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Title: Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels
Author: Leacock, Stephen, 1869-1944
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 "Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels" ***

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WINSOME WINNIE
AND OTHER NEW
NONSENSE NOVELS


_BY THE SAME AUTHOR_


THE HOHENZOLLERNS IN AMERICA
AND OTHER IMPOSSIBILITIES

LITERARY LAPSES

NONSENSE NOVELS

SUNSHINE SKETCHES OF A LITTLE
TOWN. With a Frontispiece by Cyrus Cuneo

BEHIND THE BEYOND AND OTHER
CONTRIBUTIONS TO HUMAN
KNOWLEDGE. With 17 Illustrations
by "FISH"

ARCADIAN ADVENTURES WITH
THE IDLE RICH

MOONBEAMS FROM THE LARGER
LUNACY

ESSAYS AND LITERARY STUDIES

FURTHER FOOLISHNESS: SKETCHES
AND SATIRES ON THE FOLLIES
OF THE DAY. With coloured Frontispiece
by "FISH" and 5 other Plates by
M. BLOOD.

FRENZIED FICTION

THE UNSOLVED RIDDLE OF SOCIAL
JUSTICE.


THE BODLEY HEAD



_WINSOME WINNIE
AND OTHER NEW
NONSENSE NOVELS_

_BY STEPHEN LEACOCK_


_LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD
NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY MCMXXI_

_Printed in Great Britain by R. Clay & Sons, Ltd., London and Bungay_



_CONTENTS_



   CHAP.

    I. WINSOME WINNIE; OR, TRIAL AND TEMPTATION
       I. THROWN ON THE WORLD
       II. A RENCOUNTER
       III. FRIENDS IN DISTRESS
       IV. A GAMBLING PARTY IN ST. JAMES'S CLOSE
       V. THE ABDUCTION
       VI. THE UNKNOWN
       VII. THE PROPOSAL
       VIII. WEDDED AT LAST

    II. JOHN AND I; OR, HOW I NEARLY LOST MY HUSBAND

    III. THE SPLIT IN THE CABINET; OR, THE FATE OF ENGLAND

    IV. WHO DO YOU THINK DID IT? OR, THE MIXED-UP MURDER MYSTERY
       I. HE DINED WITH ME LAST NIGHT
       II. I MUST SAVE HER LIFE
       III. I MUST BUY A BOOK ON BILLIARDS
       IV. THAT IS NOT BILLIARD CHALK
       V. HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLY?
       VI. SHOW ME THE MAN WHO WORE THOSE BOOTS
       VII. OH, MR. KENT, SAVE ME!
       VIII. YOU ARE PETER KELLY
       IX. LET ME TELL YOU THE STORY OF MY LIFE
       X. SO DO I

    V. BROKEN BARRIERS; OR, RED LOVE ON A BLUE ISLAND

    VI. THE KIDNAPPED PLUMBER: A TALE OF THE NEW TIME

    VII. THE BLUE AND THE GREY: A PRE-WAR WAR STORY

    VIII. BUGGAM GRANGE: A GOOD OLD GHOST STORY



I

WINSOME WINNIE

OR, TRIAL AND TEMPTATION

(_Narrated after the best models of 1875_)



_I.--Winsome Winnie; or, Trial and Temptation._


CHAPTER I

THROWN ON THE WORLD


"Miss Winnifred," said the Old Lawyer, looking keenly over and through
his shaggy eyebrows at the fair young creature seated before him, "you
are this morning twenty-one."

Winnifred Clair raised her deep mourning veil, lowered her eyes and
folded her hands.

"This morning," continued Mr. Bonehead, "my guardianship is at an end."

There was a tone of something like emotion in the voice of the stern old
lawyer, while for a moment his eye glistened with something like a tear
which he hastened to remove with something like a handkerchief. "I have
therefore sent for you," he went on, "to render you an account of my
trust."

He heaved a sigh at her, and then, reaching out his hand, he pulled the
woollen bell-rope up and down several times.

An aged clerk appeared.

"Did the bell ring?" he asked.

"I think it did," said the Lawyer. "Be good enough, Atkinson, to fetch
me the papers of the estate of the late Major Clair defunct."

"I have them here," said the clerk, and he laid upon the table a bundle
of faded blue papers, and withdrew.

"Miss Winnifred," resumed the Old Lawyer, "I will now proceed to give
you an account of the disposition that has been made of your property.
This first document refers to the sum of two thousand pounds left to you
by your great uncle. It is lost."

Winnifred bowed.

"Pray give me your best attention and I will endeavour to explain to you
how I lost it."

"Oh, sir," cried Winnifred, "I am only a poor girl unskilled in the
ways of the world, and knowing nothing but music and French; I fear that
the details of business are beyond my grasp. But if it is lost, I gather
that it is gone."

"It is," said Mr. Bonehead. "I lost it in a marginal option in an
undeveloped oil company. I suppose that means nothing to you."

"Alas," sighed Winnifred, "nothing."

"Very good," resumed the Lawyer. "Here next we have a statement in
regard to the thousand pounds left you under the will of your maternal
grandmother. I lost it at Monte Carlo. But I need not fatigue you with
the details."

"Pray spare them," cried the girl.

"This final item relates to the sum of fifteen hundred pounds placed in
trust for you by your uncle. I lost it on a horse race. That horse,"
added the Old Lawyer with rising excitement, "ought to have won. He was
coming down the stretch like blue--but there, there, my dear, you must
forgive me if the recollection of it still stirs me to anger. Suffice it
to say the horse fell. I have kept for your inspection the score card
of the race, and the betting tickets. You will find everything in
order."

"Sir," said Winnifred, as Mr. Bonehead proceeded to fold up his papers,
"I am but a poor inadequate girl, a mere child in business, but tell me,
I pray, what is left to me of the money that you have managed?"

"Nothing," said the Lawyer. "Everything is gone. And I regret to say,
Miss Clair, that it is my painful duty to convey to you a further
disclosure of a distressing nature. It concerns your birth."

"Just Heaven!" cried Winnifred, with a woman's quick intuition. "Does it
concern my father?"

"It does, Miss Clair. Your father was not your father."

"Oh, sir," exclaimed Winnifred. "My poor mother! How she must have
suffered!"

"Your mother was not your mother," said the Old Lawyer gravely. "Nay,
nay, do not question me. There is a dark secret about your birth."

"Alas," said Winnifred, wringing her hands, "I am, then, alone in the
world and penniless."

"You are," said Mr. Bonehead, deeply moved. "You are, unfortunately,
thrown upon the world. But, if you ever find yourself in a position
where you need help and advice, do not scruple to come to me.
Especially," he added, "for advice. And meantime let me ask you in what
way do you propose to earn your livelihood?"

"I have my needle," said Winnifred.

"Let me see it," said the Lawyer.

Winnifred showed it to him.

"I fear," said Mr. Bonehead, shaking his head, "you will not do much
with that."

Then he rang the bell again.

"Atkinson," he said, "take Miss Clair out and throw her on the world."



CHAPTER II

A RENCOUNTER


As Winnifred Clair passed down the stairway leading from the Lawyer's
office, a figure appeared before her in the corridor, blocking the way.
It was that of a tall, aristocratic-looking man, whose features wore
that peculiarly saturnine appearance seen only in the English nobility.
The face, while entirely gentlemanly in its general aspect, was stamped
with all the worst passions of mankind.

Had the innocent girl but known it, the face was that of Lord Wynchgate,
one of the most contemptible of the greater nobility of Britain, and the
figure was his too.

"Ha!" exclaimed the dissolute Aristocrat, "whom have we here? Stay,
pretty one, and let me see the fair countenance that I divine behind
your veil."

"Sir," said Winnifred, drawing herself up proudly, "let me pass, I
pray."

"Not so," cried Wynchgate, reaching out and seizing his intended victim
by the wrist, "not till I have at least seen the colour of those eyes
and imprinted a kiss upon those fair lips."

With a brutal laugh, he drew the struggling girl towards him.

In another moment the aristocratic villain would have succeeded in
lifting the veil of the unhappy girl, when suddenly a ringing voice
cried, "Hold! stop! desist! begone! lay to! cut it out!"

With these words a tall, athletic young man, attracted doubtless by the
girl's cries, leapt into the corridor from the street without. His
figure was that, more or less, of a Greek god, while his face, although
at the moment inflamed with anger, was of an entirely moral and
permissible configuration.

"Save me! save me!" cried Winnifred.

"I will," cried the Stranger, rushing towards Lord Wynchgate with
uplifted cane.

But the cowardly Aristocrat did not await the onslaught of the unknown.

"You shall yet be mine!" he hissed in Winnifred's ear, and, releasing
his grasp, he rushed with a bound past the rescuer into the street.

"Oh, sir," said Winnifred, clasping her hands and falling on her knees
in gratitude. "I am only a poor inadequate girl, but if the prayers of
one who can offer naught but her prayers to her benefactor can avail to
the advantage of one who appears to have every conceivable advantage
already, let him know that they are his."

"Nay," said the stranger, as he aided the blushing girl to rise, "kneel
not to me, I beseech. If I have done aught to deserve the gratitude of
one who, whoever she is, will remain for ever present as a bright memory
in the breast of one in whose breast such memories are all too few, he
is all too richly repaid. If she does that, he is blessed indeed."

"She does. He is!" cried Winnifred, deeply moved. "Here on her knees she
blesses him. And now," she added, "we must part. Seek not to follow me.
One who has aided a poor girl in the hour of need will respect her wish
when she tells him that, alone and buffeted by the world, her one
prayer is that he will leave her."

"He will!" cried the Unknown. "He will. He does."

"Leave me, yes, leave me," exclaimed Winnifred.

"I will," said the Unknown.

"Do, do," sobbed the distraught girl. "Yet stay, one moment more. Let
she, who has received so much from her benefactor, at least know his
name."

"He cannot! He must not!" exclaimed the Indistinguishable. "His birth is
such--but enough!"

He tore his hand from the girl's detaining clasp and rushed forth from
the place.

Winnifred Clair was alone.



CHAPTER III

FRIENDS IN DISTRESS


Winnifred was now in the humblest lodgings in the humblest part of
London. A simple bedroom and sitting-room sufficed for her wants. Here
she sat on her trunk, bravely planning for the future.

"Miss Clair," said the Landlady, knocking at the door, "do try to eat
something. You must keep up your health. See, I've brought you a
kippered herring."

Winnifred ate the herring, her heart filled with gratitude. With renewed
strength she sallied forth on the street to resume her vain search for
employment. For two weeks now Winnifred Clair had sought employment even
of the humblest character. At various dress-making establishments she
had offered, to no purpose, the services of her needle. They had looked
at it and refused it.

In vain she had offered to various editors and publishers the use of her
pen. They had examined it coldly and refused it.

She had tried fruitlessly to obtain a position of trust. The various
banks and trust companies to which she had applied declined her
services. In vain she had advertised in the newspapers offering to take
sole charge of a little girl. No one would give her one.

Her slender stock of money which she had in her purse on leaving Mr.
Bonehead's office was almost consumed.

Each night the unhappy girl returned to her lodging exhausted with
disappointment and fatigue.

Yet even in her adversity she was not altogether friendless.

Each evening, on her return home, a soft tap was heard at the door.

"Miss Clair," said the voice of the Landlady, "I have brought you a
fried egg. Eat it. You must keep up your strength."

Then one morning a terrible temptation had risen before her.

"Miss Clair," said the manager of an agency to which she had applied, "I
am glad to be able at last to make you a definite offer of employment.
Are you prepared to go upon the stage?"

The stage!

A flush of shame and indignation swept over the girl. Had it come to
this? Little versed in the world as Winnifred was, she knew but too well
the horror, the iniquity, the depth of degradation implied in the word.

"Yes," continued the agent, "I have a letter here asking me to recommend
a young lady of suitable refinement to play the part of Eliza in _Uncle
Tom's Cabin._ Will you accept?"

"Sir," said Winnifred proudly, "answer me first this question fairly. If
I go upon the stage, can I, as Eliza, remain as innocent, as simple as I
am now?"

"You can not," said the manager.

"Then, sir," said Winnifred, rising from her chair, "let me say this.
Your offer is doubtless intended to be kind. Coming from the class you
do, and inspired by the ideas you are, you no doubt mean well. But let a
poor girl, friendless and alone, tell you that rather than accept such a
degradation she will die."

"Very good," said the manager.

"I go forth," cried Winnifred, "to perish."

"All right," said the manager.

The door closed behind her. Winnifred Clair, once more upon the street,
sank down upon the steps of the building in a swoon.

But at this very juncture Providence, which always watches over the
innocent and defenceless, was keeping its eye direct upon Winnifred.

At that very moment when our heroine sank fainting upon the doorstep, a
handsome equipage, drawn by two superb black steeds, happened to pass
along the street.

Its appearance and character proclaimed it at once to be one of those
vehicles in which only the superior classes of the exclusive aristocracy
are privileged to ride. Its sides were emblazoned with escutcheons,
insignia and other paraphernalia. The large gilt coronet that appeared
up its panelling, surmounted by a bunch of huckleberries, quartered in a
field of potatoes, indicated that its possessor was, at least, of the
rank of marquis. A coachman and two grooms rode in front, while two
footmen, seated in the boot, or box at the rear, contrived, by the
immobility of their attitude and the melancholy of their faces, to
inspire the scene with an exclusive and aristocratic grandeur.

The occupants of the equipage--for we refuse to count the menials as
being such--were two in number, a lady and gentleman, both of advanced
years. Their snow-white hair and benign countenances indicated that they
belonged to that rare class of beings to whom rank and wealth are but an
incentive to nobler things. A gentle philanthropy played all over their
faces, and their eyes sought eagerly in the passing scene of the humble
street for new objects of benefaction.

Those acquainted with the countenances of the aristocracy would have
recognized at once in the occupants of the equipage the Marquis of
Muddlenut and his spouse, the Marchioness.

It was the eye of the Marchioness which first detected the form of
Winnifred Clair upon the doorstep.

"Hold! pause! stop!" she cried, in lively agitation.

The horses were at once pulled in, the brakes applied to the wheels, and
with the aid of a powerful lever, operated by three of the menials, the
carriage was brought to a standstill.

"See! Look!" cried the Marchioness. "She has fainted. Quick, William,
your flask. Let us hasten to her aid."

In another moment the noble lady was bending over the prostrate form of
Winnifred Clair, and pouring brandy between her lips.

Winnifred opened her eyes. "Where am I?" she asked feebly.

"She speaks!" cried the Marchioness. "Give her another flaskful."

After the second flask the girl sat up.

"Tell me," she cried, clasping her hands, "what has happened? Where am
I?"

"With friends!" answered the Marchioness. "But do not essay to speak.
Drink this. You must husband your strength. Meantime, let us drive you
to your home."

Winnifred was lifted tenderly by the menservants into the aristocratic
equipage. The brake was unset, the lever reversed, and the carriage
thrown again into motion.

On the way Winnifred, at the solicitation of the Marchioness, related
her story.

"My poor child!" exclaimed the lady, "how you must have suffered. Thank
Heaven it is over now. To-morrow we shall call for you and bring you
away with us to Muddlenut Chase."

Alas, could she but have known it, before the morrow should dawn, worse
dangers still were in store for our heroine. But what these dangers
were, we must reserve for another chapter.



CHAPTER IV

A GAMBLING PARTY IN ST. JAMES'S CLOSE


We must now ask our readers to shift the scene--if they don't mind doing
this for us--to the apartments of the Earl of Wynchgate in St. James's
Close. The hour is nine o'clock in the evening, and the picture before
us is one of revelry and dissipation so characteristic of the nobility
of England. The atmosphere of the room is thick with blue Havana smoke
such as is used by the nobility, while on the green baize table a litter
of counters and cards, in which aces, kings, and even two spots are
heaped in confusion, proclaim the reckless nature of the play.

Seated about the table are six men, dressed in the height of fashion,
each with collar and white necktie and broad white shirt, their faces
stamped with all, or nearly all, of the baser passions of mankind.

Lord Wynchgate--for he it was who sat at the head of the table--rose
with an oath, and flung his cards upon the table.

All turned and looked at him, with an oath. "Curse it, Dogwood," he
exclaimed, with another oath, to the man who sat beside him. "Take the
money. I play no more to-night. My luck is out."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Lord Dogwood, with a third oath, "your mind is not on
the cards. Who is the latest young beauty, pray, who so absorbs you? I
hear a whisper in town of a certain misadventure of yours----"

"Dogwood," said Wynchgate, clenching his fist, "have a care, man, or you
shall measure the length of my sword."

Both noblemen faced each other, their hands upon their swords.

"My lords, my lords!" pleaded a distinguished-looking man of more
advanced years, who sat at one side of the table, and in whose features
the habitués of diplomatic circles would have recognized the handsome
lineaments of the Marquis of Frogwater, British Ambassador to Siam, "let
us have no quarrelling. Come, Wynchgate, come, Dogwood," he continued,
with a mild oath, "put up your swords. It were a shame to waste time in
private quarrelling. They may be needed all too soon in Cochin China,
or, for the matter of that," he added sadly, "in Cambodia or in Dutch
Guinea."

"Frogwater," said young Lord Dogwood, with a generous flush, "I was
wrong. Wynchgate, your hand."

The two noblemen shook hands.

"My friends," said Lord Wynchgate, "in asking you to abandon our game, I
had an end in view. I ask your help in an affair of the heart."

"Ha! excellent!" exclaimed the five noblemen. "We are with you heart and
soul."

"I propose this night," continued Wynchgate, "with your help, to carry
off a young girl, a female!"

"An abduction!" exclaimed the Ambassador somewhat sternly. "Wynchgate, I
cannot countenance this."

"Mistake me not," said the Earl, "I intend to abduct her. But I propose
nothing dishonourable. It is my firm resolve to offer her marriage."

"Then," said Lord Frogwater, "I am with you."

"Gentlemen," concluded Wynchgate, "all is ready. The coach is below. I
have provided masks, pistols, and black cloaks. Follow me."

A few moments later, a coach, with the blinds drawn, in which were six
noblemen armed to the teeth, might have been seen, were it not for the
darkness, approaching the humble lodging in which Winnifred Clair was
sheltered.

But what it did when it got there, we must leave to another chapter.



CHAPTER V

THE ABDUCTION


The hour was twenty minutes to ten on the evening described in our last
chapter.

Winnifred Clair was seated, still fully dressed, at the window of the
bedroom, looking out over the great city.

A light tap came at the door.

"If it's a fried egg," called Winnifred softly, "I do not need it. I ate
yesterday."

"No," said the voice of the Landlady. "You are wanted below."

"I!" exclaimed Winnifred, "below!"

"You," said the Landlady, "below. A party of gentlemen have called for
you."

"Gentlemen," exclaimed Winnifred, putting her hand to her brow in
perplexity, "for me! at this late hour! Here! This evening! In this
house?"

"Yes," repeated the Landlady, "six gentlemen. They arrived in a closed
coach. They are all closely masked and heavily armed. They beg you will
descend at once."

"Just Heaven!" cried the Unhappy Girl. "Is it possible that they mean to
abduct me?"

"They do," said the Landlady. "They said so!"

"Alas!" cried Winnifred, "I am powerless. Tell them"--she
hesitated--"tell them I will be down immediately. Let them not come up.
Keep them below on any pretext. Show them an album. Let them look at the
goldfish. Anything, but not here! I shall be ready in a moment."

Feverishly she made herself ready. As hastily as possible she removed
all traces of tears from her face. She threw about her shoulders an
opera cloak, and with a light Venetian scarf half concealed the beauty
of her hair and features. "Abducted!" she murmured, "and by six of them!
I think she said six. Oh, the horror of it!" A touch of powder to her
cheeks and a slight blackening of her eyebrows, and the courageous girl
was ready.

Lord Wynchgate and his companions--for they it was, that is to say, they
were it--sat below in the sitting-room looking at the albums. "Woman,"
said Lord Wynchgate to the Landlady, with an oath, "let her hurry up. We
have seen enough of these. We can wait no longer."

"I am here," cried a clear voice upon the threshold, and Winnifred stood
before them. "My lords, for I divine who you are and wherefore you have
come, take me, do your worst with me, but spare, oh, spare this humble
companion of my sorrow."

"Right-oh!" said Lord Dogwood, with a brutal laugh.

"Enough," exclaimed Wynchgate, and seizing Winnifred by the waist, he
dragged her forth out of the house and out upon the street.

But something in the brutal violence of his behaviour seemed to kindle
for the moment a spark of manly feeling, if such there were, in the
breasts of his companions.

"Wynchgate," cried young Lord Dogwood, "my mind misgives me. I doubt if
this is a gentlemanly thing to do. I'll have no further hand in it."

A chorus of approval from his companions endorsed his utterance. For a
moment they hesitated.

"Nay," cried Winnifred, turning to confront the masked faces that stood
about her, "go forward with your fell design. I am here. I am helpless.
Let no prayers stay your hand. Go to it."

"Have done with this!" cried Wynchgate, with a brutal oath. "Shove her
in the coach."

But at the very moment the sound of hurrying footsteps was heard, and a
clear, ringing, manly, well-toned, vibrating voice cried, "Hold! Stop!
Desist! Have a care, titled villain, or I will strike you to the earth."

A tall aristocratic form bounded out of the darkness.

"Gentlemen," cried Wynchgate, releasing his hold upon the frightened
girl, "we are betrayed. Save yourselves. To the coach."

In another instant the six noblemen had leaped into the coach and
disappeared down the street.

Winnifred, still half inanimate with fright, turned to her rescuer, and
saw before her the form and lineaments of the Unknown Stranger, who had
thus twice stood between her and disaster. Half fainting, she fell
swooning into his arms.

"Dear lady," he exclaimed, "rouse yourself. You are safe. Let me restore
you to your home!"

"That voice!" cried Winnifred, resuming consciousness. "It is my
benefactor."

She would have swooned again, but the Unknown lifted her bodily up the
steps of her home and leant her against the door.

"Farewell," he said, in a voice resonant with gloom.

"Oh, sir!" cried the unhappy girl, "let one who owes so much to one who
has saved her in her hour of need at least know his name."

But the stranger, with a mournful gesture of farewell, had disappeared
as rapidly as he had come.

But, as to why he had disappeared, we must ask our reader's patience for
another chapter.



CHAPTER VI

THE UNKNOWN


The scene is now shifted, sideways and forwards, so as to put it at
Muddlenut Chase, and to make it a fortnight later than the events
related in the last chapter.

Winnifred is now at the Chase as the guest of the Marquis and
Marchioness. There her bruised soul finds peace.

The Chase itself was one of those typical country homes which are, or
were till yesterday, the glory of England. The approach to the Chase lay
through twenty miles of glorious forest, filled with fallow deer and
wild bulls. The house itself, dating from the time of the Plantagenets,
was surrounded by a moat covered with broad lilies and floating green
scum. Magnificent peacocks sunned themselves on the terraces, while
from the surrounding shrubberies there rose the soft murmur of doves,
pigeons, bats, owls and partridges.

Here sat Winnifred Clair day after day upon the terrace recovering her
strength, under the tender solicitude of the Marchioness.

Each day the girl urged upon her noble hostess the necessity of her
departure. "Nay," said the Marchioness, with gentle insistence, "stay
where you are. Your soul is bruised. You must rest."

"Alas," cried Winnifred, "who am I that I should rest? Alone, despised,
buffeted by fate, what right have I to your kindness?"

"Miss Clair," replied the noble lady, "wait till you are stronger. There
is something that I wish to say to you."

Then at last, one morning when Winnifred's temperature had fallen to
ninety-eight point three, the Marchioness spoke.

"Miss Clair," she said, in a voice which throbbed with emotion,
"Winnifred, if I may so call you, Lord Muddlenut and I have formed a
plan for your future. It is our dearest wish that you should marry our
son."

"Alas," cried Winnifred, while tears rose in her eyes, "it cannot be!"

"Say not so," cried the Marchioness. "Our son, Lord Mordaunt Muddlenut,
is young, handsome, all that a girl could desire. After months of
wandering he returns to us this morning. It is our dearest wish to see
him married and established. We offer you his hand."

"Indeed," replied Winnifred, while her tears fell even more freely, "I
seem to requite but ill the kindness that you show. Alas, my heart is no
longer in my keeping."

"Where is it?" cried the Marchioness.

"It is another's. One whose very name I do not know holds it in his
keeping."

But at this moment a blithe, gladsome step was heard upon the flagstones
of the terrace. A manly, ringing voice, which sent a thrill to
Winnifred's heart, cried "Mother!" and in another instant Lord Mordaunt
Muddlenut, for he it was, had folded the Marchioness to his heart.

Winnifred rose, her heart beating wildly. One glance was enough. The
newcomer, Lord Mordaunt, was none other than the Unknown, the
Unaccountable, to whose protection she had twice owed her life.

With a wild cry Winnifred Clair leaped across the flagstones of the
terrace and fled into the park.



CHAPTER VII

THE PROPOSAL


They stood beneath the great trees of the ancestral park, into which
Lord Mordaunt had followed Winnifred at a single bound. All about them
was the radiance of early June.

Lord Mordaunt knelt on one knee on the greensward, and with a touch in
which respect and reverence were mingled with the deepest and manliest
emotion, he took between his finger and thumb the tip of the girl's
gloved hand.

"Miss Clair," he uttered, in a voice suffused with the deepest
yearning, yet vibrating with the most profound respect, "Miss
Clair--Winnifred--hear me, I implore!"

"Alas," cried Winnifred, struggling in vain to disengage the tip of her
glove from the impetuous clasp of the young nobleman, "alas, whither can
I fly? I do not know my way through the wood, and there are bulls in all
directions. I am not used to them! Lord Mordaunt, I implore you, let the
tears of one but little skilled in the art of dissimulation----"

"Nay, Winnifred," said the Young Earl, "fly not. Hear me out!"

"Let me fly," begged the unhappy girl.

"You must not fly," pleaded Mordaunt. "Let me first, here upon bended
knee, convey to you the expression of a devotion, a love, as ardent and
as deep as ever burned in a human heart. Winnifred, be my bride!"

"Oh, sir," sobbed Winnifred, "if the knowledge of a gratitude, a
thankfulness from one whose heart will ever treasure as its proudest
memory the recollection of one who did for one all that one could have
wanted done for one--if this be some poor guerdon, let it suffice. But,
alas, my birth, the dark secret of my birth forbids----"

"Nay," cried Mordaunt, leaping now to his feet, "your birth is all
right. I have looked into it myself. It is as good--or nearly as
good--as my own. Till I knew this, my lips were sealed by duty. While I
supposed that you had a lower birth and I an upper, I was bound to
silence. But come with me to the house. There is one arrived with me who
will explain all."

Hand in hand the lovers, for such they now were, returned to the Chase.
There in the great hall the Marquis and the Marchioness were standing
ready to greet them.

"My child!" exclaimed the noble lady, as she folded Winnifred to her
heart. Then she turned to her son. "Let her know all!" she cried.

Lord Mordaunt stepped across the room to a curtain. He drew it aside,
and there stepped forth Mr. Bonehead, the old lawyer who had cast
Winnifred upon the world.

"Miss Clair," said the Lawyer, advancing and taking the girl's hand for
a moment in a kindly clasp, "the time has come for me to explain all.
You are not, you never were, the penniless girl that you suppose. Under
the terms of your father's will, I was called upon to act a part and to
throw you upon the world. It was my client's wish, and I followed it. I
told you, quite truthfully, that I had put part of your money into
options in an oil-well. Miss Clair, that well is now producing a million
gallons of gasolene a month!'

"A million gallons!" cried Winnifred. "I can never use it."

"Wait till you own a motor-car, Miss Winnifred," said the Lawyer.

"Then I am rich!" exclaimed the bewildered girl.

"Rich beyond your dreams," answered the Lawyer. "Miss Clair, you own in
your own right about half of the State of Texas--I think it is in Texas,
at any rate either Texas or Rhode Island, or one of those big states in
America. More than this, I have invested your property since your
father's death so wisely that even after paying the income tax and the
property tax, the inheritance tax, the dog tax and the tax on
amusements, you will still have one half of one per cent to spend."

Winnifred clasped her hands.

"I knew it all the time," said Lord Mordaunt, drawing the girl to his
embrace, "I found it out through this good man."

"We knew it too," said the Marchioness. "Can you forgive us, darling,
our little plot for your welfare? Had we not done this Mordaunt might
have had to follow you over to America and chase you all around Newport
and Narragansett at a fearful expense."

"How can I thank you enough?" cried Winnifred. Then she added eagerly,
"And my birth, my descent?"

"It is all right," interjected the Old Lawyer. "It is A 1. Your father,
who died before you were born, quite a little time before, belonged to
the very highest peerage of Wales. You are descended directly from
Claer-ap-Claer, who murdered Owen Glendower. Your mother we are still
tracing up. But we have already connected her with Floyd-ap-Floyd, who
murdered Prince Llewellyn."

"Oh, sir," cried the grateful girl. "I only hope I may prove worthy of
them!"

"One thing more," said Lord Mordaunt, and stepping over to another
curtain he drew it aside and there emerged Lord Wynchgate.

He stood before Winnifred, a manly contrition struggling upon features
which, but for the evil courses of he who wore them, might have been
almost presentable.

"Miss Clair," he said, "I ask your pardon. I tried to carry you off. I
never will again. But before we part let me say that my acquaintance
with you has made me a better man, broader, bigger and, I hope, deeper."

With a profound bow, Lord Wynchgate took his leave.



CHAPTER VIII

WEDDED AT LAST


Lord Mordaunt and his bride were married forthwith in the parish church
of Muddlenut Chase. With Winnifred's money they have drained the moat,
rebuilt the Chase, and chased the bulls out of the park. They have six
children, so far, and are respected, honoured and revered in the
countryside far and wide, over a radius of twenty miles in
circumference.



II

JOHN AND I

OR, HOW I NEARLY LOST MY HUSBAND

(_Narrated after the approved fashion of the best Heart and Home
Magazines_)



_II.--John and I; or, How I Nearly Lost My Husband._


It was after we had been married about two years that I began to feel
that I needed more air. Every time I looked at John across the
breakfast-table, I felt as if I must have more air, more space.

I seemed to feel as if I had no room to expand. I had begun to ask
myself whether I had been wise in marrying John, whether John was really
sufficient for my development. I felt cramped and shut in. In spite of
myself the question would arise in my mind whether John really
understood my nature. He had a way of reading the newspaper, propped up
against the sugar-bowl, at breakfast, that somehow made me feel as if
things had gone all wrong. It was bitter to realize that the time had
come when John could prefer the newspaper to his wife's society.

But perhaps I had better go back and tell the whole miserable story from
the beginning.

I shall never forget--I suppose no woman ever does--the evening when
John first spoke out his love for me. I had felt for some time past that
it was there. Again and again, he seemed about to speak. But somehow his
words seemed to fail him. Twice I took him into the very heart of the
little wood beside Mother's house, but it was only a small wood, and
somehow he slipped out on the other side. "Oh, John," I had said, "how
lonely and still it seems in the wood with no one here but ourselves! Do
you think," I said, "that the birds have souls?" "I don't know," John
answered, "let's get out of this." I was sure that his emotion was too
strong for him. "I never feel a bit lonesome where you are, John," I
said, as we made our way among the underbrush. "I think we can get out
down that little gully," he answered. Then one evening in June after tea
I led John down a path beside the house to a little corner behind the
garden where there was a stone wall on one side and a high fence right
in front of us, and thorn bushes on the other side. There was a little
bench in the angle of the wall and the fence, and we sat down on it.

"Minnie," John said, "there's something I meant to say----"

"Oh, John," I cried, and I flung my arms round his neck. It all came
with such a flood of surprise.

"All I meant, Minn----" John went on, but I checked him.

"Oh, don't, John, don't say anything more," I said. "It's just too
perfect." Then I rose and seized him by the wrist. "Come," I said, "come
to Mother," and I rushed him along the path.

As soon as Mother saw us come in hand in hand in this way, she guessed
everything. She threw both her arms round John's neck and fairly pinned
him against the wall. John tried to speak, but Mother wouldn't let him.
"I saw it all along, John," she said. "Don't speak. Don't say a word. I
guessed your love for Minn from the very start. I don't know what I
shall do without her, John, but she's yours now; take her." Then Mother
began to cry and I couldn't help crying too. "Take him to Father,"
Mother said, and we each took one of John's wrists and took him to
Father on the back verandah. As soon as John saw Father he tried to
speak again--"I think I ought to say," he began, but Mother stopped him.
"Father," she said, "he wants to take our little girl away. He loves her
very dearly, Alfred," she said, "and I think it our duty to let her go,
no matter how hard it is, and oh, please Heaven, Alfred, he'll treat her
well and not misuse her, or beat her," and she began to sob again.

Father got up and took John by the hand and shook it warmly.

"Take her, boy," he said. "She's all yours now, take her."

So John and I were engaged, and in due time our wedding day came and we
were married. I remember that for days and days before the wedding day
John seemed very nervous and depressed; I think he was worrying, poor
boy, as to whether he could really make me happy and whether he could
fill my life as it should be filled. But I told him that he was not to
worry, because I _meant_ to be happy, and was determined just to make
the best of everything.

Father stayed with John a good deal before the wedding day, and on the
wedding morning he went and fetched him to the church in a closed
carriage and had him there all ready when we came. It was a beautiful
day in September, and the church looked just lovely. I had a beautiful
gown of white organdie with _tulle_ at the throat, and I carried a great
bunch of white roses, and Father led John up the aisle after me.

I remember that Mother cried a good deal at the wedding, and told John
that he had stolen her darling and that he must never misuse me or beat
me. And I remember that the clergyman spoke very severely to John, and
told him he hoped he realized the responsibility he was taking and that
it was his duty to make me happy. A lot of our old friends were there,
and they all spoke quite sharply to John, and all the women kissed me
and said they hoped I would never regret what I had done, and I just
kept up my spirits by sheer determination, and told them that I had made
up my mind to be happy and that I was going to be so.

So presently it was all over and we were driven to the station and got
the afternoon train for New York, and when we sat down in the
compartment among all our bandboxes and flowers, John said, "Well, thank
God, that's over." And I said, "Oh, John, an oath! on our wedding day,
an oath!" John said, "I'm sorry, Minn, I didn't mean----" but I said,
"Don't, John, don't make it worse. Swear at me if you must, but don't
make it harder to bear."

       *       *       *       *       *

We spent our honeymoon in New York. At first I had thought of going
somewhere to the great lonely woods, where I could have walked under the
great trees and felt the silence of nature, and where John should have
been my Viking and captured me with his spear, and where I should be
his and his alone and no other man should share me; and John had said
all right. Or else I had planned to go away somewhere to the seashore,
where I could have watched the great waves dashing themselves against
the rocks. I had told John that he should be my cave man, and should
seize me in his arms and carry me whither he would. I felt somehow that
for my development I wanted to get as close to nature as ever I
could--that my mind seemed to be reaching out for a great emptiness. But
I looked over all the hotel and steamship folders I could find and it
seemed impossible to get good accommodation, so we came to New York. I
had a great deal of shopping to do for our new house, so I could not be
much with John, but I felt it was not right to neglect him, so I drove
him somewhere in a taxi each morning and called for him again in the
evening. One day I took him to the Metropolitan Museum, and another day
I left him at the Zoo, and another day at the aquarium. John seemed very
happy and quiet among the fishes.

So presently we came back home, and I spent many busy days in fixing and
arranging our new house. I had the drawing-room done in blue, and the
dining-room all in dark panelled wood, and a boudoir upstairs done in
pink and white enamel to match my bedroom and dressing-room. There was a
very nice little room in the basement next to the coal cellar that I
turned into a "den" for John, so that when he wanted to smoke he could
go down there and do it. John seemed to appreciate his den at once, and
often would stay down there so long that I had to call to him to come
up.

When I look back on those days they seem very bright and happy. But it
was not very long before a change came. I began to realize that John was
neglecting me. I noticed it at first in small things. I don't know just
how long it was after our marriage that John began to read the newspaper
at breakfast. At first he would only pick it up and read it in little
bits, and only on the front page. I tried not to be hurt at it, and
would go on talking just as brightly as I could, without seeming to
notice anything. But presently he went on to reading the inside part of
the paper, and then one day he opened up the financial page and folded
the paper right back and leant it against the sugar-bowl.

I could not but wonder whether John's love for me was what it had been.
Was it cooling? I asked myself. And what was cooling it? It hardly
seemed possible, when I looked back to the wild passion with which he
had proposed to me on the garden bench, that John's love was waning. But
I kept noticing different little things. One day in the spring-time I
saw John getting out a lot of fishing tackle from a box and fitting it
together. I asked him what he was going to do, and he said that he was
going to fish. I went to my room and had a good cry. It seemed dreadful
that he could neglect his wife for a few worthless fish.

So I decided to put John to the test. It had been my habit every morning
after he put his coat on to go to the office to let John have one kiss,
just one weeny kiss, to keep him happy all day. So this day when he was
getting ready I bent my head over a big bowl of flowers and pretended
not to notice. I think John must have been hurt, as I heard him steal
out on tiptoe.

Well, I realized that things had come to a dreadful state, and so I sent
over to Mother, and Mother came, and we had a good cry together. I made
up my mind to force myself to face things and just to be as bright as
ever I could. Mother and I both thought that things would be better if I
tried all I could to make something out of John. I have always felt that
every woman should make all that she can out of her husband. So I did my
best first of all to straighten up John's appearance. I shifted the
style of collar he was wearing to a tighter kind that I liked better,
and I brushed his hair straight backward instead of forward, which gave
him a much more alert look. Mother said that John needed waking up, and
so we did all we could to wake him up. Mother came over to stay with me
a good deal, and in the evenings we generally had a little music or a
game of cards.

About this time another difficulty began to come into my married life,
which I suppose I ought to have foreseen--I mean the attentions of other
gentlemen. I have always called forth a great deal of admiration in
gentlemen, but I have always done my best to act like a lady and to
discourage it in every possible way. I had been innocent enough to
suppose that this would end with married life, and it gave me a dreadful
shock to realize that such was not the case. The first one I noticed was
a young man who came to the house, at an hour when John was out, for the
purpose, so he said at least, of reading the gas meter. He looked at me
in just the boldest way and asked me to show him the way to the cellar.
I don't know whether it was a pretext or not, but I just summoned all
the courage I had and showed him to the head of the cellar stairs. I had
determined that if he tried to carry me down with him I would scream for
the servants, but I suppose something in my manner made him desist, and
he went alone. When he came up he professed to have read the meter and
he left the house quite quietly. But I thought it wiser to say nothing
to John of what had happened.

There were others too. There was a young man with large brown eyes who
came and said he had been sent to tune the piano. He came on three
separate days, and he bent his ear over the keys in such a mournful way
that I knew he must have fallen in love with me. On the last day he
offered to tune my harp for a dollar extra, but I refused, and when I
asked him instead to tune Mother's mandoline he said he didn't know how.
Of course I told John nothing of all this.

Then there was Mr. McQueen, who came to the house several times to play
cribbage with John. He had been desperately in love with me years
before--at least I remember his taking me home from a hockey match once,
and what a struggle it was for him not to come into the parlour and see
Mother for a few minutes when I asked him; and, though he was married
now and with three children, I felt sure when he came to play cribbage
with John that it _meant_ something. He was very discreet and
honourable, and never betrayed himself for a moment, and I acted my
part as if there was nothing at all behind. But one night, when he came
over to play and John had had to go out, he refused to stay even for an
instant. He had got his overshoes off before I told him that John was
out, and asked him if he wouldn't come into the parlour and hear Mother
play the mandoline, but he just made one dive for his overshoes and was
gone. I knew that he didn't dare to trust himself.

Then presently a new trouble came. I began to suspect that John was
drinking. I don't mean for a moment that he was drunk, or that he was
openly cruel to me. But at times he seemed to act so queerly, and I
noticed that one night when by accident I left a bottle of raspberry
vinegar on the sideboard overnight, it was all gone in the morning. Two
or three times when McQueen and John were to play cribbage, John would
fetch home two or three bottles of bevo with him and they would sit
sipping all evening.

I think he was drinking bevo by himself, too, though I could never be
sure of it. At any rate he often seemed queer and restless in the
evenings, and instead of staying in his den he would wander all over the
house. Once we heard him--I mean Mother and I and two lady friends who
were with us that evening--quite late (after ten o'clock) apparently
moving about in the pantry. "John," I called, "is that you?" "Yes,
Minn," he answered, quietly enough, I admit. "What are you doing there?"
I asked. "Looking for something to eat," he said. "John," I said, "you
are forgetting what is due to me as your wife. You were fed at six. Go
back."

He went. But yet I felt more and more that his love must be dwindling to
make him act as he did. I thought it all over wearily enough and asked
myself whether I had done everything I should to hold my husband's love.
I had kept him in at nights. I had cut down his smoking. I had stopped
his playing cards. What more was there that I could do?

       *       *       *       *       *

So at last the conviction came to me that I must go away. I felt that I
must get away somewhere and think things out. At first I thought of Palm
Beach, but the season had not opened and I felt somehow that I couldn't
wait. I wanted to get away somewhere by myself and just face things as
they were. So one morning I said to John, "John, I think I'd like to go
off somewhere for a little time, just to be by myself, dear, and I don't
want you to ask to come with me or to follow me, but just let me go."
John said, "All right, Minn. When are you going to start?" The cold
brutality of it cut me to the heart, and I went upstairs and had a good
cry and looked over steamship and railroad folders. I thought of Havana
for a while, because the pictures of the harbour and the castle and the
queer Spanish streets looked so attractive, but then I was afraid that
at Havana a woman alone by herself might be simply persecuted by
attentions from gentlemen. They say the Spanish temperament is something
fearful. So I decided on Bermuda instead. I felt that in a beautiful,
quiet place like Bermuda I could think everything all over and face
things, and it said on the folder that there were always at least two
English regiments in garrison there, and the English officers, whatever
their faults, always treat a woman with the deepest respect.

So I said nothing more to John, but in the next few days I got all my
arrangements made and my things packed. And when the last afternoon came
I sat down and wrote John a long letter, to leave on my boudoir table,
telling him that I had gone to Bermuda. I told him that I wanted to be
alone: I said that I couldn't tell when I would be back--that it might
be months, or it might be years, and I hoped that he would try to be as
happy as he could and forget me entirely, and to send me money on the
first of every month.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, it was just at that moment that one of those strange coincidences
happen, little things in themselves, but which seem to alter the whole
course of a person's life. I had nearly finished the letter to John that
I was to leave on the writing-desk, when just then the maid came up to
my room with a telegram. It was for John, but I thought it my duty to
open it and read it for him before I left. And I nearly fainted when I
saw that it was from a lawyer in Bermuda--of all places--and it said
that a legacy of two hundred thousand dollars had been left to John by
an uncle of his who had died there, and asking for instructions about
the disposition of it.

A great wave seemed to sweep over me, and all the wicked thoughts that
had been in my mind--for I saw now that they _were_ wicked--were driven
clean away. I thought how completely lost poor old John would feel if
all this money came to him and he didn't have to work any more and had
no one at his side to help and guide him in using it.

I tore up the wicked letter I had written, and I hurried as fast as I
could to pack up a valise with John's things (my own were packed
already, as I said). Then presently John came in, and I broke the news
to him as gently and as tenderly as I could about his uncle having left
him the money and having died. I told him that I had found out all
about the trains and the Bermuda steamer, and had everything all packed
and ready for us to leave at once. John seemed a little dazed about it
all, and kept saying that his uncle had taught him to play tennis when
he was a little boy, and he was very grateful and thankful to me for
having everything arranged, and thought it wonderful.

I had time to telephone to a few of my women friends, and they just
managed to rush round for a few minutes to say good-bye. I couldn't help
crying a little when I told them about John's uncle dying so far away
with none of us near him, and I told them about the legacy, and they
cried a little to hear of it all; and when I told them that John and I
might not come back direct from Bermuda, but might take a run over to
Europe first, they all cried some more.

We left for New York that evening, and after we had been to Bermuda and
arranged about a suitable monument for John's uncle and collected the
money, we sailed for Europe.

All through the happy time that has followed, I like to think that
through all our trials and difficulties affliction brought us safely
together at last.



III

THE SPLIT IN THE CABINET

OR, THE FATE OF ENGLAND

(_A political novel of the Days that Were_)



_III.--The Split in the Cabinet; or, The Fate of England._



CHAPTER I


"The fate of England hangs upon it," murmured Sir John Elphinspoon, as
he sank wearily into an armchair. For a moment, as he said "England,"
the baronet's eye glistened and his ears lifted as if in defiance, but
as soon as he stopped saying it his eye lost its brilliance and his ears
dropped wearily at the sides of his head.

Lady Elphinspoon looked at her husband anxiously. She could not conceal
from herself that his face, as he sank into his chair, seemed somehow
ten years older than it had been ten years ago.

"You are home early, John?" she queried.

"The House rose early, my dear," said the baronet.

"For the All England Ping-Pong match?"

"No, for the Dog Show. The Prime Minister felt that the Cabinet ought to
attend. He said that their presence there would help to bind the
colonies to us. I understand also that he has a pup in the show himself.
He took the Cabinet with him."

"And why not you?" asked Lady Elphinspoon.

"You forget, my dear," said the baronet, "as Foreign Secretary my
presence at a Dog Show might be offensive to the Shah of Persia. Had it
been a Cat Show----"

The baronet paused and shook his head in deep gloom.

"John," said his wife, "I feel that there is something more. Did
anything happen at the House?"

Sir John nodded.

"A bad business," he said. "The Wazuchistan Boundary Bill was read this
afternoon for the third time."

No woman in England, so it was generally said, had a keener political
insight than Lady Elphinspoon.

"The third time," she repeated thoughtfully, "and how many more will it
have to go?"

Sir John turned his head aside and groaned.

"You are faint," exclaimed Lady Elphinspoon, "let me ring for tea."

The baronet shook his head.

"An egg, John--let me beat you up an egg."

"Yes, yes," murmured Sir John, still abstracted, "beat it, yes, do beat
it."

Lady Elphinspoon, in spite of her elevated position as the wife of the
Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, held it not beneath her to perform
for her husband the plainest household service. She rang for an egg. The
butler broke it for her into a tall goblet filled with old sherry, and
the noble lady, with her own hands, beat the stuff out of it. For the
veteran politician, whose official duties rarely allowed him to eat, an
egg was a sovereign remedy. Taken either in a goblet of sherry or in a
mug of rum, or in half a pint of whisky, it never failed to revive his
energies.

The effect of the egg was at once visible in the brightening of his eye
and the lengthening of his ears.

"And now explain to me," said his wife, "what has happened. What _is_
this Boundary Bill?"

"We never meant it to pass," said Sir John. "It was introduced only as a
sop to public opinion. It delimits our frontier in such a way as to
extend our suzerainty over the entire desert of El Skrub. The Wazoos
have claimed that this is their desert. The hill tribes are restless. If
we attempt to advance the Wazoos will rise. If we retire it deals a blow
at our prestige."

Lady Elphinspoon shuddered. Her long political training had taught her
that nothing was so fatal to England as to be hit in the prestige.

"And on the other hand," continued Sir John, "if we move sideways, the
Ohulîs, the mortal enemies of the Wazoos, will strike us in our rear."

"In our rear!" exclaimed Lady Elphinspoon in a tone of pain. "Oh, John,
we must go forward. Take another egg."

"We cannot," groaned the Foreign Secretary. "There are reasons which I
cannot explain even to you, Caroline, reasons of State, which absolutely
prevent us from advancing into Wazuchistan. Our hands are tied. Meantime
if the Wazoos rise, it is all over with us. It will split the Cabinet."

"Split the Cabinet!" repeated Lady Elphinspoon in alarm. She well knew
that next to a blow in the prestige the splitting of the Cabinet was
about the worst thing that could happen to Great Britain. "Oh, John,
they _must_ be held together at all costs. Can nothing be done?"

"Everything is being done that can be. The Prime Minister has them at
the Dog Show at this moment. To-night the Chancellor is taking them to
moving pictures. And to-morrow--it is a State secret, my dear, but it
will be very generally known in the morning--we have seats for them all
at the circus. If we can hold them together all is well, but if they
split we are undone. Meantime our difficulties increase. At the very
passage of the Bill itself a question was asked by one of the new labour
members, a miner, my dear, a quite uneducated man----"

"Yes?" queried Lady Elphinspoon.

"He asked the Colonial Secretary"--Sir John shuddered--"to tell him
where Wazuchistan is. Worse than that, my dear," added Sir John, "he
defied him to tell him where it is."

"What did you do? Surely he has no right to information of that sort?"

"It was a close shave. Luckily the Whips saved us. They got the
Secretary out of the House and rushed him to the British Museum. When he
got back he said that he would answer the question a month from Friday.
We got a great burst of cheers, but it was a close thing. But stop, I
must speak at once with Powers. My despatch box, yes, here it is. Now
where is young Powers? There is work for him to do at once."

"Mr. Powers is in the conservatory with Angela," said Lady Elphinspoon.

"With Angela!" exclaimed Sir John, while a slight shade of displeasure
appeared upon his brow. "With Angela again! Do you think it quite
proper, my dear, that Powers should be so constantly with Angela?"

"John," said his wife, "you forget, I think, who Mr. Powers is. I am
sure that Angela knows too well what is due to her rank, and to herself,
to consider Mr. Powers anything more than an instructive companion. And
I notice that, since Mr. Powers has been your secretary, Angela's mind
is much keener. Already the girl has a wonderful grasp on foreign
policy. Only yesterday I heard her asking the Prime Minister at luncheon
whether we intend to extend our Senegambian protectorate over the
Fusees. He was delighted."

"Oh, very well, very well," said Sir John. Then he rang a bell for a
manservant.

"Ask Mr. Powers," he said, "to be good enough to attend me in the
library."



CHAPTER II


Angela Elphinspoon stood with Perriton Powers among the begonias of the
conservatory. The same news which had so agitated Sir John lay heavy on
both their hearts.

"Will the Wazoo rise?" asked Angela, clasping her hands before her,
while her great eyes sought the young man's face and found it. "Oh, Mr.
Powers! Tell me, will they rise? It seems too dreadful to contemplate.
Do you think the Wazoo will rise?"

"It is only too likely," said Powers. They stood looking into one
another's eyes, their thoughts all on the Wazoo.

Angelina Elphinspoon, as she stood there against the background of the
begonias, made a picture that a painter, or even a plumber, would have
loved. Tall and typically English in her fair beauty, her features, in
repose, had something of the hauteur and distinction of her mother, and
when in motion they recalled her father.

Perriton Powers was even taller than Angela. The splendid frame and
stern features of Sir John's secretary made him a striking figure. Yet
he was, quite frankly, sprung from the people, and made no secret of it.
His father had been simply a well-to-do London surgeon, who had been
knighted for some mere discoveries in science. His grandfather, so it
was whispered, had been nothing more than a successful banker who had
amassed a fortune simply by successful banking. Yet at Oxford young
Powers had carried all before him. He had occupied a seat, a front seat,
in one of the boats, had got his blue and his pink, and had taken a
double final in Sanscrit and Arithmetic.

He had already travelled widely in the East, spoke Urdu and Hoodoo with
facility, while as secretary to Sir John Elphinspoon, with a seat in the
House in prospect, he had his foot upon the ladder of success.

"Yes," repeated Powers thoughtfully, "they may rise. Our confidential
despatches tell us that for some time they have been secretly passing
round packets of yeast. The whole tribe is in a ferment."

"But our sphere of influence is at stake," exclaimed Angela.

"It is," said Powers. "As a matter of fact, for over a year we have been
living on a mere _modus vivendi_."

"Oh, Mr. Powers," cried Angela, "what a way to live."

"We have tried everything," said the secretary. "We offered the Wazoo a
condominium over the desert of El Skrub. They refused it."

"But it's our desert," said Angela proudly.

"It is. But what can we do? The best we can hope is that El Boob will
acquiesce in the _status quo_."

At that moment a manservant appeared in the doorway of the conservatory.

"Mr. Powers, sir," he said, "Sir John desires your attendance, sir, in
the library, sir."

Powers turned to Angela, a new seriousness upon his face.

"Miss Elphinspoon," he said, "I think I know what is coming. Will you
wait for me here? I shall be back in half an hour."

"I will wait," said the girl. She sat down and waited among the
begonias, her mind still on the Wazoo, her whole intense nature strung
to the highest pitch. "Can the _modus vivendi_ hold?" she murmured.

In half an hour Powers returned. He was wearing now his hat and light
overcoat, and carried on a strap round his neck a tin box with a white
painted label, "_British Foreign Office. Confidential Despatches. This
Side Up With Care._"

"Miss Elphinspoon," he said, and there was a new note in his voice,
"Angela, I leave England to-night----"

"To-night!" gasped Angela.

"On a confidential mission."

"To Wazuchistan!" exclaimed the girl.

Powers paused a moment. "To Wazuchistan," he said, "yes. But it must not
be known. I shall return in a month--or never. If I fail"--he spoke with
an assumed lightness--"it is only one more grave among the hills. If I
succeed, the Cabinet is saved, and with it the destiny of England."

"Oh, Mr. Powers," cried Angela, rising and advancing towards him, "how
splendid! How noble! No reward will be too great for you."

"My reward," said Powers, and as he spoke he reached out and clasped
both of the girl's hands in his own, "yes, my reward. May I come and
claim it here?"

For a moment he looked straight into her eyes. In the next he was gone,
and Angela was alone.

"His reward!" she murmured. "What could he have meant? His reward that
he is to claim. What can it be?"

But she could not divine it. She admitted to herself that she had not
the faintest idea.



CHAPTER III


In the days that followed all England was thrilled to its base as the
news spread that the Wazoo might rise at any moment.

"Will the Wazoos rise?" was the question upon every lip.

In London men went to their offices with a sense of gloom. At lunch they
could hardly eat. A feeling of impending disaster pervaded all ranks.

Sir John as he passed to and fro to the House was freely accosted in the
streets.

"Will the Wazoos rise, sir?" asked an honest labourer. "Lord help us
all, sir, if they do."

Sir John, deeply touched, dropped a shilling in the honest fellow's hat,
by accident.

At No. 10 Downing Street, women of the working class, with children in
their arms, stood waiting for news.

On the Exchange all was excitement. Consols fell two points in
twenty-four hours. Even raising the Bank rate and shutting the door
brought only a temporary relief.

Lord Glump, the greatest financial expert in London, was reported as
saying that if the Wazoos rose England would be bankrupt in forty-eight
hours.

Meanwhile, to the consternation of the whole nation, the Government did
nothing. The Cabinet seemed to be paralysed.

On the other hand the Press became all the more clamorous. The London
_Times_ urged that an expedition should be sent at once. Twenty-five
thousand household troops, it argued, should be sent up the Euphrates or
up the Ganges or up something without delay. If they were taken in flat
boats, carried over the mountains on mules, and lifted across the rivers
in slings, they could then be carried over the desert on jackasses. They
could reach Wazuchistan in two years. Other papers counselled
moderation. The _Manchester Guardian_ recalled the fact that the Wazoos
were a Christian people. Their leader, El Boob, so it was said, had
accepted Christianity with childlike simplicity and had asked if there
was any more of it. The _Spectator_ claimed that the Wazoos, or more
properly the Wazi, were probably the descendants of an Iranic or perhaps
Urgumic stock. It suggested the award of a Rhodes Scholarship. It looked
forward to the days when there would be Wazoos at Oxford. Even the
presence of a single Wazoo, or, more accurately, a single Wooz, would
help.

With each day the news became more ominous. It was reported in the Press
that a Wazoo, inflamed apparently with _ghee_, or perhaps with _bhong_,
had rushed up to the hills and refused to come down. It was said that
the Shriek-el-Foozlum, the religious head of the tribe, had torn off his
suspenders and sent them to Mecca.

That same day the _Illustrated London News_ published a drawing "Wazoo
Warriors Crossing a River and Shouting, Ho!" and the general
consternation reached its height.

Meantime, for Sir John and his colleagues, the question of the hour
became, "Could the Cabinet be held together?" Every effort was made. The
news that the Cabinet had all been seen together at the circus, for a
moment reassured the nation. But the rumour spread that the First Lord
of the Admiralty had said that the clowns were a bum lot. The Radical
Press claimed that if he thought so he ought to resign.

On the fatal Friday the question already referred to was scheduled for
its answer. The friends of the Government counted on the answer to
restore confidence. To the consternation of all, the expected answer was
not forthcoming. The Colonial Secretary rose in his place, visibly
nervous. Ministers, he said, had been asked where Wazuchistan was. They
were not prepared, at the present delicate stage of negotiations, to
say. More hung upon the answer than Ministers were entitled to divulge.
They could only appeal to the patriotism of the nation. He could only
say this, that _wherever_ it was, and he used the word _wherever_ with
all the emphasis of which he was capable, the Government would accept
the full responsibility for its being where it was.

The House adjourned in something like confusion.

Among those seated behind the grating of the Ladies' Gallery was Lady
Elphinspoon. Her quick instinct told her the truth. Driving home, she
found her husband seated, crushed, in his library.

"John," she said, falling on her knees and taking her husband's hands
in hers, "is this true? Is this the dreadful truth?"

"I see you have divined it, Caroline," said the statesman sadly. "It is
the truth. We don't know where Wazuchistan is."

For a moment there was silence.

"But, John, how could it have happened?"

"We thought the Colonial Office knew. We were confident that they knew.
The Colonial Secretary had stated that he had been there. Later on it
turned out that he meant Saskatchewan. Of course they thought _we_ knew.
And we both thought that the Exchequer must know. We understood that
they had collected a hut tax for ten years."

"And hadn't they?"

"Not a penny. The Wazoos live in tents."

"But, surely," pleaded Lady Elphinspoon, "you could find out. Had you no
maps?"

Sir John shook his head.

"We thought of that at once, my dear. We've looked all through the
British Museum. Once we thought we had succeeded. But it turned out to
be Wisconsin."

"But the map in the _Times_? Everybody saw it."

Again the baronet shook his head. "Lord Southcliff had it made in the
office," he said. "It appears that he always does. Otherwise the
physical features might not suit him."

"But could you not send some one to see?"

"We did. We sent Perriton Powers to find out where it was. We had a
month to the good. It was barely time, just time. Powers has failed and
we are lost. To-morrow all England will guess the truth and the
Government falls."



CHAPTER IV


The crowd outside of No. 10 Downing Street that evening was so dense
that all traffic was at a standstill. But within the historic room where
the Cabinet were seated about the long table all was calm. Few could
have guessed from the quiet demeanour of the group of statesmen that the
fate of an Empire hung by a thread.

Seated at the head of the table, the Prime Minister was quietly looking
over a book of butterflies, while waiting for the conference to begin.
Beside him the Secretary for Ireland was fixing trout flies, while the
Chancellor of the Exchequer kept his serene face bent over upon his
needlework. At the Prime Minister's right, Sir John Elphinspoon, no
longer agitated, but sustained and dignified by the responsibility of
his office, was playing spillikins.

The little clock on the mantel chimed eight.

The Premier closed his book of butterflies.

"Well, gentlemen," he said, "I fear our meeting will not be a protracted
one. It seems we are hopelessly at variance. You, Sir Charles," he
continued, turning to the First Sea Lord, who was in attendance, "are
still in favour of a naval expedition?"

"Send it up at once," said Sir Charles.

"Up where?" asked the Premier.

"Up anything," answered the Old Sea Dog, "it will get there."

Voices of dissent were raised in undertones around the table.

"I strongly deprecate any expedition," said the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, "I favour a convention with the Shriek. Let the Shriek sign a
convention recognizing the existence of a supreme being and receiving
from us a million sterling in acknowledgment."

"And where will you _find_ the Shriek?" said the Prime Minister. "Come,
come, gentlemen, I fear that we can play this comedy no longer. The
truth is," he added with characteristic nonchalance, "we don't know
where the bally place is. We can't meet the House to-morrow. We are
hopelessly split. Our existence as a Government is at an end."

But, at that very moment, a great noise of shouting and clamour rose
from the street without. The Prime Minister lifted his hand for silence.
"Listen," he said. One of the Ministers went to a window and opened it,
and the cries outside became audible. "A King's Messenger! Make way for
the King's Messenger!"

The Premier turned quietly to Sir John.

"Perriton Powers," he said.

In another moment Perriton Powers stood before the Ministers.

Bronzed by the tropic sun, his face was recognizable only by the assured
glance of his eye. An Afghan _bernous_ was thrown back from his head and
shoulders, while his commanding figure was draped in a long _chibuok_. A
pair of pistols and a curved _yasmak_ were in his belt.

"So you got to Wazuchistan all right," said the Premier quietly.

"I went in by way of the Barooda," said Powers. "For many days I was
unable to cross it. The waters of the river were wild and swollen with
rains. To cross it seemed certain death----"

"But at last you got over," said the Premier, "and then----"

"I struck out over the Fahuri desert. For days and days, blinded by the
sun, and almost buried in sand, I despaired."

"But you got through it all right. And after that?"

"My first care was to disguise myself. Staining myself from head to
foot with betel nut----"

"To look like a beetle," said the Premier. "Exactly. And so you got to
Wazuchistan. Where is it and what is it?"

"My lord," said Powers, drawing himself up and speaking with emphasis,
"I got to where it was thought to be. There is no such place!"

The whole Cabinet gave a start of astonishment.

"No such place!" they repeated.

"What about El Boob?" asked the Chancellor.

"There is no such person."

"And the Shriek-el-Foozlum?"

Powers shook his head.

"But do you mean to say," said the Premier in astonishment, "that there
are no Wazoos? There you _must_ be wrong. True we don't just know where
they are. But our despatches have shown too many signs of active trouble
traced directly to the Wazoos to disbelieve in them. There are Wazoos
somewhere, there--there _must_ be."

"The Wazoos," said Powers, "are there. But they are Irish. So are the
Ohulîs. They are both Irish."

"But how the devil did they get out there?" questioned the Premier. "And
why did they make the trouble?"

"The Irish, my lord," interrupted the Chief Secretary for Ireland, "are
everywhere, and it is their business to make trouble."

"Some years ago," continued Powers, "a few Irish families settled out
there. The Ohulîs should be properly called the O'Hooleys. The word
Wazoo is simply the Urdu for McGinnis. El Boob is the Urdu for the
Arabic El Papa, the Pope. It was my knowledge of Urdu, itself an
agglutinative language----"

"Precisely," said the Premier. Then he turned to his Cabinet. "Well,
gentlemen, our task is now simplified. If they are Irish, I think we
know exactly what to do. I suppose," he continued, turning to Powers,
"that they want some kind of Home Rule."

"They do," said Powers.

"Separating, of course, the Ohulî counties from the Wazoo?"

"Yes," said Powers.

"Precisely; the thing is simplicity itself. And what contribution will
they make to the Imperial Exchequer?"

"None."

"And will they pay their own expenses?"

"They refuse to."

"Exactly. All this is plain sailing. Of course they must have a
constabulary. Lord Edward," continued the Premier, turning now to the
Secretary of War, "how long will it take to send in a couple of hundred
constabulary? I think they'll expect it, you know. It's their right."

"Let me see," said Lord Edward, calculating quickly, with military
precision, "sending them over the Barooda in buckets and then over the
mountains in baskets--I think in about two weeks."

"Good," said the Premier. "Gentlemen, we shall meet the House to-morrow.
Sir John, will you meantime draft us an annexation bill? And you, young
man, what you have done is really not half bad. His Majesty will see you
to-morrow. I am glad that you are safe."

"On my way home," said Powers, with quiet modesty, "I was attacked by a
lion----"

"But you beat it off," said the Premier. "Exactly. Good night."



CHAPTER V


It was on the following afternoon that Sir John Elphinspoon presented
the Wazoo Annexation Bill to a crowded and breathless House.

Those who know the House of Commons know that it has its moods. At times
it is grave, earnest, thoughtful. At other times it is swept with
emotion which comes at it in waves. Or at times, again, it just seems to
sit there as if it were stuffed.

But all agreed that they had never seen the House so hushed as when Sir
John Elphinspoon presented his Bill for the Annexation of Wazuchistan.
And when at the close of a splendid peroration he turned to pay a
graceful compliment to the man who had saved the nation, and thundered
forth to the delighted ears of his listeners--

     _Arma virumque cano Wazoo qui primus ab oris_,

and then, with the words "England, England," still on his lips, fell
over backwards and was carried out on a stretcher, the House broke into
wild and unrestrained applause.



CHAPTER VI


The next day Sir Perriton Powers--for the King had knighted him after
breakfast--stood again in the conservatory of the house in Carlton
Terrace.

"I have come for my reward," he said. "Do I get it?"

"You do," said Angela.

Sir Perriton clasped her in his arms.

"On my way home," he said, "I was attacked by a lion. I tried to beat
it----"

"Hush, dearest," she whispered, "let me take you to father."



IV

WHO DO YOU THINK DID IT?

OR, THE MIXED-UP MURDER MYSTERY

(_Done after the very latest fashion in this sort of thing_)



_IV.--Who Do You Think Did It? or, The Mixed-Up Murder Mystery._

_NOTE.--Any reader who guesses correctly who did it is entitled (in all
fairness) to a beautiful gold watch and chain._



CHAPTER I

HE DINED WITH ME LAST NIGHT


The afternoon edition of the _Metropolitan Planet_ was going to press.
Five thousand copies a minute were reeling off its giant cylinders. A
square acre of paper was passing through its presses every hour. In the
huge _Planet_ building, which dominated Broadway, employés, compositors,
reporters, advertisers, surged to and fro. Placed in a single line
(only, of course, they wouldn't be likely to consent to it) they would
have reached across Manhattan Island. Placed in two lines, they would
probably have reached twice as far. Arranged in a procession they would
have taken an hour in passing a saloon: easily that.

In the whole vast building all was uproar. Telephones, megaphones and
gramophones were ringing throughout the building. Elevators flew up and
down, stopping nowhere.

Only in one place was quiet--namely, in the room where sat the big man
on whose capacious intellect the whole organization depended.

Masterman Throgton, the general manager of the _Planet_, was a man in
middle life. There was something in his massive frame which suggested
massiveness, and a certain quality in the poise of his great head which
indicated a balanced intellect. His face was impenetrable and his
expression imponderable.

The big chief was sitting in his swivel chair with ink all round him.
Through this man's great brain passed all the threads and filaments that
held the news of a continent. Snap one, and the whole continent would
stop.

At the moment when our story opens (there was no sense in opening it
sooner), a written message had just been handed in.

The Chief read it. He seemed to grasp its contents in a flash.

"Good God!" he exclaimed. It was the strongest expression that this
solid, self-contained, semi-detached man ever allowed himself. Anything
stronger would have seemed too near to profanity. "Good God!" he
repeated, "Kivas Kelly murdered! In his own home! Why, he dined with me
last night! I drove him home!"

For a brief moment the big man remained plunged in thought. But with
Throgton the moment of musing was short. His instinct was to act.

"You may go," he said to the messenger. Then he seized the telephone
that stood beside him (this man could telephone almost without stopping
thinking) and spoke into it in quiet, measured tones, without wasting a
word.

"Hullo, operator! Put me through to two, two, two, two, two. Is that
two, two, two, two, two? Hullo, two, two, two, two, two; I want
Transome Kent. Kent speaking? Kent, this is Throgton speaking. Kent, a
murder has been committed at the Kelly residence, Riverside Drive. I
want you to go and cover it. Get it all. Don't spare expense. The
_Planet_ is behind you. Have you got car-fare? Right."

In another moment the big chief had turned round in his swivel chair (at
least forty degrees) and was reading telegraphic despatches from
Jerusalem. That was the way he did things.



CHAPTER II

I MUST SAVE HER LIFE


Within a few minutes Transome Kent had leapt into a car (a surface car)
and was speeding north towards Riverside Drive with the full power of
the car. As he passed uptown a newsboy was already calling, "Club Man
Murdered! Another Club Man Murdered!" Carelessly throwing a cent to the
boy, Kent purchased a paper and read the brief notice of the tragedy.

Kivas Kelly, a well-known club man and _bon vivant_, had been found dead
in his residence on Riverside Drive, with every indication--or, at
least, with a whole lot of indications--of murder. The unhappy club man
had been found, fully dressed in his evening clothes, lying on his back
on the floor of the billiard-room, with his feet stuck up on the edge of
the table. A narrow black scarf, presumably his evening tie, was twisted
tightly about his neck by means of a billiard cue inserted in it. There
was a quiet smile upon his face. He had apparently died from
strangulation. A couple of bullet-holes passed through his body, one on
each side, but they went out again. His suspenders were burst at the
back. His hands were folded across his chest. One of them still held a
white billiard ball. There was no sign of a struggle or of any
disturbance in the room. A square piece of cloth was missing from the
victim's dinner jacket.

In its editorial columns the same paper discussed the more general
aspects of the murder. This, it said, was the third club man murdered in
the last fortnight. While not taking an alarmist view, the paper felt
that the killing of club men had got to stop. There was a limit, a
reasonable limit, to everything. Why should a club man be killed? It
might be asked, why should a club man live? But this was hardly to the
point. They do live. After all, to be fair, what does a club man ask of
society? Not much. Merely wine, women and singing. Why not let him have
them? Is it fair to kill him? Does the gain to literature outweigh the
social wrong? The writer estimated that at the rate of killing now going
on the club men would be all destroyed in another generation. Something
should be done to conserve them.

Transome Kent was not a detective. He was a reporter. After sweeping
everything at Harvard in front of him, and then behind him, he had
joined the staff of the _Planet_ two months before. His rise had been
phenomenal. In his first week of work he had unravelled a mystery, in
his second he had unearthed a packing scandal which had poisoned the
food of the entire nation for ten years, and in his third he had
pitilessly exposed some of the best and most respectable people in the
metropolis. Kent's work on the _Planet_ consisted now almost exclusively
of unravelling and unearthing, and it was natural that the manager
should turn to him.

The mansion was a handsome sandstone residence, standing in its own
grounds. On Kent's arrival he found that the police had already drawn a
cordon around it with cords. Groups of morbid curiosity-seekers hung
about it in twos and threes, some of them in fours and fives. Policemen
were leaning against the fence in all directions. They wore that baffled
look so common to the detective force of the metropolis. "It seems to
me," remarked one of them to the man beside him, "that there is an
inexorable chain of logic about this that I am unable to follow." "So do
I," said the other.

The Chief Inspector of the Detective Department, a large, heavy-looking
man, was standing beside a gate-post. He nodded gloomily to Transome
Kent.

"Are you baffled, Edwards?" asked Kent.

"Baffled again, Mr. Kent," said the Inspector, with a sob in his voice.
"I thought I could have solved this one, but I can't."

He passed a handkerchief across his eyes.

"Have a cigar, Chief," said Kent, "and let me hear what the trouble is."

The Inspector brightened. Like all policemen, he was simply crazy over
cigars. "All right, Mr. Kent," he said, "wait till I chase away the
morbid curiosity-seekers."

He threw a stick at them.

"Now, then," continued Kent, "what about tracks, footmarks? Had you
thought of them?"

"Yes, first thing. The whole lawn is covered with them, all stamped
down. Look at these, for instance. These are the tracks of a man with a
wooden leg"--Kent nodded--"in all probability a sailor, newly landed
from Java, carrying a Singapore walking-stick, and with a tin-whistle
tied round his belt."

"Yes, I see that," said Kent thoughtfully. "The weight of the whistle
weighs him down a little on the right side."

"Do you think, Mr. Kent, a sailor from Java with a wooden leg would
commit a murder like this?" asked the Inspector eagerly. "Would he do
it?"

"He would," said the Investigator. "They generally do--as soon as they
land."

The Inspector nodded. "And look at these marks here, Mr. Kent. You
recognize them, surely--those are the footsteps of a bar-keeper out of
employment, waiting for the eighteenth amendment to pass away. See how
deeply they sink in----"

"Yes," said Kent, "he'd commit murder."

"There are lots more," continued the Inspector, "but they're no good.
The morbid curiosity-seekers were walking all over this place while we
were drawing the cordon round it."

"Stop a bit," said Kent, pausing to think a moment. "What about
thumb-prints?"

"Thumb-prints," said the Inspector. "Don't mention them. The house is
full of them."

"Any thumb-prints of Italians with that peculiar incurvature of the ball
of the thumb that denotes a Sicilian brigand?"

"There were three of those," said Inspector Edwards gloomily. "No, Mr.
Kent, the thumb stuff is no good."

Kent thought again.

"Inspector," he said, "what about mysterious women? Have you seen any
around?"

"Four went by this morning," said the Inspector, "one at eleven-thirty,
one at twelve-thirty, and two together at one-thirty. At least," he
added sadly, "I think they were mysterious. All women look mysterious to
me."

"I must try in another direction," said Kent. "Let me reconstruct the
whole thing. I must weave a chain of analysis. Kivas Kelly was a
bachelor, was he not?"

"He was. He lived alone here."

"Very good, I suppose he had in his employ a butler who had been with
him for twenty years----"

Edwards nodded.

"I suppose you've arrested him?"

"At once," said the Inspector. "We always arrest the butler, Mr. Kent.
They expect it. In fact, this man, Williams, gave himself up at once."

"And let me see," continued the Investigator. "I presume there was a
housekeeper who lived on the top floor, and who had been stone deaf for
ten years?"

"Precisely."

"She had heard nothing during the murder?"

"Not a thing. But this may have been on account of her deafness."

"True, true," murmured Kent. "And I suppose there was a coachman, a
thoroughly reliable man, who lived with his wife at the back of the
house----"

"But who had taken his wife over to see a relation on the night of the
murder, and who did not return until an advanced hour. Mr. Kent, we've
been all over that. There's nothing in it."

"Were there any other persons belonging to the establishment?"

"There was Mr. Kelly's stenographer, Alice Delary, but she only came in
the mornings."

"Have you seen her?" asked Kent eagerly. "What is she like?"

"I have seen her," said the Inspector. "She's a looloo."

"Ha," said Kent, "a looloo!" The two men looked into one another's eyes.

"Yes," repeated Edwards thoughtfully, "a peach."

A sudden swift flash of intuition, an inspiration, leapt into the young
reporter's brain.

This girl, this peach, at all hazards he must save her life.



CHAPTER III

I MUST BUY A BOOK ON BILLIARDS


Kent turned to the Inspector. "Take me into the house," he said. Edwards
led the way. The interior of the handsome mansion seemed undisturbed. "I
see no sign of a struggle here," said Kent.

"No," answered the Inspector gloomily. "We can find no sign of a
struggle anywhere. But, then, we never do."

He opened for the moment the door of the stately drawing-room. "No sign
of a struggle there," he said. The closed blinds, the draped furniture,
the covered piano, the muffled chandelier, showed absolutely no sign of
a struggle.

"Come upstairs to the billiard-room," said Edwards. "The body has been
removed for the inquest, but nothing else is disturbed."

They went upstairs. On the second floor was the billiard-room, with a
great English table in the centre of it. But Kent had at once dashed
across to the window, an exclamation on his lips. "Ha! ha!" he said,
"what have we here?"

The Inspector shook his head quietly. "The window," he said in a
monotonous, almost sing-song tone, "has apparently been opened from the
outside, the sash being lifted with some kind of a sharp instrument. The
dust on the sill outside has been disturbed as if by a man of
extraordinary agility lying on his stomach----Don't bother about that,
Mr. Kent. It's _always_ there."

"True," said Kent. Then he cast his eyes upward, and again an
involuntary exclamation broke from him. "Did you see that trap-door?" he
asked.

"We did," said Edwards. "The dust around the rim has been disturbed. The
trap opens into the hollow of the roof. A man of extraordinary dexterity
might open the trap with a billiard cue, throw up a fine manila rope,
climb up the rope and lie there on his stomach.

"No use," continued the Inspector. "For the matter of that, look at this
huge old-fashioned fireplace. A man of extraordinary precocity could
climb up the chimney. Or this dumb-waiter on a pulley, for serving
drinks, leading down into the maids' quarters. A man of extreme
indelicacy might ride up and down in it."

"Stop a minute," said Kent. "What is the meaning of that hat?"

A light gossamer hat, gay with flowers, hung on a peg at the side of the
room.

"We thought of that," said Edwards, "and we have left it there. Whoever
comes for that hat has had a hand in the mystery. We think----"

But Transome Kent was no longer listening. He had seized the edge of the
billiard table.

"Look, look!" he cried eagerly. "The clue to the mystery! The positions
of the billiard balls! The white ball in the very centre of the table,
and the red just standing on the verge of the end pocket! What does it
mean, Edwards, what does it mean?"

He had grasped Edwards by the arm and was peering into his face.

"I don't know," said the Inspector. "I don't play billiards."

"Neither do I," said Kent, "but I can find out. Quick! The nearest
book-store. I must buy a book on billiards."

With a wave of the arm, Kent vanished.

The Inspector stood for a moment in thought.

"Gone!" he murmured to himself (it was his habit to murmur all really
important speeches aloud to himself). "Now, why did Throgton telephone
to me to put a watch on Kent? Ten dollars a day to shadow him! Why?"



CHAPTER IV

THAT IS NOT BILLIARD CHALK


Meantime at the _Planet_ office Masterman Throgton was putting on his
coat to go home.

"Excuse me, sir," said an employé, "there's a lot of green billiard
chalk on your sleeve."

Throgton turned and looked the man full in the eye.

"That is not billiard chalk," he said, "it is face powder."

Saying which this big, imperturbable, self-contained man stepped into
the elevator and went to the ground floor in one drop.



CHAPTER V

HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLY?


The inquest upon the body of Kivas Kelly was held upon the following
day. Far from offering any solution of what had now become an
unfathomable mystery, it only made it deeper still. The medical
testimony, though given by the most distinguished consulting expert of
the city, was entirely inconclusive. The body, the expert testified,
showed evident marks of violence. There was a distinct lesion of the
oesophagus and a decided excoriation of the fibula. The mesodenum was
gibbous. There was a certain quantity of flab in the binomium and the
proscenium was wide open.

One striking fact, however, was decided from the testimony of the
expert, namely, that the stomach of the deceased was found to contain
half a pint of arsenic. On this point the questioning of the district
attorney was close and technical. Was it unusual, he asked, to find
arsenic in the stomach? In the stomach of a club man, no. Was not half
a pint a large quantity? He would not say that. Was it a small quantity?
He should not care to say that it was. Would half a pint of arsenic
cause death? Of a club man, no, not necessarily. That was all.

The other testimony submitted to the inquest jury brought out various
facts of a substantive character, but calculated rather to complicate
than to unravel the mystery. The butler swore that on the very day of
the murder he had served his master a half-pint of arsenic at lunch. But
he claimed that this was quite a usual happening with his master. On
cross-examination it appeared that he meant apollinaris. He was certain,
however, that it was half a pint. The butler, it was shown, had been in
Kivas Kelly's employ for twenty years.

The coachman, an Irishman, was closely questioned. He had been in Mr.
Kelly's employ for three years--ever since his arrival from the old
country. Was it true that he had had, on the day of the murder, a
violent quarrel with his master? It was. Had he threatened to kill him?
No. He had threatened to knock his block off, but not to kill him.

The coroner looked at his notes. "Call Alice Delary," he commanded.
There was a deep sensation in the court as Miss Delary quietly stepped
forward to her place in the witness-box.

Tall, graceful and willowy, Alice Delary was in her first burst of
womanhood. Those who looked at the beautiful girl realized that if her
first burst was like this, what would the second, or the third be like?

The girl was trembling, and evidently distressed, but she gave her
evidence in a clear, sweet, low voice. She had been in Mr. Kelly's
employ three years. She was his stenographer. But she came only in the
mornings and always left at lunch-time. The question immediately asked
by the jury--"Where did she generally have lunch?"--was disallowed by
the coroner. Asked by a member of the jury what system of shorthand she
used, she answered, "Pitman's." Asked by another juryman whether she
ever cared to go to moving pictures, she said that she went
occasionally. This created a favourable impression. "Miss Delary," said
the district attorney, "I want to ask if it is your hat that was found
hanging in the billiard-room after the crime?"

"Don't you dare ask that girl that," interrupted the magistrate. "Miss
Delary, you may step down."

But the principal sensation of the day arose out of the evidence offered
by Masterman Throgton, general manager of the _Planet_. Kivas Kelly, he
testified, had dined with him at his club on the fateful evening. He had
afterwards driven him to his home.

"When you went into the house with the deceased," asked the district
attorney, "how long did you remain there with him?"

"That," said Throgton quietly, "I must refuse to answer."

"Would it incriminate you?" asked the coroner, leaning forward.

"It might," said Throgton.

"Then you're perfectly right not to answer it," said the coroner.
"Don't ask him that any more. Ask something else."

"Then did you," questioned the attorney, turning to Throgton again,
"play a game of billiards with the deceased?"

"Stop, stop," said the coroner, "that question I can't allow. It's too
direct, too brutal; there's something about that question, something
mean, dirty. Ask another."

"Very good," said the attorney. "Then tell me, Mr. Throgton, if you ever
saw this blue envelope before?" He held up in his hand a long blue
envelope.

"Never in my life," said Throgton.

"Of course he didn't," said the coroner. "Let's have a look at it. What
is it?"

"This envelope, your Honour, was found sticking out of the waistcoat
pocket of the deceased."

"You don't say," said the coroner. "And what's in it?"

Amid breathless silence, the attorney drew forth a sheet of blue paper,
bearing a stamp, and read:

"This is the last will and testament of me, Kivas Kelly of New York. I
leave everything of which I die possessed to my nephew, Peter Kelly."

The entire room gasped. No one spoke. The coroner looked all around.
"Has anybody here seen Kelly?" he asked.

There was no answer.

The coroner repeated the question.

No one moved.

"Mr. Coroner," said the attorney, "it is my opinion that if Peter Kelly
is found the mystery is fathomed."

Ten minutes later the jury returned a verdict of murder against a person
or persons unknown, adding that they would bet a dollar that Kelly did
it.

The coroner ordered the butler to be released, and directed the issue of
a warrant for the arrest of Peter Kelly.



CHAPTER VI

SHOW ME THE MAN WHO WORE THOSE BOOTS


The remains of the unhappy club man were buried on the following day as
reverently as those of a club man can be. None followed him to the grave
except a few morbid curiosity-seekers, who rode on top of the hearse.

The great city turned again to its usual avocations. The unfathomable
mystery was dismissed from the public mind.

Meantime Transome Kent was on the trail. Sleepless, almost foodless, and
absolutely drinkless, he was everywhere. He was looking for Peter Kelly.
Wherever crowds were gathered, the Investigator was there, searching for
Kelly. In the great concourse of the Grand Central Station, Kent moved
to and fro, peering into everybody's face. An official touched him on
the shoulder. "Stop peering into the people's faces," he said. "I am
unravelling a mystery," Kent answered. "I beg your pardon, sir," said
the man, "I didn't know."

Kent was here, and everywhere, moving ceaselessly, pro and con, watching
for Kelly. For hours he stood beside the soda-water fountains examining
every drinker as he drank. For three days he sat on the steps of
Masterman Throgton's home, disguised as a plumber waiting for a wrench.

But still no trace of Peter Kelly. Young Kelly, it appeared, had lived
with his uncle until a little less than three years ago. Then suddenly
he had disappeared. He had vanished, as a brilliant writer for the New
York Press framed it, as if the earth had swallowed him up.

Transome Kent, however, was not a man to be baffled by initial defeat.

A week later, the Investigator called in at the office of Inspector
Edwards.

"Inspector," he said, "I must have some more clues. Take me again to the
Kelly residence. I must re-analyse my first diæresis."

Together the two friends went to the house. "It is inevitable," said
Kent, as they entered again the fateful billiard-room, "that we have
overlooked something."

"We always do," said Edwards gloomily.

"Now tell me," said Kent, as they stood beside the billiard table, "what
is your own theory, the police theory, of this murder? Give me your
first theory first, and then go on with the others."

"Our first theory, Mr. Kent, was that the murder was committed by a
sailor with a wooden leg, newly landed from Java."

"Quite so, quite proper," nodded Kent.

"We knew that he was a sailor," the Inspector went on, dropping again
into his sing-song monotone, "by the extraordinary agility needed to
climb up the thirty feet of bare brick wall to the window--a landsman
could not have climbed more than twenty; the fact that he was from the
East Indies we knew from the peculiar knot about his victim's neck. We
knew that he had a wooden leg----"

The Inspector paused and looked troubled.

"We knew it." He paused again. "I'm afraid I can't remember that one."

"Tut, tut," said Kent gently, "you knew it, Edwards, because when he
leaned against the billiard table the impress of his hand on the
mahogany was deeper on one side than the other. The man was obviously
top heavy. But you abandoned this first theory."

"Certainly, Mr. Kent, we always do. Our second theory was----"

But Kent had ceased to listen. He had suddenly stooped down and picked
up something off the floor.

"Ha ha!" he exclaimed. "What do you make of this?" He held up a square
fragment of black cloth.

"We never saw it," said Edwards.

"Cloth," muttered Kent, "the missing piece of Kivas Kelly's dinner
jacket." He whipped out a magnifying glass. "Look," he said, "it's been
stamped upon--by a man wearing hob-nailed boots--made in Ireland--a man
of five feet nine and a half inches high----"

"One minute, Mr. Kent," interrupted the Inspector, greatly excited, "I
don't quite get it."

"The depth of the dint proves the lift of his foot," said Kent
impatiently, "and the lift of the foot indicates at once the man's
height. Edwards, find me the man who wore these boots and the mystery is
solved!"

At that very moment a heavy step, unmistakably to the trained ear that
of a man in hob-nailed boots, was heard upon the stair. The door opened
and a man stood hesitating in the doorway.

Both Kent and Edwards gave a start, two starts, of surprise.

The man was exactly five feet nine and a half inches high. He was
dressed in coachman's dress. His face was saturnine and evil.

It was Dennis, the coachman of the murdered man.

"If you're Mr. Kent," he said, "there's a lady here asking for you."



CHAPTER VII

OH, MR. KENT, SAVE ME!


In another moment an absolutely noiseless step was heard upon the
stair.

A young girl entered, a girl, tall, willowy and beautiful, in the first
burst, or just about the first burst, of womanhood.

It was Alice Delary.

She was dressed with extreme taste, but Kent's quick eye noted at once
that she wore no hat.

"Mr. Kent," she cried, "you are Mr. Kent, are you not? They told me that
you were here. Oh, Mr. Kent, help me, save me!"

She seemed to shudder into herself a moment. Her breath came and went
quickly.

She reached out her two hands.

"Calm yourself, my dear young lady," said Kent, taking them. "Don't let
your breath come and go so much. Trust me. Tell me all."

"Mr. Kent," said Delary, regaining her control, but still trembling, "I
want my hat."

Kent let go the beautiful girl's hands. "Sit down," he said. Then he
went across the room and fetched the hat, the light gossamer hat, with
flowers in it, that still hung on a peg.

"Oh, I am so glad to get it back," cried the girl. "I can never thank
you enough. I was afraid to come for it."

"It is all right," said the Inspector. "The police theory was that it
was the housekeeper's hat. You are welcome to it."

Kent had been looking closely at the girl before him.

"You have more to say than that," he said. "Tell me all."

"Oh, I will, I will, Mr. Kent. That dreadful night! I was here. I saw,
at least I heard it all."

She shuddered.

"Oh, Mr. Kent, it was dreadful! I had come back that evening to the
library to finish some work. I knew that Mr. Kelly was to dine out and
that I would be alone. I had been working quietly for some time when I
became aware of voices in the billiard-room. I tried not to listen, but
they seemed to be quarrelling, and I couldn't help hearing. Oh, Mr.
Kent, was I wrong?"

"No," said Kent, taking her hand a moment, "you were not."

"I heard one say, 'Get your foot off the table, you've no right to put
your foot on the table.' Then the other said, 'Well, you keep your
stomach off the cushion then.'" The girl shivered. "Then presently one
said, quite fiercely, 'Get back into balk there, get back fifteen
inches,' and the other voice said, 'By God! I'll shoot from here.' Then
there was a dead stillness, and then a voice almost screamed, 'You've
potted me. You've potted me. That ends it.' And then I heard the other
say in a low tone, 'Forgive me, I didn't mean it. I never meant it to
end that way.'

"I was so frightened, Mr. Kent, I couldn't stay any longer. I rushed
downstairs and ran all the way home. Then next day I read what had
happened, and I knew that I had left my hat there, and was afraid. Oh,
Mr. Kent, save me!"

"Miss Delary," said the Investigator, taking again the girl's hands and
looking into her eyes, "you are safe. Tell me only one thing. The man
who played against Kivas Kelly--did you see him?"

"Only for one moment"--the girl paused--"through the keyhole."

"What was he like?" asked Kent. "Had he an impenetrable face?"

"He had."

"Was there anything massive about his face?"

"Oh, yes, yes, it was all massive."

"Miss Delary," said Kent, "this mystery is now on the brink of solution.
When I have joined the last links of the chain, may I come and tell you
all?"

She looked full in his face.

"At any hour of the day or night," she said, "you may come."

Then she was gone.



CHAPTER VIII

YOU ARE PETER KELLY


Within a few moments Kent was at the phone.

"I want four, four, four, four. Is that four, four, four, four? Mr.
Throgton's house? I want Mr. Throgton. Mr. Throgton speaking? Mr.
Throgton, Kent speaking. The Riverside mystery is solved."

Kent waited in silence a moment. Then he heard Throgton's voice--not a
note in it disturbed:

"Has anybody found Kelly?"

"Mr. Throgton," said Kent, and he spoke with a strange meaning in his
tone, "the story is a long one. Suppose I relate it to you"--he paused,
and laid a peculiar emphasis on what followed--"_over a game of
billiards_."

"What the devil do you mean?" answered Throgton.

"Let me come round to your house and tell the story. There are points in
it that I can best illustrate over a billiard table. Suppose I challenge
you to a fifty point game before I tell my story."

It required no little hardihood to challenge Masterman Throgton at
billiards. His reputation at his club as a cool, determined player was
surpassed by few. Throgton had been known to run nine, ten, and even
twelve at a break. It was not unusual for him to drive his ball clear
off the table. His keen eye told him infallibly where each of the three
balls was; instinctively he knew which to shoot with.

In Kent, however, he had no mean adversary. The young reporter, though
he had never played before, had studied his book to some purpose. His
strategy was admirable. Keeping his ball well under the shelter of the
cushion, he eluded every stroke of his adversary, and in his turn caused
his ball to leap or dart across the table with such speed as to bury
itself in the pocket at the side.

The score advanced rapidly, both players standing precisely equal. At
the end of the first half-hour it stood at ten all. Throgton, a grim
look upon his face, had settled down to work, playing with one knee on
the table. Kent, calm but alive with excitement, leaned well forward to
his stroke, his eye held within an inch of the ball.

At fifteen they were still even. Throgton with a sudden effort forced a
break of three; but Kent rallied and in another twenty minutes they were
even again at nineteen all.

But it was soon clear that Transome Kent had something else in mind than
to win the game. Presently his opportunity came. With a masterly stroke,
such as few trained players could use, he had potted his adversary's
ball. The red ball was left over the very jaws of the pocket. The white
was in the centre.

Kent looked into Throgton's face.

The balls were standing in the very same position on the table as on the
night of the murder.

"I did that on purpose," said Kent quietly.

"What do you mean?" asked Throgton.

"The position of those balls," said Kent. "Mr. Throgton, come into the
library. I have something to say to you. You know already what it is."

They went into the library. Throgton, his hand unsteady, lighted a
cigar.

"Well," he said, "what is it?"

"Mr. Throgton," said Kent, "two weeks ago you gave me a mystery to
solve. To-night I can give you the solution. Do you want it?"

Throgton's face never moved.

"Well," he said.

"A man's life," Kent went on, "may be played out on a billiard table. A
man's soul, Throgton, may be pocketed."

"What devil's foolery is this?" said Throgton. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that your crime is known--plotter, schemer that you are, you are
found out--hypocrite, traitor; yes, Masterman Throgton, or rather--let
me give you your true name-_Peter Kelly_, murderer, I denounce you!"

Throgton never flinched. He walked across to where Kent stood, and with
his open palm he slapped him over the mouth.

"Transome Kent," he said, "you're a liar."

Then he walked back to his chair and sat down.

"Kent," he continued, "from the first moment of your mock investigation,
I knew who you were. Your every step was shadowed, your every movement
dogged. Transome Kent--by your true name, _Peter Kelly_, murderer, I
denounce you."

Kent walked quietly across to Throgton and dealt him a fearful blow
behind the ear.

"You're a liar," he said, "I am not Peter Kelly."

They sat looking at one another.

At that moment Throgton's servant appeared at the door.

"A gentleman to see you, sir."

"Who?" said Throgton.

"I don't know, sir, he gave his card."

Masterman Throgton took the card.

On it was printed:

_PETER KELLY_



CHAPTER IX

LET ME TELL YOU THE STORY OF MY LIFE


For a moment Throgton and Kent sat looking at one another.

"Show the man up," said Throgton.

A minute later the door opened and a man entered. Kent's keen eye
analysed him as he stood. His blue clothes, his tanned face, and the
extraordinary dexterity of his fingers left no doubt of his calling. He
was a sailor.

"Sit down," said Throgton.

"Thank you," said the sailor, "it rests my wooden leg."

The two men looked again. One of the sailor's legs was made of wood.
With a start Kent noticed that it was made of East Indian sandalwood.

"I've just come from Java," said Kelly quietly, as he sat down.

Kent nodded. "I see it all now," he said. "Throgton, I wronged you. We
should have known it was a sailor with a wooden leg from Java. There is
no other way."

"Gentlemen," said Peter Kelly, "I've come to make my confession. It is
the usual and right thing to do, gentlemen, and I want to go through
with it while I can."

"One moment," said Kent, "do you mind interrupting yourself with a
hacking cough?"

"Thank you, sir," said Kelly, "I'll get to that a little later. Let me
begin by telling you the story of my life."

"No, no," urged Throgton and Kent, "don't do that!"

Kelly frowned. "I think I have a right to," he said. "You've got to hear
it. As a boy I had a wild, impulsive nature. Had it been curbed----"

"But it wasn't," said Throgton. "What next?"

"I was the sole relative of my uncle, and heir to great wealth. Pampered
with every luxury, I was on a footing of----"

"One minute," interrupted Kent, rapidly analysing as he listened. "How
many legs had you then?"

"Two--on a footing of ease and indolence. I soon lost----"

"Your leg," said Throgton. "Mr. Kelly, pray come to the essential
things."

"I will," said the sailor. "Gentlemen, bad as I was, I was not
altogether bad."

"Of course not," said Kent and Throgton soothingly. "Probably not more
than ninety per cent."

"Even into my life, gentlemen, love entered. If you had seen her you
would have known that she is as innocent as the driven snow. Three years
ago she came to my uncle's house. I loved her. One day, hardly knowing
what I was doing, I took her----" he paused.

"Yes, yes," said Throgton and Kent, "you took her?"

"To the Aquarium. My uncle heard of it. There was a violent quarrel. He
disinherited me and drove me from the house. I had a liking for the sea
from a boy."

"Excuse me," said Kent, "from what boy?"

Kelly went right on. "I ran away as a sailor before the mast."

"Pardon me," interrupted Kent, "I am not used to sea terms. Why didn't
you run _behind_ the mast?"

"Hear me out," said Kelly, "I am nearly done. We sailed for the East
Indies--for Java. There a Malay pirate bit off my leg. I returned home,
bitter, disillusioned, the mere wreck that you see. I had but one
thought. I meant to kill my uncle."

For a moment a hacking cough interrupted Kelly. Kent and Throgton nodded
quietly to one another.

"I came to his house at night. With the aid of my wooden leg I scaled
the wall, lifted the window and entered the billiard-room. There was
murder in my heart. Thank God I was spared from that. At the very moment
when I got in, a light was turned on in the room and I saw before
me--but no, I will not name her--my better angel. 'Peter!' she cried,
then with a woman's intuition she exclaimed, 'You have come to murder
your uncle. Don't do it.' My whole mood changed. I broke down and cried
like a--like a----"

Kelly paused a moment.

"Like a boob," said Kent softly. "Go on."

"When I had done crying, we heard voices. 'Quick,' she exclaimed, 'flee,
hide, he must not see you.' She rushed into the adjoining room, closing
the door. My eye had noticed already the trap above. I climbed up to
it. Shall I explain how?"

"Don't," said Kent, "I can analyse it afterwards."

"There I saw what passed. I saw Mr. Throgton and Kivas Kelly come in. I
watched their game. They were greatly excited and quarrelled over it.
Throgton lost."

The big man nodded with a scowl. "By his potting the white," he said.

"Precisely," said Kelly, "he missed the red. Your analysis was wrong,
Mr. Kent. The game ended. You started your reasoning from a false
diæresis. In billiards people never mark the last point. The board still
showed ninety-nine all. Throgton left and my uncle, as often happens,
kept trying over the last shot--a half-ball shot, sir, with the red over
the pocket. He tried again and again. He couldn't make it. He tried
various ways. His rest was too unsteady. Finally he made his tie into a
long loop round his neck and put his cue through it. 'Now, by gad!' he
said, 'I can do it.'"

"Ha!" said Kent. "Fool that I was."

"Exactly," continued Kelly. "In the excitement of watching my uncle I
forgot where I was, I leaned too far over and fell out of the trap. I
landed on uncle, just as he was sitting on the table to shoot. He fell."

"I see it all!" said Kent. "He hit his head, the loop tightened, the cue
spun round and he was dead."

"That's it," said Kelly. "I saw that he was dead, and I did not dare to
remain. I straightened the knot in his tie, laid his hands reverently
across his chest, and departed as I had come."

"Mr. Kelly," said Throgton thoughtfully, "the logic of your story is
wonderful. It exceeds anything in its line that I have seen published
for months. But there is just one point that I fail to grasp. The two
bullet holes?"

"They were old ones," answered the sailor quietly. "My uncle in his
youth had led a wild life in the west; he was full of them."

There was silence for a moment. Then Kelly spoke again:

"My time, gentlemen, is short." (A hacking cough interrupted him.) "I
feel that I am withering. It rests with you, gentlemen, whether or not I
walk out of this room a free man."

Transome Kent rose and walked over to the sailor.

"Mr. Kelly," he said, "here is my hand."



CHAPTER X

SO DO I


A few days after the events last narrated, Transome Kent called at the
boarding-house of Miss Alice Delary. The young Investigator wore a light
grey tweed suit, with a salmon-coloured geranium in his buttonhole.
There was something exultant yet at the same time grave in his
expression, as of one who has taken a momentous decision, affecting his
future life.

"I wonder," he murmured, "whether I am acting for my happiness."

He sat down for a moment on the stone steps and analysed himself.

Then he rose.

"I am," he said, and rang the bell.

"Miss Delary?" said a maid, "she left here two days ago. If you are Mr.
Kent, the note on the mantelpiece is for you."

Without a word (Kent never wasted them) the Investigator opened the note
and read:

     "Dear Mr. Kent,

     "Peter and I were married yesterday morning, and have taken an
     apartment in Java, New Jersey. You will be glad to hear that
     Peter's cough is ever so much better. The lawyers have given Peter
     his money without the least demur.

     "We both feel that your analysis was simply wonderful. Peter says
     he doesn't know where he would be without it.

     "Very sincerely,

     "Alice Kelly.

     "P.S.--I forgot to mention to you that I saw Peter in the
     billiard-room. But your analysis was marvellous just the same."


That evening Kent sat with Throgton talking over the details of the
tragedy.

"Throgton," he said, "it has occurred to me that there were points about
that solution that we didn't get exactly straight somehow."

"So do I," said Throgton.



V

BROKEN BARRIERS

OR, RED LOVE ON A BLUE ISLAND

(_The kind of thing that has replaced the good Old Sea Story_)



_V.--Broken Barriers; or, Red Love on a Blue Island._


It was on a bright August afternoon that I stepped on board the steamer
_Patagonia_ at Southampton outward bound for the West Indies and the
Port of New Orleans.

I had at the time no presentiment of disaster. I remember remarking to
the ship's purser, as my things were being carried to my state-room,
that I had never in all my travels entered upon any voyage with so
little premonition of accident. "Very good, Mr. Borus," he answered.
"You will find your state-room in the starboard aisle on the right." I
distinctly recall remarking to the Captain that I had never, in any of
my numerous seafarings, seen the sea of a more limpid blue. He agreed
with me so entirely, as I recollect it, that he did not even trouble to
answer.

Had anyone told me on that bright summer afternoon that our ship would
within a week be wrecked among the Dry Tortugas, I should have laughed.
Had anyone informed me that I should find myself alone on a raft in the
Caribbean Sea, I should have gone into hysterics.

We had hardly entered the waters of the Caribbean when a storm of
unprecedented violence broke upon us. Even the Captain had never, so he
said, seen anything to compare with it. For two days and nights we
encountered and endured the full fury of the sea. Our soup plates were
secured with racks and covered with lids. In the smoking-room our
glasses had to be set in brackets, and as our steward came and went, we
were from moment to moment in imminent danger of seeing him washed
overboard.

On the third morning just after daybreak the ship collided with
something, probably either a floating rock or one of the dry Tortugas.
She blew out her four funnels, the bowsprit dropped out of its place,
and the propeller came right off. The Captain, after a brief
consultation, decided to abandon her. The boats were lowered, and, the
sea being now quite calm, the passengers were emptied into them.

By what accident I was left behind I cannot tell. I had been talking to
the second mate and telling him of a rather similar experience of mine
in the China Sea, and holding him by the coat as I did so, when quite
suddenly he took me by the shoulders, and rushing me into the deserted
smoking-room said, "Sit there, Mr. Borus, till I come back for you." The
fellow spoke in such a menacing way that I thought it wiser to comply.

When I came out they were all gone. By good fortune I found one of the
ship's rafts still lying on the deck. I gathered together such articles
as might be of use and contrived, though how I do not know, to launch it
into the sea.

On my second morning on my raft I was sitting quietly polishing my boots
and talking to myself when I became aware of an object floating in the
sea close beside the raft. Judge of my feelings when I realized it to be
the inanimate body of a girl. Hastily finishing my boots and stopping
talking to myself, I made shift as best I could to draw the unhappy girl
towards me with a hook.

After several ineffectual attempts I at last managed to obtain a hold of
the girl's clothing and drew her on to the raft.

She was still unconscious. The heavy lifebelt round her person must (so
I divined) have kept her afloat after the wreck. Her clothes were
sodden, so I reasoned, with the sea-water.

On a handkerchief which was still sticking into the belt of her dress, I
could see letters embroidered. Realizing that this was no time for
hesitation, and that the girl's life might depend on my reading her
name, I plucked it forth. It was Edith Croyden.

As vigorously as I could I now set to work to rub her hands. My idea was
(partly) to restore her circulation. I next removed her boots, which
were now rendered useless, as I argued, by the sea-water, and began to
rub her feet.

I was just considering what to remove next, when the girl opened her
eyes. "Stop rubbing my feet," she said.

"Miss Croyden," I said, "you mistake me."

I rose, with a sense of pique which I did not trouble to conceal, and
walked to the other end of the raft. I turned my back upon the girl and
stood looking out upon the leaden waters of the Caribbean Sea. The ocean
was now calm. There was nothing in sight.

I was still searching the horizon when I heard a soft footstep on the
raft behind me, and a light hand was laid upon my shoulder. "Forgive
me," said the girl's voice.

I turned about. Miss Croyden was standing behind me. She had, so I
argued, removed her stockings and was standing in her bare feet. There
is something, I am free to confess, about a woman in her bare feet which
hits me where I live. With instinctive feminine taste the girl had
twined a piece of seaweed in her hair. Seaweed, as a rule, gets me every
time. But I checked myself.

"Miss Croyden," I said, "there is nothing to forgive."

At the mention of her name the girl blushed for a moment and seemed
about to say something, but stopped.

"Where are we?" she queried presently.

"I don't know," I answered, as cheerily as I could, "but I am going to
find out."

"How brave you are!" Miss Croyden exclaimed.

"Not at all," I said, putting as much heartiness into my voice as I was
able to.

The girl watched my preparations with interest.

With the aid of a bent pin hoisted on a long pole I had no difficulty in
ascertaining our latitude.

"Miss Croydon," I said, "I am now about to ascertain our longitude. To
do this I must lower myself down into the sea. Pray do not be alarmed or
anxious. I shall soon be back."

With the help of a long line I lowered myself deep down into the sea
until I was enabled to ascertain, approximately at any rate, our
longitude. A fierce thrill went through me at the thought that this
longitude was our longitude, hers and mine. On the way up, hand over
hand, I observed a long shark looking at me. Realizing that the fellow
if voracious might prove dangerous, I lost but little time--indeed, I
may say I lost absolutely no time--in coming up the rope.

The girl was waiting for me.

"Oh, I am so glad you have come back," she exclaimed, clasping her
hands.

"It was nothing," I said, wiping the water from my ears, and speaking as
melodiously as I could.

"Have you found our whereabouts?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered. "Our latitude is normal, but our longitude is, I
fear, at least three degrees out of the plumb. I am afraid, Miss
Croyden," I added, speaking as mournfully as I knew how, "that you must
reconcile your mind to spending a few days with me on this raft."

"Is it as bad as that?" she murmured, her eyes upon the sea.

In the long day that followed, I busied myself as much as I could with
my work upon the raft, so as to leave the girl as far as possible to
herself. It was, so I argued, absolutely necessary to let her feel that
she was safe in my keeping. Otherwise she might jump off the raft and I
should lose her.

I sorted out my various cans and tins, tested the oil in my chronometer,
arranged in neat order my various ropes and apparatus, and got my
frying-pan into readiness for any emergency. Of food we had for the
present no lack.

With the approach of night I realized that it was necessary to make
arrangements for the girl's comfort. With the aid of a couple of upright
poles I stretched a grey blanket across the raft so as to make a
complete partition.

"Miss Croyden," I said, "this end of the raft is yours. Here you may
sleep in peace."

"How kind you are," the girl murmured.

"You will be quite safe from interference," I added. "I give you my
word that I will not obtrude upon you in any way."

"How chivalrous you are," she said.

"Not at all," I answered, as musically as I could. "Understand me, I am
now putting my head over this partition for the last time. If there is
anything you want, say so now."

"Nothing," she answered.

"There is a candle and matches beside you. If there is anything that you
want in the night, call me instantly. Remember, at any hour I shall be
here. I promise it."

"Good night," she murmured. In a few minutes her soft regular breathing
told me that she was asleep.

I went forward and seated myself in a tar-bucket, with my head against
the mast, to get what sleep I could.

But for some time--why, I do not know--sleep would not come.

The image of Edith Croyden filled my mind. In vain I told myself that
she was a stranger to me: that--beyond her longitude--I knew nothing of
her. In some strange way this girl had seized hold of me and dominated
my senses.

The night was very calm and still, with great stars in a velvet sky. In
the darkness I could hear the water lapping the edge of the raft.

I remained thus in deep thought, sinking further and further into the
tar-bucket. By the time I reached the bottom of it I realized that I was
in love with Edith Croyden.

Then the thought of my wife occurred to me and perplexed me. Our unhappy
marriage had taken place three years before. We brought to one another
youth, wealth and position. Yet our marriage was a failure. My wife--for
what reason I cannot guess--seemed to find my society irksome. In vain I
tried to interest her with narratives of my travels. They seemed--in
some way that I could not divine--to fatigue her. "Leave me for a
little, Harold," she would say (I forgot to mention that my name is
Harold Borus), "I have a pain in my neck." At her own suggestion I had
taken a trip around the world. On my return she urged me to go round
again. I was going round for the third time when the wrecking of the
steamer had interrupted my trip.

On my own part, too, I am free to confess that my wife's attitude had
aroused in me a sense of pique, not to say injustice. I am not in any
way a vain man. Yet her attitude wounded me. I would no sooner begin,
"When I was in the Himalayas hunting the humpo or humped buffalo," than
she would interrupt and say, "Oh, Harold, would you mind going down to
the billiard-room and seeing if I left my cigarettes under the
billiard-table?" When I returned, she was gone.

By agreement we had arranged for a divorce. On my completion of my third
voyage we were to meet in New Orleans. Clara was to go there on a
separate ship, giving me the choice of oceans.

Had I met Edith Croyden three months later I should have been a man free
to woo and win her. As it was I was bound. I must put a clasp of iron on
my feelings. I must wear a mask. Cheerful, helpful, and full of
narrative, I must yet let fall no word of love to this defenceless girl.

After a great struggle I rose at last from the tar-bucket, feeling, if
not a brighter, at least a cleaner man.

Dawn was already breaking. I looked about me. As the sudden beams of the
tropic sun illumined the placid sea, I saw immediately before me, only a
hundred yards away, an island. A sandy beach sloped back to a rocky
eminence, broken with scrub and jungle. I could see a little stream
leaping among the rocks. With eager haste I paddled the raft close to
the shore till it ground in about ten inches of water.

I leaped into the water.

With the aid of a stout line, I soon made the raft fast to a rock. Then
as I turned I saw that Miss Croyden was standing upon the raft, fully
dressed, and gazing at me. The morning sunlight played in her hair, and
her deep blue eyes were as soft as the Caribbean Sea itself.

"Don't attempt to wade ashore, Miss Croyden," I cried in agitation.
"Pray do nothing rash. The waters are simply infested with bacilli."

"But how can I get ashore?" she asked, with a smile which showed all, or
nearly all, of her pearl-like teeth.

"Miss Croyden," I said, "there is only one way. I must carry you."

In another moment I had walked back to the raft and lifted her as
tenderly and reverently as if she had been my sister--indeed more so--in
my arms.

Her weight seemed nothing. When I get a girl like that in my arms I
simply don't feel it. Just for one moment as I clasped her thus in my
arms, a fierce thrill ran through me. But I let it run.

When I had carried her well up the sand close to the little stream, I
set her down. To my surprise, she sank down in a limp heap.

The girl had fainted.

I knew that it was no time for hesitation.

Running to the stream, I filled my hat with water and dashed it in her
face. Then I took up a handful of mud and threw it at her with all my
force. After that I beat her with my hat.

At length she opened her eyes and sat up.

"I must have fainted," she said, with a little shiver. "I am cold. Oh,
if we could only have a fire."

"I will do my best to make one, Miss Croyden," I replied, speaking as
gymnastically as I could. "I will see what I can do with two dry
sticks."

"With dry sticks?" queried the girl. "Can you light a fire with that?
How wonderful you are!"

"I have often seen it done," I replied thoughtfully; "when I was hunting
the humpo, or humped buffalo, in the Himalayas, it was our usual
method."

"Have you really hunted the humpo?" she asked, her eyes large with
interest.

"I have indeed," I said, "but you must rest; later on I will tell you
about it."

"I wish you could tell me now," she said with a little moan.

Meantime I had managed to select from the driftwood on the beach two
sticks that seemed absolutely dry. Placing them carefully together, in
Indian fashion, I then struck a match and found no difficulty in setting
them on fire.

In a few moments the girl was warming herself beside a generous fire.

Together we breakfasted upon the beach beside the fire, discussing our
plans like comrades.

Our meal over, I rose.

"I will leave you here a little," I said, "while I explore."

With no great difficulty I made my way through the scrub and climbed the
eminence of tumbled rocks that shut in the view.

On my return Miss Croyden was still seated by the fire, her head in her
hands.

"Miss Croyden," I said, "we are on an island."

"Is it inhabited?" she asked.

"Once, perhaps, but not now. It is one of the many keys of the West
Indies. Here, in old buccaneering days, the pirates landed and careened
their ships."

"How did they do that?" she asked, fascinated.

"I am not sure," I answered. "I think with white-wash. At any rate, they
gave them a good careening. But since then these solitudes are only the
home of the sea-gull, the sea-mew, and the albatross."

The girl shuddered.

"How lonely!" she said.

"Lonely or not," I said with a laugh (luckily I can speak with a laugh
when I want to), "I must get to work."

I set myself to work to haul up and arrange our effects. With a few
stones I made a rude table and seats. I took care to laugh and sing as
much as possible while at my work. The close of the day found me still
busy with my labours.

"Miss Croyden," I said, "I must now arrange a place for you to sleep."

With the aid of four stakes driven deeply into the ground and with
blankets strung upon them, I managed to fashion a sort of rude tent,
roofless, but otherwise quite sheltered.

"Miss Croyden," I said when all was done, "go in there."

Then, with little straps which I had fastened to the blankets, I buckled
her in reverently.

"Good night, Miss Croyden," I said.

"But you," she exclaimed, "where will you sleep?"

"Oh, I?" I answered, speaking as exuberantly as I could, "I shall do
very well on the ground. But be sure to call me at the slightest sound."

Then I went out and lay down in a patch of cactus plants.

I need not dwell in detail upon the busy and arduous days that followed
our landing upon the island. I had much to do. Each morning I took our
latitude and longitude. By this I then set my watch, cooked porridge,
and picked flowers till Miss Croyden appeared.

With every day the girl came forth from her habitation as a new surprise
in her radiant beauty. One morning she had bound a cluster of wild
arbutus about her brow. Another day she had twisted a band of
convolvulus around her waist. On a third she had wound herself up in a
mat of bulrushes.

With her bare feet and wild bulrushes all around her, she looked as a
cave woman might have looked, her eyes radiant with the Caribbean dawn.
My whole frame thrilled at the sight of her. At times it was all I could
do not to tear the bulrushes off her and beat her with the heads of
them. But I schooled myself to restraint, and handed her a rock to sit
upon, and passed her her porridge on the end of a shovel with the calm
politeness of a friend.

Our breakfast over, my more serious labours of the day began. I busied
myself with hauling rocks or boulders along the sand to build us a house
against the rainy season. With some tackle from the raft I had made
myself a set of harness, by means of which I hitched myself to a
boulder. By getting Miss Croyden to beat me over the back with a stick,
I found that I made fair progress.

But even as I worked thus for our common comfort, my mind was fiercely
filled with the thought of Edith Croyden. I knew that if once the
barriers broke everything would be swept away. Heaven alone knows the
effort that it cost me. At times nothing but the sternest resolution
could hold my fierce impulses in check. Once I came upon the girl
writing in the sand with a stick. I looked to see what she had written.
I read my own name "Harold." With a wild cry I leapt into the sea and
dived to the bottom of it. When I came up I was calmer. Edith came
towards me; all dripping as I was, she placed her hands upon my
shoulders. "How grand you are!" she said. "I am," I answered; then I
added, "Miss Croyden, for Heaven's sake don't touch me on the ear. I
can't stand it." I turned from her and looked out over the sea.
Presently I heard something like a groan behind me. The girl had thrown
herself on the sand and was coiled up in a hoop. "Miss Croyden," I said,
"for God's sake don't coil up in a hoop."

I rushed to the beach and rubbed gravel on my face.

With such activities, alternated with wild bursts of restraint, our life
on the island passed as rapidly as in a dream. Had I not taken care to
notch the days upon a stick and then cover the stick with tar, I could
not have known the passage of the time. The wearing out of our clothing
had threatened a serious difficulty. But by good fortune I had seen a
large black and white goat wandering among the rocks and had chased it
to a standstill. From its skin, leaving the fur still on, Edith had
fashioned us clothes. Our boots we had replaced with alligator hide. I
had, by a lucky chance, found an alligator upon the beach, and attaching
a string to the fellow's neck I had led him to our camp. I had then
poisoned the fellow with tinned salmon and removed his hide.

Our costume was now brought into harmony with our surroundings. For
myself, garbed in goatskin with the hair outside, with alligator sandals
on my feet and with whiskers at least six inches long, I have no doubt
that I resembled the beau ideal of a cave man. With the open-air life a
new agility seemed to have come into my limbs. With a single leap in my
alligator sandals I was enabled to spring into a coco-nut tree.

As for Edith Croyden, I can only say that as she stood beside me on the
beach in her suit of black goatskin (she had chosen the black spots)
there were times when I felt like seizing her in the frenzy of my
passion and hurling her into the sea. Fur always acts on me just like
that.

It was at the opening of the fifth week of our life upon the island that
a new and more surprising turn was given to our adventure. It arose out
of a certain curiosity, harmless enough, on Edith Croyden's part. "Mr.
Borus," she said one morning, "I should like so much to see the rest of
our island. Can we?"

"Alas, Miss Croyden," I said, "I fear that there is but little to see.
Our island, so far as I can judge, is merely one of the uninhabited keys
of the West Indies. It is nothing but rock and sand and scrub. There is
no life upon it. I fear," I added, speaking as jauntily as I could,
"that unless we are taken off it we are destined to stay on it."

"Still I should like to see it," she persisted.

"Come on, then," I answered, "if you are good for a climb we can take a
look over the ridge of rocks where I went up on the first day."

We made our way across the sand of the beach, among the rocks and
through the close matted scrub, beyond which an eminence of rugged
boulders shut out the further view.

Making our way to the top of this we obtained a wide look over the sea.
The island stretched away to a considerable distance to the eastward,
widening as it went, the complete view of it being shut off by similar
and higher ridges of rock.

But it was the nearer view, the foreground, that at once arrested our
attention. Edith seized my arm. "Look, oh, look!" she said.

Down just below us on the right hand was a similar beach to the one
that we had left. A rude hut had been erected on it and various articles
lay strewn about.

Seated on a rock with their backs towards us were a man and a woman. The
man was dressed in goatskins, and his whiskers, so I inferred from what
I could see of them from the side, were at least as exuberant as mine.
The woman was in white fur with a fillet of seaweed round her head. They
were sitting close together as if in earnest colloquy.

"Cave people," whispered Edith, "aborigines of the island."

But I answered nothing. Something in the tall outline of the seated
woman held my eye. A cruel presentiment stabbed me to the heart.

In my agitation my foot overset a stone, which rolled noisily down the
rocks. The noise attracted the attention of the two seated below us.
They turned and looked searchingly towards the place where we were
concealed. Their faces were in plain sight. As I looked at that of the
woman I felt my heart cease beating and the colour leave my face.

I looked into Edith's face. It was as pale as mine.

"What does it mean?" she whispered.

"Miss Croyden," I answered, "Edith--it means this. I have never found
the courage to tell you. I am a married man. The woman seated there is
my wife. And I love you."

Edith put out her arms with a low cry and clasped me about the neck.
"Harold," she murmured, "my Harold."

"Have I done wrong?" I whispered.

"Only what I have done too," she answered. "I, too, am married, Harold,
and the man sitting there below, John Croyden, is my husband."

With a wild cry such as a cave man might have uttered, I had leapt to my
feet.

"Your husband!" I shouted. "Then, by the living God, he or I shall never
leave this place alive."

He saw me coming as I bounded down the rocks. In an instant he had
sprung to his feet. He gave no cry. He asked no question. He stood
erect as a cave man would, waiting for his enemy.

And there upon the sands beside the sea we fought, barehanded and
weaponless. We fought as cave men fight.

For a while we circled round one another, growling. We circled four
times, each watching for an opportunity. Then I picked up a great
handful of sand and threw it flap into his face. He grabbed a coco-nut
and hit me with it in the stomach. Then I seized a twisted strand of wet
seaweed and landed him with it behind the ear. For a moment he
staggered. Before he could recover I jumped forward, seized him by the
hair, slapped his face twice and then leaped behind a rock. Looking from
the side I could see that Croyden, though half dazed, was feeling round
for something to throw. To my horror I saw a great stone lying ready to
his hand. Beside me was nothing. I gave myself up for lost, when at that
very moment I heard Edith's voice behind me saying, "The shovel, quick,
the shovel!" The noble girl had rushed back to our encampment and had
fetched me the shovel. "Swat him with that," she cried. I seized the
shovel, and with the roar of a wounded bull--or as near as I could make
it--I rushed out from the rock, the shovel swung over my head.

But the fight was all out of Croyden.

"Don't strike," he said, "I'm all in. I couldn't stand a crack with that
kind of thing."

He sat down upon the sand, limp. Seen thus, he somehow seemed to be
quite a small man, not a cave man at all. His goatskin suit shrunk in on
him. I could hear his pants as he sat.

"I surrender," he said. "Take both the women. They are yours."

I stood over him leaning upon the shovel. The two women had closed in
near to us.

"I suppose you are _her_ husband, are you?" Croyden went on.

I nodded.

"I thought you were. Take her."

Meantime Clara had drawn nearer to me. She looked somehow very beautiful
with her golden hair in the sunlight, and the white furs draped about
her.

"Harold!" she exclaimed. "Harold, is it you? How strange and masterful
you look. I didn't know you were so strong."

I turned sternly towards her.

"When I was alone," I said, "on the Himalayas hunting the humpo or
humped buffalo----"

Clara clasped her hands, looking into my face.

"Yes," she said, "tell me about it."

Meantime I could see that Edith had gone over to John Croyden.

"John," she said, "you shouldn't sit on the wet sand like that. You will
get a chill. Let me help you to get up."

I looked at Clara and at Croyden.

"How has this happened?" I asked. "Tell me."

"We were on the same ship," Croyden said. "There came a great storm.
Even the Captain had never seen----"

"I know," I interrupted, "so had ours."

"The ship struck a rock, and blew out her four funnels----"

"Ours did too," I nodded.

"The bowsprit was broken, and the steward's pantry was carried away. The
Captain gave orders to leave the ship----"

"It is enough, Croyden," I said, "I see it all now. You were left behind
when the boats cleared, by what accident you don't know----"

"I don't," said Croyden.

"As best you could, you constructed a raft, and with such haste as you
might you placed on it such few things----"

"Exactly," he said, "a chronometer, a sextant----"

"I know," I continued, "two quadrants, a bucket of water, and a
lightning rod. I presume you picked up Clara floating in the sea."

"I did," Croyden said; "she was unconscious when I got her, but by
rubbing----"

"Croyden," I said, raising the shovel again, "cut that out."

"I'm sorry," he said.

"It's all right. But you needn't go on. I see all the rest of your
adventures plainly enough."

"Well, I'm done with it all anyway," said Croyden gloomily. "You can do
what you like. As for me, I've got a decent suit back there at our camp,
and I've got it dried and pressed and I'm going to put it on."

He rose wearily, Edith standing beside him.

"What's more, Borus," he said, "I'll tell you something. This island is
not uninhabited at all."

"Not uninhabited!" exclaimed Clara and Edith together. I saw each of
them give a rapid look at her goatskin suit.

"Nonsense, Croyden," I said, "this island is one of the West Indian
keys. On such a key as this the pirates used to land. Here they careened
their ships----"

"Did what to them?" asked Croyden.

"Careened them all over from one end to the other," I said. "Here they
got water and buried treasure; but beyond that the island was, and
remained, only the home of the wild gull and the sea-mews----"

"All right," said Croyden, "only it doesn't happen to be that kind of
key. It's a West Indian island all right, but there's a summer hotel on
the other end of it not two miles away."

"A summer hotel!" we exclaimed.

"Yes, a hotel. I suspected it all along. I picked up a tennis racket on
the beach the first day; and after that I walked over the ridge and
through the jungle and I could see the roof of the hotel. Only," he
added rather shamefacedly, "I didn't like to tell her."

"Oh, you coward!" cried Clara. "I could slap you."

"Don't you dare," said Edith. "I'm sure you knew it as well as he did.
And anyway, I was certain of it myself. I picked up a copy of last
week's paper in a lunch-basket on the beach, and hid it from Mr. Borus.
I didn't want to hurt his feelings."

At that moment Croyden pointed with a cry towards the sea.

"Look," he said, "for Heaven's sake, look!"

He turned.

Less than a quarter of a mile away we could see a large white motor
launch coming round the corner. The deck was gay with awnings and bright
dresses and parasols.

"Great Heavens!" said Croyden. "I know that launch. It's the
Appin-Joneses'."

"The Appin-Joneses'!" cried Clara. "Why, we know them too. Don't you
remember, Harold, the Sunday we spent with them on the Hudson?"

Instinctively we had all jumped for cover, behind the rocks.

"Whatever shall we do?" I exclaimed.

"We must get our things," said Edith Croyden. "Jack, if your suit is
ready run and get it and stop the launch. Mrs. Borus and Mr. Borus and I
can get our things straightened up while you keep them talking. My suit
is nearly ready anyway; I thought some one might come. Mr. Borus, would
you mind running and fetching me my things, they're all in a parcel
together? And perhaps if you have a looking-glass and some pins, Mrs.
Borus, I could come over and dress with you."

That same evening we found ourselves all comfortably gathered on the
piazza of the Hotel Christopher Columbus. Appin-Jones insisted on making
himself our host, and the story of our adventures was related again and
again to an admiring audience, with the accompaniment of cigars and iced
champagne. Only one detail was suppressed, by common instinct. Both
Clara and I felt that it would only raise needless comment to explain
that Mr. and Mrs. Croyden had occupied separate encampments.

Nor is it necessary to relate our safe and easy return to New York.

Both Clara and I found Mr. and Mrs. Croyden delightful travelling
companions, though perhaps we were not sorry when the moment came to say
good-bye.

"The word 'good-bye,'" I remarked to Clara, as we drove away, "is always
a painful one. Oddly enough when I was hunting the humpo, or humped
buffalo, of the Himalayas----"

"Do tell me about it, darling," whispered Clara, as she nestled beside
me in the cab.



VI

THE KIDNAPPED PLUMBER

A TALE OF THE NEW TIME

(_Being one chapter--and quite enough---from the Reminiscences of an
Operating Plumber_)



_VI.--The Kidnapped Plumber: A Tale of the New Time._


"Personally," said Thornton, speaking for the first time, "I never care
to take a case that involves cellar work."

We were sitting--a little group of us--round about the fire in a
comfortable corner of the Steam and Air Club. Our talk had turned, as
always happens with a group of professional men, into more or less
technical channels. I will not say that we were talking shop; the word
has an offensive sound and might be misunderstood. But we were talking
as only a group of practising plumbers--including some of the biggest
men in the profession--would talk. With the exception of Everett, who
had a national reputation as a Consulting Barber, and Thomas, who was a
vacuum cleaner expert, I think we all belonged to the same profession.
We had been holding a convention, and Fortescue, who had one of the
biggest furnace practices in the country, had read us a paper that
afternoon--a most revolutionary thing--on External Diagnosis of
Defective Feed Pipes, and naturally the thing had bred discussion.
Fortescue, who is one of the most brilliant men in the profession, had
stoutly maintained his thesis that the only method of diagnosis for
trouble in a furnace is to sit down in front of it and look at it for
three days; others held out for unscrewing it and carrying it home for
consideration; others of us, again, claimed that by tapping the affected
spot with a wrench the pipe might be fractured in such a way as to prove
that it was breakable. It was at this point that Thornton interrupted
with his remark about never being willing to accept a cellar case.

Naturally all the men turned to look at the speaker. Henry Thornton, at
the time of which I relate, was at the height of his reputation.
Beginning, quite literally, at the bottom of the ladder, he had in
twenty years of practice as an operating plumber raised himself to the
top of his profession. There was much in his appearance to suggest the
underlying reasons of his success. His face, as is usual with men of our
calling, had something of the dreamer in it, but the bold set of the jaw
indicated determination of an uncommon kind. Three times President of
the Plumbers' Association, Henry Thornton had enjoyed the highest
honours of his chosen profession. His book on _Nut Coal_ was recognized
as the last word on the subject, and had been crowned by the French
Academy of Nuts.

I suppose that one of the principal reasons for his success was his
singular coolness and resource. I have seen Thornton enter a kitchen,
with that quiet reassuring step of his, and lay out his instruments on
the table, while a kitchen tap with a broken washer was sprizzling
within a few feet of him, as calmly and as quietly as if he were in his
lecture-room of the Plumbers' College.

"You never go into a cellar?" asked Fortescue. "But hang it, man, I
don't see how one can avoid it!"

"Well, I do avoid it," answered Thornton, "at least as far as I possibly
can. I send down my solderist, of course, but personally, unless it is
absolutely necessary, I never go down."

"That's all very well, my dear fellow," Fortescue cut in, "but you know
as well as I do that you get case after case where the cellar diagnosis
is simply vital. I had a case last week, a most interesting thing--" he
turned to the group of us as he spoke--"a double lesion of a gas-pipe
under a cement floor--half a dozen of my colleagues had been absolutely
baffled. They had made an entirely false diagnosis, operated on the
dining-room floor, which they removed and carried home, and when I was
called in they had just obtained permission from the Stone Mason's
Protective Association to knock down one side of the house."

"Excuse me interrupting just a minute," interjected a member of the
group who hailed from a distant city, "have you much trouble about
that? I mean about knocking the sides out of houses?"

"No trouble now," said Fortescue. "We did have. But the public is
getting educated up to it. Our law now allows us to knock the side out
of a house when we feel that we would really like to see what is in it.
We are not allowed, of course, to build it up again."

"No, of course not," said the other speaker. "But I suppose you can
throw the bricks out on the lawn."

"Yes," said Fortescue, "and sit on them to eat lunch. We had a big fight
in the legislature over that, but we got it through."

"Thank you, but I feel I am interrupting."

"Well, I was only saying that, as soon as I had made up my mind that the
trouble was in the cellar, the whole case was simple. I took my
colleagues down at once, and we sat on the floor of the cellar and held
a consultation till the overpowering smell of gas convinced me that
there was nothing for it but an operation on the floor. The whole thing
was most successful. I was very glad, as it happened that the
proprietor of the house was a very decent fellow, employed, I think, as
a manager of a bank, or something of the sort. He was most grateful. It
was he who gave me the engraved monkey wrench that some of you were
admiring before dinner. After we had finished the whole operation--I
forgot to say that we had thrown the coal out on the lawn to avoid any
complication--he quite broke down. He offered us to take his whole house
and keep it."

"You don't do that, do you?" asked the outsider.

"Oh no, never," said Fortescue. "We've made a very strict professional
rule against it. We found that some of the younger men were apt to take
a house when they were given it, and we had to frown down on it. But,
gentlemen, I feel that when Mr. Thornton says that he never goes down
into a cellar there must be a story behind it. I think we should invite
him to relate it to us."

A murmur of assent greeted the speaker's suggestion. For myself I was
particularly pleased, inasmuch as I have long felt that Thornton as a
_raconteur_ was almost as interesting as in the rôle of an operating
plumber. I have often told him that, if he had not happened to meet
success in his chosen profession, he could have earned a living as a day
writer: a suggestion which he has always taken in good part and without
offence.

Those of my readers who have looked through the little volume of
Reminiscences which I have put together, will recall the narrative of
_The Missing Nut_ and the little tale entitled _The Blue Blow Torch_ as
instances in point.

"Not much of a story, perhaps," said Thornton, "but such as it is you
are welcome to it. So, if you will just fill up your glasses with
raspberry vinegar, you may have the tale for what it is worth."

We gladly complied with the suggestion and Thornton continued:

"It happened a good many years ago at a time when I was only a young
fellow fresh from college, very proud of my Plumb. B., and inclined to
think that I knew it all. I had done a little monograph on _Choked Feed
in the Blow Torch_, which had attracted attention, and I suppose that
altogether I was about as conceited a young puppy as one would find in
the profession. I should mention that at this time I was not married,
but had set up a modest apartment of my own with a consulting-room and a
single manservant. Naturally I could not afford the services of a
solderist or a gassist and did everything for myself, though Simmons, my
man, could at a pinch be utilized to tear down plaster and break
furniture."

Thornton paused to take a sip of raspberry vinegar and went on:

"Well, then. I had come home to dinner particularly tired after a long
day. I had sat in an attic the greater part of the afternoon (a case of
top story valvular trouble) and had had to sit in a cramped position
which practically forbade sleep. I was feeling, therefore, none too well
pleased, when a little while after dinner the bell rang and Simmons
brought word to the library that there was a client in the
consulting-room. I reminded the fellow that I could not possibly
consider a case at such an advanced hour unless I were paid emergency
overtime wages with time and a half during the day of recovery."

"One moment," interrupted the outside member. "You don't mention
compensation for mental shock. Do you not draw that here?"

"We do _now_" explained Thornton, "but the time of which I speak is some
years ago and we still got nothing for mental shock, nor disturbance of
equilibrium. Nowadays, of course, one would insist on a substantial
retainer in advance.

"Well, to continue. Simmons, to my surprise, told me that he had already
informed the client of this fact, and that the answer had only been a
plea that the case was too urgent to admit of delay. He also supplied
the further information that the client was a young lady. I am afraid,"
added Thornton, looking round his audience with a sympathetic smile,
"that Simmons (I had got him from Harvard and he had not yet quite
learned his place) even said something about her being strikingly
handsome."

A general laugh greeted Thornton's announcement.

"After all," said Fortescue, "I never could see why an Ice Man should be
supposed to have a monopoly on gallantry."

"Oh, I don't know," said Thornton. "For my part--I say it without
affectation--the moment I am called in professionally, women, as women,
cease to exist for me. I can stand beside them in the kitchen and
explain to them the feed tap of a kitchen range without feeling them to
be anything other than simply clients. And for the most part, I think,
they reciprocate that attention. There are women, of course, who will
call a man in with motives--but that's another story. I must get back to
what I was saying.

"On entering the consulting-room I saw at once that Simmons had
exaggerated nothing in describing my young client as beautiful. I have
seldom, even among our own class, seen a more strikingly handsome girl.
She was dressed in a very plain and simple fashion which showed me at
once that she belonged merely to the capitalist class. I am, as I think
you know, something of an observer, and my eye at once noted the absence
of heavy gold ear-rings and wrist-bangles. The blue feathers at the side
of her hat were none of them more than six inches long, and the buttons
on her jacket were so inconspicuous that one would hardly notice them.
In short, while her dress was no doubt good and serviceable, there was
an absence of _chic_, a lack of noise about it, that told at once the
tale of narrow circumstances.

"She was evidently in great distress.

"'Oh, Mr. Thornton,' she exclaimed, advancing towards me, 'do come to
our house at once. I simply don't know what to do.'

"She spoke with great emotion, and seemed almost on the point of
breaking into tears.

"'Pray, calm yourself, my dear young lady,' I said, 'and try to tell me
what is the trouble.'

"'Oh, don't lose any time,' she said, 'do, do come at once.'

"'We will lose no time' I said reassuringly, as I looked at my watch.
'It is now seven-thirty. We will reckon the time from now, with overtime
at time and a half. But if I am to do anything for you I must have some
idea of what has happened.'

"'The cellar boiler,' she moaned, clasping her hands together, 'the
cellar boiler won't work!'

"'Ah!' I said soothingly. 'The cellar boiler won't work. Now tell me, is
the feed choked, miss?'

"'I don't know,' she exclaimed.

"'Have you tried letting off the exhaust?'

"She shook her head with a doleful look.

"'I don't know what it is,' she said.

"But already I was hastily gathering together a few instruments,
questioning her rapidly as I did so.

"'How's your pressure gauge?' I asked. 'How's your water? Do you draw
from the mains or are you on the high level reservoir?'

"It had occurred to me at once that it might be merely a case of
stoppage of her main feed, complicated, perhaps, with a valvular trouble
in her exhaust. On the other hand it was clear enough that, if her feed
was full and her gauges working, her trouble was more likely a leak
somewhere in her piping.

"But all attempts to draw from the girl any clear idea of the symptoms
were unavailing. All she could tell me was that the cellar boiler
wouldn't work. Beyond that her answers were mere confusion. I gathered
enough, however, to feel sure that her main feed was still working, and
that her top story check valve was probably in order. With that I had to
be content.

"As a young practitioner, I had as yet no motor car. Simmons, however,
summoned me a taxi, into which I hurriedly placed the girl and my basket
of instruments, and was soon speeding in the direction she indicated. It
was a dark, lowering night, with flecks of rain against the windows of
the cab, and there was something in the lateness of the hour (it was now
after half-past eight) and the nature of my mission which gave me a
stimulating sense of adventure. The girl directed me, as I felt sure
she would, towards the capitalist quarter of the town. We had soon sped
away from the brightly lighted streets and tall apartment buildings
among which my usual practice lay, and entered the gloomy and
dilapidated section of the city where the unhappy capitalist class
reside. I need not remind those of you who know it that it is scarcely a
cheerful place to find oneself in after nightfall. The thick growth of
trees, the silent gloom of the ill-lighted houses, and the rank
undergrowth of shrubs give it an air of desolation, not to say danger.
It is certainly not the place that a professional man would choose to be
abroad in after dark. The inhabitants, living, so it is said, on their
scanty dividends and on such parts of their income as our taxation is
still unable to reach, are not people that one would care to fall in
with after nightfall.

"Since the time of which I speak we have done much to introduce a better
state of things. The opening of day schools of carpentry, plumbing and
calcimining for the children of the capitalist is already producing
results. Strange though it may seem, one of the most brilliant of our
boiler fitters of to-day was brought up haphazard in this very quarter
of the town and educated only by a French governess and a university
tutor. But at the time practically nothing had been done. The place was
infested with consumers, and there were still, so it was said, servants
living in some of the older houses. A butler had been caught one night
in a thick shrubbery beside one of the gloomy streets.

"We alighted at one of the most sombre of the houses, and our
taxi-driver, with evident relief, made off in the darkness.

"The girl admitted us into a dark hall, where she turned on an electric
light. 'We have light,' she said, with that peculiar touch of pride that
one sees so often in her class, 'we have four bulbs.'

"Then she called down a flight of stairs that apparently led to the
cellar:

"'Father, the plumber has come. Do come up now, dear, and rest.'

"A step sounded on the stairs, and there appeared beside us one of the
most forbidding-looking men that I have ever beheld. I don't know
whether any of you have ever seen an Anglican Bishop. Probably not.
Outside of the bush, they are now never seen. But at the time of which I
speak there were a few still here and there in the purlieus of the city.
The man before us was tall and ferocious, and his native ferocity was
further enhanced by the heavy black beard which he wore in open defiance
of the compulsory shaving laws. His black shovel-shaped hat and his
black clothes lent him a singularly sinister appearance, while his legs
were bound in tight gaiters, as if ready for an instant spring. He
carried in his hand an enormous monkey wrench, on which his fingers were
clasped in a restless grip.

"'Can you fix the accursed thing?' he asked.

"I was not accustomed to being spoken to in this way, but I was willing
for the girl's sake to strain professional courtesy to the limit.

"'I don't know,' I answered, 'but if you will have the goodness first to
fetch me a little light supper, I shall be glad to see what I can do
afterwards.'

"My firm manner had its effect. With obvious reluctance the fellow
served me some biscuits and some not bad champagne in the dining-room.

"The girl had meantime disappeared upstairs.

"'If you're ready now,' said the Bishop, 'come on down.'

"We went down to the cellar. It was a huge, gloomy place, with a cement
floor, lighted by a dim electric bulb. I could see in the corner the
outline of a large furnace (in those days the poorer classes had still
no central heat) and near it a tall boiler. In front of this a man was
kneeling, evidently trying to unscrew a nut, but twisting it the wrong
way. He was an elderly man with a grey moustache, and was dressed, in
open defiance of the law, in a military costume or uniform.

"He turned round towards us and rose from his knees.

"'I'm dashed if I can make the rotten thing go round,' he said.

"'It's all right, General,' said the Bishop. 'I have brought a plumber.'

"For the next few minutes my professional interest absorbed all my
faculties. I laid out my instruments upon a board, tapped the boiler
with a small hammer, tested the feed-tube, and in a few moments had made
what I was convinced was a correct diagnosis of the trouble.

"But here I encountered the greatest professional dilemma in which I
have ever been placed. There was nothing wrong with the boiler at all.
It connected, as I ascertained at once by a thermo-dynamic valvular
test, with the furnace (in fact, I could see it did), and the furnace
quite evidently had been allowed to go out.

"What was I to do? If I told them this, I broke every professional rule
of our union. If the thing became known I should probably be disbarred
and lose my overalls for it. It was my plain professional duty to take a
large hammer and knock holes in the boiler with it, smash up the furnace
pipes, start a leak of gas, and then call in three or more of my
colleagues.

"But somehow I couldn't find it in my heart to do it. The thought of the
girl's appealing face arose before me.

"'How long has this trouble been going on?' I asked sternly.

"'Quite a time,' answered the Bishop. 'It began, did it not, General,
the same day that the confounded furnace went out? The General here and
Admiral Hay and I have been working at it for three days.'

"'Well, gentlemen,' I said, 'I don't want to read you a lesson on your
own ineptitude, and I don't suppose you would understand it if I did.
But don't you see that the whole trouble is _because_ you let the
furnace out? The boiler itself is all right, but you see, gents, it
feeds off the furnace.'

"'Ah,' said the Bishop in a deep melodious tone, 'it feeds off the
furnace. Now that is most interesting. Let me repeat that; I must try to
remember it; it feeds _off_ the furnace. Just so.'

"The upshot was that in twenty minutes we had the whole thing put to
rights. I set the General breaking up boxes and had the Bishop rake out
the clinkers, and very soon we had the furnace going and the boiler in
operation.

"'But now tell me,' said the Bishop, 'suppose one wanted to let the
furnace out--suppose, I mean to say, that it was summer-time, and
suppose one rather felt that one didn't care about a furnace and yet one
wanted one's boiler going for one's hot water, and that sort of thing,
what would one do?'

"'In that case,' I said, 'you couldn't run your heating off your
furnace: you'd have to connect in your tubing with a gas generator.'

"'Ah, there you get me rather beyond my depth,' said the Bishop.

"The General shook his head. 'Bishop,' he said, 'just step upstairs a
minute; I have an idea.'

"They went up together, leaving me below. To my surprise and
consternation, as they reached the top of the cellar stairs, I saw the
General swing the door shut and heard a key turn in the lock. I rushed
to the top of the stairs and tried in vain to open the door. I was
trapped. In a moment I realized my folly in trusting myself in the hands
of these people.

"I could hear their voices in the hall, apparently in eager discussion.

"'But the fellow is priceless,' the General was saying. 'We could take
him round to all the different houses and make him fix them all. Hang
it, Bishop, I haven't had a decent tap running for two years, and
Admiral Hay's pantry has been flooded since last March.'

"'But one couldn't compel him?'

"'Certainly, why not? I'd compel him bally quick with this.'

"I couldn't see what the General referred to, but had no doubt that it
was the huge wrench that he still carried in his hand.

"'We could gag the fellow,' he went on, 'take him from house to house
and make him put everything right.'

"'Ah, but afterwards?' said the Bishop.

"'Afterwards,' answered the General, 'why kill him! Knock him on the
head and bury him under the cement in the cellar. Hay and I could
easily bury him, or for that matter I imagine one could easily use the
furnace itself to dispose of him.'

"I must confess that my blood ran cold as I listened.

"'But do you think it right?' objected the Bishop. 'You will say, of
course, that it is only killing a plumber; but yet one asks oneself
whether it wouldn't be just a _leetle_ bit unjustifiable.'

"'Nonsense,' said the General. 'You remember that last year, when Hay
strangled the income tax collector, you yourself were very keen on it.'

"'Ah, that was different,' said the Bishop, 'one felt there that there
was an end to serve, but here----'

"'Nonsense,' repeated the General, 'come along and get Hay. He'll make
short work of him.'

"I heard their retreating footsteps and then all was still.

"The horror which filled my mind as I sat in the half darkness waiting
for their return I cannot describe. My fate appeared sealed and I gave
myself up for lost, when presently I heard a light step in the hall and
the key turned in the lock.

"The girl stood in front of me. She was trembling with emotion.

"'Quick, quick, Mr. Thornton,' she said. 'I heard all that they said.
Oh, I think it's dreadful of them, simply dreadful. Mr. Thornton, I'm
really ashamed that Father should act that way.'

"I came out into the hall still half dazed.

"'They've gone over to Admiral Hay's house, there among the trees.
That's their lantern. Please, please, don't lose a minute. Do you mind
not having a cab? I think really you'd prefer not to wait. And look,
won't you please take this?'--she handed me a little packet as she
spoke--'this is a piece of pie: you always get that, don't you? and
there's a bit of cheese with it, but please run.'

"In another moment I had bounded from the door into the darkness. A wild
rush through the darkened streets, and in twenty minutes I was safe
back again in my own consulting-room."

Thornton paused in his narrative, and at that moment one of the stewards
of the club came and whispered something in his ear.

He rose.

"I'm sorry," he said, with a grave face. "I'm called away; a very old
client of mine. Valvular trouble of the worst kind. I doubt if I can do
anything, but I must at least go. Please don't let me break up your
evening, however."

With a courtly bow he left us.

"And do you know the sequel to Thornton's story?" asked Fortescue with a
smile.

We looked expectantly at him.

"Why, he married the girl," explained Fortescue. "You see, he had to go
back to her house for his wrench. One always does."

"Of course," we exclaimed.

"In fact he went three times; and the last time he asked the girl to
marry him and she said 'yes.' He took her out of her surroundings, had
her educated at a cooking school, and had her given lessons on the
parlour organ. She's Mrs. Thornton now."

"And the Bishop?" asked some one.

"Oh, Thornton looked after him. He got him a position heating furnaces
in the synagogues. He worked at it till he died a few years ago. They
say that once he got the trick of it he took the greatest delight in it.
Well, I must go too. Good night."



VII

THE BLUE AND THE GREY

A PRE-WAR WAR STORY

(_The title is selected for its originality. A set of seventy-five maps
will be supplied to any reader free for seventy-five cents. This offer
is only open till it is closed_)



_VII.--The Blue and the Grey: A Pre-War War Story._



CHAPTER I


The scene was a striking one. It was night. Never had the Mississippi
presented a more remarkable appearance. Broad bayous, swollen beyond our
powers of description, swirled to and fro in the darkness under trees
garlanded with Spanish moss. All moss other than Spanish had been swept
away by the angry flood of the river.

Eggleston Lee Carey Randolph, a young Virginian, captain of the ----th
company of the ----th regiment of ----'s brigade--even this is more than
we ought to say, and is hard to pronounce--attached to the Army of the
Tennessee, struggled in vain with the swollen waters. At times he sank.
At other times he went up.

In the intervals he wondered whether it would ever be possible for him
to rejoin the particular platoon of the particular regiment to which he
belonged, and of which's whereabouts (not having the volume of the army
record at hand) he was in ignorance. In the intervals, also, he
reflected on his past life to a sufficient extent to give the reader a
more or less workable idea as to who and to what he was. His father, the
old grey-haired Virginian aristocrat, he could see him still. "Take this
sword, Eggleston," he had said, "use it for the State; never for
anything else: don't cut string with it or open tin cans. Never sheathe
it till the soil of Virginia is free. Keep it bright, my boy: oil it
every now and then, and you'll find it an A 1 sword."

Did Eggleston think, too, in his dire peril of another--younger than his
father and fairer? Necessarily, he did. "Go, Eggleston!" she had
exclaimed, as they said farewell under the portico of his father's house
where she was visiting, "it is your duty. But mine lies elsewhere. I
cannot forget that I am a Northern girl. I must return at once to my
people in Pennsylvania. Oh, Egg, when will this cruel war end?"

So had the lovers parted.

Meanwhile--while Eggleston is going up and down for the third time,
which is of course the last--suppose we leave him, and turn to consider
the general position of the Confederacy. All right: suppose we do.



CHAPTER II


At this date the Confederate Army of the Tennessee was extended in a
line with its right resting on the Tennessee and its left resting on the
Mississippi. Its rear rested on the rugged stone hills of the Chickasaba
range, while its front rested on the marshes and bayous of the Yazoo.
Having thus--as far as we understand military matters--both its flanks
covered and its rear protected, its position was one which we ourselves
consider very comfortable.

It was thus in an admirable situation for holding a review or for
discussing the Constitution of the United States in reference to the
right of secession.

The following generals rode up and down in front of the army, namely,
Mr. A. P. Hill, Mr. Longstreet, and Mr. Joseph Johnston. All these three
celebrated men are thus presented to our readers at one and the same
time without extra charge.

But who is this tall, commanding figure who rides beside them, his head
bent as if listening to what they are saying (he really isn't) while his
eye alternately flashes with animation or softens to its natural
melancholy? (In fact, we can only compare it to an electric light bulb
with the power gone wrong.) Who is it? It is Jefferson C. Davis,
President, as our readers will be gratified to learn, of the Confederate
States.

It being a fine day and altogether suitable for the purpose, General
Longstreet reined in his prancing black charger (during this distressed
period all the horses in both armies were charged: there was no other
way to pay for them), and in a few terse words, about three pages, gave
his views on the Constitution of the United States.

Jefferson Davis, standing up in his stirrups, delivered a stirring
harangue, about six columns, on the powers of the Supreme Court,
admirably calculated to rouse the soldiers to frenzy. After which
General A. P. Hill offered a short address, soldier-like and to the
point, on the fundamental principles of international law, which
inflamed the army to the highest pitch.

At this moment an officer approached the President, saluted and stood
rigidly at attention. Davis, with that nice punctilio which marked the
Southern army, returned the salute.

"Do you speak first?" he said, "or did I?"

"Let me," said the officer. "Your Excellency," he continued, "a young
Virginian officer has just been fished out of the Mississippi."

Davis's eye flashed. "Good!" he said. "Look and see if there are many
more," and then he added with a touch of melancholy, "The South needs
them: fish them all out. Bring this one here."

Eggleston Lee Carey Randolph, still dripping from the waters of the
bayou, was led by the faithful negroes who had rescued him before the
generals. Davis, who kept every thread of the vast panorama of the war
in his intricate brain, eyed him keenly and directed a few searching
questions to him, such as: "Who are you? Where are you? What day of the
week is it? How much is nine times twelve?" and so forth. Satisfied with
Eggleston's answers, Davis sat in thought a moment, and then continued:

"I am anxious to send some one through the entire line of the
Confederate armies in such a way that he will be present at all the
great battles and end up at the battle of Gettysburg. Can you do it?"

Randolph looked at his chief with a flush of pride.

"I can."

"Good!" resumed Davis. "To accomplish this task you must carry
despatches. What they will be about I have not yet decided. But it is
customary in such cases to write them so that they are calculated, if
lost, to endanger the entire Confederate cause. The main thing is, can
you carry them?"

"Sir," said Eggleston, raising his hand in a military salute, "I am a
Randolph."

Davis with soldierly dignity removed his hat. "I am proud to hear it,
Captain Randolph," he said.

"And a Carey," continued our hero.

Davis, with a graciousness all his own, took off his gloves. "I trust
you, _Major_ Randolph," he said.

"And I am a Lee," added Eggleston quickly.

Davis with a courtly bow unbuttoned his jacket. "It is enough," he said.
"I trust you. You shall carry the despatches. You are to carry them on
your person and, as of course you understand, you are to keep on losing
them. You are to drop them into rivers, hide them in old trees, bury
them under moss, talk about them in your sleep. In fact, sir," said
Davis, with a slight gesture of impatience--it was his _one_
fault--"you must act towards them as any bearer of Confederate
despatches is expected to act. The point is, can you do it, or can't
you?"

"Sir," said Randolph, saluting again with simple dignity, "I come from
Virginia."

"Pardon me," said the President, saluting with both hands, "I had
forgotten it."



CHAPTER III


Randolph set out that night, mounted upon the fastest horse, in fact the
fleetest, that the Confederate Army could supply. He was attended only
by a dozen faithful negroes, all devoted to his person.

Riding over the Tennessee mountains by paths known absolutely to no one
and never advertised, he crossed the Tombigbee, the Tahoochie and the
Tallahassee, all frightfully swollen, and arrived at the headquarters of
General Braxton Bragg.

At this moment Bragg was extended over some seven miles of bush and
dense swamp. His front rested on the marshes of the Tahoochie River,
while his rear was doubled sharply back and rested on a dense growth of
cactus plants. Our readers can thus form a fairly accurate idea of
Bragg's position. Over against him, not more than fifty miles to the
north, his indomitable opponent, Grant, lay in a frog-swamp. The space
between them was filled with Union and Confederate pickets,
fraternizing, joking, roasting corn, and firing an occasional shot at
one another.

One glance at Randolph's despatches was enough.

"Take them at once to General Hood," said Bragg.

"Where is he?" asked Eggleston, with military precision.

Bragg waved his sword towards the east. It was characteristic of the man
that even on active service he carried a short sword, while a pistol,
probably loaded, protruded from his belt. But such was Bragg. Anyway, he
waved his sword. "Over there beyond the Tahoochicaba range," he said.
"Do you know it?"

"No," said Randolph, "but I can find it."

"Do," said Bragg, and added, "One thing more. On your present mission
let nothing stop you. Go forward at all costs. If you come to a river,
swim it. If you come to a tree, cut it down. If you strike a fence,
climb over it. But don't stop! If you are killed, never mind. Do you
understand?"

"Almost," said Eggleston.

Two days later Eggleston reached the headquarters of General Hood, and
flung himself, rather than dismounted, from his jaded horse.

"Take me to the General!" he gasped.

They pointed to the log cabin in which General Hood was quartered.

Eggleston flung himself, rather than stepped, through the door.

Hood looked up from the table.

"Who was that flung himself in?" he asked.

Randolph reached out his hand. "Despatches!" he gasped. "Food, whisky!"

"Poor lad," said the General, "you are exhausted. When did you last have
food?"

"Yesterday morning," gasped Eggleston.

"You're lucky," said Hood bitterly. "And when did you last have a
drink?"

"Two weeks ago," answered Randolph.

"Great Heaven!" said Hood, starting up. "Is it possible? Here, quick,
drink it!"

He reached out a bottle of whisky. Randolph drained it to the last drop.

"Now, General," he said, "I am at your service."

Meanwhile Hood had cast his eye over the despatches.

"Major Randolph," he said, "you have seen General Bragg?"

"I have."

"And Generals Johnston and Smith?"

"Yes."

"You have been through Mississippi and Tennessee and seen all the
battles there?"

"I have," said Randolph.

"Then," said Hood, "there is nothing left except to send you at once to
the army in Virginia under General Lee. Remount your horse at once and
ride to Gettysburg. Lose no time."



CHAPTER IV


It was at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania that Randolph found General Lee.

The famous field is too well known to need description. The armies of
the North and the South lay in and around the peaceful village of
Gettysburg. About it the yellow cornfields basked in the summer sun. The
voices of the teachers and the laughter of merry children rose in the
harvest-fields. But already the shadow of war was falling over the
landscape. As soon as the armies arrived, the shrewder of the farmers
suspected that there would be trouble.

General Lee was seated gravely on his horse, looking gravely over the
ground before him.

"Major Randolph," said the Confederate chieftain gravely, "you are just
in time. We are about to go into action. I need your advice."

Randolph bowed. "Ask me anything you like," he said.

"Do you like the way I have the army placed?" asked Lee.

Our hero directed a searching look over the field. "Frankly, I don't,"
he said.

"What's the matter with it?" questioned Lee eagerly. "I felt there was
something wrong myself. What is it?"

"Your left," said Randolph, "is too far advanced. It sticks out."

"By Heaven!" said Lee, turning to General Longstreet, "the boy is right!
Is there anything else?"

"Yes," said Randolph, "your right is crooked. It is all sideways."

"It is. It is!" said Lee, striking his forehead. "I never noticed it.
I'll have it straightened at once. Major Randolph, if the Confederate
cause is saved, you, and you alone, have saved it."

"One thing more," said Randolph. "Is your artillery loaded?"

"Major Randolph," said Lee, speaking very gravely, "you have saved us
again. I never thought of it."

At this moment a bullet sang past Eggleston's ear. He smiled.

"The battle has begun," he murmured. Another bullet buzzed past his
other ear. He laughed softly to himself. A shell burst close to his
feet. He broke into uncontrolled laughter. This kind of thing always
amused him. Then, turning grave in a moment, "Put General Lee under
cover," he said to those about him, "spread something over him."

In a few moments the battle was raging in all directions. The
Confederate Army was nominally controlled by General Lee, but in reality
by our hero. Eggleston was everywhere. Horses were shot under him. Mules
were shot around him and behind him. Shells exploded all over him; but
with undaunted courage he continued to wave his sword in all directions,
riding wherever the fight was hottest.

The battle raged for three days.

On the third day of the conflict, Randolph, his coat shot to rags, his
hat pierced, his trousers practically useless, still stood at Lee's
side, urging and encouraging him.

Mounted on his charger, he flew to and fro in all parts of the field,
moving the artillery, leading the cavalry, animating and directing the
infantry. In fact, he was the whole battle.

But his efforts were in vain.

He turned sadly to General Lee. "It is bootless," he said.

"What is?" asked Lee.

"The army," said Randolph. "We must withdraw it."

"Major Randolph," said the Confederate chief, "I yield to your superior
knowledge. We must retreat."

A few hours later the Confederate forces, checked but not beaten, were
retiring southward towards Virginia.

Eggleston, his head sunk in thought, rode in the rear.

As he thus slowly neared a farmhouse, a woman--a girl--flew from it
towards him with outstretched arms.

"Eggleston!" she cried.

Randolph flung himself from his horse. "Leonora!" he gasped. "You here!
In all this danger! How comes it? What brings you here?"

"We live here," she said. "This is Pa's house. This is our farm.
Gettysburg is our home. Oh, Egg, it has been dreadful, the noise of the
battle! We couldn't sleep for it. Pa's all upset about it. But come in.
Do come in. Dinner's nearly ready."

Eggleston gazed a moment at the retreating army. Duty and affection
struggled in his heart.

"I will," he said.



CHAPTER V

CONCLUSION


The strife is done. The conflict has ceased. The wounds are healed.
North and South are one. East and West are even less. The Civil War is
over. Lee is dead. Grant is buried in New York. The Union Pacific runs
from Omaha to San Francisco. There is total prohibition in the United
States. The output of dressed beef last year broke all records.

And Eggleston Lee Carey Randolph survives, hale and hearty, bright and
cheery, free and easy--and so forth. There is grey hair upon his temples
(some, not much), and his step has lost something of its elasticity (not
a great deal), and his form is somewhat bowed (though not really
crooked).

But he still lives there in the farmstead at Gettysburg, and Leonora,
now, like himself, an old woman, is still at his side.

You may see him any day. In fact, he is the old man who shows you over
the battlefield for fifty cents and explains how he himself fought and
won the great battle.



VIII

BUGGAM GRANGE

A GOOD OLD GHOST STORY



_VIII.--Buggam Grange: A Good Old Ghost Story._


The evening was already falling as the vehicle in which I was contained
entered upon the long and gloomy avenue that leads to Buggam Grange.

A resounding shriek echoed through the wood as I entered the avenue. I
paid no attention to it at the moment, judging it to be merely one of
those resounding shrieks which one might expect to hear in such a place
at such a time. As my drive continued, however I found myself wondering
in spite of myself why such a shriek should have been uttered at the
very moment of my approach.

I am not by temperament in any degree a nervous man, and yet there was
much in my surroundings to justify a certain feeling of apprehension.
The Grange is situated in the loneliest part of England, the marsh
country of the fens to which civilization has still hardly penetrated.
The inhabitants, of whom there are only one and a half to the square
mile, live here and there among the fens and eke out a miserable
existence by frog-fishing and catching flies. They speak a dialect so
broken as to be practically unintelligible, while the perpetual rain
which falls upon them renders speech itself almost superfluous.

Here and there where the ground rises slightly above the level of the
fens there are dense woods tangled with parasitic creepers and filled
with owls. Bats fly from wood to wood. The air on the lower ground is
charged with the poisonous gases which exude from the marsh, while in
the woods it is heavy with the dank odours of deadly nightshade and
poison ivy.

It had been raining in the afternoon, and as I drove up the avenue the
mournful dripping of the rain from the dark trees accentuated the
cheerlessness of the gloom. The vehicle in which I rode was a fly on
three wheels, the fourth having apparently been broken and taken off,
causing the fly to sag on one side and drag on its axle over the muddy
ground, the fly thus moving only at a foot's pace in a way calculated to
enhance the dreariness of the occasion. The driver on the box in front
of me was so thickly muffled up as to be indistinguishable, while the
horse which drew us was so thickly coated with mist as to be practically
invisible. Seldom, I may say, have I had a drive of so mournful a
character.

The avenue presently opened out upon a lawn with overgrown shrubberies,
and in the half darkness I could see the outline of the Grange itself, a
rambling, dilapidated building. A dim light struggled through the
casement of a window in a tower room. Save for the melancholy cry of a
row of owls sitting on the roof, and croaking of the frogs in the moat
which ran around the grounds, the place was soundless. My driver halted
his horse at the hither side of the moat. I tried in vain to urge him,
by signs, to go further. I could see by the fellow's face that he was
in a paroxysm of fear, and indeed nothing but the extra sixpence which I
had added to his fare would have made him undertake the drive up the
avenue. I had no sooner alighted than he wheeled his cab about and made
off.

Laughing heartily at the fellow's trepidation (I have a way of laughing
heartily in the dark), I made my way to the door and pulled the
bell-handle. I could hear the muffled reverberations of the bell far
within the building. Then all was silent. I bent my ear to listen, but
could hear nothing except, perhaps, the sound of a low moaning as of a
person in pain or in great mental distress. Convinced, however, from
what my friend Sir Jeremy Buggam had told me, that the Grange was not
empty, I raised the ponderous knocker and beat with it loudly against
the door.

But perhaps at this point I may do well to explain to my readers (before
they are too frightened to listen to me) how I came to be beating on the
door of Buggam Grange at nightfall on a gloomy November evening.

A year before I had been sitting with Sir Jeremy Buggam, the present
baronet, on the verandah of his ranch in California.

"So you don't believe in the supernatural?" he was saying.

"Not in the slightest," I answered, lighting a cigar as I spoke. When I
want to speak very positively, I generally light a cigar as I speak.

"Well, at any rate, Digby," said Sir Jeremy, "Buggam Grange is haunted.
If you want to be assured of it go down there any time and spend the
night and you'll see for yourself."

"My dear fellow," I replied, "nothing will give me greater pleasure. I
shall be back in England in six weeks, and I shall be delighted to put
your ideas to the test. Now tell me," I added somewhat cynically, "is
there any particular season or day when your Grange is supposed to be
specially terrible?"

Sir Jeremy looked at me strangely. "Why do you ask that?" he said. "Have
you heard the story of the Grange?"

"Never heard of the place in my life," I answered cheerily. "Till you
mentioned it to-night, my dear fellow, I hadn't the remotest idea that
you still owned property in England."

"The Grange is shut up," said Sir Jeremy, "and has been for twenty
years. But I keep a man there--Horrod--he was butler in my father's time
and before. If you care to go, I'll write him that you're coming. And,
since you are taking your own fate in your hands, the fifteenth of
November is the day."

At that moment Lady Buggam and Clara and the other girls came trooping
out on the verandah, and the whole thing passed clean out of my mind.
Nor did I think of it again until I was back in London. Then, by one of
those strange coincidences or premonitions--call it what you will--it
suddenly occurred to me one morning that it was the fifteenth of
November. Whether Sir Jeremy had written to Horrod or not, I did not
know. But none the less nightfall found me, as I have described,
knocking at the door of Buggam Grange.

The sound of the knocker had scarcely ceased to echo when I heard the
shuffling of feet within, and the sound of chains and bolts being
withdrawn. The door opened. A man stood before me holding a lighted
candle which he shaded with his hand. His faded black clothes, once
apparently a butler's dress, his white hair and advanced age left me in
no doubt that he was Horrod of whom Sir Jeremy had spoken.

Without a word he motioned me to come in, and, still without speech, he
helped me to remove my wet outer garments, and then beckoned me into a
great room, evidently the dining-room of the Grange.

I am not in any degree a nervous man by temperament, as I think I
remarked before, and yet there was something in the vastness of the
wainscoted room, lighted only by a single candle, and in the silence of
the empty house, and still more in the appearance of my speechless
attendant, which gave me a feeling of distinct uneasiness. As Horrod
moved to and fro I took occasion to scrutinize his face more narrowly. I
have seldom seen features more calculated to inspire a nervous dread.
The pallor of his face and the whiteness of his hair (the man was at
least seventy), and still more the peculiar furtiveness of his eyes,
seemed to mark him as one who lived under a great terror. He moved with
a noiseless step and at times he turned his head to glance in the dark
corners of the room.

"Sir Jeremy told me," I said, speaking as loudly and as heartily as I
could, "that he would apprise you of my coming."

I was looking into his face as I spoke.

In answer Horrod laid his finger across his lips and I knew that he was
deaf and dumb. I am not nervous (I think I said that), but the
realization that my sole companion in the empty house was a deaf mute
struck a cold chill to my heart.

Horrod laid in front of me a cold meat pie, a cold goose, a cheese, and
a tall flagon of cider. But my appetite was gone. I ate the goose, but
found that after I had finished the pie I had but little zest for the
cheese, which I finished without enjoyment. The cider had a sour taste,
and after having permitted Horrod to refill the flagon twice I found
that it induced a sense of melancholy and decided to drink no more.

My meal finished, the butler picked up the candle and beckoned me to
follow him. We passed through the empty corridors of the house, a long
line of pictured Buggams looking upon us as we passed, their portraits
in the flickering light of the taper assuming a strange and life-like
appearance, as if leaning forward from their frames to gaze upon the
intruder.

Horrod led me upstairs and I realized that he was taking me to the tower
in the east wing, in which I had observed a light.

The rooms to which the butler conducted me consisted of a sitting-room
with an adjoining bedroom, both of them fitted with antique wainscoting
against which a faded tapestry fluttered. There was a candle burning on
the table in the sitting-room, but its insufficient light only rendered
the surroundings the more dismal. Horrod bent down in front of the
fireplace and endeavoured to light a fire there. But the wood was
evidently damp and the fire flickered feebly on the hearth.

The butler left me, and in the stillness of the house I could hear his
shuffling step echo down the corridor. It may have been fancy, but it
seemed to me that his departure was the signal for a low moan that came
from somewhere behind the wainscot. There was a narrow cupboard door at
one side of the room, and for the moment I wondered whether the moaning
came from within. I am not as a rule lacking in courage (I am sure my
reader will be decent enough to believe this), yet I found myself
entirely unwilling to open the cupboard door and look within. In place
of doing so I seated myself in a great chair in front of the feeble
fire. I must have been seated there for some time when I happened to
lift my eyes to the mantel above and saw, standing upon it, a letter
addressed to myself. I knew the handwriting at once to be that of Sir
Jeremy Buggam.

I opened it, and spreading it out within reach of the feeble
candlelight, I read as follows:


     "My dear Digby,

     "In our talk that you will remember, I had no time to finish
     telling you about the mystery of Buggam Grange. I take for granted,
     however, that you will go there and that Horrod will put you in the
     tower rooms, which are the only ones that make any pretence of
     being habitable. I have, therefore, sent him this letter to deliver
     at the Grange itself.

     "The story is this:

     "On the night of the fifteenth of November, fifty years ago, my
     grandfather was murdered in the room in which you are sitting, by
     his cousin, Sir Duggam Buggam. He was stabbed from behind while
     seated at the little table at which you are probably reading this
     letter. The two had been playing cards at the table and my
     grandfather's body was found lying in a litter of cards and gold
     sovereigns on the floor. Sir Duggam Buggam, insensible from drink,
     lay beside him, the fatal knife at his hand, his fingers smeared
     with blood. My grandfather, though of the younger branch,
     possessed a part of the estates which were to revert to Sir Duggam
     on his death. Sir Duggam Buggam was tried at the Assizes and was
     hanged. On the day of his execution he was permitted by the
     authorities, out of respect for his rank, to wear a mask to the
     scaffold. The clothes in which he was executed are hanging at full
     length in the little cupboard to your right, and the mask is above
     them. It is said that on every fifteenth of November at midnight
     the cupboard door opens and Sir Duggam Buggam walks out into the
     room. It has been found impossible to get servants to remain at the
     Grange, and the place--except for the presence of Horrod--has been
     unoccupied for a generation. At the time of the murder Horrod was a
     young man of twenty-two, newly entered into the service of the
     family. It was he who entered the room and discovered the crime. On
     the day of the execution he was stricken with paralysis and has
     never spoken since. From that time to this he has never consented
     to leave the Grange, where he lives in isolation.

     "Wishing you a pleasant night after your tiring journey,

     "I remain,

     "Very faithfully,

     "Jeremy Buggam."


I leave my reader to imagine my state of mind when I completed the
perusal of the letter.

I have as little belief in the supernatural as anyone, yet I must
confess that there was something in the surroundings in which I now
found myself which rendered me at least uncomfortable. My reader may
smile if he will, but I assure him that it was with a very distinct
feeling of uneasiness that I at length managed to rise to my feet, and,
grasping my candle in my hand, to move backward into the bedroom. As I
backed into it something so like a moan seemed to proceed from the
closed cupboard that I accelerated my backward movement to a
considerable degree. I hastily blew out the candle, threw myself upon
the bed and drew the bedclothes over my head, keeping, however, one eye
and one ear still out and available.

How long I lay thus listening to every sound, I cannot tell. The
stillness had become absolute. From time to time I could dimly hear the
distant cry of an owl, and once far away in the building below a sound
as of some one dragging a chain along a floor. More than once I was
certain that I heard the sound of moaning behind the wainscot. Meantime
I realized that the hour must now be drawing close upon the fatal moment
of midnight. My watch I could not see in the darkness, but by reckoning
the time that must have elapsed I knew that midnight could not be far
away. Then presently my ear, alert to every sound, could just
distinguish far away across the fens the striking of a church bell, in
the clock tower of Buggam village church, no doubt, tolling the hour of
twelve.

On the last stroke of twelve, the cupboard door in the next room opened.
There is no need to ask me how I knew it. I couldn't, of course, see it,
but I could hear, or sense in some way, the sound of it. I could feel
my hair, all of it, rising upon my head. I was aware that there was a
_presence_ in the adjoining room, I will not say a person, a living
soul, but a _presence_. Anyone who has been in the next room to a
presence will know just how I felt. I could hear a sound as of some one
groping on the floor and the faint rattle as of coins.

My hair was now perpendicular. My reader can blame it or not, but it
was.

Then at this very moment from somewhere below in the building there came
the sound of a prolonged and piercing cry, a cry as of a soul passing in
agony. My reader may censure me or not, but right at this moment I
decided to beat it. Whether I should have remained to see what was
happening is a question that I will not discuss. My one idea was to get
out, and to get out quickly. The window of the tower room was some
twenty-five feet above the ground. I sprang out through the casement in
one leap and landed on the grass below. I jumped over the shrubbery in
one bound and cleared the moat in one jump. I went down the avenue in
about six strides and ran five miles along the road through the fens in
three minutes. This at least is an accurate transcription of my
sensations. It may have taken longer. I never stopped till I found
myself on the threshold of the _Buggam Arms_ in Little Buggam, beating
on the door for the landlord.

I returned to Buggam Grange on the next day in the bright sunlight of a
frosty November morning, in a seven-cylinder motor car with six local
constables and a physician. It makes all the difference. We carried
revolvers, spades, pickaxes, shotguns and an ouija board.

What we found cleared up for ever the mystery of the Grange. We
discovered Horrod the butler lying on the dining-room floor quite dead.
The physician said that he had died from heart failure. There was
evidence from the marks of his shoes in the dust that he had come in the
night to the tower room. On the table he had placed a paper which
contained a full confession of his having murdered Jeremy Buggam fifty
years before. The circumstances of the murder had rendered it easy for
him to fasten the crime upon Sir Duggam, already insensible from drink.
A few minutes with the ouija board enabled us to get a full
corroboration from Sir Duggam. He promised, moreover, now that his name
was cleared, to go away from the premises for ever.

My friend, the present Sir Jeremy, has rehabilitated Buggam Grange. The
place is rebuilt. The moat is drained. The whole house is lit with
electricity. There are beautiful motor drives in all directions in the
woods. He has had the bats shot and the owls stuffed. His daughter,
Clara Buggam, became my wife. She is looking over my shoulder as I
write. What more do you want?


THE END


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

LITERARY LAPSES

_Twelfth Edition. Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     _Spectator._--"This little book is a happy example of the way in
     which the double life can be lived blamelessly and to the great
     advantage of the community. The book fairly entitles Mr. Leacock to
     be considered not only a humorist but a benefactor. The contents
     should appeal to English readers with the double virtue that
     attaches to work which is at once new and richly humorous."

     _Globe._--"One specimen of Mr. Leacock's humour, 'Boarding-House
     Geometry,' has long been treasured on this side."

     _The Guardian._--"Much to be welcomed is Professor Stephen Leacock's
     'Literary Lapses,'--this charming and humorous work. All the
     sketches have a freshness and a new personal touch. Mr. Leacock is,
     as the politicians say, 'a national asset,' and Mr. Leacock is a
     Canadian to be proud of. One has the comfortable feeling as one
     reads that one is in the company of a cultured person capable of
     attractive varieties of foolishness."

     _Pall Mall Gazette._--"The appearance of 'Literary Lapses' is
     practically the English début of a young Canadian writer who is
     turning from medicine to literature with every success. Dr. Stephen
     Leacock is at least the equal of many who are likely to be long
     remembered for their short comic sketches and essays; he has
     already shown that he has the high spirits of 'Max Adeler' and the
     fine sense of quick fun. There are many sketches in 'Literary
     Lapses' that are worthy of comparison with the best American
     humour."

     _Morning Post._--"The close connection between imagination, humour,
     and the mathematical faculty has never been so delightfully
     demonstrated."

     _Outlook._--"Mr. John Lane must be credited with the desire of
     associating the Bodley Head with the discovery of new humorists.
     Mr. Leacock sets out to make people laugh. He succeeds and makes
     them laugh at the right thing. He has a wide range of new subjects;
     the world will gain in cheerfulness if Mr. Leacock continues to
     produce so many excellent jests to the book as there are in the one
     under notice."

     _Truth._--"By the publication of Mr. Stephen Leacock's 'Literary
     Lapses' Mr. John Lane has introduced to the British Public a new
     American humorist for whom a widespread popularity can be
     confidently predicted."


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

NONSENSE NOVELS

_THIRTEENTH EDITION_

_Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     _Spectator._--"We can assure our readers who delight in mere joyous
     desipience that they will find a rich harvest of laughter in the
     purely irresponsible outpourings of Professor Leacock's fancy."

     _Pall Mall Gazette._--"It is all not only healthy satire, but
     healthy humour as well, and shows that the author of 'Literary
     Lapses' is capable of producing a steady flow of high spirits put
     into a form which is equal to the best traditions of contemporary
     humour. Mr. Leacock certainly bids fair to rival the immortal
     'Lewis Carroll' in combining the irreconcilable--exact science with
     perfect humour--and making the amusement better the instruction."

     _Daily Mail._--"In his 'Literary Lapses' Mr. Stephen Leacock gave
     the laughter-loving world assurance of a new humorist of
     irresistible high spirits and rare spontaneity and freshness. By
     this rollicking collection of 'Nonsense Novels,' in tabloid form,
     he not only confirms the excellent impression of his earlier work,
     but establishes his reputation as a master of the art of literary
     burlesque. The whole collection is a sheer delight, and places its
     author in the front rank as a literary humorist."

     Mr. JAMES DOUGLAS in _The Star_.--"We have all laughed
     over Mr. Stephen Leacock's 'Literary Lapses.' It is one of those
     books one would die rather than lend, for to lend it is to lose it
     for ever. Mr. Leacock's new book, 'Nonsense Novels,' is more
     humorous than 'Literary Lapses.' That is to say, it is the most
     humorous book we have had since Mr. Dooley swum into our ken. Its
     humour is so rich that it places Mr. Leacock beside Mark Twain."

     _Morning Leader._--"Mr. Leacock possesses infinite verbal
     dexterity.... Mr. Leacock must be added as a recognized humorist."

     _Daily Express._--"Mr. Stephen Leacock's 'Nonsense Novels' is the
     best collection of parodies I have read for many a day. The whole
     book is a scream, witty, ingenious, irresistible."

     _Public Opinion._--"A most entertaining book."


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

SUNSHINE SKETCHES OF A LITTLE TOWN

WITH A FRONTISPIECE BY CYRUS CUNEO

_Ninth Edition. Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     _The Times._--"His real hard work, for which no emolument would be
     a fitting reward, is distilling sunshine. This new book is full of
     it--the sunshine of humour, the thin keen sunshine of irony, the
     mellow evening sunshine of sentiment."

     _Spectator._--"This is not the first but the third volume in which
     he has contributed to the gaiety of the Old as well as the New
     World.... A most welcome freedom from the pessimism of Old-World
     fiction."

     _Academy._--"One of the best and most enjoyable series of sketches
     that we have read for some time ... they are all bright and
     sparkling, and bristle with wit and humour."

     _Pall Mall Gazette._--"Like all real humorists Mr. Leacock steps at
     once into his proper position.... His touch of humour will make the
     Anglo-Saxon world his reader.... We cannot recall a more laughable
     book."

     _Globe._--"Professor Leacock never fails to provide a feast of
     enjoyment.... No one who wishes to dispose intellectually of a few
     hours should neglect Professor Leacock's admirable contribution to
     English literature. It is warranted to bring sunshine into every
     home."

     _Country Life._--"Informed by a droll humour, quite unforced, Mr.
     Leacock reviews his little community for the sport of the thing,
     and the result is a natural and delightful piece of work."

     _Daily Telegraph._--"His Sketches are so fresh and delightful in
     the manner of their presentation.... Allowing for differences of
     theme, and of the human materials for study, Mr. Leacock strikes us
     as a sort of Americanised Mr. W. W. Jacobs. Like the English
     humorist, the Canadian one has a delightfully fresh and amusing way
     of putting things, of suggesting more than he says, of narrating
     more or less ordinary happenings in an irresistibly comical
     fashion.... Mr. Leacock should be popular with readers who can
     appreciate fun shot with kindly satire."


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

BEHIND THE BEYOND

AND OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS TO HUMAN KNOWLEDGE. With 16 Illustrations by
A. H. FISH.

_Fifth Edition. Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     _Punch._--"In his latest book, 'Behind the Beyond,' he is in
     brilliant scoring form. I can see 'Behind the Beyond' breaking up
     many homes; for no family will be able to stand the sudden sharp
     yelps of laughter which must infallibly punctuate the decent
     after-dinner silence when one of its members gets hold of this
     book. It is Mr. Leacock's peculiar gift that he makes you laugh out
     loud. When Mr. Leacock's literal translation of Homer, on p. 193,
     met my eye, a howl of mirth broke from me. I also forgot myself
     over the interview with the photographer. As for the sketch which
     gives its title, to the book, it is the last word in polished
     satire. The present volume is Mr. Leacock at his best."

     _Spectator._--"Beneficent contributions to the gaiety of nations.
     The longest and best thing in the book is the delightful burlesque
     of a modern problem play. Miss Fish's illustrations are decidedly
     clever."

     _Observer._--"There are delicious touches in it."

     _Queen._--"All through the book the author furnishes a continual
     feast of enjoyment."

     _Dundee Advertiser._--"'Behind the Beyond' is a brilliant parody,
     and the other sketches are all of Mr. Leacock's very best, 'Homer
     and Humbug' being as fine a piece of raillery as Mr. Leacock has
     written. Mr. Leacock is a humorist of the first rank, unique in his
     own sphere, and this volume will add yet more to his reputation."

     _Aberdeen Free Press._--"Exquisite quality ... amazingly funny."

     _Yorkshire Daily Post._--"In the skit on the problem play which
     gives the book its title the author reaches his high-water mark."

     _Glasgow Herald._--"Another welcome addition to the gaiety of the
     nations. The title-piece is an inimitably clever skit. It is both
     genial and realistic, and there is a genuine laugh in every line of
     it. Humour and artistry are finely blended in the drawings."

     _Daily Express._--"The pictures have genuine and rare distinction."


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

ARCADIAN ADVENTURES WITH THE IDLE RICH

_FOURTH EDITION_

_Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     _Spectator._--"A blend of delicious fooling and excellent satire.
     Once more the author of 'Literary Lapses' has proved himself a
     benefactor of his kind."

     _Morning Post._--"All the 'Adventures' are full of the fuel of the
     laughter which is an intellectual thing."

     _Pall Mall Gazette._--"Professor Leacock shows no falling off
     either in his fund of social observation or his power of turning it
     to sarcasm and humour. The book is full to the brim with honest
     laughter and clever ideas."

     _Bystander._--"It is necessary to laugh, now even more necessary
     than at ordinary times. Fortunately, Professor Leacock produces a
     new book at the right moment. It will cause many chuckles. He is
     simply irresistible."

     _Westminster Gazette._--"Marks a distinct advance in Mr. Leacock's
     artistic development."

     _Daily Chronicle._--"This altogether delightful and brilliant
     comedy of life.... Mr. Leacock's humour comes from the very depths
     of a strong personality, and in the midst of a thousand
     whimsicalities, a thousand searchlights on the puerilities of human
     nature he never loses touch with the essential bite of life."

     _Saturday Review._--"Professor Leacock is a delightful writer of
     irresponsible nonsense with a fresh and original touch. These
     'Arcadian Adventures' are things of sheer delight."

     _Tatler._--"I have not felt so full of eagerness and life since the
     war began as after I had read this delightfully humorous and clever
     book."

     _Evening Standard._--"In this book the satire is brilliantly
     conspicuous."


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

MOONBEAMS FROM THE LARGER LUNACY

_FOURTH EDITION_

_Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     _Times._--"Such a perfect piece of social observation and joyful
     castigation as the description of the last man in Europe ... the
     portrait of So-and-so is not likely to be forgotten ... it is so
     funny and so true."

     _Morning Post._--"Excellent fooling ... wisdom made laughable."

     _Daily Chronicle._--"Here is wit, fun, frolic, nonsense, verse,
     satire, comedy, criticism--a perfect gold mine for those who love
     laughter."

     _Sunday Times._--"Very pungent and telling satire. Buy the book--it
     will give you a happy hour."

     _Standard._--"Under the beams of the moon of his delight, the
     author never fails to be amusing."

     _Pall Mall Gazette._--"Mr. Leacock's humour is a credit to Canada,
     for it has a depth and a polish such as are both rare in the
     literature of a young nation."

     _Land and Water._--"Unlike a number of so-called humorists, Mr.
     Leacock is really funny, as these sketches prove."

     _Field._--"Indeed a very pleasant hour can be spent with this
     author, who is full of humour, wit, and cleverness, and by his work
     adds much to the gaiety of life."

     _Spectator._--"Mr. Leacock has added to our indebtedness by his new
     budget of refreshing absurdities.... In shooting folly as it flies,
     he launches darts that find their billet on both sides of the
     Atlantic."


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

ESSAYS AND LITERARY STUDIES

_Fifth Edition. Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     _Truth._--"Full of practical wisdom, as sober as it is sound."

     _Morning Post._--"He is the subtlest of all transatlantic
     humorists, and, as we have pointed out before, might almost be
     defined as the discoverer of a method combining English and
     American humour. But he never takes either his subject or himself
     too seriously, and the result is a book which is as readable as any
     of its mirthful predecessors."

     _World._--"Those readers who fail to find pleasure in this new
     volume of Essays will be difficult to please. Here are discourses
     in the author's happiest vein."

     _Daily News._--"All are delightful."

     _Bystander._--"No sane person will object to Professor Leacock
     professing, so long as he periodically issues such good
     entertainment as 'Essays and Literary Studies.'"

     _Daily Telegraph._--"The engaging talent of this Canadian author
     has hitherto been exercised in the lighter realm of wit and fancy.
     In his latest volume there is the same irresistible humour, the
     same delicate satire, the same joyous freshness; but the wisdom he
     distils is concerned more with realities of our changing age."

     _Outlook._--"Mr. Leacock's humour is his own, whimsical with the
     ease of a self-confident personality, far-sighted, quick-witted,
     and invariably humane."

     _Times._--"Professor Leacock's paper on American humour is quite
     the best that we know upon the subject."

     _Spectator._--"Those of us who are grateful to Mr. Leacock as an
     intrepid purveyor of wholesome food for laughter have not failed to
     recognize that he mingles shrewdness with levity--that he is, in
     short, wise as well as merry."


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

Further Foolishness

SKETCHES AND SATIRES ON THE FOLLIES OF THE DAY

With Coloured Frontispiece by "Fish," and five other Plates by
M. Blood

_Fourth Edition. Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     _Morning Post._--"An excellent antidote to war worry."

     _Evening Standard._--"You will acknowledge, if you have not done so
     before, the satirical keenness of Mr. Leacock."

     _Daily Graphic._--"The book is a joy all through, laughter on every
     page."

     _Times._--"Further examples of the diverting humour of Professor
     Leacock."

     _Bystander._--"'Further Foolishness,' in a word, is the most
     admirable tonic which I can prescribe to-day ... the jolliest
     possible medley."

     _Daily Chronicle._--"Mr. Leacock's fun is fine and delicate, full
     of quaint surprises; guaranteed to provoke cheerfulness in the
     dullest. He is a master-humorist, and this book is one of the
     cleverest examples of honest humour and witty satire ever
     produced."

     _Spectator._--"In this new budget of absurdities we are more than
     ever reminded of Mr. Leacock's essential affinity with Artemus
     Ward, in whose wildest extravagances there was nearly always a core
     of wholesome sanity, who was always on the side of the angels, and
     who was a true patriot as well as a great humorist."

     _Pall Mall Gazette._--"A humorist of high excellence."

     _Daily Express._--"Really clever and admirably good fun."

     _Star._--"Some day there will be a Leacock Club. Its members will
     all possess a sense of humour."


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

FRENZIED FICTION

_FOURTH EDITION_

_Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     "Everything in 'Frenzied Fiction' is exhilarating. Full of good
     things."--_Morning Post._

     "More delightful samples of Leacock humour. These delightful
     chapters show Mr. Leacock at his best."

     _Daily Graphic._

     "Stephen Leacock has firmly established himself in public favour as
     one of our greatest humorists. His readers will be more than
     pleased with 'Frenzied Fiction.'"--_Evening Standard._

     "It is enough to say that Mr. Leacock retains an unimpaired command
     of his happy gift of disguising sanity in the garb of the
     ludicrous. There is always an ultimate core of shrewd common-sense
     in his burlesques."--_Spectator._

     "Full of mellow humour."--_Daily Mail._

     "From beginning to end the book is one long gurgle of
     delight."--_World._

     "If it is your first venture into the Leacockian world read that
     delicious parody 'My Revelations as a Spy,' and we will be sworn
     that before you've turned half a dozen pages you will have become a
     life-member of the Leacock Lodge."--_Town Topics._

     "When humour is such as you get in 'Frenzied Fiction' it is a very
     good thing indeed."--_Sketch._

     "There is always sufficient sense under Stephen Leacock's nonsense
     to enable one to read him at least twice."--_Land and Water._


       *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

THE HOHENZOLLERNS IN AMERICA

AND OTHER IMPOSSIBILITIES

_Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     "Equal in gay humour and deft satire to any of its predecessors,
     and no holiday will be so gay but this volume will make it
     gayer.... It is a book of rollicking good humour that will keep you
     chuckling long past summer-time."--_Daily Chronicle._

     "At his best, full of whims and oddities ... the most cheerful of
     humorists and the wisest of wayside philosophers."--_Daily
     Telegraph._

     "He has never provided finer food for quiet enjoyment ... his
     precious quality of Rabelaisian humanism has matured and broadened
     in its sympathy."--_Globe._

     "In the author's merriest mood. All of it is distilled wit and
     wisdom of the best brand, full of honest laughter, fun and frolic,
     comedy and criticism."--_Daily Graphic._

     "The book is inspired by that spirit of broad farce which runs
     glorious riot through nearly all that Stephen Leacock has
     written."--_Bookman._

     "He has all the energy and exuberance of the born humorist.... All
     admirers will recognize it as typical of Mr. Leacock's best
     work."--_Manchester Guardian._

     "An entertaining volume."--_Scotsman._


            *       *       *       *       *


BY THE SAME AUTHOR

THE UNSOLVED RIDDLE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

_Crown 8vo. 5s. net_


     A discussion of the new social unrest, the transformation of
     society which it portends and the social catastrophe which it might
     precipitate.

     The point of view taken by the author leads towards the conclusion
     that the safety of the future lies in a progressive movement of
     social control alleviating at least the misery it cannot
     obliterate, and based upon the broad general principle of equality
     of opportunity, and a fair start. The chief immediate opportunities
     for social betterment, as the writer sees them, lie in the attempt
     to give every human being in childhood, education and opportunity.

     "His book is short, lucid, always to the point, and sometimes
     witty."--_Times._

     "A book for the times, suggestive, critical and highly stimulating.
     Mr. Leacock surveys the troubled hour and discusses the popular
     palliatives with a keen, unbiassed intelligence and splendid
     sympathy. I hope it will have as large a circulation as any of his
     humorous books, for it has much wisdom in it."--_Daily Chronicle._

     "The charm of Mr. Leacock's book is ... that it deals tersely and
     clearly with the problem of Social Justice without technical jargon
     or any abuse of generalities."--_Morning Post._


       *       *       *       *       *


THE HUMOROUS NOVELS OF HARRY LEON WILSON


BUNKER BEAN
MA PETTENGILL
SOMEWHERE IN RED GAP
RUGGLES OF RED GAP


_Crown 8vo. 7s. net_

    Harry Leon Wilson is one of the first of American humorists, and in
    popularity he is a close rival of O. Henry. His "Ruggles of Red
    Gap," published at the beginning of the war, achieved a distinct
    success in England, while the raciness and vivacity of "Ma
    Pettengill" have furthered the author's reputation as an inimitable
    delineator of Western comedy. An English edition of this author's
    works is in course of preparation, of which the above are the first
    volumes.


     "The author has the rare and precious gift of original
     humour."--_Daily Graphic._

     "Thackeray would have enjoyed Mr. Wilson's merry tale of 'Ruggles
     of Red Gap.' A very triumph of farce."--_Sunday Times._

     "Mr. Wilson is an American humorist of the first water. We have not
     for a long time seen anything so clever in its way and so
     outrageously funny."--_Literary World._


LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD





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