show we made at the reception."

"It is due to us, in any event," said the consul, severely. "I tell
you, my secretary, that we, as the representatives of the United
States Government, must be properly honored on this island. We must
become a power. And we must do so without getting into trouble with
the King. We must make them honor him, too, and then as we push him
up, we will push ourselves up at the same time."

"They don't think much of consuls in Opeki," said Stedman, doubtfully.
"You see the last one was a pretty poor sort. He brought the office
into disrepute, and it wasn't really until I came and told them what a
fine country the United States was, that they had any opinion of it at
all. Now we must change all that."

"That is just what we will do," said Albert. "We will transform Opeki
into a powerful and beautiful city. We will make these people work.
They must put up a palace for the King, and lay out streets, and build
wharves, and drain the town properly, and light it. I haven't seen
this patent lighting apparatus of yours, but you had better get to
work at it at once, and I'll persuade the King to appoint you
commissioner of highways and gas, with authority to make his people
toil. And I," he cried, in free enthusiasm, "will organize a navy and
a standing army. Only," he added, with a relapse of interest, "there
isn't anybody to fight."

"There isn't?" said Stedman, grimly, with a scornful smile. "You just
go hunt up old Messenwah and the Hillmen with your standing army once
and you'll get all the fighting you want."

"The Hillmen?" said Albert.

"The Hillmen are the natives that live up there in the hills," Stedman
said, nodding his head toward the three high mountains at the other
end of the island, that stood out blackly against the purple, moonlit
sky. "There are nearly as many of them as there are Opekians, and they
hunt and fight for a living and for the pleasure of it. They have an
old rascal named Messenwah for a king, and they come down here about
once every three months, and tear things up."

Albert sprang to his feet.

"Oh, they do, do they?" he said, staring up at the mountain-tops.
"They come down here and tear up things, do they? Well, I think we'll
stop that, I think we'll stop that! I, don't care how many there are.
I'll get the two Bradleys to tell me all they know about drilling,
to-morrow morning, and we'll drill these Opekians, and have sham
battles, and attacks, and repulses, until I make a lot of wild,
howling Zulus out of them. And when the Hillmen come down to pay their
quarterly visit, they'll go back again on a run. At least some of them
will," he added, ferociously. "Some of them will stay right here."

"Dear me, dear me!" said Stedman, with awe; "you are a born fighter,
aren't you?"

"Well, you wait and see," said Gordon; "maybe I am. I haven't studied
tactics of war and the history of battles, so that I might be a great
war correspondent, without learning something. And there is only one
king on this island, and that is old Ollypybus himself. And I'll go
over and have a talk with him about it to-morrow."

Young Stedman walked up and down the length of the veranda, in and out
of the moonlight, with his hands in his pockets, and his head on his
chest. "You have me all stirred up, Gordon," he said; "you seem so
confident and bold, and you're not so much older than I am, either."

"My training has been different; that's all," said the reporter.

"Yes," Stedman said, bitterly. "I have been sitting in an office ever
since I left school, sending news over a wire or a cable, and you have
been out in the world, gathering it."

"And now," said Gordon, smiling and putting his arm around the other
boy's shoulders, "we are going to make news ourselves."

"There is one thing I want to say to you before you turn in," said
Stedman "Before you suggest all these improvements on Ollypybus, you
must remember that he has ruled absolutely here for twenty years, and
that he does not think much of consuls. He has only seen your
predecessor and yourself. He likes you because you appeared with such
dignity, and because of the presents; but if I were you, I wouldn't
suggest these improvements as coming from yourself."

"I don't understand," said Gordon; "who could they come from?"

"Well," said Stedman, "if you will allow me to advise--and you see I
know these people pretty well--I would have all these suggestions come
from the President direct."

"The President!" exclaimed Gordon; "but how? What does the President
know or care about Opeki? and it would take so long--oh, I see, the
cable. Is that what you have been doing?" he asked.

"Well, only once," said Stedman, guiltily; "that was when he wanted to
turn me out of the consul's office, and I had a cable that very
afternoon, from the President, ordering me to stay where I was.
Ollypybus doesn't understand the cable, of course, but he knows that
it sends messages; and sometimes I pretend to send messages for him to
the President; but he began asking me to tell the President to come
and pay him a visit, and I had to stop it."

"I'm glad you told me," said Gordon. "The President shall begin to
cable to-morrow. He will need an extra appropriation from Congress to
pay for his private cablegrams alone."

"And there's another thing," said Stedman. "In all your plans, you've
arranged for the people's improvement, but not for their amusement;
and they are a peaceful, jolly, simple sort of people, and we must
please them."

"Have they no games or amusements of their own?" asked Gordon.

"Well, not what we would call games."

"Very well, then, I'll teach them base-ball. Foot-ball would be too
warm. But that plaza in front of the King's bungalow, where his palace
is going to be, is just the place for a diamond. On the whole,
though," added the consul, after a moment's reflection, "you'd better
attend to that yourself. I don't think it becomes my dignity as
American consul to take off my coat and give lessons to young Opekians
in sliding to bases; do you? No; I think you'd better do that. The
Bradleys will help you, and you had better begin to-morrow. You have
been wanting to know what a secretary of legation's duties are, and
now you know. It's to organize base-ball nines. And after you get
yours ready," he added, as he turned into his room for the night,
"I'll train one that will sweep yours off the face of the island. For
_this_ American consul can pitch three curves."

The best laid plans of men go far astray, sometimes, and the great and
beautiful city that was to rise on the coast of Opeki was not built in
a day. Nor was it ever built. For before the Bradleys could mark out
the foul-lines for the base-ball field on the plaza, or teach their
standing army the goose step, or lay bamboo pipes for the water-mains,
or clear away the cactus for the extension of the King's palace, the
Hillmen paid Opeki their quarterly visit.

Albert had called on the King the next morning, with Stedman as his
interpreter, as he had said he would, and, with maps and sketches, had
shown his Majesty what he proposed to do toward improving Opeki and
ennobling her king, and when the King saw Albert's free-hand sketches
of wharves with tall ships lying at anchor, and rows of Opekian
warriors with the Bradleys at their head, and the design for his new
palace, and a royal sedan chair, he believed that these things were
already his, and not still only on paper, and he appointed Albert his
Minister of War, Stedman his Minister of Home Affairs, and selected
two of his wisest and oldest subjects to serve them as joint advisers.
His enthusiasm was even greater than Gordon's, because he did not
appreciate the difficulties. He thought Gordon a semi-god, a worker of
miracles, and urged the putting up of a monument to him at once in the
public plaza, to which Albert objected, on the ground that it would be
too suggestive of an idol; and to which Stedman also objected, but for
the less unselfish reason that it would "be in the way of the
pitcher's box."

They were feverishly discussing all these great changes, and Stedman
was translating as rapidly as he could translate, the speeches of four
different men--for the two counsellors had been called in--all of whom
wanted to speak at once when there came from outside a great shout,
and the screams of women, and the clashing of iron, and the pattering
footsteps of men running.

As they looked at one another in startled surprise, a native ran into
the room, followed by Bradley, Jr., and threw himself down before the
King. While he talked, beating his hands and bowing before Ollypybus,
Bradley, Jr., pulled his forelock to the consul, and told how this man
lived on the far outskirts of the village; how he had been captured
while out hunting, by a number of the Hillmen; and how he had escaped
to tell the people that their old enemies were on the war-path again,
and rapidly approaching the village.

Outside, the women were gathering in the plaza, with the children
about them, and the men were running from hut to hut, warning their
fellows, and arming themselves with spears and swords, and the native
bows and arrows.

"They might have waited until we had that army trained," said Gordon,
in a tone of the keenest displeasure. "Tell me, quick, what do they
generally do when they come?"

"Steal all the cattle and goats, and a woman or two, and set fire to
the huts in the outskirts," replied Stedman.

"Well, we must stop them," said Gordon, jumping up. "We must take out
a flag of truce and treat with them. They must be kept off until I
have my army in working order. It is most inconvenient. If they had
only waited two months, now, or six weeks even, we could have done
something; but now we must make peace. Tell the King we are going out
to fix things with them, and tell him to keep off his warriors until
he learns whether we succeed or fail."

"But, Gordon!" gasped Stedman. "Albert! You don't understand. Why,
man, this isn't a street-fight or a cane-rush. They'll stick you full
of spears, dance on your body, and eat you, maybe. A flag of
truce!--you're talking nonsense. What do they know of a flag of
truce?"

"You're talking nonsense, too," said Albert, "and you're talking to
your superior officer. If you are not with me in this, go back to your
cable, and tell the man in Octavia that it's a warm day, and that the
sun is shining; but if you've any spirit in you--and I think you
have--run to the office and get my Winchester rifles, and the two
shot-guns, and my revolvers, and my uniform, and a lot of brass things
for presents, and run all the way there and back. And make time. Play
you're riding a bicycle at the Agricultural Fair."

Stedman did not hear this last, for he was already off and away,
pushing through the crowd, and calling on Bradley, Sr., to follow him.
Bradley, Jr., looked at Gordon with eyes that snapped, like a dog that
is waiting for his master to throw a stone.

"I can fire a Winchester, sir," he said. "Old Tom can't. He's no good
at long range 'cept with a big gun, sir. Don't give him the
Winchester. Give it to me, please, sir."

Albert met Stedman in the plaza, and pulled off his blazer, and put on
Captain Travis's--now his--uniform coat, and his white pith helmet.

"Now, Jack," he said, "get up there and tell these people that we are
going out to make peace with these Hillmen, or bring them back
prisoners of war. Tell them we are the preservers of their homes and
wives and children; and you, Bradley, take these presents, and young
Bradley, keep close to me, and carry this rifle."

Stedman's speech was hot and wild enough to suit a critical and
feverish audience before a barricade in Paris. And when he was
through, Gordon and Bradley punctuated his oration by firing off the
two Winchester rifles in the air, at which the people jumped and fell
on their knees, and prayed to their several gods. The fighting men of
the village followed the four white men to the outskirts, and took up
their stand there as Stedman told them to do, and the four walked on
over the roughly hewn road, to meet the enemy.

Gordon walked with Bradley, Jr., in advance. Stedman and old Tom
Bradley followed close behind with the two shot-guns, and the presents
in a basket.

"Are these Hillmen used to guns?" asked Gordon. Stedman said no, they
were not. "This shot-gun of mine is the only one on the island," he
explained, "and we never came near enough them before to do anything
with it. It only carries a hundred yards. The Opekians never make any
show of resistance. They are quite content if the Hillmen satisfy
themselves with the outlying huts, as long as they leave them and the
town alone; so they seldom come to close quarters."

The four men walked on for half an hour or so in silence, peering
eagerly on every side; but it was not until they had left the woods
and marched out into the level stretch of grassy country that they
came upon the enemy. The Hillmen were about forty in number, and were
as savage and ugly-looking giants as any in a picture-book. They had
captured a dozen cows and goats, and were driving them on before them,
as they advanced farther upon the village. When they saw the four men,
they gave a mixed chorus of cries and yells, and some of them stopped,
and others ran forward, shaking their spears, and shooting their broad
arrows into the ground before them. A tall, gray-bearded, muscular old
man, with a skirt of feathers about him, and necklaces of bones and
animals' claws around his bare chest, ran in front of them, and seemed
to be trying to make them approach more slowly.

"Is that Messenwah?" asked Gordon.

"Yes," said Stedman; "he is trying to keep them back. I don't believe
he ever saw a white man before."

"Stedman," said Albert, speaking quickly, "give your gun to Bradley,
and go forward with your arms in the air, and waving your
handkerchief, and tell them in their language that the King is coming.
If they go at you, Bradley and I will kill a goat or two, to show them
what we can do with the rifles; and if that don't stop them, we will
shoot at their legs; and if that don't stop them--I guess you'd better
come back, and we'll all run."

Stedman looked at Albert, and Albert looked at Stedman, and neither of
them winced or flinched.

"Is this another of my secretary's duties?" asked the younger boy.

"Yes," said the consul; "but a resignation is always in order. You
needn't go if you don't like it. You see, you know the language and I
don't, but I know how to shoot, and you don't."

"That's perfectly satisfactory," said Stedman, handing his gun to old
Bradley. "I only wanted to know why I was to be sacrificed instead of
one of the Bradleys. It's because I know the language. Bradley, Sr.,
you see the evil results of a higher education. Wish me luck, please,"
he said, "and for goodness' sake," he added impressively, "don't waste
much time shooting goats."

The Hillmen had stopped about two hundred yards off, and were drawn up
in two lines, shouting, and dancing, and hurling taunting remarks at
their few adversaries. The stolen cattle were bunched together back of
the King. As Stedman walked steadily forward with his handkerchief
fluttering, and howling out something in their own tongue, they
stopped and listened. As he advanced, his three companions followed
him at about fifty yards in the rear. He was one hundred and fifty
yards from the Hillmen before they made out what he said, and then one
of the young braves, resenting it as an insult to his chief, shot an
arrow at him. Stedman dodged the arrow and stood his ground without
even taking a step backward, only turning slightly to put his hands to
his mouth, and to shout something which sounded to his companions
like, "About time to begin on the goats." But the instant the young
man had fired, King Messenwah swung his club and knocked him down, and
none of the others moved. Then Messenwah advanced before his men to
meet Stedman, and on Stedman's opening and shutting his hands to show
that he was unarmed, the King threw down his club and spears, and came
forward as empty-handed as himself.

"Ah," gasped Bradley, Jr., with his finger trembling on his lever,
"let me take a shot at him now." Gordon struck the man's gun up, and
walked forward in all the glory of his gold and blue uniform; for both
he and Stedman saw now that Messenwah was more impressed by their
appearance, and in the fact that they were white men, than with any
threats of immediate war. So when he saluted Gordon haughtily, that
young man gave him a haughty nod in return, and bade Stedman tell the
King that he would permit him to sit down. The King did not quite
appear to like this, but he sat down, nevertheless, and nodded his
head gravely.

"Now tell him," said Gordon, "that I come from the ruler of the
greatest nation on earth, and that I recognize Ollypybus as the only
King of this island, and that I come to this little three-penny King
with either peace and presents, or bullets and war."

"Have I got to tell him he's a little threepenny King?" said Stedman,
plaintively.

"No; you needn't give a literal translation; it can be as free as you
please."

"Thanks," said the secretary, humbly.

"And tell him," continued Gordon, "that we will give presents to him
and his warriors if he keeps away from Ollypybus, and agrees to keep
away always. If he won't do that, try to get him to agree to stay away
for three months at least, and by that time we can get word to San
Francisco, and have a dozen muskets over here in two months; and when
our time of probation is up, and he and his merry men come dancing
down the hillside, we will blow them up as high as his mountains. But
you needn't tell him that, either. And if he is proud and haughty, and
would rather fight, ask him to restrain himself until we show what we
can do with our weapons at two hundred yards."

Stedman seated himself in the long grass in front of the King, and
with many revolving gestures of his arms, and much pointing to Gordon,
and profound nods and bows, retold what Gordon had dictated. When he
had finished, the King looked at the bundle of presents, and at the
guns, of which Stedman had given a very wonderful account, but
answered nothing.

"I guess," said Stedman, with a sigh, "that we will have to give him a
little practical demonstration to help matters. I am sorry, but I
think one of those goats has got to die. It's like vivisection. The
lower order of animals have to suffer for the good of the higher."

"Oh," said Bradley, Jr., cheerfully, "I'd just as soon shoot one of
those niggers as one of the goats."

So Stedman bade the King tell his men to drive a goat toward them, and
the King did so, and one of the men struck one of the goats with his
spear, and it ran clumsily across the plain.

"Take your time, Bradley," said Gordon.

"Aim low, and if you hit it, you can have it for supper."

"And if you miss it," said Stedman, gloomily, "Messenwah may have us
for supper."

The Hillmen had seated themselves a hundred yards off, while the
leaders were debating, and they now rose curiously and watched
Bradley, as he sank upon one knee, and covered the goat with his
rifle. When it was about one hundred and fifty yards off he fired, and
the goat fell over dead.

And then all the Hillmen, with the King himself, broke away on a run,
toward the dead animal, with much shouting. The King came back alone,
leaving his people standing about and examining the goat. He was much
excited, and talked and gesticulated violently.

"He says--" said Stedman; "he says--"

"What? yes, goon."

"He says--goodness me!--what do you think he says?"

"Well, what does he say?" cried Gordon, in great excitement. "Don't
keep it all to yourself."

"He says," said Stedman, "that we are deceived; that he is no longer
King of the Island of Opeki; that he is in great fear of us, and that
he has got himself into no end of trouble. He says he sees that we are
indeed mighty men, that to us he is as helpless as the wild boar
before the javelin of the hunter."

"Well, he's right," said Gordon. "Go on."

"But that which we ask is no longer his to give. He has sold his
kingship and his right to this island to another king, who came to him
two days ago in a great canoe, and who made noises as we do--with
guns, I suppose he means--and to whom he sold the island for a watch
that he has in a bag around his neck. And that he signed a paper, and
made marks on a piece of bark, to show that he gave up the island
freely and forever."

"What does he mean?" said Gordon. "How can he give up the island?
Ollypybus is the king of half of it, anyway, and he knows it."

"That's just it," said Stedman. "That's what frightens him. He said he
didn't care about Ollypybus, and didn't count him in when he made the
treaty, because he is such a peaceful chap that he knew he could
thrash him into doing anything he wanted him to do. And now that you
have turned up and taken Ollypybus's part, he wishes he hadn't sold
the island, and wishes to know if you are angry."

"Angry? of course I'm angry," said Gordon, glaring as grimly at the
frightened monarch as he thought was safe. "Who wouldn't be angry? Who
do you think these people were who made a fool of him, Stedman? Ask
him to let us see this watch."

Stedman did so, and the King fumbled among his necklaces until he had
brought out a leather bag tied round his neck with a cord, and
containing a plain stem-winding silver watch marked on the inside
"Munich."

"That doesn't tell anything," said Gordon. "But it's plain enough.
Some foreign ship of war has settled on this place as a
coaling-station, or has annexed it for colonization, and they've sent
a boat ashore, and they've made a treaty with this old chap, and
forced him to sell his birthright for a mess of porridge. Now, that's
just like those monarchical pirates, imposing upon a poor old black."

Old Bradley looked at him impudently.

"Not at all," said Gordon; "it's quite different with us; we don't
want to rob him or Ollypybus, or to annex their land. All we want to
do is to improve it, and have the fun of running it for them and
meddling in their affairs of state. Well, Stedman," he said, "what
shall we do?"

Stedman said that the best and only thing to do was to threaten to
take the watch away from Messenwah, but to give him a revolver
instead, which would make a friend of him for life, and to keep him
supplied with cartridges only as long as he behaved himself, and then
to make him understand that, as Ollypybus had not given his consent to
the loss of the island, Messenwah's agreement, or treaty, or whatever
it was, did not stand, and that he had better come down the next day,
early in the morning, and join in a general consultation. This was
done, and Messenwah agreed willingly to their proposition, and was
given his revolver and shown how to shoot it, while the other presents
were distributed among the other men, who were as happy over them as
girls with a full dance-card.

"And now, to-morrow," said Stedman, "understand, you are all to come
down unarmed, and sign a treaty with great Ollypybus, in which he will
agree to keep to one-half of the island if you keep to yours, and
there must be no more wars or goat-stealing, or this gentleman on my
right and I will come up and put holes in you just as the gentleman on
the left did with the goat."

Messenwah and his warriors promised to come early, and saluted
reverently as Gordon and his three companions walked up together very
proudly and stiffly.

"Do you know how I feel?" said Gordon.

"How?" asked Stedman.

"I feel as I used to do in the city, when the boys in the street were
throwing snowballs, and I had to go by with a high hat on my head and
pretend not to know they were behind me. I always felt a cold chill
down my spinal column, and I could feel that snowball, whether it came
or not, right in the small of my back. And I can feel one of those men
pulling his bow now, and the arrow sticking out of my right shoulder."

"Oh, no, you can't," said Stedman. "They are too much afraid of those
rifles. But I do feel sorry for any of those warriors whom old man
Messenwah doesn't like, now that he has that revolver. He isn't the
sort to practise on goats."

There was great rejoicing when Stedman and Gordon told their story to
the King, and the people learned that they were not to have their huts
burned and their cattle stolen. The armed Opekians formed a guard
around the ambassadors and escorted them to their homes with cheers
and shouts, and the women ran to their side and tried to kiss Gordon's
hand.

"I'm sorry I can't speak the language, Stedman," said Gordon, "or I
would tell them what a brave man you are. You are too modest to do it
yourself, even if I dictated something for you to say. As for me," he
said, pulling off his uniform, "I am thoroughly disgusted and
disappointed. It never occurred to me until it was all over that this
was my chance to be a war correspondent. It wouldn't have been much of
a war, but then I would have been the only one on the spot, and that
counts for a great deal. Still, my time may come."

"We have a great deal on hand for to-morrow," said Gordon that
evening, "and we had better turn in early."

And so the people were still singing and rejoicing down in the village
when the two conspirators for the peace of the country went to sleep
for the night. It seemed to Gordon as though he had hardly turned his
pillow twice to get the coolest side when some one touched him, and he
saw, by the light of the dozen glowworms in the tumbler by his
bedside, a tall figure at its foot.

"It's me--Bradley," said the figure.

"Yes," said Gordon, with the haste of a man to show that sleep has no
hold on him; "exactly; what is it?"

"There is a ship of war in the harbor," Bradley answered in a whisper.
"I heard her anchor chains rattle when she came to, and that woke me.
I could hear that if I were dead. And then I made sure by her lights;
she's a great boat, sir, and I can know she's a ship of war by the
challenging when they change the watch. I thought you'd like to know,
sir."

Gordon sat up and clutched his knees with his hands. "Yes, of course,"
he said; "you are quite right. Still, I don't see what there is to
do."

He did not wish to show too much youthful interest, but though fresh
from civilization, he had learned how far from it he was, and he was
curious to see this sign of it that had come so much more quickly than
he had anticipated.

"Wake Mr. Stedman, will you?" said he, "and we will go and take a look
at her."

"You can see nothing but the lights," said Bradley, as he left the
room; "it's a black night, sir."

Stedman was not new from the sight of men and ships of war, and came
in half dressed and eager.

"Do you suppose it's the big canoe Messenwah spoke of?" he said.

"I thought of that," said Gordon.

The three men fumbled their way down the road to the plaza, and saw,
as soon as they turned into it, the great outlines and the brilliant
lights of an immense vessel, still more immense in the darkness, and
glowing like a strange monster of the sea, with just a suggestion here
and there, where the lights spread, of her cabins and bridges. As they
stood on the shore, shivering in the cool night-wind, they heard the
bells strike over the water.

"It's two o'clock," said Bradley, counting.

"Well, we can do nothing, and they cannot mean to do much to-night,"
Albert said. "We had better get some more sleep, and, Bradley, you
keep watch and tell us as soon as day breaks."

"Ay, ay, sir," said the sailor.

"If that's the man-of-war that made the treaty with Messenwah, and
Messenwah turns up to-morrow, it looks as if our day would be pretty
well filled up," said Albert, as they felt their way back to the
darkness.

"What do you intend to do?" asked his secretary, with a voice of some
concern.

"I don't know," Albert answered gravely, from the blackness of the
night. "It looks as if we were getting ahead just a little too fast,
doesn't it? Well," he added, as they reached the house, "let's try to
keep in step with the procession, even if we can't be drum-majors and
walk in front of it." And with this cheering tone of confidence in
their ears, the two diplomats went soundly asleep again.

The light of the rising sun filled the room, and the parrots were
chattering outside, when Bradley woke him again.

"They are sending a boat ashore, sir," he said, excitedly, and filled
with the importance of the occasion. "She's a German man-of-war, and
one of the new model. A beautiful boat, sir; for her lines were laid
in Glasgow, and I can tell that, no matter what flag she flies. You
had best be moving to meet them: the village isn't awake yet."

Albert took a cold bath and dressed leisurely; then he made Bradley,
Jr., who had slept through it all, get up breakfast, and the two young
men ate it and drank their coffee comfortably and with an air of
confidence that deceived their servants, if it did not deceive
themselves. But when they came down the path, smoking and swinging
their sticks, and turned into the plaza, their composure left them
like a mask, and they stopped where they stood. The plaza was enclosed
by the natives gathered in whispering groups, and depressed by fear
and wonder. On one side were crowded all the Messenwah warriors,
unarmed, and as silent and disturbed as the Opekians. In the middle of
the plaza some twenty sailors were busy rearing and bracing a tall
flag-staff that they had shaped from a royal palm, and they did this
as unconcernedly and as contemptuously, and with as much indifference
to the strange groups on either side of them, as though they were
working on a barren coast, with nothing but the startled sea-gulls
about them. As Albert and Stedman came upon the scene, the flagpole
was in place, and the halyards hung from it with a little bundle of
bunting at the end of one of them.

"We must find the King at once," said Gordon. He was terribly excited
and angry. "It is easy enough to see what this means. They are going
through the form of annexing this island to the other lands of the
German Government. They are robbing old Ollypybus of what is his. They
have not even given him a silver watch for it."

The King was in his bungalow, facing the plaza. Messenwah was with
him, and an equal number of each of their councils. The common danger
had made them lie down together in peace; but they gave a murmur of
relief as Gordon strode into the room with no ceremony, and greeted
them with a curt wave of the hand.

"Now then, Stedman, be quick," he said. "Explain to them what this
means; tell them that I will protect them; that I am anxious to see
that Ollypybus is not cheated; that we will do all we can for them."

Outside, on the shore, a second boat's crew had landed a group of
officers and a file of marines. They walked in all the dignity of full
dress across the plaza to the flag-pole, and formed in line on the
three sides of it, with the marines facing the sea. The officers, from
the captain with a prayer-book in his hand, to the youngest middy,
were as indifferent to the frightened natives about them as the other
men had been. The natives, awed and afraid, crouched back among their
huts, the marines and the sailors kept their eyes front, and the
German captain opened his prayer-book. The debate in the bungalow was
over.

"If you only had your uniform, sir," said Bradley, Sr., miserably.

"This is a little bit too serious for uniforms and bicycle medals,"
said Gordon. "And these men are used to gold lace."

He pushed his way through the natives, and stepped confidently across
the plaza. The youngest middy saw him coming, and nudged the one next
him with his elbow, and he nudged the next, but none of the officers
moved, because the captain had begun to read.

"One minute, please," called Gordon.

He stepped out into the hollow square formed by the marines, and
raised his helmet to the captain.

"Do you speak English or French?" Gordon said in French; "I do not
understand German."

The captain lowered the book in his hands and gazed reflectively at
Gordon through his spectacles, and made no reply.

"If I understand this," said the younger man, trying to be very
impressive and polite, "you are laying claim to this land, in behalf
of the German Government."

The captain continued to observe him thoughtfully, and then said,
"That is so," and then asked, "Who are you?"

"I represent the King of this island, Ollypybus, whose people you see
around you. I also represent the United States Government, that does
not tolerate a foreign power near her coast, since the days of
President Monroe and before. The treaty you have made with Messenwah
is an absurdity. There is only one king with whom to treat, and he--"

The captain turned to one of his officers and said something, and
then, after giving another curious glance at Gordon, raised his book
and continued reading, in a deep, unruffled monotone. The officer
whispered an order, and two of the marines stepped out of line, and
dropping the muzzles of their muskets, pushed Gordon back out of the
enclosure, and left him there with his lips white, and trembling all
over with indignation. He would have liked to have rushed back into
the lines and broken the captain's spectacles over his sun-tanned nose
and cheeks, but he was quite sure this would only result in his
getting shot, or in his being made ridiculous before the natives,
which was almost as bad; so he stood still for a moment, with his
blood choking him, and then turned and walked back to where the King
and Stedman were whispering together. Just as he turned, one of the
men pulled the halyards, the ball of bunting ran up into the air,
bobbed, twitched, and turned, and broke into the folds of the German
flag. At the same moment the marines raised their muskets and fired a
volley, and the officers saluted and the sailors cheered.

"Do you see that?" cried Stedman, catching Gordon's humor, to
Ollypybus; "that means that you are no longer king, that strange
people are coming here to take your land, and to turn your people into
servants, and to drive you back into the mountains. Are you going to
submit? are you going to let that flag stay where it is?"

Messenwah and Ollypybus gazed at one another with fearful, helpless
eyes. "We are afraid," Ollypybus cried; "we do not know what we should
do."

"What do they say?"

"They say they do not know what to do."

"I know what I'd do," cried Gordon. "If I were not an American consul,
I'd pull down their old flag, and put a hole in their boat and sink
her."

"Well, I'd wait until they get under way before you do either of those
things," said Stedman, soothingly. "That captain seems to be a man of
much determination of character."

"But I will pull it down," cried Gordon. "I will resign, as Travis
did. I am no longer consul. You can be consul if you want to. I
promote you. I am going up a step higher. I mean to be king. Tell
those two," he ran on, excitedly, "that their only course and only
hope is in me; that they must make me ruler of the island until this
thing is over; that I will resign again as soon as it is settled, but
that some one must act at once, and if they are afraid to, I am not,
only they must give me authority to act for them. They must abdicate
in my favor."

"Are you in earnest?" gasped Stedman.

"Don't I talk as if I were?" demanded Gordon, wiping the perspiration
from his forehead.

"And can I be consul?" said Stedman, cheerfully.

"Of course. Tell them what I propose to do."

Stedman turned and spoke rapidly to the two kings. The people gathered
closer to hear.

The two rival monarchs looked at one another in silence for a moment,
and then both began to speak at once, their counsellors interrupting
them and mumbling their guttural comments with anxious earnestness. It
did not take them very long to see that they were all of one mind, and
then they both turned to Gordon and dropped on one knee, and placed
his hands on their foreheads, and Stedman raised his cap.

"They agree," he explained, for it was but pantomime to Albert. "They
salute you as a ruler; they are calling you Tellaman, which means
peacemaker. The Peacemaker, that is your title. I hope you will
deserve it, but I think they might have chosen a more appropriate
one."

"Then I'm really King?" demanded Albert, decidedly, "and I can do what
I please? They give me full power. Quick, do they?"

"Yes, but don't do it," begged Stedman, "and just remember I am
American consul now, and that is a much superior being to a crowned
monarch; you said so yourself."

Albert did not reply to this, but ran across the plaza, followed by
the two Bradleys. The boats had gone.

"Hoist that flag beside the brass cannon," he cried, "and stand ready
to salute it when I drop this one."

Bradley, Jr., grasped the halyards of the flag, which he had forgotten
to raise and salute in the morning in all the excitement of the
arrival of the man-of-war. Bradley, Sr., stood by the brass cannon,
blowing gently on his lighted fuse. The Peacemaker took the halyards
of the German flag in his two hands, gave a quick, sharp tug, and down
came the red, white, and black piece of bunting, and the next moment
young Bradley sent the Stars and Stripes up in its place. As it rose,
Bradley's brass cannon barked merrily like a little bull-dog, and the
Peacemaker cheered.

"Why don't you cheer, Stedman?" he shouted. "Tell those people to
cheer for all they are worth. What sort of an American consul are
you?"

Stedman raised his arm half-heartedly to give the time, and opened his
mouth; but his arm remained fixed and his mouth open, while his eyes
stared at the retreating boat of the German man-of-war. In the stern
sheets of this boat the stout German captain was struggling unsteadily
to his feet; he raised his arm and waved it to some one on the great
man-of-war, as though giving an order. The natives looked from Stedman
to the boat, and even Gordon stopped in his cheering, and stood
motionless, watching. They had not very long to wait. There was a puff
of white smoke, and a flash, and then a loud report, and across the
water came a great black ball skipping lightly through and over the
waves, as easily as a flat stone thrown by a boy. It seemed to come
very slowly. At least it came slowly enough for every one to see that
it was coming directly toward the brass cannon. The Bradleys certainly
saw this, for they ran as fast as they could, and kept on running. The
ball caught the cannon under its mouth and tossed it in the air,
knocking the flag-pole into a dozen pieces, and passing on through two
of the palm-covered huts.

"Great Heavens, Gordon!" cried Stedman; "they are firing on us."

But Gordon's face was radiant and wild.

"Firing on _us_!" he cried. "On us! Don't you see? Don't you understand?
What do _we_ amount to? They have fired on the American flag! Don't
you see what that means? It means war. A great international war. And
I am a war correspondent at last!" He ran up to Stedman and seized him
by the arm so tightly that it hurt.

"By three o'clock," he said, "they will know in the office what has
happened. The country will know it to-morrow when the paper is on the
street; people will read it all over the world. The Emperor will hear
of it at breakfast; the President will cable for further particulars.
He will get them. It is the chance of a lifetime, and we are on the
spot!"

Stedman did not hear this; he was watching the broadside of the ship
to see another puff of white smoke, but there came no such sign. The
two row-boats were raised, there was a cloud of black smoke from the
funnel, a creaking of chains sounding faintly across the water, and
the ship started at half-speed and moved out of the harbor. The
Opekians and the Hillmen fell on their knees, or to dancing, as best
suited their sense of relief, but Gordon shook his head.

"They are only going to land the marines," he said; "perhaps they are
going to the spot they stopped at before, or to take up another
position farther out at sea. They will land men and then shell the
town, and the land forces will march here and co-operate with the
vessel, and everybody will be taken prisoner or killed. We have the
centre of the stage, and we are making history."

"I'd rather read it than make it," said Stedman. "You've got us in a
senseless, silly position, Gordon, and a mighty unpleasant one. And
for no reason that I can see, except to make copy for your paper."

"Tell those people to get their things together," said Gordon, "and
march back out of danger into the woods. Tell Ollypybus I am going to
fix things all right; I don't know just how yet, but I will, and now
come after me as quickly as you can to the cable office. I've got to
tell the paper all about it."

It was three o'clock before the "chap at Octavia" answered Stedman's
signalling. Then Stedman delivered Gordon's message, and immediately
shut off all connection, before the Octavia operator could question
him. Gordon dictated his message in this way:--

"Begin with the date line, 'Opeki, June 22.'

"At seven o'clock this morning, the captain and officers of the German
man-of-war _Kaiser_ went through the ceremony of annexing this
island in the name of the German Emperor, basing their right to do so
on an agreement made with a leader of a wandering tribe known as the
Hillmen. King Ollypybus, the present monarch of Opeki, delegated his
authority, as also did the leader of the Hillmen, to King Tellaman, or
the Peacemaker, who tore down the German flag, and raised that of the
United States in its place. At the same moment the flag was saluted by
the battery. This salute, being mistaken for an attack on the
_Kaiser_, was answered by that vessel. Her first shot took
immediate effect, completely destroying the entire battery of the
Opekians, cutting down the American flag, and destroying the houses of
the people--"

"There was only one brass cannon and two huts," expostulated Stedman.

"Well, that was the whole battery, wasn't it?" asked Gordon, "and two
huts is plural. I said houses of the people. I couldn't say two houses
of the people. Just you send this as you get it. You are not an
American consul at the present moment. You are an under-paid agent of
a cable company, and you send my stuff as I write it. The American
residents have taken refuge in the consulate--that's us," explained
Gordon, "and the English residents have sought refuge in the
woods--that's the Bradleys. King Tellaman--that's me--declares his
intention of fighting against the annexation. The forces of the
Opekians are under the command of Captain Thomas Bradley--I guess I
might as well make him a colonel--of Colonel Thomas Bradley, of the
English army.

"The American consul says--Now, what do you say, Stedman? Hurry up,
please," asked Gordon, "and say something good and strong."

"You get me all mixed up," complained Stedman, plaintively. "Which am
I now, a cable operator or the American consul?"

"Consul, of course. Say something patriotic and about your
determination to protect the interests of your government, and all
that." Gordon bit the end of his pencil impatiently, and waited.

"I won't do anything of the sort, Gordon," said Stedman; "you are
getting me into an awful lot of trouble, and yourself too. I won't say
a word."

"The American consul," read Gordon, as his pencil wriggled across the
paper, "refuses to say anything for publication until he has
communicated with the authorities at Washington, but from all I can
learn he sympathizes entirely with Tellaman. Your correspondent has
just returned from an audience with King Tellaman, who rules him to
inform the American people that the Monroe doctrine will be sustained
as long as he rules this island. I guess that's enough to begin with,"
said Gordon. "Now send that off quick, and then get away from the
instrument before the man in Octavia begins to ask questions. I am
going out to precipitate matters."

Gordon found the two kings sitting dejectedly side by side, and gazing
grimly upon the disorder of the village, from which the people were
taking their leave as quickly as they could get their few belongings
piled upon the ox-carts. Gordon walked among them, helping them in
every way he could, and tasting, in their subservience and gratitude,
the sweets of sovereignty. When Stedman had locked up the cable office
and rejoined him, he bade him tell Messenwah to send three of his
youngest men and fastest runners back to the hills to watch for the
German vessel and see where she was attempting to land her marines.

"This is a tremendous chance for descriptive writing, Stedman," said
Gordon, enthusiastically; "all this confusion and excitement, and the
people leaving their homes, and all that. It's like the people getting
out of Brussels before Waterloo, and then the scene at the foot of the
mountains, while they are camping out there, until the Germans leave.
I never had a chance like this before."

It was quite dark by six o'clock, and none of the three messengers had
as yet returned. Gordon walked up and down the empty plaza and looked
now at the horizon for the man-of-war, and again down the road back of
the village. But neither the vessel nor the messengers bearing word of
her appeared. The night passed without any incident, and in the
morning Gordon's impatience became so great that he walked out to
where the villagers were in camp and passed on half way up the
mountain, but he could see no sign of the man-of-war. He came back
more restless than before, and keenly disappointed.

"If something don't happen before three o'clock, Stedman," he said,
"our second cablegram will have to consist of glittering generalities
and a lengthy interview with King Tellaman, by himself."

Nothing did happen. Ollypybus and Messenwah began to breathe more
freely. They believed the new king had succeeded in frightening the
German vessel away forever. But the new king upset their hopes by
telling them that the Germans had undoubtedly already landed, and had
probably killed the three messengers.

"Now then," he said, with pleased expectation, as Stedman and he
seated themselves in the cable office at three o'clock, "open it up
and let's find out what sort of an impression we have made."

Stedman's face, as the answer came in to his first message of
greeting, was one of strangely marked disapproval.

"What does he say?" demanded Gordon, anxiously.

"He hasn't done anything but swear yet," answered Stedman, grimly.

"What is he swearing about?"

"He wants to know why I left the cable yesterday. He says he has been
trying to call me up for the last twenty-four hours, ever since I sent
my message at three o'clock. The home office is jumping mad, and want
me discharged. They won't do that, though," he said, in a cheerful
aside, "because they haven't paid me my salary for the last eight
months. He says--great Scott! this will please you, Gordon--he says
that there have been over two hundred queries for matter from papers
all over the United States, and from Europe. Your paper beat them on
the news, and now the home office is packed with San Francisco
reporters, and the telegrams are coming in every minute, and they have
been abusing him for not answering them, and he says that I'm a fool.
He wants as much as you can send, and all the details. He says all the
papers will have to put 'By Yokohama Cable Company' on the top of each
message they print, and that that is advertising the company, and is
sending the stock up. It rose fifteen points on 'change in San
Francisco to-day, and the president and the other officers are
buying--"

"Oh, I don't want to hear about their old company," snapped out
Gordon, pacing up and down in despair. "What am I to do? that's what I
want to know. Here I have the whole country stirred up and begging for
news. On their knees for it, and a cable all to myself, and the only
man on the spot, and nothing to say. I'd just like to know how long
that German idiot intends to wait before he begins shelling this town
and killing people. He has put me in a most absurd position."

"Here's a message for you, Gordon," said Stedman, with business-like
calm. "Albert Gordon, correspondent," he read. "Try American consul.
First message O.K.; beat the country; can take all you send. Give
names of foreign residents massacred, and fuller account blowing up
palace. Dodge."

The expression on Gordon's face as this message was slowly read off to
him, had changed from one of gratified pride to one of puzzled
consternation.

"What's he mean by foreign residents massacred, and blowing up of
palace?" asked Stedman, looking over his shoulder anxiously. "Who is
Dodge?"

"Dodge is the night editor," said Gordon, nervously. "They must have
read my message wrong. You sent just what I gave you, didn't you?" he
asked.

"Of course I did," said Stedman, indignantly.

"I didn't say anything about the massacre of anybody, did I?" asked
Gordon. "I hope they are not improving on my account. What _am_ I
to do? This is getting awful. I'll have to go out and kill a few
people myself. Oh, why don't that Dutch captain begin to do something!
What sort of a fighter does he call himself? He wouldn't shoot at a
school of porpoises. He's not--"

"Here comes a message to Leonard T. Travis, American consul, Opeki,"
read Stedman. "It's raining messages to-day. 'Send full details of
massacre of American citizens by German sailors.' Secretary of--great
Scott!" gasped Stedman, interrupting himself and gazing at his
instrument with horrified fascination--"the Secretary of State."

"That settles it," roared Gordon, pulling at his hair and burying his
face in his hands. "I have _got_ to kill some of them now."

"Albert Gordon, correspondent," read Stedman, impressively, like the
voice of Fate. "Is Colonel Thomas Bradley, commanding native forces
at Opeki, Colonel Sir Thomas Kent-Bradley of Crimean war fame?
Correspondent London _Times_, San Francisco Press Club."

"Go on, go on!" said Gordon, desperately. "I'm getting used to it now.
Go on!"

"American consul, Opeki," read Stedman. "Home Secretary desires you to
furnish list of names English residents killed during shelling of
Opeki by ship of war _Kaiser_, and estimate of amount property
destroyed. Stoughton, British Embassy, Washington."

"Stedman!" cried Gordon, jumping to his feet, "there's a mistake here
somewhere. These people cannot all have made my message read like
that. Some one has altered it, and now I have got to make these people
here live up to that message, whether they like being massacred and
blown up or not. Don't answer any of those messages except the one
from Dodge; tell him things have quieted down a bit, and that I'll
send four thousand words on the flight of the natives from the
village, and their encampment at the foot of the mountains, and of the
exploring party we have sent out to look for the German vessel; and
now I am going out to make something happen."

Gordon said that he would be gone for two hours at least, and as
Stedman did not feel capable of receiving any more nerve-stirring
messages, he cut off all connection with Octavia by saying, "Good-by
for two hours," and running away from the office. He sat down on a
rock on the beach, and mopped his face with his handkerchief.

"After a man has taken nothing more exciting than weather reports from
Octavia for a year," he soliloquized, "it's a bit disturbing to have
all the crowned heads of Europe and their secretaries calling upon you
for details of a massacre that never came off."

At the end of two hours Gordon returned from the consulate with a mass
of manuscript in his hand.

"Here's three thousand words," he said, desperately. "I never wrote
more and said less in my life. It will make them weep at the office. I
had to pretend that they knew all that had happened so far; they
apparently do know more than we do, and I have filled it full of
prophecies of more trouble ahead, and with interviews with myself and
the two ex-Kings. The only news element in it is, that the messengers
have returned to report that the German vessel is not in sight, and
that there is no news. They think she has gone for good. Suppose she
has, Stedman," he groaned, looking at him helplessly, "what _am_
I going to do?"

"Well, as for me," said Stedman, "I'm afraid to go near that cable.
It's like playing with a live wire. My nervous system won't stand many
more such shocks as those they gave us this afternoon."

Gordon threw himself down dejectedly in a chair in the office, and
Stedman approached his instrument gingerly, as though it might
explode.

"He's swearing again," he explained, sadly, in answer to Gordon's look
of inquiry. "He wants to know when I am going to stop running away
from the wire. He has a stack of messages to send, he says, but I
guess he'd better wait and take your copy first; don't you think so?"

"Yes, I do," said Gordon. "I don't want any more messages than I've
had. That's the best I can do," he said, as he threw his manuscript
down beside Stedman. "And they can keep on cabling until the wire
burns red hot, and they won't get any more."

There was silence in the office for some time, while Stedman looked
over Gordon's copy, and Gordon stared dejectedly out at the ocean.

"This is pretty poor stuff, Gordon," said Stedman. "It's like giving
people milk when they want brandy."

"Don't you suppose I know that?" growled Gordon. "It's the best I can
do, isn't it? It's not my fault that we are not all dead now. I can't
massacre foreign residents if there are no foreign residents, but I
can commit suicide, though, and I'll do it if something don't happen."

There was a long pause, in which the silence of the office was only
broken by the sound of the waves beating on the coral reefs outside.
Stedman raised his head wearily.

"He's swearing again," he said; "he says this stuff of yours is all
nonsense. He says stock in the Y.C.C. has gone up to one hundred and
two, and that owners are unloading and making their fortunes, and that
this sort of descriptive writing is not what the company want."

"What's he think I'm here for?" cried Gordon. "Does he think I pulled
down the German flag and risked my neck half a dozen times and had
myself made King just to boom his Yokohama cable stock? Confound him!
You might at least swear back. Tell him just what the situation is in
a few words. Here, stop that rigmarole to the paper, and explain to
your home office that we are awaiting developments, and that, in the
meanwhile, they must put up with the best we can send them. Wait; send
this to Octavia."

Gordon wrote rapidly, and read what he wrote as rapidly as it was
written.

"Operator, Octavia. You seem to have misunderstood my first message.
The facts in the case are these. A German man-of-war raised a flag on
this island. It was pulled down and the American flag raised in its
place and saluted by a brass cannon. The German man-of-war fired once
at the flag and knocked it down, and then steamed away and has not
been seen since. Two huts were upset, that is all the damage done; the
battery consisted of the one brass cannon before mentioned. No one,
either native or foreign, has been massacred. The English residents
are two sailors. The American residents are the young man who is
sending you this cable and myself. Our first message was quite true in
substance, but perhaps misleading in detail. I made it so because I
fully expected much more to happen immediately. Nothing has happened,
or seems likely to happen, and that is the exact situation up to date.
Albert Gordon."

"Now," he asked, after a pause, "what does he say to that?"

"He doesn't say anything," said Stedman.

"I guess he has fainted. Here it comes," he added in the same breath.
He bent toward his instrument, and Gordon raised himself from his
chair and stood beside him as he read it off. The two young men hardly
breathed in the intensity of their interest.

"Dear Stedman," he slowly read aloud. "You and your young friend are a
couple of fools. If you had allowed me to send you the messages
awaiting transmission here to you, you would not have sent me such a
confession of guilt as you have just done. You had better leave Opeki
at once or hide in the hills. I am afraid I have placed you in a
somewhat compromising position with the company, which is unfortunate,
especially as, if I am not mistaken, they owe you some back pay. You
should have been wiser in your day, and bought Y.C.C. stock when it
was down to five cents, as 'yours truly' did. You are not, Stedman, as
bright a boy as some. And as for your friend, the war correspondent,
he has queered himself for life. You see, my dear Stedman, after I had
sent off your first message, and demands for further details came
pouring in, and I could not get you at the wire to supply them, I took
the liberty of sending some on myself."

"Great Heavens!" gasped Gordon.

Stedman grew very white under his tan, and the perspiration rolled on
his cheeks.

"Your message was so general in its nature, that it allowed my
imagination full play, and I sent on what I thought would please the
papers, and, what was much more important to me, would advertise the
Y.C.C. stock. This I have been doing while waiting for material from
you. Not having a clear idea of the dimensions or population of Opeki,
it is possible that I have done you and your newspaper friend some
injustice. I killed off about a hundred American residents, two
hundred English, because I do not like the English, and a hundred
French. I blew up old Ollypybus and his palace with dynamite, and
shelled the city, destroying some hundred thousand dollars' worth of
property, and then I waited anxiously for your friend to substantiate
what I had said. This he has most unkindly failed to do. I am very
sorry, but much more so for him than for myself, for I, my dear
friend, have cabled on to a man in San Francisco, who is one of the
directors of the Y.C.C. to sell all my stock, which he has done at one
hundred and two, and he is keeping the money until I come. And I leave
Octavia this afternoon to reap my just reward. I am in about twenty
thousand dollars on your little war, and I feel grateful. So much so
that I will inform you that the ship of war _Kaiser_ has arrived
at San Francisco, for which port she sailed directly from Opeki. Her
captain has explained the real situation, and offered to make every
amend for the accidental indignity shown to our flag. He says he aimed
at the cannon, which was trained on his vessel, and which had first
fired on him. But you must know, my dear Stedman, that before his
arrival, war-vessels belonging to the several powers mentioned in my
revised despatches, had started for Opeki at full speed, to revenge
the butchery of the foreign residents. A word, my dear young friend,
to the wise is sufficient. I am indebted to you to the extent of
twenty thousand dollars, and in return I give you this kindly advice.
Leave Opeki. If there is no other way, swim. But leave Opeki."

The sun, that night, as it sank below the line where the clouds seemed
to touch the sea, merged them both into a blazing, blood-red curtain,
and colored the most wonderful spectacle that the natives of Opeki had
ever seen. Six great ships of war, stretching out over a league of
sea, stood blackly out against the red background, rolling and rising,
and leaping forward, flinging back smoke and burning sparks up into
the air behind them, and throbbing and panting like living creatures
in their race for revenge. From the south came a three-decked vessel,
a great island of floating steel, with a flag as red as the angry sky
behind it, snapping in the wind. To the south of it plunged two long
low-lying torpedo-boats, flying the French tri-color, and still
farther to the north towered three magnificent hulls of the White
Squadron. Vengeance was written on every curve and line, on each
straining engine-rod, and on each polished gun-muzzle.

And in front of these, a clumsy fishing-boat rose and fell on each
passing wave. Two sailors sat in the stern, holding the rope and
tiller, and in the bow, with their backs turned forever toward Opeki,
stood two young boys, their faces lit by the glow of the setting sun
and stirred by the sight of the great engines of war plunging past
them on their errand of vengeance.

"Stedman," said the elder boy, in an awe-struck whisper, and with a
wave of his hand, "we have not lived in vain."





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