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Title: The Strange Adventures of Mr. Middleton
Author: Curtis, Wardon Allan, 1867-1940
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Strange Adventures of Mr. Middleton" ***

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_The_ Strange Adventures _of_ Mr. Middleton



BY



WARDON ALLAN CURTIS



CHICAGO
HERBERT S. STONE & COMPANY

MCMIII



COPYRIGHT, 1903, BY
HERBERT S. STONE & COMPANY
CHICAGO



CONTENTS


  The Manner in Which Mr. Edward Middleton Encounters the Emir
        Achmed Ben Daoud
  The Adventure of the Virtuous Spinster
  What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Second Gift of the Emir
  The Adventure of William Hicks
  What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Third Gift of the Emir
  The Adventure of Norah Sullivan and the Student of Heredity
  What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Fourth Gift of the Emir
  The Pleasant Adventures of Dr. McDill
  What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Fifth Gift of the Emir
  The Adventure of Miss Clarissa Dawson
  What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Sixth Gift of the Emir
  The Unpleasant Adventure of the Faithless Woman
  What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Seventh Gift of
        the Emir
  The Adventure of Achmed Ben Daoud
  What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Eighth and Last Gift of
        the Emir



_The_ Strange Adventures _of_ Mr. Middleton



_The Manner in Which Mr. Edward Middleton Encounters the Emir Achmed
Ben Daoud._


It was a lowering and gloomy night in the early part of the present
century. Mr. Edward Middleton, a gallant youth, who had but lately
passed his twenty-third year, was faring northward along the southern
part of that famous avenue of commerce, Clark Street, in the city of
Chicago, wending his way toward the emporium of Mr. Marks Cohen.
Suddenly the rain which the cloudy heaven had been promising for many
hours, began to descend in great scattered drops that presaged a heavy
shower. Mr. Middleton hastened his steps. It was possible that if the
dress-suit he wore, hired for the occasion of the wedding of his
friend, Mr. Chauncey Stackelberg, should become imbued with moisture
in the shower that now seemed imminent, Mr. Cohen, of whom he had
hired the suit, would not add to the modicum agreed upon, a charge for
pressing it. But if his own suit for everyday wear, which he was
carrying under his arm with the purpose of putting it on at good Mr.
Cohen's establishment, should become wet, that would be a serious
matter. It was, in fact, his only suit and that will explain the
anxiety with which he scanned the heavens. Suddenly, Pluvius unloosed
all the fountains of the sky, and with scarcely a thought whither he
was going, Mr. Middleton darted into the first haven of refuge, a
little shop he happened to be just passing. As the door closed behind
him with the tinkle of a bell in some remote recess, for the first
time he realized that the place he had entered was utterly dark. His
ears, straining to their uttermost to make compensation for the
inability of his eyes to be of service to him in this juncture, could
no more than inform him that the place was utterly silent. But to his
nose came the powerful fragrance of strange foreign aromas such as he
had never had experience of before,--which, heavy and oppressive in
their cloying perfume, seemed the very breath of mystery. All traffic
had ceased without, as the night was well advanced and the rain beat
so heavily that the few whom business or pleasure had called abroad at
that hour, had sought shelter. But though the rain now fell with a
steady roar, Mr. Middleton, perturbed by a nameless disquiet, was
about to rush forth into the tempest and seek other shelter, when a
door burst open and, outlined against a glare of light, stood a
gigantic man who said in a deep, low voice that seemed to pervade
every corner of the room and cause the air to shake in slow
vibrations, "Salaam aleikoom!" Which being repeated again, Mr.
Middleton replied:

"I do not understand the German language."

A low, musical laugh greeted this remark and the laugh resolving
itself into a low, musical voice that bade him enter, Mr. Middleton
found himself in a small boudoir of oriental magnificence, facing a
young man in the costume of the Moslem nations, who sat cross-legged
upon a divan smoking a narghileh. He was of perhaps twenty-six,
somewhat slight, but elegant of person. His face, extremely handsome,
betokened that he was a man of intelligence and sensibility. Two
brilliant, sparkling eyes illumined his countenance and the curl of
his carmine lips was that of one who while kind--without condescension
and the odiousness of patronage--to all whom the mischance of fate had
made his inferiors in fortune, would not bend the fawning knee to any
whom the world calls great. Behind him stood a giant blackamore, he of
the voice that had saluted Mr. Middleton. The blackamore was dressed
in crimson silk sparkling with an array of gold lace, but his immense
turban was snowy white. Against his shoulder reposed a great
glittering scimetar and a dozen silver-mounted pistols and poniards
were thrust in his sash.

Presently the young man removed the golden mouth-piece of the
narghileh from his lips and regarding Mr. Middleton fixedly, remarked:

"There is but one God and Mohammed is his Prophet."

Now this was not the doctrine Mr. Middleton had been taught in the
Methodist Sunday School in Janesville, Wisconsin, but disliking to
dispute with one so engaging as the handsome Moslem, and having read
in a book of etiquette that it was very ill mannered to indulge in
theological controversy and, moreover, being conscious of the presence
of the blackamore with the glittering scimetar, he began to make his
excuses for an immediate departure. But the Moslem would not hear to
this.

"Mesrour will bear your garments to Mr. Cohen. From your visage, I
judge you to be a person I wish to know. I take you to be endowed with
probity, discretion, and valor, and not without wit, good taste, and
good manners. Mesrour, relieve the gentleman of his burden."

Whereupon Mr. Middleton was compelled to state that it was the garment
on his back that was to go to Mr. Cohen, though he feared this
confession would cause him to fall in the estimation of the Moslem.
But the stranger relaxed none of his deference at this intimation that
Mr. Middleton was not a person of consequence.

"Mesrour, take two sequins from the ebony chest. The price the
extortionate tailor charges, is some thirty piastres. Bring back the
change and a receipt."

"Salaam, effendim!" and Mesrour bowed until the crown of his head was
presented toward his master, together with the palms of his hands, and
in this posture backed from the room, leaving Mr. Middleton
speculating upon the wonder and alarm little Mr. Cohen would
experience at beholding the gigantic Nubian in all his outlandish
panoply. While changing the dress suit for his street wear, from a
back room came the sound of the blackamore moving about, chanting that
weird refrain, tumpty, tumpty, tum--tum; tumpty, tumpty, tum--tum;
which from Mesopotamia to the Pillars of Hercules, from the time of
Ishmael to the present, has been the song of the sons of the desert.
What was his surprise when the blackamore emerged. Gone were his
turban, his flowing trousers, his scimetar, pistols, and poniards. He
had on a long yellow mackintosh, which did not, however, conceal a
pair of black and white checked pantaloons, a red tie, and green vest,
from each upper pocket of which projected an ivory-handled razor.

"Don't forget the change, Mesrour."

"No indeed, boss," replied the blackamore, whistling "Mah Tiger Lily,"
as he departed.

The Moslem provided Mr. Middleton with one of those pipes which in
various parts of the Orient are known as narghilehs, hubble-bubbles,
or hookabadours, and seeing his guest entirely at his ease, without
ado began as follows:

"My name is Achmed Ben Daoud, and I am hereditary emir of the tribe of
Al-Yam, which ranges on the border of that fortunate part of the
Arabian peninsular known as Arabia the Happy. My youngest brother,
Ismail, desirous of seeing the world, went to the court of Oman, where
struck by his inimitable skill in narration, the imam installed him as
royal story-teller. But having in the space of a year exhausted his
stock of stories, the imam, who is blessed with an excellent memory,
discovering that he was telling the same stories over again, shut him
up in a tower constructed of vermilion stone quarried on the upper
waters of the great river Euphrates. There my poor brother is to stay
until he can invent a new stock of stories, but being utterly devoid
of invention, only death or relenting upon the part of the imam could
release him. Hearing of his plight, I went to the imam with the
proposition that I seek out some other story-teller and that upon
bringing him to Muscat, my brother be released. But the imam exclaimed
that he was tired of tales of genii and magicians, of enchantments and
spells, devils, dragons, and rocs.

"'These things are too common, too everyday. Go to the country of the
Franks and bring me a story-teller who shall tell me tales of far
nations, and I will release Ismail, and load him with treasure.'

"'My Lord,' said I, 'peradventure no Frank story-teller will come. To
guard against such eventuality, I will myself go to the lands of the
Franks, there to learn of adventures worthy the ear of your highness.
This I will do that my brother may be released from the vermilion
tower.'

"'Do this, and I will give him the vermilion tower and make him grand
vizier of the dominions of Oman.'

"As hereditary emir of the tribe of Al-Yam, I am prince of a
considerable population. My revenues are sufficient to support life
becomingly. But desiring to escape attention, and moreover, feeling
that I could better get in touch with all classes of the population, I
have established here in Chicago a small bazaar for the sale of
frankincense and myrrh, the balsam of Hadramaut and attar of roses
from the vales of Nejd, coffee of Mocha--which is in Arabia the
Happy--dates from Hedjaz, together with ornaments made from wood grown
in Mecca and Medina. Such is my stock in trade. By day, Mesrour and I
dress like Feringhis. But at night, it pleases us to cast aside the
stiff garb of the infidel for the flowing garments of my native land.
Mesrour then delights to make the obeisances my rank deserves, but
which in the presence of the giaours would excite mocking laughter. I
have prospered. I have made acquaintances and have learned of many
adventures. But I have made no friends. I have been much prepossessed
by your bearing and feel that I would like to have you for a friend. I
am also desirous of observing the effect of the tales of adventure I
have been collecting. I need to acquire skill in the art of narration,
and accordingly, I must have someone to tell them to, a person whose
complaisance will cause him to overlook the faults of a novice. I am
exceedingly anxious to have the distinguished honor of your company
and if you have any evenings when you are at leisure, I should be only
too glad to have you spend them here."

"I can come this day week," said Mr. Middleton.

"So be it. On that occasion I will tell you the tale of The Adventure
of the Virtuous Spinster. I have not asked you your calling in life,
for I am utterly without curiosity----"

"I am a clerk in a law office," said Mr. Middleton, quickly, "where I
perform certain tasks and at the same time study law, and it is my
hope to be soon admitted to the bar."

Prince Achmed regarded him earnestly for a moment, and then withdrew
to return with a sandalwood case in his hands. This he opened to
disclose a leathern-bound volume. Upon the cover was stamped a great
gilt monogram of letters in some strange language. The edges were
stained a brilliant and peculiarly vivid green. The pages were of fine
pearl-colored vellum, covered with strange characters in black. Each
chapter began with a great red initial surrounded by an illuminated
design of many colored arabesques. It was indeed a volume to cause a
book-lover to cry out with joy.

"Here is all the law man needs, the sacred Koran. Here is the
beginning and end of law, the source of regulations that ensure
righteous conduct, the precepts of Mohammed, prophet of Allah. If
other laws agree with those of the Koran, they are needless. If they
disagree, they are evil. Study this guide of life, my friend, and
there will be no need to worry your brain with tomes of the
presumptuous wights who from their own imaginings dare attempt to
dictate laws and impiously substitute them for the laws revealed to
Mohammed from on high. Accept this gift and study it."

With the sandalwood case containing the precious volume of the law
under his arm, Mr. Middleton departed. After the lapse of three days,
finding no immediate prospect of learning the Arabic language, and
fearful of offending Prince Achmed if he returned the book, and having
no possible use for it, he took it to a bibliophile, who exclaiming
that it was the handiwork of a Mohammedan monastery of Damascus and
bore on the cover the monogram of the fifth Fatimite caliph, and was
therefore a thousand years old, he told Mr. Middleton that though it
was worth much more, he could offer him but five hundred dollars,
which sum the astonished friend of Achmed received in a daze, and
departed to invest in a well located lot in a new suburb. Having no
use for the sandalwood case after the Koran had been disposed of, he
presented it to a young lady of Englewood as a receptacle for
handkerchiefs.

Mr. Middleton said nothing of these transactions when on the appointed
evening he once more sat in the presence of the urbane prince of the
tribe of Al-Yam. Having handed him a bowl of delicately flavored
sherbet, Achmed began to narrate The Adventure of the Virtuous
Spinster.



_The Adventure of the Virtuous Spinster._


Miss Almira Johnson was a virtuous spinster, aged thirty-nine, who
lived in a highly respectable boarding-house on the north side. Her
days she spent in keeping the books of a large leather firm, in an
office which she shared with two male clerks who were married, and a
red-headed boy of sixteen, who was small for his age.

On the evening when my tale begins, Miss Almira, tastefully attired
for her night's rest in a white nightgown trimmed with blue lace, was
peeping under the bed for the ever-possible man, the nightly rite
preliminary to her prayers. She fell back gasping in a vain attempt to
scream, but not a sound could she give vent to. The precaution of
years had been justified. _There lay a man!_ He was habited in a very
genteel frock-suit, patent-leather shoes, and although it must have
caused him some inconvenience in his recumbent position, upon his head
was a correct plug hat. The elegance and respectability of his garb
somewhat reassured Miss Almira, who was unable to believe that one so
apparelled could have secreted himself under her bed for an evil
purpose, when a new fear seized her, for arguing from this assumption,
she concluded he must have been placed there by others and was, in
short, dead. Whereupon, having to some degree recovered possession of
herself, she was opening her mouth to scream at this new terror, when
the man spoke.

"Listen before you scream, I pray thee, beauteous lady, darling of my
life, pearl of my desires, star of my hopes."

The strangeness of the address and the unaccustomed epithets caused
Miss Almira to forbear, for she could not hear what he had to say and
scream at the same time, and, moreover, she remembered how twenty
years before, Jake Long had fled, never to return to her side, when
after telling her she was the sweetest thing in the world, she had
screamed as his arms clasped about her in a bearish hug.

"Fair lady, ornament of your sex, hear the words of your ardent
admirer before you blast his hopes."

As he uttered these words, the stranger extricated himself from his
undignified position and sat down in a rocking chair before the
bureau. Miss Almira was more than ever prepossessed as she saw he wore
white kid gloves and that in his shirt front gleamed a large diamond.
He removed his hat, disclosing a heavy crop of black hair. He had blue
eyes and a strong, clean-shaven face.

"For some time I have observed you and wondered how I was to realize
my fondest hopes and make your acquaintance. All day you are in the
office, where the two married men and the red-headed boy are always
_de trop_. My employment is of a nature that takes me out nights. In
fact, I teach a night school for Italians. To-day being an Italian
holiday and so no school, and as there is a possibility I shall soon
leave the city for an extended season, I have been unable to devise
any other means of declaring myself before the time for my departure.
Pray pardon me for the abruptness and importunity of my declaration,
pray forgive me for the unusual way which I have taken to secure an
interview alone with you. But if you only knew the ardor of my love,
my impatience--oh, would that our union could be effected this very
night!"

Ravished by the elegance of the stranger both in his outward seeming
and his converse, melted by the warmth of a romantic devotion almost
unknown in these degenerate days, though common enough of yore, Miss
Almira paused a moment in the proud compliance of one about to gladly
bestow an inestimable, but hardly hoped-for gift, and crying, "It can
be done, it shall be done," threw herself into the cavalier's arms.

"How so?" asked the stranger, after Miss Almira had disengaged herself
at the elapse of a proper interval.

"Why, the Rev. Eusebius Williams has the next room. We will call him."

"But," said the stranger, "I thought the occupant of the next room was
Mr. Algernon Tibbs, a gentleman from the country, who has recently
sold a large number of hogs here in the city and has been ill in his
room for a space by reason of a contusion on the head from a gold
brick, which was, so to speak, twice thrown at his head, once
figuratively as a ridiculously fine bargain which he refused to take,
and again when the owner, angered, struck him with the rejected gold."

"I see," said Miss Almira archly, "that in planning for this, you have
tried to study the lay of the land; but be gratified, sir, for the
lucky chance which prevented a sad mistake. Mr. Tibbs and I do occupy
adjoining rooms. But the one Mr. Tibbs occupies is really mine. To-day
we exchanged and I will remain here for the four or five days Mr.
Tibbs is to be in the city. He has a large sum of money in his
possession, so we all infer. At any rate, he was afraid to sleep in
this room, where there is a fire escape at the window, and took mine,
where an unscalable wall prevents access. Suppose the Italian holiday
had been last night and you had come then. He would then have taken
you for a robber, notwithstanding that anybody could see you are a
gentleman."

For the first time did Miss Almira become conscious she was not robed
as one should be while receiving callers, and blushing violently, she
leaped into bed, whence she bid the stranger retire for a bit until
she could dress, when they would invoke the kindly offices of the Rev.
Eusebius Williams.

"Your name," she called, as the stranger was about to retire.

"My name," said he impressively, "which will soon be yours, is
Breckenridge Endicott."

"Mulvane," said Mr. Breckenridge Endicott to himself, noiselessly
descending the stairs, "what if she had screamed before you had pulled
yourself together and thought of that stunt? You didn't get old Tibb's
money, but you did get--away."

Mr. Endicott tried the front door. To his apparent annoyance, there
was no bolt, no knob to unlock it, and key there was none. In the
parlors, he could hear the voices of boarders.

"No way there, Mulvane," said Mr. Endicott. "I'll go into the kitchen
and walk out the back door. If there's anybody there, they'll think me
a new boarder."

But he started violently and stood for some moments trembling for no
assignable reason, as he saw in front of the range a fat German hired
girl sitting in the lap of a fat Irish policeman.

"No go through Almira's room to the fire escape. But perhaps I can get
out on the roof and get away somehow. She can't have dressed so soon,"
and he ascended the stairs to run plump into Miss Almira, who popped
out of her room, resplendent in a rustling black silk.

"Oh, you impatient thing," said Miss Almira, shaking a reproving
finger. "I put this on, and then I thought I ought to wear something
white, and so came out to tell you not to get impatient waiting, and
why I kept you so long," and back she popped.

"You are up against it, Mulvane," said Mr. Breckenridge Endicott,
sitting disconsolately down upon the stairs. "Hold on, just the thing.
Why, as her husband, you'll live here unsuspected and get in with old
Tibbs. Why, the job will be pie. It won't be mean to her, either. When
you just vanish, she'll have 'Mrs.' tacked to her name, and that'll
help her. It will be lots of satisfaction. They can't call her an old
maid. 'Better 'tis to have loved and lost than never to have loved at
all.' I'll give her some of the boodle. She isn't bad looking. Wonder
why nobody ever grabbed on to her. If I had enough to live well, I'd
marry her myself and settle down."

The Rev. Eusebius Williams, with ten dollars fee in his right
pantaloons pocket, and the radiant Almira, did not look happier during
the wedding ceremony than did Mr. Breckenridge Endicott.

It was seldom that Mr. Endicott was absent from the side of his wife
during the next few days. Occasionally pleading urgent business, he
left her to go down town with Mr. Tibbs, whom he was seeking to
interest in a plan to extract gold from sea water, a plan upon which
Mr. Tibbs looked with some favor, for as presented by Mr. Endicott, it
was one of great feasibility and promised enormous profits. In the
setting forth of the method of extraction, Mr. Endicott was much aided
by his wife, who overhearing him in earnest consultation with Mr.
Tibbs bounded in and demanded to know what it was all about. Mr.
Endicott demurred, saying it was an abstruse matter which should not
burden so poetical a mind as hers. But Mr. Tibbs set it forth to her
briefly. Having in her youth made much of the sciences of chemistry
and physics, to the great amaze and admiration of Mr. Endicott, she
launched into a most lucid explication of the practicability of the
plan, leaving Mr. Tibbs more than ever inclined to venture his
thousands.

"By Jove, she'll do, Mulvane. Why cut and run? Take her along. She is
a splendid grafter," said Mr. Endicott to himself, as he and his wife
withdrew from the presence of Mr. Tibbs. "My dear," he continued
aloud, "I was overcome by respect for the way you aided me. You are
indeed a jewel. I had never suspected you understood me, knew what I
was, until you came in and explained that sucker trap. You are a most
unexpected ally. You perceive clearly how the thing works?"

"Why, of course, Breckenridge. I have not studied science in vain,
though I do not recall what part of the machine you call 'sucker
trap'. Doubtless the contrivance marked 'converter,' in the drawings.
Of course I understood you, right from the first, a noble, noble man,
and so romantic. But Brecky, dear, why let other people share in this
invention? Why not make all the money ourselves and become million,
millionaires? I shall build churches and libraries and support
missionaries. Why let Mr. Tibbs, who is a somewhat gross person, enjoy
any of the fruits of your genius?"

Whereupon Mr. Endicott's face took on an expression of deep
disappointment, disillusionment, and sorrow, until seeing his own
sorrow mingled with alarm reflected on his wife's face, he presently
announced that they would depart on their wedding journey by boat for
Mackinac three days hence.

"I shall stop fiddle-faddling and settle the business which delays me
here, at one stroke. The old simple methods are the best."

As Mr. and Mrs. Breckenridge Endicott were entering their cab to drive
to the wharf, Mrs. Maxon, the landlady, came hurriedly with the
scandal that Mr. Algernon Tibbs had been found in his room in the
stupor of intoxication.

"Why, he might have been robbed while in that condition," said Mrs.
Maxon.

"He will not be robbed while under your roof," said Mr. Endicott
gallantly. "He is safe from robbing now. He will not, he cannot, I may
say, be robbed now."

The sun was touching the western horizon as the steamer glided out of
the river's mouth. The wind lay dead upon the water, and for a space
the pair sat in the tender light of declining day indulging in the
pleasures of conversation, but at length Mr. Endicott led his wife to
their stateroom.

"On this auspicious day, I wish to make you a gift," and he handed her
a thousand dollars in bills. "My presence is now required on the lower
deck for a time. Be patient during my absence," whereupon he embraced
her with an ardor he had never shown before and there was in his voice
a strange ring of regret and longing such as Almira had never listened
to. It thrilled her very soul and bestowing upon him a shower of
passionate kisses and an embrace of the utmost affection, their
parting took on almost the agony of a parting for years.

"Where the devil is that coal passer Mullanphy, I gave a job to?" said
the engineer on the lower deck. "Is he aboard?"

"His dunnage is in his bunk, but nobody ain't seen him," replied one
of the crew.

"Who the devil is that geezer in a Prince Albert and a plug hat that
just went in back there, and what the devil is he up to?" said the
engineer again, as a black-clothed figure passed toward the stern.

A few moments later, a sturdy man in a jumper and overalls, his face
smeared with grime, peered cautiously around a bulkhead, and seeing
nobody, stepped quickly to the side of the vessel, bearing a limp and
spineless figure in a black frock and silk hat. With a dextrous
movement, he cast the thing forth, and as it went flopping through the
air and slapped the water, from somewhere arose the voice of Mr.
Breckenridge Endicott crying, "Help! help! help!"

Mrs. Endicott, full of dole at the absence of her spouse and oppressed
with a nameless disquiet, had paced the upper deck impatiently, and at
this moment stood just above where her beloved went leaping to his
doom. With one wild scream, she jumped, she scrambled, she fell to the
lower deck, colliding with a man leaning out looking at the sinking
figure. Down, with a vain and frantic clutching at the side that only
served to stay his fall so that he slipped silently into the water
under the vessel's counter, went the unfortunate man.

Plump, into the yawl with the rescue crew, went Mrs. Endicott. Far
astern through the dusk could be seen a black silk hat on the still
water. Astern could be heard the voice of Mr. Breckenridge Endicott
crying, "Quick, quick! I can swim a little, but I am almost gone!"

"Turn to the left, to the left," cried Mrs. Endicott.

"But the cries come from the right," said the coxswain.

"That's his hat to the left. I know his hat. I saw him fall. I know
his voice. It's his hat and his voice."

The crew could have sworn that the cries came from the right, but to
the hat they steered and the cries ceased before their arrival. They
lifted the hat. Nothing beneath but eighty fathoms of water.

It was some time thereafter that a fisherman came upon a corpse
floating inshore. Its face was bloated to such an extent as to prevent
recognition. Its clothes were those of a steamboat roustabout. In the
breastpocket was a large pocketbook bearing in gilt letters the
legend, "Mr. Breckenridge Endicott."

"The present I gave him on the morning of our departure!" exclaimed
Miss Almira, "now so strangely found on the dead body of the man who
robbed him and probably murdered him."

Although soaked, the bills were redeemable. The fisherman was a
fisherman who owned a town house on Prairie Avenue and a country house
at Oconomowoc and he would take no reward. The bills amounted to nine
thousand dollars. Taking her fortune, Almira retired to her former
home in Ogle county, Illinois, where once more meeting Mr. Jake Long,
lately made a widower, after a decent period of waiting, they became
man and wife. So it ended happily for all except the person who called
himself Mr. Breckenridge Endicott--though I suspect that was not his
name--and for Mr. Algernon Tibbs. Lest you waste pity on Mr. Algernon
Tibbs, let me say that in his youth, he was accustomed to kill little
girl's cats, and that his fortune was entirely one he beat out of his
brother-in-law, James Wilkinson.



_What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Second Gift of the Emir._


"The individual whose sad taking-off I have just narrated," said the
emir of the tribe of Al-Yam, "affords an excellent example of the power
of good clothes. Suppose he had secreted himself under Miss Almira's
bed wearing a jumper, overalls, and a mask. He would have been
arrested and lodged in the penitentiary."

"But he is now dead," said Mr. Middleton.

"He had better be dead, than continuing his career of villainy and
crime," quoth the emir sternly, and then passing his eyes over the
person of Mr. Middleton, he remarked the somewhat threadbare and
glossy garments of that excellent young man. "If you would accept a
suit of raiment from me," continued the emir with a hesitation that
betrayed the delicacy which was one of the most marked of the many
estimable traits that made his character so admirable, "I would be
overjoyed and obliged. The interests of you, my only friend in this
vast land, have become to me as my own. Unfortunately I have no Frank
clothes except the one suit I wear daily. But of the costumes of my
native land, I have abundant store, and as we are of the same stature,
I beg you will make me happy by accepting one."

Speaking some words to Mesrour in the language of Arabia, the
blackamore brought in and proceeded to invest Mr. Middleton with an
elegant silken habit consisting of a pair of exceedingly baggy
trousers of the hue of emeralds, a round jacket whose crimson rivalled
the rubies of Farther Ind, and a vest of snowy white. Double rows of
small pearls ornamented the edges of the jacket, which was short and
just met a copper-colored sash about the waist. After inducting him
into a pair of white leggings and bronze shoes, Mesrour clapped upon
his head a large white turban ornamented with a black aigret.

Mr. Middleton looked very well in his new garments and while the emir
was complimenting him upon this fact and the grace of his bearing and
Mr. Middleton was uttering protestations of gratitude, Mesrour busied
himself, and Mr. Middleton, turning with intent to resume his wonted
garb, was astonished to find it in a network of heavy twine tied with
a multiplicity of knots.

"Mesrour will bring you your Frank clothes in the morning. I am very
tired, and so I will bid you good night," and the yawn which now
overspread the face of the accomplished prince told more than his
words that the audience was ended.

Mr. Middleton looked at the bundle with its array of knots. To untie
it would require a long time and the prince was repeating his yawn and
his good night. Even had he not hesitated to offend the prince by
demanding opportunity to resume his customary vestments and to weary
him by making him wait for this operation, which promised to be a long
one, he would have been without volition in the matter; for in
obedience to a gesture, Mesrour grasped his arm and with great
deference, but inflexible and unalterable firmness, led him through
the shop and closed the street door behind him.

Mr. Middleton was greatly disconcerted at finding himself in the
street arrayed in these brilliant and barbarous habiliments, but
reflecting that the citizens traveling the streets at this hour would
perhaps take him for some high official in one of the many fraternal
orders that entertain, instruct, and edify the inhabitants of the
city, he proceeded on his way somewhat reassured. As he was changing
cars well toward his lodgings, at a corner where a large public hall
reared its façade, he heard himself accosted, and turning, beheld a
portly person wearing a gilt paper crown, a long robe of purple velvet
bordered with rabbit's fur spotted with black, and bearing in his hand
a bung-starter, which, covered with gilt paper, made a very creditable
counterfeit of a royal scepter.

"Come here once," said this personage.

With great affableness expressing a willingness to come twice, if it
were desired, Mr. Middleton accompanied the personage, as with an air
of brooding mystery, the latter led him down the street twenty feet
from where they had first stood.

"Was you going to the masquerade?"

"Yes," said Mr. Middleton, divining from the presence of the personage
and two other masquers whom he now beheld entering the hall, that a
masquerade was in progress.

"What'll you take to stay away?"

"Why?"

"You'll take the prize."

"What is the prize and why should the possibility of winning it deter
me?"

"The prize is five dollars. It's this way. I am a saloonkeeper. Gustaf
Kleiner and I are in love with the same girl. She is in love with all
both of us. She don't know what to say. She can't marry all both, so
she says she'll marry the one what gits the prize at the masquerade.
If you git the prize, don't either of us git the girl already. I'll
give you twenty dollars to stay away."

"But what of Gustaf Kleiner? Have you paid him?"

"He is going to be a devil. I hired two Irishmans for five dollars to
meet him up the street, cut off his tail, break his horns, and put
whitewash on his red suit. He is all right. I'll make it thirty
dollars and a ticket of the raffle for my watch to-morrow."

"Done," said Mr. Middleton, and he proceeded to draw up a contract
binding him to stay away from the masquerade for a consideration of
thirty dollars.

It was not the least remarkable part of his adventure that he did not
meet Gustaf Kleiner in his damaged suit and for a consideration of
fifty dollars, lend him the magnificent Oriental costume. He did not
see Gustaf Kleiner at all, nor did he win the watch in the raffle and
the chronicler hopes that the setting down of these facts will not
cause the readers to doubt his veracity, for he is aware that usually
these things are ordered differently.

Having kept the Oriental costume for several days and seeing no
prospect of ever wearing it, and his small closet having become
crowded by the presence of a new twenty-dollar suit which he purchased
with part of his gains, he presented it to the young lady in Englewood
previously mentioned, who reduced the ruby red jacket to a beautiful
bolero jacket, made a table throw of the sash, and after much
hesitation seized the exceedingly baggy trousers--which were made with
but one seam--and ripping them up, did, with a certain degree of
confusion, fashion them into two lovely shirt waists. But she did not
wear them in the presence of Mr. Middleton and did not even mention
them to him. Nor did Mr. Middleton allude to any of these transactions
when on the appointed day and hour he again sat in the presence of the
urbane prince of the tribe of Al-Yam. Handing him a bowl of delicately
flavored sherbet, Achmed began to narrate The Adventure of William
Hicks.



_The Adventure of William Hicks._


Young William Hicks was a native of the village of Bensonville, in the
southern part of Illinois. Having, at the age of twenty, graduated at
the head of a class of six in the village school, his father thought
to reward him for his diligence in study by a short trip to the city
of Chicago, which metropolis William had never beheld. Addressing him
in a discourse which, while not long, abounded in valuable advice, Mr.
Hicks presented his son with a sum of money sufficient for a stay of a
week, provided it were not expended imprudently.

One evening, William was walking along Wabash Avenue, feeling somewhat
lonely as he soberly reflected that not one in all that vast multitude
cared anything about him, when he heard himself accosted in a most
cheery manner, and looking up, beheld a beautiful lady smiling at him.
It was plain that she belonged to the upper classes. A hat of very
large proportions, ornamented with a great ostrich plume, shaded a
head of lovely yellow hair. She was clothed all in rustling purple
silk and sparkled with jewelry. Her cheeks and lips glowed with a
carmine quite unknown among the fair but pale damosels of Bensonville,
which is situated in a low alluvial location, surrounded by flat
plains, the whole being somewhat damp and malarial. William had never
imagined eyes so wide open and glistening.

"My name is Willy, to be sure. But you have the advantage of me, for
ashamed as I am to say it, I cannot quite recall you. You are not the
lady who came to Bensonville and stayed at the Campbellite
minister's?"

"Oh, how are all the dear folks in Bensonville? But, say, Will, don't
you want to come along with me awhile and talk it all over?"

"I should be honored to do so, if you will lead the way. I confess I
am lonely to-night, and I always enjoy talking over old times."

At this juncture, a sudden look of alarm spread over the lady's
beauteous face and a lumbering minion of the law stepped before her.

"Up to your old tricks, eh?" he growled. "Didn't I tell you that the
next time I caught you tackling a man, I'd run you in? Run you in it
is. Come on, now."

"Oh, oh," panted the lady, and great tears welled into her adorable
eyes. At that moment, there was a crash in the street, as a poor
Italian exile had his push cart overturned by the sudden and
unexpected backing of a cab. The policeman turned to look and, like a
frightened gazelle, the lady bounded away, closely followed by young
William.

"Is there nothing I can do? Cannot I complain to the judge for you, or
address a communication to some paper describing and condemning this
conduct?"

"Is he coming? Is he coming?" asked the lady, piteously.

"No. But if he were, I would strike him, big as he is. Cannot a former
visitor in Bensonville greet one of its citizens without interference
from the police?"

Hereupon the lady, who seemed to be giving little heed to what William
was saying, beyond the information that the policeman was not in
pursuit, gave a gay little laugh of relief, which caused William's
eyes to light in pitying sympathy.

"Now that we are away from him, what do you say to a friendly game of
cards somewhere, to pass away the evening, which hangs heavy on my
hands and doubtless does on yours?"

"I have never played cards," said William, "for while there is nothing
intrinsically wrong in them, they are the vehicle of much that is
injurious, and at the very least, they cause one to fritter away
valuable time in profitless amusement."

"Oh, la! you are wrong there," said the lady, with a little silvery
laugh. "They are not a profitless amusement. Why, a man has to keep
his brains in good trim when he plays cards, and whist is just as good
a mental exercise as geometry and algebra, or any other study where
the mind is engaged upon various problems. You see I stand up for
cards, for I teach whist myself and I assure you that many of the
leading ladies of this city spend their time in little else than
whist, which they would not do if cards were what you say. Before you
pass your opinion, why not let me show you some of the fine points,
and then you will have something to base your judgment upon."

William, quite impressed by the elegance and social standing of the
lady, as well as influenced by her beauty, despite her evident
seniority of ten or fifteen years, assented, and the lady continued:

"I would invite you to my own apartments, but they are so far away,
and as we are now in front of the Hotel Dieppe, let us go up and
engage a room for a few hours and I will teach you a few little
interesting tricks with which you can amuse the people of Bensonville,
and even obtain some profit, if you wish to. What do you say?"

William averring that he would be pleased to receive the proffered
instruction, she led the way up a flight of stairs and paused in the
doorway of the hotel office, for the Hotel Dieppe was a hostelry of no
great pretentions and occupied the upper stories of a building, the
lower floors of which were devoted to a furniture emporium. Behind the
counter stood a low-browed clerk with a large diamond in his shirt
front, who scrutinized them keenly.

"You get the room," said the lady, coyly. "I'm bashful and don't like
to go in there where are all those smoking men. You may take it in my
name if you wish,--Madeleine Montmorency."

"Number 15," said the clerk, and in a space William found himself in a
dark room, alone with the lady, and heard the door close behind them
and the key turn in the lock.

"We are locked in!" exclaimed Miss Montmorency.

"What's that?" said a deep voice in the darkness.

Miss Montmorency screamed, and screamed again as William turned on the
light and they beheld a man lying in bed!

William was stepping hastily to her side to shield her vision from
this improper spectacle, when he paused as if frozen to the floor. The
man was now sitting up in bed and he had a _red flannel night gown,
one eye_, AND TWO NOSES!

"What the devil are you doing here?" exclaimed the monster in the red
flannel nightgown.

"That I will gladly tell you, for I would not have you believe that we
wantonly intruded upon your slumbers." And thereupon William related
that he was a citizen of Bensonville who had met a former visitor
there and they had come here to talk over mutual acquaintances and
improve their minds by discreet discourse. "But, sir," he said, in
concluding, "pardon my natural curiosity concerning yourself. Who are
you and why are you?"

"If I had the printed copies of my life here, I would gladly sell you
one, but I left them all behind. My name is Walker Sheldrup. I am
registered from Springfield, Mass., but I am from Dubuque, Iowa. I was
born in Sedalia, Mo., where my father was a prominent citizen. It was
he who led the company of men who, with five ox teams, hauled the
courthouse away from Georgetown and laid the foundations of Sedalia's
greatness. Had he lived, Sedalia would not have tried in vain to swipe
the capital from Jefferson City. As a youth I was distinguished--but
I'll cut all that out. Your presence here and the door being locked
behind you only too surely warns me that we have no time to lose. They
have taken you for the snake-eating lady and the rubber-skinned boy,
who ran away when I did and who were to meet me here in Chicago. If
you will turn your heads away so I can dress, I will continue. You
have heard of prenatal influences. Shortly before I was born, my
mother made nine pumpkin pies and set them to cool on a stone wall
beneath the shade of a large elm. As luck would have it, a menagerie
passed by and an elephant grabbed those pies one after another and ate
them. The sight of that enormous pachyderm gobbling my mother's
cherished handiwork, completely upset her. I was born with two noses
like the two tusks of the beast. At the same time, like the trunk,
they are movable. My two noses are as mobile and useful as two fingers
and if you have a quarter with you, I will gladly perform some curious
feats. My noses being so near together, ordinarily, I join them with
flesh-colored wax. I then seem to have but one nose, although a very
large one. I thus escape the annoying attention of the multitude,
which is very disagreeable to a proud man of good family, like me.
Young man, do you ever drink? In Dubuque, they got me drunk so I
didn't know what I was about and I signed a contract with a dime
museum company for twenty-five dollars a week. Take warning from my
fate. Never drink, never drink."

"I can well imagine your sufferings at being a spectacle for a ribald
crowd," said William. "To a man of refined sensibilities, it must be
excruciating, and it was an outrage to entrap you into such a
contract."

"I ought to have had seventy-five and could have got fifty. So I ran
away. Well, now, how are we going to get out of here? Can you climb
over the transom, young man?"

As he said these words, the door flew open and in rushed some
villainous looking men, who gagged, handcuffed, and shackled Miss
Montmorency, William, and the two-nosed man.

"We have the legal right to do this," said the leader, displaying the
badge of the Jinkins private detective agency. "Advices from Dubuque
set us at work. We early located Sheldrup at this hotel, and when the
clerk saw the rubber-skinned boy and the snake-eating lady come in, he
suspicioned who they was at once and by a great stroke, put 'em in
with old two-nose. Do you think we are going to put you through for
breach of contract and for swiping that money out of the till on the
claim it was due you on salary? Nit. Cost too much, take too much
time, and you git sent to jail instead of being back in the museum
helping draw crowds. We are in for saving time and trouble for you,
us, and your employer. To-night you ride out of here for Dubuque,
covered up with hay, in the corner of the car carrying the new trick
horse for the museum. Save your fare and all complications. Now, boys,
we want to work this on the quiet, so we will just leave 'em all here
until the streets are deserted and there won't be anybody around to
notice us gitting 'em into the hack."

"Hadn't one of us better stay?" asked a subordinate.

"How can people gagged, their ankles shackled, their hands handcuffed
behind 'em, git out? Why, I'll just leave the handcuff keys here on
the table and tantalize 'em."

Tears welled in the soft, beauteous orbs of Miss Montmorency and
William's eyes spoke keen distress, but Mr. Sheldrup's eyes gleamed
triumphantly above the cloth tied about the lower part of his face.
Hardly had the steps of the detectives died away on the stair, when a
little click was heard behind Miss Montmorency and her handcuffs fell
to the floor. There stood Mr. Sheldrup, politely bowing, with the key
held between his two noses. She seized it and in a twinkling, the
bonds of all had been removed and, forcing the door, they started
away. At the street entrance stood the policeman who had insulted Miss
Montmorency!

"Oh, he's waiting for me, and I'll get six months. He knew where I'd
go. I haven't any money," and tears not only filled the wondrous
optics of poor Miss Montmorency, but flowed down her cheeks.

"Six months, your grandmother. I'll not go back on you. Young man,
follow me into the office and when I am fairly in front of the clerk,
give me a shove," and the two-nosed man, with a grip in each hand,
walked up to the clerk and began to rebuke him for his ungentlemanly
and unprincipled conduct.

"You white-livered son of a sea-cook, you double-dyed, concentrated
essence of a skunk," and at that moment young William pushed him and
the two-nosed gentleman lurched forward, and bending his head to avoid
contact with the clerk's face, it rested against the latter's bosom
for a moment. Departing immediately, at the foot of the stairs the
two-nosed gentleman said to the policeman:

"Officer, please let this lady pass. For various reasons, I desire it
enough to spare this stud, which will look well upon the best
policeman on the force."

"All right," said the policeman. "Go along for all of me, Bet
Higgins," and he courteously accepted the diamond.

"My stage name," said Miss Montmorency, in answer to an inquiring look
from William. "The name I sign to articles in the Sunday papers."

"Now of course they are watching all the depots," said the two-nosed
gentleman. "Before they located me here they did that, and as they
have also been looking for the snake-eating lady and the
rubber-skinned boy, our late captors have not had time to notify them
that we have been captured. It is useless to try to escape that way,
then; it is too far to walk out, or go by street car, and as it is a
fair, moonlight night with a soft breeze, I am for getting a boat and
sailing out."

After some search, they found a small sail boat. Miss Montmorency had
decided to flee from the wicked city with the two-nosed gentleman. She
had heard such delightful reports of Michigan. The owner of the boat
not being there and there being no probability that they would ever
return it, the two-nosed gentleman wrote a check on a Dubuque bank for
one hundred and seventy-five dollars, and Miss Montmorency an order on
the school board for a like amount, and these they pinned up where the
boatman could find them.

"It will be quite like a fairy tale when the good boatman comes in the
morning and finds this large sum left him by those to whom his little
craft has been of such inestimable service," said William, and then
for fear the boatman might not find the check and the order, in two
other places he pinned up cards giving the whereabouts of the
remuneration for the boat and some statement concerning the
circumstances of its requisition. On the back of one of the cards had
been penciled his name and city address, and though he had erased the
black of this inscription, the impression yet remained distinctly
legible. This erasure was not due to any desire to conceal his
identity or lodgings, but because he had thought at first that he
could not get all the information on one side of the card. Having seen
his friends go slipping out on the deep, he turned pensively homeward,
somewhat heavy of heart, for when one faces perils with another, fast
friendships are quickly welded.

In the morning, young William was arrested and lodged in jail and a
corrupt and venal judge laughed with contempt at his plea. After three
long days in jail, came Mr. Hicks, senior, who compounded with the
boat owner for two hundred and fifty dollars, the boat being, as the
owner swore, of Spanish cedar with nickel-plated trimmings.

       *       *       *       *       *

"That is always the way when a person of good heart befriends
another," said Mr. Middleton.

"Alas, too often," said the emir of the tribe of Al-Yam. "But I am
pleased to say that when once across the lake, the two-nosed gentleman
married Miss Montmorency, who whatever she might be, did not lack
certainly womanly qualities and had been the sport of an unkind world.
Having something to live for, the two-nosed gentleman signed with a
Detroit dime museum company at seventy-five dollars a week. His two
noses were not the most remarkable thing about him, for in course of
time hearing of young William's misadventure, he sent him a sum
equivalent to all the episode had cost him, together with a handsome
diamond stud, which he had with great deftness and cleverness taken
from the officious policeman, as he visited the dime museum with two
ladies while spending his vacation in Detroit. And this beautiful
ornament William delighted to wear, not merely because of its
intrinsic worth, which was considerable, but through regard for its
thoughtful and considerate donor."

"The two-nosed man did truly show himself a man of gratitude, and I am
glad to hear of such an instance. Yet from what you said of him in the
beginning of the tale, I should not have expected it of him. How often
is one deceived by appearances and how hard it is to trust to them."

"Even the wisest is unable to distinguish an enemy wearing the guise
of a friend, but we may bring to our assistance the aid of forces more
powerful than our poor little human intelligence. Let me present you
with a talisman which will ever warn you when any one plots against
you."

"How?"

"How? You must wait until some one plots against you and the talisman
will answer that question. Its ways of warning will be as manifold as
the plots villains may conceive. Here is the talisman, an Egyptian
scarabæus of pure gold. So cunningly fashioned is it that not nature
itself made ever a bug more perfect in the outward seeming."



_What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Third Gift of the Emir._


Putting the scarabæus in his left trousers pocket, Mr. Middleton
departed, and as he went about his affairs during the next several
days, he ceased to think of the talisman, but on the fourth day his
attention was recalled to it in a way that indeed seemed to prove that
it was a charm possessed of the powers the emir of the tribe of Al-Yam
had attributed to it. He was faring northward in a street car at
eleven of the morning, diverting himself with the study of the
passengers sitting opposite, when he became aware that the scarabæus
in his left trousers pocket was slowly traveling up his leg. Had the
talisman been other than the heavy object it was, he would not have
noticed it, but it was of too considerable weight to travel over his
person without making its progress felt. Deterred by none of the
superstitious tremors which the unaccountable peregrinations of the
gold beetle would have excited in one less intrepid, he quickly thrust
his hand into his pocket to close it over another hand already there,
a hand which beyond a first little start to escape, lay passive and
unresisting, a hand soft and delicate, yet well-muscled withal,
long-fingered and finely formed. At the same time, a well-modulated
voice at his side exclaimed:

"Why, I did not recognize you at first. I was not looking when you
came and you evidently did not notice me."

"No, I did not," said Mr. Middleton, composedly, still retaining his
grasp upon the hand in his pocket. "I cannot see that you have changed
any," he continued, scrutinizing the young woman at his side, for she
was young and, moreover, of a very pleasing presence, and he did not
altogether rebel against the circumstances that allowed him to fondle
the hand of one so comely. The day, which had begun with a slight
chill, had turned off warm and she had removed her cloak, which, lying
across her own lap and partially across Mr. Middleton's, had been the
blind behind which she had introduced her hand into the pocket where
reposed the fateful talisman.

The persons in the car seemed to take an interest in this sudden
recognition on the part of a pair who had been riding side by side for
so long, oblivious of each other's identity. Moreover, the young woman
was tastefully gowned and of a very smart appearance, while Mr.
Middleton's new suit became him and fitted him nicely and altogether
they were a couple nearly any one would find pleasure in looking upon.
A slight movement to withdraw the hand lying within his own, caused
Mr. Middleton's grasp to tighten and almost simultaneously, the young
woman at his side leaned forward and with a look in which sorrow and
pain were mingled, said in a lowered voice:

"Oh, I have such a dreadful thing to tell you about our friend Amy. I
hate to tell you, but as I wish to bespeak your kind offices, I must
do so. I am going to ask you to be the agent of a restitution. She
has, oh, she has become a kleptomaniac. With every luxury, with her
fine home on the Lake Shore Drive, with all her father's wealth, with
no want money can gratify, she takes things. In her circumstances it
is out of the question to call it stealing. It is a mania, a form of
insanity. When she is doing it, she seems to be in the grasp of some
other mind, to be another person, and her actions are involuntary,
unconscious. Then she seems to come to herself, when her agony is
dreadful to behold."

The young woman's voice broke a little here, she paused a moment to
resume control of herself, and perceiving her eyes swimming with tears
and her lips quivering with unhappiness, Mr. Middleton was penetrated
with pity and pressed most tenderly and sympathetically the delicate
hand of which he was temporarily custodian.

"She took things in stores, trumpery, cheap things. She took magazines
and penny papers from news stands. But oh, she descended to the
dreadful depths of--oh, I can hardly tell it--she was detected in
trying to pick a man's pocket. It is here that I wish to employ you as
an agent of restitution, or rather retribution, I should say. Will you
please take this ring off my left hand and take it to the man she
tried to rob? I cannot use the fingers of my right hand owing to
temporary incapacitation," and she held out to Mr. Middleton her left
hand, upon the third finger of which gleamed a splendid ring of
diamonds and emeralds. Mr. Middleton possessed himself of this second
hand, but paused, and regarding the sweet face turned up to his so
beseechingly, so piteously, said:

"But that would be compounding a felony. And how do you know the man
will not have her arrested anyway?"

"The man is a gentleman and having heard her story, will not think of
such a thing. You are to ask him to accept the ring not as a price for
immunity from arrest, but as a punishment, a retribution to Amy. The
loss of the ring, which she has commissioned me to get to this
gentleman in some manner, will be a lesson she is only too anxious to
give herself, a forcible reminder, as it were. Let me beg of you to
undertake this commission."

All the while, Mr. Middleton was retaining hold of both the hands of
the sorrowful young woman. Had they been other than the soft and
shapely hands they were, had they been hard and gnarled and large,
long before would he, melted by compassion at the young woman's tale,
have released her. But her very charms had been her undoing and
because of her perfect hands, this tale has grown long. That he might
have excuse in the eyes of the other passengers for holding the young
woman's hand, Mr. Middleton removed the ring as he had been bidden,
planning to return it shortly. As he removed the ring, he released the
hand in his pocket and his plan was frustrated by the young woman
starting up with the exclamation that she had passed her corner, and
springing from the car. She was so far in advance of him, when he
succeeded in getting off the car and was walking so rapidly, that he
could not overtake her except by running, and he was averse to
attracting the attention that this would occasion. So he determined to
shadow her and ascertaining her residence, find some means of
restoring the ring without the knowledge of her friends, as he had no
desire to do anything which might cause them to learn of her
unfortunate infirmity, especially, as this last experience might have
worked a cure. She did indeed enter a stately mansion of the Lake
Shore Drive--but by the back door.

Pondering upon this episode, Mr. Middleton went to an acquaintance who
kept a large loan bank on Madison Street, who, after discovering that
he had no desire to pawn the ring, appraised it at seven hundred
dollars.

On the following evening, Mr. Middleton was replacing his new suit by
his old, as was his custom when he intended to remain in his room of
an evening. This example cannot be too highly commended to all young
men. The amount which would be saved in this nation were all to
economize in this way, would be sufficient to buy beer for all the
Teutonic citizens of the large state of Illinois. As Mr. Middleton was
changing his clothes, the scarabæus dropped from his pocket and as he
picked it up, a collar button fell from his neckband, and scrambling
for it as it rolled toward the unexplored regions under his bed, he
tripped and sprawled at full length, his nose coming in sharp contact
with an evening paper lying on the floor. He was about to rise from
his recumbent position, when his eyes, glancing along his nose to
discover if it had sustained any injury, observed that said member
rested upon a notice which read:

    "Lost, a diamond and emerald ring. $800 will be paid for its
    return and no questions asked.            David O. Crecelius."

The address was that of the house on the Lake Shore Drive which the
kleptomaniac had entered! Once more did the scarabæus seem to be
exerting its influence. But for the talisman, he would never have seen
the notice, and a little shiver ran through him as he thought of this.
Immediately he reclothed himself in his new suit.

"There is time for me to think out a course of action between here and
my destination," said he. "The walking so conducive to reflection can
be much better employed in taking me toward the Lake Shore Drive, than
in uselessly pacing my room, and I'll be there when I get through."

As he traveled eastward, he engaged in a series of ratiocinative
processes and the result of the deductive and inductive reasoning
which he applied to the case in hand, was as follows:

The kleptomaniac could hardly be a daughter of the house. She would
have entered by the front door. If she were the daughter of the house,
she would not have had the ring advertised for, counting herself
fortunate to get out of the difficulty so cheaply. However, if her
parents had noted the absence of the ring, she might have said it was
lost and so they advertised, but nothing could have been further from
her wishes, for there would be the great danger that the outcome of
the advertisement would be a complete exposure. She could easily
prevent her parents noticing the ring was gone, at least making
satisfactory explanations for not wearing it. With her wealth, she
could have it duplicated inside of a few days and her friends never
know the original was lost. As this is what the daughter of the house
in all probability would have done, the kleptomaniac could hardly have
been the daughter of the house. He suspected that she was a lady's
maid, who, wearing her mistress's jewelry, had purchased her way out
of one difficulty at the risk of getting into another. The
advertisement would seem to indicate that she was trusted. The
disappearance of the ring was apparently not connected with her. The
matter was very simple. He would hand over the ring and take the eight
hundred dollars and need say nothing that would implicate the young
woman, be she daughter of the house and kleptomaniac, or serving-maid
and common thief. But one thing puzzled him. Why was the reward
greater than the value of the ring?

Eight hundred dollars. The young lady in Englewood was getting nearer.

A bitter east wind was blowing as he walked up to the entrance of the
mansion of Mr. David Crecelius. Behind him the street lay all deserted
and the melancholy voice of the waves filled the air. Nowhere could he
see a light about the house and he was oppressed by a feeling of
undefinable apprehension as he pressed the bell. A considerable
interval elapsing without any one appearing and a second and a third
ringing failing to elicit any response from within the silent pile, he
was about to depart, feeling greatly relieved that it was not
necessary to hold parley with any one within the gloomy and forbidding
edifice, when he heard a sudden light thud at his feet and discovered
that the scarabæus had dropped through a hole in his trousers' pocket
which had at that moment reached a size large enough to allow it to
escape. After a hurried search, he had possessed himself of the
talisman and was about to depart, when the door swung open before him
and a venerable white-haired man stood in a dim green glow. Boldly did
Mr. Middleton enter, for had not the talisman delayed him until the
venerable man opened the door?

"Come in, sir, come in," said the venerable man, whom Mr. Middleton
saw was none other than David O. Crecelius, the capitalist, whose
portraits he had seen again and again in the Sunday papers and the
weekly papers of a moral and entertaining nature, accompanying
accounts of his life and achievements, with exhortations to the youth
of the land to imitate them, advice which Mr. Middleton then and there
resolved to follow, reflecting upon the impeccable sources from which
it emanated.

"All the servants seem to be gone. My family is abroad and the
household force has been cut down, and I have given everybody leave to
go out to-night, all but one maid, and she seems to have gone, too,"
said Mr. Crecelius, leading Mr. Middleton into a spacious salon and
seating him near where great portières of a funereal purple moved
uneasily in the superheated atmosphere of the house. At that moment, a
voice from the hallway, a voice he had surely heard before, said:

"Did some one ring? I am very sorry, but it was impossible for me to
come," and Mr. Middleton was aware that some one was looking hard at
the back of his head.

"Yes. I let them in. It's no matter. Run away now."

When Mr. Middleton had finished explaining the reason for his call and
had fished up the ring, Mr. Crecelius did not, as he had expected he
would, arise and make out a check for $800.

"This ring," said that gentleman after a little pause, "have you it
with you?"

Mr. Middleton glanced at the hollow of his left hand. He had fished up
the scarabæus instead of the ring. But his left thumb soon showed him
the ring was safe in his vest pocket. The delay and caution of Mr.
Crecelius, and above all, the prevention of the immediate delivery of
the ring caused by the scarabæus coming up in its stead caused Mr.
Middleton to delay.

"It can be produced," said he.

"How did you get it?"

"It came into my possession innocently enough so far as I was
concerned. As to the person from whom I received it, that is a
different matter, but though I made no promises, I feel I am in honor
bound not to disclose that person's identity."

As he uttered these words, Mr. Middleton saw the portière at his side
rustle slightly. It was not the swaying caused by the currents of
overheated air.

"I will give you two hundred dollars more to tell me who gave you or
sold you the ring."

"I cannot do that."

"Very well. I'll only give you four hundred dollars reward."

"The ring is worth more than that."

"If you retain it, or sell it, you become a thief."

"You have advertised eight hundred dollars reward and no questions
asked. I may have found it. Knowing of your loss through reading your
advertisement, I may have gone to great trouble to recover it. At any
rate, I have it. I deliver it. Your advertisement is in effect a
contract which I can call upon you to carry out. The ring is not mine,
but for my services in getting it, I am entitled to the eight hundred
dollars you agree to give. You cannot give less."

"Do you think it right to take advantage of my necessity in this way?
You ought to accept less. The ring is not worth over seven hundred
dollars. For returning it, three hundred dollars ought to be enough.
It is wrong to drive a hard bargain by taking advantage of my
necessity."

"You have built your fortune on such principles. You have engineered
countless schemes and your dollars came from the straits you reduced
others to."

"But do you think it right? What I may have done, does not justify
you. I venture to say you and other young chaps have sat with heels
cocked up and pipes in mouth and discussed me and called me a villain
for doing what you are trying to do with me."

"I have indeed. But that was in the past and I have changed my views
materially. At present, I have the exclusive possession of the ability
to secure something you very much want. You offered eight hundred
dollars. Intrinsically, the ring is not worth it, but for certain
reasons, possession of the ring is worth eight hundred dollars."

"Possession of the ring! Certain reasons!" said Mr. Crecelius,
springing to his feet and pacing up and down the room angrily. As Mr.
Middleton was cudgelling his brains to find some reason for this
outburst of anger, he became cognizant of a small piece of folded
paper lying near his feet. He was about to pick it up and hand it to
the financier, when he was stayed by the reflection that it might have
dropped from his own pocket and examining it, read:

    "It's his wife's ring. I wore it along with some of her other
    things. Ten years ago, he gave it to another woman, and his wife
    found it out and he had to buy it back. He is afraid his wife
    will think he gave the ring away a second time. That is why I
    dared give it to you. Make him give you a thousand.

                                   "The One You Didn't Give Away."

Mr. Middleton put the note in his pocket, and the eminent capitalist
having ceased pacing and standing gazing at him, he remarked:

"Certain reasons, such as preventing an altercation with your wife
over her suspicions that you had not lost the ring, but had disposed
of it as on a former occasion ten years since."

"Young man, you cannot blackmail me. My wife knows all about that. The
knowledge of that occurrence is worthless as a piece of blackmail."

"As blackmail, yes; but not worthless as an indication of the extent
you desire to regain possession of the ring. Your wife knows of your
former escapade and that is gone and past. But the present
disappearance of the ring will cause her to think you have repeated
the escapade. This knowledge of certain conditions causes me to see
that my services in securing and delivering the ring are worth one
thousand dollars. Upon the payment of that sum, cash, I hand you the
ring."

The distinguished money-king gave Mr. Middleton a very black look and
then left the room to return almost immediately with a thousand
dollars in bills, which Mr. Middleton counted, placed in his vest
pocket, and forthwith delivered the ring. As he did so, yielding to
the pride with which the successful outcome of his tilt with the great
capitalist inflamed him, he remarked with a condescension which the
suavity of his tones could not conceal:

"Had you, sir, employed in this affair the perspicacity you have
displayed on so many notable occasions, it would have occurred to you
that this ring, being of a common pattern, could be duplicated for
seven hundred dollars and so you be saved both money and worry."

A look of admiration overspread the face of the eminent manipulator,
and grasping Mr. Middleton's hand with great fervor, he exclaimed:

"A man after my own heart. I am always ready to acknowledge a defeat.
You have good stuff in you. I must know you better. You must stay and
have a glass of champagne with me. I will get it myself," and he
hurried out of the room.

In the state of Wisconsin, from which Mr. Middleton hailed, there is a
great deal of the alcoholic beverage, beer, but such champagne as is
to be found there is all due to importation, since it is not native to
the soil, but is brought in at great expense from France, La Belle
France, and New Jersey, La Belle New Jersey. Mr. Middleton had seen,
smelled, and tasted beer, but champagne was unknown to him save by
hearsay, and his improper curiosity and his readiness to succumb to
temptation caused him to linger in the salon of Mr. Crecelius, thereby
nearly accomplishing his ruin. Suddenly there was a patter of light
steps across the floor, a hand fell lightly on his shoulder and a
voice lightly on his ear.

"You made him raving mad when you said what you did. He telephoned the
police. Now he has gone for the wine and will try to hold you until
they come."

"But he cannot arrest me. I have done nothing," said Mr. Middleton,
his heart going pit-a-pat, in spite of the boldness of his words.

"He can make all sorts of trouble for you. Even if you did come out
all right in the end, think of the trouble. Come, come quick!"

A soft hand had grasped one of his and he was up and away, following
his fair guide up stairs, through the house, and down into the
kitchen.

"I have recovered my wits a bit," said Mr. Middleton. "He is so angry
that he has no thought but immediate vengeance, and so accordingly
telephones the police, and if they were to catch me here, it certainly
would be bad. But to-morrow he will be in a mood to appreciate the
good sense of the letter I shall send him, calling his attention to
the fact that if he arrests me, in the trial there must come out the
reason why I demanded one thousand dollars, the story of his domestic
indiscretion, and so he will not think of pursuing the matter
further."

"It was very kind and very noble of you not to expose me," said the
young woman in a voice in which gratitude and sadness were mingled;
"and all the admiration and gratitude a woman can feel under such
circumstances, I feel toward you. To you I owe my continued good name
and even my very freedom. I know that marriage with such as you, is
not for such as me. I am going to ask you to give to her who would
have all, but expects and deserves nothing, the consolation of a kiss.
Whatever happy maiden may be so fortunate as to receive your love, I
shall have treasured in memory the golden remembrance that once my
preserver bestowed on me the symbol of love."

Mr. Middleton looked down at the girl, supplicating for the favor her
sex is wont to deny, and he said to himself that seldom had he seen a
more flower-like face. Her lovely lips were already puckered in a rosy
pout, her hands raised ready to rest on his shoulders as he should
encircle her with his arms, when he noted with a start that her eyes,
snapping, alert, and eager, were bent not upon his face, but upon his
upper left hand vest pocket, where bulged the one thousand dollars in
bills.

"I am more than honored and I shall be ravished with delight to
comply. But here, where we stand, we are exposed to view from three
sides. If Mr. Crecelius were to look in and see you being kissed by
me, whom he so dislikes, in what a bad plight you would be. Not even
for the exquisite pleasure of kissing you would I subject you to such
a danger. But in the shadow by the outer door, we would not be seen."

As he said these words, Mr. Middleton placed the money in his inside
vest pocket, buttoned his vest, buttoned his inner coat, and buttoned
his overcoat, moving toward the outer door as he did so, the young
woman following him more and more slowly, the light in her eyes dying
with each successive buttoning. In fact, she did not enter into the
shadow at all, and Mr. Middleton stepped back a bit when he threw his
arms about her and pressed her to his bosom. Perfunctorily and coldly
did she yield to his embrace, but whatever ardor was lacking on her
part, was compensated for by Mr. Middleton, who clasped her with
exceeding tightness and showered kisses upon her pouting lips until
she pushed him from her, exclaiming with annoyance:

"You've kissed me quite enough, you great big softy."

Mr. Middleton said nothing of these transactions when on the ensuing
evening he sat in the presence of the young lady of Englewood, nor did
he, when on the evening thereafter he once more sat in the presence of
the urbane prince of the tribe of Al-Yam. Having handed him a bowl of
delicately flavored sherbet, Achmed began to narrate The Adventure of
Nora Sullivan and the Student of Heredity.



_The Adventure of Norah Sullivan and the Student of Heredity._


It was the time of full moon. As the orb of day dropped its red, huge
disk below the western horizon, over the opposite side of the world,
the moon, even more huge and scarcely less red, rose to irradiate with
its mild beams the scenes which the shadows of darkness had not yet
touched. Miss Nora Sullivan, a teacher in the public schools of the
metropolis, sat upon the front porch of the paternal residence
enjoying the loveliness of the vernal prospect and the balm of the
air, for it was in the flowery month of June. Although the residence
of Timothy Sullivan was well within the limits of the municipality of
Chicago, one visiting at that hospitable abode might imagine himself
in the country. From no part of the enclosure could you, during the
leafy season, see another human habitation. A quarter of a mile down
the road to the east, the electric cars for Calumet could be seen
flitting by, but except at the intervals of their passing, there was
seldom anything to suggest that the location was part of a great city.
A quarter of a mile to the west, on the edge of a marsh--a situation
well suited to such culture--lived a person engaged in the raising of
African geese. As it is probable that you may never have heard of
African geese, I will tell you that they are the largest of their
tribe and that specimens of them often weigh as high as seventy
pounds.

The person engaged in the culture of African geese was Wilhelm
Klingenspiel, a man of German ancestry, but born in this country. Miss
Sullivan had often heard of him, she had even partaken of the left leg
of an African goose, which leg he had given Mr. Sullivan for the
Sunday dinner, but she had never seen him. As Wilhelm Klingenspiel was
young and single and as no other man of any description lived in the
vicinity, it is not strange that Nora, who was also young and single,
should sometimes fall to thinking of Mr. Klingenspiel and wonder what
manner of man he was.

On this evening so attuned to romantic reveries, when the flowers, the
birds, and all nature spoke of love, more than ever did Nora
Sullivan's thoughts turn toward the large grove of trees to the
westward in the midst of which Wilhelm Klingenspiel had his home and
carried on his pleasant and harmless vocation of raising African
geese. The evening song of the geese, tempered and sweetened by
distance, came to her, accompanied by the most extraordinary booming
and racketing of frogs which is to be heard outside of the tropical
zone; for not only did Klingenspiel raise the largest geese on this
terraqueous globe, but having, as a means of cheapening the cost of
their production, devoted himself to the increasing of their natural
food, by principles well known to all breeders he had developed a
breed of frogs as monstrous among their kind as African geese are
among theirs. By these huge batrachians was an extensive marsh
inhabited, and battening upon the succulent nutriment thus afforded,
the African geese gained a size and flavor which was rapidly making
the fortune of Wilhelm Klingenspiel.

Nora had often meditated upon plans for making the acquaintance of
Wilhelm, but it was plain that he was either very bashful or so
immersed in his pursuits as to be indifferent to the charms of woman,
for he had never made an attempt to see Nora in all the six months she
had been his neighbor, and she was well worth seeing.

Accordingly, she decided that if she did not wish to indefinitely
postpone making the acquaintance of the poulterer, she must take the
initiative. Timothy Sullivan was a market gardener. Klingenspiel was
not the only man in the neighborhood who grew big things. Mr. Sullivan
was experimenting upon some cabbages of unusual size. He had started
them in a hothouse during the winter. Later transferred to the garden,
they had attained an amplitude such as few if any cabbages had ever
attained before. In the pleasant light of the moon, even now was he
engaged with the cabbages, pouring something upon them from a watering
pot. As she watched her father, it occurred to Nora that she could
find no more suitable excuse for visiting Mr. Klingenspiel than in
carrying him some present in return for the goose's left leg he had
presented her family for a Sunday dinner, and that there was no more
appropriate present than one of the great cabbages.

No sooner had her father gone in than, selecting the largest cabbage,
she started off with it, putting it in a small push-cart, as it was so
large as to be too heavy and inconvenient to carry. It was somewhat
late to call, but the evening was so delightful that Wilhelm
Klingenspiel could hardly have gone to bed. Proceeding on her way, as
the road passed into the swampy land of Klingenspiel's domain, her
attention was engaged by the fact that a most singular commotion was
taking place among the giant batrachians at some remote place south of
the road. Their ordinary calls had increased both in volume and
frequency, and at intervals she heard the sound of crashing in the
brake and brush, as if some objects of unheard of size were falling
into the marsh. Looking in the direction whence the sounds came, she
saw indistinct and vague against the night sky, an enormous rounded
thing rise in the air and descend, whereupon was borne to her another
of the strange crashings. These inexplicable sounds and the
inexplicable sight would have frightened Miss Sullivan had she not the
resources with which modern science fortifies the mind against
credulity and superstition. The round object, she told herself, was
some sudden puff of smoke on a railway track far beyond; the crashing
was the shunting of cars, which things, coming coincidentally with a
battle of the frogs, to an ignorant mind would appear to be a
phenomenon in the immediate vicinity. Bearing in mind that this
seemingly real, but impossible, phenomenon could only be due to a
fortuitous concatenation of actual occurrences, Nora was not disturbed
in her mind. Leaving her cart some little distance up the road, in
order that she might not be seen in the undignified position of
pushing it, she walked into Klingenspiel's front yard, bearing her
gift.

The two-story white house of Wilhelm Klingenspiel seemed to be
deserted. Despite the genial season, every door was shut, and so was
every window, so far as Nora could see, for if any windows were open
down stairs, at least the blinds were shut. There were no blinds in
the second story. Looking around in no little disappointment, she was
astonished to see a row of sheds and fences in rear of the house had
been demolished as if struck by a cyclone and that a goodly sized barn
had departed from its normal position and with frame intact was lying
on its side like a toy barn tipped over by a child. As she was gazing
upon this ruinage and striving to conjecture what had caused it, she
heard a voice, muffled and strange, yet distinctly audible, saying:

"Ribot is running amuck, Ribot is running amuck," and looking up she
beheld, darkly visible against the panes of an upper story window, a
human form. As she looked, the form disappeared and presently a person
rushed from the front door, hauled her into the house and upstairs,
where she found herself still holding her cabbage and observing a
short man of a full habit, with a round moon face, illuminated by a
large pair of spectacles that sustained themselves with difficulty
upon a very snub nose. He was nearly bald, yet nevertheless of a
kindly, studious, and astute appearance. One did not need to look
twice to see that Wilhelm Klingenspiel was a scholar.

"What--what--what is the matter?" exclaimed Nora.

"Ribot is running amuck."

"Who is Ribot?"

Klingenspiel was about to answer, when the whole air was filled with
what one would have called a squeal if it had been one fiftieth part
so loud, and over a row of willow bushes across the road leapt an
astounding great creature, twice as large as the largest elephant, and
Nora began to realize that her scientific deductions regarding the
phenomenon in the swamp had been utterly erroneous. The creature was
of an oblong build, rounded in contour, and its hide was marked by
large blotches of black and rufous yellow upon a ground of white. With
extreme swiftness the creature scurried down the road, its legs being
so short in proportion to its body and moving with such twinkling
rapidity that it seemed to be propelled upon wheels. The appearance of
this strange monster and the appalling character of its squealing,
caused Nora to tremble like a leaf, but the animal having departed, a
laudable curiosity made her forget her fears, and she asked:

"What is it?"

"That was Ribot."

"Who and what is Ribot?"

"Ribot was a celebrated French scientist, an authority on the subject
of heredity. You doubtless know something of the subject, how certain
traits appear in families generation after generation. Accidental
traits, if repeated for two or three generations, often become
inherent traits. To show you to what a strange extent this is true, I
will call your attention to the case of the ducal house of Bethune in
France, where three successive generations having had the left hand
cut off at the wrist in battle, the next three generations were born
without a left hand."

The erudite dissertation of Wilhelm Klingenspiel was here interrupted
by the reappearance of the mottled monster, who, with a scream that
filled the blue vault of heaven, rushed into the yard and paused
before a mighty oak, whose sturdy trunk had stood rooted in that soil
before the city of Chicago existed, before the United States was born,
when Cahokia was the capital of Illinois and the flag of France waved
over the great West. The flash of terrible white teeth showed in the
moonlight as the monster gnawed at the base of the tree a few times
and with a crash its leafy length lay upon the ground. Contemplating
for a brief space the ruin it had wrought, the monster emitted another
of its appalling screams and was off once more on its erratic, aimless
course.

"What in the world is this awful creature?" cried Nora.

"The subject of heredity," resumed Klingenspiel, "is one of vast
importance, and although its principles are well understood, man has
hitherto not touched the possibilities that can be accomplished. The
span of a man's life is so short that in selecting and breeding choice
strains of animals, an individual can see only a comparatively small
number of generations succeed each other. Suppose some one family had
for two hundred years carried on continuous experiments in breeding
any race of animals. What remarkable results would have been attained!
Behold what remarkable results are attained in raising varieties of
plants, where the swiftness of succeeding generations enables man to
accomplish what he seeks in a very short time. Observing the
difficulties that confront the animal breeder and wishing to see in my
own lifetime certain results that might ordinarily be expected only in
a duration of several lifetimes, I sought an animal which came to
maturity rapidly, whose generations succeeded each rapidly. At the
same time, I wanted an animal comparatively highly organized, a
mammal, not a reptile."

At this point, his instructive discourse was interrupted by the
reappearance of the monster, which charged into the yard with its nose
to the ground, following some scent, sniffing so loudly that the sound
was plainly audible despite the closed window. After having hastened
about the yard for a few moments it was off up the road to the
eastward, still with nose to the ground, until coming to the push cart
left at the roadside by Nora, it examined it carefully and then with a
sudden access of unaccountable rage, fell upon it and demolished it,
beating and chewing it into bits.

Whatever celerity this terrible beast had exhibited before, was now
completely eclipsed, as with nose to the ground, it rushed back to the
yard, straight to the house, and rearing on its hinder quarters,
placed its forelegs on the porch roof, which gave way beneath the
ponderous weight. Not disconcerted by the removal of this support, the
monster continued to maintain its sitting posture, looking in the
window at the terrified persons beyond, snapping and gnashing its huge
jaws in a manner terrible to hear and still more terrible to
contemplate. Nora was partially reassured by observing that the
animal's head was too wide to go through the window, but the hopes
thus raised were dashed by Klingenspiel moaning:

"He'll gnaw right through the house, he'll chew right through the
roof. He'll get in. He has smelled that big cabbage and he'll get in."

"In that case," remarked Nora, with decision, "I'll not wait for him
to come in to get the cabbage, but throw it out to him," and raising
the window, thrust out the cabbage, which having caught with a
deftness unexpected in a creature of its bulk, the beast retired a
short space and proceeded to eat with every appearance of enjoyment.

"In Paris, a few years ago," resumed Klingenspiel, "one of the learned
faculty that lend a well deserved renown to the medical department of
that ancient institution, the University of Paris, discovered an
elixir which used during the period of human growth--and even
after--causes the stature to increase. By depositing an increased
supply of the matter necessary to the formation of bones, the frame
increases and the fleshy covering grows with it. You have doubtless
read of this in the papers, as I have seen it mentioned there recently
myself----"

"I beg your pardon," interrupted Nora, "but I must know what that
monster is. Please do not keep me in suspense any longer."

"Allow me to develop my discourse in its natural sequence," said
Klingenspiel. "I learned of this elixir at the time its originator
first formulated it and as we were friends, I secured from him the
formula----"

"What is that animal?" cried Nora, seizing Klingenspiel's ear with a
dexterity born of long experience in educational work, and lifting him
slowly toward a position upon the points of his toes.

"A guinea pig, a guinea pig, a guinea pig," howled the student of
heredity.

"You guinea, you," exclaimed Nora in incredulous amazement, and yet as
she looked at the monster, which having finished the cabbage was
crouching contentedly between two huge elms, she was struck by the
familiarity of the markings and contour of the tremendous brute.
Turning in such wise that of the appendices of his countenance it
should be his short and elusive nose instead of his ears presented
toward the grasp of the expert in the science of pedagogy,
Klingenspiel continued.

"Generations of guinea pigs succeed each other in less than three
months. In less than ten months, a pair of guinea pigs become
great-grandfather and great-grandmother. In a few years, heredity
could here do what a century of breeding horses could not. I treated a
pair of young guinea pigs with the elixir. Their growth was wonderful.
Their children inherited the size of their parents and to this the
elixir added, and so on, cumulatively, for successive generations. I
kept only a single pair out of each brood and disposed of that pair as
soon as the next generation became grown. I did this partly because I
could thus conduct my experiment with greater secrecy. Besides, after
the guinea pigs were large enough, I found considerable profit in
selling their hides for leather. Unfortunately, the animal is unfit
for food. My labors, therefore, were bent upon creating a breed of
draught animals, creatures greater than elephants and with the agility
of guinea pigs. A team of these guinea pigs would outstrip the fastest
horse, though hauling a load of tons. The hide, too, would be
extremely valuable. I had at last reached a size beyond which I did
not care to go. Ribot and his mate were twice the bulk of elephants. I
was now ready to establish a herd. But alas! Two days ago, the mate
died. All my labors were for nothing. I had only the one enormous male
left. All the connecting links between him and the first small
ancestors are gone. But worse. As is often the case with male
elephants when the mate dies, Ribot went mad, ran amuck. Hitherto
docile and kind, as is the nature of the _Cavia cobaya_, vulgarly
called guinea pig, this evening Ribot became as you have seen him. I
have lost my labors. Momentarily I expect to lose my life."

"What's the matter with it now? Look at it, look at it," exclaimed
Nora.

Ribot had rolled on his back and after giving a few feeble twitches of
his great legs, remained without life, his legs pointing stiffly into
the air.

"He is dead," said Klingenspiel, and Nora was unable to tell whether
relief and joy or regret and despair predominated in this utterance.
"Ribot is dead. Our lives are saved, my experiment is ruined."

Turning toward Nora and scrutinizing her attentively for the first
time, he remarked, "How white your face is. The strain has been a
dreadful one. It has driven all the color away from you." And then
letting his eyes wander over her person until they paused upon her
hands resting in the moonlight upon the top of the sash, "and how
green your hands are. What can it be? Paris green," he said after a
close examination. "It was that which killed Ribot."

"I remember now. Father was sprinkling something on them. It is
cabbage worm time."

"I hope you will allow me to call," said Klingenspiel, and Nora
graciously assenting, he continued: "I admire your beauty, I admire
your many admirable qualities of head and heart, but above all, your
decision, your great decision."

"Oh, I don't think I showed much decision just because I threw the
cabbage out."

"I referred to your taking my ear and learning, out of its due order
in the thesis I was expounding, what manner of beast Ribot was. Ribot
killed two of my best African geese. They are, however, still fit for
food. I am going to beg your acceptance of one."

"We will have it for dinner to-morrow," said Nora, "and you must come
over."

"I shall be pleased to do so," said Klingenspiel, and that was the
beginning of a series of visits to the home of Timothy Sullivan that
resulted in the marriage of Miss Nora and Wilhelm Klingenspiel. The
latter still raises African geese there in the vicinity of Stony
Island, but he has made no more experiments with guinea pigs, for his
wife will not hear to it.



_What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Fourth Gift of the Emir._


"What an unpleasant surprise it must have been to Klingenspiel,"
remarked the emir, when he had completed his narration, "to find all
his fine experimenting in the science of heredity merely resulting in
nearly accomplishing his own death."

"His experience is not unique," said Mr. Middleton. "There is many an
economic, social, political, or industrial change which is inaugurated
with the highest hopes only to slay its author in the end."

"We should indeed be careful what waves we set in motion, what forces
we liberate," said the emir thoughtfully. "And I have been, too. I
have in my possession a constant reminder to be cautious in all my
enterprises and undertakings--a monitor forever bidding me think of
the consequences of an action, weigh its possible results. It has been
in my family for generations. I believe that our house has learned the
lesson. I would be glad to give it to some one who, perchance, has
not. If it so happens that you are in no need of such a warning, you
can perhaps present it to some one else who is." And having said a few
words to Mesrour in the language of Arabia, the blackamore brought to
him a small case and, from the midst of wrappings of dark green silk,
he produced a flask of burnished copper that shone with the utmost
brilliance. Handing this to Mr. Middleton and that gentleman viewing
it in silence for some time and exhibiting no other emotion than a
mild curiosity, largely due to its great weight, a ponderosity
altogether out of proportion to its size, the emir exclaimed in a loud
voice:

"Do you know what you are holding?" and without waiting for an answer
from his startled guest, continued: "Observe the inscription upon the
side and the stamp of a signet set upon the seal that closes the
mouth."

"I perceive a number of Arabic characters," said Mr. Middleton.

"Arabic!" said the emir. "Hebrew. You are looking upon the seal of the
great Solomon himself and that is the prison house of one of the two
evil genii whom the great king confined in bottles and cast into the
sea. In that collection of chronicles which the Feringhis style the
Arabian Nights, you have read of the fisherman who found a bottle in
his net and opened it to see a quantity of dark vapor issue forth,
which, assuming great proportions, presently took form, coalesced into
the gigantic figure of a terrible genii, who announced to his
terrified liberator that during his captivity, he had sworn to kill
whomsoever let him out of the bottle. This well-known occurrence and
stock example of the necessity of being careful of the possible
results of one's acts, is so familiar to you as to make its further
relation an impertinence on my part. Suffice it to say, in cause you
have forgotten a minor detail, there was another genii and another
bottle in the sea beside the one found by the fisherman.

"The second bottle in some unknown way came into the possession of
Prince Houssein, brother of my great-grandfather's great-grandfather,
Nourreddin. This latter prince having need of a certain amount of
coin--which was very scarce in Arabia at that time and of great
purchasing power, trade being carried on by barter--sent to his
brother a request for a loan. The country was in a very disturbed
state at that time and Houssein dispatched two messengers at an
interval of a day apart. The first of these was robbed and killed. He
bore a letter, concealed in his saddle, and the money. The second
messenger came in entire safety with that bottle, for no one could be
desirous of trifling with anything so fraught with danger as that
prison house of the terrible genii. What was the purport of this
strange gift has never been guessed. The letter borne by the murdered
man doubtless explained. Houssein himself perished of plague before
Nourreddin could learn from him."

Mr. Middleton sat holding the enchanted bottle very gingerly. If he
had not feared to give offence to the emir, he would have declined the
gift, for while not for one moment did he dream that a demoniac
presence fretted inside that shining copper, he did believe that it
contained some explosive, or what would be more probable, some
mephitic substance that gave off a deadly vapor. So, fully resolved to
throw the bottle into the river and being very heedful of Achmed's
injunction not to let the leaden plug bearing Solomon's seal be
removed from the mouth, he placed the gift in his pocket and having
thanked the emir for his entertainment and instruction and the gift,
he departed.

When Mr. Middleton had stepped into the street, he altered his
resolution to immediately dispose of the bottle. He was tired and did
not care to walk to the river. Nor did he wish to ride there and
alight, spending two car fares to get home. So postponing until the
morrow the casting into the Chicago River of the unhappy genii who had
once reposed on the bottom of the Persian Gulf, he boarded a car for
home.

The bulk and weight of the bottle sagging down his pocket and
threatening to injure the set of his coat, Mr. Middleton held his
acquisition on his knee. A tall, serious-looking individual was his
seat mate, who after regarding the bottle intently for some time,
addressed him in a low, but earnest voice.

"Pray pardon my curiosity, but I am going to ask you what that queer
receptacle is."

"It is the prison-house of a wicked genii, who was shut therein by
King Solomon, the magic influence of whose seal on the plug in the
mouth retains him within, for what resistance could the physical force
of those copper walls oppose to the strength of that mighty demon?"

Of these words did Mr. Middleton deliver himself, though he knew they
must sound passing strange, but on the spur of the moment he could not
think what else to say and he hoped that the belief he would create
that his mind was affected would relieve him of further questioning,
for if put to it and pinned down, what could he say, what plausible
account could he give of the bottle? To his surprise, the stranger
gave no evidence of other than a complete acceptance of his statement
and continuing to make inquiries in a most respectful and courteous
way, Mr. Middleton felt he could not be less mannerly himself, and so
he related all he knew of the bottle, avowing his belief that it
contained some dangerous chemical, such as that devilish corroding
stuff known as Greek fire, or some deadly gas.

"Your theory sounds reasonable," said the stranger; "and yet who
knows? That inscription certainly is Hebrew. At least, it is neither
English nor German. When one has studied psychic phenomena as long as
I have, he comes to a point where he is very chary of saying what is
not credible. Do I not, time and again, materialize the dead, calling
from the winds, the waters, and the earth the dispersed particles of
the corporeal frame to reclothe for a little time the spiritual
essence? Could not the great Solomon do as much? Is it not possible
that that great moral ensamplar, guide, saint, and prophet has
imprisoned in that bottle some one of the Pre-Adamite demons? I am not
afraid to open the bottle, on the contrary, would be glad to do so. I
am a clairvoyant and trance-medium, with materialization as a
specialty. My name is Jefferson P. Smitz. Here is my card. I have a
seance to-morrow night. Bring your bottle then, and I will open it.
The price of admission is," he said, with a glance of tentative
scrutiny, "one dollar," at which information Mr. Middleton, looking
unresponsive, uninterested, not to say sulky, he continued: "but as
you will bring such an important and interesting contribution to the
subject of inquiry for the evening, we will make the admission for you
only fifty cents, fifty cents."

On the following evening, Mr. Middleton and his bottle sat among a
circle of some thirty persons who were gathered in the gloomy,
lofty-ceiled parlor of Mr. Smitz. Before forming the circle, Mr. Smitz
had addressed the company in a few well-chosen words, saying that a
like purpose had brought all there that night, that as votaries of
science and devotees of truth and persons of culture and refinement,
mutual acquaintance could not but be pleasant as well as helpful,
enabling those who sat together while witnessing the astounding and
edifying phenomena they were soon to behold, to discuss these
phenomena with reciprocal benefit--in view of all this, he hoped
everybody would consider themselves introduced to everybody else.

Mr. Middleton, quickly inspecting the assemblage, whom he doubtless
with great injustice denominated a crowd of sober dubs and solemn
stiffs, so maneuvered that when all had drawn their chairs into a
circle, a man deaf in the right ear sat at his left, while at his
right sat a tall young lady, who though slightly pale was of an
interesting appearance, notwithstanding. The somewhat tragic cast of
her large and classic features was intensified by a pair of great
mournful eyes and a wistful mouth, the whole framed in luxuriant
masses of black hair, and altogether she was a girl whom one would
give a second and third glance anywhere.

It developing in their very first exchange of remarks that she had
never been present at a seance and that she could not look forward to
what they were about to witness without great trepidation, Mr.
Middleton offered to afford her every moral support and such physical
protection as one mortal can assure another when facing the unknown
powers of another world. At the extinguishment of the gas, he took her
left hand, and finding it give a faint tremor, he took the other and
was pleased to note that, so far as her hands gave evidence, thereupon
her fears were quite allayed.

A breeze, chill and dank as the breath of a tomb, blew upon the
company, and from the deep darkness into which they all stared with
straining, unseeing eyes, came the solemn sound of Mr. Smitz, speaking
hurriedly in somber tones in some sonorous unknown tongue, and low
rustlings and whirrs and soft footfalls and faint rattlings that grew
stronger, louder, each moment, swelling up into the stamp of a mailed
heel and the clangor of arms as Mr. Smitz scratched a match and the
light of a gas jet glanced upon helmet, corslet, shield, and greaves
of a brazen-armored Greek warrior, standing in the middle of the
circle, alive, in full corporeal presence!

"Leonidas, hero of Thermopylæ!" shouted Mr. Smitz, and then continued
at a conversational pitch, "if any of you wish to speak to him in his
own language, you have full permission to do so."

Those present lacking either the desire to accost the dread presence,
or a command of the ancient Greek, after a bit Mr. Smitz turned off
the gas and the noises that had heralded the visitant's appearance
began in reverse order, and at their cease, the gas being turned on
again, there was the circle quite bare of any evidence that a Greek
warrior in full panoply had but now stood there.

At these prodigies, the young lady trembled, but you could have
applied all sorts of surgical devices for measuring nerve reaction to
Mr. Middleton from the crown of his head to where his parallel feet
held between them the copper bottle, and not have detected a tremor.

Mr. Smitz was reaching up to extinguish the gas once more, when a big,
athletic blonde man, whose appearance and garb proclaimed him an
Englishman, interrupted him.

"I am going to request you to materialize the spirit with whom I wish
to converse, the next time. I have to catch a train at eleven and
there are a number of things I would like to do before that.
Yesterday, you promised me that you would materialize him first
thing."

"Yesterday," said Mr. Smitz with a slight hauteur, "I could not look
forward and see that I was to have such a large and cultivated
gathering. You cannot, sir, ask to have your own mere personal
business, for business it is with you, take precedence of the
scientific quests of all these other ladies and gentlemen. I have
planned to materialize men of many nations, with whom all may converse
if they please; Confucius, the great Chinese; Cæsar, the great Roman;
Mohammed, the great Turk; Powhattan, the great Indian, and others.
Your business must wait."

"My friends," said the Englishman, appealing to the assemblage, "I
throw myself upon your good nature. My grandfather was the owner of a
small estate in Ireland. In a rebellion, the Irish burned every
building on the place and it has since been deserted. He had buried a
sum of money before he fled during the rebellion and we have a chart
telling where it was buried. But the chart referred to buildings and
trees that were subsequently utterly destroyed. We have no marks to
guide us. I am sadly in need of money. My grandfather's ghost could
tell me where the treasure is. I shall suffer financial detriment if I
do not catch the train at eleven and must attend to several matters
before that. You have heard my case. May I not ask you all to grant me
the indulgence of having my affair disposed of now?"

Mr. Middleton and several others were about to endorse the justice of
the Englishman's request, when Mr. Smitz hastily forestalled them by
saying that all should be heard from and turning to four personages
who sat together at a point where the line of chairs of the circle
passed before a large and mysterious cabinet set in the corner of the
wall, and asking their opinion, they all four in one voice began to
object to any alteration of the program of the evening, adverting
somewhat to the Boer War, the oppressions in Ireland, and to the
Revolution and the War of 1812. When they had done, there was no one
who cared to say a word for the Englishman or an Englishman, and Mr.
Smitz announced that Confucius would be the next materialization and
that all might address him in his native tongue. Of this permission, a
small red-head gentleman, whose demeanor advertised him to be in a
somewhat advanced state of intoxication, availed himself and remarked
slowly:

"Hello, John. Washee, washee? Sabe how washee? Wlanter be Melican
man?"

To this the great sage vouchsafed no reply save a contemptuous stare,
and the red-headed gentleman observed that doubtless the Chinese
language had changed a good deal in two thousand years. All languages
did.

From out the darkness under whose cover the Chinaman was modestly
divesting himself of his body, came the voice of Mr. Smitz, rich,
unctuous, saying:

"The next visitant will be from that great race we all admire so much,
the noble race which has done so much to build up this country, which
in every field of American endeavor has been a guiding star to us all.
It gives me great pleasure to tell you that our next visitant from the
world beyond is that great soldier, statesman, and patriot, King Brian
Boru."

"Who the devil wants to see that or any other paddy?" exclaimed the
voice of the Englishman, choleric, savage. "Let me out of this
blarsted, cheating hole. Who wants to see one of that race of
quarrelsome, thieving, wretched rapscallions?"

Whack! Smash! Bang! Crash! The assemblage was thrown into a pitiable
state of terror by a most extraordinary combat and tumult taking place
somewhere in the circle. The remonstrances of Mr. Smitz and the oaths
of the Englishman rose against the general din of the expostulations
of the men and cries of the women. Match after match was struck by the
men, only to be blown out by some mysterious agency, after giving
momentary glimpses of the Englishman astride of a man on the floor,
pummelling him lustily, while Mr. Smitz pulled at the Englishman's
shoulders. At length the noise died away, the sound of some one
remonstrating, "let me at him oncet, let me at the spalpeen, he got me
foul," coming back from some remote region of the atmosphere, as under
the compelling force of the will of the great Smitz, the bodily
envelope of the Irish hero was dissipated and his soul went back to
the beyond.

Then did a match reach the gas without being blown out. Beneath the
chandelier stood Mr. Smitz and the four personages who had sat before
the cabinet and had views on the Boer War.

"What an awful, sacrilegious thing you have done," exclaimed Mr.
Smitz. "You have struck the dead."

"He hit me first."

"Your remarks about the Irish angered him. He could not restrain
himself."

"Well, he couldn't whip me. Next time you materialize him, he'll show
a black eye. Let me out of here, you cheat, you imposter, you and your
pals, or I'll fix you as I did Brian Boru."

Though the company did not take the Englishman's view, they were all
anxious to go. They were quite unstrung by what had occurred, this
combat between the living and the dead. They looked with horrified awe
at the spot where it had taken place. There stood the living
combatant, still full of the fire of battle. Him whom he had fought
was gone on the winds to the voiceless abodes of the departed, a
breath, a shadow, a sudden chill on the cheek and nothing more. For a
brief space resuming his old fleshly habitude, with it had come the
cholers and hatreds of the flesh and once more he avenged his
country's wrongs.

"Say," said the Englishman, with a malign look on his face, as he
paused in the door, "if you've got that mick patched up any down in
the kitchen, I'll give him another chance, if he wishes. Tell him to
pick a smaller man next time."

To this, Mr. Smitz made no reply, but flashed a look that would have
frozen any one less insolent and truculent than the Englishman.

All this time Mr. Middleton had been very agreeably employed in a
corner of the room, for the young lady in an access of terror had
thrown herself into his arms and there she had remained during the
whole affrighting performance. To forerun any possible apprehension
that he was going to extricate himself and leave her, he held her with
considerable firmness, whispering encouragement into her ear the
while. Preparing to accompany her home, he had almost left the room
before he bethought him of the copper bottle, which he had abandoned
when springing up to get the young lady out of the circle and away
from danger. He soon found it lying against the wall, whither it had
rolled or been kicked during the melee.

The young lady continuing to be in a somewhat prostrated state after
her late experience, on the way home Mr. Middleton supported her by
his right arm about her waist, while she found further stay by resting
her left arm across his shoulders, she being a tall young lady. Their
remaining hands met in a clasp of cheer and encouragement on his part,
of trusting dependence on hers. Arriving at her door in this fashion,
it was but natural for Mr. Middleton--who was a very natural young
man--to clasp her in a good-night embrace, but upon essaying to put
the touch of completion to these joys which a kiss would give, she
drew away her head, saying:

"Why, how dare you, sir! I never met you before. Why, I haven't even
been formally introduced to you."

Mr. Middleton humbly pleading for the salute, she continued to express
her surprise that he should prefer such a request upon no acquaintance
at all, that he should even faintly expect her to grant it, and so on,
all the while leaning languishing upon his breast with all her weight.
Whereupon Mr. Middleton lost patience and with incisive sarcasm he
began:

"One would think that you who refuse this kiss were not the girl who
stands here within my arms, my lips saying this into her ears, her
cheek almost touching mine. Doubtless it is some one else. Pray tell
me, what great difference is there between kissing a stranger and
hugging him."

At these brutal, downright words, leaving the poor young thing nothing
to say, no little pretence even to herself that she had guarded the
proprieties, had comported herself circumspectly, leaving her with not
even a little rag of a claim that she had conducted herself with
seemly decorum, she sprang from him and began to cry. Whatever the
cause, Mr. Middleton could not look upon feminine unhappiness with
composure and here where he was himself responsible, he was indeed
smitten with keen remorse and hastening to comfort her, gathered her
into his arms and there he was abasing and condemning himself and
telling her what a dear, nice girl she was--and kissing away her
tears.

"Let me give you a piece of advice," he said, fifteen minutes later,
as he was about to release her and depart. "It is not best ever to let
a man hug you. Never," he said, pausing to imprint a lingering kiss
upon the girl's yielding lips, "never let a man kiss you again until
that moment when you shall become his affianced wife."

Mr. Middleton departed in that serene state of mind which the
consciousness of virtue bestows, for he had given the young woman
valuable advice that would doubtless be of advantage to her in the
future and he reflected upon this in much satisfaction as he fared
away with the eyes of the young woman watching him from where she
looked out of the parlor window.

Reaching into his right coat pocket to transfer the copper bottle to
the opposite pocket, in order that his coat might not be pulled out of
shape, as he grasped the neck, one of his fingers went right into the
mouth! The seal of Solomon was gone! A less resolute and quick-witted
person might have been alarmed, but reasoning that the seal must have
been knocked off during the fight at Mr. Smitz's and nothing had
happened since, he boldly examined the bottle. He could see a white
substance as he looked into it, and by the aid of a stick he fished
out a wad of wool tightly stuffed in the neck. A metallic chinking
followed the removal of the wadding and set his heart thumping
rapidly. He looked up and down the street. No one in sight. He tilted
the bottle up to the light of a street lamp and saw a yellow gleam. He
shook it and into his hands flowed a stream of gold sequins! He could
not sufficiently admire the ruse of Prince Houssein. Money on the
first messenger there had been none.

In a center more given to numismatics, or had he been willing to wait
and sell the coins gradually, Mr. Middleton might have secured more
than he did for the gold pieces, all coined at Bagdad in the early
caliphates and very valuable. But he disposed of them in a lump to a
French gentleman on La Salle Street for fourteen hundred and
twenty-five dollars.

Calling on the young lady of Englewood within the next few days, he
made no reference to these events, though she asked him several times
during the evening what he had been doing lately. He did, however,
hint at having profited by a certain fortunate "deal," as he called
it, but not a word did he say concerning the mournful girl or anything
remotely connected with her.

Hesitating to hurt the emir's feelings by exposing the obtuseness of
his ancestor Noureddin and the foolish superstition of his descendants
ever since, Mr. Middleton said nothing of these transactions when once
more he sat in the presence of the urbane and accomplished prince of
the tribe of Al-Yam. Having handed him a bowl of delicately flavored
sherbet, the emir began the narration of The Pleasant Adventures of
Dr. McDill.



_The Pleasant Adventures of Dr. McDill._


It was twelve o'clock on a blustery winter night and Dr. James McDill
was where a married man of forty ought to be at such an hour in that
season, sleeping soundly by the side of his beloved wife. But his wife
was not sleeping. At the stroke of the hour, she had suddenly awoke
from refreshing slumber and become aware of sounds as of persons
moving softly about the room, and after a little, seeing against the
windows faintly illuminated by a distant street light, two dark
figures, she perceived her ears had not deceived her. Shaking her
husband unavailingly for a considerable time, in her terror she
finally cast discretion to the winds and shouted:

"Burglars, Jim, burglars!"

Hardly had these words ceased, when the electric lights were turned on
and Dr. McDill sat up in bed to find himself staring into the muzzles
of three revolvers, held by two masked men, who stood looking over the
footboard. Bidding them move at their peril, the man with two
revolvers remained to guard the doctor and his wife, while the other
began to ransack the room. As he did so, he carried on an easy, if not
eloquent, dissertation upon the rights of man and the iniquitous
conditions which made it necessary for the poor and oppressed to
obtain by force, if they obtained at all, any share in the privileges
and riches of the wealthy. As he discoursed, at times carried away by
his theme, he gave over his search and paused to enforce his points
with earnest gestures. This caused the other robber some disquietude
and he cursed his compatriot and the doctor and his wife with a use of
epithets that will not bear repeating and which showed him to be none
other than a low ruffian. At last all the treasure in the room being
taken and the doctor being forced to accompany them and disclose the
repository of other valuables, the robbers took their departure.

Some weeks after this, two persons suspected of being responsible for
certain robberies were taken into custody and the doctor called into
court to identify them if possible.

"I noticed," said he, "that the shorter of the two masked men was
prone to gesticulation and that he had a fashion of holding his arms
close to his body, as if tied at the elbows, and with hands fully
open, fingers apart, thumbs extended, and palms upward, waving his
forearms----"

At this juncture, the smile on the face of the defendant's counsel,
occasioned by thus putting his client upon his guard, was dispelled by
an angry exclamation from the person in question, and denying with
some loquacity and even more vociferation that he ever made such a
gesture, at the close of his statement, behold, he made the gesture!

By the doctor's testimony was a chain of incriminating evidence
established that led to a sentence of ten years' imprisonment being
imposed upon the robbers. When he had heard the sentence, he of the
gestures turned fiercely toward the doctor and cried:

"You'll be killed for this, like other dogs before you for the same
cause. If you're not killed before I am discharged or escape, I'll
kill you. But I am only one of many, a tried band who avenge;" and
hereupon he smote the rail in front of him, "Knock, knock--knock;
knock, knock--knock." And from several parts of the silent room came
answers, faint, but distinct, two quick taps, a pause, and a third,
then all repeated. "Tap, tap--tap; tap, tap--tap."

The evidence of confederates, the quick response to the appeal of
their comrade, the taps that came from everywhere and nowhere,
manifestation of the desperate men surrounding him, might well have
daunted the soul of any man. Three sentences had been pronounced that
day, a term of years upon Jerry McGuire and Barry O'Toole, but death
upon James McDill. You may depend upon it that the doctor was none the
more reassured when on the morrow he learned that McGuire and O'Toole
had escaped. With their anger and resentment yet hot within them,
these men would doubtless at once set about to encompass his
destruction, and he knew that when once one of these societies had
decreed the death of a person who balked or incensed them, every
endeavor was used to put the decree into effect. But, after a little,
he took courage from the very fact that was most threatening. If these
men, these desperate and despicable scoundrels, could escape from the
barriers of stone and steel and the guardians that surrounded them,
why might not he fight for his life and win in the struggle which both
reason and instinct told him was inevitable?

That those he loved most might not be involved in the perils he felt
certain he was about to encounter and that his resolution and his
movements might not be hampered by their presence and their fears, he
found means to persuade his wife to take the children for a visit to
their grandfather, and setting his affairs in order and providing
himself with two revolvers, a bowie knife, and an Italian stiletto, he
even began to look forward to the approaching struggle with something
of that pleasure which man experiences in the anticipation of any
contest; and there is indeed a certain keen zest in playing the game
where one's stake is one's life.

On the evening of the day of his wife's departure, he was called to
assist in an operation at a hospital with which he had once been
connected, and unexpected complications arising, it was not until two
in the morning that he started away. His man and carriage, that he had
ordered to await him, had gone. The night was mild and it must have
been weariness or restiveness, that had caused the departure. Although
some distance lay between the hospital and his home, he started afoot.
Not a soul was to been seen in the street, which, thanks to the light
of the moon late rising in its last quarter, lay visible to his sight.
As he passed an alleyway, shortly after leaving the hospital, his
attention was attracted by the sound of snores, and he discovered a
man whose features were well shrouded in the upturned collar of an
ulster, seated with his back against a house wall, asleep. The man
stirred uneasily as he bent over him, but thinking it best not to
disturb him, the doctor passed on. As he did so, he became conscious
that the snores had ceased, and looking back, he beheld the man walk
drowsily across the sidewalk and finally stand gazing in the direction
of the hospital. The doctor began to hasten his steps, but ever and
anon glancing back, and presently he saw the man was now looking after
him, that he leaned to the right and leaned to the left, and stooped
down in his scrutinizing. Suddenly the man reached forward with a
cane, smote the sidewalk, "rap, rap--rap; rap, rap--rap," and taken up
on either side of the way, louder and louder as it came up the street
toward the now fleeing doctor, from sequestered nooks between
buildings, ran the fateful, hurrying volley of "rap, rap--rap; rap,
rap--rap." The last raps came right behind the doctor's heels at the
mouth of an alley he was clearing at a bound, and glancing back, he
saw a succession of men hurrying silently after him at all speed. He
was encumbered with a long ulster, while his pursuers, if they had
worn overcoats, had now cast them aside. The man just behind,
apparently did not wish to close in alone, preferring to allow others
to catch up and assist him, and at the second block the doctor could
hear two pairs of heels behind him and a third pair just beyond. The
pursuers were gaining. Though he would have to pause to do it, he must
throw off his overcoat. At the third corner, he tore at the long
garment, it swung under his feet, and he pitched headlong----. He
heard a cry of savage joy and a rush of feet, a sudden great soft
whirr, and he arose to see an automobile halted between him and his
pursuers. A gentleman of a rotund person, clothed in correct evening
dress and whose speech was of a thickness to indicate recent
indulgence in intoxicating liquors, alighted from the carriage.

"I do not believe thish ish the place. No, thish ish not the place I
told you to come to, driver. I'm glad it isn't anyway, as I'm afraid
we're too drunk to sing a serenade. Here's another man as's drunk,
too. So drunk he fell down on hisself. Couldn't leave him here. Never
go back on a man as is drunk. Get in brother. Take you home with us.
Get in."

It is needless to say that Dr. McDill responded to his invitation with
the greatest alacrity and gratitude. For the first time did the rotund
gentleman become aware that there were other persons present. Some
four of the doctor's pursuers had now gathered at the curb of the
crossing and the rest were coming thither, though with no great haste,
for they were gentry to whom caution was second nature and it was by
no means certain what the arrival of the automobile might portend. The
four at the curb, deterred from retreat by that sense of shame which
is not entirely absent even in the lowest and most depraved, were now
insistently giving their rap to incite their comrades to hasten. The
rotund gentleman walked around to that side of the carriage and gazed
at them with some degree of interest and curiosity. "Rap, rap--rap;
rap, rap--rap," went the sticks of the four and down the street came
answering raps and soon the four were joined by two more.

"Don't let him go now, we've almost got him. We'd had him, if Red
hadn't gone to sleep and let him get by. Come on, come on."

The six rushed at the carriage, whereat the rotund gentleman, with an
agility not to be looked for in one of his contour and condition,
received the foremost with smash, smash--smash, in each eye and on the
nose, and the second likewise, when bidding the driver be off, he
leaped into the carriage with his comrades. A single bullet whistled
after them as they whirled away.

"Rap, rap--rap. I rapped 'em," said the rotund gentleman. "I always
did hate a knocker."

With your permission I will here interpolate the remark that the
further adventures of the eminent surgeon with the mysterious
confederacy that sought his life, bore evidence that these depraved
and ruffianly men were not without a certain rude artistic temperament
as well as a tinge of romance, and a dramatic sense that many who
write for the stage might well envy them.

The elation of the doctor over his escape from the toils of the
thieves was not of long duration. His breakfast was interrupted by a
call to the telephone and over the wires came to his startled ears a
hollow "knock, knock--knock; knock, knock--knock." At his office door
down town softly came "tap, tap--tap; tap, tap--tap," and snatch the
door open as hastily as he might, he saw nothing, heard nothing, heard
nothing but the electric bells on the floors above and floors below
calling for the elevator: "buzz, buzz--buzz; buzz, buzz--buzz." He
walked along State Street at the busy hour of noon and all about him
in the throngs was the dull impact of canes upon the pavement, "thud,
thud--thud; thud, thud--thud." As he rode home in the street car at
nightfall, back of him in the train at street corner after corner he
heard passengers jingle the bell for stopping, "ding, ding--ding;
ding, ding--ding."

Although Dr. McDill was a man of great native resolution and intrepid
in the face of known and seen dangers, the horrors of the invisible
forces of death everywhere surrounding him so wore at his soul that he
returned down town and spent the night at a hotel. On the morrow, he
severely condemned himself for this yielding to fear, for on the front
steps of his house lay the dead form of his great watch dog, Jacques.
There were evidences of a struggle in which the assailants had not
been unscathed. Bits of cloth lay about and examining the stains of
blood that plentifully blotched the walk, he discovered that some of
it was human blood.

"Ah," he said, in deep self-reproach, "if I had stayed here as I
should, I would have been able to fight with poor Jacques and brought
low some of my enemies. How easily I could have fired from the upper
windows as Jacques made their presence known. It is evident that the
noise of the struggle was so great that the fiends were afraid to
continue the attack and ran away."

Philosophers and poets have found a theme for dissertation in the fact
that the dog leaves his own kindred to dwell with man and fights them
in behalf of his master. It has ever seemed to me that this were but
half of the tale, for full many a man loves his dog better than the
rest of mankind, and so the devotion of the race of dogs finds return
and recompense. Outside his own family, there was no living thing in
the city of Chicago which had so dwelt in the affections of Dr. McDill
as the dog Jacques. Of the truth of this, he had had but dim
realization until now and he was like to burst with sorrow and with
hatred of the vile beings who had marked him and his for slaughter.
Lifting the stiff form of his humble comrade, for the first time did
he observe a poniard thrust in the poor beast's throat. The blade
impaled a piece of paper and upon it was written the word "Knock."

"Knock!" cried the doctor: "but henceforth it shall be I that knock.
Hasten the time when we may meet, malignant knaves. Never again shall
I avoid you. Henceforth, I go about my business as before, for it is
thus that I may expect the sooner to encounter you."

An urgent matter would require the doctor's presence in the
municipality of Evanston that night. He could not expect to return
before twelve o'clock in the morning and of this informing the cook,
who in the temporary reduction of the family carried on the household
without the aid of a second girl, he departed northward. It was past
the hour of one when he let himself in the front door of his
residence. A pleasant savor of various viands saluted his nostrils and
in the drawing-room he observed that the chairs and tables had all
been thrust against the wall as if to clear the floor for dancing. In
the dining-room, the evidence of recent festivity was complete, for
the table was covered with the remnants of a sumptuous repast. No
words were needed to tell him that Olga Blomgren, the cook, had taken
advantage of the foreknowledge of his absence to entertain a wide
circle of friends; but here indeed was a mystery. Why had she not set
everything in order and removed all traces of the entertainment? He
moved toward the kitchen in wonder and--his heart stood still. The
beams of the lamp held above his head were shot back by the gleam of
blue and white satin, his wife's favorite ball dress on the kitchen
floor. But it was not his wife's fair hair and snowy shoulders that,
rising out of the glistening blue and white, were striped with a
glistening red, but the snowy shoulders and fair hair of poor Olga
Blomgren. Thus had she paid for her hour of magnificence. Thus had
death cut her down because the maid's form was of the same statuesque
beauty as her mistress's. Tenderly the doctor stooped to lift up the
dead girl, stricken in her mistress's stead. There was a poniard in
her throat, and it impaled a piece of paper upon which was written
"Knock."

"Knock, knock--" the next knock would be upon his own heart.

Whatever design the doctor had held of not appealing to the police for
protection against his invisible foes, his affairs had now reached a
point where the intervention of the officers of the law could no
longer be avoided. Poor Jacques could be consigned to earth without
the intervention of priest or police, but the murder of Olga was a
matter for official investigation. With that crafty and subtle way the
astute sleuths of the Chicago constabulary have of informing the
public through the intermediary of the press of all measures projected
against evil-doers, of moves to be made, of arrests to be attempted,
all citizens were in possession of the fact that owing to the
startling plot just brought to light, all gatherings and coteries of
men, especially at late hours, were to be watched, investigated, and
made to give accounts of themselves. Dr. McDill fumed at the turn
affairs had taken. That the confederacy of thieves would abandon their
attempts upon his life, was not to be dreamed of. But they would
forego the pleasure of witnessing his death in the presence of all
assembled together. They would now delegate the attack to a single
individual, and in event of his death, he could hope to carry with him
but one of his enemies.

Again was Dr. McDill called to the hospital for a night operation.
Leaving his driver without, he cautioned him.

"August, I don't want you to be fooled the way you were before. If any
man comes out of the hospital and says I send word for you to drive
home without waiting for me, pay no attention to him. Take no orders
from anybody but me."

"All right. They can't fool me vonce again already."

But when a cab drove up and let out a tall gentleman in a silk hat,
who went into the hospital, and after a little the cab driver, a
friendly and talkative person of Irish extraction, offered August a
flask full of a beverage also of Irish extraction, August took a
drink.

"He told me not to take no orders yet already from nobody but him. But
he didn't say nothin' about takin' a drink vonce."

"Take a drink twice, then, Hans," said the person of Irish extraction,
"already, yet, and by and by, too."

It was all of four hours later that Dr. McDill stepped out of the
hospital door. He paused under the light of the globe over the porch
and examining a large bag of water-proof silk, he thrust therein a
sponge upon which he poured the contents of a small phial, after
which, seeing that a noose of string that closed the mouth of the bag
was not entangled, he strode briskly toward his buggy. The side
curtains were on and consequently the interior was in a dark shadow.
Pausing a moment on the step, as if to arrange his overcoat, he made a
quick, dexterous movement toward the person in the carriage and,
throwing the bag over his head, pulled the noose. A terrific blow
struck the doctor in the breast, but the arm that struck it fell
powerless before it could be repeated and the striker lurched forward
on the dashboard in the utter limpness of complete insensibility.

"It is not August," said the doctor, straightening up the hooded
figure and taking the reins. "How well was my precaution taken! I
believe that was the last knock that any member of that band of
diabolical assassins will ever strike."

In the private laboratory of his own home, the doctor sat facing his
captive, whom, after binding hand and foot, he had restored to his
senses. The outlaw was the first to break the silence.

"You've got me and you think you'll do me," said the outlaw, with a
succession of oaths and vile epithets it would be needless as well as
improper for me to repeat. "But if you harm me, my friends will more
than pay you up for it, just as they have everybody that crossed
them."

"Your friends are of a mind to kill me, whatever befall. Sparing or
killing you, will in nowise affect their purpose. Whatever may come
to-morrow, to-night you must obey my commands."

"I won't do a thing you tell me to. I don't have to, see? My friends
will look for you just as soon as I don't turn up, and it will go hard
with you."

"Just as soon as you do not turn up with the news you have killed me.
We'll see whether you will do what I tell you to."

"You dassen't kill me. You're afraid to kill me. My friends would fix
you and the law would get you, if they did not."

"Your profession relies upon the forbearance and softheartedness of
the public. You know that those you rob hesitate to shoot. No such
hesitation hampers you. It is part of your stock in trade to keep the
public terrorized. You kill all who disobey your orders, for if people
began to resist you successfully you must needs go out of business.
Did all put aside their repugnance to shed blood and kill your kind as
they would wolves, we would have no more of you."

"You dassen't kill me, you dassen't kill me," cried the robber. It was
the snarl of the wild beast, hopelessly held in the toils.

"It is true that I hesitate to kill. I am not proud of this
hesitation, for the trend of the best medical and sociological thought
is now toward the execution of all degenerates and criminals, that
they may not contaminate the race with descendants. However, my office
is to save life and I cannot do otherwise. But I am a surgeon, and
every day I do things in the effort to save and prolong life that to a
layman are repulsive and awful, more revolting to him than the sight
of bloodless death itself. From the taking of human life I draw back.
But no repugnance, no horror, unsteadies my hand elsewhere. The end of
the crimes of your devilish confederacy has come. The law has not
restrained you, could not. Your own unparalleled wickedness has
delivered you into my hands. Many a man have you brought low, many a
family have you desolated. Widows and orphans cry out against you, and
not in vain. I shall so knock your gang that never again shall one of
you harm even the weakest. You shall all live, but it shall be your
prayer, if you black hearts can utter prayer, that you be dead."

The outlaw's tongue moved thickly in a mouth that dried suddenly at
these solemn words of the doctor. "You can't do it, you can't do it,
you can't do it, you duffer----" and his voice rumbled on in a long
string of imprecations.

The doctor seized him and carrying him to the cellar, lay him against
the coal bin. Then the captive heard him in a room above engaged upon
some sort of carpentry, and whether it was the captive's imagination,
or design of the doctor, or whether unconsciously the doctor's mind
had become possessed, the sounds of the hammer as it drove nails and
struck pieces of wood into place echoed in the cellar; "knock,
knock--knock; knock, knock--knock." Soon the stairs groaned under the
weight of the doctor carrying some great contrivance, and the outlaw
found himself lying stretched out upon some sort of operating chair,
his ankles held in a pair of stocks below, his outstretched arms held
by the wrists in a pair of stocks above. All was black in the cellar,
all but where a single blood red bar of light from the open door of
the furnace fell upon the doctor turning at the winch of the bed of
torture upon which lay the robber.

Hardly ten turns did he make, for at the first little twinges of pain,
premonishing the agonies to come, the caitiff chattered in terror
promises to do all the doctor should order, and so was released.
Cringing and fawning, the outlaw heard what he was required to do. He
was to write a letter. In this, he was to tell of the method of his
capture. He was to say he was confined in a second-story room, feet
and hands shackled, and that he was also chained to a staple in the
floor. (That this all might be true, the doctor took him to a
second-story room and so fettered him.) He found himself able to use
his hands to write, and, happily, discovered writing material and
stamps upon a table. He would write a letter and throw it on the porch
below, where perhaps the postman would find it and send it to its
destination. He asked help. His friends must come that night. The
doctor would be on guard, and who could say he would not call in
others? The doors and windows were all well secured, all but a cellar
window on the east side. (Of this, the doctor informed him, that he,
the doctor, might not be guilty of instigating the writing of anything
that was false in any particular.) They must enter by this window. The
door leading above stairs from the cellar could be easily forced and
the noise thus occasioned could not be heard outside of the house.
They must come at two in the morning. Come before another dawn, as the
doctor was going to hold him one day before turning him over to the
police, hoping the gang would do something to involve themselves in
some way they would not if the police were after them with a hue and
cry.

The outlaw wrote the letter as ordered, addressed it to Barry O'Toole,
and threw it out of the window. It fell beyond the porch, on the
ground. But this the doctor remedied by hiring a small boy for ten
cents to pick it up and put it in a mail box. After which, the doctor
betook himself to the nearest extensive hardware establishment.

At two o'clock the next morning, the beams of a dark lantern shone
athwart the darkness of the cellar of Dr. McDill's residence.

"It's all right, boys. I can smell escaping gas, but it's all right.
There's nobody in there. Now for the doctor. We'll kill him and all
who are in there with him, and burn the house," said a voice behind
the lantern, and one after another, eleven burly men dropped into the
cellar through the narrow east window high in the wall. As the feet of
the last man struck the ground, there was a sound as of a rope jerked
by some one in the orifice by which they had just entered, and they
heard two succeeding crashes within the cellar, followed by the slam
of an iron shutter over the window. There was a sound of a spasmodic
rush upon the cellar stairs and a beating upon the door, and then a
succession of softer sounds, as of men rolling down stairs, and then
silence.

A match was struck upon the outside of the iron shutter. It revealed
the face of Dr. McDill, lighting a cigar.

"The gas alone would have been almost sufficient. But when all those
bottles of ether and chloroform broke---- I had better open the window
so it will work off and I can get them out. I will write to my wife to
stay away two months longer. Olga is dead and Kate is gone. I'll
discharge August to-morrow, as he deserves. The field is clear."

One morning, as Hans Olson, cook of the King Olaf Magnus, staunch
schooner engaged in the shingle trade between Chicago and the city of
Manistee, state of Michigan, on this particular morning lying in the
Chicago River--on this morning, as Mr. Olson was pouring overboard
some dishwater, preparing the breakfast for the yet sleeping crew, he
was horrified to see floating in the current that would eventually
carry them past the great city of St. Louis, twelve naked human arms.
Despite his horror and alarm at this grewsome array of severed
members, he noted that so far as he could observe, they were all left
arms, forearms, disjointed at the elbows. Subsequent examination but
added to the mystery. It was no trick of medical students intended to
set the town agog. They were not dissecting subjects, but limbs lately
taken from living bodies, and they were detached with the highest
skill known to the art of chirurgery. The town talked and it was a
day's wonder, but the solving of the mystery proving impossible, it
was passing into tradition when all were horrified anew to hear that
Johannes Klubertanz, a member of the great and honest German-American
element, while walking through Lincoln Park early one morning,
stumbled over some objects which, upon examination, proved to be
twelve human forearms, _right forearms_!

Again were the wisest baffled in even guessing at this riddle, as they
were a third time, when one Prosper B. Shaw came with the story that
while rowing down in the drainage canal, he had come upon, floating
gently along, dissevered at the knee joint, _twelve human legs_!

The whole community shuddered at the dark secret hidden in their
midst, but at last came the answer, yet not the answer. Of all strange
crews that mortal sight has gazed upon, that was the strangest, that
dozen men who out of nowhere appeared suddenly in the streets one
morning, armless all, all with wooden left legs. Their story you would
ask in vain, for just the little chord by which the tongue forms
intelligible words was gone. Their babblings came just to the border
of articulate speech, but not beyond. Torrents of half-formed words
they poured forth, but only half-formed, and to their mouthed jabber
the crowd listened without understanding. Did you thrust a pencil in
their jaws and bid them write their tale? Gone was some little muscle
that grips the jaws and the pencils lolled between teeth that could
not nip them. And as for their lips, oh, their mouths, their mouths!
Such an example of the chirurgery that has to do with the altering of
the human face had never before been witnessed, for nature had never
made those faces. One such countenance she might have made in cruel
sport, but never twelve, and twelve altogether, as like as peas in a
pod, twelve human jack o'lanterns, twelve travesties upon humanity's
front. Howsoever they might once have looked, not even their own
mothers could know them now. Around each eye the same wrinkles led
away. On each face was a bulbous nose. But the mouths, oh, the mouths!
Each was drawn back over the teeth in a perpetual grin, each was
upturned at corners which ended well nigh in the middle of the cheek.
Here were the victims of the horrors that had made the city shudder,
but dumb and unrecognizable. In all the thousands that looked at them,
not one could say he had ever seen them before. In all these
thousands, there was not one to whom they could speak. There were
their stiff faces, frozen into that terrible perpetual grin, so many
idols of wood, save for their eyes, and they were the only things that
lived in their dead faces.

Such rudimentary human beings it would be hard to conceive, and so
after a while it occurred to some one that the same scientific methods
that discover and disclose to us the modes of life, the habits, and
even thoughts of primitive and rudimentary man, might be devoted to
establishing a means of communication with them and unveil the secret
the whole world was eager to know. Accordingly, they were taken to the
University of Chicago and turned over to the department of
anthropology. The learned expounders of this science were not long in
devising a simple means of communication. The twelve unfortunates were
seated upon a recitation bench and a doctor of philosophy wrote out an
alphabet upon the blackboard.

"One rap of your foot will be A," said the doctor of philosophy. "Two
will be B. Two raps, a pause, and one will be C. We will soon learn
your story."

At this moment, the reverberations of a prodigious blow upon the door
outside echoed through the room, "bang, bang--bang, bang, bang--bang."

Unaccountably startled, as if at the hearing of some portent, the
professor stood rooted to the spot for a moment, and then was about to
leap to the door, when the simulacrums before him sprang to their feet
and with a tremendous stamping, smote their wooden legs upon the
floor, "stamp, stamp--stamp, stamp, stamp--stamp."

The professor stared at the twelve mutes. There were their immobile
faces, as wooden as their wooden legs, wearing their perpetual grin,
but the westering sun shone on their eyes and there he saw an abject,
grovelling fear, dreadful to behold, the master passion of twelve
souls, slaves to some mysterious will which had just made itself
manifest out of the unseen. By what means the will had gained this
ascendancy, the terrible disfigurements of their remnants of bodies
told only too well, and he who ran could read the utter prostration
before the power which in their lives had been the greatest and most
terrible in the universe. Again, far off in a distant corridor of the
building, slowly rumbled to them: "knock, knock--knock; knock,
knock--knock," and the twelve unfortunates, like so many automatons,
gave token of their obedience. They had been warned to keep the
secret.

And so was foiled the attempts of the learned anthropologists to hold
converse with these rudimentary beings. The alphabet of such elaborate
devisings went for naught. Never did the twelve persons in the state
of primitive culture get further than the letter C: "knock,
knock--knock; knock, knock--knock."



_What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Fifth Gift of the Emir._


"I am at a loss to understand," said Mr. Middleton, "why you have
entitled the narration you have just related, 'The Pleasant Adventures
of Dr. McDill.' For to my mind, they seemed anything but pleasant
adventures."

"How so?" asked the emir. "Is it not pleasant to thwart the
machinations and defeat the evil intentions of the villains such as
composed the confederacy that sought the doctor's life? Does there not
reside in mankind a sense of justice which rejoices at seeing meted
out to wrong-doers the deserts of their crimes?"

To which Mr. Middleton replying with a nod of thoughtful assent, after
a proper period of rumination upon the words of the emir, that
accomplished ruler continued:

"Despite the boasted protection of the law, how often is a man
compelled to rely for his protection upon his own prowess, skill or
address. There are many occasions when right under the nose of the
police, one saves himself by the resort to physical strength, weapons,
or the use of a cajoling tongue. Theoretically, Dr. McDill was amply
protected by the mantle of the law. In reality, it was man to man as
much as if he had met his foes in the Arabian desert, with none but
himself and them and the vultures. Do you go armed?"

"No," replied Mr. Middleton, with a flippant smile; "but I can go
pretty fast, and that has heretofore done as well as going armed."

"Young man," said the emir, sternly, "a bullet can outstrip your
fleetest footsteps. There may never be but one occasion when you will
need a weapon, but on that occasion the possession of the means of
protection may spell the difference between life and life."

Hardly had he uttered them, before Mr. Middleton regretted his forward
and pert words, for never before had he answered the emir lightly,
such was his respect for him as a man of goodly parts and as one set
in authority, and such was his gratitude toward him as a benefactor.
Stammering forth what was at once an apology and an acknowledgement of
the wisdom of what the emir had said, Mr. Middleton began to make
preparations to go. But Prince Achmed bade him wait, and saying a few
words to Mesrour in the Arabic language, the blackamore brought to him
a pair of pistols of a formidable aspect. In sooth, one could hardly
tell whether they ought to be called pistols, or culverins. In the
shape of the stocks alone could anyone detect that they were pistols.
The bore of each was more than an inch in diameter, and the octagonal
barrels of thick steel, heavily inlaid with silver, were a foot and a
half long. The handles, which were in proportion to the barrels and so
long that four hands could grasp them, were so completely covered with
an inlay of pearl that no wood was visible. Taking one of them, the
emir rammed home a great load of powder, upon which he placed a
handful of balls as large as marbles. Having served the second
likewise, he handed the pair to Mr. Middleton.

"Take them. Protected by them, you need have little fear. But woe
betide the man who stands in front of them, for so wide is the
distribution of their charge, that he must be a most indifferent
marksman who could not do execution with them."

Thanking the emir for the gift and the entertainment and instruction
of his discourse, Mr. Middleton departed. Impressed though he had been
by Prince Achmed's counsel and by the lesson to be derived from the
recital of the experiences of Dr. McDill, Mr. Middleton did not carry
the pistols as he went about his daily vocation. It was impossible to
so bestow them about his garments that they did not cause large and
unsightly protuberances and to carry them openly was not to be thought
of. Their weight, too, was so great that it was burdensome to carry
them in any manner. Coming into his room unexpectedly in the middle of
the forenoon of the Thursday following the acquisition of the weapons,
he surprised Hilda Svenson, maid of all work, in the act of examining
one of them, which she had extracted from the place where they lay
concealed in the lower bureau drawer beneath a pile of underclothing.
With a start of guilty surprise, Hilda let the pistol fall to the
floor. Fortunately it did not go off, but nonetheless was he convinced
that he ought to dispose of the two weapons, for any day Hilda might
shoot herself with one, while on the weekly sheet changing day, Mrs.
Leschinger, the landlady, might shoot herself with the other. There
was no place in the room where he could conceal them from the
painstaking investigations of Hilda and Mrs. Leschinger, and the
expedient of extracting the charges not occurring to him, he felt that
it was clearly his duty to remove the lives of the two women from
jeopardy by disposing of the pistols. He was in truth pained at the
necessity of parting with the gifts which the emir had made with such
solicitude for his welfare and as some assuagement to this regret he
sought to dispose of them as profitably as possible. With this end in
view, he made an appointment for a private audience after hours with
Mr. Sidney Kuppenheimer, who conducted a large loan bank on Madison
Street and was reputed a connoisseur and admirer of all kinds of
curios.

On the evening for which he had made the appointment, he set forth,
intending to make an early and short call upon his friend Chauncy
Stackelberg and wife, before repairing to Mr. Kuppenheimer's place of
business. But such was the engaging quality of the conversation of the
newly married couple, abounding both in humor and good sense, and so
interested was he in hearing of the haps and mishaps of married life,
a state he hoped to enter as soon as fortune and the young lady of
Englewood should be propitious, that he was unaware of the flight of
time until in the midst of a pause in the conversation, he heard the
cathedral clock Mrs. Stackelberg's uncle had given her as a wedding
present, solemnly tolling the hour of eleven. The hour Mr.
Kuppenheimer had named was one hour agone. To have kept the
appointment, he should have started two hours before.

Another half hour had flown before Mr. Middleton, having paused to
partake of some chow-chow recently made by Mrs. Stackelberg and highly
recommended by her liege, finally left the house, carrying a pistol in
either hand. The night was somewhat cloudy, but although there was
neither moon nor stars, it was much lighter than on some nights when
all the minor luminaries are ablaze, or the moon itself is aloft,
shining in its first or last quarter, a phenomenon remarked upon by an
able Italian scientist in the middle of the last century and by him
attributed to some luminous quality that inheres in the clouds
themselves. Mr. Middleton was walking along engrossed in thoughts of
the scene of domestic bliss he had lately quitted and in dreams of the
even more delightful home he hoped to some day enjoy with the young
lady of Englewood, when he suddenly became cognizant of four
individuals a short distance away, comporting themselves in an unusual
and peculiar manner. Cautiously approaching them as quietly as
possible, he perceived that it was two robbers despoiling two citizens
of their valuables, one pair standing in the middle of the street, one
on the sidewalk, the citizens with their hands elevated above their
heads in a strained and uncomfortable attitude, while each
robber--with back to him--was pointing a revolver with one hand and
turning pockets inside out with the other.

With a resolution and celerity that astonished him, as he afterwards
dwelt upon it in retrospect, Mr. Middleton rushed silently upon the
nearest robber, him in the street, and dealt him a terrible blow upon
the head with the barrel of a pistol. Without a sound, the robber sank
to the earth, whereupon the citizen, whether he had lost his head
through fear, or thought Mr. Middleton a new and more dangerous
outlaw, fled away like the wind. Snatching the bag of valuables in the
unconscious thief's hands, Mr. Middleton made toward the other robber,
who, to his astonishment, hissed without looking around:

"What did you let your man get away for, you fool? Try and make
yourself useful somehow. Hold this swag and cover the man, so I can
have both hands and get through quick."

Taking the valuables the robber handed him, Mr. Middleton with
calmness and deliberation placed them in his pockets, after which he
placed a muzzle of a pistol in the back of the robber's neck and
sharply commanded:

"Hands up!"

Up went the robber's hands as if he were a jumping-jack jerked by a
string, whereupon his late victim, doubtless animated by the same
emotions as those of the other citizens, fled away like the wind, but
not in silence, for at every jump he bellowed, "Thieves, murder,
help!"

A window slammed up in the house before which they were standing and
the glare of an electric bicycle lamp played full upon Mr. Middleton
and his prisoner.

"I've got him," said Mr. Middleton, proudly.

"Got him! Got him!" gasped an astonished voice. "Well, of all
effrontery! Got him, you miserable thief? The police are coming and
they'll get you, and I can identify you, if they don't succeed in
nabbing you red-handed."

Shocked and almost paralyzed, Mr. Middleton turned to expostulate with
the misled householder, when the robber, seizing the opportunity, fled
away like the wind, bellowing at every jump, "Thieves, murder, help!"
and as if aroused by the sound of his compatriot's voice, the thief
who had been lying unconscious in the street all this while, arose and
hastened away, somewhat unsteadily, it is true, yet at a considerable
degree of speed.

It did not require any extended reflective processes for Mr. Middleton
to tell himself that if he waited for the police, he would be in a
very bad plight, for he had the stolen property upon his person, the
thieves had gone, and even if the victims were able to say he was not
one of the two original thieves--which their disturbed state of mind
made most uncertain--they would be likely to declare him a thief
notwithstanding, a charge which the stolen property on his person
would bear out. The police could now be heard down the street and the
householder was making the welkin ring with vociferous shouts. With a
sudden access of rage at this individual whose well-intended efforts
had thwarted justice and might yet fasten crime upon innocence, Mr.
Middleton pointed a pistol at the upper pane of the window where shone
the bicycle lamp. There was a roar that shook the air, followed by a
crash of glass and the clatter of a dozen bullets upon the brick wall
of the house, and a shriek of terror from the householder and the
bicycle lamp instantly vanished. With a heart strangely at peace in
the midst of the dangers that encompassed him, Mr. Middleton sped up
the street, dashed through an alleyway, back for a block on the next
street in the direction he had just come, and thenceforth leisurely
and with an appearance of virtue he did not need to feign, made his
way home without molestation.

Upon examining the booty that had so strangely come into his
possession, Mr. Middleton was at a loss to think which were the
greater villains, those who had robbed, or those who had been robbed.
One wallet contained five hundred and forty dollars in greenbacks and
some memoranda accompanying it showed that it was a corruption fund to
be used in bribing voters at an approaching election. The other wallet
contained sixty dollars and a detailed plan for bribery, fraud, and
intimidation which was to be carried out in one of the doubtful wards.
There were also some silver coins, and two gold watches bearing no
names or marks that could identify their owners, but the detailed plan
contained the name of the politician who had drawn it up and who was
to be benefited by its successful accomplishment. This was a clue by
following which Mr. Middleton might have found the parties who had
been robbed and return their property, but he was deterred from doing
so by several considerations. The knowledge he had of the proposed
fraud was exceedingly dangerous to the interests of one of the
political parties and to the personal interests of one of the bosses
of that party. It would be clearly to their advantage to have Mr.
Middleton jailed and so put where there would be no danger that he
would divulge the information in his possession. Besides this, the
money was to be used for corrupt purposes, would go into the hands of
evil men who would spend it evilly. Deprived of it, a thoroughly bad
man was less likely to be elected. For these moral and prudential
reasons, Mr. Middleton saw that it was plainly his duty to the public
and to himself to retain the money. The victims, bearing in mind that
the recovery of the money by the police would also mean the discovery
of the incriminating documents and that any persecution of the robbers
might incite them to sell the documents to the opposite party, would
be very chary about doing or saying anything. But there was the
householder, who surely would tell his tale and who had an idea of Mr.
Middleton's personal appearance. Accordingly, that excellent young man
disposed of the gold watches to one Isaac Fiscovitz on lower State
Street, and with the results of the exchange purchased an entirely new
suit, new hat, and new shoes. The incriminating documents, he placed
under the carpet in his room against a time when he might see an
opportunity to safely dispose of them to the pecuniary advantage of
himself and to the discomfiture of the contemptible creature whose
handiwork they were.

He said nothing of these transactions when on the appointed evening he
once more sat in the presence of the urbane prince of the tribe of
Al-Yam. Having handed him a bowl of delicately flavored sherbet,
Achmed began the narration of The Adventure of Miss Clarissa Dawson.



_The Adventure of Miss Clarissa Dawson._


Miss Clarissa Dawson was a young lady who had charge of the cutlery
counter in one of the great emporiums of State Street. She was
reckoned of a pretty wit and not more cutting were the Sheffield
razors that were piled before her than the remarks she sometimes made
to those who, incited thereto by her reputation for readiness of
retort, sought to engage her in a contest of repartee. It was seldom
that she issued from these encounters other than triumphant, leaving
her presumptuous opponents defeated and chagrined. But in the month of
November of the last year, for once she owned to herself that she had
been overcome,--overcome, it is true, because her adversary was
plainly a person of stupidity, mailed by his doltishness against the
keenest sarcasm she could launch against him, yet nevertheless
overcome. To her choicest bit of irony, the individual replied,
"Somebody left you on the grindstone and forgot to take you off," to
which the most adroit in quips and quirks could find no fitting
replication, unless it were to indulge in facial contortion or
invective, and Miss Clarissa was too much of a lady to do either.
Forced into silence, she had no resource but to seek to transfix him
with a protracted and contemptuous stare, which, though failing to
disconcert the object, put her in possession of the facts that he had
mild blue eyes, that the remnants of his hair were red, that he was
slightly above middle height and below middle age, and that there was
little about his face and still less his figure to distinguish him
from a multitude of men of the average type. Indeed, one could not
even conjecture his nationality, for his type was one to be seen in
all branches of the Indo-European race. If from a package in his upper
left-hand coat pocket, which, broken, disclosed some wieners, you
concluded he was of the German nation, a short dudeen in an upper vest
pocket would seem to indicate that he was an Irishman. His coat was of
black cheviot, new, and of the current cut. His vest was of corduroy,
of the kind in vogue in the past decade, while his pantaloons, black,
with a faint green line in them, were a compromise, being of a
non-commital cut that would never be badly out of style in any modern
period.

Sustaining Miss Clarissa's stare with great composure, he purchased
six German razors at thirty-five cents each, six English at fifty,
twelve American at the same price, and a stray French razor at
sixty-two.

"Don't you want some razorine?" asked Miss Clarissa. "It makes
razors--and other things--sharper."

"Why don't you use it, then, instead of lobsterine?" replied the
stranger, picking up his package and the change. Miss Clarissa
deigning to give no reply but an angry frown, the stranger expressed
his gratitude for the amusement he intimated she had afforded him and
he further said he hoped he would see her at the Charity Ball and he
made bold to ask her to save the second two-step for him, and
thereafter departed, having declined Miss Clarissa's offer to have his
purchases sent to his address, an offer dictated not by a spirit of
accommodation and kindliness, but by a desire to learn in what part of
the city he had his residence.

On the morrow again came a man to purchase razors, of which there was
a large number on Miss Clarissa's counter, traveling men's samples for
sale at ridiculous prices. The man had purchased two dozen razors
before Miss Clarissa, noting this similarity to the transactions of
the odious person and thereby led to take a good look at him, observed
with astonishment that this new man had on exactly the same suit that
had been worn by the purchaser of the day before. She recognized the
fabric, the color, everything down to a discoloration on the left coat
lapel. Here the resemblance ended. The second individual was a young
man. He had a heavy shock of abundant hair. He was not more than
twenty-eight years old and so far from being commonplace, he was of a
distinguished appearance. But as the eyes of Miss Clarissa continued
to dwell upon him in some admiration, she told herself that the
resemblance did not end with the clothes, after all. His eyes were of
the same blue, his hair of the same auburn as those of the man of
yesterday. Indeed, the man of yesterday might have been this man with
twenty years added on him, with the light of hope and ambition dimmed
by contact with the world, and his youthful alertness and dash
succeeded by the resigned vacuity of one who has seen none of his
early dreams realized. Again did Miss Clarissa ask if he would have
his purchases sent to his address, but this time it was not entirely
curiosity and the perfunctory performance of a duty, for she would
gladly have been of service to one of such a pleasing presence.
Communing with himself for a moment, the young man said:

"On the whole, you may. But they must be delivered to me in person,
into my own hands. I would take them, but I have a number of other
things to take. Remember, they are to be delivered to me in person,"
and he handed her a card which announced that his name was Asbury
Fuller and on which was written in lead pencil the address of a house
in a quarter of the city which, once the most fashionable of all, had
suffered from the encroachments of trade and where a few mansions yet
occupied by the aristocracy were surrounded by the deserted homes of
families which had fled to the newer haunts of fashion, leaving their
former abodes to be occupied by boarding mistresses, dentists,
doctors, clairvoyants, and a whole host of folk whose names would
never be in the papers until their burial permits were issued.

Miss Clarissa did a very peculiar thing. It was already four o'clock
of a Saturday afternoon. Instead of immediately giving the package
into the hands of the delivery department, she retained it and, at
closing time, going to the room where ready made uniforms for
messenger boys were kept, she purloined one. Now it must be known that
the principal reason for doing a thing so unusual, not to say
indiscreet, was her desire to obey the young man's injunction to hand
the razors into his own hands and no others. She had become possessed
of the idea that some disaster would befall if the razors came into
the possession of any one else. Moreover, the stranger had humbled her
in the contest of repartee, which, as a true woman, had made her
entertain an admiration for him, and this and his strange disguises
and his unaccountable purchases had surrounded him with a mist of
romantic mystery she fain would penetrate. Some little time before, it
had been Miss Clarissa's misfortune, through sickness, to lose much of
her hair. It had now begun to grow again and resume its former
luxuriant abundance, but by removing several switches--of her own
hair--and the bolster commonly called a rat, and sleeking her hair
down hard with oil, she appeared as a boy might who was badly in need
of a haircut. After a light supper, she set out alone for the
residence of Asbury Fuller and at the end of her journey found herself
at the gateway of a somber edifice, which was apparently the only one
in the block that was inhabited. On either side and across the way
were vacant houses, lonesome and forbidding. Indeed, the residence of
Asbury Fuller was itself scarcely less lonesome and forbidding. The
grass of the plot before it was long and unkempt and heavily covered
with mats of autumn leaves. The bricks of the front walk were sunken
and uneven and the steps leading to the high piazza were deeply
warped, as by pools of water that had lain and dried on their unswept
surface through many seasons. The blinds hung awry and the paint on
the great front doors was scaling, and altogether it was a faded
magnificence, this of Asbury Fuller. She pulled the handle of the
front-door bell and in response to its jangling announcement came a
maid.

"Asbury Fuller?" said the maid, omitting the "Mr." Miss Clarissa had
affixed. "Go to the side door around to the right."

Wondering if this were a lodging house and Asbury Fuller had a private
entrance, or if it being his own house he had left word that callers
should be sent to the side door to prevent the delivery of the razors
being seen by others, Clarissa followed the walk through an avenue of
dead syringa bushes and came to the side door. The same maid who had
met her before, ushered her in and presently she found herself in a
small apartment, almost a closet, standing at the back of Asbury
Fuller. But though small, she remarked that the apartment was one of
some magnificence, for on all sides was a quantity of burnished
copper, binding the edges of a row of shelves and covering the whole
top of a broad counter-like projection running along one side of the
wall. Before this, Asbury Fuller was standing, assorting a number of
cut-glass goblets of various sizes and putting them upon silver
salvers, bottles of various colored wines being placed upon each
salver with the goblets. He turned at her entrance and the look of sad
and gloomy abstraction sitting upon his countenance instantly changed
to one of relief and joy.

"At last, at last," he exclaimed, in a deep tone which even more than
his countenance betrayed his relief and joy. "It is almost too late
and I thought the young woman had not attended to sending them, that
she had failed me."

"She would not fail you, sir," said Clarissa, earnestly, allowing
herself in the protection her assumed character gave her the pleasure
of giving utterance to her feeling of regard for the young man. "She
would not fail, sir, she could not fail you. Oh, you wrong her, if you
think she could ever break her word to you."

Asbury Fuller bent an inscrutable look upon Clarissa and then bidding
her remain until his return, hastily left the room. But though he was
gone, Clarissa sat gloating upon the mental picture of his manly
beauty. He seemed taller than before, for the stoop he had worn in the
afternoon had now departed and he stood erect and muscular in the suit
of full evening dress that set off his lithe, soldierly form to such
advantage. His garb was of an elegance such as Clarissa had never
before beheld, and it was plain that the aristocracy affected certain
adornments in the privacy of their homes which they did not caparison
themselves with in public. Clarissa had seen dress suits in
restaurants and in theaters, but never before had she seen a
bottle-green dress coat with gold buttons and a velvet collar and a
vest with broad longitudinal stripes of white and brown. In a brief
space, Asbury Fuller returned, and glancing at his watch, he said:

"There is some time before the dinner party begins and I would like to
talk with you. I am impressed by your apparent honesty and
particularly by the air of devotion to duty that characterizes you.
The latter I have more often remarked in women than in the more
selfish sex to which we belong. We need a boy here. Wages, twenty
dollars a month and keep."

"Oh, sir, I should be pleased to come."

"Your duties will commence at once. Owing to the fact that this old
house has been empty for some time and the work of rehabilitating and
refurnishing it is far from completed, you cannot at present have a
room to yourself. You will sleep with John Klussmann, the hostler----"

"Oh, sir, I cannot do that," exclaimed Clarissa, starting up in alarm.

"John is a good boy and kicks very little in his sleep. But doubtless
you object to the smell of horses."

"Oh, sir, let me do what is needed this evening and go home and I will
come back and work to-morrow and go home to-morrow night, and if by
that time you find I can have a room by myself, perhaps I will come
permanently."

"I don't smell of horses myself," said Asbury Fuller, musingly, to
which Clarissa making no response other than turning away her head to
hide her blushes, he continued. "But two days will be enough. Indeed,
to-night is the crucial point. I will not beat about the bush longer.
I wish to attach you to my interests. I wish you to serve me to-night
in the crisis of my career."

"Oh, sir," said Clarissa, in the protection that her assumed character
gave her, allowing herself the privilege of speaking her real
sentiments, "I am attached to your interests. Let me serve you.
Command, and I will use my utmost endeavor to obey."

Asbury Fuller looked at her in surprise. Carried away by her feelings
and in the state of mental exaltation which the romance and mystery of
the adventure had induced, she had made a half movement to kneel as
she thus almost swore her fealty in solemn tones.

"Why are you attached to my interests?" asked Asbury Fuller, somewhat
dryly.

Alas, Clarissa could not take advantage of the protection her assumed
character gave her to tell the real reason. Only as a woman could she
do that, only as a woman could she say and be believed, "Because I
love you."

"Why, some people are naturally leaders, naturally draw others to
them----"

"You cannot be a spy upon me, since no one knows who I am."

"A spy!" cried Clarissa, in a voice whose sorrowful reproach gave
convincing evidence of her ingenuousness.

"I wrong you, I wrong you," said Asbury Fuller. "I will trust you. I
will tell you what you are to do----"

"Butler," said a maid, poking her head in at the door, "it is time to
come and give the finishing touches to the table. It is almost time
for the dinner to be served," and without ado, Asbury Fuller sprang
out of the room.

A butler! A butler! Clarissa sat stunned. It was thus that her hero
had turned out. Could she tell the other girls in the store with any
degree of pride that she was keeping company with a butler? She had
received a good literary education in the high school at Muncie,
Indiana, and was a young woman of taste and refinement. Could she
marry a butler? To be near her hero, she herself had just now been
willing to undertake a menial position. But she had then imagined him
to be a person of importance. This stage in her cogitations led her to
the reflection that her feelings were unworthy of her. Had her regard
for Asbury Fuller been all due to the belief that he was a person of
importance, merely the worship of position, the selfish desire and
hope--however faint--of rising to affluence and social dignity through
him? Butler or no butler, Asbury Fuller was handsome, he was
distinguished, his manner of speech was superior to that of any person
she had ever known. Butler or no butler, she loved him. Just now she
had hoped that he, rich and well placed, would overlook her poverty,
and take her, friendless and obscure, for his bride. Could she give
less than she had hoped he would give? And then as butler, her chances
of winning him were so greatly increased.

In a short time, he returned. He told her she was to wait on the table
and instructed her how to serve the courses.

"The master will look surprised when he sees you instead of me. If he
asks who you are, say the new page. But he will be too much afraid of
exciting the wonder of his guests to ask you any questions. I feel
certain that he will accept your presence without question, being
desirous his guests shall not think him a tyro in the management of an
establishment like this. I feel certain that after dinner, his guests
will ask to see his collection of arms. Indeed, Miss Bording told him
in my hearing last Monday that she accepted his invitation here on
condition that she be allowed to see the famous collection. You are to
follow them into the drawing-room after dinner. The master will not
know whether that is usual or not. If they do start to go to look at
the arms, you are to say, 'The collection of your former weapons, sir,
has been placed in the first room to the left at the head of the
stairs. The paper-hangers and decorators have been busy.' Then you are
to lead the way into that room, which you will find dimly lighted.
After that, I will attend to everything myself."

Although Clarissa could not but wonder at the strangeness of her
instructions and to be somewhat alarmed at the evidences of a plot in
which she was to be an agent, she agreed, for though her regard for
Asbury Fuller would have been sufficient to cause such acquiescence,
so great was her curiosity to have solved the mysteries which
surrounded that individual, that this alone would have gained her
consent.

There were but two guests at the table of Mr. William Leadbury--Judge
Volney Bording, and his daughter, Eulalia Bording. Mr. Leadbury cast a
look of surprise and displeasure as he saw Clarissa serving the first
course, but he quickly concealed these emotions and proceeded to
plunge into an animated conversation with his guests. Indeed, it
assumed the character of a monologue in which he frequently adverted
to the weather, to be off on a tangent the next moment on a discussion
of finance, politics, sociology, on which subjects, however, he was
far from showing the positiveness and fixed opinion that he did while
descanting upon the weather. In all the subjects he touched upon, he
exhibited a certain skill in so framing his remarks that they would
not run counter to any prejudices or opposite opinions of his
auditors, but the feelings of the auditors having been elicited,
served as a preamble from which he could go on, warmly agreeing with
their views in the further and more complete unfolding of his own. He
was between twenty-seven and thirty years of age, of a somewhat spare
figure, and in the well-proportioned features of his face there was no
one that would attract attention beyond the others and easily remain
fixed in memory. He was not without an appearance of intelligence and
his chest was thrown out and the small of his back drawn in after the
manner of the Prussian ex-sergeants who give instruction in athletics
and the cultivation of a proper carriage to the elite of this city,
and withal he had the appearance of a person of substance and of
consequence in his community. In the midst of a pause where he was
occupied in putting his soup-spoon into his mouth, Miss Bording
remarked:

"Please do not talk about commonplace American subjects, Mr. Leadbury.
Tell us of your foreign life. Tell us of Algeria. What sort of a
country is Algeria?"

Turning his eyes toward the chandelier about him and with an elegance
of enunciation that did much to relieve the undeniably monotonous
evenness of his discourse, he began:

"Algeria, the largest and most important of the French colonial
possessions, is a country of northern Africa, bounded on the north by
the Mediterranean, west by Morocco, south by the desert of Sahara, and
east by Tunis. It extends for about five hundred and fifty miles along
the coast and inland from three hundred to four hundred miles.
Physiographically it may be roughly divided into three zones," and so
on for a considerable length until by an accident which Clarissa could
attribute to nothing but inconceivable awkwardness, Judge Bording
dropped a glass of water, crash! Having ceased his disquisition at
this accident, so disconcerting to the judge, Miss Bording very
prettily and promptly thanked him for his information and saying that
she now had a clear understanding of the principal facts pertaining to
Algeria, abruptly changed the subject by asking him if he had heard
anything more concerning his second cousin, the barber.

"There is nothing more to be heard. He is dead. You know he came here
about a week before I did. By the terms of my uncle's will, the five
years to be allowed to elapse before I was to be considered dead or
disappeared would have come to an end in a week after the time of my
arrival, and the property have passed to him, my uncle's cousin. By
the greatest luck in the world, I had become homesick and throwing up
my commission in the Foreign Legion, or Battalion D'Etranger, as we
have it in French, which is, as you may know, a corps of foreigners
serving under the French flag, mainly in Algeria, but occasionally in
other French possessions--throwing up my commission, I came home,
bringing with me my famous collection of weapons and the fauteuil of
Ab del Kader, the armchair, you understand, of the great Arab prince
who led the last revolt against France. It was not all homesickness,
either. Among the men of all nationalities serving in the Foreign
Legion, are many adventurous Americans, and a young Chicagoan,
remarking my name, apprised me of the fact that perhaps I was heir to
a fortune in Chicago. I came," continued Leadbury, looking down toward
his lap, where Clarissa saw he held a clipping from a newspaper, "and
took apartments at the Bennington Hotel, where, when seen by the
representatives of the 'Commercial Advertiser,' the following
interesting facts were brought out in the interview: 'William
Leadbury'--your humble servant--" he interjected, "'is the only son of
the late Charles Leadbury, only brother of the late millionaire iron
merchant, James Leadbury. Upon his death, James Leadbury left his
entire property'--but," said Leadbury, looking up, "I have previously
covered that point."

"But tell us of your weapons," interposed Miss Bording.

"Oh, yes, that seems to interest you," and deftly sliding the clipping
along in his fingers, he resumed: "'The collection of weapons is one
of the most interesting and remarkable collections in the United
States, for, though not large, its owner can say, with pardonable
pride, "every bit of steel in that collection has been used by me in
my trade."'"

"Ah, how proud you must be," mused Miss Bording. "I read something
like that in the papers, myself. Just to think of it! Every bit of
steel in that collection has been used by you in your trade. What a
strange affectation you military men have in calling your profession a
trade! But, Captain Leadbury, tell me of your cousin, who disappeared
two days after your arrival, and why you shaved your moustache which
the papers described you as having."

"A moustache is a bother," said Leadbury. "As to my cousin, why,
overcome by disappointment, he took to drink. He disappeared from his
lodgings on Rush Street two days after my arrival, at the close of a
twenty-four hours' debauch. It was found he had shipped as a sailor on
the Ingar Gulbrandson, lumber hooker for Marinette, and the
Gulbrandson was found sunk up by Death's Door, at the entrance to
Green Bay, her masts sticking above water. Her crew had utterly
disappeared. That was three months ago and neither hide nor hair of
any of them has been seen since. Poor Anderson Walkley is dead! Were
he alive, I would be glad to assist him. But he was a rover, never
long in one place--a few months here, a few months there--and now he
is at rest and I believe he is glad, I believe he is glad."

The second course consisted of turkey, and Clarissa was astounded, as
she deposited the dishes of the course, to see Asbury Fuller swiftly
enter the door upon all-fours and with extreme celerity and cat-like
lightness, flit across the room and esconce himself behind a huge
armchair upholstered in velvet, and her astonishment increased and was
tinged with no small degree of terror, as she observed the chair,
noiselessly and almost imperceptibly, progress across the floor,
propelled by some hidden force, until it reached a station behind the
master of the house. Captain Leadbury began to carve the turkey and
Clarissa was astonished more than ever to hear, in the Captain's
voice, though she was sure his lips were shut,

"Would you like a close shave, Miss Bording?"

The sound of the carving-knife dropping upon the platter as Leadbury
started in some sudden spasm of pain, was drowned by the silvery
laughter of Miss Bording, saying,

"Oh, don't make fun of the profession of your poor cousin, Captain,"
and the look of disquiet upon Leadbury's face was quickly relieved and
he joined heartily and almost boisterously in the merriment. A moment
later, Clarissa was alarmed to find him bending upon herself a look in
which suspicion, distrust, fear, and hatred all were blended.

Judge Volney Bording, ornament to the legal profession, was a hearty
eater, and it was not long before he sent his plate for a second
helping, and again Clarissa heard from the closed lips of Leadbury, in
a voice that seemed to float up from his very feet:

"Next. Next. You're next, Miss Bording. What'll it be?"

Leadbury half rose, looking toward Clarissa with a glance of most
violent anger, but whatever he would have said, was again interrupted
by the silvery laugh of Miss Bording, and again Leadbury joined
heartily, almost boisterously. But though he regained his
self-possession and his brow became serene, Clarissa saw in his eye
that which told he had a reckoning in store for her when once the
guests were out of the house, but that in the meantime he would
dissemble the various unpleasant emotions with which his mind was
filled. The rest of the dinner passed without untoward event. The huge
armchair by imperceptible degrees retired to its former position, and
as Clarissa set down the dessert, she saw Asbury Fuller, with a grace
unusual and not to be expected of one in such a posture, proceeding
quickly and silently out of the room upon all-fours.

Mindful of her instructions, Clarissa accompanied the party when,
rising from the table, they withdrew to the drawing-room. It was
manifest that her presence caused Leadbury some uneasiness and he
looked now at her and now at his guests with an inquiring and
perturbed countenance, but in the calm faces of the judge and his
daughter he could detect nothing to indicate that they thought the
presence of the page at all strange, and little by little he recovered
his good spirits and related some interesting anecdotes of a bulldog
he once owned and of a colored person who stole a guitar from him. But
though Miss Bording gave a courteous and interested attention and
laughed at the anecdotes of the dog, she irked at the necessity of
silence, which the garrulity of her host placed her under and was
desirous of having the conversation become general and of a more
entertaining, elevated and instructive character. As the narration of
the episode of the colored person came to an end, she hastily
exclaimed:

"Captain, you promised to show us your collection. It is nearing the
time when we must go home, for father has had to-day to listen to an
unparalleled amount of gabble and is very tired."

"I will show the collection to you with great pleasure," said
Leadbury, and at this juncture, Clarissa, remembering her
instructions, said:

"The collection of your former weapons, sir, has been placed in the
first room at the left at the head of the stairs. The paperhangers and
decorators have been busy." And then she proceeded to lead the way
into the hall and up the broad funereal staircase that led above.
Dimly burned the lights in the hall. Dimly burned a gas jet in the
room whose door stood open at the left.

"Oh, yes," said Leadbury, gaily, responding to a remark of Miss
Bording, as they entered the room and saw the uncertain shape of a
large chair vaguely looming in the gloom; "I secured the fauteuil of
Ab del Kader after we had stormed the last stronghold of that
unfortunate prince. But interesting as this relic is, I put no value
upon it in comparison with the weapons, for every bit of steel in the
collection has been used by me in my trade."

As he said these words, he turned on the gas at full head and the
light blazed forth to be shot back from an array of polished steel
festooned upon the wall, a glittering rosette, but not of sabres and
scimetars, yataghans, rapiers, broadswords, dirks and poniards,
pistols, fusils and rifles. No! _Razors and scissors!_ Before this
array sat a great red velvet barber's chair, and near them on the wall
was a board, bearing little brass hooks, upon each of which hung a
green ticket.

In the unexpected revelation that had followed the flare of light, all
eyes were turned upon William Leadbury, swaying back and forward with
one hand clinging to the big chair, as if ready to swoon. A sickly,
cringing grin played over his face, suddenly come all a-yellow, and
his long tongue was flickering over his pale lips. But all at once his
muscles sprang tense and a malignant anger tightened his quivering
features and turning upon Clarissa, he hissed:

"You did this. You exposed me, you exposed me," and he was about to
leap at the terrified girl, when a ringing voice cried, "Stop!" and
there was Asbury Fuller standing in the doorway with the broad red
cordon of a Commander of the Legion of Honor across his breast and a
glittering rapier in his hand. Clarissa could have fallen at his feet,
he looked so handsome and grand, and she could have scratched out the
eyes of Eulalia Bording, whose gaze betrayed an admiration equal to
her own. Asbury Fuller, yet not wearing quite his wonted appearance,
for the luxuriant locks of auburn had gone and his head was covered
with a short, though thick crop of chestnut.

"You exposed yourself. Harmless would all this have been, powerless to
hurt you, if you had kept your self-possession and turned it off as a
joke--your own. But your abashed mien, your complete confusion, your
utter disconcertment, betrayed you, even if you had no longer left any
question by crying out that you have been exposed. Yes, exposed,
Anderson Walkley, by the sudden confronting of you with the implements
of your craft, the weapons you had _used_ in _your_ trade, and the
belief thus aroused in your guilty mind that your secret was known,
that your identity had been detected."

"Asbury Fuller, what business is it of yours?" and Leadbury snatched
up a large pair of hair clippers and waved them with a menacing
gesture.

"Everyman to the weapons of his trade," exclaimed Asbury Fuller, and
the hair clippers seemed suddenly enveloped in a mass of white flame,
as the rapier played about them. Cling, clang, across the room flew
the clippers, twisted from Leadbury's hand as neatly as you please.

"Asbury Fuller?" cried the Commander of the Legion of Honor. "Asbury
Fuller?" and he deftly fastened beneath his nose an elegant false
moustache with waxed ends.

With his hands before his eyes as if to forefend his view from some
dreadful apparition, the man in the corner sank upon his knees,
gibbering, "William Leadbury, come back from the dead!"

"William Leadbury, alive and well, here to claim his own from you,
Anderson Walkley, outlaw and felon. Your plans were well-laid, but I
am not dead. You signed the papers of the Ingar Gulbrandson in your
proper person. Then as she was about to sail, I was brought aboard
ostensibly drunk, but really drugged, under the name of Anderson
Walkley. The Gulbrandson was found sunk. Her crew of four had utterly
disappeared. Dead, of course. The records gave their names. I had
become Anderson Walkley and was dead. You had seized my property and
my identity. I had been in Chicago but two days and no one had become
familiar enough with my appearance to make any question when you with
your clean-shaven face came down on the morning after my
kidnaping and told the people at the hotel that you were William
Leadbury and had shaved your moustache off over night. Whatever
difference they might have thought they saw, was easily explained by
the change occasioned by the removal of your moustache. Had your
minions been as intelligent as they were villainous, your scheme would
have succeeded. It was necessary to drug me anew on the voyage, as the
effects were wearing off. They did not drug me enough, and when they
scuttled the old hulk and rowed ashore to flee with their blood money,
the cold water rising in the sinking vessel awoke me, brought me to
full consciousness, and I easily got ashore on some planking. I saw at
once what the plot had been. I realized I had a desperate man to deal
with. I had no money and it would take me some time to get from
northern Wisconsin to Chicago. In the meantime, every one would have
come to believe you William Leadbury, and who would believe me, the
ragged tramp, suddenly appearing from nowhere and claiming to be the
heir? You would be coached by your lawyers, have time to concoct lies,
to manufacture conditions that would color your claim, and in court
you would be self-possessed and on your guard. Therefore I felt that I
must await the psychological moment when you could be taken off your
guard, when, surprised and in confusion, you would betray yourself. I
secured employment as your butler, the psychological moment came, and
you stand, self-convicted, thief and would-be murderer."

"Send for the police at once," said Judge Bording.

"No," said the late captain in the Foreign Legion. "He may reform. I
wish him to have another chance. That he may have the wherewithal to
earn a livelihood, I present him with the contents of this room, the
means of his undoing. In my uncle's library are many excellent
theological works of a controversial nature, and these, too, I present
to him, as a means of turning his thoughts toward better things. I
will not send for the police. I will send for a dray. Judge Bording,
by the recent concatenation of events, I am become the host. Let us
leave Walkley here to pack his effects, and return to the
drawing-room."

Clarissa preceded the others as they slowly descended, with all her
ears open to hear whatsoever William Leadbury might say to Eulalia
Bording, and it was so that she noted a strange little creaking above
them, and looking up, saw poised upon the edge of the balustrade in
the upper hall, impending over the head of William Leadbury and ready
to fall, the great barber chair! With a swift leap, she pushed him to
the wall, causing him to just escape the chair as it fell with a
dreadful crash. But she herself was not so fortunate, for with a
wicked tunk the cushioned back of the chair struck her a glancing blow
that felled her senseless upon the stairs.

Judge Bording flew after the dastardly barber, who swifter still, was
down the backstairs and out of the house into the darkness before the
Judge could lay hands upon him.

The judge, his daughter, and William Leadbury, bent over the
unconscious form of the page.

"He saved your life," said the judge. "The wood and iron part would
have hit your head."

"His breath is knocked out of him," said Miss Bording.

"He saved my life. I cannot understand his strange devotion. I cannot
understand it," said William Leadbury, the while opening the page's
vest, tearing away his collar, and straining at his shirt, that the
stunned lungs might have play and get to work again. The stiffly
starched shirt resisted his efforts and he reached in under it to
detach the fastenings of the studs that held the bosom together. Back
came his hand as if it had encountered a serpent beneath that shirt
front.

"I begin to understand," he exclaimed, and bending an enigmatical look
upon the startled judge and his daughter, he picked the page up in his
arms with the utmost tenderness, and bore him away.

       *       *       *       *       *

The pains in Clarissa's body had left her. Indeed, they had all but
gone when on Sunday morning, after a night which had been one of
formless dreams where she had not known whether she slept or waked or
where she was, a frowsy maid had called her from the bed where she lay
beneath a blanket, fully dressed, and told her it was time she was
getting back to the city. Not a sign of William Leadbury as she passed
out of the great silent house. Not a word from him, no inquiry for the
welfare of the little page who had come so nigh dying for him.
Clarissa was too proud to do or say anything to let the frowsy maid
guess that she wondered at this or cared aught for the ungrateful
captain. She steeled her heart against him, but though as the days
went by she succeeded in ceasing to care for one who was so unworthy
of her regard, she could not stifle the poignant regret that he was
thus unworthy.

It had come Friday evening, almost closing time in the great store.
Slowly and heavily, Clarissa was setting her counter in order,
preparing to go to her lodgings and nurse her sick heart until slumber
should give respite from her pain, when there came a messenger from
the dress-making department asking her presence there.

"We've just got an order for a ready-made ball-dress for a lady that
is unexpectedly going to the Charity Ball to-night," said Mrs.
McGuffin, head of the department. "The message says the lady is just
your height and build and color--she noticed you sometime, it
seems--and that we are to fit one of the dresses to you, making such
alterations as would make it fit you, choosing one suitable to your
complexion. When it's done, to save time, you are to go right to the
person who ordered it, without stopping to change your clothes. You
can do that there. It will make her late to the ball, at best. A
carriage and a person to conduct you will be waiting."

It was a magnificent dress that was gradually built upon the figure of
Clarissa, and when at last it was completed and she stood before the
great pier glass flushed with the radiance of a pleasure she could not
but feel despite her late sorrow and the fact she was but the lay
figure for a more fortunate woman, one would have to search far to
find a more beautiful creature.

"Whyee!" exclaimed Mrs. McGuffin. "Why, I had no idea you had such a
figure. Why, I must have you in my department to show off dresses on.
You will work at the cutlery counter not a day after to-morrow. But
there, I am keeping you. The ball must almost have begun. Here's a bag
with your things in it. I was going to say, 'your other things.'" And
throwing a splendid cloak about the lovely shoulders of Miss Clarissa,
Mrs. McGuffin turned her over to the messenger.

There was already somebody in the carriage into which Clarissa
stepped, but as the curtain was drawn across the opposite window, she
was unable to even conjecture the sex of the individual who was to be
her conductor to her destination, and steeped in dreams which from
pleasant ones quickly passed to bitter, she speedily forgot all about
the person at her side. But presently she perceived their carriage had
come into the midst of a squadron of other carriages charging down
upon a brilliantly lighted entrance where men and women, brave in
evening dress, were moving in.

"Why, we are going to the ball-room itself," and as she said this and
realized that here on the very threshold of the entrancing gayeties
she was to put off her fine plumage and see the other woman pass out
of the dressing-room into the delights beyond, while she crept away in
her own simple garb amid the questioning, amused, and contemptuous
stares of the haughty dames who had witnessed the exchange, she broke
into a piteous sob.

"Why, of course to the ball-room, my darling," breathed a voice, which
low though it was, thrilled her more than the voice of an archangel,
and she felt herself strained to a man's heart and her bare shoulders,
which peeped from the cloak at the thrust of a pair of strong arms
beneath it, came in contact with the cool, smooth surface of the bosom
of a dress shirt. "Don't you remember that I engaged the second
two-step at the Charity Ball?"

Clarissa, almost swooning with joy as she reclined palpitating upon
the manly breast of Captain William Leadbury, said never a word, for
the power of speech was not in her; the power of song, of uttering
peans of joy, perhaps, but not the power of speech.

"Have I assumed too much," said Leadbury, gravely, relaxing somewhat
the tightness of his embrace. "Have I, arguing from the fact that you
both served me in the crisis of my career and saved my life, assumed
too much in believing you love me? If so, I beg your pardon for
arranging this surprise. I will release you. I----"

"Oh, no," crooned Clarissa, nestling against him with all the
quivering protest of a child about to be taken from its mother. "You
read my actions rightly. Oh, how I have suffered this week. No word
from you. I could not understand it. Of course you could not know I
was a girl. But I thought you ought to be grateful, even to a boy."

"But I did know you were a girl. When you fell, I began to open the
clothes about your chest. When I discovered your sex, I carried you
upstairs, placed you on a bed, threw a blanket over you and was about
to call Miss Bording to take charge of you----"

"I'm glad you didn't. I don't like Miss Bording," said Clarissa.

"I had left to call her, when that poltroon of an Anderson Walkley,
who had stolen back into the house after running from it, crept behind
me and struck me back of the ear with a shaving mug. I dropped
unconscious. In the resulting confusion, your very existence was as
forgotten as your whereabouts was unknown. You lay there as I had left
you until a maid found you in the morning and packed you off. It was
not until Wednesday that I was able to be out. I knew you came from
this store, and mousing about in there, I had no trouble in
identifying the nice young page with the beautiful young woman at the
cutlery counter. I could scarce wait two days, but as three had
already passed, I planned this surprise, remembering our banter when I
talked with you, disguised as a man of fifty, and now you are to go in
with me as my affianced bride. We'd better hurry, for the driver must
be wondering what we are thinking about."

It was worthy of remark that even the ladies passed many compliments
upon the beauty and grace of Miss Clarissa Dawson, the young woman who
came to the ball with William Leadbury, former captain in the army of
the Republique Française, heir to the millions of the late James
Leadbury, and a number of persons esteemed judges of all that pertains
to the Terpsichorean art, declared that when she appeared upon the
floor for the first time, which was to dance the second two-step with
the gallant soldier, that such was the surpassing grace with which she
revolved over the floor that one might well say she seemed to be
dancing upon air.



_What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Sixth Gift of the Emir._


"It is strange," said Mr. Middleton, "that after Clarissa had shown
her devotion to the extent of saving his life, Captain Leadbury could
have had, even for a moment, any misgivings that she loved him."

"One cannot always be sure," said the emir. "A lover, being in a
highly nervous state because of his emotion, is always more or less
unstrung and unable to form a sound judgment or behave rationally. It
is because of this, that there are so many lovers' quarrels. But one
need not be at sea as regards the question of the affection of the
object of his tender passion. It is only necessary for you to wear a
philter upon the forehead and you can obtain the love of any woman,"
and giving Mesrour some directions, the Nubian brought to his master a
minute bag of silk an inch square and of wafer thinness, which, both
from its appearance and the rare odor of musk which it exhaled,
resembled a sachet bag.

"Wear this on your forehead," said the emir, presenting it to Mr.
Middleton.

"But I would look ridiculous doing that, and excite comment,"
expostulated the student of law.

"Not at all," said the emir. "Put it inside the sweat-band of the
front of your hat and no one will perceive it and yet it will have all
its potency."

Which, accordingly, Mr. Middleton did, and having thanked the emir for
his entertainment and instruction and the gift, he departed.

The close of the relation of the adventure of Miss Clarissa Dawson
left Mr. Middleton in a most amorous mood. His mind was full of soft
dreams of the delight William Leadbury must have experienced as he sat
in the hack with Clarissa's cheek against his, pouring forth his love
into her surprised ear. Before retiring for the night, he sat for some
time ciphering on the back of an envelope and kept putting down
"$1,000, $500, $560; $560, $500, $1,000; $500, $560, $1,000; $500,
$1,000, $560," but as the result of the addition was never over
$2,060, whatever way he put it, and as the stipend he received for his
labors in the law offices of Brockelsby and Brockman was but $26 a
month, he did not feel that he had any business to snatch the young
lady of Englewood to his breast and tell her of his love and his bank
account.

He went to see her on the following night. The exquisite beauty of
this peerless young woman had never so impressed him as upon this
night and he was gnawed by the most intense longing to call her his
own. As he thought of the fortunate William Leadbury with his rich
uncle, he fairly hated him, and anon he cursed Brockelsby and Brockman
for refusing to raise his salary to a point commensurate with the
value of his services. Surely, the young lady of Englewood, even were
he to believe her gifted with only ordinary penetration, instead of
being the highly intelligent and perspicacious person he knew her to
be, could see how he felt and must know that it was only a question of
time and more money, and assuredly, one so gracious could not, in view
of the circumstances, begrudge him the advance of one kiss and one
embrace pending the formal offer of himself and his fortunes. So as he
stood in the doorway, bidding her good-night, right in the midst of an
irrelevant remark concerning the weather, he suddenly and without
warning, threw his arms about her and essayed to kiss her. But the
young lady of Englewood, with a cry commingled of surprise and horror,
sprang away.

"How dare you sir? What made you do that? What sort of a girl do you
think I am?" she said in freezing tones.

Mr. Middleton replied, stuttering weakly in a very husky voice, "I
think you are a nice girl."

"A nice girl!" quoth the young lady of Englewood fiercely. "You know
no nice girl would allow it. Nice girl, indeed. You think so. You know
no nice girl would let you do such a thing," and she slammed the door
in his face.

Away went Mr. Middleton with his heart full of bitterness because she
would not let him do such a thing, and in the hallway stood the young
lady of Englewood with her heart full of bitterness because he had
tried to do such a thing and because she could not let him do such a
thing.

"Much good was the philter," said Mr. Middleton, remembering the
emir's gift, but almost at the same time, he recalled that the philter
had not been on his forehead when he attempted to embrace the young
lady of Englewood, for he had held his hat in his hand.

The farther he departed from her, the more his resentment grew, and he
declared to himself that he would never have anything more to do with
her. She was ungrateful, cold, haughty, not at all the kind of girl he
could wish as his partner for life. He would proceed to let her see
that he could do without her. He would cast her image from the temple
of his heart and never go near her again. For a moment, he was
disturbed by the thought that perhaps she would decline to receive
him, even if he should call, but he quickly banished this unpleasant
reflection and fell to devising means by which he might make it
clearly apparent to the young lady of Englewood that he did not care.

"I'll make her sorry. I'll show her I don't care, I'll show her I
don't care."

There is a restaurant under the basement of one of the larger and more
celebrated saloons of the city, where a genial Gaul provides, for the
modest sum of fifty cents, a course dinner, with wine. The wine is but
ordinary California claret, but the viands are excellently cooked and
of themselves sufficient inducement for a wight to part with half a
dollar without consideration of the wine. There are those who, in the
melancholy state that follows a disappointment in love, go without
food and drink, while others turn to undue indulgence in drink. There
are yet others, though few observers seem to have noted them, who turn
toward greater indulgence in food, seeking surcease and forgetfulness
of the pains of the heart in benefactions to the stomach.

It was very seldom that Mr. Middleton spent so much as fifty cents
upon a meal, but the conduct of the young lady of Englewood having
deprived him of any present object for laying up money, and, moreover,
the pains of the heart before alluded to demanding the vicarious
offices of the stomach, he went to the little French restaurant the
next evening.

It was somewhat late when he arrived and there were in the room but
two diners beside himself. These were a man and a woman, who by many
little obvious evidences made manifest that they were not husband and
wife. They had arrived at the dessert and were eating ice cream with
genteel slowness, conversing the while with great decorum. Both were
tall and fair, singularly well matched as to height and the ample and
shapely proportions of their figures, and both were well, though
quietly and even simply, dressed. They were nearly of an age, too, he
being apparently forty, and she thirty-five. Their years sat lightly
upon them, however, and if upon her face there were traces left by the
longing for the lover who had not yet come into her life, that was all
which upon either countenance betrayed that their lives had been other
than care-free and happy. Assuredly, any one would have called them a
fine looking man and woman. All this Mr. Middleton observed in a
glance or two and then addressed himself to the comestibles that were
set before him and doubtless would not have given the couple thought
again, had not the waitress at the close of the meal fluttered at his
elbows, placing the vinegar cruet and Worcestershire sauce bottle
within easy reach, which services caused Mr. Middleton to look up in
some wonder, as he was engaged with custard pie and he had never heard
of any race of men, however savage, who used vinegar and
Worcestershire sauce upon custard pie. The waitress, who was a young
woman of a pleasant and intelligent countenance, met this glance with
another compounded of mystery and communicativeness, and bending low
while she removed the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to a new
station, murmured:

"That man over there has been here seven nights running, with a
different woman every time."

Mr. Middleton sitting quiet in the surprise this information caused
him, she repeated what she had said, adding, "and once he was here at
noon besides, different woman every time."

Eight women in seven days! Certainly this was quite a curious thing.

"Do you know who he is? Have you ever seen any of the women before?"

"Nop. Don't know anything about him except what I have seen of him
here. Never saw any of the women before--nor since."

Nor since. Mr. Middleton found himself asking himself if anybody had
seen any of the women since. Had the girl in this chance remark
unwittingly hit upon a terrible mystery? Nor since, nor since.

The man who had so suddenly assumed an interest in Mr. Middleton's
eyes, arose, and going to the window, looked out at the street above,
which was spattered with a sudden shower. He began to lament that he
had not brought an umbrella and said he would go after one, when the
storm so increased in violence that even a person provided with an
umbrella--as was Mr. Middleton--would not care to venture into it, for
such was the might of the wind now filling the air with its shrieks,
that the rain swept in great lateral sheets which made an umbrella a
futile protection. Yet notwithstanding this fury of the elements, the
man of many women went out.

A half hour went by. An hour, and the storm did not abate and the man
did not return. The good-looking waitress invited Mr. Middleton to sit
at ease by a table in a rear part of the room, where lolling on the
opposite side, with charming unconsciousness she let her hand lie
stretched more than half across the board, a rampart of crumpled
newspapers concealing it from the view of the eighth guest of the
mulierose man. But whatever Mr. Middleton had done on previous
occasions and might do on occasions yet to come, he now wished to
avoid all appearances that might cause the eighth woman to regard him
as at all inclined to other than discreet and modest conduct, for he
was resolved to find out what he could about the man and eight women.
So affecting not to note the hand temptingly disposed, he discoursed
in a voice which was plainly audible in every corner of the room, not
so much because of its loudness--for he had but little raised it--as
because of a distinct and precise enunciation. This very precision,
which always implies a regard for the rules, proprieties and amenities
of life, seemed to stamp him as a man worthy of confidence, even had
not his sentiments been of the most high-minded character. He
described the great flood of 1882, which wrought such havoc in
Missouri, in which cataclysm his Uncle Henry Perkins had suffered
great loss. He extolled the commendable conduct of his uncle in
sacrificing valuable property that he might save a woman; letting a
flatboat loaded with twenty-five hogs whirl away in the raging flood,
in order to rescue a woman from Booneville, Missouri, the wife of a
county judge, who was floating in the waste of waters upon a small red
barn. The dullest could infer from the approval he gave this act of
his Uncle Henry, unwisely chivalrous as it might seem in view of the
fact that whoever rescued the judge's wife farther down stream, would
return her to the judge, while no one would return the hogs to Mr.
Perkins--the dullest could infer from his praise that he was himself a
chivalrous and tender young man whom any woman could trust.

The hour was become an hour and a half and both the pretty waitress
and the eighth woman had grown very fidgetty. The waitress saw she was
to beguile the tedious period of emprisonment by the tempest with no
dalliance with Mr. Middleton. The eighth woman was worried by the
absence of her escort. Mr. Middleton stepped to her side, where she
stood staring out at the wind-swept street, and addressed her.

"Madame, it would almost seem as if some accident had detained your
escort. May I not offer to call a cab and see you home? I have an
umbrella with me."

The lady thanked him almost eagerly, saying that she would wait
fifteen minutes more and at the elapse of that time, her escort not
appearing, would gladly avail herself of his kind offer.

Twenty minutes later, they were whirling away northward. Crossing the
Wells Street bridge, they turned eastward only a few blocks from the
river. The rain had suddenly ceased. The wind having relaxed nothing
of its fierceness, it occasionally parted the scudding clouds high
over head to let glimpses of the moon escape from their wrack, and Mr.
Middleton saw he was in a region whence the invasion of factories and
warehouses had driven the major portion of the inhabitants forth,
leaving their dwellings untenanted, white for rent signs staring out
of the empty casements like so many ghosts. The lady signaling the
driver to stop, Mr. Middleton assisted her to alight, and glanced
about him. Here the work of exile had been very thorough. Not yet had
the factories come into this immediate neighborhood, but the residents
had retreated before the smoke of their advancing lines, leaving a
wide unoccupied space behind the rear guard. Up and down the street,
in no house could he perceive a light. The moon shining forth clear
and resplendent, its face unobstructed by clouds for a moment, he saw
stretching away house after house with white signs that grimly told
their loneliness. Indeed, quite deserted did appear the very house to
whose door they splashed through the pools in the depressions of the
tall flight of stone steps. The lady threw open the door and stepped
briskly in, and her footfalls rang sharply upon a bare floor and
resounded in a hollow echo that told it was an empty house!

An empty house! An empty house! What danger might lurk here and how
easy might losels lure victims to their door! Mr. Middleton paused on
the threshold, staring into the gloom, but whatever irresolute
thoughts he had entertained of retreat were dispelled by the sound of
a wail from the lady, and the sight of her face, white in the
moonlight, as she rushed out to him.

"Oh, oh," she moaned, gibbering a gush of words which, despite their
incoherence of form, in their tone proclaimed fear, consternation, and
despair.

Lighting a match, Mr. Middleton stepped into the house. Standing in
the little circle of dull yellow light, he saw beneath his feet
windrows of dust and layers of newspapers that had rested beneath a
carpet but lately removed, and beyond, dusk emptiness, and silence. He
advanced, looking for a chandelier, but though he found two, the
incandescent globes had been removed from them. Throwing a mass of the
papers from the floor into the grate and lighting them, a bright glare
brought out every corner of the room. There was nothing but the four
bare walls.

"They have taken everything, everything!" cried the poor lady.

"Who?" asked Mr. Middleton, after the manner of his profession.

"Who? Would that I knew!--Thieves."

Mr. Middleton then realized she had been the victim of a form of
robbery far too common, where the scoundrels come with drays and carry
off the whole household equipment, in the householder's absence. That
which had been done in comparatively well-populated quarters was easy
of accomplishment on this deserted street.

Penetrated with compassion, he moved toward the unfortunate woman, who
with an abandonment he had not expected of one so stately and
reserved, threw herself upon his breast, weeping as though her heart
would break.

"They have taken everything. How can I get along now! My piano is gone
and how can I give lessons without it! I will have to go back to
Peoria!"

Soothingly Mr. Middleton patted the weeping woman on the back. With
infinite tenderness, he kissed her tear-bedewed cheeks and gently he
laid her head upon his shoulder, and then with both arms clasped about
her, he imparted to her statuesque figure a sort of rocking motion,
crooning with each oscillation, "There, there, there, there," until
the paroxysm of her grief abated and passed from weeping into
gradually subsiding sobs, and he began to tell her that he would be
only too happy to give his legal services to convict the villains when
caught--as they surely would be. The lady by degrees becoming more
cheerful and giving him a description of the stolen property, he
discussed ways and means of recovering it, and to prevent her from
relapsing into her former depressed condition, occasionally imprinted
a consolatory salute upon her cheek, from which he had previously
wiped the wet tracks of the tears that had now some time ceased
gushing, for there had been a salty taste to the first osculations,
which while not actually disagreeable, had not been to his liking.

At length, the lady not only ceased even to sigh, but even to talk,
and yet remained leaning upon him, which was whether because she was
weary, exhausted by grief, or whether because her supporter was such a
good looking young man, is not evident. Doubtless it was true that at
first her misery and unhappiness made her need the sympathetic
caresses of any one within reach and that with the return of her
equilibrium she continued to make this an excuse for enjoying without
any reproach of impropriety a recreation which ordinarily the
conventions of society would compel her to eschew. As for the rising
light in the legal profession, he began to find the weight she leant
upon him oppressive, and his occupation, delightful at first, palling
and growing monotonous. The monotony he somewhat relieved by
frequently kissing her, now on one velvet cheek, now on the other, and
again her lips; slowly, one two, three, in waltz measure; and rapidly,
one, two three, four, in two-step measure, when all at once in the
midst of a sustained half note there came to him the reflection that
this was no time of night for him to be there in the dark in a
deserted house kissing a woman with whose social standing, whose very
name, he was unacquainted. He was about to ask a few leading
questions, when there was the sound of wheels in the street; a
carriage stopped before the door.

Quickly extricating himself from the lady's arms, Mr. Middleton
stepped to the door, only to see the carriage drive away, the sound of
voices singing a solemn chant in a strange and unknown tongue floating
back to him. Wondering what all this could mean, he turned to find the
lady standing at his side, silently regarding him in a wrapt manner.

"The hour is late," said she, in a hollow, mournful voice, "and I
ought to be seeking some shelter where I can lay my head, but where,
oh, where?"

The lady made a tragic gesture as she asked this question, and there
in that lonely street with this lorn woman at this late hour of the
night in the eerie light of the cloud-obscured moon, with the wind,
now howling and now sobbing and moaning, Mr. Middleton felt very
solemn indeed. But he pulled himself together and suggested a
low-priced and respectable hotel not far away, and toward this they
were faring when they passed a house which, unlike most of the others
of the vicinity, bore signs of habitation, and unlike any of the
others, had a light showing in a window. In fact, there was a light in
every window of the two upper stories and in the windows of the first
floor and even in the basement. Pausing to wonder at this unusual
illumination, Mr. Middleton felt his arm suddenly clutched, and a
voice which he would never have believed came from the lady, if there
had been any one else present, grated into his ear, "It's him."

Though startled by this enigmatical utterance, he followed when she
ascended two steps of the stoop for a better view in the uncurtained
window. There, with his face buried in his hands, seated on a roll of
carpeting with a tack hammer and saucer of tacks at his side, sat the
mulierose man!

"This house was empty at four this afternoon," said the lady.
"Heavens, that's my piano in the corner! That's my center table! I
believe that's my carpet! That's my watercolor painting I painted
myself! _He's_ robbed me!"

Her voice rose to a shriek, and at the sound a woman's head popped out
of the window above and the mulierose man came running to the door. He
was in his shirt sleeves but wore a hat.

"You've robbed me, you've robbed me!" cried the lady.

"I haven't," said the mulierose man with the utmost composure. "I can
explain it all satisfactorily. Come in. My Aunt Eliza is here and tea
is ready. Where were you when I went back to the restaurant? They said
you had gone. Where were you?"

To Mr. Middleton's surprise, the lady immediately quieted at the words
of the mulierose man and instead of berating him, coughed nervously
and hung her head sheepishly.

"Where were you?" repeated the man.

"At my house."

"All this time? With this young man?" There was a tinge of hardness
and jealousy in the man's voice and he looked unpleasantly at Mr.
Middleton. "What did you stay in that empty house all this time for?
What-were-you-doing-there?"

Mr. Middleton was at his wit's end to supply a hypothesis to answer
why the mulierose man, from being a criminal and object of the lady's
just wrath, should suddenly have become an inquisitor, sitting in
judgment upon her conduct.

"I--I--was afraid to start right away. It was dark in there and I was
afraid this young man might take liberties. Indeed, he did try to kiss
me."

With a roar, the mulierose man launched himself at Mr. Middleton, who
dexterously stepping aside, had the satisfaction of seeing his
assailant slip and fall on the wet sidewalk. The lady thereat raised a
cry of great volume, which was taken up by the woman looking out of
the window above, and Mr. Middleton thinking he could derive neither
pleasure nor profit from remaining longer in that locality, fled
incontinently.

Upon his arrival home and preparing for bed, he found that he was
wearing a stiff hat made in Kansas City, bearing on the sweat-band a
silver plate inscribed "George W. Dobson." The mulierose man and he
had exchanged hats at the restaurant. The mulierose man now had the
love philter.

It was not until four days had elapsed that Mr. Middleton found an
opportunity to visit the street where these inexplicable events took
place. The house where he had comforted the eighth woman was still
empty. At the house whence the mulierose man had issued, a very
unprepossessing old woman, with a teapot in her right hand, was
opening the front door to admit a large yellow cat whom she addressed
as "Mahoney," an appellation which, while not infrequently the family
name of persons of Irish birth or descent, is of very seldom
application to members of the domestic cat tribe, Felis cattus.

Wondering greatly at the chain of unusual events, he went about his
business. You may depend upon it that he gave much thought to an
attempted solution of all these mysteries. But whether or no it was
after all only a series of events commonplace in themselves, but
seeming mysterious because of their fortuitous concatenation, or he
really had trodden upon the hem of a web of strange and darksome,
perhaps appalling, mysteries, he has never been able to say. He was
minded to speak of these things to the emir and get his opinion on
them. Upon reflection, remembering how the philter had not been of any
avail in the case of the young lady of Englewood, he thought, despite
the explanation which might be offered for this failure, that the emir
might be embarrassed at hearing of the failure of the charm, and
accordingly he said nothing when once more he sat in the presence of
the urbane and accomplished prince of the tribe of Al-Yam. Having
handed him a bowl of delicately flavored sherbet, Achmed began to
narrate The Unpleasant Adventure of the Faithless Woman.



_The Unpleasant Adventure of the Faithless Woman._


Dr. August Moehrlein, Ph. D., was a professor of the languages and
religions of India. A man of great gravity of countenance and of
impressive port, he was popularly reputed to have a complete knowledge
of the occult learning of the adepts of India, that nebulous and
mysterious philosophy which irreducible to the laws of nature as
recognized by Occidentals, is by them pronounced either magic and
feared as such, or ridiculed and despised as pretentious mummery and
deluding prestidigitation. There was a legend among the students of
his department that he was wont to project himself into the fourth
dimension and thus traveling downtown, effect a substantial saving of
street-car fare. This is clearly impossible, for the yogis do not thus
move about in their own persons. It is only the astral self that flies
leagues through the air with the rapidity of thought, only the
spiritual essence, the living man's ghost flying abroad while the
living man's corpse lies inanimate at home. But even this, Dr. August
Moehrlein could not do, for the yogis do not initiate men of Western
nations into their mysteries. Dr. Moehrlein's knowledge of the occult
of India was wholly empirical. He knew that certain things were done
and could recount them, but as to how they were done, he could tell
nothing. It must not be thought that of all the marvelous and
awe-compelling things the yogis of India are accustomed to do, none
can be assigned to any other origin than cunning legerdemain and
hypnotism, or to the exercise of supernatural powers. Many of them are
due to a strange and wonderful knowledge of nature which the science
of the Occident has not yet reached in all its boasted advance. Yet
when once explained, the Westerner understands some of these phenomena
and is able to repeat them. Into this region of the penumbra of
science and exact knowledge the researches of Dr. Moehrlein had taken
him a little way and it was this that had gained him his reputation
among his pupils as a thaumaturgist.

Along with the learning which this country has imported from Germany
have come some customs to which the savants of both that country and
this ascribe a certain fostering influence, if not a creative impulse,
highly advantageous to the national scholarship. It is the habit of
the university men of Germany to foregather of nights in the genial
pursuit of drinking beer, and many of the notable theories which
German scholarship has propounded are to be directly attributed to
this stimulating good fellowship known as kommers. Indeed, when one
has imbibed twelve or fourteen steins of beer and sat in an atmosphere
of tobacco smoke for some hours, his mind attains a clarity, a sense
of proportion, a power of reflection, speculation, and intuition which
enables him to evolve those notable theories for which German
scholarship is so famous. It is under the intellectual stimulus of the
kommers, when the foam lies thick in the steins and blue clouds of
tobacco smoke roll overhead, that the great classical scholars of
Germany perceive that the classical epics, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the
Aeneid, are but the typifying of the rolling of the clouds in the
empyrean, the warfare of the foam-crested waves dashing upon the land,
that the metamorphoses and amours of the gods and all the myths of the
elder world, are but the mutations of the clouds and the fanciful
figures they take on and the metamorphoses and hurryings of the
ever-changing sea with its foam forms and the shadows that lie across
its unquiet surface. Wonderful indeed is the scientific imagination
that thus accounts for, classifies, and labels the imagination of the
poets, which otherwise we might think a thing defying classification,
an inspiration, a creative genius taking nothing from a dim suggestion
of the cold clouds and sea, but weaving its tales from the suggestion
of human lives and human passions. Wonderful indeed is the good sense
of the rest of the world in accepting unquestioned these important
discoveries of German scholars in the beer kellars, which well might
be called the laboratories of the classical department of the German
universities.

Dr. August Moehrlein was a staunch advocate of the advantage of the
kommers as an adjunct to every thoroughly organized university. If he
could not gather others for a kommers, he would hold a kommers all by
himself, or perchance with the barkeeper. Needless to say that the
name of Moehrlein was attached to many valuable and plausible theories
which America received as the last word on the subject treated;
needless to tell you that the various gods of India had been
identified with the sun, moon, and more important stars, and that it
was conclusively shown that the Sanskrit romancers had written their
tales by merely looking at the clouds and the sea. Would that this
accomplishment of the ancients had not gone from us and that the
moderns might write as the ancients by merely looking at the clouds
and the sea. Dr. Moehrlein was an upholder of the kommers. But his
wife, though German-born, behaved like a very Philistine and objected
to his constant and unwavering attendance upon these occasions of
intellectual uplift. For as the doctor added to the knowledge of the
world, he added to his weight. He had identified Brahma with the sun,
but had drunk his face purple in the intellectual effort. In his
search for the suggestions of the tale of Nala, he had acquired a
paunch very like a bag. Mrs. Moehrlein was accustomed to shrink from
the approach of the victim of the pursuit of knowledge. As for him, he
would have liked to caress and fondle her. To him there was always
present a remembrance of her early beauty and the golden mist of
memory shone before his eyes and he did not see that she was a heavy,
middle-aged woman with coarse features and coarse figure. Animal
beauty she had once had. The beauty had utterly flown, but the animal
all remained. She had a shifty and wandering eye, burned out and
lusterless, that told of dreams that were of men, men who these many
years had not included her husband, grotesque figure that he was, ugly
as a satyr in one of the myths suggested by the clouds and the sea.

It was a pleasant day of the last of May, in the mating season of
birds, when the world was warm and throbbing with young life. The
eminent Asiatic scholar looked across the lunch table, regarding his
wife with wistful sadness as she refreshed herself with boiled
cabbage.

"Do you know the day? It is thirty years since Hilsenhoff went into
the box; thirty years since we have been man and--woman."

"Ah, yes, this is the anniversary. Thirty years, thirty years. Poor
young Hilsenhoff."

She said these words with a tinge of sadness that was almost regret
and this did not escape the doctor.

"One might fancy you were sorry. Yet it was your own doing. I was
young and handsome then. A Hercules, young, full of life, late
champion swordsman of the university, a rising light in the realm of
learning, as well as a figure in society. You were the beautiful wife
of tutor Hilsenhoff, the buxom girl with the form of a Venus and the
passion of that goddess as well, tied to a thin, pallid bookworm ten
years your senior, neglecting his pouting wife with blood full of fire
for the pages of the literature of Hindoostan, prating of the loves of
Ganesha and Vishnu, when a goddess awaited his own neglectful arms. So
when on the day when he stepped into the box, leaving us the sole
repository of the secret of his whereabouts--that the mutton-headed
police might not interfere with the success of his experiment by
preventing what they might think practically suicide--you said to let
him stay."

"I was twenty and he thirty," mused the woman. "Poor young
Hilsenhoff."

"Young! I was twenty-three--and a man."

"Dead or alive, he is young Hilsenhoff to me. He was thirty when last
I saw him."

"Dead or alive? What are you thinking of?"

An idea had been taking shape in the woman's mind without her
realizing it. It had grown from her own words, rather than had the
words sprung from the idea.

"Why, if a man be brought into a condition where all bodily functions
are suspended and he is as he were dead, and remain in this condition
for months and be brought out of it no more harmed than if he had
slept overnight, why may it not be years, instead of months? Has any
man ever proved that, in this condition, one may not live on
indefinitely?" she said.

"No man has ever proved that one cannot, but what is more important,
no man has ever proved that one can. No man has ever proved beyond
shadow of doubt that one may not fashion wings and fly, but no man has
ever demonstrated that one can. In India, only one man has ever tried
to continue in a state of suspended animation for over six months, and
that was the rajah who, condemned to death by the English, ostensibly
died before the soldiers could come to carry out the sentence and was
brought out of his tomb and restored to life three days after a new
British viceroy had proclaimed a general amnesty to all past
offenders. The period was eight months. If the viceroys had not been
changed for a number of years, we might have learned more concerning
the length of the period in which a man may continue in the semblance
of death without it becoming reality. No, these twenty-five years has
Hilsenhoff been bones."

"Then let us take them out and bury them."

"No, no. Then would I feel like a murderer indeed. I left him in there
for you. Now let his bones rest there for sake of me."

But the woman had become possessed of an idea which in turn possessed
her, a dream, for which like all mankind, she would fight harder than
for any substantiality, for no reality can be so glorious as a dream.

"But there was the man at Sutlej, the man who had himself buried in a
wheat field for the edification of Alexander the Great, there to
remain until a wheat crop had passed through its stages from sowing
until harvest."

"The man at Sutlej!" exclaimed the doctor impatiently. "That a man was
thus buried, the pages of Quintus Curtius's history show, and the
Macedonian armies suddenly retreating from India, he was forgotten and
not one, but two thousand wheat harvests have been garnered over his
burial place."

"But the article in the _Revue Des Deux Mondes_, telling how he had
been found," objected the woman faintly.

The doctor looked at her in amazement.

"What will not people do to believe that which they wish to believe.
You, you, you!--do you ask me concerning that lie in the _Revue Des
Deux Mondes_? Oh, woman, woman! When did your memory of the details of
that hoax fail you? Not longer ago than ten minutes. A lying Frenchman
said he was on his way to France with a resuscitated contemporary of
Alexander the Great and that a full account of the matter would be
published in two or three months. Hilsenhoff left the duration of his
stay in the box at my discretion, enjoining me, however, that he
should not be taken out before the Frenchman had published the full
account of the Sutlej case, for we would then have many interesting
comparisons in his behavior and response to the restorative methods
used, and the reaction and response of this man buried two thousand
years to the same methods for restoring suspended animation. The
Frenchman never arrived with his man. It was all a lie. Yet by
following Hilsenhoff's solemn injunctions to the letter, we had an
excuse to leave him as dead, and you insisted that we should do so,
and I, weak and infatuated with your ripe beauty, I agreed. You said
that we would leave him in his self-chosen sleep and that he should be
our lodger. And so he has been and we have never called him to
breakfast in all these thirty years. We have even brought him to
America with us and he sleeps. Ah, no, we did not slay him. We but
obeyed his commands."

"Poor young Hilsenhoff. And I am his wife and he is but thirty years
old and I am fifty. Heigho!"

"Woman, you will drive me crazy," said the great annotator of the
Upanishads, and he left for a kommers with the nearest barkeeper.

"As if you did not drive me crazy, you obese, misshapen wine skin! you
bloated, blue-faced sot!" said the woman. "I deserted young Hilsenhoff
for you, Hilsenhoff with his delicate cheeks and his soft yellow hair,
and he is mine and I am his and I will let him out of the box and we
will live together in love, the dear young thing. What if he does
study sometimes? I shall not mind. He need not always sit with me in
love's dalliance."

All at once it came home to her that if Moehrlein maintained the
resuscitation of Hilsenhoff was impossible and charged her with
believing it possible because she wished to believe it so, it might
also be true that he did not believe it possible because he did not
wish to so believe. The burned out eyes that told of dreams of men,
men who these many years had not included her husband, smoldered with
a sudden fire. With a song in her heart, she was up and bustling
about. She filled a brazier with coals and got a frying-pan and
wheat-cake batter, and a razor and a crocheting hook--ah, she knew how
the process of restoring suspended animation was practised. She
lumbered up into the third story with her burdens, into the room where
slept the lodger. Not for fifteen years had anyone looked into that
sleeping chamber. The blinds and curtains, all were drawn, the dust
lay thick under foot. She let in the light of day at every window.
There sat the box in the middle of the floor, hooped with bands of
iron and with the great seal of the University of Bonn stamped upon
the lock. She broke the seal and turned the lock and then sank down in
a sudden faintness of heart. Indeed, how loath she was to put an end
to the dream that had just now filled her whole being with rapture,
and what else would it be but to put an end to it when she delved into
that box? She would go away and let herself dream on a few days more
before putting the matter to its final test, perhaps never doing so.
Thus she reasoned, and yet her hand, as she sat before the box with
averted face, rose as if impelled by the volition of another
intelligence, over the edge of the box, down to the mass of wool and
wadding, through it to the wrappings and swathings in the middle,
through the wrapping, and felt--the thrill of unimaginable joy ran
through her. It was not bones, it was not bones!

Into the room of the lodger came Dr. August Moehrlein. The coals of
the brazier were out, the batter had been turned into cakes, the razor
was covered with hair, four waxen plugs lay by the crocheting hook.
The process was over. The sleeper was awake and there he stood, his
delicate face yet pinched with sleep and his eyes heavy, but alive and
young, young Hilsenhoff with his soft yellow hair and mild blue eyes.
On the floor before him in an attitude of adoration, knelt the woman
who in the view of the law, was his wife, her eyes burned out no
longer, but aflash with youthful passion. But in her eyes alone was
there youth. Nothing of youthful archness and coquetry was there in
her gaze, only greed, the sickening fondness of an aging woman for a
young man. In a daze, he stared at her and heard her clumsy
compliments, her vulgar protestations of love, things which the ripe
beauty of her youth might have condoned, but now were nauseating. He
saw her heavy jowls and sensual lips, the thick nose and all the
revenges of time upon a once beautiful body that had clothed an ugly
soul. He looked at his own rusty clothing, stiff and hard and creased
in a thousand wrinkles, and into the mildewed nest where the mould
from the moisture of his own body grew thick and green and horrible.
He gazed at Dr. Moehrlein, the one-time Adonis of Bonn, and he
shuddered, and which of what he looked at, or whether all, made him do
so, he could not tell.

Old men like young women, but so do old women hanker after young men.
The life companion of Moehrlein embraced Hilsenhoff's knees. With
smirkings and grimacings and leers that started his shudders afresh,
she told him all. She confessed her crime and abased herself, but now
they would begin life again, and she croaked forth a string of
allurements from a throat that had known too many rich puddings. Oh,
who shall describe her transports! Never before had every fiber of her
being been so penetrated with joy! A young husband, oh, a young
husband! By as much as Moehrlein had once surpassed him, did
Hilsenhoff now surpass Moehrlein a hundred fold. And young, young,
young! She was like to fall on her face in her ecstasy. The discarded
and despised Moehrlein stood by and paid, if never before, the price
of his villainy. There is a contempt of man for man and a contempt of
woman for woman, but the contempt of woman for man----

One sleeps and is unconscious, but nonetheless by some subtle sense is
aware of the passage of time, and the thirty years that he had slept,
pressed upon young Hilsenhoff and his soul yearned to take up life
again. He looked at the companions of his youth, that youth which was
still his and had gone from them, and he looked at the place where he
had lain for a third of a century, thick with damp green mould.
Outside the song of birds was calling him, the rustle of green leaves
and the glorious sunlight, the world renewing its life with the warm
throbs of the year's youth, and putting from him forever his living
grave and the woman and her paramour, he rushed into the joyous
springtide.

Now why, my friend, descend into the hell of repinings and rage and
heart-gnawings of that woman he left behind? Or why tell of the misery
of the learned Dr. Moehrlein? She has no comfort whatsoever, but the
doctor has the solace of his kommers, so let us wish that his beer may
be forever flat, his wieners mildewy, and the mustard mouldy like the
horrible nest of young Hilsenhoff.



_What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Seventh Gift of the Emir._


"I did not know that such things were possible," said Mr. Middleton,
when Prince Achmed had concluded the tale of the episode of the two
Orientalists and the faithless woman. "Do I understand that the person
in this condition is asleep?"

"It is not consistent with strict scientific accuracy to say the
person is asleep," said the emir; "for the vital processes are
entirely in abeyance and the subject is devoid of any evidence of
life. The pulse is still, for the heart no longer beats and all the
blood having retreated to that inmost citadel of the body, the skin
has the pallor of death. Only in a little spot upon the crown is there
any sign of life. Here is a place warm to the touch and the first and
most important operation in restoring the suspended animation, is to
send this vital warmth forth from where it still feebly simmers,
coursing once more through the body's shrunken channels. This is
accomplished by shaving the crown and applying thereto a succession of
piping hot pancakes. The tongue has been curved back over the entrance
to the throat. You reach into the mouth and with a finger pull the
tongue back into place. Plugs of wax in the nostrils and ears are
removed, and in a very short time the subject is as well as ever."

"It is very interesting," murmured Mr. Middleton.

"Since you find it so, let me present you with a little treatise upon
the subject written by a Mohammedan hakim, or doctor of medicine,
after studying several cases of the kind at Madras, which is in
India," and at his bidding, Mesrour brought him a small portable
writing desk from which he took a manuscript scroll inscribed in the
Arabic language. "The first page," said Prince Achmed, "contains a few
thoughts upon the superiority of the Moslem faith over all others and
a discussion of the follies, inconsistencies, not to say evils of them
all when compared with that perfect religious system declared to men
by the Prophet of Mecca," and having in an orotund voice given Mr.
Middleton some idea of the contents of this page by quoting a number
of sentences, the prince handed him the sheet, which was inscribed
upon one side only. The emir continuing to give a summary of what the
hakim set forth in the remaining pages, and handing over each sheet as
he finished it, Mr. Middleton wrote in short-hand upon the blank side
of each preceding sheet what the emir culled from the one following,
omitting, of course, the contents of the first sheet, both because he
had nothing to write upon while the emir was quoting from that one,
and because its theology was entirely contrary to all Mr. Middleton
held, and, in his eyes, ridiculous and sacrilegious. When the emir had
done, Mr. Middleton had in his possession a succinct account of the
process of inducing a condition of suspended animation and of the
means of restoring the subject to his normal state. It was his
intention to write an article from his notes for some Sunday paper,
and putting the hakim's treatise in his pocket, and thanking his host
for the entertainment and instruction as well as the gift, he sought
his lodgings.

Mr. Middleton had now been admitted to the bar for some time. But the
firm of Brockelsby and Brockman did not therefore raise his salary.
They made greater demands upon his endeavors than before, for he was
now able to handle cases in court, but they did not raise his salary,
nor did they employ him upon cases where he was able to distinguish
himself, or learn new points of law and gain forensic ability. He was
employed upon humdrum and commonplace cases that were a vexation to
his spirit without any compensating advantage of pecuniary reward or
experience. While he felt that his self-respect and on one hand his
self-interests impelled him to resign his connection with Brockelsby
and Brockman, on the other hand, the very course his employers pursued
made such retirement temporarily inexpedient. For the trivial cases he
handled could neither gain him reputation enough or make him friends
enough to warrant him in setting up for himself, nor would they
attract the attention of other firms and result in offers at an
increased salary. He was in a measure forced to remain with Brockelsby
and Brockman, hoping they would be moved to pay him according to his
worth and dreaming of some contingency which might place in his hands
the management of an important case with the resulting enhancing of
his reputation.

On the morning after he had received the dissertation of the hakim,
Mr. Middleton arose with the first streak of dawn, minded to seek the
office and write his projected article before the time for his regular
duties should arrive. As he opened the door of the main office, his
ear was saluted by a low grunting sound, and there in evening dress
was Mr. Augustus Alfonso Brockelsby, reclining in a big chair, asleep,
if one could with propriety call the stupor in which he was sunk,
sleep. The disorder of his garments, the character of his
sternutations, the redness of his face, and above all, the odor he
distilled upon the chill morning air, made patent to Mr. Middleton the
disgusting fact that the senior member of the firm was drunk. On the
table before the unconscious man was a note from Mr. Brockman
informing him that he had been unexpectedly called to Lansing,
Michigan, and would not be back for a week and that therefore he,
Brockelsby, would have to attend to the important case of Ralston
versus Hippenmeyer, all by himself. Mr. Middleton at once set about
bringing his employer into a condition where he could attend to his
affairs, for the case of Ralston versus Hippenmeyer was a very
important one indeed, and as Mr. Middleton had briefed the case
himself and had his sympathies greatly excited for Johannes
Hippenmeyer, he was very anxious that their client should not lose for
default of any effort he could make. But his heart was heavy as he
brought towels and a basin of cold water from the wash-room, for after
he had done his very best, Brockelsby would still be far from the
proper form, his brain befogged, his speech thick, and the counsel for
the other side would make short work of him.

Mr. Middleton had never tried to sober a drunken man, but he had an
indistinct recollection of hearing that a towel wet with cold water,
wrapped around the head was the best remedial agent. As he soaked the
towels, he could not but compare the difference between this chill
restorative and the hot cakes in the tale of the emir, and on a sudden
there came to him a thought that sent all the gloom from his face. He
dropped the towels, he dropped the basin, and he opened the treatise
of the hakim and feverishly refreshed his memory of the details of an
operation sometimes practised in India.

An hour and a half had passed when Mr. Middleton finished. Mr.
Augustus Brockelsby still sat in the revolving chair, but he was no
longer disturbing the air with his unseemly grunts. He was, in fact,
absolutely silent, absolutely still. The keenest touch could feel no
pulsation in his wrist, the keenest eye could detect no agitation of
his chest, the keenest ear could hear no beating from the region of
the heart. For a moment as he gazed upon the result of following the
instructions set down by the hakim, Mr. Middleton felt a little clutch
of fear. But he was reassured by the lifelike appearance of the
learned jurisconsult and by the fact that the induction into his
present state had been attended by none of the manifestations that
accompany death.

"Now," said Mr. Middleton, addressing the unconscious form of Augustus
Brockelsby, "now there will be no chance of you appearing in court in
the case of Ralston versus Hippenmeyer. I will not restore you until
it is all over. I will now have the long coveted opportunity to plead
an important case and as I have studied it so carefully, I shall win.
There will now be no chance that poor little Hippenmeyer will suffer
from your disgraceful and bestial habits, for in spite of the best
that could be done for you, you would be in no fit condition to plead
a case this afternoon. And when I bring you to at fall of night, you
will think you have been drunk all day. But where will I keep you in
the meantime?"

This was a most perplexing problem. There were no closets in the suite
of offices. There were no boxes, no desks big enough to conceal a man
and Mr. Middleton's brow was beginning to contract as he struggled
with the problem, when suddenly the stillness of the room was
disturbed by some one smiting the door. Not a sound made he, for his
heart had stopped beating as completely as Brockelsby's. What should
he do, what should he do? The paralysis of fear answered for him and
supplied the best present plan and he did nothing. Then came a voice,
a voice calling him by name, the voice of Chauncy Stackelberg.

"Open up, old man, open up. I know you are there, for I heard you
knocking around before I rapped and you dropped your handkerchief
outside the door. Open up, or I'll shin right over the transom, for I
must see you," and still preserving silence, Mr. Middleton heard a
sound as of a man essaying to stand on the door knob and grasp the
transom above. He rushed to the door, unlocked it, and opening it just
enough to squeeze through, shut it behind him and thrust the key in
the lock.

"Keep still, keep still. You'll wake the old man. I can't let you in."

"Was that him, slumped down in the chair? Must be tired to sleep in
that position. Say, old chap, you were my best man, and now I want you
again."

"Want me to draw up papers for a divorce?" said Mr. Middleton,
gloomily. How was he going to get rid of this inopportune fellow?

"Shut up," said Chauncy Stackelberg. "It's a boy, and I want you to
come up to the christening next Sunday and be godfather. You don't
know how happy I am. Say, come on down and get a drink."

Ten minutes before, Mr. Middleton had been convinced that drink was a
very great curse, but he accepted this invitation with alacrity,
naming a saloon two blocks away as the one he considered best in that
vicinity. He surmised that the happy father would hardly offer to come
back with him from such a distance, and the surmise was correct. As he
reascended to the office, with him in the elevator were two gentlemen,
one of whom he recognized as Dr. Angus McAllyn, a celebrated surgeon
who had two or three times come to the office to see Mr. Brockelsby
and the other as Dr. Lucius Darst, a young eye and ear specialist who
within the space of but a few days had established his office in the
building. To neither of these gentlemen, however, was Mr. Middleton
known.

"I want you to get off on this floor with me," said Dr. McAllyn to his
medical confrere. "I may want your assistance a bit. You see," he went
on, as they got out of the elevator and started down the corridor with
Mr. Middleton just behind, "we had a banquet last night of the Society
of Andrew Jackson's Wars, and my friend Brockelsby got too much
aboard. He was turned over to me to take to his home, but just as we
were leaving, I received an urgent call. So the best I could do was to
drive by here and start him toward his office and go on. He could
navigate after a fashion and doubtless spent the night all right in
his office, and I would take no farther trouble with him but for the
fact that he has an important case to-day. So I want to fix him up,
and as I haven't much time, you can be of service to me."

"Ah, ha," said Mr. Middleton to himself, "I'll just lie low until they
have given up trying to get in and have gone."

But they did not go away. To his consternation, they opened the door
and walked in, for though he had put the key in the lock when he had
closed the door behind him to parley with Chauncy Stackelberg, he had
walked away without turning it! They would find Mr. Brockelsby! Great
though Dr. McAllyn was, he would hardly be likely to recognize a
condition of suspended animation. Unless Mr. Middleton confessed,
there was danger that the famous forensic orator would be buried
alive. And if he confessed, what would the consequences be to himself?
The fact that in whatever event he would lose his place and be a
marked and disgraced man, was the very least thing to consider. He was
threatened with far more serious dangers than that. First, there would
be the vengeance the law would take upon him for meddling with and
tampering with medical matters. But even if he had been a physician,
would the medical faculty look otherwise than with horror upon this
rash and wanton experimenting with the strange and unholy practices of
India? Even a medical man would be arrested for malpractice and for
depriving a fellow being of the use of his faculties. The penitentiary
stared him in the face.

He could not endure not to know what was taking place within. He must
have knowledge of everything in order to know what moves to make and
when to make them. He let himself through the outer door of Mr.
Brockman's private office, and by taking a position by the door
communicating between this office and the main office, he could hear
everything in safety.

"Shall I send for an undertaker?" asked Dr. Darst.

At these chilling words, Mr. Middleton was about to open the private
office door and rush in and confess all. He had begun to place the key
in the lock, when a joyful thought stayed his hand. Let them bury Mr.
Brockelsby. He would dig him up. He laughed noiselessly in his intense
relief. But hark, what does he hear?

"Darst, this is an unusual case."

"Yes?" said Dr. Darst mildly.

"A strange, a remarkable case. Darst, if we do not examine this case,
we are traitors to science. Darst, we must take him to the medical
school. When we are through, we'll sew him all again and bring him
back here, or leave him almost any place where he can be found easily.
He will be just as good to bury then as now, nobody hurt, and the
cause of science advanced. Observe, Darst, dead, absolutely dead, yet
with no rigor mortis. Dead, and yet as if he slept. If need be, we
will pursue to the inmost recesses of his being the secret of his
demise."

Mr. Middleton was nigh to falling to the floor. The succession of hope
and fear had taken from him all resolution. Of what use would it be to
exhume Mr. Brockelsby after the doctors had cut him up? The impulse to
rush in and confess had spent itself and he was now cravenly drifting
with the tide. All judgment, all power of reflection had departed from
him. He was now only a pitiable wretch with scarcely strength to stand
by the door and listen, unable to originate any thought, any action.

"How are you going to get him out of here?" asked Dr. Darst.

"In a box. You don't suppose I'd carry him down and put him in a
hack?"

"But suppose they get to looking for him? It is known that he came
here. A box goes out of here to be taken to the medical school, a long
box that might hold a man. You and I are the ones who hire the men who
carry the box."

"Who said a long box that might hold a man? It will be a short, rather
tall box, packing-case shape. Remember, he is as limber as you are and
can be accommodated to any position. He will be put in it sitting bolt
upright. It will be only half the length of a man, with nothing in its
shape to suggest that it might hold a man. Who said take it to the
medical school from here? I hire a drayman to take a box to the Union
Depot. He dumps it there on the sidewalk near the places for in-going
and out-going baggage. Ostensibly going to carry it as excess baggage.
We fiddle around until he goes, then call up some other drayman in the
crowd hanging about and take a box just arrived from Milwaukee, St.
Paul, any place the drayman wants to think, out to the college. As for
the inquiry that will be made concerning the whereabouts of
Brockelsby, rest easy on that point. He frequently goes off on sprees
of several days' duration and his absence from home is of such common
occurrence that his wife won't begin to hunt him up until we are
through with him and have got him back here, or have dumped him in
front of some building with his neck broken, showing that he fell out
of some story above."

All this Mr. Middleton heard as he leaned against the door jamb,
swallowing, swallowing, with never a thing in his mouth since the
night before, yet swallowing. He heard Dr. Darst go after a box. He
heard men deposit it in the corridor outside. He heard the two doctors
take it in when the men had gone. He heard it go heavily out into the
corridor again after a long interval. He heard more men come, come to
carry it away, and he pulled himself together with a supreme effort
and followed. He saw the box loaded on a dray. With his eye constantly
on it, he threaded his way through the crowd on the sidewalk, followed
it on its way across the river to the Union Depot. With never a hope
in his heart that anything could possibly occur to save him from a
final confession and its consequences, humanlike postponing the evil
hour as long as he could.

The box was dumped upon the sidewalk before the depot. The two medical
men stood leaning upon it, waiting for the drayman to depart. The evil
moment had arrived. Once away from the depot, in the less congested
streets in the direction of the medical college, the dray would go too
fast for him to follow. He approached. He must speak now. No, no. He
need not follow the dray. That was not necessary. He could get to the
medical school before they could have time to do injury to Mr.
Brockelsby. It would be safe to let the box get out of his sight for
that little time. He would tell at the medical college.

"Yes, as soon as we get him there," said Dr. McAllyn, "we'll put him
in the pickle."

Mr. Middleton sprang forward and put an appealing hand upon the
shoulder of either doctor. With a sudden start that caused him to
start in turn, each wheeled about. For a moment, he could say nothing
and stood with palsied lips while they gave back his stare. Gave back
his stare? All at once his mouth came open and these were the words he
heard issue forth:

"Sirs, I arrest you for stealing the body of Mr. Augustus Alfonso
Brockelsby, attorney-at-law."

He who had just now been an abject, grovelling wretch, was of a sudden
come to be a lord among men. The practitioners making no reply, he
continued:

"Are you going to be sensible enough to make no trouble, or shall I
have to call yonder officer?"

Mr. Middleton considered this quite a master stroke. By the assumption
of a pretended authority over the neighboring policeman he would
forestall any possibility of resistance and question as to what
authority he represented. But he need have had no fears on this score.
The doctors were too alarmed to do otherwise than submit to his
pleasure, too thoroughly convinced that none but a detective could
have had knowledge of the contents of the box. But Dr. McAllyn did
attach a significance to what Mr. Middleton had said, a significance
natural to one so well acquainted with the devious ways of the great
city as he was.

"Well," he said, with a sardonic smile, "you needn't call in help. We
stand pat. How much is it going to cost us?"

Then did Mr. Middleton perceive he was delivered from a dilemma, a
dilemma unforeseen, but which even if foreseen, he could not have
forearmed against. After he had arrested the doctors, how would he
have disposed of them and the box containing Mr. Brockelsby? How could
he have released the doctors and carried off the box in a manner that
would not excite their suspicions? If he had, in pretended leniency
and soft-heartedness told them they were free, the absence of any
apparent motive for this action would have instantly caused them to
suspect that for some unknown and probably unrighteous reason, he
desired possession of the body of Mr. Brockelsby and thus would ensue
a series of complications that would make the ruse of the arrest but a
leap from the frying pan into the fire. But now Dr. McAllyn had
supplied the motive.

"Sirs," said Mr. Middleton, with an air of virtue that was well suited
to the character of the sentiments he now began to enunciate, "you
deserve punishment. You have been taken in the act of committing a
crime that is particularly revolting,--stealing a corpse. Dr. McAllyn,
you have been apprehended in foul treason against friendship. You have
stolen the body of a comrade. You have meditated cruel and shocking
mutilation of this body, giving to the horror-stricken eyes of the
frantic widow the mangled and defaced flesh that was once the goodly
person of her husband, leaving her to waste her life in vain and
terrible speculations as to where and how he encountered this awful
death with its so dreadful wounds."

"It was for the sake of science," interpolated Dr. McAllyn, in no
little indignation. "If from the insensible clay of the dead we may
learn that which will save suffering and prolong existence for the
living, well may we disregard the ancient and ridiculous sentiment
regarding corpses, a relic of the ancient heathen days when it was
believed that this selfsame body of this life was worn again in
another world."

"I will not engage in an antiquarian discussion with you, sir, as to
the origin of this sentiment. Suffice to say it exists and is one of
the most powerful sentiments that rules mankind. You have attempted to
violate it, to outrage it. However you may look upon your action, the
penitentiary awaits you. Yet one can well hesitate to pronounce the
word that condemns a fellow man to that living death. It is not the
mere punishment itself. The dragging years will pass, but what will
you be when they have passed? We no longer brand the persons of
convicts, but none the less does the iron sear their souls and none
the less does the world see with its mind's eye the scorched word
'convict' on their brows, so long as they live. In the capacity of
judge, were I one, I might use such limit of discretion as the law
allows in making your punishment lighter or heavier, but the disgrace
of it, no one can mitigate. Therefore, that you may receive some
measure of the punishment you deserve, and yet not be blasted for
life, I will accept a monetary consideration and set you free."

"Oh, you will, will you?" said Dr. McAllyn. "How much lighter or
heavier will you in your capacity as judge make this impost?"

"I will not take my time in replying to your slurs in kind. You, Dr.
McAllyn, as the one primarily responsible, as the leader who induced
Dr. Darst to enter this conspiracy, as the one most to be reproached,
in that Mr. Brockelsby was your friend, as the one by far the most
able to pay, you shall pay $1,200. Dr. Darst shall pay $200. This is a
punishment by no means commensurate with your crime. By this forfeit,
shall you escape prison and disgrace."

"Of course you know that I have no such sum as that about me," said
Dr. McAllyn. "I will write you a check."

"I am not so green as I look," said Mr. Middleton, assuming an easy
sitting posture upon the box containing the mortal envelope of Mr.
Brockelsby. "You may dispatch Dr. Darst with a check to get the money
for you and himself. You will remain here as a hostage until his
return."

Accordingly, Dr. Darst departed and Mr. Middleton sat engrossed in
reflection upon the chain of unpleasant circumstances that had forced
upon him the unavoidable and distasteful rôle of a bribe-taker. Yet
how else could he have carried off the part he had assumed? How else
could he have obtained custody of Mr. Brockelsby? And surely the
doctors richly deserved punishment. It was not meet that they should
go scot free and in no other way could he bring it about that
retribution should be visited upon them.

"It is all here," said Mr. Middleton, when he had counted the bills
brought by Dr. Darst. "I shall now see that Mr. Brockelsby is taken
back to the office whence you took him."

"Pardon me," said Dr. Darst, "how in the world did you know we took
him from his office? How did you ferret it all out?"

"I cannot tell you that," said Mr. Middleton. "I shall take him back
to the office. He will be found there later in the day, just as you
found him. You are wise enough to make no inquiries concerning him, to
watch for no news of developments. Indeed, to make in some measure an
alibi, should it be needed, you had better leave town by next train
for the rest of the day. If it were known you were with Mr. Brockelsby
at any time, might it not be thought that you were responsible for the
condition he was found in?"

The doctors boarded the very next train, and Mr. Middleton, serene in
the knowledge that no one would disturb him now, had the box taken
back and set up in the main office. A slight thump in the box as it
was ended up against the wall, caused Mr. Middleton to believe that
Mr. Brockelsby was now resting on his head, but he resolved to allow
this unavoidable circumstance to occasion him no disquiet. Going to a
large department store where a sale of portières was in progress, he
purchased some portières and a number of other things. The portières
he draped over the box, concealing its bare pine with shimmering
cardinal velvet and turning it into the semblance of a cabinet. Lest
any inquisitive hand tear it away, he placed six volumes of Chitty and
a bust of Daniel Webster upon the top and tacked two photographs of
Mr. Brockelsby upon the front. Confident that no one would disturb the
receptacle containing his employer, he went into court and after a
short but exceedingly spirited legal battle in which he displayed a
forensic ability, a legal lore, and a polished eloquence which few of
the older members of the Chicago bar could have equalled, he won a
signal victory.

Although it was not his intention to set about restoring Mr.
Brockelsby until an hour that would ensure him against likelihood of
interruption, he returned to the office to see if by any untoward
mischance anybody could have interfered with the box. To his surprise,
he found Mrs. Brockelsby seated before that object of vertu with her
eye straying abstractedly over the cardinal portières, the photographs
of Mr. Brockelsby, the bust of Daniel Webster, and the volumes of
Chitty.

"Oh, Mr. Middleton," exclaimed the lady. "Mr. Brockelsby did not come
home to-day and they tell me he wasn't in court."

"No, he was not in court," said Mr. Middleton.

"Oh, where, oh, where can he be!" moaned Mrs. Brockelsby.

Mr. Middleton being of the opinion that this question was merely
exclamatory, ejaculatory in its nature, of the kind orators employ to
garnish and embellish their discourse and which all books of rhetoric
state do not expect or require an answer, accordingly made no answer.
He was, nevertheless, somewhat disturbed by the poor lady's grief and
wished that it were possible to restore her husband to her instantly.

"Oh, I have wanted to see him so, I have wanted him so! Oh, where can
he be, Mr. Middleton! I must find him. I cannot endure it longer. I
will offer a reward to anyone who will bring him home within
twenty-four hours, to anyone who will find him. Oh, oh, oh, oh! I will
give $200. I will give it to you, yourself, if you will find him.
Write a notice to that effect and take it to the newspaper offices."

This great distress on the part of the lady was all contrary to what
Dr. McAllyn had said concerning her indifference to the absence of her
spouse and caused Mr. Middleton to feel very much like a guilty
wretch. As he wrote out the notices for the papers, he reiterated
assurances that Mr. Brockelsby would turn up before morning, while the
partner of the missing barrister continued her heartbroken wailing and
the cause of it all was driven well-nigh wild.

"Oh, if you only knew!" she said, as Mr. Middleton was about to depart
for the newspaper offices. "Day after to-morrow, I am going to
Washington to attend a meeting of the Federation of Woman's Clubs.
That odious Mrs. LeBaron is going to spring a diamond necklace worth
two thousand dollars more than mine. Augustus must come home in time
to sign a check so I can put three thousand dollars more into mine."

A great load soared from Mr. Middleton's mind and blithe joy reigned
there instead.

"Mrs. Brockelsby, I'll leave no stone unturned. I'll bring you your
husband before breakfast," and escorting the lady to her carriage and
handing her in with the greatest deference and most courtly gallantry,
he set forth for one of the more famous of the large restaurants which
are household words among the elite of Chicago. Mr. Middleton had
never passed its portals, but with fourteen hundred dollars in his
pocket and two hundred more in sight, he felt he could afford to give
himself a good meal and break the fast he had kept since the evening
before, for in the crowded events of the day, he had found time to
refresh himself with nothing more substantial than an apple and a bag
of peanuts, or fruit of the Arachis hypogea.

As he sat down at a table in the glittering salle-à-manger, what was
his great surprise and even greater delight, to see seated opposite,
just slowly finishing his dessert--a small bowl of sherbet--habited in
a perfectly-fitting frock coat with a red carnation in the lapel, the
urbane and accomplished prince of the tribe of Al-Yam. Having
exchanged mutual expressions of pleasure at this unexpected encounter,
Mr. Middleton, overjoyed and elated at the successes of the day, began
to pour into the ears of the prince a relation of the events that had
resulted from the gift of the treatise of the learned hakim of Madras,
which is in India. He told everything from the beginning to the end.

"In the morning," he said in conclusion, "I take Mr. Brockelsby home
in a cab and get the two hundred dollars."

"Alas, alas!" said Achmed mournfully, his great liquid brown eyes
resting sorrowfully upon Mr. Middleton. "What a corrupting effect the
haste to get rich has upon American youth. My friend, it cannot be
that you intend to take the two hundred dollars?"

"But I find old Brock, don't I?'

"That is precisely what you do not do. You know where he is. You put
him there. How can you say you found him?"

"All right, I won't do it," said Mr. Middleton, abashed at Achmed's
reproof, a reproof his conscience told him was eminently deserved.

"I thank Allah," said the prince, "that I am an Arab and not an
American. The fortunes of my line, its glories, were not won in the
vulgar pursuits of trade, in the chicanery of business, in the shady
paths of speculation, in the questionable manipulation of stocks and
bonds. It was not thus that the ancient houses of the nobility of
Europe and the Orient built up their honorable fortunes. Never did the
men of my house parley with their consciences, never did they strike a
truce with their knightly instincts in order to gain gold. Ah, no,
no," mused the prince, looking pensively up at the gaily decorated
ceiling as he reflected upon the glories of his line; "it was in the
noble profession of arms, the illustrious practice of warfare that we
won our honorable possessions. At the sacking of Medina, the third
prince of our house gained a goodly treasure of gold and precious
stones, and founded our fortune. In warfare with the Wahabees, we
acquired countless herds and the territories for them to roam upon. By
descents across the Red Sea into the realms of the Abyssinians, we
took hundreds of slaves. From the Dey of Aden we acquired one hundred
thousand sequins as the price of peace. In the sacking of the cities
of Hedjaz and Yemen and even the dominions of Oman, did we gallantly
gain in the perilous and honorable pursuit of war further store of
treasure. Ah, those were brave days, those days of old, those knightly
days of old! Faugh, I am out of tune with this vile commercial country
and this vile commercial age."

The prince arose as he uttered these last words and in his rhapsody
forgetting the presence of Mr. Middleton, without a farewell he
stalked through the great apartment, absentmindedly, though gracefully
twirling a pair of pearl gray gloves in the long sensitive fingers of
his left hand. A little hush fell upon the brilliant assemblage and
many a bright eye dwelt admiringly upon the elegant person, so
elegantly attired, of the urbane and accomplished prince of the tribe
of Al-Yam.

For some time Mr. Middleton sat plunged in abstraction, toying with
the three kinds of dessert he had ordered, as he meditated upon the
words of the emir. At last rousing himself, he had finished the
marrons glacées and was about to begin upon a Nesselrode pudding, when
he heard himself addressed, and looking up saw before him a young
woman of an exceedingly prepossessing appearance. She was richly
dressed with a quiet elegance that bespoke her a person of good taste.
Laughing, roguish eyes illuminated a piquant face in which were to be
seen good sense, ingenuousness and kindness, mingled with
self-reliance and determination. Mr. Middleton knew not whether to
admire her most for the beautiful proportions of her figure, the
loveliness of her face, or the fine mental qualities of which her
countenance gave evidence. With a delightful frankness in which there
was no hint of real or pretended embarrassment, she said:

"Pray pardon this intrusion on the part of a total stranger. I have
particular reasons for desiring to know the name and station of the
gentleman who left you a short time ago, and knowing no one else to
ask, have resolved to throw myself upon your good nature. I will ask
of you not to require the reasons of me, assuring you that they are
perhaps not entirely unconnected with the welfare of this gentleman. I
observed from your manner toward one another that you were
acquaintances and that it was no chance conversation between
strangers. He is, I take it, an Italian."

Without pausing to reflect that the emir might not be at all pleased
to have this young woman know of his identity, Mr. Middleton exclaimed
hastily and with a gesture of expostulation:

"Oh, no! He is not a Dago," and then after a pause he remarked
impressively, "He is an Arab," and then after a still longer pause, he
said still more impressively, "He is the Emir Achmed Ben Daoud,
hereditary prince of the tribe of Al-Yam, which ranges on the borders
of that fertile and smiling region of Arabia known as Yemen, or Arabia
the Happy."

"He is not a Dago!" said the young woman, clasping her hands with
delighted fervor.

"He is not a Dago!" said another voice, and Mr. Middleton became aware
that at his back stood a second young woman scarcely less charming
than the first. "He is not a Dago!" she repeated, scarcely less
delighted than the first.

Mr. Middleton arose and assumed an attitude which was at once
indicative of proper deference toward his fair questioners and enabled
him the better to feast his entranced eyes upon them. Moreover, on all
sides he observed that people were looking at them and he needed no
one to tell him that his conversation with these two daughters of the
aristocracy was causing the assemblage to regard him as an individual
of social importance. He gave the emir's address upon Clark Street and
after dwelling some time upon his graces of person and mind, related
how it was that this Eastern potentate was resident in the city of
Chicago in a comparatively humble capacity.

"His brother is shut up in a vermillion tower."

"Vermillion, did you say?" breathlessly asked the first young lady.

"Oh, how romantic!" exclaimed the second young lady. "A tower of
vermillion! Is he good looking, like this one? Do you suppose he will
come here? Oh, Mildred, I must meet him. And the imam of Oman is going
to give the vermillion tower to the brother, when he is released. We
could send one of papa's whalebacks after it. What a lovely house on
Prairie Avenue it would make. 'The Towers,' we would call it. No,
'Vermillion Towers.' How lovely it would sound on a card, 'Wednesdays,
Vermillion Towers.' We must get him out. Can't we do it?"

"If it were in this country," said Mr. Middleton, "I would engage to
get him out. I would secure a writ of habeas corpus, or devise other
means to speedily release him. But unfortunately, I am not admitted to
practice in the dominions of Oman. But I do not pity the young man.
One could well be willing to suffer incarceration in a tower of
vermillion, if he knew he were an object of solicitude to one so fair
as yourself. One could wear the gyves and shackles of the most
terrible tyranny almost in happiness, if he knew that such lovely eyes
grew moist over his fate and such beauteous lips trembled when they
told the tale of his imprisonment."

Now such gallant speeches were all very well in the days of
knee-breeches and periwigs, but in this age and in Chicago, they are
an anachronism and the two young ladies started as if they had
suddenly observed that Mr. Middleton had on a low-cut vest, or his
trousers were two years behind the times, and somewhat curtly and
coolly making their adieus, they sailed rapidly away, leaving Mr.
Middleton--who was not the most obtuse mortal in the world--to
savagely fill with large pieces of banana pie the orifice whence had
lately issued the words which had cut short his colloquy with the two
beauties. He deeply regretted that in his association with Prince
Achmed he had fallen into a flowery and Oriental manner of speech and
resolved henceforth to eschew such fashion of discourse.

The clocks were solemnly tolling the hour of midnight when Mr.
Augustus Alfonso Brockelsby rubbed his eyes and sat up in the
revolving chair in the main office of his suite. Mr. Middleton was
standing near, hastily putting away a razor. A warm odor lay on the
still air of the room.

"Hello, isn't it daylight yet?" asked Mr. Brockelsby. The hot cakes
that had but lately been applied to his shaven crown, seemed to have
dispelled the fogs of intoxication and he was master of himself.

"It is twelve o'clock," said Mr. Middleton.

"Twelve! Why, it was three when I left the banquet table. Twelve!"

"Twelve," said Mr. Middleton, pointing gravely to the clock on the
desk.

"It--is--twelve. Don't tell me it is the day after."

"I am compelled to do so. You were at the banquet of the Sons of
Andrew Jackson's Wars, twenty-four hours ago."

"Great Scott!" exclaimed Mr. Brockelsby, thrusting his hands through
his hair, or rather making the motion of doing so. "Great Scott!" he
repeated, "I am bald-headed. What the devil have I been into? Where
the devil have I been?"

"I found you here this morning. Your wife has been here."

"Oh, lord! Oh, lord! What did she say when she saw me dead to the
world--and bald-headed?"

"She did not see you. I had concealed you."

"Good boy, good boy."

"She offered me two hundred dollars reward to bring you home," and Mr.
Middleton related all that Mrs. Brockelsby had said.

"It would be all off when she saw me bald-headed. What the devil
wouldn't she suspect? I don't know. I would say I didn't know where I
had been. That would certainly sound fishy. It would sound like a
preposterous excuse to cover up something pretty questionable. People
don't go out in good society and get their heads shaved. She's pretty
independent and uppish now. She said the next time she knew of me
cutting up any didoes, she would get a divorce. She comes into two
hundred thousand from her grandfather's estate in six months and she's
pretty independent. Say, my boy, can't you take a check for the money
she wants? She's going to Washington to-morrow. Tell her I went out of
town and sent the money. I _will_ go out of town. But the boys will
see my bald head. Where do you suppose I was? What sort of crowd was I
with? I must have a wig. You must get it for me. The boys would josh
me to death, and if the story got to my wife it would be all off. I'll
go to Battle Creek and get a new lot of hair started."

Mr. Middleton sat down and wrote busily for a moment. He handed a
sheet of paper to Mr. Brockelsby.

"What's this? You resign? You're not going to help me out?"

"I am no longer in your employ. I will undertake to do all you ask of
me for a proper compensation, say one hundred and fifty a day for two
days."

"What?" screamed Mr. Brockelsby. "This is robbery, extortion,
blackmail."

"It is what you often charge yourself. Very well. Get your own wig and
be seen on the streets going after it. Leave your wife to wonder why I
do not come to report what progress is made in the search for you and
to start a rigorous investigation herself. I am under no obligations
not to ease her worry, to calm her disturbed mind by telling her I
have found you. She'll be hot foot after you then."

"She'd spot the wig at once. It would fool others, but not her. She'd
see I had been jagged. You've got me foul. I'll have to accede to your
terms. You'll not give me away?"

"Sir, I would not, in this, my first employment as an independent
attorney, be so derelict to professional honor, as to betray the
secrets of my client. We have chosen to call this three hundred
dollars--a check for which you will give me in advance--payment for
the services I am about to perform. In reality, I consider it only
part of what you owe for the miserably underpaid services of the past
three years."

As Mr. Middleton wended his way homeward, it was with some melancholy
that he recalled how, on previous occasions when good fortune had
added to his stock of wealth, he had rejoiced in it because he saw his
dreams of marriage with the young lady of Englewood approaching
realization more and more. But now they had drifted apart. Not once
had he seen her since that fatal night. On several evenings he had
made the journey to Englewood and walked up and down before her house,
but not so much as her shadow on the curtain had he seen. Let her make
the first move toward a reconciliation. If she expected him to do so
after her treatment of him, she was sadly mistaken.



_The Adventure of Achmed Ben Daoud._


Being curious to hear of the young ladies who had inquired concerning
the emir in the restaurant, and to learn what their connection with
that prince might be, Mr. Middleton repaired to the bazaar on Clark
Street on the succeeding night. But the emir was not in. Mesrour
apparently having experienced one of those curious mental lesions not
unknown in the annals of medicine, where a linguist loses all memory
of one or more of the languages he speaks, while retaining full
command of the others--Mesrour having experienced such a lesion, which
had, at least temporarily, deprived him of his command of the English
language, Mr. Middleton was unable to learn anything that he desired
to know, until bethinking himself of the fact that alcohol loosens the
thought centers and that by its agency Mesrour's atrophied brain cells
might be stimulated, revivified, and the coma dispelled, he made
certain signs intelligible to all races of men in every part of the
world and took the blackamore into a neighboring saloon, where, after
regaling him with several beers, he learned that only an hour before
an elegant turnout containing two young women, beautiful as houris,
had called for the emir and taken him away.

"He done tole me that if I tole anybody whar he was gwine, he'd
bowstring me and feed mah flesh to the dawgs."

Mr. Middleton shuddered as he heard this threat, so characteristically
Oriental.

"Where _was_ he going?" he inquired with an air of profound
indifference and irrelevance, signalling for another bottle of beer.

The blackamore silently drank the beer, a gin fizz, and two Scotch
high-balls, his countenance the while bearing evidence that he was
struggling with a recalcitrant memory.

"'Deed, I doan' know, suh," said Mesrour finally. "He never done tole
me."

Though Mr. Middleton called three times during the next week, he did
not find the emir in. Nor could Mesrour give any information
concerning his master's whereabouts. However, in the society news of
the Sunday papers, appeared at the head of several lists of persons
attendant upon functions, one A. B. D. Alyam, and this individual was
included among those at a small dinner given by Misses Mildred and
Gladys Decatur. As Mildred was the name of one of the young ladies who
had accosted him in the restaurant, Mr. Middleton felt quite certain
that this A. B. D. Alyam was none other than Achmed Ben Daoud, emir of
the tribe of Al-Yam.

On the tenth day, Mesrour informed Mr. Middleton that the emir had
left word to make an appointment with him for seven o'clock on the
following evening, at which time Mr. Middleton came, to find the
accomplished prince sitting at a small desk made in Grand Rapids,
Michigan, engaged in the composition of a note which he was inscribing
upon delicate blue stationery with a gold mounted fountain pen.
Arising somewhat abruptly and offering his hand at an elevation in
continuity of the extension of his shoulder, the emir begged the
indulgence of a few moments and resumed his writing. He was arrayed in
a black frock coat and gray trousers and encircling his brow was a
moist red line that told of a silk hat but lately doffed. "Give the
gentleman a cup of tea," said he to Mesrour, looking up from the note,
which now completed, he was perusing with an air that indicated
satisfaction with its chirography, orthography, and literary style. At
last, placing it in an envelope and affixing thereto a seal, he turned
and ordering Mesrour to give Mr. Middleton another cup of tea, he
lighted a cigarette and began as follows:

"This is the last time you will see me here. My lease expires
to-morrow and my experience as a retail merchant, in fact, as any sort
of merchant, is over. On this, the last evening that we shall meet in
the old familiar way, the story I have to relate to your indulgent
ears is of some adventures of my own, adventures which have had their
final culmination in a manner most delightful to me, and in which
consummation you have been an agent. Indeed, but for your friendship I
should not now be the happy man I am. Without further consuming time
by a preamble which the progress of the tale will render unnecessary,
I will proceed.

"Last summer, I spent a portion of the heated term at Green Lake,
Wisconsin. I know that sentiment in this city is somewhat unequally
divided upon the question of the comparative charms of Green Lake and
Lake Geneva and that the former resort has not acquired a vogue equal
to that of the latter, but I must say I greatly prefer Green Lake. I
have never been at Lake Geneva, it is true, but nevertheless, I prefer
Green Lake.

"The hotel where I stayed was very well filled and the manager was
enjoying a highly prosperous season. Yet though there were so many
people there I made no acquaintances in the first week of my sojourn.
Nor in the second week did I come to know more than three or four, and
they but slightly. I was, in truth, treated somewhat as an object of
suspicion, the cause of which I could not at first imagine. I was
newer to this country and its customs and costumes there a year ago.
Previous to starting for the lake, I had purchased of a firm of
clothiers farther up this street, Poppenheimer and Pappenheimer, a
full outfit for all occasions and sports incident upon a vacation at a
fashionable resort. I had not then learned that one can seldom make a
more fatal mistake than to allow a clothier or tailor to choose for
you. It is true that these gentry have in stock what persons of
refinement demand, but they also have fabrics and garments bizarre in
color and cut, in which they revel and carry for apparently no other
reason than the delectation of their own perverted taste, since they
seldom or never sell them. But at times they light upon some one whose
ignorance or easy-going disposition makes him a prey, and they send
him forth an example of what they call a well-dressed man. More
execrably dressed men than Poppenheimer and Pappenheimer and most of
the other parties in the clothing business, are seldom to be found in
other walks of life. In my ignorance of American customs, I entrusted
myself to their hands with the result that my garments were
exaggerated in pattern and style and altogether unsuited to my dark
complexion and slim figure. But in the wearing of these garments I
aggravated the original sartorial offence into a sartorial crime. With
my golf trousers and white ducks I wore a derby hat. For nearly a week
I wore with a shirt waist a pair of very broad blue silk suspenders
embroidered in red. All at once I awoke to a realization that the
others did not wear their clothes as I did and set myself to imitate
them with the result that my clothes were at least worn correctly. The
mischief was largely done, however, before this reform, and nothing I
could do would alter the cut and fabric.

"My clothes were not the only drawbacks to my making acquaintances. I
was entirely debarred from a participation in the sports of the place.
I knew nothing of golf. A son of the desert, I could no more swim than
fly, and so far from being able to sail a boat, I cannot even manage a
pair of oars. I could only watch the others indulge in their
divertissements, a lonely and wistful outsider.

"Yet despite all this, I could perceive that I was not without
interest to the young ladies. Partially as an object of amusement at
first, but not entirely that, even at first, for the sympathetic eyes
of some of them betrayed a gentle compassion.

"Among the twenty or so young ladies at our hotel, were two who would
attract the attention and excite the admiration of any assemblage, two
sisters from Chicago, beautiful as houris. In face and figure I have
never seen their equal. Their cheeks were like the roses of Shiraz,
their teeth like the pearls of Ormuz, their eyes like the eyes of
gazelles of Hedjaz. Before beholding these damosels, I had never
realized what love was, but at last I knew, I fell violently in love
with them both. Never in my wildest moments had I thought to fall in
love with a daughter of the Franks. Nor had I contemplated an extended
stay in this land, and before my departure from Arabia I had begun to
negotiate for the formation of a harem to be in readiness against my
return.

"But I soon began to entertain all these thoughts and to dally with
the idea of changing my religion, abhorrent as that idea was. At first
I had been comforted by the thought that I was in love with both girls
in orthodox Moslem style. But reflecting that I could never have both,
that they would never come to me, that I must go to them, becoming
renegade to my creed, I tried to decide which I loved best. I came to
a decision without any extended thinking. I was in love with Miss
Mildred, the elder of the two sisters Decatur, daughters of one of
Chicago's wealthy men, and this question settled, there remained the
stupendous difficulty of winning her. For I did not even possess the
right to lift my hat to these young ladies. My affair certainly
appeared quite hopeless.

"In the last week of August, an Italian and his wife encamped upon the
south shore of the lake with a small menagerie, if a camel, a bear,
and two monkeys can be dignified by so large a title. He was
accustomed to make the rounds of the hotels and cottages on alternate
days, one day mounted on the dromedary and strumming an Oriental lute,
on the others playing a Basque bagpipe while his bear danced, or
proceeding with hand-organ and monkeys. He had been a soldier in the
Italian colony of Massowah on the Red Sea, where he had acquired the
dromedary--which was the most gigantic one I have ever seen--and a
smattering of Arabic. English he had none, his wife serving as his
interpreter in that tongue.

"The sight of the camel was balm to my eyes. Not only was it agreeable
to me to see one of that race of animals so characteristic of my
native land, but here at last was a form of recreation opened to me. I
hired the camel on the days when the Italian was not using him and
went flying about all over the country. Little did I suspect that I
thereby became associated with the Italian in the minds of the public
and that presently they began to believe that I, too, was an Italian
and the real owner of the menagerie, employing Baldissano to manage it
for me while I lived at my ease at the hotel. I was heard conversing
with the Italian, and of course nobody suspected that I was talking to
him in Arabic. It was a tongue unknown to them all and they chose to
consider it Italian. Moreover, one Ashton Hanks, a member of the
Chicago board of trade, at the hotel for the season, had said to the
menagerie, jerking his thumb interrogatively at me, as I was busied in
the background with the camel, 'Italiano? Italiano?' To which
Baldissano replied, 'Si, signor,' meaning 'yes,' thinking of course
that Hanks meant him. 'Boss? Padrone?' said Hanks again, and again the
answer was, 'Si, signor.'

"So here I was, made out to be an Italian and the owner of a miserable
little menagerie which I employed a minion to direct, while myself
posing as a man of substance and elegant leisure. Here I was, already
proven a person of atrocious taste in dress, clearly proclaimed of no
social standing, of unknown and suspicious antecedents, a vulgarian
pretender and interloper. But of course I didn't know this at the
time.

"I was riding past the front of the hotel on the camel one day at a
little before the noon hour, when I beheld her whom I loved overcome
by keen distress and as she was talking rather loudly, I could not but
be privy to what she said.

"'Oh, dear,' she exclaimed, clasping her hands in great worriment,
'what shall I do, what shall I do! Here I am, invited to go on a sail
and fish-fry on Mr. Gannett's yacht, and I have no white yachting
shoes to wear with my white yachting dress. I've just got to wear that
dress, for I brought only two yachting dresses and the blue one is at
the laundry. I thought I put a pair of white shoes in my trunk, but I
didn't; I haven't time to send to Ripon for a pair. I won't wear black
shoes with that dress. But how will I get white ones?'

"'Through my agency,' said I from where I sat on the back of the
camel.

"'Oh,' said she, with a little start at my unexpected intrusion, her
face lighting with a sudden hope, nevertheless. 'Were you going to
Ripon and will you be back before one-thirty? Are you perfectly
willing to do this errand for me?'

"'I am going to Ripon,' I said, 'and nothing will please me more than
to execute any commission you may entrust to me. This good steed will
carry me the six miles and back before it is time to sail. They seldom
sail on the time set, I have observed.'

"She brought me a patent-leather dancing shoe to indicate the desired
size, and away I went, secured the shoes, and turned homeward. While
skirting a large hill that arises athwart the sky to the westward of
the city of Ripon, I was startled by a weird, portentous, moaning cry
from my mount. Ah, its import was only too well known to me. Full many
a time had I heard it in the desert. It was the cry by which the
camels give warning of the coming of a storm. While yet the eye and
ear of man can detect no signs whatever of the impending outburst of
nature's forces and the earth is bathed in the smiles of the sky, the
camels, by some subtle, unerring instinct, prognosticate the storm.

"I looked over the whole firmament. Not a cloud in sight. A soft
zephyr and a mellow sun glowing genially through a slight autumnal
haze. Not a sign of a storm, but the camel had spoken. I dismounted at
once. I undid the package of shoes. From my pocket I took a small
square bit of stone of the cubical contents of a small pea. It was cut
from the side of the cave where Mohammed rested during the Hegira, or
flight of Mohammed, with which date we begin our calendar. This bit of
stone was reputed to be an efficacious amulet against dangers of
storms, and also a charm against suddenly falling in love. I placed it
in the toe of the right shoe. Unbeknownst to her, Mildred would be
protected against these dangers. I could not hope to dissuade her from
the voyage by telling her of the camel's forewarning. Ashton Hanks was
to be one of the yachting party and he had shown evidences of a tender
regard for her. Retying the package, it was not long before I had
placed it in the hands of Mildred. With a most winsome smile she
thanked me and ran in to don the new purchases.

"The boat set sail and I watched it glide westward over the sparkling
waves, toward the lower end of the lake, watching for an hour until it
had slipped behind some point and was lost to sight. Then I scanned
the heavens to see if the storm I knew must come would break before it
was time for the yachting party to return. Low on the northern horizon
clouds were mustering, their heads barely discernible above the rim of
the world. But for the camel's warning I would not have seen them. The
storm was surely coming. By six o'clock, or thereabouts, it would
burst. The party was to have its fish-fry at six, at some point on the
south shore. On the south shore would be the wreck, if wreck there was
to be.

"With no definite plan, no definite purpose, save to be near my love
in the threatening peril, I set out for the south shore. By water, it
is from a mile and a half to three miles across Green Lake. By land,
it is many times farther. From road to road of those parallel with the
major axis of the lake, it is four miles at the narrowest, and it is
three miles from the end of the lake before you reach the first north
and south road connecting the parallels. Ten miles, then, after you
leave the end of the lake on the side where the hotels are, before you
are at the end on the other side. And then thirteen miles of shore.

"So what with the distance and the time I had spent watching the
shallop that contained my love pass from my field of vision the
afternoon had far waned when I had reached the opposite shore, and
when I had descended to the beach at a point where I had thought I
might command the most extensive view and discover the yacht, if it
had begun to make its way homeward, the light of day had given place
to twilight. But not the twilight of imminent night, the twilight of
the coming tempest. For the brewing of a fearful storm had now some
time been apparent. A hush lay on the land. A candle flame would have
shot straight upward. Nature waited, silently cowering.

"To the northward advanced, in serried columns of black, the beetling
clouds that were turning the day into night, the distant booming of
aërial artillery thundering forth the preluding cannonade of the
charge. Higher and higher into the firmament shot the front of the
advancing ranks in twisting curls of inky smoke, yet all the while the
mass dropped nearer and nearer to the earth and the light of day
departed, save where low down in the west a band of pale gold lay
against the horizon, color and nothing more, as unglowing as a yellow
streak in a painted sunset. Against this weird, cold light, I saw a
naked mast, and then a sail went creaking up and I heard voices. They
had been shortening sail. By some unspent impulse of the vanished
wind, or the impact of the waves still rolling heavily and glassily
from a recent blow, the yacht was still progressing and came moving
past me fifty or sixty feet from shore.

"I heard the voices of women expressing terror, begging the men to do
something. Danger that comes in the dark is far more fearsome than
danger which comes in the light. I heard the men explaining the
impossibility of getting ashore. For two miles on this coast, a line
of low, but unscalable cliffs rose sheer from the water's edge,
overhanging it, in fact, for the waves had eaten several feet into the
base of the cliffs. To get out and stand in front of these cliffs was
to court death. The waves of the coming storm would either beat a man
to death against the rocks, or drown him, for the water was four feet
deep at the edge of the cliffs and the waves would wash over his head.
For two miles, I have said, there was a line of cliffs on this coast,
for two miles save just where I stood, the only break, a narrow rift
which, coinciding with a section line, was the end of a road coming
down to the water. They could not see this rift in the dusk, perhaps
were ignorant of its existence and so not looking for it.

"The voices I had heard were all unfamiliar and it was not until the
yacht had drifted past me that I was apprised it was indeed the craft
I sought by hearing the voice of Mildred saying, with an assumed
jocularity that could not hide the note of fear:

"'What will _I_ do? All the other girls have a man to save them. I am
the extra girl.'

"I drove my long-legged steed into the water after the boat none too
soon, for the whistling of a premonitory gust filled the air. Quickly
through the water strode the camel, and, with his lariat in my hand, I
plumped down upon the stern overhang just as the mainsail went
slatting back and forth across the boat and everybody was ducking his
head. In the confusion, nobody observed my arrival.

"'She's coming about,' cried the voice of the skipper, Gannett. 'A few
of these gusts would get us far enough across to be out of danger from
the main storm.'

"But she did not come about. I could feel the camel tugging at the
lariat as the swerving of the boat jerked him along, but presently the
strain ceased, for the boat lay wallowing as before. Again a fitful
gust, again the slatting of the sail, the skipper put his helm down
hard, the boat put her nose into the wind, hung there, and fell back.

"'She won't mind her helm!'

"'She won't come about!'

"'She acts as if she were towing something, were tied to something!'

"'What's that big rock behind there? Who the devil is this? And how
the devil did he get here?'

"In the midst of these excited and alarmed exclamations came the
solemn, portentous voice of the camel tolling out in the unnatural
night the tocsin of the approaching hurricane.

"'It's the Dago!' cried Gannett, examining me by the fleeting flash of
a match. 'It's his damned camel towing behind that won't let us come
about. Pitch him overboard!'

"'Oh, save me!' appealed Mildred.

"There she had been, sitting just in front of me and I hadn't known it
was she. It was not strange that she had faith that I who had arrived
could also depart.

"'Selim,' I called, pulling the camel to the boat. I had never had a
name for him before, but it was high time he had one, so now I named
him. 'Selim,' and there the faithful beast was and with Mildred in my
arms, I scrambled on to his back and urged him toward the rift in the
wall of cliff.

"As if I had spurned it with my foot, the boat sprang away behind us,
a sudden rushing blast filling her sails and laying her almost over,
and then she was out of our sight, into the teeth of the tempest,
yelling, screaming, howling with a hundred voices as it darted from
the sky and laid flat the waves and then hurled them up in a mass of
stinging spray.

"In fond anticipation, I had dwelt upon the homeward ride with
Mildred. A-camelback, I was, as it were, upon my native heath, master
of myself, assured, and at ease. I had planned to tell her of my love,
plead my cause with Oriental fervor and imagery, but before we reached
shore the tempest was so loud that she could not have heard me unless
I had shouted, and I had no mind to bawl my love. Worse still, when
once we were going across the wind and later into it, I could not open
my mouth at all. We reached the hotel and on its lee side I lifted her
down to the topmost of the piazza steps. I determined not be delayed
longer. If ever there was to be a propitious occasion, it was now when
I had rescued her from encompassing peril. I retained hold of her
hand. She gave me a glance in which was at least gratitude, and I
dared hope, something more, and I was about to make my declaration,
when she made a little step, her right foot almost sunk under her and
she gave an agonized cry and hobbling, limping, hopping on one foot,
passed from me across the piazza to the stairs leading to the second
story, whither she ascended upon her hands and knees.

"That wretched stone from the cavern where Mahommed slept in the
Hegira! How many times during the day had she wanted to take her shoe
off? She would ascertain the cause of her torment, she would lay it to
me. It had indeed been an amulet against sudden love. I was the man
whose love it had forefended.

"'Gannett's yacht went down and all aboard of her were drowned,' said
one of the bellboys to me. 'Everybody in the hotel is feeling
dreadful.'

"'How do you know they are drowned?'

"'Everybody in the hotel says so. I don't know how they found out.'

"'What's that at the pier?' said I.

"The lights at the end of the pier shone against a white expanse of
sail and there was a yacht slowly making a landing.

"Someone came and stood for a moment in an open window above me and
there floated out the voice of one of the sisters Decatur, but which
one, I could not tell. Their voices were much alike and I had not
heard either of them speak very often.

"'Do you think that one ought to marry a person who rescues her from
death, when he happens to be a Dago and cheap circus man into the
bargain? I certainly do not.'

"Which one was it? Which one was it? Imagine my feelings, torn with
doubt, perplexity, and sorrow. Was it Mildred, replying scornfully to
some opinion of her sister, or was it the sister taking Mildred to
task for saying she wished or ought to marry me? How was I to know?
Could I run the risk of asking the girls themselves?"

The emir paused, and it was plain to be seen from the workings of his
countenance that once more he was living over this unhappy episode.

"I can well imagine your feelings and sympathize with them," said Mr.
Middleton. "There you sat in the encircling darkness, asking yourself
with no hope of an answer, 'Was it Mildred? Was it her sister? Was it
Mildred contemptuously repudiating the idea of marriage with me, or
the sister haughtily scoffing at some sentiments just professed by
Mildred? But I should not have spent too long a time asking how I was
to know. I should put the matter to the test and had it out with
Mildred, Miss Mildred, I should say."

The emir looked steadily at Mr. Middleton. There was surprise,
annoyance, perhaps even vexation in his gaze. With incisive tones, he
said:

"How could you so mistake me? Ours is a line whose lineage goes back
twelve hundred years, a noble and unsullied line. Could I, sir, think
of making my wife, making a princess of my race, a woman who could
entertain the thought of stooping to marry a Dago cheap circus man?
Suppose I had gone to Mildred and had asked her if she had expressed
herself of such a demeaning declaration? Suppose she had said, 'Yes,'
then there I would have been, compromised, caught in an entanglement
from which as a man of honor, I could not withdraw. The only thing to
do was to keep silence. The risk was too great, I resolved to leave on
the morrow. For the first time did I learn that I was believed to be a
Dago and the proprietor of the little menagerie. This strengthened my
resolve to leave.

"I left. Your happy encounter with the young ladies in the restaurant
changed all. They learned from you that I was their social equal. They
looked me up and apologized for their apparent lack of appreciation of
my services and explained that they thought me a Dago circus man. I
learned that neither of them believed in a mesalliance, that the
question I had heard was a rhetorical question merely, one not
expecting an answer, much used by orators to express a strong negation
of the sentiments apparently contained in the question. But I have not
yet learned which girl it was who asked the question. It is entirely
immaterial and I don't think I shall try to find out, even after I am
married, for of course you have surmised I am to be married, to be
married to Mildred."

"Yes, another American heiress marries a foreign nobleman," said Mr.
Middleton, with a bitterness that did not escape the emir.

"Permit me to correct a popular fallacy," said the emir. "Nothing
could be more erroneous than the prevalent idea that American girls
marry foreign noblemen because attracted by the glitter of rank,
holding their own plain republican citizens in despite. Sir, it takes
a title to make a foreigner equal to American men in the eyes of
American women. A British knight may compete with the American mister,
but when you cross the channel, nothing less than a count will do in a
Frenchman, a baron in the line of a German, while, for a Russian to
receive any consideration, he must be a prince.

"And now," said the emir, "my little establishment here being about to
be broken up, I am going to ask you to accept certain of my effects
which for sundry reasons I cannot take with me to my new abode. My
jewels, hangings, and costumes, my wife will like, of course. But as
she is opposed to smoking, there are six narghilehs and four
chibouques which I will never use again. As I am about to unite with
the Presbyterian church this coming Sunday, it might cause my wife
some disquietude and fear of backsliding, were I to retain possession
of my eight copies of the Koran. She may be wise there," said the emir
with a sigh. "If perchance you should embrace the true faith and
thereby make compensation for the loss of a member occasioned by my
withdrawal----"

"That would not even matters up," interrupted Mr. Middleton, "for I am
not a Presbyterian, but a Methodist."

"Oh," said the emir. "Well, there are five small whips of rhinoceros
hide and two gags. My wife will not wish me to keep those, nor a
crystal casket containing twenty-seven varieties of poisons. Then
there are other things that you might have use for and I have not. I
have sent for a cab and Mesrour will stow the things in it."

At that moment the cab was heard without and Mesrour began to load it
with the gifts of the emir. At length he ceased his carrying and stood
looking expectantly. With an air of embarrassment, and clearing his
throat hesitatingly, the emir addressed Mr. Middleton.

"There is one last thing I am going to ask you to take. I cannot call
it a gift. I can look upon your acceptance of it in no other light
than a very great service. Some time ago, when marriage in this
country was something too remote to be even dreamed of, I sent home
for an odalisque."

The emir paused and looked obliquely at Mr. Middleton, as if to
observe the effect of this announcement. That excellent young man had
not the faintest idea what an odalisque might be, but he had ever made
it a point when strange and unknown terms came up, to wait for
subsequent conversation to enlighten him directly or by inference as
to their meaning. In this way he saved the trouble of asking questions
and, avoiding the reputation of being inquisitive and curious, gained
that of being well informed upon and conversant with a wide range of
subjects. So he looked understandingly at the emir and remarking
approvingly, "good eye," the emir continued, much encouraged.

"To a lonely man such as I then was, the thought of having an
odalisque about, was very comforting. Lonely as I then was, an
odalisque would have afforded a great deal of company."

"That's right," said Mr. Middleton. "Why, even cats are company. The
summer I was eighteen, everybody in our family went out to my
grandfather's in Massachusetts, and I stayed home and took care of the
house. I tell you, I'd been pretty lonely if it hadn't been for our
two cats."

"But now I am going to be married and my wife would not think of
tolerating an odalisque about the house. She simply would not have it.
The odalisque arrived last night, and I am in a great quandary. I
could not think of turning the poor creature out perhaps to starve."

"That's right," said Mr. Middleton. "Some persons desiring to dispose
of a cat, will carry it off somewhere and drop it, thinking that more
humane than drowning it. But I say, always drown a cat, if you wish to
get rid of it."

"Now I have thought that you, being without a wife to object, might
take this burden off my hands. I will hand you a sum sufficient for
maintenance during a considerable period and doubtless you can, as
time goes on, find someone else who wants an odalisque, or discover
some other way of disposal, in case you tire----"

"Send her along," said Mr. Middleton, cordially and heartily. "If
worst comes to worst, there's an old fellow I know who sells parrots
and cockatoos and marmosets, and perhaps he'd like an odalisque."

"I will send her," said the emir.

"So it's a she," quoth Mr. Middleton to himself. He had used the
feminine in the broad way that it is applied indefinitely to ships,
railways trains, political parties etc., etc., with no thought of
fitting a fact.

"I will give you fifteen hundred dollars for her maintenance. Having
brought her so far, I feel a responsibility----"

"But that is such a large sum. I really wouldn't need so much----"

"That is none too large," rejoined the emir. "I wish her to be treated
well and I believe you will do it. At first, she will not understand
anything you say to her, of course, but she will soon learn what you
mean. The tone, as much as the words, enlightens, and I think you will
have very little trouble in managing her."

"Is there a cage?" hazarded Mr. Middleton, "or won't I need one?"

"Lock her in a room, if you are afraid she will run away, though such
a fear is groundless. Or if you wish to punish her, the rhinoceros
whips would do better than a cage. A cage is so large and I could
never see any advantage in it. But you will probably never have
occasion to use even a whip. You will have but this one odalisque. Had
you two or three, they might get to quarreling among themselves and
you might have use for a whip. But toward you, she will be all
gentleness, all submission."

Mr. Middleton and the emir then turned to the counting and accounting
of the fifteen hundred dollars, and so occupied, the lawyer missed
seeing Mesrour pass with the odalisque and did not know she had been
put in the hack until the emir had so apprised him.

"She is in a big coffee sack," said the emir. "The meshes of the
fabric are sufficiently open to afford her ample facility for
breathing, and yet she can't get out. Then, too, it will simplify
matters when you get to your lodgings. You will not have to lead her
and urge her, frightened and bewildered by so much moving about, but
pack her upon your back in the bag and carry her to your room with
little trouble.

"And now," continued the emir, grasping Mr. Middleton's hands warmly,
"for the last time do I give you God-speed from this door. I will not
disguise my belief that our intimacy has in a measure come to an end.
As a married man, I shall not be so free as I have been. I am no
longer in need of seeking out knowledge of strange adventures. The
tyrannical imam of Oman, who imprisoned my brother, is dead, and his
successor, commiserating the poor youth's sorrows, has not only
liberated him, but given him the vermillion edifice of his
incarceration. This my brother intends to transmute into gold, for he
has hit upon the happy expedient of grinding it up into a face powder,
a rouge, beautiful in tint and harmless in composition, for the rock
was quarried in one of the most salubrious locations upon the upper
waters of the great river Euphrates. I trust I shall sometimes see you
at our place, where I am sure I shall be joined in welcoming you by
Mrs.--Mrs.--well, to tell the truth," said the emir in some slight
confusion, "I don't know what her name will be, for it is obviously
out of the question to call her Mrs. Achmed Ben Daoud, and she objects
to the tribal designation of Alyam, which I had temporarily adopted
for convenience's sake, as ineuphonious."

"Sir, friend and benefactor, guiding lamp of my life, instructor of my
youth and moral exemplar," said Mr. Middleton, in the emotion of the
moment allowing his speech an Oriental warmth which the cold
self-consciousness of the Puritan would have forbade, had he been
addressing a fellow American, "I cannot tell you the advantages that
have flowed from my acquaintance with you. It was indeed the turning
point of my life. The pleasure I will leave untouched upon, as I must
alike on the present occasion, the profits. Let me briefly state that
they foot up to $3760. A full accounting of how they accrued, would
consume the rest of the night, and so it must be good-bye."

As Mr. Middleton looked back for the last time upon that hospitable
doorway, he saw the gigantic figure of Mesrour silhouetted against the
dim glow beyond and there solemnly boomed on the night air, the Arabic
salutation, "Salaam aleikoom."



_What Befell Mr. Middleton Because of the Eighth and Last Gift of the
Emir._


Getting into the hack and settling into the sole remaining vacant
space Mesrour had left in loading the vehicle with the emir's gifts,
Mr. Middleton was so preoccupied by a gloomy dejection as he reflected
that a most agreeable, not to say inspiring and educating, intimacy
was at last ended, that he reached his lodgings and had begun to
unload his new possessions, before he thought of the odalisque. There
lay the coffee sack lengthwise on the front seat and partially
reclining against the side of the carriage. He was greatly surprised
at the size of the unknown creature and began to surmise that it was
an anthropoid ape, though before his speculations had ranged from
parrots through dogs to domesticated leopards. Leaving the coffee sack
until the last, he gingerly seized the slack of the top of the bag and
proceeded to pull it upon his shoulders, taking care to avoid holding
the creature where it could kick or struggle effectually, for despite
all the emir had told him of the gentleness of the odalisque, he was
resolved to take no chances. Whatever the creature was, she had slid
down, forming a limp lump at the end of the bag, when he charily
deposited it on the floor and turned to consult his dictionary before
untying it. He was going to know what the creature was before he dealt
with her further, a creature so large as that.

_Odalisque._ A slave or concubine in a Mohammedan harem!!

A woman!!!

Mr. Middleton tore at the string by which the bag was tied, full of
the keenest self-reproach. The uncomfortable position during the long
ride, the worse position in which she now lay. The knots refused to
budge and snatching a knife, with a mighty slashing, he ripped the bag
all away and disclosed the slender form of a woman crouched, huddled,
collapsed, face downward, head upon her knees. Turning her over and
supporting her against his breast in a sitting posture, Mr. Middleton
looked upon the most loveliness, unhappiness, and helplessness he had
ever beheld.

For a moment his heart almost stopped as he looked into the still
face, but he saw the bosom faintly flutter, slow tears oozed out from
under the long lashes of the closed lids, and the cupid's bow mouth
gave little twitches of misery and hopelessness. With what exquisite
emotions was he filled as he looked down upon the head pillowed upon
his breast, with what sentiments of anger, with what noble chivalry!

A Moslem woman. A Moslem woman, who even in the best estate of her sex
as free and a wife, goes to her grave like a dog, with no hope of a
life beyond, unless her husband amid the joys of Paradise should turn
his thoughts back to earth and wish for her there among his houris.
But this poor sweet flower had not even this faint expectation, for
she was no wife nor could be, slave of a Mohammedan harem. No rights
in this world nor the next. Not even the attenuated rights which law
and custom gave the free woman. No sustaining dream of a divine
recompense for the unmerited unhappiness of this existence. A slave, a
harem slave, wanted only when she smiled, was gay, and beautiful; who
must weep alone and in silence, in silence, with never a sympathetic
shoulder to weep upon after they sold her from her mother's side. Tied
in a bag, going she knew not whither, thrown in a carriage like so
much carrion, in these indignities she only wept in silence, for her
lord, the man, must not be discomposed. Like the timorous, helpless
wild things of the woods whose joys and sorrows must ever be voiceless
lest the bloody tyrants of their domain come, who even in the crunch
of death hold silence in their weak struggles, this poor young thing
bore her sufferings mutely, for her lord, the man, must not be
discomposed, choking her very breath lest a sob escape. Mr. Middleton,
in a certain illuminating instinct which belongs to women but only
occasionally comes to some men, saw all this in a flash without any
pondering and turning over and reflecting and comparing, and he said
to himself under his breath, not eloquently, but well, as there came
home to him the heinousness of that abhorrant social system dependent
upon the religious system of the Prophet of Mecca, "Damn the emir and
Mohammed and the whole damned Mohammedan business, kit and boodle!"

In this imprecation there was a piece of grave injustice which Mr.
Middleton would not have allowed himself in calmer mood, for the emir
was about to become a member of one of the largest and most
fashionable Presbyterian congregations in the city and ought not to
have been included in an anathema of Moslemry and condemned for
anything he upheld while in the benighted condition of Mohammedanism.

Mr. Middleton continuing to gaze, as who could not, upon that
beautiful unhappy face, suddenly he imprinted upon the quivering lips
a kiss in which was the tender sympathy of a mother, the heartening
encouragement of a friend, and the ardent passion of a lover. The
odalisque opened her lovely hazel eyes and _seeing_ corroboration of
all the _touch_ of the kiss had told her, as she looked into eyes that
brimmed with tears like hers, upon lips that quivered like hers, she
let loose the flood gates of her woes in a torrent of sobs and tears,
and throwing herself upon his shoulders, poured out her long pent
sorrows in a good cry.

It was only a summer shower and the sun soon shone. She did not weep
long. Too filled with wonder and surpassing delight was this daughter
of the Orient in her first experience with the chivalry of the
Occident. She must needs look again at this man whose eyes had welled
full in compassion for her. She would court again his light and
soothing caresses, his gentle ministrations, so different from the
brutal pawing of the male animals of her own race, the moiety with
souls. Ah, how poignantly sweet, how amazing, that which to her
American sisters was the usual, the commonplace, the everyday!

She raised her head. Her tears no longer flowed, but her lips still
quivered, in a pleading little smile; and her bosom still fluttered,
in a shy and doubting joy, and in her mind floated a half-formed
prayer that the genii whose craft had woven this rapturous dream,
would not too soon dispel it.

Mr. Middleton gazed at her. He had never seen a face like that, so
perfectly oval; never such vermillion as showed under the dusk of her
cheeks and stained the lips, narrow, but full. What wondrous eyes were
those, so large and lustrous, illumining features whose basal lines of
classic regularity were softly tempered into a fluent contour. A
circlet of gold coins bound her brow, shining in bright relief against
the luxuriant masses of chestnut hair. A delicate and slender figure
had she, yet well cushioned with flesh and no bones stood out in her
bare neck.

Moved not by his own discomfort on the hard floor, but by the possible
discomfort of the odalisque, Mr. Middleton at length raised her and
conducted her to a red plush sofa obtained by the landlady for soap
wrappers and a sum of money, which having turned green in places and
therefore become no longer suitable for a station in the parlor, had
been placed in this room a few days before. Upon this imposing article
of furniture the two sat down, and though at first Mr. Middleton did
no more than place his arm gently and reassuringly about the girl's
waist and hold her hand lightly, in the natural evolution,
progression, and sequence of events, following the rules of contiguity
and approach--rhetorical rules, but not so here--before long the cheek
of the fair Arab lay against that of the son of Wisconsin and her arm
was about his neck and every little while she uttered a little sigh of
complete, of unalloyed content. What had been yesterday, what might be
to-morrow, she was now happy. As for Mr. Middleton, what a stream of
delicious thoughts, delicious for the most part because of their
unselfishness and warm generosity, flowed through his head. What a joy
it would be to make happy the path of this girl who had been so
unhappy, to lay devotion at the feet of her who had never dreamed
there was such a thing in the world, to bind himself the slave of her
who had been a slave.

Then, too, he luxuriated in the simple, elementary joy of possession
and the less elementary joy of possession of new things, whether new
hats, new clothes, new books, new horses, new houses, or new girls,
and which is the cause why so many of us have new girls and new beaux.
And when he looked ahead and saw only one logical termination of the
episode, he swelled with a pride that was honest and unselfish, as he
thought how all would look and admire as he passed with this lovely
woman, his wife.

He could have sat thus the whole night through, but the girl must be
tired, worn by the sufferings of this day and many before. He motioned
toward the bed and indicated by pantomime that she should go to it.
She would have descended to her knees and with her damask lips brushed
the dust from his shoes, if she had thought he wished it, but she knew
not what he meant by his gesturing and sat bewildered in eager and
anxious willingness. So arranging the bed for her occupancy, he took
her in his arms and bore her to it and dropped her in. The riotous
blushes chased each other across her cheeks as she lay there with eyes
closed, so sweet, so helpless, so alone.

For a little season he stood there gazing, gloating, enravished, like
to hug himself in the keen titillation of his ecstasy and this was not
all because this lovely being was his, but because he was hers.

Glancing about the room preliminarily to leaving, and wondering what
further was to be done for the girl's comfort and peace of mind, he
bethought him of an ancient tale he had once read. In this narration,
fate having made it unavoidable that a noble lord should pass the
night in a castle tower with a fair dame of high degree and there
being but one bed in the apartment, he had placed a naked sword in the
middle of the bed between them and so they passed the night, guarded
and menaced by the falchion, for the nonce become the symbol of bright
honor and cold virtue. Mr. Middleton had often wondered why the knight
did not sleep on the floor, or outside the door, as he himself now
intended doing. But it occurred to him that some such symbol might
reassure the Arab damosel and having no sword, he drew one of the
large pistols the emir had given him and approached the bed to lay it
there.

The girl's eyes had now opened and Mr. Middleton started as he beheld
her face. Once more the hunted, helpless look it had worn when first
he had looked on it. But more. Such an utter fear and sickening unto
death. But not fear, terror for herself. Fear for the death of an
ideal, a fear caused by her misinterpretation of his intent with the
pistol. It had not been real, it had not been real. He was as other
men, the men of her world and all the world was alike and life not
worth living. With a finesse he had not suspected he possessed, he
laid the pistol on a pile of legal papers on a table at the bed's
head, a pile whose sheets a suddenly entering breeze was whirling
about the room. How obvious it was he had brought the pistol for a
paper weight. Once more the girl was smiling as he drew the clothes
over her, all dressed as she was, and kissing shut her drowsy eyes, he
left her in her virginal couch.

On the mat before the door in the hallway without, he disposed himself
as comfortably as he could. With due regard for the romantic
proprieties, he tried to keep within the bounds of the mat. But it was
too short, his curled up position too uncomfortable, and so he
overflowed it and could scarcely be said to be sleeping on the mat. It
was too late to arouse the landlady and although he was there by
choice, it could not have been otherwise.

After snatches of broken sleep, after dreams waking and dreams
sleeping, which were all alike and of one thing and indistinguishable,
he was at length fully awake at a little before six and aware of an
odor of tobacco smoke. Applying his nose to the crack of the door, he
finally became convinced that it came from his room. Wondering what it
could possibly mean, and accordingly opening the door, opening it so
slowly and gradually that the odalisque could have ample time to seek
the cover of the bed clothes, he stepped in.

There sat the odalisque on the edge of the bed, fully dressed, puffing
away at his big meerschaum, blowing clouds that filled the room. On
the table lay an empty cigarette box that had been full the night
before. This had not belonged to Mr. Middleton, who was not a
cigarette smoker and despised the practice, but had been forgotten by
Chauncy Stackelberg on a recent visit. The fingers of her right hand
were stained yellow, not by the cigarettes of that one box, but the
unnumbered cigarettes of years. Mr. Middleton had not noticed these
fingers the night before, but had been absorbed by her face, and this
as beautiful, as piquant, as bewitching as before, looked up at him,
the lips puckered, waiting, longing.

He stood there, stock-still, stern, troubled, dismayed.

She moved over, where she sat on the edge of the bed, with mute
invitation, and Mr. Middleton continuing to stand and stare, she moved
again and yet again, until she was against the headboard. And still he
did not sit beside her, thinking all the time of the young lady of
Englewood whose pure Puritan lips never had been and never could be
defiled by cigarettes and tobacco. The young lady of Englewood, the
young lady of Englewood, what a jewel of women was she and what a fool
he had been and how unkind and inconsiderate! Recalled by a little
snuffle from the odalisque, he saw the puckered lips were relaxing
sorrowfully and fearing the girl would cry, he hastily sat down beside
her and put his right arm about her. But he did not take the shapely
hand that now laid down the meerschaum, and though her head fell on
his shoulder and her breath came and went with his, he did not kiss
her, for that breath was laden with tobacco. Nor did his fingers stray
through those masses of silken hair, for he was sure they were full of
the fumes of tobacco. There with his arm about the soft, uncorsetted
form of that glorious beauty, her own white forearm smooth and cool
about his neck, he was thinking of the young lady of Englewood.

Poor odalisque! Why cannot he speak to you and tell you? You would
wash away those yellow stains with your own blood, if you thought he
wished it. Forego tobacco? Why, you would cease to inhale the breath
of life itself, for his sake.

Out of the grave came all the dead Puritan ancestors of Mr. Middleton,
a long procession back to Massachusetts Bay. The elders of Salem who
had ordained that a man should not smoke within five miles of a house,
the lawgivers who had prescribed the small number, brief length, and
sad color of ribbons a woman might wear and who forbade a man to kiss
his wife on Sunday, all these righteous and uncomfortable folk stirred
in Mr. Middleton's blood and obsessed him.

Fatima, Nouronhor, or whatever your name might be, my fair Moslem, why
did fate throw you in with a Puritan? Yet I wot that had it been one
from a strain of later importation from Europe, you had not been so
safe there last night. The Puritans may be disagreeable, but they are
safe, safe.

Part of this Mr. Middleton was saying over and over to himself--the
latter part. The Puritans are safe. The young lady of Englewood was
safe. She was good, she was beautiful, too, in her calm, sweet,
Puritan way. He must see her at once, he would go---- A sigh, not
altogether of content, absolute and complete, recalled to him the
woman pressed against his side. She must be taken care of, disposed
of. Asylum? No. Factory? No, no. Theater, museum? No, no, no. He would
find some man to marry her. There must be someone, lots of men, in
fact, who would marry a girl so lovely, who needn't find out she
smoked until after marriage, or who would not care anyway. All this
might take time. He would be as expeditious as possible, however. He
called Mrs. Leschinger, the landlady, and entrusting the girl to her
care, departed to visit a matrimonial agency he knew of.

He looked over the list of eligibles. He read their misspelled,
crabbedly written letters. There was not one in the lot to whom a man
of conscience could entrust the Moslem flower, even if she did smoke.

"There is apparently not one man of education or refinement in the
whole lot," exclaimed Mr. Middleton.

"That's about right," said the president of the agency. "Between you
and I, there ain't many people of refinement who would go at marrying
in that way. You don't know what a lot of jays and rubes I have to
deal with. Often I threaten to retire. But occasionally a real
gentleman or lady does register in our agency. Object, fun or
matrimony. Now I have one client that is all right, all right except
in one particular. He is a man of thirty-five or six, fine looking,
has a nice house and five thousand dollars a year clear and sure. But
he's stone deaf. He wants a young and handsome girl. Now I could get
him fifty dozen homely young women, or pretty ones that weren't
chickens any longer, real pretty and refined, but you see a real
handsome young girl sort of figures her chances of marrying are good,
that she may catch a man who can hear worth as much as this Crayburn,
which ain't a whole lot, or that if she does marry a poor young chap,
he'll have as much as Crayburn does when he is as old as Crayburn. Now
I'm so sure you'll only have your trouble for your pains, that I won't
charge you anything for his address and a letter of introduction. I
don't believe you have got a girl who will suit, for if you have, she
won't take Crayburn. Here's his picture."

Mr. Middleton looked upon the photograph of a man who seemed to be
possessed of some of the best qualities of manhood. It was true that
there was a slight suspicion of weakness in the face, but above all it
was kindly and sympathetic.

"A good looking man," said Mr. Middleton.

"Smart man, too," said the matrimonial agent. "He graduated from the
university in Evanston and was a lawyer and a good one, until a friend
fired off one of those big duck guns in his ear for a joke."

Taking the odalisque with him in a cab, Mr. Middleton was off for the
residence of Mr. Crayburn.

"Will she have me?" asked Mr. Crayburn, when he had read Mr.
Middleton's hastily penciled account of the main facts of his
connection with the fair Moslem, wherein for brevity's sake he had
omitted any mention of the fifteen hundred dollars the emir had given
him for assuming charge of her.

"Of course," wrote Mr. Middleton.

"I never saw a more beautiful woman," exclaimed Mr. Crayburn. "By the
way, have you noticed any predilections, habits, wants, it would be
well for me to know about?"

"She smokes," wrote Mr. Middleton, not knowing why he wrote it, and
wishing like the devil that he hadn't the moment he had.

"All Oriental women smoke. I will ask her not to as soon as she learns
English."

Mr. Middleton was amazed to think that such a simple solution had not
occurred to him. But he was glad it was so, for he had not been
unscathed by Cupid's darts there last night and he might not now be
about to visit the young lady of Englewood.

"Your fee," said Mr. Crayburn.

Mr. Middleton had not thought of this. He looked about at the
handsomely furnished room. He thought of the five thousand dollars a
year and the very much smaller income he could offer the young lady of
Englewood. He thought of these things and other things. He thought of
the young lady of Englewood; of the odalisque, toward whom he occupied
the position of what is known in law as next friend. She sat behind
him, out of his sight, but he saw her, saw her as he saw her for the
first time, when, ripping the bag away, she lay there in her piteous,
appealing helplessness.

"There is no fee. The maiden even has a dowry of fifteen hundred
dollars. Please invest it in her name. Oh, sir, treat her kindly."

"Treat her kindly!" exclaimed the deaf man with emotion. "He would be
a hound who could ill treat one so helpless and friendless, a stranger
in a strange land, whose very beauty would be her undoing, were she
without a protector."

Much relieved, Mr. Middleton prepared to depart and the odalisque saw
she was not to be included in his departure. She noted the luxurious
appointments of the house, so different from the threadbare and seedy
furnishings of Mr. Middleton's one lone room, but rather a thousand
times would she have been there. A tumult of yearning and love filled
her heart, but beyond the slow tears in her eyes and the trembling
lips, no one could have guessed it. Once more she was a Moslem slave,
sold by the man whom last night she had thought----She bowed to kismet
and strangled her feelings as she had so many times before. And so
after a shake of the hand, Mr. Middleton left her, left her to learn
as the idol of Mr. Crayburn's life, with every whim gratified, that
the first American she had known was but one of millions.

Away toward Englewood hastened Mr. Middleton, reasoning with himself
in a somewhat casuistical manner. His conscience smote him as he
thought of the previous night. But what else could anybody have done?
Deprived of the power of communicating by the means of words, he had
by caresses assuaged her grief and stilled her fears and now it was
too plain he had made her love him and he had left her in desolation.
But heigho! what was the use of repining over spilled milk and
nicotined fingers that another man and good would care for, and he
himself had not been unscathed by Cupid's darts there the night
before.

The young lady of Englewood was just putting on her hat to go out and
was standing before the mirror in the hallway. Mr. Middleton had never
called at that hour of the day. For months he had not called at all
and she never expected that he would again. So without any
apprehension at all, she was wearing one of the green silk shirt
waists she had made from the Turkish trousers he had given her, and
had just got her hat placed to suit her, when there he was!

She turned, blushing furiously. Whether it was the confusion caused
her by being discovered in this shirt waist, or the joy of seeing him
again and the complete surrender, she made in this joy, so delectable
and unexpected and which was not unmixed with a little fear that if he
went away this time, he would never come back again, never! whether it
was these things or what not, she made no struggle at all as Mr.
Middleton threw his arms about her, threw them about her as if she
were to rescue him from some fate, and though he said nothing
intelligible for some time, but kissed her lips, cheeks, and nose,
which latter she had been at pains to powder against the hot sun then
prevailing, she made no resistance at all and breathed an audible
"yes," when he uttered a few incoherent remarks which might be
interpreted as a proposal of marriage.

Here let us leave him, for all else would be anti-climax to this
supreme moment of his life. Here let us leave him where I wish every
deserving bachelor may some day be: in the arms of an honest and
loving woman who is his affianced wife.





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