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Title: Golden Stories - A Selection of the Best Fiction by the Foremost Writers
Author: Various
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 "Golden Stories - A Selection of the Best Fiction by the Foremost Writers" ***

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Following each author's name was a notice: "All rights reserved." This
book is currently in the public domain, and the notices have been
removed, but are mentioned here in the interest of completeness.

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This book seems to have been bound in two sections, each with stories
numbered I-XII.

Golden Stories








The Story of a Bank Robbery


A PELTING rain volleyed against the great glass dome of the terminus, a
roaring wind boomed in the roof. Passengers, hurrying along the
platform, glistened in big coats and tweed caps pulled close over their
ears. By the platform the night express was drawn up--a glittering mass
of green and gold, shimmering with electric lights, warm, inviting, and

Most of the corridor carriages and sleeping berths were full, for it was
early in October still, and the Scotch exodus was not just yet. A few
late comers were looking anxiously out for the guard. He came presently,
an alert figure in blue and silver. Really, he was very sorry. But the
train was unusually crowded, and he was doing the best he could. He was
perfectly aware of the fact that his questioners represented a Cabinet
Minister on his way to Balmoral and a prominent Lothian baronet, but
there are limits even to the power of an express guard, on the Grand
Coast Railway.

"Well, what's the matter with this?" the Minister demanded. "Here is an
ordinary first-class coach that will do very well for us. Now, Catesby,
unlock one of these doors and turn the lights on."

"Very sorry, my lord," the guard explained, "but it can't be done. Two
of the carriages in the coach are quite full, as you see, and the other
two are reserved. As a matter of fact, my lord, we are taking a body
down to Lydmouth. Gentleman who is going to be buried there. And the
other carriage is for the Imperial Bank of Scotland. Cashier going up
north with specie, you understand."

It was all plain enough, and disgustingly logical. To intrude upon the
presence of a body was perfectly impossible; to try and force the hand
of the bank cashier equally out of the question. As head of a great
financial house, the Minister knew that. A platform inspector bustled
along presently, with his hand to his gold-laced cap.

"Saloon carriage being coupled up behind, my lord," he said.

The problem was solved. The guard glanced at his watch. It seemed to him
that both the bank messenger and the undertaker were cutting it fine.
The coffin came presently on a hand-truck--a black velvet pall lay over
it, and on the sombre cloth a wreath or two of white lilies. The door of
the carriage was closed presently, and the blinds drawn discreetly
close. Following behind this came a barrow in charge of a couple of
platform police. On the barrow were two square deal boxes, heavy out of
all proportion to their size. These were deposited presently to the
satisfaction of a little nervous-looking man in gold-rimmed glasses. Mr.
George Skidmore, of the Imperial Bank, had his share of ordinary
courage, but he had an imagination, too, and he particularly disliked
these periodical trips to branch banks, in convoy, so to speak. He took
no risks.

"Awful night, sir," the guard observed. "Rather lucky to get a carriage
to yourself, sir. Don't suppose you would have done so only we're taking
a corpse as far as Lydmouth, which is our first stop."

"Really?" Skidmore said carelessly. "Ill wind that blows nobody good,
Catesby. I may be overcautious, but I much prefer a carriage to myself.
And my people prefer it, too. That's why we always give the railway
authorities a few days' notice. One can't be too careful, Catesby."

The guard supposed not. He was slightly, yet discreetly, amused to see
Mr. Skidmore glance under the seats of the first-class carriage.
Certainly there was nobody either there or on the racks. The carriage
at the far side was locked, and so, now, was the door next the platform.
The great glass dome was brilliantly lighted so that anything suspicious
would have been detected instantly. The guard's whistle rang out shrill
and clear, and Catesby had a glimpse of Mr. Skidmore making himself
comfortable as he swung himself into his van. The great green and gold
serpent with the brilliant electric eyes fought its way sinuously into
the throat of the wet and riotous night on its first stage of over two
hundred miles. Lydmouth would be the first stop.

So far Mr. Skidmore had nothing to worry him, nothing, that is, except
the outside chance of a bad accident. He did not anticipate, however,
that some miscreant might deliberately wreck the train on the off chance
of looting those plain deal boxes. The class of thief that banks have to
fear is not guilty of such clumsiness. Unquestionably nothing could
happen on this side of Lydmouth. The train was roaring along now through
the fierce gale at sixty odd miles an hour, Skidmore had the carriage to
himself, and was not the snug, brilliantly lighted compartment made of
steel? On one side was the carriage with the coffin; on the other side
another compartment filled with a party of sportsmen going North.
Skidmore had noticed the four of them playing bridge just before he
slipped into his own carriage. Really, he had nothing to fear. He lay
back comfortably wondering how Poe or Gaboriau would have handled such a
situation with a successful robbery behind it. There are limits, of
course, both to a novelist's imagination and a clever thief's process of
invention. So, therefore....

Three hours and twenty minutes later the express pulled up at Lydmouth.
The station clock indicated the hour to be 11.23. Catesby swung himself
out of his van on to the shining wet platform. Only one passenger was
waiting there, but nobody alighted. Catesby was sure of this, because he
was on the flags before a door could be opened. He came forward to give
a hand with the coffin in the compartment next to Skidmore's. Then he
noticed, to his surprise, that the glass in the carriage window was
smashed; he could see that the little cashier was huddled up strangely
in one corner. And Catesby could see also that the two boxes of bullion
were gone!

Catesby's heart was thumping against his ribs as he fumbled with his
key. He laid his hand upon Skidmore's shoulder, but the latter did not
move. The fair hair hung in a mass on the side of his forehead, and here
it was fair no longer. There was a hole with something horribly red and
slimy oozing from it. The carpet on the floor was piled up in a heap;
there were red smears on the cushions. It was quite evident that a
struggle had taken place here. The shattered glass in the window
testified to that. And the boxes were gone, and Skidmore had been
murdered by some assailant who had shot him through the brain. And this
mysterious antagonist had got off with the bullion, too.

A thing incredible, amazing, impossible; but there it was. By some
extraordinary method or another the audacious criminal had boarded an
express train traveling at sixty miles an hour in the teeth of a gale.
He had contrived to enter the cashier's carriage and remove specie to
the amount of eight thousand pounds! It was impossible that only one man
could have carried it. But all the same it was gone.

Catesby pulled himself together. He was perfectly certain that nobody at
present on the train had been guilty of this thing. He was perfectly
certain that nobody had left the train. Nobody could have done so after
entering the station without the guard's knowledge, and to have
attempted such a thing on the far side of the river bridge would have
been certain death to anybody. There was a long viaduct here--posts and
pillars and chains, with tragedy lurking anywhere for the madman who
attempted such a thing. And until the viaduct was reached the express
had not slackened speed. Besides, the thief who had the courage and
intelligence and daring to carry out a robbery like this was not the man
to leave an express train traveling at a speed of upwards of sixty miles
an hour.

The train had to proceed, there was no help for it. There was a hurried
conference between Catesby and the stationmaster; after that the
electric lamps in the dead man's carriage were unshipped, and the blinds
pulled down. The matter would be fully investigated when Edinburgh was
reached, meanwhile the stationmaster at Lydmouth would telephone the
Scotch capital and let them know there what they had to expect. Catesby
crept into his van again, very queer and dizzy, and with a sensation in
his legs suggestive of creeping paralysis.

       *        *       *       *       *

Naturally, the mystery of the night express caused a great sensation.
Nothing like it had been known since the great crime on the South Coast,
which is connected with the name of Lefroy. But that was not so much a
mystery as a man hunt. There the criminal had been identified. But here
there was no trace and no clue whatever. It was in vain that the
Scotland Yard authorities tried to shake the evidence of the guard,
Catesby. He refused to make any admissions that would permit the police
even to build up a theory. He was absolutely certain that Mr. Skidmore
had been alone in the carriage at the moment that the express left
London; he was absolutely certain that he had locked the door of the
compartment, and the engine driver could testify that the train had
never traveled at a less speed than sixty miles an hour until the bridge
over the river leading into Lydmouth station was reached; even then
nobody could have dropped off the train without the risk of certain
death. Inspector Merrick was bound to admit this himself when he went
over the spot. And the problem of the missing bullion boxes was quite as
puzzling in its way as the mysterious way in which Mr. Skidmore had met
his death.

There was no clue to this either. Certainly there had been a struggle,
or there would not have been blood marks all over the place, and the
window would have remained intact. Skidmore had probably been forced
back into his seat, or he had collapsed there after the fatal shot was
fired. The unfortunate man had been shot through the brain with an
ordinary revolver of common pattern, so that for the purpose of proof
the bullet was useless. There were no finger marks on the carriage door,
a proof that the murderer had either worn gloves or that he had
carefully removed all traces with a cloth of some kind. It was obvious,
too, that a criminal of this class would take no risks, especially as
there was no chance of his being hurried, seeing that he had had three
clear hours for his work. The more the police went into the matter, the
more puzzled they were. It was not a difficult matter to establish the
bona fides of the passengers who traveled in the next coach with
Skidmore, and as to the rest it did not matter. Nobody could possibly
have left any of the corridor coaches without attracting notice; indeed,
the very suggestion was absurd. And there the matter rested for three

It must not be supposed that the authorities had been altogether idle.
Inspector Merrick spent most of his time traveling up and down the line
by slow local trains on the off-chance of hearing some significant
incident that might lead to a clue. There was one thing obvious--the
bullion boxes must have been thrown off the train at some spot arranged
between the active thief and his confederates. For this was too big a
thing to be entirely the work of one man. Some of the gang must have
been waiting along the line in readiness to receive the boxes and carry
them to a place of safety. By this time, no doubt, the boxes themselves
had been destroyed; but eight thousand pounds in gold takes some moving,
and probably a conveyance, a motor for choice, had been employed for
this purpose. But nobody appeared to have seen or heard anything
suspicious on the night of the murder; no prowling gamekeeper or watcher
had noticed anything out of the common. Along the Essex and Norfolk
marshes, where the Grand Coast Railway wound along like a steel snake,
they had taken their desolate and dreary way. True, the dead body of a
man had been found in the fowling nets up in the mouth of the Little
Ouse, and nobody seemed to know who he was; but there could be no
connection between this unhappy individual and the express criminal.
Merrick shook his head as he listened to this from a laborer in a
roadside public house where he was making a frugal lunch on bread and

"What do you call fowling nets?" Merrick asked.

"Why, what they catches the birds in," the rustic explained. "Thousands
and thousands of duck and teel and widgeon they catches at this time of
year. There's miles of nets along the road--great big nets like fowl
runs. Ye didn't happen to see any on 'em as ye came along in the train?"

"Now I come to think of it, yes," Merrick said thoughtfully. "I was
rather struck by all that netting. So they catch sea birds that way?"

"Catches 'em by the thousand, they does. Birds fly against the netting
in the dark and get entangled. Ducks they get by 'ticing 'em into a sort
of cage with decoys. There's some of 'em stan's the best part of half a
mile long. Covered in over the top like great cages. Ain't bad sport,

Merrick nodded. He recollected it all clearly now. He recalled the wide,
desolate mud flats running right up to the railway embankment for some
miles. At high tide the mud flats were under water, and out of these the
great mass of network rose both horizontally and perpendicular. And in
this tangle the dead body of a man had been found after the storm.

There was nothing really significant in the fact that the body had been
discovered soon after the murder of Mr. George Skidmore. Still, there
might be a connection between the two incidents. Merrick was going to
make inquiries; he was after what looked like a million to one chance.
But then Merrick was a detective with an imagination, which was one of
the reasons why he had been appointed to the job. It was essentially a
case for the theoretical man. It baffled all the established rules of
the game.

Late the same afternoon Merrick arrived at Little Warlingham by means of
a baker's cart. It was here that the body of the drowned man lay
awaiting the slim chances of identity. If nothing transpired during the
next eight and forty hours, the corpse would be buried by the parish
authorities. The village policeman acted as Merrick's guide. It was an
event in his life that he was not likely to forget.

"A stranger to these parts, I should say, sir," the local officer said.
"He's in a shed at the back of the 'Blue Anchor,' where the inquest was
held. If you come this way, I'll show him to you."

"Anything found on the body?"

"Absolutely nothing, sir. No mark on the clothing or linen, either.
Probably washed off some ship in the storm. Pockets were quite empty,
too. And no signs of foul play. _There_ you are, sir!"

Casually enough Merrick bent over the still, white form lying there. The
dead face was turned up to the light, Rembrandtesque, coming through the
door. The detective straightened himself suddenly, and wiped his

"Stranger to you, sir, of course?" the local man said grimly.

"Well, no," Merrick retorted. "I happen to know the fellow quite well.
I'm glad I came here."

       *        *       *       *       *

Until it was quite too dark to see any longer Merrick was out on the mud
flats asking questions. He appeared to be greatly interested in the
wildfowlers and the many methods of catching their prey. He learned,
incidentally, that on the night of the express murder most of the nets
and lures had been washed away. He took minute particulars as to the
state of the tide on the night in question; he wanted to know if the
nets were capable of holding up against any great force. For instance,
if a school of porpoises came along? Or if a fish eagle or an osprey
found itself entangled in the meshes?

The fowlers smiled. They invited Merrick to try it for himself. On that
stormy east coast it was foolish to take any risks. And Merrick was
satisfied. As a matter of fact, he was more than satisfied.

He was really beginning to see his way at last. By the time he got back
to his headquarters again he had practically reconstructed the crime. As
he stood on the railway permanent way, gazing down into the network of
the fowlers below, he smiled to himself. He could have tossed a biscuit
on to the top of the long lengths of tarred and knotted rigging. Later
on he telephoned to the London terminus of the Grand Coast Railway for
the people there to place the services of Catesby at his disposal for a
day or two. Could Catesby meet him at Lydmouth to-morrow?

The guard could and did. He frankly admitted that he was grateful for
the little holiday. He looked as if he wanted it. The corners of his
mouth twitched, his hands were shaky.

"It's nerves, Mr. Merrick," he explained. "We all suffer from them at
times. Only we don't like the company to know it, ye understand? To tell
the truth, I've never got over that affair at the Junction here eight
years ago. I expect you remember that."

Merrick nodded. Catesby was alluding to a great railway tragedy which
had taken place outside Lydmouth station some few years back. It had
been a most disastrous affair for a local express, and Catesby had been
acting as guard to the train. He spoke of it under his breath.

"I dream of it occasionally even now," he said. "The engine left the
line and dragged the train over the embankment into the river. If you
ask me how I managed to escape, I can't tell you. I never come into
Lydmouth with the night express now without my head out of the window of
the van right away from the viaduct till she pulls up at the station.
And what's more, I never shall. It isn't fear, mind you, because I've as
much pluck as any man. It's just nerves."

"We get 'em in our profession, too," Merrick smiled. "Did you happen to
be looking out of the window on the night of the murder?"

"Yes, and every other night, too. Haven't I just told you so? Directly
we strike the viaduct I come to my feet by instinct."

"Always look out the same side, I suppose?"

"Yes, on the left. That's the platform side, you understand."

"Then if anybody had left the train there----"

"Anybody left the train! Why we were traveling at fifty miles an hour
when we reached the viaduct. Oh, yes, if anybody _had_ left the train I
should have been bound to see them, of course."

"But you can't see out of both windows at once."

"Nobody could leave the train by the other side. The stone parapet of
the viaduct almost touches the footboard, and there's a drop of ninety
feet below that. Of course I see what you are driving at, Mr. Merrick.
Now look here. I locked Mr. Skidmore in the carriage myself, and I can
_prove_ that nobody got in before we left London. That would have been
too dangerous a game so long as the train was passing any number of
brilliantly lighted stations, and by the time we got into the open we
were going at sixty miles an hour. That speed never slackened till we
were just outside Lydmouth, and I was watching at the moment that our
pace dropped. I had my head out of the window of my van till we pulled
up by the platform. I am prepared to swear to all this if you like. Lord
knows how the thing was done, and I don't suppose anybody else ever

"You are mistaken there," said Merrick drily. "Now, what puzzles you,
of course, is the manner in which the murderer left the train."

"Well, isn't that the whole mystery?"

"Not to me. That's the part I really do know. Not that I can take any
great credit to myself, because luck helped me. It was, perhaps, the
most amazing piece of luck I have ever had. It was my duty, of course,
to take no chances, and I didn't. But we'll come to that presently. Let
it suffice for the moment that I know how the murderer left the train.
What puzzles me is to know how he got on it. We can dismiss every other
passenger in the train, and we need not look for an accomplice. There
_were_ accomplices, of course, but they were not on the express. Why
didn't Mr. Skidmore travel in one of the corridor coaches?"

"He was too nervous. He always had a first-class carriage to himself. We
knew he was coming, and that was why we attached an ordinary first-class
coach to the train. We shouldn't do it for anybody, but Lord Rendelmore,
the chairman of Mr. Skidmore's bank, is also one of our directors. The
coach came in handy the other night because we had an order from a
London undertaker to bring a corpse as far as here--to Lydmouth."

"Really! You would have to have a separate carriage for that."

"Naturally, Mr. Merrick. It was sort of killing two birds with one

"I see. When did you hear about the undertaking job?"

"The same morning we heard from the bank that Mr. Skidmore was going to
Lydmouth. We reserved a coach at once, and had it attached to the
Express. The other carriages were filled with ordinary passengers."

"Why didn't I hear of this before?" Merrick asked.

"_I_ don't know. It doesn't seem to me to be of much importance. You
might just as well ask me questions as to the passengers' baggage."

"Everything is of importance," Merrick said sententiously. "In our
profession, there are no such things as trifles. I suppose there will
be no difficulty in getting at the facts of this corpse business. I'll
make inquiries here presently."

So far Merrick professed himself to be satisfied. But there were still
difficulties in the way. The station people had a clear recollection of
the receipt of a coffin on the night of the tragedy, and, late as it
was, the gruesome thing had been fetched away by the people whom it was
consigned to. A plain hearse, drawn by one horse, had been driven into
the station yard, the consignment note had been receipted in the usual
way, and there was an end of the matter. Lydmouth was a big place, with
nearly a quarter of a million of inhabitants, and would necessarily
contain a good many people in the undertaking line. Clearly it was no
business of the railway company to take this thing any further.

Merrick admitted that freely enough. It was nearly dark when he came
back to the station, profoundly dissatisfied with a wasted afternoon.

"No good," he told Catesby. "At the same time there are consolations.
And, after all, I am merely confirming my suspicions. I suppose your
people here are on the telephone. If so, I should like to send a message
to your head office. I want the name of the firm in London who consigned
the coffin here. I suppose the stationmaster could manage this for me."

An hour or so later the information came. Merrick, at the telephone,
wanted a little further assistance. Would the Grand Coast Railway call
up the undertaker's firm whilst he held the line and ask the full
particulars as to the body sent from London to Lydmouth. For half an
hour Merrick stood patiently there till the reply came.

"Are you there? Is that Inspector Merrick? Oh, yes. Well, we have called
up Lincoln & Co., the undertakers. We got on to the manager himself. He
declares that the whole thing is a mistake. They have not sent a corpse
over our trunk system for two months. I read the manager the letter
asking for special facilities, a letter on the firm's own paper. The
manager does not hesitate to say the whole thing is a forgery. I think
he is right, Inspector. If we can do anything else for you----"

Merrick hung up the receiver and smiled as if pleased with himself. He
turned to his companion, Catesby.

"It's all right," he said. "Is there any way we can get back to London
to-night? The whole thing is perfectly plain, now."

       *        *       *       *       *

Though Merrick returned to London thoroughly satisfied, he knew that the
sequel was not just yet. There was much conjuring work to be done before
it would be possible to place all the cards on the table. The Christmas
holidays had arrived before Merrick obtained a couple of warrants, and,
armed with these, he went down to Brighton on Boxing Day, and put up at
the Hotel Regina, registering himself as Colonel Beaumont, sometime of
the United States Field Forces. Merrick could pose as an authority on
Cuba, for on one occasion he had been there for six months on the
lookout for a defaulting bank manager. He had made certain changes in
his appearance, and just now he bore little resemblance to Inspector
Merrick of New Scotland Yard.

The big hotel on the front was full. There was a smart dance that same
night, preceded by a children's party and Christmas tree. The house
swarmed with young folks, and a good many nationalities were
represented. On occasions like these somebody generally takes the lead,
and by common consent the part of the chief of the events had been
allotted to the Marquis de Branza.

To begin with, he was immensely rich. He had vast estates in Italy. He
had been staying at the Regina for the past month, and it was whispered
that his bill had reached three figures. He entertained lavishly; he was
the soul of hospitality; he was going to buy a palace in Kings' Gardens,
and more or less settle down in Brighton.

In addition to all this the Marquis was a handsome man, very
fascinating, and a prime favorite with all the boys and girls at the
Regina. He had his little peculiarities, of course--for instance, he
paid for everything in gold. All his hotel bills were met with current

Merrick had gleaned all this before he had been a day at the Regina.
They were quite a happy family, and the Colonel speedily found himself
at home. The Marquis welcomed him as if he owned the hotel, and as if
everybody was his guest. The dance was a great success, as also were the
presents in connection with the cotillon promoted by the Marquis.

At two o'clock the following morning the Marquis was entertaining a
select party in the smoking-room. The ladies had all vanished by this
time. The Marquis was speaking of his adventures. He really had quite a
talent in that direction. Naturally, a man of his wealth was certain to
be the mark for swindlers. Merrick listened with an approving smile. He
knew that most of these stories were true, for they had all been
recorded from time to time at Scotland Yard.

"You would have made an excellent detective, Marquis," he said. "You
have made it quite clear where the police blundered over that Glasgow
tragedy. I suppose you read all about the Grand Coast Railway murder."

The Marquis started ever so slightly. There was a questioning look in
his eyes.

"Did you?" he said. "Naturally one would, Colonel. But a matter the most
inexplicable. I gave him up. From the very first I gave him up. If the
guard Catesby was not the guilty person, then I admit I have no theory."

One by one, the smoking-room company faded away. Presently only Merrick
and the Marquis remained, save one guest who had fallen asleep in his
chair. A sleepy waiter looked in and vanished again. The hotel was
absolutely quiet now. Merrick, however, was wide awake enough; so,
apparently, was the Marquis. All the same, he yawned ostentatiously.

"Let us to bed," he said. "To-morrow, perhaps----"

"No," Merrick said somewhat curtly. "I prefer to-night. Sit down."

The last two words came crisply and with a ring of command in them. The
Marquis bowed as he dropped into a chair and lighted a fresh cigarette.
A little red spot glowed on either of his brown cheeks, his eyes

"You want to speak to me, Colonel?" he said.

"Very much indeed. Now, you are an exceedingly clever man, Marquis, and
you may be able to help me. It happens that I am deeply interested in
the Grand Coast Express murder; in fact, I have devoted the last two
months to its solution."

"With no success whatever, my dear Colonel?" the Marquis murmured.

"On the contrary, my dear Marquis, with absolute satisfaction. I am
quite sure that you will be interested in my story."

The Marquis raised his cigarette graciously.

"You are very good to give me your confidence," he said. "Pray proceed."

"Thank you. I will not bore you with any preliminary details, for they
are too recent to have faded from your memory. Sufficient that we have a
murder committed in an express train; we have the disappearance of eight
thousand pounds in gold, without any trace of the criminal. That he was
on the train at the start is obvious. That he was not in any of the
carriages conveying ordinary passengers is equally obvious. It is also
certain that he left the train after the commission of the crime.
Doubtless you read the evidence of the guard to prove that nobody left
the train after the viaduct leading to Lydmouth station was reached.
Therefore, the murderer contrived to make his escape when the express
was traveling at sixty miles per hour."

"Is not all this superfluous?" the Marquis asked.

"Well, not quite. I am going to tell you how the murderer joined the
train and how he left it after the murder and the robbery."

"You are going to tell me that! Is it possible?"

"I think so," Merrick said modestly. "Now, Mr. Skidmore had a
compartment to himself. He was locked in the very last thing, and nobody
joined the train afterward. Naturally a--well--an amateur detective like
myself wanted to know who was in the adjoining compartments. Three of
these could be dismissed at once. But in the fourth there was a

"A corpse! But there was no mention of that at the inquest."

"No, but the fact remains. A corpse in a coffin. In a dark compartment
with the blinds down. And, strangely enough, the firm of undertakers who
consigned, or were supposed to consign, the body to Lydmouth denied the
whole business. Therefore, it is only fair to suppose that the whole
thing was a put-up job to get a compartment in the coach that Mr.
Skidmore traveled by. I am going to assume that in that coffin the
murderer lay concealed. But let me give you a light--your cigarette is

"I smoke no more," the Marquis said. "My throat, he is dry. And

"Well, then, the first part is easy. The man gets out of the coffin and
proceeds to fill it with some heavy substance which has been smuggled
into the carriage under the pall. He screws the lid down and presently
makes his way along the footboard to the next compartment. An athlete in
good condition could do that; in fact, a sailor has done it in a drunken
freak more than once. Mind you, I don't say that murder was intended in
the first instance; but will presume that there was a struggle. The
thief probably lost his temper, and perhaps Mr. Skidmore irritated him.
Now, the rest was easy. It was easy to pack up the gold in leather bags,
each containing a thousand sovereigns, and to drop them along the line
at some spot previously agreed upon. I have no doubt that the murderer
and his accomplices traveled many times up and down the line before the
details were finally settled. Any way, there was no risk here. The
broken packing cases were pitched out also, probably in some thick wood.
Or they might have been weighted and cast into a stream. Are you

The Marquis gurgled. He had some difficulty in speaking.

"A little dangerous," he said. "Our ingenious friend could not possibly
screw himself down in the coffin after returning to his compartment. And
have you perceived the danger of discovery at Lydmouth?"

"Precisely," Merrick said drily. "It is refreshing to meet with so
luminous a mind as yours. There were many dangers, many risks to take.
The train might have been stopped, lots of things might have happened.
It would be far better for the man to leave the express. And he did so!"

"The express at top speed! Impossible!"

"To the ordinary individual, yes. But then, you see, this was not an
ordinary individual. He was--let us suppose--an acrobat, a man of great
nerve and courage, accustomed to trapeze work and the use of the diving

"But Colonel, pardon me, where does the net come in?"

"The net came in at a place near Little Warlingham, on the Norfolk
coast. There are miles of net up there, trap and flight nets close by
the side of the line. These nets are wide and strong; they run many
furlongs without supports, so that an acrobat could easily turn a
somersault on to one of these at a given spot without the slightest
risk. He could study out the precise spot carefully beforehand--there
are lightships on the sands to act as guides. I have been down to the
spot and studied it all out for myself. The thing is quite easy for the
class of man I mean. I am not taking any great credit to myself, because
I happened to see the body of the man who essayed that experiment. I
recognized him for----"

"You recognized him! You knew who he was?"

"Certainly. He was Luigi Bianca, who used to perform in London years
ago, with his brother Joseph, on the high trapeze. Then one of them got
into trouble and subsequently embarked, as the papers say, on a career
of crime. And when I saw the body of Luigi I knew at once that he had
had a hand in the murder of Mr. Skidmore. When the right spot was
reached the fellow took a header in the dark boldly enough, but he did
not know that the storm had come with a very high October tide, and
washed the nets away. He fell on the sands and dislocated his neck. But
I had something to go on with. When I found out about the bogus corpse I
began to see my way. I have been making careful inquiries ever since for
the other criminal----"

"The other criminal! You mean to insinuate----"

"I insinuate nothing," Merrick said coldly; "naturally enough I wanted
to find Joseph Bianca. He was the man who picked up the gold; he was the
man who hired a car in London from Moss & Co., in Regent Street, for a
week. This was to recover the gold and incidentally also to take up the
thief who stole it. I wanted to find Joseph Bianca, and _I've done it!_"

The Marquis leaped to his feet. As he did so the man in the distant
chair woke up and moved across the room.

"Don't make a fuss!" Merrick said quietly. "You will be able to explain
presently--perhaps what you are doing here posing as a Marquis, and
where you got all that ready money from. Meanwhile, let me inform you
that I am Inspector Merrick, of Scotland Yard, and that this is Sergeant
Matthews. Joseph Bianca, you are my prisoner, and I have a warrant for
your arrest as an accessory before and after the fact for the murder of
Mr. George Skidmore. Ask them to call us a cab, Matthews!"



The Story of a Vacation


THE impression, which floated vaguely as a perfume in the wake of the
departing Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Prentiss, adapted itself pleasingly to any
point of view. Generally, it was thought that Katrina Prentiss was to
remain at home under the eye of Grandfather McBride. Particularly, was
this Grandfather McBride's reading of the unspoken word. But Miss
Prentiss, herself, thought so otherwise that the situation completely
reversed itself. To Miss Prentiss, Grandfather McBride was left
absolutely under her eye.

Meanwhile the Jasper Prentisses, characteristically explaining nothing,
commanding nothing, leaving events to work themselves out somehow, as
events have been known to do, were off for their month's fishing without
undue worry.

"Grandfather will smoke his pipe all over the house," remarked Mrs.
Prentiss easily, as they drove away.

"Oh, Katrina will manage somehow," returned Mr. Prentiss, as easily.
"They'll come to terms. By the way, Kitty, we mustn't forget that
marmalade." And, absorbed in their list of supplies, the Jasper
Prentisses disappeared from view.

Grandfather McBride, eighty-one, dependent, save in moments of
excitement, upon his knotted stick, hard-featured, with a rusty beard
and a shabby black hat, departed slowly for his own quarters. Miss
Prentiss, twenty-one, hazel-eyed and graceful, with a wonderful creamy
skin, under a crown of auburn braids, sank dreamily upon the broad
porch step and gazed across the green lawn into the future.

"A whole month," thought Miss Prentiss, "of doing as I
please--consulting nobody, ordering things, going to places, and coming
home to--freedom." Miss Prentiss spread out her hands with a sigh of
content. "Not that I'm interfered with--ever," she added, reproaching
herself, "but now--well, I'm it."

She rose swiftly and turned up the steps. In the wide doorway stood
Grandfather McBride, stick in hand, hat jammed down, and in his mouth,
at a defiant angle, a battered black pipe. A red flag, backed up by a
declaration of the rights of man, could not have spoken more plainly.
Miss Prentiss drew back; Mr. McBride stepped forward. Their eyes met.
Then the old gentleman flung down his challenge. He removed the pipe and
held it poised in his hand.

"What you goin' to do to-day, Triny?" he asked, briskly. "When you goin'
over to see the Deerings' parrot? There ain't another such bird in
America. You go over there this morning and see that parrot. Don't loll
about the house. Don't be lazy!" Whereupon, with less profanity, but as
much of autocracy as was ever displayed by an Irish boss whipping into
shape the lowliest of his Italian gang, Mr. McBride replaced his pipe
elaborately, and walked off with the honors. Katrina, utterly
astonished, stared after him, then shrugged, then smiled.

"Poor Grandfather," she reached at length, "in minor matters I'll let
him have his way."

The next day, Grandfather McBride smoked his pipe on the porch. On the
third morning he smoked it in the drawing-room--out of sheer defiance,
for he never entered the room save under compulsion. Katrina, reminding
herself that peace was to be desired above victory, shrugged once more,
smiled, and went for a ride. When she swept in, an hour or so later,
Grandfather McBride was in the back garden with John, and the smoke of a
huge bonfire obscured the sunlight. This was revolution, simple and
straightforward, and Katrina went at once to the back garden.

"John," she said, "what is the meaning of this? Don't you know that Mr.
Prentiss never allows bonfires? The rubbish is to be carted away, _not_
set on fire."

John, apologetic, perturbed, nodded toward the old gentleman. "Yes,
miss, I know. I told Mr. McBride, miss----"

Grandfather McBride turned coldly upon Katrina. "I ordered this
bonfire," he said.

"But, Grandfather, you know the old orders. Father never allows them."

"I allow them," said Mr. McBride. "Your father's away fishing, and I'm
in charge. This is my bonfire. I order bonfires when I please. I like
'em. I like the smell of 'em, I like the smoke----" Here an unexpected
cough gave Katrina a word.

"But, Grandfather," she began again, only to be cut short.

"When the folks are home, I sit still and mind my own business. Now
they're away, I'm goin' to do things. I'm on a vacation myself," said
Mr. McBride, "and I'll have a bonfire on the front lawn if I say so. You
go back to the house, Katriny, and read Gibson."

"Ibsen," flashed Katrina.

"I don't care what his Dutch name is--read him. Or else"--a grim light
of humor in his hard gray eye--"go over and see that parrot."

Katrina almost stamped her foot. "I loathe parrots," she cried, "and I
came out to talk about this bonfire."

"I know you did," said Mr. McBride, "but this parrot ain't like other
parrots. It's a clown. It would make a rag baby laugh."

Katrina, flushed, angry, at a loss what to say, decided to say nothing.
The sight of John, discreetly gazing at the roof of the chicken house,
the grimness of Grandfather's face, the discomfort of the choking
smoke, urged a dignified retreat. She turned abruptly and left them,
overwhelmed at the exhibition furnished by Mr. McBride, confounded at
his sudden leap into activity after years of serene floating and
absolutely in the dark as to any method of controlling him in the

For a week, his pipe and his daily bonfire contented Mr. McBride.
Between himself and Katrina, relations were polite but not cordial.
Katrina preserved a dignity which deceived neither of them. Both knew
that she was awaiting something sensational, and the fact worried the
old gentleman, for already he had exhausted his possibilities. He longed
for new ideas in this matter of revolution, but none came. He began to
be bored by bonfires, and the lack of opposition to them. Even the
parrot failed to amuse, and he was sinking into dull monotony, when a
walk down the long lane behind the back garden one sunny afternoon
changed the horizon of his world.

He was gone for two hours; but Katrina was away from the house herself,
and did not notice. The next afternoon he disappeared for three, finally
dragging in weary in body, but high in spirit. Twice at dinner he
chuckled audibly, and three times he recommended the parrot across the
street to Katrina. The next day he vanished after luncheon, and was late
for dinner. At this, Katrina decided to take a hand.

"Grandfather," she said abruptly at dessert, after a long interval of
silence on both sides, "it's all very well to take a vacation, but there
is such a thing as overdoing it. I'm sure you would do nothing that
would alarm mother, and I know that if she were at home she would worry
over you. For days you have had no nap. Please rest to-morrow. Don't go
walking. Let me drive you to the club for luncheon."

The old gentleman glanced up at Katrina quickly. "I declare if I hadn't
forgot all about that fellow till this minute," he said. "Speaking of
the club, how's Sparks, Katriny?"

Katrina sat suddenly erect and her color deepened. "Do you by any chance
mean Mr. Willoughby Park, Grandfather? If so, I know nothing whatever
about him. I haven't seen him for a week." This with a jerk.

"Don't you marry that chap, Katriny," went on Mr. McBride, unimpressed,
"and don't you let him come around here. He's no good. A fellow that
hangs around a country club when he ain't hangin' around a girl, is
always no good. You marry a chap with brains, Katriny, even if he ain't
so long on the cash. Why, I know a young fellow----" Mr. McBride pulled
himself up short. "You dash in for brains, Triny, and I'll take out my
pocket book." Here he nodded, as if concluding a bargain, but Katrina
was already upon her feet.

"Grandfather McBride, you are growing insufferable," she cried. "Simply
because I mention the club, you assume that I am--angling--for a man
that--that has been decently polite to me. I have never been invited to
marry Mr. Park. And you give me low advice about laying traps for some
other sort of a man. And you mention pocket books! And you go off alone
for hours and come home worn out. And you smoke your horrible old pipe
and build your sickening bonfires, just to spite me! I think you are a
wretch, and I've worried over you every day since mother left." Here she
stopped suddenly, with a catch in her throat.

The old gentleman looked at her silently. Then he got up and came around
the table. Awkwardly, he patted her shoulder. Katrina sat down.

"I'm glad you don't like Sparks, my dear," said Mr. McBride, leaning on
his stick. "And don't worry your heart over Grandfather, Triny.
Grandfather's no fool. He ain't had so much fun in years." Mr. McBride
winked just here, and put on an air of profound mystery.

"I wonder where you do disappear to," said Katrina. "I think I'll go

"Don't you do that," spoke up Mr. McBride alertly. "Don't you do that!
A man can't stand a woman tagging at his heels. He's got to have room,
and air to breathe."

"Smoke, you mean," put in Katrina, with returning spirit, "and I warn
you, Grandfather, that if you make fires off our place, you'll be

"Pooh! Fires!" said Mr. McBride contemptuously. "Amusement for children.
I ain't a-makin' fires these days, Katriny. I've got other things to
do." And, with a final pat upon her shoulder, and a last most telling
wink, Grandfather McBride dragged himself wearily, but triumphantly, to

When Katrina, on the lookout next afternoon, saw Mr. McBride join John
in the back garden, hold with him a whispered consultation broken by
many stealthy glances toward the house, and finally disappear with him
down the lane, behind a wheelbarrow laden with boards, she gave orders
that she was not at home, waited half an hour, and followed.

The lane wound coolly green and deserted from the Prentiss place into
the heart of the country. Katrina, walking steadily, passed her own,
passed the Graham and the Haskell boundaries, and stopped in surprise.
At a branching path hung a new and conspicuous sign. "Private Road! No
Trespassing, Under Penalty of the Law."

It was a churlish sign. The people of the neighborhood--a summer
settlement of friends and pleasant informalities--were used to no such
signs. And Katrina, knowing Grandfather McBride, turned at once into the
branching path. At some distance in, she passed a similar sign, with
every mark of disdain. Finally, she was brought up short by a wire
fence, with a gate, high, wooden, and new, that stretched across the
path. She tried the gate, but it did not budge. From the wood beyond
came the sound of voices and the strokes of a hammer. With a quick
glance behind her, and a determined set to her chin, she began to climb
the gate.

She was descending upon the other side in safety, when Grandfather
McBride came upon her. His hat was pushed back upon his head, his stick
was forgotten. He descended upon her as might a hungry lion upon its
prey. He roared--in fact, he bellowed.

"Katrina Prentiss, get back over that fence. Climb back over that gate;
you're trespassing. Didn't you see the signs? Are you blind? Can't you
read? What do you mean by coming in here where you don't belong? Climb
back there and go home at once!"

Katrina, unprepared for battle and aware of being at a disadvantage,
swallowed hard and obeyed. She climbed back over the gate. Once upon
solid earth, however, and she glared as fiercely at Grandfather McBride
as he stared ferociously at her.

"I'm not a child," she said furiously, when he stopped to breathe, "to
be ordered about and sent home and insulted. I have never been so
treated in my life and I give you fair warning, Grandfather, that I'll
stand it no longer. After this I'll do as I please." Whereupon Katrina,
having woman-like, in the act of obedience, said her say, retreated with
dignity and dispatch. Behind her, Mr. McBride waved his recovered stick
over the gate and shouted, but she did not turn nor attempt an answer.

He came home within an hour, slowly, leaning heavily upon his stick.
John followed with the empty wheelbarrow. They parted at the barn and
Mr. McBride went at once to his room and shut the door. Katrina, sitting
at her own window, looked thoughtfully into space and swung a key upon
her forefinger. After a time she stood up, smoothed her hair and pinned
on her wide, rose-laden hat. Then she went down the hall quietly,
stopped before Mr. McBride's door, and listened a moment. A gentle snore
proclaimed Mr. McBride's occupation. Katrina fitted the key into the
lock and turned it, took it out again and slipped it beneath a corner of
the rug, listened a further moment and then walked down the stairs, out
through the back garden, and, with a final glance behind her, turned
once more into the green and deserted lane.

It must be confessed that Katrina started upon her quest in a spirit far
removed from that of your single-minded explorer. She was urged by a
variety of causes. Among them was a determination to disobey Grandfather
McBride, to serve him with his own medicine, to pay him in his own coin,
and to do it as quickly and as frankly as possible. Her rapidly
increasing curiosity concerning the region he guarded with so much
mystery counted as well, but the paramount force--for Katrina was young
enough to take her responsibility seriously--was anxiety over the old
gentleman himself. In fact, Katrina departed, as did Lot's wife, with
her face and her thought turned backward, a policy not conducive to
brilliant success in exploration.

This time, however, she was stopped by no one. She passed the gate
safely, penetrated the wood and came at length upon a part of Mr.
McBride's secret. It was a rough little flight of steps, made with the
help of John, the wheelbarrow, and the boards, which led to the top of a
high brick wall. The wall astounded Katrina even more than did the
steps, which is saying a good deal. The whole elaborate contrivance for
keeping people away, puzzled Katrina. It was some time before she
mounted the steps and looked over the wall, but when she finally did so,
she ceased to be merely puzzled. She became lost in a maze of wonder.

Stretching before her, was a wide expanse of green. Just opposite stood
a long, low building of workmanlike appearance. At the left was a very
presentable rose garden. At the right, a rustic summer-house.
Surrounding all was the high brick wall. But it was none of these things
that amazed Katrina.

Moving toward her, from the door of the long building, came a little
procession--men and women, walking slowly, sedately dressed in old-time
silks and finery, decked with plumes, jewels, laces, bouquets of
flowers. Arrived at a broad space near the summer-house, the company,
after a series of low and preliminary bows, launched forth into a
stately dance. Katrina, conscious of music, descried an individual in
very modern blue overalls, who manipulated a phonograph. A voice from
beyond the summer-house, called forth instructions at intervals, with a
huskiness vaguely suggestive of old Coney.

"More side-play there, Miss Beals. Just imagine he's a young hobo you're
in love with and yer father won't let him up the steps. You're doing the
Merry Widow act while the old man's not looking. Don't bow so low you
hide your face, Mr. Peters. Your face is worth money to us all. And
everybody get a move on! You're too slow! Hit it up a bit, Jim."

The overalls, thus adjured, accelerated the time of his machine, and a
new spirit animated the group. Katrina leaned far over the wall in order
to miss nothing. At length, the dance, moving toward a finale, reached
it with a succession of stirring chords, and a flourish of curtseys, and
the group dissolved.

"That'll do for to-day. You can knock off now," began the husky voice,
when Jim, glancing up from his phonograph, beheld Katrina in her
rose-laden hat, leaning far over the wall. If he had stopped to reflect,
he might have ignored the vision, for he was but man, and the vision a
guilelessly pretty one, but he did not stop to reflect. With Jim, to see
a thing was to proclaim it abroad. Immediately, he yelled:

"Hey! Get on to the lady on the wall! Hey! Mr. Connor, come around here.
There's somebody on the wall. Hey!"

At once Katrina, to her utmost discomfort, became the centre of the
stage. Everybody turned, saw her, and began to stare. The silken ladies,
the velvet gentlemen, delayed their return to modern apparel, and took
her in. Jim stared clamorously. Mr. Connor, rounding the summer-house,
glared angrily. To Katrina, even the long building blinked its windows
at her, and she thought, with sudden longing, of Grandfather McBride.
She wished she had not come. Most of all, she wished to go, but she did
not quite dare.

At once, Mr. Connor took charge of the situation. "Say, young lady," he
demanded, in a truculent manner, "what do you mean by gettin' into these
grounds and rubberin' at us over our wall? Don't you know you can be run
in for passin' those signs? Didn't you see that gate?"

"Oh, yes," faltered Katrina; "yes--I saw the gate."

"Well, how'd you get past that gate and them signs," Mr. Connor wanted
to know.

"I--I climbed the gate," hesitated Katrina.

Clearly this was not what Mr. Connor expected. Such simplicity must
cover guile. A suppressed smile glimmered through the group and Mr.
Connor became more suspicious of Katrina.

"I don't want no kiddin' now, do you hear?" he burst forth. "You're in a
tight place, young woman, and you may as well wake up to the fact at
once. The Knickerbocker is doin' things on a plane of high art, and our
methods are our own. Now, I want to know who you represent? And
freshness don't go, d'you see?"

Katrina hardly heard Mr. Connor. Her mind was occupied with the freedom
that lay clear behind her, and the possible patrol-wagons and police
stations before her. Perhaps she might conciliate this red-faced man by
allowing him to talk, by being mild and meek and polite. Perhaps a
chance might come for a desperate attempt at escape. But Mr. Connor,
conversing fluently, read her very soul.

"Bring that there light ladder, Jim," he interrupted himself to order,
"and if you try to get away, young woman, it'll be the worse for you.
Now, I want to know what yellow sheet you represent?"

"Yellow--why do you take me for a newspaper woman?" cried Katrina. "I'm
not. I'm nothing of the sort. I've never been inside a newspaper office
in my life."

"Of course not," observed Mr. Connor, ironically. "They never have.
Always society ladies that can't write their own names. You stand just
where you are, miss, till that ladder arrives. Then I'm coming up to
confiscate any little sketches and things you may have handy.

"You are a brute," said Katrina, lips trembling but head held high. "I
am Miss Prentiss. I live near here, and you will not dare to detain me."

"Oh, won't I?" returned Mr. Connor. "I have a picture of myself letting
you go. And where the deuce is Jim?" He turned impatiently toward the
building across the lawn, then somewhat relaxed his frown. "Oh, well, I
can take an orchestra chair," observed Mr. Connor. "Here comes the

Katrina, with deepening concern, glanced from Mr. Connor toward the long
building. A young man was sprinting across the stretch of green--a
clean-cut young man in gray flannels. At the first sight of him, Katrina
caught her breath sharply and blushed. It was Katrina's despair that she
blushed so easily. As the young man neared them the spectators achieved
the effect of obliterating themselves from the landscape. They melted
into space. There remained the young man, Mr. Connor, and a divinely
flushed Katrina.

The young man looked up at her without smiling. He bowed to her gravely.
Then he turned to Mr. Connor. With a few low-spoken words, he wilted Mr.
Connor. Katrina, gazing at the rose-garden, heard something in spite of
herself. She heard her name, and caught Mr. Connor's articulate
amazement. She heard mentioned some "old gentleman." She heard a
recommendation to Mr. Connor to go more slowly in the future and to mend
his manners at all times. After a hint to Mr. Connor to look up Jim and
the ladder, she heard that gentleman withdraw much more quietly than he
had come, and her eyes finally left the rose-garden and looked straight
down into those of warm gray, belonging to the young man below her.

"Will you mind--waiting--just a moment longer?" he asked. "This is more
luck than I've had lately."

Katrina smiled tremulously. "It's in my power to go, then," she said.

"No," said the young man, firmly, "it isn't. On second thoughts, you are
to stay just where you are till that blockhead brings the ladder. I've
a good deal to say. I'm going to walk home with you."

"Oh," said Katrina. "And what will become of your fancy-dress party?"

"My fancy-dress party," returned the young man, "will catch the next
trolley for New York. Oh! Here labors the trusty henchman across the
green. Right you are, Jim! No, the lady is not to come down. I'm to go
up." And go up he did, in the twinkling of an eye, and in less than
another the rose-wreathed hat and the young man's gray cap had
disappeared from view together.

"Well, what do you know about that?" observed Jim, under his breath,
staring at the top of the wall. He whistled softly. Then he grinned.
"Hypnotized, by thunder," concluded Jim, returning with the ladder.

Meanwhile, the two lingered homeward through the deepening twilight. The
gate opened easily to a key from the young man's pocket; the signs
glimmered dimly. They talked lightly, but what they said proved to both
simply an airy veil for what they did not say. Katrina spoke of the club
and the tennis tournament.

"Of course, we lost," she said. "Our best man," with a sidelong look,
"did not enter. The committee said that he was away--on business. I see
now that they were misinformed."

"But they weren't," said the young man, eagerly, "if you mean me. I am
'away on business.' Why, do you know it's seven days since I've seen

Katrina regarded her neat brown shoes.

"The fact is," continued the young man, diffidently, "I've been trying a
new method with you. I've been endeavoring to be missed. And I'm afraid
to hear that I haven't been."

"A little wholesome fear is good for anyone," observed Katrina,
judicially, "but I can truthfully say that I rejoiced at the sight of
you this afternoon. That red-faced man was about to drag me off the wall
by the hair."

"Oh, Connor," said the young man. "Connor's not polished, but in his
line, he's a jewel. He used to be a stage manager, and considered in
that light, he's really mild."

"Is he?" said Katrina, drily. "Does he stage manage for you?"

"Practically that. Don't scoff--please. You see, there's a big future in
this business. My father growled at first, but he's come clean around.
The land was mine, and we are using it this way. The American public are
going in for this thing. They want amusement and they want it quick. And
the thing is to provide them with what they want, when they want it."

"Oh," said Katrina. "And you are providing the American public with what
they want--back there?" with a tilt of her head behind her.

"Exactly," he answered. "That's our plant. We are the Knickerbocker Film
Manufacturing Company."

"Oh," said Katrina, again. "And the fancy-dress people?"

"We are getting up 'Romeo and Juliet,'" said the young man. "Please
don't laugh. It's been proven that the moving picture audiences like
Shakespeare canned."

"Moving picture audiences," repeated Katrina in surprise, and then as
the light broke, she stopped short and looked at the young man.

"Why, didn't you guess?" he queried. "The summer-house--why, of course,
the summer-house must have hidden the camera." He looked at her
dejectedly. "I've wanted you so much to know all about it," he said,
"and now that you do, it sounds--oh, drivelling."

"But it doesn't," cried Katrina, eyes shining. "It sounds splendid. It
sounds thrilling. I'm sure it will be a success. You're bound to make it
one. I congratulate you. You've left out a good deal. You've told your
story very badly, but I'm good at filling in. The fact is, I'm proud to
know you, and you may shake hands with me if you wish to."

"Oh, Katrina," murmured the young man, and they clasped hands. It was
just here that Grandfather McBride turned into the lane from the back
garden and came upon them. When they became aware of him, leaning
heavily upon his stick and frowning at them through the dusk, Katrina
braced herself to meet whatever might come. But, suddenly, to her
intense surprise, Mr. McBride beamed upon them radiantly.

"Well, well, Katriny," he said, in high good humor, "so you've been over
that gate again, eh? Been lookin' over that wall, eh? I knew you would,
my dear, I knew you would. There's some of the McBride spirit in you
after all, thank God. I meant to take you myself, but you got ahead of
me." Here he shook hands with the young man. "Glad to see you again, my
boy," said Grandfather McBride. "Brought my little girl home, eh?"

"Well, we were on the way," admitted the young man with enthusiasm. "I
see you got the steps up, sir."

"Yes," said Mr. McBride, "oh, yes. I'm much obliged to you for the
permission. It's as good as any vaudeville, and it's a sight nearer
home. You're bound to make money. I tell my granddaughter," with a
triumphant nod to the lady in question, "to bank on brains and energy
and American push. I tell her," with a profound wink to Katrina, "to let
this old family nonsense and society racket go hang. I'm glad she met

"But we mustn't stand here in the lane, Grandfather," put in Katrina,
hurriedly. "It's getting damp."

"That's so," agreed Mr. McBride, "and it's getting late." He hooked his
cane about the young man's arm. "Come in and have dinner with us," he

Katrina stared in amazement at Mr. McBride. The young man looked eagerly
at Katrina. "If Miss Prentiss will allow me----" he began.

"Huh! Miss Prentiss," spoke up Mr. McBride. "What's she got to say about
it? I allow you." And as Katrina, behind Mr. McBride's back, smiled and
nodded, the young man accepted promptly.

Together the three went through the back garden and up to the house.
Arrived there, Katrina disappeared. Grandfather McBride, after settling
his guest, came straight upstairs and stopped at her door.

"Little cuss," beamed Mr. McBride, "goin' off, locking up her old
grandfather and meetin' young chaps. Say, Katriny," he remarked
casually, "he's a fine fellow, ain't he?"

Katrina, busy with her hair, nodded.

"Now, if I was a girl," continued Mr. McBride, diplomatically, "and a
fellow like that took a shine to me I'd show a glimmer of sense. I'd up
and return it."

"Would you?" remarked Katrina. "I'm glad you like him. You see,
Grandfather, you are too smart for me. I didn't know until just now that
you had even met Mr. Park."

Mr. McBride's smile stiffened, then froze, finally disappeared. He
opened his mouth, and shut it. He swallowed hard. At last, he got it
out. "Katriny--Katriny, is _that_ Sparks--that fellow downstairs? Is
that _Sparks_?"

"Hush," said Katrina. "Of course, that is Willoughby Park. Why,
Grandfather, didn't you ask his name?"

"No," said Mr. McBride, "I didn't. I just saw he was a fine, likely----"
He stopped abruptly. "Well, I'll be damned," said Mr. McBride.

Katrina came over to him and put her hand on his shoulder. Mr. McBride
looked into space. Standing so, he spoke once more. "Do you--do you
really like him, Triny?" he asked, and although he looked into space,
Mr. McBride saw Katrina's blush. He patted her hand once, and left her.

On his way downstairs, the grimness of Mr. McBride's face relaxed. In
the lower hall, he went so far as to chuckle. When he joined Mr. Park on
the porch, he grinned at him amiably.

"I'm a good sport," remarked Mr. McBride, irrelevantly, "but I know when
to retire to my corner and stay there. Say," continued Mr. McBride,
unconscious of discrepancies between thought and action, "after dinner
I'm goin' to take you children across the street to see that parrot."



The Story of a Wayside Halt


EXHAUSTED by the effort involved in keeping the thermometer of the
closing day of August at an altitude intolerable to the human kind and
irksome to the brute, a large, red-hot sun was languidly sinking beyond
an extensive belt of dusky-brown elms fringing the western boundary of a
seventy acre expanse of stubbles diagonally traversed by a parish
right-of-way leading from the village of Bensley to the village of
Dorton Ware. A knee-deep crop of grasses, flattened by the passage of
the harvest wains, clothed this strip of everyman's land, and a narrow
footpath divided the grass down the middle, as a parting divides hair.

A snorting sound, which, accompanied by a terrific clatter of old iron
and the crunching of road-mendings, had been steadily growing from
distant to near, and from loud to deafening, now reached a pitch of
utter indescribability; and as a large splay-wheeled, tall-funneled,
plowing engine rolled off the Bensley highroad and lumbered in upon the
right-of-way, the powerful bouquet of hot lubricating oil nullified all
other smells, and the atmosphere became opaque to the point of solidity.
As the dust began to settle it was possible to observe that attached to
the locomotive was a square, solid, wooden van, the movable residence of
the stoker, the engineer, and an apprentice; that a Powler cultivator, a
fearsome piece of mechanism, apparently composed of second-hand anchors,
chain-cables, and motor driving-wheels, was coupled to the back of the
van, and that a bright green water-cart brought up the rear. Upon the
rotund barrel of this water-cart rode a boy.

The plowing-engine came to a standstill, the boy got down from the
water-cart and uncoupled the locomotive from the living-van. During the
operations, though the boy received many verbal buffets from both his
superiors, it was curiously noticeable that the engineer and stoker,
while plainly egging one another on to wreak physical retribution upon
the body of the neophyte, studiously refrained from personally
administering it.

"Hook off, can't ye, hook off!" commanded the engineer. "A 'ead like a
dumpling, that boy 'as!" he commented to the stoker, as Billy wrought
like a grimy goblin at the appointed task.

"A clout on the side of it 'ud do 'im good!" pronounced the stoker, who
was as thin and saturnine as the engineer was stout and good-humored.
"Boys need correction."

"I'll allow you're right," said the engineer. "But it ain't my business
to 'it Billy for 's own good. Bein' own brother to 'is sister's
'usband--it's plainly your place to give 'im wot for if 'e 'appens to
need it."

The stoker grunted and the clock belonging to the Anglo-Norman church
tower of the village struck six. Both the engineer and his subordinate
wiped their dewy foreheads with their blackened hands, and
simultaneously thought of beer.

"Us bein' goin' up to Bensley for a bit, me an' George," said the
engineer, "an' supposin' Farmer Shrubb should come worritin' along this
way and ask where us are, what be you a-going to tell 'im, Billy boy?"

"The truth, I 'ope," said the stoker, with a vicious look in an eye
which was naturally small and artificially bilious.

"Ah, but wot is the truth to be, this time?" queried the engineer.
"Let's git it settled before we go. As far as I'm consarned, the answer
Billy's to give in regards to my question o' my whereabouts is:
'Anywhere but in the tap o' the Red Cow.'"

"And everythink but decently drunk," retorted the stoker.

"That's about it," assented the unsuspecting engineer.

The stoker laughed truculently, and Billy ventured upon a faint echo of
the jeering cachinnation. The grin died from the boy's face, however, as
the engineer promptly relieved a dawning sense of injury by cuffing him
upon one side of the head, while the stoker wrung the ear upon the

"Ow, hoo," wailed Billy, stanching his flowing tears in the ample sleeve
of his coat, "Ow, hoo, hoo!"

"Stop that blubberin', you," commanded the stoker, who possessed a
delicate ear, "and make th' fire an' git th' tea ready against Alfred
and me gits back. You hear me?"

"Yes, plaize," whimpered Billy.

"An' mind you warms up the cold bacon pie," added the stoker.

"And don't you forget to knock in the top of that tin o' salmon," added
the engineer, "an' set it on to stew a bit. An' don't you git pickin'
the loaf wi' they mucky black fingers o' yours, Billy, my lad, or you'll
suffer for it when I comes home."

"Yes, plaize," gasped Billy, bravely swallowing the recurrent hiccough
of grief. "An' plaize where be I to build fire?"

"The fire," mused the engineer. He looked at the crimson ball of the
sun, now drowning in a lake of ruddy vapors behind the belt of elms; he
nodded appreciatively at the palely glimmering evening star and pointed
to a spot some yards ahead. "Build it there, Billy," he commanded

The stoker hitched his thumbs in his blackened leather waist-strap and
spat toward the rear of the van. "You build the fire nigh th' hedge
there," he ordered, "so as us can sit wi' our faces to'rds yon bit o'
quick an' hev th' van to back of us, an' git a bit o' comfort outside
four walls fur once. D' ye hear, boy?"

"Yes, George," quavered Billy.

The sleepy eye of the engineer had a red spark in it that might have
jumped out of his own engine-furnace as he turned upon the acquiescent
Billy. "Didn't you catch wot I said to you just now, my lad?" he
inquired with ill-boding politeness.

"Yes, Alfred," gasped the alarmed Billy.

"If the boy doesn't mind me," came from the stoker, who was thoroughly
roused, "and if I don't find a blazin' good fire, an' victuals welding
hot, ready just in the place I've pointed out to 'im, when I've 'ad my
pipe and my glass at the 'Red Cow,' I'll----" A palpably artificial fit
of coughing prevented further utterance.

"You'll strap 'im within an inch of 'is life, I dursay," hinted the
engineer. "You pipe what George says, Billy?" he continued, as Billy
applied his right and left coat cuffs to his eyes in rapid succession.
"He's give you his promise, and now I give you mine. If I don't find a
roarin' good fire and the rest to match, just where I've said they're to
be when I come back from where I've said I'm a-goin'----"

"You'll wallop 'im a fair treat, I lays you will," said the stoker,
revealing a discolored set of teeth in a gratified smile. "We'll bide by
wot the boy does then," he added. "Knowin' that wot 'e gits from either
of us, he'll earn. An' your road is my road, Alfred, leastways as far as
the 'Red Cow.'"

The engineer and the stoker walked off amicably side by side. The sun
sank to a mere blot of red fire behind the elms, and crowds of
shrilly-cheering gnats rose out of the dry edges and swooped upon the
passive victim, Billy, who sat on the steps of the living van with his
knuckles in his eyes.

"Neither of 'em can't kill me, 'cos the one what did it 'ud 'ave to be
'ung," he reflected, and this thought gave consolation. He unhooked a
rusty red brazier from the back of the living van, and dumping it well
into the hedge at the spot indicated by the stoker, filled it with dry
grass, rotten sticks, coals out of the engine bunker, and lumps of oily
cotton waste. Then he struck and applied a match, saw the flame leap
and roar amongst the combustibles, filled the stoker's squat tea-kettle
with water from the green barrel, put in a generous handful of Tarawakee
tea, and, innocent of refinements in tea-making, set it on to boil.

"George is more spitefuller nor wot Alfred is," Billy Beesley murmured,
as the kettle sent forth its first faint shrill note. Then he added with
a poignant afterthought, "But Alfred is a bigger man than wot George

The stimulus of this reflection aided cerebration. Possessed by an
original idea, Billy rubbed the receptacle containing it, and his mouth
widened in an astonished grin. A supplementary brazier, temporarily
invalided by reason of a hole in the bottom, hung at the back of the
living-van. The engineer possessed a kettle of his own. Active as a
monkey, the small figure in the flapping coat and the baggy trousers
sped hither and thither. Two hearths were established, two fires blazed,
two tea-kettles chirped. Close beside the stoker's brazier a bacon pie
in a brown earthen dish nestled to catch the warmth, a tin of Canadian
salmon, which Billy had neglected to open, leaned affectionately against
the other. Suddenly the engineer's kettle boiled over, and as Billy
hurried to snatch it from the coals, the salmon-tin exploded with an
awe-inspiring bang, and oily fragments of fish rained from the bounteous

"He'll say I did it a purpose, Alfred will!" the aggrieved boy wailed,
as he collected and restored to the battered tin as much of its late
contents as might be recovered. While on all fours searching for bits
which might have escaped him, and diluting the gravy which yet remained
in the tin with salt drops of foreboding, a scorching sensation in the
region of the back brought his head round. Then he yelled in earnest,
for the roaring flame from the other brazier had set the quickset hedge,
inflammable with drought, burning as fiercely as the naphtha torch of a
fair-booth, while a black patch, widening every moment, was spreading
through the dry, white grasses under the clumsy wheels of the
living-van, whose brown painted sides were beginning to blister and
char, as Billy, rendered intrepid by desperation, grabbed the broken
furnace-rake handle, usually employed as a poker, and beat frantically
at the encroaching fire. As he beat he yelled, and stamped fiercely upon
those creeping yellow tongues. There was fire from side to side of the
field pathway now, the straggling hedge on both sides was crackling
gaily. And realizing the unconquerable nature of the disaster, Billy
dropped the broken furnace-rake, uttered the short, sharp squeal of the
ferret-pressed rabbit, and took to his heels, leaving a very creditable
imitation of a prairie conflagration behind him.

It was quite dark by the time the engineer and his subordinate returned
from the "Red Cow," and their wavering progress along the field pathway
was rendered more difficult, after the first hundred yards or so, by the
unaccountable absence of the hedge. It was a singularly oppressive
night, a brooding pall of hot blackness hung above their heads, clouds
of particularly acrid and smothering dust arose at every shuffle of
their heavy boots, even the earth they trod seemed glowing with heat,
and they remarked on the phenomenon to one another.

"It's thunder weather, that's wot it be," said the engineer, mopping his
face. "I'm like my old mother, I feel it coming long before it's 'ere.

"Uncommon strong smell o' roast apples there is about 'ere," commented
the stoker, sniffing.

"That beer we 'ad must 'ave bin uncommon strong," said the engineer in a
low, uneasy voice. "I seem to see three fires ahead of us, that's what I

"One whopping big one to the left, one little one farther on, right
plumb ahead, and another small one lower down on my right 'and. I see
'em as well as you," confirmed the stoker in troubled accents. "And
that's how that young nipper thinks to get off a licking from one of

"By obeying both," said the engineer, quickening his pace indignantly.
"This is Board School, this is. Well, you'll learn 'im to be clever, you

"You won't leave a whole bone in his dirty little carcase once you're
started," said the stoker confidently.

By this time they were well upon the scene of the disaster. Before their
dazed and horrified eyes rose the incandescent shell of what had been,
for eight months past, their movable home, and a crawling crisping
rustle came from the pile of ashes that represented the joint property
of two men and one boy.

"Pinch me, Alfred," said the stoker, after an interval of appalled

"Don't ask me," said the engineer, in a weak voice, "I 'aven't the power
to kill a flea."

"There ain't one left living to kill," retorted the stoker, as he
contemplated the smoking wreck. "There was 'undreds in that van, too,"
he added as an afterthought.

"Burned up the old cabin!" moaned the engineer, "an' my Sunday rig-out
in my locker, an' my Post Office Savings Bank book sewed up in the
pillar o' my bunk, along o' my last week's wages what I 'adn't paid in."

"I shouldn't wonder if Government 'ung on to they savings o' yourn,"
said the stoker, shaking his head. "It's a pity, but you'd invested
yours as I 'ave mine," he added.

"In public 'ouses?" retorted the engineer.

"Some of it 'as went that way," the stoker admitted, "but for three
weeks past I've denied myself to put a bit into a concern as I think is
going to prove a paying thing."

"Owch!" exclaimed the engineer, who had been restlessly pacing in the
velvety darkness round the still glowing wreck of the living-van.

"Don't you believe wot I've told you?" demanded the stoker haughtily.

"You don't always lie, George," said the engineer, gently. "Wot made me
shout out like that just now," he explained, "was treading on something
queer, down by the near side wheels. Somethink brittle that cracked like
rotten sticks under my 'eel, an' then I slid on something round an'
squashy. An' the smell like roast apples, what I noticed before, is
stronger than ever."

"'Ave you a match about you?" asked the stoker eagerly.

"One," said the engineer, delicately withdrawing a solitary "kindler"
from the bottom of his waistcoat pocket.

The stoker received the match, and struck it on his trousers. A blue
glimmer resulted, a faint s-s-s! followed, and the match went out.

"On'y a glim," said the stoker in a satisfied tone, "but it showed me as
I've made my money. An' made it easy, too."

"'Ow much 'ave you pulled orf, then?" asked the engineer.

"Double the value," replied the stoker, smiling broadly through the
darkness, "of the property what I've lost in this here conflagration."

"That 'ud bring you in about eighteenpence," retorted the engineer

The stoker laughed pleasantly.

"Wot do you say to three pun' seventeen?" he demanded.

"Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick," said the engineer.
"Wot did you say was the concern you invested in?"

The stoker felt in the darkness for his superior's arm, grasped it, and
putting his mouth close to where he thought his ear ought to be, said

"A boy."

"Look 'ere, mate," began the engineer, hotly, "if you're trying a joke
on me----"

"It ain't no joke," responded the stoker cheerfully. "Leastways not for
the boy, it ain't. But Lord! when I think 'ow near I come to lettin' the
policy fall through." He chuckled. "It's three weeks gone since I took
it out," he said contentedly, "an' paid three weeks' money in advance,
an' at threepence a week, that makes ninepence, an' the thought o' them
nine half-pints I might 'ave 'ad out o' money 'as drove me 'arf wild
with thirst, over an' over. I should 'ave 'ad to pay again come Monday,
if only 'e 'ad 'ave lived."

"If only 'e 'ad lived--" repeated the engineer in a strange far-away
tone, "Oo's 'e?" he asked eagerly.

"You know old Abey Turner as keeps the little sweet-an'-tobaccer shop
over to Dorton Ware?" pursued the stoker. "Old Abey is a agint for the
Popular Thrifty Life Insurance Company----"

"I know 'e is," confirmed the engineer.

"Abey 'as bin at me over an' over again to insure my life," explained
the stoker, "but I told 'im as I didn't 'old with laying out good money
wot wouldn't never come 'ome to roost-like, until I was dead. Then Abey
leans over the counter an' ketches me by the neck 'andkerchief an' says,
'Think of the worst life you know, an' 'ave a bit on that.' Naturally,
talkin' o' bad lives, you're the first chap whose name comes into my

"Me!" ejaculated the engineer, starting.

"But it wasn't wickedness old Abey meaned," continued the stoker, "only
un'ealthiness in general. Somebody wot wasn't likely to live long,
that's the sort o' man or woman 'e wanted me to insure. 'A child'll do,'
says 'e, smiling, an' tells me 'ow a large family may be made a source
of blessing to parents 'oo are wise enough to insure in the Popular
Thrifty. Then it comes into my mind all of a sudden as 'ow Billy 'ud do
a treat, an' I names 'im to Old Abey. 'That young shaver!' calls out old
Abey, disgusted like. 'Why, 'e's as 'ard as nails. Wot's likely to
'appen to 'im?' 'If you was to see the 'andling 'e gets when my mate is
in 'is tantrums,' I says to old Abey, 'you'd put your bit o' money on
'im cheerful an' willin'.' 'Is Alfred Evans such a savage in 'is drink?'
says old Abey, quite surprised----"

"I'll surprise 'im!" muttered the engineer, "when I meets 'im!"

The stoker continued: "So the long an' the short is, I insured Billy,
an' Billy's dead!"

"You don't really think so?" cried the engineer, in shocked accents.

"I don't think," said the stoker, in a hard, high tone, "I knows 'e is."

"Not--burned with the van!" gasped the engineer.

"Burned to cinders," said the stoker comfortably. "'Ow about that smell
o' roasting you kep' a sniffing as we came along, an' wot were it if not
cooked boy? Wot was it your foot crashed into when you called out awhile
back? 'Is ribs, 'im being overdone to a crisp. Wot was it you slipped

"Stop!" shuddered the engineer. "'Old 'ard! I can't bear it."

"I can," said the stoker, following his comrade as he gingerly withdrew
from the immediate scene of the tragedy. "I could if it was twice as

"It will be that to me!" sighed the engineer, seating himself upon the
parish boundary stone, over which he had stumbled in his retreat, and
sentimentally gazing at the star-jewelled skies. "Twice three pound is
six, an' twice seventeen bob is one-fourteen. Seven pounds fourteen is
wot that pore boy's crool end 'as dropped into my pocket, and I'd 'ad
those best clothes ever since I got married; an' there was only eight
an' fourpence in the piller o' the bunk, an----"

The engineer stopped short, not for lack of words, but because the
stoker was clutching him tightly by the windpipe.

"You don't durst dare to tell me," the frenzied mechanic shouted, "as
wot you went an' insured Billy too?"

"That's just wot I 'ave done," replied the half-strangled engineer. Then
as the dismayed stoker's arms dropped helplessly by his side, he added,
"you ought to be grateful, George, you 'ad no 'and in it. I couldn't
'ave enjoyed the money properly, not if you'd 'ad to be 'ung for the
boy's murder. That's wot I said to old Abey two weeks back, when I told
'im as 'ow Billy's life went more in danger than anyone else's what I
could think of, through your being such a brutal, violent-tempered,
dangerous man."

"An' wot did that old snake in the grass say to that bloomin' lie?"
demanded the stoker savagely.

"'E said life was a uncertain thing for all," sniggered the engineer,
gently. "An' I'd better 'ave a bit on the event an' turn sorrow into
joy, as the saying is. So I give Abey a shillin', bein' two weeks in
advance, an' the Company sent me the policy, an' 'ere I am in for the

"Like wot I am, an' with clean 'ands for both of us," said the stoker in
a tone of cheerful self-congratulation. "I 'aven't laid a finger on that
boy, not since I insured 'im."

"Nor I ave'n't," said the engineer. "It's wonderful how I've bin able to
keep my temper since I 'ad the policy to take care of at the same time."

"Same with me," said the stoker happily. "Why, wot's wrong?" he added,
for a tragic cry had broken from the engineer.

"Mate," he stammered tremulously, "where did you keep your policy?"

"Meanin' the bit o' blue-printed paper I 'ad from the Popular Thrifty?
Wot do you want to know for?" snapped the stoker suspiciously.

"It just come into my 'ead to arsk," said the engineer, in faltering

"In my little locker in the van, since you're so curious," said the
stoker grudgingly.

"I 'ad mine stitched up in the piller o' my bunk with my Post Office
Savin's book," said the engineer in the deep, hollow voice of a funeral
bell. "An' it's burned to hashes, an' so is yours!"

"Then it's nineteen to one the company won't pay up," said the stoker
after an appalled silence.

"Ten 'underd to one," groaned the engineer.

Another blank silence was broken by the stoker's saying, with a savage

"I wish that boy was alive, I do."

"I know your feeling," agreed the engineer sympathetically. "It 'ud be
a comfort to you to kick 'im--or any-think else weak and small wot
didn't durst to kick back."

"If I was to give you a bounce on the jor," inquired the stoker,
breathing heavily, "should you 'ave the courage to land me another?"

The engineer promptly hit out in the darkness, and arrived safe home on
the stoker's chin. With a tiger-like roar of fury, the stoker charged,
and on the engineer's dodging conjecturally aside, fell heavily over the
parish boundary-stone. He rose, foaming, and a pitched battle ensued, in
which the combatants saw nothing but the brilliant showers of stars
evoked by an occasional head-blow, and the general advisability of
homicide. Toward dawn fatigue overcame them. The stoker lay down and
declined to get up again and the engineer even while traveling on all
fours in search of him, lost consciousness in slumber.

A yellow glare in the east heralded the rising of the orb of day, as the
figures of an aged man and a ragged boy moved from the shelter of the
belt of elms that screened the village of Dorton Ware, and proceeded
along the right-of-way.

"It's burned, right enough, Billy, my boy," said the old man, shading
his bleared eyes with his horny hand as he gazed at the blackened
skeleton of the living-van. "An' all considered, you can't be called to

Billy whistled.

"If you'd bin asleep inside the van when that theer blaze got started,"
said old Abey, rebukingly, as he hobbled along by the boy's side, "you
wouldn't be whistlin' 'My Own Bluebell' now; your pore widowed mother,
what lives in that theer little cottage o' mine at Porberry End--and 'om
I persuaded to insure you in the Popular Thrifty--would 'ave 'ad a bit
o' money comin' in 'andy for 'er Michaelmas rent, an' one or two other
people would be a penny o' th' right side, likewise." He paused, and
shading his bleared eyes under his gnarled hand, looked steadfastly at
two huddled, motionless, grimy figures, lying in the charred grass
beside the pathway. "Dang my old eyes!" he cried. "'Tis George an'
Alfred--Alfred an' George--snatched away i' their drink an' neither of
'em insured. I'll lay a farden. Here's a judgment on their lives, what
wouldn't listen to Old Abey an' put into the Popular Thrifty. Here's a
waste of opportunity--here's----"

Old Abey's voice quavered and broke off suddenly as the corpse of the
engineer, opening a pair of hideously blood-shot eyes, inquired
ferociously what in thunder he meant by making such a blamed row, while
the body of the stoker rolled over, yawned, revealing a split lip, and
sat up staring.

"We--we thought you was dead, mates," faltered Old Abey. "Didn't us,

"At first I did," Billy admitted, "an' then I----"

"Then you wot?" repeated the engineer, bending his brows sternly above a
nose swollen to twice its usual size.

"Out with it!" snarled the stoker, whose lip was painful.

"I was afraid as it couldn't be true," stuttered Billy.

The stoker exchanged a look with the engineer.

"The van's burnt, an' we've both lost our property, to say nothin' of
our prospects, mate," he said with a sardonic sneer, "but one comfort's
left us, Billy's alive!"

A little later the plowing engine with its consort was at work under the
hot September sky. As the Powler cultivator traveled to and fro, ripping
up the stubbles, the boy who sat on the iron seat and manipulated the
guiding-wheel, snivelled gently, realizing that the brief but welcome
interval of icy aloofness on the part of his superiors had passed, never
to return; and that the injunction of the Prophet would thenceforth be
scrupulously obeyed.



A Tale of India


HIS Honor, Syed Mehta, the District Judge of Golampore, had dined with
the Malcolms, and he was the first of the Collector's guests to leave
the bungalow. He sauntered down the drive, lifting his contemplative
gaze to the magnificence of the starry heavens. Behind him, the lamp-lit
rooms sent long thrusts of light, sword-wise, into the hot darkness.
Joan Malcolm had taken up her violin, and the sweet, wailing notes of it
came sighing out on to the heavy air. Ruddy, broad-faced young Capper,
of the Police, lounged by the open window, eating her up with adoring

His Honor smoked his cigar tranquilly, but at heart, he smouldered.
Harrow and Lincoln's Inn backed his past, the High Courts awaited him in
the future. For the present he was a Civil Servant of excellent position
and recognized ability, a Mohammedan gentleman who had distinguished
himself in England as well as in the land of his birth. Also, he was of
less account in the eyes of Joan Malcolm than Capper, a blundering
English Acting-Superintendent of Police, with a pittance of six hundred
rupees per mensem.

Possibly Capper had not intended to be offensive, but it is not given to
the young and the British to entirely conceal all consciousness of
superiority when speaking with a native. His courtesy was that of a man
who considered it to be beneath his dignity to use less ceremony. His
civility was due to his respect for himself, not for the person whom he
honored with his unintellectual conversation.

The Judge flipped the ash off his cigar, and his slender hand was cool
and leisurely. His dark, straight-featured face was impassive as carven
stone. Mentally, he was cursing Capper with curses of inexhaustible fire
and venom.

Malcolm, the Collector, had a right to speak loudly, and to say this or
that without cause, for he was Collector; but Capper, a mere
Superintendent of the Police, a cub of twenty-three, was on a very
different footing. Yet, not even as an equal had he borne himself toward
a District Judge.

His Honor's bungalow was on the outskirts of the town, and as he paced
along the dusty road, he came to a footpath that ran down the hill,
through dense jungle, to the native village in the valley. There was a
swarm of dark-skinned fellow-men down there, to whom his name stood for
all that is highest in authority. They would have loaded him with gifts
had he permitted them to approach him. To them, it seemed that he was
placed far above as a god, holding their lives and their fate 'twixt
finger and thumb, in mid-air. In the unfathomed depths of the Judge's
educated, well-ordered mind stirred a craving for solace. Galled by the
brutish indifference of the Englishmen, there was yet left to him the
reverence of his own people. He looked sharply up and down the road
before he dived into the moist heat beneath the trees. He knew all that
he was risking for a mere escapade. He had never trodden that path
before, excepting when he had gone on a shooting expedition with the
Collector. There were strange noises in the darkness, stealthy
rustlings, small, unfamiliar cries. He heard nothing but Capper's
comment on his carefully reasoned prediction that the day must come when
India would govern herself.

"Oh! you think so?"

Stupid, unmeaning, absurd, but--successful.

Then, immediately Capper was talking to Miss Malcolm about tennis, and
she was listening, smiling and intent. The Judge was a crack tennis
player. He loathed the game, but he had made himself proficient in it,
because it is one of the things that people expect of a man. He was
impelled to challenge Capper, and the answer was a drawled excuse.

The Judge was well down the hill now, descending the last precipitous
slope, and the countless odors of the Indian village rose to his
nostrils. There was a dull murmurous commotion afar off, such as bees
make when they are hiving. He listened, without curiosity, as he pressed
forward. Suddenly he halted. The murmur boomed out into a long,
thunderous roar. Then silence, and out of the silence a single voice,
deep and ringing.

"An infernal protest meeting," the Judge's British training informed

He went forward again, moving noiselessly, and reached the outskirts of
the crowd, sheltering himself between the bushes that fringed the
jungle. Torches flared, and smoked, and shed a ruddy, uncertain light on
hundreds of rapt, upturned faces. The orator stood tall and straight
above them, fully revealed by purposely clustered lights. He volleyed
reproach and insult upon his listeners, he gave them taunts instead of
persuasion. They stood enthralled by the passionate voice, and bitter
words found their mark, and rankled poisonously.

"These _soors_ of Feringhi, whom you call your masters, beat you, and
they use your brothers to be their sticks. But for your brothers, who
wear the uniform of the Feringhi, and carry their guns, these worthless
masters would be trodden into the dust beneath your feet. The men who
hedge them in with steel must turn that steel against them."

The roar of voices thundered among the trees, and died away suddenly, so
that no word from the speaker might be lost.

"They are cunning, these Feringhi, my brothers. They steal the wisest
from among us while yet they are children, and bear them away to their
own land, and give them over to their own teachers. Thus come back your
own, with power and authority to scourge you. Your sons, your brothers
come back to you, learned, praised greatly, having striven against the
Feringhi in their own schools, and won what they desired.
Collector-sahib, Judge-sahib, yea, even padre-sahib, come they back to
you--not to lift you to honor and happiness beside them, but to side
with those that oppress you, to grind taxes from you who starve, to
imprison you who would be free. Sons of unspeakable shame! They drink
your blood, they fatten on your misery, and they have their reward. _We_
curse, them, brothers! The Feringhis smile upon them, they eat bread and
salt in their company, but they spit when they have passed by!"

Something in the scornful voice rang familiarly on the Judge's ears, and
incautiously he changed his position and tried to get a clearer view of
the treasonmonger. Instantly the man's bare brown arm shot out, and
pointed him to public notice.

"Here is one," pealed out the trumpet-voice, "has he come as our
brother? Or comes he as the slave of our masters, to spy upon our
meetings, and to deal out punishment to those who dare to be free? O
brother, do you walk to Calcutta, where the High Courts be, over our
bodies, and the bodies of our children? Will you go to the
Collector-sahib with tales of a native rising, and call up our brothers
of the police to kill and maim us? Or come you to offer us a great

The Judge stood there, a motionless figure, flaring against the dark
jungle in his spotless, white linen evening dress. There was a broad
silk cummerband about his lean waist, and a gold signet-ring gleamed on
his left hand. Half a dozen Englishmen, thread for thread in similar
garb, still lounged in the Collector's drawing-room. He appeared the
very symbol of Anglicized India. The brown, half-naked mob surged and
struggled to look at him. The brown, half-naked orator still pointed at
him, and waited for reply. Meanwhile, he had been recognized.

"Iswar Chandra--by Jove," muttered the Judge.

The last time they had met was in a London drawing-room. Iswar Chandra,
the brilliant young barrister-at-law had discoursed to a philanthropic
peeress upon the social future of his native land, whilst an admiring
circle of auditors hung upon his words. The fate of India's women, he
had said, lay at the feet of such fair and noble ladies as her Grace.
The Judge remembered that people were saying that evening of Iswar
Chandra that he was a fascinating and earnest man, and that he would be
the pioneer of great things in the country of his birth.

The eyes of the half-naked savage challenged the Judge over the sea of
moving heads, and drove away the supercilious smile from his lips.

"Brother, we claim you! You are of our blood, and we need such as you to
lead us. The Feringhi have sharpened a sword to cut us down, but it
shall turn to destroy them. Brother, we suffer the torments of
hell--will you deliver us? Brother, we starve--will you give us food?
Will you deal out to us life or death, you whose fathers were as our
fathers? Choose now between great honor and the infamy that dies not!
You are the paid creature of the British Raj, or you are a leader of
free men. Brother, speak!"

As in a dream the Judge approached the waiting crowd. His mouth was
parched, his heart beat fitfully. He wanted that piercing voice to wake
the echoes again, to take up the story of the old blood-feud, to goad
him into doing that which he had not the courage to do. Vanished was his
pride of intellect, and of fine achievement. He was a native, and he
tugged and crawled at the stretch of the British chain.

"The Feringhi are few, and we are many. Shall the few rule the many?
Shall we be servants and poor while yet in the arms of our own golden
mother? In their own country do the Feringhi not say that the word of
the majority shall be law? So be it! We accept their word. The majority
shall rule! O brother, skilled in the Feringhi craft, high-placed to
administer justice to all who are brought before thee, do I not speak
the truth?"

The Judge threw away the dead end of his cigar, and shouldered his way
into the inmost circle.

"Peace, thou," he said, thickly; "this is folly. Ye must wait awhile for

Chandra threw up his arms, writhing in a very ecstasy of fury.

"We have waited--have we not waited?--beside our open graves. Death to
the Feringhi! Let them no longer desecrate our land. Let us forget that
they ever were. They be few, and we be many. Brothers! To-night,

The Judge was tearing off his clothes, he was trampling them beneath his
feet, he was crying out in a strange, raucous voice; and all the swaying
crowds were taking up his words, maddening themselves and their fellows
with the intoxicating sounds.

"Death to the Feringhi! To-night, to-night! Our land for ourselves!"

All but a few torches were extinguished. Secret places were torn up, and
out came old guns, old swords sharpened to razor-like edges, great
pistols, clubs, skinning-knives, daggers. Then, up and up through the
dark jungle they thronged, hordes of them in the grip of a red and
silent frenzy. Chandra was in the forefront, but the leader was his
Honor the District Judge, a glassy-eyed, tight-lipped Mussulman in a
loincloth and a greasy turban.

The lights of the Collector's bungalow came in view, and the leader
thought of young Capper, and rushed on, frothing like a madman, waving
his sword above his head. Then he paused, and ran back to meet the
laggards of a yard or two.

"Only the men!" he shouted.

Chandra mocked at him as the press bore him onward again, with scarcely
an instant's halt.

"Only the men, my brother!" he echoed.

A few of the native police stood guard at the Collector's gates, but
they turned and fled before the overwhelming numbers of the attacking
force. Up the long drive the dark wave poured, and into the wide, bright
rooms. The bungalow was deserted. Some fleet-footed servant had brought
warning in time, and the British were well out of the town by the other
road, with young Capper and a score of his men guarding their rear.

The mob howled with disappointment. The next instant it was screaming
with triumph as it settled down to sack and burn and destroy.

The Judge went into the dining-room, and looked at the long table still
decked with silver, and glass, and flowers. He looked at the chair on
which he had sat, with Joan Malcolm at his side, and he picked it up and
dashed it with all his might into a great ivory-framed mirror, and
laughed aloud at the crash, and the ruin, and the rain of jagged

"India must pass into the hands of the Indians!"

"Oh! _you_ think so--you think so--you think so...."

He overthrew a couple of standard lamps, and watched the liquid fire run
and eat up their silken shades, and run again and leap upon the snowy
curtains, and so, like lightning, spring to the ceiling, and lick the
dry rafters with a thousand darting tongues. Then, he was out in the
night again, the night of his life, the wonderful night that was calling
for blood, and would not be denied.

There was no lack of light now to make clear the path to vengeance. The
Collector's bungalow roared red to the very heavens, and flames shot up
in a dozen different parts of the town. The bazaar was looted, and
English-made goods were piled upon bonfires in the street. A greater mob
than had entered the town poured out of it, swift on the road to
Chinsurah where thousands of their brothers lay, lacking only courage
and leaders.

At the midway turn of the road where the giant trees rear themselves at
the side of the well, came a sudden check, and the mob fell back upon
itself, and grew dead silent. Those in the rear could only wait and
guess what had happened. The forefront saw that the road was barred. The
moon had risen, and well out in the white light, was Capper Sahib. Some
of his men were behind him. There were soldiers there, too, how many
could not be seen, for they were grouped in the velvety black shadows
which the trees flung across the road. There might have been only
fifty--or five hundred.

Young Capper came forward with his hands in his pockets, and stared at
them. They saw that he was not afraid. He spoke to them in Maharattee,
bluntly and earnestly, so that some of them wavered, and looked back. He
said they were fools, led by a few rotten schemers who had only personal
gain in view.

"Take good advice," he said, "go to your homes while ye may. Ignorant,
and greatly daring that ye are, the _bandar-log_, or such thievish scum
among ye, drive ye with idle words and chatterings even to the brink of
death. So far have ye come, but no farther----"

The Judge had snatched a villager's gun, and fired. Capper Sahib fell,
unspoken words upon his lips. His fair head draggled in the dust, and a
red stain showed suddenly upon the white linen over his breast.

A triumphant roar swept the mob from end to end. British rifles cracked
out the answer, and the bullets went home surely, into the rioting mass.
Amid shrill screams of pain and fury the leaders rallied their men, and
charged forward. A second volley stopped them, before young Capper's
prostrate body could be reached. Few had joined the attack, but now they
were fewer, and neither of the leaders stood among them.

That was the end. Bearing their dead and wounded, the rebels returned,
wailing as they went. Before daylight the townsmen were in their houses,
and the villagers had passed through the jungle, and regained their
homes. Arms were concealed with all haste. The dead were buried, the
wounded, for the most part, were hidden. Prisoners had been taken, but
only an inconsiderable number. Before daylight also, the headman of the
village, and a native surgeon came stealthily from the Judge's bungalow,
and went their ways. They had their order, and they went to spread it
abroad. The order was--_Silence!_ The headman had bowed himself to the
earth when it was given, for he understood all that it meant. Prisoners
would be brought before a brother, not only to-day, but to-morrow, and
for many morrows. So much had the night given them.

At noon His Honor came stiffly into the court-room, leaning upon the arm
of his native servant. The Collector, who was awaiting him there, feared
that he had been injured by the rioters on the previous night; but he
was quickly reassured. The Judge, it seemed, had sprained his knee
shortly after leaving the Malcolm's hospitable roof. It was nothing. A
mere trifle, though indisputably painful.

The Collector seated himself near the bench, and talked in a low voice.
The ladies were all safe. No Europeans had been killed, and few injured.
Capper had been shot by some cowardly dog while parleying with the
rioters, but there were good hopes of him.

The Judge was most truly concerned to hear of the calamity which had
befallen Mr. Capper--immensely thankful to know that things were no
worse with him.

His Honor had heard little or nothing of what had happened during the
riot, being laid by the leg, as it were, in his own room.

The first batch of prisoners was brought in. At first the Judge did not
look at them. Afterward his eyes sought their gaze, and held it, and
they knew him for their brother. They heard his soft voice speaking of
them compassionately, as wayward children whom mercy would win over,
though harshness might confirm them in their foolish resistance to
authority. The Collector seemed to protest, but with gentle courtesy
his objections were put aside. He leaned back in his chair, flushed and
angry, as one after another, the sullen-looking rebels were fined, and
having paid what was demanded, were set at liberty.

When the Judge looked up again, a single prisoner stood before him, a
wounded, hawk-faced native, whose eyes blazed hate and contempt. The
Collector drew his chair closer to the bench, and began to speak in
gruff undertones.

"A ring-leader. Man of some education, I understand--qualified as a
barrister, and has taken to journalism. Must make an example of

The Judge, straining in agony of mind and body, was aware of sudden
relief from the pain of his wound. The bandage had slipped, and blood
was cooling the torturing fire. A deathly faintness was upon him, and
through it he spoke distinctly--again of mercy.

"They were all blind. The leaders were blind. The blind leading the
blind. Blind--blind----"

The Collector sprang up with a startled exclamation. A thin stream of
blood trickled from behind His Honor's desk, and went a twisting way
down to the well of the court. He caught the Judge in his arms as he
fell forward, and lowered him gently to the ground. Then it was seen
that the unconscious man's clothes were saturated with blood.

Instantly the court was cleared. A military surgeon cut away the
blood-stained clothing from the Judge's thigh, and laid bare the clean
wound made by a British bullet. A look passed between him and the
Collector, but never a word. Syed Mehta's life had ebbed with his blood,
and so he passed, unawakened, from swoon to death.

The English, as their way is, betrayed nothing. It was His Honor, the
District Judge of Golampore, who had died, and they gave him burial the
next day with due regard to the high position which he had held in the
service of H.M. the King and Emperor.



The Story of a Gramophone


THE _Saucy Sally_ was a vessel of renown. No blustering liner, no fussy
tug, no squattering steamer, she; but a bluff-bowed, smartly painted,
trim-built sailing barge, plying chiefly from the lower reaches of the
Thames to ports west of Dover. She had no equal of her class, at any
point of sailing, and certainly her Master, Mr. Joseph Pigg, was not the
man to let her fair fame suffer for want of seamanship.

"Cap'n Pigg," as he insisted upon being called, was a great, hairy-faced
man, with brawny muscles and a blood-shot eye. And in these respects,
his mate, Bob Topper, greatly favored him--in fact, their physical
resemblance was rather marked; but their tastes were in no way similar;
'the Cap'n' was fond of his glass, whilst the mate was a blue-ribbon
man; Joseph Pigg couldn't bear music, in any form, whilst the total
abstainer had a weakness for the flute and would not infrequently burst
into song; the Skipper hated women, whereas the mate was, what he
himself called "a bit of a gay Lathero." But notwithstanding these
dissimilarities of tastes and disposition, they got along fairly well
together, and both met on the common ground of getting as much work out
of the two "hands" as was ordinarily possible. The Skipper didn't drink
alcoholic liquors before the mate, and the mate returned the compliment
by refraining from any musical outrage in the hearing of his superior

One hot summer afternoon, when the _Saucy Sally_ was taking in cargo and
the Skipper was ashore, Mr. Topper, seated on the coamings of the
hatchway, abandoned himself to the melancholy pleasures of Haydn's
"Surprise," the tune being wrung out of a tarnished German-silver flute.
"Kittiwake Jack," one of the crew, was seated as far as possible
for'ard, vainly trying to absorb his tea and stop his ears, at one and
the same time, whilst his fellow-sufferer, Bill Brown, having hastily
dived below, lay in his bunk, striving to deaden the weird, wailing
sounds that filled the ship. And just as Haydn's "Surprise" was half way
through, for the seventh time, the Skipper walked on board.

The flutist stopped short, and stared up at him.

"Didn't expect you back so soon, Cap'n," he said in confused tones.

"No. What's that 'owlin' row you're making?"

"I dunno about no 'owlin' row, but----"

"Well, I do. I s'pose, accordin' to you, I ain't got no musical h'ear,"
sneered Cap'n Pigg.

"This--this here tune----"

"Yes. This disgustin' noise--what is it?"

The mate looked sulky.

"This is Haydn's 'Surprise,'" he growled.

"So I should think. I dunno who the bloke was, but it must have given
Haydn quite a turn! Don't let's 'ave no more of it."

"Well, I don't see as there's no 'arm in music. And I didn't loose it
off when you was about. I know you don't like it, so I studied your
pecooliarities. Fact is, I studies yer too much," and the mate looked

Cap'n Pigg scowled.

"You shet yer 'ead," he grunted as he stamped off below. He went to a
small cupboard in the corner of the cabin, and mixed himself a stiff
"go" of gin and water, which he tossed off at one gulp, saying:

"Haydn's 'S'prise,' eh? Haydn's S'prise be d--dished! 'E don't come no
s'prises 'ere while I'm master of the _Saucy Sally_!"

After this slight breeze, things quickly settled down again on the old
lines between master and mate, and the voyage to Chichester Harbor was
entirely uneventful, the barge bringing up at a snug anchorage near

The next day Mr. Topper had undressed and gone overboard for a swim.
After this, climbing up the bobstay, he regained the deck, and proceeded
to dry his hairy frame on an ancient flannel shirt. In the midst of this
occupation, temporarily forgetful of his superior officer's prejudices,
he broke into song.

Thirty seconds after he had let go the first howl, the Skipper's head
was thrust up the companion-way.

"Wodjer want to make all that row about? Anything disagreed with yer? If
so, why don't yer take something for it?"

"It's a funny thing yer carn't let a man alone, when all 'e's a doin' is
making a bit of 'armony on board," replied the mate, pausing in the act
of drying his shock head.

"'Armony be d--driven overboard!" cried Mr. Pigg, wrathfully. "Now, look
'ere, Bob Topper, I ain't a onreasonable man in my likes and dislikes,
but it ain't fair to sing at a feller creature with the voice nature
fitted you out with! I never done you no 'arm."

Next day the _Saucy Sally_ shipped some shingle ballast, got under weigh
on the first of the ebb tide, and safely threading her way past the
shallows and through the narrow channels of the harbor, emerged into the
open sea, and turned her bluff-bowed stem eastwards.

The following afternoon, as Bob Topper took his trick at the wheel, he
ruminated on the mutability of human affairs in general, and the
"contraryness" of skippers in particular.

"Won't 'ave no music, won't he? Well, I reckon it's like religion when
the missionaries is a shovin' of it into the African niggers--they just
jolly well got to 'ave it! An' so it'll be with the ole man. I'll jest
fix up a scheme as'll do 'im a treat."

He smiled broadly; and when Bob Topper smiled, the corners of his mouth
seemed to almost meet at the back of his head.

And as soon as the _Saucy Sally_ had pitched and tossed her way up
channel--for she was light as a cork in ballast--and dropped anchor a
little way off Gravesend, Bob Topper sculled himself ashore. Twenty
minutes after stepping out of the boat, he was seated in the back-parlor
of a friend, a musical-instrument maker.

When Mr. Topper went aboard again, he carried under his arm a large
brown paper package, which he smuggled below, without encountering the
Skipper, who was in his cabin at the time, communing with a bill of
lading and a glass of Hollands neat. And, soon after the mate had come
aboard, "the Cap'n" went ashore.

And then Mr. Topper laid himself out for some tranquil enjoyment, on
quite an unusual scale. He unfastened the package, produced a
gramophone, brought it on to the deck, and started "The Washington

"Kittiwake Jack" and Bill Brown immediately fled below.

The mate sat on the edge of the hatch and gazed lovingly at the new
instrument of torture, as he beat time to the inspiring strains, with a
belaying pin. When the "Washington Post," was finished, he laid on
"Jacksonville," with a chorus of human laughter, which sounded quite
eerie. And so intent was he on this occupation, that he never even
noticed the approach of Cap'n Pigg's boat until it was almost alongside.

The Skipper clambered aboard, looking black as thunder. This new outrage
was not to be borne. Just as his foot touched the deck the instrument
gave forth its unholy cachinnation of "Ha! Ha! Ha!" in the high nasal
tones peculiar to its kind.

Cap'n Pigg was not easily disconcerted, but this ghostly "Ha! Ha! Ha!"
was a distinct trial to his nerves; he thrust his hands deep into his
coat pockets, glared at the mate, and then growled:

"Wodjer got there? More 'armony?"

"Grammarphone," was the mate's brief reply. He was getting sulky.

"Grammar be blowed! Worst grammar I ever 'eard," returned Pigg. "Turn
the bloomin' thing off--and turn it off at the main. Enough to give any
respectable, law-abidin' sailor-man the 'ump!"

He proceeded two steps down the companion; then hurled this parting shot
at the offending mate:

"You oughter be 'ead of a laundry where the 'andle of the mangle turns a
pianer-horgan as well--work and play!" he concluded scornfully, as he
disappeared from the musician's sight below.

The mate whistled softly; then he stopped the offending instrument and
conveyed it below.

"P'raps the old man'll be glad of it, one o' these days," he muttered

The next trip of the _Saucy Sally_ was a more eventful one. She left
Tilbury in a light haze, which first thickened into a pale-colored fog,
and then, aided by the smoke from the tall chimneys, to a regular
"pea-souper." The mate, taking advantage of the Captain's spell below,
brought up a long yard of tin, which looked remarkably like the _Saucy
Sally's_ fog-horn, and quietly slipped it overboard.

As they got lower and lower down the river, the fog increased, and both
Cap'n Pigg and Topper experienced a certain amount of anxiety as, first
another barge, then a tramp steamer, and finally, a huge liner, all
sounding their fog-horns loudly, passed them considerably too close for
comfort. The Skipper himself was at the wheel and, coughing the raw,
damp fog out of his throat, he shouted hoarsely to Topper:

"Better get our fog-horn goin', mate."

"Aye, aye, Skipper. It's in your cabin, ain't it?"

"Yes, in the first locker."

The mate descended the companion-steps, with a mysterious smile on his
face, and his dexter optic closed. The casual observer might have
thought that Mr. Topper was actually indulging in a wink.

After a time, he reappeared on deck, walked aft, and said:

"Fog-horn don't seem nowheres about, Skipper. Thought you always kept
her in your charge."

Cap'n Pigg whisked the wheel round just in time to escape a tug, fussing
up-stream, and feeling her way through the fog at half-speed, and then
he grunted sourly:

"So I do. What the d--delay in findin' it is, I can't understand. 'Ere,
ketch 'old o' the spokes, and I'll go; always got to do everything
myself on this old tank, seems to me."

And thus grumbling, Cap'n Pigg went below--not altogether unwillingly,
as, being a man who understood the importance of economizing time, he
combined his search for the fog-horn with the quenching of a highly
useful thirst. But when he came on deck again, wiping his mouth with the
back of his hand, he was unaccompanied by the fog-horn.

"Where the blamed thing's got to, I dunno, more'n the dead. I see it
there, myself, not two days ago, but it ain't nowheres to be found now."

"Rather orkard, Skipper, ain't it, in all this maze o' shippin'?"
returned Mr. Topper with a half turn at the wheel.

"Yes, I don't more'n 'arf like it," returned the Cap'n uneasily. "My
nerves arn't quite what they was. An' a fog's a thing as I never could

On glided the _Saucy Sally_, almost the only one on the great water way
which spoke not, in the midst of a babel of confusing sounds. Syrens
whooped, steam whistles shrieked hoarsely; the raucous voices of
fog-horns proclaimed the whereabouts of scores of craft, passing up and
down the river; but the trim-built barge slid noiselessly along,
ghost-like, in the dun-colored "smother," giving no intimation of her

Then it was that Mr. Bob Topper's moment for action arrived. In casual
tones, he observed to the Skipper:

"Pity, we ain't got something as'll make a sound o' some kind, so's to
let people know as we 're a-comin'."

Cap'n Pigg said nothing: but the anxiety deepened perceptibly in his

"Where the blank blank are yer comin' to?" roared the voice of another
bargeman, as, tooting loudly on a fog-horn, one of the "Medway flyers,"
shaved past them.

"Near thing, that," observed the mate, calmly.

Cap'n Pigg went a shade paler beneath the tan on his weather-beaten

"Cuss 'im! careless 'ound!" he muttered. "Might a' sunk us."

"'Ad no proper lookout, I expect," returned Mr. Topper, "even if 'e 'ad,
'e couldn't see anything, and we got no fog-'orn to show 'em where we
was, yer see."

"No. An' p'raps we shall go to the bottom, all along o' our 'aving lost
our ole bit o' tin. It's a orful thing to think of, ain't it?" said
Cap'n Pigg solemnly.

The mate appeared to be in a brown study. Then, as though he had
suddenly been inspired, he exclaimed:

"What about the grammarphone, Skipper?"

Even in the midst of his perturbation, Cap'n Pigg looked askance at
mention of the hated instrument. But it was a case of 'any port in a
storm,' and, with a grim nod, he relieved the mate at the wheel, and

"Fetch the bloomin' consarn up."

Mr. Topper obeyed, with alacrity in his step, and a wink in his eye. The
'consarn' was quickly brought on deck, and the 'Washington Post' let
loose on the astonished ears of fog-smothered mariners, right and left
of them.

One old shell-back, coming up river on a Gravesend shrimper, listened in
blank astonishment for a minute, and then confided huskily to his mate
that he thought their time had come.

"'Eavenly, strains! It's wot they calls 'the music o' the spears,'" he
said mysteriously, "Hangels' music wot comes just before a bloke's
time's up. We better prepare for the wust."

His mate, less superstitious and with more common sense, rejoined:

"Garn! 'Music o' the spears' be blowed! It's more like a pianer-horgan
or a 'urdy-gurdy."

The shrimper glided on, and a tramp steamer, going dead slow, just
shaved past the musical barge. Its master roared derisively from the

"'Ullo, barge, ahoy! Wot yer got there? Punch and Judy show aboard?"

Which cost Cap'n Pigg a nasty twinge. He had always prided himself on
his seaman-like ways, and to proceed thus, down the great river, like a
mountebank, or a Cockney out on a Bank Holiday, hurt his feelings more
than he could say.

Yet another insult was to be hurled at the _Saucy Sally_, for
"Jacksonville," with its weird human chorus, having been turned on--when
the "Ha! Ha! Ha!" rang out on the ears of a passing tug's captain, that
outraged gentleman, thinking he was being personally derided, shouted,
as the tide swept them out of sight:

"Yah! 'Oo yer larfin' at? Set o' bloomin' monkeys!"

But the gramophone was certainly playing a useful part in warning others
off the _Saucy Sally_, down that fog-laden river. And, when, at the end
of their day's slow journey, they let go their anchor, the "Washington
Post" was again nasally shrieking out its march-time glories.

The mate stopped the machine and carried it tenderly below, then,
returning to the deck, he observed.

"Good job as we 'ad the grammarphone aboard, Cap'n."

Cap'n Pigg swallowed a lump in his throat, and looked like a child
confronted with a dose of nauseous medicine, as he gruffly replied:

"It's better n' nothin' when yer wants a row made."

A pause ensued, and then the Skipper went on:

"In future, I don't object--not very much--to the
dammarphone--grammarphone, I mean--If you can stand music, well, so can
I. But you can't contrarst the beauty o' the two instruments, and I'm
goin' ashore, straight away, to buy myself a good, old-fashioned
fog-'orn. The tone of that is altogether more 'armonious and more
soothin' to the hear, than that there beastly grammarphone ever could

The mate heaved a deep sigh and sorrowfully went below. In the effort to
ram music into his superior officer he had to admit himself defeated.



A Western Tale


TEXAS RANKIN stood in the street in front of the High Card Saloon, his
lank body trembling with surprise, indecision, and indignation; his face
alight with the fire of outraged dignity. Three long paces from him
stood Sheriff Webster, indifferently fondling an ivory-handled .45.

The sheriff was nonchalantly deliberative in his actions, betraying only
a negative interest in Rankin's movements--for Rankin's holster yawned
with eloquent emptiness. With his empty holster dragging on his desires,
it seemed to Rankin that to await the sheriff's pleasure was his most
logical course.

And so he waited.

The sheriff had come upon him, when, in an incautious moment, he had
emerged from the High Card Saloon, having forgotten the very important
fact that the sheriff was looking for him. This forgetfulness had been
the cause of his undoing, for at the instant he had turned to go down
the street the sheriff had reached for his gun. The empty holster was
evidence of his success.

After that there was no use in getting excited. True, Texas had flashed
around in his tracks when he had felt the gun leaving its holster, and
had made a lightning movement with his hand to prevent such a
disgraceful occurrence. But he might just as well have reached for a
rainbow. As he had faced about, rage-flushed and impotent, he saw his
gun swinging loosely in Webster's left hand, while in Webster's right
hand another big six-shooter had reached a foreboding level.

The distance between the two men approximated ten feet; for Webster had
wisely stepped back, knowing Rankin's reluctance toward submission.

And now, over the ten feet of space, captive and captor surveyed one
another with that narrowing of the eyes which denotes tension and warns
of danger.

"I reckon I was too quick for you, Texas," said Webster, with a
gentleness that fell too softly to be genuine.

Rankin gazed dolefully at his empty holster. The skin tensed over his
teeth in a grinning sneer.

"I ain't sayin' that you took a mean advantage," he said, raising his
eyes and allowing them an expression of mild innocence that contrasted
strangely with his drawn lips, "but you might have given me a chance to
fight it out square. I wouldn't have took your gun, Jim."

Knowing Texas less intimately, the sheriff might have been misled by
this crude sentiment; but the sheriff's fingers only drew more closely
around the ivory handle of his .45. And there came a glint of humor into
his eyes.

"I ain't sayin' you would, Texas. But as sheriff of Socorro County I
ain't takin' any chances. I wanted to talk to you, an' I knew if I had
your gun I'd feel easier."

"Which means that you didn't want me to have a chance," complained Texas
glumly. "Socorro's always been meaner'n ----"

"'T ain't Socorro's fault," interrupted the sheriff with a sudden
coldness; "you've been cuttin' didoes in Socorro for so long a time that
you've disgraced yourself. You've gambled an' shot yourself into
disfavor with the _élite_. You've been as ornery an' as compromisin' as
it's possible for any human maverick to get without havin' to
requisition the unwillin' mourners."

"Not that I'm sayin' you're naturally bad, Texas. It's that you've got
an overdose of what them modern brain specialists call exaggerated ego;
which us common critters would call plain swell head. That there
disease is listed an' catalogued in the text books of the New York
Medical Institoot as bearin' a close relationship to the geni Loco;
which is a scientific way of sayin' that you've got buzzers in your

Texas smiled, showing his teeth in wan sarcasm.

"You wouldn't say that if I had my gun, Jim. It ain't like you to pour
out your blackguardisms on a man what ain't armed."

"I ain't blackguardin' you none," said Webster easily. "It's the naked
truth, an' you know it. Takin' your gun was part of my official duty.
Personally I could have talked to you without trampling down any of the
niceties of etiquette, but officially I had to have your gun."

Rankin's face lengthened with a deep melancholy. With this expression he
intended to convey the impression that he was suffering a martyrdom. But
the sheriff's acquaintance with Texas was not recent.

"An' now that you've got the gun," said Texas, after an embarrassed
silence, "what's the next thing on the programme?"

"Takin' your gun," said the sheriff heavily, "was a preliminary; like
they say in the sporting papers. The big event is that you're goin' to
say your adoos to Socorro without bein' allowed to make any farewell
announcement. The reason is that you an' Socorro is incongruous--like a
side-saddle on a razor-back hog. Socorro won't stand for you a minute
longer. You're a Public Favorite which has lost its popularity an' which
has become heterogeneous to the established order of things. In other
words, you're an outlaw; a soft-spoken, lazy, good-for-nothin'
road-agent. An' though Socorro ain't never had anything on you before,
it knows you had a hand in robbin' the express office last night. An'

"You're a damn ----"

"----like playin' a king-full against three deuces that you done the
trick. You was seen goin' toward the station about an hour before Budd
Tucker found Ridgely, the agent, stretched out on the floor of the
office, a bullet from a .45 clean through him. An' there's five thousand
dollars in gold gone, an' no trace of it. An' there's been no strangers
in town. An' here's your gun, showin' plain that it's been shot off
lately, for there's the powder smudge on the cylinder an' the barrel.
That's a pay streak of circumstantial evidence or I ain't sheriff of

Rankin's eyes had flashed with an unusual brilliancy as the sheriff had
spoken of him being seen going toward the station previous to the
finding of the agent's body, but they glazed over with unconcern during
the rest of the recital. And as the sheriff concluded, Rankin gazed
scornfully at him, sneering mildly:

"I couldn't add nothin' to what you've just said." He idly kicked the
gray dust that was mounded at his feet, standing loose and inert, as
though he cared little what might be the outcome of this impromptu
interview. And then, suddenly, his blue eyes twinkled humorously as he
raised them to meet the sheriff's.

"Give you time you might tell me where I spent the money," he said
drily. "There's no tellin' where your theorizin' might end."

The sheriff ignored this, but he eyed his prisoner meditatively.

"There's been a rumor," he said coldly, "that you've got cracked on my
daughter, Mary Jane. But I ain't never been able to properly confirm it.
I meant to tell you some time ago that while I ain't had no objection to
livin' in the same town with you, I'm some opposed to havin' you for a
son-in-law. But now, since the express robbery, it won't be necessary
for me to tell you not to nose around my house, for you're goin' to ride
straight out of Socorro County, an' you ain't comin' back any more. If
you do, I reckon you'll discover that Socorro's present leniency ain't
elastic enough to be stretched to cover your home-comin'."

"I ain't sayin' nothin'," said Texas, glancing with pensive eyes to a
point far up the sun-baked street where his gaze rested upon a
pretentious house in a neatly-fenced yard where there were green things
that gave a restful impression. "Circumstantial evidence is sure
convincin'." he sighed deeply. "I reckon you knowed all along that I
thought a heap of Mary Jane. That's the reason you picked me out for the
express job."

He scowled as his eyes took in the meagre details of Socorro's one
street. Because of long association these details had become mental
fixtures. Socorro had been his home for ten years, and in ten years
things grow into a man's heart. And civic pride had been his one great
virtue. If in the summer the alkali dust of the street formed into
miniature hills of grayish white which sifted into surrounding hollows
under the whipping tread of the cow-pony's hoofs, Texas likened it unto
ruffled waters that seek a level. The same condition in another town
would have drawn a curse from him. If in the winter the huge windrows of
caked mud stretched across the street in unlovely phalanx, Texas was
reminded of itinerant mountain ranges. The stranger who would be so
unwary as to take issue with him on this point would regret--if he
lived. The unpainted shanties, the huddled, tottering dives, the
tumble-down express station--all, even the maudlin masquerade of the
High Card Saloon--were institutions inseparable from his thoughts,
inviolable and sacred in the measure of his love for them.

And now! Something caught in his throat and gave forth a choking sound.

"But I reckon it's just as well," he said resignedly. "I sure ain't of
much account." He hesitated and smiled weakly at the sheriff. "I ain't
croakin'," he said apologetically; "there's the circumstantial
evidence." He hesitated again, evidently battling a ponderous question.
"You didn't happen to hear Mary Jane say anything about the express
job?" he questioned with an expression of dog-like hopefulness.
"Anything that would lead you to believe she knowed about it?"

"I don't see what----"

"No, of course!" He shuffled his feet awkwardly. "An' so she don't know
anything. Didn't mention me at all?" The hopefulness was gone from his
eyes, and in its place was the dull glaze of puzzled wonder. "Not that
it makes any difference," he added quickly, as he caught a sudden sharp
glance from the sheriff's eyes.

"An' so I'm to leave Socorro." He looked dully at the sheriff. "Why, of
course, there's the circumstantial evidence." His eyes swept the
shanties, the street, the timber-dotted sides of the mountains that rose
above the town--familiar landmarks of his long sojourn; landmarks that
brought pleasant memories.

"I've lived here a long time," he said, with abrupt melancholy, his
voice grating with suppressed regret. "I won't forget soon."

There ensued a silence which lasted long. It brought a suspicious lump
into the sheriff's throat.

"I wouldn't take it so hard, Texas," he said gently. "Mebbe it'll be the
best for you in the long run. If you get away from here mebbe you make a

"Quit your damn croakin'!" flashed back Texas. "I ain't askin' for none
of your mushy sentiment!" He straightened up suddenly and smiled with
set lips. "I guess I've been a fool. If you'll hand over that
six-shooter I'll be goin'. I've got business in San Marcial."

"I'll walk up to the station platform an' lay the gun there," said the
sheriff coldly; for Texas was less dangerous at a distance; "an' when
you see me start away from the platform you can start for the gun. I'm
takin' your word that you'll leave peaceable."

And so, with his gun again in its holster, Texas threw himself astride
his Pinto pony and loped down toward the sloping banks of the Rio Grande
del Norte.

A quarter of a mile from town he halted on the bare knob of a low hill
and took a lingering look at the pretentious house amid the green

Near the house was something he had not seen when he had looked
before--the flutter of a white dress against the background of green. As
he looked the white figure moved rapidly through the garden and
disappeared behind the house.

"She didn't say a word," said Texas chokingly.

       *        *       *       *       *

Ten hours out of Socorro Texas Rankin rode morosely into San Marcial.
Into San Marcial the unbeautiful, with its vista of unpainted shanties
and lurid dives. For in San Marcial foregathered the men of the mines
and the ranges; men of forgotten morals, but of brawn and muscle, whose
hearts beat not with a yearning for high ideals, but with a lust for
wealth and gain--white, Indian, Mexican, half-breed; predatory spirits
of many nations, opposed in the struggle for existence.

For ten hours Texas had ridden the river trail, and for ten hours his
ears had been burdened with the dull beat of his pony's hoofs on the
matted mesquite grass, and the rattle of his wooden stirrups against the
chaparral growth. And for ten hours his mind had been confused with a
multitude of perplexities and resentments.

But all mental confusions reach a culminating point when the mind
finally throws aside the useless chaff of thought and considers only the
questions that have to do with the heart. Wherefore, Texas Rankin's mind
dwelt on Mary Jane. Subconsciously his mind harbored rebellion against
her father, who had judged him; against Socorro, which had misunderstood
him; against Fate, which had been unjust. All these atoms of personal
interest were elements of a primitive emotion that finally evolved into
one great concrete determination that he would show Jim Webster,
Socorro, Mary Jane--the world, that he was not the creature they had
thought him. Tearing aside all mental superfluities, there was revealed
a new structure of thought:

"I am goin' to be a man again!"

And so Texas rode his tired pony in the gathering dusk; down the wide
street that was beginning to flicker with the shafts of light from grimy
windows; down to the hitching rail in front of the Top Notch
Saloon--where he dismounted and stood stiffly beside his beast while he
planned his regeneration.

       *        *       *       *       *

Half an hour later Texas sat opposite a man at a card table in the rear
of the Top Notch Saloon.

The man conversed easily, but it was noticeable that he watched Texas
with cat-like vigilance, and that he poured his whiskey with his left

Ordinarily Texas would have noticed this departure from the polite
rules, but laboring under the excitement that his new determination
brought him he was careless. For he had planned his regeneration, and
his talk with the man was the beginning.

"You lifted the express box at Socorro, Buck!" said Texas, so earnestly
that the table trembled.

Buck Reible, gambler, outlaw, murderer, pushed back his broad-brimmed
hat with his hand--always he used his left--and gazed with level,
menacing eyes at Texas. His lips parted with a half-sneer.

"If a man does a job nowadays, there's always some one wants in on it!"
he declared, voicing his suspicion of Rankin's motive in bringing up the
subject. "Because you was lucky in bein' close when the game come off is
the reason you want a share of the cash," he added satirically. "How

"Go easy, Buck," said Texas. "I ain't no angel, but I never played your
style. I ain't askin' for a share."

"Then what in----"

"It's a new deal," declared Texas heavily. "A square deal. You took five
thousand dollars out of Socorro, an' you salivated the agent doin' it.
Jim Webster thought it was me, an' I was invited to a farewell
performance in which I done the starrin'. Some night-prowler saw me
down near the station just before you made your grand entrée, an'----"

"Serves you right for spoonin' with a female so close to where gentlemen
has business," said Buck. "I saw her when you come toward me shootin'."

"An' what makes it more aggravatin'," continued Texas, unmoved by the
interruption; "is that the lady was Jim Webster's daughter, an' we was
thinkin' of gettin' married. But we didn't want Jim to know just then,
an' she told me to keep mum, seein' that Jim was opposed. She said we'd
keep it secret until----"

"I admire the lady's choice," said Buck, sneering ironically.

"----until I braced up an' was a man again," went on Texas, with
bull-dog persistency.

"Then you wasn't thinkin' of gettin' married soon," slurred Buck.

"I reckon we was," returned Texas coldly; "that's why I came here. I'm
goin' to take that five thousand back to Socorro with me!"

And now Buck used his right hand. But quick as he was, he was late.
Rankin's gun gaped at him across the table the while his own weapon
lagged tardily half-way in its holster.

"I'm goin' to be a man again," said Texas. There was a positiveness in
his voice that awoke thoughts of death and violence.

"You damn----" began Buck.

"I'll count ten," said Texas frigidly. "If the money ain't on the table
then I reckon you won't care what becomes of it!"


With a snarl of rage and hate Buck rose from his chair and sprang clear,
his gun flashing to a level with the movement, its savage roar
shattering the silence.

Texas did not wince as the heavy bullet struck him, but his face went
white. He had been a principal in more than one shooting affray, and
experience had taught him the value of instantaneous action. And so,
even with the stinging pain in his left shoulder, his hand swept his gun
lightly upward, and before it had reached a level he had begun to pull
the trigger. But to his astonishment only the metallic click, click of
the hammer striking the steel of the cylinder rewarded his efforts.
Once, twice, thrice; so rapidly that the metallic clicks blended.

And now he saw why he was to meet his death at the muzzle of Buck's gun.
Fearing him, Jim Webster had removed the cartridges from his weapon
before returning it to him that morning. He had committed a fatal error
in not examining it after he had received it from Webster's hand. The
Law, in judging him, had removed his chance of life.

But he smiled with bitter irony into Buck's eyes as the latter, still
snarling and relentless, deliberately shot again; once, twice.

       *        *       *       *       *

According to the ancient custom--which has many champions--and to the
conventions--which are not to be violated with impunity--Texas should
have recovered from his wounds to return to Mary Jane and Socorro. No
narrative is complete without the entire vindication of the brave and
the triumph of the honorable. But to the chronicler belongs only the
simple task of true and conscientious record.

Therefore is the end written thus:

Came to Jim Webster's home in Socorro a week later a babbler from San
Marcial, who told a tale:

"There was a man by the name of Texas Rankin came down to San Marcial
last week an' went gunnin' for Buck Reible. Quickest thing you ever saw.
Buck peppered him so fast you couldn't count; an' I'm told Texas wasn't
no slouch with a gun, either."

"Dead?" questioned Webster.

"As a door nail," returned the babbler.

"Socorro's bad man," said Webster, sententiously. "Wasn't a bit of good
in him. Gamblin', shootin', outlaw. Best job Buck ever done."

He found Mary Jane in the kitchen, singing over the supper dishes.

"Texas Rankin is dead over at San Marcial," he said, with the importance
of one communicating delectable news.

Mary Jane continued with her dishes, looking at her father over her
shoulder with a mild unconcern.

"At San Marcial?" she said wonderingly. "I didn't know he had left

"A week now," returned Webster with much complacence. "Fired him from
Socorro for doin' that express job. Socorro's bad enough without

His mouth opened with dumb astonishment as Mary Jane whirled around on
him with a laugh on her lips.

"Why, dad! Texas Rankin didn't do that job! It was Buck Reible. Texas
told me the night it happened. We were walking down near the station and
we heard some shooting. I wasn't close enough to see plainly, but Texas
said he could recognize Buck by the flash of his gun. And so Texas is

"I thought," said Webster feebly, "that you was pretty sweet on Texas."

"Sweet!" said Mary Jane, blushing with maidenly modesty. "Socorro is so
dull. A young lady must have some diversion."

"Then you don't care----"

"Why, dad! You old sobersides. To think--why I was only fooling with
him. It was fun to see how serious----"

"In that case----" began Webster. And then he went out and sat on the
front stoop.

Far into the night he sat, and always he stared in the direction of San



A Story of the Italian Quarter


VINCENZA looked from the three crisp dollar bills to her husband, and
back again, wonderingly and with fear in her eyes.

"I understand nothing, Gino, and I am afraid. Perhaps it will bring the
sickness, the money--it is of the devil, maybe----"

Luigi laughed, but a little uneasily. "It is time, then, that the devil
went to paradise; he makes better for us than the saints, to whom you
pray so----"

"S-sh!" Vincenza crossed herself quickly. "That is a great wickedness."

Luigi picked up the bills, examining them closely. Apparently they were
good. Nevertheless he put them down again, and went on carving a wooden
cow for the little Carolina, with a puzzled look in his black eyes.

"Gino," Vincenza stopped undressing the baby suddenly when the thought
came to her. "Go thou and ask Biaggio. He has been many years in this
country, and, besides, he is also a Genovese. He will tell thee."

Luigi's eyes cleared, but he condescended to make no reply. It is not
for a man to take the advice of a woman. But when it was dark, and
Vincenza had gone to lie down with the Little One, Luigi took his hat
and went over to the shop of Biaggio Franchini.

Biaggio listened attentively; his pudgy hands, crossed on his stomach,
rose and fell with the undulations of the rolls of flesh beneath. From
time to time he ceased for a moment the contemplation of the strings of
garlic and sausage that hung from the fly-specked ceiling of his
diminutive shop, and turned his little black eyes sharply on Luigi.

"So," he said at last, "to-day a lady came to thy house, and after to
ask many questions left these three dollars. It was in this way?"

"Just so," replied Luigi, "and questions the most marvelous I have ever
heard. And in this country, where everyone asks the questions. How long
that I do not work, and if we have to eat?" Luigi laughed; "of a surety,
Biaggio, she asked that. She sees that we live--and she asks if we
eat--_ma! chè!_ And then, if we have every day the meat? When I said
once, sometimes twice in the week--thou knowest it is not possible to
have more often, when one waits to buy the house--then it was she put on
the table the three dollars, and gave me a paper to sign----"

"Thou didst sign nothing?" Biaggio spoke eagerly.

"No. Once I signed the paper in English and it cost me two dollars; not
again. I said I could not write, and she wrote for me."

"_Bene_," Biaggio nodded approval. "It is not thy writing. It can do

"Perhaps it is because I voted twice at the election last week? But
already I have taken the money for that. It was one only dollar. I----"

"Non, non, it is not that. Listen!" Slowly Biaggio shut both eyes, as if
to keep out the tremendous light that had dawned upon him, and nodded
his head knowingly. Then he opened them, shifted his huge bulk upright,
and clapped Luigi on the knee.

"Thou art in great luck friend," he cried, "and it is well that thou
hast asked me. If thou hadst gone to another, to a man not honest, who
knows? Listen. In our country when a rich man dies, he leaves always
something for the poor, but he leaves it to the church and it is the
fathers who give away the money. Corpo di Bacco! what that means thou
knowest well. Sometimes a little gets to the poor. Sometimes---- But in
this country it is not so. He leaves to a society. There are many. And
they pay the women, and sometimes the men, to give away the money----"

"Santo Cristo," gasped Luigi, "they pay to give away the money?"

"For them it is a job like any other. Didst think it was for love of
thee or the red curls of thy Vincenza?"

"Marvelous, most marvelous," murmured Luigi, "and it is possible then
for all people to get----"

"Ma, that no one can explain," and Biaggio shrugged his shoulders; in a
gesture of absolute inability to solve the problem.

"She will come then again, this lady?" Luigi leaned forward eagerly. He
was beginning to grasp it.

"It is for thee to say stop, my son, if thou hast in thy head anything
but fat. But thou art a Genovese. Only I say," Biaggio laid a grimy
thumb across his lips and winked knowingly--"Tell to none."

"Thanks, many thanks friend," Luigi's voice was deeply grateful,
"perhaps some day I can do for thee----?"

"It is nothing--nothing," insisted Biaggio, patting the air with his
pudgy hands in a gesture of denial, "a little kindness between friends."

At great inconvenience to himself, Biaggio held the door open to give
Luigi more light in crossing the street. As he closed it and turned out
the gas, he smiled to himself. "And each bottle of oil will cost thee
ten cents more, friend. Business is business, and yesterday thy Vincenza
returned the carrots because they were not fresh. Ecco!"

Back in his own room, Luigi folded the three notes neatly, while
Vincenza watched him, her gray eyes wide with wonder.

"Marvelous, marvelous," she whispered just as Luigi had done, "to-night
I thank the Virgin."

As Biaggio had foretold, the Lady in Fur came every day. Luigi did not
understand all that she said, but he always listened politely and
smiled, with his dark eyes and his lips and his glistening white teeth.
It made her feel very old to see Luigi smile like that, when he had to
live in one room with a leaking water pipe and a garbage can outside the
door. Sometimes she was almost ashamed to offer the three dollars, and
she was grateful for the gentle, sweet way Luigi accepted it.

Then one day when the air was thick with snow, and the air in the
tenement halls cut like needles of ice and the lamps had to be lit at
two o'clock, the Lady in Brown Fur came unexpectedly. She had found work
for Luigi. She kissed the Little One, patted Vincenza's shoulder and
shook hands with Luigi. Again and again she made him repeat the name and
address to make sure he had it quite right. The Lady in Brown Fur was
very happy. When she went Vincenza leaned far over the banisters with
the lamp while Luigi called out in his soft, broken English, directions
for avoiding the lines of washing below and the refuse piled in dark
turns of the stairs. When the Lady in Brown Fur had disappeared Vincenza
turned to Luigi.

"Of a surety, cara, the saints are good. Never before didst thou work
before April. In the new house we will keep for ourselves two rooms.

"These people have the 'pull' even more than the alderman, Biaggio
says," replied Luigi with a dreamy look in his eyes. "It may be that
from this work I shall take three dollars each day."

"Madonna mia," gasped Vincenza, "it is beyond belief."

       *        *       *       *       *

For five days Luigi stood four hours each afternoon, bent forward, to
the lifting of a cardboard block, while Hugh Keswick painted, as he had
not painted for months, the tense muscles under the olive skin, the
strong neck and shoulders. The Building of the Temple advanced rapidly.
And Luigi's arms and back ached so that each night Vincenza had to rub
them with the oil which now cost ten cents more in the shop of Biaggio.

On the Sixth day Luigi refused to go.

"I tell thee it is a stupidness--to stand all day with the pain in the
back. For what? Fifty cents. It is a work for old men and children----"

"But thou canst not make the money, sitting in thy chair, with thy feet
on the stove, like now----"

"Dost thou wish then that I have every night the knives in my back? If

"Not so, caro, but----"

"Listen. You understand nothing and talk as a woman. A lady comes to my
house. She says--you have no work, here is money. Then she comes and
says--here is work. But at this work I make not so much as before she
gave; and in addition, I have the pain in the back. Ecco, when she comes
again, I no longer have the work. It is her job to give away the money.
She is not a fool, that Lady in Brown Fur. It is that I make her a
kindness. Not so?"

"As thou sayest," and Vincenza went on with her endless washing.

But when the week passed and the Lady in Brown Fur did not come, Luigi's
forehead wrinkled with the effort to understand. When the second had
gone, Luigi was openly troubled. When the third was half over, he again
took his hat and went over to the shop of Biaggio.

As before Biaggio listened attentively, his eyes closed, until Luigi had
finished. Then he opened them, made a clicking noise with his tongue,
and laid one finger along the side of his nose.

"Holy Body of Christ," he said softly, "in business thou hast the head
like a rock. In one curl of thy Vincenza there is more sense than in all
thy great body. Did I not tell thee to be careful, and it would stop
only when thou didst wish. And now, without to ask my advice, you make
the stupidness, bah----"

"Ma, Dio mio," Luigi's hands made angry protest against the invective of
Biaggio, "I said only like a man of sense. It is her job, it make no

"Blood of the Lamb! Thou hast been in America eight months, and thou
dost not know that they are mad, all quite mad, to work? Never do they
stop. Even after to have fifty years, think, fifty years, still they
work. They work even with the children old enough to keep them. For many
months The Skinny One, she who gives milk to the baby of Giacomo, had
the habit to find him such work, like the foolishness of your painter.
And Giacomo has already three children more than fifteen. Ma----"
Biaggio snorted his contempt. Then suddenly his manner changed. He
leaned back in his chair, and apparently dismissed the subject with a
wave of his fat hand.

"And the little Carolina she is well in this weather of the devil?" But
Luigi did not answer. He was thinking with a pucker between his black
eyes. Biaggio watched him narrowly. At last he spoke, looking fixedly at
the sausages above his head.

"Of course--it--is--possible--you have made a--mistake--but----"

Luigi leaned forward eagerly. "It is possible then to----"

"All things are possible," Biaggio nodded his head at the sausages,
blinking like a large, fat owl. Then he stopped.

"Perhaps, you will tell--to me," Luigi was forced to it at last.

Biaggio gave a little grunt as if he were being brought back from a deep
meditation. "There is a way," he said slowly. "If thou write to her of
the Brown Fur that thou art sick and cannot do the work----"

"But never in my life was I better. Only last week Giacomo said I have
grown fat. How the----"

"It is possible," replied Biaggio wearily, "to be sick of a sickness
that makes one neither thin nor white. With a sickness--of the legs like
the rheumatism, for example, one eats, one sleeps, only one cannot walk
or stand for many hours."

In spite of his efforts to the contrary, the wonder and admiration grew
deeper in Luigi's eyes. "Thou thinkest the----?"

"I am sure," now that Luigi was reduced to the proper state of humility
Biaggio gave up his attitude of distant oracle, and leaned close. "Thou
hast made a mistake, but it is not too late. If thou dost wish I will
write it for thee."

"If thou sayest," replied Luigi and now it was his turn to gaze at the
strings of garlic, "if you will do this favor."

"With pleasure," Biaggio's fat hands made little gestures of willingness
to oblige. "Of a truth it is not much, but when one wishes to buy the
house, and already the family is begun, two dollars and a half each

Luigi glanced at him sharply. "Two and----"

Biaggio drew the ink to him and dipped his pen. "Two and a half for
thee, and for me----"

"Bene, bene," Luigi interrupted quickly, "it is only just."

"Between friends," explained Biaggio as he began to write.

"Between friends," echoed Luigi, and added to himself, "closer than the
skin of a snake art thou--friend."

The Lady in the Brown Fur came next day. She had been very angry and
disappointed in Luigi, too angry and disappointed to go near him. Now
she felt very sorry and uncomfortable when she saw his right leg
stretched out before, so stiff that he could not bend it. He smiled and
made the motion of getting up, but could not do it, and sank back again
with a gesture of helplessness more eloquent than words. When the Lady
in Brown Fur had gone, Vincenza found an extra bill, brand new, tucked
into the pocket of the little Carolina.

Luigi waited until he was quite sure that Biaggio would be alone. There
was a look of real sorrow in his dark eyes as he slipped a shiny quarter
across the counter. "She left only two," he explained, "the reason I do
not know. Perhaps next time----"

"It is nothing, nothing between friends." Biaggio slipped the quarter
into the cigar box under the counter and smiled a fat smile at Luigi.
But he did not hold the door open when Luigi went, and his little eyes
were hard like gimlet points. "So," he whispered softly. "So. One learns
quickly, very quickly in this new country. Only two dollars this time.
Bene, Gino mio, the price of sausage, as that of oil, goes up--between



The Story of an Artist


IT is a moot point whether burglary is to be considered as a sport, a
trade, or an art. For a trade the technique is scarcely rigid enough,
and its claims to be considered an art are vitiated by the mercenary
element that qualifies triumphs. On the whole it seems to be most justly
ranked as sport, a sport for which no rules are at present formulated,
and of which the prizes are distributed in an extremely informal manner.
It was this informality of burglary that led to the regrettable
extinction of two promising beginners at Hammerpond Park.

The stakes offered in this affair consisted chiefly of diamonds and
other personal _bric-à-brac_ belonging to the newly married Lady
Aveling. Lady Aveling, as the reader will remember, was the only
daughter of Mrs. Montague Pangs, the well-known hostess. Her marriage to
Lord Aveling was extensively advertised in the papers, the quantity and
quality of her wedding presents, and the fact that the honeymoon was to
be spent at Hammerpond. The announcement of these valuable prizes
created a considerable sensation in the small circle in which Mr. Teddy
Watkins was the undisputed leader, and it was decided that, accompanied
by a duly qualified assistant, he should visit the village of Hammerpond
in his professional capacity.

Being a man of naturally retiring and modest disposition, Mr. Watkins
determined to make his visit _incog_, and, after due consideration of
the conditions of his enterprise, he selected the rôle of a landscape
artist, and the unassuming surname of Smith. He preceded his assistant,
who, it was decided, should join him only on the last afternoon of his
stay at Hammerpond. Now the village of Hammerpond is perhaps one of the
prettiest little corners in Sussex; many thatched houses still survive,
the flint-built church, with its tall spire nestling under the down, is
one of the finest and least restored in the county, and the beech-woods
and bracken jungles through which the road runs to the great house are
singularly rich in what the vulgar artist and photographer call "bits."
So that Mr. Watkins, on his arrival with two virgin canvases, a
brand-new easel, a paint-boy, portmanteau, an ingenious little ladder
made in sections; (after the pattern of that lamented master, Charles
Peace), crowbar, and wire coils, found himself welcomed with effusion
and some curiosity by half a dozen other brethren of the brush. It
rendered the disguise he had chosen unexpectedly plausible, but it
inflicted upon him a considerable amount of æsthetic conversation for
which he was very imperfectly prepared.

"Have you exhibited very much?" said young Porson in the bar-parlor of
the "Coach and Horses," where Mr. Watkins was skilfully accumulating
local information on the night of his arrival.

"Very little," said Mr. Watkins; "just a snack here and there."


"In course. _And_ at the Crystal Palace."

"Did they hang you well?" said Porson.

"Don't rot," said Mr. Watkins; "I don't like it."

"I mean did they put you in a good place?"

"Whatyer mean?" said Mr. Watkins suspiciously. "One 'ud think you were
trying to make out I'd been put away."

Porson was a gentlemanly young man even for an artist, and he did not
know what being "put away" meant, but he thought it best to explain
that he intended nothing of the sort. As the question of hanging seemed
a sore point with Mr. Watkins, he tried to divert the conversation a

"Did you do figure work at all?"

"No, never had a head for figures," said Mr. Watkins. "My miss--Mrs.
Smith, I mean, does all that."

"She paints too!" said Porson. "That's rather jolly."

"Very," said Mr. Watkins, though he really did not think so, and,
feeling the conversation was drifting a little beyond his grasp, added:
"I came down here to paint Hammerpond House by moonlight."

"Really!" said Porson. "That's rather a novel idea."

"Yes," said Mr. Watkins, "I thought it rather a good notion when it
occurred to me. I expect to begin to-morrow night."

"What! You don't mean to paint in the open, by night?"

"I do, though."

"But how will you see your canvas?"

"Have a bloomin' cop's----" began Mr. Watkins, rising too quickly to the
question, and then realizing this, bawled to Miss Durgan for another
glass of beer. "I'm goin' to have a thing called a dark lantern," he
said to Porson.

"But it's about new moon now," objected Porson. "There won't be any

"There'll be the house," said Watkins, "at any rate. I'm goin', you see,
to paint the house first and the moon afterward."

"Oh!" said Porson, too staggered to continue the conversation.

Toward sunset next day Mr. Watkins, virgin canvas, easel, and a very
considerable case of other appliances in hand, strolled up the pleasant
pathway through the beech-woods to Hammerpond Park, and pitched his
apparatus in a strategic position commanding the house. Here he was
observed by Mr. Raphael Sant, who was returning across the park from a
study of the chalk-pits. His curiosity having been fired by Porson's
account of the new arrival, he turned aside with the idea of discussing
nocturnal art.

Mr. Watkins was mixing color with an air of great industry. Sant,
approaching more nearly, was surprised to see the color in question was
as harsh and brilliant an emerald green as it is possible to imagine.
Having cultivated an extreme sensibility to color from his earliest
years, he drew the air in sharply between his teeth at the very first
glimpse of this brew. Mr. Watkins turned round. He looked annoyed.

"What on earth are you going to do with that _beastly_ green?" said

Mr. Watkins realized that his zeal to appear busy in the eyes of the
butler had evidently betrayed him into some technical error. He looked
at Sant and hesitated.

"Pardon my rudeness," said Sant; "but, really, that green is altogether
too amazing. It came as a shock. What _do_ you mean to do with it?"

Mr. Watkins was collecting his resources. Nothing could save the
situation but decision. "If you come here interrupting my work," he
said, "I'm a-goin' to paint your face with it."

Sant retired, for he was a humorist and a peaceful man. Going down the
hill he met Porson and Wainwright. "Either that man is a genius or he is
a dangerous lunatic," said he. "Just go up and look at his green." And
he continued his way, his countenance brightened by a pleasant
anticipation of a cheerful affray round an easel in the gloaming, and
the shedding of much green paint.

But to Porson and Wainwright Mr. Watkins was less aggressive, and
explained that the green was intended to be the first coating of his
picture. It was, he admitted, in response to a remark, an absolutely new
method, invented by himself.

Twilight deepened, first one then another star appeared. The rooks amid
the tall trees to the left of the house had long since lapsed into
slumberous silence, the house itself lost all the details of its
architecture and became a dark gray outline, and then the windows of
the salon shone out brilliantly, the conservatory was lighted up, and
here and there a bedroom window burnt yellow. Had any one approached the
easel in the park it would have been found deserted. One brief uncivil
word in brilliant green sullied the purity of its canvas. Mr. Watkins
was busy in the shrubbery with his assistant, who had discreetly joined
him from the carriage-drive.

Mr. Watkins was inclined to be self-congratulatory upon the ingenious
device by which he had carried all his apparatus boldly, and in the
sight of all men, right up to the scene of operations. "That's the
dressing-room," he said to his assistant, "and, as soon as the maid
takes the candle away and goes down to supper, we'll call in. My! how
nice the house do look, to be sure, against the starlight, and with all
its windows and lights! Swop me, Jim, I almost wish I _was_ a
painter-chap. Have you fixed that there wire across the path from the

He cautiously approached the house until he stood below the
dressing-room window, and began to put together his folding ladder. He
was too experienced a practitioner to feel any unusual excitement. Jim
was reconnoitring the smoking-room. Suddenly, close beside Mr. Watkins
in the bushes, there was a violent crash and a stifled curse. Some one
had tumbled over the wire which his assistant had just arranged. He
heard feet running on the gravel pathway beyond. Mr. Watkins, like all
true artists, was a singularly shy man, and he incontinently dropped his
folding ladder and began running circumspectly through the shrubbery. He
was indistinctly aware of two people hot upon his heels, and he fancied
that he distinguished the outline of his assistant in front of him. In
another moment he had vaulted the low stone wall bounding the shrubbery,
and was in the open park. Two thuds on the turf followed his own leap.

It was a close chase in the darkness through the trees. Mr. Watkins was
a loosely built man and in good training, and he gained hand over hand
upon the hoarsely panting figure in front. Neither spoke, but, as Mr.
Watkins pulled up alongside, a qualm of awful doubt came over him. The
other man turned his head at the same moment and gave an exclamation of
surprise. "It's not Jim," thought Mr. Watkins, and simultaneously the
stranger flung himself, as it were, at Watkins's knees, and they were
forthwith grappling on the ground together. "Lend a hand, Bill," cried
the stranger, as the third man came up. And Bill did--two hands, in
fact, and some accentuated feet. The fourth man, presumably Jim, had
apparently turned aside and made off in a different direction. At any
rate, he did not join the trio.

Mr. Watkins's memory of the incidents of the next two minutes is
extremely vague. He has a dim recollection of having his thumb in the
corner of the mouth of the first man, and feeling anxious about its
safety, and for some seconds at least he held the head of the gentleman
answering to the name of Bill to the ground by the hair. He was also
kicked in a great number of different places, and apparently by a vast
multitude of people. Then the gentleman who was not Bill got his knee
below Mr. Watkins's diaphragm and tried to curl him up upon it.

When his sensations became less entangled he was sitting upon the turf,
and eight or ten men--the night was dark, and he was rather too confused
to count--standing around him, apparently waiting for him to recover. He
mournfully assumed that he was captured, and would probably have made
some philosophical reflections on the fickleness of fortune, had not his
internal sensations disinclined him to speech.

He noticed very quickly that his wrists were not handcuffed, and then a
flask of brandy was put in his hands. This touched him a little--it was
such unexpected kindness.

"He's a-comin' round," said a voice which he fancied he recognized as
belonging to the Hammerpond second footman.

"We've got 'em, sir, both of 'em," said the Hammerpond butler, the man
who had handed him the flask. "Thanks to _you_."

No one answered his remark. Yet he failed to see how it applied to him.

"He's fair dazed," said a strange voice; "the villain's half-murdered

Mr. Teddy Watkins decided to remain fair dazed until he had a better
grasp of the situation. He perceived that two of the black figures round
him stood side by side with a dejected air, and there was something in
the carriage of their shoulders that suggested to his experienced eye
hands that were bound together. In a flash he rose to his position. He
emptied the little flask and staggered--obsequious hands assisting
him--to his feet. There was a sympathetic murmur.

"Shake hands, sir, shake hands," said one of the figures near him.
"Permit me to introduce myself. I am very greatly indebted to you. It
was the jewels of my wife, Lady Aveling, which attracted these
scoundrels to the house."

"Very glad to make your lordship's acquaintance," said Teddy Watkins.

"I presume you saw the rascals making for the shrubbery, and dropped
down on them?"

"That's exactly how it happened," said Mr. Watkins.

"You should have waited till they got in at the window," said Lord
Aveling; "they would get it hotter if they had actually committed the
burglary. And it was lucky for you two of the policemen were out by the
gates, and followed up the three of you. I doubt if you could have
secured the two of them--though it was confoundedly plucky of you, all
the same."

"Yes, I ought to have thought of all that," said Mr. Watkins; "but one
can't think of everything."

"Certainly not," said Lord Aveling. "I am afraid they have mauled you a
little," he added. The party was now moving toward the house. "You walk
rather lame. May I offer you my arm?"

And instead of entering Hammerpond House by the dressing-room window,
Mr. Watkins entered it--slightly intoxicated, and inclined now to
cheerfulness again--on the arm of a real live peer, and by the front
door. "This," thought Mr. Watkins, "is burgling in style!" The
"scoundrels," seen by the gaslight, proved to be mere local amateurs
unknown to Mr. Watkins, and they were taken down into the pantry and
there watched over by the three policemen, two gamekeepers with loaded
guns, the butler, an ostler, and a carman, until the dawn allowed of
their removal to Hazelhurst police-station. Mr. Watkins was made much of
in the salon. They devoted a sofa to him, and would not hear of a return
to the village that night. Lady Aveling was sure he was brilliantly
original, and said her idea of Turner was just such another rough,
half-inebriated, deep-eyed, brave, and clever man. Some one brought up a
remarkable little folding-ladder that had been picked up in the
shrubbery, and showed him how it was put together. They also described
how wires had been found in the shrubbery, evidently placed there to
trip up unwary pursuers. It was lucky he had escaped these snares. And
they showed him the jewels.

Mr. Watkins had the sense not to talk too much, and in any
conversational difficulty fell back on his internal pains. At last he
was seized with stiffness in the back and yawning. Everyone suddenly
awoke to the fact that it was a shame to keep him talking after his
affray, so he retired early to his room, the little red room next to
Lord Aveling's suite.

       *        *       *       *       *

The dawn found a deserted easel bearing a canvas with a green
inscription, in the Hammerpond Park, and it found Hammerpond House in
commotion. But if the dawn found Mr. Teddy Watkins and the Aveling
diamonds, it did not communicate the information to the police.



An Ancient Mariner's Yarn


"YEH may gas about torpedoes an' 'fernal machines an' such like, but yeh
can't learn me nothin'; onct I had t' do wi' suthin' o' th' sort that
turned th' heads o' a dozen men from black ter white in 'bout ten
minutes," and the ancient mariner looked at me with careful

"Bad, eh?" I inquired.

"Sh'd think it was--for them poor chaps."

"Didn't turn your hair white, Uncle?"

"Gue-e-ss not," and the ancient mariner had a fit of chuckling that
nearly choked him.

When he recovered he told me the yarn. I had heard several of old
Steve's yarns, and I considered that his fine talents were miserably
wasted; he ought to have been a politician or a real estate agent. This
yarn, however, might very well have been true.

"It was 'bout nineteen years ago," Steve commenced, "an' I'd jest taken
up a job as cook on the _Here at Last_, a blamed old Noah's Ark of a
wind-jammer from New York to Jamaica. She did th' trip in 'bout th' same
time as yeh'd walk it. She was a beauty--an' th' crew 'bout fitted her.
Where th' old man had gathered 'em from th' Lord on'y knows; but they
was th' most difficult lot I've ever sailed with, which is sayin' a deal
consid'rin' that, man an' boy, I've been a sailor for forty years. They
was as contrairy as women, an' as stoopid as donkeys. I couldn't do
nothin' right for 'em. They complained of the coffee, grumbled at th'
biscuit, an' swore terrible at th' meat. But most of all they swore at

"'It all lies in th' cookin',' an old one-eyed chap, named Barton, used
ter say. 'Any cook that is worth his salt can do wonders wi' th' worst
vittles'; an' he told me how he'd once sailed with a cook as c'd make a
stewed cat taste better'n a rabbit. An', durn me, when I went ashore
next, an' at great risk managed to lay holt of a big tom and cooked it
for em, hopin' to please 'em, an' went inter th' fo'c's'le arter dinner
an' told 'em what I'd done, ef that self-same chap, Barton, didn't hit
me over th' head wi' his tin can for tryin' ter poison 'em, as he said.
They complained to th' old man, too, which was worse; for when we got t'
th' next port my leave ashore was stopped, an' all for tryin' to please
'em. Rank ingratitood, I call it.

"Another time I tried to give the junk--it really was bad, but as I hadn't
bought th' stores, that wasn't no fault o' mine--a bit of a more
pleasant flavor by bilin' with it a packet o' spice I found in th'
skipper's cabin. One o' th' sailors comes into my galley in a towerin'
rage arter dinner.

"'Yer blamed rascal,' he said, an' there was suthin' like murder in his
starin' eyes. 'Yeh blamed rascal, whatcher been doin' ter our grub now?'

"'What's th' trouble, Joe?' I asks quietly.

"'Trouble, yeh skunk,' he howls; 'our throats is hot as hell, all th'
skin's comin' off 'em; Bill Tomson's got his lips that blistered he
can't hold his pipe between 'em. What yeh been doin?'

"'Hold hard a jiffy,' I said, an' looks at what was left o' th' spice
I'd used. I nearly had a fit.

"'Go 'way,' I says, pullin' myself together; ''t ain't nuthin'.'

"An' it wasn't nuthin'; but there was such an almighty run on th' water
barrel that arternoon th' old man was beginnin' ter think a teetotal
revival had struck th' _Here at Last_. But though cayenne pepper drives
a chap ter water pretty often while th' effect lasts, it don't have no
permanent result, as th' old man found out. Course it was a mistake o'
mine; but ain't we all liable to go a bit astray?

"I'm jest givin' yeh these few examples t' show yeh that things wasn't
altogether O.K. 'tween me an' the crew. They was always swearin' at me,
an' callin' of me names, an' heavin' things at me head, because I'd done
or hadn't done suthin' or other. An angel from heaven wouldn't have
pleased 'em; an' as I never held much stock in the angelic trust yeh kin
easily understand we was most times very much at sixes an' sevens.

"One evenin' I was sittin' in th' fo'c's'le patiently listenin' ter th'
horrible language in which they reproached me because one o' 'em had
managed t' break a front tooth in biting a bit o' th' salt pork they'd
had for dinner, which was certainly no fault o' mine, when one of 'em,
an English chap he was, an' the worst grumbler of all, suddenly cries:

"'Jeerusalem, wouldn't I give somethin' fer a drop of beer just now.
Strike me pink if I ain't a'most forgotten what the taste o' it's like.'

"'Me, too,' said Harry Towers, the carpenter. 'A schooner o' lager an'
ale! Sakes! Wouldn't it jest sizzle down a day like this?'

"'My aunt! I'd give a month's pay f'r a quart,' the surly Britisher says

"'A quart, why don't yeh ask for a barrel while yeh're about it; then
I'd help yeh drink it,' I says.

"'Yer, yer blighted, perishin' idiot,' he shouts--it was him that'd
broken his tooth. 'What, waste good beer on yer that's fit fer nothin'
but cuttin' up into shark bait!'

"'That ain't th' way t' talk to a man as is always ready an' willin' t'
help yeh,' I says reproachfully.

"The chap glares at me like a tiger with the colic. His language was
awful. 'Lord 'elp us,' he finishes up with, 'why, yer've done nuthin'
but try ter pizen us ever since we come aboard. Ain't I right, mates?'

"'Righto,' they choruses; an' I begin t' think they'd soon be gittin' up
to mischief.

"'P'raps I might help yeh t' git some beer if yer was more respectful,'
I says hurriedly.

"'Beer!' they all yells, an' looks up at me all to onct as if I was a
dime museum freak.

"'Yes, beer,' I says quietly.

"'An' where'd you be gittin' it from?' asks one.

"'Never yeh mind that,' I answers. 'I've a dozen or two bottles of
English stout I brought aboard, an' since yeh're so anxious to taste a
drop o' beer, I don't mind lettin' yeh have some--at a price, o'

"'What's the figure?' Towers inquires suspiciously. He was a Michigan

"'A dollar th' bottle.'

"'What!' shouts th' man as was ready t' give a month's pay fer a quart.
'A dollar th' bottle! Why, yer miserable old skinflint!'

"'A dollar th' bottle. That's the terms, take 'em or leave 'em,' says I,
very firmly.

"They talked a lot, and they swore a lot more, but finally seem' as I
wasn't t' be moved, and that they couldn't get the beer except at my
price, the hull ten of 'em agreed to have a bottle apiece.

"'Money down,' I stipulates; an' after a lot o' trouble they collects
seven dollars between 'em, an' tells me it's all they've got, an' if I
didn't bring up th' ten bottles mighty quick they'd knock me on th' head
an' drop me overboard.

"'Mind,' I said, as I goes off to th' galley, money in my hand; 'don't
yeh let th' officers see yeh drinkin' it or they'll think yeh've been
broachin' cargo, an' that's little short o' mutiny.'

"'Bring up that beer,' growls the Britisher, almost foamin' at th'

"When I came back with th' ten bottles o' stout in a basket they all
looked so pleased an' happy it did my heart good ter look at 'em.

"'Hand it over,' they shouts impatiently.

"'I'm afraid it's gone a bit flat,' I said, as I handed th' bottles
round. 'But I've tried to pull it round.'

"Flat or not, they weren't goin' to kick; an' they was jest 'bout to
unscrew the stoppers when the second mate suddenly shoves his head down
the hatchway an' yells out:

"'On deck, yer lazy, skulking, highly colored lubbers. Tumble up at
once, an' git a lively move on, or I'll be down an' smarten ye up!'

"McClosky, the second mate, was not a fellow who stood any nonsense, an'
th' men weren't long before they was out o' th' fo'c's'le, grumblin'
an' swearin' as only men who've lost their watch below can. They just
stayed long enough t' shove th' unopened bottles o' stout well out o'
sight underneath th' mattresses o' their bunks an' then they was up on
deck working like niggers. A squall had struck the _Here at Last_;
mighty inconvenient, these squalls in the Caribbean Sea are, an' th'
_Here at Last_ wasn't best calc'lated t' weather 'em. For two mortal
hours everyone was hard at it, takin' in sail, doublin' ropes, an'
makin' all ready for what promised t' be a dirty night. All thoughts o'
beer was driven out o' their heads. An' when everythin' was ship-shape
an' they came below again, soakin' wet an' dog-tired, they just climbed
into their berths without stoppin' to think of th' precious bottles o'

"'Bout two o'clock in th' mornin', I was woke up by what sounded like a
pistol shot in th' fo'c's'le, an' before I c'd rub th' sleep out er my
eyes, there was another, an' another an' another, an' I saw four sailors
tumble outer their bunks an' fall on th' floor shriekin' as if they'd
been attacked by th' most awful pain. Everyone else in th' fo'c's'le
sits up, wide awake, an' starin' at th' sufferin' wretches on th' floor.

"'Wot th' 'ell's up?' asks th' Britisher; but no one knew, an' th' nex'
second there was another explosion, an' he suddenly gave a scream that
lifted th' hair on my scalp, an' leaps outer his bunk as if he'd been
suddenly prodded in a tender spot wi' a red hot poker.

"'My Gawd!' he screeches; 'th' bunk's exploded an' I'm bleedin' ter
death;' an' he starts yellin' like a catamount, runnin' up an' down th'
gangway, an' tramplin' upon th' four shriekin', cursin', prayin' sailors
who'd been attacked fust.

"'It's an infernal machine, an' it's blowed a hole in me back,' the
Britisher yelled; an' we who was lookin' on c'd certainly hear suthin'
drippin' from th' bunk he'd just got out of.

"'Owch! I'm blowed t' bits. I'm bein' murdered. I'm dyin', Lord help
me,' Harry Towers, the carpenter, wails; an' there was another terrific
bang, an' outer his bunk Harry shot, landin', on th' chest o' one o' th'
moanin' squirmin' sailors. Th' poor fellow, findin' himself thus
flattened out, an' not knowin' what it was had fallen on him, gives a
gaspin' sort er yell, an' drives Towers in th' back wi' his fist.

"Th' row goin' on was suthin' terrible; a' 'sylum full o' ravin'
lunatics on th' rampage couldn't have made more noise; an' them that
hadn't been hurt was beginnin' t' feel as bad as them that was, when
someone scrambles down th' companionway.

"It was McClosky, th' second mate, whose watch on deck it was. He'd
heard th' row--an' no wonder--an' thinkin', I dessay, that murder or
mutiny was goin' on, came forward to investigate. He was a red-headed,
hot-tempered Irishman, an' c'd handle a crew in rare style.

"'What th' dickens----' he commences, when one o' th' men on th' floor,
seein' th' gun in his hand, an' not recognizin' him, shouted, 'They're
comin' t' finish us,' an' grabs th' mate round th' legs wi' th' grip of
a boa constrictor.

"Th' mate, sure it was mutiny, lets off his gun permiscuous. A clip on
the jaw made th' sailor let go, an' th' mate, seein' Towers groanin' on
th' floor quite close, kicks him hard an' asks what's th' matter.

"'We're blown up, sir,' Towers whimpers.

"'Blown up, ye fool, what d' ye mean? Who's blowin' ye up?' demands

"'Dunno, sir,' Harry stammered; an' just then there was two more
explosions, an' a couple more o' the seamen bundled headlong out er
their berths, utterin' doleful shrieks that'd make yer heart stand

"Th' mate was kickin', swearin', and shoutin' like a demon, th' men all
th' while keepin' up their row as if they was bein' paid a dollar a
minute to yell. Then th' skipper put in an appearance. His face was
white as chalk, but his hands, in each o' which was a big Colt, were
steady as rocks, an' he come down th' ladder like a man who reckons he's
in for a good fight.

"'What's all this mean, Mr. McClosky?' he asks, pausin' when he sees
there's no fightin' goin' on.

"Whatever th' mate said was drowned by th' row th' sailors was makin',
though he bellowed like a frisky bull. Th' old man didn't seem a bit
frightened; droppin' one o' th' Colts inter his pocket, he roars,
'Silence'; and steps over to th' berth where Joe Harper, th' bo'sun, was
sittin' upright, stiff as a poker, an' his eyes fairly startin' out er
his head wi' terror.

"'Now, then, Harper,' he says, an' judgin' by his face th' skipper was
'bout as mad as a bear with a sore head. 'What th' blazes does it mean?
Have yeh all gone mad?'

"But th' bo'sun, he was too scared to do more than gape at th' skipper
like a codfish three days out er water, an th' old man gits a bit

"'Answer, yeh damn rascal,' he shouted; an' he grabs Harper by th'
shoulder an' shakes him until his teeth fairly rattled. But th' bo'sun
couldn't say a word.

"'If this ain't enough t' drive a man crazy,' th' skipper yells;
'McClosky, have yeh lost yer senses like all these condemned rascals
here? What's th' meanin' o' it?'

"'Don't know, sir; I heard 'em ravin' an' screamin' like lunatics, but I
can't get a word out of 'em. Think they must all have become mad,' an'
th' mate kicked Towers again t' relieve his feelin's.

"He'd just finished speakin' when suthin' busted underneath th' bo'sun.
Harper screams, th' skipper gives a jump an' lets go of his arm, an'
Harper falls out er his berth as if he'd been suddenly shot dead, only
he was makin' a row like a man suddenly attacked wi' D.T.'s. And at that
all th' other miserable wretches on th' floor starts worse than ever.

"Th' skipper pulls himself together, an' goin' t' th' bo'sun's bunk,
leans over an' examines it. He poked about f'r a bit, put his fingers
into a stream of suthin' that was fallin' from th' bunk to th' floor,
an' then by th' light o' th' swingin' oil lamp, I see his face turn a
blazin' crimson. I see him take suthin' outer th' bed, an' then he
swings round an' faces th' men.

"'Yeh low down, thievin', chicken-hearted, blank, blank scoundrels,' he
yells, an' his voice was that loud an' so full o' passion th' sailors
were scared into quietness. 'Yeh miserable sneakin' apologies for men!
So this is what's th' matter, is it? By gum! If I don't have every
mother's son of ye clapped into jail soon as we reach Kingstown, call me
a crimson Dutchman. Blown up, are ye? I wish t' th' Lord some of ye had
been. Sailors, yeh calls yeh-selves! Why, by gosh! yeh haven't enough
spirit t' rob a mouse. What's that yeh say, Towers? Infernal machines,
eh? Dyin'! If yeh don't all get a move on ye in double quick time, some
of yeh will be. Git out o' my sight, ye blubberin' babies; I'm sick an'
ashamed of ye.'

"A more sick an' unhappy lookin' drove I never saw when th' men got on
their legs again an' found out they weren't hurt a little bit; an'
discovered what it was had caused th' explosions. They wouldn't look at
each other; an' they daren't speak or else there'd have been fightin'.

"I went about in fear of my life for days, but they did nothin'; though
if they'd known that I--quite innocent o' mischief, yeh understand--had
put a dozen grains or so of rice inter every bottle o' stout--amazin'
stuff rice for causin' fermentation in hot climates--they wouldn't have
stopped short at mere profanity. My life wouldn't have been worth a
moment's purchase."



A Tale of Peasant Life

From the French of GUY de MAUPASSANT

THE two cottages stood side by side at the foot of a hill near a little
seaside resort. The two peasants labored hard on the unproductive soil
to rear their little ones, of which each family had four.

In front of the adjoining doors the whole troop of urchins sprang and
tumbled about from morning till night. The two eldest were six years
old, and the two youngest were about fifteen months; the marriages, and
afterward the births, having taken place nearly simultaneously in both

The two mothers could hardly distinguish their own offspring among the
lot, and as for the fathers, they were altogether at sea. The eight
names danced in their heads; they were always getting them mixed up; and
when they wished to call one child, the men often called three names
before getting the right one.

The first of the two dwellings, coming from the direction of the
sea-bath, Belleport, was occupied by the Tuvaches, who had three girls
and one boy; the other house sheltered the Vallins, who had one girl and
three boys.

They all subsisted with difficulty on soup, potatoes, and the open air.
At seven o'clock in the morning, then at noon, then at six o'clock in
the evening, the housewives got their nestlings together to give them
their food, as the goose-herds collect their charges. The children were
seated, according to age, before the wooden table, varnished by fifty
years of use; the mouths of the youngest hardly reaching the level of
the table. Before them was placed a deep dish filled with bread, soaked
in the water in which the potatoes had been boiled, half a cabbage, and
three onions; and the whole line ate until their hunger was appeased.
The mother herself fed the smallest.

A little meat, boiled in a soup, on Sunday, was a feast for all; and the
father on this day sat longer over the repast, repeating: "I should like
this every day."

One afternoon, in the month of August, a light carriage stopped suddenly
in front of the cottages, and a young woman, who was driving the horses,
said to the gentleman sitting at her side:

"Oh, look, Henri, at all those children! How pretty they are, tumbling
about in the dust, like that!"

The man did not answer, being accustomed to these outbursts of
admiration, which were a pain and almost a reproach to him. The young
woman continued:

"I must hug them! Oh, how I should like to have one of them--that one
there--the little bit of a one!"

Springing down from the carriage, she ran toward the children, took one
of the two youngest--that of the Tuvaches, and lifting it up in her
arms, she kissed him passionately on his dirty cheeks, on his frowzy
hair daubed with earth, and on his little hands, which he swung
vigorously, to get rid of the caresses which displeased him.

Then she got up into the carriage again, and drove off at a lively trot.
But she returned the following week, and seating herself on the ground,
took the youngster in her arms, stuffed him with cakes, gave bon-bons to
all the others, and played with them like a young girl, while the
husband waited patiently in the frail carriage.

She returned again; made the acquaintance of the parents, and reappeared
every day with her pockets full of dainties and of pennies.

Her name was Madame Henri d'Hubières.

One morning, on arriving, her husband alighted with her, and without
stopping with the children, who now knew her well, she entered the
peasants' cottage.

They were busy splitting wood to cook the soup. They straightened up,
much surprised, offered chairs, and waited expectantly.

Then the woman, in a broken, trembling voice, began:

"My good people, I have come to see you, because I should like--I should
like to take--your little boy with me----"

The country people, too stupefied to think, did not answer.

She recovered her breath, and continued: "We are alone, my husband and
I. We should keep it--Are you willing?"

The peasant woman began to understand. She asked:

"You want to take Charlot from us? Oh, no, indeed!"

Then M. d'Hubières intervened:

"My wife has not explained clearly what she means. We wish to adopt him,
but he will come back to see you. If he turns out well, as there is
every reason to expect, he will be our heir. If we, perchance, should
have children, he will share equally with them; but if he should not
reward our care, we should give him, when he comes of age, a sum of
twenty thousand francs, which shall be deposited immediately in his
name, with a notary. As we have thought also of you, we should pay you,
until your death, a pension of one hundred francs a month. Have you
quite understood me?"

The woman had arisen, furious.

"You want me to sell you Charlot? Oh, no, that's not the sort of thing
to ask of a mother! Oh, no! That would be an abomination!"

The man, grave and deliberate, said nothing; but approved of what his
wife said by a continued nodding of his head.

Mme. d'Hubières, in dismay, began to weep, and turning to her husband,
with a voice full of tears, the voice of a child used to having all its
wishes gratified, she stammered:

"They will not do it, Henri, they will not do it."

Then he made a last attempt: "But, my friends, think of the child's
future, of his happiness, of----"

The peasant woman, however, exasperated, cut him short:

"It's all considered! It's all understood! Get out of this, and don't
let me see you here again--the idea of wanting to take away a child like

Then Mme. d'Hubières bethought herself that there were two children,
quite little, and she asked, through her tears, with the tenacity of a
wilful and spoiled woman:

"But is the other little one not yours?"

Father Tuvache answered: "No, it is our neighbors'. You can go to them,
if you wish." And he went back into his house whence resounded the
indignant voice of his wife.

The Vallins were at table, in the act of slowly eating slices of bread
which they parsimoniously spread with a little rancid butter on a plate
between the two.

M. d'Hubières recommenced his propositions, but with more insinuations,
more oratorical precautions, more guile.

The two country people shook their heads, in sign of refusal, but when
they learned that they were to have a hundred francs a month, they
considered, consulting one another by glances, much disturbed. They kept
silent for a long time, tortured, hesitating. At last the woman asked:
"What do you think about it, man?" In a sententious tone he said: "I say
that it's not to be despised."

Then Mme. d'Hubières, trembling with anguish, spoke of the future of
their child, of his happiness, and of the money which he could give them

The peasant asked: "This pension of twelve hundred francs, will it be
promised before a notary?"

M. d'Hubières responded: "Why, certainly, beginning with to-morrow."

The woman, who was thinking it over, continued:

"A hundred francs a month is not enough to deprive us of the child. That
child would be working in a few years; we must have a hundred and twenty

Stamping with impatience, Mme. d'Hubières granted it at once, and as she
wished to carry off the child with her, she gave a hundred francs as a
present, while her husband drew up a writing. And the young woman,
radiant, carried off the howling brat, as one carries away a wished-for
knick-knack from a shop.

The Tuvaches, from their door, watched her departure; mute, severe,
perhaps regretting their refusal.

Nothing more was heard of little Jean Vallin. The parents went to the
notary every month to collect their hundred and twenty francs, and they
were angry with their neighbors, because Mother Tuvache grossly insulted
them, repeating without ceasing from door to door, that one must be
unnatural to sell one's child; that it was horrible, nasty, and many
other vile expressions. Sometimes she would take her Chariot in her arms
with ostentation, exclaiming, as if he understood:

"I didn't sell _you_, I didn't! I didn't sell _you_, my little one! I'm
not rich, but I don't sell my children!"

The Vallins lived at their ease, thanks to the pension. That was the
cause of the inappeasable fury of the Tuvaches, who had remained
miserably poor. Their eldest son went away into service; Charlot alone
remained to labor with his old father, to support the mother and two
younger sisters which he had.

He had reached twenty-one years, when, one morning, a brilliant carriage
stopped before the two cottages. A young gentleman, with a gold watch
chain, got out, giving his hand to an aged, white-haired lady. The old
lady said to him: "It is there, my child, at the second house." And he
entered the house of the Vallins, as if he were at home.

The old mother was washing her aprons; the infirm father slumbered at
the chimney-corner. Both raised their heads, and the young man said:

"Good morning, papa; good morning, mamma!"

They both stood up, frightened. In a flutter, the peasant woman dropped
her soap into the water, and stammered:

"Is it you, my child? Is it you, my child?"

He took her in his arms and hugged her, repeating: "Good morning,
mamma," while the old man, all in a tremble, said, in his calm tone
which he never lost: "Here you are, back again, Jean," as if he had seen
him a month before.

When they had got to know one another again the parents wished to take
their boy out through the neighborhood, and show him. They took him to
the mayor, to the deputy, to the curé, and to the schoolmaster.

Charlot, standing on the threshold of his cottage, watched him pass.

In the evening, at supper, he said to the old people: "You must have
been stupid to let the Vallins's boy be taken."

The mother answered, obstinately: "I wouldn't sell _my_ child."

The father said nothing. The son continued:

"It is unfortunate to be sacrificed like that." Then Father Tuvache, in
an angry tone, said:

"Are you going to reproach us for having kept you?" And the young man
said, brutally:

"Yes, I reproach you for having been such simpletons. Parents like you
make the misfortune of their children. You deserve that I should leave

The old woman wept over her plate. She moaned, as she swallowed the
spoonfuls of soup, half of which she spilled: "One may kill one's self
to bring up children."

Then the boy said, roughly: "I'd rather not have been born than be what
I am. When I saw the other my heart stood still. I said to myself: 'See
what I should have been now!'" He arose: "See here, I feel that I would
do better not to stay here, because I should bring it up against you
from morning till night, and I should make your life miserable. I shall
never forgive you that, you know!"

The two old people were silent, downcast, in tears.

He continued: "No, the thought of that would be too hard. I'd rather go
look for a living somewhere else."

He opened the door. A sound of voices entered. The Vallins were
celebrating the return of their child.



The Story of an International Marriage


LADY HARTLEY (_née_ Miss Persis Van Ness) gave a little gasp. In her
excitement the paper rustled noisily to her knee.

"O-h! Have you seen this?" She shot the _Morning Post_ across the
breakfast table to Mrs. Rufus P. Urmy, with her finger marking a

Mrs. Urmy glanced at it. "I guess it ought to corral him right away,"
she said, with the merest suspicion of embarrassment. "You see, it's
Jeannette's last chance. Two seasons in England and never a catch, so

"_You_ did it?" Lady Hartley looked at her friend in round-eyed wonder.

"I--I had to do something," allowed Mrs. Urmy, with a dawning suspicion
that perhaps she had, after all, run afoul of British conventions, which
she found as difficult of comprehension as her regular morning study of

"But Jeannette!"

"That's so. Jeannette'll raise Cain." Mrs. Urmy got up from the table.
"It's this a-way, Persis. I reckon I fixed your little affair up with
Lord Hartley to home, and you've got to thank me for it. Now, I'm trying
to do the same for my girl. She can't, or she won't, play her own hand.
Every chance she's had she's let slide, and I allow she's got to marry a
title before I go back to the States. Some one's got to hustle when
Providence isn't attending to business, and as there's nobody else to do
it, I've taken on the contract." She pointed to the paragraph. "I own
up I don't see just how, but there wasn't much time, and it was the best
I could do."

Lady Hartley slowly reread the incriminating paragraph:

"A marriage has been arranged, and will shortly take place between the
Earl of Chilminster, of Sapworth Hall, Wilts, and Miss Jeannette L.
Urmy, of Boston, Massachusetts."

"It knocks me out!" she murmured, lapsing into the Western idiom which a
whole week spent in the society of her bosom friend was bound to call
up. "But why Lord Chilminster?" She pronounced the name Chilster.

"Why won't he do? Isn't he the real thing? I picked him out in my sample
book of the aristocracy, and when I fitted the name on to Jeannette--the
Countess of Chilminster--it sounded quite elegant."

"Then it wasn't because you knew I knew him?" demanded Mrs. Urmy's
hostess with growing amazement.

Mrs. Urmy's face took on a blank expression.

"You've heard me mention the name. That's how it's pronounced,"
explained Lady Hartley. "His place isn't far from here."

"You don't say! The way these British titles are pronounced is enough to
make you doubt your own eyesight. I didn't know. But if he's a friend of
yours that'll likely make it all the easier."

"Lord Chilminster!" Lady Hartley spoke in an awed tone.

She felt it would be useless to make Mrs. Urmy understand the enormity
of her offence against good taste, and presently her astonishment gave
way to amusement.

"Lavinia," she rippled, "as a matchmaker you take the cake! I don't
believe----" She paused, listening. "Hush! Here's Jeannette!"

Miss Jeannette Urmy came in through the open French window. She was
dressed in a natty little cotton frock, looked fresh and chic, and only
pleasantly American. Perhaps she inherited her good looks and refined
tastes from "popper" Urmy, deceased, in which case that gentleman must
have committed one serious error of taste and judgment when he selected
Jeannette's mother for his better half.

"My! You're late, Jeannette!" observed Mrs. Urmy, shooting a quick
glance at Lady Hartley.

At the same moment, both ladies, by common consent, sauntered toward the
door. They knew Jeannette's temperament. A crisis, such as the
announcement in the _Morning Post_ was sure to evoke, was one at which
they were not anxious to assist.

"Oh, I'm ahead of time," answered Jeannette. "I've been up since six
looking for eggs."

"Eggs?" echoed Lady Hartley.

"Yes; I collect birds' eggs." She picked up the newspaper and let her
eye wander along the items in the Court Circular. "But getting up early
makes me homesick. The best time of my life was when I was a kid, when I
hadn't an idea beyond the woods on the old Massachusetts farm, when
popper kept his store, and--Oh!"

She had reached the fatal announcement, and sat with parted lips, rigid
as stone, while the world seemed toppling about her ears. There was a
long pause. Jeannette's lips gradually tightened, and her firm hand
crumpled up the paper.

"Mommer!" she exclaimed. "Here, Mommer!" But Mrs. Urmy and Lady Hartley
had beaten a diplomatic retreat. Jeannette jumped to her feet, the color
flaming in her face, her eyes snapping with indignation. "Oh!" she
cried, impotently. "I'll--I'll--oh! what can I do? It must come out! He
must apologize. Who did it? Oh, I don't even know him, the--wretch!"

The "chuff-chuff" of a motor-car coming up the drive interrupted her
outburst, and she looked up to see it being driven up and halted before
the entrance. Lady Hartley had a perfect fleet of cars. Jeannette at
once jumped to the conclusion that this was one of them. She had a
sudden inspiration. It was running free--ready to start. There was
temptation in the soft purr of its engine. The driver, quietly dressed,
but not in livery, she appraised as one of Lady Hartley's motor-men.

"Shall I?" she whispered. "Dare I? I can set things straight at once if
I do. Persis will be wild with me for going off without a word, but
I'll--I'll chance it!"

She ran into the hall, slipped into her motoring coat, and, throwing
discretion to the winds, walked out to the front of the house and
quickly up to the car.

"How soon can you drive me to Sapworth Hall?" she asked, getting in and
pulling the rug around her.

The barefaced appropriation of his car by an unknown young woman almost
took Lord Chilminster's breath away. He had, at much inconvenience to
himself, motored all the way to Lady Hartley's to contradict and sift an
amazing and annoying report that he had discovered in the _Morning
Post_. He had heard Lady Hartley mention the name of Urmy as that of a
friend of hers, and naturally decided that she was the proper person to
consult. But before he had time to get out of his car and ring the bell
here was a young person, springing from goodness knows where, mistaking
him for a motor-man, and ordering him about. For a moment he was
speechless. Then, as the humor of the situation began to appeal to him,
so did the good looks of the girl.

"Really," he began. "You see I----"

"Don't talk, get under way!" commanded Jeannette. "Quick! Her ladyship
has altered her mind about going out. You've got to take me to Sapworth
Hall. It's thirty miles. I want to be there by lunch-time. Do you know
the way?"

"I--I think so," stammered Chilminster.

Her bewildering eagerness to be off was infectious. The noble owner of
the car felt it. But apart from that, he was quite ready for an
adventure in such pleasant company. He forgot all about the object of
his visit. Without another word he let in the clutch and started.

Jeannette sank back with a sigh of relief. She credited herself with
having secured Persis's car very neatly. The man might, perhaps, get
into trouble, but she could make that up to him by a generous tip. Her
one idea was to contradict and confute the disgraceful announcement at
its fountain-head. It was providential that the unknown Lord
Chilminster's place was so near; but had it been ten times as far off,
Jeannette, boiling with justifiable indignation, and with her mind made
up to exact reparation, would have gone there.

"It's awful! It's unheard of! I--I won't have it! Who can have done it?"
she kept repeating through white teeth set viciously. "I'll have it
contradicted in large print by this time to-morrow, or the American
Ambassador shall----"

She was not quite sure what ambassadors did under similar circumstances,
and she left the mental threat unfinished. Anyhow, it was a disgrace to
herself, and her sex, if not a slight on her country, and it redoubled
her determination to "get even" with the perpetrator of it. She leaned
forward to make herself heard.

"Set a killing pace," she called. "I'll make it up to you."

Chilminster nodded, hid a smile, and let the car out to the top of its
speed. It ate up mile after mile; and as it came to Jeannette that each
one brought her nearer and nearer to the hateful person whose name had
been so scandalously bracketed with her own, she experienced a feeling
of nervousness. The boldness of her escapade began to alarm her. What
should she say? How express in words her view of an intolerable
situation which no self-respecting girl could even calmly think about?

Lord Chilminster's mind was almost similarly engaged. He was wondering
who Miss Jeannette L. Urmy could be, and whether she was aware of the
obnoxious paragraph in the paper. He did not do her the injustice to
suppose that she had inspired it (he had an open mind on that point),
but as he was not responsible for it himself, he had a suspicion that
she might be. Chilminster had met very few unmarried American girls, but
like most Englishmen, he was aware of their capacity for resolution in
most matters. Then, again, it was leap year. Suppose---- For a little
while he did a lot of hard thinking.

"I say," he called suddenly, looking over his shoulder. "Isn't there a
Miss Urmy staying at the White House?"

Jeannette drew herself up and fixed him with a stony stare.

"I am Miss Urmy," she answered frigidly.

The start that Chilminster gave unconsciously affected the
steering-wheel, and the car swerved sharply.

"What are you doing? You're driving disgracefully!" exclaimed Jeannette.

"I--I beg your pardon," faltered Chilminster. "I thought you were her
lady's maid."

He felt he owed her that one. A girl who could announce her approaching
marriage with a stranger (Chilminster no longer gave her the benefit of
the doubt) and follow up that glaring indiscretion by a visit to her
victim, was---- The imminence of such a thing alarmed him. Was she
coming to propose--to molest him? He got hot thinking of it.

The situation had undergone a complete change since he had started out
in a rage, and some trepidation, to confront Miss Urmy herself, if need
be. Now trepidation over-balanced all his other emotions. Miss Urmy was
behind him, in his own automobile, and he was meekly driving her at a
cracking speed to his own house! It was too late to turn back now. The
thing had to be seen through. Besides, he could not help feeling a
curiosity to know what was in his passenger's mind, and to discover her
bewildering plan of action.

Neither spoke for the rest of the journey, and at length the car passed
through the lodge gates, swept up the drive, and stopped at the entrance
to Sapworth Hall. Jeannette got out.

"You had better go round to the stables and ask for something to eat. I
may be some time," was all she volunteered as she rang the bell.

Rather staggered by the order, but foreseeing a bad quarter of an hour
ahead of him, Chilminster was glad of the respite. He opened the
throttle and slid out of sight as Jeannette was admitted.

His lordship was out, the butler informed her. Then she would wait--wait
all day, if necessary, she said decisively, following the man into the
library. No, she was in no need of refreshment, but her _chauffeur_, who
had gone round to the stables, might be glad of something in the
servants' hall.

With a foot impatiently tapping the polished floor, she sat summoning up
all her determination whilst awaiting the ordeal before her. For, by
this time had come the inevitable reaction, and the sudden impulse that
had made her act as she had seemed, somehow, out of relation to the
motive that had inspired it. Not that she regretted having come: her
self-respect demanded that sacrifice; but she wished the unpleasant
affair over.

An intolerable ten minutes passed. The beautiful seventeenth century
room, like a reflection on the spirit of democracy, was getting on
Jeannette's nerves. The strain of listening, watching the big mahogany
door for the expected entrance of Lord Chilminster, at last reduced her
to a state of apathy, and when he did come quietly in she was taken by

"I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting," he said.

Jeannette stared. Bareheaded, gaiterless, minus his driving coat, very
self-contained and eminently aristocratic, the supposed motor-man
advanced into the room.

"You see, you told me to take the car round to the stables," he
proceeded, with a touch of apology in his tone.

"You--you are the Earl of Chilminster?" she gasped.

"Of Sapworth Hall, Wilts," he augmented, like one who quotes. "And you
are Miss Jeannette L. Urmy, of Boston, Massachusetts, I believe."

There was quite a long silence.

"You knew all along," she flushed angrily.

Chilminster raised a hand in protest. "Not until you told me."

"Then why didn't you stop? You ought to have taken me back immediately
you knew who I was."

"So I would have if----"

"You mean you didn't believe me. You thought I was a lady's maid!"
Jeannette interrupted indignantly.

"That was an error of judgment for which I humbly apologize. We are all
liable to make mistakes sometimes. You, Miss Urmy, for instance, took me
for a motor-man. You also appropriated my car, and commanded me to bring
you here at a murderous--no, a killing pace. And I think you added that
you would make it up to me."

Jeannette's face tingled. She had come to accuse, and, instead, found
herself patiently listening to a recital of her indiscretions. But if
Lord Chilminster was a strategist, Jeannette was a tactician. She
appreciated the danger of a passive defense, and conversely, of the
value of a vigorous aggression. Without a moment's hesitation she began
a counter attack.

"In to-day's _Morning Post_----" she commenced.

"Ah, the _Morning Post_!" echoed Chilminster, also changing front.

"There was a disgraceful announcement."

"Half of it certainly was--irksome."

"Which half?" asked Jeannette suspiciously.

"I have no conscientious scruples about matrimony in the abstract,"
parried Chilminster.

"But I have. I object altogether to the paragraph. I resent it."

"Then you did not insert it?"

"I insert it? _I?_" flamed Jeannette. She drew herself up as haughtily
as a pretty woman can under the disadvantage of being seated in a
yielding easy chair. "Do you mean to assert, Lord Chilminster, that

She was interrupted by the entrance of the butler.

"Luncheon is served, my lord," he announced.

"You will take off your coat?"

Lord Chilminster turned to Miss Urmy, and advanced a step in
anticipation. The butler--with a well-trained butler's promptness--was
behind her, and before she could frame a word of objection, the
fur-lined garment had slipped from her shoulders.

Thus must martyrs have marched to the stake, was one of Jeannette's
bewildered reflections as she preceded her host out of the room, and, as
in a dream, found herself a few minutes later facing him across the
luncheon table. Outwardly, the meal proceeded in well-ordered calm. Lord
Chilminster made no further reference to the debatable topic; only
talked lightly and pleasantly on a variety of non-committal subjects.

As the lady's host that, of course, was the only attitude he could
adopt; but the fact remains that he did so _de bonne volonté_. Perhaps
because, so far, he had scored more points than his opponent in the
morning's encounter; perhaps, also, because of her undeniable good
looks, his irritation, due to the circumstances that had prompted that
encounter, began to lessen with _truites en papilotte_, was almost
forgotten in face of a _mousse de volaille_, and entirely vanished among
_asperges vertes mousseline_.

Miss Jeannette L. Urmy, with her veil lifted, and relieved of her
voluminous coat, was, he had to admit, distractingly pretty; not at all
the type he had pictured as the original of the name. Young, pretty, and
charming women (he was convinced that _au fond_ she was charming) ought
to have no obstinate prejudices against marriage. He even ventured to
think that Miss Urmy's mind had become obscured on that point by
those--well, indiscreet lines in the _Morning Post_. They had upset him;
then why not her? They were so--premature.

As for Jeannette, in spite of Lord Chilminster's effortless ease, her
powers of conversation were frozen. She was reduced to monosyllables,
and she ate in proportion. It was a humiliating experience to be
accepting the hospitality of the enemy; one, moreover, that made it
awkward for her to prolong hostilities. Having broken bread in his
tents (a Puritan strain was responsible for the illustration) she felt
disarmed. Besides, she was rather ashamed of her maladroitness in
mistaking Lord Chilminster for a common motor-man. It argued
_gaucherie_. Perhaps he thought her unconventional call a violation of
good taste--considered her forward! He had plainly shown his annoyance
about that obnox--that embarrassing paragraph, and that fact spiked most
of her batteries. He might, after all, prove to be quite----

"Do you mind if I smoke?"

Lord Chilminster's voice startled her out of her reverie. The servants
had noiselessly retired, and they were alone.

"I--I feel ready to sink through the floor," she rejoined

He returned his cigarette case to his pocket, looking quite concerned.
"I'm so sorry. I ought not to have----"

"No, no. Please smoke. It isn't that," stammered Jeannette.

"It's the _Morning Post_?"

Jeannette evaded his eye.

"Yes; it does put us in rather a tight place," mediated Chilminster.

Nothing was said for a moment.

"Engaged!" he murmured.

Jeannette raised her eyes and noted his reflective attitude.

"Who can have put it in?" he went on.

"I can't imagine."

"And why?"

"It does seem strange," admitted Jeannette in a detached tone.

"It's not as if we were----"

"No," she interposed hurriedly.

"Well, what ought we to do about it? Of course, we can contradict it,

"But what?" she asked, filling his pause.

"I hate advertisement--that is, _unnecessary_ advertisement,"
Chilminster corrected himself. "It would make us--I mean me--look so--so

He looked up rather suddenly, and just missed Jeannette's eyes by the
thousandth of a second.

What could he mean? she asked herself, while her heart pumped
boisterously. Was he magnanimous enough to be thinking of accepting a
compromising situation to save her? What he had said sounded very
unselfish. Of course, she couldn't allow him to. What a pity he was not
an American--or something quite ordinary. Then she might----

"There's nothing for it but to write to the paper, I suppose?" he said

"I--I suppose not." The comment was dragged from Jeannette in a tone as
unconsciously reluctant as his was rueful.

Chilminster sighed. "It's so rough on you."

Jeannette felt a consuming anxiety to know whether his sympathy was
occasioned by the announcement or the suggested denial of it.

"And on you, too," she admitted. "What were you thinking--how did you
propose to phrase it?"

"I?" he asked apprehensively. "To be quite frank. I haven't got as far
as that. Never wrote to the papers in my life," he added

"But _I_ can't," argued Jeannette. Her determination of two hours ago
had vanished into the Ewigkeit.

Chilminster had an inspiration. "What do you say if we do it together?"

While she digested this expedient he fetched paper and pencil, and then
sat gazing at the ceiling for inspiration.

"Well?" she queried at the end of a minute.

"How ought one to begin these things?" asked the desperate man.

Jeannette cogitated deeply. "It's so difficult to say what one wants to
a stranger in a letter, isn't it?" she hesitated. "Wouldn't a telegram

"By Jove! Yes; and simply say: 'Miss Urmy wishes to deny----'"

"In _my_ name!" exclaimed Jeannette.

"Well--you are the person aggrieved."

"I really don't think it's fair to put the whole of the responsibility
on my shoulders," she demurred.

"No, I suppose not," Chilminster admitted grudgingly. "How would this
do: 'Miss Urmy and Lord Chilminster wish to contradict their

"But that implies that there _was_ an engagement!"

Chilminster pondered the deduction. "So it does. I see. People would
jump to the conclusion that we were in a desperate hurry to alter our

"And, of course, we haven't."

"Y-es. I don't know how you feel about it, but if there's one thing I
dislike it's tittle-tattle about my private affairs."

"Horrid!" shivered Jeannette. "What _are_ we to do?"

Her tone was so hopeless, so full of tears, that it melted Chilminster.
Susceptibilities that had been simmering within him for an hour past
came unexpectedly to the boil; and as they did so the difficulty

"Why need we bother at all about it?" he asked impulsively.

For a world of moments, Jeannette stared at him, revolving the question.
Then a faint radiance came into her face, and grew and grew until it
burned. Jeannette bit her lip. Jeannette looked down.

"What do you mean?" she asked in confusion.

"Don't--don't you think we had better--take the consequences?" said
Chilminster, as he reached across the table and let his hand fall on

       *        *       *       *       *

Mrs. Urmy stood at the window looking with lack-lustre eyes across the
park. She had had six solid hours in which to reflect on that risky
communication of hers to the _Morning Post_, and Jeannette's
disappearance since breakfast time provided a gloomy commentary on it.
She fidgeted uneasily as she recalled her daughter's scared look when
reading the paper, and maternal forebodings discounted her interest in
an automobile that showed at intervals between the trees of the drive as
it approached the White House.

But two moments later it occurred to her that it was Jeannette who sat
on its front seat beside the driver; and, as the car drew up, her
experienced eye detected something in the demeanor of the pair that
startled but elated her.

"Here's Jeannette!" she called over her shoulder to Lady Hartley. "In an
auto with a young man. Say, Persis, who is he?"

Lady Hartley hurried to the window, gave one look, and doubted the
evidence of her eyes.

"Lavinia, it's Lord Chilminster!" she cried, with a catch in her voice.

The two women flashed a glance brimful of significance at one another.
Lady Hartley's expressed uncertainty; Mrs. Urmy's triumph--sheer,
complete, perfect triumph.

"Didn't I say it was a sure thing?" she shrilled excitedly. "It's fixed
them up! Come right ahead and introduce me to my future son-in-law!"

As she raced to the door she added half to herself: "I don't want to
boast, but, thank the Lord, I've got Jeannette off this season!"



The Story of a Young Engineer


IT WAS the second month of the strike, and not a pound of freight had
been moved. Things did look smoky on the West End. The General
Superintendent happened to be with us when the news came. "You can't
handle it, boys," said he nervously. "What you'd better do is to turn it
over to the Columbian Pacific."

Our contracting freight agent on the Coast at that time was a fellow so
erratic that he was nicknamed "Crazy-horse." Right in the midst of the
strike Crazy-horse wired that he had secured a big silk shipment for New
York. We were paralyzed. We had no engineers, no firemen, and no motive
power to speak of. The strikers were pounding our men, wrecking our
trains, and giving us the worst of it generally; that is, when we
couldn't give it to them. Why the fellow displayed his activity at that
particular juncture still remains a mystery. Perhaps he had a grudge
against the road; if so, he took an artful revenge. Everybody on the
system with ordinary railroad sense knew that our struggle was to keep
clear of freight business until we got rid of our strike. Anything
valuable or perishable was especially unwelcome. But the stuff was
docked, and loaded, and consigned in our care before we knew it. After
that, a refusal to carry it would be like hoisting the white flag; and
that is something which never yet flew over the West End.

"Turn it over to the Columbian," said the General Superintendent; but
the General Superintendent was not looked up to on our division. He
hadn't enough sand. Our head was a fighter, and he gave tone to every
man under him. "No," he thundered, bringing down his fist. "Not in a
thousand years. We'll move it ourselves. Wire Montgomery (the General
Manager) that we will take care of it. And wire him to fire
Crazy-horse--and to do it right off." And before the silk was turned
over to us Crazy-horse was looking for another job. It is the only case
on record where a freight hustler was discharged for getting business.

There were twelve carloads; it was insured for $85,000 a car; you can
figure how far the title is wrong, but you never can estimate the worry
the stuff gave us. It looked as big as twelve million dollars' worth. In
fact, one scrub car-link, with the glory of the West End at heart, had a
fight over the amount with a skeptical hostler. He maintained that the
actual money value was a hundred and twenty millions; but I give you the
figures just as they went over the wire, and they are right.

What bothered us most was that the strikers had the tip almost as soon
as we had it. Having friends on every road in the country, they knew as
much about our business as we ourselves. The minute it was announced
that we should move the silk, they were after us. It was a defiance; a
last one. If we could move freight--for we were already moving
passengers after a fashion--the strike might be well accounted beaten.

Stewart, the leader of the local contingent, together with his
followers, got after me at once. "You don't show much sense, Reed," said
he. "You fellows here are breaking your necks to get things moving, and
when this strike's over, if our boys ask for your discharge, they'll get
it. This road can't run without our engineers. We're going to beat you.
If you dare try to move this silk, we'll have your scalp when it's over.
You'll never get your silk to Zanesville, I'll promise you that. And if
you ditch it and make a million-dollar loss, you'll get let out anyway,
my buck."

"I'm here to obey orders, Stewart," said I. What was the use of more? I
felt uncomfortable; but we had determined to move the silk; there was no
more to be said.

When I went over to the round-house and told Neighbor the decision, he
said never a word; but he looked a great deal. Neighbor's task was to
supply the motive power. All that we had, uncrippled, was in the
passenger service, because passengers should be taken care of first of
all. In order to win a strike, you must have public opinion on your

"Nevertheless, Neighbor," said I, after we had talked awhile, "we must
move the silk also."

Neighbor studied; then he roared at his foreman. "Send Bartholomew
Mullen here." He spoke with a decision that made me think the business
was done. I had never happened, it is true, to hear of Bartholomew
Mullen in the department of motive power; but the impression the name
gave me was of a monstrous fellow, big as Neighbor, or old man Sankey,
or Dad Hamilton. "I'll put Bartholomew ahead of it," said Neighbor

I saw a boy walk into the office. "Mr. Garten said you wanted me, sir,"
said he, addressing the Master Mechanic.

"I do, Bartholomew," responded Neighbor.

The figure in my mind's eye shrunk in a twinkling. Then it occurred to
me that it must be this boy's father who was wanted.

"You have been begging for a chance to take out an engine, Bartholomew,"
began Neighbor coldly; and I knew it was on.

"Yes, sir."

"You want to get killed, Bartholomew."

Bartholomew smiled as if the idea was not altogether displeasing.

"How would you like to go pilot to-morrow for McCurdy? You to take the
44 and run as first Seventy-eight. McCurdy will run as second

"I know I could run an engine all right," ventured Bartholomew, as if
Neighbor were the only one taking the chances in giving him an engine.
"I know the track from here to Zanesville. I helped McNeff fire one

"Then go home, and go to bed; and be over here at six o'clock to-morrow
morning. And sleep sound, for it may be your last chance."

It was plain that the Master Mechanic hated to do it; it was simply
sheer necessity. "He's a wiper," mused Neighbor, as Bartholomew walked
springily away. "I took him in here sweeping two years ago. He ought to
be firing now, but the union held him back; that's why he don't like
them. He knows more about an engine now than half the lodge. They'd
better have let him in," said the Master Mechanic grimly. "He may be the
means of breaking their backs yet. If I give him an engine and he runs
it, I'll never take him off, union or no union, strike or no strike."

"How old is that boy?" I asked.

"Eighteen; and never a kith or a kin that I know of. Bartholomew
Mullen," mused Neighbor, as the slight figure moved across the flat,
"big name--small boy. Well, Bartholomew, you'll know something more by
to-morrow night about running an engine, or a whole lot less: that's as
it happens. If he gets killed, it's your fault, Reed."

He meant that I was calling on him for men when he couldn't supply them.

"I heard once," he went on, "about a fellow named Bartholomew being
mixed up in a massacre. But I take it he must have been an older man
than our Bartholomew--nor his other name wasn't Mullen, neither. I
disremember just what it was; but it wasn't Mullen."

"Well, don't say I want to get the boy killed, Neighbor," I protested.
"I've got plenty to answer for. I'm here to run trains--when there are
any to run; that's murder enough for me. You needn't send Bartholomew
out on my account."

"Give him a slow schedule, and I'll give him orders to jump early;
that's all we can do. If the strikers don't ditch him, he'll get through

It stuck in my crop--the idea of putting that boy on a pilot engine to
take all the dangers ahead of that particular train; but I had a good
deal else to think of besides. From the minute the silk got into the
McCloud yards, we posted double guards around. About twelve o'clock that
night we held a council of war, which ended in our running the train
into the out freight-house. The result was that by morning we had a new
train made up. It consisted of fourteen refrigerator cars loaded with
oranges which had come in mysteriously the night before. It was
announced that the silk would be held for the present and the oranges
rushed through at once. Bright and early the refrigerator train was run
down to the icehouses, and twenty men were put to work icing the
oranges. At seven o'clock, McCurdy pulled in the local passenger with
engine 105. Our plan was to cancel the load and run him right out with
the oranges. When he got in, he reported that the 105 had sprung a tire;
this threw us out entirely. There was a hurried conference in the

"What can you do?" asked the Superintendent in desperation.

"There's only one thing I can do. Put Bartholomew Mullen on it with the
44, and put McCurdy to bed for Number Two to-night," responded Neighbor.

It was eight o'clock. I looked into the locomotive stalls. The
first--the only--man in sight was Bartholomew Mullen. He was very busy
polishing the 44. He had good steam on her, and the old tub was wheezing
away as if she had the asthma. The 44 was old; she was homely; she was
rickety; but Bartholomew Mullen wiped her battered nose as deferentially
as if she had been a spick-span, spider-driver, tail-truck mail-racer.
She wasn't much--the 44. But in those days Bartholomew wasn't much:
and the 44 was Bartholomew's.

"How is she steaming, Bartholomew?" I sang out; he was right in the
middle of her. Looking up, he fingered his waste modestly and blushed
through a dab of crude-petroleum over his eye. "Hundred and thirty
pounds, sir. She's a terrible free steamer, the old 44. I'm all ready
to run her out."

"Who's marked up to fire for you, Bartholomew?"

Bartholomew Mullen looked at me fraternally. "Neighbor couldn't give me
anybody but a wiper, sir," said Bartholomew, in a sort of a
wouldn't-that-kill-you tone.

The unconscious arrogance of the boy quite knocked me: so soon had
honors changed his point of view. Last night a despised wiper; at
daybreak, an engineer; and his nose in the air at the idea of taking on
a wiper for fireman. And all so innocent.

"Would you object, Bartholomew," I suggested gently, "to a train-master
for fireman?"

"I don't--think so, sir."

"Thank you; because I am going down to Zanesville this morning myself,
and I thought I'd ride with you. Is it all right?"

"Oh, yes, sir--if Neighbor doesn't care."

I smiled: he didn't know whom Neighbor took orders from; but he thought,
evidently, not from me.

"Then run her down to the oranges, Bartholomew, and couple on, and we'll
order ourselves out. See?"

The 44 looked like a baby-carriage when we got her in front of the
refrigerators. However, after the necessary preliminaries, we gave a
very sporty toot, and pulled out. In a few minutes we were sailing down
the valley.

For fifty miles we bobbed along with our cargo of iced silk as easy as
old shoes; for I need hardly explain that we had packed the silk into
the refrigerators to confuse the strikers. The great risk was that they
would try to ditch us.

I was watching the track as a mouse would a cat, looking every minute
for trouble. We cleared the gumbo cut west of the Beaver at a pretty
good clip, in order to make the grade on the other side. The bridge
there is hidden in summer by a grove of hackberries. I had just pulled
open to cool her a bit when I noticed how high the back-water was on
each side of the track. Suddenly I felt the fill going soft under the
drivers; felt the 44 wobble and slew. Bartholomew shut off hard, and
threw the air as I sprang to the window. The peaceful little creek ahead
looked as angry as the Platte in April water, and the bottoms were a

Somewhere up the valley there had been a cloudburst, for overhead the
sun was bright. The Beaver was roaring over its banks, and the bridge
was out. Bartholomew screamed for brakes: it looked as if we were
against it--and hard. A soft track to stop on; a torrent of storm-water
ahead, and ten hundred thousand dollars' worth of silk behind, not to
mention equipment.

I yelled at Bartholomew, and motioned for him to jump; my conscience is
clear on that point. The 44 was stumbling along, trying like a drunken
man to hang to the rotten track.

"Bartholomew!" I yelled; but he was head out and looking back at his
train while he jerked frantically at the air-lever. I understood: the
air wouldn't work; it never will on those old tubs when you need it. The
sweat pushed out on me. I was thinking of how much the silk would bring
us after the bath in the Beaver. Bartholomew stuck to his levers like a
man in a signal-tower, but every second brought us closer to open water.
Watching him intent only on saving his first train--heedless of his
life--I was actually ashamed to jump. While I hesitated he somehow got
the brakes to set; the old 44 bucked like a bronco.

It wasn't too soon. She checked her train nobly at the last, but I saw
nothing could keep her from the drink. I gave Bartholomew a terrific
slap, and again I yelled; then turning to the gangway, I dropped into
the soft mud on my side: the 44 hung low, and it was easy lighting.

Bartholomew sprang from his seat a second later; but his blouse caught
in the teeth of the quadrant. He stooped quick as thought, and peeled
the thing over his head. Then he was caught fast by the wristbands, and
the ponies of the 44 tipped over the broken abutment. Pull as he would
he couldn't get free. The pilot dipped into the torrent slowly. But
losing her balance, the 44 kicked her heels into the air like
lightning, and shot with a frightened wheeze plump into the creek,
dragging her engineer with her.

The head car stopped on the brink. Running across the track, I looked
for Bartholomew. He wasn't there; I knew he must have gone down with his
engine. Throwing off my gloves, I dived, just as I stood, close to the
tender, which hung half submerged. I am a good bit of a fish under
water, but no self-respecting fish would be caught in that yellow mud. I
realized, too, the instant I struck the water, that I should have dived
on the upstream side. The current took me away whirling; when I came up
for air, I was fifty feet below the pier. I scrambled out, feeling it
was all up with Bartholomew; but to my amazement, as I shook my eyes
open the train crew were running forward, and there stood Bartholomew on
the track above me, looking at the refrigerator. When I got to him, he
explained how he was dragged under and had to tear the sleeve out of his
blouse under water to get free.

The surprise is how little fuss men make about such things when they are
busy. It took only five minutes for the conductor to hunt up a coil of
wire and a sounder for me, and by the time he got forward with it,
Bartholomew was half-way up a telegraph pole to help me cut in on a live
wire. Fast as I could, I rigged a pony, and began calling the McCloud
despatcher. It was rocky sending, but after no end of pounding, I got
him and gave orders for the wrecking gang, and for one more of
Neighbor's rapidly decreasing supply of locomotives.

Bartholomew, sitting on a strip of fence which still rose above water,
looked forlorn. To lose in the Beaver the first engine he ever handled
was tough, and he was evidently speculating on his chances of ever
getting another. If there weren't tears in his eyes, there was
storm-water certainly. But after the relief engine had pulled what was
left of us back six miles to a siding, I made it my first business to
explain to Neighbor, who was nearly beside himself, that Bartholomew not
only was not at fault, but that by his nerve he had actually saved the

"I'll tell you, Neighbor," I suggested, when we got straightened
around. "Give us the 109 to go ahead as pilot, and run her around the
river division with Foley and the 216."

"What'll you do with Number Six?" growled Neighbor. Six was the local
passenger west.

"Annul it west of McCloud," said I instantly. "We've got this silk on
our hands now, and I'd move it if it tied up every passenger train on
the division. If we can get the stuff through, it will practically beat
the strike. If we fail, it will beat the company."

By the time we had backed to Newhall Junction, Neighbor had made up his
mind my way. Mullen and I climbed into the 109, and Foley, with the 216,
and none too good a grace, coupled on to the silk, and flying red
signals, we started again for Zanesville over the river division.

Foley was always full of mischief. He had a better engine than ours, and
he took great satisfaction the rest of the afternoon in crowding us.
Every mile of the way he was on our heels. I was throwing the coal, and
have reason to remember. It was after dark when we reached the Beverly
Hill, and we took it at a lively pace. The strikers were not on our
minds then; it was Foley who bothered.

When the long parallel steel lines of the upper yards spread before us,
flashing under the arc lights, we were away above yard speed. Running a
locomotive into one of those big yards is like shooting a rapid in a
canoe. There is a bewildering maze of tracks, lighted by red and green
lamps, which must be watched the closest to keep out of trouble. The
hazards are multiplied the minute you pass the throat, and a yard wreck
is a dreadful tangle; it makes everybody from road-master to flagman
furious, and not even Bartholomew wanted to face an inquiry on a yard
wreck. On the other hand, he couldn't afford to be caught by Foley, who
was chasing him out of pure caprice.

I saw the boy holding the throttle at a half and fingering the air
anxiously as we jumped over the frogs; but the roughest riding on track
so far beats the ties as a cushion, that when the 109 suddenly stuck her
paws through an open switch we bounced against the roof of the cab like
footballs. I grabbed a brace with one hand, and with the other reached
instinctively across to Bartholomew's side to seize the throttle. But as
I tried to shut him off, he jerked it wide open in spite of me, and
turned with lightning in his eye. "No!" he cried, and his voice rang
hard. The 109 took the tremendous shove at her back, and leaped like a
frightened horse. Away we went across the yard, through the cinders, and
over the ties; my teeth have never been the same since. I don't belong
on an engine, anyway, and since then I have kept off. At the moment, I
was convinced that the strain had been too much, that Bartholomew was
stark crazy. He sat clinging like a lobster to his levers and bouncing
clear to the roof.

But his strategy was dawning on me; in fact, he was pounding it into me.
Even the shock and scare of leaving the track and tearing up the yard
had not driven from Bartholomew's noddle the most important feature of
our situation, which was, above everything, to _keep out of the way of
the silk train_.

I felt every moment more mortified at my attempt to shut him off. I had
done the trick of the woman who grabs the reins. It was even better to
tear up the yard than to stop for Foley to smash into and scatter the
silk over the coal chutes. Bartholomew's decision was one of the traits
which make the runner: instant perception coupled to instant resolve.
The ordinary dub thinks what he should have done to avoid disaster after
it is all over; Bartholomew thought before.

On we bumped, across frogs, through switches, over splits, and into
target rods, when--and this is the miracle of it all--the 109 got her
forefeet on a split switch, made a contact, and after a slew or two,
like a bogged horse, she swung up sweet on the rails again, tender and
all. Bartholomew shut off with an under cut that brought us up
stuttering, and nailed her feet with the air right where she stood. We
had left the track and plowed a hundred feet across the yards and jumped
on to another track. It is the only time I ever heard of its happening
anywhere, but I was on the engine with Bartholomew Mullen when it was

Foley choked his train the instant he saw our hind lights bobbing. We
climbed down, and ran back. He had stopped just where we should have
stood if I had shut off.

Bartholomew ran to the switch to examine it. The contact light (green)
still burned like a false beacon; and lucky it did, for it showed that
the switch had been tampered with and exonerated Bartholomew Mullen
completely. The attempt of the strikers to spill the silk in the yards
had only made the reputation of a new engineer. Thirty minutes later,
the million-dollar train was turned over to the East End to wrestle
with, and we breathed, all of us, a good bit easier.

Bartholomew Mullen, now a passenger runner who ranks with Kennedy and
Jack Moore and Foley and George Sinclair himself, got a personal letter
from the General Manager complimenting him on his pretty wit; and he was
good enough to say nothing whatever about mine.

We registered that night and went to supper together: Foley, Jackson,
Bartholomew, and I. Afterward we dropped into the despatcher's office.
Something was coming from McCloud, but the operator to save his life
couldn't catch it. I listened a minute; it was Neighbor. Now, Neighbor
isn't great on despatching trains. He can make himself understood over
the poles, but his sending is like a boy's sawing wood--sort of uneven.
However, though I am not much on running yards, I claim to be able to
take the wildest ball that ever was thrown along the wire, and the chair
was tendered me at once to catch Neighbor's extraordinary passes at the
McCloud key. They came something like this:

"To Opr. Tell Massacree"--that was the word that stuck them all, and I
could perceive that Neighbor was talking emphatically. He had apparently
forgotten Bartholomew's last name, and was trying to connect with the
one he had "disremembered" the night before. "Tell Massacree," repeated
Neighbor, "that he is al-l-l right. Tell hi-m I give him double mileage
for to-day all the way through. And to-morrow he gets the 109 to



A Story of the Russo-Japanese War


"WHAT do you make of her, Maclean?" asked Captain Brandon anxiously.

First mate Hugh Maclean did not reply at once. Embracing a stanchion of
the S.S. _Saigon's_ bridge in order to steady himself against the
vessel's pitching, he was peering with strained eyes through the
captain's binoculars at two small brown needle-points, set very close
together, that stabbed the northeastern horizon.

At length, however, he lowered the glass, and resumed the perpendicular.

"You were right, sir," he declared. "She has altered her course, and our
paths now converge."

"Which proves that she is one of those d----d Russian volunteer

"Or else a Japanese cruiser, sir."

"Nonsense! The Jap cruisers have only one mast."

"So they have, sir. I was forgetting that."

"What to do!" growled the captain, and he fell to frowning and cracking
his long fingers--his habit when perplexed. He was a short, thick-set
man, with a round, red face, keen blue eyes, and strong, square jaws: a
typical specimen of the old-time British sailor. Hugh Maclean, on the
other hand, was a lean and lank Australian, of evident Scottish
ancestry. His long, aquiline nose and high cheek-bones were tightly
covered with a parchment-like skin, bronzed almost to the hue of
leather. He wore a close-cropped, pointed beard, and the deep-set gray
eyes that looked out from under the peak of his seaman's cap twinkled
with good health and humor.

"We might alter our course, too, sir," he suggested.

"Ay!" snapped the other, "and get pushed for our pains on to the
Teraghlind Reef. We are skirting those rocks more closely than I like

"You know best, sir, of course. But I meant that we might slip back
toward Manila, and try the other channel after we have given that fellow
the go-by."

"What!" snorted the captain, his blue eyes flashing fire, "run from the
Russian! I'll be ---- first. We haven't a stitch of contraband aboard,"
he added more calmly a moment later. "He daren't do more than stop and
search us."

But Maclean shook his head. "One of them took and sunk the _Acandaga_
last month, sir, and she carried no contraband either."

"Russia will have to foot the bill for that."

"May be, sir. But Captain Tollis--as fine a chap as ever breathed,
sir--has lost his ship, and the Lord knows if he'll ever get another."

"Are you trying to frighten me, Maclean?" asked Captain Brandon,

The mate shrugged his shoulders. "No, sir; but I am interested in this
venture, and if the _Saigon_ gets back all right to Liverpool I'm due to
splice Mr. Keppel's niece, and the old gentleman, as you know, has
promised me a ship."

"And hasn't it entered your thick skull that to return as you suggest
would cost fifty pounds' worth of coal? How do you suppose old Kep would
like that?"

"Better burn a few tons of coal than risk losing the _Saigon_, sir, and
mark time till God knows when in a Russian prison."

Captain Brandon shut his mouth with a snap, and muttered something about
Scottish caution that was distinctly uncomplimentary to the Caledonian
race. Then, to signify the end of the argument, he strode to the ladder,
and prepared to descend. Maclean, however, was of an equally stubborn
character. "About the course, sir?" he demanded, touching his cap with
ironical deference.

"Carry on!" snarled the captain, and he forthwith disappeared.

Two hours afterward Hugh Maclean knocked at the door of the captain's
cabin, and was hoarsely bidden enter. Captain Brandon was seated before
a bottle of whisky, which was scarce half full.

"Have a nip?" he hospitably inquired.

Maclean nodded, and half filled a glass.

"Thank you, sir. Queer thing's happened," he observed, as he wiped his
lips. "The Russian----"

"I know," interrupted the captain. "I've been watching her through the
port. She's the _Saigon's_ twin-sister ship, that was the _Saragossa_
which old Kep sold to Baron Dabchowski six months ago. Much good it
would have done us to run. She has the heels of us. Old Kep had just put
new triple-expansion engines into her before she changed hands. But
they've killed the look of her, converting her into a cruiser. She's
nothing but a floating scrap-heap now."

"But she has six guns," observed Maclean. "Don't you think you'd better
come up, sir? She is almost near enough to signal."

"Well, well," said the captain, and putting away the whisky bottle, he
led the way to the bridge.

Some half-dozen miles away, steaming at an angle to meet the _Saigon_ at
a destined point, there plowed through the sea a large iron steamer of
about three thousand tons' burden. She exactly resembled the _Saigon_ in
all main points of build, and except for the fact that two guns were
mounted fore and aft on her main deck above the line of steel bulwarks,
and that her masts were fitted with small fighting tops, she might very
well have passed for an ordinary merchantman.

For twenty minutes or thereabouts the two officers watched her in
silence, taking turn about with the binoculars; then, quite suddenly,
the vessel, now less than two miles distant, luffed and fell slightly
away from her course.

"She is going to speak," said Captain Brandon, who held the glasses.
"Look out!"

Maclean smiled at the caution; but next instant a bright flash quivered
from the other vessel's side, and involuntarily he ducked his head, for
something flew dipping and shrieking over the _Saigon_. In the following
second there was heard the clap of the distant cannon and the splash of
a shell striking the sea close at hand. Invisible hands unfolded and
shook out three balls of bunting at the truck of the war-ship's signal
boom. They fluttered for awhile, and then spread out to the breeze. The
arms of Russia surmounted two lines of symbolic letters.

"Quartermaster!" shouted Captain Brandon.

"Ay, ay, sir!" rang out a sailor's voice, and the _Saigon's_ number
raced a Union Jack to the mast-head.

"Well, Mac?" cried the captain, with his hand on the engine-room

Maclean looked up from the book. "His Imperial Majesty of Russia, by the
commander of the converted cruiser _Nevski_, orders us to stop."

Captain Brandon pressed the lever, and before ten might be counted the
shuddering of the _Saigon's_ screw had ceased.

"What next?" he muttered.

As if in answer, another flag fluttered up the _Nevski's_ halliards.

"He will send a boat," interpreted Maclean.

A short period of fret and fume ensued, then a small steam launch
rounded the _Nevski's_ bows, and sped like a gray-hound across the
intervening space. The _Nevski_ now presented her broadside to the
_Saigon_, and all of her six guns were trained upon the English
steamer's decks. The launch was crammed with men. Captain Brandon
ordered a gangway to be lowered, and although the tars sprang to the
task with great alacrity, it was hardly completed before the launch
touched the _Saigon's_ side. An officer, bedizened with gold lace, and
accompanied by two glittering subordinates, climbed aboard, and Captain
Brandon met him on the main deck. Hugh Maclean, from the bridge,
watched them file into the captain's cabin. Ten minutes later they
emerged, and without waiting a moment the Russians hurried back into the
launch. Captain Brandon's face was purple. He hurriedly mounted to the
bridge, and leaning over the rail cursed the departing launch at the top
of his voice in five different languages.

"What's the trouble, sir?" asked Maclean when his superior appeared at
last to be exhausted.

"They want our coal. C----t them to ---- for all eternity," gasped the
frenzied captain. "And they'll blow us out of the water if we don't
follow them to Tramoieu."

"Where is that?"

"It's a little island off the Cochin coast, a hundred miles from
anywhere, with a harbor. By ---- they'll smart for this!"

"Not they," said Maclean. "That is, if you obey. They'll gut and scuttle
the _Saigon_, and then kill every mother's son of us. Dead men tell no
tales. We'll be posted at Lloyds as a storm loss."

"But what can we do?"

"Full speed ahead, and ram her while she's picking up the launch! Chance
the guns!"

"By ----! I'll do it!" shrieked the captain, and he sprang to the
signal-bell. But even as he grasped the lever with his hand, he paused.

"What now?" demanded the mate, his face tense with passion. "Hurry's the
word, sir. Hurry!"

The captain, however, turned and looked him in the eye. "You've
counseled me to murder--wholesale murder, Maclean. Avast there, man!
Keep your mouth shut. This is my bridge, and I'll not hear another word
from you."

The mate bit his lips and shrugged his shoulders. His eyes were blazing
with contempt and rage, but he kept his self-control, and was rewarded
by a dozen sympathetic glances from those of the crew grouped upon the
deck who had heard the controversy. From that moment he was their idol.
The second mate, too, who was standing by the wheel, turned and nodded
to him as he passed.

The captain, who missed nothing of this by-play, felt himself to have
been absolutely isolated. But he was a strong man, and he knew that he
acted rightly. Five minutes later four thunderous reports rang out, and
shells splashed the sea on all sides of the _Saigon_. Then the
machine-guns began to speak, and a perfect storm of bullets tore through
the vessel's rigging, some directed so low that they pierced the top rim
of the funnel smoke-stack. The display lasted sixty seconds. When it was
over, a very sheepish looking lot of men arose from the recumbent
attitudes they had assumed. Of the whole ship's company on deck, Captain
Brandon, Hugh Maclean, and the chief engineer had alone remained

There was a new flag at the _Nevski's_ truck. "Follow at full speed!" it
commanded. The _Saigon_ instantly obeyed. Before night fell, the moon
rose, three-quarters full. It lighted the procession into dawn. Sunrise
brought them to a rock-bound coast, and so nicely had the _Nevski's_
navigator steered, that the first headland circumvented made room for
the revelation of a little bay. It was enclosed on three sides with gray
hills, and across the mouth was stretched a broken line of
hungry-looking surf-crowned reefs. The _Nevski_ steamed boldly through
the first opening, and dropped her anchor in smooth water three-quarters
of a mile beyond. The _Saigon_, currishly obedient to the Russian's
signals, followed suit, bringing up within a biscuit cast of her consort
and captor. An hour later Hugh Maclean, the engineer, and the lesser
officers and thirty-two men of the _Saigon's_ company and some two score
of Russian sailors were working like slaves transferring, under the
supervision of a strong guard, the _Saigon's_ coal and cargo into the
_Nevski's_ boats.

Captain Brandon was not among the toilers. He would have been, perhaps,
but for the circumstance that he had permitted himself the liberty of
striking a Russian officer in the face. A marine having retorted with
the butt end of a carbine, the Englishmen had helplessly watched their
captain being carried off, bleeding and insensible, and dumped with a
sickening thud into the Russian launch. The incident encouraged them so
much that they worked without complaint throughout the day, and they did
not even grumble at the rations which their taskmasters served out to
them. Shortly before dusk the breeze that had been blowing died away,
and the Russians took advantage of the calm to warp the vessels
together. After that the business in hand proceeded at such a pace that
by dawn the _Saigon_ was completely gutted, and she rode the water like
a swan, the greater part of her bulk in air. The weary Englishmen were
thereupon driven like sheep upon the _Nevski's_ deck, and forced to
descend the small after-hold, which was almost empty. The hatches were
then fastened over them for their greater security, and they were left
in darkness. But they were too worn out to care. Within five minutes
every man of them was sleeping dreamlessly, lying listlessly stretched
out upon the ship's false bottom, excepting only Hugh Maclean. He was
too tired to sleep. He was, therefore, the only one who heard an hour
later the muffled boom of a distant explosion and a faint cheer on deck.

"They have sunk the poor old _Saigon_," muttered Maclean. "There goes
the last hope of my captaincy and Nellie Lane." He uttered a low groan,
and covered his face with his grimy paws. Maclean was very much in love,
but he was too young and of too strenuous a temperament to rest for long
the victim of despair. Moreover, contempt for foreigners, particularly
Russians, served him instead of a religion, when not ashore, and he soon
fell to wondering just where was the weak spot in his captor's armor,
and how he could find and put his finger on it. That there was a weak
spot he did not doubt at all. He searched his pockets and found half a
plug of tobacco, but not his meerschaum. A Russian sailor had
confiscated that some hours before. Maclean consigned the thief to
perdition, and with some trouble bit off a plug. Then he lay back to
chew and think. "There's only one thing to do," was the result of his
reflections. "We'll have to take this boat from the Russians somehow."

But exhausted nature would not be denied, and before he knew it Maclean
was in the land of dreams. He was awakened by the noisy removal of a
portion of the hatch. He looked up and saw the moon, also a couple of
bearded faces looking down at him.

"Good Lord!" he groaned, "I've slept the day out."

"You hingry--men--like--eat?" observed a hoarse voice. And Maclean saw
an immense steaming pan descending toward him on a line. He caught it
deftly. A can of water and a tin of biscuits followed. He was instantly
surrounded by the _Saigon's_ company, who attacked the contents of the
pan like wolves. He seized a lump of fat meat from the mess, also a
couple of biscuits, and retired apart. The darkness renewed itself a
second later, and for some time the hold buzzed with the noise of
crunching jaws and guttural exclamations.

Of a sudden someone near him struck a match, and Maclean looked over the
flame into the eyes of Robert Sievers, the _Saigon's_ chief engineer.

"Hello, Mac," said Sievers.

"Good evening, Sievers," replied Maclean politely. "We're still at

"I've remarked it. What do you suppose they intend to do with us?"

"Maroon us, likely, if we let them, on the island yonder."

"How can we prevent them? But I think not. It's my belief this meat is

"Tastes vile enough," agreed Maclean, but he went on eating, and Robert
Sievers, after a momentary hesitation, followed suit.

"We're in the devil of a hole!" he muttered, his mouth full of biscuit.
Then he swore horribly, for the match had burned his fingers.

Maclean stood up. "Any of you men happen to have a bit of candle in your
pockets?" he demanded.

Silence for a minute, then a Norwegian fireman spoke up. "Bout dree
inches," he said.

"He eats 'em," cried another voice, and a roar of laughter greeted the

"Pass it here," commanded Maclean.

Sievers struck another match, and presently the steady flame of a candle
stump showed Maclean a picture such as Gustave Doré would have loved to
paint. He glanced at the begrimed faces of the _Saigon's_ wild and
ghastly looking company, and beyond them for a moment, then stumbled
over the coal, followed by Sievers, until he was brought up by the iron
partition of the hold. He made, however, straight for the bulkhead, and
stooping down, held the candle close to the line of bolts covering the
propeller's tunnel.

"By Jingo!" cried Sievers. "I see your game. Let me look, Maclean! This
is my trade."

He bent forward, wrenched at a shoot-bolt, and with a cry of
satisfaction threw back a plate. The _Saigon's_ company crowded round
the man-hole thus revealed, muttering with excitement.

"One moment, Sievers!" cried Maclean, for the engineer had one leg
already in the tunnel. Then he turned to the men. "My lads," he said,
"it's a case of our lives or the Russians', for I firmly believe the
accursed pirates mean to kill us. We must take this ship by hook or by
crook, and I think I see the way to do it!" He concluded with some
precise instructions, and a few savage sentences, in which he promised
an unmentionable fate to the unfortunate who made a sound or failed to
follow to the letter his instructions.

A second later, in a silence that could be felt, he blew out the light,
and followed Sievers into the tunnel. A few cave-black yards, crawled
painfully on hands and knees, slipping and slithering along the
propeller shaft, brought the leaders to the edge of a wider space.
Sievers struck a match, and a well-like, vertical opening was revealed.
High overhead towered and threatened an enormous steel crank. Before
their feet lay a deep pool of slime. The heat was horrible.

"It should be hereabouts," whispered Sievers, and his fingers searched
the wall. For a moment nothing could be heard but the deep breathing of
the _Saigon's_ company. Then came a slight but terrifying clang.

"I've got it!" whispered Sievers. "Are you ready?"


Maclean's eyes were dazzled of a sudden with a hot flare of light, and
the deafening thud of the condensers smote in his ears. He never quite
coherently remembered that which immediately ensued, for something
struck him on the head.

When he came to his full senses again he was lying on a grating beside
the body of the Russian cleaner he had strangled. The _Saigon's_ men
were all around him. He arose, gasping for breath. Sievers thrust a bar
into his hand and pointed to a line of ladders. Maclean nodded, crossed
the grating, and began to climb. Sievers, armed with a hammer, followed
at his heels.

There were three men in the engine-room, an engineer and two cleaners.
They took the climbers for stokers, and went on with their occupations.
Maclean sidled to the door across the grating and closed it in the
twinkling of an eye. The engineer, who was reading a newspaper, heard
the noise and looked up. Sievers struck him with the hammer and flew at
one of the cleaners. Maclean rushed at the other with his spade. It was
all over in a moment, and without any noise that the thudding of the
donkey-engine did not drown. Maclean changed coats and caps with the
insensible Russian engineer, while Sievers called the _Saigon's_ men
from below. He then strapped on the man's dirk, and put his revolver in
his pocket.

"What next?" asked Sievers.

Maclean glanced at the engine-room clock. The hands pointed to
seven-fifteen. "Captain and officers are just about half through their
dinner," he reflected.

"Wait here," he said aloud: "I'm going to reconnoitre. Just keep the
door ajar when I leave. Let anyone come in that wants to, but crack him
over the skull once he gets inside."

"Ay, ay, sir!"

Maclean opened the door and stepped out leisurely upon the deck. Before
him rose the captain's cabin, the officers' quarters, and the bridge
above. Beyond that stretched the main deck, with the forecastle far
forward. An officer paced the bridge; some two score sailors were
grouped about the forecastle door drinking tea, and the rattle of knives
and forks, the clink of glasses, and sounds of talk and laughter
proceeding from the saloon astern sufficiently located the leaders of
his enemies. Maclean thought hard for a moment, then pulling his cap
over his eyes walked underneath the bridge and looked up. As he had
expected, and ardently hoped, he perceived the muzzle of a machine-gun
protruding from the very centre of the iron rampart. Thanking Providence
for two years spent in the service of the New South Wales Naval Brigade
in his younger days, he returned to the engine-room door, and after a
cautious whisper stepped inside.

"Sievers," said he, "the officers are all at dinner astern. Take this
revolver, and when you hear me knock three times on the railing of the
bridge, sneak out with all the men and rush the cabin. Most of the crew
are forward. I'll look after them; there's a Nordenfeldt on the bridge."

"Ay, ay, sir!"

"Give me your hammer!"

"Good luck to you, sir!"

Maclean took the hammer, slipped it under his jacket, and once more
sought the deck. A steward passed him at a run, and two stokers
proceeding toward the engine-house saluted his uniform. He pulled his
cap over his eyes, and began to climb the ladder. The _Nevski_ was
swinging softly at her anchor, her nose pointing to the land. On the
distant beach a small fire was burning, and at this the officer of the
watch was gazing through his telescope. He was quite alone, and standing
in a shaded corner of the bridge. "What sort of a watch can one man
keep?" muttered Maclean who had served on an Australian gunboat. He
stepped to the officer's side, seized the telescope in his left hand,
and as the startled man turned, he dealt him a terrible blow on the nape
of his neck with the hammer. The officer fell into his arms sighing out
his breath. Maclean laid him gently on the floor, and relieved him of
his revolver. Then he slid softly to the machine-gun, and uttered a low,
irrepressible cry of joy to find that it was stored with cartridges and
prepared for action. A moment later its muzzle commanded the deck before
the forecastle. One of the sailors had just commenced a song. He had a
fine tenor voice, and the others listened entranced. Maclean, however,
rapped three times very loudly on the railing with his hammer, and the
song ceased.

Someone called to him in Russian, but he would not have answered even if
he understood. His every sense was strained to listen. He counted
twenty, the song commenced again. Thirty, forty. Then a wild scream
resounded through the vessel.

"Sievers is dealing with the watch on the after-hold," muttered Maclean.
"Hurry!" he whispered. "Hurry! Sievers, hurry!"

The sailors forward were now afoot, exclaiming aloud and glancing
questioningly at one another. A great many more, too, poured out every
second from the forecastle, made curious by the noise. Maclean grasped
the crank firmly and gave them every scrap of his attention. There woke
an increasing buzz of shouts and cries astern. It culminated presently
in the crack of a revolver, a shriek of pain, and a wild British cheer.
Then all over the din a loud, insistent whistle shrilled. The sailors
forward rushed for their stacked arms, and formed in ranks with the
speed of magic. A petty officer shouted a command, and down the deck
they started at the double.

"Halt!" Maclean shouted, and he turned the crank of the Nordenfeldt. The
effect was horrible. A dozen fell at the first discharge. The rest
halted, and after one dazed instant's wavering, threw down their arms,
broke and fled for the cover of the forecastle. The air was filled with
the sound of groans. The deck was like a shambles. Maclean watched three
or four poor wounded creatures crawl off on their hands and knees for
shelter and he shuddered violently.

He was already sick to death of war. But the fight was not yet over. He
heard footsteps on the ladder behind him, and turned just in time to
escape a sweeping sword stroke. Next instant he was locked in a deadly
struggle with the captain of the _Nevski_, a brave man, who, it seems,
had refused to surrender, and had cut his way through all Sievers's men
in the desperate resolve to retrieve the consequences of his own
carelessness. Maclean, however, was a practised wrestler, and although
lean almost as a lath, the muscles he possessed were as strong as steel
bands. Even as they fell he writhed uppermost, and baffling with an
active elbow the captain's last effort to transfix him, he dashed his
adversary's head upon the boards. A second later he arose, breathless,
but quite uninjured.

Sievers was calling to him: "Maclean! Maclean! I say!"

"Hallo, there!" he gasped back, hoarsely.

"Look out for the captain. He escaped us!"

"I've got him!" croaked Maclean, with a grim glance at his unconscious
foe. "How about the rest?"

"All sigarnio! What shall I do?"

"Drive them forward to the foc'sle."

Sievers obeyed, and very soon five splendidly upholstered, but
shamefaced-looking gentlemen, three stewards, and four sailors were
standing underneath the beacon light before the forecastle companion.
Maclean noted that already many of the _Saigon's_ men carried swords and
carbines. He watched the rest arm themselves with the _Nevski_ sailors'
discarded weapons as they marched their prisoners along the deck. His
breast began to swell with pride.

"Any casualties?" he demanded.

"Two of ours have crossed over," replied Sievers, "and some of us are
hurt a bit. But we can't grumble. There are four Russian corpses aft,
and I see you've bagged seven."

"Damned pirates!" commented Maclean. "I've a mind to shoot the rest of
them out of hand."

"Just give the word, sir."

"No," said Maclean, "we'll maroon them instead. Lower away all the
boats but one, Sievers, and bring them under the bows. I can look after
these dogs!"

"Ay, ay, sir. But first three cheers for Captain Maclean, lads!"

The cheers were given with hearty good-will, and then the men tramped
off to carry out their new task.

Maclean, whose face was still flushed from the compliment that had been
paid him, leaned over the machine-gun and surveyed the prisoners.

"Can any of you pirate scum speak English?" he demanded truculently.

"I have that privilege, sir," replied a swart-faced lieutenant.

"Then kindly inform your friends that at the first sign of any monkey
trick I'll send you all to kingdom come."

The officer complied presumably with this command, and when he had
finished, addressed Maclean:

"You cannot intend to maroon us, sir?" he cried. "The island yonder is
totally uninhabited."

"You're a liar!" retorted Maclean. "Fires don't light themselves. Look

The officer choked back an oath. "Have a care what you are doing, sir,"
he muttered in a strangled voice. "This will lead to a war between your
country and mine."

"I guess not--not even if I hanged the lot of you--you dirty pirates.
But if it did, what then?"

"You should see, sir."

"And so would you--see that Englishmen can fight a durned sight better
than the Japs. I guess you know how _they_ fight by this."

"I have always heard that the English are generous foes, sir----"

"None of your blarney," interrupted Maclean. "Short shrift to pirates,
is an English motto. You sank our ship: we take yours. Fair exchange is
no robbery. You should be thankful to get off with your skins."

"At least permit us to take with us our personal belongings."

"Not a match."

"Some provisions?"

"Not a biscuit."

"Some arms, then, to defend ourselves against the natives, if we are

"Not a penknife."

"Sir, you condemn us to death!"

"Sir, we have but forestalled your intention in regard to us!"

"As God hears me, sir----"

"Shut up!" cried Maclean, "your voice hurts my ears."

Nevertheless, when all was ready, Maclean commanded Sievers to stock the
boats with water and provisions, and to throw some fifty swords and
bayonets aboard. Then began the debarkation. Using the officer who could
speak English as his mouthpiece, Maclean commanded the crew of the
_Nevski_ to file out one by one from the forecastle, and slide down a
rope over the vessel's bows into the waiting boats. They numbered one
hundred and thirty-three all told, but not a man offered to resist, and
within an hour the last boat had sheered off, carrying with its hale
company the still unconscious bodies of the Russian captain and the
officer of the watch. Maclean's next business was to bury the dead,
which done, he searched the ship. He made two discoveries: He found in
the captain's cabin a chest containing no less than fifteen thousand
golden rubles; and locked away in one of the disused bathrooms astern,
inhumanly disposed of in a tub, the silent form of Captain Brandon. But
the tough little bulldog of an Englishman was by no means dead, and when
some three days later the ghost of what had been the _Nevski_ steamed
out of the bay of Tramoieu, he was already so far recovered from the
terrible blow that had laid him low, but which had, nevertheless, failed
to shatter his hard skull, as to be engaged in a confused but constant
effort to remember. On the following morning he insisted upon getting
up, and was helped afterward by a steward to the bridge.

Maclean greeted him with a genial smile.

"Well done, sir," he cried heartily. "Glad to see you up again and
looking so fit. The old _Saigon_ has been as dull as a coffin-ship
without you."

Captain Brandon nodded, frowned, and glanced around him. A carpenter
close by was busily at work painting _S.S. Saigon_ upon a row of
virgin-white life buoys. The captain wondered and glanced up at the
masts. They were just ordinary masts in the sense that they had no
fighting tops, but they gleamed with wet paint. He frowned again, and,
wondering more and more, looked forward. There was not the slightest
trace of a cannon to be seen--but the deck in one place had a canvas
covering. He began to crack his fingers, his old habit, but a moment
later he abruptly turned and faced the mate.

"Maclean," said he.

The eyes of the two men met.

"This is not the _Saigon_, Maclean," said Captain Brandon.

"You'll see it in iron letters on her bows, sir, if you look."

"Come into the chart-room."

Maclean obeyed, chuckling under his breath.

"Tell me how you did it," commanded the captain as he took a chair.

"It was as easy as rolling off a log, sir," replied the first mate. "The
blighters clapped us into the small after-hold, but totally forgot there
was such a thing there as a propeller tunnel. We got into the stoke-hole
and collared the engine-room while the Russians were at dinner. Then,
while I covered the sailors forward with the machine-gun on the bridge,
Sievers took the gold-laced crowd aft with a rush. The rest is not worth
telling, for you know it. All that is to say, barring the fact that
we're the richer by 15,000 rubles and triple-expansion engines, and the
poorer by two of our crew the Russian captain killed."

Captain Brandon drew a deep breath.

"What course are we steering," he demanded.

"Straight for Kobe, sir, to carry out our charter. We've every stick of
the old cargo aboard--the pirates saw to that--also our books and
papers. The guns are all at the bottom of the sea. We'll be a bit late,
but we can easily rig up a yarn to explain."

"But the Russians will talk."

"No fear, sir: they'd be too ashamed to own up the truth; ay, and afraid
as well, for what they did was piracy on the high seas--nothing less.
You take my tip for it, sir, one of these days we'll hear that the
_Nevski_ struck a reef."

"We'll have to tell the owners, though--what will they say?"

Maclean closed one eye. "The new _Saigon_ has triple-expansion engines,
sir. If I know anything of Mr. Keppel, he'll be better pleased with a
ship in the hand than a cause of action against the Russian Government."

"But our own men?"

"Why, sir, we have 7,000 rubles to share among them. They'll be made for

"But I thought you said just now there were 15,000?"

"So I did, sir; but there's only you and Sievers and myself know how
much there is exactly: there was no call to shout it all over the ship.
And I've figured it out this way: You, as captain, are entitled to the
most, and you'll want all of four thousand to heal up the memory of that
crack you got on your skull properly. That'll leave two for Sievers to
do with as he likes, and two for me to buy Nellie--that's Mrs. Maclean
that is to be--just the sort of house she's set her heart on these ages
back. What do you say, sir?"

"What do I say, Maclean?" cried Captain Brandon, his eyes big with
excitement and surprise, too, perhaps. "Why, I say this: You are that
rare thing, a sensible, honest man! Tip us your flipper!"



A Playwright's Story


"THAT," said Ethel Marsh judicially, "is the least stupid remark you
have made during our five weeks' acquaintance."

"Which means that I am improving," John Chesney murmured. "There is hope
even for me. You cannot possibly understand how greatly I

The sentence trailed off incoherently as if the effort had been all too
much. It was hard to live up to the mental brilliance of Ethel Marsh.
She had had the advantage, too, of a couple of seasons in town, whilst
Chesney was of the country palpably. She also had the advantage of being
distractingly pretty.

Really, she had hoped to make something of Chesney. It seemed to her
that he was fitted for better things than tennis-playing and riding and
the like. It seemed strange that he should prefer his little cottage to
the broader delights of surveying mankind from China to Peru.

The man had possibilities, too. For instance, he knew how to dress.
There was an air about his flannels, a suggestion in his Norfolk suits.
He had the knack of the tie so that it sat just right, and his boots....
A clean-cut face, very tanned; deep, clear gray eyes, very steady. He
was like a dog attached very much to a careless master. The thing had
been going on for five weeks.

Ethel was staying with the Frodshams. They were poor for their position,
albeit given to hospitality--at a price. Most people call this kind of
thing taking in paying guests. It was a subject delicately veiled.
Ethel had come down for a fortnight, and she had stayed five weeks.
Verily the education of John Chesney was a slow process. Chesney was a
visitor in the neighborhood, too; he had a little furnished cottage just
by the Goldney Park lodge gates, where a house-keeper did for him. As
for the rest he was silent. He was a very silent man.

It was too hot for tennis, so the two had wandered into the woods. A
tiny trout stream bubbled by, the oak and beech ferns were wet with the
spray of it. Between the trees lances of light fell, shafts of sunshine
on Ethel's hair and face. It was at this point that Chesney made the
original remark. It slipped from him as naturally as if he had been
accustomed to that kind of thing.

"I am afraid you got that from Mr. John Kennedy," Ethel said. "I am sure
that you have seen Mr. Kennedy's comedy 'Flies in Ointment.' Confess

"Well, I have," Chesney confessed accordingly. "I--I saw it the night it
was produced. On the whole it struck me as rather a feeble thing."

"Oh, really? We are getting on, Mr. Chesney. Let me tell you that I
think it is the cleverest modern comedy I have ever seen."

"Yes! In that case you like the part of 'Dorothy Kent?'"

Ethel's dainty color deepened slightly. She glanced suspiciously at the
speaker. But he was gazing solidly, stolidly, into space--like a man who
had just dined on beef. The idea was too preposterous. The idea of John
Chesney chaffing her, chaffing anybody.

"I thought perhaps you did," Chesney went on. "Mr. Kent is a bit of a
butterfly, a good sort at the bottom, but decidedly of the species

"Stop!" Ethel cried. "Where did you get that word from? Whence comes it
in the vocabulary of a youth--a youth? Oh, you know what I mean."

"I believe it is a general name for insects," Chesney said humbly. "Mrs.
Kent is a good sort, but a little conceited. Apt to fancy herself, you
know. Young widows of her type often do. She is tired of the artificial
existence of town, and goes off into the country, where she leads the
simple life. She meets a young man there, who, well, 'pon my word, is
rather like me. He was a bit of an ass----"

"He was nothing of the kind," Ethel cried indignantly. "He was splendid.
And he made that woman love him, he made her acknowledge that she had
met her match at last. And he turned out to be one of the most

"My dear Miss Ethel, after all it was only a play. You remind me of
'Mrs. Kent,' and you say that I remind you of the hero of the play

"I didn't, Mr. Chesney. I said nothing of the kind. It is unfair of

"When the likeness is plain enough," Chesney said stubbornly. "You are
'Mrs. Kent,' and I am the hero of the comedy. Do you think that there is
any possibility that some day you and--of course not yet, but----"

Miss Marsh sat there questioning the evidence of her coral-pink ears.
She knew that she was furiously angry because she felt so cool about it.
She knew that the more furious one was, the more calm and self-contained
the senses become. The man meant nothing, either--one could see that by
the respectful expression of his eye. Still----

"You are quite wrong," Ethel said. "You have altogether misunderstood
the _motif_ of the play. I presume you know what a _motif_ is?"

"I think so," Chesney said humbly. "It is a word they apply in music
when you don't happen to understand what the composer--especially the
modern composer--is driving at."

"Oh, let it pass," Ethel said hopelessly. "You have misunderstood the
gist of the play, then! 'Walter Severn' in the comedy is a man of
singular points. He is a great author. Instead of being that woman's
plaything, he is her merciless analyst. The great scene in the play
comes when she finds this out. Now, you do not for a moment presume to
put yourself on a level with 'Walter Severn,' do you?"

Chesney was bound to admit the height of his audacity. His eyes were
fixed humbly on his Minerva; he was Telemachus seated at the feet of the
goddess. And even yet he did not seem really cognizant of the enormity
of his offence. He saw the sunlight on that sweetly serious face, he saw
the beams playing with the golden meshes of her hair. No doubt he was
fully conscious of his own inferiority, for he did not speak again. It
was for him to wait. The silence deepened; in the heart of the wood a
blackbird was piping madly on a blackthorn.

"Before you go away," Chesney hazarded, "I should very much like----"

"But I am not going away, at least not yet. Besides, I have a purpose to
serve. I am waiting until those impossible people leave Goldney Park. I
understand that they have already gone, but on that head I am not sure.
I want to go over the house. The late owner, Mr. Mainbrace, was a great
friend of my family. Before he died he was so good as to express a wish
that the heir to the property should come and see us and--but that part
is altogether too ridiculous. And as an only daughter----"

"I see," Chesney said reflectively. "The heir and yourself. It sounds
ridiculous. Now, if you had been in the least like the romantic type of
young woman, perhaps----"

"How do you know that I am not? Am I like Byron's woman: 'Seek roses in
December, ice in June'? Well, perhaps you are right. After all, one
doesn't find ice in June. However, the heir to the Goldney Park estate
and myself never met. He let the place to those awful Gosway people for
three years and went abroad. There was not even the suspicion of a
romance. But I am curious to see the house, all the same."

"Nothing easier, Miss Marsh. Let us go and see it after luncheon. The
Gosways have gone, you may take my word for that, and only a caretaker
is in possession. Will you come with me this afternoon?"

The prospect was not displeasing. Miss Marsh poised it in her mind for a
few moments. There was Chesney's education to be thought of as well. On
the whole, she decided that there might be less pleasant ways of
spending a hot August afternoon.

"I think I'll come," she said. "I want to see the old furniture and the
pictures. I love old furniture. Perhaps if the heir to the property had
gone on his knees whilst I was seated on a priceless Chippendale settee,
I might----"

"You might, but I don't think you would," Chesney interrupted. "Whatever
your faults may be I am sure you are not mercenary."

"Really! How good of you! The thing that we are apt to call

"Is often another name for the promptings of poor human nature."

Miss Marsh turned and stared at the speaker. Really, his education was
progressing at a most amazing rate. Without the least sign of mental
distress he had delivered himself of an epigram. There was quite a
flavor of Piccadilly about it. And Chesney did not appear in the least
conscious of his achievement. Ethel rose and shook out the folds of her
dainty muslin dress.

"Isn't it getting late?" she asked. "I'm sure it is lunch time. You can
walk as far as the gate with me, and I will meet you here at three

She passed thoughtfully across the lawn to the house, her pretty brows
knitted in a thoughtful frown. Was she giving her pupil too much
latitude? Certainly he had begun to show symptoms of an audacious
presumption, which in the earlier days had been conspicuous by its
absence. Whereupon Miss Marsh sighed three times without being in the
least aware of the painful fact.

       *        *       *       *       *

"This," said Chesney, "is the Norman Tower, built by John Mainbrace, who
was the original founder of the family. The first two trees in the
avenue of oaks that leads up to the house were planted by Queen
Elizabeth. She also slept on several occasions in the house; indeed, the
bedroom she occupied is intact to this day. The Virgin Queen seemed to
pass most of her time, apart from affairs of state, in occupying
bedrooms, so that the descendants of her courtiers might be able to
boast about it afterward. Those who could not give the royal lady a
shakedown had special bedrooms fitted up and lied about them. It was an
innocent deception."

Miss Marsh eyed her pupil distrustfully. The educational progress was
flattering, and at the same time a little disturbing. She had never seen
Chesney in this gay and frivolous, not to say excited, mood before. The
man was positively glib. There were distinct flashes of wit in his
discourse, too. And where did he get so close and intimate a knowledge
of the old house from?

He knew every nook and corner. He took her through the grand old park
where the herd of fallow deer were grazing; he showed her the Dutch and
Italian gardens; he knew even the history of the sundial on the terrace.
And yet they had not been within the house, though the great hall door
stood hospitably open. They moved at length out of the glare of the
sunshine into the grateful shadows. Glint of armor and gleam of canvas
were all there. Ethel walked along in an ecstasy of quiet enjoyment.
Rumor had not lied as to the artistic beauties of Goldney Park. The
Mainbraces must have been a tasteful family. They had it all here, from
the oaken carvings of the wandering monks down through Grinling Gibbons
and Pugin, and away to Chippendale and Adam, and other masters of the
Georgian era. They came at length to the chamber sacred to the Virgin
Queen; they contemplated the glorious view from the window in silent
appreciation tinged with rapture.

"It's exquisite," Ethel said in a low voice. "If this were my house I
should be very much tempted to commit an act of sacrilege. I should want
this for my own room. I'm afraid I could not resist such an

"Easily done," said Chesney. "No trouble to discover from the family
archives that a mistake had been made, and that Elizabeth of blessed
memory had not slept in this room. Being strong-minded she preferred a
north aspect, and this is due south. You would get a reputation for
sound historical knowledge as well."

Certainly the education was progressing. But Ethel let it pass. She was
leaning out of the latticed windows with the creamy roses about her
hair; she was falling unconsciously under the glamour of the place.

"It is exquisite," she sighed. "If this were only mine!"

"Well, it is not too late. The heir will be here before long, probably.
You have only to introduce the name of Mr. Mainbrace and say who you
are, and then----"

"Oh, no. If I happened to be in love with a man--what am I saying? Of
course, no girl who respects herself could possibly marry a man for the
sake of his position. Even 'Mrs. Dorothy Kent,' to whom you compared me
this morning, was above that kind of thing. She married the man she
loved after all, you know. But I forget--you did not think much of the

"I didn't. I thought it was vague and incomplete. I am certain of it
now. This is the real thing; the other was merely artificial. And when
the hero brought 'Dorothy Kent' to the home of his ancestors he already
knew that she loved him. And I am glad to know that you would never
marry a man like that because it gives me courage----"

"Gives you courage! Whatever for?"

"Why, to make a confession. You laughed at me just now when I presumed
to criticize your favorite modern comedy. As a matter of fact, I have
every right to criticize it. You see, I happen to be the author. I am
'John Kennedy'! I have been writing for the stage, or trying to write
for the stage, for years. I got my new idea from that old wish of my
uncle's that you and I should come together. It struck me as a pretty
suggestion for a comedy."

"Stop, stop," Ethel cried. "One thing at a time, if you please.
Positively you overwhelm me with surprise. In one breath you tell me you
are 'John Kennedy,' and then, without giving a poor girl a chance, you
say you are the owner of Goldney Park."

"But I didn't," Chesney protested. "I never said anything of the kind."

"No, but you inferred it. You say you got the idea from your uncle--I
mean the suggestion that you and I--oh, I really cannot say it."

"I'm afraid I'm but a poor dramatist after all," Chesney said lamely. "I
intended to keep that confession till after I had--but no matter. At any
rate, there is no getting away from the fact that my pen name is 'John

"And you wrote 'Flies in Ointment'? And you have been laughing at me all
this time? You were amused because I took you for a simple countryman,
you whom men call the Sheridan of to-day! After all the pains I took
with your education."

Ethel's voice rose hysterically. Points of flame stood out from the
level of her memory of the past five weeks and scorched her. How this
man must have been amused, how consumedly he must have laughed at her!
And she had never guessed it, never once had she had an inkling of the

"You have behaved disgracefully, cruelly," she said unsteadily.

"I don't think so," Chesney said coolly. "After all is said and done, we
were both posing, you know. You were playing 'Mrs. Kent' to my hero. It
seemed a pity to disturb so pleasant a pastoral. And no harm has been

Ethel was not quite so sure of that. But then for the nonce she was
regarding the matter from a strictly personal point of view.

"I hardly think you were playing the game," she said.

"Why not? I come down here where nobody knows me. It is my whim to keep
quiet the fact that Goldney Park belongs to me. As to my dramatic
tastes, they don't concern anybody but myself. I take a cottage down
here until those tenants of mine are ready to go. They are such utter
bounders that I have no desire to disclose my identity to them. And so
it falls about that I meet you. Then I recollect all that my uncle has
said about you. I cultivate your acquaintance. It wasn't my fault that
you took me for a countryman with no idea beyond riding a horse and
shooting a pheasant. Your patronage was very pretty and pleasing, and I
am one of those men who always laugh or cry inside. It is perhaps a
misfortune that I can always joke with a grave face. But don't forget
that the man who laughs inside is also the man who bleeds inside, and
these feel the worst. Come, Ethel, you are not going to be angry because
you have lost the game playing with your own weapons."

The education was finished, the schoolmaster was abroad--very much
abroad. In his cool, masterful way Chesney had taken matters into his
own hands. He was none the less handsome because he looked so stern, so
sure of his ground.

"You are a man and I am a woman," she faltered.

"Of course. How could the comedy proceed otherwise? Now where shall we
move these Elizabethan relics? After what you said just now they could
not possibly remain here. Among the family archives I dare say----"

Chesney paused; he was conscious of the fact that two large diamond
drops were stealing down Ethel's cheeks. It seemed the most natural
thing in the world for him to cross over and take her hands in his.

"My dear child, what have I said to pain you," he said. "I am truly

"You--you take too much for granted," Ethel sobbed. "You make me feel so
small and silly. And you have no right to assume that I--I could care
for anybody simply because he happens to possess a p--p--place like
Goldney Park."

"But, my darling, I didn't. I was delighted when you said just now that
you would never marry a man you did not care for, even if he could give
you Chippendale for breakfast, so to speak. I watched your face then. I
am sure that you were speaking from the bottom of your heart. I have
been watching you for the last five weeks, my sweetheart. And they have
been the happiest weeks in my life.

"Laughing at me, I suppose! It's all the same if you do laugh inside."

"No, I don't think I laughed," Chesney said thoughtfully. "I only know
that I have been very much charmed. And besides, see how useful it has
been to me to be in a position to hear all the weak points in my
literary armor. When I come to write my next comedy, it will be far in
advance of 'Flies in Ointment.' I have learned so much of human nature,
you see."

Ethel winked the tears from her lids; her eyes were all the brighter for
the passing shower, like a sky in April, Chesney thought. A smile was on
her face, her lips were parted. As a lover Chesney was charming. She
wondered how she was playing her part. But she need not have had any
anxiety. There was nothing wanting in the eyes of the man opposite, and
his face said so.

"You are going to put me into it?" she asked.

"Why, of course. There is no other woman so far as I can see. Why are
you pulling my roses to pieces like that? Do you know that that rose
tree was planted a hundred years ago by Thomas à Becket after the battle
of Agincourt? My dear, I am so happy that I could talk nonsense all day.
And I say, Ethel----"

The girl broke off one of the creamy roses and handed it shyly to

"_Væ victis_," she said with a flushing smile. "It is yours. You have

"Yes, but I want all the fruits of victory. I ask for a hand and you
give me--a rose. Am I not going to have the hand as well as the rose,

He had the hand and the rose and the slender waist; he drew her toward
him in his strong, masterful way, and his lips lay on hers in a
lingering pressure. It was a long time before the girl looked up; then
her eyes were full of shy happiness.



A Pawnbroker's Story


IN THE course of our dealings over the curiosities that my brother sent
home from Burma, Mr. Levy and I became very good friends. When we had
finished one of our deals we generally had a chat in the quaint little
room behind his queer little shop in the old-world alley frequented by
sailormen. On one of these occasions he mentioned that the cigar which
he had given me was the brand which he always smoked; and the quality of
the cigar suggested opulence.

"If you can afford cigars like this," I remarked, "you must make some
pretty good bargains with your curiosities!"

"Good and bad," he said. "That's the way in business--in life, if you
come to that!" He was a bit of a philosopher.

"You make more good bargains than bad ones, I'll be bound," I asserted.

"Yes," he agreed; "but it isn't so much that. The bad aren't very bad,
as a rule; and some of the good are very good. That's where I get my

"What was the best bargain you ever made?" I asked.

He filled his glass and pushed the decanter toward me.

"The best bargain I ever made," he said, "was over a ditty-box."

I helped myself to a little whiskey.

"A ditty-box? I thought they were ordinary sailors' chests that they
keep their clothes in?"

"Not exactly chests," he corrected. "They're smallish boxes that they
keep their needles and thread in, and their money, and anything else
that they set store by--their letters or their sweethearts' photos, or
their wives'--or other people's! There's no profit in them, and I don't
deal in them in a general way. I got my gain out of this one in a
roundabout fashion; but it was handsome. If you've got half an hour to
spare I'll tell you about it."

This was his story:

It was eight years ago, and I'd had Isaac for seven years, and concluded
that he was to be trusted. So I took it into my head to have a
fortnight's holiday and leave him in charge of the shop. Everything was
in order when I came back, and the books balanced to a penny. Business
had been pretty good, he told me, but nothing out of the ordinary.

"Unless," he said, "I've stumbled on a good thing by accident. It's a
ditty-box; rather a superior one, and a good bit bigger than usual;
almost a chest; brass bound and a nice bit of poker-work on it; a girl's
head. I've put it in your bedroom."

"Ah!" I said. "Ah-h!" He wouldn't make this fuss over a bit of
poker-work, I knew.

"The mate of the _Saucy Jane_ brought it here," he went on. "It belonged
to the captain. George Markby, the name was; and that's poker-work on
it, too. He sickened of a fever over at Rotterdam and died at sea; and
they sold off his things to send the money to his widow. I gave a
sovereign for it. There's a tray inside with a lock-up till. Keys all
complete. Ought to fetch thirty-five shillings."

"As much as that?" I said. I knew there must be a good deal more in it
than appeared, but it's no use hurrying Isaac. He likes to tell things
his own way.

"I thought it might suit you to lock up your books and papers. That was
all--till the day before yesterday. Then a ginger-haired sailor came in.
North countryman. Wanted a ditty-box, he said. I told him we weren't
marine outfitters, and he'd better try Barnard's, round the corner. He
said he didn't want the ordinary sort, but something out of the common;
extra large size; brass-bound; tray with a lock-up till. 'Mind if it
was a trifle old?' I asked. 'Carved or cut about a bit? You know how
some chaps use their knives on them, just to pass the time.' He said he
didn't care for things that were hacked about, but he wouldn't object to
a bit of poker-work on it. I told him I'd look through the warehouse and
let him know in the morning, and he went. Byles, the dock policeman, was
standing outside. I went and asked him who the chap was. He said he was
cook on the _Anne Traylor_, just come in, and he believed he'd done
time. If he hadn't I'll swear he ought to have, from the look of him.

"About half an hour afterward in walks an oldish chap with a stoop and a
gray goat's beard. He wanted a ditty-box, too; something extra large and
old, and strong, and a tray with a lock-up till in it. He was a fireman
on the _Anne Traylor_, I found; a shifty sort of chap that couldn't look
you in the face. He offered to go to a couple of pounds for the right
thing. I told him I'd look through our stuff and let him know if we had
one of the sort.

"Just as I was closing, a smart young fellow swaggered in. He was second
mate of the _Anne Traylor_, and he'd heard of the death of her old
captain on the _Saucy Jane_, and that we'd bought some of his effects,
and he'd like to have a memento; just a matter of sentiment, he
explained. I asked him what form the sentiment took, and he said a
ditty-box; and if we had the one that belonged to the old man he'd give
two pounds five for it. I put him off like the others.

"Two Swedish sailors came in after the shutters were up, while the door
was still open. They wanted a ditty-box of the identical description. I
told them I'd look for it, same as I told the rest. You always brought
me up not to close too soon with a customer who was keen on a thing."

"Very good, Isaac," I said. "Very good! Go on!"

"In the evening I made inquiries at the 'Duke of Wellington,' where the
dock policemen go, and the two-penny-halfpenny money lenders and such;
and old Mrs. Higgins, the landlady, knows more about the crews that come
here than anyone. Lots of them knew old Markby, it seemed; a very
respectable old chap and a favorite with his men, but a bit of a miser,
and a trifle queer in his ways. He boasted that he didn't believe in
banks and such things, and he'd got his money hidden where even his wife
didn't know. And the conclusion I've come to is that those chaps believe
it's in the ditty-box, and they mean to have it."

"Ah!" I said. "We'll have something to say to that, Isaac! You told them
we hadn't got it, of course."

"Of course," he said; "and of course they didn't believe me! I had a
rare bother with the ginger-haired man yesterday morning, and had to
send the boy for a policeman before he'd go. And in the afternoon the
Swedes tried to sneak through the shop into the warehouse, but I jumped
out of the shop parlor and hustled them off. I've put longer screws in
the bars to the windows; but I'd be easier if you'd let me sleep here."

Isaac always thought that he could look after me better than I could
look after myself!

"I'm all right, Isaac," I said; "but we'll have a look at the box before
you go. It might be worth a bit more if it had a secret drawer, eh?"

When the shop was closed we went upstairs and laid the box on my bed,
and turned it over and tapped it, and put a lamp inside, and examined
every inch. We couldn't find a trace of a secret drawer, or anything
scratched on it to say where the old captain had hidden his long
stocking. So I concluded that the talk was the usual nonsense, and I
daresay I'd have sold it and thought no more about it, if the
goat's-beard man hadn't come in the first thing the next morning. He
didn't beat about the bush, but said he wanted Captain Markby's ditty-box
that we'd bought, and he'd give two pounds ten for it. I told him I
wished I'd got it to sell, since he was so generous, but ditty-boxes
weren't in my line.

The others that Isaac had spoken of came in too. I was tempted to sell
it to the mate for three pounds, but I couldn't quite make up my mind,
and told him to come again the next morning. That very night the two
Swedes broke into the shop. The police caught them. They're always on
the look-out round my place, knowing that it's a fiver to them on the
quiet if they catch anyone breaking in. The Swedes got three months

That made up my mind. I showed the mate an ordinary box when he called,
and he went off grumbling that it was nothing like the one he'd asked
about, and I'd played the fool with him. I never saw him again, or the
Swedes either; but the old man and the ginger-headed chap were always
looking in the window. They seemed to have chummed up. I had an
anonymous letter that I put down to them--written in red ink that I
suppose they meant me to take for blood. It warned me against keeping "a
ditty-box that others have a better claim to, and is like to cost you
dear." D-e-r-e they spelt it, and one t in ditty.

Two days later they called to ask if the box had come my way yet. "Yes,"
I said, "and I'm going to keep it. It's got two blackguards three
months, and it will get two others a good hiding if they don't mind.
Clear out, and don't come here again." They didn't, but we often saw
them hanging round, and when I went out one of them generally followed
me. I didn't worry about that, for I could have settled the two of them
easily if I wasn't taken unaware. I was always a bit obstinate, and I'd
sooner have chopped the chest up for firewood than have been bullied
into letting them have it; but I was sorry that I hadn't taken the
mate's offer, for Isaac and I had measured it all over inside and out,
and calculated that there wasn't space anywhere for a secret drawer.

I'd had it about three months; and then a young girl, about twenty, came
into the shop one afternoon, when Isaac was at tea. She was a pale slip
of a young thing, and her clothes looked as if they'd been worn all
through the summer, and it was autumn then; and she hesitated as if she
was half afraid of me.

"Well, little missie," I said. "What is it?" I spoke to her with the
smooth side of my tongue uppermost, as a big, rough chap generally does
to a girl of that sort, if there's anything decent about him.

"My father was Captain Markby," she said, and I liked the way she spoke.
"He died at sea, and they sold his things here. I want to find something
of his, and I thought that perhaps you might have bought it?"

I knew directly what she meant, but I looked very innocent.

"If it was anything in the curiosity line, I might have," I answered.
"You see the sort of things I deal in." I waved my hand round the place.

"No," she said. "It wasn't a curiosity. It was an oak chest with brass
corners. I think they call it a ditty-box."

"A ditty-box," I said. "They're too common to be curious. Was there
anything special about it?"

"It had a tray in it, and he'd drawn a head on it with a red-hot iron; a
girl's head. He meant it for me; but I don't expect you'd recognize me
by it. I hope not!" She smiled faintly.

"I hope not," I agreed, "judging from what I've seen of such figures." I
laughed, and she laughed a little, too. "And you want to buy it, if you
can find it?"

"Ye-es," she said. "At least--I haven't very much money; but I would pay
you as soon as I could, if--I suppose you wouldn't be so kind--so very
kind--as to agree to that?"

"Umph!" I said. "I don't generally give credit; but as it was your
father's, I might stretch a point for once if I should find that I have

"Oh, _thank_ you!" she said with a flush. "It is a kindness that I have
no right to expect. _Thank_ you!"

"I'll have a look round among my things," I promised. "I haven't bought
such a box myself; but my assistant might have; or I might be able to
find it for you in some of the shops round here. I'll see what I can
do." I meant to let her have it, but I wanted to find out more about it

"How kind you are!" she cried. "I--you see I want it very particularly,
Mr. Levy."

"Being associated with your father," I said, "naturally you would.
Perhaps if I don't come across the ditty-box, I might find something
else of his that would do, eh?"

"No-o," she said. "It wouldn't. You see we--my mother and I--aren't well
off. We knew that father had some money, but we couldn't find it, or
learn anything about it; and we think it must be in the box, or a paper
telling us about it."

I shook my head.

"There's no paper in any box that I have," I assured her. "We always go
through the things that we buy very carefully."

"You wouldn't find it," she explained eagerly. "There was a secret
place. He showed it to me when I was a little girl. I don't expect he
thought I would remember, but I did. You take off the brass corners on
top, and then the lower part of the lid drops out. The lid's in two
pieces and you could put papers--or bank notes--in between."

I couldn't help smiling.

"Aren't you rather foolish to tell me?" I suggested.

She looked at me appealingly.

"Am I?" she asked.

"No," I said. "As it happens, you aren't; but I wouldn't tell anyone
else, if I were you. They _might_ think they'd like those bank notes for
themselves. _I_ might if--well, if you weren't a good deal younger and
more in need of them than I am."

"I think you are a very good and kind man, Mr. Levy," she said solemnly.

"I'm afraid not, little missie," I told her; "but there are some a good
deal worse; and some of them have an inkling of what may be in that box,
if I'm not mistaken. They've been inquiring after it."

"Oh!" She started. "There were two horrid men who seemed to be watching
me when I came in here. I half thought I remembered one of them: an old
man with a stoop. I believe I must have seen him aboard my father's
ship. I felt rather nervous--because it's such a dark alley." She looked
anxiously at the door.

"It is a bit dark," I agreed. "Would you feel safer if I saw you to a
main thoroughfare?"

"I should feel _quite_ safe then," she declared, and she smiled like a
child does. "I really don't know _how_ to thank you enough for your
goodness to me."

I called Isaac to look after the shop, and put on my hat and walked off
with her. She was a bright little creature to talk to, and when she was
excited she looked very pretty. I found that she was going to walk all
the way, so I said that I would see her right to her road. She seemed
pleased to have my company, and jabbered nineteen to the dozen. It was
such a change to have someone to talk to, she said, because they had
moved and knew nobody here. She told me that she tried to earn money by
teaching music and by painting. I said that I was badly in want of a few
little sketches, and she promised to bring some for me to look at.

"I would ask you to accept them," she said, with a flush, "if we weren't
so poor."

"If it weren't for that," I said, "I should ask you to have some tea
before I leave you, without fear that you would be too proud to accept.
It would be a pleasure to me. Will you?" We were just outside a good
place, and I stopped.

"It is very kind of you," she said, "but I don't think--I suppose I _am_
foolishly proud." She laughed an uneasy laugh.

"You mustn't let your pride spoil my pleasure," I told her, and grinned
at myself for talking like a book. "You can repay me when you find your
fortune, if you insist; but I hope you won't."

She looked up at me quickly.

"No," she said. "I couldn't treat your kindness like that. Thank you,
Mr. Levy."

So we went in, and I ordered tea and chicken and cakes. The poor little
thing was positively hungry, I could see; and when she mentioned her
mother the tears came into her eyes. I understood what she was thinking,
and I had some meat patties put up in a package. When I left her at the
corner of her road I put the package into her hands, and boarded a 'bus
with a run before she had time to object. She shook her head at me when
I was on top of the 'bus; but when I took off my hat she waved her hand,
and laughed as if she was a great mind to cry. It's hard for an old
woman and a young girl when they're left like that.

I had the corners of that ditty-box off as soon as Isaac had gone for
the night. The lid was double, as she had said. Between the two boards I
found a portrait of an elderly woman--her mother, no doubt--and three
photos of herself; two in short frocks and one with her hair in a plait
when she was about seventeen. She looked stouter and jollier then, poor
girl. There was one other thing: a half sheet of note-paper. "Memo in
case of accident. Money up chimney in best bedroom. Geo. Markby, sixth
of April, 1897."

I started to change my clothes to go there and tell them; but just as I
had taken off my waistcoat I altered my mind. The money wouldn't be in
the rooms where they lived then, but in their old house; and that was
probably occupied by someone else now, and even if the money was still
there she would not be able to get it. It was no use raising her hopes,
just to disappoint her. I would try to get the money before I spoke, I

She came at eleven the next morning, and timidly produced a few little
sketches, mostly copies of things. I'd like to say that they were good,
but I can't. It was just schoolgirl painting, nothing else. She wanted
to give me some, but I wouldn't hear of that. She had sold a few for
eighteenpence apiece, she said. I said that I wanted four to frame for
ships' cabins, and I'd give twelve-and-six for them, and that would
leave me a fair margin. I was afraid to offer more, for fear she would
suspect me; and as it was she was dubious.

"You're sure you _will_ get a profit?" she asked.

"You ask anyone round here about me," I said. "They'll soon tell you
that I look out sharp for that. They'll look very nice when they're
framed; and I make a good bit out of the frames, you see. Now about this
ditty-box. I've got on the track of one that might turn out right; but
there's a difficulty that I'd like to put to you. Suppose that there's
no money in it, only a clue to where your father hid it. Wouldn't that
be likely to be somewhere where you can't get at it? On board his ship,
for example? Or in your old house?

"If it's in the house," she said, "I could get in. At least it was empty
a week ago. Mother heard from an old neighbor. But perhaps it would be
better to get someone else to go, and say that they wanted to look at
the house?" She glanced at me doubtfully.

"You mean me?" She nodded slowly. "You are afraid that I might keep some
of it?"

She stared at me in sheer amazement.

"Why, of course not!" she cried. "I was only thinking that it was a long
way to ask you to go; and that I must not impose on your kindness."

"Give me the address," I said, "in case I should want it any time."

She gave me an address in Andeville. Then I changed the subject. I
walked part of the way home with her. Then I had my dinner and went off
to Andeville.

It was about an hour by train. By the time that I had found the agent
and got the key it was growing dusk. I was some time arguing with him,
because he wanted to send a man with me to lock up afterward. "We've had
tramps get in several times," he explained, "and they've done a lot of
damage; torn up the flooring and such senseless mischief." It occurred
to me directly that the tramps were some of the men who had come after
the ditty-box.

I persuaded him at last that I'd lock up all right and he let me go
alone. I soon spotted what would be the best bedroom. I fumbled up the
chimney and lit a match or two, and found a heavy canvas bag and a
smaller one that rustled like notes. I was just looking for the last
time when I heard soft steps behind me. I glanced round and saw two men
before the match flickered out. The light caught the face of the
foremost. It was the old man with the goat's beard. Then I was struck on
the head and knocked senseless.

It was about six when I came to and lit another match and looked at my
watch. The bags were gone, of course. I never saw them again or the two
men. It was as well for them I didn't!

It was no use telling the agent or anybody. I never thought about that,
only what I was to do about the girl and her mother. I didn't think very
much about the mother, if you come to that. It seemed to me that I'd
made a mess of it and lost their money, and I couldn't bear to think of
the girl's disappointment. What upset me most was that I knew she'd
believe every word of my story, and never dream that I'd taken the money
myself, as some people would. She was such a trusting little thing,
and--well, I may as well own up that I liked her. If I hadn't been
fifteen years older than she was, and felt sure that she'd never look at
a Jew--and a much rougher chap then than I am now--I should have had
serious thoughts of courting her. And so--well, I knew that a hundred
pounds was what they hoped for; and it didn't make very much odds to me.
I took out the paper that night and put in twenty five-pound notes, and
did it up again. A bit of folly that you wouldn't have suspected me of,
eh? Then you think me a bigger fool than most people do! At the same
time, it was only fair and honest. I'd had her money and lost it, you

I was going to take the chest to their lodgings in a cab the next
morning, but she called in early to ask if I had found it. I had an
unhappy sort of feeling when I saw her come smiling into the shop,
thinking that she wouldn't need to come any more. It's queer how a man
feels over a little slip of a girl when he's knocked about all over the
world and known hundreds of women and thought nothing of them!

I'd carried it down into this room, and I took her in and showed it.
Her delight was pretty to see. She fidgeted about at my elbow like a
child while I was taking the corners off; and when she saw the notes she
danced and clapped her hands; and when I gave them to her she sat down
and hugged them and laughed and cried.

"If you knew how poor we've been!" she said, wiping her eyes. "How
lonely and worried and miserable! Your kindness has been the only nice
thing ever since father died. Twenty times five! That's a hundred.
They're real notes aren't they? I haven't seen one for ages."

"They're real enough," I told her. "I'll give you gold for them, if you

"I'd rather have their very selves," she said with a laugh. She studied
one carefully; and suddenly she dropped them with a cry and sprang to
her feet. Her face had gone white.

"Mr. Levy!" she cried. "Oh, Mr. Levy! _You put them there!_"

I told her a lie right out; and I'm not ashamed of it. I was a hard man
of business, I said; and a Jew; and she was a silly sentimental child,
or she'd never take such an idea into her head; and she needn't suppose
I kept my shop for charity, and she'd know better when she was older.
She heard me out. Then she put her hand on my shoulder.

"Dear kind friend," she said, "father died in May this year. The note
that I looked at was dated in June!" And I stood and stared at her like
a fool. I suppose I looked a bit cut up, for she stroked my arm gently.

"You dear, good fellow!" she said. She seemed to have grown from a child
into a woman in a few minutes. "I can't take them, but it will help me
to be a better girl, to have known someone like you!"

"Like me!" I said, and laughed. "I'm just--just a rough, money-grubbing
Jew. That's all I am."

She shook her head like mad.

"You may say what you like," she told me; "but you can't alter what I
think. You're good--good--good!"

Then I told her just what had happened.

"So, you see, you owe me nothing," I wound up.

She wiped her eyes and took hold of me by the sleeve.

"I will tell you what I owe you," she said. "Food when I was hungry;
kindness when I was wretched; your time, your care--yes, and the risk of
your life. If you had had your way you would have given me all that
money. You--Mr. Levy, you say that it is just a matter of business. What
profit did you expect to make?"

"I expected--to make you happy," I said; and she looked up at me
suddenly; and I saw what I saw. "Little girl!" I cried. "May I try? In
another way."

I held out my arms, and she dropped into them.

"My profits!" I said.

"Oh!" she cried. "I hope so. I will try--try--try!"

Mr. Levy offered me a fresh cigar and took another himself.

"It's a class of profit that's difficult to estimate," he remarked. "I
had a difficulty with Isaac over the matter. You see he has 5 per cent.
over the business that he introduces, but that was only meant for small
transactions, I argued. He argued that there were no profits at all; not
meaning any disrespect to her, but holding that there was no money in
it; or, if there was, it was a loss because I'd have to keep her, and
nobody knew how a wife would turn out. She held much the same, except
that she was sure she was going to turn out good; but she thought I
ought to find some plan of doing something for Isaac. We settled it that
way. He wanted to get married, so I gave him a rise and let them have
the rooms over the shop to live in; and there they are now."

"And how do you reckon the profits yourself?" I asked.

"Well," he said "in these last eight years I've cleared forty thousand
pounds, though you wouldn't think it in this little shop. I reckon that
I cleared a good bit more over that ditty-box. Come round to my house
one evening, and I'll introduce you to her."



An Idyll of the Summer


THE minister of Blue Mountain Church, and the minister's wife, were
enjoying their first autumn fire, and the presence of the cat on the
hearth between them.

"He came home this afternoon," the minister's wife was saying, "while I
was picking those last peppers in the garden, and he jumped on my
shoulder and purred against my ear as unconcernedly as if he'd only been
for a stroll in the lower pasture, instead of gone for three months--the
little wretch!"

"It does seem extraordinary"--the minister unbent his long legs and
recrossed them carefully, in order to remove his foot from the way of
the tawny back where it stretched out in blissful elongation--"very
extraordinary, that an animal could lead that sort of double life,
disappearing completely when summer comes and returning promptly with
the fall. I daresay it's a reversion to the old hunting instinct. No
doubt we could find him if we knew how to trail him on the mountains."

"The strangest thing about it is that this year and last he came back
fat and sleek--always before, you know, he has been so gaunt and starved
looking in the fall." She leaned over and stroked the cat under his
chin; he purred deeply in response, and looked up into her eyes, his own
like wells of unfathomed speech. "I have an eerie feeling," she said,
"that if he could talk he'd have great things to tell."

The minister laughed, and puffed away at his corncob pipe. "Tales of the
chase, my dear, of hecatombs of field-mice and squirrels!"

But she shook her head. "Not this summer--that cat has spent these last
two summers with human beings who have treated him as a kind of
fetich--just as we do!" As she rubbed his ear she murmured regretfully:
"To think of all you've heard and seen and done, and you can't tell us
one thing!"

The Yellow Cat's eyes narrowed to mere slits of black across two amber
agates; then he shook his ears free, yawned, and gave himself up to
closed lids and dreams. If he could have told it all, just as it
happened, not one word of it could those good souls have
comprehended--and this was the way of it.

It was near the close of a June day when the cat made his entrance into
that hidden life of the summers from which his exits had been as sudden,
though less dramatic. In the heart of the hills, where a mountain
torrent has fretted its way for miles through a rocky gorge, there is a
place where the cleft widens into a miniature valley, and the stream
slips along quietly between banks of moss before it plunges again on its
riotous path down the mountain. Here the charcoal-burners, half a
century ago, had made a clearing, and left their dome-shaped stone kiln
to cover itself with the green velvet and lace of lichen and vine. The
man who was stooping over the water, cleaning trout for his supper, had
found it so and made it his own one time in his wandering quest for
solitude. The kiln now boasted a chimney, a door, and one wide window
that looked away over the stream's next plunge, over other mountains and
valleys to far horizons of the world of men. This was the hermitage to
which he brought his fagged-out nerves from the cormorant city that
feeds on the blood and brains of humans. Here through the brief truce of
summer he found time to fish and hunt enough for his daily wants, time
to read, to write, time to dream and to smoke his evening pipe, to think
long thoughts, and more blessed than all--to sleep! When autumn came he
would go back with renewed life and a pile of manuscript to feed to his
hungry cormorant. He was chewing the cud of contentment as he bent to
his fish cleaning, when, glancing to one side where the fire, between
stones, was awaiting his frying-pan, he caught sight among the bushes of
two gleaming eyes, and then the sleek back and lashing tail of the
Yellow Cat. The man, being a cat lover was versed in their ways, so for
a time he paid no attention, then began to talk softly.

"If you'd come out of that," he said, as he scraped the scales, "and not
sit there watching me like a Comanche Indian, I'd invite you to supper!"

Whether it was the tone of his voice or the smell of the fish that
conquered, the tawny creature was suddenly across the open with a rush
and on the stooping shoulders. That was the beginning of the
companionship that lasted until fall. The next season brought the animal
as unexpectedly, and they took up the old relation where it had left off
the previous summer. They trudged together through miles of forest,
sometimes the cat on the man's shoulder, but often making side
excursions on his own account and coming back with the proud burden of
bird or tiny beast. Together they watched the days decline in red and
gold glory from the ledge where the stream drops over the next height,
or when it rained, companioned each other by the hearth in the hut.
There was between them that satisfying and intimate communion of
inarticulate speech only possible between man and beast.

There came a day when the man sat hour after hour over his writing,
letting the hills call in vain. The cat slept himself out, and when paws
in the ink and tracks over the paper proved of no avail, he jumped down
and marched himself haughtily off through the door and across the
clearing to the forest, tail in air. Late that afternoon the man was
arrested midway of a thought rounding into phrase by the sudden
darkness. There was a fierce rush of wind, as if some giant had sighed
and roused himself. The door of the hut slammed shut and the blast from
the window scattered the papers about the floor. As he went to pull down
the sash the cat sprang in, shaking from his feet the drops of rain
already slanting in a white sheet across the little valley. At the same
moment there was a "halloo" outside, and a woman burst open the door,
turning quickly to shut out behind her the onrush of the shower and the
biting cold of the wind. She stood shaking the drops from her hair, and
then she looked into the astonished face of the man and laughed.

She was as slim and straight as a young poplar, clad in white
shirt-waist and khaki Turkish trousers with gaiters laced to the knee.
Her hair was blown about in a red-gold snarl, and her eyes looked out as
unabashed as a boy's. The two stared at each other for a time in
silence, and finally it was the woman who spoke first.

"This isn't exactly what I call a warm welcome--not just what the cat
led me to expect! It was really the cat who brought me--I met him over
on Slide Mountain--he fled and I pursued, and now here we are!"

She made a hasty survey of the hut, and then of its owner, putting her
head on one side as she looked about her with a quick, bird-like
movement, he still staring in stupefaction.

"Of course you detest having me here, but you won't put me out in the
rain, again, will you?"

At once he was his courteous self. With the same motion he dumped the
astonished cat from the cushioned chair by the writing table, and drew
it forward to the fire. Then he threw on a fresh stick of pine that
flared up in a bright blaze, and with deferring gentleness took the
sweater that hung from her shoulders and hung it to dry over a section
of tree-trunk that served as a chimney seat.

"You are as welcome to my hut as any princess to her palace," he smiled
on her, "indeed, it is yours while you choose to stay in it!"

"Don't you think," she made reply, as he drew another chair up opposite
to her, "that under the circumstances we might dispense with fine
speeches? It is hardly, I suppose, what one would call a usual
situation, is it?"

He looked at her as she stretched her small feet comfortably to the
blaze, her face quite unconcerned.

"No," he acquiesced, "it certainly is not usual--or I should hate
it--the 'usual' is what I fly from!"

She threw back her head, clasping her hands behind it as she laughed.
She seemed to luxuriate as frankly in the heat and the dryness as the
cat between them.

"And I"--she turned the comprehension of her eyes upon him--"I cross the
ocean every year in the same flight!"

The storm drove leaves and flying branches against the window, while
they sat, for what seemed a long time, in contented silence. He found
himself as openly absorbing her charm as if she had been a tree or a
mountain sunset, while she was making further tours of inspection with
her eyes about the room.

"It is entirely adorable," she smiled at him, "but it piques my

"Ask all the questions you wish--no secrets here."

"Then what, if you please, is the object I see swung aloft there in the

"My canvas hammock which I lower at night to climb into and go to bed,
and pull up in the daytime to clear the decks."

"And the big earthen pot in the fireplace--it has gruesome suggestions
of the 'Forty Thieves!'"

"Only a sort of perpetual hot-water tank. The fire never quite goes out
on this domestic hearth, and proves a very acceptable companion at this
high altitude. There is always the kettle on the crane, as you see it
there, but limitless hot water is the fine art of housekeeping--but,
perhaps you don't know the joy there is to be found in the fine art of

"No, I do not," her eyes took on a whimsical expression, "but I'd like
to learn--anything in the way of a new joy! In the way of small joys I
am already quite a connoisseur, indeed I might call myself a collector
in that line--of _bibelot_ editions, you understand, for thus far I seem
to have been unable to acquire any of the larger specimens! Would you be
willing to take me on as a pupil in housekeeping?"

"It would add to my employment a crowning joy--not a _bibelot_!"

"Pinchbeck fine speeches again," she shrugged. "Do you stop here all the
long summer quite alone?"

"All the 'short summer,'" he corrected, "save for the society of the
cat, who dropped down last year from nowhere. He must have approved of
the accommodations, for he has chosen me, you see, a second time for a
summer resort."

"Yes--I think he was trying to protest about you being his exclusive
find, when I invited myself to follow him down the mountain--leading and
eluding are so much alike, one is often mistaken, is it not so?"

She was sitting forward now, chin in hands, elbows on her knees, gazing
into the flames where a red banner waved above the back log. When she
turned to him again the westering sun had broken through the clouds and
was sending a flare of rosy light in at the window. Studying her face
more fully, he saw that she was years--fully ten years--older than he
had supposed. The boyish grace that sat so lightly was after all the
audacious ease of a woman of the world, sure of herself.

"I, too, am living the hermit life for the summer. I am the happy
possessor of a throat that demands an annual mountain-cure. Switzerland
with its perpetual spectacular note gets on my nerves, so last year we
found this region--I and my two faithful old servitors. Do you know the
abandoned tannery in the West Branch Clove? That has been fitted up for
our use, and there we live the simple life as I am able to attain
it--but you have so far outdone me that you have filled my soul with

"Alas," said the man, "you have served me the very same trick! I could
almost wish--"

"That I had not come!"

"Say, rather, that you would come again!"

She stood up and reached for her sweater, waiting for him to open the
door. The round of the little valley was a glittering green bowl filled
with pink cloud scuds. They stepped out into a jubilant world washed
clean and freshly smiling. She put out her hand in good-bye.

"I almost think I shall come again! If you were a person with whom one
could be solitary--who knows!"

When she appeared the next time she found him by the noise of his
chopping. They climbed to the top of the moss-covered boulder that hangs
poised over the ledge where the stream leaps into the abyss. Below them
the hills rolled in an infinite recession of leaf-clad peaks to the sky
line, where they melted to a blur of bluish-green mist.

"Oh, these mountains of America!" she cried, "their greenness is a thing
of dreams to us who know only bare icy and alps!"

"Far lovelier," he said, "to look down upon than to look up to, I think.
To be a part of the height comes pretty near to being happy, for the

She turned from the view to study her companion. The lines in the
corners of his kind, tired eyes, the lean, strong figure, hair graying
about the temples. He grew a little impatient under it before she spoke.

"Do you know," she said slowly, "I am going to like you! To like you
immensely--and to trust you!"

"Thank you, I shall try to be worthy"--even his derision was gentle--"I
seem to remember having been trusted before by members of your sex--even
liked a little, though not perhaps 'immensely'! At any rate this
certainly promises to be an experience quite by itself!"

"Quite by itself," she echoed.

"Wouldn't it be as well for you to know my name, say, as a beginning?"

"No," she nodded, "that's just what I don't want! I only want to know
you. Names are extraneous things--tags, labels--let us waive them. If I
tell you how I feel about this meeting of ours will you try to
understand me?"

The answer was less in words than in the assent of his honest gray eyes.

"I have been surfeited all my life," she went on, "with love--I want no
more of it! The one thing I do want, more than anything else, is a man
friend. I have thought a great deal about such a friendship--the give
and take on equal terms, the sexless companionship of mind--what it
could be like!"

He brushed the twigs from the lichens between them and made no answer.

"Fate--call the power what you will"--she met the disclaimer that
puckered the corners of his mouth--"fate brought us together. It was the
response to my longing for such a friendship!"

"It was the Yellow Cat!"

"The Yellow Cat plus fate! While I sat there by your fire I recognized
you for that friend!"

Far below over the tree tops cloud shadows and sunlight were playing
some wonderful game of follow-my-leader; a hawk hung poised on tilting
wings; and on the veil of mist that was the spirit of the brook where it
cast itself from the ledge curved the arch of a rainbow. The man pointed
to the augury.

"You might try me," he said, and they shook hands on the compact,
laughing half shamefacedly at their own solemnity.

"As woman to woman," he offered.

"Let it be rather as man to man," she shrugged.

"As you like--as women we should have to begin by explaining ourselves."

"Precisely, and men companion each other on impersonal grounds."

"Then it is a man's friendship?"

"Better still," she mused, "we'll pattern it after the ideals of the
disembodied! We'll make this summer, you and I together, a gem from the
heart of life--I will have it so!"

So it came about that like two children they played together, worked,
walked, or read and talked by the open fire when cold storms came. Every
morning she came over the wood-road that led by winding ways from her
valley, and at sunset she went back over the trail alone. He might go as
far as the outlook half way over the mountain where the path begins to
go down, but no farther; as for any fear, she seemed to know nothing of
its workings, and the revolver she wore in a case that hung from her
belt was a mere convention.

One morning she came with eyes dancing--it was to be an especial day--a
fête--and the gods had smiled on her planning and given them perfect
weather. Never such sunshine, such crystal air, such high-hung clouds!
Breakfast over, they hurried about the miniature housework, and packed
the kit for a long day's tramp. Then they started forth, the cat
following, tail aloft. Beyond a dim peak, where the clove opens
southward, by the side of a tiny lake they lunched and took their
noonday rest. She watched the smoke curl up from his pipe where he lay
at peace with the scheme of things.

"Do you know, Man, dear," she said, "I am glad I don't in the least
guess who you are! I have no doubt you write the most delightful stories
in the world--but never put me in one, please!"

He took the pipe out of his mouth and looked at her long before he

"Woman, dear," he said, "I have put you in a place--your own place--and
it is not in my novels!"

She scrambled to her feet laughing.

"It's very well to make stories, but it is really more diverting to live
them! Come, I must lead you now with your eyes shut tight to my

So hand in hand they went along a smooth green wood-road until she
stopped him.

"Look," she cried, "now look!"

Straight away till the road narrowed to a point of light against the sky
where the mountain dipped down, banks of mountain laurel rose on either
side in giant hedges of rose and white, while high above them waved the
elms and beeches of the forest.

"It is the gardening of the gods!"

"It is my own treasure-trove! I found it last year and I have been
waiting to bring you to it on my fête--what you call birthday! And now
wish me some beautiful thing--it may come true! There is a superstition
in my country--but I shall not tell you--unless the wish comes true!"

He broke off a spray of the waxen buds and crowned her solemnly where
she stood.

"I have already wished for you--the most beautiful thing in the world!"

She shook her head, sorrowful. "Man, dear, the only thing in all the
world I still want is the impossible!"

"Only the impossible is worth while--and I have wished!"

She shook her head again, laughing a little ruefully. "It could not
arrive--my impossible--and yet you almost tempt me to hope!"

"Anything--everything may arrive! You once thought that such a
friendship as this of ours could not, and lo, we have achieved it!"

"I wonder"--her eyes seemed fixed on some far prospect, a world beyond
the flowery way--"I wonder if we have! And I wonder why you have never
made a guess about my world when you have at least let me get a peep now
and then into yours?"

"I don't care a rap about your 'world,'" he smiled into her eyes, "while
I have you!"

"No curiosity about my--my profession?"

"Not a bit--though it was clear enough from the first that it was the

She made an odd little outcry at his powers of divination.

"Then I must look it--before the footlights from my birth! Since you are
so clever, Mr. Man, will you also be merciful when you come to weigh me
in those scales you try to hide beneath the garment of your kindness?
Think, when you judge me, what it is for a woman never to be
herself--always to have to play a part!"

He reached and took her hand suddenly, drawing her to him with a
movement that was almost rough.

"This is no play acting--this is real! No footlights--no audience--only
you and me in all this world!"

But she drew away, insistently aloof. She would have none of his

"This, too," she said, as she moved apart and stood waiting for him to
follow, "is a part of the play--I do not deceive myself! When I go back
to my world--my trade, I shall remember this little time that you and I
have snatched from the grudging grasp of life as an act--a scene only!
It's a perfect pastoral, Man, dear, but unreal--absurdly unreal--and we
know it ourselves while we play the game!"

Down through the flower-bordered vista the cat went stalking his prey,
his sinuous body a tawny streak winding along the green path. These
trivial humans, with their subtle attractions and compunctions, were as
though they never had been when the chase was on--the real business and
purpose of life!

For the rest of the time they were together they avoided the personal.
Each felt the threat in the air and tacitly averted it. For that one
perfect day there should be no past, no future, nothing but the golden

Swinging in his breeze-rocked hammock between door and window the man
lay awake through the long watches of the night, thinking, thinking,
while his heart sang. Toward dawn he fell into a deep sleep from which
he was only awakened by the cat springing up to lick his face in
reminder of breakfast.

It was when he came back from his plunge in the pool that he first
noticed a paper pinned to his door-post. Within its folds his doom was

"Even you, dear Man, could not wish me the impossible! That superstition
of my country is that to come true it must be the first wish of your
fête day--and by one who loves you! Alas, my old servant had already
wished--that he might get me started for home to-day! Clever
Friedrich--for he had also packed! When you read this I shall be far on
my way. You could never find me though you searched the earth--but you
will never try! It is well as it is, for you see--it was not friendship
after all!"

       *        *       *       *       *

And yet there was a sequel. During the following year there dropped to
the man in his hard-pressed literary life, one of those errant plums
from the political tree that now and then find their way to the right
basket. He was named for an excellent diplomatic post. His friends
congratulated him and talked a good deal about "material" and
opportunities for "unique local color;" his wife chattered unceasingly
about gowns and social details, while he armed himself, with the
listless reticence that was become habit, to face new responsibilities
and rather flavorless experiences. He had so withdrawn himself of late
to the inner creative life that he moved in a kind of phantasmagoria of
outer unrealities. It was the nearest to a comfortable adjustment for
the mis-mating of such a marriage as his, but it was not the best of
preparations for the discharge of public duties, and he walked toward
his new future with reluctant feet, abstractedly. In some such mood as
this, his mind bent on a problem of arrangement of fiction puppets,
seeing "men as trees walking," he found himself one day making his bows
at a court function. Along the line of royal highnesses and grand
duchesses with his wife he moved, himself a string-pulled puppet,
until--but who, in heaven's name is this?

For one mad moment, as he looked into her eyes, he thought the tightened
cord he sometimes felt tugging at his tired brain had snapped, and the
images of sight and memory gone hopelessly confused. She stood near the
end of the line with the princesses of secondary rank, and the jewels in
her hair were not more scintillant than her eyes as he bent over her
hand. She went a little pale, but she greeted him bravely, and when they
found themselves unobserved for a moment she spoke to him in her soft,
careful English:

"You recognized me, you remember, for a play actor, and now you are come
from the world's end to see me perform on my tiny stage! Alas, dear
critic, since my last excursion, I am no longer letter perfect in my

They met but once again. It was in the crush of guests in the great hall
where her old Prince, in the splendor of his decoration-covered coat,
was waiting to hand her to her carriage. There was a brief time in which
to snatch the doubtful sweetness of a few hurried words. She was leaving
in the early morning for the petty Balkan province where her husband
held a miniature sway, over a handful of half-savage subjects. Hardly
more than a renewal of greeting and a farewell, and she was gone!

As the old Prince wrapped her more carefully in her furs, and the
carriage rolled away in the darkness, he spoke to her, somewhat puzzled:

"I should be sorry to think the American Ambassador has been taking too
much wine--as you well know, my knowledge of the barbarous English
tongue is but limited, and yet--I thought, as I joined you, he was
talking some farrago of nonsense about a _Yellow Cat_!"

       *        *       *       *       *

That year the Yellow Cat came home lean and gaunt, a chastened, humble
creature, as one who has failed in a long quest, and is glad to stretch
his weary length before the hearth and reap the neglected benefits of
the domestic life.

"It is really very odd" said the minister, quite as if he were saying
something he had never thought of saying before, "where that cat goes in
the summer!"

"Isn't it?" responded the minister's wife--just as she always did. "It
fires the imagination! He walks off some fine morning and completely
shuts the door on our life here--as if he gave us notice not to pry into
his movements. But this time"--she was leaning to stroke the tawny sides
with a pitying touch--"this time you may be sure something very sad and
disappointing happened to him--something in that other life went quite
wrong! How I wish we could understand what it was!"



A Tale of Rural England


IT HAPPENED up in Lancashire, and the truth can be vouched for by at
least half a hundred spectators. It fell in this wise: Bob O' Tims owned
a game-cock which was the envy of the whole street for lustre of
coloring and soundness of wind. Its owner was almost unduly proud of his
possession, and would watch it admiringly as it stalked majestically
about among its family of hens.

"There's a cock for you!" he would say, with a little wave of his pipe.
"There's not many cocks like that one. The king himself has got nothing
like it down at Windsor Castle."

Now, Jimmy Taylor had always been a rival of Bob O' Tims's. Jimmy's
grandfather had fought at the Battle of Waterloo. This gave him great
prestige, and it was almost universally believed, in Chellowdene, that
the preëminence of the British Empire was mainly due to the battle-zeal
of Jimmy's ancestry. But whenever Jimmy talked about his grandfather,
Bob skilfully turned the conversation to his game-cock. This made Jimmy
testy, and one day he told Bob, in contemptuous tones, that "he'd be
even wi' him yet, in the matter o' game-cocks, as well as everything

That was one Monday evening, and the following Wednesday Bob O' Tims's
cock disappeared. When Bob discovered his loss, his face went quite pale
with anger. Without a word, he flung on his cap and set off for Jimmy
Taylor's cottage.

When he reached it, he went still whiter. For Jimmy was sitting at the
door, and up and down the yard in front of him strutted a magnificent

Bob O' Tims stretched out his forefinger, pointed at the cock, and with
a stubborn look forming about his mouth and jaw, observed:

"Yon's mine."

"It isn't," responded Jimmy. "It's mine."

"I tell thee, yon's mine. Yo've prigged it."

"It's mine! I bought it at th' fair."

"Thee never bought yon cock at any fair. It's mine, I tell thee."

Words grew high between the disputants, as the cock, in all its bronze
and golden splendor, marched up and down the yard, until the argument
between the two men terminated in a quarrel so violent that half-a-dozen
neighbors came in to see what was the matter. It ended in Bob O' Tims
insisting that he would take the matter into court. He was as good as
his word, and the next time that the bench met, Bob O' Tims summoned
Jimmy Taylor on a charge of having stolen his game-cock.

The magistrates listened to the witnesses on either side. Half-a-dozen
people were ready to swear that the cock belonged to Bob. But Jimmy
brought up a couple of witnesses to testify that they had seen him buy a
similar animal at Turton Fair. The cock was then brought into court. It
clucked and choked indignantly, and the partisans of Bob and Jimmy swore
against each other as hard as ever they could. The bench appeared
perplexed; and it was owing to their inability to come to any decision
that the magistrate's clerk made his famous suggestion.

"The case appears to me impossible to prove as it stands, your
worships," he said to the bench. "I would suggest, if I may be allowed,
that you direct an officer of the court to take the cock to some spot at
an equal distance between the houses of the plaintiff and of the
defendant. If he is there placed upon the ground, and left to his own
devices, he is pretty sure to make his way straight home."

The magistrates accepted the suggestion of the clerk, and gave judgment
accordingly. A policeman was ordered to carry out their instructions.
Now, this officer was young and raw, and had only recently been enrolled
in the constabulary. He was a fat, rosy man, with an air of
self-importance. He set out from the court with the cock under his arm.
An excited crowd streamed after the policeman, who stalked on with no
little pomposity. When he reached the common, which lay between the
houses of the rival claimants, he stood still for a minute or two,
grasping the cock and looking judiciously from one side of the broken
land to the other.

The crowd eagerly commenced to give information.

"You're a bit nearer Bob O' Tims's than you are to Jimmy's!" cried one.

"Nay! Nay!" interposed another spectator, who was a partisan of Bob O'
Tims. "There's a corner to turn afore you get to Bob's. It's not fair,
not to make allowance for that."

"Stand back!" cried the policeman majestically--"Stand back, every man
of you. The critter will be too much put about to go anywhere if you
don't keep still tongues in your heads."

The officer still stood, with his legs wide apart, turning his head
slowly from side to side. Once he made a pace in the direction of Jimmy
Taylor's; then, changing his mind, he took a couple of steps toward Bob
O' Tims's. Finally, he decided that he had fixed upon the exact locality
commanded by the law, and with a magisterial air, he again waved back
the crowd and deposited the cock upon the ground in front of him.

Everybody held their breath. The first thing that the cock did was to
shake himself until he resembled nothing so much as a living mop. Then
he began to smooth his feathers down again. Then he stretched his neck,
flapped his wings and crowed. Finally, with a blink of his bright eyes,
which almost appeared like a wink to the hushed and expectant crowd, he
made two solemn steps with his slender legs in the direction of Jimmy
Taylor's cottage.

"He's going to Jimmy's!" exclaimed the crowd with one voice.

"Can't you all be quiet for a moment or two," interposed the policeman,
indignantly. "I tell you, if you don't keep still, you'll upset the
critter's mind, and make the magistrates' decision just good for

The crowd appeared ashamed and relapsed once more into silence.

The policeman stood erect and tall, a few paces in front of them,
watching the cock with great solemnity. It was standing still now,
jerking its neck a little. Then it looked round, and, retracing its
paces, began stepping slowly off in the opposite direction.

"It's going to Bob's!" cried the crowd.

But the cock was doing no such thing; it paused again, scratching in an
imaginary dust-heap, and then, with a loud crow, stretched its wings and
flew up into a small tree.

This was disconcerting. The policeman turned with anger upon the crowd.

"I told you you were not giving the critter a chance!" he exclaimed.
"You'd best be off home. Come, move on! Move on!"

The crowd retreated, but it had no intention of going home. Some of
those less interested strolled away, but the partisans of Bob and Jimmy
remained at a little distance, eagerly watching to see what would happen

The cock, after jerking his head round several times, settled down
comfortably among his feathers, and went to sleep in the tree.

This was altogether beyond the expectancy of the policeman. Not knowing
what else to do, he sat down on a broken bit of fence under the tree and

The day advanced. The cock slept on and the policeman began to doze. Now
and then he awoke with a start, and looked up at the obstinate biped
above his head. Presently the man got down from the fence and shook

The partisans of Bob and Jimmy still remained at a discreet distance,
watching the progress of events. The policeman stood still for a few
moments, staring at the cock; then he approached the small, stumpy tree
and clapped his hands vigorously.

The cock woke up, gurgled, and went to sleep again.

The policeman clapped his hands a second time, and then with shrill
indignation the creature flew down from the tree, and set off in the
direction of the distant moors.

The proceedings promptly assumed the aspect of a hunt. The cock ran
along with outstretched wings and neck, and the policeman and the crowd
ran after it. At last it reached a small cottage, belonging to a widow
of the name of Gammer. Exerting a final effort, it flew up toward her
open window and ensconced itself on the top of the good woman's

Now Mrs. Gammer was a woman of character. She heard the noise outside;
and when the breathless policeman arrived at the door of her kitchen,
she was wiping the soapsuds off her plump red arms, ready for any
dispute or fray. She stood with her arms held akimbo, as the man in blue
explained his errand. When he had finished his recital she looked at him

"And I should like to know what you call yourself, policeman or no
policeman, to be chasing a poor harmless critter across 'em blazing
commons on a day like this! You want to go and poke him down from my
tester-bed, do you? Well, you can just go back and tell the magistrates
as Mrs. Gammer's got him, and if they want him they must come for him

This was direct defiance of the law, and the policeman commenced a
remonstrance. His remarks were, however, cut short by Mrs. Gammer.

"I have always said as magistrates was as ignorant as babies, and I only
wish that they was as harmless," she persisted, in open contempt of the
government of her country. "You can go back, and tell 'em as Mrs. Gammer
says so. My house is my house, magistrate or no magistrate, and I won't
have any policeman messing about on the top of my tester-bed."

The policeman was not certain whether the authority which had been
entrusted to him in the matter would justify his making a deliberate
prisoner of Mrs. Gammer. And, as she showed every sign of resorting to
violence, should he attempt to pass the door, which she barred with her
stout figure, he decided upon beating a retreat. He went outside again
and reasserted his shattered dignity by once more driving away the
crowd; then, not knowing what else to do, he returned to the police
station and reported the matter to the chief constable.

The chief laughed, and so did everybody else who heard the story. The
policeman was directed to return to Mrs. Gammer's cottage later in the
day, and serve her with an order requiring her to give up the cock
immediately. But when he handed Mrs. Gammer the official paper, she
laughed in his face.

"You can look round the house for the cock now if you like," she said
contemptuously, slapping down the order upon the table, "and you can see
if you can find him."

"Is he still on the top of your tester-bed?" demanded the policeman.

"Go and look," responded Mrs. Gammer, with a snort. "You can take the
turk's-head brush and brush him down!"

So, armed with the turk's-head brush, the policeman ascended Mrs.
Gammer's small, steep staircase. When he reached her bedroom, he poked
into every cranny and corner with the handle of his brush. But no cock
was to be found.

He descended the stairs, and stood again in the little kitchen. A savory
smell of cooking arose from a stew-pan on the fire.

"Where's the critter gone to?" he demanded.

"How should I know?" replied Mrs. Gammer testily.

The policeman, still standing in the kitchen, wished that Mrs. Gammer
would give him an invitation to supper. The widow glanced up sharply at
him and saw what was in his mind.

"You'd like some supper, I make no doubt, after your wild-goose chase,"
she said. "Sit down at t' table and take a bit o' stew."

The policeman seated himself with alacrity. The stew which Mrs. Gammer
placed before him consisted of a mixture of barley, onions and some
white meat. He ate a hearty supper, and when he stood up he drew his
hands across his mouth.

"Thank you kindly," he said. "I must be off now, and see where that cock
has gone to."

Then it was that Mrs. Gammer gave a short and derisive laugh. She began
to pile up the empty plates and to put the spoons and forks in the basin
by the sink.

"If you go a-chasing of that cock until you are black and blue in the
face," she said, "you'll never find him. And the reason why, is that you
have just helped to eat him up."

"I have eat him up!" he gasped.

"Aye," responded Mrs. Gammer, with brevity. "I made him into soup!"

The policeman remained open-mouthed, staring at the impenitent widow.

"You'd no business ever to do such a thing," he said. "The cock belonged
to the Law."

"I care nowt for your Law," retorted Mrs. Gammer. "Anyway you've helped
to eat him!"

A vague sense of cannibalism was haunting the policeman's mind; he felt
almost as dismayed as if he had made a hearty supper off the
magistrate's clerk himself.

"You're a very wicked woman," he said to Mrs. Gammer. "And--and----"

He broke off, entirely nonplussed by the situation in which he found
himself. Mrs. Gammer continued to wash up the spoons and forks with
utter indifference to his consternation.

"The cock's eat up, and there's an end of it," she said. "You'd best go
and tell the magistrates all about it."

Sheepish and disconcerted, the policeman slunk home. The next morning
the chief asked him if he had served the order on Mrs. Gammer.

"I--served it," said he, scratching his head.

"And did you get the bird given up?" demanded his superior officer.

"No, I can't say as I did," replied the policeman.

"Was it still on the top of the tester-bed?" pursued his awkward

"No. It was not on the tester-bed," replied the policeman.

"Then where was it?" insisted the chief.

For several seconds the policeman was silent, then he told a lie.

"I canna say," he answered, "it war gone."

The chief shrugged his shoulders, and sent the man about the business of
the day. The next time that the magistrates met, the question of Bob O'
Tims's cock was again brought into court. The magistrate's clerk
demanded if the case were settled.

To the great relief of the policeman, who was waiting in attendance, Bob
O' Tims spoke up from the spot where he stood.

"Jim hadna stolen my cock after all, sir," he said, "for it came home
the next morning."

"Then what happened to the cock that was brought into court on Tuesday?"
demanded the magistrate's clerk. But nobody seemed to know.

Only, people used to wonder why Widow Gammer almost always gave a
peculiar kind of snort when she spoke of Police Constable X, and why
that worthy officer avoided her cottage ever after, and invariably
turned down a side street if he saw the widow within speaking distance
of him.



An Episode of Travel


"IN THE words of Macaulay this, ladies and gentleman, is the saddest
spot on earth." The white-haired old Tower guard in charge of the little
chapel of Saint Peter waved his hand impressively toward the open door.
"Through that door"--the heads of the American tourists who were doing
the Tower all turned in unison--"you may see the block upon which many a
royal head has rested, and beneath these very stones lie buried two
dukes between two queens--Dukes of Northumberland and of Somerset, with
the Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard--all beheaded."

The chapel was a crypt-like place, windowless, dark, and musty, and at
this mournful climax one of the tourists who was nervous moved suddenly
off that particular stone upon which she had been standing; the school
teachers out for self-improvement began to write it all in their
note-books, while a stout matron evidently of good old Dutch stock
looked sadly down at the flat, gray stones. "Poor things!" she murmured,
"and there ain't one of them got a respectable white tombstone with a
wreath carved on it." Then, in their usual two-by-two line, the party
moved down the aisle wearily, but triumphant in the fact that they had
succeeded in doing the Tower, the Abbey, and the Museum all in one day.
Peggy Wynne, in demurely severe blue suit and jaunty panama, lagged at
the end of the line while she looked critically at her compatriots.

    "The animals went out two by two,
    The elephant and the kangaroo,"

she murmured to herself, "and I'm so tired of playing Noah's Ark or a
Christian Association out for a lark," she continued in unconscious
poetical despair. Then, warned by the attitude of the guard, that
wonderful attitude of the haughty Briton in hopes of a tip, she opened
her ridiculously tiny gold-linked purse and gave herself up to the
absorbing question as to which of the pieces therein was a shilling.
Having at last decided this, she presented it to the guard with a
dazzling smile. It had been so long since Peggy had had an opportunity
to smile at anything masculine that the smile was unusually bright.

She had already passed through the little door when she suddenly turned
back. The other tourists, noses in Baedekers, were hurrying on before,
the guard was busily counting his sixpences, and she slipped back into
the dim chapel unperceived.

"They'll think I've gone back to those dingy lodgings," she reflected,
as she groped her way between the benches into an even more shadowy
corner--a little recess, with a tiny niche in the wall, that had
probably been the sanctuary of some pious king. She seated herself
comfortably behind the pillar in the corner and gazed pensively at the

"Tombs and tombs and tombs!" she murmured mournfully, "even in Paris,
instead of Maxim's and the cafes, nothing but tombs! The next time I want
to see where anybody is buried I will just go out to the cemetery instead
of coming across that dreadful ocean. Oh, just to have one adventure
before I go home!" she continued with a long sigh, "a real adventure with
a real man in it--not a horrid, womanish Frenchman or a stolid, conceited
Britisher, but a nice, safe American--like--like--like--my American."

Then the dimple in her right cheek that was probably responsible for the
calling her Peggy, in spite of her many protests for her rightful
dignity of "Margaret," came out suddenly as it always did when she
thought of her American. She had called him that from the time when, in
the midst of the perplexities of the English luggage system, she had
looked up and found him watching her. The cut of his gray suit and his
shoes had told her his nationality at once, and they had looked for a
moment at each other with that peculiar friendliness that compatriots in
a strange land always feel. She had forgotten him until, leaning from a
taxi-cab in the Rue de la Paix, she had met the same eyes, this time so
unrefrainedly joyful in their recognition that she had suddenly blushed.
When, a week later at Calais, as she stood by the rail of the departing
Channel steamer she caught a glimpse of him on the dock, he had seemed
like an old friend, and before she had thought she had smiled in answer
to his lifted hat. She had grown so sure of seeing him that now when
they had been in London a week and he had not appeared she found herself
suddenly sick of tombs and tourists.

Peggy's day had been a strenuous one of trams, motor-busses, abbeys, and
galleries, and though she realized an adventure might probably await her
outside, it was pleasant to sit for awhile in the dimness of the quiet
chapel. From her recess she could look out through the open doors upon
the tragic Tower Green, where in the sunlight two sparrows were
frivolously flirting. Even as she watched, the sparrows grew dim, her
ridiculously tiny purse slipped from her hand, her head with its thick
dark hair dropped against the pillar, and her lashes touched her cheek.
After awhile a cautious footfall sounded in the chapel, then somewhere a
heavy door closed, and all was still.

When Peggy sat up indignantly with the queer sensation that she had been
violently shaken, darkness surrounded her, a darkness so deep that she
could not see her hand as she ran it along the bench in front of her.
With the movement came remembrance of her surroundings, and also a
realization in strained and aching muscles that a stone pillar is not a
wise choice for a head-rest.

"Oh!" she gasped painfully.

"Don't be frightened," entreated a voice quite near to her, and out of
the lesser darkness a tall black figure rose suddenly.

"I am not at all frightened," said Peggy at once. In spite of the
bigness of the figure there was something reassuring in the voice with
its crisp, humorous note and its intonation that Peggy at once
recognized as American.

"What are you doing here?" she continued, inhospitably addressing the
darkness before her.

"I went to sleep" the voice explained, "on the other side of the

"How silly!" said Peggy, severely, "didn't you see me here?"

"It was a little dim," the voice apologized and, Peggy's silence still
condemning, "you should have snored," it continued extenuatingly.

Peggy arose with a dignity that she hoped penetrated the darkness. Then
she groped along the bench.

"My purse," she explained anxiously, "and it had a sixpence for tea and
two shillings for tips," she continued with an unconscious epitome of
the joys of traveling. As she groped along bench and floor she was
conscious of assistance from her companion, and just as she grasped the
discovered purse she felt purse and hand caught and retained in a firm

"I apologize," he said at once, still however, holding on to her hand,
"I thought it was the purse."

Peggy jerked her hand loose indignantly, and speechless with wrath she
hurried toward the door only to find that she had mistaken her
direction. In her effort to recover her bearings she become hopelessly
confused, stumbled noisily over a bench, and fell headlong into the arms
of her companion.

"You had better sit down again," he remarked coolly as he returned her
to her seat and sat down calmly beside her. As he did so Peggy noted
curiously the dim attractive silhouette of his head and the remarkably
good line from ear to shoulder.

"I am going at once," she said haughtily, but without moving.

"You can't," the man beside her replied, "and if you promise not to cry
or fall over any more benches I will tell you why--although I myself do
not object to the latter," he continued judicially, "but for the sake of
your own bones, merely."

Peggy ignored the last.

"Why can't I go?" she said defiantly.

"Because the door is locked," he explained succinctly.

"We can both scream or you can throw a bench through the window," said
Peggy triumphantly.

The unseen laughed a nice laugh that Peggy liked.

"In that latter case, beside the fact that there is no window, we would
surely be had up before the head-warden of this old jail. Besides, do
you know what time it is?"

"About tea time," said Peggy who had lunched frugally at one of the
tea-shops on a cup of tea and a jam roll.

"Just before you woke up," said her companion, "I used my last match--it
always is the last in a case like this--to look at my watch. It was
half-past twelve. Remember, you promised----" at a warning gurgle from

Then suddenly a laugh rang out sweet and clear in the darkness of the
musty chapel, a laugh that echoed into the recesses of the old
tombs--perhaps in its musical cadences stirring pleasantly the haughty
slumber of their noble occupants.

"What are you laughing at?" said the voice suspiciously.

"An adventure at last!" Peggy cried, clapping her hands applaudingly.

"I am glad you take it so cheerfully," returned her companion. "There is
only one thing to do," he continued practically, "I thought it out for
myself before you woke up and complicated matters by your appearance. Of
course with sufficient yelling we can arouse the barrack sentry, and for
our pains we'd probably have the whole barrack out to arrest us. There
is no way in which you can offend the noble and independent Briton more
deeply than by treating lightly his worship of royalty, dead or alive,
and we would probably be held for committing _lese majeste_ by getting
ourselves locked up with the numerous relicts of Henry the Eighth. But
if we wait until morning we can run good chances of slipping out
unperceived with the first crowd of tourists."

"I feel just like the little princes in the Tower, or Queen Mary or
Charlotte Corday," murmured Peggy in ecstatic historical confusion, "or
somebody noble and romantic and beheaded. I think I shall play at being
Queen Mary. I once learned a piece about her. It was very sad, but I
always stuck at the fifth line and had to sit down. Since we have to
stay here till morning we might as well amuse ourselves and you may be

"Who was he?" asked her companion sceptically, "sounds like one of those
Italian fellows."

"He was Queen Mary's chaperon," Peggy explained vaguely, "and he sang
her love songs."

"Good," said the voice agreeably.

"Can't you think of something else for me?" said the unseen, gloomily
appalled by the prospect of having doughnut recipes pronounced over his

"How would you like to be Darnley?" said Peggy. "He was her husband."
"I'll be Darnley," came from the darkness so decidedly that Peggy

"You have to get blown-up right off," she hastened to add. "Darnley

"Oh he did, did he?" the voice spoke with deeper gloom.

"Queen Mary did it," added Peggy.

"Well, even in the Dark Ages matrimony seems to have given your sex the
same privileges," philosophized her companion cynically.

"How mean!" said Peggy coldly, "I shall play at being Elizabeth all

"It wouldn't suit you," said her discarded leading man, "not with your

"Why not?" said Peggy.

"Because it's not hard and cold and metallic enough. Because it has too
much womanly sweetness in it and not enough harsh masculinity."

"What a good dramatic critic you would make!" said Peggy a little
spitefully, "and since you are reading voices I can tell quite well by
yours that you are fat and red faced."

The man laughed.

"And by the same token you are all sweetness and blue eyes and dearness
and dimples," he punished her. Then the banter in his tones died
suddenly out.

"There's something I want to tell you," he said abruptly, with a
movement that seemed in the darkness like a sudden squaring of his
shoulders. "But first I want you to tell me your name."

"What a sudden descent from romance and poetry to mere stupid facts,"
hedged Peggy. "Think, in this atmosphere of royalties if it should be
Bridget, or, still more horrible, Mamie."

"Please," the voice persisted in its gravity, "we have been
fellow-prisoners, you know, and you should be kind."

Peggy told him with the full three-syllabled dignity of the "Margaret."

"Mine," he continued, "is John Barrett."

"Now," cried Peggy, "if this were a proper adventure we have reached the
place when I should be able to say, 'Why! not the Jack Barrett that
Brother Billy knew at Harvard?' Then you would cry, 'And this is my old
chum William's little sister Peggy that used to send him fudge!' and
then everything would be all right. But I haven't any brother at all,"
she finished regretfully.

"And Harvard wasn't my college," said her companion. "However," he went
on, "it would take more than the conventional backing of many brother
Billies to put me right with you after I've told you what I have to tell

"Then don't do it," said Peggy softly.

"If I didn't know you'd find it out in a very few minutes I wouldn't,"
he confessed shamelessly. "But before I tell you I want you to know what
finding you here meant to me. You've got to realize the temptation
before you can understand the fall. You always got away from me, from
that first time in Liverpool----"

"Oh!" said Peggy with a gasp.

"And at Paris and at Calais when you smiled adorably at me----"

"I didn't" said Peggy, blushing in the darkness.

"When you didn't smile adorably at me, then," pursued the voice
relentlessly. "It was always the same. I found you and you were
gone--snatched away by an unkind fate in the form of your man from
Cook's. When you sailed away from me at Calais I was booked to leave
that same day from Antwerp, but I came on here after you instead. London
is small--the American tourist London, that is--the Abbey, the Museum,
the galleries, and the Tower, but I seemed to miss you everywhere. It
was fate again that sent me here to find you asleep in the corner."

"Now I know you are going to tell something very foolish," said Peggy
reflectively, "when people begin to talk about fate like that you always
find they are just trying to shift the responsibility."

"I want you to know it wasn't premeditated, however," pursued the voice.
"It wasn't till the guard shut the door that I thought of it. You will
believe that, won't you?" he pleaded.

The dimple appeared suddenly in Peggy's cheek. There came an echo from
without of many footsteps.

"And so," she took up the tale quickly, "having nicely planned it all
out you shook me rudely to wake me up, told me the door was locked, and
that it was midnight when it was only four in the afternoon. And it
wasn't at all necessary to shake me so hard," she continued, "because I
woke up when you came in."

"Peggy you knew!" the voice cried with a sudden realization, "you knew
and you stayed!" He caught her hand, and in the darkness she could feel
his nearness. Then suddenly the door opened letting into the chapel a
flood of bright sunlight. "Ladies and gentlemen," the sonorous voice of
the old guard came to them, "this, in the words of Macaulay, is the
saddest spot on earth," continued the mournful recital, even as, in
happy contradiction, Peggy and her American, secure in their little
recess, looked blissfully into each other's eyes.



A Winter's Tale


THE oldest man in the train service didn't pretend to say how long
Sankey had worked for the company. Pat Francis was a very old conductor;
but old man Sankey was a veteran when Pat Francis began braking. Sankey
ran a passenger train when Jimmie Brady was running--and Jimmie
afterward enlisted and was killed in the Custer fight.

There was an odd tradition about Sankey's name. He was a tall, swarthy
fellow, and carried the blood of a Sioux chief in his veins. It was in
the time of the Black Hills excitement, when railroad men, struck by the
gold fever, were abandoning their trains even at way-stations and
striking across the divide for Clark's Crossing. Men to run the trains
were hard to get, and Tom Porter, trainmaster, was putting in every man
he could pick up without reference to age or color. Porter (he died at
Julesburg afterward) was a great "jollier," and he wasn't afraid of
anybody on earth. One day a war party of Sioux clattered into town and
tore around like a storm. They threatened to scalp everything, even to
the local tickets. They dashed in on Tom Porter, sitting in the
despatcher's office upstairs, while the despatcher was hiding below,
under a loose plank in the baggage-room floor. Tom, being bald as a
sand-hill, considered himself exempt from scalping parties anyway. He
was working a game of solitaire when they bore down on him, and got them
interested in it. That led to a parley, which ended by Porter's hiring
the whole band to brake on freight trains. Old man Sankey was said to
have been one of that original war party.

Now this is merely a caboose story, told on winter nights when trainmen
get stalled in the snow that drifts down from the Sioux country. But
what follows is better attested.

Sankey, to start with, had a peculiar name--an unpronounceable,
unspellable, unmanageable name. I never heard it, so I can't give it to
you; but it was as hard to catch as an Indian pony, and that name made
more trouble on the payrolls than all the other names put together.
Nobody at headquarters could handle it; it was never turned in twice
alike, and they were always writing Tom Porter about the thing. Tom
explained several times that it was Sitting Bull's ambassador who was
drawing that money, and that he usually signed the pay-roll with a
tomahawk. But nobody at Omaha ever knew how to take a joke. The first
time Tom went down, he was called in very solemnly to explain again
about the name, and being in a hurry and very tired of the whole
business, Tom spluttered: "Hang it, don't bother me any more about that
name! If you can't read it make it Sankey, and be done with it."

They took Tom at his word. They actually did make it Sankey; and that's
how our oldest conductor came to bear the name of the famous singer. And
more I may tell you: good name as it was--and is--the Sioux never
disgraced it.

I suppose every old traveler on the system knew Sankey. He was not only
always ready to answer questions; but, what is more, ready to answer the
same question twice. It is that which makes conductors gray-headed and
spoils their chances for heaven--answering the same questions over and
over again. Children were apt to be startled a bit at first sight of
Sankey, he was so dark. But Sankey had a very quiet smile that always
made them friends after the first trip through the sleepers, and they
sometimes ran about asking for him after he had left the train. Of late
years--and this hurts a bit--these very same children, grown ever so
much bigger, and riding again to or from California or Japan or
Australia, will ask, when they reach the West End, about the Indian
conductor. But the conductors who now run the overland trains pause at
the question, checking over the date limits on the margins of the coupon
tickets, and handing the envelopes back, look at the children, and say
quietly: "He isn't running any more."

If you have ever gone over our line to the mountains or to the coast,
you may remember at McCloud, where they change engines and set the diner
in or out, the pretty little green park to the east of the depot, with a
row of catalpa trees along the platform line. It looks like a glass of
spring water. If it happened to be Sankey's run and a regular West End
day, sunny and delightful, you would be sure to see standing under the
catalpas a shy, dark-skinned girl of fourteen or fifteen years, silently
watching the preparations for the departure of the Overland. And after
the new engine had been backed champing down, and harnessed to its long
string of vestibuled sleepers; after the air-hose had been connected and
examined; after the engineer had swung out of his cab, filled his cups,
and swung in again; after the fireman and his helper had disposed of
their slice-bar and shovel and given the tender a final sprinkle, and
after the conductor had walked leisurely forward, compared time with the
engineer, and cried, "All Abo-o-o-ard!" then, as your coach moved slowly
ahead, you might notice, under the receding catalpas, the little girl
waving a parasol or a handkerchief at the outgoing train. That is, at
Conductor Sankey; for she was his daughter, Neeta Sankey. Her mother was
Spanish, and died when Neeta was a wee bit. Neeta and the Limited were
Sankey's whole world.

When Georgie Sinclair began pulling the Limited, running west opposite
Foley, he struck up a great friendship with Sankey. Sankey, though he
was hard to start, was full of early-day stories. Georgie, it seemed,
had the faculty of getting him to talk; perhaps because when he was
pulling Sankey's train he made extraordinary efforts to keep on time;
time was a hobby with Sankey. Foley said he was so careful of it that he
let his watch stop when he was off duty just to save time. Sankey loved
to breast the winds and the floods and the snows, and if he could get
home pretty near on schedule, with everybody else late, he was happy;
and in respect of that, as Sankey used to say, Georgie Sinclair could
come nearer gratifying Sankey's ambition than any engine-runner we had.
Even the firemen used to observe that the young engineer, always neat,
looked still neater on the days when he took out Sankey's train.

By and by there was an introduction under the catalpas. After that it
was noticed that Georgie began wearing gloves on the engine--not kid
gloves, but yellow dogskin; and black silk shirts--he bought them in
Denver. Then--such an odd way engineers have of paying compliments--when
Georgie pulled into town on Number Two, if it was Sankey's train, the
big sky-scraper would give a short, hoarse scream, a most peculiar note,
just as it drew past Sankey's house, which stood on the brow of the hill
west of the yards. Thus Neeta would know that Number Two and her father,
and naturally Mr. Sinclair, were in again, and all safe and sound.

When the railway trainmen held their division fair at McCloud there was
a lantern to be voted to the most popular conductor--a gold-plated
lantern with a green curtain in the globe. Cal Stewart and Ben Doton,
who were very swell conductors and great rivals, were the favorites, and
had the town divided over their chances for winning it. But at the last
moment Georgie Sinclair stepped up to the booth and cast a storm of
votes for old man Sankey. Doton's friends and Stewart's laughed at
first; but Sankey's votes kept pouring in amazingly. The two favorites
got frightened; they pooled their issues by throwing Stewart's vote to
Doton. But it wouldn't do. Georgie Sinclair, with a crowd of
engineers--Cameron, Kennedy, Foley, Bat Mullen, and Burns--came back at
them with such a swing that in the final five minutes they fairly
swamped Doton. Sankey took the lantern by a thousand votes. But I
understood it cost Georgie and his friends a pot of money.

Sankey said all the time that he didn't want the lantern, but just the
same he always carried that particular lantern, with his full name,
Sylvester Sankey, ground into the glass just below the green mantle.
Pretty soon, Neeta being then eighteen, it was rumored that Sinclair was
engaged to Miss Sankey, and was going to marry her. And marry her he
did; though that was not until after the wreck in the Blackwood gorge
after the Big Snow.

It goes by just that name on the West End yet; for never were such a
winter and such a snow known on the plains and in the mountains. One
train on the northern division was stalled six weeks that winter, and
one whole coach was chopped up for kindling wood. The great and
desperate effort of the company was to hold open the main line, the
artery which connected the two coasts. It was a hard winter on trainmen.
Week after week the snow kept falling and blowing. The trick was not to
clear the line; it was to keep it clear. Every day we sent out trains
with the fear that we should not see them again for a week. Freight we
didn't pretend to move; local passenger business had to be abandoned.
Coal, to keep our engines and our towns supplied, we had to carry; and
after that all the brains and muscle and motive power were centered on
keeping One and Two, our through passenger trains, running.

Our trainmen worked like Americans; there were no cowards on our rolls.
But after too long a strain men become exhausted, benumbed, indifferent;
reckless, even. The nerves give out, and will-power seems to halt on
indecision; but decision is the life of the fast train. None of our
conductors stood the hopeless fight like Sankey. He was patient,
taciturn, untiring; and in a conflict with the elements, ferocious. All
the fighting blood of his ancestors seemed to course again in that
struggle with the winter king. I can see him yet, on bitter days,
standing alongside the track in a heavy pea-jacket and Napoleon boots, a
sealskin cap drawn snugly over his straight black hair, watching,
ordering, signaling, while Number One, with its frost-bitten sleepers
behind a rotary, tried to buck through ten and twenty-foot cuts which
lay bank-full of snow west of McCloud.

Not until April did it begin to look as if we should win out. A dozen
times the line was all but choked on us. And then, when snow-plows were
disabled and train crews desperate, there came a storm that discounted
the worst blizzard of the winter. As the reports rolled in on the
morning of the 5th, growing worse as they grew thicker, Neighbor,
dragged out, played out, mentally and physically, threw up his hands. It
snowed all day the 6th, and on Saturday morning the section men reported
thirty feet in the Blackwood cañon. It was six o'clock when we got the
word, and daylight before we got the rotary against it. They bucked away
till noon without much headway, and came in with their gear smashed and
a driving-rod fractured. It looked as if we were at last beaten. Number
One pulled into McCloud that day eighteen hours late; it was Sankey's
and Sinclair's run west.

There was a long council in the round-house. The rotary was knocked out;
coal was running low in the chutes. If the line wasn't kept open for the
coal from the mountains, it was plain we should be tied until we could
ship it from Iowa or Missouri. West of Medicine Pole there was another
big rotary working east, with plenty of coal behind her; but she was
reported stuck fast in the Cheyenne Hills. Foley made suggestions, and
Dad Sinclair made suggestions. Everybody had a suggestion left. The
trouble was, Neighbor said, they didn't amount to anything, or were
impossible. "It's a dead block, boys," announced Neighbor sullenly after
everybody had done. "We are beaten unless we can get Number One through
to-day. Look there: by the holy poker, it's snowing again."

The air was dark in a minute with whirling clouds. Men turned to the
windows and quit talking. Every fellow felt the same--hopeless; at
least, all but one. Sankey, sitting back of the stove, was making
tracings with a piece of chalk. "You might as well unload your
passengers, Sankey," said Neighbor. "You'll never get 'em through this

And it was then that Sankey proposed his double-header.

He devised a snow-plow which combined in one monster ram about all the
good material we had left, and submitted the scheme to Neighbor.
Neighbor studied it, and hacked at it all he could, and brought it over
to the office. It was like staking everything on the last cast of the
dice, but we were in the state of mind which precedes a desperate
venture. It was talked over an hour, and orders were finally given by
the superintendent to rig up the double-header and get against the snow
with it.

All that day and most of the night Neighbor worked twenty men on
Sankey's device. By Sunday morning it was in such shape that we began to
take heart. "If she don't get through, she'll sure get back again, and
that's what most of 'em don't do," growled Neighbor, as he and Sankey
showed the new ram to the engineers.

They had taken the 566, George Sinclair's engine, for one head, and
Burns's, the 497, for the other. Behind these were Kennedy, with the
314, and Cameron, with the 296. The engines were set in pairs, headed
each way, and buckled up like pack mules. Over the pilots and stacks of
the head engines rose the tremendous plows, which were to tackle the
worst drifts ever recorded, before or since, on the West End. The ram
was designed to work both ways. Under the coal, each tender was loaded
with pig-iron.

The beleaguered passengers on Number One, side-tracked in the yards,
eagerly watched the preparations Sankey was making to clear the line.
Every amateur on the train had his camera out taking pictures of the
ram. The town, gathered in a single great mob, looked silently on, and
listened to the frosty notes of the sky-scrapers as they went through
their preliminary manoeuvers. Just as the final word was given by
Sankey, conductor in charge, the sun burst through the fleecy clouds,
and a wild cheer followed the ram out of the western yard; it was looked
on as a sign of good luck to see the sun again.

Little Neeta, up on the hill, must have seen them as they pulled out.
Surely she heard the choppy ice-bitten screech of the 566; for that was
never forgotten, whether the service was special or regular. Besides,
the head cab of the ram carried this time not only Georgie Sinclair, but
her father as well. Sankey could handle a slice-bar as well as a punch,
and rode on the head engine, where, if anywhere, the big chances would
come. What Sankey was not capable of in the train-service we never knew,
because he rose superior to every emergency that ever confronted him.

Bucking snow is principally brute force; there is very little coaxing.
West of the bluffs there was a volley of sharp tooting, like code
signals between a fleet of cruisers, and in just a minute the four
ponderous engines, two of them in the back motion, fires white and
throats bursting, steamed wildly into the cañon. Six hundred feet from
the first cut, Sinclair's whistle signaled again. Burns and Cameron and
Kennedy answered; and then, literally turning the monster ram loose
against the dazzling mountain, the crews settled themselves for the

At such a moment there is nothing to be done. If anything goes wrong,
eternity is too close to consider. There came a muffled drumming on the
steam-chests; a stagger and a terrific impact; and then the recoil, like
the stroke of a trip-hammer. The snow shot into the air fifty feet, and
the wind carried a cloud of fleecy confusion over the ram and out of the
cut. The cabs were buried in white, and the great steel frames of the
engines sprung like knitting-needles under the frightful force of the
blow. Pausing for hardly a breath, they began the signaling again; then
backed up and up and up the line; and again the massive machines were
hurled screaming into the cut. "We're getting there, Georgie," cried
Sankey when the rolling and lurching had stopped.

No one else could tell a thing about it, for it was snow and snow and
snow; above and behind and ahead and beneath. Sinclair coughed the
flakes out of his eyes and nose and mouth like a baffled collie. He
looked doubtful of the claim until the mist had blown clear and the
quivering monsters were again recalled for a dash. Then it was plain
that Sankey's instinct was right; they were gaining.

Again they went in, lifting a very avalanche over the stacks, packing
the banks of the cut with walls hard as ice. Again, as the drivers
stuck, they raced in a frenzy, and into the shriek of the wind went the
unearthly scrape of the overloaded safeties. Slowly and sullenly the
machines were backed again. "She's doing the work, Georgie," cried
Sankey. "For that kind of a cut she's as good as a rotary. Look
everything over now while I go back and see how the boys are standing
it. Then we'll give her one more, and give it the hardest kind."

And they did give her one more; and another. Men at Santiago put up no
stouter fight than these men made that Sunday morning in the cañon of
the Blackwood. Once they went in, and twice. And the second time the
bumping drummed more deeply; the drivers held, pushed, panted, and
gained against the white wall; heaved and stumbled ahead; and with a
yell from Sinclair and Sankey and the fireman, the double-header shot
her nose into the clear over the Blackwood gorge. As engine after engine
flew past the divided walls each cab took up the cry; it was the wildest
crowd that ever danced to victory. Through they went and half-way across
the bridge before they could check their monster catapult. Then, at a
half full, they shot it back again at the cut, for it worked as well one
way as the other.

"The thing is done," declared Sankey, when they got into position up the
line for a final shoot to clean out the eastern cut and get head for a
dash across the bridge and into the west end of the cañon, where there
lay another mountain of snow to split. "Look the machines over pretty
close, boys," said he to the engineers. "If nothing's sprung, we'll take
a full head across the gorge--the bridge will carry anything--and buck
the west cut. Then after we get Number One through this afternoon,
Neighbor can put his baby cabs in here and keep 'em chasing all night.
But it's done snowing," he added, looking at the leaden sky.

He had the plans all figured out for the master mechanic, the shrewd,
kindly old man. I think, myself, there's no man on earth like a good
Indian; and, for that matter, none like a bad one. Sankey knew by a
military instinct just what had to be done and how to do it. If he had
lived, he was to have been assistant superintendent. That was the word
that leaked from headquarters afterward. And with a volley of jokes
between the cabs and a laughing and yelling between toots, down went
Sankey's double-header again into the Blackwood gorge.

At the same moment, by an awful misunderstanding of orders, down came
the big rotary from the west end with a dozen cars of coal behind. Mile
after mile it had wormed east toward Sankey's ram, and it now burrowed
through the western cut of the Blackwood, crashed through the drift
Sankey was aiming for, and whirled out into the open, dead against him,
at forty miles an hour. Each train, in order to make the grade and the
blockade against it, was straining the cylinders.

Through the swirling snow that half hid the bridge and interposed
between the rushing plows Sinclair saw them coming. He yelled. Sankey
saw them a fraction of a second later, and while Sinclair struggled with
the throttle and the air, Sankey gave the alarm through the whistle to
the poor fellows in the blind pockets behind. But the track was at the
worst. Where there was no snow there were "whiskers"; oil itself
couldn't have been worse to stop on. It was the old and deadly peril of
fighting blockades from both ends on a single track. The great rams of
steel and fire had done their work, and with their common enemy
overcome, they dashed at each other like madmen across the Blackwood

The fireman at the first cry shot out the side. Sankey yelled at
Sinclair to jump. But Georgie shook his head: he never would jump.
Without hesitating, Sankey picked him from the levers in his arms,
planted a sure foot, and hurled him like a coal shovel through the
gangway far out into the gorge. The other cabs were already empty. But
the instant's delay in front cost Sankey his life. Before he himself
could jump the rotary crashed into the 566. They reared like mountain
lions, pitched sideways and fell headlong into the creek, fifty feet.
Sankey went under them. He could have saved himself; he chose to save
George. There wasn't time to do both; he had to choose, and to choose
instantly. Did he, maybe, think in that flash of Neeta and of whom she
needed most--of a young and a stalwart protector rather than an old and
failing one? I do not know; I know only what he did. Every one who
jumped got clear. Sinclair lit in ten feet of snow, and they pulled him
out with a rope: he wasn't scratched. Even the bridge was not badly
strained. Number One pulled over it next day.

Sankey was right; there was no more snow; not even enough to cover the
dead engines that lay on the rocks. But the line was open: the fight was

There never was a funeral in McCloud like Sankey's. George Sinclair and
Neeta followed first, and of the mourners there were as many as there
were spectators. Every engine on the division carried black for thirty

Sankey's contrivance for fighting snow has never yet been beaten on the
high line. It is perilous to go against a drift behind it: something has
to give. But it gets there, as Sankey got there--always; and in time of
blockade and desperation on the West End they still send out Sankey's
double-header; though Sankey, as the conductors tell the children,
traveling east or traveling west--Sankey isn't running any more.



A Comedy of Everyday Life


     "AUNTIE left on the six-o'clock train last night. Meet her at the

This telegram, dated New York, greeted Frank Carey when he reached his
pleasant little home on Indiana Avenue, Chicago.

"Aunt Mary will be here to-night," he said to his wife, "my rich aunt
from New York, you know. I am to meet her at the depot."

"When does she arrive?" fluttered pretty little Mrs. Carey, a bride of a
few months. "Cannot I go with you to the depot?"

Mr. Carey said she could, then he thought for a moment, then he put his
doubts into words after a second reading of the telegram.

"I wonder what road she is coming in on?" he said.

"'Twas stupid of her," replied his wife, "but call up the railroads and
find out which one has a six-o'clock train from New York. Silly!"

Mr. Carey kissed his wife and remarked that she was the brightest little
girl in the world, after which he gaily telephoned, listened intently to
someone on the other end of the line, made numerous notes, and turned to
his wife in despair.

"Bless Clara!" he said devoutly.

His wife looked surprised, so he hastily explained.

"There is a six o'clock train from New York on the Pennsylvania, also on
the Lake Shore, likewise on the Michigan Central, and the Lehigh
Valley, and the Grand Trunk, and the West Shore, and the B. &. O.!"

"Which one is auntie coming on?" inquired Mrs. Carey with interest.

"All of them," replied her husband wrathfully. "She is sitting on the
cow-catcher of each and every train, and if I'm not there to meet her
she'll disinherit me. Haven't you any sense?"

Whereupon there were tears, apologies, and finally a council of war. It
was Mrs. Carey who solved the problem.

"All we have to do," she cried, "is to meet all the trains. Won't it be

Carey didn't think so, but was afraid to express himself. He simply
tried to look impressed and listened.

"There are only seven trains," she continued. "Now you," counting on her
fingers, "are one, and I am two and Mr. and Mrs. Haines next door, who
belong to my whist club, are four; and Ella Haines is five; and I just
saw Mr. What's-his-name go in to call on Ella--and he'll be six; and
that horrid man on the next block who is in your lodge will have to be

The "train meeters" were gathered together inside of an hour. Mrs. Carey
overruled all objections and laughed away all difficulties. She told
them it would be a lark, and they believed it--at the time! As none of
them had met Mrs. Smith (Aunt Mary), Carey was called upon for a

"Aunt Mary," he said, "is of medium height, dark complexion and usually
dresses in black. She is fifty-eight years old, but tells people she is
under fifty. You cannot miss her." And with this they were compelled to
be satisfied.

       *        *       *       *       *

Ella Haines was assigned to the Pennsylvania depot and arrived late. All
the New York passengers had disembarked, but an old woman was standing
at the entrance and looking anxiously at the passers-by.

"Mrs. Smith?" said Ella, inquiringly.

"Thank heaven, you have come," was the joyous reply.

"Here," and she stepped to one side and revealed a little girl who was
gazing out at the tracks. "I've had such a time with that brat and I'll
never travel with another again. I've just got time to catch my train
for St. Paul. Good-bye!" Whereupon, disregarding Ella's cries and her
protestations, the woman rushed madly to the other end of the depot and
disappeared through a gate which closed behind her with a slam. It was
the last call for the St. Paul train.

Naturally, Ella did not know what to do. She hung around the depot for
half an hour, hoping someone would claim the child. Then she put the
little one in a cab and gave the Careys' address in Indiana Avenue.

       *        *       *       *       *

Walter Haines went to the Lake Shore depot. One of the first passengers
to emerge from the New York train was a female, who seemed to answer the
general description furnished by Carey. She was breathless as if from
running faster than an old woman should run. As she reached Haines, she
stopped and glared at him.

"Mrs. Smith?" he inquired, lifting his hat.

The woman grabbed him by the arm. "I knew you would be here, but hurry,
that man is after me!"

"What man?" asked Haines in surprise.

"Hush, we cannot talk now," was the reply. "Get a carriage and drive
fast, fast; we must escape him."

"George couldn't come, he sent me. My name is Haines," said the puzzled

"I don't care if your name is Beelzebub" was the impatient retort. "You
get that carriage or I'll write to Roosevelt." And Mr. Haines, very much
astonished, complied.

He thought as he drove away that he heard someone shouting, but was not
sure; in fact, he paid no attention, for he was too busy thinking what a
queer old aunt his friend Carey had.

The "horrid man who belonged to the lodge" was named Perkins. He reached
the B. & O. depot half an hour ahead of time, so he went across the
street and had a drink. When he returned he discovered that No. 7 was
late, and so had another. Also, several more. By the time the train did
arrive he was in such a mellow state that he couldn't tell a parlor car
from a lake steamer--and he didn't care! He had likewise forgotten what
George's aunt looked like, but that, too, was a trivial matter. So he
stood at the gate, beaming blandly at every person that appeared.

"Are you Georsh's saunt?" he inquired of a tall man with white
side-whiskers and garbed in ministerial black. His answer was a look of
horror, but it had no effect on Perkins, who repeated his question at
intervals without result. His lack of success finally drove him to

"Poor Georsh!" he sobbed. "Dear old Georsh! Must have an naunt! Break
hish heart if he don't have an naunt! Can't fine his naunt! Get him one

A gang of immigrants were passing at the time. Perkins grabbed one of
them by the arm.

"Be nish fellow," he said persuasively, "be Georsh's aunt."

The immigrant was obdurate, but Perkins was persistent. He drew a roll
of bills from his pocket and peeled off a five. This he pressed upon his
new-found friend.

"Be a good aunt," he said, "be a nish aunt, and I'll give you two more
like thish!"

The Italian, overcome by the sight of so much wealth, fell captive to
the eloquence of Perkins. The latter was delighted. He escorted his
victim to a saloon across the street and hurled six drinks into him in
rapid succession. The immigrant beamed and forgot all his troubles. He
lit a fifteen-cent cigar and puffed away as if he were used to it.

"Be your-a aunt," he said, "be-a anybody's aunt. You good-a feller."

This sentiment led to another round of drinks, and then the pair tumbled
into a cab, singing discordantly in two languages. Perkins fortunately
remembered the address of Haines, and was able to mumble it so that the
hackman could understand. Therefore there was no bar to his enjoyment.

Of course they stopped en route, for Perkins was brimming over with
gratitude and the cabman was included in their rejoicing. Long before
they reached Indiana Avenue, everybody was drunk except the horse.

In the meantime there was all sorts of trouble in the modest residence
of George Carey. The head of the household had fumed and fretted about
the Michigan Central depot, and finally started home, auntless. There he
met his wife, Mrs. Haines and Ella's young man with similar stories.
Five minutes later a carriage drove up and Ella and her charge alighted.

"Isn't she a dear little girl?" gurgled Miss Haines, who, being petite
and worried, didn't know anything else to do under the circumstances
except to gurgle.

Carey gazed at the young woman with distinct disapproval for the first
time in his life.

"I know the popular impression is that old ladies shrink," he said, "but
Aunt Mary could never have shrunk to that size. Where did you get her
and why?"

Falteringly, Miss Haines explained. Then she cried. The child, who had
regarded them gravely up to this point, took it for a signal. She
screamed, then she roared. Nobody could comfort her or find out who she

The arrival of another cab distracted their attention. The bell rang
loudly. As Carey opened the door, an old woman bounded in. Her hat was
on one side of her head and her eyes gleamed madly.

"Safe at last!" she cried. Then she ran upstairs, entered Mrs. Haines's
room, and locked the door. Through the panels came the sound of
hysterical laughter.

Walter Haines entered the house at this moment. His attitude was
distinctly apologetic.

"Remarkable old lady, isn't she?" he ventured.

"Who?" asked Mr. Carey.

"Why your aunt, of course; didn't you see her come in?"

Carey choked down his wrath out of respect to the ladies, but it was
hard work.

"I never saw that woman before," he remarked; "you brought her here
uninvited, now you take her away."

Naturally this provoked argument. Mrs. Haines sided with her husband,
Mrs. Carey flew to the aid of her worser half, Miss Haines wept, and the
little girl screamed. Upstairs, the bogus Aunt Mary was still laughing.

None of the interested parties could tell afterward how long the talk
continued. A louder noise outside drew them all to the front porch. In
front of the house was a hansom cab drawn by a disgusted-looking horse.
He looked and acted like one who had been compelled against his will to
mingle with disreputable associates.

The driver descended from his seat and fell full length upon the
pavement. He didn't try to get up, but chanted in a husky tone, "Hail!
hail! the gang's all here!!!"

Then the door of the cab opened and Mr. Perkins appeared. Nobody could
deny that he was very much the worse for wear. But Mr. Perkins bore
himself like a conqueror. He advanced hastily and embraced Carey with
enthusiasm. Carey recoiled.

"Dear Georsh," said Perkins. "Got you an naunt!"

Apprehensively, Carey ran to the carriage. Huddled upon the floor was an
object that moved faintly. From the atmosphere Sherlock Holmes would
have deduced that a whisky refinery had exploded in that cab a few hours
before. The onlooker gingerly touched the object. It rolled over, then
it rolled out of the cab and lay on the sidewalk beside the driver.

Perkins kept on smiling. "Your naunt," he remarked, blandly. "Couldn't
get you what you wanted. Got you thish one!"

At this moment, Carey remembered that he had a telephone. He spurned his
"aunt" with his foot and passed into the house. He called up Police
Headquarters. His friend, Sergeant Bob O'Rourke, was on duty, which made
it easier for him.

"Bob," he said, after greetings had been exchanged, "have you an alarm
out for a little girl kidnapped from the Pennsylvania station?"


"And does anybody want a crazy woman, last seen on a Lake Shore train?"

"Yes; her keeper was here half an hour ago," was the reply. "He was
taking her to Kankakee and she made a get-away. What do you know about

"They are both here," was the reply. "Send the wagon, and just for good
measure I'll throw in an Italian immigrant who came in over the B. & O.
and a cab-driver. They are both drunk, very drunk, and please take the
cab away too."

The next half hour gave Indiana Avenue residents plenty to talk about
for a month. But finally the combat was over, and Carey and his friends
sat down exhausted.

"But what I would like to know," remarked the head of the house, "where,
oh where is Aunt Mary?"

It was a messenger-boy who brought the answer--a telegram dated Niagara
Falls, current date and reading:

     "Stopped over here. Isn't the view from Goat Island wonderful? Leave
     for Chicago on the first train. Meet me."

There was a sudden painful silence.

"Does anybody know how many trains there are from Niagara Falls?"
inquired Mrs. Carey, speaking to the company generally. She didn't dare
to address her husband.

"Just about as many as there are from New York," replied Haines, with a
woebegone look. "But--"

"Don't finish it," returned Carey, "I am not going to ask you to try
again, and I am not going to do so myself. Aunt Mary can leave her money
to anybody she pleases. If I had another night like this the executors
would be compelled to mail me my cheque to an asylum."

And the next evening Aunt Mary, unattended, reached her nephew's house
without any trouble at all. She didn't disinherit him; in fact, she felt
so sorry because of his troubles that she bought Mrs. Carey a complete
spring outfit regardless of cost.

It's a good thing to have an Aunt Mary, even if she is indefinite in her



A Drama in Wales


IN THE great stone hall of Llangarth, Daurn-ap-Tavis, the old Welsh Wolf
lay dying. Outside was the night and a sullen gale whose winds came
moaning down the hills and clung about the house with little bodeful
whispers that grew to long-drawn eerie wails, while pettish rain-squalls
spent their spite in futile gusts on door and casement.

And through the night from time to time a horseman came, spurring hard
and spitting out strange Welsh oaths at the winds that harried him. Five
had passed the door since sun-down, four worthy sons and a nephew of the
Wolf. They stood now booted and spurred about the old man's couch, a
rough-looking crew with the mud caking them from head to foot, while the
leaping flames from the log fire flung their shadows black and distorted
far up among the rafters.

They hung around him sullenly, but as he looked them up and down the
sick man's eyes took on a new keenness and a low, throaty laugh that was
half a growl escaped him.

"Well, Cedric, man, what devil's game have you been playing of late?
and, Tad, you black rascal--ah, 'twas a pity you were born to Gruffydd
instead of me. Well, well, boys, the old Wolf's cornered at last,
cornered at last, and Garm, Levin, Rhys--the Cadwallader's going to live
and laugh, aye, he's going to live and laugh while a Tavis roasts in

Garm started with a low growl, while Cedric kicked savagely at a hound
that lay beside the logs.

"Aye, Ced, kick the old dog, but it won't stop the Cadwallader's laugh."

Cedric clenched his fists at the taunt and his face grew purple in the
fire glow, but old Daurn went on remorselessly: "Twenty years he's
laughed at the Wolf and his whelps, an' think you he'll stop now? He was
always too lucky for me. I thought when my lads grew strong---- But
there, he laid me low, the only man that ever did, curse him! There's
the mark, boys; see the shamed blood rise to it?"

He loosened his shirt with a fretful jerk and they bent over and
glowered at the red scar which ran across his chest. They had all seen
it times before, knew the dark quarrel and the darker fight, had tingled
with shame again and again, but to-night it seemed to hold an added
sting, for the Wolf was going out with his debt unpaid.

Cedric, the elder, gaped and shuddered, then fell to cursing again, but
Daurn drew back the quilt and went on talking: "I swore by the body of
God to get even, and day and night I've watched my chance. I tried at
Tredegar, and that night ye all mind at Ebbu Vale. Yes, I tell you a
dozen times, but he's a fox, curse him! a sly old fox, and now the
Wolf's teeth are broken. What's that, Ced? Look to him, Tad--aye, look
to all thy cousins. Fine grown lads, big, brave, and fierce, but the
Cadwallader still lives and laughs; yes, laughs at old Daurn and his
boys. My God! to think of it."

"Curse me! choke me!" Cedric stormed out in spluttering fury, gripping
his sword with one hand while he dragged at his coat with the other.
"I'll cut--cut his bl-black gizzard, blast him. I'm a c-c-coward, eh!
Right in my t-teeth! Well, wait till th'-th' dawn an' see."

He had crammed his hat over his eyes and with coat buttoned all awry was
half way to the door before Tad caught and held him, whispering in his
ear: "Steady, Ced, steady. He's got some plan or I'm a fool. Come back
an' wait a bit, an' if I'm mistaken I'll surely ride along with ye."

Cedric yielded, doubtful and sullen, but Daurn greeted him bravely:
"God's truth, lad, you've the spirit of the Wolf at least, but you've
got no brains to plan. Come close an' listen, an' if ye truly want a
fight thy father'll never balk thee."

Then with faltering breath but gleaming eyes he unfolded the plan he had
conceived to make his dying a thing of greater infamy than all his
bloody days.

The beginnings of the feud between the House of the Wolf and that of
Llyn Gethin, the Cadwallader, were so remote that probably both had
forgotten, if they ever knew them, for the old Welsh chieftains passed
their quarrels on from generation to generation and their hot blood
rarely cooled in the passing. Llyn was about the only man in the country
who had been able to hold his own against "the Tavis," but hold it he
had with perhaps a trifle to spare. Indeed, of late years he had let
slip many an opportunity for reprisals, and thrice had made overtures of
peace which had been violently rejected. Llyn had fought fair at least,
even if he had struck hard, but the life of the Wolf had been as
treacherous as it was bloody. And day by day and year by year, as
Daurn's strength began to fail and brooding took the place of action,
the bitterness of his hatred grew, and out of this at last the plan. It
was simple.

Daurn was old, dying, and weary of the strife. He would pass at peace
with the world and particularly with his ancient foe. A messenger should
be sent inviting Llyn and his sons to Llangarth. They would suspect
nothing, for all Wales knew the Wolf lay low--would probably come
unarmed and needs must, as time was short, travel by night. Well, there
was a convenient and lonely spot some three miles from Llangarth--did
the lads understand? Aye, they understood, but their breath came heavily
and they glanced furtively each at the other, while the youngest, Rhys,
shivered and drew closer to Tad.

Daurn's burning eyes questioned them one by one, and one by one they
bowed their heads but spake never a word.

"Ye'll swear to it, lads," he whispered hoarsely, and drew a long dagger
from beneath his pillow. For answer there came the rattle of loosened
steel, and as he again bared his breast they drew closer in a half
circle, laying their blades flat above his heart, his own dagger adding
to the ring of steel.

And then they swore by things unknown to modern men to wipe out the
shame that had lain so long upon their house, and that before their
father died.

As their voices ceased the wind outside seemed to take up the burden of
their bloody oath as if possessed, for it shrieked and wailed down the
great chimney like some living thing in pain. And then, in a little lull
following on the sobbing cry, there came a curious straining push that
shook the closed oak door.

They stood transfixed, for a moment daunted, with their swords half in
and half out their scabbards, till with a warning gesture to his
cousins, Black Tad stole softly across the floor and, lifting the heavy
bar cautiously, opened the door.

He paused an instant on the lintel, motionless and rigid to the point of
his sword, his eyes fixed on the white face of a girl who was cowered
back against the further wall. For a fraction of time he hesitated, but
the awful anguish of the face and the mute, desperate appeal of the
whole pose settled him. With a rough clatter he sprang into the dim
passage, rattling his sword and stamping his feet, at the same time
giving vent with his lips to the yelp of a hound in pain, and following
it with rough curses and vituperation. Then, without another glance at
the girl, he re-entered the hall and slammed to the door, grumbling at
Rhys for not keeping his dogs tied up.

By one o'clock the great hall was still. The men were lying scattered
about the house, for the most part sleeping as heavily as many jorums of
rum made possible.

But the firelight flickering in the hall caught ever an answering gleam
from the old Wolf's eyes as he lay there gray, shaggy, and watchful.
From time to time his bony fingers plucked restlessly at his beard, and
now and again his lips stretched back over yellow teeth in an evil smile
as he gloated over the details of his coming vengeance.

And out in a chill upper hall Gwenith, the fair daughter of a black
house, sat in a deep embrasure, her arms clinging to the heavy oak bars
desperately. The wind moaned and sighed about her while her white
terrified lips echoed the agony of her heart. And the burden of her
whispered cry was ever, "Davy!--Davy!" and then: "For the Christ's sake!

So the night drew on with the men and dogs sleeping torpidly; with the
old Wolf chuckling grimly as the shadows closed about him, and with the
child in the cold above sobbing out pitiful prayers for her lover, for
only yesterday she had plighted her troth to Davy Gethin, the
Cadwallader's youngest son.

These two had met in the early days when she wandered free over the
rolling hills, a wild young kilted sprite, fearful of nothing save her
father and his grim sons. And Davy had wooed her ardently, though in
secret from the first. It had been charming enough in the past despite
the fear that ever made her say him nay. Then yesterday he had won her
from her tears and fears, won her by his brave and tender front, and she
had placed her little hands on his breast and sworn to follow him
despite all else when once her father had passed away. And now, twelve
short hours after her fingers had touched him, her fear had caught her
by the throat, for they would kill him surely, her prince, the only joy
she had ever known.

So went the night, with desperate distracted plans, and the dumb agony
of cold despair. And in the very early dawn, when men and things cling
close to sleep, she heard a gentle stirring--a muffled footfall on the
stairs, and Black Tad stood at her side, a great shadow, questioning

"Mistress, what heard you?"

And she answered quick with loathing: "All! all the vile, shameful

"They are our foes" he muttered moodily.

"Foes! Foes! Nay, none of you are worthy any foe--save the hangman! Ah,
God will curse you! Cruel! Cruel!"

She leaned out of her seat toward him, her panting breath and fierce
words lashing him so that he stepped back a pace, dazed--she was ever
such a gentle child.

"What would you, Gwen?"

"What would I! My God!--a fair fight at least. Oh, Tad, and I thought
you were a brave man."

"I--I--damme, I, what can I do?--and what does it matter?"

"Matter?--a foul blot!--matter to you and Ced and father--nothing!
Murderers! I hate you all! What has the Cadwallader done? All Wales
knows 'twas ever father set on him, not he on father--Always!--always, I
say! Aye, I remember that bloody night at Ebbu Vale. Shame! Shame! And
the harrying and burning at Rhyll, when the mother and her babes
perished. No, you weren't there, Tad, but you know and I know who was.
Ah, Tad, she's crying to God--that mother, and holding the little dead
things in her hands, close up to his face. And now you'd murder Llyn,
for all he's ever been for peace."

"Hush-s-sh! not so loud, Gwen."

"Not so loud! not so loud!" she jibed bitterly. "If you fear my poor
voice now, what will it be when all Wales is ringing with this last foul

Tad breathed hard, then caught her wrists suddenly, crushing them in his
fierceness: "Listen, Gwenith. After all I'm no Tavis--I'm Gruffydd, and
I love you."

She shrank away with wide, fearful eyes, her breath coming in little
painful gasps.

"What--what do you mean, Tad?"

"I love you, Gwen."


"Well, I'm no Tavis--I'm Gruffydd."

Slowly the meaning which he himself hardly understood dawned on her.

"You'll save them, Tad?"

"Na, na. A fair fight is what you said. 'Tis all I can do."

"And you will?"

"I love you," he persisted stubbornly.

She closed her eyes tightly and leaned back against the wooden shutter,
her hands still held close in his grasp. And she strove to see clearly
through the mist of horror and pain. It was a chance, at least a
fighting chance, to save Davy, her prince; the only chance, the only
way, and outside that what else mattered?

Her eyes opened and her lips trembled; then she got her strength back
and faced him in the dim dawn.

"My life for theirs, Tad,--is that it?"

Her eyes and her question shamed him, but he clung to his text doggedly,
for he had loved her long and hopelessly in his wild, stubborn way, and
this was his first and only desperate chance.

"I love ye, Gwenith, I love ye!"

There came a stir in the far hall, a long-drawn yawn; and at the sound
the girl whispered fiercely: "Well, it's a bargain; give them fair
warning and I'll--I'll do--give you your will. Yes, I swear it by the
dear Saint David. Quick! let me go--no, not now!--Tad, I command you,
I--I--Quick! that's Garm's voice; let me go."

       *        *       *       *       *

"Llyn Gethin! a word in your ear before we ride on."

It was Tad who spoke to the old Cadwallader out in the moonlight. Llyn
had answered Daurn's urgent message for peace, and a few miles north of
Llangarth had met Tad. At the words the old man looked at him curiously,
but reined his horse in, while his sons watched the pair suspiciously,
for they were young, their blood and their hate still ran hotly, and
save for their father would have had none of this death-bed

"Well, lad, what is it?" asked Llyn, when they were out of earshot.

"A word of warning, sir--from one who hates you."

"Ah! You were ever a good hater, boy. What is it?"

"'Tis a trick o 'mine, sir--this visit--and you'd better ride back."

"I think not, Tad."

"Well, have your way, but if you ride with me you ride to hell."

"We ride with you, Tad."

"Your blood be on you and your sons, then, Llyn Gethin. You're safe to
the stone bridge; after that fend for yourself. I--I'm a cursed traitor,
but, by David, I strike with my house. There, I've warned you, and God
forgive me."

"Amen, lad! Will you shake hands before we ride?"

"No, choke me! I'd sooner ding my dagger in your neck."

So they rejoined the waiting group and rode forward, Tad moodily in
advance, Llyn and his sons in a whispering bunch some yards behind. It
had been Tad's own suggestion that he ride forward and meet the Gethins
so they might be lured the more easily to the turn beyond the bridge.
Now they followed on till they saw the white masonry gleaming in the
moonlight, and then the dark form of Tad's horse crossing it, when there
was a halt and a grim tightening of belts and loosening of swords. And
as the man on the bridge threw up his arm, Llyn answered the sign
hoarsely: "God keep thee, son of Gruffydd!" he cried. Then as his sons
closed in he turned on them sternly: "Remember, lads! who touches him
touches me. Ah! steady now! Forward!"

Even as they clattered on the bridge Tad's challenge and signal to his
kinsmen rang out furiously:

"The Wolf! The Wolf and Saint David!"

Then came a rush of horse and steel and wild-eyed men, which but for
their preparation would have swept the Gethins down. As it was they met
it fiercely as it came. They had not come unarmed--perhaps wise old Llyn
distrusted such late penitence even as did his sons. Be that as it may,
the cry of "Cadwallader!" rose against "The Wolf!" and bore it back, for
even in the first wild rush, Cedric fell away before a long, swift
thrust, and a moment later Rhys, the youngest of the house went down and
died beneath the stamping iron hoofs.

When Llyn saw this he called to stop the fight, but Tad, in a frenzy of
horror and remorse, flung on again with Garth and Levin striking wild
beside him. 'Twas a wicked rush, but now the fight stood five to three,
and in the crash Levin slipped and got a dagger in his throat, while Tad
spurred through an open way. Then as he reined and turned, the end was
come, for Garm's shrill death-cry tore the air, and he was left alone.

Thrice he charged like a wounded boar, shouting hoarsely for the house
he had betrayed. "The Wolf! The Wolf! Saint David and the Wolf!"

And ever he found that open way and ever their steel avoided him.

At last he reined in his sweating mare and fell to cursing, his face
distraught with agony and wet with blood and sweat and tears. So he
stood, desperate--at bay, and taunted them with every vileness his
furious tongue could frame. Then faltered at last with a great
heartbroken sob, for they sat silent and still and would not give him

On the road at his horse's feet Cedric lay and Rhys, and over yonder in
the grass the other two. He swayed weakly as he looked, then slid from
his saddle and stooping, kissed his cousins one by one, with those grim,
silent figures looking on. He broke his sword across his knee--his
father, Gruffydd's sword--and flung the pieces with an oath at Llyn.
Then, ere they could guess his meaning, his dagger flashed, and with a
last weak cry for "the Wolf," he fell with the men of his House.

       *        *       *       *       *

Back at Llangarth the great hall was aglow and Daurn chuckled and waited
and plucked at his beard, till, just past midnight, there came a sudden
commotion and the heavy tramp of horses in the outer court. Then Gwenith
ran in white and wild, and kneeling, buried her sobs in the drapery of
the couch. And ere her father could question her a group of sombre
figures filled the doorway.

'Twas a dream--surely 'twas a fearful dream! Or were they ghosts? Yes,
that was it; see the blood on them! He was either dreaming or these were
the very dead.

They drew up to the couch, Llyn and his tall, stern sons. Daurn knew
them well and strove to curse them, but the Cadwallader's grave voice
hushed him to a sudden fear.

"Peace be with thee, Daurn-ap-Tavis, we come--to bid thee farewell."

Daurn gasped and stuttered, his fingers clawing fearfully while a cold
sweat broke out over his forehead. But ere he found his voice two of
Llyn's sons, David and Sion, drew away to the door, and later, Llewellen
and Pen. They came back heavily and laid their burdens gently by the
fire logs and returned, then came again and went. Five times in all. And
an awful fear was in Daurn's eyes as he glared at those still, muffled
shapes lying close beside him in the firelight.

Then Llyn spoke, slow and sorrowfully, as he stooped and one by one drew
the face-cloths from the dead.

"Peace be with thee, Daurn-ap-Tavis; thy son Cedric--bids thee farewell.

"Rhys--bids thee farewell.

"Also Tad, thy brother's son--bids thee farewell."

But the end was come, for Daurn, with a little childish cry, had gone to
seek his sons. Llyn stooped and gently closed the old Wolf's eyes, then
with bent head and weary step passed from the room.

But young Davy stole back softly and knelt near the stricken girl at the
foot of the couch.



A Story of Finance


MR. PAUL STRUMLEY stood on the veranda of Mr. Richard Stokes's sumptuous
home in the fashionable suburb of Lawrenceville and faced the daughter
of the house indignantly. The daughter of the house was also plainly
perturbed. Their mutual agitation was sharply accentuated by the fresh
calmness of the spring morning, which seemed to hover like a north-bound
bird over the wide, velvety lawn.

"Bettina," announced Mr. Strumley suddenly, "your father is--is----"

"An old goose."

"No, a brute!"

This explosion appeared momentarily to relieve his state of mind. But in
his breast there was still left a sufficiency of outraged dignity to
warm his cheeks hotly, and not by any means without an abundance of
cause. Scarcely an hour before he had nervously, yet exultantly,
alighted from his big touring car in front of the Commercial Bank, to
seek the president of that institution in the sanctity of his private
office. There, briefly but eloquently, he announced the engagement of
Miss Bettina Stokes to Mr. Paul Strumley, and naïvely requested for the
happy young people a full share of the parental sanction and blessing.
And his callow confidence can hardly be condemned on recalling that he
was one of the wealthiest and most popular young swains in the city. Mr.
Stokes, however, did not seem to take this into consideration. On the
contrary, he rose to the occasion with an outburst of disapprobation too
inflammatory to be set on paper, and quickly followed it with a
picturesque and uncompromising ultimatum. In the confused distress of
the unexpected Mr. Strumley found himself unable to marshal a single
specimen of logical refutation. He could only retreat in haste, to
recover, if possible, at leisure.

But this leisure, the time it had taken him to hurl the machine across
town to Bettina, had proven sadly insufficient. When he rushed up the
steps to the veranda, where sat the object of his affections rocking in
beautiful serenity, he was still choking from indignation, and had found
it hard to tell her in coherent sentences that her father had
energetically refused the honor of an alliance with the highly
respectable Strumley family.

The grounds, however, on which had been based this unreasonable
objection were of all things under the sun the most preposterous. Mr.
Stokes had emphatically declared that his daughter's happiness was too
dear to him to be foolishly entrusted to one who could not even manage
his own affairs, let alone the affairs of a wife, and, presumably later,
of a family. Mr. Strumley was rich at present, so much was readily
conceded; but he was not capable himself of taking care of what a
thrifty parent had laid by for him. He in his weak-mindedness was
compelled to hire the brains of a mere substitute, a manager, if you
prefer. Should anything happen, and such things happen every day, where
would Mr. Strumley be? And where, pray, would be his wife and family? In
the poorhouse!

"My daughter is too good for a man who cannot manage his own concerns,"
the irate father had summed up. "When you have shown yourself capable,
my lad, of competing in the world with grown-up intellects, then there
will be time enough for you to contemplate matrimony--and not until
then. Good morning to you, Mr. Strumley."

"And he snapped his jaws together like a vise," recalled Paul, coming
out from his gloomy retrospection.

"If he shut them so," and Bettina worked her pretty chin out to its
farthest extension, "well, that means he is like the man from Missouri;
you've got to show him before he changes his mind one iota."

"I ought to have been humping over a desk from the start," regretted Mr.
Strumley, feeling his bulging biceps dolefully. "It's all right stroking
a crew, and heaps of fun, too, but it doesn't win you a wife. Now
there's your dad, he couldn't pull a soap box across a bath tub; but he
can pull through a 'deal' I couldn't budge with a hand-spike."

Miss Bettina sighed sympathetically, and smiled appreciatively. She felt
deeply for her lover, and was justly proud of such a capable parent.
"Every one does say papa is an excellent business man," she remarked;
"and he certainly can swing some wonderful deals. Only yesterday I
accidentally overheard him telling Mr. Proctor that he held an option--I
think that was the word--from Haynes, Forster & Company on thousands and
thousands of acres of timber land in Arkansas. He said it would expire
to-day at two o'clock, but that he was going to buy the land for
cash--'spot cash' he said was what they demanded."

Mr. Strumley smiled ruefully. "And I guess it will be some of my 'spot
cash,'" he ruminated. "I am not saying anything against your father,
Bettina, but if it wasn't for such idle good-for-nothings as myself, who
let their money accumulate in his bank, I doubt if he could swing many
of these 'big deals.' If we were like he wanted us to be, we'd be
swinging them ourselves."

After Mr. Strumley had finished his bit of philosophy, he fell to
communing with himself. Apparently his own wisdom had stirred a new
thought within his breast. It had. He was beginning to wonder what would
happen if Bettina's father suddenly found himself bereft of sufficient
"spot cash" to take advantage of this option. Anyone having a second
call on same might be fortunate enough to swing the "big deal"--and
profit by it, according to his intentions!

"Paul," Bettina broke in upon his meditations, a little note of hopeful
pleading in her voice, "it might not be too late for you to--to

Mr. Strumley aroused himself with difficulty, and looked into her
bewitching face before replying. Then: "Maybe you are right," he mused;
"at any rate I have an idea." And kissing her thoughtfully, he strode
down the steps toward where encouragingly panted his car.

The car proudly bore Mr. Strumley and his idea to the brand-new offices
of a certain young friend of his who had himself only recently
metamorphosed from the shell to the swivel chair. Mr. Greenlee looked up
in mute surprise. But Mr. Strumley ignored it and came to the point with
a rush. Did Mr. Greenlee have twenty thousand dollars in cash to spare?
He did? Good! Would he lend it to Mr. Strumley on gilt-edge collateral?
Never mind exclamations; they had no market value. Eight per cent. did.
Then Mr. Greenlee was willing to make the loan? That was talking
business; and Mr. Strumley with the securities would call in two hours
for the cash. That would give Mr. Greenlee ample time in which to get it
from his bank--the Commercial.

When outside Mr. Strumley allowed himself to smile. Suddenly this
evidence of inward hilarity broadened into a heartily exploded greeting,
as a familiar figure turned the corner and advanced directly toward him.
It was another wealthy customer of the aforesaid bank.

"I was just on my way to your office, Mr. Proctor," Paul announced
pleasantly, at the same time cautiously drawing to one side the customer
of the Commercial. "I intend investing heavily in real estate," he
vouchsafed with admirable sang-froid; "and need, right away, in spot
cash, about thirty thousand dollars. Have you got that much to spare at
8 per cent., on first class security?"

Eight per cent! Mr. Proctor's expression expanded. He made his living by
lending money for much less. If dear Mr. Strumley would call at his
office within two hours he should have it every cent--just as soon as he
could get a check cashed at the Commercial.

Next the faithful machine whirled Paul to the rooms of his staid
attorney and general manager, Mr. John Edwards.

That elderly gentleman welcomed him with his nearest approach to a
smile. But the young man was in no mood for an elaborate exchange of
exhilarations. Without preface he inquired the amount of his deposit
subject to check in the Commercial Bank. Fifty thousand dollars! A most
delightful sum. He needed it every cent within an hour. Also he wanted
from his safe-deposit box enough A1 collateral to secure loans of twenty
and thirty thousand, respectively. But first would Mr. Edwards kindly
call up and get second option on all Arkansas timber lands represented
by Haynes, Forster & Company? Mr. Strumley believed that the first
option was held by a local party. Furthermore he knew it expired to-day;
and had reasons to believe that a local party would not be able to take
advantage of it, and he, Mr. Strumley, thought that he could handle the
property to a good purpose.

For the first time Mr. Edwards learned that his young client had a will
of his own. After a few fruitless exhortations he rose to obey, but
remarking: "Right much money in these hard times to withdraw in a lump
from the bank." Then, with a sidelong glance at the grave, boyish face,
he added significantly: "Know you would not do anything to jeopardize
Mr. Stokes's financial standing."

"Oh, a bagatelle like that wouldn't embarrass as shrewd and resourceful
a business man as he," assured Paul breezily.

"Money is pretty tight," mused the lawyer. But he called up Haynes,
Forster & Company without further remonstrances and afterward went out
to perform his commissions. Soon Mr. Strumley lighted a cigar and
followed. There would be something doing in the way of entertainment
presently in the neighborhood of the musty old Commercial Bank.

In front of that institution he had the good fortune to meet the town
miser, who seldom strayed far from the portals behind which reposed his
hoard. Mr. Strumley halted to liberally wish the local celebrity an
abundance of good health and many days of prosperity. Incidentally he
noted through the massive doors that his three cash-seeking friends were
in the line before the paying teller's window, the lawyer being last
and Mr. Greenlee first. When the latter came out, still busily trying to
cram the packages of bills properly in the satchel he carried, Paul
remarked confidentially to his companion:

"Must be something doing to-day. The big guns are drawing all of theirs

The old fellow gave a start as the suggestion shot home. Before Paul
could nurse it further, he had sprinted off up the street like mad,
chattering to himself about the desirability of returning immediately
with his certificates of deposit.

It is an old adage that no one knows the genesis of a "run on the bank."
Maybe Mr. Strumley was the exception which proves the validity of the
rule. At any rate he considered with large satisfaction the magical
gathering of a panic-inoculated crowd, which, sans courage, sans reason,
sans everything but a thirst for the touch of their adored cash,
clamored loudly, despairingly, for the instant return of their dearly

At last through the meshes of the mad throng appeared the shiny pate of
Mr. John Edwards. He uttered an exclamation of relief at the sight of
his calm client.

"Hope you got it before the storm broke?" Mr. Strumley greeted amiably.

"S-s-sh!" cautioned the attorney dramatically. "I was about to go in
search of you." Then he added in even a lower key: "Mr. Stokes asked me
to persuade you not to withdraw the money until he had had a chance to
get the flurry well in hand."

"But the money is mine, and I want it now," expostulated the young man.

"Come with me, please, and listen to reason," beseeched the lawyer,
drawing him resolutely in the direction of a side entrance. "It would be
a dire misfortune, sir, a calamity to the community, if the bank were
forced to close its doors. So far, however, it is only the small
depositors who are clamoring; but the others will quickly enough follow
if you do not let your fifty thousand remain to help wipe out this
first rush. The bank, though, is as sound as a dollar."

In another instant they were through the door, and before Mr. Strumley
could reply, for the second time that morning he stood in the presence
of Bettina's father.

"As Mr. Edwards will tell you," explained Paul, unable altogether to
suppress his nervousness, "I hold second option for to-day on large
timber tracts in Arkansas, represented by Messrs. Haynes, Forster &
Company. The first option, I was advised, will expire at two o'clock;
and my party was of the belief it would not be closed. It is a big deal,
Mr. Stokes,"--Mr. Stokes winced perceptibly--"and I was extremely
anxious to swing it, because--er--well, because it's my first big
venture and much depends on its success."

"Yes," mused Mr. Stokes sadly, "it is quite probable the first option
may be allowed to lapse, and I understand good money is to be made in
Arkansas timber." His face had grown a trifle ashy. "Of course, this
being the case, I feel in honor bound, Mr. Strumley, to instantly recall
my request."

Paul gave a gasp of admiration. He was glad Bettina's father was "game."
So was Bettina. In the up-boiling of his feelings he emphatically vetoed
the determination of the banker. Indeed, so well and eloquently did he
argue for the retention and use of his funds by the Commercial, that
even the self-effacing man of "deals" could not resist the onslaught. He
rose with unconcealed emotion and grasped the hand of the young man
whose generosity would save the credit of the old financial institution.

Later, flushed with victory, Mr. Strumley returned to the cushions of
his touring car; and the jubilantly chugging machine whizzed him off in
the direction where, surrounded by cash, awaited the 8 per cent.
expectations of Messrs. Proctor and Greenlee. Later still he descended
with said cash upon the offices of Haynes, Forster & Company. And even
later, after an exhilarating spin in the country, he arrived safe and
blithesome at his well-appointed rooms in the Hotel Fulton, ready to
remove with good soap and pure aqua the stains of mart and road before
calling on Miss Bettina Stokes.

The first thing that attracted his eyes on entering his little sitting
room was a neatly wrapped parcel on the table. On the top of it reclined
a dainty, snowy envelope. Mr. Strumley approached suspiciously. Then he
recognized the handwriting and uttered an exclamation of joy. It was
from Bettina.

In the short time he held the missive poised reverently in his hand Paul
permitted a glow of satisfaction to permeate his being. He had done well
and was justly entitled to a moment of self laudation. Mr.
Stokes--Bettina's father--would no longer be against him, for who could
not say he was not capable of competing in the world-arena with
full-grown, gladiatorial intellects? He had even successfully crossed
blades with Mr. Stokes's own best brand of Damascene gray matter. And he
had won the fray, for the everlasting good and happiness of all parties
concerned. In anticipation he already felt himself thrilling proudly
beneath the crown of Bettina's love and her father's benediction.

The crackle of the delicate linen beneath his grasp brought him sweetly
back to the real. What delicious token could Bettina be sending him? Of
course her father had told her all. How happy she, too, must be! Mr.
Strumley broke the seal of the envelope and read:



     "I herewith return your letters, photographs, etc. Papa has told me
     all. It was at first impossible to believe you capable of taking such
     a base advantage of my confidence about the Arkansas option; but I am
     at last thoroughly convinced that you incited the run on the bank to
     embarrass poor papa and compel him to let the deal fall into your
     traitorous hands. And the by-play of yours in returning the money you
     did not really need, though it has completely deceived him, has in
     my eyes only added odium to your treachery. I trust that I have made
     it quite clear that in the future we can meet only as strangers.


Mr. Strumley let the letter slip unnoticed through his palsied fingers.
He sat down with heavy stupefaction. So this was the sud-spray of his
beautiful bubble? It was incomprehensible! Bettina! Bettina! Oh, how
could she? Where was her faith? No small voice answered from within the
depths of his breast; and Mr. Strumley got clumsily to his feet. He was
painfully conscious that he must do something--think something. But what
was he to do? What was he to think? Could he ever make her understand?
Make her believe? At least he could go and try.

Mr. Strumley finished his toilet nervously; and repaired to the home of
Bettina, to cast his hope on the waters of her faith and charity. The
butler courteously informed him that she was "not in." But Mr. Stokes
was in the library. Would Mr. Strumley like to see him? Mr. Strumley
thought not.

It was a bad night for Paul. From side to side he tossed in search of
inspiration. Day came; and he rolled wearily over to catch the first
beams of the gladsome spring sunshine. From its torrid home ninety-three
million miles afar it hurried to his bedside. It shimmered in his face
and laughed with warm invigoration into the torpid cells of his brain.
It awakened them, filled them with new life, hope--inspiration!

Mr. Strumley leaped from his bed to the bath-tub, and fluttered
frolicsomely in the crystal tide. When he sprang out there was the flush
of vigorous young manhood on his skin and the glow of an expectant
lover's ardency in his breast. Everything was arranged satisfactorily in
the space beneath Mr. Strumley's water-tousled hair, wherein sat the
goddess of human happiness--reason.

Mr. Strumley, after a hurried stop-over at the office of his astounded
charge d'affaires, reached the Commercial Bank before the messenger
boys. While waiting in the balm of the spring morning for the doors to
open he circumnavigated the block nine times--he counted them. Coming
in on the last tack he sighted the portly form of the banker careening
with dignified speed around the corner. Another instant he had crossed
the mat and disappeared into his financial harbor. Mr. Strumley steered
rapidly in his wake.

Again he stood in the presence of Bettina's father. This time, however,
he was calm. In fact, the atmosphere about the two men was heavily
charged with the essence of good fellowship. Mr. Stokes held out his
hand cordially. The younger man pressed its broad palm with almost
filial veneration. He noted, too, with a slight touch of remorse, that
the banker's countenance was harassed. Evidently his heart still ached
for the lost Arkansas timber. Mr. Strumley smiled philanthropically.

He had something to say to Mr. Stokes, and began to say it with the easy
enunciation of one who rests confident in the sunshine of righteousness.
He spoke evenly, fluently. Of course Mr. Stokes at first might be a
trifle perplexed. But please bear with him, hear him through, then he
himself should be the sole judge.

He, Mr. Strumley, did not care a rap--no, not a single rap, for every
tree that grew in the entire state of Arkansas. What he wanted to do was
to show Mr. Stokes--Bettina's father--that he was worth the while. That
is, he wanted to demonstrate--it was a good word--to demonstrate that he
had brains in his cranium as good as many another variety that boasted a
trade mark of wider popularity. Had he done it? And if what he had done
did not concur with the elements of high finance, he would like Mr.
Stokes--Bettina's father--to tell him what it did concur with. Now,
there was the whole story from its incipiency. And as conclusive proof
that he did not mean to profit by the deal financially, would Mr. Stokes
kindly examine those papers?

Mr. Stokes looked at the documents tossed on the desk before him; and
saw that they were several warranty deeds, conveying to Richard Stokes,
his heirs and assigns forever, all titles and claims of all kinds
whatsoever in certain therein-after described tracts or parcels of land
in the state of Arkansas, for value received.

Mr. Strumley leaned back and contentedly watched a flush overspread the
banker's face. His automobile waited at the door to whisk him to
Bettina, and he was ready to carry on the campaign there the moment her
father had finished his effusions of gratitude. Meanwhile the flush
deepened; and, all impatience to fly to his lady-love, Paul egged on the

"You will note, Mr. Stokes," he volunteered, "that the price is exactly
the same you had proposed paying. At your convenience, of course, you
can remit this amount to my attorney, Mr. Edwards."

Mr. Stokes rose slowly. The flush had become apoplectic.

"Mr. Strumley," he began, his large voice trembling, "this trick of
yours is unworthy of an honorable man. Here, sir, take these papers and
leave my office immediately."

Mr. Strumley rose also. Like the banker's voice, he, too, was trembling.

"But, sir----" he commenced to expostulate.

"Go!" thundered the father of Bettina.

Dazed, confused by the suddenness of the blast, Paul groped his way
through the bank to the refuge of his car. Mechanically he put one hand
on the lever and glanced ahead for obstacles. Crossing the street, not
twenty yards ahead, tripped the most dangerous one conceivable--the
beautiful Bettina herself!

Mr. Strumley's hand fell limply to his knee. Fascinated he watched her
reach the curb and with a little skip spring to the pavement. Then she
came straight toward him; but he could see she was blissfully oblivious
of his nearness. Suddenly an odd wave of emotion surged through his
brain. His heart leaped with primitive savagery of love, and every fibre
in him rebelled fiercely against the decrees and limitations of modern
courtship. He had failed in the game as governed and modified by the
rules of polite society and high finance. The primogenital man-spirit in
him cried out for its inning. Mr. Strumley, as umpire, hearkened to its

"Bettina!" he called, as that young lady came calmly abreast of the car,
"wait a moment. I must speak with you."

She started with a half-frightened exclamation; but met his look, at
first defiantly, scornfully, then hesitatingly, faltering as she tried
to take another step onward.

"Bettina!" Mr. Strumley's voice vibrated determinedly, "I said I wished
to speak with you. I can explain--everything."

She halted reluctantly, and partly turned. In a moment he was at her
side, his hand upon her arm. His glance had in it all the compelling
strength of unadulterated, pristine manhood. She seemed to feel its
potency, and without remonstrance suffered him to lead her toward the

For a moment, for a single moment, Mr. Strumley was exhilaratingly
conscious of being borne aloft on a great wave of victorious gladness.
Then the waters of triumph let him down with a shock.


At the word they both pivoted like pieces of automata. Mr. Stokes, large
and severe, was standing between the portals of his financial

"Bettina!" His voice was almost irresistible in the force of its
parental summons.

At the sound of it the primeval lover, newly renascent in Mr. Strumley's
breast, cowed before the power of genitorial insistency. Then it came
back into its own exultantly.

"Bettina, my darling, get in," he commanded.

She faltered, turned rebelliously, turned again and obeyed.

"Bettina!" The voice of the childless banker faded off in the distance,
its last echo drowned in the full-throated: "Bettina, we are going to be
married at once," that broke joyously from Mr. Strumley's lips. "I have
followed the example of the Romans, and taken me a wife from the

Bettina peeped up at him from beneath the dark screens of her lashes.
"Then I, like the wise Sabian ladies, shall save the day for peace and
for Rome," she smiled archly.

And the machine laughed "Chug-chug!"



A Tale of Nigeria


LIEUTENANT PETERS, of the Royal Nigerian Service, was lying upon the
ground face downward, under a prickly tree. The sun was nearly vertical,
and the little round shadow in which he reclined was interlaced with
streaks of hot light. As the sun moved, Peters rolled into the shade
automatically. His eyes were shut, and he was in that hot borderland
which is the nearest approach to sleep at noontide in Nigeria.

The flies were pestering him, and he was thirsty--not with that thirst
of the mouth which may be quenched with a long draught, but with the
thirst of the throat that sands and sears. He felt thirsty all over. He
had been thirsty, like this, ever since he struck the bend of the Niger.
What made it worse, every night he dreamed of fruits that were snatched
away, like the food of Tantalus, as he approached to grasp them. Two
nights before he had been wandering knee-deep in English strawberry
beds; the night before he had been shaking down limes and oranges from
groves of trees set with green leaves and studded with golden fruit.
Once he had dreamed of a new fruit, a cross between a pear and a
watermelon; but when he cut into it he found nothing but hard, small
seeds, with a pineapple flavor, which he detested.

Peters was dreaming now, for he twined his fingers in the long grass and
tossed uneasily.

"I'll pick them all," he muttered sleepily. "All mixed together, with
ten or twelve pounds of damp, brown sugar, and boiled into jam."

He woke and felt his teeth for the hundredth time, to note whether any
untoward looseness betokened the advent of the dreaded scurvy.
Reassured, he stretched his limbs and rolled over into the shade of the

"When I get back to a white man's country," he murmured--"when I get
home to England what is it I am going to do? Why, I shall go into a
restaurant and order some rich brown soup. Then I shall have _pate de
foie gras_ sandwiches. Then scrambled eggs, chocolate, and muffins
buttered with whipped cream. Then half a dozen cans of jam. I shall
either begin with strawberry and conclude with apricot, or else I shall
begin with apricot and wind up with raspberry. It doesn't matter much;
any kind of jam will do except pineapple."

He opened his eyes, brushed away the flies that swarmed noisily round
him, took out his hard-tack, and opened a small can of dried beef. He
munched for a while, sipping occasionally from the tepid water in his
canteen. When he had finished he put the can-opener back in the pocket
of his tunic and rose, his face overspread with a look of resolution.

"I believe," he cried, "I believe that I could eat even a can of

He rose, the light of his illusion still in his eyes, and began
staggering weakly under the blazing sun in the direction of his camp. He
was weaker than he had thought, and when he reached the shelter of his
tent he sank down exhausted upon the bed. Through the open flap he could
see, five hundred yards away, the round, beehive-shaped huts of the
native village and, in their centre, the square palace of King
Mtetanyanga, built of sticks and Niger mud, surrounded by its stockade,
the royal flag, a Turkish bath-towel stained yellow and blue, floating
proudly above.

Lieutenant Peters had been sent by the Nigerian Government along the
upper Niger to conclude treaties with the different kings and sweep them
within the British sphere of interest. The French were out upon a
similar errand, for in this region the two nations possessed only a
vague and very indeterminate boundary line. Peters had been successful
until he came to the village of King Mtetanyanga, who had balked at
affixing his cross to the piece of mysterious parchment on the ground
that it was unlawful to do so during the festival of the great Ju-Ju,
whose worshipers could be heard wailing and beating tom-toms nightly in
some unknown part of the jungle. What this Ju-Ju fetish was nobody could
tell; it had come into the village recently, from the coast, men
whispered; it possessed awful and mysterious potency; was guarded
zealously by some score of priests, who veiled its awful vision; and it
was the greatest Ju-Ju for hundreds of miles along the Niger, tribes
from distant regions frequently arriving to sacrifice pigs to it.

However, Lieutenant Raguet, the French commissioner, had been equally
unsuccessful in inducing the dusky monarch to affix his signature to the
French treaty, and the ambassadors of the rival nations were both
encamped near the village, waiting for the Ju-Ju festivities to reach
their plethoric conclusion before the king sobered up and attended to

Raguet, strolling into his rival's camp that evening, found Peters in
his tent, flushed, and breathing heavily.

"Tcht! tcht! you are seeck," said the Frenchman sympathetically. "That
ees too bad. Have you quinine?"

"Quinine be hanged," cried Peters huskily. "I've taken the stuff until
I've floated in it. There's only one thing can cure me, Raguet. I've
been living on crackers and canned beef for over a month, and I'm pining
for jam. Have you got any jam?"

"Dsham, dsham?" repeated Raguet with a puzzled expression.

"Yes, les preserves--le fruit et le sugar, bouilli--you know what I

"Ah, ze preserve!" said the Frenchman, with an expression of
enlightenment. "Ze preserve, I have him not."

"I tell you what, Raguet," said Peters irritably, "I've got to get some
jam somewhere or I shall kick the bucket. I'm craving for it, man. If I
had one can of the stuff it would put me upon my feet instantly, I can
feel it. Now it's ten to one I'll be too sick to see the king after the
ceremonies are over, and he'll sign your treaty instead of mine. And
I've given him three opera hats, a phonograph, and a gallon of rum,
curse the luck! What did you give him, Raguet?"

"Me? I give him a umbrella with ze gold embroider," the Frenchman

"My government won't let me give the little kings umbrellas," said
Peters in vexation. "It makes the big chiefs jealous. I say, Raguet," he
rambled on, sitting up dizzily, "what is this Ju-Ju idol of theirs?"

"I know not," said the French lieutenant. "Only ze king and ze priests
have seen him. If zey tell, zey die--ze idol keel zem."

"I suppose they'll be keeping up these infernal tom-toms for another
week," grumbled the sick man, lying back and half closing his eyes from
weariness. "Well, I'll have to try to get well in time."

The Frenchman resisted the impulse to leap back in surprise, but his
eyes narrowed till they were slits in his face. So! This Englishman did
not know that this had been the last day of the sacrifices, that at
midnight a hecatomb of pigs was to be killed and eaten in the bush in
honor of the Ju-Ju. Nor that the king, when he had broached and drunk
the cask of rum, would be in a mood to discuss the treaty. Peters
evidently was unaware how much his majesty had been affronted by his
failure to present him with an umbrella. La! la! Fortune was evidently
upon his side. All this flashed through the Frenchman's mind in an
instant. A solitary chuckle escaped him, but he turned it into an
exclamation of grief, sighed deeply, seated himself upon the bed, and
kissed Peters affectionately on either cheek.

"My Peters, my poor friend," he began, "you must not theenk of leaving
your tent for ze next two, t'ree days. Ze fever, he is very bad onless
you receive him in bed. I shall take care of you."

"You're a good fellow, Raguet," said Peters, wiping his face
surreptitiously with the backs of his hands. When his visitor had left
he turned over and sank into a half-delirious doze that lasted until the
sun sank with appalling suddenness, and night rushed over the land.
Tossing upon his bed, all through the velvet darkness he was dimly
conscious, through his delirious dreams, of tom-toms beaten in the bush.
His throat was parched, and in his dreams he drank greedily from his
canteen; but each time that he awoke he saw it hanging empty from the
tent flap. Presently a large, bright, yellow object rose up in front of
him. Greedily he set his teeth into it; and even as he did so it
disappeared, and he awoke, gasping and choking under the broiling

"I'll have to take that canteen down to the stream and fill it," he
muttered, rising unsteadily and proceeding toward the bank. To his
surprise he found that rain had fallen. He was treading in ooze, which
rose higher and higher until it clogged his footsteps. He struggled, but
now it held him fast, and he was sinking slowly, but persistently, now
to the waist, now to the shoulders. Frantically he thrust his hands
downward to free himself, and withdrew them sticky with--jam! He scooped
up great handsful greedily; and even as he raised it to his mouth it
vanished, and he awoke once more in his tent.

He flung himself out of bed with an oath, took down his canteen, and
started toward the river. The noise of the tom-toms was louder than
ever, proceeding, apparently, from some point in the bush a little to
the left of the king's palace. Scrambling and struggling through the
thorn thickets, he reached the sandy bed of the stream, filled his
water-bottle at a pool, and drank greedily.

It was that still hour of night when the many-voiced clamor of the bush
grows hushed, because the lions are coming down to drink at the waters.
The rising moon threw a pale light over the land. The tom-toms were
still resounding in the bush, but to Peters's distorted mind they took
on the sound of ripe mangoes falling to the ground and bursting open as
they struck the soil. He counted, "one, two, three," and waited. He
counted again. There must be thousands of them. Peters began to edge
his way through the reeds in the direction of the sound. After a while
he came to a wall of rocks perpendicular and almost insurmountable. He
paused and considered, licking his lips greedily as the thud, thud
continued, now, apparently, directly in front of him. All at once his
eyes, curiously sensitive to external impressions, discovered a little,
secret trail between two boulders. He followed it; a great stone
revolved at his touch, and he found himself inside the sacred groves. He
went on, gulping greedily in anticipation of the feast which awaited

Suddenly he stopped short. He had seen something that brought back to
him with a rush the realization of his whereabouts. Seated in the
shelter of a cactus tree, not fifty yards away, was King Mtetanyanga,
wearing his three opera hats, one upon another, in the form of a triple
crown, and drinking his own rum with Raguet, under the shade of Raguet's
umbrella. Prone at their feet crouched Tom, the interpreter.

"His Majesty say, 'How you fix him Ju-Ju?'" translated Tom.

"Tell His Majesty, my Ju-Ju stronger than the Englishman's Ju-Ju,"
answered the Frenchman. "My Ju-Ju eat up his Ju-Ju. He very sick. If I
choose, he die."

"Ugh!" grunted the king, when this explanation was vouchsafed,
apparently impressed.

"Tell His Majesty my Ju-Ju stronger than his own Ju-Ju. If he no sign
treaty, eat up his Ju-Ju," Raguet went on.

A flow of language came from the king's lips.

"His Majesty say, he bring his Ju-Ju, see whose greater," said the

Vaguely aware that treachery was impending, but crazed now by the
falling mangoes, Peters left them palavering and followed the trail. All
at once he emerged into a tiny clearing and stood blinking at a fire,
round which a group of men--priests, as he knew, from their buffalo
horns and crane feathers--were reclining, hammering upon tom-toms and
shouting in various stages of intoxication. The firelight blinded their
eyes. Peters stood still uncertainly. Then his eyes fell upon a
sawed-off tree-trunk, in the hollow of which lay something wrapped in a
white cloth, surrounded with snake-skins. He had come by this secret
road into the actual presence of the great Ju-Ju.

Curiously he inserted his hand, lifted the object out, and examined it.
Inside was something of a strange, yet familiar shape, oval, and
flattened at the ends. He lifted it out of its wrappings, and there, in
his hand, he saw a can, bearing the legend:


He looked at it in solemn and holy meditation; then, sitting down, he
drew the can-opener from his tunic and wiped it clean upon his sleeve.

After awhile a babel of sound broke in upon his ears. Men had come
running up, brandishing spears, stopped, flung themselves upon the
ground prostrate in front of him. The priests were there, frantically
abasing themselves; Mtetanyanga, his opera hats rolling, unheeded, on
the ground. Their cries ceased; they veiled their eyes. Then from the
dust came the feeble tones of the interpreter.

"His Majesty say, you eat him Ju-Ju--yours greatest Ju-Ju, he want to
sign treaty."

But Peters, waving the empty can over his head, shouted:

"I've eaten jam, I've eaten jam! It's pineapple--and I don't care!"



A Suburban Story


    "H'everybody works but Fadher,
    H'and 'e sets 'round h'all diy----"

THUS in chorus shrilled the infant Cadges like the morning stars singing
together, but still more like the transplanted little cockneys they

The placid brow of Mr. Thomas Cadge was darkened with disapproval, he
shifted his stubby brier pipe to the other corner of his mouth, edged a
little from his seat on the sunny front stoop and, craning his neck
around the corner of his house, revealed an unwashed area extending from
collarbone to left ear.

"Shet up, you kids!" he barked. "Wot for? Becos I say so, that's why. I
don't like that song, 'taint fit for Sunday."

With a soothing consciousness that he had upheld the sacred character of
the Sabbath, Mr. Cadge settled back to the comfort of his sun-bath and
smoke. But he had scarcely emitted three puffs before the piping voice
of Arabella Cadge was again wafted to his ears. She sang solo this time,
and the selection was of a semi-devotional nature, more in keeping with
the day:

    "Oh fadher, dear fadher, come 'ome wid me now,
    De clock on de steeple strikes----"

"Shet up, drat you!" again commanded her parent. "If I has to get up and
go arter you----"

The balance of this direful threat may never be known, for at that
moment Mr. Job Snavely, garbed in the black broadcloth which he wore one
day out of seven, paused in front of Mr. Cadge's door and bade him good

"Mornin'," responded the ruffled father.

"Your little girl is quite a song bird," continued Mr. Snavely, with his
usual facility in making well-meant small-talk more irritating than a
hurled brick.

"She sings too much," commented Mr. Cadge, shortly, "I likes people wot
knows when to 'old their tongues."

"Very true, very true!" amiably replied Mr. Snavely, "but for all that,
there is nothing sweeter than the artless babble of babes; I declare it
almost brought the tears to my eyes when I heard them prattling,
'Everybody works but father,' it is so very, very appro----"

Mr. Snavely checked himself abruptly, for the light in the small, green
eyes of Thomas Cadge was baleful, and his square jaw protruded
menacingly. The kindly critic of music had a vague feeling that the
subject might be changed to advantage.

"Been to church this morning, I suppose?" he inquired briskly with the
assurance of a man just returning from that duty.

"No I 'asn't," retorted Cadge, "and wot's more the old woman 'asn't, and
the kids 'asn't neither. 'Cos why? 'Cos in this 'ere free country of
yours, a laboring man can't make a living for 'is family, workin' 'ard
as I does, Sundays, nights, and h'all the time. The missus and the kids
stays from church 'cos their duds ain't fit, and I stays 'ome 'cos I've
got to work like a slave to pay you for seven dollars' worth of spoiled
vegetables and mouldy groceries. That's the reason I works on Sundays,
if you've got to know."

"Work on Sundays!" gasped the grocer. "Work! work?" and he stared at the
reclining figure of Mr. Cadge in unfeigned astonishment.

"Yes, work. This 'ere construction company wot's doing the job of
grading this vacant block, employs me to sort of look after things,
their shovels, scoops, and the like. A kind of private police officer,
I am," he concluded, drawing himself up a little and puffing into the

"And when are you on duty?" asked Mr. Snavely.

"Nights," replied Cadge, "nights and Sundays, when the tools ain't in

"I hope they pay you well for it?"

"Ah, but they don't. 'Ow much do you think I get for stayin' awake
nights and doin' without my church on Sunday? Three measly dollars a
week and the rent of this 'ere 'ouse, if you can call it a 'ouse."

It would have been difficult to determine just what name to give the
residence of Mr. Thomas Cadge. It would hardly be called a cottage,
though not because it was more spacious than the name implied; nor was
it a piano-box, in spite of the fact that a piano would have fitted
snugly within its walls, for no manufacturer would have trusted a
valuable instrument in so flimsy a shell. It was not a real-estate
office, as the sign which decorated its entire front proclaimed it to
be, for through a jagged hole in the window facing the street projected
a rusty iron stovepipe, which was wired to the façade of the building,
and emitted the sooty smoke that had almost totally obscured and
canceled the legend, "Suburban Star Realty Syndicate."

Moreover, a litter of tin cans, impartially distributed at the front and
back doors, indicated the domestic use to which this temporary office
had been put. A smell of steaming suds that pervaded the place likewise
indicated the manner in which Mrs. Cadge eked out her lord's stipend.
This impression was confirmed by the chorus of irrepressible little
Cadges proclaiming:

    "Mother tikes in washin',
    H'and so does sister h'Ann,
    H'everybody works at our 'ouse,
    But my old----"

--a burst of melody which was abruptly checked with a tomato can hurled
like a hand-grenade by their unmusical father.

"Look here, Cadge," said Mr. Snavely, with the air of proprietorship one
adopts to hopeless debtors, "three dollars a week is not going to keep
your family, to say nothing of paying up that seven dollars. I can't
carry you forever, you know. Why don't you get a daylight job?"

"Ah, that is easy enough said," protested that injured individual.
"'Aven't I tramped the streets day after day, lookin' for work?"

"Them as 'as a good paying business don't know wot it means to look for
a job," pursued Cadge bitterly.

"Yes they do," asserted the grocer cheerfully. "I was given work at
sweeping floors in the very store I now own. The fact is, I am sorry for
you, Cadge, and I have been looking around to get you a job."

Mr. Cadge seemed depressed.

"And I am glad to say," chirruped Mr. Snavely, "that I have found a
small piece of work for you, which will be worth a dollar and a half a

Cadge's brow was still gloomy.

"Of course, it is real work," added his kind-hearted creditor, briskly,
"no sitting in the sun and watching other people's shovels; but a
customer of mine, a widow lady, that lives along Catnip Creek, wants a
man to pile up a wall of loose stones to keep her land from washing away
in high water."

Thomas Cadge shook his head with the air of Cæsar virtuously refusing
the crown.

"No, no, Snavely, it wouldn't do," he said. "I can see that it would
interfere with my present h'occupation, and I can't afford to risk
losing this 'ere job. Supposin' my family was to be turned out of

"Nonsense! It will only take you about four days to build the wall, and
at one-fifty per day, that will be six dollars, twice your week's wages
right there, and almost enough to pay what you owe me."

"I am afraid it can't be done, Snavely; the company might not like it;
you see, I would be competing with them, that's their line."

"They wouldn't handle so small a job. You know that, Cadge."

"Yes, but a man can't draw pay for two positions at once; 't ain't

"Why, this is not a regular situation," protested the upright Snavely,
who saw his bill still unpaid; "you could work on it at odd times if you
like. She'll pay you by the piece, I am pretty sure, and you will get
your six dollars cash when the wall is done."

The furtive eyes of the hunter of work avoided those of his benefactor.
He was pondering a new excuse when he happened to notice Master Cadge,
aged nine, Thomas Cadge, Jr., aged eight, and Arabella Cadge, whose
years were six, busily constructing a fort of cobblestones, and an idea
struck him.

"Very well," he said, loftily waving his pipe, "I'll drop in Monday and
talk this over with you, Snavely. Then if the job suits me I may take
it. I don't like to talk business on Sunday, you know."

Thus rebuked, Mr. Snavely resumed his homeward way.

The following Monday Cadge overslept; Tuesday found him with a headache
as a result, which by Wednesday had settled in a tooth; Thursday he felt
so much better that he feared to do anything which might check his
convalescence; Friday was an unlucky day, but so desirous was he of work
that he manfully conquered his superstitious qualms and strolled over to
the little shop where Mr. Job Snavely dealt in groceries and vegetables.

The details regarding the work were furnished with cheerful alacrity,
the tradesman going so far as to accompany his protegé to the home of
their patron, Mrs. Pipkin, a withered little lady who lived with her
cats on the bank of the creek.

The work to be performed demanded more brawn than brain and no vast
amount of either. All that was required was to pile up the boulders and
cobblestones which littered the bed of the stream, as a rough,
unmortared wall, along the sloping bank of Mrs. Pipkin's property.

It was evident that Mrs. Pipkin herself had not the slightest notion of
how much a wall should cost, as she was ignorant of the two factors
which determined it, namely, the wages of day-laborers and the time
required to build the wall; therefore she requested Mr. Snavely, as a
man of affairs, to make the bargain for her.

It was well that she did so, for Mr. Cadge's ideas on the subject were
as boundless as hers were limited. Day wages, he affirmed, ranged from
two dollars up for common labor, and as building a wall was highly
skilled labor he thought three and a half or four dollars per diem would
be about right, going on the basis of at least six days of eight hours

Mr. Snavely, on the contrary, after looking over the ground declared
that four days' steady work would build a wall running the entire length
of the widow's lot. Furthermore, that a dollar and a quarter a day was
fair wages for such employment, while laborers would scramble for the
job at a dollar and a half. As a concession to Mr. Cadge, he was willing
to allow him to take his own time and agreed to pay six dollars when the
wall should be completed.

Mr. Cadge waxed indignant and very voluble, while Mr. Snavely was a mild
man of few words; but the simple laborer was no match for a man who made
his living by small chaffering. He was forced to give in, and Saturday
morning, bright and early, he appeared on the banks of Catnip Creek
accompanied by Master Cadge, Thomas Cadge, Jr., and Arabella Cadge.

"Daddy's going to give you kids a treat to-day," he announced. "My eye!
wot larks we will 'ave. Nothing to do all day long but play building a
stone fort right on the brook, and Daddy will show you 'ow to build it."

The little Cadges were perfectly charmed at this condescension on the
part of their sire, who seldom acknowledged their presence except with a
cuff in passing. They were eager to begin, and as they had no need to
strip their legs, which were always bare, the work proceeded apace.

Cadge, Sr., ensconced himself in the sunniest nook of the bank, and
directed his offspring what stones to select and where to place them,
and above all, to make haste, since the enemy would soon appear to
attack the fort.

Before their Saturday holiday was over, the children had discovered that
their father was a strenuous playfellow. In vain they suggested fishing,
hunting Injuns, or gathering wild flowers; they had set out to build a
fort on Catnip Creek, and build it they must.

They entertained hopes of sneaking off alone when they should go home
for lunch, but Mr. Cadge had provided for this contingency. His wife
appeared at noon with slices of bread and butter for the Cadgelings, to
which was added a cold beefsteak and a bucket of beer for the support of
their house. Having already lunched at home, she was permitted to lay a
tier of heavier stones along the wall while waiting for her family to
finish the repast.

It was an arduous day for the tribe of Cadge, excepting, of course, its
head. Not until the first star came out and the owls began to hoot along
the Catnip did he declare himself satisfied with the day's work and
proceed homeward to supper. Widow Pipkin's wall was half finished.

Not until Saturday was the patient father able to enlist once more the
services of his offspring, for, "What if they are your own kids!"
retorted Mrs. Cadge from her wash-board. "I've rubbed my 'ands raw to
give 'em the eddication you and me lacks, and to school they go. You
build that wall yourself, or wait until the week's end for your pay."

The former alternative was not to be thought of, and the Widow Pipkin
wondered mildly whether the half finished wall was ever to be completed.

But Saturday at dawn Cadge once more appeared, driving before him three
tear-stained and reluctant Cadgelets. They had inherited part of their
father's disposition in regard to real work, likewise his unwillingness
to be imposed upon. Constructing fortifications along the Catnip was
well enough for one Saturday, but their backs still ached from their
exertions, and they had only disdain for the restricted paternal
imagination which suggested that this time they build stone castles.

Their sire waxed eloquent over the art of castle building and the sport
of imprisoning ogres in them, but was finally compelled to assume the
attitude of an ogre himself, and threatened to skin them alive if they
did not do as they were bid.

It was a long, hard day for the whole Cadge family. The little Cadges
worked like galley-slaves in fear of the lash; their mother, out of pity
for them, laid two tiers of cobbles when she came at noon, and even
Cadge himself was tempted on one or two occasions to descend from his
nook and lend a hand, but restrained himself.

Again the owls hooted along the stream and bullfrogs croaked from the
reedy places. Cadge knocked the dottle out of his pipe and arose,
stretching his short, muscular limbs, which had become cramped from
sitting still so long.

"Run along 'ome, kiddies," he said, "and tell the old woman not to wait
supper for me. There's a man down town as wants to see me about a job.
I'll 'ave a bite with 'im."

The little Cadges disappeared in the twilight and their father presented
himself at the Widow Pipkin's door to receive his hard-earned wages.

"Oh, dear me! I can't pay you to-night," answered Mrs. Pipkin. "I never
keep any money in the house."

Cadge grumbled something about, a check would do. He was pretty sure
that the barkeeper at Spider Grogan's place would cash it.

"Oh, but mine is a savings account, and I will have to go down to the
bank myself and get the money; but, never mind, you shall have it first
thing Monday morning."

The thirsty man could find no solution to this problem and, although he
urged the Widow Pipkin to think of a way, as his "missus needed the
medicine something orful," that kind-hearted old lady could suggest
nothing more to the point than going at once with a mustard poultice to
the sufferer.

Old women are so set in their notions that the anxious husband was a
full half hour dissuading her, and, when he reached home with both hands
in his empty pockets, Mrs. Cadge was washing the dishes.

"Did the man give you a job?" inquired his wife brightly.

"Wot man? Wot job? Where's my supper?" snapped Cadge. Then, as the
ingenious ruse occurred to him, a flood of language rose to his lips and
would not be dammed, though everything else was.

"Gone and hogged all the supper, did you!" he growled. "H'it's a nice
state of affairs, when a man comes 'ome from a 'ard day's work to a
h'empty table."

"But it was such a little steak, Tom," urged his wife, "and the children
were so hungry that I let them finish it."

There was no money in the house, and Snavely, the only credit grocer,
had closed his shop, so Mr. Cadge's supper that night was bread and
cheese without kisses.

Sunday was a long-remembered day of misery for Cadge's wife and
children, who played the scapegoat for Mr. Snavely and whipping-boy for
Mrs. Pipkin.

Monday morning the head of the house arose early and, before Mrs. Pipkin
had finished her beauty sleep, that hard-working man was at the door
demanding his pay. An hour was all the time she required for dressing.
Mr. Cadge wished he had broken his fast before leaving home.

"Really, I don't know whether I ought to pay you," replied Widow Pipkin
when she finally answered his last, desperate ring. "Mr. Snavely made
the bargain, and I should like to have him see the work before settling
with you."

She jingled some silver in her plump chain purse as she spoke.

Aha, the widow had deceived him! It was eight o'clock, the bank would
not open for an hour, she had had the money in the house all the time.
The deceitfulness of women!

Mr. Cadge's blood rose to his head. His little green eyes smouldered.
Fortunately for the widow, Mr. Snavely drove up at that moment on his
delivery wagon, and cheerfully agreed to appraise the work.

"Oh, come now, Cadge, my man, you don't call that a finished job, I
hope? Why, it is three foot short at each end and lacks a tier at the
top. You had better pitch in for an hour or two and make a fair job of
it, and then you'll get your money."

"Wot do you call a fair job, I should like to know?" replied the heated
Cadge; "look at them 'ere boulders, as I fished out of the h'icy water
at peek o' day! Look at all them little stones, h'every one of them as
cost me backache and sweat. H'if that job ain't worth six dollars it
ain't worth six cents."

"Mebbe so, mebbe so, my good man," responded the grocer, genially, "but
whatever it's worth, I don't pay for a job until it's finished."

At this point Cadge's torrent of eloquence swept away all punctuating
pauses and he became slightly incoherent, but the drift of his harangue
was that because he had worked like a slave and finished the wall in two
days they wanted to rob him of his money. "I'll 'ave the six dollars for
my work, or I'll 'ave the lor on you," he concluded.

The amiable but tactless Snavely saw a happy solution of the problem.
"Never mind, Mrs. Pipkin," he said, "there shall be no lawsuit. You pay
me the six dollars, and I will write Cadge a receipt for the seven
dollars he owes me. I lose a dollar that way, to be sure, but then it is
just the same as finding six."

"Ho! that's your game is it?" snarled Cadge, gasping with indignation.
"That's 'ow you two plot against a poor 'ard-workin' man with a family,
to beat him out of 'is pay. H'it's a put-up job, that's wot h'it is! But
you don't get the best of Tom Cadge that way. I'll 'ave a h'orficer 'ere
if I don't get my money, you bloomin' old plotters, you!"

"Yes, you had better call an officer," agreed Mr. Snavely. "I saw one
around the corner as I passed; the same one your brats were pelting from
behind a fence last week."

Mr. Cadge tacked adroitly. "No, I ain't going to spend my money with the
loryers, as'd want twelve dollars to get you back six. I'll tear down
the wall, that's wot I'll do. If I don't get my pay the loidy don't get
her wall, and you can tike your measly job and give it to some poor man
wot needs it."

Mr. Snavely had one foot on the wheel and swung lightly into his cart.
"Have it your own way, Cadge," he responded cheerfully. "You can finish
the wall and get your six dollars cash, or you can leave it as it stands
and take my receipt for seven, or you can tear it down and have your
labor for your pains; but mind, if the police catch you destroying
property, you will get a month in the chain gang."

"I don't care if I get sixty days!" screamed the outraged laborer. "The
city can look after my missus and the kids if their nateral provider is
took from them. That wall is comin' down! I'm h'only a workin'-man, and
I don't mind bein' spit on once in a while, but I won't stand for it
bein' rubbed in."

It was a sultry June day, the first of the summer vacation, and toward
noon Mrs. Cadge set out to take her husband a bite of lunch. The little
Cadges accompanied her, eager to exhibit the noble castle which they had
completed on Catnip Creek. When they came to that charming stream, their
eyes flew open in amazement and their jaws dropped.

"Why, mamma, look at daddy!" they cried in unison. "Daddy's workin'!"

Incredible though it seemed, it was true indeed. Father worked. Mrs.
Cadge wondered whether she, too, was to have a vacation, after her years
of drudgery.

Cadge worked furiously, his rage uncooled by the waters of the Catnip
which flowed through his shoes. He had discarded coat, vest, and hat,
and was hurling rocks with the strength of a maddened giant, clear
across the stream. What splendid muscles he had!

A tier or two of Mrs. Pipkin's wall was already down. The telephone
within her cottage was ringing madly.

Even as the Cadgelings watched their parent sweating at his toil, a
blue-coated figure ran swiftly down the bank, caught the hard-working
man by the collar, and firmly led him away to where steady work awaited

Mrs. Cadge watched him go with mingled feelings. She had seen him depart
thus before, and remembered how much easier it was that month to feed
four mouths instead of five. Besides, the exercise on the rock pile
would do him good, poor man. A night-watchman's position was so

Mr. Snavely had driven up to the curb, and the Widow Pipkin ran out all
of a flutter. They sympathetically related to Mrs. Cadge the events of
the morning which had led to her husband's arrest.

"And there was only an hour's work to be done on the job," said Mr.
Snavely judicially.

"I would gladly pay six dollars cash to have it just as it was this
morning," added the tremulous Widow Pipkin, "and I'd make it ten if it
were done as Mr. Snavely says."

"And I'd still be willing to write a receipt for the full seven dollars
for six dollars cash," interposed that astute philanthropist.

Mrs. Cadge's shrewd, birdlike eyes were half closed in mental
computation; ten dollars for the wall and one dollar discount on the
grocery bill, that would make eleven dollars clear.

"Come along, kiddies," she said, "you and me will pitch in and finish
that wall to the queen's taste in an hour or two!" And she did.

Eleven dollars clear, and the watchman's pay still going on, Cadge on
the rock pile, hence the biggest mouth of the family fed by the city.
Indeed, indeed, the little Cadges were not the only ones who enjoyed a
vacation when father worked!

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Golden Stories - A Selection of the Best Fiction by the Foremost Writers" ***

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