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Title: Lonesome Town
Author: Dorrance, Ethel, Dorrance, James
Language: English
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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 "Lonesome Town" ***

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[Illustration: _Only at the threat of her raised crop did he drop the
grasped bridle rein._]

                             LONESOME TOWN


                       ETHEL _and_ JAMES DORRANCE

                               AUTHORS OF
             “Glory Rides the Range,” “Get Your Man,” etc.

                            FRONTISPIECE BY
                               G. W. GAGE

                                NEW YORK
                          THE MACAULAY COMPANY

                         _Copyright, 1922, by_
                          THE MACAULAY COMPANY

                        PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.

                          FATHER KNICKERBOCKER






























                             LONESOME TOWN


The trail spilled into a pool of shadows at the bottom of the gorge. As
if doubtful of following it, the lone rider in chaps and a flannel shirt
drew up for a “breathing.” This was gratefully advantaged by his mount.
Evidently they had come at speed, whatever the distance, for the reins
were lathered and foam flecked the bit corners.

The man removed his white sombrero and mopped his brow with a purple
bandanna. The fingers with which he combed back his moist thatch nicely
matched the hair in color—sunburn brown. His head bulged slightly at the
back, but was balanced on a neck and shoulders splendidly proportioned.
His rather plain face was not covered with stubble or mustache—cheek
bones high, jaw sloping in at an angle, nose straight, lips thin by
contrast with their width.

While he rests in his saddle, every pore of him exuding healthfully to
the midsummer heat of an unusual spring, meet “Why-Not” Pape, of
Hellroaring Valley, Montana. But don’t expect to understand—not at first
hand grasp—how one christened Peter Stansbury Pape some thirty-odd years
before, had come by his interrogatory sobriquet. No more could you have
seen in his expression excuse for the pace to which he had put his
horse. His eyes—the best of his features—looked pleased and told of
peace with the world; gray, with dark lashes and irises, they scanned
the granite wall rising sheer from the trail-side. Sighting a bull snake
that peered down at him from its crevasse, both of them smiled and one
amiably winked.

You must have been something of a psychoanalyst—able to go below the
surface of day-time and sleep-time dreams—to have realized the
unreliability in this case of surface indications. Only by such
super-sight could you have seen that Why-Not Pape merely appeared to be
peaceful and pleased. As a matter of fact, his head and his heart were
heavy with disappointment. But then, a subject so deep and personal
shouldn’t be broached at this first formal introduction.

Meet also, if you please, Polkadot Pape, a cross-bred cow-pony who soon
could quip the interest of any horse-worthy he-man and who, by virtue of
his weird and wicked style of beauty, could command the admiration of
the fair. Had you stood on the trail before him and made the slightest
friendly overture, he would have bent a foreleg—the right one—and
offered you a hoof-shake without so much as a nudge from the rider who
most times was his master-mind. Contrary to the suggestion of his given
name, his coat was not dotted; rather, was splotched with three
colors—sorrel and black on a background of white. The extra splotch took
him out of the pinto class and made him a horse apart. And always he
gaited himself with the distinctive style of the bold, black spot
beneath his left eye. This late afternoon, however, despite the toss of
his head and swish of his long white tail, his manner, like his man’s,
was superficial—the mere reflex from a habit of keeping up appearances.
Circumstances over which he had no control darkened around him like a
swarm of horse-flies.

Below a shadow pool lured. Beyond, the thin trail beckoned. Pape glanced
upward. A white circle upon a dying elm—one of a group that struggled
for their lives up over the rocks forming the east side of the
gorge—caught his eye. Above he saw a second white circle upon a
half-withered red birch; still higher, a third upon a bald cypress.
Aware that no elm, birch, or cypress, alive or half alive or dead,
reproduced perfect white circles on its trunk, he decided that these had
been painted there with a purpose by the hand of man.

His desire to follow a trail so oddly blazed was indulged as quickly as
born. The caress of one knee against saddle leather and the lightest
lift of rein notified his tricolored steed. Polkadot sprang from the
beaten path into an upward scramble over the rocks. The going would have
advised the least astute of mountain goats to watch its step. But Dot
was sure-footed from long practice over the boundary barriers of
Hellroaring Valley.

When the white blaze faded out—when the trees ceased to be
circle-marked—neither man nor mount would have considered a stop. From
appearances, no one ahorse had left that gorge before by that route;
probably no one would again. On and up they moved, enticed by the
mystery of what might or might not be lurking at the top.

Across a flat bristling with rhododendrons and so small as to be
accounted scarce more than a ledge, trotted the cow-pony; insinuated his
way through a fringe of Forsythia brush just beginning to yellow; dug
his shoe-prongs into the earth of a steep, but easier slope. Pape,
looking back, could see through the tree tips a mountainous range of
turreted peaks and flat-topped buttes, terminating on the north in a
massive green copper dome. The height gained, he was interested by the
discovery of an unroofed blockhouse of rough stone that literally
perched upon a precipitous granite hump. Was it a relic of Indian
war-path days? Had the flintlocks of pioneers spit defiance through the
oblong loopholes inserted at intervals in its walls? He wondered.

“You wouldn’t be homesick at all, Dot, if your imagination had the speed
of your hoofs,” he leaned down to adjure his horse, after a habit formed
on many a lonelier trail. “Can’t you just hear those old-fashioned
pop-guns popping? No? Well, at least you can hear the dogwood yapping?
Look around you, horse-alive! Don’t this scene remind you of home? Of
course you’ve got to concentrate on things near at hand. But trust me,
that’s the secret of living to-day—concentration. Look far afield and
you’ll lose the illusion, just as you bark your shins when you mix

A shrill trill startled both; centered Pape’s attention on the brush
that edged the mesa to his right. But the quail he suspected was too
expert in the art of camouflage to betray its presence except by a
repetition of his call, closer and more imperative than the first.

“That bird-benedict must be sized like a sage hen to toot all that.
Maybe he’s a Mormon and obliged to get noisy to assemble his wives.”

This sanguinary illusion, along with varied others which had preceded
it, was dissipated a moment after its inception and rather rudely. The
trill sounded next from their immediate rear. Both horse and rider
turned, to see pounding toward them a man uniformed in blue, between his
lips a nickel-bright whistle, in his right hand a short, but
official-looking club. Of the pair of Westerners who awaited the
approach, one at least remembered that he was two-thousand-odd miles
away from the Hellroaring home range of his over-worked imagination;
appreciated that he was in for a set-to with a “sparrow cop” of
America’s most metropolitan police.

Gasping from the effort of hoisting his considerable avoirdupois up the
height and sputtering with offended dignity, the officer stamped to a
stand alongside and glared fearsomely.

“What you mean, leaving the bridle path? Say, I’m asking you!”

“Horse bolted.” Pape parried with a half-truth—Dot _had_ sort of bolted
up the rocks.

The official eye fixed derisively on the angora chaps; lifted to the
blue flannel shirt; stopped at the stiff-brimmed white Stetson. “One of
them film heroes, eh?”

“Film? Not me. You’ll be asking my pardon, brother, when you know who——”

The officer interrupted with increasing belligerence: “Trying to play
wild and woolly and never been acrost the Hudson River, like as not! You
take an out-and-outer’s advice. Put away them Bill Hart clothes and ride
a rocking-chair until you learn to bridle a hoss. I’ve a good mind to
run you in. Why didn’t you mind my whistle?”

“Honest, Mr. Policeman, I thought you were a quail. You sounded just

“A quail—_me_? I’ll learn you to kid a member of the Force. You climb
down offen that horse, now, and come along with me over to the Arsenal.”

“Why Arsenal? Do you think I’m a big gun or a keg of powder?”

“The Arsenal’s the 33d Precinct Station House. Fresh bird yourself!”

The officer’s look told Pape even louder than his words that the time
for persiflage had passed, unless he really wished a police court
interval. He had indulged his humor too far in likening this overgrown,
formidable “sparrow” to the most succulent tidbit of the fowl species.
He brought into play the smooth smile that had oiled troubled waters of
his past.

“No offense meant, I assure you. It happens that my hoss and I are from
exceeding far across the river you mention—Montana. We’ve found your big
town lonesome as a sheep range. Fact, we only feel comfortable when
we’re sloping around in this park. Parts of it are so like Hellroaring

“I can pinch you again for cussin’, young feller!”

“You can’t pinch a citizen for merely mentioning the geographical name
of his home valley, which same you can find on any map. As I was about
to say, there are spots in this stone-fenced ranch that make us think of
God’s country. Just now, when we saw a trail blazed with white circles,
we plumb forgot where we were and bolted.”

The guardian of law and order continued to look the part of an indignant
butt of banter.

“A blazed trail in Central Park, New York?” he scoffed. “You’ll show me
or you’ll come along to the station!”

“Why not a blazed trail—why not anything in Central Park?”

Peter Pape put the question with that grin, half ironic and wholly
serious, with which he had faced other such posers in his past. To him,
the West come East, this park was the heart of the town—Gotham’s great,
green heart. By its moods it controlled the pulse of rich and poor
alike; showed to all, sans price or prejudice, that beauty which is the
love of nature made visible; inspired the most uncouth and unlearned
with the responses of the cultured and the erudite.

The human heart was capable of any emotion, from small to great. Any
deed, then, might be done within the people’s park.


Peter Pape swung from the saddle and, pulling the reins over Polkadot’s
head, led the law’s “strong arm” down the heights over the way he had
ascended on horseback. A glance into the hectic visage beside him
offered the assurance that, while not yet under arrest, he soon would be
if he failed to find those circle-marked trees.

“The town that owns this park, now, should be the last to blame us for
mistaking our locale,” he took occasion to argue amongst their downward
stumbles. “It’s like a regular frontier wilderness—almost. There’s
nothing much around to break the solitude except people—only about six
or seven million of them per day. And there’s nothing to break the
silence except——Listen to that never-ending drone! Don’t it sound for
all the world like the wind playing through pines?”

“Sounds more like motors to me—Fords _and_ automobiles a-playing over
macadam,” grumbled the guard.

But Why-Not Pape was not easily to be diverted from his dream. “And yon
green dome to the north of the range—” he lifted eyes and a hand—“just
couldn’t look more like the copper stain on a butte within binocular
range of my Hellroaring ranch house.”

“Lay off of that irreverence. You can’t cuss at the Cathedral of St.
John the Divine—not in my presence, you can’t!”

The topmost of the trail-blazing trees Pape offered as Exhibit “A” for
the defense. The line of them, when sighted from below, looked to be
leading, he declared.

An off-duty grin humanized the official countenance. “White paint spots
tell the tree gang to saw down dying trunks and haul the logs to the
saw-mill over in North Meadow. If you was to follow all of them as
bridle signs you’d get yourself and that gingham nag of yourn sentenced
for life. This once I’m going to try to believe you’re as green as you
look. C’mon down to the path.”

Their wait at the equestrian trail was not long. A traffic policeman,
mounted on a well-groomed bay, loped toward them, evidently on his way
back to stables from a tour of duty that, from his magnificent
appearance, easily might have included several flirtations and at least
one runaway rescue. At a signal from his fellow afoot, he drew rein.

“You’ll be doing me a favor, Medonis Moore, if you’ll shoo this bird
outen the park,” wheezed he of the whistle. “I got a date ‘sevening and
Night Court’s not me rondy-voo.”

“What’s he gone and done, O’Shay?”

“Called me a quail for one thing, which shows you at the start that he’s
kind of off. I’m right many queer things, like my lady friend tells me,
but never that—not a quail.”

“Nor a quailer from duty, eh Pudge?”

Ignoring the jibe, the weighty one went into detail. “He rode his horse
up to the top of the bluff. Says he’s from somewheres far West. Framed
up a foolish excuse about believing in signs like religion. Says them
white spots on the doomed trees was no lost language to him, but a
message from the dead that led him wrong. Get me—or him? Howsomever, I’m
willing to leave him go this time on account his being good-natured.”

“Account of that date, don’t you mean?”

The sparrow chaser drew up with dignity. “Which or whether, will you do
me the favor, Medonis, of shooing him out?”

The colloquy had advanced of its own spirit, without interruption or
plea from Why-Not Pape. Polkadot had improved the interim by
nose-rubbing an acquaintance with the “’Donis” mount. Here at last was
one of his kind of whom he could approve. Even though the police horse
showed to be too much groomed—was overly “dressy,” as Why-Not often said
of human passers-by—his tail was not docked and he wore a saddle very
near “regular,” certainly not one of those pads of leather on which most
of the park riders posted up and down like monkeys on so many sticks.

“Come along, bo,” decided the magnificent director of traffic. “I’m
weak, but maybe I can keep you on the crooked and narrow far as the
must-you-go gate.”

With a friendly farewell to the “sparrow” who had a “date,” Pape rode
off with his new, enforced escort, Polkadot and the officer’s bay fell
into step.

“Paint that horse yourself?” inquired “’Donis” Moore, with a grin.

This brought a laugh from Pape. “No, my friend; he was foaled as is, so
far as his colors go. He’s just mixed a bit like me, and feels kind of
lonesome in your cold New York.”

“New York cold?”

“You see, Dot and I came expecting the kind of time-of-our-lives we’d
heard about. And we haven’t had it—not yet.”

The handsome officer, who presumedly had been nicknamed after Adonis by
the Force, nodded understandingly. “Ain’t the trouble with your
expectations, now? Would you be likely to hear of those times-of-lives,
if they was the regular thing?”

“But we’re not looking for the regular thing. And why not expect? Don’t
you get what you go after? You, for instance—I should think you’d expect
the limit that kind Fate could give. If I looked like you——”

There was a sincerity of admiration in Pape’s lanky shrug and lapsing
sigh such as “’Donis” Moore evidently wasn’t fortified to resist. He
turned his dark eyes and fine-cut profile to a more detailed study of
his by-proxy charge.

Pape pursued the advantage. “Sound looking critter you’re forking,
officer. What you call him?”

“Hylan is his name—Traffic ‘B.’”

“That’s a new horse alias to me. Dot here does a polka when persuaded
right. If Highland, now, does a fling, we might join them in a ‘brother’
act and put them on the stage.”

“You’ll be trespassing the dignity of our sacred mayor, as well as the
people’s park, if you ain’t careful,” warned ’Donis Moore. “H-y-l-a-n is
what I said was his name and he don’t own up to flings like you mean any
more than our chief executive.”

The Westerner looked interested. “Named your nag after your boss, eh?
Not an untactful idea at all. Hope hoss Hylan explains to Polkadot what
fine company he’s in. First real acquaintance my poor brute’s met up
with since I rode him out of the home corral and into a baggage car
which I couldn’t hocus-pocus him into thinking was the latest in
stables. I reckon it was too portable. He’ll be glad to know that he is
starting at the top in equine circles—with His Honor the Mayor’s

“You talk kind of discouraged, bo. Just what’s gone wrong?”

“Nothing’s gone wrong. You see, nothing’s started.”

“Then why don’t you start something?”

Pape’s attention looked much more arrested than his person. “Start

“Sure. Something, say, along the partic’aler line of your ambitions.”

“The ambitions that have kept me on the move over the four States of my
past range wouldn’t lead me into any nice place in this burg of rules
and regulations, I fear. Even out in God’s country they had to make
allowance for a lot I did. Here, seems like there’s an Indian sign hung
on me. Not a soul knows or cares who or what I am.”

Evidently interested, the police rider checked his mount’s manger-bound
trot to a walk, for they were nearing their division of ways.

“Would you be satisfied, now, with folks knowing who and what you really
are?” he asked impressively, throwing his weight on the right stirrup,
as he leaned toward his charge. “Who and what do you want to be?”

“Who doesn’t matter so much. _What_ I want to be is gay—to get as much
out of playing as I do out of working when I’m home.”

’Donis Moore looked him over critically. “You want to be a gay bird and
you ride around looking like the last shad in the Hudson!” Obviously
pleased with his rôle of mentor, Donis’ dark, handsome face lighted with
his argument. “You see, bo, the people are right busy in this burg. They
can’t stop to chum with strangers. You got to get in step with
them—insist on chumming with them as you swing along. First you got to
look like what you want to be. Appertainin’ to which, I’d get me some
civilized togs if I was you—that is, if you happen to have any spare
change in them corduroys.”

“Change?” enquired Pape. “I let them keep the change. I could buy quite
a chunk of this town—a whole cold shoulder of it—without straining my
finances. I mean that and at present prices. What I haven’t got is
friends—not one among all these millions upon millions of effete folks.
I’m wondering if the run of the cards wouldn’t have been some different
B. P.”

“B. P.? How come? I ain’t no Greek studjent any more than I’m a
descendant of Anna Eva Fay.”

“Before Prohibition,” Why-Not accommodated. “But then, I wouldn’t want
the sort of friends whose innards I had to win any more than I’d want
those I could win with my outards. Clothes don’t make the man—or so the
poets say.”

“That dope’s blank verse, young fellow. Leastwise, the opposite holds in
N’Yawk. The wrong clothes unmake him.” The cop dandy straightened, with
an illustrative, downward glance over his own brass-buttoned
magnificence. “I’m giving it to you right, bo. Unless you’re a celeb,
and have earned a sort of special license to dress contrary to form,
you’d best flatter the people you wanta trot with by harnessing out as
near like ’em as possible. You been wearing that broad-brim on Broadway?
You _have_, eh? Don’t you see that they just naturally take you for a
steerer—likely think you’re wanting to sell ’em stock in some gilt mine?
Not meaning to hurt your feelings, I’ll say that the piebald you’re
riding is the only O. K. thing about you. Happens to be a fawncy of our
_au fait_ cits. to ride broncs this spring. Seeing you’re so careless
about your cash, you’d best throw some into the talons of a tailor and a
hatter and a near-silk-shirt grafter. Then, after you’ve got yourself
looking something like the gay guy you say you wanta be, begin to act
like him. _Do_ something, if you get me, to make ’em notice you.”

They parted at the “Remember the Maine” monument, the official mentor’s
argument duly paid for in thanks, and a “good-luck” hope exchanged.

What could he do to make New York notice him?

Peter Pape pondered the question as Polkadot dodged through Columbus
Circle’s whirligig of traffic—a feat which took all the skill acquired
in cutting out steers from range round-ups. The disinterested source of
the invited advice recommended its substance. Before he had walked his
mount a block down _The_ Way he had decided to follow it. Its first
half—the acquirement of the outer habiliments of sophistication—easily
could be acted upon through the free coinage of gold. The second half——

_How_ make the big town wish to be friends with him?

To himself he admitted the reason back of his confidence to the friendly
Medonis of the Mounted. The very seriousness of his score-squaring
mission to the “cold” burg, made him ambitious to be taken for that “gay
guy” who must be haberdashed into his part—a Western gold-fish come East
to flap his fins in the Big Puddle. He mustn’t forget that he now was a
wealthy man, with no obligations except one voluntary vow and that to
himself; that he still was young enough to feel as gay as any costume
could make him look; that so far in life he had proved strong enough to
do whatever he had decided to do.

So what—_what_?

The dusk of even this daylight-saving hour was thickening. Pape urged
his mount into the rack of Times Cañon. There, toward the convergence of
each street, clumps of vehicles spun forward, only to stop and lose all
they had gained at the command of traffic signals. Variously bound
surface cars clattered through; clanged with self-importance; puffed
with passengers. Pedestrians darted this way, often, to turn and dart
back that, in what seemed a limb-regardless passion to get home in the
fewest possible seconds. Like flour upon the other ingredients in some
great mixing bowl, Evening was sifted over all, then stirred into a
conglomerate, working mass—dough to be baked by dinner time.

The sensation rather than sight of an overhead flash caused the
splotched horse to throw back his head with a snort and the rider to
hang his gaze on high. Unexpectedly, as happen most miracles, a blaze
lit the ungeometrical square and searched the lowering clouds—millions
of watts bottled in bulbs—a fan-fare of nitrogen dyed red, yellow, blue,
green and diamond-white—incalculable volts of power wired into legible

The gray eyes of the Westerner upheld, fascinated, to this sight of
Broadway’s electric display, to him the marvel of the marvels of to-day.
Always was his pulse stirred by it and his imagination set apace. As,
when a child, he had pored over the lurid illustrations of his
fairy-book, so now nightly he pored over this real-life picture. For him
it lit a bridle path into byways of the unknown—into the highway of the

A moment before a problem had darkened his brow. Now the darkness was
displaced by light. Over the suggested answer to the unanswerable he
exulted. What was difficulty of any sort except illusion? His Fatness
the Quail—that is to say, the park sparrow cop—to-day had accused him of
believing too devoutly in signs. Yet _what_ were signs for if not to
point the way?

His chuckles evoked the curiosity of Polkadot. Back toward him waggled
one white-tipped, enquiring ear. Willingly, as at all such requests of
his quadruped pal, he leaned to oblige.

“Why not?” He laughed aloud. “I ask you that, old hoss—_why not_?”


Peter Pape sighed a chestful of relief. They pulled on like ordinary
pants. But of course that was what they were expected to do. Weren’t
they direct from the work room of the most expensive tailor he could
locate in Gotham? Even so, he had inserted his silk-socked toes into
their twin tunnels with some foreboding. They were different, these
long, straight leg-sheaths of his first full-dress suit.

There. The secret is out. Our East-exiled Westerner had followed advice.
Praying that news of his lapse never would wing back to Hellroaring, he
had submitted himself to measurements for a claw-hammer, known chiefly
by rumor on the range as a “swallow-tail.” The result had been delivered
late that afternoon, one week since the signs of Broadway had directed
him aright. The suit had seemed in full possession of the dressing room
of his hotel suite when he had returned from his usual park-path sprint
on Polkadot, an event to-day distinguished by the whipcord riding
breeches of approved balloon cut which had displaced his goat-skin
chaps. Somehow it helped to fill an apartment which hitherto had felt
rather empty; with its air of sophistication suggested the next move in
the rôle for which it was the costume _de luxe_.

The trousers conquered in combat, Pape essayed to don the stiff-bosomed
shirt which, according to the diagram pinned on the wall picturing a
conventional gentleman ready for an evening out, must encase his chest.
His chief conclusion, after several preparatory moments, was that the
hiring of a valet was not adequate cause for a lynching with the first
handy rope. No. There were arguments pro valet which should stay the
hand of any one who ever had essayed to enter the costume _de luxe_ of
said conventional gentleman. What those patent plungers of his real
pearl studs couldn’t and didn’t do! With the contrariness of as many
mavericks, they preferred to puncture new holes in the immaculate linen,
rather than enter the eyelets of the shirt-maker’s provision.

But we won’t go into the matter. Other writers have done it so often and
so soulfully. The one best thing that may be remarked about such trials
of the spirit is that they have an end as well as a beginning. At last
and without totally wrecking the work of the launderer, Why-Not Pape’s
famed will to win won. The shirt was harnessed; hooked-up; coupled.

Now came the test of tests for his patience and persistence—for his
tongue and other such equipment of the genus human for the exercise of
self-control. This was not trial by fire, although the flames of
suppression singed him, but by choking. Again he thought tolerantly of
valets; might have asked even the loan of m’lady’s maid had he been
acquainted personally with any of his fair neighbors.

“They’d ought to sell block and tackle with every box of ’em,” he
assured the ripe-tomato-colored cartoon of himself published in the
dresser mirror.

Smoothing out certain of his facial distortions, lest they become
muscularly rooted, to the ruin of his none too comely visage, he
retrieved a wandering son-of-a-button from beneath the radiator and
returned to the fray with a fresh strip of four-ply. When thrice he had
threatened out loud to tie on a bandanna and let it go at that, by some
slip or trick of his fingers he accomplished the impossible. His neck
protruded proudly from his first stiff collar since the Sunday dress-ups
of Lord Fauntleroy days—before the mother and father of faint but fond
memory had gone, literally and figuratively “West,” leaving their orphan
to work the world “on his own.”

Around the collar the chart entitled, “Proper Dress for Gents at All
Hours,” dictated that he tie a narrow, white silk tie. Anticipating
difficulties here, he had ordered a dozen. And he needed most of them;
tried out one knot after another of his extensive repertoire; at last,
by throwing a modified diamond hitch, accomplished an effect which
gratified him, although probably no dress-tie had been treated quite
that way before.

His chortle of relief that he was at ordeal’s end proved to be
premature. Peering coldly and pointedly at him from across the room,
their twin rows of pop-eyes perpendicularly placed, stood his patent
leathers. Clear through his arches he already had felt their
maliciousness and, as the worst of his trials, had left them to the
last. All too late he recalled the fact that brand new buttoned shoes
only meet across insteps and ankles by suasion of a hook, even as range
boots yield most readily to jacks. Prolific as had been the growth of
his toilet articles since a week ago, that small instrument of torture
was not yet a fruit thereof. Further delay ensued before response to the
order which he telephoned the desk for “one shoe-hooker—quick.”

Peter Stansbury Pape had emerged from the West of his upgrowing and
self-making with two projects in view—one grave, one much less so. The
grave, when its time came, would involve a set-to in the street called
Wall with a certain earnest little group of shearers who, seeming to
take him for a woolly lamb, _almost_ had lifted his fleece. Animated by
a habit of keeping his accounts in life square, steady in his stand as
the mountain peaks that surrounded his home ranch, his courage fortified
against fear because he recognized it at first sight and refused to
yield to it, he was biding the right time to betake himself “down-town”
for the round-up reckoning. But of all that, more anon.

His “less so” was to learn life as it is lived along Gay Way, although
he had made no promise to himself to become a part thereof. A sincere
wish to explore the greatest Main Street on any map, whose denizens so
far had shown themselves elusive as outlaw broncs to a set-down puncher,
had moved him to acceptance of the suggestion of ’Donis Moore.

While awaiting the pleasure—or the pain—of the shoe-hook, he considered
the indifference of his reception at the Astor, a hotel selected for its
location “in the heart of things.” In the heart of things—in the thick
of the fight—in the teeth of the wind—right there was where Pape liked
best to be. But the room-clerk had seemed unimpressed by his demand for
the most luxurious one-man apartment on their floor plan. The cashier
had eyed coldly the “herd” of New York drafts which he had offered for
“corralling” in the treasury of the house. Clerks, elevator boys, even
the dry-bar tenders had parried his questions and comments with that
indifferent civility which had made this world, said to be the Real,
seem false as compared with his hale and hearty Out-West.

The reply to his first inquiry, anent hotel stable accommodations for
the intimate equine friend who, as a matter of course, had accompanied
him on an American Express Company ticket, had been more of a shock to
him than the height of Mt. Woolworth, first seen while ferrying the
Hudson. Mr. Astor’s palace, he was told, had a garage of one-hundred-car
capacity, but no stable at all, not even stall space for one painted
pony. There were more rooms in the “one-man” suite than he knew how to
utilize in his rather deficient home life, but the idea of attempting to
smuggle Polkadot to the seventh landing, as suggested by the boast of a
more modern hostelry that it elevated automobiles to any floor, was
abandoned as likely to get them both put out. He had tramped many
side-street trails before he had found, near the river, the stable of a
contractor who still favored horses. Only this day had he learned of a
riding academy near the southern fringe of Central Park where the beast
might be boarded in style better suited to his importance in one
estimation at least.

It is a pleasure to state that money really didn’t matter with Pape; in
any calculable probability, never would. That constitutional demand of
his—why not, why not?—had drilled into certain subterranean lakes
beneath the range on which his unsuspecting cattle had grazed for years;
had drilled until fonts of oleose gold had up-flowed. For months past
his oil royalties literally had swamped the county-seat bank. He had
been forced to divert the tide to Chicago and retain an attorney to
figure his income tax. Upon him—in the _now_, instead of the hazy,
hoped-for future—was the vacation time toward which he had toiled
physically through the days of the past and through the nights had
self-trained his mind with equal vigor.

The time had come. But the place—well, so far, America’s Bagdad had
offered nothing approaching his expectations. Perhaps the fault had been
in his surface unfitness for the censorious gaze of the Bagdadians.
Perhaps clothes had unmade his outer man to folks too hurried to learn
his inner. However, thanks to the official Sage of Traffic Squad “B,” he
now had remedied superficial defects.

In truth, any one fairly disposed who saw his descent of the Astor’s
front steps, would have conceded that. Despite the vicissitudes of
preparation, the result was good. A tall, strong-built, free-swinging
young man came to a halt at curb’s edge, a young man immaculately
arrayed, from silky top of hat to tips of glistening boots. His
attention, however, was not upon the impression which he might or might
not be making. Having done his best by himself, he was not interested in
casual applause. There was a strained eagerness in his eyes as, leaning
outward, he peered up The Way.

The night was cloudy, so that the overhead darkness of eight-thirty was
not discounted by any far-off moon or wan-winking stars. The sky looked
like a black velvet counter for the display of man-made jewelry—Edison
diamonds in vast array—those great, vulgar “cluster pieces” of Stage

And high above all others—largest, most brilliant, most vulgar,
perhaps—was a trinket transformed from some few bubbles of oil, the
latest acquisition of one Westerner.

There it was—_there it was_! Pape chortled aloud from the thrill of
first sight of it. Cryptic and steady it blazed, overtopping a
quick-change series of electric messages regarding the merits of divers
brands of underwear, chewing gum, pneumatic tires, corsets, automobiles,
hosiery, movies and such. His heart swelled from pride, his pulse
quickened and his mind lit as he viewed it. The while, his lips moved to
the words emblazoned within its frame of lurid, vari-colored roses.

                              TO OUR CITY
                              WHY-NOT PAPE

While yet he stood at the curb a limousine, doubtless theater-bound, was
halted in the traffic crush before him. He saw a bobbed, dark head,
bound by a pearl filet with an emerald drop, protrude; saw a pointing,
bejeweled finger; heard clearly the drawled comment:

“More likely, some new food for the fat, dar-rling. Remind me to tell
mother. She gained whole ounces on that last chaff she choked down. The
poor dear is losing her pep—starving worse than any Chinese baby that

The heavy car was crawling on toward its next stop. But Pape was spared
any regrets in nearer diversion as he drifted along with the tide of
pavement passers. In slowing to keep off the heels of a couple ahead, he
eaves-dropped a woman’s demand of her escort:

“Now what, do you imagine, _is_ Why-Not Pape? I do detest mysteries,
although I suppose they’re the only way to get the public nowadays.
Personally, I haven’t any use for women that won’t tell their ages, have
you? I never read serial stories and simply can’t stand those suppressed
men that some girls rave about. The reason you make a hit with me,
Jimmie, is because you’re so frank, so natural, so sort of puppy-like.
Oh, don’t bother getting sore! You know by this time that I——”

_What_ was Why-Not Pape, indeed? Soon as the analytical lady strayed
from the vital subject to that of her ingenuous companion, the author of
the latest Broadway riddle passed on, a breaker on the edge of the
down-sweeping tide of theater-goers, actor folk out of work and
inevitable window shoppers. Of the several he overheard querying the new
sign, none guessed—as none do in most real-life mysteries—that they were
jostling elbows with the quite palpable solution. His upward stare
attracted a direct remark from a pavement companion.

“You’ll read the answer in the newspapers soon. Nobody nor nothing is
going to burn real money for long in that make-you-guess display.”

Pape was startled. Would the press take him up—possibly in time pique
the public interest to such extent that he might need to blaze forth,
within his rose-border, answers to the questions he had raised? If so,
the coveted recognition might be considered won.

But he did not need to tell New York what or who he was, to congratulate
himself. None would have excuse hereafter to regard lightly an
introduction to Why-Not Pape. Even though inadvertently, already the
city was welcoming him.

His one regret anent the bought-and-paid-for greeting was that it did
not include the worthy Polkadot. He had considered a design of a
light-pricked figure of himself mounted, the horse done in natural
colors, only abandoning it when informed that black was not effective in
Edison bulbs. At that, the bronc shied at a glare and down in his horse
heart would not have liked such presentment had he seen and understood.

And the simpler conceit seemed to be attracting a sufficiency of
attention. As well it might—well it might! So Peter Pape assured
himself, beaming back and up at it. The Mayor’s Committee for the
Entertainment of Distinguished Strangers couldn’t have done better by
him. And any prima donna must have been pleased with that floral frame.


A man of action does not loiter all evening returning his own howdy-doo
to himself—not in his first evening outfit. At Forty-second Street Pape
cast a last look at the sign in which he felt by now devout belief,
doubtless one of the most costly and colorful ever flaunted before New
York. Certainly it was self-advertisement raised to the _N_th power and
worthy any one’s consideration. Yet the obligation to escort his new
suit somewhere was on him.

Where? To one of the cinematograph houses inviting from every compass
point? Unthinkable. To the dance hall up the street, decorated in
artificial cherry blossoms, where partners to suit the individual taste
might be rented by the hour? Not in these clothes of class. To one of
the “girl” shows? He had seen sufficient of them to realize more
interest in sisters in the prevailing demi-habille of the street. To
some romantic play? The heroes of such, sure to be admirable in looks
and conduct, always got him in a discouraged state of mind about

In his quandary Pape had approached a dignified, sizable building of
yellow brick and now stopped before a plain-framed poster which named
the pile as the Metropolitan Opera House, within which Geraldine Farrar
was singing _Zaza_ that night—that moment probably. Grand opera! He was
impressed by the conviction that he and his new suit had been led
blindly by Fate, who never before in his experience had shown more
horse, or common, sense.

He made for the box office. The hour was late, or so he was informed by
the man at the window. The curtains had been drawn aside many minutes
before; were about to close again. The fashionable subscribers were
seated. Wasn’t he able to see that even the S. R. O. sign was up

Standing room was not what Pape wanted—not with those patent pincers on
his feet. Matter of fact, he wouldn’t have considered a stand-up view of
anything. Before paying for the best orchestra seat they had—didn’t
matter about the price—he’d like to know who was Zaza, just as folks
outside were asking what was Why-Not.

The look of the man at the window accused him of being mildly insane.
“_Zaza’s Zaza_” he observed, as he turned to his accounts.

“Naturally,” Pape replied. “But why not’s not always why. What I want to
ask you is——”

“Leslie Carter play of same name set to music—not jazz—by French
composer. House is packed to the roof to-night, as I’ve been trying to
tell you from the start.”

Before Pape could offer other insistence he felt himself displaced
before the window by a personage disguised in ornate livery.

“Mrs. Blackstone can’t attend. Sudden death,” said the personage. “She’d
be obliged if you could sell these tickets and credit her account.”

“It is not Mrs. Blackstone herself who died?” was the official’s cold

“Indeed, no. She knows it’s late, sir, but she’d be obliged if you——”

“I’ll oblige her if the money changer won’t,” Pape interrupted. “I’ll
take a ticket.”

The autocrat of the box office, however, shook his head. “Mrs. B’s box
is grand tier. Can’t be split. Six chairs.”

From what so far had seemed a mere human huddle within one of the
entrance doors, an eager figure hurried, just behind an eager voice.

“We are five person. How much dollar for five seats of thees box?”

At the little, oldish foreigner in large, newish ready-mades, Fate’s
unhandyman looked; then on past the emotionful face to following
emotionful faces. The human huddle had disintegrated from a mass of
despair into animated units which now moved toward the box office as
toward a magnet. Sounds of as many magpies filled the dignified
silence—two French women and three men venting recitatives of hope that
yet they might hear the Leoncavallo masterpiece. But them, too, the
ticket man discouraged, doubtless the more emphatically because of their
attire, which was poor, if proud.

“Too much for your party, I’m sure. One-hundred-fifty.”

“But not for _my_ party,” Pape interposed. “I’ll take the whole half

The sole so-far thing to impress the assistant treasurer was the roll
from which the emergency cash customer began to strip off bank notes.
The recitative of hope soughed into a chorus of disappointment as the
moneyed young man clutched his half dozen tickets and started for the
inner door. Scarcely could he restrain himself from out-loud laughter as
he halted and turned to command:

“Get a hurry on, party! At one-and-fifty there’d ought to be better
_parlez vous_ places inside.”

Perhaps his inclusive gesture was more comprehensive to them than his
words; at any rate, his grin was eloquent.

To his sublet box by way of the grand staircase Peter Stanbury Pape,
grand opera patron, strode at the usher’s heels; into it, himself
ushered his agitated, magpie covey of true music-lovers. Well to one
side he slumped into the chair assigned to him by common consent and
found an inconspicuous rest for the more tortured of his feet.

Leaning forward, he undertook to get his bearings; concentrated on the
dim and distant stage set, where a lady chiefly dressed in an anklet and
feathered hat—presumedly Zaza of the title role from the way she was
conducting herself—seemed to be under great stress of emotion set to
song. Before he could focus his glasses—one of the pairs for all hands
round which he had been persuaded to rent at the foot of the
stair-case—the orchestra took control and the red velvet curtains came
together between the intimate affairs of the great French actress and
those of the many—of the great American audience.

After curtain calls had been duly accorded and recognized and there no
longer existed any reason for the half-light cloak of a doubtful
song-story, the vast auditorium was set ablaze. And with the
illumination uprose a buzz of sound like nothing that Pape ever had
heard—more like the swarming of all the bees in Montana within an acre
of area than anything he could imagine.

Full attention he gave to the _entre-acte_ of this, his first adventure
in Orphean halls. Regretting the trusty binoculars idling on his hotel
bureau, he screwed into focus the rented glasses; swept the waving
head-tops of the orchestra field below; lifted to the horse-shoe of the
subscribers and then to the grand tier boxes with their content of women
whom he assumed to be of society, amazingly made up, daringly gowned,
lavishly bedecked with jewels, ostrich feathers and aigrettes. A
sprinkling of men, black-togged on the order of himself, made them the
more wondrous dazzling. A moving, background pageant of visitors paid
them court.

After a polite, if rather futile, attempt to mix his English, as spoken
for utility in Montana, with the highly punctuated, mostly superfluous
French of his overly grateful “party,” Pape left them to their own
devices. These seemed largely to take the form of dislocating their
necks in an effort to recognize possible acquaintances in the sea of
faces which the gallery was spilling down from the roof. Remembering his
advice to Polkadot over the value of concentration on the near-by, he
centered his attention upon those labeled in his mind as the
“hundred-and-fifty simoleon” class. His thoughts moved along briskly
with his inspection.

Women, women, women. Who would have imagined in that he-man life he had
lived on ranches West that the fair were so large a complement of
humanity or that so many of them indeed were fair? Had he lost or gained
by not realizing their importance? Suppose his ambition had been to
furbelow one such as these, could he have given himself to the lure of
making good on his own—faithfully have followed Fate’s finger to
rainbow’s end?

However that might be, now that he was freed from slavery to the jealous
jade by the finding of that automatically refilling pot of liquid gold,
might he not think of the gentler companionship which he had lacked? The
chief thing wrong with to-night, for instance, was the selection by
chance of the women in his box. They did not speak his language—never
could. Had there been a vacant chair for him to offer some self-selected
lady, which one from the dazzling display before him would she be?

Perhaps the most ridiculous rule of civilized society—so he mused—was
that limiting self-selectiveness. In the acquirement of everything else
in life—stock, land, clothes, food—a person went thoroughly through the
supply before choosing. Only in the matter of friends must he depend
upon accident or the caprice of other friends. How much more
satisfactory and straightforward it would be to search among the faces
of strangers for one with personal appeal, then to go to its owner and
say: “You look like my idea of a friend. How do I look to you?”

And, if advisable in casual cases, such procedure should help especially
in a man’s search for his mate. Take himself, now, and the emptiness of
his life. His bankers had told him he could afford whatever he wanted.
Suppose he wanted a woman, what sort of woman should he want?

Beauty? Must she be beautiful? From the quickening of his pulse as he
bent to peer into fair face after fair face with the added interest of
this idea, he realized that he enjoyed and feared beauty at least as
greatly as the most of men.

Class? In a flashed thought of his mother, a Stansbury of _the_
Stansburys of Virginia, he decided on that. Class she must have.

And kind she must be—tested kind to the core. Tall, healthy, strong, of
course. Graceful if possible. Gracious, but not too much so. Frank and
at the same time reserved. Educated up to full appreciation of, but not
superiority to himself. Half boy and at least one-and-a-half girl.

That would be plenty to start on, even for the most deliberate and
calculating of choosers, which he felt himself dispositionally as well
as financially fitted to be. From what he knew of the difficult sex in
the rough, he should need time and study to decide accurately just how
real were appearances in a finished feminine, trained from infancy, so
he had heard, to cover all inner and outer deficiencies. Plenty of time
and a steady nerve—that was all he should need to learn her nature, as
he had learned the tempers of the most refractory of horses. By the time
he was satisfied as to these mentally outlined points, others doubtless
would have suggested themselves.

Pape was pleased with his theories, the first dressed-up ones he had
evolved on the subject. If all men would go into this vital matter of
self-selectiveness, there would be fewer prosperous lawyers, he
congratulated himself. Better have a care before marriage than a flock
of them—of another sort—after. Firstly, a choice made from personal
preference, then the most direct course toward acquaintanceship, a
deliberate inspection, a steady eye, a cool nerve——

Suddenly Pape stiffened, body and mind. His gaze fixed on a face within
a box on his own level, some ten or so away, just where they began to
curve toward the stage. The face was young—childlike in animation and
outline. Its cheeks were oval and flushed, its lips red-limned and
laughing, its eyes a flashing black. And black was the mass of curls
that haloed it—cut short—_bobbed_.

A brilliant enough, impish enough, barbaric enough little head it was to
catch and hold the attention of any strange young man. But that which
particularly interested Pape was the filet that bound it—a filet of
pearls with an emerald drop.

She wasn’t noticing him—she who had thought of him but once and then
only as some new sort of anti-fat foodstuff. But another of her party,
through lorgnetted opera lenses, was. Pape, focusing his rented pair for
close range, returned this other person’s regard. The moment seemed long
and different from other moments during which, round glass eye into
round glass eye, they two looked.

At its end Pape rose and left his hundred-and-fifty-simoleon box. His
exit was retarded, but not once actually halted, by the conversational
overtures—somewhat less comprehensible than before—of his unknown
guests. He moved as if under outside control, hypnotic, magnetic,

True, he did have a doubtful thought or two on his progress through the
foyer. She might not get his advanced idea of to-night instantaneously
and might be too conventional to act on it, when explained. She might
not give him the benefit of every doubt, which he was more than ready to
give her, at first glance. There might be an embarrassing
moment—particularly so for him. She might be married and taking her
husband seriously. Speaking literally, he just _might_ be thrown out.

But all such thought he counter-argued. What was the use of conviction
without courage? Husbands were likely to be met in a one-woman world;
were inconvenient, but not necessarily to be feared. And if she doubted
him—— But she had the best eyes into which he ever had looked, with
field glasses or without. Why shouldn’t she see all that he was at first
glance? As for possible embarrassment, wasn’t he dressed according to
chart and as good as the next man? This was, beyond doubt, his one best
opportunity for the test of his theory of self-selection. Why not seize


Reaching the box which, according to his count of doors, should contain
her, Peter Pape tried the door; opened it; stepped into and across the
small cloak-room; looked through the brocaded hangings of the outer box.
There she sat, just behind the bobbed youngster, an example of how
different one black-haired girl can look from another. Her eyes, of the
blue of tropic seas—calm, deep, mysterious—opened to his in surprise. He
felt the other eyes in the box upon him, five pairs in all. But he
looked only into hers—into the eyes that had summoned him.

Quick at detail, he appreciated at a glance more than the general effect
of her. Her gown was of silver lace, a moonlight shimmer that lent a
paling sheen to her shoulders and arms. She wore no ornaments, except a
cluster of purplish forget-me-nots. As if one could forget anything
about her! Forget those long, strong lines of her, not too thin nor yet
too sturdy—those untinted cheeks of an oval blending gently into a chin
that was neither hard nor weak—those parted, definitely dented lips,
their healthful red indubitable—that black, soft, femininely long hair,
simply parted and done in a knot on her neck?

More than at the greater distance, she looked the sort he liked. Did she
like the looks of him? He could not voice the question direct, as in his
calculations, with eight ears beside her own to hear. But he
concentrated on the silent demand that she try to do so as he crossed to
her with hand outstretched.

“I am so glad,” said he, “to see you again.”

Her hand relaxed in his clasp. She rose to her feet; drew up to the full
height of her well-poised slenderness. Her expression was neither
welcoming nor forbidding; rather was the puzzled, half-ashamed and
wholly honest look of a child who can’t remember.

“Didn’t you ask me to come?”

He bent to her with the low-spoken question; met her eyes as seriously
as through the lenses a moment since; waited breathlessly for the test
of just how fearless and frank was she. With hope he saw a faint flush
spread forward from her ears and tinge delightfully her pallor. Already
he had felt the agitation of it in her finger-tips. Relief came with her
first words.

“Yes, I know I did,” she said.

She knew. Yes, she _knew_. And she had the courage to say so. She not
only looked—she _was_ the sort he liked.

Whether from suggestion of his hand or her own volition, she stepped
with him to the back of the box. He did not give her time to deny him,
even to himself alone. With inspired assurance he urged:

“I have crossed a continent to meet you. Don’t let your friends see that
you failed to recognize me at first. It takes only a moment to know me.
Give me that moment.”

“Am I not giving it?” She looked still puzzled, still flushed, still
brave. But she withdrew her hand and with it something of her

Would she deny him, after all, once she understood? She mustn’t be
allowed to.

“Give me the moment toward which I’ve lived my life,” he said. “You
won’t regret it. Look at me. Recognize me. Trust me.”

During the grave glance which she slanted slightly upward to his
six-feet-flat, she obeyed; studied him; seemed to reach some decision
regarding him, just what he had to surmise.

“The surprise of meeting you—here—at the opera——” she began hesitantly.
“Seeing so many people, I think, confuses me. Somehow, personalities and
places get all scrambled in my memory. Do forgive me—but you are from——”

“Montana, of course,” he prompted her.

“Oh!” She considered. Then: “I’ve been to the Yellowstone. It was
there—that we met? I begin—to remember that——”

“That I’m a personal friend of Horace Albright, the superintendent,” he
supplied, quick to seize the opportunity she had made to speak a true,
good word for himself. “Every one of the Spread-Eagle Ranger force, from
Jim McBride down, calls me by my first name, so you see that I am no
tusk-hunter. You can’t have forgotten the snap of the air on those
early-morning Y-stone rides or the colors of the border peaks in the
afternoon sun or——”

“Or the spray of Old Faithful, the painted colors of the cañon, the
whole life of the wild. Never. Never,” she contributed. “I was
fascinated with the breadth and freedom of your West. Out there I felt
like Alice in Wonderland, with everything possible.”

His eyes reproached her. “Everything is possible everywhere, even in
your narrow, circumscribed East. I am glad that you remember the
worth-while things. Perhaps, if you try——”

“Jane dar-rling, do you want to sit brazenly in front or modestly in
back for the second act? That first was enough to put the Mona Lisa out
of countenance. But I’ve heard that a little child saves the second.”

The interruption came from the bobbed-haired girl, who, from her
repeated glances their way, evidently thought their aside somewhat

So “Jane” was the favorite, old-fashioned name she glorified! Pape was
further thrilled by the touch of her hand on his arm.

“Do forgive me and help me out,” she said low and hurriedly. “Some
hypnotist must have given me mental suggestion that I was to forget
names. I am constantly embarrassed by lapses like this. Quick—I’ll have
to introduce you.”

“Peter Pape.” Gladly he supplied the lack.

With considerable poise she announced him as “a friend from the
Yellowstone,” who had happened in unexpectedly and been reviving
memories of that most delightful summer she had spent in the West. If
she accented ever so slightly the “revived memories” or flashed him a
confused look with the pronouncement of his name, none but he noticed.
And he did not care. Whether deceived by his high-handed play or playing
a higher hand herself, she hadn’t thrown him out. Now she
wouldn’t—couldn’t. He was her “friend” from the Yellowstone—near enough
home, at that, since Hellroaring Valley was right next door. She was
committed to his commitment. His theory was proving beyond anything he
could have hoped, had he wasted time on hope after evolving it.

In turn she named Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Allen, a middle-aged couple who
supplied ample dignity and chaperonage for the younger element of the
box party; Mr. Mills Harford, a genial, sophisticated and well-built
young man, who would have been called handsome by one with a taste for
auburn hair, brown eyes and close-cropped mustaches; Miss Sturgis, her
little cousin—she of the bobbed hair, filet of pearls and affectionate

Even in her grown-up, down-cut evening gown of Nile-green, the girl
didn’t look more than fifteen—couldn’t have exceeded nineteen without
violating all laws of appearances. Despite her excessive use of
make-up—blued-over eyelids, plucked brows, darkened lashes, thick-pasted
lips and high-colored cheeks—Cousin “Irene” was quite beautiful. And her
manner proved as assertively brilliant as her looks.

“Mr. —— Pape?” she demanded thinkingly. “Have I met you before or heard
of you——”

His hand on his heart, he bowed toward her. “Why-Not Pape.”

She stared at him much as she had at the sign.

“You don’t claim to be—— Don’t tell me that you are—— Then you’re _not_
a breakfast-food?”

“Nothing so enlivening. Not even anti-fat,” he apologized in
broad-smiling return.

“Oh—_oh_!” she gasped. “You _couldn’t_ have overheard what I said in the
car coming down?”

“From the curb, Miss Sturgis.”

“And you recognized me here in the box and that’s why—Dar-rling—” the
endearment was drawled with a brief glance toward her relative—“isn’t
that just too _utterly_ romantic?”

“I hope, Irene, not _too_ utterly.”

Jane’s quiet reply started a smile wreathing around the little circle,
evidently of amusement over the child-vamp’s personal assumption of all

Samuel Allen interposed in a tone of butter-melting benignity: “Any
friend of Miss Lauderdale is more than welcome to our city so far as I
am concerned.”

“Rawther! And welcome—thrice welcome to our midst,” the madcap again
interpolated, seizing one of his large, brown hands in both her white,
bejeweled, small ones.

“Dee-lighted!” Pape breathed, returning the extra shake.

Indeed, he felt delighted. She was _Miss_ Jane Lauderdale, the reserved,
long-haired relative of this short-haired enthusiast. And she wore no
engagement ring—not any ring on any finger. He could only hope that she
had no “understanding” with the good-looking chap ranged beside her. If
so, she’d have to be made to mis-understand. She was more flustered over
his acceptance of the unconscious invitation of that long, strange,
magnified look than she had at first appeared. That showed in the tight
clutch of her fingers on her feather fan. And she was taller than he had
calculated—just enough shorter than he for ideal dancing. One thing
about her he needed to decide, but couldn’t. Did she or did she not know
that she didn’t know him?

But he must pay attention. Irene, continuing to baby-vamp him, waved him
into the chair beside that into which she had sunk. Although of
necessity she had dropped his hand she released neither his interest nor
his eyes.

“You must be just a terribly important person to be flashed all over
Broadway in that rosy wreath. I don’t blame your friends, though, for
feeling a bit extravagant over you. We were talking about the sign
before you came in—were guessing what kingdom you belong to, animal,
vegetable or mineral. Millsy Harford here held out that you were more
likely some manufactured product than anti-fat. Isn’t it all quite too
funny for anything?”

“My folks used to say, from the rate of speed at which I grew up—” Pape
applied to his ready store of persiflage—“that I was more like a
vegetable than a boy. _I_ always thought I was animal, judging by my
appetite, you know. But my life’s been kind of lived with minerals.
Maybe I’m all three.”

“How interesting.” Mrs. Allen, a lady faded to medium in coloring, age
and manner, turned from an over-rail inspection of some social notable
among the horseshoe’s elect to survey him through her lorgnette. “Just
why, if I am not too personal, are you called ‘Why-Not?’”

“My nickname about the headwaters of our greatest river, madam.”

From her look of vague perplexity Pape turned his glance around the
group until it halted for a study of Jane Lauderdale’s face—again Irish
pale, tropic-eyed, illegible. He chose his further words with care.

“Guess I was the first to ask myself that question after the boys hung
the sobri. on me and nailed it there,” he said, addressing himself to
none in particular. “I made the interesting discovery that there wasn’t
any answer, although there are limitless answers to almost every
seemingly unanswerable question. You see, when I find myself up against
the impossible, I just ask myself why not and buck it. I’ve found the
impossible a boogey-boo.”

“You call yourself, then, a possible person?”

He was not to be discountenanced by Jane’s quiet insertion.

“Everything worth while that I’ve got in the past I owe to that belief,”
he maintained. “It happens that I want some few extras in my near
future. That’s how I’ll get ’em, from realizing that nothing—_absolutely
nothing_—is impossible.”

Considerable of a speech this was for him. Yet he could see that he had
made something of an impression by its delivery. One moment he marveled
at his own assurance; the next wanted to know any good and substantial
reason why he shouldn’t feel assured. He had made himself, to be sure.
But probably he had done the job better than any one else could have
done it for him. At least he had been thorough. And his efforts had paid
in cash, if that counted.

A stir in the house—rather, a settling into silence—presaged the parting
of the curtains on Act II. Mills Harford who, as had developed, was the
host of the evening, began to rearrange the chairs to the better
advantage of the fair of his party. The interloper felt the obligation
at least of offering to depart. Irene it was who saved him. With a pout
of the most piquantly bowed pair of lips upon which female ever had used
unnecessary stick, she dared him to wish to watch the second act with
her as much as she wished him to.

Pape could not keep down the thrill she gave him—she and the situation.
To think that he, so lately the wearer of an Indian sign, should be
begged to stay in such a circle! Only for a moment did he affect
reluctance. During it, he glanced across at the box that was his by
right of rental, with its content of brightly attired “true-lovers”
blooming above the rail; smiled into the challenge of the precocious
child’s black eyes; sank into the chair just behind her.

“Your friends over there look better able to do without you than I
feel,” Irene ventured, with an over-shoulder sigh. “I don’t know who in
the world they are, but——”

“No more do I, Miss Sturgis.”

“You don’t? You mean——”

“Righto. Just met up with ’em in the lobby. They hadn’t any seats and I
had more than I could use without exerting myself.”

“How nice! Then they have only half as much right to you as I have. You
see, I, as well as Miss Lauderdale, have met you before.”

“Down Broadway, you mean, and although you didn’t know it?”

She nodded back at him tenderly. “And although separated by
circumstances—I in the car and you on the curb. From my cousin’s
descriptions, I adore rangers. Don’t I, dar-rling?”

“No one could doubt that, eh, Jane?” Harford made answer for Miss
Lauderdale, whom he had relieved of her fan with as much solicitude as
though each ostrich feather weighed a pound.

“I do really. _Why not_?” Low and luringly Irene laughed. “You must look
awfully picturesque in your uniform of forest green, your cavalry hat
and laced boots.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m a cowman, not a ranger,” Pape thought
advisable to state in a tone calculated to reach the ears of her
responsible for his presence in their midst. “But most of the park
service members are my friends. I live on the edge of the playground and
know them right well.”

The young girl refused to have her enthusiasm quashed. “Well, that’s
just as good. You have their spirit without being tied to the stake of
routine, as it were. I detest routine, don’t you? Or _do_ you? On second
thought, you’re much better off. Don’t _you_ think he is, dar-rling?”

In the dimming of the auditorium lights, she leaned closer to him;
seemed to transfer the fulsomely drawled term of endearment from her
relative to him; added in a cross between murmur and whisper:

“Isn’t dar-rling a difficult word—hard to say seriously? Fancy caring
that much for any one—I mean any one of one’s own sex. Of course, I hope
really to love a man that much some day. That is, I do unless I go in
for a career. Careers _do_ keep one from getting fat, though. As I am
constantly telling my mother——”


Pape was relieved by Mrs. Allen’s silencing sibilant.


The great audience caught its breath and hopefully returned attention to
the affairs of the French actress who so had shocked and fascinated them
at the first act’s end. Stripped almost to the waist, the daring and
tuneful Zaza had left them. More conventionally, not to say comfortably
clad, she reappeared.

Pape, as deficient in French as in appreciation of opera arias, applied
himself hopefully at first to getting the gist of the piece, but soon
concluded that he must be clear “off trail in his lingo.”

Out in Montana, the most meteoric stage luminary never would think of
singing a perfectly good wife and mother into handing over husband and
father merely because his eyes had gone sort of blinky star-gazing at
her. No. Such a translation didn’t sound reasonable at all; was quite
too raw for the range. Better give his ears to the music and buy a
Hoyle-translated libretto to-morrow.

Settling back in his chair, Pape allowed his gaze and mind to
concentrate, after a habit acquired of late in Central Park, upon the
nearby. She had an expressive profile, the young woman whom he had
self-selected. If facial traits had real connection with character, that
protruding chin, although curved too youthfully to do justice to its
joints, suggested that she would not retreat unless punished beyond her
strength. If young Irene only would take one good look at her cousin’s
chin she must give up in any contest between them.

But then, Irene’s mental eye was on herself. To her, evidently, all
other women were more or less becoming backgrounds.

That she should be so near him, Jane; that he actually should get—oh, it
wasn’t imagination—the fragrance of her hair; yet that he should be so
far away! ... She’d be annoyed and he must not do it, but he felt
tempted to train his hired glasses on her, as she had trained hers on
him only a few minutes since. He’d have liked again to draw her eyes
close to his through their lensed aid and study out the answer to that
teasing question—did she or did she not know that she didn’t know him?

One thing was clear in the semi-gloom. Her neck and shoulders and back
looked more like marble than he’d have supposed live flesh could look.
And her lines were lovely—not too padded over to conceal the shoulder
blades, yet smooth. Above the narrow part of the V of silver lace, a
small, dark dot emphasized her whiteness. Was it a freckle or a mole?

Another than himself seemed interested to know. The handsome Mr. Harford
was leaning forward, elbows on knees and chin cupped in hand, his eyes
closed, his lips almost touching the beauty spot. Had he given up to the
welling wail of Zaza’s attempt to out-sing conventions or was his
attention, too, on that tantalizing mark?

Whether or no, Pape felt at the moment that he must prevent the imminent
contact if he did not live to do anything else in life. He, too, leaned
forward. But his eyes did not close. They remained wide open, accurately
gauging the distance between a pair of sacrilegious mustached lips and——

Tragedy was temporarily averted or, as it turned out, supplanted. An
usher appeared between the curtains; in subdued tones asked for Miss
Lauderdale; held up a square, white envelope.

Jane arose and passed into the cloak room. Mills Harford followed her.
Pape in turn, followed him. Observing the girl closely as she tore open
the envelope and read the enclosure, he saw alarm on her face; saw the
sudden tension of her figure; saw her lips lengthen into a thin line.

“Chauffeur brought it. He is waiting down stairs for an answer,” the
usher advised her.

“Tell him,” she said, “that I’ll come at once.”

The usher bowed and vanished.

“Anything wrong, Jane?” Harford asked.

“I can’t stay for the last act. Aunt Helene has been—has sent for me.”

As if fearful lest he should insist upon knowing the contents of her
note, she crumpled it in one hand; with the other reached for a brocaded
cape that hung on one side of the mirrored rack; allowed him to
anticipate her and lay it about her shoulders.

“I’ll go with you,” said he.

“No.” She paused in her start toward the corridor and glanced into his
face uncertainly. “Tamo is waiting with the car. You must see the opera
out. The Farrar probably has thrills and thrills saved for the

“Not for me—without you. Of course I’ll go with you, dear.”

The ardor of the handsome chap’s last pronouncement seemed to decide

“Of course you won’t.” She shook his hand from her shoulder as if
offended. “You are giving this party. You owe it to the Allens to stay.
Explain to Irene and the rest that I——”

“At least let me put you into the car.”

“No.” Positively, she snapped this time. “I don’t need you. I don’t want
you, to be frank. You’re coming up to the house to supper, all of you.
Perhaps then I’ll explain.”

“You’ll explain on the way up—now.”

Harford looked to have made up his mind; looked angry. He took her elbow
rather forcefully and started with her into the corridor.

On the sill she stopped and faced him defiantly. “I won’t explain until
and unless I wish to. You can’t use that tone with me, Mills, successful
as you may have found it with others. Mr. Pape is going to put me into
the car.”

And lo, the Westerner found himself by her side, _his_ hand at her
elbow. He had felt electrified by her summons. Although not once had she
glanced toward where he stood just outside the curtains, uncertain
whether to advance or retreat, she apparently had been keen to his
presence and had felt his readiness to serve.

Their last glance at Harford showed his face auburn as his hair. They
hurried down the grand stairway, passed the regal doorman and queried
the resplendent starter. His signal brought the Sturgis limousine,
parked on Broadway in consideration of the emergency call. The driver, a
Japanese, was alone on the seat in front.

Jane had not volunteered one word on the way down, and Pape was mindful
to profit by the recent demonstration of her resentment of inquiries.
Now, however, he began to fear that she had forgotten his existence
entirely. A nod from her kept the chauffeur from scrambling out. She let
herself into the car and tried the inside catch of the door as if to
make sure that she was well shut in—alone.

But Pape’s habit of initiative overruled his caution. He had fractured
too many rules of convention to-night to be intimidated at this vital
moment. With the same sweep of the hand he demanded a moment more of the
driver and pulled open the door.

“Of course I’m going along, Jane dear,” said he.

She gasped from shock of his impudence; a long moment stared at him;
then, with a flash of the same temper she had shown Mills, returned him
value received.

“Of course you’re not, Peter dar-rling.”

“Why not?”

Stubbornly he placed his shiny, large, hurting right foot on the

“Because you’re not a possible person. You’re quite impossible.” And
with the waspish exclamation she leaned out, took him by the coat lapels
and literally pushed him out of her way. “I know that I don’t know you
at all. Did you think you had deceived me for one instant? I am not in
the habit of scraping acquaintance with strangers, even at grand opera.”

“But—but——” he began stammered protest.

“It was partly my fault to-night. I did stare at you,” she continued
hurriedly. “You looked so different from the regular run of men in black
and white. Maybe my curiosity did invite you and you showed nerve that I
learned to like out West by accepting. I couldn’t be such a poor sport
as to turn you down before the rest. But it’s time now for the good-by
we _didn’t_ say in the Yellowstone.” She turned to the speaking tube.
“Ready, Tamo. And don’t mind the speed limit getting home.”

From the decision of her voice, the man from Montana knew that she meant
what she said. Never had he found it necessary to force his presence
upon a woman. He stepped aside, heard the door pulled to with a slam;
watched the heavy machine roll away. Its purr did not soothe him.

“Not good-by. Just _au revoir_, as Zaza’d say.”

That was all he had managed to reply to her. In his memory it sounded
simpering as the refrain of some silly song. He hadn’t played much of a
part, compared to hers. What an opponent she would make at stud poker,
holding to the last card! She was a credit to his judgment, this first
woman of his independent self-selection.... Good-by? The word she had
used was too final—too downright Montanan. Although far from a linguist,
as had been impressed upon him during his late jaunt overseas, he had
learned from the French people to prefer the pleasanter possibilities of
their substitute—of _au revoir_.

As to when and where he should see her again—The shrug of his shoulders
said plainly as words, “_Quién sabe_?” The lift of his hair in the
street breeze caused him to realize his bare-headed state. A thought of
the precipitation with which he had left both hat and coat on his
hundred-fifty-simoleon hook brought a flash of Irene and the outraged
glance she had cast toward his departure. She had said that she “doted”
on all Westerners. Perhaps if he returned to the Harford box on the
legitimate errand of bidding his new acquaintances a ceremonious
good-night she might come to dote on him enough in the course of another
half hour or so to invite him to that supper which——

In the vacuum left by the sudden withdrawal of the evening’s chief
distraction, he gave up for a moment to his pedal agony. He’d a heap
rather return at once to his hotel, where he could take off his new
shoes. At least he could loosen the buttons of the patent pincers. This
he stooped to do, but never did.

Lying beside the curb to which, from his stand in the street, he had
lifted the more painful foot, was something that interested
him—something small, white, crumpled. The overbearing Miss Lauderdale
must have dropped it in her violent effort to shove him from the
running-board. Had her flash of fury toward him been as sincere as it
had sounded? Had she left him the note, whether consciously or sub, by
way of suggestion? Under urge of such undeveloped possibilities, Pape
strode to the nearest light and smoothed out the crumpled sheet. It bore
an engraved address in the eight-hundreds of Fifth Avenue, and read:

    _Jane_, dear:—Have just discovered the wall-safe open. That
    antique _tabatière_ you entrusted to my care is gone. I can’t
    understand, but fear we have been robbed. Don’t frighten Irene
    or the others, but do come home at once. Tamo will be waiting
    for you with the car. Please hurry.

                                                      _Aunt Helene_.

So! She had been robbed of some trinket, the very threat of whose loss
had stopped the blood in her veins. Perhaps her predicament was his
opportunity to advance a good start. He had all details of the case
literally in hand, down to the engraved house address.

Jane had proved herself the honest sort he liked in acknowledging that
first, probably involuntary invitation of her eyes. At least it had been
the invitation of Fate. Was this the second—_her_ second?

Why not find out—_why not_?


“Sixty-fourth and Central Park East. Otherwise Fifth Avenue, boss.” The
driver of the pink-and-gray made the announcement through the open
window behind the wheel seat as he drew up at the park-side curb. “Where
away, now?”

“Nowhere away. We’ve arrived. How much says the clock?”

“Dollar twenty—to you.” The overcharge was committed with the usual
stress of favoring the fare.

Why-Not Pape reached across with two green singles. “Keep the bonus,
friend robber. Likely you need it more than I. If you’ve any scruples,
though, you can overcome ’em by telling me what building that is, the
dingy one with the turrets, back among the park trees.”

“Arsenal they calls it. Police station.”

Succinct as his service, the licensed highwayman of city streets stepped
on the gas and was off to other petty pilfering. Police stations and
overcharges probably did not seem suitable to him on the same block.

“The Arsenal, eh?” Pape queried himself. “Ain’t the Arsenal where Pudge
O’Shay threatened to take me to tea the afternoon Dot polkaed up those
sacred rocks to the block-house?”

He crossed the oily asphalt, smeared with the spoor of countless motor
vehicles; turned south a few steps; half way between Sixty-fourth and
Sixty-third streets located the eight-hundred-odd number in which he was
interested. A brownstone house, not particularly distinguishable from
its neighbors it was, entered by a flight of steps above an
old-fashioned or “American” basement. Noting that the ground floor was
dark and the second and third illumined, he turned back across the
Avenue and stopped in the shadow of the wall that bounds Central Park.

Between jerking into his hat and coat in full face of the astonishment
of his own opera-box party and accomplishing the trip up in the fewest
possible minutes which could cover the roundabout traffic route
prescribed during “theater hours” he had not found time to think out
just what he was going to do when he arrived at his destination. Now
that he was on the scene of his next impertinence, he appreciated that
its success demanded a careful plan. His self-selected lady’s dismissal
of him had been so definite that he needed some tenable excuse for
having followed her home. Stansbury caution warned him that an offer of
assistance would, without doubt, be ignominiously spurned. But Pape
initiative was in the saddle.

He had about decided on the most direct course—to rush up the steps,
ring the bell, ask for her, tell her that he had come to give her the
note and trust to subsequent events—when the front door of the house he
was watching flew open. A hatless man bounded down to the sidewalk;
straight as though following a surveyed line, headed for the entrance of
the Arsenal.

Pape stepped back and waited until the heavy on-comer was about to enter
the park, then sprang out and blocked the way.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he demanded.

From surprise or alarm the man backed a step or two. “To—to the police
station,” he answered nervously.

“Why didn’t you telephone? that would have been quicker. You seem in a
hell of a hurry.”

“The wires are cut, sir.”

“Who are you anyway?” Pape’s demand was uttered with a note of

“I am Jasper—the Sturgis’ butler. Mrs. Sturgis has sent me to bring a

With a short laugh Pape approved the born butler’s habit of
subordination. “You’re in luck, Jasper. I’m the very man you’re looking
for. Lead me to the case.”

His location—he well might have been coming from the Central Park
station house—favored him. The Arsenal could be seen a few yards within
the wall. Although he had no shield to show, nor named himself a
sergeant of the Force, the butler seemed satisfied with the assertion
and his own misconclusions. Dutifully, he led the way back to the house
which he had quitted in such a hurry.

“This rushing about gets me in the wind, sir,” complained Jasper _en
route_. “I fear I am growing a bit weighty. And what a comfort is the
telephone. Things like that, sir, you never miss until they’re gone. Ah,
sir, excitement like this is bad for the heart.”

Opening the door with a latch key, he conducted his find across the
reception hall, up a broad flight of stairs and into a formally
furnished drawing-room. From between wide doors, half opened into a room
beyond, appeared a woman of medium height, whose looks made unnecessary
any introduction as Irene’s mother. If her mauve crape dress revealed
rather too distinctly her plump outlines, it softened the middle-aged
beauty of her face and toned with the magnificent grayish pearls she

“Is this the detective, Jasper?” she asked, but did not await an answer.
“I’ll ring when I want you again.”

She turned to the stranger as the butler passed out of the room. “Thank
you for answering our call for help so promptly Mr. ——”

“Pape, madam.”

“Won’t you take off your coat and be seated, Mr. Pape? This is in some
respects an unusual robbery, and your investigation probably will take
some time.”

He followed her suggestion with alacrity, using a nearby Davenport to
rack his hat and overcoat. It would be an advantage, he considered, to
be in possession of as many facts as possible, before Jane appeared to
expose him. Facts might help him in some way to induce her to go on
playing the game as she had in the Metropolitan box.

“Best begin at the very beginning, Mrs. Sturgis.”

He seated himself in a chair opposite that into which the matron had
sunk, and leaned toward her with frowning concentration. Too late he
remembered that the Arsenal detectives, if any were there assigned, did
not sit around at all hours in evening clothes. But if she noticed at
all his attire, it was with approval, judging by the confidential smile
she bent upon him.

“This is a manless house, except for the servants,” she began in the
modulated voice of those “to the manner” born. “I have the misfortune to
be a widow. This evening my daughter and my niece went to the opera with
old friends of the family. I have no liking for operas of the ‘Zaza’
type so remained at home. But I promised the young ladies to stay up, as
they wished to bring their friends back with them to supper.”

Stopped by a thought, she indicated an ebony cigarette outfit that
topped a tabaret near his chair. “Men think so much better when they
smoke,” she suggested. “If you prefer cigars, Mr. Pape, I’ll have some
brought in.”

“Please don’t trouble. My chest’s full of ’em.”

With a forced smile, she watched the “detective” produce one of his own
regardlessly purchased cigars, light it and puff with manifest pleasure
from its fragrance.

“This afternoon,” she proceeded, “Miss Lauderdale, my niece, returned
from a visit to an old woman who had been her governess years ago when
her father was—well, before he lost his money. She brought back a
jeweled snuffbox of antique design which had belonged to her
great-grandfather. In some way not yet explained to me it had came into
possession of this upper servant. Although its intrinsic value is not
great—the rubies set in its cover are small, not worth more than a
thousand dollars, I should say—Miss Lauderdale seems to set great store
by it. She asked me to lock it up in a secret safe built in my library
wall until she should want it again.”

From his very light experience with operatives of the force—really none
at all except with those of the printed page—Pape considered that he
should begin asking questions if he was to sustain the part. He matched
his finger-tips in pairs—in most “sleuth” stories they did that; cleared
his throat—also inevitable; observed somewhat stupendously:

“I see. You opened the secret wall safe and within it installed the
heirloom snuffbox. At what hour, Mrs. Sturgis, was this?”

“About five o’clock.”

“And you found the safe cracked, might I ask—its contents gone?”

“Not at all. You anticipate me. What jewelry I keep in the safe was all
there. Some of it, at my daughter’s coaxing, I had withdrawn for her to
wear to the opera. She is entirely too much of a child to be allowed
such adornment, but you know our young ladies these days, Mr. Pape.”

He nodded, but none too assuredly in view of his fathomless ignorance of
“our young ladies these days.”

“And after taking out this jewelry for Miss Sturgis, you are sure that
you locked the safe—shut it securely and turned the dial?” he asked,
quite as the professional he was trying to emulate would have pursued
the case. “Sometimes you women folks——”

“I am not the careless sort. I locked the safe.”

From the matron’s composed manner, he well could believe her.

“It was about nine o’clock,” she continued, “when, having changed to the
gown I meant to wear to supper, I wanted these black pearls.” She
indicated the two pendants in her ears, a ring and the vari-sized strand
about her neck. “With purple or lavender, you see, they make the second
mourning effect which I shall always wear for my dear husband. Again I
came downstairs to the safe. Imagine my astonishment and fright when I
found it open—the door full an inch ajar.”

“But you’re wearing the pearls, madam?”

“That is the strangest part of it!” Moved at last by her nervousness,
Mrs. Sturgis arose, crossed to a window that overlooked Central Park,
clutched the curtains and drew them apart. For a second or two she stood
looking out, then returned to her chair. “Mr. Pope, not a single piece
of my jewelry was missing. The cash drawer had not been disturbed,
though it happened to contain a considerable sum of money. A sheaf of
Liberty Bonds in plain sight lay untouched. Absolutely nothing was gone
except Miss Lauderdale’s heirloom snuffbox. Of course that’s no great
financial loss, but she is much upset by the loss and I can’t help
feeling my responsibility. Tell me, what do you make of it?”

His chin cupped in one hand, Pape tried to look that shade of study
denominated as “brown.” Next he puffed viciously at the plump middle
section that was left of his cigar—women, he had noticed, always
harkened with more respect to a man who puffed viciously at a cigar.

“Strange—passing strange,” he muttered. From a pocket of his figured
white waistcoat he drew his watch and looked enquiringly into its face.
“You say it was about nine o’clock when you discovered this theft? It
was after ten when you sent the butler after—after me. Just to keep the
tally straight, madam, may I ask what you were doing in the interim?”

Mrs. Sturgis’ brows—black as her daughter’s, but unplucked—lifted
slightly, as if she were surprised by the question. However, after a
momentary pause she answered, “At first I was uncertain just what to do.
Finally I decided to summon Miss Lauderdale from the opera house. She,
as the only loser, was the person most concerned. She returned just now
and insisted that the police be called in. She was even more upset than
I when we discovered that our telephone was out of commission. She sent
Jasper at once to——”

Pape managed an interruptive glower of disapproval that would have done
credit to the most efficient “bull” of the Central Office.

“You’ve wasted valuable time,” he declared. “In robberies, it is
advisable to get the authorities on the scene of the crime at the
earliest possible moment.”

“But in this instance the circumstances were so peculiar and I——”

“I know. I know, madam. Circumstances always are more or less peculiar.”
Pape had deemed a touch of official discourtesy not out of place. “What
I want to know next is—that is to say, the person I’d like next to
interview is this niece of yours who has been deprived of her snuffbox.”


Pape, the while, had grown most anxious to know the exact whereabouts of
the young woman in the case. He found it nervous work, this expecting
her appearance every minute—this playing the detective when she, with
one glance, could detect him. Would she or would she not expose him? The
full imperativeness of the question was in the gaze he bent upon the

“Miss Lauderdale will soon be down, I am sure. She went to her room to
change her gown.”

“And why, pray, should she bother changing her gown at a time like this?
The one she had on was very—I mean to say, wasn’t the one she had on

This demand Mrs. Sturgis met with an increase of dignity. “We thought it
might be necessary for her to go to Police Headquarters or whatever it
is you call the place where one swears to complaints. I’ll send her word
to hurry if you wish.”

Pape did wish. However, the sending of word to that effect proved
unnecessary. Even as Mrs. Sturgis was crossing the room to ring for
Jasper, Jane entered, dressed in a black and white checked skirt and
loose white silk blouse. At sight of the caller she stopped short.

“Well, I’ll be ——”

“Oh no, you won’t, Miss Lauderdale—I believe?” Pape’s advance had
interrupted her ejaculation. “You’re too much of a lady for that and far
too good a sport to—to be in despair over your loss. The game is young
yet and I am here to win it.”

Although his tone was pompous, the eyes he fixed on her outraged
expression were urgent, imploring.

Yet at the moment she did not look much as though she had dropped the
note as summons No. 2. Twice her lips opened in angry hesitation. But
her aunt interrupted before she actually spoke.

“I was just about to send Jasper up for you, my dear,” she said. “Mind
your nerves, now. This is an operative who has come over from The
Arsenal to solve our mystery. Mr. Pope, Miss Lauderdale.”

“Pape, you mean,” Jane corrected, then bit her lip.

“Of course, I mean Pape. I am _so_ bad at names, Mr. Pape. Here I’ve
been calling you Pope. But, Jane dear, how could you know?”

The ensuing slight pause was shattered by the soundless insistence of a
pair of gray eyes addressing a pair of tropic blue: “Play my game. It’s
a good game. Why not—_why not_ play my game?”

“Jasper told me.”

Her compliance was brief and cold—but still compliance. With his wide
smile Pape thanked and thanked her, triumphed over her, caressed her.
Jane refused to smile back. But she did blush—slowly, deliciously,
revealingly blushed. At that moment she looked, after all, as though she
_had_ meant to drop the note. He wanted to accuse her of it and be sure.

But there was Mrs. Sturgis to be considered. Readjusting his expression
into lines professional, he returned to the case.

“Suppose, madame, we take a look at that safe.”

Mrs. Sturgis led the way into the room from which she had appeared on
his arrival. It was a library, its far end one huge window of many
colored panes and its walls lined with book-shelves except where family
portraits in oils were hung or where the fireplace and its mantel
interfered. An antique writing desk in the window, a magazine-covered
table off center, a pillow-piled couch and a scattering of several
comfortable-looking, upholstered chairs comprised the furnishings, the
rich old mahogany of which was brought out by the glow from a
companionable fire of cannel coal.

To a corner of this room repaired Mrs. Sturgis and there pressed her
palm against an autumnal colored leaf in the wall-paper design. A shelf,
laden with books moved out, one volume, by chance, falling to the floor.
Another touch—exactly what or where Pape did not see—caused a panel to
slide back, disclosing the nickeled face of a wall safe. With assured
fingers she began to turn the dial—to the right, to the left, then a
complete turn to the right again. Every movement added evidence of her
boast of precision. Seizing the knob, she pulled upon it hard and
harder. The door of the safe, however, did not yield.

“Peculiar!” she ejaculated, all the well-bred softness whittled off her
voice. “Never before have I made a mistake on that combination. I know
it like my own initials.”

“Mind _your_ nerve now, Aunt Helene,” advised Jane from just behind, her
tone, too, rather sharp.

For such a sweet-looking girl, she certainly could sound sour—malicious!
Not another word or glance had she spared to him, the double-barreled
interloper. She was playing his game—yes. But was it because he had
asked her or for reasons of her own? This dame he had self-selected
would seem to be an intricate creature.

So Pape reflected as he picked up and held in his hands the book which
had fallen. But he, at least, was simple enough; with his very
simplicity in the past had solved more than one intricate problem. He
would, if she permitted, try to solve her.

Again Mrs. Sturgis turned and twirled; again tugged at the knob, but
with no more effect than before; again faced about with consternation,
even superstition on her face.

“There must be something wrong here,” she half-whispered.

“That we already know,” Jane agreed, “else why the detective in our

In Pape’s hands, suppose we say by accident, the volume he had rescued
from the floor opened upon one of O. Henry’s _immortelles_—“Alias Jimmie
Valentine.” To him the work of the lamented Mr. Porter ever had been
fraught with suggestion for more than the “kick” that, unlike home-brew,
is always to be found at the bottom of his bottle—at the _finis_ of his

The latest in amateur detectives, thus opportunely reminded, decided
that he must rise to the occasion. And he had reason to hope that he
could, once upon a time having been shown some tricks of the tumbler
profession by a professional.

“Why else should I be in your midst,” he offered cheerfully, “if not to
open your safe for you?”

Mrs. Sturgis at once gave him the benefit of doubt; made way for him;
took a stand beside her skeptical-looking niece. But Jane’s contempt
over his essay was frank—really, made her look downright disagreeable.

Pape made up his mind to disappoint her evident expectations if within
his powers so to do. He knelt down; wedged his head into the vacancy
left by the swinging shelf; pressed his ear close to the lock; began to
finger the dial. There was more than hope in his touch; there was also
practice. In his ranch-house out Hellroaring way he long ago had
installed a wall safe of his own in which to deposit the pay-roll and
other cash on hand. And one day it had disobligingly gone on strike; but
not so disobligingly that a certain derelict whom he had fed-up on
he-man advice as well as food—one who had followed the delicate
profession of “listener”—was beyond reach.

This turned-straight cracksman, without admitting his former avocation,
had solved a pay-day dilemma by conquering the refractory dial and later
had given his benefactor a series of lessons in the most-gentle “art,”
that the emergency might not recur. Pape, miles and miles from the
nearest town which might afford an expert, had been convinced by the
experience that a safe is unsafe which cannot be opened at the owner’s

In the course of present manipulations, the “under-graduate” considered
what he could say or do to the contemptuous half of his audience should
he fail, but reached no satisfactory conclusion. Indeed, he felt that
the only real way of venting his chagrin would be to wring her graceful,
long, white neck for doubting him before he failed, a proceeding quite
beyond consideration of any man from Montana. So he must not fail. Yet
how succeed?

Just as he was reminding himself for the seventh time—seventh turn—that
“slow and careful” was also the watchword for this sort of
acquaintanceship, an electrifying response to his light-fingering
sounded from within —— a click. Turning the knob, he pulled out the
door. The yielding hinges completed an electric circuit and an
incandescent bulb lighted in the roof.

Pape sprang to his feet and back, as much amazed over his feat as the
dazed-looking Miss Lauderdale. Then, at once, he got control of himself;
straightened his cuffs, as his teacher always had done after turning the
trick; remarked most calmly:

“The thief must have been changing the combination in the hope of
delaying the discovery of his crime and been frightened into such a
panic that he didn’t take time to close the door.”

Mrs. Sturgis again bent to the safe. She had reached well into it when,
with a poignant cry, she put both hands to her eyes and started back.
“It’s there again! This is getting too much for my nerves. Was I mad
before or am I going mad now? Jane—Mr. Pape—_it isn’t gone_—_at all_!”

The girl next applied to the cavity in the wall. Her face set in an
apparent effort to “mind” her nerves. She reached in and drew out an
oblong box of gold beautifully carved and set with small rubies in a
design of peacocks. From her expression—no longer disagreeable, but
beautiful from an ecstasy of relief—Pape judged this to be the “stolen”
heirloom upon which she was said to set such store.

That her aunt might be absolutely reassured, Jane Lauderdale handed her
the _tabatière_ so recently accounted missing. That good lady, however,
looked weak, as if about to drop the jeweled box. Pape relieved her of
it; led her to a chair.

“I—I don’t understand.”

Like a child utterly dependent on grown-ups for explanation, she glanced
from one to the other of the younger pair.

“Except for that famous precision of yours, it would seem easy enough,”
Jane offered with more clarity than respect. “You must have pushed the
box aside when you took out the pieces Irene wanted to wear. Your hands
were full and you neglected to close the safe. When you came down again
for your black pearl set and found the door open you thought at once of
my snuffbox and jumped at the conclusion, since it wasn’t in the place
you remembered putting it, that it wasn’t there at all. Cheer up. You
wouldn’t be the dearest auntie in the world if you weren’t human.”

Pape seconded her. “The most precise of us are liable to figments of the
imagination, madam. All’s well that ends that way. A snuffbox in hand is
worth two in the ——”

But Aunt Helene wasn’t so sure. She interrupted in a complaining voice,
as if offended at their effort to cheer her.

“I never jump at conclusions—_never_. If I was startled into jumping at
the one you mention, Jane, it seems strange that I selected these black
pearls so accurately. _Doesn’t_ it? And I’d almost take oath that the
box wasn’t pushed to one side—that it stood, when I found it just now,
exactly on the spot where I first placed it. And then, Mr. Pape, the
trouble with the combination——”

“Don’t worry any more about it, poor dear,” Jane begged with a suddenly
sweet, soothing air, the while laying a sympathetic palm against her
relative’s puckered brow. “I’ve noticed that you haven’t seemed just
yourself for days. Perhaps these headaches you’ve complained of mean
that you need eyeglasses. It’s only natural that a strain on the optic
nerves should confuse your mind, which usually _is_ so precise about

“Nothing of the sort, Jane. You can’t mental-suggest me into old age!”
snapped the recalcitrant patient. “My eyes are just as good as yours.
And I feel positive that I am quite myself.”

“Then why, Aunt Helene, didn’t you go with us to hear Farrar to-night?
You aren’t usually so squeamish about——”

“Of course not. It was indigestion, if you must know. Certainly it had
nothing to do with my optic nerves. You shouldn’t accuse me of jumping
at conclusions, Jane, with all your irritating, positive ideas about
other people’s——”

“It is my opinion—” the unofficial investigator thought advisable at
this point to remind them that an outsider was present—“that your
remembrance of the combination figures and the various turns was
absolutely correct—ab-so-lutely. But you may have jolted the delicate
mechanism of the lock when you shut the door. You _may_ have slammed

He received two glances for his pains to maintain peace, a quick,
resentful one from the niece and a long, grateful one from her aunt.

“A beauty, isn’t it?” he continued buoyantly, looking at Jane, but
referring to the snuffbox in his hands, lowered for closer inspection
into the light of the electric lamp. “I don’t wonder that the thought of
losing it distressed you, my dear Miss Lauderdale.”

“Associations, my dear Mr. Pape.”

Her brevity, cut even shorter by her accent, evidently was calculated to
inform him that, although she had played, she didn’t care much for his
game. For a young person who could warm one up so one minute, she
certainly could make one feel like an ice-crusher the next! Since that’s
what he was up against, however, he proceeded with all his surplus
enthusiasm to crush ice.

“The sight of this heirloom takes one right back to the days of old,
doesn’t it, when ladies fair and gallants bold——”

“You wax poetic from hearsay, Mr. Pape? You don’t look exactly old or
wise enough to have lived in those good old days.”

“Miss Lauderdale, no. I don’t claim to have staked any ‘Fountain of
Youth.’ In fact, I ain’t much older or wiser than I look and act. But
I’ve read a bit in my day—and night. The courtly Colonial gent, if I
remember aright, first placed the left hand on the heart—so.” Then he
bent gracefully, not to say carefully, so that the seams of his satin
straight-jackets should not give—thus. With his right hand he next
snapped open his jeweled box and passed it around the circle of
snufflers of _the_ sex, who would likely have swooned at the thought of
a cigarette as at the sight of a mouse—in this wise.

“Oh don’t—don’t you _dare_ open it!”

Pape, who duly had pressed his heart, bowed with care, if not grace, and
was in the act of pressing the catch, felt the box snatched from his
grasp. In his fumbling, however, his thumb had succeeded. As Jane seized
her treasure the lid sprang back. One look she gave into it, then swayed
in the patch of lamplight very like the limp ladies he had been
mentioning. A face of the pure pallor of hers scarcely could be said to
turn pale, but a ghastly light spread over it. Her eyes distended and
darkened with horror. A shudder took her. She looked about to fall.

“It is—empty! See, _it is empty_,” she moaned.

Pape was in time to steady her into a chair. Aunt Helene hovered over
her anxiously.

“What’s gone wrong with you, childie? You’re the one that’s in a
run-down state. Here’s your box, Jane dear. Look, it isn’t stolen at
all. Pinch yourself. Waken up. Everything’s all right.”

But Jane did not return her relative’s smile; clutched both fat arms of
the chair with both slim hands; stared ahead fixedly, as if trying to

“It is,” she repeated under her breath, “_empty_.”

From his urgent desire to relieve and help her, Pape intruded into her
painful abstraction.

“Then it wasn’t the box you valued, so much as its contents,” he stated
to her. “From the shock you have shown on finding it empty, I gather
that the safe has been robbed after all. Will you tell me of what?”

Her lips moved. He had to lean low to hear her sporadic utterances.

“I have failed—in a trust. It meant more to me than—it will kill
him—simply kill him. He trusted me. I can’t understand—who——”

A sudden glance of virile suspicion she flung up into the young
Westerner’s eyes.

“Who and what are you?” she demanded. “Answer me!”


So unexpected was the girl’s attack that Pape felt at a loss how best to
meet it. At his look of confusion, she continued in quick, fierce tones:

“I can’t see how my affairs concern you. How dare you question me? Why
are you around, anyhow, here and at the—— How did you happen to open
that safe so easily? Who and what are you—I insist on an answer?”

“My dear, don’t let excitement make you unreasonable,” Mrs. Sturgis
intervened. “Mr. Pape is a detective from the Arsenal. I’ve told you
that. Jasper brought him over after I——”

“He isn’t. I know very much better. He is nothing of the sort.” The girl
arose and straightened before him, all strength now. “I suppose you
expect me to tell you all about everything like a little—like a ninny.
Well, I won’t. I won’t tell you anything. _You_ tell _me_!”

“Don’t mind in the least. Fact, I’d gladly tell you a lot about the who
and what of Peter Stansbury Pape, but you’re not in a mood to hear. Out
in Montana, where I hail from, we think a lot of straight friendship. If
you could trust me, Miss Lauderdale, perhaps I’d be able to demonstrate
the sort of friendship I mean.”

“Well, I can’t trust you.”

“Pardon me. Yes, you can.”

He faced her with an emphasized look of that sincerity which before had
compelled her. But she shifted her eyes stubbornly and insisted:

“It’s very strange that on this particular night, when I was to be
robbed of something that matters more to me than—It does seem very
strange, your forcing your way in as you did.”

“He didn’t force his way in. I tell you I sent for him,” said Aunt

Pape, however, nodded in agreement. “It was and is strange. I ain’t
contradicting you, notice. Everything to-night seems mighty strange—to
me, as well as to you. If you’d just stop to consider that all friends
are strangers to start with, if you’d yield to your instinct, which
won’t lead you astray in my case, if you’d tag what’s worrying you so
that I could know where we’re headed for——”

Again Mrs. Sturgis interrupted, this time from excitement within
herself. She seized Jane’s arm by way of claiming that difficult young
relative’s attention.

“It has just occurred to me what—Jane Lauderdale, do you mean for one
minute to tell me that you’ve found——”

“I don’t mean to tell anything.”

The click of the girl’s voice silenced further importunities. Mrs.
Sturgis clasped her hands tightly from nervous suppression, her
continued mutterings clipped by a knife-like look from Jane.

“I do think you ought to tell if by hook or crook you’ve found— There
now, don’t flare up again! I don’t wonder, poor dear, that you’re upset.
Just remember that I’m upset, too. And I can’t help feeling a little
hurt that you don’t show more confidence in one who has done her best to
keep you from missing the mother who— But there, we won’t speak of that
now. What do you make of the case Mr. Po—Pape? What does your
professional instinct tell you?”

In truth, Why Not Pape’s “professional” instinct had not been very
communicative. But the result of his unprofessional investigation—Jane’s
distress, climaxing in her suspicion of him—had brought him through a
conclusive mental process. There had been a robbery and a peculiar one.
Money, bonds and valuable jewelry had been passed by in the theft of an
unnamed something vitally precious to a girl whom he had offered to

Already much valuable time had been lost through Mrs. Sturgis’
incertitude, her summons of Jane and Jane’s unwitting summons of
himself. His impulsive participation was delaying the more expert search
which should have been instigated at once. The thief might have escaped
through his interposition of himself. He felt that he ought to make
amends if the time for such had not already passed.

Through this mental summary, accomplished during the moment that
followed the matron’s demand, Pape managed the appearance of a man in
deep study. At its conclusion——

“Looks like an inside job,” he declared.

“By inside you mean— Please don’t suspect any one within my household.”
Mrs. Sturgis’ color rose with the advice.

“I have no right to suspect any one—not yet, madam. I am considering
only known facts. Your safe has been robbed within the last few hours of
the contents of this heirloom snuff-box. I assume, Miss Lauderdale, that
you are ready to swear your treasure was inside the box when you
entrusted it to your aunt?”

“You may—” Jane crisply. “I am not given to figments of the

“I congratulate you, miss. The safe was opened by no ordinary robber, as
proved by the valuables left. Somebody who appreciated the contents
of—of Miss Lauderdale’s treasure committed the theft and in such a hurry
that he or she did not wait to extract the contents, but took box and
all. Later this person, not knowing that Mrs. Sturgis had been to the
safe in the meantime and discovered the loss, found opportunity to
replace the now-empty box and, in the hurry of closing the door, jarred
the mechanism of the lock.”

Mrs. Sturgis nodded; looked really quite encouraged. “That could have
been done while I went up stairs to dress after sending to the
Metropolitan for my niece. But I do hope you’re not going to make the
mistake of accusing my servants. They’ve been with me for years.”

“I am not going to accuse any one, although servants have a way of
making less honest friends who use them. I simply say that no
professional turned this trick. The case is one for Central Office men.
Even if it were in my line, I could not, under the circumstances, take
the responsibility of it myself.”

“Under what circumstances, Mr. Pope—that is, _Pape_? You don’t intend to
leave us—to desert us just when——”

Pape silenced Aunt Helene’s protestations with a creditable gesture.
“The lack of confidence in me—even suspicion of me—shown by Miss
Lauderdale makes it impossible for me to proceed. I have gone as far as
I can in a case where I’m not to be given a hint of the nature of the
stolen article which I am asked to replace. Since, however, I’ve been
called in, I must discharge my obligation as an officer of the law.
Where is—oh, I see it. May I use your phone, Mrs. Sturgis?”

“Certainly. But w-what are you about to do?”

“To call up Headquarters and have a brace of bulls—beg pardon—a span of
detectives sent up at once. We shall hope that they look more worthy of
Miss Lauderdale’s confidence.”

With this dignified declaration Pape strode across the room to a
telephone cabinet in the corner; sat down and lifted the receiver. But
he never heard the response.

One ringless hand brushed past his lips and cupped the mouthpiece,
another pressed down the hook. Jane’s face, again disagreeable,
strained, strange, bent over him. At just that moment he recalled that
the line was said to be out of commission, a fact which they two
appeared to have forgotten. Deeming the point of distance from Aunt
Helene an advantage, he decided not to remind Jane, lest he silence what
she was about to say.

“I’ve changed my mind,” she quavered. “I don’t want a detective—any

“Oh, yes, you do.” Pape spoke in a tone authoritative from his sincere
wish to get her the best possible advice in the least possible time. “Of
course I’ll see it through, too, if you want me to and ask me to. But I
must have help on the case. Just let me get a good man detailed, then
don’t worry. We’ll get a rope on your petty thief sooner than——”

“_No._ I won’t have any one from Central Office. I can’t have the matter
made public. When I thought the box stolen among other things I was
willing. But I’ve changed my mind now I know that only the—that it— Oh,
you don’t understand and I can’t explain! But it isn’t a petty theft,
Mr. Pape.”

She leaned lower over him. Her voice dropped into a whispered rasp.

“You’d forgive me for not knowing whom to trust if you could realize
that what was in that box means everything to me and that I’d never get
it back if its real value became known. Can’t you imagine something
whose loss means the completest kind of ruin to me and to one who——”

She pressed her teeth into her lower lip, whether to stop its quivering
or its admission he did not care. He felt his sensibilities scorched by
the blue blaze of fears which had burnt the doubt of him from her eyes.
His original ideas of how to learn this lady he had self-selected seemed
somehow thrown into the discard. They were much too slow, much too
steady, much too cool as compared with hot, dizzy, instantaneous
realization like this. One didn’t learn _the_ woman. One just knew her.
And knowing her as _the_ woman, one served her.

Without superfluous words Pape’s lips swore their oath of
allegiance—fervently kissed her hand. The click of the receiver being
returned to its useless hook punctuated the small ceremony—that and the
distant tintillation of an electric bell.

“Thank goodness, they’re back at last, the folks for supper!” exclaimed
Aunt Helene and started for the stair-head.

Jane started after her. “One minute, Auntie. I want to ask—to beg a
favor of you.”

Pape followed them to their stand in the hall, glancing hastily about
for his hat and overcoat. He decided that he must escape. The returning
quartette—Irene especially—could not be expected to play his game as had
the strangely hostile, compliant and altogether enigmatic Jane. Stripped
of his professional mask, he would lose the advantage he had gained with
Aunt Helene, even did her niece deign to let him hold it for long.
Perhaps he’d better forget his hat and coat. Yet how to get out without
passing the party——

“If you’ll point the way to the back-stairs, madam—” he began. “It would
be better if your friends did not see me. As the sleuth on the case I
don’t want to be recognized.”

Jane interrupted, her one hand grasping his arm, her other Mrs.
Sturgis’. Rapidly Jasper could be heard pad-padding through the lower
hall to the street door.

“There’s no need for you to be named as a—a sleuth, Mr. Pape. Aunt
Helene, what I wanted to ask—to implore is that you don’t mention the
theft at all. As the only loser, I insist on working it out my own way.
Won’t you promise, please?”

“But, my dear, there must be some explanation to Harford—my hurrying you
home and all——”

“You won’t stop at a white fib for me, Aunt Helene? I’ll tell a million
for you about anything—whenever you say. Listen. You had an attack
of—what was it? Headache from your eyes.”

“Nothing of the sort. Indigestion. _Why_ do you insist that my eyes——”

“Indigestion, then. Anything you like. You didn’t wish to spoil Irene’s
evening, but couldn’t be alone. You feel better now, but—quick, come
back into the library. Stretch out on the couch. Mr. Pape, help me—help

There was no time to enquire into the advisability of Jane’s plea. As
the street door thudded shut and light voices waved upward, her tug on
the matron’s plump elbow was released in an imperative gesture to Pape.

He, nothing loath, snatched up the surprised lady and deposited her upon
the pillow-piled couch before the library grate. Jane, with rapid
movements, completely enveloped her with the rare old Kiskillum rug
which had draped its foot, sternly tucking in the dimpled, pearl-adorned
hands which _would_ strive upward to smooth a really unruffled coiffure.

“How does making a fright of me help?” Aunt Helene complained.

Pape did not answer. He was looking about for the stray bottle of
smelling-salts which, for sake of realism, he should be pressing to her
nostrils. Before he could locate any such first-aid, however, the
daughter of the house had achieved the second floor and dawdled
delightedly into the room.

Straight for the Westerner she came head-on, soft exclamations floating
from her like the sea-foam tulle from about her throat.

“Do you know, I _knew_ you’d stick around until I came! Harfy is
_fee_-urious—his mustache does look so bristly when he gets in a rage.
But I believe in trusting each other, don’t you? Do you or don’t you,
Why-Not Pape?”

Through his mumbled response Pape realized wretchedly that Mrs. Sturgis
had been raised to a sitting posture by strength of her astonishment. He
heard her demand:

“Irene, you know —— Jane, where in the world could she——”

Also he heard Jane’s hurried, low-voiced explanation.

“I was trying to tell you a while ago. Don’t you remember that I said
how strange it all was? You see, he’s an acquaintance of mine from the
Yellowstone. He was at the opera to-night. That’s why he is wearing
evening clothes. But here come the Allens. Now, _please_——”

Mrs. Sturgis was obliged to take it at a gulp. She sat like some ruffled
chicken doctored for the pip in her straw-heap of rug, smoothing her
plumage, winking from smart of the idea and greeting her friends.
Evidently she was none too taken with the impromptu rôle thrust upon
her—would have preferred the thriller of lady-assailed-in-her-castle—but
she played it with all due languor, not forgetting a line, even on
Irene’s demand that she invite Mr. Pape, who to her still must look
somewhat like a mere operative from the Arsenal Precinct, to join the
supper party.

Pape’s first weak thought was to refuse. The patent pincers at the
moment gave him a twinge, as they had several times during recent
excitements. Really, he owed it to his feet to go home. But that
wouldn’t sound either a legitimate or romantic excuse to a lady exacting
as she was young and fair. The fear that if he went now he might never
get back decided him to accept.

Despite his inspirational superiority to all slow-but-sure methods, he
found himself unable to advance one step that night toward the girl to
whom he had made a vow of service. Mills Harford was a substantial
barrier, although the “bristles” of his mustache relaxed to show
boyishly charming smiles. By everybody, Jasper included, “Harfy” was
accorded absolute right to seat Miss Lauderdale at table, to serve her,
to engage her attention.

Then there was the difficulty of Irene.

“They teased me like everything for letting Cousin Jane snatch you out
of the box to-night,” she confided to Pape. “You see she took me by
surprise. I won’t let her grab like that again. Don’t you ever worry.
Nothing is impossible to Rene, either.”

He did worry, though. In her he caught his first glimpse of the
perquisites of “our young ladies to-day,” and he couldn’t help worrying.
Why should he? And yet, looking into ardent Irene’s eyes, why not?

When Pape descended the brownstone steps to the sidewalk of Fifth
Avenue, it was not late from the standpoint of the company to whom he
had said good-by. But he smiled to think how Hellroaring Valley had been
wrapped in slumber hours and hours before.

He crossed the asphalt to the park side and made his way toward
Fifty-ninth Street. He did not want a cab. A walk to the Astor was just
what he needed, he felt. It would help him to straighten out some of the
tangles which the experiences of the night had left in his brain.

He looked off to his right upon the expanse of bare trees with their
background of tall, still-lighted buildings. To him came the memory, as
if from some far-away day, of the alone-ness in the midst of city
throngs which had kept him loping his piebald over park bridle paths.

“Strange,” she had called this night’s experience. Yet she could not
appreciate how strange was the fact that he was not lonely now. He
should never be lonely again. Had he not met her? And did he not
recognize her—Jane?

Probably she did not yet recognize him. She had snuffed his offer of
service in the finding of that unnamed treasure which she had lost, just
as she had snuffed his personal interest in her by her rather rude
dismissal of him before the Metropolitan.

But what she did or said or thought was only her side of it—not
necessarily his. He stood committed both by word and wish to accept the
situation as she presented it, to trust her wholly in return for her
refusal to trust him, to help her whether she wished his help or no.

And this because he, Peter, had met her, Jane!


Central Park, even with its horde of transitory inhabitants, looked more
than ever like home to Peter Pape this late afternoon. Feeling the
necessity of a private conclusion or two, he loped Polkadot into what he
hoped would prove the less used path. His thoughts, like the pinto’s
hoof-beats, were of a rather violent, not to say exclamatory sort.

Three whole days since he had met her, and not once since had he seen
her! Considering the emphasis with which he had interpolated himself
into her acquaintance that opera evening, the length of the unbroken
after-pause seemed incredible. Here was he, lonelier than before receipt
of the advices of ’Donis Moore, in that now he knew what earlier he only
had suspected he was missing.

He felt as forlorn as looked a bent old woman who stood beneath the
trail-side shade, leaning against a tree. Out of date was her
nondescript bonnet of the poke persuasion, rusty her black silk dress,
ineffectual her attitude. Too primitive for the Society into which he
had cantered must be his Far-West methods, since rusted over were his
hopes and resultless his to-day.

Sight of a sheep herd browsing over “The Green” sufficiently surprised
and pleased his pastoral eye as to brighten temporarily his mood. He
polkaed Dot down to a walk.

A flock of Dorsets in the Great Garden of New York Town! More than a
hundred horned heads he estimated them, not counting the wobbly-legged
lambs trailing the ewes. Although oil was Pape’s bonanza, cattle was his
stock in trade, yet he felt none of the cowman’s usual aversion for the
wearers of fleece. He was, as a matter of fact, a “mixed” rancher, with
sheep of his own on the Hellroaring reaches. He rejoiced that these
animals, at least, could enjoy the company of their kind and graze to
their taste. Indeed, a more satisfactory pasture could not have been
found for them, except for the fact that an over-used auto-road
“unfenced” that side of it next the bridle path. The condition,
precarious both for the sheep and the drivers of cars, hung heavily in
his consideration until he caught sight of the dog that was on guard.

“What d’you think of that, horse-alive?” he made demand of Polkadot. “A
police hound instead of a collie—a Belgian, at that—close-herding the

When one of the fattest of the mutton-heads waddled into the
auto-greased roadway in an ambitious expedition toward the grass-tufted
border along the path, Pape pulled his painted pony to a stop and
watched with active interest.

“Quick, Kicko, round her up!”

The shouted command came from the flock-master, appearing at a run
around the far side of the band.

Unmistakable as the breed of the dog was the intelligence of his work.
With warning, staccato yelps he dashed from among the more discreet of
his charges, cut off the stray from her goal, snatched her by a mouthful
of wool out of the path of a speeding car, then nipped her into a return
rush to the safety of The Green.

“Great work, Kicko! Here, boy, I want to shake!”

Pape, enthusiastic over the best bit of herding he ever had seen done
under adverse circumstances, rode toward the dog hero, swung out of the
saddle and met him more than halfway in the paw-shaking, ear-scratching
formalities that followed.

The master, a stout, middle-aged, uniformed expert, showed himself as
pleased with the introduction as his canine assistant. He gave his name
as Tom Hoey of the Sheepfold, the gabled roof of which could be plainly
seen a short distance south and nearer the park wall. Willingly enough
he contributed to the information fund of the easy-going stranger.

Yes, Kicko was a police dog, the gift of a returned army captain and the
only herder of his breed in captivity. The park collie, in active
service for years, had been about ready for retirement at the time of
the foreigner’s arrival. A short chain attached to the swivel collars on
the necks of both had enabled the old Scot to teach the young Belgian
the trade of disciplining woolly quadrupeds instead of two-legged

“I, for one, don’t hope to meet a better policer in this world and I
sure don’t expect to in the next,” the owner boasted. “He’s got a whole
repertory of tricks that he’s worked out for his own amusement, besides
knowing by heart all the dog A-B-C’s, such as shaking hands, speaking
and fetching things. One of the most useful things he does is going for
my lunch noontimes. He brings it nice and hot in a tin pail from my
house by the wall yonder. There’s just one trouble about him, though—eh,
old side Kick? If he meets up with one of the many friends he’s made, or
even if he takes a special shine to somebody new—Kicko’s one fault is
his sociability—he’ll like as not present my meal to some one that ain’t
half as hungry or as entitled to it as I.”

“We’ll meet again.”

So Pape assured the shepherd pair on continuing his ride. He wished that
all the folks he met were as friendly and as easy to understand as they.
By comparison, for instance, each and every member of that dressed-up
party of Gothamites into whose midst he had insisted himself the other
night seemed doubly complex.

His attitude had been plain as day; theirs, both separately and as a
whole, incomprehensible. And since that evening, the conduct of all had
been as misleading as his had been direct. This was the afternoon of the
third ineffectual after day. It was all right for handsome fellows like
the traffic cop to advise him to do something that would “make ’em take
notice.” He had done it—done it so well that they had noticed him enough
to decide not to notice him. To him the situation seemed to call for
some deed even more noticeable. Again, _what_? Leaving the pace to the
piebald, he brisked along in review.

At the enthusiastic hour of six _a.m._ that morning after sighting
Society, he had risen and rigged himself to do and dare on the high-seas
of adventure. Any idea of adhering to the original “slow and steady”
stipulation of his experiment not already quashed by first sight and
sound of Miss Lauderdale must have been ruled out by sub-consciousness
during his brief sleep. Slow and steady would have been proper enough in
almost any other conceivable case of discovering whether a woman was
_the_ woman. But as applied to Jane, any method other than gun-fire
quick seemed somehow a reflection on her. An excellent rule, no
doubt—slow and steady. She, however, was super-excellent—an exception to
any rule.

Realization that he was essaying rather an early start had struck him as
he steered a course through Mr. ——or Mrs. Astor’s fleet of scrub ladies,
tugging at their brush anchors over the seas of Jersey-made marble,
evidently about ready to call it a night’s voyage. He had left his berth
without any call, as six _a.m._ long had been and doubtless long would
remain his hour for setting sail into the whitecaps of each new day.

So transformed was The Way outside that he scarcely could recall its
nocturnal whiteness or gayety. Strict business ruled it. Luggage-laden
taxis sped toward or from the ports of early trains. Surface cars
demanded blatantly, if unnecessarily, the right o’ way. Motor trucks
groaned hither and yon with their miseries of dripping ice, jangling
milk cans, bread, vegetables—what not. Only the pavements were empty at
that hour. Blocks and blocks of them stretched out, practically

A moment he “lay-to” for an upward survey of the greeting he had bought
from himself to himself, which last evening had seemed the howdy-doo of
Destiny. It wasn’t so conspicuous in daytime with the lights off,
although the contractor had been clever about blocking in behind the
incandescents so that the letters within the bouquet border still were
legible. Even had they not been, he shouldn’t have felt disappointed. To
every electric sign its night, as to every dog his day! Wasn’t he now
the gayest dog that ever believed in signs? And wasn’t this to be his

More often than not breakfast to Pape was a matter of bacon, coffee and
buckwheat cakes. Although the more expensive restaurants along The Way
were, like the lobby of his hotel, still in process of being scrubbed
out, he soon found a chop-house ready to “stack” for him. At table he
ate rather abstractedly, his mind and most of his fingers engaged with
the sheaf of morning papers collected during his walk.

Yes, the curiosity of reportorial minds to the number of three had been
sufficiently stirred by the mystery of the new sign to give it mention.
One touched the subject only to drop it, frankly suspicious of some new
advertising insult. Another treated it in jocular vein, with that
grateful spur-of-the-moment wit which occasionally enlivens columns
thrown together under such stress of time. A third declared its
ignorance of the whyfore of Why-Not Pape, but had no objection to his,
her or its being welcomed to the city. The question was raised, however,
of just what awful thing W. N. Pape could have committed in his past to
need the moral support of so rare and roseate a reassurance.

When the last drop of coffee had washed down the last scrap of
wheat-cake, the man from Montana further treated himself to a series of
chuckles. Was the joke on him or on the Big Town? Which or whether, it
was catching on. And there was one small assortment of A1 New Yorkers
who would enjoy the joke with him—who knew the kingdom, gender,
case-number and several other etceteras of Why-Not Pape. That is, they
would enjoy it if not too suspicious of him. Just about how suspicious
they were was the next thing he needed to know.

That supper party at the Sturgis house had run its courses smoothly
enough, at least on the surface. But their see-you-again-soons had a
haziness which he could not break through. It is true that Irene had met
the mention of his favorite pastime of horse-backing in the park with a
far from hazy hint that they “co-ride.” But that possibility he had
preferred to leave vague. He had “pulled out” creditably, he hoped—with
all the good-form he remembered having been taught or told about.

The evening’s paramount issue had increased in importance overnight—that
matter of a safe robbed of unnamed loot. What could the stolen treasure
be—of a size that could be hidden in a snuff-box, yet so valuable that
its loss was tragedy?

Jane Lauderdale was a number of wonderful things. Was she wonderfully
unreasonable or more wonderfully distrustful of him? There was a chance
that overnight she had had one of those changes of mind said to be the
pet prerogative of the fair. Just perhaps she now would be willing to
accept the service he had offered—service which he meant should be hers
whether she wished it or not.

The next impending question regarded the hour at which young ladies got
up of a morning in this woman’s town. This he put to the sleepy-eyed
blond cashier of the restaurant.

“You trying to kid me, customer?” was her cautious reply. “If no, it
depends upon where said lady lives. Fifth Avenue in the Sixties? Ain’t
you flapping kinda high? I’d say anywheres from ten _A.M._ to twelve
noon. Why not jingle up her maid and ask? Oh, you’re welcome and to
spare. Keep the change.”

Before entering the nearest cigar store to act on this suggestion, Pape
remembered that last night the Sturgis’ phone had been declared
useless—its wires cut. He called for the repair department of the
company. The voice with a rather dubious “smile” at the other end of the
line agreed to enquire just when the number would be restored to

“Say, Useless,” came the answer in a moment, “that line’s in order.
Hasn’t been out. I just got an O. K. over it. You must have got wrong
information from one of our centrals. Excuse, please.”

He would have “excused” with more pleasure if his simple question had
not started a series of others more involved. How did a ’phone fallacy
fit into the robbery plot? Why had the wheezy butler, Jasper, been sent
afoot to the nearest police station if the wires had not been cut? Did
Jane know or did she not that the line was in order when she stopped him
in his attempt to call Headquarters?

He decided not to “jingle her maid” at once but to await the hour first
suggested by the “blond” cashier before asking answers. Jane Lauderdale
looked the kind of girl who would have arisen by ten _a.m._ At any rate,
he would give her benefit of doubt. But no mental preparation during the
interim, as to what tack her temper might take, in any way prepared him
for that morning’s second shock.

Jasper answered—there was no mistaking his voice. Pape followed the
announcement of his name with a comment over the speed with which the
telephone had been fixed, to which the born butler replied smoothly,
impersonally, non-committally.

“Yes, Mr. Pape. The Telephone Company is exceedingly efficient, sir.”

The request for speech with Miss Lauderdale was met with equal

“The family is all out. They left early this morning for the country,
sir, to seek a few days of peace and quiet.”

“All of them?”

“Yes, Mr. Pape, all of them.”

“What’s their address?”

“They left no address. They never do, sir, when they go for peace and
quiet. Good day, sir.”

With which, actually, that sebacious, ostentatious, fallacious
importation had hung up on him.

To Pape’s daily inquiries since Jasper had replied with consistent
politeness, if with consistent lack of information. The Westerner hated
him for his very perfection in his part; was inclined to the belief that
America was no place for an intelligence limited to being a butler.

What about his—Why-Not’s—peace and quiet? Wasn’t _he_ entitled to any
such? Indignation had flung with him out of the booth that first
morning; had matched his pace since; was riding with him to-day.

In the interval Pape had made efforts other than over the Sturgis
telephone to locate geographically the rural resting-place mentioned all
too vaguely by Jasper. His first visit to that mountainous district
known to the Metropolitan Police as “below the dead-line” was not in the
squaring of certain overdue accounts of his own which had been the basic
impulse of his Eastern exile, but in the hope of locating the other
members of that Zaza box-party.

In a cloud-piercer near the corner of William and Wall Streets he found
the office suite occupied by ex-Judge Samuel Allen and associated
attorneys, evidently an affiliation of standing “at the bar”—a phrase
which, since Volstead, is no longer misunderstood as meaning anything
but “in the Law.” He gained admittance into the reception room, but, so
far as achieving audience with the head of the firm, the legal lair
proved more impregnable than the ranger-guarded Yellowstone to a

The “line-fence” was ridden by thick-rouged, thin-bloused office girls
who doubtless had been instructed that all unexpected callers were
suspicious characters and to be treated accordingly. Once the judge was
in court, which court no one seemed to know. Pape left his name. On a
second visit he was allowed to “dig his spurs” into chair rungs most of
an afternoon under the hopeful glances of the “dolls,” while awaiting
the end of an alleged conference, only to be told with
none-too-regretful apologies that Mr. Allen, having been called to
attend the directors of the Hardened Steel Corporation, had departed
without knowing that Mr. Pape awaited him. A third time——

But it is enough—was more than enough for him—that he never broke
through the barrier of too-red lips with their too-patent, stock lies;
never caught even a long-distance glimpse of the jurist of small person
and large personality.

Failure to find the likeable Mills Harford came more quickly and saved a
deal of time. “Harfy’s” trail showed plainly in the City Directory and
his “ranch” proved to be another of those “places of business” where
everything but business was attended, a real-estate office in one of the
block-square structures that surround the Grand Central Terminal. Mr.
Harford had departed on a yachting trip around Long Island, Pape was
told—a statement which he had no cause to doubt.

Although Peter Pape had signaled Broadway in general with what he liked
to call the “high sign,” his desire for adventure had particularized. He
could not be satisfied to go on to a next, with the first only begun. He
finished what he started, unless for some reason stronger than his will.

More than by the beauty of Jane Lauderdale’s face, he was haunted by its
look of fear. The little drama at the Sturgis house that night could not
have been staged for benefit of himself, whose presence there was purely
accidental. Its unaccountable denouement had terrorized the aunt as well
as niece. Much more was unexplained than the nature of the stolen
treasure and the cause of that false report anent the severed telephone

To epitomize the present state of mind of Why-Not Pape, “making ’em
notice him” had boiled down into one concentrated demand that the
high-strung girl whom he had self-selected and later approved by
instinct instead of rule—that Jane Lauderdale should notice his
readiness to do or die in her service.

He had the will. Whither was the way?

Nights and days had passed since he had pressed that thrilling kiss of
allegiance upon her finger-tips. Yet here was he strolling aimlessly
down The Way, after having stabled Polkadot for an equine feast _au
fait_ and himself dined at a restaurant near Columbus Circle. The bright
lights could have no allurement for him. Signs were dull indeed that one
didn’t wish to follow.

The wish formed in his mind for some friend with whom to talk. Not that
he was given to confidence with men or cared to engage any feminine ear,
save one. But he would have appreciated a word or look of simple
sympathy—a moment of companionship that he knew to be genuine with——

He turned squarely about and started back the way he had come. The very
sort of friend he needed!

Kicko would be off duty by now and likely as glad as he to improve their
acquaintance, so pleasantly begun. If Shepherd Tom was about they could
smoke and talk sheep. There was a lot about woollies these B’way folk
didn’t know—that, for instance, they could take care of themselves for
eight months of the year and cost only seven cents a day for the other
four. Yes, he and Tom Hoey could talk sheep at the city’s Fold. He would
seek that “peace and quiet” which he hoped Jane had found in the
deepening shade of the only part of Manhattan that at all resembled his
West; was more likely to locate it there than along the avenue of
amperes and kilowatts.

His ambition seemed to be shared before announced. Scarcely had he
turned into the roadway leading from Central Park West to the Sheepfold
when he met the police dog coming out. All that he had hoped for was
Kicko’s greeting. The more conveniently to vent his feelings, the
astute, sharp-featured Belgian placed upon the ground the small tin
bucket which he was carrying, evidently the lunch pail of his favorite
“trick.” Soon picking it up, however, he issued a straight-tailed
invitation to “come along.” Pape realized that he had some definite
objective—probably was taking supper instead of lunch to Shepherd Tom.
He accepted.

Many a lead had the whys and why-nots of Peter Pape’s nature forced him
to follow, but never so interestedly had he followed the lead of a dog.
And Kicko showed that he appreciated the confidence. He would dash
ahead; would stop and look back; would set down his precious pail, most
times merely to yap encouragement, twice to return to his new friend and
urge him on by licking his hand.

When they left the beaten path for the natural park and approached a
hummock marked by rocks and a group of poplars whose artistic setting
Pape had admired in passing earlier that afternoon, the police dog’s
excitement grew. Beside a dark mass, hunched-over close to the ground,
Kicko dropped the bucket with a final yelp of accomplishment.

At once the dark mass straightened into human shape. Pape stopped and
stared. Almost at once he recognized the poke-bonneted old lady with
whose forlorn appearance he had compared his own state. Then she had
stood leaning against a tree at the foot of the hill. Now she looked to
have been digging in the woodsy earth. A considerable mound of soil lay
beside the hole over which she had crouched and she brandished a trowel
against Kicko’s exuberant importunities. Her back was toward Pape.

As he hesitated over whether to advance or face about, disliking both to
startle her and to be caught in what might seem the retreat of a spy, he
overheard what she was saying to the dog. He shivered from an odd
sensation, not like either cold or heat, that passed up his spinal
column and into his neck.

“No, you don’t, you wriggly wretch! I know perfectly well what you’ve
got in that bucket of yours this time of day—nothing but the saved-up
old bones that they don’t want you to bury in the flower-beds about the

When Kicko, as if acknowledging himself caught, seized the handle of his
pail and shook it toward her appealingly, she took off the lid and
laughed aloud at his ruse. In the regardless embrace which she threw
around his scraggy neck, she spilled what showed to be a collection of
more or less aged bones.

“Just because you’re so attractive, I’ll _maybe_ let you have your way,”
she informed him seriously as though addressing a human. “If I don’t
find what I’m after, you may bury your precious _debris_ as I scoop back
the dirt. But you’ll have to wait until I— Back, now! I tell you, you’ve
got to wait until I’m sure this isn’t the place where——”

Pape didn’t stand still longer. Her voice—sweet, strong, familiar—lured
him. He forgot his question to advance or retreat. He advanced—and
rapidly. By the time he reached her he had outstrode all his
consideration for her age and forlorn state. His hurry made him rough.
He stooped over the lowered poke bonnet; unclasped the two arms from
about Kicko’s neck; literally, jerked the woman to her feet.

Well proportioned, for so old and ill-clad a lady, did she show to be as
she sprang back from him, surprised into height, straightness and
lissome lines. The face within the scoop of the bonnet was pale from
passion—surprise, anger, fear—or perhaps all three. She was——

“Jane!” he exclaimed.

“_You_!” cried she.

He stared at her, his tongue too crowded with demands to speak any one
of them. He continued to stare as she fell back to her knees and, with
her trowel, refilled the hole she had dug. Before he realized what she
was about, she had picked up a pile of wilted plants that lay nearby;
had down-doubled her tallness, straightness and lissomeness into her
former old-lady lines; with a rapid, shuffling walk, had started down
and around the hummock.

“Just a minute, Miss Lauderdale,” he called. “I didn’t mean to startle
you. Can’t we have a word or two or three?”

She did not answer, did not turn—only hurried away from him the faster.
He set out after her; recrossed the bridle path; entered the deepening
shadows toward the heart of the park.

Kicko, who had shown in his whines a spirit torn by regret to forsake
either his bones or his friends, now caught up with Pape, briefly
sniffed his hand, then trotted after the bent, dingy, scuttling figure
merging into the gloom beyond.

The dog’s appeal she heeded, but with a well-aimed stone.

“Go back,” she ordered him. “Don’t you dare follow me. If you do—if
anybody follows me—I’ll find a policeman and get you both arrested for
annoying me.”

Kicko, tail between legs, skulked back in the general direction of his
treasure pile.

Pape, too, heeded to some extent her warning, evidently meant more for
him than the dog. But, although he slackened his pace, he did not turn
or skulk. There were reasons a-plenty why he felt justified in pursuit.


The greatest of parks has its bright sides, many-faceted as the
Kohinoor, croquet grounds for the old, benches for the parlorless
tenement young, shaded arbors for the love possessed, pagodas for
picknickers, May poles for the youngsters, roller-skating on the Mall,
rowing on the lakes. Just as a jewel catches the light from only one
direction at a time, however, this emerald of the city has also its

Already Why-Not Pape had realized this of his adopted range; knew that,
despite the scattering of such policemen as could be spared from
pavement-beats outside and the greater number of electric lights upon
whose surveillance the City Fathers appeared to place their chief
dependence, serious crimes occasionally occurred in Gotham’s great,
green heart. Even during his short stay he had noted in the daily news
tales and tales of outlawry that would have called out posses in
Montana—of women held up afoot or in taxis, of men relieved of their
valuables at gun-point, of children kidnapped for ransom, of a region of
caves occupied by bandits, of footloose pickpockets and mashers.

An inclusive thought of the possibilities of the region in the dead dark
of a moonless night was what had started him after the bent, black
figure scuttling into the fast-dropping gloom ahead. She had repulsed
him even more ungratefully than she had the dog—as scornfully as though
there were no Metropolitan Grand Opera House at Thirty-ninth Street and
Broadway, as though her Parian pallor had not turned the hue of the
ardor with which, a few nights ago, his lips had pressed her hand. But,
whether her denial of him was from whim or necessity, he could not
permit her to cross the park unguarded at that hour.

And surely there was enough else that was strange about this, their
third encounter, to have overcome the prideful hesitation of the most
ill-treated man. Hours back, in mid-afternoon, he had seen her in the
witch-like disguise of an old herb-hunter, trying to locate some
particular spot without arousing the suspicions either of passers-by or
of the authorities. Her quest had kept her long past the most
fashionable dinner hour. Doubtless she had waited until dusk before
beginning the actual digging with her trowel in order to decrease the
chances of interfering in what must be a violation of the most sacred
park regulations.

The sagacity of the Belgian dog in bringing his bucket of bones to be
buried where the burying was easy suggested that he had met up and made
friends with her before in a like past proceeding. Now that she was
headed in the general direction of her Fifth Avenue home, why didn’t she
go to one of the nearer exits, hail a taxi or take a street-car around?
Granting some reason why she preferred to walk, why not by the foot-path
along Traverse Road, only a few rods below? That would have brought her
out of the park almost opposite the Sturgis home.

But she was not keeping to any of the paths; seemed rather to avoid them
as she hurried due east across the meadow known as “The Green.”

Casting off speculation as unprofitable for the nonce, Why-Not Pape kept
after her, trailing with care lest she realize that her biped protector
had more doggedness than the rebuked canine. It wasn’t an extremely
romantic way of “Seeing Nellie Home,” but certainly had speed and
mystery. Perhaps, at that, romance would end the evening, as it did in
books, plays, pictures!

When about halfway across the park, the girl changed her course
southward toward the truck road. Pape, hoping that she meant to take the
beaten track the latter part of her strange retreat, increased his pace
in order to cut in ahead of her. Not that he intended to force an
interview upon her in her present mood—he had too much consideration for
himself to invite another command which he must break. He wished merely
to conceal the bulk of himself in the first convenient shadow, there to
wait until she had passed, then again to follow at a distance discreet,
but sufficiently close to enable him to be of service in case of need.

By running the last hundred yards, he realized this scheme; reached the
traverse first; lowered himself over the stone abutment; dropped to the
flagging at the bottom of the cut. The road he knew to be one of four
which cross-line Central Park as unostentatiously as possible to
accommodate the heavy vehicular traffic from East Side to West and back
again. Much as he resented every reminder of the fallacy of Polkadot’s
pet illusion and his own—that this was a bit of home—he appreciated that
Father Knickerbocker, even for the sake of giving his rich and poor this
vast melting pot, could not have asked “business” to drive around an
oblong extending from Fifty-ninth to One-hundred-tenth Streets. It was
something to rejoice over that, while utility was served, the roadways
were sunk so deep that the scenic effect of the whole was scarcely

During his wait close against the shadowed side of the wall, Pape’s
thoughts sped along at something the recent pace of his feet. The look
on Jane Lauderdale’s face when he had surprised her at her digging just
now was that same look of fear which had haunted him since she had
opened her restored, but emptied heirloom box. The strangeness of her
behavior afterward, the cruelty of her suspicion of him, her denial of
him to-night—all only emphasized that pitiable, terrorized look.

Had her object then and now the sameness of her look? Was she seeking
over the expanse of the park that mysterious, stolen something which
formerly had been contained in a snuff-box? If so, what clew could she
have found that it might be cachéd beneath the poplars?

Buried treasure! The _motif_ had inspired thrillers since thrills had
been commercialized. But treasure buried in Manhattan’s heart? So
improbable was the thought that, except for one thing, he might have
adjudged the eccentric-acting Miss Lauderdale to be mildly mad—the one
thing being that he knew she was sane.

He did not, therefore, waste time doubting the entire defensibility of
his self-selected lady. She had good reason for covering her personality
by the garb and gait of a crone before essaying her hunt; for feigning
to gather herbs while the daylight lasted; even for refusing to
recognize him after that first startled monosyllable which had been the
extent of her half of their interview. In bonnet and black she had every
chance of being considered inside the law in the Irish, mother-loving
eyes of most of the “sparrow cops,” although literally well outside.
Dressed as the upper-crust young beauty he first had met three nights
ago, she would have attracted—and deservedly—her “gallery” in no time.

Come to consider, her crooked course home was also logically straight.
Her disguise would have aroused suspicion in a taxi and made her
conspicuous in a streetcar. Since she knew her park, the cross-cut home
was preferable.

As the mystery of Jane and Jane’s tactics decreased, however, the
correlative mysteries increased—of the selective robbery, the lied-about
’phone wires, the park as a cemetery for something literally “lost” and
the direction, or mis-direction of the chief mourner’s search.

A culminative interrogation point to add to his collection was her next
lead. She entered the Traverse quite as his trailing sense had foretold
at a spot where the wall was easily negotiable. There he waited,
assuming that the rest of her route home would be direct and planning,
now that he had been assured of her presence in town, that later in the
evening he would telephone the most direct and forceful plea of which he
was capable for an immediate interview.

But again she upset his calculations.

Instead of following the asphalted footpath that hemmed the cobbles on
one side of the cut, she picked her place and scaled the south wall.
Although the section confronting him was higher, Pape lost no time in
following her example and gained the top to see her dodging past one of
the scattered lights. Darkness had settled. Appreciating how easily he
might lose her in that unfamiliar section of municipal tumble-land, he
decreased the gap between them.

A veritable butte loomed in her path, but this she took like a
mountaineer. To Pape she appeared to be executing some sort of an
obstacle race with herself. In his self-appointed capacity of rear-guard
there was nothing for him but to follow. Being something of a climber
himself, he reached the top just behind her, despite her advantage of a
trail which he had not been able to find. Rounding one of the
bowlder-formed crags that gave picturesqueness to the baby mountain, he
pulled up short.

Jane was standing some few yards ahead, her bent back toward him, a
quaint, distinct silhouette in the reflected light from Fifty-ninth
Street. As she did not once glance over-shoulder, she evidently
considered his pursuit thrown off. She may have paused to steady the
pulses disturbed by her lively climb; perhaps was enjoying the
electrical display which so fascinated him.

Indeed it was worth a long-time look, that fairyland of The Plaza, as
seen through the framing fringe of trees, with its statues and fountains
agleam; the hotel-house of fifty-thousand candles, all lit; the lines of
Fifth Avenue’s golden globes stretching indefinitely beyond; on all
sides, far and near, the banked sky-line of bright-blinking, essentially
real palaces of modernity which yet were so much more inconceivable than
Munchausen’s wildest dream. And that foreground figure of an old woman
on the crag—it might have been posed as a fanciful conception of the
Past pausing to realize the Present—straining to peer into the Future.

Into this picture, changing and marring it, intruded a man. Up over the
far side of the abutment and straight toward the girl, as though
expected, he came. His appearance was the most distinct shock of the
evening to Pape.

“A rendezvous!” he told himself with sinking heart. “She had to get rid
of me—she had to hurry—in order to keep a rendezvous.”

Her irregular course, her disregard of traveled paths, her assault of
this rock heap—everything in the adventure except how she came to be
rooting among the poplars now seemed explained. Mentally he flayed
himself for his stupid assumptions and sense of personal responsibility
for her safety. He turned to descend the way he had come—no need for her
to know what a following fool he had made of himself.

A certain quality of alarm in what he at first had thought her greeting
of the man stopped him. Then forward he sprang, like a fragment blasted
from the rock. He closed the gap between and laid on the collar and
elbow of the lounger who had accosted her a violent grip.

“What shall I do with him—drop him over or run him in?”

More calmly than might have been expected, he turned to the little old
lady of his pursuit, the while holding the fellow precariously near what
might be called, by phantasy of the night-lights, a “precipice.”

“You—again?” Whether from dread or relief, Jane shuddered. “Are you

“Why not?”

His captive ceased squirming to whimper. “Leave me go, officer. I wasn’t
meaning no harm to the old girl. Just thought I could help her down onta
a safer footing. Likely you had a mother onct yourself. For her sake,
have a heart.”

“He knows I’m not old. He has troubled me before. If you’ll hold him a
moment to make sure that he doesn’t follow, I—I’d be much obliged.”

Jane, seeing her opportunity, took it; was off with the agility of a
Yellowstone doe; gained a trail and disappeared down the side of the

Pape did more than obey her admonition to hold and make sure. That the
meeting was rendezvous rather than coincidence persisted in his fears.
Odd, otherwise, that she should come straight to the spot where the man
was waiting, as if for her. Even in her complaint that he had troubled
her before she admitted previous meetings. Perhaps his own second
appearance of the evening was forcing both to play parts: had made a
sudden change of plan seem advisable to her; would irritate the man into
an attempt to deal out punishment for the interference. Would the two
meet afterward at some second-choice point? Pape decided to “look in”;
by way of a start, dragged his captive under an electric light which
cast a sickly glow over the flattened dome of the butte.

At once he went on guard against the “fightingest” face he ever had
glimpsed, set atop the bull-neck of a figure that approximately matched
his own in height and weight, if not range iron. The fellow’s features
were assorted for brutishness, nose flattened as from some past smash,
lips thick, eyes small, ears cauliflower, hair close-clipped. That a
woman of Jane Lauderdale’s type should have anything in common with so
typical a “pug” was incogitable.

For a moment, the pale eyes in turn studied him through their narrowed,
close-set shutters, evidently “marking” for later identification. Then,
in an unexpected, forceful shove the inevitable bout began. Had Pape not
already braced himself against just such a move, he must have toppled
off the rocks. As happened, he let go his hold and swung his body into

“Hell’s ashes, you’re no cop!”

The aggressor’s exclamation was punctuated by two professionally ready
fists. The right one led with a surety that was in itself a warning.
Only by an instinctive duck of his head did Pape limit its damage to a

A decade or two has passed since Montana, while still carrying
“hardware” for hard cases, learned that differences of opinion may be
settled by the use of more natural weapons; that punishment may be
exacted without calling in the coroner. Even had this metropolitan
fistic opening missed in point of impact, Why-Not Pape would have
offered satisfaction without thought of recourse to the gun nestling
under his left arm-pit.

Nature had been the Westerner’s trainer, a silver-tip grizzly his
one-best boxing instructor. With an awkwardly efficient movement, he
advanced upon his more stealthy challenger. His arms carried close that
he might get all possible leverage behind his punches, he waited until
well within reach, then issued a series of short-arm jabs.

The other, evidently trained to the squared circle, depended upon his
far-reaching right, which again he landed before his bear-like opponent
could cover. Beyond an involuntary grunt, however, its effect was nil.
The Pape jaw seemed of hewn oak. In another breath the bear-cuffs began
to fall, swift, strong, confusing.

The New Yorker tried a run-around, for the butte top had not the ring
area to which apparently he was accustomed in his “leather pushing.” A
punishing left, delivered from an impossible angle, cut him off. He had
no choice but to walk up to the medicine bottle whose stopper was out.
He feinted, but Pape seemed not to understand what was meant by such
tactics—only hit the harder. He attempted a “one-two”—with his left to
jar Pape’s head into position for a crushing right—and met a method of
blocking which appeared to be new to him—not so much blocking, in fact,
as getting a punch home first. One proved enough; carried the “ice” to
the Gothamite; stretched him for a couple of counts of ten. The
silver-tip’s pupil had won.

Pape did not wait for a second round. He was satisfied that his
knock-out would hold sufficiently long for any of Jane Lauderdale’s
purposes or his own. Down in the direction which the girl had taken over
the rocks he scrambled, but could see no sign of her. She had not, then,
stayed to witness the fight, although the whole encounter had taken but
a moment. Whether or not he had saved her an unpleasant scene, he had
lost her. Was it always to be thus—touch and go? He wouldn’t have it.
He’d beat her at her own game.

Directly as he could calculate and at his top speed, he set out for the
Arsenal gate; there took a stand on about the spot from which he had
intercepted Jasper at the somewhat less exciting start of this same
chase several evenings ago. Surely she now would make straight for home,
whatever may have been her reason for visiting the butte!

His eyes, searching for a poke-bonneted figure in black, soon were
rewarded. Through the pedestrian gate near which he stood in deep shadow
she came. Watching her chance with the traffic, she darted across the
greased trail of the avenue and, once on the opposite sidewalk, turned
south. Pape continued to pursue along his side of the street, determined
to finish his task of safeguarding her until the front door of her
aunt’s house should shut her—only briefly, he hoped—from his sight.

But what spirit of perversity was ruling her? Toward the steps of the
Sturgis brownstone she did not turn; did not give them so much as a
glance. Briskly as before she continued down the avenue until at the
Sixty-third Street corner she again turned east.

Was the house to be gained by some rear entrance from the lower
street—one made advisable by the disguise she wore? From its mid-block
position, this supposition did not seem tenable. Pape decided to take no
chances, except with the traffic. Crossing the street with a rush, he
gained a point a hundred or so feet behind her, then timed his steps
with hers. Due east they walked, at a good pace, but without undue
hurry. She seemed fully reassured. Although she inclined her young face
and bent her young back to the old part, she did not glance back as
though nervous over possible pursuit. The block was lined mostly with
homes—of the near-rich, he judged from the look of them. Of the few
people who passed none gave more than a casual glance at the actively
shuffling “old lady.”

They crossed what the street sign told Pape was Madison Avenue; passed
several apartment houses and more residences. Across Park and Lexington,
still due east, the tone of the section fell off. From Third Avenue
onward it went continually “down.” Pape kept one eye on the figure he
was following and the other on his surroundings, figuratively speaking.
Both were interesting. This was his first excursion into the far East
Side and he was surprised by the mid-width of Manhattan Isle.

They came to a block lofted with tenements on one side and shadowed by
huge, cylindric gas tanks on the other. Children swarmed the sidewalk
thick as ants over a home-hillock and screamed like Indians on rampage.
Washings left out for overnight drying were strung from one fire-escape
to another of the scaly brick fronts. As though laving the
cross-street’s dirty feet, the East River shimmered dimly in the lights
from shore and from passing steam craft. Beyond loomed that isle of
punishment dreams come true—the Blackwell’s which politicians would
rename “Welfare.”

Thoughts murky as the water at the foot of the hill came to Peter Pape.
Could Jane Lauderdale be seeking the river for surcease from some
disappointment or fear more direful than he had supposed? Why should she
be, with youth, beauty and devotion all her own? And yet, why not?
Others as young, fair and fondly desired had been depressed to such
extent. His heart swelled with protective pity for her. His pulses beat
from more than the speed with which he closed the distance between them
to about twenty feet, that he might be ready for emergency.

They had come to a building which broke the tenement line, a relic
residence of by-gone days. With a sudden turn, the little old lady
undertook the steps. So close was Pape that he pulled the Fedora over
his eyes lest she recognize him. But he need not have feared. She did
not look back. Her attention was focused ahead upon some one who sat on
the small Colonial-type stoop—some one who had been waiting for her.

“Home, dear, at last!” Pape overheard the greeting in a deep, rich
voice. “I couldn’t imagine what was keeping you. I almost risked
starting out in search of you. Did you——”

He heard no more. But he saw more than he wished. The some one arose, a
tall, strong, masculine outline against the flickering gas light from
inside the hall; clasped an arm about her shoulders; lowered a fine-cut
profile, crowned by a mass of lightish hair, to her kiss. The pair
entered the house together and closed the door.

Sans preface, the volunteer escort reached the crux of his conclusions.
He had seen his “Nellie” home, yes. And the anticipated romance had come
at evening’s end—romance with another man!


At exactly ten of the clock next morning Peter Stansbury Pape, Esquire,
garbed in the form prescribed by the chart on the wall of his Astor
suite, was admitted for the second time to the Sturgis brownstone. He
had awakened with the idea. His mind, which last night had felt
shell-shocked out of its normal functions by that “home-at-last-dear”
bomb, must have worked it out while he slept. The telephone, Jasper of
the jowls and a certain exuberant “young lady of to-day”—all seemed to
approve it. Even Aunt Helene, who received him, wore a manner that went
with her _ante-meridian_ negligée, pliable and gracious as its material
of rose-hued Georgette.

She was so glad to see him again, although he was a very naughty person
to have permitted her to believe him a detective the other night. Yes,
her niece had explained all about him after he had gone. Still, she
supposed that he meant well—her pet charity was to believe the best of
every one. And she was so relieved that all of them had lived through
the excitement that she could have forgiven a worse crime than his
effort to help under false pretense. She had narrowly saved herself a
complete nervous collapse by a few days absence from the scene of the
robbery—that robbery of nothing at all except a keepsake of such
inappreciable value that its loser would not name its name. Her niece,
Miss Lauderdale, always had been a rather secretive, sentimental girl,
and had since regretted, she felt sure, the worry she had caused them.

“We never permit ourselves to forget that she is an orphan, poor dear,”
added the matron. “Irene tries to make everything up to her. Really, she
is fonder of her cousin than she could be of any one short of a twin.
And I am very glad to have it so. Jane has such a good influence over
Irene. She is much older, you know.”

“And has Miss Lauderdale no—no brothers or——” the visitor began.

“No near relative except ourselves, nor money enough to assure her
independence. But we are only too happy to have her need us, to love her
and provide for her. She is—” Mrs. Sturgis hesitated and seemed to be
choosing her words with a nice regard for the delicacy of the subject.
“She is perhaps just a bit strong-minded for the taste of men, our dear
Jane. But strength is a splendid quality in a woman if applied in the
right direction. Don’t you think so? Perhaps you don’t, though, being a
tower of strength yourself. Anyway, Jane Lauderdale is a dear girl—and
_so_ dependable.”

Mrs. Sturgis _did_ hope he was enjoying to the full his stay in New
York. Yes, her daughter would be down directly and it _was_ nice of him
to ask the child riding. She did not often consent to her essaying the
park. Irene’s daring was her real reason for keeping their horses in the
country, although she pretended that it was for the horses’ sake. He,
being such a friend of her niece, came well recommended. Miss Lauderdale
had told state secrets about him—had admitted at Irene’s demand that he
was the most superb horseman she had met in the West. That pronounced
him capable of taking care of a woman if any one could. Irene rode well,
to be sure. But there always was a risk about a rented mount. And there
were so many unexpected turns along the park bridle paths and such
whizzing of cars and shrieking of sirens. She hoped that he had selected
a safe mount for her child.

“I thought some, ma’am, of having Polkadot, my own friend horse, saddled
up feminine,” Pape advised her. “But he ain’t used even to the skirts of
a habit coat. Besides which, it might have put his Roman nose out of
joint to see me forking another. No telling what a jealous horse will

“Any more than a jealous woman,” she contributed.

“Can’t say as to the women. But I reckon that, jealous, they ain’t
agreeable or safe, either. I’ve made a practice of sloping along at the
first eye-flicker of that sort of trouble. But you cheer up, Mrs.
Sturgis. The filly I picked as a trailmate for my Dot this morning is as
reliable as the hobbies in the riding school.”

Despite her manner—and, positively, she was treating him like an
eligible—the mother’s black brows had lifted semi-occasionally during
his speech, he presumed at his choice of language. Although he jotted
down a mental note of the necessity of increased care to weed out his
unseasonable crop of hardy range vernacular, somehow her presence made
him worse. He remembered having read somewhere that the choice of topics
in a refined duet of mixed sexes should be left to the lady. The thought
proved restful; left him some spare time for self-communings.

Why hadn’t Jane Lauderdale at the very start of the game told him that
she was married? Worse he wouldn’t—couldn’t—believe of her. To do her
justice, she hadn’t exactly encouraged him, yet she scarcely could have
helped seeing with both eyes bandaged the weak state he was in.

When she had thrown open a top-floor-front window of that old, scaly,
painted-brick retreat of hers last night, had she observed him standing
in the shadow of the odorous gas tank opposite? If so, did she
understand the hard-dying hope which had kept him stationed there an
hour, with five minutes thrown in to benefit the sickening doubt which
had been tricked into certainty?

If she had seen and understood, did she pity or exult over his
observances and deductions? The building was four stories and an attic
high. The variance in window curtaining proclaimed it a “flat” house
containing at least four separate sets of tenants. As proof, a young
mother had emerged with a wailing infant onto the third floor
fire-escape landing; a party of four, shirt-sleeved and kimono-clad,
could be seen playing cards at a table just within the windows of the
second-floor front; the shades of the first were jerked down when the
gas was lit. And surely none who could afford the space of an entire
house would have endured the district.

That beneficial five minutes which failed to benefit he had thrown in
after the top floor lights had been suddenly turned out. He’d never have
known the stubbornness of his hope that she would reappear, except for
hope’s slow death. Undoubtedly she who was known to him as Miss
Lauderdale had settled for the night in the home of the tall, blond man
who had kissed her in the doorway. He knew where one member of the
Sturgis family, at least, went for peace and quiet!

A question had been asked him; had been repeated with a slight crescendo
of the modulated voice which had played accompaniment to his tragic
reminiscence; recalled him to the here and now. From the matron’s
surprised look and her wait for some sort of response, he realized that
automatic answers didn’t always satisfy. What was it she had asked?

“You have a family tree, Mr. Pope—I mean Pape? Pape _is_ such an odd
name, isn’t it?”

“Sure—that is to say, certainly, madam. A forest of the same.”

She frowned in face of his attempt at elegant diction and intent to make
her smile.

“I fear you don’t quite grasp my meaning. It is the Pape lineage I mean.
You can trace it back, I suppose?”

Just here was Peter Pape’s cue to spread out all his Stansbury cards
upon the table, but in trying to match this mother in rose-hued
negligée, he overplayed the hand.

“Oh, we go back to the days long before kings and queens or even jacks,
Mrs. Sturgis—clear to Adam and Eve and the apple orchard.”

This time she beamed. “Indeed! And you have an escutcheon?”

Before he could assure her, the daughter of the house clattered in
high-heeled boots through the doorway.

Irene wore white cloth breeches and a black suede coat, no hat at all
and a radiant freshness that took his breath. In the stress of recent
doings and undoings, he had forgotten the spectacular beauty of this
particular young lady of to-day. Crow-haired was she, bright-cheeked,
brighter-lipped. The slight unevenness of her dazzling display of teeth
but added piquancy to her smile. She was both strong-built and lithe of
body. And as to her mind, never an incipient doubt of her
super-desirability weakened that. Truly, she was a vital and vitalizing
creature, Irene.

It was not unpleasant to have a beautiful girl greet him with frank
cordiality. After recent roughnesses of his experience—Well, not since
that floral-wreathed sign first had blazed its reassurance into his
nostalgic gaze had he been made to feel so welcome.

“Oh, you poor man—you poor, dear, bored-to-death man!” she offered with
both her hands. “Has my maternal mamma been talking you to pieces about
my virtues? I’ll bet you have, at that, you darling villainess!”

Freeing one hand, she shook her ivory-handled crop at her protesting
parent, then almost at once re-seized Pape’s sunburned paw.

“It’s your very own fault I took so long to get ready. Do I hear you
asking why, Why-Not? Because your groom rode up on the most satiny black
that ever stopped before our domicile, instead of the regular roan I
expected. I was all togged out in my new tan covert, but of course had
to change in order to be becoming to the black. I’m _never_ late!”

_“My dear!”_

There was incredulity in Mrs. Sturgis’ voice.

“You mustn’t get nasty, dar-rling. You know that I’m _almost_ never,
except to punish people. And of course Mr. Pape and I haven’t got far
enough along for me to need to punish him—_not yet_.”

Although nothing seemed to be expected of him, Pape sought for a seemly
retort. “Let us hope that we never get that far along.”

“Let us hope that we get there soon,” she corrected him. “Come, shan’t
we be on our way?”

Mrs. Sturgis followed them to the street door; showed a becoming
anxiety; hoped, even prayed, that they’d return safely.

“Safely and anon—don’t expect me sooner than anon.”

Irene tossed the promise with a finger-flung kiss from the saddle into
which she had swung with scarcely a foot-touch upon the stirrup held for
her. Pape instructed the groom as to his return to stables on the other
side of the park. They were off on the most parade-effect ride in which
he, for one, ever had participated.

The girl pulled in close enough to keep talking during their necessarily
sedate pace down the avenue toward The Plaza entrance to the park.

“You were a dear to keep calling up while I was in the country. Oh,
don’t look so innocent!”

Her charge made him hope he wasn’t showing in his face the strange
something that happened to his spinal column each time she called him
“dear”—he felt so sure that she only was leading up to that adorably
Yankee-ized “dar-rling” of hers.

“I’m sorry if I—glad if I look innocent.”

“You ought to be. Any modern man ought to be.” She laughed more happily
than he could manage to do at the moment. “And don’t you deny calling
me—don’t you deny anything! It won’t do a bit of good.”

Believing that it wouldn’t—not with Irene—he didn’t.

“You see, Jasper’s butlering job depends upon his accuracy,” she
continued. “Well he knows if he lost me one single message from one
single only man I ever loved——”

“We trust that all your only-ever men are single?” he persiflaged into
her pause.

“Most. Never cared for the back-door and porch affairs—one has to be so
discreet. You don’t yourself, do you, Why-Not?”

In her query Pape saw an opening for the idea which had wakened him up.
Not that he would have pried into the affairs of Jane Lauderdale through
her discreet-and-proud-of-it young cousin any more than he had crossed
the cobbles of that soiled East Side street last night to question her
fellow-tenants on the fire escape. No. He knew he couldn’t and wouldn’t
do anything so deliberately base as that. But if Irene must babble, it
was only fair that she babble upon a subject that interested the
semi-silent member of the colloquy. So——

“No, I don’t like side-porch affairs,” he admitted, “although I’ve got
the reputation of being discreet.”

“That’s why you’re so nice-nice,” enthused Irene. “The man’s being good
gives the girl all the better chance to be bad. Oh, I _hope_ I’ve
shocked you! Come across, B. B.—that’s short either for ‘Blushing
Bachelor’ or ‘Brazen Benedict.’ _Haven’t_ I?

“You’ll shock me worse if you don’t hold in until that traffic cop blows
his horn.”

With the warning, Pape reached over and himself curbed her black until
their crossing into the bridle path was whistle-advised.

Probably she considered that the time had come to start “punishing” him,
for, once in the park, she literally ran away from him along the East
Path which so far he had traveled alone. But Polkadot, asserting his
indignation in none too subtle snorts, soon overhauled the rented horse,
then showed his equine etiquette by settling to a companionable walk.
His man, too, after one look into the flushed, exultant, impish face
beneath the cloud of wind-tossed curls, forgave.

“The trouble with you, W. W., is simply this,” he propounded, referring
to her late allegation in superior vein.

“W. W.’? Explanation!” she demanded.

Attempting a look of polite surprise, he obliged. “Inclusive for ‘Wicked
Wife’ and ‘Wiley Wirgin.’ I am here to say that, as your sex is run
nowadays, it is hard to tell which are which. In this woman’s town none
of ’em seem to want to wear the marriage brand. Many a Mrs. calls
herself Miss. You keep too close to your mother, likely, to be yoked
without her knowing it. But how could an outsider know, for instance,
whether or not your cousin, Miss Lauderdale——”

“Jane married? What an idea!” As expected, Irene interrupted on getting
the general drift of his remarks. “Not but what she’s plenty old enough.
She’s _twenty-six_—think of it! Maybe I oughtn’t to tell her age. Still,
any one can see it on her face, don’t you think so—or _do_ you? And it
isn’t as though you were interested in her instead of me. Jane is
considered still very attractive, though. A good many men have admired
her even since my day and degeneration. Do you know, I never can resist
adding that ‘degeneration’ to ‘my day’! It’s trite, I know, but it’s
true—too-trite-true. Jane has a whole raft of women friends. She’s
always off visiting them. She is down at Hempstead Plains now with one
of them.”

Pape rose in his stirrups, as it turned out, merely to hold back a
low-hung bough which had threatened to brush the girl’s artfully tousled

“Fortunately,” she babbled on, “Mills Harford still wants to marry her.
Mother and I both think she ought to snap him up. Don’t you? Harfy has
money and he isn’t bad looking, although I myself shouldn’t consider him
as a suitor. I guess he knows that.” She transferred her glance from him
to the path ahead. “Here’s the longest straight-away in Central Park,”
she cried. “I don’t want to leave you again—better come along!”

Bombed again! Pape pressed one hand against his brow as he shook Dot’s
rein, a signal to follow the spurt to which Irene had put the academy
mare. He wasn’t given to headaches from any pace of his horse, but a
sudden hurting sensation had shot through his brain.

Jane Lauderdale wasn’t, then, married so far as her relatives knew. And
she was covering her whereabouts from them as she had tried to cover
from him. By no tax of the imagination could he think of the peeling old
brick house on East Sixty-third Street as the “place” of any of those
elite “women friends” mentioned; yet even could he do so, why one with a
husband or other male attaché who would wait and kiss their fair guest
at the door?

Incidentally, Polkadot won the brush over this tangent, coming up from
the rear at an “I’ll-show-you” pace. Willingly enough he waited for the
black mare where the bridle path again became winding.

Irene, on catching up, looked him over with irritation that proved to
have nothing to do with the comparative speed of their mounts, as just
counted against her.

“I don’t believe you were listening to me at all back there,” she
charged. “I _dote_ on deep, dark natures, but this doesn’t seem to me
the time or place to get mysterious. Come out of it and pay me

He undertook to obey. “I’d be tickled pink to pay you anything that——”

“You’re a deeper and darker color than pink already,” she interrupted,
“but you don’t look tickled at all. Here, see for yourself!”

From her breast-pocket she produced a flat vanity case covered with the
black suede of her coat; flipped open a small mirror; held it above the
horn of his saddle where he could look into it. His countenance was,
indeed, nearer beet-red than pink. After a wicked moue over his
discomfiture, she took out a “stick” and proceeded openly, calmly,
critically, to rouge her youth-ripe lips.

“I’ll pay you,” she proposed with a smile, “anything that you consider
fair for the thoughts that brought that blush.”

“I was just wondering if—thinking that——” he floundered. “What a
similarity of coloring there is among you, your mother and your—your
cousin, you know, and yet how different you are.”

“You’re cheating, Why-Not. You know you weren’t thinking anything so
banal. Do you expect me to pay for that?”

She pulled her trim little black closer to his rangy piebald and leaned
over toward him. And he bent toward her; somehow, couldn’t help it. A
moment her eyes glittered close under his. Her blown black hair strove
toward his lips. A pout that would have tempted the palest-corpuscled of
men curved the lips so carefully prepared—for what?

Peter Pape’s corpuscles, as happened, weren’t pale. Then, too, he lately
had been bombed out of some few; traditions and restraints. He caught
his breath; caught the idea; caught her arm.

“Child, do you know that—Do you understand—”

“You _are_ nice-nice!”

With complete understanding, she awaited his pleasure and, possibly, her

Irene had shown selectiveness in the set for the scene. The path at that
point was low-leaved and lone. Nothing broke the silence except the
siren-chorus of invisible cars. Nothing marred the woodsy fragrances
except the reek of gasoline. Nothing held Pape back except the
realization that, once he had kissed this almost irresistible young lady
of to-day——

At that, only Polkadot saved the situation. Whether intolerant of his
propinquity with a mere hireling, whether sensing the predicament of a
man-master who never had brushed stirrups with a woman unless on some
picnic ride with a crowd along, or whether too fed-up on stable fodder
to endure such inactivity one second longer, at any rate, the painted
pony forewent all equine etiquette; bolted.

Not until they had made a flying turn at Harlem Mere and started
cross-park toward the West Path did Pape’s strong hand at the rein
dictate that they let the trailing black catch up. When again the two
horses, as nicely matched for contrast as were their riders, paced side
by side in form——

“You all right, dar-rling?” panted Irene, from excitement and exercise
beautiful as the favorite “still” of a picture queen.

“Right as—as you nearly had me wrong.”

At his serious look, she laughed up at him shamelessly. “You missed your
chance that time. And a miss to me is as good as many miles.”

“Don’t you mean,” he asked, “that a Miss is as bad as a Mrs.?”

The rest of the ride he insisted on playing the heavy respectful. He
wasn’t to be baby-vamped into making love to any girl; to that he had
made up his mind flyingly but firmly. Tempting, indeed, was she. But
until he should commit himself to temptation, she should not over-tempt
him. Even in this, their “day and degeneration,” he claimed the deciding
vote of the male. Why not?

After that _he_ chose the topics of conversation, favoring one
introduced that day by the girl’s own mother—genealogy. Irene’s answers
were considerably less animated than his questions.

Yes, “family” was the hobby-pace of her only mamma. She, herself, didn’t
care a Russian kopeck from what a man came, so that he was present when
she wanted him. Still, if Pape aspired to get along with parent-Helene,
he’d have to trump her genealogical lead. Could he and would he produce
a family escutcheon?

If there was one to be had in town! So he promised with hand-on-heart.
He had been born and bred and all that, he declared. And he had reasons
for wishing to be properly installed as a friend of the Sturgis family.
Would an escutcheon really need to be laid within range of the maternal
lorgnette? If so, just what was an escutcheon most like?

Ha, he began to see! It was, then, an authenticated something which one
emblazoned on what he owned to show that he owned it, like the
interrogation point which he branded on his cattle back home? He
explained the significance of the name of the distant Queer Question
Ranch back in Hellroaring Valley, a name derived from his own whys and
why-nots. He’d see what he could do toward authenticating a creditable
escutcheon and exhibiting the same to mamma.

They had curved around North Meadow, had skirted the silver circle of
the receiving reservoir and were approaching The Green, before Pape’s
absorption in this self-selected topic was broken. He had cast a
surreptitious glance toward a clump of poplars that disputed possession
of a hillock with an outcrop of granite. Beneath them he had seen what
caused his heart to take one quick flop, then stand still.

What next occurred was better understood by Friend Polkadot than Friend
Girl. The horse received a knee-pressed signal, the meaning of which was
clear, if not the particular reason therefor. Just why Why-Not should
wish to rid himself of a riding-mate he had seemed to find so

However, Dot was enough of a soldier never to argue actual orders. He
promptly went lame. And he rather enjoyed doing so. The trick had been
dear to him ever since the petting lavished upon him during his recovery
from a real injury years ago. He slowed to a stop; up-held his
fore-hoof; himself demanded “’tentions.”

“What’s matter, old hoss?”

Perfect in his part of this play to retire from trail company no longer
congenial, the Westerner flung himself off-saddle, accepted and examined
the pitiful “paw.” Even when the supposed victim winked and drew back
his upper lip in a wide horse grin, there showed no change in the poker
face of the Montana man.

“Is it a sprain? Does it hurt so much as all that?” Although Irene would
doubtless—and justly—have been furious to know it, her concern was the
one real factor in the incident.

“He may have slipped on that bolt of his back yonder.” Pape wasn’t used
even to suggesting lies and his voice sounded as unconvincing to himself
as though pitched from the vicinity of Washington Square. “Serve him
right if he did. At that, I’m afraid our ride’s ended for to-day.
Fortunately——” He paused in a search of the surroundings, presumedly to
get their exact bearings; in fact, to convince himself that he had seen
what he had seen. “Fortunately the stable I’m using lies just over there
on Central Park West.”

“And I was just about to propose that we make the reverse round.” Irene
pouted like the spoiled child she was. “I’d set my heart on a real
sprint between my mare and your cocksure charger. It would have been so
sort of symbolic of life to-day, you know—a race of male versus female.”

Her heart for horses, however, soon softened in pity for Polkadot. Pape
liked her cordially as he hated himself for the endearments and
consolations she showered upon that supposed unfortunate.

“Don’t you worry one little bit, Polkadot dar-rling,” she urged, leaning
to one of the pinto’s forward-flicking ears. “If it isn’t all right by
to-morrow-day, Irene will come around herself and rub it well for you.”

When Dot, having received no “cure” signal, limped more noticeably than
before as they neared his stable-hostelry, she added in her sweet-lisped
baby talk:

“Just a few steps more, booful boy. Don’t ‘oo care. You’ll be all well

Considering the tenderness of her mood toward the four-footed fakir, her
change was sudden and radical toward the biped of the pair when she
grasped that he intended to send her home in a taxi.

“You’re not going to _take_ me?” she demanded through the down-dropped
sash of the door he had closed.

“If you’ll excuse me, no, Miss Sturgis. I am very sorry to miss the
pleasure and sorrier if I seem discourteous. But I—I owe a duty to a

She looked with a hard glance straight into his eyes, her lips thinning.
“Then you think more of your _horse_ than you do of me?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” he temporized.

She pressed the point. “You may think I lack reserve, Mr. Pape.
Sometimes I myself feel that I am too impulsive and too—too honest.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” he repeated. It was the best he could offer
and he was in doubt about that.

“No, I suppose you wouldn’t,” she snapped. “But why don’t you assume a
virtue if you have it not—why not be a little bit honest yourself? Why
not answer the truth? Heaven knows I might better learn it now than
later. Tell me, Why-Not, is it only Polkadot for whom you are deserting

Pape tried unobtrusively to give the chauffeur the start signal; shifted
his weight; cleared his throat.

“Well, it isn’t exactly—not entirely on account of the horse, although a
man’s cayuse is his cayuse and that’s that. No, miss. You see, we were
kind of late starting, owing to your change of—of habits. And I have a
friend that I’m sort of committed to help because she—he——”

But his impromptu defense merged into her high-pitched scorn which, in
its turn, merged into tears before she was through.

“I knew it. I _divined_ it. And me meriting a man’s whole soul! Kindly
tell the driver to start at once. As for you, Peter Stansbury Pape, I
think you’re _contemptible_!”

Grooms were caring for the horses on Pape’s return to the stable. The
“cripple” he miraculously cured by a word and a touch. In his dressing
room, he hurried into street clothes.

Out in the park, beneath that clump of poplars——

Talking was all very well in its way. But at last he had sighted
something to _do_!


Perhaps never had Peter Pape felt in more of a rush to reach any given
spot. Yet, once there, he seemed in a greater rush to get away. Scarcely
did he pause in his brisk walk along the pavement outside the park wall
to study the details of the scene beneath the poplars which so had
interested him—three laborers dressed in jeans, each equipped with pick
or shovel, digging in the shade under direction of a dapper-dressed,
slight-built stranger. But in the sprinkling of curious bystanders, men
and women who decorated the wall like rail-birds, there was no sight of
her whom he rather had expected to find among those present.

The total absence of Jane Lauderdale, either in the bonnet and black of
East Sixty-third Street or in the modish morning frock which might have
attired her dual self, decided his next move. By passage of several
minutes, a picked-up taxi and a dollar bill, he was mounting the front
steps of the old, scaly far-East mansion. The front door standing open,
he seemed tacitly invited to enter without formality of a ring. Upon
undertaking the flight of stairs within he congratulated himself that he
was not superstitious. Every step of the weathered wood squeaked,
scrooped or screeched as if in ill-omen. Never had he climbed so
foreboding a stair-case, albeit never so determinedly.

Just why he had come did not matter. There was plenty of time, as he
told himself, to argue that out afterward. Impulse had mastered him, the
same sort of impulse that would have started him burning the trail back
home to warn a pal whose mining claim had been jumped or whose cattle
were being rustled toward the Canadian line. Actionful resentment had
moved him, as during the previous winter when he had discovered poachers
attacking the Yellowstone buffalo herd and had skied forty miles in
blizzard weather to warn the Spread-Eagle Rangers. So far as he cared to
figure in the emergency, a bent-back, ill-clad old lady—no matter who
else or what else or whyfore else she might be—had preëmpted that poplar
patch and owned therefore the exclusive digging rights thereto. In the
event that she herself had not instigated the present activity, he was
here to warn her.

Whom he should meet at the top of his climb was problematic. If it was
the blond-mopped man—Well, they both might be taking chances.

A moment did he pause before the door of the fourth floor front. Suppose
a maid attended his knock, for whom should he ask? “Miss Lauderdale”
might not be known in the house—mention of the name might betray an
incognito. Reminding himself, however, that a servant was the difficulty
least likely to be encountered in that tenement, he knuckled up his hand
and knocked.

His first rap did not bring response; had to be repeated more
peremptorily. He could hear low voices within. Then there was silence.
Perhaps the occupants of flats did not answer unexpected knocks. His
hand was fisted for a third when the knob turned and the door opened a

No face appeared; nothing but a voice—a woman’s, hard and impatient.

“Yes. What is it? Who do you want?”

Pape was returned to the quandary of the maid possibility. Before he
could decide what to answer the suction of wind from the hall drew
around the edge of the door a fluttery bit of black skirt.

“I want you, Jane,” he hazarded.

Curiosity, surprise or exasperation ruled her—perhaps a combination of
the three. Her young-white face in its old-black bonnet followed the
skirt around the door edge, high as his own and so close that her
breath, warm and sweet as a summer zephyr off a clover field, blew upon
his cheek.

“_You_?” she gasped, as before, out under the trees.

“Again,” he finished for her with the briefest of bows.

She narrowed the crack and moved across it, evidently to protect the
room from his inspection. Not exactly a “welcome to our happy home” was
her next offering, although in her natural tones.

“So you followed me home last night, after all! How dared you? What is
the meaning of your espionage?”

His courage was lit by the blaze of her look.

“There’s a particular meaning to it that I hope you won’t find so
unwelcome. I’ve whizzed hereward to inform you that a gang of
grave-diggers are exercising their muscles ‘neath the shade of the
sheltering poplars where you and Kicko were planting bones last

He felt gratified at the importance of his news, as shown by its effect
on her. Her lips paled as they parted. The pansy-black irises widened
within the blue of her eyes in her concentrated stare. Lines lengthened
her face more suitably to the poke of the bonnet that framed it.

“Who—_who_?” she demanded, her voice scarcely more than a rasp.

“That I didn’t linger to learn. I saw them as I was polkaing past upon
my trusty steed just now. Thought you mightn’t know.”

She turned her head and spoke as if to some one within the room.

“Oh, what shall we do? If they’ve solved the cryptogram—if they find——”

She checked other disclosures; again faced the volunteer messenger, now

When no suggestion as to what they could do came from the person who
would seem to be the other half of her “we,” Pape made cheerful
offering: “The taxi-hack that conveyed me cross-town is ticking time
down in the street. It is at your service, miss or madam, with or
without yours truly.”

She gave him a startled glance, whether for his mode of address or his
offer, he could not be sure; then spent a moment in urgent thought.

“_Would_ you wait for me a few minutes?” She all at once announced her

Without need of his answer, without a verbal thank-you or suggestion of
apology, she closed the door in his face and, by way of insult to
injury, turned the key inside.

Seeing nothing better to do, Pape leisurely descended the stairs. The
steps protested stridently as before, but more intelligibly now.

“She doesn’t look it,” shrieked the top one. And: “She
doesn’t—doesn’t—_doesn’t_!” repeated the several next. “But she wouldn’t
let you in—in—in,” the hard-tried middle ones. “There’s something queer
about it all—something queer—something queer,“ creaked the ground-floor

Within the stipulated “few” minutes Jane joined him out on the Colonial
portico of long-ago grandeur. Her complete change of costume—the dingy
black doffed for a small, smart sailor hat and a gray tweed that did
credit to her tailor as well as herself—proclaimed her something of an
artist at the alias act. Also did it quash any hope which may have been
left in him that the East Side flat-house was a place of temporary
sojourn. Evidently she kept a wardrobe there. The man who had greeted
her so tenderly last night called the shack “home.” Jane was always
going off on these visits to her many woman friends—so Irene had said.

Such deductions halved his attention during the reflexes of handing her
into the taxi and instructing the driver regarding the return trip.
There pended a somewhat important question. Of this he reminded her by a
level glance, his foot ready to leave the running-board and his hand
ready to shut the door from the outside.

“I am not such an ingrate as to make you walk,” she answered.

During the cross-town ride there was but one exchange between them.

“Jane”—Pape turned to her daringly, the humor twitches about his mouth
defying any serious attempt which she might make to put him in his
place—“I have to call you Jane, you see, because it is the only part of
your name of which I feel sure.”

As before, at a similar suggestion, she gave him a look of startled
resentment. Then, with a faint but very sweet smile——

“Peter,” she bade him, “pray proceed.”

He did. “Should you mind telling me, Jane, whether what you are digging
for in the park has any connection with the theft of that something you
valued the other night?”

“I guess—I don’t mind,” said she, thoughtfully. “It has connection.”

“Is it—— Of course refuse to answer if you wish, with the assurance that
there can be no hard feelings between us. Is it, just possibly, buried

“Just possibly it is.”

“Central Park, if piled up with hay, would be a right sizeable stack. By
comparison, any treasure which might have been contained within that
snuff-box would be needle-sized.”

The girl looked intolerant, as if at stupidity on his part.

“The treasure which I hope to unbury before those grave-diggers you saw
can unearth it for some one not entitled to it is larger than all the

Even at this, Pape didn’t doubt her entire sanity. She had mentioned a
cryptogram; merely was being a bit cryptic herself.

“I see,” he assured her.

“I hope you don’t,” she assured him.

“That,” he finished, “you don’t trust me.”

“Trust you? Why should I trust you?”

A moment her blue eyes blazed into his. He was feeling quite scorched by
her scorn. Probably he looked wilted. At any rate, her next move amazed
as much as it refreshed him.

One of her ungloved, ringless hands slipped into his that lay idle on
the leather of the seat; the fingers curled around it.

“I’d like to trust you. I don’t mind admitting that.” She turned so
directly toward him that again he felt her clover-field breath across
his cheek. “But you’ll have to excuse me for the present. I just don’t

He held her hand hard, pulsant palm to pulsant palm. But he took his
eyes off the temptation of her face; a second or so stared straight
ahead, trying to resist—trying to answer for himself the question of

Who and what was she—this woman of his first, deliberate self-selection?

“Trust—is a thing—some people have to—be taught,” he said, steadily as
he could. “You will trust me—in time. There is only one—quick way—to

Having gone that far, he gave up; realized that he couldn’t resist. His
eyes swept back to the temptation of her face. His two arms swept around
the temptation of her form. His face swept down until he yielded, in a
serious kiss, to the temptation of her lips.

“Learn, Jane. Learn,” he insisted into the panic of emotion he felt her
to be in. “Your distrust has made it hard for me to trust you. But I
find I do. I trust you with my soul. Don’t say the angry things you
might. Wait. Learn.”

At her first effort to be free, he released her; leaned to his window;
knew without turning that she was leaning to hers. After they had swung
into the wide avenue that bounds the park on the west, he spoke quietly.

“I’d suggest that we land here. By looking over the wall you can see
without being seen.”

Without turning, she nodded. Pape dismissed the cab and guided his
silent companion north a block. He pointed out the group of poplars to
her by their tops, claiming what he called “the wild, or wilderness eye
for location.” When they reached what he considered a vantage point,
however, she drew back, reluctant to look.

“If they’ve solved it—if they’ve found it, I’m lost—lost,” she said.
“Another hour last night and I’d have known. If you hadn’t come along——”

“Ain’t I trying to make up for that?” he asked her.

Without meeting his demanding eyes, she set her lips; stepped close to
the V-topped wall; peered over. For a space both studied the scene of

“Won’t take them long,” she commented. “They’re just common
laborers—Polakers, no doubt. The short, dressed-up man must be the boss.
Wonder whether I’ve seen him before. Wait, he’s turning! His face is
strange to me. One of their hirelings, of course.”

The silencer which Pape put upon certain questions exploding in his
mind—pertinent questions such as what was the nature of “it,” who were
“they,” why should another hour last night have made all “known”?—was
the result of a new-made decision on his own account. He would teach
this determinedly untrusting young person by demonstration; would aspire
only to such confidence as she saw fit to volunteer. The hope that
telepathy already was at work strengthened him to meet manfully her
calm, cold gaze when at last she faced him.

“You say you want to make up for——” She caught her breath and started
afresh. “I am willing to—to learn—if I can. But some women might
consider that you owed quite a bit.”

“I am—” and he bent his head, the better to see her lips—“very deeply in
your debt.”

In spite of her flush, she continued crisply. “Very well, I am going to
ask you for part payment.”

“And I am only too willing, Jane, to pay in full.”

She studied his serio-flippancy; evidently decided to value his
statement above his smile.

“I need about one hour of dusk to finish in there. I could finish
to-night if that gang could be driven off now, before they find—what I
hope to find first. Can’t you—won’t you try to frighten them off?”

“I? What right have I——”

One of two things was certain. Either she thought very little of the
courage of the four or very much of his frightsomeness. He did feel
indebted to her, though; appreciated the born-and-bred conventionality
which she had overcome at his request. When he compared the scathing,
stereotyped things she might have said with the fact that she had said
nothing at all—well, despite the confusions since that Zaza night,
including the man over on East Sixty-third Street, she was—she must be
the sort she at first had seemed. He shrugged off his own dubiousness
and looked as hopeful as he could.

“Once you pretended to be a detective,” she encouraged him.

“Got a supper out of that.”

“Last night you were again taken for one.”

“And had a scrap that was lively while it lasted.”

“This much you may assume. Something important—something more valuable,
really, than any treasure that could be buried in the whole length of
Manhattan Isle—something more than you possibly could imagine is at
stake. It doesn’t matter what or why or how, but try to do what I ask.
Get those hired looters out!”

“Get them out?” he objected, “Girl-alive, they have a right to be
digging in there or they wouldn’t dare to come in force and in daylight.
I’d need some authority to object before I could— Will you stay right

Instead of vaulting the park wall, which at first had, seemed to be the
one possible response to her demand, Pape lifted his hat and sauntered
down the avenue as though bound nowhere in particular.


The Sheepfold in Central Park is a U-shaped structure of red brick walls
and a low roof that is mostly gables. One of the wings is winter
quarters for the Dorset flock. The connecting curve, the lower half of
which is an archway, houses in the upper Shepherd Tom and his family.
The remaining wing, although built for a different purpose, is now used
as a garage for the motor cycle police. Within is parking space for all
the machines in regular use in the park and some extras.

Into this garage strode Why-Not Pape, a man in a hurry. His only
introduction to the policeman in charge was rather extravagant, if
wordless—one made in brute Belgian. He returned Kicko’s greeting—the
fact that he and the police dog were friends did the rest. It was
amazing how easily his coup was carried out as planned, backed by the
dog’s infallible memory.

“Which are the spare fire-crackers?” he asked the uniformed garage
keeper with bluff authority. “I’m in a gasoline hurry to get up the

His wait had more intensity than length. He counted upon a long-standing
claim among safe-workers, of which he had been assured by that piece of
human flotsam out at Hellroaring, that the “big box” in the New York
Police Headquarters would be the easiest “cracked” in the city were
there anything in it worth stealing. He knew it to be a fact that many
never-solved robberies and murders have been “pulled” within the shadow
of precinct stations; had seen substantiated in the day-by-day news the
theory that the best “hide-out” is under the arresting arm of city
government. And his act upon deduction meant nothing against the police.
He simply wished to profit for once by his knowledge of human nature
reduced to the _N_th degree. Even unaided by the dog, he had expected to
carry through by daring of a first-draft sort.

“What’s the case, sergeant?”

With the question the attendant member of the force waved a hand toward
the sheaf of ten machines which are kept unassigned to particular “speed
cops”—an emergency motive-power reserve.

Without necessity of an equivocation as to who he was, without flashing
the badge of authority which he did not have—merely by using that slang
term for the noisiest of motor vehicles which was in common usage in the
Yellowstone as well as in New York, Pape had declared himself in his

“Big,” he answered. “Bigger than all the park.”

Frowning and abstracted from a hurry to be off that was by no means
assumed, he wheeled one of the emergency machines into the open doorway.

“Want any help?”

The rookie was ready; had grasped the handles of a second cycle.

“No. Do I look like I needed help?” In earnest now he frowned, but not
abstractedly. “Don’t want any uniforms following me. Ain’t that kind of
a case.”

Without meeting other obstacles, Pape was off upon the marked official
machine. About one minute lasted his ride upon this steed, fleeter than
Polkadot at his best. As though for the first time noticing the diggers
among the park poplars, he stopped with a toot of the cycle siren.
Dismounting, he dropped the standard, parked the machine at the side of
the road and advanced upon the despoilers. On the way he charged himself
that in this “kind of case”—three burlies and a boss to one uniformed
objector whose only authority was a woman’s service—mind more than
muscle would be needed.

He was met by the thin-faced man. “S’all right, officer. We ain’t
looking for Cap’n Kidd’s treasure.”

Pape smiled more inwardly than outwardly, although he felt that he well
could afford to do both on being mistaken, a second time within the last
few minutes, for a plain-clothes man.

“Who are you and what you up to?” he demanded.

“Name’s Welch—Swinton Welch, contractor. I’m digging a ditch to put in a
sub-surface drain. Want to see the permit?”

Producing a worn paper from his breast pocket, the small boss flourished

“Sure. Show me.”

“It’s O. K., else I wouldn’t have the navvies at work.”

“Likely it is,” countered Pape, “but show me just the same.”

With somewhat less of a flourish the paper was presented. Pape saw at a
glance that it was written on an official form of the Department of
Parks, then scanned it closer.

“What—” his demand was louder, gruffer, more combative than
before—“_what_ you say you’re doing?”

“Just like the paper says—digging for a drain.” The sharp-faced boss
also grew more combative.

It is to be remarked that the Italian laborers had stopped work on the
instant of interference. They always do. A shovel wasted—Fortunately the
stream of cars on the roadway below flowed on without a ripple of
curiosity as to the party on the hillock. The pedestrian paths were
further away and, at this hour, preëmpted by the inevitable babies,
mothers and nurse-maids. In the great, green mixing-bowl of all races
within the world’s most democratic city, no man concerned himself with
the by-play near the boundary except those directly involved.

Pape scowled over the operation, with never a glance toward the stone
wall, from over the top of which a pair of black-irised blue eyes
probably were watching him—a pair of rose-lobed ears were listening. To
make “learning” easier he pulled another loud stop in his voice.

“What you going to drain to where?”

“Don’t exactly know myself yet. Going according to orders,” offered Mr.
Swinton Welch. “One shovelful at a time is my motto. Don’t make no
mistakes that way. What’s eating you, bo? I tell you it’s all O. K. or I
wouldn’t be——”

The alleged contractor was stopped in the middle of his defense by the
glare lifted to his face from the sheet of paper. An unofficial, yet
official acting thumb was jerked over-shoulder.

“Out!” bellowed a voice of command—Pape’s. “You don’t go wrecking this
park with an order that’s a year old, signed by a commissioner that’s
already in the discard—leastways you don’t while I’m above sod. Call off
your men and beat it!”

“I’ll call off nobody nor nothing.” Evidently the “boss” wasn’t amenable
to being bossed. “I know my rights and I’ll stand on ’em in spite of all
the plain-clothes crooks out of Sing Sing. That permit’s good until it’s
been used. If you had half an eye in your head you’d see that it’s never
been canceled.”

Pape folded the slip and tucked it into his coat pocket. “You’ll get off
lighter if you call it canceled,” he advised. Turning to the laborers,
he added: “Go home, you—no matter what lingo you speak. Beat it—make

The huskies did not look to their foreman for advice. To them the voice
of him who had appeared upon the thunder-bike was fuller of authority
than a noon whistle. Shouldering their implements, they straggled toward
the nearest exit. Their wage? The boss of their boss would produce that.
Sufficient unto the day was the pay thereof. Weren’t they muscle
workers—weren’t they therefore always paid?

“You give me your number—I dare you—your number!”

The small foreman had lost the sangfroid of his type. Like a cockroach
inadvisedly investigating a hot griddle, he danced toward the taller

“You don’t need to dare me twice. My number’s a darned good one for you
to know. I’m 23—that means _skidoo_!”

Pape’s sidewise spring he had learned from one of his Hellroaring
cayuses. It brought within his reach this second disturber of Jane
Lauderdale’s peace and quiet. Only one wrench did he need to apply to
the wrist of the hand which he had interrupted on its way into a side
pocket of a sack coat.

“Not _this_ morning,” he objected.

The foreman, gone startlingly white from pain after the recent red of
his chagrin, of necessity permitted his hand to be withdrawn empty. And
he had no power to prevent Pape’s reaching into the pocket and
confiscating a snub-nosed automatic. He did, however, risk some
contentious comment.

“Nothing a real citizen loathes like you plain-clothes pests. I’ll show
you up proper in court, you big bully. I got a permit from a judge to
carry that gun, I’ll have you know.”

“But not to use it on me. I put quite a value, I’ll have _you_ know, on
my birthday suit-of-clothes.”

The “pest’s” chortle was pitched to carry reassurance to and over the
park wall.

Removing and pocketing the cartridges, he returned the “permitted”
weapon’s frame to its owner. In consideration of his utterly unofficial
status, he probably would have found an attempt to enforce New York
State’s anti-pistol law embarrassing. At that, the fellow probably did
have a permit—he had been told that such were easy enough to get. He
would, he felt, be satisfied if the “drain” excavation was postponed
until Jane had that coveted hour for the finish of her own mysterious

Perhaps the small boss regained some of what would seem constitutional
bravado from the fact that his license to carry concealed weapons had
not been demanded. At any rate, he started fresh protest.

“Say, if you’d any idea who I was working for——”

“I know who I’m working for. That’s idea enough for me _and_ for you.”

Pape sat down with his back against the trunk of the most aged and
sturdy poplar. He looked as likely to stay there as the tree. The
foreman, with a final sputter of indignation, stamped off down the hill,
having made no secret of his objective—the nearest telephone. The
Westerner saw him pause beside the motorcycle and make note of the
number on its P. D. plate—a last amusing touch to a uniquely pleasurable
experience. Small satisfaction would Welch get if he tried to trace and
punish the particular “cop” who had ridden that particular police
“firecracker” that particular afternoon. Kicko alone could give him away
and Kicko was too much of a Belgian to tell on a friend.

Some minutes after the foreman had disappeared in the general direction
of Columbus Circle, Pape arose and sauntered toward the park wall. He
did not trouble himself further about his steed of raucous breath, steel
ribs and rubber hoofs. A “sparrow cop” would happen upon that sooner or
later and trundle it back to the Sheepfold garage. The Force could take
for granted that its plain-clothe’s borrower had found necessity to
abandon it in course of duty. Plainly labeled as a piece of city
property by its official number plate, it was safe enough.

He scaled the wall at a calculated point and gave himself completely to
the joys of victory when he saw her who had sent him into the arena
seated on a shaded bench a short distance above. He joined her.
Gallantly as some champion of old he handed her the trophy brought back
from the fight—the venerable drain-building permit.

“This is all the authority they had for daylight digging,” he remarked.

“Then—then they haven’t deciphered it?” she breathed with manifest
relief, after a moment’s study of the official sheet.

“It? Just what—” he began to ask, then stopped.

Let her tell him if and when she liked. Until and unless, he would
continue his rudderless, questionless course.

“Don’t you see,” she was generous enough to add, “if they had solved the
cryptogram, they never would have been using this? With their influence
they’d have secured a special permit. It may be that one of the gang saw
me digging there last night and assumed that I knew more than I really
do. There have been signs recently that I was followed by more than—than
yourself. That man on the knob last night—Don’t you suppose he had
watched me—trailed me—lain in wait for me to take from me whatever I
might have dug up?”

They? Their? The gang?

These succinct demands Pape did not put in words although,
telepathically, he did not restrain his curiosity. Probably she got
something of his vehemence and decided that something was due him. She
abstracted her attention completely from the passers-by and gave it to

“You were fine, Peter Pape, _fine_. After dark to-night I’ll come back
and finish my search. If I’d stopped to think—except for my desperation,
you know—I never should have asked you to put those people out, it was
_so_ impossible. But you were inspired with the one-best idea. You
handled the expulsion act as artistically as—as an actor in his big

Now, had there been time for Pape to foreplan his curtain speech he
might have continued to be artistic. But Jane’s applause seemed to go to
his head. He honestly had meant to continue histrionically suppressed,
unasking, admirable. Yet he didn’t; just couldn’t. He stretched his arm
along the back of the bench until his finger-tips touched the tweed of
her sleeve. Perhaps the contact was unnerving. Perhaps her eyes were too
earnest. Perhaps her faint, wistful smile was falsely promising. At any
rate, he proceeded to do what he had determined not to do.

“It _was_ quite a stunt. I admit it,” he said. “Don’t you think you sort
of ought to—That is, don’t you want to reward me?”

“Reward you?”

She drew away from him and his suggestion.

“Of course I don’t mean just that.” Pape’s eyes were on her lips. “You
paid me beforehand. What I wish you’d do is to get me in your debt
again. The credit system is the one for me. I can do anything to make
good when I’m deep in debt. Will you—won’t you——”


A second or so he blinked into the blast of her interruption. By its
flare he saw her interpretation of his bad beginning. He tried an

“Wait a minute. Don’t flay me before you understand. I’m not such a
jasper as to mean to exact—What I wish you’d do—What I want to ask—Jane,
have a little mercy on me. Tell me who and what to you is that man
living in your flat.”

From the look of her, judging dispassionately as possible, all was over
between them. She got to her feet, as he to his. She looked strengthened
by righteous rage, he weakened by unrighteous humility. She made the
only utterances—and they did not help much, being rather fragmentary.

“You think that I—You have assumed that he—You believe that we—So _that_
is why——”

In the pause that preceded the lash of further language, Peter Pape
realized what it was to be a dumb brute. He felt as must certain dogs he
had tried to understand—faithful, well-intentioned, unequal to
explaining themselves. He knew that he did not deserve chastisement at
the beloved hand, yet could not resent or avert it. Like a dog he
leveled his eyes on hers and looked—silent, honest, worshipful.

And Jane Lauderdale proved to have a heart for dumb brutes.

A taxi with flag out had slowed at her gesture. She was about to enter
it. In quiet, crisp tones she gave her address to the driver; then these
instructions to Pape:

“Get the next cab that comes along and follow me to East Sixty-third
Street. Under the circumstances you will excuse me for preferring to
ride over alone. I’ll wait for you on the stoop.”

She did. And without a word she preceded him up the three screeching,
scrooping, shrieking flights, which were not nearly so uncommunicative
as his guide.

“Life’s a shaky thing. But love is worse—worse—worse”—the first. And the
scroopy second: “Things get queerer every step—queerer—queerer.”
Shrieked the third: “Look out. Like as not he’ll leap and lam you. Look
out lest he leap and lam!”

The fourth floor front was empty when they entered. Pape noted its
quaint consistency during the moment she left him alone—an oblong room
fitted sparingly with Colonial antiques, with a round rag rug over the
boards of its floor, with several old, interesting engravings on its
walls. He merely glanced at the horsehair Davenport to which she had
waved him; turned and stood with face toward the sliding door through
which she had disappeared.

Soon this door was drawn open. Forward she led by the hand the man. A
tall, fit specimen he was, his face clean-shaved and strong-featured,
his hair a tawny mass which probably once had been auburn, but now was
blond from a two-thirds admixture of gray.

The light of devotion irradiated the girl’s uplifted face as she stopped
before him. She looked like a slender white taper beside some shrine,
her lips the live red, her eyes the blaze blue, her hair the waving
suggestion of its lighted tip.

“Dear,” she said to her companion, “I want to introduce Mr. Why-Not
Pape, the Westerner I told you about.”

The man’s smile was cordial, beautiful. He stepped forward with
outstretched hand.

“Welcome to our city, Why-Not Pape,” he quoted from the Times Cañon sign
which, patently, had been part of Jane’s tale.

But Pape didn’t—just couldn’t meet the advance. He stood stubbornly
still before the Davenport, his arms stiff at his sides, his suffering
eyes upon the lit taper—upon Jane.

And into her devotional mood seemed to return that gentling
comprehension of dumb brutes.

“I _beg_ your pardon,” she said to him. “Mr. Pape, my father.”


Not until Jane was finishing an account of his disposal of the
“grave-diggers” did Pape feel sure that the splendid old man was blind.
Suspicion had come from the uncertainty with which he had veered toward
the chair placed for him, from his indirect gaze toward the girl, from
the hand outstretched for the touch of her hand. Conclusion surprised
from the Westerner a low, sympathetic exclamation which Jane heard,
evidently understood and chose to answer openly.

“Yes,” said she, “my father has been unable to see since the war.
France, you know, and mustard gas.”

“Do you suppose—” Curtis Lauderdale himself put the question—“that
otherwise I’d permit my dear girl to conduct this search against our

“But the war—at your age, sir?” murmured Pape. “Weren’t there enough of
us who were young and free of family responsibilities to go into

Again that rarely beautiful smile from eyes which appeared somehow to
see more than was visible to those blessed with sight. “I was willing
for you youngsters to do the actual fighting. But I felt called upon to
take some part. What are two eyes compared with the inner knowledge that
you did your bit? I only helped to make trench life easier, along with
many other K-C’s and wearers of the ‘Y.’”

“And how did they—get you?”

“Enemy gas bombs didn’t respect non-combative insignia or uniforms. One
of them blinded me and the gray horde got—well, one more American
prisoner. I was later than most getting back home.”

There was a vitality in his manner—a throb of pure joy in his
voice—which eased the poignancy of the younger man’s pity and reminded
him that one mercy amid the heartbreaks of the big fight would seem to
be the compensation seen by those whose gaze has been focused forever

Pape turned from father to daughter. “But your aunt, Mrs. Sturgis, told
me that your father was——”

“Yes.” Again Jane divined his perplexity. “Aunt Helene thinks that dad
‘went West,’ as they say, in the war. She was very much against his
going. And when he came back so late and so—so much the worse for wear,
he and I decided that she and the rest should continue to believe the
report which had preceded him across the Atlantic, at least until after
we forced——”

She did not hesitate; just stopped, having said what she evidently
considered enough. As she showed no curiosity over the when, where or
whyfore of auntie’s confidence, Pape forced upon her no report, either
of that interview or the canter through conversational and Central Park
by-paths with Cousin Irene. Rather, he gave to the charm of personality
in the older man—a magnet toward which he had turned willingly since
Jane’s justification in that quiet “my father.”

“But since you are freed, sir—now that you are back——”

Jane’s eyes stopped him, so dark with suspicion was their blue.

“I don’t know just what is back of your interest, Why-Not Pape. But it
will do no harm, whichever side you are on, to admit a truth about my
father known to both his friends and foes. He is under a shadow—an
undeserved disgrace which culminated in an indictment. Until that shadow
is dissipated it is better that none should know he has come back. What
I decided to trust you with before you found it out for yourself, was
the identity of the man with whom you thought that I——”

“I am too grateful—” in his turn Pape interrupted—“ever to let you
regret that trust.”

He spoke as he felt, with revealing sincerity. His look held hers; the
thrill of his voice the moment.

The blind man lightened the pause. “The only thing I had to thank our
enemies for was the loss of my identity. We thought advisable that it
stay lost to all but Jane. My sister-in-law, kind as she has been to my
girl-child, must have been more relieved than grieved over the alleged
finish of one supposed to have disgraced the name. Why my daughter has
seen fit to let you, a comparative stranger, into the secret which we
have guarded so carefully——”

Why? Judging by Jane’s set look at the implied criticism, she either
could not or would not explain. The interloper’s eyes, still fixed on
hers, reiterated the counter-demand, why not—_why not_?

Her father, as though sensing much more than he could see, reached out
and stroked her soft, parted, night-black hair.

“Never mind, Jen-Jen,” he said. “The fact that you do a thing makes it
right enough for me.”

With sudden penitent fervor, she seized and kissed his hand. “I don’t
know, daddy dear. It is hard to be sure about forced, snap judgments. I
hope this Westerner is what I’ve told you he looks. I am glad to have
brought him here to have you help me decide. And I haven’t exactly let
him into anything. Of his own force—curiosity, superfluous energy or
whatever it is that animates him—he has sort of dashed into my life. He
knows about the theft of grandfather’s cryptogram and that I’m trying to
follow it from memory in my park hunt. But, of course, the enemy knows
that or they wouldn’t be watching me or— _Oh_, I do hope that it’s all
right—that he’s all right! Now that he has trailed me here, that he
knows who and where you are, so much depends upon his integrity. If he
is against us and is clever, wouldn’t he pretend just the same to be
with us?”

Had she forgotten his presence in their midst or was she super-acutely
remembering it? Pape wondered. He felt as nearly futile as was
constitutional about further attempts to convince her of his fealty. On
the part of the Self-Selected, if not on his, that slow-but-sure method
would have to do. Time and acts would tell—time and acts and this
high-priest of hers, for love of whom she had lit into a devotional

He—her father—proceeded at once to fulfill her prayer—to “help her

“Dear,” he proposed, “would it be too much to ask you to serve us tea?
If it is, just forget my bad habit. But that last Orange Pekoe you got
is delicious. And there are a few fig-cakes left in the box. I’ll try to
entertain this latest acquisition of yours while you’re bringing the
water to a boil.”

He did try—and succeeded. As soon as the girl had left the room, he
began in a lowered tone:

“I was glad to do what I could for my country, even at the cost. My
misfortune I have learned to look on as the _fortune_ of war. My keenest
regret—” he gave a sightless glance toward the closed door—“is the loss
of seeing Jane’s face. From her babyhood up, I have so enjoyed Jane’s
face. I keep wondering and wondering whether it has changed or aged from
the years and the suffering I’ve caused her—whether it is less or more
lovely than when I last saw it that day I kissed it good-by.”

“It is,” said Pape with conviction, “more lovely. It must be. You or any
man would need to be a patriot, sir, to love and leave such a face. It
reminds me of one I didn’t have to leave—one that led me over that long
road Over There to and through hell.”

“And whose face was that?”

“My mother’s.”

The old man looked arrested and pleased. He nodded, as though in
realization of a hope.

“Tell me,” he bade the younger, “what Jane looks like to you.”

Well it was, perhaps, that he could not see the embarrassment he had
caused. Indeed, Pape didn’t feel up to the sudden demand upon his sparse
supply of fine language. He couldn’t have felt less adequate, he was
sure, had he been called upon for an extemporaneous critique upon the
Sistine Madonna in the presence of its creator.

And yet there were reasons and reasons in this case why he should try to
satisfy the eagerness of the fine old face bent his way in a listening
attitude. The pathos of eyes from which the soul of sight had gone, the
worthiness of the subject and a certain longing within himself to
express to the next most interested person the appreciation which so far
he had been unable to confide even in her who had inspired it—all urged
him to make an effort.

He drew a deep breath; wondered how far away she was; hoped, then feared
that possibly she would overhear. He feared, lest he fall short of the
flattery which must have been poured, her life long, into her ears. He
hoped that she might the sooner get an idea of his reverential

“Ever been to the Yellowstone?”

At his abrupt question the old man chuckled.

“Boy,” said he, “I knew our West before you were born. I was one of the
first whites into the Park, then a wilderness. Jane tells me you’re from
Hellroaring. I was one of the party that named the region.”

“You don’t tell me that you are—Why, of course! I should have known. We
have a peak named after you. Your hand, old scout!”

The grip that answered was one of the sort Pape understood, a strong,
firm, promising pact to the West that had come East. Surer at least of
his visible audience, he roweled into the subject of the moment.

“In terms of our Yellowstone, then, your daughter’s eyes remind me of
Morning Glory Geyser. Could I say more for their color, sir?”

“No. The same sun that whitened the Glory’s spray seemed to make the
deeps of its pool a stronger blue. And her hair, young man, is it——?”

“Black as the jade of Obsidian Cliffs,” Pape supplied, then corrected
himself. “Yet that don’t seem an altogether proper simile, it is so
soft. Of course, I’ve never touched it, sir, but I’ve an idea that the
mountain moss, where we find the giant violets, would feel harsh to the
hand that had smoothed your daughter’s hair.”

“It would that. Thank God they didn’t blind my sense of touch! My
fingers never tire of seeing Jane’s soft hair.”

“Then your fingers must be able to see her lips, too, for they are as
definitely dented as those of an antelope doe. And they’re as healthy a
red as ever they could have been in her childhood—red as the sun when it
gets over into Idaho. And the Teton Range itself can’t beat her for
clean, strong lines. I’ve never seen a woman who was such a blend of
delicacy and power as your Jane. Still or in movement, I admire to watch

Lauderdale leaned back into his chair with a sigh of satisfaction. “I
used to call her ‘Little Lynx.’ There never was such a child for
sinuousness. Ah, what a treat you’re giving me, Mr. Pape, to help me see
again the beauties of my beautiful girl! Tell me—” The father’s voice
lowered without loss of eagerness. His hands quavered forward, as though
to supply the lack in his misted, striving eyes. “I want to know
particularly about the expression of her face. Has the trouble I’ve
brought upon her shadowed its brilliant paleness? Has it still that rare
repose, with only a lift of the eyelid, a twitch of a corner of her lips
or a quiver of her chin, to show the emotions beneath?”

Pape drew back from the he-man habit of hiding his heart; then, after a
thought, leaned forward again. Why hide from this one man who could be
her true lover, yet no rival to himself? Why not show what he felt? He
closed his eyes, the better and more companionably to picture Jane. He
felt that they two, both sightless now, saw the same vision as he spoke.

“I ain’t what you’d call up in art, sir. But I saw in Paris the finest
statues in the world, or so they told me. The quiet of those still,
white people sort of got on my imagination. Their suppression seemed to
spoil me for the awful animation of the average face. Likely that’s why
your Jane’s got me at first sight, although I hadn’t thought it out up
to now. Hers is the first female face I ever was glad to watch in vain
for a smile. There couldn’t be a marble paler or purer or with features
finer lined. Just as I used to thank Heaven, looking at those statued
ladies, that they couldn’t relax from their perfection, I feel like
praying that Jane never will relax into a smile—until she smiles on me.”

A crowded silence fell between, but did not separate them. Its most
vital question the Westerner next answered bluntly, after his way.

“It ain’t impudence, my calling her by her first name, Mr. Lauderdale. I
haven’t had a real good opportunity as yet to ask your daughter to marry
me. You see, we haven’t met any too often—this is time the fourth and
only a shade less perturbed than the former three. But rest assured that
I’ll take advantage of the first chance. Our ‘happily-ever-afterward’ is
all settled so far as I am concerned.”

“I see.”

Although in one way the blind man’s quiet statement wasn’t true, in
another he looked as though it was.

At a call from the rear room, Pape sprang to open the door and relieve
Jane of her laden tea-tray. On turning, he noticed that the father’s one
hand gripped the other in his strong, firm, Westernwise clasp, as though
in self-congratulation. He looked as though he now felt sincere in the
welcome extended earlier for form’s sake to one Peter Stansbury Pape.
Just why? Well, why not?


“Mr. Pape has been painting your picture with a brush dipped in colors
of the Yellowstone,“ observed Curtis Lauderdale as he sipped the
fragrant amber brew which his daughter had poured and passed.

The girl flashed their guest an indignant glance. “Attacking dad at his
weakest point? For that I should paint him an awful picture of you.”

“With a brush dipped in colors of the truth?”

At her threat and Pape’s meek retort, the old man’s eyes continued to
beam their way, as only sightless eyes can beam.

“You needn’t, Jen-Jen. It doesn’t matter what Mr. Pape looks like. Men
show less on the outside what they are than women. I’d rather see him as
he is inwardly. Already I know that he has both an imagination and a
sense of humor. And he is direct with the _skookum_ talk, which doesn’t
lend to lies. As for his exterior, I imagine him as moderately sizeable
and well-muscled and plain, or you wouldn’t have brought him around.”

“Immoderately plain,” she corrected, still with a punishing air.

“Good. Then I’ve got him—” her parent with a chuckle. “Now it seems to
me, if he’s done for us all you say he has, that we owe him some

At once Jane’s quasi-disapproval of their quickly established fellowship
turned into real.

“Explanation has been our downfall, dad,” she warned. “You know your
failing. You trust too much and too soon. You seem to have got worse
instead of better—positively—since you went to the war.”

“She’s right, Mr. Lauderdale,” Pape advised. “It is too soon to trust me
in _skookum_ or any other foreign language. But you seem shy some sort
of help which I’d like to supply if I can. Why waste time explaining?
You’re entitled—on face value, you know—to the best I can give. There’ll
be plenty of time to explain after we’ve horned off all these nesters
that seem to be rooting around your ranch.”

“Another good quality—generosity,” commented the older man in an
argumentative way to his daughter. “Don’t you think, dear, that it would
be safe enough to tell him a certain amount of the truth, even though he
should prove to be an active agent of our enemies? If on the other side,
he’d know it anyhow. If on ours, he’d be at a serious disadvantage
without some of the facts. We are in no position to despise an ally,
Jane, and——”

Pape was determined that her confidence should not be forced, even by
her father. He interrupted briskly:

“Which or whether, let me trust you folks first. I am almost as much a
stranger to you as you to me—and no more given to explanations than our
young friend here. I feel kind of called to tell you who I am and why
I’m stranded in this Far East of New York. You may scent something in
common in the sad little story of my life, for I, too, am on a still
hunt for an enemy or enemies unknown.”

He offered his tea cup for a refilling, climbed to his feet and steadied
the china across to the white marble mantelpiece. There he stood and
drank the beverage between the deliberate lines of his opening. He began
at the beginning—or thereabouts—of Peter Pape. Over the early days of
his stock-raising struggle to those of comparative, present success on
the Queer Question Ranch he passed in fair style and with reasonable
rapidity. Thence he slowed down to the near past and its sudden,
oleaginous wealth.

As is so often the case in oil, he, as owner of the land, had been the
last to suspect the presence of this liquid “gold” beneath his acres.
Only the fact that he loved his ranch and would not sell the heart of it
had saved him. Price proffers had risen slowly but surely until they
reached figures which caused him to suspect, not the worst, but the
best. He had drilled on a chance to a ceaseless flow of fortune.

His account carried its own conviction and fulfilled his preface except
for one point. Where had he any cause, in this generous deal of Fate, to
be resenting or seeking to punish enemies, unknown or otherwise? The
blind man pointed the omission.

“Notwithstanding the enough-and-to-spare that I’ve got, sir, they stung
me, these sharpers, through a lot of poor folks who couldn’t afford even
a nettle prick. Before I got hep to what was up I had sold a small tract
for which I had no further use to an alleged student of agriculture who
had interested me in a new scheme for making alfalfa grow where nothing
much ever had grown before. When my wells began to gush by fifties and
hundreds of barrels, the backer of this fake farmer organized an oil
company on the strength of his buy and floated stock right and left.”

He paused to clinch and thump a fist upon the mantel-shelf; then
glowered unreasonably at the nervous quivers of the wax flowers within
the glass case which formed its centerpiece.

“When widows with orphans from everywhere and some of my friends from
nearby cow-towns began to write and ask me about their promised
dividends—Well, folks, in time I got wisened to the fact that my name
had been used along with the fame of Queer Question production. I asked
myself a question that didn’t sound as queer to me as to the bunch of
sharpers that I soon put it to. After I’d gathered them in and the
Federal Court had helped me hand ’em what was over-due, I started on a
long, long trail after the big guy that had planned the crooked deal.
I’m still stalking him. He’s lurking down in that gulch of Wall Street
to-day or I’m clean off the trail. You see, friends, the Montana Gusher
Oil Fields, Inc., hasn’t even a smell of oil. When I find the

“Montana Gusher—was that the company’s name?” Jane’s interruption was
more than interested; was voiced with suppressed excitement. She turned
toward her father. “You remember my telling you of Aunt Helene’s narrow
escape from buying a block of worthless oil stock a year ago? She was
only saved by——”

“Child, child, don’t name names,” the blind man reproved her. On his
face, however, was the reflex of her startled look.

“It’s all right to say ‘child, child,’” insisted the girl vehemently.
“You never would believe ill of any one until it was proved at your
expense. Doesn’t it strike you as strange that _he_ should have been the
one to know all about these far-away oil fields without time for
investigation—that _he_ was able to dissuade Auntie against the smooth
arguments of a salesman whose claim on him as a friend he had
acknowledged? Do you suppose the promoter of Montana Gusher could have

“Wait, Jen-Jen. You’d better be sure before suggesting such a charge to
this young man. You can see that he is in earnest. If you should be

“You’re plumb right about my being in earnest,” Pape cut in. “But I’m
willing to go into all details before asking you to name me that name. I
shouldn’t have minded so much had it been my bank account that was
tapped. What they did me out of, though, was the good-faith of my
friends and neighbors. When they made _me_ look like the robber of
widows and orphans instead of themselves—Well, if ever I get a rope
around the scrub neck of that——”

On account of an interruption he did not finish the threat. A peculiarly
tuneful auto siren sounded up from the street through the open windows.
Jane got to her feet with such suddenness as to jeopard the entire China
population of the tea-table. She crossed to one of the windows; held the
Swiss curtain before her face; looked out and down.

“I thought I couldn’t be mistaken.” Her report was low-spoken, but
tense. “The Allen car has stopped in the street, across from the house.”

“Not—Sam Allen couldn’t have found me over here?” The blind man also
arose. With hands out, he swayed after her. “You must be mistaken, Jane.
Look again!”

“How could I be mistaken? They are out of the car now. They’re looking
at the house number. What—_what_ can this mean?”

Jane drew in from the window; leveled upon her parent a look of acute
alarm; saw and remembered Pape. With an attempt at naturalness she

“Mr. Allen was my father’s lawyer and one of his oldest friends. We are
surprised by this visit because he isn’t supposed to know even that dad
is alive, let alone his address in New York.”

“You said ‘they,’ Jane,” her father puzzled. “Who else——”

“Mills Harford is with him.”

The old man seemed shaken anew. “How could Harford know that we’re here
unless Jasper——”

“No, dad, not Jasper. He is faithful as the moon. You know that. It
strikes me as more possible that—” In a return rush of suspicion she
faced the Westerner. “Mr. Pape met both Mills and Judge Allen at the
opera and later at Aunt Helene’s. He is the only person who, to my
knowledge, has discovered my disguise and our whereabouts.”

Pape returned her look steadily and rather resentfully. “That is true,
Miss Lauderdale. But I have had no communication with either of them
since, although I did visit both their offices with the hope of locating
you. Only yesterday I was told that Harford was out of town.”

The blind man threw up his hands intolerantly. “Out of town, was he, and
leaving a love-letter a day at the Sturgis house for Jasper to deliver,
all written at his club? Do you think that hare-hound would go out of
town so long as he suspects that Jane is in it? What are they doing

“Crossing straight toward our steps—” the girl in low, quick tones from
the window. “Judge Allen probably recognizes the house, despite its
condition. He was here several times in granddad’s day. He won’t have to
ask the way up.”

“But, Jane, they mustn’t come up here—mustn’t get in. What shall we do?”

“I don’t know, dad. Let me think. Meantime you, Mr. Pape——”

Again the Westerner heard that persistent suspicion of him in her voice
and saw that she had whipped from out her blouse a very small, very
black, very competent-looking something which he was glad to know she

“You are not to show your face at the window and you are not to cross
the room when they knock,” she told him. “If you so much as cough——”

Pape eyed her interestedly and decided that she meant the implied
threat. The puzzle of the Lauderdales, far from being solved, was
growing more intricate. Why should these two delightful and, he felt
sure, innocent persons so fear the prospective visit—the old man from
his lawyer and friend, his daughter from the personable and wealthy
young real-estater whom Irene Sturgis had declared to be her most ardent
suitor? Truly, the case was one for a show of blind, dumb and deaf

The increase of tension as heavy steps began to scroop up the stairs
seemed to emanate from the figure of Jane Lauderdale. Straight and
strong she stood in the center of the room, her face more marble-like
than the mantel. Her head was thrown up in an attitude of alert
listening. The black something in her right hand continued to command
the suspect of circumstance.

He, although in a somewhat easy attitude, demonstrated that he knew how
to behave when “covered.” He did not so much as glance toward the
window. And he showed no tendency to cough. His one deflection was a
scarcely audible whisper.

“If I should have to sneeze, you won’t shoot me, Jane? If you do, you’ll
miss a lot of love.”

At the first light rap on the door, Lauderdale’s knees seemed to weaken
and he sat down upon one end of the Davenport. The younger pair
stiffened; held their breath; eyed each other.

A second knock sounded, then a more imperative third. An advisory
discussion outside, too low-voiced for intelligibility, ended in a
fourth demand for admittance, knuckled to carry to the rear of the house
and waken any sleeper within.

At each repetition the blind man had shuddered and gripped harder the
arm of the Davenport. Now he flung out a summoning hand toward his
daughter. She, with her trio of eyes on their silent guest—her own
blazing blue pair and the single black one of the gun—crossed and bent
to her father’s rasp:

“If they should force the lock—should batter down the door——”

Jane made no attempt to reassure him. At a step toward them of the
stranger she retraced her steps and gestured him back with the pistol,
silently but most significantly.

Pape, the while, threw a trusting smile into the three eyes, then strode
straight toward them. Close to Jane’s ear he whispered:

“You won’t shoot me. You can’t. You’d lose too much good faith.”

Despite her outraged gasp, he continued toward the door that was being
importuned. Another smile he threw over-shoulder to reassure her of his

And Jane didn’t shoot. Probably she couldn’t. No report shocked the air.
Nothing sounded except a gruff demand from the inner side of the door.

“Who’s there? Wha’d’you want?”

From outside: “Old friends. We wish to see Miss Lauderdale.”


“Lauderdale—Miss Lau-der-dale.”

“Who in holy Hemlock directed you here, then? My name ain’t Lauderdale.
Never will be. Stop the noise, will you?”

There ensued further low-voiced consultation without. A moment later
footsteps began a descent of the stairs. Scroop ... screak ... screech.

Not until the musical siren announced the departure from the block of
the would-be visitors, did Pape relax from his listening attitude at the
door. On turning he saw that Jane, too, had slumped, limp and white,
into a chair, the very black and ominous something with which she had
threatened him dropped into her lap. A look half-dazed, yet wholly
hopeful was on her face.

“Thank Heaven—thank you, Peter Pape—they’ve gone!”

“But they’ll come back.” Her father’s voice echoed none of her relief.
“Allen and Harford must have reason to suspect that you, at least, are
here in the old house. Otherwise they’d not have come. If my presence,
too, is suspected, it won’t be long until that other pack comes to hound
me down. Jane, you can’t go on with this search, vital though it be.
Come what may, you shan’t be sacrificed. It’s no business for a girl
alone and unprotected. We’ll have to give it all up, dear. I’ll go away

“But Jane ain’t alone and unprotected.” Pape crossed the room and faced
them both. “Looks clear enough to me why I sloped out of the West and
into the far East just in the nick o’ time. I’m hoping the reason will
soon get clear to you.”

The girl’s lips moved, although she did not speak. She looked and looked
at him. Her father, unable to see, worded the demand of her eyes.

“Exactly what do you mean, Mr. Pape? What do you offer and why?”

“_Why_? Why not?” he asked in turn. “From this moment on, just as from
the same back to that Zaza night, I am at Miss Lauderdale’s service. I
have a trusty bit of hardware myself—” in substantiation he drew from
somewhere beneath his coat a blue-black revolver of heavy caliber—“and I
am not so slow on the draw as some. If this pack you say is trailing you
is determined to get itself shot up, it would be better for me to do it
than for her, wouldn’t it? And while we’re waiting for the mix-up, I
could dig for whatever it is she is looking for. Oh, you needn’t tell me
what that is! I’ve worked blind before. You folks just tell me when and
where to dig and I’ll _dig_!”

The girl turned to her parent. “I think, after all, I’ll tell Mr.

“I think it is time—high time, Jane.” He nodded in vehement approval.

Rising, she faced their guest; spoke rapidly, although in a thinking

“You’ve earned the partial confidence that dad wished to give you,
Why-Not Pape. This old house belonged to my grandfather. He grew
eccentric in later life. The more this East Side section ran down, the
tighter he clung to it. Toward the end, he fitted up this top-floor flat
for himself and rented out the others. From sentiment my father didn’t
sell the house, although we could have used the money. We are not rich
like the Sturgis branch of the family.”

“That is, we are not unless——”

“I am getting to that, dad.” With a shadow of her former frown, Jane cut
off her parent’s interruption. “My grandfather’s other particular haunt
was Central Park. He knew it from Scholars Gate at Fifty-ninth and Fifth
to Pioneers at the farther northwest corner. He played croquet with
other ‘old boys’ on the knoll above the North Meadow, sailed miniature
yachts for silver cups on Conservatory Lake and helped the predecessors
of Shepherd Tom tend their flocks on The Green. He had an eccentric’s
distrust of banks and deposit vaults and chose a spot in the park as the
secret repository for the most valuable thing he had to leave behind
him. The only key to the exact spot is a cryptogram which he worked out
and by which he expected my father to locate his inheritance.”

Pape filled the pause which, evidently, was for the weighing of further
information. “So this cryptogram or map was in the stolen heirloom
snuff-box the night that I—that we——”

“Yes. My grandfather, on his death bed, tried to tell me where he had
hidden it, but he waited a moment too long. For years father and I
hunted in vain. Not until the other day—the day of the night on which
you and I met, Peter Pape—did I come upon it quite by accident in the
attic space of this house. It was in the old snuff-box. I took both to
Aunt Helene’s that night, hoping to find time to study and decipher it.
And I did read it through several times, memorizing a verse or two of it
and some of the figures before the opera. I asked my aunt to put the box
in her safe, not telling her its contents. The rest you know.”

Although Pape felt the danger of his “little knowledge,” he drove no
prod; simply waited for her to volunteer.

“A number of people knew of our long search for grandfather’s covered
map, among them an enemy through whom we have been deprived, but whose
name we do not know. How he could have been informed just when I found
or where I placed it, I cannot conceive. Possibly the safe has been
under periodic search, although we never suspected. Possibly some one
within the house is in the employ of this unknown enemy and saw me give
it to my aunt for deposit or heard that I had turned over some valuable.
I was unforgivably careless.”

“An inside job?” Pape queried. “I thought so.”

“But not through Jasper—I’d stake anything on that!” the girl exclaimed.
“He was our own butler in better days and is loyal, I know. Since that
disastrous night, I’ve been trying to work out the verses of the crypt
from memory before its present possessor would get the key to a
translation. ‘To whispers of poplars four’ was the second line of one of
the verses. That is why——”

The rising of Curtis Lauderdale interrupted her. He crossed, with a
nervous clutch on this chair and that, to where Pape stood in the room’s

“There’s very great need of haste,” he said. “Now that they are watching
Jane’s movements—Since they’ve trailed her here—Mr. Pape, I cannot
afford to mistrust you, even were I inclined to do so. My dear girl here
blames me for trusting people, but since I must trust her to some one,
I’d rather it should be you. I accept and hold you to your offer to see
her safely through to-night. Much more than you could imagine hangs in
the balance. This may be our last chance.”

“I never acknowledge any chance as the last until success, sir.” Pape
again grasped the forward fluttering right of the blind man. His left
hand he extended to the girl. “I’ll try to deserve your father’s
confidence—and yours, Jane.”

“Near the four poplars, then, at dusk,” she consented.

Also she gave him a smile, all the lovelier for its faintness and

That moment of au revoir, in which they formed a complete circle, palms
to palms, Pape felt to be his initiation into what was to him a divine
triumvirate. “At dusk!” There was nothing—quite nothing which he could
not accomplish for the common, if still unknown cause that night, then,
at dusk.


HAD Peter Pape been at home in Hellroaring the late afternoon of this
crowded day in New York, he doubtless would have saddled Polkadot and
climbed to some lonely mesa for meditative fingering of the odd chain
into which he had forged himself as a link. Instead, he locked himself
in the Astor suite, little used hitherto except for sleep. The telephone
he silenced with a towel wrapped around the bell. He closed the windows
against distractions from the street and switched off the electric fan,
the whirr of which sounded above the traffic roar.

Yet with all these aids to concentration, his résumé of facts newly
given out in the affairs of his self-selected lady reached no
conclusion. Varying the metaphor, no point or eye could he see to that
needle, greater than Central Park itself, which would sew the fate of
the Lauderdales. The best he could do in preparation for contingencies
ahead was to throw a diamond hitch around his resolve to do and dare
unquestioningly in the service to which he now was sworn—to advance from
initiate into full membership of the triumvirate.

He planned by the clock. At six sharp, he rang for dinner upstairs.
Seven found him again in the garb worn from the West, which appealed to
him as more suitable than any of the “masterpieces” tailored for less
important functions than that of to-night.

The blond floor-clerk, whose hall desk stood near the entrance door to
his suite, awaited his approach with an “Indian sign” of warning. But
she and he couldn’t have come from the same tribe; at least he did not
grasp its import until later developments translated it for him.

“Oh, Mr. Pape,” she lisped, as, actually, he was about to pass her by
without his usual breezy greeting, “you’ve had three calls s’evening.
You’re getting so popular. But I must say I don’t wonder at all.”

“Three calls—and for me?” He was halted by honest amaze. “How come? I
mean, from whom and what about? Say, was one a lady’s voice, sort of
cool, yet kind, soft yet strong, gentle yet——”

“No such riddle voice helloed you,” snapped the girl. “Three adult males
they were that wanted you and one of them none too kind or soft or
gentle, at that. I told ’em what I thought was the truth. Personally,
you know, I make a specialty of the truth when it doesn’t do any harm. I
said that you hadn’t been in since morning. They didn’t appear to have
any names, no more than messages to leave.”

“Saves time answering.” Pape got underway for the elevator. “Greetings
and thank-yous, ma’am, and many of them. If any more males call me, I
may not be in _until_ morning.”

“You _do_ lead the life!”

Her exclamation faded into her stock-in-trade smile. But curiosity was
in the baby stare with which she followed him to the grated door. A
queer customer among the Astor’s queer. At that, though, as she admitted
to her deeper self, she was “intrigued” rather than “peeved” by his
utter lack of interest in what she did with her blond self when off

Swinging across the rotunda six floors below, Pape was startled to see a
face he recognized—that “fightingest” face of the bully with whom he had
gone the single round on the park butte-top. A clockward glance reminded
him that he was in considerable of a hurry. He had adequate time to keep
the most important appointment of his recent life, although none to
spare. The pug probably had been one of those to call him on the ’phone.
But wonder over how and why he had been located by his late antagonist
must be deferred until some moment less engaged.

Next second Pape heard what he instantly surmised to be the voice of a
second of the three inquirers—that of Swinton Welch, boss digger at the
four poplars. Now, he really felt indebted to the dapper sub-contractor
who, together with the “grave diggers,” on the sacred spot, had put him
in stride for the vast progress of his day. Moreover, he was interested
in the possible connection between Welch and the unnamed battler he had
overcome, as indicated by their joint wait at his hotel. Although he
located Welch at once leaning against the news-stand, he felt he should
not stop, even for a word of thanks or a pointed question. Tilting the
brim of his sombrero over his eyes, he made for the Broadway entrance.

“There he goes, Duffy!”

From close behind, the thin voice of the thin boss answered several of
the queries which Pape might have put without need of his putting them.
So, the name of his adversary of the night before was Duffy! There was
some connection between him and Welch. Both were waiting for him.

A heavy hand clamped his shoulder. “Hey you, what’s your hurry?”

Shaking the clutch, Pape turned forcefully just as Welch joined Duffy.
With but a fragment of a prefatory plan, his arms flung out flail-like
and brought his two untimely callers into violent collision. A short-arm
jab just below the curve of Duffy’s ribs doubled him over his undersized
partner with a yap of pain. Before the lobby crowd realized that
anything untoward was being punched, Pape’s identity as aggressor had
been lost by his dash for the revolving exit.

Almost was he within one of the door’s compartments when again
halted—this time by a slender youth with an eye-brow mustache.

“I beg pardon, but isn’t this Mr. Why-Not——”

That is as far as the probable third of the “adult males” got with his
mannerly question. Perhaps the weariness of his voice and the weakness
of his hirsute adornment gave Pape the idea. At any rate an unoccupied
arm chair stood ready. Seizing the man’s slender shoulders, he seated
his third caller therein with more force than courtesy.

“So glad to meet you, Mr. Pape,” this in a sort of gasp. “I’ve been here
to see you several times. A small matter of business. I’m from the——”

Pape did not wait. He was not nearly so much concerned over the source
of the youth as that Welch and Duffy soon would be up and after him. He
had no time for further bouts with one, two or three, regardless of a
constitutional disinclination to shirk battle. He pushed through the
revolving door and into the traffic out front. On the opposite side of
Broadway, he dived into the up-tide of pedestrians.

One observation disturbed him as he eased himself into an empty taxi,
with an order to stop at the Maine Monument. Although all others of the
varied sky-signs were alive, flaunting the wan daylight with their
artificial blaze, the rose-wrought welcome to Why-Not Pape was dead.
He’d find time in the morning to set off a less artificial blaze of
indignation before the electric company for their neglect. Surely they
could spare him as many kilowatts as that sausage maker or this movie
maid! His need of the hired cheer of the sign no longer was urgent, now
that he had been hand-clasped into the Lauderdale triumvirate. Still,
the sign that had lit his way to Jane was worthy of perpetuation.


Before night-fall no likely place was left in the near vicinity of the
poplars four for any old lady’s “laborer” to dig. From the shadow of the
park wall, where crouched a poke-bonneted figure, sounded an order to
cease work.

“Hope has died hard, harder even than you have dug, you human
steam-shovel. I guess it’s no use.” Jane’s voice was as forlorn as she
looked when Pape swung up at her call.

He leaned upon the man-sized spade which he had purchased at a small
hardware store near Columbus Circle just before keeping their
rendezvous. He mopped from brow, neck and hands the sweat of toil as
honest as ever he had done.

“So far as I’ve been able to discover,” the girl continued, “this is the
only group of trees the length and breadth of the park that answers
description. But evidently they are not the ones of grandfather’s

Pape drew some few breaths calculated to steady his pulse to normal.
“Being only one of the laboring class and uneducated as most over the
ultimate object of my labors—in other words, never having glimpsed the
word-map of that crypt, I can’t be of much mental assistance.”

“Oh, I shouldn’t mind telling you the lines if I only could remember
them,” Jane conceded. “One distinctly says to dig near the ‘whisper of
poplars four.’ Confound grandfathers and their mysterious ways! Despite
your willingness and energy, Mr. Pape——”

“Peter, if you please, Jane.”

“Peter, we shall have to give it up. If you’ll smooth back the earth
you’ve disturbed, I’ll take off my two score years and ten.”

“You mean to retire my little old lady of the park?”

“Must, I’m due to return to Aunt Helene’s to-night from my—my visit. I
have on my gray suit under this loose old black thing and a hat in my
bag. If you’ll escort me to the house, I’ll be that much more obliged.”

Tugging at the strings of the poke bonnet, she stepped toward the cover
of a nearby black haw whose flat-topped, branch-end clusters of bloom
gleamed like phosphorus over a dark sea. He turned back to his task with
his consistent superiority to intelligent inquiry. Muscularly, at least,
he had earned her confidence. So far free from interruption more staying
than a chance glance or careless comment, they seemed about to end an
evening successful in its unsuccess, when there sounded a verbal

“You’re under arrest—the both of yous—and caught with the goods, at

To Pape’s ears the Irish accent had a familiar sound. Straightening to
confront the two uniformed figures now materializing from the dusk and
the hillock’s crest, he executed a signal which he hoped would be
understood by his companion as a suggestion that she “slide out”—leave
him to wriggle from the clutch of the law as best he might.

“Arrest? And for what, if you have time to swap me word for word?” he
put demand.

“For the messing up and maltreating of Central Park in violation of
enough statutes to hang and then jail you for a year. Don’t bother
denying or it’ll be used again you. We been watching a whole half hour.
You haven’t a chance at a get-away, so come along nice and

The last admonition was shared with the bent old lady, who was too
dim-sighted, evidently, to have seen her laborer’s telepogram and now
appeared from around the misnamed white-blooming black haw.

“We wouldn’t like to be rough with a lady.”

The suggestive warning came from the second officer. At his voice, Pape
sprang forward and peered into two familiar faces—into the chiseled
smile of ’Donis Moore and the fat surprise of the “sparrow cop,” Pudge
O’Shay. He couldn’t decide at the moment whether to be sorry or hopeful
that these two friendly enemies should be the ones again to catch him at
misdemeanor within the sacred oblong of the park.

Jane didn’t like, any more than they, that they should be “rough” with
her, to judge by the readiness with which she gave up the possibility of
escape and ranged alongside the Westerner, quite a bit less humped and
helpless looking, however, than in her approach.

“I’ll say this is a pleasure—to be pinched by the only two friends I’ve
got on the Force,” offered Pape with his hand. “How are you to-night,
’Donis Moore? O’Shay, greetings!”

“No shaking with prisoners!” The gruffness of the foot policeman was
remindful of that previous meeting in which his whistle had been
mistaken for a quail’s.

Adonis ignored proprieties and gripped the proffered hand.

“What you up to now, Montana—unhorsed and scratching up our front yard?”

“I’m a-digging,” Pape returned.

“A-digging for what?”

Jane supplied: “For an herb called Root-of-Evil.”

“I see. Herb-roots for mother, eh?”  Moore squinted a confidential wink
toward the Westerner. “If you’d taken my advice, you’d be throwing
something better than dirt around for some one younger and——”

“But I did take your advice. This is what it led me to.”

“Not in them clothes, you didn’t. Why don’t you hire out to the Sewer
Department, if excavating’s your line? Sorry, but you and mother is in
Dutch with us.”

There came a growl from Pudge. “Not Dutch—German, and with more than us.
Report of your doin’s was ’phoned the station. They sent me out to round
you up. I happened on me handsome friend here off-duty and brought him
along for good measure. I was minded to leave you go that other time,
you cheerful lunatic. But now I’m a-going to take you in. Watch ’em,
’Donis, whilst I go ring for the wagon.”

At this mention of the auto-patrol vehicle, behind the gratings of which
the lawless and unfortunate are exhibited, like caged wildlings, through
the city streets, Jane stepped toward Pape. He felt her hand steal into
the crook of his elbow, as if for protection from such a disgrace.
Although personally he had no objection to wagoning across the park to
the Arsenal, he vibrated to her mute appeal.

“As a favor, Moore, would you mind walking us to your calaboose?” he
asked. “I give you my cross-my-heart-and-hope that we’ll not try to get
away. Don’t refuse on mother’s account. She’s mighty spry on her feet.”

Pudge O’Shay continued to grumble. Being a sparrow cop was no job for a
flat-foot, especially a fat one, he declared. He was tired and sorry for
himself out loud. After a small controversy, however, he withdrew his
objection to the stroll, if not taken at speed.

The procession started along No. 1 Traverse, the shortest route to the
Arsenal. The arresting officer led. The prime culprit, his young-old
accomplice clinging to his arm, followed. The dismounted officer brought
up as rear guard.

“Got a permit for your automatic?” Pape was able to ask Jane in a murmur
well below the scrunch of feet.

“No. But I’ve got the automatic with me.”

“Slip it to me!”

He did not explain the request. Whether he meant to force a gun-point
escape and needed her pistol to supplement his own against their two
captors or whether he feared some such desperate initiative on her part,
he left her to wonder. Watching their chance, he whispered “Now!” Next
second he had safe inside his own coat pocket that very small, very
black and very competent looking something with which she had commanded
him in vain earlier in the day.

“Just try to trust me, Jane,” was his response to the unquestioning
obedience which had produced it from the blouse beneath her old-lady

“To try to trust you is getting easier, Peter.”

The guarded admission sounded sweeter than the rhododendrons smelled. He
felt happier going to jail with Jane than ever in his life before; was
luxuriating in sentimentality when a roar like that of flaunted Fate
lacerated the air. Pape started and stared about; saw that they were
nearing Fifth Avenue and the menagerie that flanks the Arsenal; assumed
that some monarch of the wild caged there had but vented his heart. A
calming hand he placed over the girl’s two which had gripped his arm.

“Just a moth-eaten old lion dreaming of his native jungle and talking in
his sleep.”

“But you don’t understand what it might mean, that Nubian roar. It may
be another clew to point the location of—of what grandfather buried in
the park, you know.”

Through the gloom he stared down into the gloomier scoop of her bonnet.

“Say,” he enquired, mildly as he could, “you ain’t going to ask me next
to play Daniel and to dig in that lion’s den?”

“Hush. Don’t make fun. This is very important. If we can find four
poplars over on this side of the park, within earshot of the menagerie
lions—The first crypt verse starts off like this:

    “‘List to the Nubian roar
    And whisper of poplars four.’”

“I wish I could remember more accurately! It rhymes about bed-rock and
crock, height and might and fight, then trails off into figures. But I
am certain about those first two lines. Maybe we’re getting close. With
that Nubian roar as a center, let’s walk round and round, in widening
circles, until we list to the whisper of poplars four.”

Pape’s perplexity had not been eased by his steady stare into the poke.

“Very nice,” he said, “that stroll round and round, provided we don’t go
too fast and get dizzy. But we can’t start at the present moment.”

“Why not?”—she, this time impatiently.

“You forget, my dear young lady, that we are arrested.”

That was true. They were—and before the door of their jail.


Before the desk sergeant of a metropolitan police station friendship
usually ceases. It did tonight in the Arsenal, otherwise the 33rd
Precinct. By not so much as the ghost of a grin could the be-mustached
official in a uniform striped by decades of service have detected even a
speaking acquaintance between captors and prisoners.

The “case” was Pudge O’Shay’s and he made the arraignment, Moore having
subsided into a wooden arm-chair tilted against the wall.

“These are the grub worms that the ’phone message was about,” announced
the sparrow cop.

“Mind telling me who sent in that get-your-gun alarm?” Pape asked with a
naïveté that masked the effrontery of his request.

The sergeant stared at him in amazement. “None of your business, you
human mole.”

“Then I’ll tell you,” was his easy-manner counter. “A sharp-faced little
crook named Swinton Welch.”

“Easy there with the hard names, young fellow! Swin Welch is a friend of
mine and no person’s going to call him a crook to my face, much less a

“Thought so,” said Pape with a grin. “If he ain’t a crook, how about the
folks he’s working for?”

Ignoring him, the sergeant opened the blotter.


“Peter Stansbury——”

“Never heard about a little rule of ladies first, I reckon,” interrupted
the officer. “If the ship was sinking you’d make the first boat, I bet.
Answer up, mother.”

For the first time the poke-bonneted head of the less aggressive
prisoner lifted sufficiently to show the face within.

“Well, I’ll be——”

He was—struck dumb, if that was what he had been about to say. Next
minute, however, he must have remembered that sergeants are supposed to
be superior to shock. At any rate, he began the routine questions.

The red, soft-curved lips of youth answered readily from the shadow of
the antiquated headgear. Even “How old are you?” had no terrors for one
who had voted at the last election. Her “more than twenty-one” suggested
the folly of pressing the point.

“Are you armed?” asked the officer in charge when the skeleton biography
was completed.

Jane’s startled glance at Pape told him at least that now she understood
the commandeering of her automatic—that some penalty was imposed for the
bearing of weapons without permit. With a word and wag of chin she
replied in the negative.

“Not having a matron here to search you, I’ll have to take your say-so.”
The sergeant, after a meditative tug at his gray mustache, waved her

Pape was pedigreed with scant ceremony and his answers recorded as he
gave them, even to “Hotel Astor, residence.”

“Frisk him, Pudge!” was the concluding order.

Because Jane’s automatic was first found and placed upon the desk the
more personal “hardware,” a 45 Colt snugly fitted into its arm-pit
holster, was almost overlooked. The sparrow cop’s triumph on drawing it
forth was weighty as his figure.

“You go right well heeled for a guest of the hoity-toity,” remarked the
sergeant, also pleasurably excited. “We’ll just book you for a double
felony under the Sullivan law.”

At the threat, “mother” took a step toward her companion, evidently
appreciating that this last charge was due to the service rendered in
fore-disarming without fore-warning her. She looked ready to confess her
ownership of the black gun, as she was trying to get the sergeant’s
attention around the interposed bulk of Pudge O’Shay. But she paused
when she saw Pape hand a yellow pig-skin card-case to the officer.

“Before you ’phone your friend Welch the glad news that you’ve got a
double-barreled Sullivan on me,” he requested, “calm yourself by a look
at this.”

The sergeant obliged; aloud read sketchily from the filled-in courtesy
card signed by his chief, the commissioner of police.

“Peter S. Pape, deputy sheriff, Snowshoe County, Montana. Permitted to
carry arms while in pursuit of fugitives from justice.”

His pleased expression faded; rather, appeared to pass from his face to
that of the prisoner. And indeed, Pape felt that he had reason to be
pleased. Only that week, in preparation for any trail’s-end contretemps,
he had taken the precaution of presenting at Police Headquarters his
credentials from the home county sheriff. Sooner than expected, if
somewhat otherwise, preparedness had won.

“You’re not going to tell me you thought them fugitives was buried on
the far side of the park?” the sergeant grumbled.

“Wish they were. Say, if you think there’s any chance of your friend
Welch dropping in for a social call, I’d like to swap a few words with

“Leave up on Swin Welch! He’s harmless—ain’t been west of Weehawken in
his life. Where does this old—that is to say, young lady come in?”

“She came in merely as a spectator to cheer me whilst I did my digging
exercise. You can have nothing against her.”

Obviously the sergeant was troubled.

“Wish the lieutenant was here,” he was heard to mutter.

Adonis Moore made his way to the desk. “The sheriff is giving you the
right dope, serg. All the while Pudge and I was watching, his lady
friend didn’t move as much as a clod.”

“She wouldn’t need to move more’n a clod if she’d take that bonnet off
her head,” his superior commented. “We can’t let her out now. She’s
already booked. But likely she’ll make short shrift of the magistrate in
the morning. The sheriff I’ve gotta hold on the park despoliation
charge. There ain’t nothing in his card allowing for that. He’s entitled
to have his guns back, but——”

“But how about a thousand dollars cash bail for the two of us on the
misdemeanor?” Pape stepped forward to propose, his hand suggestively
seeking the inner pocket of his corduroy coat. “The price is a bit high
just for the practice of my daily physical culture, still I’ll pay.”

His confident expression faded the next moment when his hand came out
empty of his well-stocked wallet. In changing to rough-and-readies, he
had forgotten to transfer from his tweeds the price of adventure in a
great city. Except for several crumpled small bills and certain loose
change in his trouser pocket, he was without financial resource. His
attempt at a hopeful glance in Jane’s direction weakened under the
thought that, even were she not a self-declared poor relation, she
wouldn’t be carrying ten century notes on her person.

“I’ve got telephone and war-tax money, anyhow,” he observed cheerfully.
“Lead me to a booth and I’ll have Mr. Astor chip in the ante. Sorry on
mother’s account about the delay. She ain’t used to late hours in police

“It might take quite a while to convince the hotel that you are you,”
Jane demurred.

“As it did you, Jane?”

She ignored his _sotto voce_ aside. “Why not let me send for collateral,
Mr. Sergeant? I live just across the avenue.”

“Oh, you do, eh?”

“That is, my aunt does. They wouldn’t have a thousand dollars in the
house, but you’d take jewelry, wouldn’t you, if it was worth several
times the amount?”

Assuming his consent and thanking him with a radiant smile, she motioned
Adonis Moore to one side and advised with him a moment in an undertone.

“Be sure to ask for Miss Sturgis, not Mrs.” Her final direction held
over Pape’s protest. “Under no circumstance alarm my aunt. And don’t say
who is in trouble—just that a good friend of hers needs jewelry bail.
She’ll be thrilled by the mystery. She’ll manage.”

The ensuing wait seemed to try the chief culprit more than his young-old
lady “friend.” While she sat at comparative ease in the absent
lieutenant’s desk chair behind the railing, he paced outside. His
interest in the sergeant had lapsed on that worthy’s refusal to discuss
Swinton Welch’s connection with the case and he leant only half an ear
to the preferred discussion of the latest crime wave which had dashed up
to park shores from the ocean of post-war inactivity.

The entrance of Irene Sturgis was “staged”—anticipated, timed, well-lit.
After her first burst into the room, she stopped short beneath the
electric glare, unbelievably lovely in a blush-pink evening wrap over a
gown of vari-tinted tulle. Her back-thrown curls, her heightened color,
her parted lips and wide eyes—all proclaimed her utter astonishment at
the scene before her. Her surveying glance began with the “costumed”
Westerner standing before the high oaken desk of arraignment, swept to
the bent old lady in black, on to the gray-mustached sergeant and the
pompous arresting officer, then back to its starting point.

“Oh, don’t you look dar-rling in those clothes?” she exclaimed on her
way to Pape, “I never saw _anything_ quite so heroic. I didn’t _dream_,
Why-Not, that you were the ‘good friend’ in need of bail. I am just too
_happy_ about it for anything—oh, not that you are in trouble, of
course, but that you’d send for me. I’ve always been _crazy_ to see the
inside of this Arsenal. Police courts and jails and insane asylums just
_fascinate_ me. Don’t they you—or _do_ they? Maybe I have a morbid
tendency, but I enjoy it. It’s always the unexpected that really
happens, isn’t it? I wasn’t in an expecting or hoping mood at all
to-night and here you, of all people, go and get yourself arrested and
send for me and—and _everything_! I forgive you for the past and love
you all the more in trouble. But that’s as it should be, isn’t it? How
could any true woman resist you in those clothes and in this——”

Of necessity she paused for breath—paused verbally, not materially.
Reaching Pape, she lifted a look of utter adoration that would have made
almost any man’s heart do an Immerman flop—lifted also two bare,
soft-curved, elbow-dinted arms about his neck.

“I didn’t mean a word of what I said this morning at the end of our
ride,” she confessed in an aside voiced _a la_ the histrionics of
yesteryear. “Of course I couldn’t seriously call you contemptible, when
my deeper nature knows there’s a noble reason back of all that you do.
You’ll forget it except as a lover’s quarrel, won’t you, dar-rling? It
is in need and affliction, don’t you think, that one’s real feelings
should come to the surface? I’m not one bit ashamed to tell you that
I’ve been perfectly _miserable_. Haven’t you been, too, Why-Not?”

“I ain’t just comfortable,” he admitted, untieing the lover’s knot at
the back of his neck.

“Mother,” her blue eyes on the red flame of his countenance, looked as
though she believed him, but as though she didn’t feel “just
comfortable” either. In truth, her heart, too, had done some sort of a
flop, then had dropped as if dead. She shrank further back into her
rusty mourning garb, but did not miss a movement of the two baby-soft
hands of her cousin, the one holding the Westerner’s arm, the other
stroking the same member as though to limber up its strain.

“What dire deed have you done, dar-rling?” The girl’s voice was intense
from the thrill of her rescue role. “Tell Rene all—at least all. It is
such a revelation that you should appeal to me first in trouble. You
_always_ will, won’t you—or will you? But then, _of course_ you will.”

With the eyes of three of the police upon him, Pape’s situation would
have been trying enough. Faced also by the amaze which he could better
imagine than see in the shadow of that bonnet-brim, he felt desperate.
Truly, Jane’s wish to avoid alarming her aunt had brought real trouble
upon him—more real than any he could explain to this child vampire.

“There ain’t much to tell, Miss Sturgis,” he began. “Not anything
serious enough to——”

_“Miss Sturgis!”_ she interrupted reproachfully. “After I’ve rifled my
jewel box to make up the hush money and after all that’s been between
us! Are you _ashamed_ of the deeper feeling you showed this morning on
our ride? If you don’t call me Irene instantly, I’ll let them lock you
up in a deep, dark, dank dungeon and keep you there until you do.”

With a laugh of tender cruelty, she tripped toward the desk in her
tip-tilted slippers; there laid upon its flat top a limp, beaded bag
which had been swinging from her arm.

“You look so kind, Mr. Chief, I don’t see how you _can_ be so mean,” she
coaxed him. “You really didn’t know you were capturing and torturing an
innocent man, I feel sure. But you’ll right the wrong now, won’t you,
for _my_ sake if not for his? See what I’ve brought to assure you of his

The sergeant opened the bag, dumped its contents upon the desk before
him and took up a piece of jewelry for examination.

“The emerald drop on that fillet is a princely ransom in itself,” Irene
assured him. “But I brought my mother’s black pearls for good measure.
Just look at them—the platinum settings alone are more than the thousand
dollars’ worth that the nice-looking policeman said you required!”

Perhaps the sergeant found her pleading eyes and smile more inducing
bail than the valuables offered. But he began a perfunctory examination
of them. The while, the girl’s gaze encompassed the bent, black figure
inside the rail. With an unsmothered exclamation, she started forward,
then stopped short.

“_Jane_—not _really?_” she cried. “Did he send for you, too? And how did
you happen—to come—in costume? I think when you were getting up this
party you _might_ have invited me. You know I _dote_ on fancy-dress
almost as much as police courts.”

Jane came slowly through the gate and straightened before her young

“The ‘party’ was quite impromptu,” she said, pushing back her bonnet to
show a smile more grave than gay. “It was I who sent for you, not Mr.
Pape. Part of the bail is for me. You see, dear, I am arrested, too.”

“Arrested—_you?_ I guess I don’t understand. How does it come that you
are here when you’re visiting the Giffords in Southampton? And how in
the world did you and Why-Not—You two were hauled up—_together?_”

Her final utterance was in a tone fictionally describable as “tinged by
the bitterness of despair.”

As Jane seemed disinclined to explain, Pape tried to ease the moment.
“We happened to meet near the Maine Monument. I was out for—for
exercise, you see. Your cousin here showed me some new ways of getting
the same.”

“Sure, blame it on her, Adam,” Pudge O’Shay made grumpy interposition.
“Remember, though, that this ain’t the first evening I’ve caught you
trying new ways of exercising in the park.”

Jane turned toward the sergeant. “Can’t we settle about the bail and be
off, sir?”

He coughed, bent for a moment’s scribbling; made answer direct to Irene.

“Here’s a receipt for your jewelry, miss. I’ll take a chance on its
value. While I don’t congratulate anybody on getting pinched, I’m glad
that your friends, if they must cut capers, have you to help them out.
Thank you for breezing into this gloomy old place.”

“Good for you, you nice old barking dog that don’t bite!” enthused the
girl. “I _thought_ you weren’t half as cross as you look. I don’t know
what my friends have done to get the law down on them, but I _do_
believe in their innocence of motive and so may you. My cousin is the
stormy petrel sort, with the best intentions in the world, but _always_
getting herself and others into trouble. And Why-Not Pape—He’s just from
the West, you know, and I haven’t had time yet to teach him how to
behave in a city. In a way you have done me a favor in pinching them, as
you so cleverly put it. It is _something_ for a true woman to be given
the opportunity to show by her actions just how much she—You get what I
mean, don’t you—or _do_ you?”

Others in the room got it rather more forcefully than he. Pape
suppressed a groan at the flush which had blotted the pallor of Jane’s
face. Fast though he had worked, this infant fiend worked faster. Hard
though he had tried, she had upset all his gains with a laugh and a
sigh. Desperate though he felt to protest her claim on him, the fact
that she claimed him discounted any protestation he might make. His West
had schooled him in deeds, not words. By deeds he would—he _must_ prove
the truth.

Characteristically Irene rewarded Adonis Moore. He was a “dear” of a
horse cop and wore his uniform just “scrumptiously.” He must keep an eye
out for her when next she rode over park bridle-paths. She thanked him
for her friends, therefore for her. It was these acts of simple human
kindness that made the world worth while. Didn’t he agree with her—or
_did_ he? She only hoped that others were as appreciative of _her_
efforts as was she of his.

Even for Pudge O’Shay, whose case it was, she had a cordial _au revoir_.
She had noticed from first glance that he looked worried. But he mustn’t
worry, not one tiny bit. Worry made one thin and he had such an imposing
appearance—so official—just as he was. He must rely on her. Surely he
could—or _couldn’t_ he? She had taken the case in hand now and would
return the two out-on-bails to court if she had to carry them. He was
merely loaning them to her over night. Wouldn’t he try to remember that?

“Good-night, you nice persons, one and all!”

She shook hands with the uniformed three before attaching herself,
dangle-wise, to Pape’s weak right arm.

“Come along, crooks,” she advised the “pinched” pair cheerfully. “This
paper declares me your custodian—says it will cost me the family jools
not to produce you in court at ten of to-morrow morn. No matter how
guilty you be or be not, I shall produce!”


Not until the police court arraignment, held shortly after the
prescribed hour next morning, had Peter Pape been impressed by the
personality and power of ex-Judge Samuel Allen. Pinkish were the little
jurist’s cheeks, modest his mustaches and by no means commanding his
chubby, under-height figure. Yet at that bar of “justice” in the
magistrate’s court, he had proved a powerful ally.

Mrs. Sturgis’ first act after Irene’s return home with her out-on-bails
the evening before had been to send for the judge. He had pointed that
the truth must not come out in open court—that the romance of a new
search for Granddad Lauderdale’s mysterious legacy would be seized upon
by reporters and given undesirable newspaper publicity. Personally, he
appeared more amused by the escapade than shocked, as was the matron,
and had refused to take it seriously for a moment. He had undertaken to
fix things along the lines of “silence, secrecy and suppression” if the
two culprits would promise to go and sin no more.

And with a neatness and dispatch that made his nondescript looks and
mild manner seem a disguise, he had made good his promise. The
complicity of Miss Jane Lauderdale had been dismissed in a whisper and a
wave of the hand. Caught at digging in sacred ground on a bet, her
companion’s case was only one more illustration of the efficiency of the
park police. This plea, to the utter astonishment of Peter Pape, had
been briefly outlined by the jurist and a fine of ten dollars set. A
word from the magistrate had persuaded the press representative present
to crumple his sheet of notes and promise not even a brevity of a case
which, less expertly suppressed, would have been worth headlines. By the
magic of political affiliations between attorney and magistrate, Irene
was returned the ransom jewelry and her two prisoners were freed.

Not until the chief culprit found himself standing alone on the curb
before the antiquated court-house did he appreciate the serious
consequences to himself of the contretemps. The two girls, with whom he
had not accomplished a single word aside, had just driven off in Judge
Allen’s soft-sirened car. He had not been offered a lift, not even by
Irene. As for Jane, she had given no sign of recognizing his existence
beyond her two rather abstracted nods of “good-morning” and “good-by.”
Until now he had tried to ascribe this manner to her idea of propriety
in court proceedings, as also Irene’s mercifully subdued air. That both
should desert him the moment they were free was enough of a shock to
hold him on the spot, pondering. The cut had been unanimous, as though
foreplanned. So smoothly had it seemed to sever all connection between
them that he did not realize it until staring after the numerals on the
tail-plate of the automobile.

She had “quit him cold,” his self-selected lady. True, she had done so
several times before. But it mattered more now. He had declared his
fealty; to some extent, had proved it; had hoped that he was gaining in
her esteem. Now he was dropped, like a superfluous cat, in a strange
alley. He felt as flattened-out as the cement of the pavement on which
he stood. Into it, through the soles of his boots, his heart seemed to
sink from its weight ... down ... down.

But as his heart sank, his mind rose in a malediction strong as his
pulse was weak:

“To hell with the perquisites of our young ladies of to-day! Do I say
so—or _don’t_ I?”

His plans for the morning, which had included a start at that “round and
round” stroll in search of four poplars within earshot of the park
menagerie, were scrambled as had been his breakfast eggs. Not even the
shell of a plan was left. The divine triumvirate was reduced to its
original separateness—a blind father over in the East Side yellow brick,
a daughter luxuriously ensconced on the avenue, a Western
stray-about-town, lonely and alone.

And the worst of it was that he could not see just how to right himself;
could not blame Jane any more than Irene or himself. Loyalty was a thing
to live, not to talk about. After his statements to Jane, both direct
and through her father, he looked, in the light of cousinly disclosures,
an arrant philanderer—the sort of man who was willing, in Montana sport
parlance, “to play both ends against the middle.”

The tongue of the bobbed-haired youngling had run according to form. Her
belief in her own desirability had put him at a serious disadvantage. He
could not follow the cousins, demand a hearing and assert unmanfully
that he didn’t love the one who said he did, but did love her who now
believed that he did not.

Just as a peach was as much the down on its cheek as the pit, the
response he craved from Jane must have a delicate, adhering confidence
over its heart and soul. If she did not know the one-woman-ness of his
feeling for her, then the time had not come to tell her. He wouldn’t
have wished to talk her into caring for him, even were he given to
verbal suasion. Trust was not a thing to be added afterward. It must be
component, delicate, adhering—part of the peach. She did—she must
already trust him. But she must have her own time for realization.

As for Irene, he’d have to boomerang the extravagant utterances and acts
of that perquisitory young admirer back to their source as little like a
cad as possible. He felt sure she would not have seized on him had she
known the havoc she wrought. She must not be unduly humiliated.

If only folks were wholly good or wholly bad, therefore deserving of
absolute punishment or absolute reward as in the movies, life and its
living would be less of a strain. So philosophized Peter Pape. If, for
instance, Jane were a perfect heroine, she would have loved and trusted
him at first sight, as he had her. If he were a _reel_ hero, either
caveman or domesticated, he’d have conquered her by brawn or brain long
ere this pitiable pass. Mills Harford, as rival, would have been
ulteriorly and interiorly bad, rather than a likeable, fine chap much
more worthy the girl, no doubt, than himself. Judge Allen, as builder of
barriers between them, should be a long-nosed, hard-voiced,
scintillating personage, instead of the rosy, round, restrained little
man he was. And “the young lady of to-day”—There would be needed a long
explanatory sub-title between a close-up of that guilelessly guilty,
tender torment and one of her prototype, the histrionic, hectic vamp of

Still stationed on the curb, Pape gained strength from these theories to
advance into consideration of his most effective and immediate course
toward the end of his present adventure. He had decided that he must
continue his attempt to serve in the disintegrated triumvirate, that he
must again force his presence upon Jane if she did not send for him
soon, that he must fail absolutely to recognize the insidious claims of
Irene, when he became conscious of the purring approach of a sport car.
On hearing himself hailed by name, he looked up and saw that the man
behind the wheel was Mills Harford.

“Have they come or gone?” the real-estater asked.

“Both.” Pape’s mind still was somewhat afield.

“Just my luck to be too late. Mrs. Sturgis might have ’phoned me sooner.
Seems to me I should have been sent for first, whatever the scrape. Tell
me, she got off all right—Miss Lauderdale?”

“Why not?” Pape nodded, his mental eye upon the good and bad in this
rival to whom the baby vamp in the cast had erroneously assigned the
successful suitor rôle. “We both are loose,” he added. “She got off
scot-free and I, fortunately, was able to pay my fine. Mr. Allen fixed
everything. He’s a capable somebody, the judge, a valuable acquaintance
for anybody restricted to life in an overgrown town like N’ York. He has
a new client if anything else happens to me.”

At these assorted remarks Harford’s manner changed. The concern on his
handsome face made way for a positive glare as he leaned over the side
of the car toward his informant.

“Can’t say I’m greatly concerned in what may or may not happen to you in
the near or far future, Pape, but I’ll contribute gratis a word or two
of advice. Remember that you are in the semi-civilization of N’ York
Town, not the wild and woolly. Be a bit more careful.”

“Ain’t used to being careful for my own sake.” The Westerner all at once
felt inspired that the occasion was one for a show of good-cheer. “Like
as not, though, I’d better take your advices to heart, especially as
they’re gratis, for the sake of my friends and playmates.”

Harford snapped him up. “At any rate, in the future don’t involve women.
If you must run amuck, run it and muck it alone. If you make any more
disturbance around Miss Lauderdale, you’ll hear from me.”

Now, this sounded more like “legitimate” than the movies. The potential
villain’s sneer and tone of superiority brought out the regular impulses
of a hero like a rash on Pape. Only with effort did he guard his tongue.

“Wouldn’t take any bets on my being in a listening mood, Harfy,” he made

“You’ll listen to what I have to say, I guess, mood or no mood,” Harford
continued. “Your debut into a circle where you never can belong was
amusing at first. But any joke may be overplayed. This one is getting
too tiresome to be practical. I’ve tried to keep to myself what I think
about an oil-stock shark like you catapulting himself into such a family
as the Sturgis’, but if you want me to illustrate——”

He had slid over on the seat from behind the steering wheel. Now he half
rose, his hand upon the latch of the car door, as though about to
descend to the pavement. But he did not turn the handle.

With synchronous movements Pape stepped to the running board, clapped
two heavy hands upon the real-estater’s immaculately tailored shoulders
and sat his would-be social mentor down upon the seat with what must
have been a tooth-toddling jar. That mention of oil stock had been
several syllables too many in strictures to which he was not accustomed.

Only Jane and Curtis Lauderdale had direct knowledge of his
wrong-righting mission to the East and they, he felt certain, had not
spoken with Harford since he with them. The question was pertinent how
this handsome, fiery-pated young metropolitan, so frankly and
unexpectedly showing himself as an out-and-out enemy, had happened on
the connection. To wring the facts out of him then and there would have
been a treat. Yet neither the time nor set was propitious for measures
as drastic as their slump to type in character and motivation made

“Having just been before the august court, I ain’t homesick to return,”
Pape said, easing, but not foregoing his shoulder hold. “So if you’ll
just postpone that illustration until a more suitable time and place for
me to illustrate back what I think of your dam’ impudence, I won’t get
hauled in again and you hauled out of a reg’lar back-home bashing up.”

By way of agreement, Harford threw off his hold and moved across the
seat. That he made no further effort to leave the car did not deceive
Pape as to his courage or capacity. His coloring bespoke a temper of
fierce impulses and physically he looked fit, a few pounds heavy, but
strong-framed and plastered with muscles.

Pape dismissed the present opportunity by stepping back to the pavement.
“Let’s hope our trails will cross soon in a get-together place. I’m
mighty interested in oil stock and I’ve got to get exercise somehow.”

“Where did the others go from here?” Harford enquired, with an abrupt
resumption of his accustomed _savoir-faire_.

“Heard the judge say ‘Home, James’ to his chauffeur”—Pape, adaptably. “I
wouldn’t have been here to answer your questions if he hadn’t plumb
forgot to ask me to climb aboard.”

The forward movement of the sport car made safe Harford’s back-thrown

“He didn’t forget, Pape. He _remembered_ not to ask you to ride. It’s
been a generation since Judge Allen has appeared in police court. He’s
through with you, as are the rest of us.”

“Oh, no, he ain’t,” the ranchman called after the car, with what outward
cheer he could exact from his inner confidence. “He’s only begun with
me—he and the rest of you.”

In retrospect the maliciousness of the rich real-estater’s snub gained
upon him. So he was not and never could be of their sort—was a social

He didn’t feel that way. In blood, brain and brawn he always had
considered himself anybody’s equal. And what else mattered in the
make-up of he-man? He owed it to the expanses from which he had
come—limitless space, freedom of winds, resource to feed the world—to
show Harfy, the Sturgises and even the Lauderdales just what, from what
and toward what he was headed. He owed it to the graduate school of the
Great West to prove the manliness of its alumni. He owed it to all the
past Peter Stansburys and Papes who had done and dared to demonstrate
that the last of the two lines had inherited some degree of their
courage, good-faith and initiative. Before to-day he had been asked as
to his family tree. He must show these Back Easters some symbol of the
myriad horsepower of the roof of the continent, a share in which had
strengthened him to defy difficulty and command success. Why should he?
For certain he wouldn’t be Why-Not Pape if he let them twit him twice!
He’d show them—by some sign, he’d show them that he, too, was born to an
escutcheon rampant!

As he started toward Lexington Avenue and a disengaged taxi, he searched
the sea of resource for the likeliest channel through which to bring his
promise-threat into port and the anchorage of accomplishment.


Interrogatory argument had forced most answers in Pape’s career. Now two
of a pertinent order forced an italicized third which, under limitations
of the moment, was unanswerable.

Why delay a reappearance before his self-selected lady?

By way of excuse, why not realize on that well-bred dare of Aunt
Helene—why not make good on his agreement to match the Sturgis
coat-of-arms with that of the house of Pape?

_After which, what?_

Even more alive than was he must his escutcheon be. Just how dynamically
alive, he’d be able soon to demonstrate, unless the West Shore
Railroad’s fast freight from Chicago had met with delay. He’d ask no
recourse to the weighty tomes of ancient history or the public library’s
genealogical records. His showing must be more representative of the
last of the line than that and up to the second.

The flags of all the taxis he sighted were furled for earlier fares, but
a flat-wheeled Fifty-ninth Street surface car bore him cross-town. The
checker at the door of Polkadot’s palatial boarding-house further taxed
his time.

“Gent here asking for you, Mr. Pape, not more than half hour ago.... No,
he wasn’t small or sharp-faced—not partic’aler so. No, he didn’t have no
cauliflower ear. What I did notice was his wat’ry voice and what might
pass for a mustache if you had magnifying eyes.... Said he’d just stick

So! His trailer of the moment was neither Welch nor Duffy, but the youth
of the slightly adorned lip. The nature of that small matter of business
which had brought him to the Astor last evening might better remain a
mystery since mysteries were the order of the day and attempted
solutions were likely to land one before a magistrate.

Pape hurried into the stable and the whinnied greeting of his three-hued
best friend. His change into riding clothes took no more time than was
needed by the groom to put Polkadot into his leather. He was riding out
the main “gate,” his mind upon the plan that had come with the speed of
inspiration, when——

“Pardon my persistence, Mr. Pape, but that’s what I’m hired for.”

He had “stuck around,” the thin-voiced, thin-mustached, thin-visaged
weakling; was blocking the exit; now incensed Dot by a curbing hand on
the bridle rein.

Hurriedly Pape considered whether to jump the horse past the human
barrier or to temporize. Fearing delay from more entanglement in the
city’s red tape, he made an overture.

“If persistence is what you’re hired for, how much to give up?”

“To give up—just what?”

“Whatever you’re hired to run me down for. At that it looks to me as if
you were working on the wrong job.”

The youth straightened with some show of self-respect. “Right or wrong
it’s regular—a steady job for life if I do my part.”

“For life?” Pape snorted. “You don’t mean to say you’re going to persist
after me _for life?”_

“Until you come across, sir——”

“You trying to pull a polite hold-up? I’ll ride over your remains, son,
if you don’t drop that bridle and let me——”

“Until you pay what you owe, I mean.”

Pape tweaked a sunburned ear in puzzling the thickened plot. “Haven’t I
said I was more than willing to pay you——”

“Pay the company, not me, Mr. Pape.”

“The com——What company?”

“The New York Edison Company.”

Indignantly the Westerner stared down into the vacuous face of this
latest impediment to progress.

“You’re an agent for—for phonographs?” he guessed. “Sorry, but I’ve got
more of those sing-tanks around home than I can spare ears to hear ’em.
Lay off my horse! You can’t sell me anything this afternoon.”

“B-but, wait a minute!” The Edison emissary continued to earn his salary
by the way he hung on. “You’ve already bought all I’m asking you to pay
for. Unless it’s inconvenient—if you’d only take a minute off and

“Inconvenient—_unless?_” Pape was beginning to fear a loss of

Polkadot was equally vociferous, if less intelligible, for he detested
alien hands upon his harness.

Pushing back his stirrups, Pape leaned over the horn of his saddle to
demand: “Say, do I look like a dodo that was just loafing around for a
chance chat with a persistency specialist like you? Now you tell me in
not more than one short word what you want me to settle for or I’ll——”

“Juice,” interrupted the mild-mannered youth, obedient to the syllable.

“Juice?” As though a button had been pushed, light flooded Pape’s mind.
He straightened, began to laugh, then stopped again to query the
collector. “So you’re from— So they sent you to— So _that’s_ why——”

His pause was to tickle Polkadot’s back-waggling ears—to share that
responsive pal’s quiver of mirth. When again able to articulate——

“How much? Let’s see your persistency passport, if you brought one.
Humph! Not much to waste all this two-man time for. Say, you go back and
tell your skimpy electro-factory that you persisted just long enough to
prevent my making an attack in force upon their main office.”

“An attack—why?” the youth asked gently.

“_Why not?_” demanded Pape. “Maybe you can tell me why all the current
is running to Goldfish Movie and Yutu Corset signs—why last night at
7:15 they were blazing and not a letter of Welcome-To-Our-City was lit,
nor a rose of my wreath blooming for me! If they call that service——”

“You can’t have service without paying the bills, Mr. Pape. Just what I
was trying to tell you at your hotel last evening. Your sign burns up
credit, I tell you. It won’t light up another night until——”

“Until I fuel up, eh?” Already Pape had pulled from pocket a wallet fat
with bills freshly parked for ransom against any possible expense of New
York justice. “This will cover the bill with a couple of centuries in
advance for a few days future service. Express my apologies to Mr.
Edison. Explain that the reason you couldn’t make me dig up last night
was because I had an engagement to dig down. You might add that it was
with some one to whom the welcome sign had made me welcome. You can say
for me that my career since he howdy-dooed me in watts and kilowatts
would make a live-wire ad. for the concern. The facts ain’t ready for
rose-wreathed publicity yet—not yet awhile—but they would turn the
president of a gas company into an enthusiastic rooter for electric

Pape chuckled from more than appreciation of his own pithy remarks—with
more than satisfaction at overly paying an over-due bill, as he waved a
hand in cordial _au revoir_ and started out the stable. He considered
this elimination of his eye-brow mustached caller—the out-speeding of
his third shadow, so to say—a good omen. With like conclusiveness would
he in time dispose of the tack-faced Welch and Duffy of the vegetable
ear, not to mention any foes unidentified as yet, such as the
ring-leader of the plot against the Lauderdales and his own quarry in
Gotham’s underbrush, that promoter of Montana Gusher oil stock.

He felt convinced that luck again was with him when, at the end of his
ride to the wharf-studded bank of the Hudson River, he found that for
once the West Shore Road had not disappointed a consignee. In one of the
high-fenced, unroofed pens of a wholesale butcher stood twenty-five or
thirty sleek steers, red splotched with white, upon the rump of each the
interrogation brand of the Queer Question Ranch.

The range smell of the beasts caused Dot’s nostrils to quiver from
delight over the reminder of home; caused his hind-hoofs to polka about
the yard and his fore to lift in a proffered horseshoe shake to the beef
handlers, one and all. And Pape himself felt hugely pleased over the
showing of his product in this “foreign” market, for which they had been
bred and fed.

Dissatisfied with the returns from shipments to the established
stock-yards of the Middle West—those of Chicago, Kansas City and Omaha
having proved in turn equally deficient—he had conceived a plan of
shipping direct by fast freight to the seaboard Metropolis. His hopes
were based upon New York’s reputation of paying for its luxuries and the
fact that absolutely fresh beef was a luxury. He soon had found an eager
distributor and there promised to be no lack of consumers who were able
and willing to pay. In time he hoped to gain for “Montana beef” as
ambitious a place on high-class menus as that so long and honorably held
by “Virginia ham,” “Vermont maple syrup,” “Philadelphia squab” or “Long
Island duckling.”

At the moment, however, his interest was not centered in the commercial
origin of the project; rather, in “showing” the town, inclusive of one
particularly jealous gentleman snob. From the foreman of the yard he
borrowed the services of a couple of transplanted punchers who looked
efficient and to whom he confided the nature of an impromptu act.
Personally he selected and cut-out of the bunch its finest specimen—a
huge red steer with wide-flung horns, whose Queer Question brand was
distinctly burned.

Polkadot, a-quiver from the exercise so remindful of home, was all
capers, grins and hee-haws by the end of the task. The yard employees,
turned rail-birds for the nonce, were vociferous in their applause over
the skill of man and mount. Only the steer showed irritation.

“Not a bad idea,” observed the foreman to Pape. “Bold, but not bad at
all—this eat-ad. of beef on the hoof.”

The Westerner stared at him a moment, then decided to let the surmise
stand. These metropolitan cowboys scarcely would appreciate the
importance of the purpose to which he meant to put the brute, even did
he care to explain. Under his direction the two punchers “hung their
strings” about the horns of the elect, one on either side. His own rope
he neatly attached to the left hind hoof, to act as a brake in case of
an attempted stampede. The small procession got under way.

Although at the start their pace was no more than that of a reasonably
brisk funeral procession, they attracted the attention of the West Side
youngsters, to whom they appeared to have much of the interest of a
circus parade. At once, as if a growth sprung from asphalt and
cobblestone fields, a veritable swarm of under-fifteens surrounded the
outfit. Well it was for these embryonic rooters of the ward that
Polkadot disdained to use his dancing feet for anything so _gauche_ as
kicks, for they banked about his rear-guard position, in order the more
intimately to admire his color splotches and prancy step, and even took
drag-holds upon his silken tail, as well as Pape’s stirrups, that they
might not fall behind.

“Taking him to a bull fight, mister?”

The question was variously couched, but unanimously excited.

Except for this darting, swooping, whooping escort, the early advance of
Pape’s escutcheon toward Fifth Avenue was accomplished without undue
excitement. At Columbus Circle, however, the roving “wall” eyes of the
beef-brute sighted the green of South Meadow. Doubtless its appetite was
hurting for fresh grass after the long journey on cured food, his brain
confused by the blur of strange sights and sounds, his muscles aching
for the Montana-wide freedom so suddenly curtailed at the gate of a
cow-town shipping pen.

Whether actuated by one or all of these impulses, or merely moved by
inherent wildness, the red executed a flank movement that had nothing to
do with steak. In terms of action he showed a desperate desire to throw
off his rope shackles and bolt into Central Park. The press of vehicular
traffic aided him by hampering his guard. Could they have spread out
triangularly, they might have held him helpless. An attempted swerve
tangled the puncher on the left in his own rope and forced him to
dismount to save himself a spill. He on the right was prevented from
closing in by regard for the young lives and limbs of their admirers.

Relieved of the three-ply pressure, the steer essayed a headdown rush to
accept the gift of the grass. This soon was tautened into a three-legged
run, through Pape’s hoof-hold from behind. At that, the captive had the
over-plus of power and might easily have controlled their course except
for ramming into a street car which had slowed down that the motor man
might enjoy the show. In the moment in which he stood stunned, the
unhorsed puncher regained his rope and saddle, his fellow cleared a way
and Pape quit his drag from the rear. The steer stampede in Manhattan’s
heart was under control. The lively Pape escutcheon again was headed
toward its destination.

In front of the Sturgis house a groom was holding three saddlers. Pape’s
wonder as to who might be riding with whom was answered. Scarcely had he
and his aides stopped his hoofed exhibit when Jane Lauderdale, in a
crisp gray riding suit, appeared from the vestibule. She was followed by
Irene and Mills Harford. The trio stood at the top of the stone flight
and gaped with sheer amazement at the unexpected delegation.

Irene was first to recover her sangfroid, probably because endowed with
an excess of that quality.

“Only look who’s here!” was her lilt of greeting as she clattered down
the steps. “The possible person back again and—— _How_ in the world did
you suspect, Why-Not, that I am keen about cows? This specimen is a
perfect dar-rling. I could just hug her to death.”

“You could that—to your own death. Look out. Don’t come closer than the

With the warning, Pape threw a snake-like wriggle into his rope which
loosened its noose-hold upon the hoof of the seemingly subdued steer.
Coiling it upon his saddle horn, he swung to the asphalt and saluted
her, army fashion.

Jane, from a stand halfway down the steps, added only the inquiry of her

Harford it was who strode forward with demand. “What’s the big idea,
Pape? You trying to make a spectacle of us for the benefit of the

Pape answered them inclusively. “No pet cow knocks at your gates, but a
steer rounded up and cut-out at Mrs. Sturgis’ request. Is the lady in?”

“Aunt Helene? Impossible!”—Jane, with a gasp for exclamation point.

“Ignore the practical joker,” urged Harford. “Let’s leave him to do his
ridiculous worst and go on with our ride.”

Ignore him, eh? The word interested the Westerner. That was what he had
decided to do to the claims of Irene. But one attempt promised to be
about as successful as the other to judge by the clutch of resentment
within him and the clutch of that young woman’s fingers upon his arm. He
faced another moment when heart’s ease and fate hung upon a thread of
most uncertain feminine spin.


In her self-sufficient egoism Irene Sturgis had no mercy. She continued
to ravel the thread.

“At times, dar-rling, you get too terribly eccentric for even me to—to
swallow.” She gulped at the midway modified metaphor. “If you’d sent me
a bunch of orchids now, by way of suggesting your gratitude for last
night’s rescue from limbo, or if you’d brought around a pinkie ring with
a birthstone set—diamonds are for April, you know—which mother _might_
let me keep if I coaxed her and explained how it humiliates me always to
be borrowing jewelry—I’d not have lifted a questioning lash. But to
steer up a ton of beef——”

She paused to survey again the bulk of his assumed gift, but not long
enough for successful interruption. “Still, one shouldn’t look a
gift-cow in the mouth, I suppose. What does one feed her—him, Why-Not,
and where will it sleep? His eyes are so wild, poor pretty, she looks as
if it hadn’t had a good night in a week. Nice moo-moo—nice bossy!”

Despite her liberty with genders, none of her hearers failed to grasp
her meaning.

“Irene” Harford interposed, “have you forgotten what your mother told
you to do—rather not to do-regarding——”

His stern tone made the acquisitive little creature’s fingers tighten on
Pape’s arm; also made him lean toward her with the sympathy of a shared
resentment. So the family had settled it in council—at Harford’s
suggestion, doubtless—that Irene, as well as Jane, must cut the Montana

His shoulders shrugged for a bit of ignoring on his own account and his
speech was all for Irene. “The critter’s too hoofed to take in to your
mother, but if you’d ask her to come out on the steps——”

“Aren’t you too _cute_?” the girl enthused. “I’ve heard about old-time,
old-country suitors listing their oxen and asses when asking their
lady-love’s hand. I _hope_ mother will get the thought back of the deed.
She’s got to, even if she don’t. She’ll be startled to small bits, but
I’ll drag her out and——”

Her hand slid up to his shoulder and she stood on tip-toe to confide
hurriedly: “It’s all right, their telling me what not to do. When it
comes to you, Peter dar-rling, I _know_ what to do. Fortunately I have
the courage of my corpuscles and I’m almost as keen about your cow as I
am about——”

Before Pape suspected her intention, so all too unaccustomed was he to
demonstrations of such sort, she had pressed her ripe-rouged lips
against his paling own in a kiss that spoke the perquisitory passion of
one young lady of to-day.

Ignore Irene? Not any more than certain other somebodies should ignore

As she darted off, he felt moved by the initiative of desperation toward
one of the witnesses. He anchored Polkadot by dropping the reins over
his head; strode toward the foot of the steps where Jane was leaning
against the balustrade; lifted a look straight as a board to hers.
Despite the expression of repose-at-all-costs so becoming to her perfect
features, despite the frank scowl of the more favored suitor standing
literally and figuratively on the same level with her, he spoke from the

“Jane,” said he, “everything I have and everything I am are at your

“Steer and all?” She put the question in a curiously unimpassioned voice
that made him ache with its reproach.

“Steer and all—you’ll see,” he declared. “You can’t afford to doubt me,
any more than I could afford to doubt the power that beast represents.
Look at me with your own eyes and you’ll see that I am as incapable as
the red of deceit or double-dealing toward you. Trust me, unless—You
don’t _want_ to doubt me, do you, Jane?”

Evidently Mrs. Sturgis was not accustomed to being dragged out on the
pavement fronting her town house—at any rate not in negligée. The
protests which bubbled from her lips and spilled down the steps with
this latest caprice of her daughter, however, were of no avail. Irene
had a firm grip on her arm and defied any attempt to assert maternal
authority with a cluster of long-stemmed red roses which she brandished
in her free hand.

Although Jane’s lips had moved twice, as if from desire to make Pape
some reply, she was deterred by the outburst from above. He, too, turned
to meet the new issue, in this case a conventional matron forced to
behave in an unconventional way. Her several glances were directed down
at the steer, up at the windows of such fashionable neighbors as might
or might not be peering through front blinds, across into the easy,
amiable grin of the Westerner voted to be too “wild” in recent family
council. Her attempt to discountenance him with a stony stare combined
rather pitifully with the outraged decorum and flush of fright on her

“Mr. Pape, w-what does this m-menagerie mean?”

“It means, madame—” with his sombrero Pape dusted a section of the
pavement cement in his bow—“that I have the honor of fulfilling your
urgent request. In yonder bovine I present for your inspection a copy of
the Stansbury-Pape escutcheon—verily the fruit of my family tree. I
trust he may meet with your approval as a genealogical guarantee.”

“But Irene said—I must say that I—I don’t understand.”

“Ma’am, Irene herself doesn’t understand, therefore cannot explain. Pray
allow _me_ to elucidate.”

He included the rest as hearers by a mandatory glance, all except the
perquisitory person. She was sidling, fascinated, toward what was to her
the latest in love tokens.

Drops of curiosity were wearing away the stone of the matron’s stare.

“By bovine—it’s so long since I studied Latin—are you referring to that
wicked-looking cow, young man?” she demanded.

“He don’t look feline or canine or even equine—I ask you, does he, now?”
Pape waved a prideful hand toward his fellow Montanan. “You enquired if
I had a coat-of-arms. You remember? You seem to set store on the
insignia of a fellow’s who, whence and whither. Yonder steer, ma’am,
wears my escutcheon.”

“_Wears_ it? I—I don’t seem to _begin_ to understand you.”

“Then it is well that I am here to help you understand. Your necessity
is my opportunity.” Pape thoroughly dusted another block of cement.
“Note, if you please, the interrogation mark burned into the hair of the
red’s right rump and the odd angle at which it is placed. That is the
shield of the house of Pape.”

Whether at his words or the hand on her elbow which was inviting her
closer to the hang-head exhibit in the street, Mrs. Sturgis laughed with
a nervous note.

“But that is absurd! A question-mark a shield?”

“Pardon me—no more absurd than any new idea before demonstration.”

All whimsicality disappeared in the serious set of the Westerner’s face.
He straightened; demanded Jane Lauderdale’s attention with a look;

“To take nothing for granted, but to question everything has become my
shield. With it before me, the fights I find necessary are forewon.
Nobody can take me by surprise or press through my guard.
Nothing—positively nothing that I want is impossible to obtain.”

This rather extravagant sounding claim Harford contested—Pape had hoped
he would, while fearing he wouldn’t.

“Dear me,” he exclaimed, “you seem to be a sort of natural-born New

“Not born—_made_.” The ranchman’s look slashed through the space between
him and the Gothamite. “Out in Montana, Harfy, that escutcheon means a
lot—to stock rustlers and brand-blotters and oil share fakers. Make a
note of the fact that Why-Not Pape queer-questions every man that gets
in his way. Few—and I don’t think you—can answer straight.”

“You don’t think—You take that back, you ill-bred bounder or

With a spring from step to pavement, Harford squared off to make good
his unfinished threat. His face and eyes went as red as his hair. His
fingers tightened as if to the curve of a throat.

Pape met him with a well-pleased look.

Forgetful of the metropolitan scene, of those possible eyes and eyes of
behind-shutter neighbors and of the fears of their own fair, the two
closed in that desire-to-conquer conflict which, from primordial times
through the hazy stretch of days-after-to-morrows-and-morrows, ever has
been and ever shall be the lust of love. There was no preliminary
feinting. From its start the fight promised to go the limit which, in
this case, would be the finish.

A suppressed shriek escaped Mrs. Sturgis, then she rushed to her niece
and demanded that the two be separated and the scandal of a street brawl
before her house averted. Jane did not answer in words, but she threw
off the clutch with which her relative was both urging and staying her,
and started toward the passion-flaring pair.

Denied his throat hold by queer-question tactics, Harford settled back
to a slugging match in which his heavier weight might lend him an
advantage. Again, as on the park butte-top in a recent electric-lighted
mill, Pape adopted grizzly form.

If any one of the excited group heard, none attended certain regardless
utterances with which Irene, the while, had been wooing to win her
glare-eyed gift of gratitude. Poised daintily on the curb’s edge, she
was endeavoring to regale the steer with a whiff of the long-stemmed red
roses which she had brought from the house.

“Here bossy, poor old bossy, see what Rene has brought out for you. My
_nice_ moo-moo. Oh, don’t shake your horns! Why not enjoy the little
things in life while you may? C’mon, have a sniff on me!”

Leaning far out, she continued to tease his nostrils with her offering
as the two punchers steadied the beast with remindful pulls upon the
“strings” which they had about his horns.

“Sook, bossy! That’s cow language, if you get me. You’re an absolute
_dar-rling_ and I know it. You can’t scare me off with those mean
glances. Understand me, I like ’em fierce. The fiercer the fonder.”

Now, it is highly improbable that the beef-brute took her dare or even
grasped a word of it; more likely that the fresh scent of the roses
rewoke his longing for what he had smelled and striven toward and failed
to attain on his first whiff of Central Park. Or perhaps their color was
wholly responsible—perhaps it acted as a red flag upon inherited bull

At any rate, the Stansbury-Pape escutcheon threw up his part with a
violent coördination of horns, head and heels. And he let out a bawl
that announced to the humans about him and their neighbors all his
return in spirit to the wild. The tumult of the moment opened with a
wild-eyed charge upon the nearer of the attendant punchers. So sudden
was this that it could not be avoided—both mount and man “bit” the
asphalt. In falling, the unfortunate had sufficient presence of mind to
throw off the hitch of rope about his saddle horn and save himself being
burned in the tangle of hemp.

Half free, the red torpedo started in ponderous pursuit of a Fire
Department runabout that chanced at the moment to clang a right-of-way
for him up the avenue. The puncher still attached braced his cayuse to
throw the steer when the slack of his rope was taken up. This proved a
tactical error. While he did not over-rate the strength and willingness
of his mount, he did that of the lariat. At the severance of its
strands, the reddest wearer of the Queer Question Brand was quite free
and going strong in the general direction of Harlem. The trailing length
of one rope and fragment of the other seemed to urge him into increased
efforts to outrun them. His head held high. His horns tossed
threateningly. His nostrils snorted acceptance of the invitation of the

At the beginning of the steer’s initiative the issue of East vs. West
had been unanimously postponed. Pape had sprung to his thrown aide,
dragged him from under the floundering horse and made sure that the leg
which had been caught was not seriously injured.

“Jane—Mrs. Sturgis, won’t you——”

His appeal to the New Yorkers, started in words and finished in gesture,
consigned the man injured within their gates—had they had any gates—to
their mercy. Ordering the puncher of the tactical error to follow, he
lofted into his own saddle and was off in pursuit of his imported beef
on the hoof.

Scarcely three minutes later—certainly not more—Mrs. Helene Sturgis
stood deserted upon her front steps, staring up the world-famed highway
after the strangest chase which she, at least, had witnessed in its
history. She was all a-tremble from the various and violent protests she
had shrilled—to Jane, to Harfy, to Irene. Her hands were clutched
together in remonstrance over what had been. Her face was drawn with
terror over what was. Keen was her dread of what might be. A prairie
steer scarcely could run amuck in the heart of New York without
spreading more or less havoc. And the responsibility—would her own
innocent child, through participation in the pursuit, be forced to share
in that?

On the sidewalk below, the injured puncher was feeling his leg, the pain
wincing his weathered face. She heard some one come out the door above.


“Yes, madame.”

She had the butler help the man into the house and herself followed up
the steps. At the top she turned; shivered in the warm spring air;
lifting hand to brow, again strained her gaze up the Avenue.

That her niece, whom she expected always to be dependable, should have
caught the epidemic wildness of this Westerner—that Jane should have
leaped her horse and started at top speed after him! And that Mills
Harford, after following and overtaking her, should prove too afraid of
her temper forcefully to stop her! Worst of all that her own Irene
should join the disgraceful and dangerous street race and actually
outrun the other two!

A hand against a heart heavy with foreboding the matron pressed as she
looked.... The cow-creature—it was swerving from the straight-away....
Was it about to—Yes, it _did_ clear the park wall at a bound.... The two
hurdling after probably were Pape and the puncher. A mother’s hope that
the next horse to top the hazard might be Jane’s died in a groan as she
caught the red flash of the roses to which her daughter had clung
through all the excitement of the start.... Would she land safely on the
other side—this young lady of to-day who once had been her

Evidently Jane, too late to save the situation, but in good time to save
herself a possible fall, had come into some degree of discretion. She
and Mills were turning in at a convenient gate.

What was it the Why-Not person had said? “Nothing—positively nothing is
impossible.”... Perhaps it would do no harm to go inside and pray. There
was nothing else a woman of yesterday could do. It might help to bring
them all back alive and unbroken as to bones. These modern young folks,
what were they coming to—more appropriately, where were they going?


Often the entrances to Central Park had spanned a couple of thousand
miles for Peter Pape and his “Friend Equus.” Now it seemed to do as much
for the Montana bovine. In the expanses he sighted freedom. Off the
spring breeze he breathed the joy of life. More riotously tossed his
horns. Faster and harder pounded his hoofs in a fresh access of speed.

Through the early afternoon lull, his passage was terrifying, indeed.
Slow-strollers and bench-warmers suddenly became animated into record
retreat. Nursemaids shrieked as they trundled baby-carriages behind
protecting tree trunks or snatched toddlers out of danger’s path. An
equestrian pair who came cantering along took the nearest bank like
chamois. Fortunate was it that the season and hour were not later, when
the great, green melting-pot would have been brimful and possibilities
of casualty greater.

So far, any interference along the way had served but to accelerate the
steer’s stampede. The one pedestrian on the avenue who had dared seize
the snake-writhing lariat that trailed from its unyielding horn-hold had
been thrown to a fall on the oiled asphalt before he could snub the rope
about a tree. A policeman on beat who had essayed the same feat farther
along had let go in time to save himself a worse sprawl. Now the rope
was suffering a rapid curtailment as it frayed against shrubs, trees and

When Polkadot had cleared the stone wall with inches to spare, landed
lightly and gone on without losing a stride, Pape turned to wave orders
for the transplanted cowboy to spread out. Not until another day did he
understand the disappearance of his aide—that he lay stunned at the base
of the wall where he had been thrown. Instead, he saw Irene Sturgis
coming over the top.

A thrill caught him as she closed up with all the recklessness of a
cow-girl—a thrill that forced forgiveness for all the heart-wrenching
wrongs she had done him. A flashed thought of Jane brought both relief
and regret. If only she, too, had leaped to saddle and followed him—had
yielded to the impulse of interest regained or never lost! Deeds, not
words told the heart. He tried to be glad that she had thought first of
herself, yet was sorry that he did not rank before the first in action’s

Polkadot’s pace, however, soon outran vain regrets; caught up with hopes
ahead. Through the scattered trees that fringe the park and across the
bridle path led the steer. Down the asphalted roadway he pounded with
such disregard of entitled traffic that drivers reached for their
emergency brakes. A congestion of cars which forced Pape to pull up
momentarily gave the runaway a gain upon his owner-pursuer. By the time
egress was effected the big red had crossed the Mall and entered the
meadow beyond.

As acre after acre of turf unrolled ahead, the too-live-stock loosened
to the going. Pape put the pinto to an emulative gallop. Only a glance
to one side did he spare when the shrill of a whistle located the fat
figure of Pudge O’Shay, both hands and feet animated by a frenzy of
outraged authority.

“No Queer Questioner stops for a quail—quit your tooting at us!” Pape
shouted as, far from keeping “off the grass,” he urged his mount to
deeper digs and an appreciable increase of speed.

At sound of hoof-beats behind, he turned, thinking to reinstruct the
puncher. Instead, he saw that Irene, luckier than he in crossing the
road and Mall, was closing up. The red roses still clutched in her
waving hand bespoke excitement’s forgetfulness.

The steer changed his direction, although not at order of the
jumping-jack in police blue. From the traverse road and out over the
meadow directly toward the outlaw a second woman rider had dashed. A
shout from behind her announced a male escort who followed, but could
not detain her. Straight on she came, a slim streak of black and white
that blent in the color of courage. And as she came, a single-syllabled
cry from before greeted her—a salute from one man’s heart of fear-full


Deeds, then, did speak for his self-selected one! The climacteric
impulse of woman to follow her man, to do and dare for him, if need be
to die with him had conquered her tutored calm in this emergency. The
repose of her face was a mask. Her spirit now dared his own. Why? Why
not? Thank God, _why not_?

The rider behind her was Mills Harford. That Pape had seen at second
glance. But any hope of him as an active aide in recapturing the
run-amuck was gainsaid by his efforts to get the girl out of the chase.
He caught up with her, argued with her, tried himself to turn about her
mount by force. Only at threat of her crop did he drop the grasped
bridle rein.

Pape decided if possible to draft him into service against the bovine

“Spread out and turn the steer!” he shouted across the meadow. “Head him
this way so I can rope him.”

Harford looked around as though he had heard. Then, instead of following
directions, he rode full tilt after the beast, brandishing his hat and
shouting in _a_ manner calculated to continue the stampede.

Whether he had misunderstood through ignorance of range practice or was
deliberately attempting to make more serious the predicament of one for
whom he had that day shown such cordial dislike, Pape had no time to
ponder. He swung Polkadot into an oblique course on the chance of
preventing the runaway’s escape into that roughest cross-section of the
park which begins just north of the Seventy-second-Street “parallel.”

The syncopated patter of hoofs just behind him told that Irene, too, had
swerved and was carrying on. Ahead, Jane urged her mount after Harford
and his ill-conceived move.

For several minutes the four-party pursuit pounded over the keep-off
meadow, whose grass was being held in reserve against the hot waves of
next summer, when it would be thrown open to furnish cool green couches
for thousands of tenement swelterers. So unseemly was the interruption
as to draw gapes of amazement from such onlookers as held the border
walks and bellows of command from outraged policemen.

The pinto’s full-speed-ahead was reminiscent in terms of motion of
Hellroaring days and deeds. With full realization of what the man-master
expected of him, he winged across intervening spaces like a compact
tornado. Pape unlimbered his lariat for a throw calculated to bring down
the red for hog-tying.

While passing Jane, he shouted an order that she pull up and keep out of
the scrimmage likely to attend the fight’s finish. A dozen rods farther
on and almost within rope reach, he called to Harford.

“Out of the way—I’m going to hang my string on him!”

“What’s that?”

The real-estater, who was showing superb riding form, turned in his
saddle and leaned to listen, as though he had not heard. But he scarcely
could have failed to see the noose over Pape’s head circling rounder and
faster with his onward rush. His next move was unaccountable. As the
Montanan’s rope slithered suddenly straight ahead from an aim calculated
to pick up the steer’s hind hoof for a fall, the Gothamite spurred his
mount and cut directly across it. The throw fell short, borne out of
line by the body of Harford’s black thoroughbred. In the moment lost to
free it from entanglement the steer took to the rocks with the agility
of a mountain goat.

At last Pape whipped his gun from its under-coat holster. Infuriated by
this second exhibition of what was either extreme stupidity or
deliberate malice, he was tempted to throw down on the human rather than
the splendid Queer Question specimen, now well up the height, which he
had wished to take alive.

But he did not press the trigger. Although a steer more or less was
incidental in his life and cruelty to animals was not to be weighed in
the same scales with the catastrophes possible in a continuance of the
stampede, second thought had advised the improbability of inflicting a
vital wound in that huge body with a revolver shot from the rear.
Anything short of a _coup de grace_ would serve only to increase
potential dangers.

Through the untangling and winding of his rope the Westerner voiced no
complaint of Harford’s interference, but his face went chalk-white
beneath its burn and his jaw set hard. His one direct glance read
triumph in the New Yorker’s grin and decided him to finish the battle
begun on the Sturgis front steps whenever and wherever he could spare
the time. Just now——

“Wait for me here—all of you,” he commanded the three.

Straightway he put Polkadot to the height.

There is an abruptness and complexity about the upheaval of primary rock
marking the park’s center that has been of advantage to renegades since
that great playground’s inception in the late 50‘s. Although lately most
of the caves have been electric-lighted and railings placed on the more
dangerous cliff-edge paths, there remain dribbling recesses and shadowy
spaces between trap-rock bowlders which suggest hide-outs. This physical
condition now favored the Queer Question outlaw; enabled him to
disappear from sight before Pape had resumed the chase.

The painted pony, used to rocky going about the borders of the home
ranch, did not hesitate over essay of the goat trail into the park’s
rough heart taken by the red. In the upward scramble, his rider shifted
weight in the saddle according to the conformation. Ultimately, if by
devious ways, they gained the highest point in Manhattan’s
eight-hundred-forty acre “paradise”—the snub-nosed pinnacle that lies
off Seventy-ninth Street.

Drawing rein, Pape rose in the stirrups and scanned the upturned region.
From near to far, until his gaze encompassed the bench-studded walks and
auto-crowded roadways on its skirts, he noted all details. So remindful
of his own Yellowstone in physical features was this tamed wild-wood—and
yet so different!

Within its comparatively cramped quarters more love—as that emotion is
known to park-habitués—than he had seen in the whole vast West was on
display. The turfed stretches were safety-razored, rather than allowed
to grow nature’s full beards. The only furred creatures in
evidence—except chipmunks and squirrels—were worn about the shoulders of
fair bipeds instead of prowling on four feet, uncured, through the
underbrush. From the steel framework of a new sky-scraper that rose like
a fire-stripped forest on the east to the turreted peaks of a range of
apartment houses on the west, the scene invited comparison in detail.

But Pape had no time for detail except the one of a live dash of sorrel.
The vital greens of grass and trees were rife, the deep blues of lakes,
the silver of sunlight on the distances and the more mysterious regal
purple of shadows. So far as concerned any splash of tabasco red,
however, he might better have been seeking a maverick on the outreaches
of Hellroaring.

Twice had he shifted his point of survey when he was rewarded by sudden
sight of the steer upon a rhododendron covered mound, not more than a
city block away. Unconcernedly the long-horn trotted onto the scene,
glanced about, then slowed to a walk and began to browse. The hope of
recapturing the fine creature uninjured before he injured others
re-awoke in Pape. A cautious approach, a forward swish of rope, a
forceful reaction— Unless luck all lay with his too rampant escutcheon,
the chapter might be closed.

But luck this afternoon seemed to favor quadrupeds. Just as Polkadot
slithered toward the green mound—just as, almost, he had borne his
man-mate within roping distance, he chanced to misplace a topply bowlder
and sent it crashing down the side of a rock-ribbed gorge, on its way
sounding an alarm above the plash of a rainbowed waterfall. Again the
steer was off. Again the bone-risking pursuit for man and beast was on.

Around hillocks, hurdling bowlders, dodging cones and knobs that were
too slippery for climbing, ran the race. Once the brute leader
miscalculated the space between a striped maple and a pignut hickory;
for a moment was caught and held in a vise-like grip. But before his
pursuer could close in, he had managed to wriggle free, shy only some
few tufts of short hair, with no loss of determination to retain the
freedom so energetically won.

Bellowing as if in self-congratulation, the steer bore away in an
untried direction—one that led up a second summit almost as high as the
“top of the park.” That this already was preëmpted by a group of busy
beings and a couple of two-wheeled tool cars of the miniature Noah’s Ark
sort used by highway contractors, did not concern the runaway. The red
flag that waved above one of the supply wagons as a warning of blasting
powder, however, did. With lowered head he charged, scattering the
workers in as many directions as they numbered.

Pape did not stop to consider the danger of an explosion should the
steer ram into the explosive. He spurred forward, his rope again
circumscribing his head, ready for a throw the moment opportunity

But the red took no chances of so soon ending his lively afternoon.
Having learned to beware of enemies vehicular through his earlier impact
against that Columbus Circle trolley, he dodged between the carts and
bore off to the westward.

Pape, in his following rush across the butte-top, glimpsed a face that
almost caused him to draw rein. Distorted by surprise and annoyance was
the expression of the man crouched behind the powder cart, but not
enough so to mask one of the hirelings of the Lauderdale enemy.

And the trees then whispering on the breeze-swept height were poplars!
No time to stop to count them—no attention to spare for speculation as
to whether the roar of a menagerie-imprisoned Nubian would carry that
far. Nevertheless, the concentration of the rider, if not the pace of
his mount, slackened somewhat through the continued pursuit of their
wide-horned quarry.

“And a bunch of beef shall lead them,” paraphrased Pape close to one of
Dot’s obligingly back-waggled ears.

An hour before he had assured Jane Lauderdale that his steer, as well as
he, was at her service. Now that vicarious promise had been redeemed—the
beef-brute sure had served her! The opposition party, probably with the
stolen cryptogram in hand, had decided on this particular butte top as
the likeliest location of treasure buried by eccentric grand-sires and
were getting underway some larger scheme of excavation. And he, in
pursuit of his too-live-stock, was started on another pursuit of Swinton
Welch and his crew.

Pape felt keen to turn in deed, as well as thought. Despite the red’s
service rendered, he breathed a prayer that something would happen to
the beast—anything drastic enough to end his career as pace setter to
the queerest of questioners.

Answer to this prayer came with the unexpectedness which all afternoon
had been marked—an answer decisive as the bluff-edge ahead. In his
head-down rush the excited animal had not seen until too late the
precipice that marked trail’s end. With a conclusive back flop in
midair, he disappeared.

Hot on his hoofs, just out of rope reach, pounded Polkadot. But he, with
super-instinct, sensed the drop in time to swerve on the shale of the
brink. Frantically he then began a struggle to overcome its shift.

A lake lapped the bottom of the void—one of the several that add their
quiet blues and rippling whites to the color scheme of the park and of a
Sunday furnish exercise for as many enthusiastic “crab-catchers” as
there are flat-bottomed row boats to rent. Pape saw it from cliff’s
edge. He did not shiver—time for that if they went down. Flinging from
the saddle, he spread his length upon the ground, digging in with toes
and elbows to increase the weight of the drag made by his body. As
determined to save his equine pal as himself, he threw all the strength
of his arms into a steady pull upon the reins.


Pape’s ride down from the height of No-Man’s Land was rapid as his
advisedly devious course would allow—rapid from his desire to
communicate his steer-led discovery to Jane Lauderdale with the least
possible delay and devious for two reasons. He did not wish to attract
the attention of the treasure blasters until after the girl had looked
them over. And he did not wish to fall into the hands of the police who
had hauled his run-amuck escutcheon out of the lake and taken him in

On reaching the meadow where he had asked his quondam pursuit pardners
to await him, he could sight none of them. He concluded that they had
cut for the nearest bridle path to avoid any such accounting to the park
authorities as had been exacted after last evening’s irregularities.
Stansbury caution advised that he do likewise, but the Pape habit of
riding rough-shod by the short-cut trail overruled.

A demand upon him strong as physical force or a voiced cry caused him to
turn and peer into the mouth of a sort of gulch into which the green
tailed off. There he saw some one gray-clad, dismounted, waiting—Jane,
silently calling him.

Spurring to her, he found that the three had thought it advisable to
take cover in a small glen, irregularly oval in shape, that would have
served excellently as a bull-ring had its granite sides been tiered with
seats. Harford and Irene still sat their saddles, the girl holding rein
on the horse ridden by Jane, who evidently had reconnoitered that he
might not miss them on his promised return.

Pape’s heart quickened from appreciation of her fealty. He decided if
possible to “cut out” her alone from her undependable “bunch” and show
her the discovery to which the beef-brute had led him—the latest
operation of the Lauderdale enemy.

“Why Not! So you’re safe?” The glad cry was Irene’s, as she pressed up
to him. “But my pet cow—don’t tell me you let him get away?”

“The ‘dar-rling’ is on the road to the calaboose—pinched for all sorts
of crimes,” returned Pape unfeelingly. “You’ll need a larger crop of
bail weeds than you possibly can gather to make good your claim to him.”

She, with a voice throb of regret: “That’s what I get for not following.
A girl’s got to keep on the heels of her live-stock, be he man or cow,
_these_ rapid days. Think of me sitting here, losing out as if I’d been
born a hundred years ago—_obeying_ a mere male!”

Jane had remounted and now rode up.

“But if the steer is arrested,” she asked, “how do you come to be free?
Did you disown him?”

“Didn’t have to.” Pape’s speech was that of a man in a hurry.
“Trail’s-end for the red was an air pocket over a toy lake. He made a
magnificent splash and started swimming for the other shore. In the
water he was about as dangerous as a pollywog. Proved easy pickings for
that active little arrester of last night, Pudge O’Shay. Another
policeman sat in the stern of his commandeered row-boat, over-working a
piece of rope. I wish ’em joy taking my escutcheon in.”

He omitted report of his own desperate feat of saving Polkadot and
himself a similar high-dive off the bluff edge. More authoritatively he
turned back to Irene.

“Likely his fate will make you feel some better over that obey
oversight. If you’d like to get the habit, you’d do me a favor by
hunting up the village pound and paying the dues put on that shield
rampant o’ mine. Here’s a roll that ought to be a gent cow’s
sufficiency. And you’d favor me further by taking the family friend

“You mean——”

“_Your_ Harfy. Maybe you can impress him with the desirability of
obeying orders. Got to confess I failed.”

“You precious puzzle!”—the young lady of to-day. “You aren’t—Oh, you
are—you _are_!”

“Are I—just what?”

“Jealous, you silly! Haven’t I told you that Harfy long ago gave up
hopes of me, that he is as naught to me—ab-so-lutely naught more than a
friend who——”

“At that, he’s more to you than he’s shown himself to me,” Pape
interposed with point.

Harford pulled up his mount’s head with something the decisive fling of
his own. “I admit that I give orders better than take them. Come, Jane.
Come, Irene. Maybe I can get you out of this mess yet without unpleasant

“And maybe, Jane, the consequences ain’t going to be so plumb
unpleasant,” Pape contested her attention with something the seriousness
he had shown at the foot of the Sturgis’ steps. “In a certain some one
else’s little matter of unfinished business that’s demanding my time and
attention right now, I have pressing need of one assistant. Are you—do
you feel—well, willing?”

“But, Why Not, why not _me_?” Irene prevented immediate reply from her
cousin; spurred her mount close beside the obviously fastidious
Polkadot; at last dropped her battered-looking bunch of roses to clasp
the Westerner’s arm. “You _know_ that I—And I _know_ that you—Don’t you,
dar-rling—or do you? I am sure that I’m not _ashamed_ of—of—_You_ know.
That is, I ain’t if you aren’t. Of course Jane is calmer than I, but who
wants to be calm nowadays? _I’m_ the one that’s willing and then some to
tag along with you into difficulty and danger and——”

Harford, heated of face and manner, interrupted.

“No one’s going to tag with him into any more difficulty or danger. You
girls are going to keep your agreement, aren’t you? You’re both coming
peacefully along with me, now that I’ve let you wait long enough to see
that this person, rightly entitled ‘The Impossible,’ is safe.”

“Let us wait—_you_ let us?” Irene flared. “A dozen of you couldn’t have
forced me to desert him, Millsy Harford—not whilst I had _my_ health and

Despite her ardor, Pape managed to free his arm of her hold. With his
eyes he re-asked the question put to Jane. He could see that she was
confused, annoyed, justifiably suspicious of the youngster vamp’s

“Don’t you worry about any unfinished business of Miss Lauderdale,”
Harford added with augmented insolence. “I think she will concede that I
am more competent and quite as willing as you to attend any and all
such. On my advice she has given up her search for a mythical needle
mythically buried in this park haystack. Haven’t you, Jane? _Haven’t_
you, dear?”

Pape, while listening to the man, looked to the woman; gained her gaze,
saw her lips form to an unvoiced “No.” Fresh love for her and fresh hate
for him—fresh suspicion and the courage thereof possessed him.

“Meantime, I suppose, your hirelings are tumbling up this park haystack
according to the directions of that cryptogram you took from Mrs.
Sturgis’ wall-safe?”

“You damned blighter, you dare accuse me of theft?”

Pape laughed into the snarled demand. “And why not accuse? I don’t like
you and I don’t trust you. Miss Lauderdale’s unfinished business is
safer in my hands than yours. You lie when you say that she has
transferred it to you. She knows who is the better man. In case you’re
not sure, I am ready to show.”

“No readier than I, you weak fish out of water.” Harford’s voice shook
into higher, harder notes. “You couldn’t very well call me a thief and a
liar without showing. As I told you this morning you’ll have to answer
to me if you raise any more of a row around Miss Lauderdale. When will
you give me a chance to——”

“Now?” Pape suggested.

“You don’t mean here, before the girls, in a public place where the cops
are likely——”

“_Why not_?”

So the Queer Questioner’s battle-cry!

Lightly though he laughed, he was heavy with hate, again moved by that
battleful mania which is the sanity of love. To him specific insults did
not matter so much. The importance of the whys, wheres or whences grew
all at once negligible. To have it out with the man who contested his
claim to his woman—to bring him down just on general principles—to wring
him and rend him and trample him, if need be, into acknowledgment of his
supreme impertinence—that was his present task.

A thought-flash of the moment before had thrown rays of suspicion
several ways through Pape’s mind. Mills Harford knew of the Montana
Gusher swindle, as indicated by his jibe of that morning about an
“oil-stock shark.” Being a real-estater of considerable success, he
might be a principal in that fraud. Certainly he did not seem the man to
have been a victim.

The idea that this “most prominent” suitor of Jane might be the leader
of the anti-Lauderdales was suggested by his bold attempt to deter the
girl from further investigation. That she herself considered him a
friend was in itself significant. He could not better have covered in
perpetrating an inimical act toward her than by first having won her
confidence with flattery as expertly administered as though he were
indeed one of those villainous “perfect lovers” with whom honest heroes
have to cope on stage and screen.

As an intimate of the household, Harford probably was in position to
know the worth of the late eccentric’s buried “bone.” He might well have
instigated that “inside” safe job at the Sturgis’ and been responsible
for the trailing of the poke-bonnet lady to the East Sixty-third Street
hide-out, this last particularly pointed by his later appearance there
with his lawyer. And here in the glen, just as the out-croppings showed
plain the way to treasure’s lead, he was ready to prevent Jane by force
from continuing her park prospecting while the excavations were underway
on the heights. All the circumstantials were suspicious.

Why not now? In view of possibilities, it had not taken one of Pape’s
predisposition for action long to decide that the then and there were
none too soon for adjustment of their relative status. He and his
self-selected could spare time, he guessed, for a bout that would
settle—well, what it would settle.

“Climb down. Let’s get it over before some ladylike rule of this
old-woman town of yours trips us up.”

Pape was in the act of dismounting, in accordance with his own
suggestion, when Harford executed a surprise that nearly crowded him to
a fall. The attack was abetted by the inherent hostility of a
thoroughbred horse for cross-breeds of the range. As though trained for
just such participation, the blue-blood rammed into the piebald,
bringing his rider within tempting reach of the enemy ear. A whack more
dizzying than dangerous followed the equine impact.

“So that’s—the game?” Pape gasped during his recovery. “You’ve got—edge
on me—with your—polo punch. But swords or pistols! I’m ready for—any old
fight that’s fought—Harfy _dar_-_rling_.”

He threw back into the leather, where he felt as much at home as any man
and jabbed his right foot back into its stirrup. Swinging his calico
cayuse he pressed back the horses astride which the two girls sat—Jane
with pale, set face, like a marble of avengement; Irene glitter-eyed and
high-hued from excitement. For a duel of chevaliers this particular
squared-circle hidden by Nature must be cleared. When the fair audience
was crowded to one side in “reserved” quadruped standing room, West
whirled and bore down on East.

Fights of diverse sorts had place in the variegated past of Peter Pape.
Rough-and-tumbles, knock-down-and-drag-outs, rim-fires or
lightning-draws—all such he had survived. But no past emergency had he
battled by fists on horseback. Once he had accepted the challenge,
however, the form of fight looked fairer than at first blow, since it
was unlikely that its instigator had more experience in stirrup battling
than he. As for rules, he, for one, felt quite as hazy as he would have
in some tilting bout of lance-laden knight of old. They would have to
make up the rules as they went along, he supposed.

“At ’em, Dot!” he wirelessed the frecked ear laid back in rancor against
a brushed-teeth nip of the over-groomed enemy mount. Not a heel urge did
the piebald need, any more than a jerk of the rein which, already, Pape
had twisted about the saddle horn. With a horse keen to knee pressure as
was this cow-pony, he had the advantage of both hands free for swing or

Straight at the aristocrats went the rough pair. Polkadot landed a
shoulder impact that all but toppled the spindle-legged black. The
while, his man-mate’s bruising left, accomplished contact with the
Harford nose. At the “claret” which oozed from a feature perfect enough
in outline to have been inherited from classic Greek, Irene uttered a
cry in which sounded fear for the family friend and admiration of the
person impossible. Jane sat her horse, silent and outwardly composed,
except that the color had left even her lips.

In the break-away, the black kicked out viciously. But the pinto, with
skill acquired in growing-up days when he had trained with an Arizona
outlaw band, flirted his vari-colored rump out of harm’s way. Already
the battle was bi-fold, the two men its instigators, their mounts
responsible for footwork.

On the second engagement, not counting that initial surprise attack
which had bordered on the foul, Harford handled his thoroughbred into a
position of such advantage that he drove a right to Pape’s jaw. Rocked
from crown to toe, the Westerner saved himself a fall by going into just
such a clinch as he would have tried had they been balanced each on his
own two feet instead of his horse’s four.

There was something superstitious in the look which distorted Harford’s
good looks, as he found himself held helpless while his opponent
rallied—a look which suggested that he had put his all into that
upper-cut and was worse nerve-shocked than was its recipient physically
over failure to bring decision. There being no referee to command a
break, Pape came out of the clinch when he was ready, with the “spinner”
aid of a horse that turned ends on signal—and all within the space of a

The break-away, unexpected by the Eastern immaculate, reduced him
sartorially to a plane with the Westerner. His stock and part of his
striped silk shirt remained in the Pape paws, torn from his neck and
back when Polkadot had capered. His dishevelment now matched that which
Pape had acquired in his struggle against momentum upon the cliff.

The equine pair also seemed possessed of battling madness. For a time
they fox-trotted about, keeping their riders beyond each other’s reach,
while they fought an instinctive duel of their own. The black proved a
fore-and-after—pawed out ladylike blows with slender forefeet, then
lofted his heels in a way that jarred the human aboard him more than the
wary target. At a familiar knee signal, Polkadot suddenly rose on his
hindlegs as if for that bronco evolution known as sunfishing.

“Look out—he’ll topple back and crush you!”

The outcry was forced from Jane.

As at once transpired, it proved unnecessary. The piebald had no
intention of falling back upon his man-pal. Instead, he hopped forward
on hind legs until he had the black cornered, then flung down with all
his weight. The thoroughbred, crushed to his knees, escaped by sheer
agility the sharp-shod hoofs; wriggled his fringe-bedecked neck and
satin shoulders from out the commoner’s clutch.

Dumbly infuriated by his failure and urged by an imperative signal,
Polkadot pressed such advantage as was left him. By sparing the black no
time to recover, he gave Pape his opportunity. Head to tail the horses
met with terrific impact. For the second or so in which both staggered,
a stirrup each locked crushingly.

Followed two fist blows from Pape, so nearly simultaneous that no
on-looker could have been sure which did the work. He himself knew that
his right had led by enough of a count to jolt his rival’s head into
fair position for his gnarled left. Far out from saddle he leaned to put
into that follow his last ounce of power. The blow landed nicely under
the Easterner’s cleft chin. As the horses sprang apart, Harford toppled
and fell.

What would have been a clean knock-out of which no fistic specialist
need have been ashamed was spoiled by a mishap. The falling man’s right
foot did not clear the trap-like stirrup of his English saddle. The
behavior of his thoroughbred too, was unfortunate. In a frenzy of alarm
the black sprang forward, then dashed for the entrance of the glen,
dragging his rider. Probably the fact that Harford was clear out, his
body inert, saved him an immediate hoof wound, but there was scarcely a
chance of his survival if hauled over the rocks of the entrance. His
horse, however, did not reach that barrier. Having his rival dragged to
injury or death was no more a part of Pape’s program than was murder a
component of his hate. Before the black had covered two rods, Polkadot
was after him, for once dug by the spurs which he had every right to
consider worn for decorative purposes only. One hundred yards of green,
with the sharp teeth of the rock trap but fifty farther on, brought the
racing beasts neck and neck—brought Pape to an equestrian exploit
conceived on the way.

He kicked his right foot free of the wooden stirrup; encircled the
saddle horn with his knee; throwing his weight on the left stirrup,
leaned low. To retrieve a grounded hat or handkerchief from the saddle
at gallop pace he regarded as a simple form of exercise. To seize and
loft an unconscious man of Harford’s build was difficulty multiplied by
his dead weight of some hundred-seventy pounds.


Pape’s jaw set with the thought-challenge which had taken him over the
top of so varied contretemps—the word applied to him with such
significance by the snob whom he was about to save.

Why not achieve the impossible now as heretofore? He put the demand on
his tried muscles, risked two bounds of the black in making sure that
his grip upon the collar of Harford’s coat was firm, then heaved upon
his burden. The initial inches of clearance were hardest—broke his
nails, tortured his fingers, almost snapped the sinews in his arm. Not
until his right hand was able to join his left did he breathe again.

And just in time was his double hold secured.

So quickly did the black horse swerve that the calico could not
synchronize. For a moment Harford’s body and the taut stirrup were a
strained connecting link. Then Polkadot edged nearer and Pape was able
to lift the unconscious figure to a position of partial support across
his mount’s forequarters.

But the stirrup still held, its iron shoe having been forced into the
leather of Harford’s boot and fastened as in a vise. They might be
coupled together until the black ran down unless——

The stretch of strap gave Pape an idea. Quick almost as the thought he
drew his gun; took three shots; severed the link. Turning, he rode the
doubly burdened piebald back in the direction of the two girls, while
the thoroughbred sought exclusiveness in the far reaches of the glen.
Probably because of the frequent back-fire of motors and the blow-out of
tires which at times make Central Park suggest a West Virginia mining
town on fusillade day, the curiosity of no sparrow cop had been excited
by the gun reports.

Much more gently than he had gathered up his enemy, Pape now lowered him
to the turf and flung out of saddle to a kneeling position. A cursory
examination showed Harford’s fine-featured face to be somewhat marred by
fist blows. But his body, so far as the emergency first aid could
determine, was intact. The last fear of a possible skull fracture was
dissipated when the brown eyes quivered open and the flaccid lips began
to move.

“He’s trying to speak, Why Not,” exclaimed Irene, a moment ahead of Jane
in dismounting. “Listen, _do_! In the novels I’ve read they always say
the most _important_ things when they’re coming out of—of a hiatus or
whatever you call it.”

Pape leaned close enough to grasp part of the effortful mumble.

“Didn’t steal—anything. Sorry called you—names. Irene loves——”

That was as far as Harford got at the moment. And it was well, as the
perquisitory miss demanded the context of his utterances.

Now, the telling of lies was abhorrent to Peter Pape. Seldom did he
consider recourse to the slightest misrepresentation even when
straight-out talk made complexities. But he found himself tempted by an
inspiration as to how he might repay both enemy man and enemy girl for
the trouble they had caused him with the same slight elaboration of the

“It is your name on his lips,” he informed the romantic miss.
“‘Irene’—_you_ were his first thought. You’re the one he wants, my
child, the one he calls for.”

“Oh! _Oh_!” she murmured, her dark eyes expanding. “Then I haven’t been
wrong—Harfy _has_ cared for me in secret all along?”

She knelt down beside the fallen family friend; hovered over him in an
egoistic ecstasy.

“Poor dar-rling—_how_ you must have loved me to have hidden it so well!
And all the time I thought that you—Oh, it is _thrilling_ that you
should have pretended to regard another, when in reality your _grande
passione_ was for me alone! If you’d been killed, I _never_ could have
forgiven myself—that is, I couldn’t if I had found out afterwards. When
I think what you must have _suffered_, I wonder how I ever can repay——”

“You’ve got a darn’ good chance right here and now,” interrupted Pape,
as a finishing touch to his ruse for punishing them and cutting-out Jane
from the “bunch.” “He’s coming around fast—ain’t in any physical danger
if his heart is cheered up. ’Tis better far for him that you two
shouldest be alone when he comes clean to. You stay here and nurse
him—you owe him at least that much. When he’s able to ride make for the
bridle path and home. The black is quieting down. You can catch him
without trouble. And don’t be afraid of pouring out your love and
affection upon the poor man. It is your bounden duty as a woman and a
vamp. Love may save his life.”

“But you, Why Not?”

A sudden fear lest she lose the old in the new acquirement strained her

“I’ll bear up some way. I, too, still have my health and strength.” He
tried to mask his triumph in a dark, desperate frown. “Come, Jane. You
and I are no longer needed here.”

He forestalled protest by remounting; gave the older girl a
half-humorous, wholly-apologetic look; led the way toward the heights.

Five minutes later they dropped rein in a clump of warty-ridged
hackberry bushes and started on afoot. On the way he made succinct
report of his discovery during the pursuit of the red. At that, he had
not prepared her—indeed, was far from prepared himself—for what they
soon saw from cover at the edge of the mesa.

The stage was set as on his dash across it in pursuit of the run-amuck.
But the actors—half a dozen in number, inclusive of Swinton Welch, and
none in laborer’s garb—were now grouped about one of the supply carts.
Attention centered upon a man who sat the tail of this cart—one who had
not been about during Pape’s preview. His pudgy hands held open before
him a sheet of paper from which he was reading aloud.

The pair in the bush stared at this man in amazement too breath-taking
for speech. Then their glances met, as if to read substantiation, each
in the other’s eyes.

So, then, it was true! The _generalissimo_ issuing instructions was the
long-time friend and family counselor, ex-Judge Samuel Allen.


With the stealth of a Blackfoot brave, Peter Pape approached the powder
cart in temporary use as a rostrum. Jane he had left where her safety no
longer troubled him. His entire attention reached forward. Having gained
the cover of a venerable cottonwood whose drooping catkins fringed the
shafts of the lowering sun he stopped and deliberately listened, excused
by the necessity of discovering just what was underway.

The slow, accented perusal of the apple-cheeked little big man of law
was holding the attention of his assortment of thugs to a degree
favorable for a surprise assault.

    “Eighteen and twelve will show
    The spot. Begin below.
    Above the crock
    A block will rock,
    As rocks wrong’s overthrow.”

To the last word the verse carried to Pape’s ears, metered to match the
two lines recited to him by Jane from her memory of the mysterious,
stolen cryptogram. There seemed no reason to doubt that Allen was
reading the rhymed instructions of the late Lauderdale eccentric.

Swinton Welch was first to offer thin-voiced complaint against the
poem’s ambiguity.

“That third verse strikes me as the hardest yet, judge. What do you
reckon them figures mean? I don’t see as there’s any way to decide
whether they stand for rods or yards or feet. Eighteen from what? Twelve
to which? Or do you suppose, now, it means that the spot is

With a wave of one chubby hand the lawyer dismissed these demands. “When
quite a young man I knew the writer of this rhyme. It is characteristic
that he should have put everything as vaguely as possible. He’d have
made a wonderful detective, he was such a genius at involving instead of
solving things. I’m relying quite a bit on my own gumption in the
selection of this place. But I feel sure that I am right at last. We’re
on a height, surrounded by the requisite number of poplars, aren’t we?
The noises we hear from the city, spread about on every hand, might be
called by poetic license any kind of a roar. And the whole place is
shelved with rock. Since we can’t seem to solve those figures, let’s
blow off the entire top if necessary and trust to the integrity of the
‘crock.’ You arranged for the acetylene lights, Duffy?”

“They’ll be here before dusk.”

Pape could not see the speaker from his cover point, but recognized the
voice of him of the vegetable ears recently bested in combat.

“Have you thought about the crowd the flare’s going to attract, Mr.
Allen?” the pugilist wanted to know.

“I’ve arranged for the police to stand guard over us.”

The complacency with which the lawyer made this assertion had a nerving
effect upon Pape. His frame straightened with a jerk. His muscles
tightened. His thoughts sped up. If the police were enlisted with the
enemy through political “pull” of the ex-judge, it behooved him to
decide at once upon the exact nature of such changes as he, personally,
might be able to effect in the afternoon’s program. Perhaps too close
upon decision, he acted.

“I have permits from the commissioner to cover every emergency,” the
lawyer continued. “I can promise you that there’ll be no interference
this time, even——”

“_Except_ from me!”

The correction issued from behind the cottonwood and was followed
immediately by the appearance of Peter Pape.

Samuel Allen’s assurance gurgled in his throat and the apple-red faded
from his cheeks as he slid from his seat on the cart-tail to face the
unfriendly, blue-black eye of a Colt.

“The—the impossible person!” he stammered.

“The _possible_ person, don’t you mean, judge? It’s time you got the
general little scheme of me, even though I do look mussed up this
crowded afternoon.”

Pape’s jocularity was a surface effect. The serious coöperation of his
every thought and muscle would be needed if he won against such odds.
With his gun he waved back two of the crew who, evidently more
accustomed to the glance of the unfriendly eye than was the jurist, were
edging nearer. Still grinning with pseudo-pleasantry, he tried to guard
against attack from behind by backing toward the second of the
ark-bedded carts.

“This morning, Allen, you got me out of limbo through your drag with the
law,” he continued. “Didn’t hope for a so-soon opportunity to refund
that debt. But don’t think I ain’t ready with the interest.”

“The only way to keep you out of new trouble is to leave you in the
old,” snorted the small big man. “If this gun-play is for my amusement,
I’ll say that your methods are as perverted as your sense of humor.
You’re about as practical as a Bolshevist. Pray desist. Also—pardon my
frankness—get out while you can—out of trouble that doesn’t concern you
in the slightest.”

“Pardon _my_ frankness—” Pape, too, could feign politeness—“but this
trouble does concern me in the greatest. I hate being in your debt. I
feel I should take this chance to pay and save you!”

“Save me—from what?”

Although the Colt still held his gaze, the jurist put the question with
manifest relief. Argument was his stock in profession—perhaps he hoped
from that.

Pape couldn’t restrain an out-loud chuckle, so near did he seem to the
consummation of his promises to Jane. “Just you hand over Granddad
Lauderdale’s crypt and those _carte_-blank permits and I’ll save you
from being your own lawyer defending a charge of before-and-after
burglary. Urge ’em upon me, judge, then call off your crew and vamoose
pronto—which is roof-of-America for get out quick yourself.”

Allen sent a glance of appeal among his hirelings, but elicited no
response. To them there was, in truth, a stronger appeal in the careless
way the Westerner handled his “hardware.” They looked to be gunmen
themselves, but of the metropolitan sort that shoot singly from behind
or in concert before. Certain was it that some one would get punctured
did the revolver speak and each was concerned lest he be the ill-fated
human “tire.”

Allen seemed left to his own devices. Crumpling the cryptic sheet in one
hand, he started slowly forward. Pape lifted his foot for a stride along
the cart-side. But some time elapsed before the sole of his boot again
met mother earth. With the suddenness of most successful attacks on a
rear guarded over-confidently, the one leg which, for the moment,
supported his weight was jerked from under with a violence that pitched
him face forward.

As he fell his revolver exclaimed, but only an indignant monosyllable. A
veritable avalanche of humanity descended upon him, hard in effect as
the rocky ground in their attack with gun butts and fists. For a second
time he had miscalculated odds; seemed at last to have met defeat. In
the act, as it were, of seizing the Sturgis’ loot, he was put out by a
blow from a leather black-jack brought down upon his defenseless head by
an expert hand.

Some minutes must have passed before his brain again functioned. In the
interim he had been “hogtied,” despite the fact that, literally, the
knots were not tied according to the Hoyle of the range. The first thing
he noticed on opening his eyes was that Judge Allen had been stripped of
his coat and the left sleeves of his outer and under shirts cut away to
give place to a bandage. Evidently his instinctive pull on the trigger
had sent a bullet into his preferred target, although lack of aim had
made it a wing shot.

That the moment was one in which he would best “play Injun” was Pape’s
first cautionary thought. Not even to ease his painfully cramped limbs
did he attempt to move a muscle. After his first roving look, his eyes
fixed, with an acquisitive gleam at variance with his helplessness, upon
something protruding from the inside pocket of a coat that lay upon the
ground near his hurting head.

The something, or one very like it, he had seen before—a folded document
engraved in brown ink. The coat also he recognized as that torn off the
wounded lawyer.

He next discovered that his ears, as well as eyes, could function.
Without moving, he allowed them to be filled with sound notes upon the
disaster which had overtaken him.

The ex-judge: “—and I congratulate you, Duffy, on as neat a turn-table
as I’ve ever seen.”

Even more than to the unctuousness of the voice did Pape object to the
jurist’s punctuation by boot upon that section of his own anatomy within
easiest reach. His indignation, however, was diverted by the assurance
that it was his enemy of the cauliflower ear who had brought about his

“Easier than throwing a seven with your own bones, your honor,” Duffy
answered. “Wild-and-woolly here was too tickled with himself to notice
me under the cart tightening of a bolt. All I had to do was lunge out
and grab an ankle.”

“Hadn’t you better go and let some doctor look at that arm, judge?” The
concerned voice was Swinton Welch’s. “I’ll direct operations until——”

“You think I’m going right on taking chances on your weakness, Welch?”
Allen’s counter-demand snapped with disapproval. “I’ll see this thing
through, no matter how it hurts. Send for a surgeon if you know one who
don’t insist on reporting gun-shot patients. Come, let’s get this
animated interruption stowed away before the police arrive. Questions
never asked are easiest answered.”

“Leave us throw him in with the powder,” suggested a scar-faced bruiser
new in the cast, so far as Pape recalled.

And so they might have disposed of him had not Duffy advanced a better
proposition. Nearby was a sort of cave where he had “hidden out” on a
former emergency, he declared. It was dark and dribbly as a tomb—an
ideal safe-deposit for excess baggage.

“To the tomb with the scorpion, then!”

Beneath his pudginess, the little lawyer seemed hard as the rocks he was
so anxious to blast. With a gesture, he ordered one of the crew to help
him on with his coat.

Pape relaxed the more as three of them laid hold and carried him across
the flat. Duffy acted as guide and the lawyer, who assuredly was taking
no chances, went along to satisfy himself as to the security of the
hide-away. Several yards inside the narrow mouth of Duffy’s “sort of”
cave they dropped him upon the rock floor; left him without further
concern over when, if at all, he should return to consciousness.

For reasons which had filled him with such elation as nearly to expose
his ’possum part, Pape approved their selection of the cave. Now the
hope of victory out of defeat came to him with an admission of Allen
from the entrance:

“I do feel some weakened by this wound. Guess I’d better rest here a
little while. You fellows go back and start turning rocks. Try the tilty
ones first and use powder, when necessary, just as if I owned the park.
Remember, I’ve got the permits.”

For five minutes or more Pape waited without any effort to free himself
except from the puddle of drippings in which they had chanced to deposit
him. Since all seemed quiet, he made sibilant venture.

“Jane ... _Jane_!”

The shadowy figure which at once appeared from out the darker recesses
assured him that luck had not entirely deserted him—that the
safe-deposit vault selected for him was the same in which he had
honor-bound the girl to watch and wait his summons. On entrance of his
pallbearers, she had retreated into the depths of the “tomb,” quite as
he had hoped she would. And now—in just a minute—he’d show them how
alive was the dead man they had buried.

She knelt beside him; was bending over him.

“Oh, Peter—it is you, then? Are you hurt—wounded?” Her whisper was
guarded as his own had been.

“Yes—wounded sore but only in my feelings—over being outwitted.”

“It’s just as well I didn’t know you in the gloom. I’d have thought you
dead and died myself. I was near-dead of nervousness already. Knowing
you were armed, I feared when I heard the gun report that you had shot
some one and been captured. I couldn’t have stayed here doing nothing
much longer, despite my promise. Don’t know just what I’d have done,

“But that’s been decided for you,” he supplied, in an ecstasy over the
confession back of her words. “You are here to un-hog-tie me. The
key-knot is pressing the small of my back, or I don’t know the feel of
one. See what you can do.”

She leaned over him, her hands clasped over his helpless ones. “Only if
you promise me,” she bargained with a vague, tender smile which he just
could see, “that you won’t go back at them again. Otherwise you’re much
safer tied—hog or human.”

“I’ll promise anything if you’ll just lower those lips one half an inch.
I think I can reach the rest of the way.”

But she evidently decided to free him without the promise and trust to
his discretion. Helping him turn over, she busied herself with his
bonds. Long and strong as were her fingers, however, they made no
impression upon this particular key-knot, tied to stay tied with some
sailor-taught knack.

“Feel in my coat pocket,” he suggested. “If they’ve left me a couple of

She did. And they had. A stroke across his boot top lit one. The odor of
burning hemp did not offend their nostrils; rather, was more grateful
than the most subtle incense from the freedom promised in its fumes.
After the fourth and last Lucifer had been burned to a char, the girl
was able to fray and sunder the rest of the rope. The “key” turned, Pape
made short work of the other knots, shook off his bonds and gained his
feet. His first act of freedom was to seize and kiss the two
taper-tipped, nail-broken, burnt-finger hands which had liberated him.

“Sweet pardner!... Precious pal!”

Pape always remembered his “grave” and the ensuing silence within its
dank dark as the most cheerful place and the livest moment of his life.

Only the moment, however, did he allow himself.

“I’ve got to reward you by leaving you again, but not for long. Don’t
bother promising this time. Just wait until I bring the real tenant of
this tomb.”

Samuel Allen, while seated upon a bowlder of trap-rock that divided the
opening, watching the start of the delayed excavation, felt himself
seized without warning from behind. Before he had time to utter more
than a gasp he was dragged back into the cave. Perhaps pain from his
injured shoulder made him speechless. Possibly surprise at the assault
of the “scorpion,” just now unconscious and soundly trussed, had
something to do with his inefficiency. He still seemed incapable of
protest when the captive-turned-captor searched his coat pockets and
extracted their contents.

Jane, the while, had taken advantage of her absolution from oath to
follow guardedly; with automatic ready now appeared from darkness into
the light of the entrance.

“If he so much as whines, shoot him—and shoot to kill this time!” Pape
directed. “He deserves punishment and on two counts, I think. Just a
minute. I want to make sure.”

Stepping nearer the opening, he began to run through the letters and
documents taken from the jurist’s coat.

“Jane Lauderdale! Can it really be you, my child?” At last Allen drew
upon his font of sebaceousness. “I hope that you, too, are not in the
power of this impossible——”

“She isn’t. I’m in hers.”

Pape had overheard; now wheeled around. A glance had satisfied him that
the cryptogram at last was in hand. The brown engravings, the familiar
look of which had held his eyes when he lay trussed in the open, had
confirmed his first suspicion of them. Folded with the crinkly parchment
was other detailed proof.

“You’re under arrest, judge!” he snapped.

“How so? You’re no officer and I—You can’t——”

“Oh yes, I can. Some few of the impossibilities that are my pet pastime
ought to be accredited to the deputy sheriff of Snowshoe County,
Montana. Out with those dimpled wrists!”

With one length of the rope so recently misused on himself, Pape
improvised handcuffs; with another hoppled the ankles of the jurist.

Unnerved by his helplessness, the little great man began to whimper.
“You tried to murder me out there. Now you—you—arrest me for what?”

“Ask the man behind the Montana Gusher oil fraud—your dishonorable self.
We’re going to give you opportunity—a little time alone with the crook.”

The accusation left Pape’s lips with the assurance of a theorem. The
legal tricks played in Western courts against his earlier fight to
protect his good name long ago had convinced him that some legal mind
was master of the plot. The jurist’s morning skill at court jugglery had
brought its flash of suspicion. But not until he had discovered Allen as
the Lauderdale enemy had there recurred to him Jane’s exclamation,
clipped by her father, that some one they knew might be the promoter of
the oil fraud. Later had come the first sight of tell-tale stock
certificates in the small culprit’s pocket, their worth as clinching
proof assured by his recent examination at the mouth of the cave.

For the moment Allen seemed staggered by the charge. He looked as though
he should find himself exceeding poor company.

Pape turned to Jane. “Once more may I borrow your gun, dear? Some one of
his plug-uglies seems to have appropriated mine own. Come.”

“Don’t leave me, child. Don’t go with the wild-man,” Allen urged the
girl. “He’ll only lead you into more trouble. He can’t escape my men
once I start them searching for him and the price he’ll pay for trussing
me up like this——”

“It’s worth a goodly price to show you how a truss-up feels,” Pape
interrupted. “Of course I can’t hope you’ll stay caved much longer than
I, once the gang misses you. But I won’t have trouble re-pinching you,
not while I hold these certificates of your guilt. To think, Jane, that
my trail’s-end should run into yours this way! It looks—don’t get
scared, now—but it does look a whole lot like Fate.”

She regarded him, serious-eyed, yet with faintly smiling lips. “It
looked a whole lot like that to me the day you told dad and me about
your search for——”

The suggestion of a smile vanished as she turned directly toward the
wretched-looking little big man. “Wasn’t ‘Montana Gusher’ the name of
that oil stock you stopped Aunt Helene’s buying, Judge Allen? Ah, I
thought so!”

With a glance of contempt for the obviously guilty “family friend,” she
followed Pape out of the cave. From the shadow of the wall they looked
out over the flat.

“We can’t continue Western style,” he observed with manifest regret.
“See the mounties? They’re here under instructions to report to his
Honor the Judge and do his bidding. There’s a limit, as I learned awhile
back, to what one can tackle in Gotham single-handed—that is to say,
with hope of success. We’ll need an injunction to stop that stunt. Let’s
go get it!”

Almost were they across the open space which they must cover to reach
their horses when a shouted command to halt told that Allen’s gang had
sighted them. Instead of obeying, Pape snatched Jane’s hand and urged
her into a run.

They gained a moment in the one lost to the enemy while Swinton Welch
explained to the police lieutenant the necessity of capturing them. They
reached their mounts, climbed their saddles and were on their way before
the pursuit started from the far side of the flat. A second time that
afternoon the consecrated precinct of Gotham’s pleasure place staged a
race—this one quite official, with former pursuers turned quarry.


Really surprising was the detailed topographical knowledge which the
western trail-blazer had acquired during recent adventures. He picked
their way through the tumbled terrain of the park heights as if from a
map. That he knew the up-and-down maze better than the officers now
after them was demonstrated when they gained the path that represents
the ultimate democracy of horsemanship by a scramble down a rocky slope
with none of the pack in sight.

His immediate objective he confided to Jane in case accident should
separate them. A moment of straight riding would take them through the
Womens Gate into West Seventy-second Street. There he would slip into
the Hotel Majestic and a telephone booth to enlist legal reënforcements.

Both overlooked, however, an important factor in Central Park’s
equipment—the net-work of wires spread over its length and breadth for
facility of the authorities in imminent cases more or less like that of
the moment. Only when a man and woman riding ahead of them were stopped
and questioned by the police guard at the gate did Pape suspect that an
alarm had been telephoned ahead of them. His plan was abruptly altered.
Turning the horses, as if to continue an objectless canter, they started
back over the path gained with such difficulty, trotting until beyond
official view, thereafter breaking into the gallop of a pair of
“renters” anxious to get the most possible out of their five-dollar hour
in the saddle.

Cañon after cañon gaped in the apartment-house mountain range on their
left, marking streets passed. Their hope grew that, unmolested, they
could pass out Pioneers Gate at the northwest corner of the park.

But that hope, too, was outsped. Hoof-hammering behind caused both to
glance over-shoulder at a bend. Three of the city’s mounted came
pounding after them.

Pape looked about to make sure of their location. The bridle path
spilled into a pool of shadows at the bottom of a gorge; granite walls
rolled back from trail-side. Recognition of the region which he had been
exploring with Polkadot on his first clash with law and order aided in
what was of necessity a lightning-changed decision.

“Can’t make Pioneers Gate.” He signaled Jane to draw rein. “We’ll take
to—bush—turn the cayuses loose—hide-out until they’ve given us—up.”

He swung from saddle with the last panted period, expecting the girl to
follow his example. When, on her delay, he hurried to her assistance, he
saw that she was leaning upon the nose of her saddle, her lips pale as
her cheeks. Bodily he lifted her to the ground and found her a temporary
rest against a path-side stump. After turning the horses about, he
looped their reins and, with a back-to-stable slap upon Polkadot’s
splotched rump, started them down-park.

White-circle death sentences painted upon withering elms, poplars and
birches pointed the course over which he half-carried the “sweet
pardner” exhausted by excitement too long sustained. When they came upon
a brush-fringed depression, which at home he would have called an elk
bed, he bade her take to cover; himself crawled back to spy out the
movements of the pursuit.

At the top of the last rise in the bridlepath, the police riders met the
empty saddlers. They sounded greatly disturbed. From such scraps of
loud-pitched conversation as carried, Pape pieced together their
assumption that the fugitives had abandoned their mounts for a short-cut
to the west wall. He saw two of the trio dismount and begin combing the
brush in that direction, while the third remained on guard over the five

All of this was fortuitous in that it promised time for them to reach a
definite objective which he had in mind—a place where the spent girl
might rest and both hide until darkness draped the park for their
escape. His sense of semi-security weakened, however, on noticing that a
police dog was of the party; that the “mounty” on hostler duty was
sending the animal up the brushy hill on the east—their side of the
path. Slithering back into the depression, he awaited for several
long-drawn minutes the alarm-bay of the canine officer, dreading the
worst, yet not wishing to share that dread unnecessarily.

Jane first felt the spell of the two brown eyes focused upon them
through a patterned veil of brush. Nervously she caught his arm;
pointed. Soon a long, black-tipped nose rent the veil, sniffing through
a fountain spray of vine abloom with pale blue, bell-shaped flowers.

The police dog had located them. But why the delay of his bayed alarm? A
moment more and he answered for himself. With suppressed whines and
insinuating wriggles there broke from the clutch of the vine none other
than Kicko of the Sheepfold, his sense of duty evidently overcome by
delight at the reunion.

Pape’s joy transcended the Belgian’s. Never had he bestowed a more
fervid embrace than that which encircled the ruffed neck. Jane, too,
patted their four-footed friend and bedecked his collar with a spray of
the flowering vine which had been torn down by his impetuous entrance.

“Pin one of those blues roses on me,” Pape asked; when she had done so,
added: “Out home we call that ‘matrimony vine.’ I wonder whether its use
here as a decoration is any sort of sign that——”

“I wonder,” Jane interrupted more crisply than he would have thought
possible in her wilted state, “whether Kicko will lie low like a good
dog instead of a police officer while you explain about those papers you
took from the judge?”

Because he believed absolutely in signs—hadn’t a sign pointed his way to
her?—Pape was willing to wait for the answer to his question. Indeed, he
had not earned her answer until after the Granddad Lauderdale riddle had
been solved. With a shrug and a sigh he took from his pocket the sheaf
of brown engravings.

“These, as you may have surmised, are certificates for stock in the
Montana Gusher Oil Company. See.” He opened and handed her one. “They
are signed with names of dummy officers, as were the others. But they
are blank as to owner and number of shares—right strong evidence that
the honorable Samuel is the man behind the fraud—that his fat little
neck is the one I came East to wring.”

Jane nodded. “I was waiting to see Aunt Helene and make sure before I
told you what I suspected. You see, it was a good while ago when a
salesman interested her in the stock. She was about to invest when Judge
Allen interfered. Rather, he told her that he knew the stock wasn’t
worth the paper on which it was engraved. Except that my time has
been—well, a bit full since yesterday afternoon, I’d have got the facts
at once and given them to you for what they were worth. In predicaments
like ours, the rule of _noblesse oblige_ should hold.”

“Do _we_ need rules to hold?”

Illustratively Pape seized with one hand the slim, ringless fingers
still caressing the spray of matrimony vine—his other had a firm grip on
Kicko’s collar. His touch, voice and eyes were full of appreciation for
her good intentions. It was hard to have such a good—or bad—memory about
the absolute justness of one’s desserts; hard to crush those blue bells
within her pink palms and not entirely forget—She was so appealing in
her languor and dependency that there seemed ample excuse for his asking
the right to protect and sustain her. Looking at the matter in this
tempting light of the underbrush, he might be expected to owe her an
explanation of that kiss in the cab—to tell her that to him it was their

And yet——

Although Why-Not Pape rarely questioned opportunity, there were some
times and some women and some hopes—Rather roughly he dropped her hands;
next offered her a memorandum which he had found folded inside the sheaf
of stock-certificates—a list of names, with figures set down opposite.

“The writing is his beyond doubt—Judge Allen’s,” she declared after a
moment’s scrutiny.

“Clinches the proof of his guilt in the oil deal. It is a ‘sucker
list’—the names of stock biters and the price per bite. It is—” In his
pause Pape gave the girl a look that was at once exultant for himself
and regretful for her. “It is your family friend’s ticket to the Atlanta

To distract the very natural distress which he saw in her face, he
forced cheer to lighten the murmur of their exchange.

“But let’s get to the famous cryptogram, lost and at last regained. Now
we can read it as a whole.”

Allowing the jealous Belgian to wedge himself between them, Pape spread
out the wrinkled sheet upon the hairy back; in guarded tones read:

    List to the Nubian roar
    And whisper of poplars four.
    They tell of bed-rock
    Where rests a crock
    Brimful of Fortune’s store.

    ’Tis on a height
    The vault you’ll sight
    Of buried might.
    ’Twill lead you right,
    Bring delight,
    Win the fight.

    Eighteen and twelve will show
    The spot. Begin below.
    Above the crock
    A block will rock,
    As rocks wrong’s overthrow.

    List, then, the Nubian roar.
    List whisper of poplars four.
    Climb, then, the height.
    Read signs aright.
    Count eighteen—twelve.
    Take heart and delve.
    Obey. You’ll want no more.

For moments the three of them—counting Kicko—pondered in silence. Two,
at least, were considering the crypt’s applicability to the height of
Judge Allen’s selection. It seemed a possible place, except for slight
discrepancies, such as the absence of any particular “roar,” an
uncertain number of poplars among the pines and the lack of a “vault,”
except for the rock-tomb of Pape’s untimely—proved so—burial. In both
the hope grew that, should they make good their escape with the
incriminating evidence against the little lawyer-leader, the gang’s work
on the flat would be suspended until after recovery of the documents.
Even should Allen force the search, on being freed, they were well
ammunitioned for rebuttal in court.

One by one—in silence this time—Pape again scanned the enigmatic lines.

“I’m here to say,” he made comment, “that granddad went in for
inexpensive verse. I’d say free, except that it rhymes.”

“Free? We’ve paid a greater price than you imagine, Peter Pape. And if
all we are to gain is the unmasking of Sam Allen——”

“We’re going to gain everything—more than you can imagine from the
little you love me yet,” he reassured her, not to mention himself. Then,
again, he took himself in hand. “I, for one, am getting in something of
a hurry,” he tacitly apologized. “If you’ll hold to our side-kick here,
I’ll take another scout.”

As before, he wriggled over the rim of their hideout; was gone ten
minutes or so; on his stealthy return made report:

“They’ve driven off our nags, but left a horse-cop on patrol. A pair of
patrolmen are snooping along the west wall and the northwest gate is
doubly guarded. The Allen pull sure has pulled fast and many, this early
evening. There is nothing to it but to lie low here until night. Mighty
sorry for you, precious pal. I know you’re about all in. But they ain’t
going to pinch Miss Jane Lauderdale, of _the_ Lauderdales, twice in the
same twenty-four hours—not in my extant company.”

“I’m afraid they’re going to have a chance.” The girl caught at his arm.
“The dog—didn’t he join you?”

“Kick? No. How did he get away?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry! He wrenched himself from me. I thought—I _hoped_ he
only wanted to follow you. Didn’t dare call out for fear——”

“Another false friend, eh? Looks like this is our day for uncovering
’em. The pup had a flea-bite of conscience, I reckon.”

Jane disagreed. “Not intentionally—_please_, not Kicko! Don’t make me
doubt everybody. It’s only that he likes a ‘party.’ The more the merrier
is his motto, if he has one.”

“And he’s gone for the more?”—Pape, rather grimly. “Well, they mustn’t
find us here, that police ‘party’ of his, whatever the motive back of
his invitation. The sooner we move on the safer. As a matter of fact,
I’m headed for another place—a perfect hide-out. If you feel able let’s
be stepping lively. If you don’t, I’ll enjoy stepping for you—that is to
say, toting you.”

They started up the hillside, keeping in the brush wherever such grew,
skulking low-backed across the open spaces. Although the girl scrambled
after him, evidently determined not to be a drag upon the hand to which
she desperately clung with her two, she lost her footing on the rock
when near the top and fell face forward. Her urgent little moan that he
go on without her was denied strongly by the pair of arms that gathered
her up, and clasped her like a woman, not a baby, against a heart
hard-hammering from more than the violent exercise. Thus did he step for
her—“tote” her to sortie’s end.

She felt herself deposited upon a wooden step. Looking up, she
recognized the stone block-house literally “perched” upon the top of the
precipitous granite hump up which they had come.

In the inspirational light of a refuge of to-day Pape had remembered
that olden fortress which he had been surveying when detected by the
“quail” cop, Pudge O’Shay.

Straightening to the sheet-iron door, he tried the knob, then the
comparative strength of his shoulder. But the protection so generously
accorded park rovers of earlier wars seemed denied them. Investigating
through one of the oblong loopholes, he saw that the door was fastened
with a spring lock which could be opened without a key from inside.
Straightway he gave his consideration to the fifteen-foot stone wall.

Never had the Westerner aspired to plaudits as a human fly, yet no
Hellroaring cliff had been sheer enough to forbid his ascent. Pulling
off his boots, he essayed the latest in difficulties stocking-footed;
after several slip-backs, went over the top. The door thrown wide, he
gathered Jane up and stumbled with her over a slab-like doorsill that
wobbled under their weight.

“Odd,” murmured the girl looking about, “that I should be hiding from
the law in this favorite relic of Grandfather Lauderdale! One of his
foibles as a Grand Army veteran was to come here at sunrise on victory
anniversaries and run up a flag on that staff. Some sentimental park
commissioner gave him a key and he never missed an occasion.”

“Might have left some furniture scattered about—a few _chaises longues_
and easy chairs,” Pape complained. “Still, you ought to rest easy on the
fact that those get-’em specialists will never think to look for us in

After making sure that the door had latched itself, he doffed his coat
and spread it for her to sit on, with her back to a cleaner-than-most
section of the wall. Although only the cuff of one out-flung sleeve
formed his seat, he felt more comfortable, by contrast with recent
rigors, than in all the long stretch of his past—or so he claimed to

The hour was the veribest of the whole twenty-four group, he reminded
her. Wouldn’t she enjoy it? Evening was lowering shadows into the park.
Didn’t she feel sifting into the roofless block-house the atmosphere of
rest-time and peace? Outside the trees were full of birds, as busy about
going to bed as the families of any flat-house in the city. Couldn’t she
imagine with him that the dulled clatter rising from the streets was the
rush of some great waterfall of the wild or of winds through a forest or
of hoofed herds pounding over a distant plain?

Soothing was Pape’s illusion that he was back in his limitless West, but
rudely was it broken. Slowly, soundlessly he got to his feet; approached
the sheet-iron door; with every sense alert, listened. A sharp knock had
sounded from without. No illusion was this. Jane, too, had heard. She
had straightened against the stone wall, in her wide eyes and tightened
lips the reflex of his thought.

Peace, safety, rest-time? Evidently, not for them!

Had some member of The Finest outwitted them? Was the block-house to
prove, not a refuge, but a trap?


For a moment silence tortured. Then sounded an imperative tapping
against the locked door.

Pape, standing within arm-reach of the handle, felt something hard and
cold slipped into his grasp; realized that Jane had re-armed him;
appreciated her mute suggestion that it would be better, were they known
to be blocked within, to take his chance of overcoming a single enemy
than to wait until reënforcements arrived.

A second he considered the automatic, before placing it in his pocket
ready for emergency in case his arms and fists could not decide the
issue. To throw open the door and drag inside the disturber would be the
best beginning to fight’s finish. He waved the girl toward the far wall;
soundlessly turned the latch; flung back with a jerk to admit——

Their pursuer was official, yes, although not so much so as they had
feared. With a bound he entered just below Pape’s ready fists—and on
four feet instead of two.

“Kicko—you scoundrel!”—Pape, sternly.

“Precious pup!”—Jane, caressingly, from the floor seat into which she
had collapsed from very weakness of her relief.

Pape mounted the wobbly doorstep and peered outside. No accompanying
officers loomed through the fast-falling shadows. Either the dog had
outsped them or had deserted them temporarily for some reason canine and
less comprehensible. On relatching the door and facing about, he saw
that reason.

The Belgian, his tail waving like a feather fan, trotted toward the
girl, swinging from his mouth a shiny object which explained why he had
bumped against and scratched at the door, instead of barking for
admittance. In Jane’s lap he deposited the tin lunch pail, to carry
which to his master at noon-time was his dearest duty and privilege.

More than curiosity as to its contents—an animal eagerness almost as
unrestrained as the dog’s, returned Pape to his former seat upon the
cuff of his coat and hurried his removal of the lid. Three hovered
gratefully over the removed contents of that pail. Certainly two were
ready to believe that the errand of the third had been as innocent as it
now looked. They gave the quondam deserter benefit of every doubt, if
only the dog’s share of the benefits he had brought.

“You’ve vindicated yourself, Towser,” remarked Pape. “The lady in this
case was right. She looks to me like one of the perfect kind that always
is—right, you know. _She_ said, old side-Kick, that you’d gone to bring
a party. And you sure have brought one—some party, this! From the depths
of the heart of my inner man, I crave your pardon.”

The Belgian’s grant of grace was as prompt as moist. His anxiety
centered upon a less subtle exchange.

“Oh, I am _so_ hungry—that’s mostly what made me collapse!” Jane sighed.
“You see, I’ve formed the bad habit of eating once in a while. I’d
quarrel over a crust of stale rye bread. But boiled-tongue-and-mustard
sandwiches, potato salad, apple pie—Peter, let’s _begin_!”

It did not take the three of them long to demonstrate that there was one
luncheon of which Shepherd Tom never should get a crumb. Between bites
Pape remembered aloud the herdsman’s rather dubious admission of Kicko’s
propensity at times to present the precious pail to the “wrong” person.
In this case, however, even he must have admitted that the wrong was the
right. As the edge of their hunger was dulled they deducted the
possibilities. Either the police dog had missed his master at the noon
hour or allowed himself to be distracted by some canine caprice.
Happening into the excitement of the posse, he had relinquished the pail
to join the chase. Afterward, having found preferred friends rather than
enemies to be the quarry, he had remembered duty neglected and broken
away to retrieve his pail.

The three-from-one meal ended, the girl took off her hat and settled
back against the stone wall with a smile the more æsthetic for its
physical content. The dog, although fuller of good-fellowship than of
food, emulated her smile in spirit if not in expression, stretched out
across their feet, gaped his mouth and flopped his tail. The man was
able to delight the more in that rare smile on Jane’s reposeful features
because released from crasser cravings. He leaned low toward her in the
dusk, as though to be under its downshed radiance.

Her beauty seemed to intensify—to be taking the light and making the
darkness. Small wonder, he thought, that blind eyes ached again to
behold that face, pure as marble alive, tender of line, yet strong—eyes
the purple of a royal mystery, lips the color of life, hair a black,
lustrous veil draped to reveal, rather than conceal.

“You look,” said he, “like the spirit of evening—the spirit that lures a
fellow away from the rest of the world and contents him with one warm
hearth-fire, one steady light, one complete companionship. Every man who
battles through his day hopes for that spirit at his eventide. I have
battled a bit to-day, Jane, and I—I can’t help hoping——”

“You believe in spirits, then?” she asked as if to cover, even in that
sympathetic light, the suggestion of his broken words.

He nodded. “Assorted kinds—liquid, ghosts—and you.”

“Then maybe you won’t laugh at my fancy—” her voice lowered
superstitiously—“that Grandfather Lauderdale’s spirit is hovering around
inside this block-house—_now_.”

He did laugh, but softly. “Aren’t you going to introduce us?”

“Oh, he wouldn’t like any such formality! I can just see him sizing you
up for himself with one glance of those blue, cliff-browed eyes of his.
He used to tell me my inmost little-girl secrets before I could confide
them to him, he was so second-sighted. The first time he brought me here
was at one of his flag-raising dawns. I was very small, but I’ll never
forget him, my tall, strong old fire-eater whom everybody but me thought
queer, with his magnificent head of thick, white, curling hair. A sort
of glory lit in his face from the rising sun and the tears staggered
through the furrows of his cheeks when the flag caught the breeze—spread
out its full assurance of the freedom he had fought to win.”

“Never mind that introduction. Already you have presented him to me.
Howdy, old-timer! Right glad to meet you.”

Pape, his grin gone, reached forward and grasped and shook the empty

“As I grew older,” Jane continued, “I came with him often. One time was
when they planted a bronze tablet in the outer wall as a tribute to the
outpost service which this house rendered in the War of 1812.”

“They did, eh? A tablet—for the War of——” More than before Pape looked
interested. “Maybe it ain’t granddad’s spirit, after all—maybe only the
ghost of association.”

“No, I’m sure it is he. Wait. Perhaps he has a message for us.” Still
with that vague smile on her lips, Jane closed her eyes and spoke
dreamily: “He _has_ a message. It is for me. He wants me to give you
what I’ve wanted to give you all along, my entire confidence—to tell you
that I’ve trusted you from first glance, no matter how I’ve acted—to
tell you just what is the improbable-sounding treasure that we’ve been
hunting so desperately, lest our enemies find and destroy it—to tell you
how and why the possession of it will clear my father’s name and restore
us to that ‘fortune forevermore’ promised in his cryptogram. You’ll be
incredulous at first, Peter Pape, but all will work out once we have
possession of—Listen, closely, now. That crock of the first verse

Pape, despite her allegedly mystic instructions, interrupted: “Don’t
want you to tell me! Won’t hear it!”

“Why-Not Pape,” her eyes flashed open, “you’re a—At least, you _might_
be said to be mulish, the way you stick to a point.”

“Did granddad’s spirit dictate that?” he enquired mildly.

“No. That’s thrown in on my own account. It is ridiculous for you to be
risking life and limb, reputation, money and comfort, for something
whose very nature you don’t know.”

“But I do know for what I’m risking all those little things.”

“For what, then?”

“For you.”

The pause that ensued may be utilized for the admission that Pape was
not as superior to curiosity as his stand would suggest. Indeed, he had
speculated, so far as his intelligence and knowledge would take him,
over the exact nature of the hidden hoard. He had heard of gold and
jewels buried by eccentrics of little faith in modern banks and presumed
that something such was deposited in the missing crock. Once Jane had
said that the buried treasure was “bigger than Central Park itself.”
Just now she had declared the desperation of their hunt due to fear lest
their enemies “destroy” it. Destroy what was bigger than Central Park
itself? She had added a new and confusing touch to the mystery.

“I set out to give you the common or garden variety of service,” he
explained his stand. “That’s a kind that don’t need to understand, that
digs ditches and wages wars and wins women. Don’t load me down with
knowledge now. Let me go all the way to trail’s-end—the crock—just
trusting that it will lead me to you.”

He bent that she should not miss his promising smile—twilight was mixing
with starlight by now.

“Isn’t faith best proved without words, dear?” he asked her. “If you
have any in me, this would seem a right good time to prove it. Cease
worrying. Trust me. Rest. Isn’t everything snug and _au fait_? You have
most everything you need—even a chaperone.”

“Meaning Kicko or that hoot-owl?”

“Meaning granddad’s spirit.”

“Oh ... all right ... I’ll try.”

After a time——

“Jane, tell the truth and shame the devil—don’t you prefer me to that


“Please prefer me.”

Perhaps his arm did more than his words to persuade her. At any rate,
with her head resting against his shoulder, she made admission.

“I do—prefer you to a stone wall, you know.”

“And aren’t you going to prefer me to everybody and everything? I don’t
wish to seem to be making love to you, Miss Lauderdale—not just yet. You
must admit that I have been very slow and steady.”

“Slow and steady—_you_?”

“But it would help to get that settled now. Aren’t you going to prefer
me, Jane?”

“I am. That is, I do now—did in fact from that first night when I picked
you out of a grand-tier of faces as the one man who——”

“Wait a minute! You say _you_ selected _me_?”

He took her by both shoulders; held her away from him; peered, startled,
into her eyes.

“Of course. But it was more instinct than reason that made me——”

“Well, if _you_ selected _me_—” and he replaced that head of hers,
veiled in soft, fragrant black, against the spot preferred to the
wall—“_I’m_ helpless.”

“But not hopeless, I hope?”

“Hopeless, when I’ve kissed you once and have hopes that—? Say, I want
to be slow and steady, to give you time to realize without being told
that you’re going to marry me. But if you self-selected me, Jane
Lauderdale, maybe you’ll notify me as to the soonest possible moment
when I’m due to kiss you again.”

She drew far enough away to peer into his eyes. Faint-smiling, yet
wholly serious, she considered. Then——

“Peter Pape, why not now?” she asked him.

Pape had other reasons than the girl’s weariness for persuading her to
try for a snatch of the sleep she might need against possible strain on
her nerve and endurance ahead. He wished to weigh—well, several
interesting observations.

For long after she had accepted his knee as a pillow, the rock floor as
a bed, a live-fur rug for her feet and his coat for her coverlet, he
pulled on his pipe; returned the dark scowl of the down-drooping night;
thought. The while, out-loud observations which had seemed to soothe
Polkadot on that previous trip to the block-house recurred to him. More
or less monotonously he crooned them over her like a lullaby.

“Don’t you hear the dog-wood yapping, dear?... Can’t you just imagine
those old-fashioned pop-guns popping?... Nothing to break the silences
save the shriek of ten thousand auto sirens.... No one around but
people—millions of ’em! Don’t it make you think of a little old home in
my great new West, where we’re to go one day—so like and yet so
different?... And Friend Equus is to go along, my heart, all the more
appreciative after his clash with the tame.... Yes, and you too, Police
Pup—if Shepherd Tom can be persuaded to let you resign from the Force.
He just may be willing after to-day’s mis-delivered lunch.

“Then list to the Nubian roar—much more like a lion it sounds than the
rumble of city streets.... List the whisper of poplars four—there would
be four, except that two have been white-circled into stumps.... Count
eighteen—twelve.... Take heart and delve.... Above the crock the block
will rock.... That block did rock—did rock—and rock——”

He leaned low; listened. Jane’s gentle, even breathing reported her
asleep. He was more pleased than by any of the wonderful things she had
done while awake—even than by that voluntary kiss, so precious as
compared with her involuntary first. She did really trust him and rest
in his protectorate, else could she never have been lulled by his
murmurings into unconsciousness. She must indeed have been spent, when
the growls and spasmodic foot work of the live fur rug did not disturb
her. Kicko, evidently, had lapsed into dog dreams of chases and fights.

The moon must be rising. Into the block-house was shed a weird, indirect
light. Then more and more direct it grew until, over the top of one
wall, appeared a large, round inverted bowl of a candle-power that
dimmed the kilowatt signs along the Gay Way.

Earlier in the evening, when he had spoken of waiting for darkness,
under cover of which to attempt an escape afoot, Pape might have
complained at the illumination of the sky. Now he beamed back at the
moon. And his complacency waxed with her light, although he realized
that bold young Dawn would be up to flirt with the pale night queen long
before her departure; that any attempt to escape from the park would not
be blanketed that night.

Let Luna reach the steps of her throne, he bade himself in thought, that
each corner of the old refuge house might be lighted. Let Jane have out
her sleep—happy he to guard her gracious rest. Let the Nubian roar of
power that was not leonine grow faint and die. Let the city and the
city’s Finest go off guard.

Time enough, then, to test application of the eccentric’s cryptogram,
copper-plated line by line, to a locality unsuspected by their enemies
and chosen by themselves quite through chance. Not a doubt shadowed his
mind as he awaited the zero hour. The lines fitted, every one.

“List’ to the Nubian roar”—to the night noises of the surrounding
metropolitan monster, uncaged in Zoo, never-sleeping, ever-pacing.

“And whisper of poplars four”—the branches of two staunch old rustlers
among the pines made silver lace of the moonlight just outside the wall.
Doubtless the two that had been sentenced to death had been very much
alive at the time of the cryptogram’s composition.

“’Tis on a height”—where was one so high to the hoary-headed veteran as
this on which he delighted to raise his country’s flag?

“Eighteen and twelve will show”—Jane had named these very figures as the
date on the memorial tablet placed in the wall without. Not rods, not
yards, not feet did they stand for, but a date.

“Begin below”—and below was a block that rocked “as rocks wrong’s

Not until the inverted bowl of the moon was a central ceiling light did
Why Not Pape move to answer the queer questions in his mind. Gently he
then lifted the coat-coverlet off the woman below; wrapped it into a
roll; with it replaced the pillow of his knee. A low command he gave the
police dog to lie still. Swiftly he crossed to the threshold stone,
tilted it far enough to one side to assure himself it was a thin slab
and muttered in a sort of ecstacy:

    “Count eighteen—twelve,
    Take heart and delve.”

His maximum of strength was required to turn the stone upon its back on
the floor of the block-house. Across the earth upon which it so long had
lain scurried the crawling things that thrive in under-rock dampness.
Down on his knees dropped Pape and, with a slate-like fragment of rock
which had broken off in the fall, began to remove the soft soil. Soon
the emergency implement met obstruction. No longer needing advice to
“take heart,” he cast aside the slate and began scooping out the earth
around this object with bare hands.

A heavy touch upon his arm shocked him into an over-shoulder glance. The
Belgian stood bristling just behind him; had tapped him with a paw
insistent for a share in the digging job. Willingly enough Pape accepted
his efficient aid down to the top of an earthen pot of the Boston bean
variety. More excited than in past hunts for seldom-found gold pockets
of his early prospecting days, the Westerner pushed aside the dog;
worked his two nail-torn hands down and down the smooth-curved sides.
With a slow tug, he lifted what he could no longer doubt was the crock
of the crypt. Reverently as though he were an acolyte bearing some holy
vessel to an altar, he carried it across the room and placed it at the
feet of the low-seated high-priestess drawn up against the wall.

“Am I dreaming?” she wondered aloud.

“Am I?” he answered by asking. “Or do I see a tall, strong old man, with
a shock of white hair and a laugh on his lips, raising a flag on yonder

He removed the lid and she the contents of that crock of “fortune

And thus was fulfilled one of the wild Westerner’s wishes—that he should
not know until he had found the object of his search. Thus, through
deeds and not words, he learned the nature of Granddad Lauderdale’s
buried hoard.

No helping of “a thousand on a plate,” as doughboy might have expected,
did Jane serve from the pot. No stream of gold fell through her fingers,
to puddle between them on the stone-flagged floor. No packets of
bank-notes crinkled in her grasp. No king’s-ransom jewels blinked in the
night-light after their long interment. Yet was the girl’s prediction
proved true that he scarcely could believe at first the nature of their
find. Stupidly he stared. Only slowly could his mind, face its surprise
and its enormity.


At ten o’clock next morning a taxicab carrying three fares drew out of
the Fifth Avenue “pass” and stopped before the Sturgis house. A woman
and one of the men alighted. The second remained seated, his waiting
rôle evidently prearranged, as the pair did not so much as nod back at
him. Ascending the stone flight, they rang the front bell, as strangers
might. In due time the door swung open.

“Miss Jane—thank Heaven you’re alive and back again!” Jasper’s
exclamation was fervent beyond all rules of butlership. “Mr. Pape, good
morning, sir. Your arrival is timely, too. They have been telephoning in
all directions to locate you. Such excitement, Miss Jane, as we’ve been

“_They_, Jasper?” The girl faced about in the vestibule.

“The madame, Mrs. Sturgis, and Judge Allen. He has had a fall and broken
his shoulder, we fear. Mr. Harford, also, was in some sort of accident.
An automobile struck him, I believe.”

“Accidents all round, eh?” Pape enquired. “Ain’t that odd?”

“Indeed, yes, sir—odd and unfortunate.”

Distressed as he looked, Jasper might have joined in the exchanged smile
of the younger pair, had he known how fortuitous, if odd, was this
gathering of those persons concerned in the pending crock’s-bottom
settlement. Indeed, since the lid had been lifted from the bean pot of
fabulous store, circumstances had worked with them.

Their exit from the block-house and the park had been shared with that
of the many young couples driven from Eden at the strokes of midnight.
With the crock between them wrapped in Pape’s coat, they had sauntered
out Pioneers Gate unmolested by the law so lately hot at their heels.
Straight to the yellow brick on East Sixty-third they had whirred
themselves and their find; had seen triumph complete in a pair of
outward-blinded eyes which could reflect glad sights from within.

Only an hour off after breakfast did Pape ask for the rescue of his
equine pal from the granite-spiked corral that flanks the mid-park
stables. This was effected by a ransom payment insignificant as compared
with the paint-pony’s joy. He was then ready for the business of this
first day of real togethership with his self-selected—she who admittedly
herself had selected him.

Of the quartette in the luxurious living-room upstairs, Irene Sturgis
was the first to exclaim their unannounced entry.

“Jane—and still with _him_—the impossible person!”

The histrionic horror in her voice brought Mills Harford to his feet;
contrary-wise, sank Mrs. Sturgis into the depths of a wing-chair; broke
up the council of war under way beside the couch on which lay the
wounded little judge.

“Good morning, one and all!”

The cheer of Jane’s greeting was not reflected in the faces of those

“We hardly hoped to find you bunched up and waiting for us like this,”
Pape added with something of a flourish. “Saves sending for you.”

The matron straightened on the edge of her chair and, with a precise
expression, inspected first him, then her niece. “You two spent the
night together, I assume?”

“Most of it, auntie, at a spiritualistic seance in Central Park.”

Pape chuckled. “The most inspiring I ever attended.”

“_Jane_—and you the girl I counted on as so reliable! My Irene is steady
by contrast. You pretend to go visiting friends and only let us know
your whereabouts when you get arrested. One night in a police
station-house and the next—I presume—at least, I _hope_, for all our
sakes, that you thought to marry this—this young man before bringing him

“Marry, mother—that _brute_?” Irene slithered from her seat on the arm
of the chair recently vacated by the handsome real-estater. Throwing
herself upon her cousin’s neck with a freshet of real tears, she wailed:
“Oh, my poor dar-rling—our _poor_ old Janie! No matter what your
mistakes, you are more to be pitied than punished. Don’t lay your neck
on the altar of matrimony for this outlaw. I am sure there’s a good man
and true somewhere in the world for you, even though he does seem a long
time showing up. Don’t be overcome by this Wild West stuff. _I_ know
full well that he has his fatal fascinations. _I_ was once but a bird
held in his snake-like spell, until my Harfy saved me from the high seas
of his tyranny and the burning blast of his——”

“Enough, Rene. Loose me. You’ll drown me with brine if you don’t smother
me first,” begged the object of her anxiety.

The more Jane struggled, however, the tighter did the bob-haired cousin

“But, you poor thing, I know he’ll turn on you one day and beat you up!
You saw how he treated my Harfy—a man and his superior in every way—how
he rained blow after blow on his priceless pate. What _wouldn’t_ he do
to a weak woman in his power? Don’t you go and get desperate just
because—Luck in love always seems to run my way, don’t you think so—or
do you? Harfy was so nice-nice when he was coming to and so suppressed.
I _dote_ on suppression. Do you—or don’t you? He just gazed at me with
all his _soul_ when I asked the question I knew he was too used up to
ask me. And we’re going to have the biggest church wedding of any girl
in my set, with all the trimmings, just as soon as mother can manage it.
Aren’t we, dar-rling?”

“It seems—that we are.”

In the admission, her challenged fiancé looked neither into the black
eyes of his perquisitory young lady of to-day nor the blue ones of her
upon whom he had pressed his heart and hand on every available occasion
in their near past. His expression was that of one who acknowledges
himself vanquished—and by a victor fairer than the fight.

“Since, madame, you approve and even urge my suit for your niece’s
hand”—and Pape frowned deeply before the disdainful matron—“I’ll go one
better than Harfy by admitting without being told to that I have
assented. Although we aren’t married yet-yet, Irene, we’re going to be
right soon-soon. That was as unalterable from the first as the laws of
gravity—or of levity. By way of trimmings, we have a score or two to
settle first with three of you folks, which is why we came.”


The pudgy jurist had risen painfully on one elbow and now sent the
warning word in company with a look—same sort—Mrs. Sturgis’ way.

“Thank God we are not too late, Helen,” he added after a
throat-clearance, “to save dear Jane from this schemer. As I hoped, the
formalities of our marriage law have not been complied with. This leaves
you free to act as the foolish girl’s nearest of kin. It will be easy to
secure an order from one of my friends at court restraining her further
activities by committing her into your care.”

“It will take more than an order from such friends at court as you will
have after to-day to restrain Jane,” Pape suggested pleasantly.

“Clearly she has acted under undue influence from you so far, young
man,” Allen continued with impressment. “Were you half as clever as
conspicuous you’d have got the ceremony over before coming here to
threaten her family. As the husband of an orphaned young woman you might
have had something to say, but——”


With the interruption Pape crossed to one of the Fifth Avenue windows
and there busied himself with a quite unnecessary readjustment of the

The lady of the house was apparently too disturbed to resent this new

“You know how I dread the courts, Samuel. Let me first try suasion.” In
emotionful appeal she turned to Jane. “For sake of the dear, dead sister
who was your mother, I beg you, as one who has tried to take a mother’s
place, to give up this ill-timed attack of folly and this impossible
man. Perhaps you inherited the tendency, for she also made a sad mistake
in choosing her mate.”

“She did?” the “orphan” asked quietly, her eyes on the velvet hangings
of the hall door.

“In marrying a Lauderdale—practically a pauper despite the family
obsession of their claim to vast estates in the Borough of the Bronx—she
ruined her life. She, too, became obsessed through his power to control
her thoughts. Her life, as well as his, was one long nightmare of
crown-grants, wills, deeds, what-nots. She died of it, dear, just as
your father afterwards went down under disgrace and gloom. Now you,
child, stain your white hands with this black magic. Excited by the
craze for adventure of this person, you let yourself be led into
indiscretions that bid fair to ruin you. Why not give him up now—this
morning? I’ll stand by you no matter what is said.”

“Me, too, dar-rling,” chimed in Irene. “I’ll soon be a matron, you know,
and I’ll find you some adequate male, up-to-date though honest, whom
we’ll persuade to forget and forgive.”

Aunt Helene, her breath regained, pleaded further: “Listen to this
before you leap, my child. Despite what your grandfather left in the way
of puzzle-charts, Judge Allen and I, acting in your interest, have at
last satisfied ourselves that there is nothing—quite nothing of the
slightest material value to you buried in Central Park. We didn’t intend
to tell you so soon, but all last night the judge had a crew of men
working at a spot indicated in the cryptogram.”

“And how did he get the instructions of the cryptogram?” Jane enquired.
“No one saw it before it was stolen but me.”

“_Jane_, that you should speak to me in that suspicious tone! Had I been
given opportunity, I should have told you that yesterday the contents of
your antique snuff-box were secretly exchanged for the large reward
which I offered in your name, presumedly by the thief who stole it from
my safe.”

“You don’t say, ma’am? So! It was, eh?” The Westerner was rather
explosive from acute interest.

The matron ignored him. “The judge, Jane, followed directions and
discovered a crock—large and open topped, like the sort dill pickles are
made in. But, alas, it contained nothing but a half-witted old man’s
keepsakes—scraps of his unutterable poetry, ribbon-tied parcels of
yellowed love-letters, pressed flowers and a wisp of some woman’s hair.
Were your father alive, I’d feel I should take some of my own fortune
and make restitution of his frauds upon the collateral heirs. But since
he’s dead and gone, I don’t exactly feel——”

“Not altogether gone, Helene, yet not in need of your restitution!”

At the voice, Mrs. Sturgis smothered a scream; turned; stared.

Through the portières that closed off the hall stepped Curtis
Lauderdale, led from the taxi by the driver thereof in answer to Pape’s
signal from the window.

Verily an apparition did he look to the four who had accepted the report
of his death. Mrs. Sturgis, with hands grasping behind her, was backing
as though from a ghost. The little jurist did not move, but all the
apple color had departed his cheeks. Irene’s red-rouged lips could not
pale, but at least her mouth was agape. Harford stiffened, as though
preparing for attack.

One on either side, Jane and Pape crossed to the latecomer and lined up
the triumvirate. Accurately the blind eyes fixed on Allen. In direct
address the long unheard lips began to speak.

“We meet again, Sam, my trusted counsellor and cherished friend. With
your mask torn off, you look more changed to me than I possibly can to
you. Oh, don’t waste time with denials! I’d need to be blinder than
mustard gas could make me not to see you as you are. For years you
traded upon the gullibility of my father. You persuaded him that fortune
would build bigger and faster if he withheld proof of title to our Bronx
estates and let the Guarantee Investors develop a property that has
belonged to the Lauderdales since the grant of King James. You overcame
his needs and his children’s needs with false promises of rich reward
when he eventually would claim the improved acreage. And after letting
him die in half-crazed poverty, with his mysterious instructions unfound
and our title proofs buried with them, you advised me to raise money
from the collateral heirs and institute a court fight to establish our
rights. And it was you, I feel sure, who brought these heirs before the
Grand Jury that indicted me for fraud just after I had sailed for
Somewhere in France.”

A moment Lauderdale paused in the controlled fury of his accusation,
brushed a hand across his eye-lids and moistened his lips.

“But the crookedest lane has its end, Sam Allen. My chief treasure you
could not take from me—a glorious girl child born to retribution. To her
aid came this real-man sample from out the West. Working together they
have recovered every necessary document, even to my parent’s last will
and testament. We are ready and able now to right the most grievous
wrong ever perpetrated in the medium of New York real estate—to force
your company to turn over a thousand acres in the heart of the Bronx and
to make restitution, under your guarantee, to innocent purchasers, even
if it breaks you as you would have broken——”

He was stopped by the grasp which Pape had put on his arm.

“Don’t dump all the onus on the judge, Mr. Lauderdale,” he advised. “We
mustn’t forget that he is a lawyer, hence full of wriggles. Best leave
his punishment to me and that more easily proved charge of the Montana
Gusher oil-stock fraud. There is one among those present, to approach
the subject guardedly, who is more directly responsible for the Bronx
realty steal than His Honor.”

Even Jane, close as she had been to the queer questioner throughout
recent developments, was startled by his statement. What sort of a lone
hand was he playing?

Allen’s pudgy palms clasped. Aunt Helene eyed one, then another of the
group, as though bewildered.

Only Pape’s gaze did not wander. It turned from the blind man’s face to
fix upon that of Mills Harford. At the silent accusation, Irene sprang
toward him, no longer a kitten, but a flare-eyed mother-cat in defense
of her own.

“Don’t you dare accuse my Harfy, you cave-brute!” she cried. “Just
because he makes _money_ out of real-estate isn’t any reason to jump at
the _conclusion_ that he——”

“Right, Rene.” Pape had a sympathetic grin for her vehemence. “I was
only considering your Harfy as a possible witness to the truth. Cross my
heart, I ain’t got a thing against him personally, now that he has
consented to take you instead of——”

“You horrid, hateful thing!” she screamed. “What do you _mean_ by
‘consented to’——”

“Stand corrected, miss, soon to be madame. Now that you have consented
to take him instead of aspiring to me.”

“Beast! However could I have thought you nice-nice?”

“Can’t say, unless it is that I am—sometimes.”

Jane broke up their sprightly exchange with the serious demand: “But the
some one more directly responsible?”

“Be done with innuendo, young man!” Mrs. Sturgis rose to her feet, with
every inch of her scant height counting. “A gentleman—one of whom we say
‘to the manner born’—makes no accusation without proof.”

“I don’t need to make accusation or present proof to you, madam.”

“You’re not trying to insinuate——”

Many lights had Pape seen in women’s eyes, but never one as startled,
angry and afraid as that flashed him by Aunt Helene. Next moment she
attempted a light laugh that ended with a nervous crescendo.

“You, too, must be mad.”

“At least that,” he admitted cheerfully. “You’ve known why for several
minutes past. You acknowledge the judge here as your advisor, don’t

“I certainly do.”

“Better ask his advice, then, without further delay. I’ve an idea he’ll
tell you to come across clean—admit that you are The Guarantee
Investors, Incorporated, who have been trying to grab off the
Lauderdales’ Bronx ranch and put Jane here out of the heiress class.
Come, madam! Any woman who can rob her own safe and give the alarm and
play-act the grief of a whole wake afterwards certainly ought to get a
great deal out of a confession scene. Suppose you take your
family-friend tool and your in-law-to-be into the library for a
conference. Just possibly I—the outlaw-that-was—can show Mr. and Miss
Lauderdale reasons why they should listen to a plea for mercy.”

Before Pape had finished, the small jurist was on his feet in acceptance
of the suggestion. The wilt of guilt drooped the matron into the arms of
her child. As one woman they were supported toward the door by Mills

“It was all my poor husband’s idea, not my own,” Aunt Helene was heard
to defend to an interlude of sobs. “And with him, as with me, it was all
because we did so want our poor Irene to have the fortune her beauty
deserves. We knew how impractical the Lauderdales were. He didn’t
believe they ever could make good their claim to the Bronx estate. We
both thought it would be better for our own dear child to have it than
some outsider. When he realized that he couldn’t live to see the plan
through he charged me to carry it out. Of course I meant to make proper
provision for Jane if——”

The door closed behind them.

When the triumvirate stood alone, low-voiced and happier exchanges

“How did you know, son?”

“Didn’t know. Aunt Helene seemed too good to be true, so I just stayed
on a busted flush and finished a winner. Why not?”

“Why not, indeed?” Jane showed sufficient knowledge of the game to pay
over what was due the taker of the pot.

“Welcomed at last to Lonesome Town—welcomed with open arms!” exulted he
who so recently had had to welcome himself.


And that very night Broadway saw new reason to believe in its signs. Out
over Times Cañon winked a re-lettered electric message that lit the
imagination as does every such happy ending and happier start:

                       MR. AND MRS. WHY-NOT PAPE

                                THE END

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