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Title: By Right of Conquest - A Novel
Author: Hornblow, Arthur, 1865-1942
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.

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[Illustration: Book Cover]



POPULAR BOOKS BY
ARTHUR HORNBLOW


John Marsh's Millions

Fifth Large Edition

The struggle of a young girl, heiress to millions, to protect her
rights.

    "Has many thrilling dramatic situations."--_St. Louis
    Post-Dispatch._


The Third Degree

70th Thousand

A brilliant novelization of Charles Klein's great play.

    "A strongly-painted picture of certain conditions in the
    administration of law and justice."--_Philadelphia Record._


By Right of Conquest

100th Thousand

A thrilling story of shipwreck, upon a deserted island, of a
millionaire's daughter and a common stoker.

    "A sensational situation handled with delicacy and vigor."--_Boston
    Transcript._


The End of the Game

75th Thousand

A love story of deep human interest, dealing with the perils of great
wealth.

    "A thoroughly wholesome book, with action in the drama and real
    human interest."--_Literary Digest._


The Profligate

60th Thousand

A modern rake's progress and thrilling story of love, mystery and
adventure.

    "The moral tone of the story is excellent."--_Baltimore Sun._


The Lion and the Mouse

180th Thousand

A brilliant novelization of Charles Klein's tremendously popular play.

    "Mr. Hornblow, in the novel, has given something quite as
    interesting, quite as fascinating, as Mr. Klein has in his
    play."--_Boston Transcript._



[Illustration: WHAT RIGHT HAD HE TO ACCOST HER?
_Frontispiece. Chap. XVII. Page 282._]



BY RIGHT OF CONQUEST

a Novel
BY
ARTHUR HORNBLOW
Author of "The Profligate," "The End of the Game,"
"The Lion and the Mouse" (from the play), etc.


[Illustration]


Illustrations by
ARCHIE GUNN and CHARLES GRUNWALD


G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY
PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK


_Copyright, 1909,_
BY
G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY.



CONTENTS.


  Chapter                                                           Page
      I                                                                7
     II                                                               31
    III                                                               57
     IV                                                               66
      V                                                               84
     VI                                                               95
    VII                                                              113
   VIII                                                              125
     IX                                                              142
      X                                                              161
     XI                                                              184
    XII                                                              199
   XIII                                                              213
    XIV                                                              233
     XV                                                              247
    XVI                                                              256
   XVII                                                              276
  XVIII                                                              284
    XIX                                                              298
     XX                                                              305
    XXI                                                              314
   XXII                                                              334



ILLUSTRATIONS.

                                                                    Page
  What right had he to accost her? _Frontispiece_                    282
  It was all they could do to drag him on board                       54
  Never in his life had he beheld a woman so fair                    147
  "No--you're not! I'm going with you"                               351



CHAPTER I.


In a dark, dirty, foul-smelling room back of a small ship-chandler's
store on West Street, four sailormen were seated at a table, drinking,
quarreling, cursing. The bottle from which they had imbibed too freely
contained a villainous compound that ensured their host a handsome
profit, set their brains afire, and degraded them to the level of the
beast. Not that their condition in life was much better than that of the
dumb brute. Animals often enjoy more creature comforts, are better
housed and more kindly treated.

They were not really sailors, for in their long experience on the high
seas they had never reefed a sail or hauled on a rope. Only too often
they never got so much as a glimpse of God's blue sky or the immense
stretches of tumbling, foaming ocean. They were the galley-slaves of
modern seagoing--the stokers, the men with oily skin and heat-bleared
eyes, who toil naked in the bowels of the giant steamship, each crew
doing its "watch" of four hours in a dark pit at the bottom of the huge
vessel, deprived of air and sunlight, firemen and trimmers working
feverishly in a maddening temperature of 140 degrees and over, thrusting
and pulling with rod and rake in the insatiable maw of the raging
furnace. The hot blasts scorch the men's faces and blister their skins,
yet they are compelled to keep up the furious pace. They must never
slacken, for on their muscles and their nerves depend the speed of the
ship and the prestige of the line. So they shovel faster and faster,
tirelessly, endlessly, the flying coal-dust settling on their sweating
faces and bare bodies until they lose semblance to anything human and
recall those lurid pictures of the Inferno in which Satan's imps, armed
with pitch-forks, thrust back shrieking sinners, condemned to
everlasting torment, who are struggling to escape from the bottomless
pit. That the luxurious liner may break a record and retain the
patronage of the millionaire passengers reclining indolently on the
promenade-decks above, the unknown, unseen slaves in the hellish
regions below must shovel, shovel, shovel, always faster, faster until
at last nature gives way. Exhausted by fatigue, overcome by the killing
heat, the man falls headlong. They pick him up and carry him on deck,
where the pure air may or may not revive him. Perhaps he is already
dead. His filthy, almost unearthly appearance chills the sympathies of
the fastidious cabin passengers. Who is he? What's happened? "Only a
stoker!" yawns some one, and all go unconcernedly down to dinner.

       *       *       *       *       *

The time passed and the men still loafed in the chandler's shop,
drinking and arguing. The day was already advanced, the active, busy
world without summoned them urgently to duty, at noon their ship would
cast off her moorings and steam majestically out to sea, and yet the
four firemen sat idly in the evil-smelling den, noisy in drunken
argument--all but one man, a big, athletic-looking fellow, who drank in
sullen silence. Occasionally one of them would stop and glance furtively
in the direction of the street, as if apprehensive that an unwelcome
visitor might suddenly put in an appearance.

But no one disturbed them, not even Schmalz, the proprietor of the
place, a fat, tousled-headed German, who found his customers too
profitable to quarrel with. As fast as bottles were emptied, he replaced
them, and that he sold liquor without going through the formalities of
procuring a license was evident from his catlike movements, the absence
of any outward signs of the clandestine traffic, and his extreme care to
keep the inner room and its occupants well secluded from observation.

The outer shop was typical of the many nautical stores of its kind
scattered along New York's waterfront. It contained everything a sailor
needs, from yellow oilskins, thick woolen socks, and blue jerseys to
fried herrings, pickles, and mustard plasters. The atmosphere was heavy
with an agglomeration of different and conflicting smells--fish, tar,
paint, garbage, and stale tobacco. From time to time customers dropped
in, and Schmalz, shrewd and urbane, exercised his talents inducing them
to buy, the while keeping one cautious eye on his open money-drawer, the
other on his boisterous patrons in the inner room.

From the street came refreshing whiffs of salty air and the roar of
heavy traffic rolling along the busy thoroughfare. Trucks groaning and
creaking under mountains of merchandise, cabs filled with travelers and
piled high with baggage, slowly threading their way in and out to trains
and steamers, rickety horse-cars, crowded to the guard-rails, hucksters'
push-carts, piled high with decaying fruit, bewildered immigrants, fresh
from the Old World, nimble commuters from the suburbs hurrying to and
from the ferries--all these, men, horses, and vehicles were tangled up
in seeming hopeless confusion. Along the water's edge, where the
four-mile line of docks sheltered the world's shipping, arose a forest
of ship-masts, with here and there gigantic funnels of ocean liners,
belching smoke as they made ready for their journey to the sea. From
mid-river came the shrill tooting of mosquito-like tugs, and the
churning sound of ferry-boats as they glided from shore to shore.

"Naw, Jack, my boy, it's too blarsted risky," said decisively one of the
four, a short, stocky man, with a pock-marked face and cockney accent.
"'Tain't no good arguin' an' chewin' the rag any longer, ye know. I
won't do it, an' that's all there's to it."

"Shorty's dead right," spoke up another of the men, as he drained his
glass. "We'd be caught, sure as yer name's Jack Armitage."

"Bah!" grunted the third man. "Wot's the good of kickin'? If it isn't
one thing, it's another--so wot's the use?"

The foregoing remarks were directed principally at the big,
straight-limbed fellow who sat at the table in sullen silence, his face
buried in his folded arms. He vouchsafed no answer to his comrades'
arguments. Lifting his head, he turned his bloodshot eyes on them, and,
as if to show his utter contempt for their opinion, he shrugged his
massive shoulders and, picking up the whiskey-bottle, refilled his
glass.

Apparently a few years younger than his associates, he was a clean-cut,
good-looking fellow with a smooth face, and regular features, and there
was something in his manner, an air of authority in the toss of his
head, which suggested that he might be fashioned of a different clay,
yet his grimy skin and oil-stained, coal-blackened clothes indicated
that his condition of life was the same. His eyes were red from
drinking and there were grim lines about his mouth that prompted his
companions to leave him to himself. They knew their customer.

In the stokers' forecastle Jack Armitage had made himself quickly known
as a man whom it was unwise to monkey with. Directly he joined the ship,
he gave them to understand that clearly. The cock of the boiler-room, a
bully who had heretofore run things to suit himself, rashly started an
argument with the newcomer, and before he knew what had hit him, he was
a fit subject for the hospital. Quick to admire physical strength, his
comrades respected Armitage after that episode, and they nicknamed him
Gentleman Jack, because his English was straighter than theirs and
because he appeared to have known better days. Sometimes they hailed him
as "Handsome," because of his shape, regular features and wavy hair. Of
his history they knew nothing, and seeing that he was moody and
uncommunicative, no one ventured to arouse his wrath by asking questions
that he might consider too personal. Besides, no one cared. There's no
"Who's Who?" in a steamer's stoke-hold. A natural refuge for the scum
of the cities--for those wanted by the police as well as for those who
have failed--even a detective will hesitate to follow his quarry into
the red jaws of hell itself. To this, as much as anything else, the
stoke-hold owes its reputation as the modern Sanctuary.

So they let Armitage alone. He did his "shift" along with the rest,
gaining promotion first as coal-passer, then as trimmer, then as
fireman. His services were valued because of his great strength and
power of endurance. He could go on raking and pulling out fires long
after his mate had fallen back exhausted. But with his superiors he was
not very popular. Discontented, intolerant of discipline, mutinous, he
was nearly always in trouble, and, owing to his violent, uncontrollable
temper, quarrels were incessant even with his comrades. They feared him
more than they loved him, and perhaps this explained why his present
attempt to induce them to desert ship just before sailing-time had not
met with much success.

The first speaker went on:

"They'll catch ye, it's a cinch! Then it'll go hard wid ye. 'Tain't no
worser for you than for the rest of us. The boiler-room's bad enough, I
grant ye that, but it's a darn sight better than goin' to jail. What do
you say, Dutch?" he demanded, turning to another.

Armitage maintained his sulky silence. The man called "Dutch," a
lantern-jawed chap with red hair and a squint, expectorated a long
stream of saliva on the floor before replying. Shifting his quid, he
said:

"I guess Shorty's right, Jack. I ain't no fonder of doin' the suicide
act in that hell-hole than ye is yerself. I'd quit right now, and never
want to see the sight of a bloomin' ship again. But we've signed for the
voyage, ain't we? We must grin and bear it for another trip. The law
gives 'em the right on us. I'm goin' back now, before I'm taken back.
What d'ye say, Bill?"

Bill, already half-seas over, nodded in a stupid, maudlin manner. He had
drunk so much that he could hardly keep his head up, and the words came
thickly from his lips:

"Desert ship?--hie! No, siree! Hie! Ye remember--Robinson, who tried to
beat it at Naples? Hie! They didn't do a thing to him--almost fed the
bloody furnace with him, that's all! No, siree, no pier-head jumps for
me!"

The clock in the outer shop struck eleven. Shorty jumped to his feet.

"Say, lads!" he exclaimed, with another nervous glance toward the
street. "The blessed ship sails in another hour. We'll be missed and
they'll be after us, sure as yer born. I'm goin' back right now. Who's
comin'?"

Bill and "Dutch" staggered with difficulty to their feet. While Shorty
settled accounts with the urbane Schmalz, "Dutch" turned to Armitage,
who remained seated at the table.

"Ain't ye goin' back, Jack?" he demanded, as he shot with expert aim
another stream of saliva into Schmalz's cracked cuspidor.

Armitage raised his head and glared at them. There was a look in his
face that made "Dutch" wince. Hoarsely, savagely he burst out:

"You call yourselves men! You're nothing but a lot of white-livered,
whining curs! You've had a taste of hell in that ship, and you want to
go back and endure another three months of it, because you haven't
manhood enough to put an end to it. I'll not sail, I tell you. They'll
never take me back, do you hear?"

"Does ye mean ye goin' to desert?" demanded Shorty, eyeing the big
fellow with astonishment.

The other two men stared at him, open-mouthed. "Dutch" scratched his
head, and, to better conceal his emotion, let go another flyer of saliva
at the cuspidor. Then, with great deliberation, he bit off another chew
of tobacco, and said, with a nasal drawl:

"P'r'aps we might make so bold as to inquire of the gen'l'man what 'ee's
goin' ter do fer a livin'. I allus suspected he didn't 'ave ter work if
'ee didn't 'ave ter. But if 'ee's come in for a fortune 'ee might let
'is pals know summat about it."

"I guess 'ee's gwine ter be a bloomin' bondholder and cut his coupons!"
grinned Bill, in a feeble attempt at jocularity.

Armitage bit his lip and scowled. He was in no humor for jests, and his
hand moved dangerously in the direction of the empty whiskey-bottle.
Bill ducked and the other men immediately gave the table a wider berth.
Shorty cast another nervous glance at the clock.

"Come, boys," he said impatiently. "We ain't got no time to lose. Stop
yer foolin', Armitage. Let's get back to the ship, or there'll be the
devil to pay."

There was a moment of silent suspense. The other men looked toward
Armitage, who did not stir. Shorty stepped forward and shook him by the
arm. Armitage jerked himself free with an oath, and, raising his fist,
powerful as a sledge-hammer, brought it down on the table with a force
that made the glasses dance. His eyes literally blazed with fury as he
turned on his comrades.

"Go and be damned!" he shouted. "Go back to the ship and tell 'em to
count me out. I'll go to hell soon enough without getting hell here,
too. Don't worry about what'll become of me. I guess I'll be all right.
Anyhow, I'm not goin' back, do ye hear? If I was a coward, afraid to
call my soul my own, like you fellows, it'd be different. But I ain't!"

Shorty flushed up. He had been a champion light-weight boxer before
things went wrong and he took to the sea, and he resented this
reflection on his personal courage. He had not yet had an encounter with
Armitage, but he knew enough of the science of self-defense not to be as
much intimidated by the big fellow as were the rest of his shipmates.
Advancing spunkily, he retorted:

"No man ever yet called me a coward, 'Handsome,' an' I ain't goin' to
take it from you. If it comes to a showdown, the coward's the chap as
deserts 'is ship, not the chap as stands by 'is signed articles."

Armitage sprang to his feet, his six feet of athletic masculinity
towering above them all.

"Clear out! Clear out!" he shouted, wildly waving his arms. "Clear out
before I kill one of you!"

Bill and "Dutch" obeyed with almost ludicrous alacrity, and retreated
into the outer shop, but Shorty pluckily stood his ground. Before
Armitage could lay hands on him, the cockney closed to the attack, a
sinewy arm shot out like a flash, and there was a thundering smack as
the blow went home on Armitage's jaw.

For a brief moment the athlete staggered, but more from sheer surprise
than anything else. Then, with a volley of fierce expletives, he made a
savage rush at his adversary. The men clinched, arms and legs whirled
around in a cyclone of dust, tables and chairs were sent crashing to all
corners of the room. It was all over in a minute. By the time Schmalz,
terrified by the noise of the fracas, ran in to see what was the matter,
Shorty was lying on his back on the floor, bleeding profusely from the
nose.

While Bill and "Dutch" helped the worsted ex-champion to a chair,
Armitage coolly readjusted the rest of the scattered furniture, and,
resuming his seat at the table, bellowed at Schmalz, who stood,
open-mouthed:

"Don't stand grinning there, you blamed fool! Let's have some more
whiskey. This scrapping makes one thirsty."

Schmalz hesitated. He stood in no little fear of his burly customer. On
the other hand, it was dangerous to let him go on drinking. There was no
telling what he might do. He looked from Shorty, who was trying to stop
his nose-bleed, to the broken glasses on the floor.

"I guess you haf enough alretty yet," he growled.

Armitage struck the table viciously.

"Don't stand chinning there!" he shouted. "Bring some booze on the
double quick, or it'll be the worse for you!"

With a helpless shrug of his shoulders, Schmalz went after more liquor.
Shorty, partly recovered from the knock-out, staggered painfully to his
feet and made for the door, followed by "Dutch" and Bill. When he
reached the threshold, the defeated fireman turned and shook his fist at
Armitage.

"Yer'll be sorry for this, 'Handsome'!" he shouted. "I'll get even with
ye afore the day's out."

Armitage shrugged his shoulders by way of answer, and the three men
slouched out. As Shorty passed Schmalz in the outer store, he said to
the German in an undertone:

"Look out for him, d'ye hear? He's a bad 'un. He's not to be trusted!"

Jerking his thumb significantly in the direction of the cash-drawer, he
whispered:

"He'd as soon cut your throat as not--for what ye've got there."

Schmalz turned pale. Shorty went on:

"I've got an account to square with him. Give him all the whiskey he
wants. Keep him here until we can get back to the steamer. They'll come
and nab him. Serve him right. He's better out of yer way."

"Ya-ya!" exclaimed Schmalz nervously, "But mach schnell, eh?"

The men hurried away, leaving their irate shipmate to his own
reflexions. For a long time after their departure there reigned a
perfect quiet, which seemed all the more intense by contrast with the
recent turmoil. Schmalz, busy at his desk, absorbed in the arduous task
of disentangling his accounts, gave no heed to his quarrelsome customer,
who, now that the immediate cause of his irritation was removed, was
inclined to be more amiable. His sullenness of manner disappeared and he
seemed even willing to argue amicably with his host the merits of the
recent affray. Schmalz paid no attention, yet the fireman talked on. It
wasn't his fault, he insisted. Shorty had called him names, and he
wouldn't stand that from any man. He knew what he was about. Flesh and
blood simply couldn't stand that stoke-hold any longer. Only the last
trip, one of the men collapsed under the strain. Seized with "stoker's
madness," he had rushed to the deck and jumped overboard. He'd had
enough of such horrors. He'd die rather than return to the ship.

"D'ye hear, Schmalz?" he shouted, to better attract his host's
attention. "I tell ye I'm through with seagoing. They'll never get me
back!"

Schmalz, however, turned a deaf ear. He was unwilling or else too busy
to listen. So, finding that he had no one to whom he could impart his
sorrows, Armitage turned once more to the whiskey-bottle, with the idea
of drowning them. The strong liquor soon had the effect of making him
drowsy. His head dropped heavily on his broad chest and his snores shook
the room.

He might have slept in this way for hours without disturbance, only
Schmalz clumsily dropped a tray, and the sudden crash aroused the
stoker with a start. Rubbing his eyes, he turned eagerly to the clock,
and a look of satisfaction overspread his face. The _Atlanta_ would soon
be on her way to the Mediterranean. Half an hour more and he would have
nothing to fear. They would have sailed without him. Then he need skulk
no longer in this den. He could go forth a free man, at liberty to do
what he chose.

But as his befuddled brain began to clear, he grew uneasy. He knew the
boiler-room was short-handed. They must have discovered his absence.
Shorty and the others, in revenge, would be likely to peach on him and
say where he was to be found. The officers would come after him and drag
him back to that abominable stoke-hold. He knew enough of the shipping
laws to be aware that they had the right. He being an English fireman in
a foreign port, all they had to do was to go before the British consul
and secure his arrest. Putting his hand to his hip pocket, he drew out a
revolver and regarded lovingly its polished surface.

"My only friend!" he muttered. "Let 'em come! I'll give 'em all the
fight they want--more than they want! I'll put a bullet through my own
head rather than be dragged back to that stoke-hold!"

And if the _Atlanta_ sailed without him--what then? He had had enough of
the sea, that was certain, yet he must earn a living somehow. He hadn't
a dollar in the world, and he knew no trade that he could turn his hand
to. His life at sea had unfitted him for anything else. Even if he made
the effort and let the whiskey alone, how could he seek employment
looking as he did? With no linen and in his grimy, oil-stained clothes,
he would be eyed everywhere with suspicion. Nobody would have anything
to do with him. The world has no use for its failures, for men who are
down on their luck. The outlook was hopeless, for he saw no way to
improve his condition.

"It's easy to lose one's self-respect and sink into degradation," he
muttered bitterly to himself; "and when at last you see your folly, then
it's too late--it's impossible to get back. Pshaw! What's the good?"

With a shaking hand, he helped himself to another drink, grateful to
the lethal liquor which dulled his thoughts. Yet, in spite of himself,
his clouded brain remained active. Memory slipped back ten years. If
only those years could be lived over again! How dearly he had paid for
the follies which had brought him where he was! Wild oats? Yes--he had
sown them in plenty, and a damnable harvest he had reaped! Things had
gone from bad to worse, until one day came the crisis. He was down and
out, almost starving, without a friend to extend a helping hand. After
he had fasted forty-eight hours, and the river seemed to be the only way
out, a barroom companion told him of a job as coal-passer on an ocean
liner which was to be had for the asking. He jumped eagerly at the
chance as a drowning man grasps at a drifting straw. At least, it would
mean temporary food and lodging. He was strong as an ox and could stand
the pace, no matter how hard the work was. Besides, hidden away in a
steamer's stoke-hold, he reckoned out that he would be dead to the
world. No one would think of seeking him there. The brutal work and
brutal companions would help him to forget the past.

For five long years he had stood it, but he could endure it no longer.
Five years of physical and mental torment, and the future--a hopeless
blank. The old days were wiped out completely, every decent tie
shattered forever. He could never redeem the past. He had joined the
vast army of life's failures, which goes marching on, silently, grimly
to perdition. The sooner the end came the better. He was weary of it
all. The best way would be to make an end of it at once. He knew he had
only himself to blame, but, like most men who have gone to the devil, he
held society responsible. The world is without pity for those who make
mistakes. The man who's down is given no mercy. They said he was
quarrelsome, a trouble-maker. So he was. In all these years of suffering
he had steeled his heart to hate his fellow man. He detested the rich,
idle class because he held it accountable for his present miserable
condition, and in obscure socialistic and anarchistic meetings in the
slums of New York and London he had listened gloomily to the wild-eyed
orators' frenzied teachings of class-hatred. His sufferings had
embittered him against the whole human race. He had fought his way
through it all fiercely, because the whole world seemed in league
against him, every man and woman his enemy. The only law he knew was
that enforced by a strong arm. The weaker had no rights. It wasn't his
fault if he had to defend himself. He had given the world back what it
gave him and with interest. That's why he hit back every time blindly,
savagely.

With an unsteady hand, he took up the whiskey-bottle and started to
refill his glass. His back was partly toward the door, so he could not
see the front store suddenly darken by the abrupt entrance of four men
who pushed their way unceremoniously past Schmalz and rushed into the
room where he was sitting. Two of the newcomers were ship's officers,
the others were policemen.

Armitage was taken completely by surprise. He knew at once that they had
come for him. With an oath, he jumped to his feet and his right hand
went quickly to his hip pocket. But before he could draw his gun, the
officers and policemen threw themselves upon him and pinioned his arms.

"You'd better come quickly, Armitage, or it'll go harder with you!" said
the senior officer sternly.

"What d'ye want with me?" demanded the fireman hoarsely.

"You're under arrest for desertion," replied his superior.

"Where d'ye want me to go?" stammered Armitage, his breath coming and
going in short, spasmodic gasps.

"Back to the ship. Not as you're much good--only to give you your
medicine," was the laconic rejoinder.

"Back to the ship! Never while I live!" shouted the big fellow.

By a superhuman muscular effort he threw off his four captors as easily
as if they had been children, and made a dash for liberty through the
store. But he was not yet clear of his foes. Seeing him coming, Schmalz
quickly put out his foot, and the fugitive fell all his length to the
floor. Before he could scramble to his feet again, the policemen were
upon him, and soon had his arms securely pinioned.

"Quick, back to the ship with him!" commanded the senior officer. "She
sails in ten minutes. We've just time to make it!"



CHAPTER II.


The scene on the dock just before sailing-time of an ocean liner is
always an animated one, full of interest and color for those having eyes
to see. The huge steamer, freshly painted, all spick and span, laden to
the water-line with precious freight, her enormous funnels belching
clouds of black smoke, with white steam hissing from every part of her
giant hulk, as if the imprisoned energy were eager to put its power to
the test; the air filled with the babel of many voices, smart stewards
standing at attention on the lower deck, ready to serve the embarking
passengers, uniformed sailors hurrying to obey sharply given orders;
officers resplendent in immaculate white duck and gold braid, solemnly
promenading the bridge, as if impressed with the weight of their
responsibility; excited travelers arriving in every description of
vehicle; messengers rushing here and there with floral baskets and
hot-house fruit sent as parting gifts; telegraph-boys bringing words of
farewell; tear-stained faces smiling _au revoir_, handkerchiefs waving
and much shouting; policemen pushing back the spectators anxious to see
the last of friends and relatives; the crowd growing gradually smaller
and the shouts more distant as the leviathan swings out in to the
stream--all this makes up a picture which, once beheld, is forever
engraved on heart and memory.

The annual around-the-world cruise of the palatial Blue Star steamer
_Atlanta_, 17,000 tons, was always an event of more than ordinary
interest, and sailing-day never failed to draw a large crowd. In fact,
going down to the dock to give a noisy send-off to those friends lucky
enough to be able to make the delightful Mediterranean trip had of
recent years assumed the importance of a social function. The voyage
being pre-eminently for health and pleasure, it generally attracted a
goodly number of well-to-do and congenial people. Many of the
passengers, moving in the same sets in society, were already well
acquainted before going on board, and strangers had no difficulty in
securing introductions. Almost as soon as the anchor was weighed, the
barriers of exclusiveness were thrown down. Before the vessel had
proceeded very far from port, every one knew every one else, and the
ship's company had become one big jolly family.

The passenger-list contained many names well known in society. Mrs.
Townsend Lee, one of the leaders of New York's 400, was on board; so was
Mrs. Wesley Stuart, whose _musicales_ were counted among the most
delightful affairs of the season. Professor Hanson, the noted
sociologist, was a passenger; so also was Mrs. Phelps, the wealthy young
widow whose recent bereavement had made her the target of every
impecunious nobleman in Europe. It was perhaps only a coincidence, yet
still a fact the significance of which escaped no one, that two
staterooms had been engaged--one by the Honorable Percy Fitzhugh, a
callow Englishman who had made himself ridiculous with a Casino
chorus-girl, the other by Count Herbert von Hatzfeld, scion of an
aristocratic German family, who in a newspaper interview gave out that
he was globe-trotting for his health. Gossip had linked the names of
both men with Mrs. Phelps, and as neither had been at any pains to deny
that he was a suitor for the widow's hand, there was considerable
speculation as to whom was making most progress in her favor.

But the name on the list which excited most interest and comment among
the crowd of sightseers and seagoers who literally mobbed the big ship,
was that of Miss Grace Harmon, the beautiful daughter of the well-known
railroad magnate, whose début in society two years before, at a splendid
ball given in her honor at the Harmon's palatial Fifth Avenue home, was
still talked about as the most brilliant and costly affair of that
season.

Grace Harmon was conspicuous for her beauty even in a land famous for
its fair women. Tall and slender, with aristocratic features and queenly
carriage, she was the typical Gibson girl. Women raved about her
wonderful complexion, her splendid eyes, her magnificent hair, her
graceful figure. They went into ecstasies over her gowns, her
beautifully arched eyebrows, academic nose, dazzling white teeth, and a
sensitive, delicately modeled mouth, that might have tempted Saint
Anthony himself. Men looking for money whispered that she was the prize
catch of the matrimonial market, being the only heir to her father's
millions, and the more enterprising laid their lines accordingly. When
she went out driving or appeared in her box at the opera, everybody
craned their necks and stared rudely, eager to feast their eyes on the
priceless gifts this favorite of fortune had received from the gods. In
their cheap hall bedrooms, timid poets wrote love-sonnets which they
mailed to her anonymously, expecting no acknowledgment, happy only that
they had expressed on paper what lay heavy on their hearts.

So far Grace had shown herself indifferent either to sentiment or
matrimonial ambitions. She had not encouraged any of the men who
showered her with attentions, and even with her intimates she declined
to discuss what they declared to be _the_ all-important question. But
that eventually she would make a sensationally brilliant marriage went
without the saying, and society wiseacres predicted that Prince Sergius
of Eurasia, the most persistent of her suitors, would sooner or later
carry off the prize. The nephew of the reigning monarch of a bankrupt
little kingdom in the Balkans, the prince had been well known in New
York and Newport for several seasons past as a dissipated spendthrift
anxious to make a good matrimonial catch. Grace had disliked him the
first moment she set eyes on him, and he had never succeeded in removing
this first unfavorable impression. On the other hand, such a match
certainly had advantages which to many a girl would prove too dazzling
and tempting to resist. But Grace declined to be hurried into a
decision. She demanded time, and while waiting to know his fate the
Prince was suddenly recalled to Europe. This was as far as the affair
had gone, and secretly Grace was glad to see the last of him, at least
for a time, although the well-informed press sagely gave out that it was
"understood in society circles that a formal engagement of Miss Grace
Harmon and the Prince of Eurasia would shortly be announced."

Fully conscious of her power, well aware that her mere presence aroused
jealousy in every woman and admiration in every man, Grace would have
been more than human had she escaped being spoiled. The spitefully
inclined accused her of haughtiness and of carrying her head high. It is
true that she was careful in choosing her intimates and quick to snub
those who were too ready to claim acquaintance, yet friends once made
she kept, and she was popular in her set. In the more private home
circle she was fairly idolized, especially by her father, who had
indulged her every whim ever since she was born. Her mother, for years a
chronic invalid, had left chiefly to servants the care of bringing her
up, but to her father she was all that was worth while in life. The old
man existed only for his beautiful daughter. Everything money could
purchase--fine clothes, costly trinkets, smart automobiles were hers for
the asking. After graduating from Bryn Mawr, she spent two years in
France, Italy and Germany, acquiring a superficial knowledge of the
continental languages. On her return home she joined the social whirl
and became proficient in bridge. In short, Grace Harmon was accomplished
to the tips of her tapering, carefully manicured fingers.

Brought up in the lap of luxury, never having expressed a desire that
was not immediately gratified, Grace discovered after a time that
wealth, while useful, has also its drawbacks. Having everything, she
wanted nothing. She found herself wishing there might be something she
could not have, so that for once, at least, she might experience the
emotion of longing for the unattainable.

The plain truth was that Grace was no ordinary girl. She had more brains
than people gave her credit for. Although reared in the tainted
hot-house atmosphere of society, with its degenerate amusements, its low
moral tone and trivial ambitions, she took little real interest in its
shallow, vulgar pleasures. The women she soon discovered to be
empty-headed or frankly immoral; the men were, for the most part,
libertines, gamblers, fortune-hunters. The homage paid to her beauty
flattered her vanity, but once the novelty of her first two seasons had
worn away, surfeited with dinners, receptions, dances, and
bridge-parties, she grew deadly tired of the social treadmill. It ceased
to amuse her. She felt there was something wanting to complete her
happiness. She lost her buoyancy of disposition, her high spirits
disappeared, even her beauty paled. She became depressed and melancholy.
People whispered that she was going into a decline. There had been a
case of consumption in the family, they said. Her father, laughingly
declaring that she was in love, asked for the name of the lucky man.

"Are you going to make the Prince happy at last, child?" he said.

"No, dad," she replied seriously. "It's nothing to do with that. Among
all the men who've paid me attention there's not one I'd marry--now."

What seemed to Grace a more correct diagnosis of her trouble was made by
Mrs. Wesley Stuart, her practical married friend:

"It's only your nerves, my dear--a natural reaction after the pace
you've been going. What you need is a radical change of scene, something
to stimulate your imagination. Take a trip around the world. If you'll
go, I'll go with you."

Wesley Stuart was one of the big men in the Steel Trust and several
times a millionaire. Gossip had long hinted that there was no love lost
between him and his young wife, and she never denied it. He went his
way; she went hers. She had all the money her expensive tastes called
for, and this, coupled with a certain amount of natural cleverness, had
given her considerable prominence in the artistic set. Her _musicales_
were a success because her ready tact and intimate acquaintance with
famous artists enabled her to surround herself with interesting people.
Having some musical talent herself, she nourished the hopeless ambition
that one day she would be able to sing in opera. Injudicious friends had
encouraged her in this fatuous belief, and she had worked so hard and
spent so much time and money studying with expensive teachers, with the
idea of going on the stage, that at last her health gave way. Threatened
with nervous breakdown, her physician had advised a long sea voyage, and
this was just the opportunity she had been looking for. Both would have
the other's company. If Grace would go, she wouldn't hesitate a second.
As for her husband, he would be glad to be rid of her. She said it as a
jest; in her heart she knew it was true. Not that she cared. Wesley gave
her all the money she asked for and never interfered with her. According
to her philosophy of life, theirs was as perfect a matrimonial
understanding as she could wish for.

The idea of the trip at once appealed strongly to Grace.
Enthusiastically she declared that she would like nothing better. It
would be so novel and exciting, quite unlike any experience she had yet
had. Some friends who had already made the trip gave glowing accounts of
their travels, and the more she thought of it the more decided she was
that around the world she would go. This decided it, for when once Grace
made up her mind, everything was as good as settled. Nothing her father
or mother might say could deter her from the project. She pleaded that
the trip was absolutely necessary, not only for her health, but as a
finishing touch to her education. The ship was not only going to China,
Japan, India, and Egypt. It would visit also many out-of-the-way islands
which are practically inaccessible to the usual tourist and seldom if
ever visited. As a lesson in geography alone it was worth the money.
Harmon _père_ did not mind the expense. The few thousands the trip would
cost was a bagatelle to the man of millions. What he balked at was the
idea of losing his cherished daughter for six long months. The
uncertainties of Wall Street made it impossible for him to accompany
her, and Mrs. Harmon suffered so horribly from seasickness that she
threw up her hands at the very suggestion. Seizing the excuse that a
young girl could not go unaccompanied, her father, for the first time in
his recollection, asserted his authority, emphatically refused consent,
and was obdurate to all coaxing. Then Grace played her trump card. Their
friend Mrs. Stuart was going on the same steamer. With a married woman
for a chaperon, what further objection could there be? Seeing that he
was check-mated, and that his daughter, as usual, would have her way in
the end anyhow, Mr. Harmon reluctantly capitulated.

He was down at the steamer to see her off, a tall,
distinguished-looking, silvery-haired old gentleman, conspicuous in the
group of friends who had come to bid his daughter _bon voyage_. It was a
noisy, jolly, unruly crowd. Every one talked at the same time, pushing
and elbowing, blocking the gangway up which rushed each minute fresh
arrivals laden with rugs and handbags. Ten minutes more and the "All
ashore" gong would sound, and then the big ship would slowly pull out
and point her nose for the open sea. Grace stood in the center of the
fashionably dressed throng, herself stylishly attired in a chic, long
gray cloth directoire coat and picture hat, bestowing smiles and
handshakes right and left like a queen holding court. Everybody was in
high spirits, all except Mr. Harmon, who tried to look brave as he
furtively wiped away a tear.

"Don't do that, dad, or I'll spoil my complexion," whispered Grace,
making heroic efforts to swallow a hard lump that arose in her own
throat. "One would think I were going away forever. I'll be back safe
and sound before you imagine--you'll see!"

"I hope so, child, I hope so," murmured the old man, clasping her to his
breast. "It's foolish of me, of course. All the same, I can't help
wishing you weren't going. I have a sort of presentiment that something
will happen."

Grace laughed merrily.

"Nonsense, dad! What can happen? Nothing ever happens on ocean voyages.
They are awfully tame and exasperatingly free from incident. Shipwrecks
and things like that occur only in novels. Sometimes I wish things would
happen."

"Really, Grace!" protested a feminine voice at her side, "I do wish you
wouldn't say such wicked things. You know how nervous I am."

The speaker was Mrs. Wesley Stuart, under whose protective wing Grace
was traveling. She was a willowy and rather attractive blonde, not yet
in the thirties, but with a complexion somewhat the worse for rich
foods, old wines, and late hours. Showily dressed, with a large black
felt mushroom hat and heavy pearl pendants in her ears, she talked with
affected languor and used a gold lorgnon.

"Your father is quite right, dear," she went on. "There are all sorts of
perils at sea. A hundred things might happen. Our machinery might break
down, we might drift for weeks without being sighted, we might collide
with an iceberg in the fog, we might even turn turtle. Don't you
remember that awful affair of the _City of Berlin_? Of course you don't.
It was before your time--before mine, too, for that matter. The steamer
left Liverpool about thirty years ago, crowded with passengers. She
never reached port, and has never been heard of from that day to this.
Every vestige of her was wiped out. They never picked up a life-boat,
or even so much as a steamer-chair. The theory was that she turned
turtle and went right down."

"No--really--you don't say so!" exclaimed behind them a man's voice with
the exaggerated Piccadilly intonation some Englishmen affect. "It's a
jolly shame, don'tcher know--to frighten Miss Harmon like that. She'll
believe every bally thing you tell her and get the blue spiders and all
that sort of thing--eh, what?"

Grace turned, smiling, to greet the Honorable Percy Fitzhugh, who was
hemmed in the crowd at their elbows. He had just come aboard with a
green Tyrolian hat on the side of his head, a monocle in his eye, and a
bull-terrier tucked under his arm. Close behind was his valet, carrying
a wonderful collection of walking-sticks and a huge bouquet of flowers.

"Oh, I don't mind!" laughed Grace. "I'm a fine sailor and not a bit
nervous. The sea has no terrors for me."

"I wish I could say as much," sighed Mrs. Stuart. Petulantly she added:
"I never feel safe on the ocean. I don't mind storms, but I'm terribly
afraid of fog and icebergs and fire. Whenever it's foggy I can't eat or
sleep. I'm in a state of mental anguish until it clears again."

"It's a jolly good thing some of us have nerve--eh, what?" exclaimed Mr.
Fitzhugh, with a wink at Grace. Addressing Mrs. Stuart, he went on: "You
remind me of Rex, my terrier here. He loathes the sea--howls and whines
dismally the whole time. But please don't get the blue spiders, that's a
good girl. We're going to be an awfully jolly party. Don't spoil the
fun. Try a champagne cocktail. Best antidote for nervousness in the
world. If one don't work, take two. You'll feel bully." Turning to his
man, he added: "Thompson, take those flowers to my stateroom, and go and
see about my 'tub' and steamer-chair."

The next moment the Englishman and his green thatch were swallowed up in
the crush of new arrivals.

"Did you ever see such a coarse, selfish creature!" exclaimed Mrs.
Stuart indignantly. "The impudence of his comparing me to his miserable
dog!"

"Who are the flowers for?" laughed Grace.

"Mrs. Phelps, of course. He's head over heels in debt. He needs her
money. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't catch on. She's very
ambitious--the title attracts her. There she comes now."

A stylish, handsome woman, richly dressed all in black, with large
Gainsborough hat to match, came leisurely up the gangplank, followed by
a smart footman weighed down with packages. She nodded cordially to
Grace and Mrs. Stuart as she caught sight of them, and disappeared in
the direction of the staterooms.

"She's literally bursting with money," whispered Mrs. Stuart, who knew
everybody's business. "Her husband left her ten millions. He was a
simple soul--a plain, matter-of-fact business man. All he thought of was
making money. She never cared for him. It's just as well he died. She
can marry again now and live the life she likes best. All the men are
after her. Some think Count von Hatzfeld has the best chance. Of course
you know he's on the ship. You see, it's all cut and dried."

"I don't blame her," said Grace cynically, as she returned the bow of
another arrival. "It must be dreadful to be a mere 'Mrs. Green' or 'Mrs.
Brown.' I couldn't live with any ordinary man--a mere business man whose
one thought was figures and profits. My ideal is an English peer or an
Italian count--preferably the latter. They are less expensive. English
dukes, they say, drink hard and beat their wives. It would be nice to be
addressed as 'Duchess,' or 'Comtesse.'"

Mrs. Stuart looked approvingly at her _protégée_.

"I'm glad to see you're so practical, my dear."

"Why not? This is a practical age," laughed Grace.

"Well, there's Prince Sergius. He's only waiting the word. Why don't you
marry him and be a princess--only two lives removed from a throne? Every
woman in America would envy you."

Grace frowned.

"And I--would despise myself?" she answered. "Every one knows his
reputation. It's my money he wants, that's all. I haven't yet sunk so
low as to purchase a titled husband at the price of my self-respect.
Besides, I could not endure a tie that would be entirely loveless,
wholly mercenary. I hope I have some ideals; some sentiment left."

"Were you ever in love?" persisted her companion.

"I suppose I was, like most girls. When I first left school I saw boys I
liked. All girls are silly at some period of their life. But I survived
those early attachments. I am still heart-whole. I never see nowadays a
man with whom I could fall in love. To me, they all seem conceited and
selfish. Of course I shall have to marry one day or other, but I'm
afraid it will be what the French call a _mariage de convenance_.

"Or, in plain Yankee, marriage with an eye to the main chance," rejoined
Mrs. Stuart. "But you don't have to marry for money, child. You are
rich."

Grace was thoughtful a moment, and then she replied:

"Money is not everything--mere money is vulgar. One gets horribly tired
of it." Pensively she went on: "You think I am cold and devoid of
sentiment. You are wrong. I yearn for life in the sun-lit countries of
the old world, in historic lands of intrigue, love, and passion, with
brilliant state functions amid scenes of regal splendor, where class
and birth count for more than mere wealth. In America we have only the
money standard. The wife of any little grocer who gets rich overnight
may be a social leader to-morrow. It's disgusting!"

Mrs. Stuart was about to say something when a sudden commotion on the
dock attracted everybody's attention, and there was a general rush to
the rail. A large crowd had gathered near the entrance of the gangway,
surrounding a man who lay struggling on the ground. Policemen and ship's
officers were stooping over him trying to quiet him.

"What's the matter?" cried Grace anxiously. "I hope no one's hurt!"

"It looks as if some one had fallen in a fit," said Mrs. Stuart, looking
through her lorgnon.

Mr. Harmon, who had been conversing with an acquaintance, came up
hurriedly. Having noticed the excitement, he feared that some harm
threatened his daughter.

"It's an accident of some kind," he said.

"Oh, I knew something would happen!" exclaimed Mrs. Stuart, getting out
her smelling-salts.

"Do you know what the matter is?" inquired Grace of a sailor.

The man grinned and touched his cap.

"'Tain't nothin', miss. Only one of 'em blokes what keeps the fire's
a-goin' got it inter ees 'ead that it was too bloomin' 'ot for 'im. So
'ee jumps the blessed ship without so much as askin' leave, an' gets run
in by the cops fer 'is pains."

The explanation, such as it was, was wholly incomprehensible to Grace,
who knew as much as she did before. Meantime the crowd grew bigger, the
noise louder and the excitement more intense. A number of ship's
officers had the man on his feet and were half dragging him, half
carrying him to the gangplank. It was not exactly an agreeable spectacle
with which to regale fastidious passengers on sailing-day, and the
ship's officers would have gladly avoided it. But the refractory stoker
was necessary to the speed of the vessel, and there was no way of
getting him aboard except by the main gangway. It was late. The steamer
would pull out any moment, and the other gangways had been already
pulled in.

Mrs. Stuart offered to interpret the sailor's speech:

"He says that one of the sailors has been overcome by the heat and
fallen on the dock in a faint."

"Not exactly, miss," grinned the man, with another tug of his cap.
"'Ee's not the kind wot faints. 'Ee's puttin' up a fight. 'Ee's a
fighter, is Handsome Jack."

Grace turned in bewilderment to her father, who had just returned on
board.

"Handsome Jack!" she echoed. "What does he mean?"

"It's only a deserter," explained Mr. Harmon. "A fireman who attempted
to get away before the ship sailed. The officers found him in a
drinking-shop and brought him here."

"I don't blame the poor beggar for trying to desert," said the Honorable
Percy Fitzhugh, who had just come up from below-stairs. "It's jolly
awful in that stoke-hold, don'tcher know? Ever been down in the
stoke-hold, Miss Harmon? No? I'll take you down some day--eh, what? I
don't see how they get men to do such work. I'd rather commit suicide,
by Jove!"

"Yes, it is terrible work," said Mr. Harmon. "They take to it only when
desperate and forced by circumstances. It is well known that murderers
and criminals of every description take to stoking when they wish to lie
low. They know the police will never look for them in the stoke-hold, on
the theory that they are getting punishment enough."

"How dreadful!" yawned Grace, as she watched with languid interest the
commotion on the shore. Presently she asked: "Can they make him go back
to work in the stoke-hold whether he likes or not?"

"Certainly," replied her father. "This is an English ship. He probably
signed articles in Liverpool. Under British maritime law, any member of
the crew deserting ship in a foreign port can be arrested. That's what,
in sailor parlance, is called 'a pier-head jump.' You see, a big vessel
like this must have its full complement of stokers, otherwise she can't
get up enough steam, and the record suffers. That's why they take the
trouble to go after deserters. They say that this fellow deserves no
sympathy. He's a good-for-nothing, brutal, violent fellow. Here he
comes now."

"I'd like to see him!" exclaimed Grace, pushing forward to get a closer
view of the group of men as they came struggling up the gangplank.

"Oh, Grace, how can you look at such horrid sights?" ejaculated Mrs.
Stuart, fanning herself nervously and averting her face.

The prisoner by this time was nearly exhausted, and presented a sorry
sight. His grease-stained clothes were torn to rags, his hair was
disheveled, blood flowed freely from a cut on his cheek, making all the
more striking the contrast with his white, set face and its grim,
hopeless expression.

[Illustration: IT WAS ALL THEY COULD DO TO DRAG HIM ON BOARD.]

Armitage knew he was beaten. His strength and determination had availed
him nothing, yet he was still full of fight. It was all they could do to
drag him on board inch by inch. As they reached the deck, and he
realized that once more the ship had enslaved him, a hoarse cry of
despair escaped his lips. With a last superhuman effort, he shook
himself free. One of his captors was hurled to the left, the other sent
flying to the right. His fists shot out, and a third officer fell like
a log. For a moment he was free, and, surprised at his success, he stood
triumphant over their prostrate forms, just as a gladiator, doomed to
die, might tower for a few brief seconds above his worsted foes. His
fists clenched, his shapely head thrown back, every muscle taut, his
eyes flashing, chest heaving, he resembled a classic hero battling with
pigmies.

"Isn't he handsome!" exclaimed Grace.

"Aye, miss," grinned the voluble sailor. "That's wot we call
'im--Handsome Jack. Sometimes it's Gentleman Jack, cause of 'is fine
manners; but 'ee's only a stoker, just the same."

The officers regained their feet and again sprang at their prisoner. The
passengers fell back alarmed.

"Come here, Grace!" cried Mr. Harmon uneasily. "You'll get hurt."

But there was no danger. More officers and sailors ran quickly up, and
confronted by such re-enforcements, the fireman stood no chance. Before
he had time to take advantage of his temporary victory, he was again
overpowered and dragged without further ado in the direction of the
forecastle. Grace shrank back as he was taken past, but she could not
help seeing his wild, staring eyes and white face with its expression of
despair. As he disappeared, the last gong sounded, every visitor hurried
ashore, the siren started its deep-toned blasts as warning that the
leviathan was getting under weigh.

"I wish it hadn't happened," said Grace, as she kissed her hand in adieu
to her father, who stood on the dock watching the vessel go out.

"It's made me positively ill," complained Mrs. Stuart, busy with her
smelling-salts.

Long after New York's sky-scrapers had faded from view and the land was
only a dim line on the horizon, Grace was still haunted by that white,
set face, with its expression of utter despair.



CHAPTER III.


The Indian Ocean, a vast expanse of tossing blue water, its heaving
bosom still agitated by the expiring gale, glorious in the outburst of
sunshine that followed the storm, stretched away to every point of the
compass. As far as the eye could carry, away to where the breaking
clouds touched the fast-disappearing land line of mysterious Asia, the
boisterous white-capped seas scattered showers of prisms and spray.
Rolling and tumbling, their lofty crests flecked with fleecy foam, the
endless waves advanced majestically, with rhythmical motion and the
stateliness and precision of trained battalions, all scurrying in one
direction, urged on by the whip of the southwesterly gale. The tempest
had abated, the lowering clouds were rapidly dispersing, once more
Nature was smiling and serene, diffusing the beauty and gladness of life
through water and sky. Graceful, white-winged sea-birds uttered shrill
cries of delight as they circled in the air, gorgeously colored flying
fish leaped joyously from the dancing waters, which flashed like jewels
in the blinding sunlight. The world was at its brightest and fairest,
full of movement and color. The breeze was caressing and balmy, and as
the _Atlanta_, now three weeks from home, plunged her way resistlessly
Eastward, the great liner was sonorous with the music of wind and sea.

Thus far the voyage had hardly been all that could be desired as regards
weather. January is seldom a good month for the Atlantic, and this year
the crossing was nastier than usual. The _Atlanta_ had no sooner cleared
the Banks than it began to blow great guns. Gale followed gale with
tropical downpours of rain, the wind blowing from every quarter at once,
piling up mountainous combers that every now and again broke over the
bridge, forty feet above the water. The tremendous seas crashed aboard
with a thunderous roar, frightening the more timid among the passengers,
smashing life-boats and ventilators, sweeping the decks from bow to stem
with avalanches of green water. Skylights were shattered, bridge
stanchions bent and twisted, but otherwise there was no damage. The big
ship steamed true on her course, haughtily indifferent to the
capricious ocean's moods, staunch as a rock, and quite as steady as any
railroad-train moving at full speed.

The rough weather had the natural effect of confining most of the women
folk to their staterooms, and as the men also kept to themselves,
preferring bridge and poker in the smoking-room to the wet decks, there
was not much opportunity for social amenities.

Owing to the high seas, no attempt was made to land at Madeira, and
there was no little grumbling because the vagaries of the elements made
it impossible to visit Funchal, the Pico Ruivo, Ponta Delgada, and other
picturesque places of perennial verdure and flowers. The storm gradually
abated, but it was not until the steamer entered the smoother waters of
the Mediterranean that there was the slightest pretense at dress or any
attempt made to put in regular appearances at dinner. However, the
improvement in the weather and the close proximity of land, with the
cheering prospect of going ashore, brought about a quick change in
everybody's humor. The passengers' spirits rose with the barometer.
Fine toilettes made their appearance on deck, the usual little
steamer-chair cliques were speedily formed, and every one now started in
to enjoy themselves as if the voyage had only just begun.

They landed gleefully in tenders, some to inspect the wonders of
England's impregnable fortress, others to visit Spanishtown; they
crowded to the rail as the ship steamed slowly past the enchanted island
of Capri, so dear to the archeologist, and in the Bay of Naples they
gazed in awe upon frowning Vesuvius, still smoking and rumbling after a
disastrous eruption that had cost hundreds of lives. Sheep-like, after
the manner of tourists, they hurried breathlessly through the
attractions Naples had to offer, and then, skirting classic Scylla and
Charybdis, they steamed on to the land of the Pharaohs, where a complete
change of scene awaited them.

So far, Grace had kept much to herself. She was not particularly
interested in anybody on board, and she found it a welcome novelty,
after her recent strenuous social activities, to be able to enjoy a few
hours of absolute rest. What with unpacking, writing letters home, and
looking after Mrs. Stuart, who, almost from the start, had been
completely prostrated with seasickness, she had found the time slip by
rapidly and agreeably enough without having to seek diversion outside
her immediate little circle. Her chaperon's indisposition furnished her
with an admirable excuse for remaining in seclusion, and if another were
needed, she had it in the inclemency of the weather. While she herself
was not distressed by the rolling and pitching, the unusual motion did
not add to her comfort. She preferred to stay in the privacy of her
luxurious quarters, which were the object of the envy and curiosity of
every other woman on board.

Mr. Harmon had spared no expense to secure for his daughter the best on
the ship that money could buy. Grace occupied the "royal" suite, a
series of sumptuously furnished and richly decorated rooms, entirely
shut off from the rest of the ship, thus ensuring complete privacy,
comprising bedroom, parlor, dining-room, with piano, telephone, library,
etc. With her own maids to wait on her and all meals served privately,
there was no necessity to leave her rooms unless she wished to, and if
she chose to breathe the invigorating sea air there was no one to see
her walk on the deserted lower promenade-deck on which her suite
directly opened.

She had not gone ashore with the other passengers when the steamer
stopped at Gibraltar and Naples. Mrs. Stuart was still indisposed, and
she refused to leave her, but when the _Atlanta_ reached Cairo, her
chaperon was feeling better, and they both landed to see the sights.
Mrs. Stuart had visited Egypt before, but to Grace it was like a glimpse
of grand-opera land, a scene from "Aida." The waving palm-trees, the
queer Oriental dwellings, the wonderful blue sky blazing on the peaceful
desert, with its endless miles of burning sands, its beautiful oases,
its camels and picturesquely costumed natives--all this made up a
picture of delightful novelty for the young girl fresh from prosaic New
York. She gazed wondering at the blue-turbaned Copts, they laughed
merrily at the Fellahin in their blue skirts and stared at the
yellow-turbaned Jews, fierce-looking Bedouins and black Nubians. At the
cost of a few piastres but much muscular exertion, they were dragged up
the face of the mighty pyramids, and with varying emotions they
contemplated the time-eaten features of the inscrutable Sphinx.

The two women derived much enjoyment from their little jaunts. Sometimes
they were escorted by Mr. Fitzhugh, who, despairing of making any
headway with Mrs. Phelps now that his detested German rival, Count von
Hatzfeld, had contrived to monopolize the widow, had begun to dance
attendance upon Grace. He knew she had money in her own right, and his
mouth watered at the magnitude of her expectations. There seemed no
reason why the Harmon millions should not be as usefully employed in
regilding the dilapidated Fitzhugh coat-of-arms as those of the late Mr.
Phelps. But he did not make much progress, and he had a vague
premonition that he was not the kind of chap to appeal to this cold,
proud beauty. Discreet conversations on the subject with Mrs. Stuart
went far to discourage him altogether.

"Grace does not expect to love the man she will marry, so her utter
indifference does not reflect her feelings to you in the least," said
that perspicacious student of modern femininity. This statement was not
exactly true, but it served the purpose of the moment. "Even if she
considered you a desirable match," she went on, "she would not be any
more unbending. That indifferent, independent manner is her chief charm.
It is the stateliness of the lily. Grace might marry you, but she would
not love you. She is too much up to date to believe there is any such
thing as love. Self-interest governs the world to-day--not love, which,
after all, is only a primitive, vulgar emotion. Girls who want to marry
well understand this thoroughly. Love and lovers are very delightful in
fiction, but no sensible girl to-day takes them into account when
planning her future welfare. When Grace does change her name, it will be
to take that of one of the proudest families in Europe. Surely you know
that she's already as good as engaged to Prince Sergius of Eurasia! As
far as titles are concerned, that's going some!"

"But I may be a peer one day," protested Mr. Fitzhugh.

"You may be, but you're not," retorted Mrs. Stuart. "Your father, the
earl, is still alive, and your elder brother is aggressively healthy.
American girls do not deal in futures."

The Englishman took the hint, and, profiting by a temporary
indisposition of Count von Hatzfeld, returned to the siege of the
fascinating Mrs. Phelps, whose millions were nearly as many and
aspirations not quite as high as those of Miss Grace Harmon.

The steamer stayed in port over a week, much to the delight of the
passengers, who enjoyed the holiday ashore hugely after having been
cooped up so long aboard. The weather continued ideal, and every one
took advantage of it to see everything that was worth seeing.

The more enterprising passengers undertook little side excursions up the
historic Nile; others roamed through the native bazaars, buying at
exorbitant prices a vast quantity of things for which they had no
possible use; others drove to the tomb of Mehemet Ali, or to the
viceroys' palace, keeping up the sightseeing day and night, until all
were so weary that they were glad when the _Atlanta_ once more weighed
anchor and proceeded down the Red Sea and so into the Indian Ocean, _en
route_, for Bombay.



CHAPTER IV.


As she sat on the deck, reclining indolently in her steamer-chair,
propped up with soft cushions, gazing dreamily on the splendid panorama
that unfolded slowly before her--the endless procession of majestic,
foam-tipped waves, fleecy clouds drifting lazily in a sky of turquoise
blue, the sails of a distant vessel whitened by the sun--Grace felt
exuberant with the joy of life.

The latest novel was on her lap, yet she made no attempt to read. Mrs.
Stuart, stretched out on a chair alongside, had vainly endeavored to
engage her in conversation. But she did not care to talk, and she found
it impossible to center her attention on a book, preferring to just lay
still, her eyes semi-closed, rocked gently by the steamer's gradual
motion, her senses gently thrilled by the sensuous sounds of ship and
sea.

The promenade-deck presented the picture of comfort and peace usually to
be seen, any fine morning on a liner in mid-ocean--the passengers of
both sexes laid out in rows, mummylike, on steamer-chairs, each covered
with a rug different from his neighbor's and of bizarre design and
color, some reading, some sleeping, some conversing in subdued tones,
some sipping cups of bouillon brought on trays by nimble stewards; the
decks scrubbed an immaculate white, the brasses highly polished; a
neatly uniformed quartermaster standing at a gangway, patiently splicing
a rope; two officers on the bridge sweeping the horizon with their
glasses or pacing up and down with monotonous precision. With no noises
to irritate the ear, a sea voyage has no equal as a rest cure. One heard
nothing but the purring of the wind, the gentle flapping of canvas, the
splash of the waves, the regular throb of the ship's propeller.
Conditions were ideal for day-dreams, and Grace was thinking.

As she idly watched the foaming water rush past the rail she thought how
pleasantly fate had planned her life. She might have been born poor and
compelled to work in a store for miserable wages, standing on her feet
behind a counter ten long and weary hours a day, forbidden to sit down
on pain of dismissal, bullied by arrogant employers, insulted by
inconsiderate customers. This she knew was the lot of thousands of girls
whose pale, tired faces had frequently aroused her sympathy when
shopping. She belonged to the small, lucky minority--the ruling
class--which by the power of its great wealth is able to enslave
nine-tenths of the human race. The world, she ruminated, was full of
unfortunates whose only fault was that they were born poor. Her mind
reverted to the handsome stoker whom they had dragged on board with such
little ceremony the day the ship sailed from New York. She wondered what
his life had been to force him to take to such an occupation, and what
had become of him. Perhaps at that very moment, while she sat there
surrounded by every luxury, he was suffering the agonies of the damned.
She reproached herself for not making inquiries after him. When she next
saw the captain she would certainly do so.

How different was her own life! Sailing along on this splendid ship,
with perfect weather and ideal surroundings, the world seemed to exist
only to afford her pleasure. If the sun shone brightly, it was only to
give her joy; if the soft winds blew, it was only to caress her cheek.
It seemed unjust. Things were not equal. At times she was sorry that her
father was so rich. Had he been poor, she would have had an incentive to
work hard and do something. Although she had everything she desired, she
was not really happy. She felt there was something wanting, and she
thought it was because her life lacked a definite aim. Other girls did
things--they painted pictures, wrote books, went on the stage. If her
father became bankrupt to-morrow, where would she be? A perfectly
useless member of society, ornamental, possibly, but quite useless. Only
two alternatives would be open to her--either to seek some humble
employment or throw herself in the arms of a rich man. She would not be
the first victim of the plutocracy which closes the doors of the liberal
professions to its daughters, only to throw them, in the hour of
adversity, into the palsied arms of the roué and the voluptuary.

Like most American girls, Grace had little to learn in regard to life's
fundamentals. She had read all the decadent novelists, from D'Aununzio
to Eleanor Glyn, and the daily newspapers, coupled with whispered
conversations over five-o'clock teas, had speedily shattered what other
illusions had been left over from her school-days. The low moral
standard of the set in which she moved had made her cynical in her
attitude toward the men who courted her. She had a horror of
fortune-hunters, and most of the men who had paid her attention, Prince
Sergius and the rest, she suspected of being after her money. Yet she
must marry some day. She must find a husband, even if she were not to
love him. A married woman is able to take a place in society that is
denied the single woman. Marry she must, but whom? The men she knew
either bored her or disgusted her. He need not be a rich man, for she
had enough for both, yet if a poor man presented himself, she would
certainly put him in the fortune-hunting class. As she had told her
friend, Mrs. Stuart, a man with a proud title would suit her best. There
would be no question of love, of course, only self-interest on both
sides. He would furnish the coronet, she the dollars. It would be the
_mariage de convenance_, with its hypocrisies, its lies, its miseries.

She wondered if her attitude toward life were wrong, if really there
were not a man somewhere whom a woman could respect and admire for his
strength, his bravery, his nobility of character. The old-fashioned
authors--the Dumas, the Scotts, the Bulwer Lyttons, the
Elliots--presented such men as their heroes. Were there no such men left
in the world to-day? Or were the writers of modern fiction right when
they depicted the men of to-day as fortune-hunters, egotistical
coxcombs, conscienceless libertines, deliberate destroyers of women's
virtue? Cynical as the reading of unwholesome books and witnessing
salacious plays had made her, Grace had still a little of the romantic
left in her. She was still healthy-minded enough to find romance more
satisfying than the vulgar realism of the modern risqué novel. And as
she lay there in her chair, basking in the warm sunshine, her eyes half
closed, she abandoned herself momentarily to the sensuousness of the
moment.

In her imagination gradually took form the ideal hero her heart craved
for. She was resting on a country road, and a man was approaching. He
was tall, with dark, wavy hair and smooth face, and the clean-cut
features of a Greek god. He knew she was rich, but he cared not, for he
despised mere wealth, and he was about to pass by unheeding, when he
chanced to notice her face, which pleased his sense of beauty. He
stopped wondering, and, chatting with her, marveled at the liquid
splendor of her eyes. This was the woman he had sought, the woman for
whom he would toil and fight. He took her hand, and at his touch her
heart leaped ecstatically. A strange thrill stirred her as he gazed
hungrily into her eyes and gently drew her to him. Timidly she yielded
to his ardent embrace, and as he clasped her soft form roughly to his
strong breast and his warm lips met hers in a deep, lingering kiss that
seemed to aspire her very soul, a sensation she had never known before
invaded her entire being. She felt as though she would swoon.

"Aren't you getting hungry, Grace? Whatever are you so engrossed about?"
said Mrs. Stuart petulantly.

The interruption was so sudden and abrupt that Grace was startled, and
it was with some confusion that she replied:

"Just thinking--that's all! This weather actually makes one foolish."

"Good morning, ladies!"

A shadow suddenly shut out the glare of the sun. Grace and Mrs. Stuart
looked up. It was Captain Summers, who was walking the deck with
Professor Hanson. The _Atlanta_'s commander was a typical sea-dog, big,
broad-shouldered, with a deep bass voice and a face tanned by exposure
to all sorts of weather. Contrasted with Professor Hanson, a nervous
little man, with a bald, domelike cranium, he looked like a giant. Like
most Englishmen, he was frigid in manner and not too amiable in his
intercourse with the passengers. But Grace, Mrs. Stuart, and the
professor happened to sit at his table, which made a difference. For
them he condescended to unbend. He was not blind to the fact that Grace
was an uncommonly good-looking girl, and Mrs. Stuart amused him.
Touching his cap, he sank into the empty seat on the other side of
Grace, while Professor Hanson drew up another chair.

"How long can we expect this glorious weather to last, captain?" asked
Mrs. Stuart, greeting the commander's salute with a gracious smile.

"It's hard to say," he replied pleasantly, after a quick glance at the
sky. "The barometer's steady enough now, but in these latitudes one may
expect anything at any time. The Indian Ocean is as capricious in its
moods as a woman. I've seen it as quiet as this at noon, yet by
nightfall we'd run into such a storm that you'd think the ship would be
blown out of the water."

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Stuart, with a little nervous laugh. "I hope
we shan't have any such experience. I'd die of fright."

"Don't worry, m'm," replied the captain reassuringly. "There's no sign
of a change." Gallantly he added: "I wouldn't hear of you ladies being
put to the slightest inconvenience. I'll see that this weather continues
until we arrive at Bombay."

"When do we get in, captain?" demanded Grace languidly.

"You're not getting tired of us, I hope," replied the commander, with a
laugh.

"Oh, no. I only want to know when I must begin to pack my trunks. You
know, we're going on a motor tour inland."

"Next Saturday we shall have the captain's dinner, with the dance
afterward," interrupted Mrs. Stuart. "So I suppose they expect to land
us Monday."

"How about that, captain?" demanded the professor.

Captain Summers looked at all three in an amused sort of way, and for a
moment made no answer. Then gruffly he said:

"A sailor of experience never ventures to make predictions. We are due
at Bombay next Monday. If all goes well, I expect to land my passengers
on that day. As Mrs. Stuart says, we shall entertain you at dinner and
give you a dance on deck next Saturday, in honor of our arrival. But if
anything delays us, don't be disappointed. We might run on a rock and go
to the bottom. Or we might break our propellers. If that happened, we
should be completely helpless. We might drift out of our course for
weeks before help could reach us."

"Oh, wouldn't that be awful!" cried Mrs. Stuart.

"How could we summon assistance?" asked Grace eagerly.

"By wireless, of course," broke in the professor, who assumed the air of
superior knowledge on every subject broached. "The invention of wireless
telegraphy has practically reduced the perils of seagoing to a
negligible minimum."

"Thank Heaven, we've got the wireless!" gasped Mrs. Stuart. "I could hug
the man who invented it--Macaroni--what's his name?"

"You mean Marconi, my dear madam," interposed the professor solemnly.

"The wireless is all right as far as it goes," said the captain grimly.
"Certainly its invention is a great step forward, but two things are
essential for its success in a critical situation. Firstly, it must be
in working order. In bad weather the aerial wires are apt to be put out
of commission. Secondly, there must be a Marconi station or receiver
within a few hundred miles of where you happen to be. If these
conditions are not present, you might as well whistle!"

Mrs. Stuart looked so depressed at this discouraging opinion that Grace
could not repress a smile. Professor Hanson, never sorry of an
opportunity to air his fund of information, went on pompously:

"Captain, you spoke just now of running on a rock. Is it not a fact that
in this ocean there are rocks and small islands not shown on the
nautical charts, and that for this reason navigation in these waters is
more dangerous than elsewhere?"

For all reply, the commander gave vent to a loud guffaw and, with a side
glance at Mrs. Stuart, winked slyly at Grace.

"If we keep up this kind of talk, Mrs. Stuart will think we're doomed to
come to grief of some kind. Let's be more cheerful."

"Am I right or wrong, captain?" persisted the professor. "My information
came from a naval man."

The commander's face became set and stern, as it usually did when he was
serious. Removing his cigar, he said slowly:

"Your informant was right. For some reason or other, there is no such
thing as an absolutely accurate chart of the Indian Ocean. They have
talked for years of making a new chart, but, so far, nothing has been
done. Yet we sailors who regularly navigate these waters know from
experience that there are hereabouts currents strong enough to divert a
vessel from her true course, and a number of small islands no mention of
which is made on the existing charts. The Admiralty and Lloyds are well
aware of the existence Of these dangers to navigation, but you all know
what red tape is."

"How delightfully romantic!" cried Grace, with enthusiasm. "Unexplored
islands inhabited by savages who never saw white people, and who trade
in beads and go naked!"

"Cannibals, no doubt," suggested Mrs. Stuart, with an affected shudder.

"Where are these islands?" inquired Grace.

"A long way out of our course, I hope," laughed the captain. "Yet I've
passed quite close to some of them. They seem quite deserted. So far as
we could make out, there is not even animal life on them. But, being in
the direct steamer lane to India, they constitute a menace to shipping
that should be removed."

"Most decidedly--most decidedly!" said the professor emphatically.

Captain Summers arose to go.

"It's very delightful chatting here," he said, with a smile; "but I must
go up on the bridge and attend to my duties. Otherwise, we may bump
right on to one of those islands."

"By the way, captain," said Grace. "What has become of that poor fireman
who made such a disturbance the day we sailed from New York?"

The captain frowned.

"Oh, he's down where he belongs--shoveling coal." Then he added: "Don't
waste any sympathy on him. He's about as hard a character as you could
find. Stokers are all troublesome as a class, but this Armitage fellow
is quite unmanageable. I shall be glad to get rid of him. We had to put
him on bread and water the first ten days out. It wasn't until he was
nearly dead from starvation that he consented to go to work."

"Stoking down in that pit in that terrific heat must be fearful!"
exclaimed the professor.

"Yes," growled the captain. "It is pretty bad. Most of them don't mind
it, though. They aren't good for anything else. They're tough,
coarse-fibered creatures, scarcely superior in instincts to the savage.
They'd think nothing of running a knife into you, and that Armitage chap
is worse than the worst of them. We've had trouble with him all along."

"Still, after all," mused the professor, "we mustn't forget that it is
they who make the ship go. We couldn't do without them. Every man has
his place in the world's economy."

"It must be very interesting to see them at work," remarked Grace. "I'd
like to see what the stoke-hold looks like. Mr. Fitzhugh said he would
take me down." Looking down the deck, she added: "Here he comes now.
I'll ask him."

"There's no time like the present," said the captain. "See Mr.
Wetherbee, the chief engineer. He'll take you down."

"Yes," said the professor pedantically. "The spectacle will be a good
object lesson for you--a pampered daughter of the plutocracy. With a
little imagination, you can see in the stoke-hold social conditions as
they actually are in the world to-day. In the stokers you have the
laborers, the mill-hands, the sweat-shop workers, the common people who
toil painfully for pitiful wages, for their daily bread. We others up
here, lolling in our luxurious steamer-chairs, living on the fat of the
land--or, rather, sea, to be more correct--are the masters, the
capitalists. It is the slave system of ancient Rome under another name,
that's all. It's all wrong. Man's injustice to man is the great crime of
the centuries. Why should I be here enjoying every comfort and those
unfortunate men down there condemned to tortures as cruel as those
devised by the merciless Inquisition."

Captain Summers shrugged his massive shoulders, and, as he turned to go,
said laughingly:

"Mind you don't talk that way in the stoke-hold, or they might take you
at your word and keep you down there."

"No danger of that, captain," laughed Mrs. Stuart. "The professor's
only theorizing, you know. It costs nothing to expound theory. He has no
idea of exchanging places with the stokers."

The commander guffawed loudly, and, with a parting salute to the ladies,
turned on his heel and disappeared up the companionway. At that moment
the Hon. Percy Fitzhugh came up, the inevitable monocle in his eye.

"Oh, I say, Miss Harmon," he began, with his affected English drawl. "Be
my partner at shuffleboard, eh, what?"

Mrs. Stuart, irritated at an invitation which ignored her, answered for
her ward:

"Miss Harmon has more serious things to attend to. Don't come disturbing
us with your idiotic games. We are intellectual here--talking socialism,
cannibals, wireless, stoke-holds, and such things. If you can't be
intellectual, keep away."

"Mr. Fitzhugh," said Grace, laughing, "you promised to take me down to
the stoke-hold. Suppose we all go now?"

Mr. Fitzhugh beamed. The beautiful one had actually deigned to ask him
a favor. Overcome with emotion, he stuttered his reply:

"Delighted, of course. It'll be jolly good sport to see the beggars hard
at work down there. I'll let the shuffleboard go hang. Come, we'll go
and see the chief engineer, eh, what?"

He assisted Grace and Mrs. Stuart to their feet, and, followed by the
professor, they all made their way to Mr. Wetherbee's cabin.



CHAPTER V.


The chief engineer, a blunt-spoken Englishman, with bushy side-whiskers,
was amiability itself, and readily consented to escort his visitors down
to the region where he was king.

"There's nothing very attractive down there!" he said, by way of
warning.

"Oh, I'm very anxious to see the poor fellows at the furnaces. It must
be a most interesting sight," exclaimed Grace, with a flush of
pleasurable anticipation.

"Won't it spoil our frocks?" demanded Mrs. Stuart, apprehensive of
damage to her white chiffon gown.

The engineer took the question as almost a personal insult.

"Bless you, no, m'm. It's as clean as Delmonico's kitchen. We're proud
to show it for that reason. Of course, there's plenty of coal-dust
flying down in the stoking-pit, where the firemen are, but you'll not go
near enough to hurt. Follow me!"

He led the way through a narrow door amid-ships, on the port side, and
they found themselves in a steel-lined gallery, well lighted and fitted
on all sides with steel ladders, pipes, and valves. The hissing of
escaping steam and the roar of powerful machinery in motion made any
attempt at speaking impossible.

"This is the engine-room," shouted Mr. Wetherbee.

Looking down, they saw mighty arms of polished, well-greased steel rise,
swing slowly and descend rapidly on the other side. The huge rods of
metal ascended and fell again with great rapidity, with a rhythmical,
irresistible sweep that was fascinating to watch, making at each thrust
and uplift a rushing, roaring noise like the simultaneous blows of a
hundred sledge-hammers.

"A man was caught in there once," shouted the engineer, so as to make
himself heard above the din. "It was just before the ship sailed. The
poor fellow noticed that the crank needed oil, and thought he had time
to do it before we started. Just as he was finishing, the signal 'Go
ahead' came from the bridge. We didn't know he was in the pit, and we
pulled the steam-chest lever. The massive arm rose. He shrieked. Before
we could stop the machinery, it dropped again, and he was ground to
pieces before our eyes."

Grace shuddered while the engineer calmly went on to explain the
particular use of each part of the wonderful mechanism over which he had
supreme control, speaking of each with as much affection as if it were
his own offspring.

"Those cranks turn the shaft which gives the propellers their thousand
revolutions a minute. The vibration you notice is caused by the enormous
steam pressure. Two hundred pounds of steam pressing against every
square inch of boiler surface represents power equal to the strength of
10,000 horses." Patting the head of the great beam as it rose to him, he
added: "This is the best friend we've got--never tired, always true. But
for this we should not be cutting through the water at the speed of
twenty knots an hour."

Turning to an iron staircase on the left, he said:

"We'll go now to the boiler-room and see how we make the steam that
gives life to the cylinders."

Beckoning them to follow, he disappeared down a steep stairway, spiral
in form, which reached from the promenade-deck down to the very bottom
of the vessel. The engineer gallantly extended his hand to assist Grace,
and Professor Hanson, not quite sure himself of his footing, made a
pretense of rendering similar service to Mrs. Stuart. Mr. Fitzhugh
brought up the rear, stepping gingerly. Down they went, round and round,
threading their way along an amazing labyrinth of valves, levers,
gauges, eccentrics, tubes, and steam-pipes. They were now deep down in
the bowels of the ship, a region with a sickening smell of machine-oil
and steam. Down, down they went, past the coal-bunkers, following the
engineer. The stairway being only imperfectly lighted by electric bulbs,
they had to tread carefully. It grew perceptibly hotter. Presently they
saw double rows of boilers set sideways. They were in the stoke-hold.

"Look out!"

The warning cry came from Mr. Wetherbee, who stopped short and held out
his arms to prevent the visitors proceeding any farther. Then he
shouted: "There are the furnaces! You'd better shade your eyes!"

There was a sudden glare which was almost blinding, a roar of flames
under forced draught, and a wave of sickening heat. The air all at once
became so thick with flying particles of coal that it was difficult to
breathe. Choking, coughing, Grace and her companions clutched nervously
at the slender guard-rail which alone interposed between the steel
gallery where they stood and the inferno of smell, noise, and heat
below.

An extraordinary spectacle presented itself to their eyes. In the
blackness underneath, between the rows of boilers, were the
stoking-pits, in which fourteen fires, each raging at a fierce white
heat, glowed angrily like the red cavernous maws of legendary monsters.
Through the open furnace doors issued a blinding light that only
intensified the surrounding gloom. Standing about, recoiling from the
withering heat, could be seen a dozen stalwart forms. Every now and then
they advanced quickly to the furnace, to throw on fresh fuel or to rake
the glowing coal, and in the vivid light they were seen to be human
beings, but so begrimed and terrible of aspect as to be well-nigh
unrecognizable as men. They were entirely naked from the waist up, and
so covered with coal-dust from head to heel that they looked like
negroes. Only the white circles around the bloodshot eyes and their
straight hair betrayed the true color of their skins. They worked
silently and resignedly, like men accursed, and doomed for some sin
committed to everlasting toil and torment. Mere machines of flesh and
sinew, they executed with the rapidity and expertness of long practise
certain mechanical movements, their toughened muscles and iron frame
standing the strain and heat with amazing endurance, sweat literally
pouring off their faces and bodies in streams. At moments the heat
became intolerable--the stoker himself caught fire. His skin began to
blister, his hair started to smoke. He gave a shout, and a comrade
quickly emptied a bucket of water over him, throwing off a cloud of
steam. Thus temporarily relieved, he set to his devilish task again. It
was the hardest kind of labor known to man, but, like the ancient
stoics, the stokers gave no sign of their suffering. They toiled
uncomplainingly in grim silence, as if resigned to accept this degraded,
painful occupation as their proper lot in life. They worked on and on
until gradually even their great strength gave out. Overcome by the
appalling heat, suffocating from lack of fresh air, one by one they were
forced to fall back and give place to fresher men.

The daintily gowned, carefully groomed passengers from the first cabin
watched them, fascinated. It was difficult for Grace, who had seen
nothing but plenty around her since she came into the world, to
understand that there were human beings so miserably poor, so low down
in the social scale that they had to earn their bread in this way. The
literalness of the saying "making a living by the sweat of one's brow"
dawned upon her for the first time. She was shocked, and then she felt
sorry--sorry that any human being should be so degraded. A sense of
guilt came over her, as if she realized that the luxuries her class
loved and exacted were responsible for this degradation, this
suffering.

She wondered where the refractory fireman was, and presently she
perceived him, emerging from the gloom, approaching the roaring furnace,
steel rod in hand, to rake the fiery coal, covering his face with his
unemployed hand to ward off the blistering heat. He was easily
recognizable in spite of his forbidding, ghoulish aspect, towering as he
did several inches above his comrades. Built like a Hercules, he had a
torso that would have given joy to the great Praxiteles himself. His
lines were academic, the muscles on his massive yet admirably molded
shoulders and arms stood out like whip-cords, and as he stood before the
open fire, working the steel rod in and out, one leg thrust forward, the
rest of the body thrown backward to avoid the heat, his pose recalled
one of David's Latin warriors about to let fly a javelin at the enemy.

"By Jove!" exclaimed Mr. Fitzhugh. "There's the chap who made such a
fuss when we sailed."

"Yes, that's the fellow!" said the chief engineer. "He's going his
'shift' readily enough now, but we've had a hard time with him. He had
to be driven to work like a dog. He's a surly brute and always ready
for a fight. You'd better not attract his attention."

So far, the stokers had not noticed the visitors' presence, but Mr.
Fitzhugh's exclamation made them look up. One of the firemen laughed,
and said something in an undertone to a comrade, whereupon the man
grinned, and, turning to the others, pointed to the Hon. Percy, who,
with his monocle, his green Tyrolian hat and white spats, looked comical
enough to excite derision. The jeers attracted the attention of
Armitage, who dropped back from the furnace he was cleaning out and
glared up at the intruders. He clenched his fist and ground his teeth as
he saw these perfumed, pampered passengers watching them as they might
view wild animals in a cage. It made his blood boil to see their clean
skins, their fine clothes. No doubt, they had not done a day's honest
work in their lives. That animated monkey with the monocle and white
spats, and those dainty dolls in laces and jewels, came simply from idle
curiosity, to gibe at their dirty, miserable appearance, to mock at
their sufferings. The thought maddened him. In a frenzy of rage, he
shook his fist in the direction of the little gallery where Grace and
her party stood.

"Get out of here!" he shouted furiously. "We don't want you! This isn't
a circus! Get out--do you hear?"

He stooped quickly, and, picking up a heavy piece of coal, lifted his
arm as if about to hurl it in their direction. Grace, frightened,
recoiled, and her companions also shrank back. Mr. Fitzhugh and the
professor had already bolted up the spiral stairway. The chief engineer
said quietly to Grace:

"You'd better go. There's no telling how he might excite the other men.
I regret very much that you should have been subjected to his insults.
He's half-crazy. Leave me to deal with him!"

Shaking his fist at the fireman, he shouted:

"You'll pay for this, Armitage. This means another dose of the
'hospital' for you!"

"Go to hell!" cried the stoker's hoarse voice.

Grace and Mrs Stuart were breathless when they reached the deck, and
they gave a sigh of relief when they were able once more to fill their
lungs with fresh air.

"What a shocking place!" exclaimed Mrs. Stuart, examining her gown to
see if she had sustained any damage.

"What a terrible man!" echoed Grace.



CHAPTER VI.


All day it had been uncomfortably hot and oppressive. The blazing sun
looked like a molten disk in a copper-colored sky. The horizon was
veiled in a sort of milky haze. The sea had quieted down to a dead calm.
There was not so much as a ripple on the ocean's smooth, oil-like
surface.

The big liner was still pounding her way toward Bombay. Another two days
and the passengers would go ashore. Saturday afternoon had already
arrived. Sailors were busy rigging canvas and putting up decorations for
the dance which was to take place that evening. In a cozy corner of the
promenade-deck an animated group, which included Grace, Mrs. Stuart,
Mrs. Phelps, Count von Hatzfeld, and Professor Hanson, were taking tea.

"I don't see how we can dance in this heat! I think we'd better put off
the ball, don't you, count?" exclaimed Grace, appealing to Mrs. Phelps'
aristocratic admirer.

Count Herbert von Hatzfeld was the typical Teuton, tall and blond, with
soldierly bearing. His mustache had the uptwist dear to the Kaiser. He
had good teeth, polished ways, and an engaging smile. Like most Germans,
his speech was stiff and slow, and he sat bolt upright, as if he had
accidentally swallowed a poker, which made it impossible for him to
unbend.

Grace's suggestion did not seem to appeal to him, for, with a hasty
glance at Mrs. Phelps, who appeared engrossed in something Professor
Hanson was saying, he replied:

"Ach--that is nothing. I like dancing with you in the heat better than
not dancing at all."

Grace purposely ignored the compliment. She had no desire to make Mrs.
Phelps jealous; so, hastening to draw the widow into the conversation,
she leaned over to her.

"What do you think about it, Mrs. Phelps? I just told the count that I
thought it too hot to dance to-night. What's your opinion?"

"Oh, dear, no," laughed the widow, fanning herself. "Let's enjoy
ourselves as long as we can. This weather's nothing to what we shall
get in the interior of India. I wouldn't miss the dance for anything."

"Mrs. Stuart, may I trouble you for some more tea?" asked Professor
Hanson, with his customary exaggerated politeness.

"You, professor, may have anything," replied Mrs. Stuart, with a smile
meant to be fascinating. Archly she added: "You know, I call you my
walking encyclopedia. Just think what you've taught me on this
voyage--all about ocean currents, the stars, wireless telegraphy. You
are a wonderful man."

The professor bowed and preened himself as he sugared his tea.

"You flatter me, my dear madam. Really, you flatter me. It has been an
honor and delight to talk with so charming and intelligent a woman."

"Do you hear that, Grace?" laughed Mrs. Stuart. "The professor says I'm
charming and intelligent."

"_Ja wohl_, it is true--it is true," exclaimed the count gallantly. "You
are very charming. The herr professor vouches for your intelligence
also. He is more competent than I to pass on that question. But I can
certainly vouch for your being irresistibly charming."

Mrs. Phelps frowned. For some reason she seemed to regard Mrs. Stuart as
more dangerous than Grace. Fanning herself vigorously, she exclaimed:

"It is hotter than I thought it was. I think we're in a warm corner.
Count, suppose we take a turn on deck."

"_Ja wohl_--if you wish it," responded the German, rising with native
politeness.

Somewhat reluctantly, Mrs. Stuart thought, he joined Mrs. Phelps, and
they walked off briskly together down the deck.

"Now they're gone, you'll have to amuse us, professor," laughed Mrs.
Stuart.

"I wish I had some one to fan me," complained Grace languidly.

"Allow me," exclaimed the professor eagerly.

Dapper and enthusiastic, he danced around, and, drawing up a chair, took
the fan which Grace willingly surrendered. The professor was not
exactly the man of her day-dreams, but he was as good as any one else
to arrange the rugs around her chair or to pick up the things she was
continually dropping. No one had seen the Hon. Percy Fitzhugh for the
last two days. He had not dared to show his face on deck since his
ignominious flight from the stoke-hold.

"Why is it so sultry, professor?" asked Grace wearily.

The professor fanned her gently, taking mental inventory as the gentle
breeze he made stirred his companion's veil. Her aristocratic features,
her transparent, satinlike skin, her long silky lashes drooping on a
velvety cheek, half concealing her dark, soul-disturbing eyes, the
slender white neck and full bosom covered with dainty open laces
partially concealing hidden charms, and an upturned, wistful mouth, with
full red lips that suggested unholy delights--all this the professor
noted, and he turned away his head and sighed. For all his science, he
was, after all, only a man. And, alas, he had a wife at home. Besides,
who knew better than he--the man of science--the futility of lifting
one's eyes to the stars. He fanned on in philosophic silence.

"Tell me why is it so hot?" repeated Grace, quite unconscious of the
emotions she was stirring in her bespectacled _vis-à-vis_.

"Really, I don't know," said the professor, startled out of his
reveries. Looking around at the sky, he added: "I think we're going to
have a change in the weather."

"Oh, I hope not!" exclaimed Mrs. Stuart anxiously. "What makes you think
that?"

"Well," replied the professor, scanning with the expert air of a weather
prophet the distant horizon, where the fiery sun was sinking behind a
great mass of purple cloud, "I don't much like the formation of those
clouds over there. In these latitudes they usually portend a storm of
considerable violence. The sultriness, the unnatural calm, are all storm
warnings to the sailor, and if another proof were wanted, the barometer
has been falling rapidly all day. We're sure to get something before
long."

"Anything's better than this heat," yawned Grace. "I'd love to see a big
storm, with tremendous waves washing all over the ship."

"Really, Grace, I think it's horrid of you to talk that way," protested
Mrs. Stuart, half in jest, half in earnest. "If we were wrecked or
something, it would serve you right."

"I wouldn't mind being wrecked," laughed Grace. "It would be awfully
romantic--so different from our conventional, humdrum life. Just fancy,
professor, if the ship were wrecked and you and I were cast away on a
desert island, with only monkeys, snakes, and possibly savages for
neighbors!"

"You jest, Miss Harmon," replied the professor seriously. "But such
things have occurred. Don't you remember what happened to the passengers
of the _Aeon_, when that steamer was wrecked on Christmas Island? The
survivors were ten weeks on a barren rock in the South Pacific. One
woman's hair, which was brown, without a trace of gray, when she sailed
on the _Aeon_, turned almost white, as a result of the privations and
nerve strain endured on the island."

"Yes, I remember reading about it in the papers," said Mrs. Stuart.
"Possibly she lost her hair dye in the panic."

"I'd look pretty with white hair," laughed Grace. "It's the fashion now
to wear tufts of white hair among your own."

"If a cannibal cooked you _à la fricassee_, it wouldn't matter how you
looked!" growled Mrs. Stuart.

"Talking of desert islands," said the professor thoughtfully, "a very
interesting sociological problem might be solved if one had the time to
be shipwrecked and the courage to put my theory to the test."

"What theory is that?" demanded Grace, with languid curiosity.

The professor peered dubiously at both women over his gold-rimmed
spectacles, as if questioning their ability to grasp intellectual
problems of any nature. Then pedantically, pompously, as if addressing a
college class, he went on:

"Ethnology and sociology, as you are perhaps aware, are pet sciences
with me. I have always taken keen interest in studying man in his
relations to his fellow man, particularly in his relations with women."

He paused, as if afraid he had said something indelicate. Mrs. Stuart
sat up, made her pillows more comfortable, and said, with a laugh:

"This sounds interesting. Go on, professor!"

Thus encouraged, the professor continued:

"We must not lose sight of the fact that man as we see him
to-day--clean-shaven, manicured, trouser-creased--is only a step removed
from the naked savage ancestor who in the palæolithic age emerged from
his cave, club in hand, to defend his family or provide it with food.
The man of the stone age tore flesh from the skeletons of wild animals
he slew, and made of his wife a beast of burden. To-day, our city
dweller employs a French _chef_, and buys for his wife a box at the
opera. Conditions have altered radically since the dawn of history,
thousands of years of education and refining influences have tamed the
primeval man and woman and taught them how to keep their instincts,
their passions, under control. Yet the change is far more apparent than
real. Civilization is purely artificial. It is only a compromise, a
convention. Our boasted refinement at best is little more than skin
deep. There's an old saying: 'Scratch a Russian and you'll find a
Tartar.' We might also say: 'Scratch civilized man and you'll find a
primeval brute.' Fundamentally, men and women of to-day are the same as
their savage ancestors, they are moved by the same impulses and desires
as when in the dark quaternary epoch they roamed naked through the
virgin forests, ferocious-looking and bestial in appetite, their matted
hair falling over their brutal faces, their prominent teeth sharp and
pointed like wolves' fangs. By nature we are thieves, murderers, liars,
cheats."

"You have a fine opinion of your fellow men, I must say," interrupted
Grace, with a mischievous smile at Mrs. Stuart.

"I am stating a cold, scientific fact, and one that is unqualifiedly
endorsed by every self-respecting ethnologist," replied the professor
firmly. "Civilization," he went on, "teaches us that it is wrong to
kill, to steal, to lie, and society has amended Nature's law by
decreeing that the murderer shall be executed, the thief imprisoned, the
liar and cheat ostracized. That, frankly, is the chief reason why the
majority of us behave ourselves. But some men are so constituted that
they are unable to control their brutal instincts, their evil passions.
Morally and mentally, sometimes physically, even, they resemble in
striking fashion their savage prototypes of six thousand years ago. For
instance, take that fireman Armitage--a colossus in physical strength,
obeying only brutal impulses, to all intents and purposes an untutored
barbarian. Civilization, you see, has done nothing for him. He is the
primeval man. To me he is interesting, for he proves the truth of my
atavistic theory."

Grace yawned. The professor was too deep for her. In fact, she found him
rather tiresome, particularly as she could not guess what he was driving
at. Mrs. Stuart, however, was a more attentive, if somewhat puzzled,
listener.

"But what has all this to do with being wrecked on a desert island?" she
demanded.

The professor smiled in a superior kind of way.

"Allow me to come to my point," he said, with a lordly wave of his hand.
"Suppose a ship like the _Atlanta_, for instance, were wrecked, and the
only two persons who survived the disaster--a man and a woman--found
themselves on a desert island, far from the regular track of steamers
and with the remotest chance of any vessel seeing their signal of
distress. Suppose the man was one of the crew, a common sailor, a brute,
say, of the type of that Armitage fellow, and the woman one of the
first-cabin passengers, a beautiful, highly cultured girl, rich,
luxury-loving, fastidious, such, for instance, as Miss Harmon----"

"Please do me the favor to leave me out of your comparisons,"
interrupted Grace coldly. She did not exactly relish the coupling of her
name with that of a disreputable stoker.

"Oh--I only wanted to make my meaning as plain as possible," stuttered
the professor, in profuse apology.

"Your meaning isn't plain at all!" retorted Grace, not knowing whether
to laugh or to be angry.

"It's about as dense as an Irish Channel fog. But I grasp enough to see
that it's interesting," exclaimed Mrs. Stuart. "Please don't talk in
parables any longer, professor. Come quickly to the point. I'm getting
interested."

"This is the point," smiled the professor. "What would be this man's and
woman's attitude to each other? Separated under normal social conditions
by the widest gulf imaginable, on the desert island they would be thrown
together in the closest intimacy. The highly educated woman, the refined
product of centuries of high breeding, would suddenly find herself the
associate and helpmate of an uncouth, brutal fellow barely redeemed from
barbarism. Necessity would compel her to look to him for food. Instinct
would prompt him to build her a shelter from the elements, and to
protect her from attack. As their enforced sojourn on the island grew
longer, the common sailor would begin to cast covetous, lustful eyes on
his involuntary companion, and as each day the hope of rescue became
more remote, he might insist on ties the very suggestion of which would
overwhelm her with horror. Yet with no one but God above to call upon
for help, she would be completely at the man's mercy. She would be
powerless to resist or to deny herself. Her refinement, her culture,
her high intelligence, would go for nothing. The primeval man, the
beast, would assert his rights and only death could save her honor from
the exercise of his brutal force."

"What a horrid nightmare to conjure up," interrupted Grace, with a
shudder. "If such a thing happened to me, I'd jump into the sea."

"I'd pick up a carving-knife and stick him in the ribs," exclaimed Mrs.
Stuart, laughing.

"I don't think either of you would do anything of the sort," rejoined
the professor. "The sailor would quickly pull Miss Harmon out of the
water, and there wouldn't be carving-knives lying around with which to
do any rib-sticking. No, you would let Nature work out the problem."

"What!" cried both women simultaneously. "You mean to say that we
should----"

"No--not at all," smiled the professor. "You go too quickly. I have
merely stated the sailor's desires. Now, the interesting question
arises: Will he exercise his rights as the stronger, will he drag this
delicate, highly nurtured girl down to his own animal level, or will she
by sheer force of character, by her fine mentality and spiritual force,
be able to tame the beast and lift him up to her level? That is the
problem--a most interesting one from the sociological standpoint; but it
could be solved only by being put to an actual test."

"I hope you don't expect either of us to make the experiment," laughed
Mrs. Stuart.

"If you did, I should certainly aspire to be the sailor," retorted,
gallantly, the man of science.

"The hypothesis is an interesting one," said Grace thoughtfully. "After
all, the situation is not impossible."

The professor rubbed his hands with satisfaction.

"Quite so--quite so!" he replied. "What, in your opinion, would be the
outcome?"

For a moment Grace left the question unanswered. Then, decisively, she
said:

"Such a girl would never yield. Her training, her pride, her
self-respect, would protect her. She would die before she degraded
herself."

"The idea is preposterous!" exclaimed Mrs. Stuart impatiently.

The professor shook his head.

"My dear ladies, you are both mistaken. I once knew a New York girl,
highly educated, wealthy, popular with her friends, who gave up
everything, a luxurious home, her position in society, to follow the man
she loved--a full-blooded Indian--back to the tents of his people.
To-day that girl is living Indian fashion on a Western reservation. In
place of her one-time elegance she wears her hair down over her
shoulders, an old blanket keeps her warm, her proud carriage has given
place to the uncertain, shambling gait, on her back is strapped her
Indian papoose. Her old life is practically blotted out."

"Ah," interrupted Grace, "but that is a different case. She loved the
Indian. If the girl on the island loved the sailor, she might fall, too,
but love should never degrade. On the contrary, it should redeem and
uplift the man."

The professor nodded approvingly.

"Bravo! bravo!" he cried.

"Really, Grace, I had no idea you were so sentimental!" exclaimed Mrs.
Stuart.

"In other words," went on the professor, addressing the younger woman,
"you think----"

"I think," replied Grace slowly and deliberately, "that if they found
they loved each other, she would not quite descend to his level nor
would he quite ascend to hers. There would be a compromise. In other
words, she would stoop; he would reach up. That is my view."

"A most sensible view--most sensible!" said the professor, with
enthusiasm.

Mrs. Stuart sprang up from her chair. Collecting her wraps, she said:

"This debate is highly interesting and instructive, but if I stop to
listen to any more I shall never be dressed for dinner. Come, Grace,
don't forget we dine earlier to-night, because of the dance."

The professor assisted Grace to her feet.

"Thanks," she said. "I've enjoyed our talk so much. You've set me
thinking. It's so seldom one is encouraged to think of anything worth
while."

The ladies disappeared below, and the professor, tipping his cap, turned
on his heel and continued his walk. On the promenade-deck, where a dozen
sailors were busy preparing for the evening's coming festivities, he
met Captain Summers, who was enjoying a smoke before dinner.

"Well, captain, pretty warm for dancing, eh? Is it going to get any
cooler?"

The captain stopped short and squinted around at the sky. As he took in
the weather signs, an anxious look came into his face, and he replied
gruffly:

"We'll get something to-night, that's sure. The glass is falling
rapidly. But I wouldn't say anything about it to the ladies, if I were
you."



CHAPTER VII.


Enclosed with sail-cloth for almost its entire length, brilliantly
illuminated by hundreds of electric bulbs skilfully clustered in the
folds of the artistically draped bunting, with its crowds of dancers,
the women with their beautiful gowns, white shoulders and flashing
jewels, the ship's officers in full uniform, the men passengers in dress
coats--the promenade-deck presented an animated scene of gaiety, light,
and color, rendered all the more striking by the sharp contrast with the
inky darkness beyond the steamer's rail. The steward's orchestra,
screened behind a bank of decorative plants in a railed-off space at the
far end of the deck, was playing a dreamy Waldteufel waltz, and the gay,
laughing couples, their faces slightly flushed from champagne, whirling
gracefully to the strains of the languorous music, made up a picture
that appealed sensuously to ear and eye.

Grace was dancing with Count von Hatzfeld. In a décolleté, clinging gown
of rose-colored chiffon, cut to set off to full advantage her
snow-white shoulders and perfect figure, never had she looked so
radiant. Around her slender throat was a string of priceless pearls, a
gift from her father, and her hair, dark and lustrous, was arranged in a
Grecian Psyche knot with gold bands. She held undisputed sway as belle
of the ball, and covetous feminine eyes, ardent masculine eyes, followed
her and her lucky partner as they waltzed up and down the deck. Both
tall and graceful, they made a striking couple.

The count held her pressed closely to him as they turned slowly to the
measured time of the voluptuous music. Her eyes were closed and her head
drooped slightly on his shoulder. To him it seemed like a taste of
heaven to hold this beautiful creature in such close embrace, and as he
inhaled the subtle aroma that emanated from her skin and hair, like some
exquisite, unfamiliar perfume, intoxicating in its effect, he wondered
how he could have been such an ass to waste so many precious hours on
Mrs. Phelps.

But Grace was not thinking of the count. He was not the type of man to
interest her. She enjoyed dancing for itself, and she abandoned herself
to it without a thought of the man who might happen to be her partner.
She loved the graceful, rhythmical movement of the waltz, the rapid
whirling round and round which made her heart beat tumultuously, the
languorous music which intoxicated. She loved the luxury of costly
costumes, the odor of beautiful flowers, the sparkle of diamonds and the
careless gaiety and unconsequential chatter of the people of her own
set. In short, hers was purely a sensual enjoyment--not materially
different to that she aroused in the men--but she did not realize it.

"_Ach_, this is divine!" whispered the count. "May I have the next
waltz?"

At that moment a couple brushed past them.

"There's Mrs. Phelps with Mr. Fitzhugh," said Grace mischievously. "She
would scratch my eyes out if she caught me dancing with you again so
soon."

"I care not," replied the German recklessly and ardently. "When I see
your eyes, the world is dead to me."

A compliment of this kind would have pleased most women, but Grace was
accustomed to them. They rather irritated her.

"I'm tired now," she said languidly. "Please take me to my seat."

They joined Mrs. Stuart, who, comfortably ensconced in a corner, was
flirting desperately with Mr. Brown, the second officer, a tall,
handsome man, smart-looking in his full-dress uniform and white gloves.
The count murmured his thanks, bowed, and retired.

"I'm so thirsty!" gasped Grace, sinking into a chair. "I wish I had an
ice."

"Allow me to get you one," said Mr. Brown.

Before she could protest, the second officer had disappeared in the
direction of the saloon, where an elaborate supper was laid out.

Mrs. Stuart turned to her protégée:

"Grace, you've made a tremendous hit to-night. Your pearls look
magnificent. All the women are raving about them."

"They ought to be," replied Grace indifferently. "They cost enough."

"Forty thousand, didn't you say?"

"I think that's what dad paid."

"Lucky girl! They might be glass for all you seem to care."

Grace made a gesture of impatience as she answered:

"What good are they? Merely pretty gewgaws. Their value means nothing to
me. I'm sick of hearing what things cost. They won't bring me what I
want most."

"What's that--a husband?" smiled Mrs. Stuart.

"Yes," replied Grace petulantly. "A husband--a man I could respect
enough to want to marry. I lose patience with all these animated monkeys
that dangle after me. I want a real man."

"Not very kind to the count after he's been so attentive to you all the
evening," replied Mrs. Stuart, elevating her eyebrows. "No wonder you're
tired, after dancing every single dance. I should be dead in your place.
It's all very well to be the belle of the ball, but it's wearing on the
nerves. I'm satisfied to play wallflower and talk to the second officer.
You've no idea how perfectly fascinating he is. His gold braid and
buttons are too cute for anything! What was the count breathing down
your neck?"

"Oh, a lot of foolishness!" laughed Grace.

"Take care," exclaimed Mrs. Stuart, holding up a warning finger. "I saw
Mrs. Phelps glaring at you several times. Besides, Germans make
impossible husbands. The common German is gross, the educated German is
conceited. Both are insufferable. You'd be miserable."

"Don't be alarmed, dear," smiled Grace. "I think no more of the count
than I do of those musicians, not so much. Their music charms and he
bores."

Mr. Brown reappeared, followed by a steward carrying a tray on which
were ices and _petits fours_.

"Oh, how perfectly sweet of you!" exclaimed Mrs. Stuart. "I was dying
for an ice--the heat is positively dreadful."

"It's getting warmer every minute," panted Grace. "I can hardly breathe.
I think we're going to have a storm, don't you, Mr. Brown?"

"Oh--I don't know," replied the officer hesitatingly. "It's always hot
in these latitudes, you know. This is nothing to what you'll get in
Bombay."

"Yes, I know," said Grace, nibbling daintily at the delicious frozen
delicacy, "but there's something weird in the unnatural stillness of the
air. I don't like to see the water so calm."

The second officer shifted uneasily about on his feet. He knew well that
there was every indication of a storm. The barometer had been falling
steadily for hours. The latest reading marked ten-twenty-nine, which was
the lowest he had ever seen it. The captain, too, was uneasy. In fact,
they were only waiting for the dance to break up to hurry and get
everything shipshape for the blow which they knew was inevitable.
Meantime, he argued to himself, there was no use in alarming the ladies
or spoiling their fun. He was about to put off further questioning by
some reassuring remark, when just then a quartermaster ran up, and,
touching his cap, said:

"Cap'n wishes to see you on the bridge, sir."

"Very well, I'll come at once."

Turning to the ladies, Mr. Brown excused himself, and, with a salute,
went away, followed by the sailor.

The gaiety was now at its height. It was impossible to move about the
deck, so crowded was it with dancers and promenaders. Suddenly the
concealed orchestra struck up the dulcet strains of Strauss' _Blue
Danube_, and once more the couples began gliding and turning on the
spotless deck, the women's gowns making a beautiful and ever-changing
kaleidoscope of color and motion. Everybody was in high spirits. The
women were flirting and drinking champagne. The men were laughing and
having what the Hon. Percy Fitzhugh declared a ripper of a good time. It
was a festival of fortune's favorites, a merrymaking of those lucky few
who have nothing to do but enjoy life's pleasures.

       *       *       *       *       *

Up on top of the deckhouse, hidden among the ventilators and
smokestacks, two men gloomily watched the gay scene below. They were
grimy with coal-dust and they wore greasy clothes, with tattered coats
buttoned close to their necks. Hot as was the night, it felt cool to
them, accustomed as they were to the withering heat of the furnaces
below. One was Armitage; the other was Bill. The two stokers had crawled
out of the inferno to steal a breath of fresh air. The scene before them
seemed like a vision of fairyland.

"Gee whiz!" exclaimed Bill, when he had somewhat recovered from his
astonishment. "It's like at the theayter. Get on to 'em lights and the
flags, will ye, and the bloomin' musicians! Look at 'em women folk
dancin' all decked out in their sparklers, and 'em blokes wid their
open-faced clothes! Officers, too, has on their Sunday duds. And, by
gosh! If they ain't drinkin' fizz! Say, ain't it great to be rich!"

"Let them dance!" growled Armitage savagely, as he sullenly watched the
merry crowd. "They'd dance to another tune if the boilers were suddenly
to burst, or if the ship ran foul of a rock." Fiercely, he added: "D--n
'em! I'd like to see them down on their blessed knees, weeping and
praying!"

To him these men and women, enjoying themselves in fine clothes, with
plenty of money, without a care, represented the enemy. They belonged
to the class that had wronged him, the world that had been trampling on
him all these years. They were those who laughed when he suffered, who
threw him a bone as one does to a dog. How he hated them! He ground his
teeth at the consciousness of his own impotence to do them injury.

"That's all right!" grinned Bill. "But anythin' as happens to 'em would
catch us, too. I ain't ready for Davy Jones' locker yet."

Still watching the brilliant crowd below, as if fascinated, Armitage
replied with an oath:

"I'm ready for anything. I'd just as soon go to the bottom as not. What
do you fellows get out of life, anyhow? Nothing but hard work, kicks,
and curses--scarcely enough to eat, while those swells have more than
they know what to do with. And they never earned a cent of it."
Savagely, he went on: "It's dead wrong, I tell you. Why should one come
into the world poor and the other rich? Do you wonder I hate them?"

On the deck beneath, Grace rose from her chair and took Count von
Hatzfeld's proffered arm. The count had been most persistent in asking
for another dance, and to get rid of his importunities, she had
consented. Slowly they began to turn to the charming strains of the
_Fledermaus_ waltz, their tall, graceful figures making them conspicuous
among all the other dancers.

"Say!" exclaimed Bill. "Does ye see that tall gal dancin' wid the guy
wid the Dutch whiskers? Ain't she a stunner?"

Armitage's eyes followed those of his mate until they alighted on Grace,
when they were immediately arrested. For a few minutes he said nothing,
watching in silence the proud beauty who was the cynosure of every eye
on deck. With growing interest he took mental note of her dark, flashing
eyes, her slender neck and snow-white shoulders, her splendid figure,
beautiful hair, and graceful carriage.

"She's pretty, all right!" he muttered, at last. "Look at those pearls
round her neck. They're worth a fortune. Isn't she one of those women
who came down to the stoke-hold the other day?"

Before Bill could reply there was a flash of lightning, followed by a
sharp clap of thunder. The sail-cloths began to flap ominously. On
their grimy faces the two stokers felt drops of rain.

"We're in for it!" cried Bill. "Did ye see 'em storm-clouds?"

There was another glare, more vivid than the first, followed almost
immediately by a report that left no doubt of the violence of the storm
which was fast approaching. The flash revealed a mass of low-lying
clouds, swollen with moisture to the bursting point, around which danced
lurid green flames. The wind was rising rapidly with a sinister moan.
The sea, while still smooth, was seething and covered with foam like
water boiling.

"It's goin' to be a corker!" shouted Bill. "Let's get in before it
breaks."

Without waiting to see if Armitage was following him, he ran back to the
ventilator up which both men had climbed, and disappeared.



CHAPTER VIII.


Below on the promenade-deck all was excitement and confusion. The peal
of thunder had spread consternation among the women, and there was a
general stampede for shelter.

The first rush of wind played terrible havoc with the bunting. The
floral decorations were scattered in all directions. Part of the canvas
awning was torn down. Chairs, tables, and glasses crashed to the deck.
Amid the uproar were heard the harsh commands of the ship's officers,
and the running here and there of sailors, as they hastened to execute
orders. The wind squall died away as quickly as it had come, and for a
brief spell the turmoil was succeeded by an unnatural quiet. Some of the
passengers, inexperienced in weather signs, thought the worst was over,
but the wiseacres shook their heads. It was the lull before the
onrushing storm.

Grace and Mrs. Stuart had fled inside at the first alarm, and they both
stood at the saloon entrance, peering nervously into the darkness
beyond the rail, anxiously questioning Professor Hanson and Count von
Hatzfeld, who tried to reassure them. The Honorable Percy Fitzhugh, his
face white and visibly nervous, was so excited that he stuck his monocle
in the wrong eye.

"I don't think it will amount to much," asserted the professor, in his
pompous, authoritative way.

The words were barely spoken when he was rudely contradicted. Another
blinding flash rent the heavens, revealing great masses of
forbidding-looking clouds scudding across the sky and hanging so low
that they seemed almost to touch the water. A terrific report followed,
which shook the ship.

"Oh, I'm so frightened!" wailed Mrs. Stuart, clinging nervously to Mr.
Fitzhugh's arm, much to the annoyance of that gentleman, who felt none
too comfortable himself.

"Nonsense, Cora, don't be so foolish!" protested Grace. "We're perfectly
safe here, no matter what happens."

"She's beginning to roll," said the professor, as the ship gave a sudden
lurch.

"Why are we rolling--is it getting rough?" asked Grace, who was
beginning to show signs of trepidation. "There doesn't seem to be any
wind."

"It's so deuced dark one can't see a bally thing!" stammered Mr.
Fitzhugh.

The night was pitch-dark, and after the brilliancy of the electric
lights, to which their eyes had grown accustomed all evening, the
surrounding wall of blackness seemed all the more opaque and
impenetrable. Still, there was no wind, and the heat was suffocating.
The uncanny silence continued. What could be seen of the sea was smooth,
and oily, and illuminated in spots with green phosphorescent lights. A
deep swell had set in. Rolling in great billows from the south, it
caused the steamer to rock so violently that the women had to hold fast
in order to keep their feet.

"Isn't this rolling horrible? Each minute I imagine the steamer is going
to turn over!" exclaimed Mrs. Stuart, so alarmed that she hardly knew
what she was saying.

"A heavy swell like this," explained the professor calmly, "either
follows a gale or comes in advance of one. This sea is evidently the
forerunner of a storm. The ladies had better go below before it gets any
worse."

"I wouldn't think of going to bed," declared Mrs. Stuart emphatically.
"Just think if we had to take to the boats and I were in my
curl-papers."

Still no wind; only a weird moaning in the distance, which was
distinctly audible amid the profound, mysterious silence. The lightning,
now more frequent, revealed a sky terrifying in aspect. The suspense was
nerve-racking to the stoutest hearted. The captain was heard shouting
orders on the bridge. Officers and sailors hurried aft, and, driving the
passengers below, closed and barricaded the storm doors. Gathered at the
port-holes, their anxiety increasing each moment, the passengers waited
and watched. Momentarily, the sea grew more convulsive. The waves
increased perceptibly in size, and the ship rocked more violently.
Nearer and nearer came that weird, depressing, wailing sound, like the
moaning of all the unhappy souls that were ever drowned in the
treacherous waters of the deep. Grace and her companions, now
thoroughly alarmed, felt that something extraordinary was about to
happen, and it did.

All at once it came. There was a blinding sheet of greenish flame,
followed by a deafening report. Then hell itself broke loose. The
hurricane was upon them. It came with a terrifying rush of air, which,
screeching and howling, raced along at a velocity of a hundred miles an
hour, accompanied by torrents of rain. Nothing could withstand the
whirlwind's fearful force. Everything loose on deck was instantly swept
away. The Marconi aerial wires, snapping like twine, were rendered
useless in an instant, the life-boats strained at their lashings, the
air was full of flying débris, the officers on the bridge held on for
their lives. The sea, now rising rapidly and worked into a frenzy by the
force of the wind, was nothing but a waste of seething foam. The huge
steamer heeled over at the first shock, and great, green seas, capped
with foam, began to break upon the decks. Inside, the stewards ran here
and there, closing ports, while the passengers, scared out of their
wits, were gathered in the big dining-saloon, gathering such comfort as
they could by ceaseless questioning of the busy ship's officers.

"Is there any danger, Mr. Brown?" Grace asked the second officer, as he
hurried past.

"No--no danger at all!" he laughed unconcernedly. "Just a little blow,
that's all. No storm that was ever brewed could sink this ship."

Grace was reassured, and she breathed more freely, but Mrs. Stuart was
skeptical.

"Ship's officers never acknowledge there is danger," she said crossly.
"They wouldn't admit it even if we were all struggling for our lives in
the water."

"Oh, there's no question that the ship is staunch enough," said the
professor. "The only cause for alarm would be if the hurricane blew us
out of our course and the steamer were to run on a rock."

As he spoke there was a terrifying crash of glass and an inrush of
water. Mrs. Stuart screamed, and stewards ran from all directions. A
giant wave had broken the great glass dome over the dining-room, and the
water was pouring down in torrents.

"What will become of us? Where can we go?" wailed Mrs. Stuart.

"The staterooms are the best place in a storm," said the professor.

"Yes," said Grace. "Let's go to my stateroom. It's large enough to hold
us all. We can be miserable together. Come."

They followed Grace, leaving the stewards to mop up the water.

The tempest had now reached its height. The shrieking of the wind and
the thunderous blows of the terrific seas, as they broke against the
sides of the ship, was terrifying to listen to. The boldest among the
men passengers no longer concealed their anxiety, and most of the women
were in a mental condition bordering on panic. Mrs. Phelps refused to
follow the example of Grace and retire to her stateroom. She preferred,
she said, to be where she could get out easily if anything happened. So
with a stiff brandy and soda to give her courage, and Count von Hatzfeld
to keep her company, the widow prepared to sit out the night in company
with a crowd of other frightened passengers, who sat all huddled
together in a sheltered corner of the dining-saloon.

Up on the deck, where duty compelled the officers and crew to expose
themselves to the full fury of the storm, the scene was wild beyond
description. The force of the wind was extraordinary. It was impossible
to face it and breathe. The noise was deafening. What with the continual
roar of the now raging sea, the screeching of the tempest and the crash
of thunder, the tumult was appalling. The officers on the bridge, clad
all in oilskins, hung on for their lives, shouting orders through
megaphones.

A tremendous sea was running and the _Atlanta_ labored heavily. She
rolled so badly that it seemed impossible that she could ever right
herself again, and every now and then there came a lurch that strained
all the joints, throwing everybody off their feet. The promenade-deck,
swept by foaming green water, was practically afloat. One giant comber
after another broke over the rail with a thunderous roar, sending up
clouds of spray that completely hid the bridge from sight. The night was
pitch-dark. Only the intermittent flashes of lightning permitted a
glimpse of the raging ocean. It being impossible to see farther than a
ship's length ahead, the officers on the bridge were ready for any
emergency. The lookouts had been doubled, and the engines slowed down.
Captain Summers had left nothing undone to ensure the safety of the
passengers entrusted to his care and skill, but it was evident from the
way in which he bent forward and strained his eyes in an effort to
penetrate the murk ahead, that the situation was critical.

Among those exposed to the weather on the upper decks there was only one
who watched with grim indifference the fury of the hurricane. The
fiercer the wind blew, the angrier grew the ocean, the higher rose
Armitage's spirits. When the tremendous seas began to break over the
vessel, the stoker exulted. He was still among the ventilators where
Bill had left him, not having had time to retreat before the storm
broke. Caught by the first rush of wind, he was hurled violently against
an iron stanchion and knocked senseless. When he came to, he found
himself clinging desperately to a rail, with the hurricane blowing right
over him. The force of the wind was inconceivable. He tried to stagger
to his feet and resist it, but he could not move. The atmosphere was
full of a rushing, irresistible force which suffocated him. The rain,
driven with merciless violence, blinded him. He could neither breathe
nor see. His ears were deafened by the unearthly screeching of the wind
and the constant roar of the waves. A flash rent the surrounding
blackness. He caught a glimpse of the water convulsed in a fury, the
decks below swept by foaming seas, the ship's officers and crew running
excitedly about.

It flashed upon him suddenly that the steamer was in danger, yet,
instead of making him tremble with apprehension, the thought stirred
within him a thrill of savage exultation. Why should he care? Only those
who enjoyed life had reason to recoil from death. What joys did life
hold out to him? He could never redeem the past. He was tired of the
struggle. He had knocked about the world long enough. He would be
discharged on the steamer's return to port, and it would be hard, if not
impossible, to find another job. Luck was certainly against him. What
was the use of bucking against one's luck? It would be as well to have
done with it all. A jump into the sea, a moment's choking and
involuntary struggle with the waves, and all would be over. His jaws
closed with a click, and a hard expression came into his eyes. If this
was to be the end of all his hardships and suffering, at least he would
not go alone. Those first-cabin passengers, with their dainty frocks and
fastidious manners--they would have to take the same watery road as he.
The rich and the poor, the happy and the wretched--all are equal in the
presence of Death. And as each second the hurricane increased in fury,
and the ship plunged more heavily, he had a sense of savage joy as, in
his mind, he pictured the final catastrophe, the wild scramble for the
boats, and the final screams and death struggles in the boiling waves.

Suddenly there was a deafening roar. He heard warning shouts, followed
by the splintering of wood and the smashing of glass. Then came a solid
wall of green water. A mountainous sea swept clean over the place where
he lay, and passed on, leaving him bruised and gurgling for breath. Only
the rail had prevented him from being carried bodily over the side. A
giant wave had crashed down on the ship, twisting rails, smashing
life-boats, and deluging the interior of the ship with tons of water.
Below could be heard the shouts of the passengers. A moment later,
without further warning, came another and more serious shock, a series
of bumps on the ship's bottom, accompanied by a harsh, rending sound.
The steamer stopped and trembled from bow to stern. There was a grinding
sound. The vessel listed and heeled far over. The engines suddenly
stopped. The siren began to blow dismally. The officers were shouting.
The _Atlanta_ had run on a rock.

In the saloon and staterooms all was chaos and confusion. The electric
lights had gone out, the sudden inrush of water having extinguished the
furnaces. Already the scared firemen were climbing up from the
stoke-hold like rats escaping from a sinking ship. Every one realized
that the steamer was doomed, yet there was no panic. The imminence of
the peril seemed to have stricken every one dumb, passengers and
stewards alike. Hardly a sound was heard except the quick orders given
by the officers and the noise of the passengers' footfalls, as they
hastened up on deck. Every one was cool. The men retained their
self-possession, the women their fortitude. There was no sign of
hysteria. On every one's face was a tense look of quiet anxiety, as if
it was realized that death was near, and each had summoned up courage to
meet it bravely. Even Mrs. Stuart, white-faced and half fainting, did
not give way entirely. She and Grace, assisted by Professor Hanson, made
their way as quickly as they could to the deck where, all huddled
together, they patiently waited for the sailors to lower the boats. The
waves were running mountain high. What use were the life-boats in such a
sea? Grace's lips moved in prayer.

Armitage, still clinging to the rail, watched the sailors as they worked
rapidly at the davits to lower the boats. This, he said to himself, was
certainly the end. No boat could live in those tremendous seas. They
would all drown like rats. He saw the Honorable Percy Fitzhugh, still in
his spats and green Tyrolian hat, but very humble now, and white-faced,
standing by the girl he had seen dancing--the proud beauty with the big
dark eyes. She was pale and silent, yet she did not give way to
hysterical emotion. He admired her for her pluck. She was spunky--that
was evident. Some women got into a boat, which was lowered away in
safety. Another was let down, loaded to the gunwale with human freight.
Just as it touched the water there came a tremendous wave, the fragile
boat was tossed high in the air, and in an instant its occupants were
struggling in the water. There were women's screams and men's shouts,
then a sinister silence. Armitage laughed. At last he had the upper
hand. These swell cabin passengers drowning there before his eyes were
afraid of death, while he welcomed it. He felt grateful that this much
revenge had been vouchsafed him. The cries of the dying, the frightful
tumult raised by this death orgy of wind and sea, instead of frightening
him, sounded in his ears like the most sublime music he had ever heard.

As the doomed ship settled deeper on the reef, the waves broke on board
with redoubled force. It was only a question of minutes when the huge
hulk would begin to go to pieces. Suddenly there was a terrific
explosion, the deck rose under him, and the next thing he knew he was in
the sea, battling with the waves.

He was an expert, powerful swimmer, and he found himself struggling for
life in spite of himself. He tried to stop swimming, to let himself
sink. He could not. The instinct of self-preservation was too strong. So
he swam on, now resting, now floating. He saw nothing of the ship or of
the boats. He presumed some got away. He heard shouts, but paid no heed.
Steadily he swam on, wondering when his strength would give out and
nature would let him drown. All at once he bumped against something
soft.

"Save me!" cried a woman's voice weakly.

Instinctively he put out his hand and caught her by the hair just as she
was going down for the second time. Her eyes were closed and her face
pale as death. It was the tall girl with the dark eyes. If she had not
spoken he would have thought she was dead. Supporting her firmly with
one hand and keeping her head above water, he swam on. He wondered why
he took the trouble. He would tire soon and then both must sink. But he
swam on, with Grace limp, unconscious, half drowned at his side. He felt
he was unable to stay afloat much longer. His left arm was already numb
from the girl's dead weight. Every muscle in his body ached. The end
must soon come. Why not let her go now and have done with it?

Suddenly he heard a sound that gave him renewed energy. It was the
roaring noise of heavy surf beating on the shore. They must be close in
land. Another determined effort and perhaps he could get in. Desperately
exerting the last of his great strength, he swam on. A monster wave
carried him forward, high on its crest, and as the water retired he felt
sand underneath his feet. Another billow carried them in still farther.
He was in a maelstrom; he could not see; there was a rushing, roaring
sound in his ears. A wave knocked him down, and they were both nearly
suffocated as they rolled over and over in the boiling water. He
staggered to his feet and was again dragging her in when a receding wave
snatched them back. Then came another and bigger wave which threw them
in again. This time he dug his feet desperately in the shifting sand,
and, by a herculean effort, resisted the deadly suck of the undertow.
The wave receded, leaving them still higher. Before another could reach
them he had picked his unconscious companion up in his arms, and
staggered up the beach safe out of the clutch of the water.



CHAPTER IX.


Dawn broke, gray and wet. Although the storm had spent its fury and the
wind had quieted down to a gentle breeze, the sea still ran mountains
high and a fine rain was falling. But there was promise of clearing
weather. Low on the eastern horizon a fringe of fiery red broke through
the leaden clouds, putting in relief the water-line and heralding the
near approach of sunrise. Away out yonder, far beyond the towering,
white-capped breakers, protruded the jagged points of the treacherous
sunken reef on which the ill-fated _Atlanta_ had crashed to her doom.

Armitage strained his eyes in every direction until they ached. With the
coming of daylight he had expected to get a glimpse of the wreck;
possibly he would see people still on board, signaling for help. But as
the darkness paled and he was able to distinguish water and sky through
the receding gloom, he saw, to his amazement, that the steamer had
completely disappeared. He perceived pieces of wreckage, and, near the
reef, he thought he spied an upturned boat, but of the big steamer and
the other life-boats which got away before the boilers exploded, there
was not a sign. Nothing but a desolate waste of tossing gray water met
his eyes everywhere.

As far as he could make out they were on an island. He had no idea how
large it was, or if it was deserted or inhabited. He had heard his
shipmates talk of islands in the Indian Ocean that were a peril to
navigation, and he supposed this was one of them. When it got lighter he
would be better able to take his bearings.

He was exhausted and weak after his long struggle with the waves, and
his brine-soaked clothes hung heavily on him. Yet he no longer looked
the same man he had been on the ship. The transformation in his
appearance was startling; the long swim had effected a wonderful change.
All trace of coal-dust had disappeared from his face and neck; once more
he was a white man. His hands were cut and bleeding from the sharp
rocks, and his body was bruised from head to foot, but nothing could
conceal the fact that his bearing had distinction, that his head was
well shaped, his features clean cut, that he had a strong mouth and a
clear eye.

But he was supremely unconscious of how he looked. He was desperately
hungry. His throat was dry and parched. His brine-soaked clothes hung
heavily on him. His senses and consciousness seemed numbed. In truth, he
marveled to find himself alive. Why had he exhausted and bruised himself
struggling with the waves, fighting death, when he had no desire to
live? Yes, he remembered now. It was the girl's fault. She had cried out
to him, and somehow, in spite of himself, he had clutched at her and
saved her from drowning.

He clenched his fists and muttered an oath as he turned to look at her.
She was still lying, apparently unconscious, in the spot where he had
carried her after they both staggered out of the jaws of death, and
fell, exhausted, on the wild, storm-swept beach. His first instinct on
gaining a foothold safe from the deadly suck of the thundering breakers
had been to find for his helpless companion some kind of shelter from
the wind and rain, and as he was assisting her over the slippery stones,
green with slimy sea grass, they accidentally stumbled across a wide
opening in the face of the precipitous cliff. Nearer inspection showed
it to be a deep crevice, hollowed out of the solid rock in past ages by
the action of the water. The sea had since receded, leaving a kind of
cave, of no great height or depth, yet large enough to accommodate half
a dozen persons. The interior was dry, while the thick growth of velvety
moss underfoot provided a comfortable couch.

"A shipwrecked young woman couldn't wish for more luxurious quarters,"
muttered Armitage grimly to himself, and after he had taken mental note
of the natural advantages of the place, he turned to look at the
prostrate girl.

As yet Grace had given no sign of life. Her eyes were closed and her
face livid. But for the nervous twitching of her mouth, and a low moan
which from time to time escaped her lips, one might think she was dead.
Her head was thrown back against the cold, damp wall, her beautiful,
long hair, matted by sea water, was all disheveled. Water ran off every
part of her and formed a little puddle by her side. Her dainty
ball-dress, the envy of every woman on board only a few hours before,
was in shreds. What remained of it, soaked and discolored, clung closely
to her figure, revealing to Armitage's gaze outlines which caused the
blood to rush tumultuously to his head. Her low-necked gown, torn during
the panicky rush for the life-boats, had collapsed entirely at one side,
exposing part of the delicately rounded, blue-veined bosom, and
shoulders and arms as white and academically beautiful as if cut in
marble by the sculptor's chisel.

[Illustration: NEVER IN HIS LIFE HAD HE BEHELD A WOMAN SO FAIR.]

Armitage stood transfixed, his pulse throbbing furiously, his heart in
his mouth. For a moment the beast was aroused. His eyes sparkled
sensually, incoherent sounds issued from between his clenched teeth. A
kiss on that gently curved, sensitive mouth would be as near a taste of
heaven as ever he would get. He'd be a fool to hesitate. They were
alone--he and this girl--not a human being was within a thousand miles
of them. The chances of rescue were infinitesimal. They had escaped the
waves only to die of starvation--that was certain. If they must
die--to-day--to-morrow--or the next day--why deny oneself any joy that
the world still had to offer? Thus he argued, not in these words, but in
feverish, unreasoning, reckless thought. Boldly he approached her. His
face was flushed, his eyes were ardent as they took in every voluptuous
detail of her motionless form. He advanced closer, and, bending over
her, stood for a moment fascinated by the sight of her bare,
alabaster-like skin and perfectly modeled arms. Never in his life had he
beheld a woman so fair.

Suddenly she stirred and uttered a low moan. Armitage sprang back and
looked around guiltily. Only the screaming sea-gulls were there to
witness his discomfiture, yet his face had the expression of one
detected in an unworthy action. Again Grace moaned and stirred as if in
pain. He stood irresolute, embarrassed, not knowing what to do to help
her, trying to feel that he didn't care, surly and ill-tempered because
he felt contempt for himself. What was this woman's suffering to him?
She belonged to the class he now hated, the detested plutocracy upon
which he had declared war. The money she spent on her finery and
pleasures was no doubt gotten by cheating such poor fellows as he out of
their rights. Let her have her share of hard knocks. He chuckled to
himself as he reflected on life's ironies. Only a few brief hours ago,
on the luxuriously appointed liner, she was everything, he was nothing.
She was the grand lady, the pampered cabin passenger; he was the
despised stoker, hardly to be counted among human beings. Suddenly what
an astounding revolution! A cataclysm, and all was changed--distinctions
of birth, education, and wealth were instantly abolished. Now they were
merely two helpless human beings cast away on a deserted island in the
lonely mid-ocean, one dependent upon the other, one no better than the
other. They had returned to primeval conditions. In what way was she his
superior now?

Thus arguing to himself, he took fresh courage and drew nearer. She was
certainly pretty, there was no getting away from that, and he--was a
man!

Lying there, pale, soaked, bedraggled, Grace looked the picture of utter
misery. Of the artificial aids to good looks which women in their
vanity love to employ, not one remained, yet even with every adjunct of
self-adornment gone she was still beautiful. The exuberant spirits and
pride of bearing were no longer there, only a sad, wistful, pallid
loveliness that was even more potent in its appeal than the radiant,
gay, fashionably gowned, proud beauty who had attracted his gaze when,
from his place of concealment among the ventilators, he had gloomily
watched the brilliant scene on the promenade-deck.

She made no attempt to move. Still stunned by the awful calamity which
had so swiftly overtaken the steamer, her ears still ringing with the
despairing cries of her friends as they were swept to their deaths, her
brain was a blank. She could not think or reason. Every sense seemed
paralyzed. She felt no sensations of hunger or thirst. She was surprised
to find herself still alive. All she remembered was the terrible
explosion, the frenzied scramble for the boats, and then all at once she
found herself in the water, swimming, trying to keep herself afloat. How
she reached the shore she did not know. A man had caught her as she was
sinking, and in a vague sort of way she thought he was one of the crew.
She wondered where she was and why her body ached so. The air chilled
her bare shoulders. She shivered, moaned, and opened her eyes.

"Are you hurt?" he asked, advancing.

This abrupt breaking of the long silence by the sound of a human voice
seemed strange to her. She thought she was dreaming, and she smiled
faintly at the absurdity of it.

"Are you hurt?" he demanded, again stooping over her.

She turned her gaze wonderingly on Armitage. In the uncertain light it
was difficult to get a good view of his face. He seemed a stranger to
her. From him, her eyes wandered inquiringly round the cave.

"Where am I?" she asked, in a low voice.

"On an island," he replied shortly. "The steamer's lost. Only you and I
were saved."

She turned white, and her breath came and went quickly. Then she caught
sight of her torn gown, and quickly she covered herself modestly, a
faint flush overspreading her pale face. She continued to stare at
Armitage, as if he reminded her of some one she had seen before.
Puzzled, she passed her hand over her eyes as if trying to remember.

"Who are you?" she said finally. "Where have I seen you before?"

He shifted uneasily on his feet and looked away, avoiding her scrutiny.
Why should she know that he had been one of the poor devils in the
stoke-hole? Perhaps she already recognized him as the deserter who was
so unceremoniously dragged on board ship in New York Harbor. Gruffly he
answered:

"I was swimming. I heard you cry out. I brought you in--that's all."

"You were one of the crew?"

He nodded.

"Yes--one of the crew."

"How can I thank you!" she exclaimed. "My father is rich. He will reward
you."

He laughed harshly.

"Money isn't much good here. You don't realize where we are. Every one's
gone but we--all are drowned. We're as good as dead. We're a thousand
miles from the mainland--with no means of getting away and no food.
There's little chance of being sighted by a passing ship, for the storm
had blown us out of the regular steamer track." Brutally, he added: "You
might as well understand the situation. Death by starvation stares us in
the face."

Grace interrupted him by an outburst of hysterical weeping. Weakened
physically by exertion and exposure, her nerves overwrought by terror
and suspense, little wonder that at last she gave way. She sobbed like a
child, a piteous passion of tears that would have melted a heart of
stone. She didn't care for herself. She was ready to die. But she was
sorry for Daddy and her poor mother. They would grieve for her and it
would break their hearts. She shuddered as she thought of the shocking
fate which had befallen her recent companions on the ship.

"Perhaps some of them got away in the boats," she gasped between her
tears.

"Maybe they did," he replied, with an indifferent shrug of his
shoulders. With a gesture of impatience he added curtly: "It's no use
crying. That won't do any good. What you need most is to get out of
those wet clothes. You're soaked to the skin."

"I have no others to put on," ruefully she replied, making an effort to
sit up and squeezing the water out of her skirt. She thought with dismay
of all her precious belongings forever lost at the bottom of the sea.
Fortunately, her pearls were saved. The necklace was still round her
throat.

"Look!" she said, holding the necklace up so he could see it. "At least
we have these. They are worth $40,000."

He laughed derisively.

"They're worth nothing where there's no one to buy them," he growled.
Then, impatiently, he said: "Don't waste your time bothering about that.
What you want to do is to take those clothes off right away. Then you'll
dry them and put them on again. You can't remain any longer in wet
clothes."

He spoke authoritatively, with the commanding air of one who intends to
be obeyed. She was in no mood to argue the matter. Besides, he was
right. She was already chilled and ran the danger of getting pneumonia
unless she dried her clothes quickly; but how could she change
them--with no fire to dry her things and with this man coming in and
out? He saw her embarrassment and intuitively guessed the reason. He was
still in the shadow, but she fancied she noticed a covert smile hovering
about his mouth, and she immediately took a dislike to him, in spite of
the service he had rendered her. His manner was overbearing--almost
insolent. Again, there was something about him that reminded her of a
man she had known or seen, but still she could not remember. Turning to
her, he said gruffly:

"I'm fairly well soaked myself. While you're changing I'll go and take a
run along the sands and dry my clothes in the sun. Before I go I'll
light a fire for you to dry your clothes on."

He produced from his pocket a small box wrapped in oilskin. Opening it,
he held up three lucifer matches, and, grimly, he said:

"These are worth more to us than your pearls. See--there are only three
left, and they're as dry as when I left the ship. I'm going to light a
fire just outside there, at the foot of the cliff. Once lighted, the
fire must never be allowed to go out. It must burn night and day. It
will keep us warm and cook our food. I'll start the fire; you'll keep it
going with what small pieces of wood you can gather. Do you understand?"

Grace was taken aback. For a moment she was speechless with indignation.
This man, this common sailor, was actually giving her a command, telling
her to do menial work, and admonishing her to do it properly, as if she
were a domestic servant. Her first impulse was to rebel and order him
angrily from her presence. On second thoughts, she said nothing. After
all, he was right. She ought to be willing to do her share. They were no
longer on the ship where she had only to touch a button and a dozen
maids and stewards ran to obey her slightest whim. Although reared in
luxury, and petted and indulged since her birth, she was not a fool. She
was quick to realize that conditions had changed and that their
respective social positions--hers and this sailor's--were now completely
reversed. She was dependent on him, not he on her. If she were to be
saved, it would be thanks to his resourcefulness, his courage. Her money
would be of no use here. He alone could protect and save her, so why,
quarrel with him. Docilely, therefore, she replied:

"Yes--I understand."

Armitage left her alone in the cave, and, proceeding along the silvery
sands, set hastily to work to gather together the scattered driftwood.
The beach was strewn for miles with the flotsam and jetsam of countless
tides, an accumulation that apparently had been undisturbed for
centuries. Much of it was moldy with age and, well protected from the
rains by overhanging rocks, was dry as tinder.

"This stuff'll make a bully blaze," he muttered cheerfully to himself.

He toiled with a will, glad of the brisk exercise to take the kinks out
of his numbed limbs. The sun was now high above the horizon, and its
warm rays felt grateful after the chill of the stormy night. Directly he
had started the fire, he'd leave the girl to change her clothes and go
himself where he could take a rub-down and lay out his own things to
dry. Then he'd take a run along the coast and climb the cliff to see
what sort of a place this was they had landed on. He felt a sense of
relief that he was no longer subjected to the discipline and restraint
of the ship.

He chuckled to himself as his mind dwelt on the disaster that had
emancipated him. His taskmasters were no longer there to torment
him--all were drowned or gone away in the boats. Once more he was a free
man. At last he could raise his head. To the others the wreck had been
an overwhelming calamity! to him it meant salvation. No matter what the
future had in store, no matter what privations he must suffer on this
island--even if he must soon perish--anything was better than the
torture he had endured in that hellish stoke-hole.

In a way, he felt sorry for the girl. Evidently she was not used to
roughing it. It would be harder for her than for him. She seemed
inclined to be haughty, he thought. He had noticed the proud toss of her
head when he spoke about her attending to the fire. He smiled grimly.
She didn't like that. Well, that was the fault of her bringing up. How
could a girl, raised as she'd been, be expected to do anything useful?
Such girls were only the butterflies of life--of no particular use
except to look pretty. It wouldn't do her any harm to learn a thing or
two. Apart from that, she seemed all right. In fact, he was not sorry
she'd been saved to share his solitude. His hour had not come to die,
that was sure; otherwise he'd have been drowned with the rest. As long
as he had to be cast away on this barren islet it was as well that he
had a companion. Of course, she wouldn't be much use if it came to real
hardships--procuring food, fighting off attacks of animals or reptiles,
or building a boat to get away--but she was a beauty, a prize-winner, no
mistake about that. Again his eyes gleamed as his mind dwelt upon what
had been revealed to him in the cave--a torn dress, a white, soft neck,
a soaked dress showing limbs like sculptured marble, a curved mouth,
tempting enough to inflame a saint. Fast and furiously he worked,
strange thoughts crowding upon each other in his brain.

Soon he had gathered a big pile of driftwood, and had it all ready for
lighting. He rubbed his hands with satisfaction. They'd soon have a
blaze that could be seen fifty miles out at sea. Taking from his pocket
once more the little box, he unwrapped the oilskin and took out one of
the three precious matches. Then, with infinite precautions, stooping
and covering the tiny flicker with one hand to protect it from the wind,
he applied the light. Only one match was necessary. Owing to the extreme
dryness of the wood, the pile caught instantly. A thick column of smoke
rose to the sky, followed by a sharp crackling and long tongue of flame.
More wood and more he kept piling on until he had before him a roaring
furnace. Pleased with the quick result, he shouted to Grace, who was
still inside the cave.

"See here. You'll soon dry yourself by this fire!"

Grace appeared at the mouth of the cave. Busy tending to the fire, his
back turned toward the cliff, he did not see her suddenly recoil as she
perceived him, nor the expression of consternation and terror that came
into her pale, wan face. As he stood there full in the strong light of
the roaring fire, she saw the face of her rescuer distinctly for the
first time. She saw vividly a picture she had seen once before on the
ill-fated ship--the handsome profile of a man bending low over a glowing
furnace, with the shoulders and muscles of a Hercules, and the head and
grace of a Greek god. Transfixed, her bosom heaving, she stood rooted to
the ground. Now she remembered! Now she knew him! He was the fireman
Armitage--the terrible man of the _Atlanta_'s stoke-hole. She was alone
on the island--with that terrible man!



CHAPTER X.


The rest of that morning, Grace, to her intense relief, saw little of
the man into whose abhorrent company she had been so strangely and
unceremoniously thrown. Once the fire was well started Armitage had
disappeared, leaving her in privacy to attend to her immediate needs.
For this much consideration she felt grateful to him. But, after she had
dried her clothes and had time to realize her terrible situation, she
was overwhelmed by the hopeless horror of it. Her faculties well-nigh
paralyzed, her nerves shattered almost to the point of total collapse,
she sank down on a rock under the frowning cliffs, and, looking
helplessly out over the vast and now peaceful sea, started to take
mental stock of the extraordinary predicament in which she suddenly
found herself.

Things had happened so quickly that she had no time for reflection. Bad
as the situation had been before, it was ten times worse now. To think
that she should be perched on a lonely island hundreds of miles from
civilization, without any means of communicating with the outside world,
alone with that man--and such a man!

Her heart sank as she remembered all the dreadful things she had heard
about him on the ship. It was surely calamity enough to be shipwrecked
and cast away on a stupid little island without food, shelter, or
clothes, but how much more serious was the situation when the only other
human being to be saved beside herself was the worst character on board.
The first revelation of his identity was such a shock to her nervous
system that she nearly swooned, her brain reeled, she thought she would
go insane with terror.

She tried to calm herself. At the worst, she argued philosophically, he
could only kill her and throw her body into the sea. Not that she could
look forward to such a fate with equanimity. She gulped down a
hysterical sob as she pictured her splendid form and tender young flesh
providing a toothsome meal for some rapacious shark, and she wondered if
the world--particularly her own set--would care when they read in the
sensational Sunday papers all the horrible details of her dreadful end.
Yet why, after all, should this man--this ogre--kill her? Her pearls
didn't tempt him. Hadn't he scoffed at them just now? Then her face
blanched and she dug her manicured nails deep into her skin as she
thought of a worse fate than death that could overtake her. She had read
and heard of such things--hadn't Professor Hanson, during their talks on
shipboard, conceived this very situation?

She wondered how she could protect herself and what attitude she should
adopt toward this man. An open rupture would never do; she must not even
show distrust of him. Only she must be constantly on her guard. All
these thoughts were rushing through her brain when it suddenly occurred
to her that she was hungry. What was more natural? The last thing she
had eaten was the plate of ice cream brought to her during the dance by
Count von Hatzfeld. Since then nothing but sea water had passed her
lips.

A feeling of faintness came over her, and soon her dread of Armitage
gave her less anxiety than her speculations regarding the problem of
procuring food. She was desperately hungry. Perhaps if she walked along
the shore she could pick up some shell-fish--oysters, or perhaps some
crabs. She thought pensively of the delicious crab meat _à la Newburg_,
served in chafing-dish, which was one of the culinary delights of
Sherry's delightful little after-the-theater suppers, and, closing her
eyes, she gave a sigh of despair. Then, catching a glimpse of her
water-stained, tattered gown, she could not help laughing in spite of
her misery. The idea of her traipsing along the sands in a décolleté
ball-dress struck her as ludicrously incongruous. She must find
something else to wear, but what?

She wondered where Armitage had gone and why he stayed so long away.
Perhaps he would never come back. Then, surely, she would perish
miserably alone. It needed a man's strength and resourcefulness to
ensure an existence in such a wild, deserted spot. What could she, a
frail woman, do alone to get food and devise some way of escape?
Unconsciously, she already missed her companion. Without realizing it,
she admitted his superiority in the new conditions the shipwreck had
brought about.

Suddenly she heard a shout, and, turning quickly, she saw him coming
along the beach carrying something in his hands. She advanced toward
him, preserving a cold, indifferent exterior, but glad secretly that he
had returned. After all, he was a human being, some one she could talk
to. Had she alone been saved, to live alone on this island, she would
have gone mad. As she watched him approach she wondered why she had not
recognized him at first. It was the same tall, splendidly proportioned
figure, the same dark, wavy hair, closely cropped, the same regular
features, and bold, defiant toss of the head. Yes, she saw the reason
why. His face was clean and white now, whereas on shipboard she had
never seen it any other way than grimy and covered with coal-dust. The
involuntary bath had effected a wonderful transformation. He was
decidedly handsome. As he came along at a quick, swinging gait she
wondered why such a fine fellow should have sunk so low as to be obliged
to become a common stoker.

"I have your breakfast here!" he called out cheerily, as he came in
earshot. "I guess you're ready for it."

She reddened, and stammered a confused reply.

"Here's some fresh water," he said, as he came up to her. Holding out a
huge scallop-shell filled with water, he went on: "You can drink it
safely. I've found a spring in the hills away yonder. It's clear as
crystal."

Grace drank greedily, murmuring her thanks.

"It's delicious!" she gasped between gulps.

He gave a grunt of satisfaction.

"I picked up the shell along the beach," he said. "It doesn't make a bad
drinking-cup. We'll find it useful. Mind you don't lose it."

Again that tone of command which had irritated her before. She looked up
angrily, but he was paying no attention to her. Putting his hand in his
pocket he brought out some mango fruit and offered it to her.

"Here's something you can break your fast with. There's plenty of it
growing hereabouts. There are limes and cocoanuts, too, for the
picking. When I get my tackle fixed, I shall be able to catch some
fish."

He threw himself down on the sloping beach as though weary after the
long exploring tour, and, picking up a splinter of wood, he started to
draw lines on the sand.

Grace, busy eating, her white teeth biting hungrily into the luscious
fruit, watched him without speaking. His abrupt manner intimidated her.
She was afraid of him, and the realization of her own utter helplessness
only served to make her more nervous. Finally, summoning up courage, she
asked:

"What did you see--could you make out where we are?"

He looked up and nodded. Then, with his bit of wood, he began to draw in
the soft sand a diagram of their position. Carelessly he said:

"We're on an island about ten miles long by about three miles wide. It
seems to be of volcanic origin and uninhabited. The land is low and
swampy in parts, with a lot of thick brushwood, but there's a big hill
on which we can build a signal fire."

"What are our chances of being sighted and taken off?" she interrupted
eagerly.

"Decidedly slim, I should say," was his laconic rejoinder.

Grace stopped eating, and a look of dismay overspread her face. He
continued:

"You see we're far out of the regular steamship track. Not being down on
the chart, navigators probably never heard of this island. Our only hope
is in the whalers. These waters are full of whales, and whaling-vessels
come here after them from all parts of the world. Some no doubt land
here to replenish their supply of fresh water. Or a passing whaler may
sight our fire."

"How long will we have to wait?" she demanded anxiously.

He shrugged his shoulders as if the length of their enforced sojourn on
the island were a matter of no concern to him. Indifferently he replied:

"One can't tell. Three months--six months--a year!"

"A year!" gasped Grace. "How could I live here a year, or even six
months--I should go mad."

He smiled grimly.

"Oh, we get accustomed to most anything when we have to. I wasn't
overfond of the job I had on the ship, but I had to knuckle down to it
all the same. We don't always get things the way we want them, do we?"

She ignored the rebuke, too much perturbed at the gloomy prospect he
held out. Nor did she notice that this was the first allusion he had
made to his work in the stoke-hold.

"Even a month would seem like a century," she went on almost
hysterically. "Is there no possible way of reaching the mainland?"

He shook his head.

"The nearest land is a good eight hundred miles away. We have no
boat--no compass----"

"Oh, what can we do? What can we do?" she wailed, pacing to and fro,
swinging her hands.

"Make the best of it, I should say," he replied coolly. There was the
suggestion of a smile hovering around his mouth, and his eyes were full
on her as he added: "I'm in no particular hurry to get away myself."

She saw the covert smile and the boldness of his glance, and it aroused
her resentment. Forgetting her caution she turned angrily on him.

"Of course, _you_ don't care. Why should you? You find there's plenty
here to eat and nothing to do. That kind of life suits you better, no
doubt, than having to earn a living by hard work. You've no friends who
are mourning for you, no father or mother grieving over your supposed
death. So long as you can enjoy creature comforts without paying for
them, you are satisfied to stay here forever. But with me it's
different. My life has not been like yours. You ought to realize that.
What may seem like comfort and all that is necessary to you, is torture
and starvation to me. You ought to be able to see that! You ought! You
ought!"

She stopped, her face red from excitement, her bosom heaving, her voice
choking with sobs.

Taken aback at the vehemence of her hysterical outburst, he simply
looked at her, admiring her flashing, dark eyes, fascinated by her
beauty. He did not care what she said, although she had spoken as a
woman might to her lackey. Her words were stinging, her tone
contemptuous. She had given him plainly to understand that she was
fashioned of entirely different clay. When forced to it by circumstances
she might, when thirsty, share his cup. She might, when hungry, accept
part of his food, but aside from the satisfying of these elemental human
desires, he and she had naught in common. He must understand that
plainly.

"She's dead right," he said to himself. Socially they were separated by
the widest gulf imaginable. Even with him to attend to her wants she
would be as much alone on this island as if he were not there. A common
stoker was hardly fit to breathe the same air as a girl who was heiress
to millions, accustomed to all the refinements of wealth.

He looked at her for a moment in silence. His face flushed and his lips
moved as if he were about to make some angry retort. With a visible
effort he mastered himself, and, turning on his heel, he walked slowly
away.

Grace's first impulse was to recall him. Only her pride prevented her
running after him. Already she regretted her hasty words. She would have
given almost anything to unsay them. She had not intended to be
discourteous to this man. Whatever his character might be, however low
he might be in the social scale, he had rendered her a service she could
never repay. He had saved her life. Yet, thoughtlessly, needlessly, she
had hurt his feelings. What utter folly it was to boast of her social
position in her present predicament. She thought with bitterness how
little her culture and education could help her now. Their situation was
precarious enough without making matters worse by senseless bickerings.

Wearily she sank down on a rock, angry with herself, apprehensive of the
consequences of her speech. She had had reason to fear him before; by
her own foolishness the rupture was now definite. This new
misunderstanding would certainly add to her discomfort and perhaps
lessen her chances of escaping from this worst of horrors--a living
death!

Looking out to sea, she strained her eyes in every direction in the hope
of catching a glimpse of some vessel which to her would mean safety and
home. The thick black smoke from the fire Armitage had started was
still rising in a straight column to the sky. If there happened along a
craft of any description their signal could not fail to be seen. But her
tired eyes swept the horizon in vain. There was not a speck on the vast
expanse of shimmering blue to give her the slightest encouragement. Her
heart sank within her. All signs of the recent hurricane had
disappeared. Once more Nature was in holiday garb. The ocean reflected
the turquoise-blue of the cloudless heavens; the air, gently stirred by
a balmy breeze, was fragrant with the odor of spices. There was no trace
of the wreck or of the missing life-boats. The ocean had completely
engulfed the steamship. What the fate of the other passengers, officers,
and crew had been could only be matter of conjecture.

"God grant that they got safely away," she murmured fervently to
herself. "Perhaps they will be picked up by some ship and then they may
come in search of me--unless they come to the conclusion that I'm dead.
I might just as well be dead as here."

She was still ravenously hungry. The little fruit she had eaten had not
satisfied her and she did not know where to go to look for more. She
wondered if she had made him so angry that he would entirely desert her
and leave her to starve. With a shudder she thought of other terrors in
store for her. What about the coming night?

The afternoon was rapidly advancing; before very long the sun would set
and what then? How could she face the coming darkness alone with that
man whom she had angered and with all the unknown terrors the island
contained? Almost panic-stricken from sheer nervousness and anxiety,
utterly discouraged and miserable, she buried her face in her hands and
burst into tears.

Suddenly she heard a footstep, and, looking up, she saw Armitage
approaching. He was making only slow progress, being weighted down with
some heavy object.

"Here's a prize!" he shouted, as he came nearer.

Staggering up to near where she stood he set down a huge iron pot.

"I spied it lying among the drift along the shore," he went on. "It's a
bit rusty, but that'll scrape off. It's worth its weight in gold to us.
We've something to cook in now."

He spoke cheerily, with the utmost frankness. If he still nourished any
resentment his manner did not betray it. In her present state of
depression Grace would have welcomed the apparition of Satan himself.
She made no attempt to conceal her joy at his return. Clapping her hands
with childish enthusiasm, she cried:

"Oh, isn't it perfectly lovely!"

At home she had never been inside a kitchen. It is indeed doubtful if
she knew what a culinary utensil looked like. Perhaps it had never
occurred to her that the kettle and many other things as humble are all
indispensable parts in our civilization. But now she understood.
Necessity is a quick teacher and Grace was learning. The pot was an
ordinary tripod affair, battered and rusty. Judging from its appearance,
it had fallen overboard from some ship and had floated ashore. Otherwise
it was sound and serviceable. She could see that its value to them was
well-nigh inestimable.

"That's splendid--that's bully!" she repeated excitedly.

He enjoyed her enthusiasm. It was the first time he had seen her smile,
and it looked good to him. He chuckled to himself as he said:

"But that isn't all. A pot with nothing to put in it isn't much use.
I've brought you something good to eat."

Plunging his hand into the pot he brought out half a dozen live crabs
and threw them at her feet.

"Aren't they beauties?" he exclaimed. "I'll bet they'll taste dandy,
too. Look out! Mind they don't nip your fingers with their claws.
They're pretty lively. They bite like the mischief."

Grace's mouth was already watering:

"What shall I do with them?" she asked helplessly.

"Cook 'em, of course," he replied, with a grin. "You get them ready
while I go and fetch some water."

She listened in consternation, not liking to tell him she did not know
how to cook. His women, of course, could work and do everything to help
themselves. They could sew and make their own dresses. She felt ashamed
of her own uselessness and was about to make confession when he hurried
away. As he ran he turned and called out:

"You'd better take a shell and see if you can scrape off some of that
rust inside the pot."

He disappeared, leaving her looking in dismay, first at the iron pot and
then at the crabs, already striving to regain their liberty. She had not
the slightest idea what to do. Her only knowledge of crabs was when
their tender, white, flakelike meat was served in chafing-dish with
delicious sherry sauce. How to accomplish the operation of transforming
those crawling, dangerous-looking things into a toothsome dish she had
not the slightest notion. Even if she did know, how could she touch the
nasty things when they were raising their nippers so menacingly and
already trying to scud away in the direction of their native habitat,
the sea. The most she could do was to run after each wriggling deserter
and with her foot turn him over on his back. As to the other order she
had received--that was easy. She could scrape the pot with a shell.
That was easy enough. Yet if she were busy on the pot the crabs would
profit by it to slip away, and then they would have no supper at all. It
was certainly a problem worthy of the Sphinx.

She was still trying to solve it when Armitage reappeared. In one hand
he carried a gigantic cocoanut filled to the brim with sparkling, fresh
water; with the other he was dragging along the sand a huge plant of
unfamiliar aspect.

"Are you all ready?" he called out.

"No--I'm afraid not," she stammered confusedly.

Quick to guess the reason, he merely smiled.

"All right," he said pleasantly. "I'll fix it."

Carefully putting down the precious liquid, he seized hold of the iron
pot, and, with a few strokes of his sheath-knife, soon had it in
condition and on the fire. Over such fierce heat, the water did not take
long to boil, and a few minutes later the obstreperous crustaceans were
on the way to discharge their natural debt to two starving humans.

"What a feast we'll have!" exclaimed Grace, as she eagerly watched his
preparations. "If only we had some bread to go with them."

"Here's something just as good," he replied quickly. Stooping down
toward the plant he had just brought in he plucked some of the
fruit--long, yellow pods with red speckles--and held them out to her.

"What is it?" she asked, in surprise. "I never saw fruit like that
before."

"They are plantains--the potatoes of the tropics," he answered.

"They look like bananas," said Grace, starting to peel and eat one.

"Same family," he explained. As if surprised at her ignorance, he went
on: "It is a wonderful fruit. It's meat, potatoes, and bread all in one.
Its fiber one can use as thread, and its enormous leaves make warm
clothing. When the fruit is powdered and baked you would hardly know it
from rice. Speke, Stanley, and the other African explorers frequently
mention plantains as the staple food of the natives. We're fortunate to
find it here, and there seems to be an abundance."

Grace looked at him curiously. She was not aware that seamen were so
well versed.

"What do you know about African explorers?" she demanded.

Her question seemed to amuse him, for he showed his teeth in a smile.

"Oh, I've read their books," he replied. "We sailormen pick up a good
deal of information knocking about the world as we do."

She would have liked to question him further, curious to learn something
of his history, but there was an air of reserve about him that gave her
little encouragement. On reflection she thought it unwise to appear
interested. He might misconstrue her motive. She had not forgotten the
bad reputation he had borne on the steamer, and while there had been
nothing in his behavior so far to give her cause for alarm, she must not
forget that she was entirely alone on this island with a man of the
lower classes, a man unaccustomed, probably, to self-control. She must
discourage all familiarity, and never for a moment permit him to forget
the broad social gulf which separated them. With these anxieties running
through her mind she relapsed into silence. He seemed to notice the
sudden change in her manner, for he looked up from the fire and said:

"I'll soon have it ready. Suppose you get two big, flat shells for
plates. We'll have to use our fingers for forks."

As she went to carry out his suggestion, she said apologetically:

"You think of everything. I wish I could be of more assistance."

"Nonsense!" he answered. "Why was I saved from the wreck if not to look
after you?"

She did not like this speech, savoring as it did of clumsy gallantry, so
she made no rejoinder. By the time she had found the kind of shells
suitable for plates, the crabs were cooked to a turn, and they
immediately sat down in semi-reclining position to enjoy them.

It was a veritable feast of Lucullus served picnic-fashion in mid-ocean.
To Grace it seemed that in all her life she had never tasted anything so
delicious. The crabs were tender and sweet-flavored, and the plantains
provided her with a new taste which improved on acquaintance. In spite
of their thus sharing a common meal there was a certain restraint. Each
seemed to be uncertain of and mistrust the other. They ate quickly and
in silence, each preoccupied, Grace becoming more and more nervous as
the shadows about her deepened, Armitage, silent, in admiring
contemplation of his companion's shapely hands, her full bust and white
neck, her beautiful eyes which, when they looked full into his, caused
every nerve in his body to thrill.

By the time they had eaten the last scrap, the evening was well
advanced. The sun had dipped below the watery horizon long ago, and it
was getting dark very rapidly. Grace's growing nervousness became more
and more apparent. He noticed it and suddenly broke the silence.

"Where will you sleep to-night?" he asked. "You're worn out after all
you've gone through."

"Yes--I am very tired," she replied.

He rose, and, after throwing more wood on to the fire, he turned to her.

"I'll have to fix you up a bed in the cave the best way I can. I can get
fern-leaves and long, cypress-haired moss in the woods. That'll make
capital stuffing, and with a few plantain-leaves you'll have a mattress
fit for a queen. It'll do for to-night. To-morrow we'll make you more
comfortable."

Before she could murmur her gratitude he had hurried away in the
direction of the woods.

Left alone, her nervousness increased. She wondered what he would do for
a bed, if he would insist on sharing the shelter of the cave with her,
or if he would prefer to sleep outside under the stars. She felt
singularly apprehensive. A panicky feeling seized her. How could she
spend all the lonely hours of the night in the terrifying
darkness--alone with that man? She felt nervous and uneasy, as if some
new peril threatened her. Certainly, she would not be able to close an
eye. A night of mental torture was before her.



CHAPTER XI.


Soon Armitage returned, his arms filled with a great load of fern-leaves
and grass.

Grace followed him into the gloomy cave, the interior of which was now
quite dark. Laying his burden down, he prepared to arrange her couch.

"How would you like to lie?" he asked.

"I think I would prefer to lie in the open," she replied, with a little,
nervous shudder.

He shook his head.

"No--you'd better sleep in there," he said. "It may rain. Besides, we
don't know what may be roaming round here during the night. In there
you'll be protected on all three sides, and, as to the entrance, I'll
throw a few big branches across. Nothing can get past without you
knowing it."

"And where will you be?" she inquired timidly.

"Oh, I'll throw myself down by the fire. I'm accustomed to roughing
it."

The bed was swiftly made, soft and springy. All it lacked were pillow
and covering.

"Take my advice and don't sleep in your clothes," he said. "You can't
sleep properly unless you do, and you'll need all your strength. There's
no one to disturb you. You can use your dress for a pillow and your
mantle for a sheet. Don't be nervous. I'll be on hand if you want me.
Good night."

"Good night!" she echoed faintly.

He went out and she was alone. It was now quite dark outside. The night
was clear, and the heavens were studded with their countless stars. The
only light which entered the cave enabling her to grope her way about
was a ghostly flicker from the distant fire.

She tried the bed. It was fairly comfortable. Utterly exhausted, she
thought she ought to sleep until daylight. She surely would if only she
could calm her nerves and allay this persistent premonition of impending
peril. After all, she thought, it was foolish to be afraid. So far he
had been thoughtful and respectful, and given her no cause for alarm,
and as to wild animals, they couldn't get at her if the entrance were
closed. Should she disrobe entirely or remain fully dressed to be ready
for any emergency? Certainly she would be more comfortable undressed.
Besides, it was the only way in which she could get a pillow and
covering.

At that moment a heavy thud just outside made her heart leap to her
mouth.

"Who's there?" she cried out.

"It's only me," answered Armitage. "I'm fixing the door of your hotel. I
guess nothing can get in now. Good night."

"Good night!" she replied faintly.

She listened to his footsteps as they died away in the distance, and
slowly began to disrobe.

She was soon undressed and was about to get into bed and cover herself
up when a thought occurred to her. There was something still to be done.
Dropping on her knees, her bare feet on the cold sand, she buried her
face in her hands and for the first time in her life offered up a
fervent prayer to the unknown, Almighty Power that directs all things.
Grace had never been a devout girl. She had no decided metaphysical
views of any kind. She was merely indifferent. Given up solely to a life
of pleasure, religion to her had been only a word. Her parents had a
pew at St. Thomas', on Fifth Avenue, and when she had a new hat or a new
gown to show off, she attended the services in the same spirit that she
would go to the horse show or any other fashionable function. Never
until now had she felt the need of that moral support and encouragement
which never fails to bring comfort to the faithful in their hour of
trouble. She prayed earnestly to be saved from her present desperate
situation, for protection during the coming night, and she prayed also
for her late ship companions who at that moment might be suffering in
the open boats. This done, her mind felt easier, and, covering herself
as well as she could, she closed her eyes and courted sleep.

Happily the night was warm, otherwise her scant covering, consisting
solely of a thin mantle, would not have sufficed. Everything outside was
perfectly still. The lazy splash of the surf and the gentle murmur of
the breeze were the only sounds that reached her ears. Not hearing
Armitage moving about she concluded that he had rolled himself up near
the fire and gone to sleep.

She closed her eyes, and, lulled into drowsiness by the distant music of
the sea, she gradually sank into the delicious semi-conscious state that
just precedes slumber. Through her tired brain passed confused mental
pictures of the extraordinary happenings of the last forty-eight
hours--the dance on the deck, the sudden storm, the shock as the great
liner struck the sunken reef, the rush for the life-boats, her fall into
the water and the long swim until she came to herself on this island and
recognized the refractory stoker, Armitage, as her rescuer. She wondered
if he was really as black as he had been painted. If he was, she had
seen nothing of his bad qualities. He was only a stoker--a superior one
to be sure, from his conversation and knowledge of things--and so far he
had behaved like a gentleman.

She wondered what she would do if suddenly he forced his way in now and
attacked her. Would she scream, or faint, or do any of the hysterical
things a woman is supposed to do in such circumstances? Her mind dwelt
upon his personal appearance. She recalled how handsome, and graceful,
and strong he looked as he came along the beach at a swinging gait,
bringing to her that greatly needed breakfast, which she had devoured
with such appetite. From him, her thoughts traveled homeward. She saw
her poor mother and father grieving for her, and her supposed loss the
sensation of the hour in their immediate circle of friends. Then her
thoughts grew mixed and confused. Her breathing grew more regular, her
bosom rose and fell with rhythmic motion, her brain ceased thinking. She
was asleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

The long hours of the night passed slowly. Her slumber had been as
peaceful and profound as that of a child when, about three o'clock, she
suddenly awoke with a start. At first she believed she was still in her
luxurious stateroom on board the _Atlanta_, but the rough couch, the
prickly points of which punctured her thin garment, and the splash of
the surf outside rudely reminded her of her misfortune.

She wondered what had interrupted her sleep. It was still pitch-dark and
everything was quiet, yet she was wide-awake with every sense and nerve
alert and tense. Like most persons who awake suddenly in the middle of
the night without being able to explain the cause, she was at once
seized with nervous dread. Something was wrong.

Hastily, fearfully she glanced around, but her eyes were unable to
penetrate the opaque darkness that surrounded her. The faint light that
came from the cave entrance only served to make the shadows deeper. She
strained her ears, but heard no sound. Yet she could not shake off the
terrifying suggestion that _some one_ or _something_ had entered the
cave while she was asleep and now stood in the shadows watching her,
perhaps waiting for an opportunity to attack her.

The more she thought of the possibility of such a thing, the more
alarmed she became, and her nervousness increased each minute until she
was bathed in perspiration from head to foot. She tried to reason with
herself, to shake off the impression, and with an exclamation of
impatience at her own childishness she turned over and again closed her
eyes. But as she moved _It_ moved also. Her alert ear caught the sound
of a slow and cautious movement, as if _some one_ or _something_ were
creeping on all fours toward her. Petrified with fright, her heart in
her mouth, she called out:

"Who's there?"

There was no answer, but the sound ceased.

Something was there, that was certain. At any moment it might spring
upon her. She shook with terror, her teeth chattered. She dare not make
a movement. Her ears were strained for sounds of further moves. Almost
rigid with fright, each passing moment seemed a century. If only she
could flee from there and reach the open. She was sorry now that
Armitage had left her alone. What would she not give to be able to call
him now to her aid!

Suddenly the bed moved as though _something_ had accidentally stumbled
against it. She distinctly heard a rustling sound as if _something_ had
grazed the branches of which her couch was built. The _Thing_, whatever
it was, man or beast, was close to her. The suspense was more than she
could bear. Almost swooning from terror she sprang up, and, leaning over
the side, peered into the darkness. What she beheld made the blood
freeze in her veins.

A long, slimy-looking, sinuous thing, almost as thick as a man's arm
and nearly six feet in length, was gliding slowly and aimlessly about in
the shadow. In the faint glimmer of light that struggled in from the
entrance to the cave was plainly discernible a pair of glistening eyes
set in a squat, flat head, and a cruel mouth with fanglike teeth in
which a forked tongue darted rapidly back and forth. It was a huge
hooded cobra, the deadliest of all the venomous serpents inhabiting
tropical Asia.

Panic-stricken, Grace opened her mouth to scream, but no sound issued
forth. She tried to flee, but some irresistible power held her rooted to
the spot. Every faculty, every muscle in her was paralyzed by
unspeakable horror.

With eyes dilated with terror, with every nerve tense to the
snapping-point, she watched with fearful fascination that hideous, slimy
head as with slow, rhythmic motion it swayed from side to side, the
forked tongue darting from the horrid mouth as lightning rends the
skies. Staring straight into the cruel, beady eyes, her fixed gaze
seemed riveted there against her will, as if the reptile had cast over
her a hypnotic spell. She felt herself gradually growing numb, cold
sweat burst from every pore, her flesh crept, and there was a tingling
sensation at the roots of her hair.

Each instant she expected that the cobra would dart forward and strike
her. The suspense was fearful. The seconds seemed like centuries. She
wondered when the fatal moment would come that would mean her death.
Certainly, all was over with her now. The storm, the shipwreck--that was
nothing. This new peril, a thousand times more deadly than those she had
emerged from safely, was momentarily coming nearer, and she was
powerless to avert it. She must be resigned to perish miserably and
cruelly the most shocking of deaths. Escape was out of the question.
Coiled up in threatening attitude at the foot of the bed the reptile was
between her and safety. If she attempted to run she would never reach
the open.

That the cobra was conscious of her presence and was preparing to attack
there could be no doubt. It showed its irritation in the manner usual to
its species, by dilating its neck until it formed the shape of a broad
hood. Evidently the reptile made its home in one of the dark recesses
of the cave. Asleep, it had awakened during the night, and its keen
sense of smell attracted by the unusual odor of a warm human body, it
had crawled to where she lay and now was ready to claim its prey. The
slightest move on her part and it would dart forward. A lightninglike
thrust forward of that loathsome head, then the powerful, scaly coils
would close around her, there would be the ghastly sound of bones being
crunched, and all would be over. Armitage would come in only to find her
mangled and partially devoured body, perhaps himself to meet with a
similar fate.

Again she opened her mouth to scream and warn him. Her tongue clove,
speechless, to her dry palate. A feeling of nausea came over her, her
temples were throbbing, her heart seemed to have stopped beating. She
wondered if she had gone mad.

She was noting the curious, spectacle-like markings on the back of the
reptile's hood when suddenly the cobra started to hiss loudly as slowly
it began to move nearer to its trembling victim. Coil after coil of its
glistening, sinuous body followed the hideous head as the creature
dragged itself along. As it glided its sinister way over the sand the
cruel, beady eyes for a brief instant were averted from the girl.
Instantly the hypnotic spell which had held her transfixed was broken.
Uttering a piercing scream, she sprang from the bed and took refuge on
the far side of the cave. The cobra, enraged at her attempt to escape,
hissed more loudly, and, accelerating its movements, moved rapidly in
her direction.

Flattened up against the wall of the cave Grace's lips parted in a last,
despairing prayer. She could retreat no farther. Solid rock barred the
way, and escape to the open was cut off. She had not improved her
position. By seeking to evade her doom, the agony was only drawn out the
longer. The cobra was now only a dozen feet away. Coiling upon itself
within striking distance it suddenly drew back its head, then, with
lightning speed, shot it forward.

Quick as the movement was, Grace was quicker. Her instinct of
self-preservation enabled her to foretell the instant the creature would
spring, and the energy of despair gave her strength. Giving another
shout for help, she nimbly jumped aside just in time to avoid the blow.
Hissing furiously with baffled rage the serpent resumed the attack. Dawn
was slowly breaking, and in the dim light she could see the creature's
cruel eyes scintillating as they turned to look for her.

Breathless, panting from the unusual exertion, in a state of complete
nervous collapse, Grace was in no condition to continue the unequal
combat. She realized that her strength was fast ebbing. It was only a
question of seconds now when she must succumb. As those horrid, beady
eyes met hers, again she was seized with that strange sense of limpness,
utter inability to move a muscle. Again she was under the hypnotic
spell. She realized that death in its most fearful form was there before
her, claiming her. She felt sick and faint. Staggering as she clutched
the cold, rocky wall of her living prison, she gave another despairing
scream like a wail of human agony.

Scarcely conscious, she saw through her half-closed eyes the cobra
gliding nearer, she could almost feel the reptile's fetid breath upon
her cheek. With hopeless horror she saw it approach closer and closer,
then stop and again coil itself ready for the final spring. She
shuddered, and, closing her eyes, waited for the end. There was a
strange buzzing in her ears. Suddenly everything grew dark. The cobra
began hissing more furiously. There was a loud crash and she knew no
more.

When again she opened her eyes, she was lying on the bed and Armitage
was kneeling by her side, bathing her face with water. Surprised to find
herself still alive, she looked at him, the look of terror still in her
face. Fearfully she whispered:

"Where is it? Did you see it?"

"It's all right," he said cheerily, trying to quiet her. "It won't
trouble you any more."

"Was it only a nightmare?" she murmured.

"Nightmare--no," he answered. "It was real enough. Look!"

He pointed to a few paces away where lay the cobra, dead, its head
crushed in by an enormous stone.

"I heard you scream," he explained. "I was asleep. It woke me. At first
I thought I was dreaming. Then came another scream. I ran here and saw
you against the wall yonder and the serpent preparing to spring. I
picked up a stone and killed him. I was just in time, a second later and
it would have been too late."

"Thank God!" she said.

Then she fainted again.



CHAPTER XII.


It was some time before Grace had recovered sufficiently from the
nervous shock of her terrifying encounter with the cobra to be able to
get about, and during this period of enforced idleness she was compelled
to depend altogether on Armitage. He supplied her with the necessaries
and, as well as he was able, administered to her comfort.

Grateful to him for his attentions, it was not long before her feeling
of obligation changed into real regard for the man. The dread in which
she at first held him had completely disappeared, as was only natural
after the services he had rendered her. Twice she owed him her life.
That alone was a debt she could never repay. Moreover, he was thoughtful
and courteous, and, so far, at least, had shown no disposition to take
advantage of her helpless situation. How much worse her position would
be if he were not there at all!

But she was too much worried and preoccupied with her own troubles to
give her strange companion much thought. She watched him at work, and
she ate listlessly the food he brought her, but that was about all the
interest she took in anything.

Her one burning desire was to get away. During all her waking hours her
thoughts turned only in one direction: how to escape as speedily as
possible from this wretched island. As the days went by and no vessel
appeared, she began to wonder if they would ever be rescued, or if she
was doomed to remain on that remote islet for the rest of her days
unable to communicate with her father and mother and friends, who, in
ignorance of her fate, had long since given her up as dead. Perhaps in
years to come some ship touching at the island in search of water would
find, strewed along the beach, her bleached bones and his--picked clean
by the vultures. She wept bitterly as she thought of it; her face was
bathed in tears of compassion over her misfortune. She was ashamed to
let Armitage see that she had been crying, but all day she brooded over
her sorrow, and at night she dreamed that he was building a boat stout
enough to convey them to the mainland.

Fearful that she would lose all notion of time, she started to count the
days, keeping a rough kind of calender by scratching notches at regular
intervals on a shell. She notched off the days one by one, her spirits
sinking in proportion as their number increased. In her despair she
appealed to her companion to reassure her. But Armitage shook his head
dubiously. He had little comfort to offer.

"We must be patient," he said grimly. "We're here scarcely a week. Think
of those shipwrecked sailors who have been marooned on desert islands
for months, even years, often with almost nothing to eat. When finally
they were rescued they were not recognizable as men. Their clothes hung
upon them in shreds, their hair was matted and over-grown, they had
forgotten how to talk, they tore the meat given them with their fingers
like famished wolves. We have not so much to complain of. We have plenty
of water, enough to eat. It's no use fretting. We must wait patiently.
Perhaps we won't have to wait long. Any day our signal-fire may be
sighted by a vessel."

They now kept two fires going, one close at hand for their own use, and
another much bigger on top of the hill for signaling purposes. The
hill-top commanded a superb view of every part of the island, and,
viewed from the ocean, it must have been a conspicuous mark for miles.
They christened it Mount Hope, for on it Grace centered all her fervent
prayers for rescue. It became her Mecca, and each day she made the long
and exhausting climb up its precipitous slope in the expectation of
seeing steamer smoke or a sail on the distant horizon. But
disappointment always awaited her. There was nothing in every direction
but dreary, monotonous wastes of heaving water, the boisterous waves
dancing in the sunlight as if to mock her misery.

The care of keeping this signal-fire going devolved on Armitage, and it
was the day's most important task. The fire was kept banked with damped
moss and peat in the daytime, so it would throw off a smoke thick enough
to be visible miles away at sea. At night it was made to blaze furiously
with the same object in view.

The cave had been deserted long ago. The day following her horrible
experience with the serpent, Grace protested hysterically that nothing
could induce her to enter the gloomy place again. Sleeping in it, she
declared, was utterly out of the question. The cobra was dead, but there
was no telling what other reptile as venomous and deadly might again
crawl out of the cave's countless holes and recesses. Armitage admitted
the possibility, and at once offered to build a cabin for her in the
open. It would be far more healthy and comfortable.

She gladly consented, and he went to work with a will. He had no tools,
and his construction materials were necessarily of the most primitive
character. Happily, the weather continued fine, and, while her new home
was in the building, Grace managed as best she could under a temporary
shelter.

Selecting a site that was high and dry, Armitage first dug a square hole
in the ground three feet deep by about fourteen feet in length and
breadth. Each side of the excavation he lined with stone walls made of
huge boulders piled one on top of another, and decreasing in weight and
size until they reached a height all round of nearly nine feet. The
interstices he filled with clay to keep out the wind and rain, and
additional strength was secured for the walls by banking up earth on all
four exterior sides. It was a herculean task, for each of the big, heavy
stones had to be dragged a considerable distance, and the only implement
he had to dig with was a crude spade which he made out of a piece of
planed wood found among the drift along the shore and sharpened and
hardened in fire. Light entered through a door and window, and then came
the roof. This he made with heavy limbs of trees equally matched, which
rested on top of the stone walls, these in turn being crossed with
smaller branches, and the whole covered with a thick thatch of
tussac-grass and moss held in place by heavy stones. The floor inside
was strewn with tussac-grass to keep the feet dry from the damp earth.
There was also a fireplace for logs, with a flue and chimney to carry
off the smoke, and before it was ready for occupancy he started a fire,
thus driving out the damp and making it dry and inhabitable.

He toiled unceasingly and tirelessly, whistling cheerfully as he worked.
As Grace watched him, the thought was impressed upon her more strongly
than ever that this man was far happier here amid primeval conditions,
thrown upon his own resources, than he had been in a so-called civilized
state. Evidently he had no keen desire to be rescued. The thought filled
her again with dismay. Not that it would really make any material
difference. If succor were coming, they would be rescued whether her
mysterious companion wished it or not. But that any human being could be
reconciled to spending the remainder of his days on a barren islet in a
remote part of the ocean, without clothes, tools, books, or even the
bare necessaries of life, was intolerable. A man who could entertain
such an idea for a moment could have instincts little superior to a
savage.

Often she had watched her strange, moody companion as he worked and
wondered what his history was. He was no ordinary seaman--that was
evident from his speech and manner. He had certainly known better days.
He never spoke of himself, and when tactfully she broached the subject,
he abruptly changed the conversation. One day she said to him:

"You weren't always a stoker, were you--you weren't born to that kind of
life?"

He stopped in his work, and for a moment looked at her in silence, as if
seeking time to frame his answer. Then laconically he said:

"My past life is dead. I live only in the present. Just what I seem I
am."

Still unconvinced, she returned to the attack.

"Why did you desert from the steamer in New York?"

He clenched his fist as thus brutally she revived the memory of his past
suffering, and in a low tone, which came almost like a hiss from between
his set teeth, he said:

"Because I could not stand it any longer--I just couldn't. I was
desperate."

"Why did you take to such dreadful work?" she persisted. "Was there
nothing else more congenial, less brutalizing that you could do?"

He shook his head.

"No--nothing. There was nothing else." Bitterly he added: "The poor must
slave so that the rich may enjoy."

Puzzled, she asked:

"What do you mean?"

"It's no use going into particulars," he replied, almost contemptuously.
"You wouldn't understand."

Turning on his heel, he resumed his work on the cabin.

Grace did understand. She understood that there was something in the
past life of this man which he did not wish to divulge. She felt that he
had suffered, and she was sorry for him. Again she tried to draw him
out, but skilfully he parried her questions, and appeared to resent
them. Noticing this, she desisted. His past, as far as she was
concerned, at any rate, was and must remain a sealed book.

But Grace did not remain silent for all that. She was too much of a
woman to permit of that. Seeing that she could get nothing from him, she
talked about herself. She chattered about her home in New York, about
her friends, about the things which interested her and the things which
bored her. He listened as he worked, apparently interested, and when she
said that she despised the empty and frivolous amusements of her set and
was ambitious to do something more worthy in life, he nodded
approvingly. When she had told him everything, once more she attempted
to question him in turn, but he relapsed into an obstinate silence.

After a week's continuous toil the cabin was completed. As a finishing
touch, he made some furniture for it--a crude table and two three-legged
stools. When he had put the bed in place the hut was ready for
occupancy. When at last everything was ready, he called out to Grace to
come and inspect her new home.

"You'll be comfortable in here," he said cheerily. "At least there are
no snakes. I can promise you that."

He waited for her to say something, expecting that she would be pleased.

"It's very nice," she said hesitatingly. "Only----"

"Only what?" he demanded in a tone of disappointment.

"It's too bad to have taken so much pains for so short a time," she
said.

He laughed carelessly.

"So short a time?" he echoed. Almost mockingly he asked: "Do you expect
to leave here so soon?"

"As soon as I can--you may depend upon that!" she replied determinedly,
almost ready to cry.

His indifference angered her. She thought it brutal when he knew how
unhappy and miserable she was and how anxious to get back to her family.
At that moment she hated him.

"Ah, that's just it!" he exclaimed, with a gesture of impatience. "As
soon as you can! But you can't! We're prisoners here--in prison just as
securely as though we were behind iron bars. We can't get away."

"But we'll get away some time, won't we?" she gasped.

He shook his head.

"The chances are slim," he replied grimly.

"Then what good is our signal-fire?" she persisted.

"Not much good," he admitted frankly.

Her heart sank. Her face paled, and her lips trembled as she asked:

"Don't you think it'll be seen sooner or later? Ships must pass by here
some time."

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Even if they do, they may not see the fire. If a ship passes near this
island it would be a great distance away. It would never occur to them
to look here for signals. Besides, very few vessels do pass. A ship may
not sight our signal for a year, maybe five years, perhaps never. You
remember Alexander Selkirk--Robinson Crusoe. He was twenty-eight years
on Tobago island--in complete solitude."

Grace gave a low moan of distress.

"At least," he went on, after some hesitation, "we have each other."

This remark angered her. She thought it impertinent. The boldness of his
veiled insinuation was more than she could bear. He actually
contemplated the possibility of a permanent stay.

"I couldn't stand it," she cried hoarsely, her eyes filled with scalding
tears. "I would rather kill my self."

He shrugged his shoulders, and that made her all the more angry.

"You don't care," she went on. "You're willing to sacrifice me because
you prefer this kind of existence to the wretched life you've had."

This speech aroused him to action. All his life he had suffered from
injustice. This girl, he thought, was like all the others. For a moment,
he lost his sang-froid.

"You're unjust!" he replied hotly. "I'm doing all I can. Who built the
signal-fire on Mount Hope? I did. Who keeps it going night and day? I
do. It's no fun climbing up that steep hill collecting fresh fuel, but I
do it. Even in my sleep sometimes I wake up in fright, thinking I may
have neglected to throw on enough fuel, fearful that the fire will go
out--my last match gone. I work myself into a cold sweat thinking of it.
I can't sleep. At last I am unable to stand it any longer. I get up and
rush to the hill-top, all for nothing. The signal-fire is still burning
brightly. All that time you are sleeping peacefully. Does that look as
if I didn't care?"

"Forgive me," she murmured between her tears. "I'm peevish and
unreasonable. Forgive me. I'm so unhappy!"

He smiled sympathetically.

"Don't get discouraged," he said kindly. "As long as we're here, it's
best to get along as well as we can. It's no use fretting. If help is
coming it will come. You'll not mend matters by worrying."

She felt he was right. What use were her tears and her irritation? He
was doing all he could. They were in the hands of an inscrutable
Providence. As long as the signal-fire was kept burning there was hope.



CHAPTER XIII.


Slowly the weeks slipped by. The castaways were still in their island
prison with relief as far away, apparently, as ever.

Grace had taken possession of her cabin and made herself as comfortable
as it was possible under the circumstances. The luxuries to which she
had always been accustomed were lamentably lacking. There was no dainty
bathroom for her ablutions, no maid to answer her call, no extensive
wardrobe to select from, no telephone through which she could chat with
friends. But at least she had shelter and a bed to sleep upon, and for
these blessings she was sensible enough to be devoutly thankful.
Armitage had built close by, for his own use, a similar, but less
elaborate, hut, and he took a certain pride in keeping it in order.

One day Grace found some flowers on the table in her cabin. Only one
person could have put them there, and when she realized that fact, it
came rather as a shock to find her strange companion paying her
attentions of this nature.

"Thank you for the flowers," she said, with some embarrassment.

"I thought they'd brighten the place up a bit," he replied awkwardly:

He smiled, and she noticed for the first time that he had fine white
teeth. But nothing more was said, and he went unconcernedly about his
work.

For the remainder of that morning she avoided him. She left her cabin
and fled to Mount Hope, straining her eyes once more in a fruitless
effort to see appear on the horizon the ship which would come to her
rescue.

Monotonous and lonely as was their existence on this remote islet, there
was plenty of work to be done, and the hours sometimes sped by so
quickly that both Grace and Armitage were astonished. The shadows of
night would fall when they had thought it only a little past noon; Each
did a share of the day's work, glad of the occupation that helped to
divert the mind.

The signal-fire on Mount Hope demanded most of Armitage's attention;
When not engaged in gathering fuel, he went on long foraging
expeditions. The problem of procuring food was no light one, and, like
other shipwrecked sailors, who have had to exercise their wits, he was
quick to devise ways to keep their larder supplied. He caught fish with
a hook made out of a sharp-pointed stick hardened in flame; he killed
sea-gulls with stones hurled from a sling; he overturned turtles while
they lay basking in the sun, and he saw to it that they had an abundant
supply of fresh drinking-water.

Grace also was not idle. She mended and patched their clothes with
needles made of fish-bone and thread made of the fiber of plantain
fruit; and under Armitage's clumsy tuition she quickly learned how to
cook. He showed her how to clean and broil the fish he caught, and
taught her how to obtain salt by boiling sea water until the water
evaporated. In a cleverly improvised oven which he built for her, she
learned how to bake delicious cakes of flour made from dried and
pulverised plantain fruit. She prepared their meals, which they ate
together at regular hours, and for dessert she set before him
plantains, quinces, limes, and cocoanuts which she herself had gathered
in the wood.

This constant and intimate association could have only one result. Every
day it brought the proud beauty and her taciturn companion closer than
would have been possible under any other conditions. At times, in her
interest in the work of the moment, Grace would entirely forget their
difference in class. She would unbend and laugh and chat with him as
though she had known him for years. Then, an instant later, suddenly
conscious of their respective positions and what she thought she owed to
her own dignity, she would relapse into an abrupt silence and draw away
once more, cold and reserved. But this purely artificial demeanor could
not be kept up. A few hours later, obeying her natural impulse, she was
herself again, chatting with him freely, asking his opinion, trying to
please him, full of respect for his superior judgment.

Armitage listened to her ceaseless prattle, amused at her vivacity,
replying gravely to her questions, explaining all she wished to know.
During long, idle afternoons they would sit together on the beach and
he would tell her stories of the sea, about lands he had visited,
strange people he had seen, while Grace, curled up at his feet, like a
child, listened with breathless attention.

Thus gradually, almost unconsciously, their mutual interest in each
other grew. They became necessary to each other. Sharing common perils,
they naturally sought each other's companionship, and to Grace as much
as to Armitage the unconventional association and comradeship was as
delightful as it was novel. Grace was pleased because he treated her not
as other men had done, as a toy, only to be flattered with foolish
compliments, but as a woman, a helpmate, whose opinion was worth having.

Greatly to her surprise, Grace soon found herself taking pleasure in
this bucolic, semi-savage sort of a life. It was so utterly unlike
anything which she had ever known that, at times, she thought it must be
all unreal and that, sooner or later, she would wake up from what was
only a fantastic dream. But it was real enough. She had only to glance
around her to realize the grim truth. There was Armitage a short
distance away along the beach trying with a crudely made net to catch
fish for their noonday meal, yonder on top of Mount Hope a column of
black smoke was ascending to the blue sky--a mute and urgent summons to
the outer world for help--and if any further testimony were needed she
had only to look down at her own tattered rags, scarcely recognizable
now as a gown to bring back with vividness all that had happened since
the moment the typhoon broke.

Yet, as the time went on, with rescue no nearer than before, Grace
seemed each day more resigned to her precarious situation. She did not
fret so much. Her nervousness disappeared and her spirit became more
buoyant. There ware moments when she even felt happy. Armitage was quick
to notice it, and by the way he smiled as he greeted her, by the almost
boyish enthusiasm he went about his work, it was evident that he
welcomed the change.

Grace was surprised herself. At first it alarmed her to note her growing
indifference. She could not understand the reason. Sensibly she argued
that she could not be always fretting. If she did, nervous collapse
would be the consequence. It never occurred to her that this new life in
the exhilarating sea air explained the secret, that her body was growing
more healthy and normal under the new hygienic conditions, and that as
her body changed, her mental outlook changed also. The discomforts which
she had to put up with were, of course, many, and her anxiety regarding
the outcome of the adventure as poignant as ever, yet in other respects
it was an almost ideal existence.

The weather was perfect. She lived, so to speak, in a bower of flowers,
in idyllic peace, with nothing to disturb the general serenity. She had
all the food to eat that her appetite craved for, there was plenty of
crystal spring water to drink. At night she slept peacefully, lulled by
the rhythmical music of the waves as they washed lazily against the
shore, and when she awoke the birds were singing their joyous notes of
welcome to another glorious day. It was the voluptuous life of the
tropics with all its dreamy languor, its sensuous charm.

Constant living in the open had indeed effected a wonderful improvement
in her personal appearance. Had she possessed a mirror she would
scarcely have recognized in that health-flushed face, tanned by wind and
sun, the pale and languid girl whose condition had alarmed her friends
in New York. With her large dark eyes, clear and limpid, her lips, red
and tempting as cherries, her glorious hair caught up in careless knot,
her bosom fuller, her lines more rounded, her walk with an elasticity it
had never known before--she was in the full bloom of youth and beauty.
Grace herself realized the change, and vaguely she guessed that this
explained the new mental attitude she had assumed toward her unfortunate
position. Not only in body, but in her mind she felt more vigorous. Her
despondency had given place to a pronounced optimism. She took keen
interest in everything taking place around her. She was no longer
peevish and irritable. She laughed and chatted with the spontaneous
gaiety of youth, and if it were not for a constantly gnawing anxiety to
know what the future had in store, to communicate with her parents, she
would have been content to go on living like this for months.

Not only were the surroundings ideal and conducive to real happiness,
but it was a new and pleasurable sensation to her to find that she could
be of some use in the world. She took pride in doing her share of the
work, and her respect for herself grew in proportion as she felt that
her services were appreciated by Armitage. Gradually she learned to
scrutinize his face to see if he approved what she had done, and if she
saw him smile she beamed with satisfaction.

Long ago she had come to the conclusion that her companion was no
ordinary man. Not only was he above his apparent station in life, but he
possessed qualities that she had never yet detected in any of the men
she had met. Not only was he handsome and built like an Apollo, but she
recognized his superior mentality. He was born for leadership--that was
evident by the manner in which he had managed things on this island. He
had suffered in life, for some cause which he kept secret, and had been
forced to take to brutalizing work. But it had not degraded him. He was
kind and gentle, unselfish and brave.

While he succeeded in concealing his own past life, Armitage was less
successful in concealing his interest in his companion. Grace's feminine
tuition told her that he admired her, and, although she knew that
socially he was far beneath her, she was still woman enough to be
gratified. Besides, she did not seek to disguise from herself the fact
that she was strangely attracted toward this man. He had about him a
magnetism which she could not explain. Perhaps more than anything else
it was the very mystery with which he surrounded himself that interested
and attracted her. She found herself speculating strangely. Suppose he
had been a man of her own class, would she marry him? Was he the type of
man she could love? She remembered Professor Hanson's queer hypothesis
that afternoon on the steamer. Suppose this man were to make love to her
and insisted on the ties suggested by the professor. What could she do
to protect herself? What could she do? She was utterly helpless. There
would be nothing to do but throw herself on his generosity.

It annoyed her when she realized how much her companion entered into her
thoughts. She tried not to feel lonely when he was away. She tried not
to feel pleased when he returned. But she knew that she was lying to
herself, and at moments it terrified her when slowly it dawned upon her
that her strange, mysterious companion had entered into her most
intimate life. Was it love? She laughed at the absurdity of the idea,
and to show her indifference, so Armitage might plainly understand the
difference in their positions, she forced herself to seem cold and
reserved. He noticed the sudden change in her manner, and, unable to
account for it, thought he must have displeased her.

One day he had gone up to Mount Hope to attend, as usual, to the
signal-fire. She was alone. The day's work was done, and, somewhat
fatigued, she was resting, seated on the verdant, sloping beach
overlooking the sea. At her feet stretched the golden sands, gently
laved by the rippling, transparent waves. The air was full of sweet
scents, and the temperature so warm that even the thinnest clothing was
almost unendurable. Drowsy from the heat, she lay under the grateful
shade of spreading trees, and, looking out over the glistening ocean,
watched the water as it sparkled in the sunlight. Her eyes half-closed,
her entire being thrilled by a novel sensation of languor, she abandoned
herself to the voluptuousness of the place and moment. Had she been
alone, with no one to see her and no danger of a sudden surprise, she
would have loved to divest herself of all her clothing and, nymphlike,
roll nude in the golden sands like the woman she once saw in a picture
called "The Birth of the Wave." Her form was physically as beautiful.
She wondered if Armitage thought her beautiful--if he ever thought of
her at all as men think of women--and gradually her mind wandered in
strange channels.

As she lay there basking in the ardent sunshine, she felt the
pleasurable, exhilarating sensation of enjoying perfect animal health. A
strange feeling of languor came over her. This, she knew, was happiness
and the joy of life, and yet she felt that there was still something
lacking to make that happiness complete. As her eye dwelt on the
loveliness of the surrounding scene, perhaps for the first time she
understood the enthusiasm of those nature lovers who are content only
when in the country. What, indeed, were the artificial, tawdry delights
of the man-made cities compared with the delights of life in the
God-made fields? She thought of overheated ballrooms, inane afternoon
teas, tiresome bridge-parties. What were they compared to lying there,
listening to the birds singing in the trees, her cheek gently wafted by
the soft sea breeze, the pure air filling her lungs and shading the
damask on her cheek. If her dear old dad saw her he would hardly know
her.

She knew what her life lacked--love. A man whom she could admire and
respect, a man who would rule her with his iron will and crush her if
need be in his strong arms. Would she ever meet such a man? Had she
already met him? Once more her mind conjured up the picture of the ideal
man--the man of her day-dream on the steamer. If he should come along
now, would she have the strength of will to resist the pressure of his
ardent lips. Her eyes closed, she fancied she saw him coming, his head
thrown back, straight as an arrow, handsome as an Apollo. As he passed
he stopped, fascinated by her beauty. He came nearer, and with a cry of
joy clasped her closely in furious embrace. Weakly she tried to avoid
the warm kisses he rained on her too willing mouth. As she turned she
chanced to see his face, and, starting back, she gave a cry. It was a
face she knew. Frightened, she opened her eyes and sat up. Armitage was
standing before her.

"Were you asleep?" he asked, with a smile. "I hope I didn't disturb
you."

"Where have you been?" she asked, embarrassed.

"Up on Mount Hope tending the fire," he replied, his eyes taking in
every detail of her splendid beauty. Her hair was disarranged and her
bodice open at the neck because of the heat. He thought she looked the
prettier, and he was only human.

"Nothing in sight, I suppose," she asked.

"No, nothing," he answered.

She rose and, going to the cabin, hastened to prepare their supper.

While she bustled about he sat quietly and watched her. He hoped she
would not read on his face the happiness that was in his heart.

Yes, she had guessed aright. He was happier on this desert island than
ever before. It was true that he had no wish to be rescued. For him
rescue meant going back to purgatory, while this was Elysium. Never in
all his life had he known such happiness as this. Only one thing was
lacking to make his happiness complete. It was to call this woman--wife.
He did not know how it had come to him, but he loved her with a
fierceness that frightened him. He did not like to even admit it to
himself or even to think of it. But he knew that he must have this woman
or his life must end. To live without her was impossible. It was
inconceivable. He had tasted of Heaven these last few weeks, and if he
lost that he must lose everything. Of course it was an impossible dream.
She was rich. When she left here she would forget him. If one day she
met him in New York she would even disdain to look at him.

He clenched his fists and ground his teeth. Why should he lose this
happiness that had come to him? He wanted this woman. No one should rob
him of her. Even if it cost him his life and hers, he was determined to
have her for his own. Why should he be denied her? Their rescue from
this island was improbable, if not impossible. Ships never passed near
there. It was too far from the beaten track, too full of hidden dangers.
Navigators knew that and gave the island a wide berth. He had lied to
her to reassure her, but he knew rescue was out of the question. They
would spend the rest of their days there. The days would lengthen into
months, the months into years. Their youth would go. Old age would come.
Then it would be too late, and they would both be sorry. Why should they
not mate now? He remembered the mutineers of H. M. S. _Bounty_--a true
story of the sea which had always fascinated him. The men revolted and
killed their officers and landed on an island inhabited by savages. They
killed the men and married the women, and to this day their descendants
were sturdy fishermen.

Long after Grace had retired to rest, Armitage sat under the trees alone
amid the silent beauty of the tropical night. The stars in their
countless millions shone bright and resplendent in the clear atmosphere.
The firmament was a glorious blaze of light. The planets flashed like
suns, and changed color as he gazed at them. The small stars twinkled
more humbly in a milky way that stretched across the heavens, while now
and again a brilliant meteor, outlaw of the heavenly host, shot across
space and as quickly disappeared. It was a spectacle for the gods, but
Armitage heeded it not. Lost in meditation of things more earthly, he
was wondering if he could win this woman for himself, how he could delay
the dreaded moment which would take her out of his life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day when he suggested that they explore their lonely domain
together, Grace readily consented to accompany him. Laughing merrily and
chattering like a magpie, she walked briskly along at his side. The day
was ideal. The weather was dry and clear, with an invigorating breeze
from the sea, and, as they strode along in the dazzling sunshine, Grace
felt buoyant with health and exuberant spirits.

They followed the coast-line, making their way in and out among the
rocks. From the interstices of the tall cliffs as they approached flew
out hundreds of wild sea-gulls uttering shrill cries of alarm. Armitage
picked up a stone, but Grace stayed his arm.

"It's bad luck to kill one," she said. "Let them live. Besides, they're
our neighbors. They're the only other inhabitants besides ourselves."

The tide was out, so their way along the smooth sands was easy. The
beach was covered with shells of remarkable luster and beauty, and Grace
insisted on stopping to gather some. Presently they came to a creek,
with stepping-stones covered with slippery moss. The problem was how to
get across.

"Come along," said Armitage, leading the way.

"I'm afraid I'll fall into the water," exclaimed Grace, looking ruefully
at the water.

"No, you won't. Take my arm," said Armitage.

They went across together, her arm closely locked in his.

Suddenly she slipped. If she had not been holding tight to his arm, she
would have fallen into the creek. As it was, she was badly frightened,
and clung more nervously to him. He felt her warm body pressed close
against his, and a thrill went through him. There was still some
distance to go before the opposite bank was reached. Putting his arm
round her waist, Armitage reassured her.

"You won't fall. Just keep close to me and step as I step," he said.

He felt her warm breath on his cheek. His head seemed to swim round. It
needed all his self-control to keep his equilibrium and get across.
Finally they reached the other bank in safety.

Leaving the beach, they clambered up the rocks, to the higher land,
where they found an abundance of coarse grass with ravines and hollows
choked up with a luxuriant growth of tropical vegetation. They entered a
dense wood, almost impenetrable with tangled foliage, thick undergrowth,
and hidden roots of trees. Carefully, he made a path for her, and once,
when they came to a running stream with no way to ford it, he had to
lift her up in his strong arms and take her across like a baby. Soon
they came to a clearing, sweet with the odor of wild orchids and
jasmine. Through the thick foliage of the spreading trees they had
glimpses of the shimmering surface of the turquoise-blue sea. They sat
down in the grass, glad to rest after their exertions, and when they
got hungry they ate the provisions Grace had thoughtfully provided. It
was a delightful picnic, and Grace laughed with glee.

Armitage had plucked a plantain and was eating the fruit when suddenly
he stopped and looked fixedly at her.

"Why do you look at me like that?" she asked roguishly.

"Because you are nice to look at," he answered gravely. "I look at the
sea because it is beautiful. I look at you. You are beautiful."

She laughed and reddened. The compliment was clumsy, but it pleased her
because she knew he meant it. To her it sounded better than any of the
compliments paid her in New York's drawing-rooms. To change the
conversation she said:

"I wonder if we shall ever get away from here?"

He said nothing, but his eyes sought hers. After a pause, he said
boldly:

"I don't know. To be quite honest, I'm in no hurry. I'm very happy
here."

Grace made no reply. This time she did not even seem angry.



CHAPTER XIV.


Another fortnight passed and still no sign from the great wide world
beyond the seas. The days came and went with monotonous regularity.
According to the notches on Grace's shell calendar, which she had made
carefully with each rising and setting of the sun, they were now well on
toward the end of September. Three long months had gone by since that
terrible night when the hurricane drove the ill-fated _Atlanta_ on the
reef.

Would a ship never come? This question Grace had asked herself almost
hourly until gradually the belief came firmly rooted in her mind that
they would never be rescued, that she was doomed to spend the rest of
her life in this unknown, out of the way island, her grief-stricken
parents believing that she had been drowned when the _Atlanta_ went
down. If any of the survivors reached land, as she supposed some of them
did, the news would have been instantly cabled to America, and her name
would be listed among the missing. No doubt her father had long given
her up for dead. It would never occur for him to come in search of her.
Nor was there much chance of a passing vessel ever seeing the smoke from
the signal-fire. As Armitage had said, they were probably hundreds of
miles out of the shipping track. In all probability no human being had
ever set foot on that islet before.

Yet she never quite lost courage. Each day she made her weary pilgrimage
to the summit of Mount Hope and eagerly scanned the horizon. Only
disappointment awaited her. There was never anything in sight to bring
joy to her heart.

They kept the big signal-fire going just the same. Night and day it
burned, sending its flaming message of distress over the vast waste of
heaving waters. It was never permitted to die down. Fresh fuel was piled
on until the flames leaped high in the air or the thick black smoke went
curling up in a long, straight column to the sky. Either the smoke or
the blaze must be seen miles away at sea. Any moment some ship might
turn out of her course and come to investigate.

Otherwise they seldom discussed the chances of rescue. By mutual consent
it seemed to be a tabooed topic. Armitage never failed in his
self-appointed task; he kept the fire going with a plentiful supply of
driftwood, but that was all. He never voluntarily mentioned the
signal-fire or the prospects of getting away, and intuitively she knew
that it was a subject that was distasteful to him. If he took the pains
to keep up the fire, he did it for her sake. She understood that, and
she was mutely grateful to him for it. In return, she was considerate
for his feelings. She avoided speaking of her desire for a ship to
arrive. Occupied with their daily tasks, they never broached the
subject. When he went up the hill to attend to the fire he was always
alone, and she tactfully selected a time when he was occupied about the
encampment to make her daily climb to Mount Hope.

What if help did not come? Could they--he and she--go on forever living
together like this? She was an intelligent girl. She knew that the
present relations between herself and Armitage were artificial, and
based wholly upon the conventions of organized society. But they were
unnatural relations, contrary to the laws of nature. In her heart she
knew that she cared more for this strange, silent man than she dared to
admit. Yes, he was the man of her day-dreams, the man she had waited
for, the man she could love. She did not ask what he had been. She only
knew him as he was. She loved him for what he was. He was poor, he was
not what the world calls of gentle birth, yet he had qualities that in
her eyes raised him above all men more favored by fortune. He was one of
nature's noblemen. Some great secret sorrow had wrecked his life, but it
had not taken from him his sweetness of character, his beauty of face
and mind, his manly courage, his courtesy to a lonely, helpless woman.
She loved the rich tones of his voice, the sad, wistful gaze in his fine
eyes when they looked silently into hers. She knew of what he was
thinking. She knew the dread that was on his heart--the dread of a
misfortune a hundred times worse than any that had yet embittered his
life. The dread that one day, sooner or later, the ship would come to
carry away from him forever the woman who had once more made life seem
worth living.

One morning Grace was sitting sewing, deftly plying the fish-bone needle
which Armitage had made for her. She was making a desperate effort to
patch up, for the hundredth time, her old battered ball-dress, which
now, reduced to shreds, scarcely covered her decently. Armitage, no
better off as regards attire, was stretched out on the sands near her,
watching her work. It was a domestic scene. Any stranger chancing to
pass that way would have taken them for a young married couple, the man
evidently a fisherman, the woman, his wife, doing the household mending.
A short distance away was their cabin, and on the fire close by the iron
saucepan in which a savory mess was cooking for their noonday meal.
Nothing was lacking to make the picture of connubial felicity complete.

Some such thought occurred to Armitage, for suddenly he blurted out:

"Do you believe in marriage?"

She looked up in surprise.

"Do I believe in marriage?" she smiled. "What a singular question. Of
course I do."

"What do you understand by marriage?" he persisted.

Grace thought for a moment and then readily replied:

"Marriage is a contract entered into by a man and woman by which they
become husband and wife."

Nodding assent, he went on:

"That is to say, a contract entered into between themselves?"

"Not exactly," replied Grace hesitatingly. "Rather I should say an act
before a magistrate or a religious ceremony by which the legal
relationship is sanctioned by the law and church."

"Then, without such act or ceremony, you would not consider a marriage
binding or right?"

"No," answered Grace emphatically.

He remained silent a moment, and then he said:

"But suppose a man and a woman loved each other and wished to enter into
the married state, and yet were so placed that it was impossible for
their union to have the sanction of either the law or church, what
then?"

Grace laid down her work and, shaking her head, looked gravely at her
interlocutor:

"It is difficult to answer such a question offhand," she said. "I think
it would depend altogether on the circumstances and chiefly on the
personal views of those directly concerned. Some people scoff at
marriage. Among them are many of my own sex. They regard marriage merely
as a time-honored, worn out convention which really means nothing. They
get married, of course, not because they believe in it as an
institution, but as a matter of form, because their mothers did it
before them, because it is the thing to do. But not unreasonably, they
argue, that nowadays when it is so easy to obtain a divorce on the most
trivial pretext, there is not much left about marriage that is sacred
and binding."

He listened attentively. When she ceased speaking, he asked quietly:

"And what is your view? Do you indorse these opinions?"

"No, I do not," she replied, meeting his steady gaze frankly. "I
believe in marriage. I think it is the noblest gift that civilization
has bequeathed to the human race. It marks the great divide between man
and the brute. More than that, it protects the woman who is, naturally,
the weaker, and, above all, it protects the offspring."

"You are right," he rejoined quickly, "yet isn't it curious that man
seems happiest under monogamy, which is directly contrary to nature. Man
is naturally polygamous."

"Ah, but that is only brute love. It rests on nothing tangible. Like a
tiny flame, it is extinguished by the first adverse breath of wind. Man
thinks he is polygamous. But that is only the beast in him--the beast
with which his better and higher nature is ever at war. The superior man
learns to control his appetites, the baser man indulges them, and
therefore is nearer to the tailed ancestry from which he originally
sprang. That is not love as I understand it."

He leaned quickly forward.

"How do you understand love?" he asked, in low, eager tones.

Grace smiled, and, poutingly, she protested:

"Why do you question me in this way?"

Slightly raising himself on one hand, he drew nearer to her and looked
steadily up into her face until the boldness of his gaze embarrassed
her. Her cheeks reddened, and she lowered her eyes.

"What do you know about love?" he demanded hoarsely.

"Every woman knows or thinks she knows," she replied, with affected
carelessness.

He was silent for a moment, and then he went on:

"Suppose a woman--say a friend of yours--loved a man, with all the
strength of her heart and soul. Suppose special conditions made her
legal union with that man impossible. Would you forgive her if her great
love tempted her to give herself to that man, or would you insist that
she should suffer and make him suffer--alone?"

She listened with averted face. Well she knew the purport of these
questions. But her face remained impassive, and her voice was calm as
she replied gently:

"No woman may sit in judgment over another woman. No woman can tell
positively what she might do under all circumstances. The temptation
might be such that even a saint would succumb. That reminds me. Do you
know the story of the Abbess of Jouarre?"

"No," replied Armitage; "what is it? Tell it me."

He settled down more comfortably in the sand to listen. Grace smiled,
and took up her sewing again.

"It's a story that made a deep impression on me," she said. "It was
during the bloodiest days of the French Revolution. On the Place de la
Concorde a hundred lives were being sacrificed on the guillotine daily
to appease the savage fury of the populace. Among the aristocrats
sentenced to death and who awaited in the Temple prison their turn to be
summoned to the scaffold was a chevalier, scion of one of the proudest
families of France and an Abbess, a woman of gentle birth, both of whom
had been denounced to the Revolutionary tribunal. They had known and
loved each other as children, and they met in prison for the first time
since the Abbess had taken her vows. Closely associated within the
dungeon's grim walls they soon discovered that time had not killed
their youthful infatuation. In the shadow of death the Abbess was
willing to admit that she had loved the chevalier all these years, that
she had prayed for him and carried his image in her heart. He clasped
her in his arms and, pleading his unconquerable passion, he urged her to
forget her vows and give herself to him. Kindly, but firmly, she
withdrew from his embrace and gravely recalled him to a sense of duty.
She declared that being now the affianced bride of Heaven, it was
forbidden for her to even think of earthly ties or joys. But the
chevalier refused to listen to reason or to calm his ardor. He insisted
that such love as theirs was sacred, and that her vows to the Church did
not bind her, now that she was about to die. In another few hours they
would both be dead. Her duty, during the short time she had yet to live,
was to yield to the promptings of her heart rather than to heed the
dictates of her conscience. Their union, he said, would be a marriage
before God, and after their earthly death they would be united forever
in Heaven. The Abbess listened. Her great love gradually gained the
mastery over her moral scruples. Her opposition weakened. The chevalier
took her again in his arms."

Grace ceased speaking. Armitage, his face betraying more and more
interest, waited for her to continue.

"That is not all," he said interrogatively.

Grace shook her head.

"No, now comes the tragedy of it." Continuing, she went on: "The next
day the prison doors were thrown open, and brutal jailers read out the
lists of names of those prisoners who that morning must ride in the
fatal death-cart. Among the first summoned was the chevalier. Tenderly
he bade the Abbess farewell. Death he hailed with joy, for it marked the
beginning of their coming felicity in another and better world. He
disappeared, and the Abbess awaited her turn. Other names were called,
but hers was not among them. The jailer stopped reading and turned to
depart. The Abbess tremulously asked when her hour, too, would come. The
jailer answered: 'You go free--by order of the Tribunal.'"

Again Grace was silent. Armitage seemed lost in thought. Presently he
said:

"And the Abbess--what became of her?"

"She had to bear her cross for her great sin. Her punishment was worse
than death. Not only had she broken her vows and offended Heaven, but
she was separated forever from the man to whom she had given her love.
Cursed by the Church, shunned by everybody, she wandered miserably from
village to village, leading by the hand a little child."

Armitage was silent for a few minutes, and then he said:

"You were reminded of this story by some remark you had previously made:
What was it?"

"I said in answer to your hypothesis as to what a woman would or would
not do for a man she loved, that even a saint might succumb, given
certain circumstances. The Abbess was a saint. Yet she sinned."

"I don't think I would call that a sin," objected Armitage. "The real
sinner was the judge who pardoned her."

"Why not the chevalier who tempted her?" rejoined Grace.

He made no answer, but remained looking steadfastly at her. Then rising
abruptly to his feet, he began to pace nervously up and down the sands.
His face was pale, his eyes flashed, the muscles around his mouth
twitched. He gave every sign of being under an intense emotional strain.
There was something to be said, and he dare not say it. It was a novelty
for him to find himself lacking in courage. At any other time he would
have faced a tiger about to spring; he would have looked without
flinching into the muzzle of a leveled rifle. But at that instant he
quailed like a craven--he dared not tell this girl that he loved her and
wanted her for his wife.



CHAPTER XV.


He disappeared and Grace did not see him again for the remainder of that
day. All afternoon she waited, expecting each moment to see him
reappear. Not wishing to be away in case he suddenly returned and wanted
some supper, she omitted her customary visit to Mount Hope.

At first she did not mind his long absence. Busily preoccupied with her
sewing and half a dozen other tasks about the camp, the time passed so
quickly that she hardly noticed it. But when darkness commenced to fall
and still he did not come, she began to feel uneasy. He had not told her
that he expected to be gone so long. Something must have happened.
Perhaps he had met with an accident and at that very moment was lying
hurt, in need of assistance. She turned hot and cold by turns at this
thought. Suppose he were killed! A sudden choking sensation in her
throat, a quickened beating of her heart, told her that it would be a
greater misfortune than any that had yet befallen her. If she had never
fully realized it before, Grace knew now that this man had come to be
part of her own life.

Night fell, with its profound silence and its mysterious sounds. Nature
slept. The chirping of crickets, the croaking of frogs, the mournful
sighing of the wind in the trees, the sullen splash of the waves on the
sandy beach, were the only audible sounds. It was the first time that
Grace had been left so long alone since they set foot on the island. In
the daytime, with the sun shining, the birds singing and everything
plainly visible for miles around, she did not care. But the darkness,
the solemn silence, the strange inexplicable noises she heard every now
and again in the wood--all this frightened her. Everything around her
assumed strange, unfamiliar shapes. At one time she thought she saw some
object with gleaming eyes approaching the cabin. Her flesh began to
creep. Terrified, she quickly retreated inside the cabin and,
barricading the door with table and chairs, crouched down by the window,
straining her ears to hear some sound of Armitage.

Suppose something had happened to him! Then she would be quite alone,
entirely defenceless. The mere thought of such an eventuality caused the
blood to freeze in her veins. How could she be alone on that desert
island? She would go stark, staring mad. Ah, now she knew what his
companionship had meant to her. If only he would come back, she would
hardly be able to resist the temptation to throw her arms round his
neck. He was more necessary to her every day. No one can live without
human companionship. She must have some one to talk to. Besides, every
hour it dawned upon her more strongly that she loved this strange,
solitary man. Even at this moment of terror it was love as much as fear
that racked her heart with anxiety and anguish.

Morning was just breaking in the east when all at once he reappeared.

"Where have you been?" she asked tremulously.

She averted her eyes so he should not see that she had been weeping.

"I don't know," he answered curtly.

He seemed worn and tired. His boots were muddy, his clothes had fresh
rents and stains. He looked as if he had been tramping through the
woods all night.

"Will you eat something?" she asked.

"Don't bother," he replied. "I'll get something."

"It's no trouble," she said. Going quickly to their simple larder, she
put before him some cold fish and plantain cakes.

He ate ravenously, in stubborn silence. When she spoke to him, he
replied in low monosyllables. His eyes seemed to avoid her searching,
inquiring gaze. Once she happened to turn quietly and she caught him
staring at her in a strange way. His manner somewhat intimidated her.
She wondered if she could possibly have done or said something to
displease him.

It grew lighter every minute, but the day promised to be gloomy. The sun
was invisible behind a bank of mist, and the entire sky was overcast. It
looked like rain. There was a damp chill in the air. The weather seemed
in harmony with Armitage's unaccountable behavior. Grace felt chilled
herself. She had a presentiment that something was about to happen.
Whether it would affect her or him she did not know, but instinct told
her that danger of some kind threatened.

Something troubled her companion, that was certain. What its nature was,
she could not guess. She had never seen him so moody or acting so
strangely. But, unwilling to put herself in the delicate position of
asking for confidence he withheld, she desisted from any further
questioning, and, leaving him alone, went to her cabin. She was
exhausted from her long vigil and it was not many minutes after she
threw herself down on the bed before she was fast asleep.

When she awoke he was gone. He had disappeared mysteriously, just as he
had the first time, without leaving a word behind or a single indication
to tell where he was going, or how long he would be away. Yet he had not
entirely forgotten her. He had brought a fresh supply of spring water,
and before the door of her cabin she found some freshly caught fish and
a new supply of plantains.

Refreshed after her sleep, Grace went cheerfully about her usual morning
tasks. She tidied her cabin, took her sea bath, and prepared the
noonday meal. So busy was she that Armitage's new absence remained
unnoticed. In fact, she dismissed him from her mind. If she thought of
him at all it was to wonder vaguely what ailed him, and speculate idly
how long his mood would last. By the time the sun was directly overhead,
her work was done. Armitage not having returned, she ate her meal alone.

It was no use waiting around any longer, so she started, after dinner,
for Mount Hope. For two days she had not paid her regular visit to the
signal-fire. She felt a sense of guilt, as if she had neglected the one
thing which alone could save her.

It was a difficult, laborious climb up the hill, and she was compelled
to rest several times on the way to the summit. She looked up as she
went, trying to catch a glimpse of the smoke that was announcing to the
whole universe that two human beings were in need of immediate relief.
She could not see the smoke, owing to the projecting rocks which hid the
summit from view. At the next turn she would come in sight of it. Up and
up she went, out of breath.

Every now and then she halted and looked back. At this height, fully
500 feet above the sea, she commanded a superb view of the entire
island. A few barren rocks connected by grassy and thickly wooded
plateaus, it made but a speck on the surface of the wide ocean. Below,
under the shelter of the tall cliffs, she saw their two cabins nestling
under the trees. Thinking she might catch a glimpse of Armitage, she
strained her eyes in every direction. But he was nowhere to be seen.
There was not a sign of life anywhere. Not a human voice, not the bark
of a dog. Even the birds were dumb. Perfect stillness reigned, as in the
habitation of the dead.

Never so well as now had she realized their complete isolation. Her
heart sank. Even if a vessel passed, how could she hope that an islet as
small as this would be noticed? A sailing-master would not think for a
minute that it harbored survivors of a shipwreck. Their only chance of
attracting attention was the signal-fire.

"Thank God," she murmured, "that we had the means to light a fire. It
has never been allowed to go out. Night and day it sends out its
wireless message for aid!"

She resumed her climb and presently reached the summit. Only another
turn in the road and she would come in sight of the huge bonfire,
blazing and crackling as it sent its message of distress far out to sea.
Impatient to see it, she hastened her steps, almost running, in her
anxiety to get there. Round the bend she went until, breathless, she
emerged on the broad plateau.

Suddenly she stopped and turned pale. Could she have mistaken the road?
No, this was the place. But where was the signal-fire? The spot where it
had burned night and day all these weeks was plainly visible. The grass
and ground all around was charred and blackened by the flames, but of
the fire itself nothing remained. Some giant strength had wreaked its
fury upon it, scattered the glowing embers right and left, drowned it
out with water. The signal-fire was extinguished!

Pale and trembling, Grace stood rooted to the ground, trying to
understand. Who had done this? Why had he done it? Of course, only one
person could have done it. Was this the explanation of Armitage's long
absence the previous night? Why had he scattered and drowned out their
signal-fire?

Her face flushed with anger. Her apprehension gave place to indignation.
By what right had he presumed to take this step? If he were willing to
sacrifice himself, what right had he to sacrifice her?

Turning on her steps, she hastened down the hill and soon reached their
encampment. He was there to greet her, standing with folded arms,
silent, as if he knew where she had been and was awaiting the first
outburst of her reproaches and anger.



CHAPTER XVI.


"The fire is out!" she cried, as she came within speaking distance.

"I know," he answered stolidly. His face was expressionless, not a
muscle moved. An observer might have mistaken him for a figure cast in
bronze.

"How did it go out?" demanded Grace, trying to control herself.

Still he made no answer.

"How did it go out?" she repeated. "Did you put it out?"

Armitage nodded. Then, with a defiant toss of his head, he said:

"Yes--I put it out."

Grace stared at him in utter astonishment, scarcely able to believe her
ears. She was so overwrought with indignation that everything seemed to
swim before her eyes. She felt weak and faint. Fearing that she would
fall, she leaned against a tree for support.

"You put it out! You put it out!" she gasped. "Why--tell me why."

He shrugged his shoulders, and for a moment made no answer. Then, with
eyes averted from hers, he said in a low tone:

"What's the use of letting it burn any longer? Nobody will see it if it
burns till doomsday. It might burn on forever, till there was no more
wood left on the island to feed it with, and still you'd be here eating
your heart out waiting for help that would never come. It was labor
thrown away."

Unable to control herself any longer, Grace burst out passionately,
almost hysterically.

"So that is it? Because it was hard work, you sacrifice me! Because you
prefer this idle, savage existence to the hard life you used to lead,
you do not wish to get away. I must spend here my youth, the rest of my
days because this sort of life pleases you. And you don't hesitate to
destroy my only chance of relief because it suits you. How dare you! I
thought you were a man. I was mistaken. A true man would not take
advantage of a helpless woman's misfortune to further his own selfish
interests. You are free to stay in this lonely spot if you choose, but
I will not. I refuse to sacrifice myself. I will go away in spite of
you. I don't know how, but I will find some way, and when I get back
among my friends I shall tell them how a man treated a poor defenceless
girl."

He made a step toward her, as if about to say something, when she
retreated and exclaimed:

"Don't come near me!" she cried, almost hysterically. "I hate you. I
won't let you address me again until that fire is lighted."

She sank down on the stump of a tree and, burying her face in her hands,
gave way, womanlike, to a torrent of tears. When the hysterical spell
had passed, he was still standing humbly before her, looking down at
her, with a sad, set expression on his face.

"Won't you listen to me?" he said.

"I won't listen to anything until you have lighted the fire once more,"
was her stubborn reply.

Overhead the sun suddenly broke through the heavy gray clouds. The mists
slowly lifted. Once more land and water were bathed in a flood of
cheering sunshine. Grace's moods were mercurial. All that morning she
had been particularly depressed because of the weather. As Nature put on
a fairer garb, her spirits rose. She now felt sorry she had spoken so
harshly to him. At least, she might have given him a chance to explain.

"Won't you listen?" he asked again.

He spoke pleadingly, without anger, the rich tones of his voice
trembling with suppressed emotion. Standing bareheaded, the sun falling
full on his tanned face and neck, he looked strikingly handsome.

"Why did you extinguish the fire?" she demanded again in a low and more
conciliatory tone.

Leaning over toward her, he said:

"Can't you guess the real reason?"

"Because of the trouble--you said as much."

He shook his head and there was a note of reproach in his voice as he
replied:

"You don't think that is the reason. You ought to know that I should
consider no task too irksome if it would add to your happiness."

He spoke so earnestly that Grace looked up at him in surprise. What did
he mean? His eyes met hers without flinching. He was silent. She saw he
wanted to say something and hesitated. She knew not why, but there was
something disturbing in this man's silent, persistent gaze.

"What is the real reason?" she murmured, at last.

"Can't you guess?" he demanded hoarsely.

"No," she replied, outwardly calm, but with misgivings within.

"Because I love you!" he cried passionately.

He sprang eagerly forward, as if about to take her in his arms. Grace,
startled, fell back.

"You love me?" she repeated mechanically.

"Yes, I love you--I love you!" he repeated wildly. "Haven't you seen it,
haven't you felt it all along?"

The color fled from her cheeks. Her lips trembled. The crucial moment
which she had dreaded had arrived at last.

"If you love me," she said, with a forced smile, "you have a curious way
of showing it. You know that all my hopes centered on that signal-fire,
and yet wilfully, deliberately, you destroyed it. If you love me, why
did you do that?"

"Because," he said in a hoarse whisper, "I was afraid that some ship
might see the blaze and come and take you away. I love you so much that
I'd stop at nothing. You are the first woman I've ever loved. You don't
know what that means to me. When a man of my age loves for the first
time, the force of his passion frightens him. These last two days and
nights I have purposely avoided you. I have tried to control and master
myself. I have tried to forget you, to banish you from my thoughts. All
last night I tramped through the woods, trying to persuade myself that
it was an impossible dream, that such happiness could never befall such
a poor devil as I. But I could not--I could not. In each tree I saw your
dear face, in every sigh of the wind I heard the plaintive sounds of
your sweet voice. Then, suddenly, I caught sight of the blaze on that
hill. Instantly I felt it was my enemy. I knew that if a ship came I
would lose you. I realized that it would mean the end of my happiness.
Maddened by the thought, I was seized by a sudden fury. I ran all the
way up to the top of the hill and trampled it out. Can't you understand
that I don't want to lose you, that I don't want you to go?"

Grace listened, her face flushed. When he ceased speaking, she said
gently:

"Any woman would feel pleased and honored at what you say. You have been
very kind to me. I shall never forget what I owe you. I am deeply
grateful. I shall always remember you." Hesitatingly she added: "It may
be that you are right--that a ship will never come--what then? What do
you want me to do?"

"To--to be my wife!" he replied quickly and eagerly.

Grace gasped. She was not without a sense of humor and the incongruity
of the situation was at once apparent to her. Really he went too far. He
was making her a serious proposal of marriage. This sailor, fireman,
stoker, or whatever he might be, was actually asking the heiress to
millions, one of the prizes of New York's matrimonial market--to be his
wife! It was too absurd. Only the grave, pleading expression in
Armitage's face deterred her from laughing outright. If any of her set
in New York heard of it, they would chaff her without mercy.

"How handsome he is!" she murmured to herself as she looked at him.
"What a pity we are not social equals!"

She was sorry for him, of course, but it would be kinder if she put him
at once in his place and made him understand the hopelessness of his
position.

"Do you hear?" he said hoarsely, his voice quivering from suppressed
emotion. "I want you--I want you to be my wife!"

Grace drew herself up with the air of offended dignity of a queen hurt
in her pride. Her gown was in tatters, her lovely hair hung loose over
her snow-white shoulders. With her cheeks slightly flushed and her large
dark eyes dilated and more lustrous from excitement, never had she
appeared to him more beautiful or desirable. Like a trembling felon at
the dock waiting to hear the judge pronounce his fate, Armitage waited
for her answer.

"Your wife?" she replied not unkindly. "Do you know what I am, do you
realize what position I hold in society? Don't you know that my father
is one of America's kings of finance, that his fortune is twenty
millions, and that our winter and summer homes are among the
show-places of Fifth Avenue and Newport? Don't you know that I spend
$10,000 a year on my dress, that I have a dozen servants to run at my
call, that my carriages, my horses, gowns and jewels furnish endless
material for the society reporters of the yellow journals? Men have
proposed to me--men of means, men of my own class. I refused them all
because they hadn't money enough." With a scornful toss of her head, she
added: "I despise a husband who looks to his wife for support."

Armitage had listened patiently until now, but her last words aroused
him. Suddenly interrupting her, he broke in:

"You refused them not because they weren't rich enough, but because you
didn't love them. You can't deceive me. I haven't watched and studied
you all these weeks for nothing. You aren't as shallow and heartless as
you pretend. You are too intelligent to find pleasure in Society's inane
pastimes. You admitted to me yourself that something seemed lacking in
your life. Shall I tell you what it is?"

He advanced closer and, looking fixedly at her, went on:

"I can read the secret in your beautiful eyes--the windows of your soul.
Shall I tell you what your heart desires? You are love-hungry. Your
whole being cries out for love. Not the infamous traffic in flesh and
honor which receives the blessing of fashionable churches, but the pure,
true, unselfish, ideal love that thrills a man and woman under God's
free sky. What good are your father's millions here? What do I care
about your houses, your gowns and your jewels? Here, stripped of
everything but your own sweet lovable nature, you are only a woman--a
woman I love and want to call mine own."

His voice held her spellbound. The tone of authority in his words
weakened her will-power. His ardent eyes, looking tenderly into hers,
fascinated her. She felt that the odds were fearfully against her. It
required all her moral strength to resist his pleading, yet there was
nothing here to which she could cling. At home, in New York, she could
take refuge behind a hundred excuses. The polite conventions of society
would lend her support. But here alone on this lonely island with this
man whom she knew in her heart she loved, this man who insisted on frank
explanations, straightforward answers, the odds were fearfully against
her. She felt herself weakening.

"Please don't," she murmured confusedly. "It's utterly impossible. Don't
you see how impossible it is--even if I did care for you? In a short
time a ship will come. We shall be taken off. We shall go back to New
York. Each of us will resume the old life, and this adventure will be
only a memory."

Armitage laughed cynically, and he made a gesture of impatience. His
manner suddenly changed. He assumed the old tone of superiority which
she had noticed when they first landed on the island.

"Don't deceive yourself," he said abruptly. "Some day things must be
understood as they are, and it might just as well be now."

He stopped and looked at her strangely.

"What do you mean?" demanded Grace uneasily.

"I mean," he went on slowly, "that no ship will come. We shall never go
back. The rest of our days must be spent here together."

He spoke with such authority, such conviction, that Grace felt that he
had good grounds for what he said. Her face paled and a feeling of
faintness came over her.

"How do you know?" she demanded, with tears in her eyes.

"I've known it all along," he replied.

"But didn't you say that whaling-vessels made these waters their
fishing-grounds?" she persisted.

"I lied," he answered frankly. "I was sorry for you, so I invented that
fiction."

"Then, the signal-fire was useless!" she cried, almost hysterical.

He nodded.

"Yes--utterly useless. I kept it up only to please you. There isn't one
chance in a thousand of it ever being seen. You had to be told the truth
some time."

Grace stood listening to him, completely overwhelmed, as if in a trance.
In these few brief moments he had destroyed every hope which she had
nourished for weeks. All her watching and waiting and praying had been
in vain. She was doomed to spend the rest of her days on this lonely
island--with him! Her head seemed in a whirl. She felt dizzy and faint.
Then she tried to collect her thoughts to reason it out, to picture the
future. Suppose it was true, suppose they had to stay there together
forever. How would it affect her? What would their life be as the years
went on? They would gradually change their habits. The culture and
careful training of her youth would soon be forgotten. Removed from the
refining influence of civilization, she and Armitage would slowly
degenerate, they would revert to the semi-savage condition of their
prehistoric forbears. In time, the last remnant of their clothes would
go, they would be obliged to make clothes of animals skins or of
plantain leaves. They would cease cooking their food, finding greater
relish in devouring it raw. Their hair would grow long and matted, their
hands would look like claws. They might even lose the power of speech
and if, in years to come, a ship chanced to touch at the island, they
would find two gibbering human-like creatures who had forgotten who
they were and where they came from.

She gave a low moan of despair. Armitage approached her. She looked up
at him appealingly:

"Is there no hope at all?"

He shook his head.

"No--none."

She covered her face with her hands. He could see that she was weeping.

"Don't cry," he said gently. "It's no use fretting. We can't fight
fate." Tenderly he added: "Do you understand now why I said I loved you?
Do you think I would have dared if I thought we should ever get away? I
told you because I knew we must spend our lives in lonely solitude, and
I knew we could not go on living as we have been. I want you for my
wife. You cannot object. The obstacles you mentioned no longer exist."

Grace started to her feet. There was a note of defiance and alarm in her
voice as she replied:

"If I must stay here and die here, I will. God's will be done. But I
will live as I think is right, as I would live anywhere else. Being
here alone with you makes no difference."

He folded his arms and looked at her boldly.

"It does make a difference," he said slowly and firmly. "We are here--a
man and a woman--alone on a desert island amid the eternal silence of
the mighty ocean. There are only two of us. We are all the world to each
other. Our future days must be spent together in the closest intimacy.
We cannot go on living as though we were strangers. It isn't natural.
You ought to be able to see that. The objections you mentioned would
keep us apart under ordinary conditions, but here the conditions are
altogether different. You are no longer the courted heiress, the society
favorite. You are a woman and I am a man. The artificial conventions to
which you cling have no place on this island. Here we are living amid
primitive conditions. Nature gave woman to man--she was intended to be
his mate, his companion. I assert my rights as the male."

He spoke harshly, in a tone of command, as if he allowed her to have a
say in the matter, but intended to have his way in the end, after all.

Grace found herself listening passively. She wondered why she did not
burst out with indignation when he thus disposed of her as if she were
his goods, his chattel. Yet, secretly, it pleased her to have him assume
this tone of ownership. The men in society who had fawned upon her were
tame, weak, despicable creatures, ready to lick her hand for a smile.
This was a real man. He gave her orders. He told her what he wished her
to do, and he said she must do it. As she listened to his rich, musical
voice she thought to herself that, after all, he was right. Sooner or
later it must come to that. The years would pass. They would get old
together. Would it not be more natural, would not their lives be happier
if they mated and had children to be the joy of their reclining years?

Armitage boldly took her hand. She did not resist. She had not the
strength. This man had strangely paralyzed all her will-power.

He drew her fiercely to his breast and whispered ardently:

"I love you, Grace! I love you!"

His warm breath was upon her cheek. She felt his strong body pressed
close against hers. A sudden feeling of vertigo came over her.

"I love you--I love you!" he repeated wildly, crushing her slender form
in his powerful arms.

She made no attempt to resist, but remained passive in his caress, as if
a prisoner who knew there was no hope of escape. Yet there was no
indication of anger on her face. Why shouldn't she love this man? If
their lives were to be spent together, she must be his helpmate, his
companion. Besides, she knew she was lying to herself. She did love
him--with all her soul. This was the man she had been waiting for, the
man who would have the courage to overcome her resistance, to take her
fiercely in his arms and cry "I love you--I want you!"

She closed her eyes, her head fell back. He leaned forward until his
lips almost touched hers. Why did he hesitate? Why didn't he take the
prize which was already his? He felt her warm body vibrating with the
passion his ardor had awakened.

"I love you--I love you!" he cried. "Grace, tell me--will you be mine?"

Her eyes were closed. Her head, with its wealth of luxuriant hair all
loose, fell back on his shoulder. Her face was upturned, her lips half
parted. Trembling with emotion, he leaned forward. His mouth slowly
approached hers for the kiss which was to seal their union, when
suddenly he heard a shout.

"Ahoy there! Ahoy there!"

The sound of a human voice in that deserted spot was so utterly
unexpected, so entirely unlooked for, that for a moment Armitage and
Grace started back in alarm. Armitage thus rudely aroused out of his
day-dreams, hurried forward to investigate.

"Ahoy there! Ahoy there!" came the shout again.

There was no mistake this time. Some one was calling, in English.

Presently they saw half a dozen sailors clambering over the rocks and
running toward them. They were Americans.

Grace sank to her knees.

"Thank God!" she murmured. "Rescued at last!"

A boatswain and five sailors came up, looking with interest at Armitage
and Grace.

"Who are you?" cried out the boatswain, as they approached.

Armitage went forward.

"We were wrecked on the Blue Star Steamship _Atlanta_, which went down
in a hurricane on those reefs about six weeks ago."

"Passengers?" asked the boatswain.

Armitage hesitated. Then, pointing to Grace, he said:

"This lady was a cabin passenger."

"And you?" demanded the man.

"Stoker," replied Armitage grimly.

The other sailors looked at each other and laughed.

"We landed to get water," explained the boatswain, "and chanced to
stumble across human foot-prints. Knowing the island was deserted, we
decided to follow up the tracks. And here we are. I guess you're glad to
see us."

Armitage was silent.

"Thank God!" murmured Grace. "Where is your ship? What is it?"

"The _Saucy Polly_, of Boston, Mass., and as fine a whaler as you ever
saw. We're anchored on the other side of the island. I guess that's why
you didn't see us."

"An American ship--God be praised," murmured Grace, clasping her hands.
"Will you take us home?"

"That we will, Miss. We couldn't leave you here."

Overcome with emotion, Grace suddenly burst into tears.



CHAPTER XVII.


Fifth Avenue presented its customary animated and brilliant picture of
refined cosmopolitan life. The sidewalks were crowded to the curb with
stylishly dressed promenaders, the roadway blocked with smart
automobiles and handsome equipages. The all New York of fashion and
wealth was taking its afternoon sunning.

For the foreigner making a study of our national manners, the Avenue's
five-o'clock parade any fine afternoon during the season presents a
scene as typically American as he may expect to find. Here in this one
narrow, splendid thoroughfare, stretching in a noble line, as the crow
flies, from Twenty-third Street away up to the Nineties, is concentrated
the fabulous, incalculable wealth of the United States. Here, side by
side, dwell the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, the Vanderbilts, the
Astors, the Goulds, the Harrimans, the Morgans, the Whitneys, and other
giants of finance, whose fortunes aggregate thousands of millions of
dollars! Lined on either side of the street with the marble palaces of
its multi-millionaires, its roadway jammed with carriages and
automobiles kept in order by picturesque mounted police, its sidewalks
thronged with pretty, stylish girls, and men and women famous in art,
music, politics, science and literature--New York's most exclusive
thoroughfare is perhaps the one place where the American plutocracy is
on exhibition in all its aggressive opulence. The show street of New
York, it is not laid with rails for electric cars like other
thoroughfares of the metropolis. Wagons and trucks not having special
business there are forbidden to traverse it. The poor man understands
that it is the exclusive domain of the very rich, that he has no place
there, and that if he appears on its sacred pavements he is apt to be
looked upon as an audacious intruder.

Armitage rested from his work and looked around him, dazed by the bustle
and noise. The gay, busy city was such a contrast with the quiet,
peaceful life he had led for the past few months that the sudden change
was startling. It had all the attraction of novelty. The afternoon
parade was at its height, and he was interested watching the
promenaders. Never had he seen so many pretty girls. There were styles
of beauty to suit every taste--blondes and brunettes. Tall, graceful,
aristocratic girls; short, plump, vivacious girls. Some had the grace of
stately lilies, others the charm and fragrance of the full-blown rose.
Each rivaled the other in chic of costume, all were merry and full of
the exuberance of youth. They passed in twos and threes and as Armitage
watched them, he wondered where his girl was--the one girl in the world!
He knew that she was in New York, and he also knew where her home was on
Fifth Avenue. Perhaps if he stayed there long enough, he would see her
go by.

He had not heard from Grace since they landed in Boston. He reviewed in
his mind all that had occurred since the wreck of the _Atlanta_, that
ever-memorable night when, swimming for his life in the raging seas, he
had felt her limp body lying heavily on his left arm. Then came their
long sojourn together on Hope Island, a blissful dream rudely
interrupted by the untimely arrival of the _Saucy Polly_. Then their
return to America. Even on the voyage home they were no longer the same
to each other. In her new clothes, borrowed from the stewardess, she
looked quite different. He thought he detected more reserve in her
manner toward him. Then, when they arrived in Boston, her father was
waiting for her, and they left at once for New York--on a special train.
He couldn't follow. He had no money and refused to accept any from Mr.
Harmon. He felt amply rewarded for all he had done when Grace smiled
kindly at him as she shook hands and said good-by.

When they had gone he tried to find work. For some days he was
unsuccessful. Times were hard. Instead of employing new men, old hands
were everywhere being discharged by the hundreds. At first he thought of
taking to his old occupation, the sea, but he thought better of it. He
had had enough of seafaring to last him some time. Then, desperate, he
tried to get anything. Men with nerve were needed in the iron
construction work of a lofty sky-scraper. He didn't know much about the
business, but he did not mind the danger, and he was soon high in the
air, astride a swinging iron beam, riveting bolts at a dizzy height and
with such frail support that the people in the street below turned pale
for fear he would fall. What did he care if a girder fell and he was
dashed to pieces below? He laughed at danger, and performed feats that
made his fellow workmen gasp. This earned him good pay, and soon he had
saved enough to come to New York.

Why had he come to New York? Why had he given up good wages to come here
without the certainty of finding work? Only one thing had attracted him
here--the same reason that attracts the moth to the flame. He knew it
was hopeless, but he could not resist the temptation of coming to the
same city where she was, breathing the same air she breathed and
secretly, at night, coming up to Fifth Avenue and standing for hours,
watching her windows until he was ordered to move on by a suspicious
policeman. Luckily he had found employment--the same kind of work that
he had done successfully in Boston. A sky-scraper was being erected on
the corner of Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street, and he was sent to
rivet the iron beams. That was how he came to be there that sunny
afternoon.

Curiously, he eyed the fashionably dressed promenaders as they passed
by, chatting and laughing in polite conversation. There was no hostility
in his attitude as he watched them. That feeling had died away. These
men and women with their fine clothes and polished manners appeared to
him to-day in a different light. There was a time when he would have
cursed them as they haughtily brushed past him, but now the old
animosity had died away. The class hatred which he had nourished so long
in his heart had undergone a change. These were her people, perhaps they
were her friends. Wistfully, he looked after them, wishing he could
summon up courage to boldly approach some one and ask how Grace was.
Eagerly he scanned the brilliant throng, hoping each instant to catch
sight of her in the crowd, but he watched in vain. The beloved figure he
would have recognized a mile away did not appear.

Disappointed, he turned once more to his task. It was already half-past
four. In thirty minutes more the whistle would blow. The men would quit
work and he would trudge over to the cheaper East Side, where he lived.
He had picked up his sledge-hammer and was about to resume work when he
happened to look up the Avenue. There she was at last, close at hand,
coming toward him. Involuntarily, he stepped back, and the heavy hammer
fell from his nerveless grasp.

Grace went by, dainty and _chic_, the cynosure of every eye on the
Avenue. Men turned after her as she passed. Women stopped and pointed.
But, unconscious of, or indifferent to, the admiration she excited, Miss
Harmon continued on her way home.

Armitage gazed after her, as if petrified. His first impulse was to cry
out, to run after her, to attract her attention. He stumbled forward and
then stopped. What right had he to accost her? She might resent it as an
unwarrantable impertinence. It would humiliate and embarrass her to be
addressed amid that fashionable throng by a common workman. It was
enough that he had seen her--from a distance. That was all the happiness
he could reasonably expect. By the time he had reasoned with himself,
Grace was out of sight.

That evening when Armitage reached his lodgings he found awaiting him a
letter bearing the Boston postmark. Opening it, he saw it contained
another letter addressed to him and forwarded in care of the Boston
office of the owners of the _Saucy Polly_. Tearing open the envelope, he
read as follows:

  "-- FIFTH AVENUE.

     "DEAR MR. ARMITAGE: If you happen to be in New York, I should be
     glad if you could find it convenient to call at the above address.

  "Yours faithfully,
  "JOHN HARMON."



CHAPTER XVIII.


The town house of John Harmon was conspicuous for its size and beauty
even on an avenue famous for its magnificent residences. With a frontage
of a hundred feet facing Central Park, it was constructed entirely of
French gray stone, Renaissance style, with turrets, gables, oriel
windows, elaborately carved stone loggias and balconies, tiled roofs and
all the other architectural ornamentation of that picturesque period.
Set back some distance from the road, it was surrounded by tastefully
laid-out grounds, with a handsome portico decorated by elaborate stone
carvings, and a driveway bordered with flower-beds, entrance to which
was made through ornamental gates of massive bronze.

Beautiful from the exterior as was this railroad king's home, within it
was furnished with the lavish grandeur of a royal palace. All Europe had
been ransacked to fill it with beautiful and costly art treasures. At
the back of the large entrance-hall, with its magnificent frescoed
ceilings, its satin hangings, marble pillars and stained-glass windows,
was a monumental staircase of pure Italian marble and graceful design
which led to the reception-room and other apartments above. The stairway
was artistically decorated with marble statuary, trophies of arms and
priceless tapestries. On the second floor were the famous art-galleries
hung with paintings by the ancient and modern masters.

It was only on extraordinary occasions that visitors were afforded an
opportunity to see all the art treasures which the house contained. For
the greater part of the year the pictures were not on view. To-day,
however, was one of the rare exceptions. Mr. Harmon had thrown open his
entire house in honor of the special event which he was celebrating.

Outside the house, on Fifth Avenue, a crowd of people stood watching the
long string of carriages, automobiles and taxi-cabs in line before the
gate. The day, although fine, was cold and windy and an awning had been
stretched from the portico to the curb to protect the guests from the
weather. The crowd of curious sightseers grew larger as each moment
other cabs and automobiles dashed up. A mounted policeman prevented the
spectators from pressing too close and kept the way open for regular
traffic, while Mr. Harmon's servants in powdered hair and knee-breeches
received each newcomer.

"Gee! Get on to 'em guys wid der white wigs!" cried out a cheeky boy.

"What's all the fuss about?" inquired a bystander.

"Blessed if I know," replied the man curtly.

A well-dressed woman stopped and watched the scene with interest.

"Whose house is that?" she inquired of a policeman.

"John Harmon's, m'm," replied the officer of the law.

"The railroad man?" she asked, with growing interest.

"Yes," answered her informant. "Mr. Harmon's daughter was wrecked on the
_Atlanta_, you know. She was reported drowned. Then they found her on a
desert island. She's home to-day and they're giving a reception to all
their friends in honor of her return."

In the splendid reception-room facing the Avenue rich with its gold and
crimson furnishings, delicately frescoed ceilings, satin brocade
hangings, priceless rugs, onyx tables and heavy red carpet, Grace was
the center of an excited throng of women. Each fresh arrival literally
fought her way through the crowd to get a glimpse of the heroine of the
hour. There were murmurs of surprise and admiration on all sides as they
caught sight of her.

They expected to see Grace a physical wreck after all the suffering she
had gone through during her enforced imprisonment on the desert island.
Some had gone so far as to whisper that the young heiress would never
recover from the effects of the nervous shock. Such a terrible
experience, they said, was more than sufficient to kill a strong woman.
What effect, therefore, must it have had on the delicate Miss Harmon,
whose health already gave cause for alarm before she went on that fatal
voyage?

When the invited guests entered the reception-room and saw Grace beaming
and smiling in the center of a circle of enthusiastic friends they
could scarcely believe their eyes. To their utter astonishment she was
precisely the opposite of what they had imagined. Instead of the frail,
languid girl to whom they had said good-by when the _Atlanta_ sailed
from New York some six months before, she was the picture of good
health, in as perfect physical condition as she had ever been in her
life. Her face was tanned from long exposure to the sun, but the deeper
color only heightened the rich effects of her beauty. It became her dark
hair and her splendid eyes. She was a little stouter, but her fuller
figure only set off to better advantage a new gown of clinging silver
cloth, trimmed with rare lace. She looked radiant. Whispered murmurs of
admiration were heard in all parts of the room. The women raved about
her figure, her coloring and her hair, and the men fell over each other
in their eagerness to attract her attention.

The reception-rooms were already crowded and new arrivals were coming in
constantly. Somebody said that Prince Sergius of Eurasia was present,
and there was a general craning of necks to get a glimpse of royalty. A
woman whispered confidentially to a friend that his royal highness had
been a constant caller since Miss Harmon's return and that there were
good grounds for believing that they were engaged. In a few minutes the
friend had spread the information all over the room that the engagement
was official and would immediately be made public.

Supremely unconscious of the gossip of which she was the envied object,
Grace stood in a corner of the room surrounded by Mrs. Wesley Stuart,
Professor Hanson, Mrs. Phelps, and the Hon. Percy Fitzhugh. All fellow
survivors of the wreck of the _Atlanta_, they made an interesting little
group by themselves as they stood comparing notes and describing their
adventures, while Mr. and Mrs. Harmon, scarcely able yet to believe the
good news that their darling child had returned from the dead, went from
one to another telling the wonderful story of her life on a desert
island.

For the hundredth time Grace told and retold the story of the wreck--how
she fell into the water from the overturned life-boat, and after
swimming some distance, was fast becoming exhausted when suddenly one
of the crew seized her and dragged her ashore. She told of her horrible
adventure with the cobra and narrated in detail all the other incidents
of her sojourn on the desert island up to the time that she was rescued
by the _Saucy Polly_.

Mrs. Stuart explained how she and Professor Hanson, together with Mr.
Fitzhugh got away in one of the life-boats. Mrs. Phelps and Count von
Hatzfeldt were also saved, but poor Captain Summers was drowned, a
martyr to duty. He refused to leave the bridge and went down with his
ship, keeping the whistle blowing as the vessel sank out of sight
beneath the waves. After rowing all night they were picked up the
following day by a P. and O. steamer bound from Calcutta to Southampton.
They naturally supposed Grace was among the drowned, and, on arriving in
England, gave her name among the others to the correspondents, who
cabled the sensational news to New York.

Mrs. Stuart threw her arms around Grace's neck and kissed her
effusively.

"Oh, my poor, dear girl," she cried. "If you only knew what mental
agonies I've suffered! I thought that I should never see you again. I
blamed myself for having suggested the voyage. I held myself
responsible. I did not dare look your poor father in the face. Your
mental suffering must have been terrible, to say nothing of the dangers
you were subjected to. How terrified you must have been to be all alone
with that dreadful stoker! You should thank heaven he did you no
violence. A man of that character is capable of anything--especially
when alone with a defenceless woman."

Grace smiled faintly. A thoughtful expression came into her face. She
made no answer, and Mrs. Stuart repeated her question:

"Weren't you afraid of him?"

Aroused from her reverie, Grace answered:

"No, not at all, we got along capitally. You know, dear," she went on,
"the devil is never as black as he is painted. When people don't get
along together, it is very often because they don't understand each
other."

Mrs. Stuart looked at her former _protégée_ with blank astonishment.

"So this stoker fellow--you think you understand him? Did you actually
take the trouble to understand him?"

She looked closely at Grace, a searching look that made the latter's
cheeks redden.

"Perhaps," went on Mrs. Stuart, with a knowing smile, "you both came to
a perfect understanding--some foolish romance which you'd blush now to
acknowledge."

"Don't be silly, Cora," answered Grace quickly. "You know he saved my
life twice. The least I could do was to be civil to him."

"Where is he now?" demanded Mrs. Stuart.

"I haven't the slightest idea," replied Grace. "He returned to America,
of course, on the _Saucy Polly_, and when the ship arrived at Boston my
father was there to meet me. When I had said what he had done for me,
father was anxious to repay him, but he refused to take anything and
mysteriously disappeared. I have not seen him since, but we are trying
to trace him. Father has written to the owner of the _Saucy Polly_,
whom, we think, knows his whereabouts."

"Perfectly delicious!" exclaimed Mrs. Stuart sarcastically. "Your father
can offer him a position as coachman, footman or butler. No doubt he's
dead in love with you! The romance wouldn't be complete unless you
eloped with him!"

Grace was silent. Her friend's cynicism grated on her. She turned her
head away afraid that the expression on her face might betray her. How
often she thought words uttered in jest hit upon the truth! She did not
tell Mrs. Stuart that she was just as anxious to have news of Armitage
as was her father. Strangely enough, her return home, which she thought
would fill her with joy, had failed to give her all the happiness she
expected. Once more she was enjoying the social prestige, all the
luxuries that her father's position and money secured for her, yet there
were moments when she missed those days on Hope Island when her greatest
ambition was to prepare a satisfactory meal for her companion's return.

She wondered if she would ever see him again. She knew why he had
disappeared. He understood that there could never be anything between
them. They belonged to different worlds. She had returned to hers; he
to his. She would not have expected anything else of him. She would have
been disappointed in him if he had done anything else. He was not the
kind of man to come round, hat in hand, and ask payment for his
services. No matter how poor he might be, he was too proud for that, and
secretly in her heart she rejoiced to think that the man she cared for
was of that stamp.

Of course, their little love-affair was a thing of the past. When she
thought of it she felt inclined to laugh, it was so preposterously out
of keeping with her social position. Probably she would never see him
again. She would try not to, because, secretly, she was afraid of
herself. She was afraid that if she saw him again and heard his voice,
if ever again he spoke to her as he had on that island, she would be
tempted to throw herself into his arms, no matter what her position or
how it might wreck her future. She remembered the story Professor Hanson
had told her of a girl of good family marrying an Indian. She recalled
the stories she had seen in the papers of rich girls running away with
their coachmen. She could understand those things now. There was
something in these men, some strange magnetic power, that made girls
love them for themselves, regardless of the disastrous consequences.

Mr. Harmon was listening with rapture to the flattering comments on all
sides, on his daughter's improved appearance, when suddenly the English
butler approached him and said quietly:

"May I speak to you a minute, Sir?"

"Yes, Hawkins, what is it?" answered Mr. Harmon impatiently.

"There's some one down-stairs to see you, Sir."

"Some one to see me?" echoed Mr. Harmon. "Go and tell him to come
up--like all the rest."

The butler did not budge. He had been in service boy and man for over
forty years, and he thought he knew what kind of people were privileged
to enter his master's home as guests.

"Didn't you hear me?" repeated Mr. Harmon. "Go and tell him to come up."

"Excuse me, Sir--it is not a visitor, Sir. It's a person who tried to
come in the front way, shovin' and elbowin' 'is way in along with the
guests as if 'ee was a regular caller, sir. The policeman collared 'im,
thinkin' 'ee was up to no good. You can never tell, sir. Sometimes
they're arter the coats and umbrellas, sir. But the feller said you 'ad
written him, sir, to come 'ere. So the policeman let 'im go. But we
wouldn't let him come in the front way, Sir. We hustled 'im in through
the tradesmen's entrance, and 'ee's down-stairs now. James is lookin'
arter the silver, Sir, so there ain't no danger, there, Sir."

"What's that?" exclaimed Mr. Harmon. "A person of that description says
that I wrote him to come here. He must be an impostor. Throw him
out--have him arrested."

The butler gave a grin of self-satisfaction. Rubbing his hands, he said:

"That's wot I thought, Sir. Leave 'im to me, Sir. We'll take care of
'im, Sir."

He was about to retire when Mr. Harmon suddenly had an idea.

"Can it possibly be----" he muttered to himself. "It must be he."
Turning to the butler he went on: "Here, Hawkins, don't say a word to
any one--particularly not to my daughter. Take the man to my library.
I'll be down at once."

Astonished, and also hurt, that his employer should have acquaintances
whose appearance necessitated their being ushered in through the
tradesman's entrance, the butler withdrew.

After greeting a few more arrivals and responding to a toast to his
daughter in a glass of champagne, at the buffet-table besieged by a
hungry and noisy crowd, Mr. Harmon slipped away unobserved and made his
way to the library.



CHAPTER XIX.


As Mr. Harmon entered the room, he saw a man, tall, square-shouldered,
roughly dressed, standing with his back to the door. The stranger was so
busy in admiring contemplation of a fine full-length oil-painting of the
railroad magnate's daughter which adorned the mantelpiece that he did
not hear any one enter. Mr. Harmon coughed, and the man turned quickly.
It was Armitage.

The light in the room was not good, and for a moment Mr. Harmon could
not distinguish his caller's features. At first he was in doubt as to
his identity.

"You wished to see me, Sir," he began. "You are Mr.--Mr.----?"

"Jack Armitage is my name," the other replied carelessly. Quickly he
added: "I did not seek this interview, Mr. Harmon. You wrote asking me
to call."

Mr. Harmon advanced cordially and extended his hand.

"To be sure--to be sure. Sit down, Mr. Armitage. You happen to have
called on a very busy day. We're having some friends to see us."

Despite his efforts to appear cordial, there was a certain embarrassment
in the magnate's manner which his visitor was not slow to observe.

"So I noticed," he replied dryly. "The policeman outside didn't size me
up as being a friend of yours, so he promptly ran me in. I insisted that
you had asked me to call and he let me go. Then your cockney butler took
me for a suspicious character, and after letting me enter, under
protest, through the tradesmen's entrance, he set the footman to watch
me while he went to find you up-stairs."

Mr. Harmon laughed.

"Servants judge only by appearances," he said. "If you'd driven up in a
carriage and pair, they'd have received you with every mark of honor.
I'm sorry if they hurt your feelings."

Armitage shrugged his shoulders and gave a little bitter laugh.

"What do I care for such jackals? I'm accustomed to that kind of thing.
Well, I won't keep you, Mr. Harmon. You asked me to call. What can I do
for you?"

The railroad man was taken aback. Yet he liked the man's independent
spirit. Hastily he said:

"You mean what can I do for you. I sent for you because we could not
allow you to go away like that. Do you suppose that I, John Harmon,
would permit the man who saved my daughter to go unrewarded?"

Armitage shook his head.

"I want nothing," he said curtly.

"You want nothing?" echoed Mr. Harmon in surprise, looking his caller up
and down from head to foot. "Are your circumstances such that you are in
need of nothing?"

Armitage laughed bitterly.

"I need so much that I need nothing. It sounds like a paradox, but it's
the truth."

Mr. Harmon looked at him in surprise.

"You weren't always so low down in the world?"

Armitage made no reply.

"You're an educated man. That I can tell from your speech. Some
misfortune--some folly has brought you where you are."

Armitage gave an impatient gesture and, moving toward the door, said:

"I didn't come here to discuss my affairs, Mr. Harmon. You sent for me.
I thought you needed me. Good afternoon."

Mr. Harmon intercepted him.

"Wait a minute, young man. Don't be so hasty. I meant no offence. Don't
you see that I am interested in you? I want to help you."

"I ask help of no one," replied Armitage doggedly.

"Twice you saved my daughter's life. She and I can never forget what we
owe you. She wants to thank you herself again. She could not understand
your disappearance and silence. Why did you not come?"

Armitage was silent a moment, and then he said:

"What was the use? I don't belong here. I didn't wish to embarrass you.
Can't you see that? I saw Miss Harmon the other day. She was walking on
Fifth Avenue. She didn't see me. Why should she? I was working on a job
close by. She happened to pass just as I was about to quit work. I
looked at her, but she didn't see me. Even if she did, she wouldn't want
to recognize me in these togs. I know that. I don't blame her."

"You don't know my daughter," exclaimed Mr. Harmon enthusiastically.
"She is the last girl in the world to act like that. If she had seen
you, she would have been the first to extend her hand. I'm a self-made
man myself," he added proudly. "There's nothing snobbish about me, and I
hope there isn't about my daughter. You'll come up-stairs with me now
and be introduced to everybody as the man who saved her."

Armitage shook his head.

"No--it isn't you--it's the world. It's not ourselves--it's because
we're afraid of what the world, our neighbors, will think. No, I
wouldn't embarrass your daughter. Besides, I've no wish to be put on
exhibition."

Mr. Harmon, puzzled, scratched his head.

"Well, what can we do to show our gratitude? Let me give you a little
present."

He took out his check-book, and, sitting down, wrote an order to bearer
for $10,000.

"Here, Mr. Armitage. This is far cheaper than I value my daughter. But
it will make life easy for you. You can start some business--be
practically independent for life. Here, my boy, take it with a father's
gratitude."

He passed the check over to Armitage, who looked at it a moment. A smile
passed over his face and slowly, deliberately, he tore it into tiny
pieces.

"What are you doing?" cried Mr. Harmon.

"I can't take your money for taking care of her, Mr. Harmon. I should
forever despise myself if I did. It would be bad luck to me."

"Well, what can I do for you? I can't let you go like that!"

Armitage remained silent. Then, turning suddenly, he said:

"There's only one thing I could accept from you, Mr. Harmon."

"What is that?" demanded the railroad magnate eagerly.

"Something that even you, rich as you are, cannot give me. You wouldn't
give it me if you could. Good day, Mr. Harmon."

Armitage went out and, as he passed the astonished financier, he gave a
last lingering look at the oil portrait which filled the space over the
mantel.



CHAPTER XX.


In a cheap, grimy-looking hash-house on Third Avenue Armitage sat alone
at a table, partaking with apparent relish of the rough yet not
unwholesome fare which his slender purse could afford to pay for. The
hour being late, he had exclusively to himself the services of the one
greasy and cadaverous waiter, while the proprietor of the restaurant, if
the "joint" might be dignified by so respectable a name, sat behind his
rostrum near the window, sulkily reckoning up the day's receipts.

Through the open door came all the distressing sounds and smells that
make this particular thoroughfare the noisiest and most objectionable of
the city's main arteries. Overhead the elevated trains crashed with
deafening noise, push-cart vendors shouted their wares, Italian
organ-grinders played discordant tunes, smudged-faced, tattered children
romped in the unclean gutters, slovenly housewives quarreled with cranky
janitors, a drunkard staggered in bestial condition from a corner
saloon, roughly moved on by a uniformed bully with swinging club;
sinister figures of men and women, human derelicts, crouched in
doorways, pavements and sidewalks were filthy with torn paper and
decaying fruit, tattered washing hanging from broken-down
fire-escapes--everything that is degraded and sordid was centered here
right in the heart of the richest and most modern city in the world.

But Armitage was too busily preoccupied to be disturbed by his squalid
surroundings. His appetite was keen, thanks to a day's hard work, and,
while he devoured with amazing celerity the contents of his heaped-up
plate, he stopped every now and then to read with closer attention the
newspaper which was propped up before him. It was a torn copy of that
morning's _Tribune_, and the part which interested him was an account on
the society page of the big reception which had taken place at the
residence of Mr. John Harmon on the previous day. It being a social
event of some importance, two columns were devoted to it, the writer
explaining the special occasion which it was intended to celebrate, and
retelling in vivid detail the story of the _Atlanta_'s ill-fated
voyage. Armitage smiled as he read the account, sensationally
exaggerated, of the beautiful young heiress' hairbreadth escapes from
angry ocean and venomous serpent and all the other terrors of a desert
island in company with a common sailor, who, when the rescue-party
safely reached America, strangely disappeared despite the grateful
railroad man's tireless efforts to discover his whereabouts and reward
him. Then the article went on to tell of Miss Harmon's improved
appearance, the delight of her friends, and to describe the wonderful
gowns worn by the fashionable women who had thronged to welcome her
home.

He was reading the article in a careless, amused kind of way when
suddenly he came to a paragraph which made him sit up with a start. It
read as follows:

     "But perhaps the chief interest of the afternoon, apart from the
     charming young heroine, centred in a distinguished guest, Prince
     Sergius of Eurasia. His Royal Highness has been a frequent caller
     at the Harmon residence ever since Miss Harmon's return, and, as
     usual, gossip has been busy trying to find some plausible
     explanation of this growing intimacy between the heir presumptive
     to a European throne, and the family of an American railroad king.
     It is whispered that Miss Harmon, whose marriage has been the
     topic of the last two seasons, is not indifferent to the Prince,
     and that if the consent of the King can be obtained, the
     engagement of the young couple will be shortly announced."

A lump rose in Armitage's throat. Calling for a cup of coffee, he lit
his pipe and took up the paper again. After all, he thought
philosophically, why should he care? The girl was lost to him, that was
certain. He would never see her again. She was a bit of sunshine that
had suddenly burst into his dark, unhappy life; and suddenly gone again,
leaving the outlook blacker than ever. He knew it was hopeless. He loved
her, would always love her. Time would make no difference. She would
marry her prince and have long forgotten her adventure on the island,
and still he, knocking alone about the world, would cherish her memory
in his heart.

He did not blame her. It was different in her case. On the island, alone
with him, she might in time have learned to care for him. They might
have been happy together, far happier than she would ever be in her
Eurasian palace. But when the spell was once broken, when she returned
to New York and was once more absorbed in her fashionable life, it was
only natural that she should speedily forget him.

He threw the newspaper down and, having settled his bill, was about to
rise and leave, when suddenly his eye was arrested by an advertisement
he saw in the paper which he had just put aside. Picking it up again, he
read as follows:

     ARMITAGE: If John Armitage, second son of Sir William Armitage, of
     Alnwick Towers, Bucks, England, will communicate at once with the
     undersigned he will learn something to his advantage. Coxe and
     Willoughby, attorneys, 27 Broad Street, N. Y. City.

His heart beating furiously, he read the advertisement over and over.
John Armitage, second son of Sir William Armitage of Alnwick Towers,
Bucks, England--what a familiar sound that had! Many long weary years
had gone by since he had seen those names in print. What could have
happened! Why should they want to communicate with him--the scapegrace
of the family? He turned pale. Could his father be dead--the father who
had cursed him and forbade him ever to appear before him again? Even if
he were dead they would not send for him. His elder brother would
succeed to the title and estates.

Letting the paper drop out of his hands, he rose and, leaving the place,
walked along Third Avenue as if in a dream. Coxe and Willoughby, 27
Broad Street! Well, there was no harm in calling on them to see what
they wanted. Their offices would be closed now, but he would go first
thing in the morning. The dull roar of the city's tremendous traffic,
the clanging of car-gongs, the hoarse cries of news vendors greeted him
as he stemmed the tide of pushing humanity, men and women toilers--the
day's work ended--all hurrying to trains and ferries. A wagon driven at
reckless speed round a corner nearly knocked him down as he crossed a
street. A fellow workman loafing at the entrance to a saloon jocularly
invited him to enter and take a drink. But he paid no heed. He strode
along, walking as on air, his thoughts far away.

The advertisement he had just read had taken him back fifteen years. He
saw himself in England, just graduated from College, receiving the
congratulations of his friends. He remembered his father's pride in his
success and his kindly admonition to continue as he had begun, so that
one day he might add even more distinction to the honorable name he
bore. How had he followed that sage advice? No sooner released from the
restraint of the University than he plunged into every form of
dissipation, sowing his wild oats recklessly, blindly, utterly
indifferent to the deadly crop they might one day yield. The corrupt,
gay city beckoned to him, and he could not resist its pleasure-call. He
scattered gold right and left on race-tracks, at cards, on women. A
small inheritance turned over at his majority went speedily the way of
all the rest, and then he went to the money-lenders to pay for further
extravagances, incurring obligations he could not meet. Sir William,
sorely disappointed, came to the rescue again and again, and, extracting
a promise of reformation, made him enter Woolwich to try for a
commission in the Army. Plucked at every examination, he was quickly
discouraged, returned to his fast companions and gradually drifted into
the aimless, loose way of living of the idle man-about-town. Debts
accumulated, the creditors dunned and dogged his footsteps until life
became unbearable. His father, incensed beyond hope of pardon, turned a
deaf ear to further appeals, and finally cut off his allowance
altogether, hoping to teach him a lesson. Soon his clothes got shabby,
he was forced into cheap lodgings, his fair-weather friends forgot to
bow to him.

That was the beginning of the end. He drifted lower and lower until he
was forced to go to work or starve. He knew no trade. He was obliged to
accept what he could get. He turned his hand to anything, often making
barely enough to secure himself a night's lodging. Finally, when things
seemed at their darkest, he heard there was a demand for stokers on the
Blue Star Line. What he had suffered down there in that hell's furnace
no man knew! The poor devils who had to do the work never survived to
tell of their devilish toil. If these millionaires who liked to travel
in fast ships knew the physical agony the vessel's speed cost a human
being, they would refuse to patronize them. Thank God those days were
over! No matter what happened, he would never go back to the
stoke-hold.

That night as he lay on his cot in his Bowery lodging-house he tossed
uneasily, unable to sleep, wondering what Coxe & Willoughby, Attorneys,
of 27 Broad Street, wanted with him.



CHAPTER XXI.


Broad Street, just before the stock-market begins its daily orgy of
frenzied finance, is perhaps the most orderly and imposing of any of the
splendid thoroughfares in New York's commercial center. Strange to say,
it also fits its name, having almost three times the width of any other
street in the down-town district. From the Wall Street end where the
Sub-Treasury faces the old-fashioned premises of J. Pierpont Morgan &
Co.'s banking-house, Broad Street sweeps round in a noble curve, lined
on either side with stately office-buildings, rivaling each other in
beauty of architectural design. The imposing building opposite
ornamented with bas reliefs and noble marble columns is the Stock
Exchange, where the unsophisticated lamb is ruthlessly sheared by bull
and bear, and farther on, without other roof than the blue vault of
heaven, are the noisy curb brokers, so called because, having no
building of their own in which to transact their business, they are
permitted by time-honored custom to trade in a roped-off enclosure in
the middle of the street.

It was absolutely terra incognita to Armitage, and he gazed open-eyed
around him like any country yokel seeing the sights of the city for the
first time. Suddenly he saw a crowd of men engaged in what seemed to be
a desperate struggle in the middle of the road. They were grappling with
each other, brandishing their arms and fists, yelling like Indians. It
looked like a riot of serious proportions, and he wondered why the
policeman who stood close by calmly looking on viewed it with such
unconcern.

"What's the matter?" he queried of a passer-by.

"Matter--where?" asked the stranger, looking in all directions.

"Don't you see those men fighting?" said Armitage.

The stranger grinned.

"Say, you're from Jersey, ain't you? That's no fight. They're curb
brokers trying to unload on each other their mining stocks."

Armitage felt foolish. To hide his confusion he asked:

"Can you direct me to the offices of Coxe and Willoughby, the attorneys?
I'm a stranger here."

The man pointed a little farther up the street.

"See that tall building on the left? That's it."

Thanking his informant Armitage hurried on, and, going up the stone
steps of No. 27, passed through a revolving door kept whirling by an
endless procession of brokers, clerks and messenger-boys who hurried in
and out. Following a long corridor, he came to a large open space
completely lined with elevators. Some were expresses which made no stop
below the 25th floor; the rest were locals stopping at each story, on
request.

"Coxe and Willoughby?" he said interrogatively to the uniformed starter.

"Twenty-seventh floor. Take the express," was the quick reply.

Armitage entered the waiting car. Other persons followed him in, and it
was comfortably filled when the starter cried sharply:

"Right!"

Instantly the attendant closed the gates and touched a lever. Armitage
felt his stomach leap into his throat. They were flying upward at a
speed of fifty miles an hour, and before he had time to gasp, the car
had reached the first stop, nearly 300 feet up in the air. Two stories
more and he had reached the floor he wanted.

"Along the corridor to your left, first door to the right," shouted the
elevator man.

Armitage followed the handsome corridor with its marble walls, inlaid
floors and hard-wood finishing until he came to a glass door on which
was inscribed in bold black letters:

COXE AND WILLOUGHBY

Counsellors at law

He opened the door, and found himself in an outer office in which behind
a rail were two foppish-looking clerks seated at desks. Neither of them
made an attempt to move when Armitage entered, but continued their
animated discussion of a game of baseball they had witnessed the
previous day. Armitage hit the rail lightly with his hand to attract
their attention, and finally one of the clerks condescended to get up
and come and ask what the caller wanted.

"I wish to see a member of the firm," said Armitage.

The clerk looked him over from head to toe. He had been trained to judge
people by their clothes, and there was something unconventional about
Armitage's attire that appealed to his sense of humor. He turned to his
fellow clerk and gave him the wink, whereupon the other laughed.

"In relation to what?" he demanded, wondering what possible business
this ordinary workingman could have with his employer.

Armitage was puzzled for a moment as to how he should announce himself.
Then an idea occurred to him. Taking from his pocket the advertisement
which he had clipped from the paper the night before, he handed it to
the clerk, saying:

"Say that a gentleman has called in answer to this advertisement."

"A 'gentleman,' did you say?" demanded the clerk insolently.

He looked first at the advertisement and then at Armitage. A look of
blank astonishment which came over his face was succeeded by one of
utter incredulity. Leaving the rail, he went over to his fellow clerk
and whispered something to him, and they both snickered.

Armitage tried to be patient, but he was fast losing his temper. He did
not like the clerk's supercilious manner. In another minute he would
vault over that rail, and some one's head would get punched. Finally he
said impatiently:

"Are you going to take that in to a member of the firm or must I do it
myself?"

The clerk looked up, and he was about to make some impertinent retort
when he suddenly thought better of it. There was a look in Armitage's
eye that he did not like. Crossing the office, he disappeared through a
glass door. A moment later he reappeared and, unfastening the rail gate,
said in more respectful tones:

"Mr. Willoughby will see you at once, sir."

He ushered him into a spacious, well-lighted and handsomely furnished
room. An elderly man of legal appearance was writing at a table littered
with documents. He rose as Armitage entered, and courteously waved him
to a chair. In his hand he held the advertisement, and while he twisted
it nervously in his fingers he scrutinized his caller closely through
his glasses.

"You wish to see me, Sir. What can I do for you?" he began.

"No," replied Armitage quickly. "You wished to see me. I came in answer
to that advertisement."

The lawyer came nearer, and his scrutiny became keener.

"Oh, yes--I see. May I ask in what way this advertisement interests
you?"

"Only that I'm John Armitage--that's all."

Mr. Willoughby started, and, taking out his handkerchief nervously,
wiped his face. As much as any lawyer allows himself to show emotion, he
betrayed surprise. He came still closer and, peering into his visitor's
face, said:

"You? _You_ are John Armitage?"

He looked at his visitor's dress, noticed his clumsy thick-soled boots,
soiled jacket and trousers, and he shook his head incredulously.

"The world's full of impostors," he muttered to himself, "but we lawyers
are too much for them." Aloud he repeated: "_You_ are John Armitage?"

"Yes--I am John Armitage, formerly of Alnwick Tower, Bucks, England."

Hurrying back to his desk, the old lawyer opened a drawer and took from
it a faded photograph. Holding it so that Armitage could not see it, he
stood comparing the portrait with the living man before him.

"Same face!" he murmured. "Older--more serious expression, but same
shaped head--same features." Aloud he added: "If, as you say, you are
John Armitage, you have, of course, some way of identifying yourself.
You see we have to be very careful."

Armitage laughed.

"I don't happen to have a passport," he said. "When I left England some
fifteen years ago I didn't think I'd require one. But I've a mark on my
left arm, a rough tattooing of the Armitage crest, which I did in my
foolish boyhood days. And I have some letters which my mother wrote me
after I left home. Those I've treasured. I let everything else go, but
her letters I kept." Placing his hand over his heart, he added: "They're
here."

As Mr. Willoughby grew more and more interested he became more and more
nervous.

"Let me see them," he said impatiently.

Armitage opened his vest and drawing forth a small package of
yellow-stained letters tied with a bit of ribbon, he handed them over.

"I guess we have no secrets from you," he said. "You may read them."

Mr. Willoughby untied the package, opened a letter and glanced hurriedly
at the handwriting and signature. Then he handed them back.

"That's enough," he cried. "That's enough." Starting forward, he
extended his hand.

"My dear Sir John--allow me to congratulate you!"

Armitage felt himself grow pale. He rose from his chair.

"You mean that my father----" he exclaimed.

The lawyer looked grave.

"Your father, Sir William, is dead----"

"But my elder brother, Charles?" stammered Armitage. "He succeeded to
the title and estates--not I."

"Your brother Charles," replied the lawyer solemnly, "was killed in an
automobile accident five years ago."

Armitage sank into a chair and burying his face in his hands burst into
tears. That his father had died without forgiving him was bad enough,
but that Charlie, his old pal, should have died years ago without his
knowing it, was terrible!

"Poor Charlie! Poor Charlie!" he murmured.

"When your brother was dying," went on the lawyer, "he summoned your
heart-broken father to his bedside and made him promise to forgive you,
to make every effort to discover your whereabouts, and to make a will in
your favor. They advertised for you in the London and colonial papers.
We advertised for you in the American papers. We received no answer. And
now your father has passed away. You are the sole heir. As the estates
are entailed, you would have succeeded to the estates as a matter of
course, but your father died forgiving you fully and leaving you
sufficient income to keep up the title. Sir John, I again congratulate
you on succeeding to an old and honored title and an income of little
less than $100,000 a year."

Armitage listened like a man who is dazed. It had all come so suddenly
that he thought he must be dreaming.

"When did my father die--of what?" he asked in a low tone.

"Of heart failure--three weeks ago," was the rejoinder. "We've been
trying to find you ever since. They followed you as far as the London
docks, and then all trace of you was lost. Where have you been all these
years?"

The lawyer noted his new client's sun-tanned face, and he looked askance
at his workman's dress.

"Knocking about the world--trying to forget things," replied Armitage.

Mr. Willoughby shook his head as he said:

"Young men will do foolish things! Well, you've had your lesson. Perhaps
you'll be a better man for the hard time you've had. The past is dead
and forgotten. A bright future is before you. What do you propose to do
now?"

Armitage seemed lost in thought.

"I don't know. I haven't had time to think."

"Have you any ties here? Are you married?"

Armitage smiled.

"No, who would have me--a pauper?"

Mr. Willoughby carefully adjusted his spectacles and said decisively:

"Well, then, you had better start for England at once and take
possession of your property under the will and entail. There will be a
number of legal formalities to go through. I will advise our London
office that you are coming. This is Tuesday. Could you sail on the
_Florida_ next Saturday?"

"I can," replied Armitage quickly.

The lawyer went to his desk and sat down to write. A moment later he
returned with a piece of paper in his hand. Holding it out, he said:

"Of course you can't go dressed as you are. Here's a check for $1,000.
It will pay your passage and your immediate needs. When you arrive in
England, you can, of course, draw on our London office for all you
want. You had better hurry now to book your passage and buy some
clothes, and this evening if you have nothing else to do I shall be
delighted if you'll dine with me at the Union League Club."

He touched a bell, and the supercilious clerk entered. By the sneer on
his face, he evidently expected that he had been summoned to eject the
rough-looking visitor. To his astonishment, he saw his employer shaking
hands with him.

Mr. Willoughby accompanied Armitage into the outer office.

"Good-by, Sir John," he said cordially. "I'm delighted to have made your
acquaintance. Don't forget to-night. Union League Club, at 7 o'clock."

The two clerks nearly swooned from amazement and consternation. As
Armitage went down in the elevator he pinched himself to find out if he
was awake.

When he emerged into Broad Street he was surprised to find how different
everything looked to him. The world had suddenly taken on another
aspect. The sunshine seemed brighter. Every man and woman he met seemed
more amiable and friendly. The whole world seemed gayer, more joyous. He
felt within him a strange novel sensation of exhilaration. His
moodiness, his pessimism had disappeared. He felt imbued with new life
and energy, as if he could go forth and conquer a world. From less than
nothing to a title and $100,000 a year is a jump big enough to daze any
man.

Suddenly he thought of Grace. If only he had received this news a few
weeks before! Things might have been very different. Well, what was the
use of torturing himself any longer? She was lost to him now--no matter
how changed his circumstances and position.

He stood still, at the edge of the curb, irresolute, not knowing what to
do next. Putting his hand in his pocket to feel if the check was still
there, he drew it out to look at it. It was drawn on the Chemical Bank
and payable to bearer. A thousand dollars! He had never seen so much
money in his life. It was a question if they wouldn't arrest him as a
suspicious character when he presented it for payment. However, there
was no time to be lost. He must get the check cashed at once, buy an
outfit and secure his steamship passage.

After some difficulty he found the Chemical Bank, opposite the
Post-Office. It was a splendid building with a lofty dome of stained
glass, reminding him of a church. Making his way to the paying-teller's
window, he handed in the check. The teller, a gaunt, keen-eyed man with
spectacles, looked first at the check and then at Armitage. The latter's
appearance did not seem to fit the amount of money the check called for,
and a suspicious look came over his face. Eyeing the bearer severely, he
demanded sternly:

"Where did you get this?"

"From the man who drew it, of course," replied Armitage coolly. "Let me
have it in fifties and hundreds!"

Instead of complying with the request, the teller quickly touched an
electric bell. It was evidently a signal, for instantly a special
policeman attached to the Bank came up and took up a position near
Armitage. He made no attempt to interfere, but just remained on hand in
case he was wanted. Meantime the teller was already in telephonic
communication with Coxe and Willoughby.

"Is this Coxe and Willoughby?" asked the teller.

"This is Mr. Willoughby," came the answer.

"Have you drawn to-day a check for $1,000 payable to bearer?"

"I have."

"What does the bearer look like?"

"Tall, dark man, smooth face, dressed like a workingman. It's all
right. Pay it at once. Good day."

That was enough. The teller returned to his little window. Dismissing
the uniformed attendant, he turned to Armitage and in a tone as if he
had never for a moment doubted the genuineness of the check, asked
suavely:

"Fifties and hundreds, I think you said, Sir."

Rapidly counting out the bills, he passed them through the little
opening and turned to attend to the next man on the line.

Armitage slowly folded up bills, a grim smile of satisfaction. He had
enjoyed the situation hugely.

"Now for my steamship passage!" he muttered to himself.

Turning to the right as he re-entered Broadway, he walked about a mile
in the direction of the Battery until he came to Bowling Green, where
the steamship companies have their offices. Conspicuous on the left-hand
side were the palatial offices of the Blue Star Line. As he went up the
imposing stone steps leading to the passenger booking-rooms, he thought
bitterly under what different conditions he had last visited these
offices. Then it was to sign articles as stoker on the _Atlanta_.

He entered the room devoted exclusively to first cabin business, and a
clerk, quick to notice his shabby appearance, spoke up impatiently:

"Can't you read? This is first cabin. Steerage and second cabin on the
other side of the hall."

Armitage gave the clerk a look that made the latter wish he had left the
caller alone.

"Who asked you for any information?" he demanded, pretending wrath he
did not feel.

"This is only first class," repeated the clerk peevishly, but not
without feeling some respect to his interlocutor's massive shoulders.

"I don't care whether it's first class or tenth class," growled
Armitage. "Let me see the plan of the _Florida_."

The clerk gasped as he laid the plan before him.

"The lowest in this ship is $150 a berth--two in a room," he said, in a
tone as if he expected this would quickly settle the matter.

"Two in a room--not for mine," said Armitage jovially. "I want something
comfortable. How's this?" he added, pointing to a berth.

"Single berth room--$400," said the clerk blandly.

"I'll take it," replied the new passenger. Peeling off four 100-dollar
bills from the bank-roll, he threw them before the astonished clerk.

"What name, sir?" he asked, more respectfully.

"Sir John Armitage."

The clerk's hand shook so with surprise and nervousness that he dropped
the book-plan on the floor.

Leaving the steamship offices, Armitage proceeded along Broadway,
chuckling. How sweet was the power of money! Now he would be able to
wield this power, to enslave men as they had enslaved him. Yet in the
midst of this new-found joy, he knew there was something still lacking.
He was haunted by a pair of dark eyes, lips that had trembled with
passion he alone had awakened. What good was his money, his new-found
power, if it would not give him the woman he wanted. Engaged to that
spendthrift princeling, she was entirely lost to him. She had sold
herself, and he tried to persuade himself that he despised her for it.

Yet how could he go away without saying good-by? It was different when
everything looked hopeless, when his social standing was immeasurably
beneath hers. He would never have subjected himself to a snub, and he
had avoided her for that reason. He knew it would pain her to snub him,
yet she would be compelled to do so. It would only have meant more
suffering for him. But now it was different. He was more than her equal
socially. In fact, he was her social superior. He could not go away
without saying good-by. There could never be anything between them. She
was going to marry the other fellow and satisfy her ambition to be a
member of a royal house. Yet for all that they were still good friends.

He wondered how he could see her. The best way probably was to write
her a letter, telling her he was sailing immediately and asking for an
interview. He would say nothing about his accession to the title, but
just that his condition had changed for the better. This revealed
nothing, and yet would account for his better clothes and possession of
funds.

A firm of ready-made clothiers speedily fitted him with a neat business
suit and furnished all the other things he required. When the
transformation was complete with a clean shave and hair cut, he did not
recognize himself in the mirror.

That night he took rooms at the Waldorf, and after enjoying a good
dinner with Mr. Willoughby at the Union League Club, he returned to the
hotel, sitting down in the reading-room, he wrote Grace a letter.



CHAPTER XXII.


  NEW YORK CITY, Tuesday.

     DEAR MISS HARMON: You will perhaps consider this letter an
     impertinence, and yet you may not--under the circumstances. When
     the other day I called at your house, at your father's request,
     Mr. Harmon asked me to go up-stairs to see you. It was impossible
     for me at that time to accept his kind invitation. You will
     understand why. Since then, however, a change for the better has
     taken place in my affairs. The outlook is no longer so hopeless. I
     am leaving America. I sail on Saturday.

     I cannot go without saying good-by. I have read in the newspapers
     about your coming marriage to the Prince of Eurasia. I sincerely
     hope that this realization of your life's ambition will bring the
     happiness you expect.

     No matter what the future may have in store for me, the
     recollection of those all too few weeks we spent alone in close
     association on Hope Island will never grow dim in my memory. I can
     never forget you or the dream of supreme happiness that I once
     thought within my grasp. The signal fire is now dead and cold on
     Mount Hope's lofty summit, but another flame as bright and fierce,
     which you yourself kindled, will continue to blaze in my heart
     while life endures. I know that you are forever lost to me, I know
     that another will call you wife, yet night and day I am haunted by
     the memory of that mad afternoon on the sun-kissed sands when,
     almost crazed with passion, I seized you in my arms to take you
     for my own. Then, all at once, came the rude awakening!

     But all that is past and gone. I steel my heart to try and forget
     what I had won and lost again. I will leave you in peace to enjoy
     your new happiness. You will never see or hear from me after I
     leave New York. Yet I would like to see you just once more, to
     grasp your hand and wish you well. We were always friends, and for
     one brief moment we were almost lovers. May I call on Thursday
     afternoon?

  Yours sincerely,
  JOHN ARMITAGE.

Ensconced in the big bay window of the library, comfortably propped up
with cushions, Grace sat gazing pensively over the tree tops of Central
Park. In her hand was Armitage's letter, which she had read and reread a
dozen times until she knew every word by heart. Close by, impatiently
tossed against a chair, was a magnificent floral basket which Prince
Sergius had sent that morning. Attached to the basket by a white ribbon
was an envelope--unopened. The perfume from the flowers scented the
entire room, but Grace seemed to be unconscious of their presence. She
kept looking out of the window as if expecting each instant to see some
one appear on the Avenue. Every now and then she consulted her watch.

"Ten minutes past three!" she murmured. "I wrote that I should expect
him at three. Perhaps he never got my letter."

A look of worry came over her face, and she was straining her eyes in an
effort to distinguish far-away figures on the avenues when the door
opened and her French maid entered. Grace looked up.

"What is it, Louise?" she asked.

"Ze telephone, Mademoiselle. His Royal Highness want to know if you are
at home."

"Did you say I was home?"

"_Mais non_, Mademoiselle. I said I would see if Mademoiselle was in."

Grace left her place by the window and paced nervously up and down the
room.

"Tell His Royal Highness that I'm out," she said. With a gesture of
impatience she added: "Say I've gone out to dinner and won't be back
until late. _Vous comprenez?_"

The girl curtsied.

"_Mais oui_, Mademoiselle."

She was leaving the room when Grace called her back.

"Take these flowers away, too. Their strong perfume makes me nervous."

"_Très bien_, Mademoiselle."

Elevating her eyebrows as if to convey that she quite understood the
situation, the maid took up the floral-basket and disappeared.

Grace resumed her vigil at the window, watching eagerly every one who
came in sight along the avenue, wondering if each newcomer was the one
man who was in her thoughts.

She was annoyed with herself for having betrayed herself before the
servant. Yet surely they could all see that she detested the Prince, and
that she was only marrying him for his lofty position. It had been the
ambition of her life, her father approved it, her friends envied her,
the papers were full of the splendors of the wonderful Eurasian palace
of which she would one day be mistress. How could she resist? Yet how
they must all despise her for selling herself!

Once more she took up Armitage's letter and read it through. She
wondered why he was leaving America and what the change for the better
of which he spoke could be. No doubt he had been successful in securing
more congenial employment. She was sincerely glad to hear it. She would
remember him always.

She wondered why life was so contrary, so cruel. The one man she could
have loved truly, sincerely, was too poor for her to marry, too far
beneath her in the social scale. Suppose she braved everything for his
sake, what then? It would break her father's heart. All her friends
would laugh at her. The world would ostracise her. No--it was an
impossible dream. She owed something to her position. Her own happiness
must be sacrificed to please others. Angry, defiant yet powerless to
resist the laws of the society she moved in, she rebelled at the
injustice and cruelty of it.

Suddenly the bell at the front door rang. She heard voices, followed by
steps on the stairs. A footman appeared on the library threshold.

"Mr. Armitage has called to see Miss Harmon."

Grace advanced, nervous.

"Ask Mr. Armitage to come up."

The servant withdrew, and Grace crossed hastily to the mirror to see if
everything about herself was as she wanted him to see it. A moment later
she heard some one enter the room behind her. It was Armitage. She
turned and greeted him with a smile, extending her hand, which for a
moment he held firmly in his.

She hardly knew him, so altered was he in appearance. He wore a neat
business suit, with derby hat and gloves. His hair trimmed and carefully
brushed, was more wavy and glossy than usual, and a close shave threw
into still greater relief the academic outline of his features. The
change was so remarkable that at first she hardly recognized him. But
when she heard the familiar rich tones of his deep, manly voice, no
further doubt was possible.

"I've come to say good-by," he said, with a smile.

"What a change!" she exclaimed, with an effort to appear light-hearted
and at ease.

He made no answer for a moment, embarrassed as to what to say. Then he
replied:

"Yes--I do look a little different, don't I? It's wonderful what clothes
will do. No wonder they are the world's only standard!"

"Come and sit here and tell me about it."

She led the way to the low recess at the bay-window, and, sinking down
on the cushions, she motioned him to take a seat opposite.

"Tell me," she repeated, "what good fairy has worked this
transformation?"

He smiled as he replied:

"Things have changed a little for the better."

"You mean that you have found more lucrative and congenial employment?"

He hesitated, not willing to lie to her. Yet, after all, it was the
truth. His new position was decidedly more lucrative.

"Yes," he replied, after a pause. "More lucrative--more congenial."

Grace was puzzled. His answers were vague. He was hiding something from
her. Perhaps he thought her questions impertinent. After all, what right
had she to question him?

"I'm pleased--for your sake," she answered, rather haughtily.

Armitage was quick to notice the difference in her tone, and intuitively
he divined the reason.

"For my sake?" he echoed. "Why should you care?"

"I shall always be glad to hear that you are prospering and--happy," she
answered.

He looked into her eyes without speaking. There was a melancholy,
wistful expression in his face. He seemed to want to say something and
did not dare. Embarrassed by the continuity of his fixed gaze, she
averted her head and looked out of the window over into the park, where
the nurses and children were playing on the green lawns. There was a
silence that was almost painful. At last he broke it.

"You will be happy," he said. "One day you will be a Princess!"

Grace sighed. With a forced laugh she said:

"Happiness! What is happiness? We are always pursuing it, we think we've
found it, only to find it empty and unreal, after all."

"You're happy, aren't you?" he persisted.

For a moment she made no answer. Then she said:

"Yes--I suppose I am."

"When do you expect to get married?" he asked.

"I don't know--nothing is settled--perhaps never----"

She laughed nervously. There was something in the tone of her voice that
sounded like a stifled sob.

Armitage watched her closely. This was not the way a happy woman acts or
talks. Could it be that she did not care for the Prince, that she was
forcing herself in this ambitious marriage in spite of her own better,
truer self? Certainly the man was unworthy of her. The escapades and
scandals in which he had been mixed up were the talk of Europe. She must
be aware of his real character, or was she completely blinded by the
brilliancy of his position? His heart throbbed furiously as he thought
that he had perhaps guessed the truth.

He wondered if it would make any difference if he told her everything,
of the miraculous change in his fortune, that he was no longer a
penniless outcast of society, but the bearer of one of the proudest
titles in England. That's why he hesitated. It might make a difference,
and that he didn't want. If after being told of the change in his
position she consented to marry him, he would always suspect that it was
for his title. No, if he was to win her he was determined that she
should love him for himself. The thought that there was still a
possibility of making her his wife had never presented itself until now.
On the desert island, remote from the conventions of civilized life,
bound only by nature's laws, he had claimed her as his chattel, his
primordial right. He was the lord and master whose will she must obey
without question. But now, restored to the protection of civilization,
she was free to exercise her own will, and it had never occurred to him
that, of all the men who had courted her, she might have chosen him from
preference. Such a possibility was beyond his most fantastic dreams.
Yet, after all, why not?

Breaking the long and awkward silence, he said:

"Have you quite recovered from your experience on Hope Island?"

"Yes--I'm all right now," she replied quickly.

"You're more comfortable, at any rate," he smiled, glancing around at
the oriental rugs, books and costly _objets d'art_ with which the
luxuriously furnished room was littered. "I suppose you're glad to be
home."

She shook her head, and a wistful smile came into her face as she
answered:

"Sometimes I wish I were back there. Now that I've returned, it's the
same social treadmill again--the same exhausting round of teas,
receptions, dinners, and all the rest, hearing women talk nothing but
dress and scandal and bridge until you begin to think there is nothing
else in the world worth discussing. It's nauseating. When I think of
those ideal days on the little island--the life of perfect peace under
the cool trees by the silver sea--doing cheerfully each day's allotted
task, helping you as best I could--when I think of how happy I was
leading that lonely peaceful existence, I'm almost sorry we were
rescued."

A glad smile broke over his face. His eyes flashed and his mouth
trembled slightly as he eagerly bent forward.

"Really?" he said. "You were happier then?"

She flushed and then turned pale. He hardly heard the low answer that
came from her lips:

"I don't know."

His steady gaze embarrassed her. She was afraid that he might read the
secret which lay deep in her heart. Rising abruptly from her seat by the
window, she crossed the room, stopping near a side table to arrange some
American beauty roses in a vase. Armitage rose and followed her.

"Tell me," he persisted eagerly. "Were you happier then than you are
now?"

"Suppose we change the subject," she said hastily, without turning
round. "Let us talk about you and your plans. So you're going to
England?"

He nodded gravely.

"I sail on Saturday. I came to say good-by."

Grace nervously plucked one of the roses and crushed its soft, perfumed
petals against her face. Her head still averted, she said: "But you'll
come back?"

"No--never," he replied firmly.

She made no reply, and, as he could not see her face, he did not know
that tears were in her eyes and that her lips were trembling. She could
not speak without betraying her feelings. An awkward silence followed.

Armitage stood watching her. This girl loved him--he was convinced of
that now. Only her pride was keeping them apart. A struggle for the
mastery was going on within her, between her artificial self and her
true self. One word from him and she would know that she had no reason
to be ashamed of the man to whom she had given her love; that, on the
contrary, she might be proud to be his wife. But that one word he was
determined not to speak. He owed that much to his manhood, to his
self-respect. This would be the crucial test. If she loved him, it must
be for himself alone, not for his title. If he won her, he would proudly
carry off the prize of two New York seasons--he, penniless, unknown, to
all appearances an ordinary workman!

He moved forward so he could see her face.

"We've been good friends," he went on. "I can never forget you. You made
a new man of me. You came into my life at a time when everything seemed
at an end. Your sweet, gentle influence filled me with renewed hope,
renewed energy, a determination to begin life anew. Suddenly, I
discovered that you were indispensable to my happiness. In my folly I
dreamed that you might become my wife. Perhaps if things had turned out
otherwise, if the _Saucy Polly_ had not come---- Well, what's the use of
talking of that now? I was insane. I lifted my eyes to the stars. I
deserved to be punished for my temerity."

Grace did not stir. Fascinated, she stood listening to his words. There
was sadness in his voice, and the music of its rich tones still
exercised on her its old-time magnetism. What potent attraction was
there about this man that rendered her powerless to resist his pleading?
Was she afraid to confess to herself that she loved him and that she was
ready to do anything, break off with the Prince, incur the ridicule of
her friends, offend her father--for his sake?

Armitage continued:

"But that is all over now. We part good friends. You go your way--I will
go mine. You will find happiness with the Prince----"

Grace turned quickly. Her eyes red and flashing, her bosom heaving with
pent-up emotion, she cried:

"The Prince! The Prince! I detest the Prince! I wouldn't marry him if
there wasn't another man left in the world."

Armitage drew back, surprised.

"Aren't you engaged to him?" he demanded.

"No--no! That is only newspaper talk. He has been annoying me with his
attentions, and of course all my people were flattered. But there's
nothing more serious."

"Thank God!" he muttered under his breath.

"What did you say?" she asked.

"I'm glad--for your sake," was his evasive answer.

He approached closer and held out his hand.

"Good-by," he said in a low tone.

Again she averted her head, and as she did so she stumbled against the
table. Afraid she was going to fall, he caught her by the hand. Their
hands remained clasped. She made no attempt to withdraw. He grew bolder
and went still nearer. A strange sensation of sudden weakness came over
her. She felt as if her will-power was about to succumb before a
superior mental force. She loved this man. He was the first and only man
she had ever cared for, and she was losing him. Her eyes filled with
tears. What had she done that the happiness which other women know
should not be granted also to her?

"Good-by!" he said again.

She made no answer. Bending forward to catch a glimpse of her face, he
saw traces of tears.

"What?" he exclaimed. "You are crying!"

"Am I?" she said quickly, making a desperate effort to hide her face.
"How foolish!"

"Why are you crying?" he demanded.

"I'm nervous, I think. I have not yet quite recovered from the wreck."

He looked at her, trying to read her innermost thoughts. She met his
gaze unflinchingly.

"Is that the reason, or is there another?" Drawing her gently to him, he
said:

"You are unhappy-- I know you are---- You are allowing your pride to
stand in the way of your happiness. I have no right to blame you. You
are free to do as you think is right. Only I am sorry for you--sorrier
for you than I am for myself. Good-by. May God bless and protect you.
Just one kind word, one smile before I go. We may never see each other
again."

His voice trembled and grew husky. Manlike, he was ashamed of showing
emotion; he was anxious to get away before he lost control of himself.
He left her standing there, took his hat and gloves and went toward the
door. She stood motionless watching him going, powerless to utter the
word that would stay him. The color left her face. She grew ashen pale.
Her entire being trembled with suppressed emotion.

At the door he turned round for the last time.

"Good-by--God bless you!" he said.

"Wait--just a moment--just a moment!" she cried desperately.

The spell seemed broken. She made a movement forward, her hand
outstretched. There was a wild look of mute appeal in her eyes.

"You are going alone," she demanded, her breath coming and going in
quick spasmodic gasps.

"Yes--alone."

[Illustration: "NO--YOU'RE NOT! I'M GOING WITH YOU."]

"No--no--you're not!" she cried, advancing toward him.

"What do you mean?" he demanded.

"Because I'm going with you!"

The next instant she was in his arms, her face buried in his shoulder.

"Going with me?" he exclaimed hoarsely. He thought he must be dreaming.
Does such happiness as this come to a man so suddenly?

"Yes," she whispered; "as your wife--to the end of the world if
necessary."

"But have you considered everything--your father--your friends--the
uncertain future?"

"I've weighed everything. I knew that I loved you all along. I struggled
with my pride, and I've mastered it. My father will forgive me when he
knows that I am happy. As to what society thinks, I don't care."

"But are you willing to marry a poor man--are you willing to sacrifice
all the luxuries you now enjoy for what may be a precarious existence
with me?"

She looked up at him, her face radiant.

"I'd give up everything for you. Wealth does not bring happiness. I've
found that out. I did not know what happiness was until I spent those
blissful days with you on Hope Island. I'll welcome poverty if I am to
share it with you. We can live in a cottage, on nothing a year, and I'll
still be the happiest woman on earth."

He clasped her in his strong arms and fiercely kissed her unresisting
lips. Here was a woman that any man might rejoice to call wife, and he
had won her by love alone.

"It isn't as bad as all that, dearest," he said, with a smile.

"What do you mean?" she demanded, puzzled.

"There is no immediate danger of your having to live any differently."

Grace opened her eyes in amazement.

"What do you mean?" she repeated. "My father may be so incensed that he
won't give me anything."

Armitage smiled.

"We wouldn't take it if he did. We wouldn't need to. I have plenty of my
own."

Grace was more and more mystified.

"Are you jesting?" she exclaimed.

"Not in the least. Didn't I tell you there had been a change for the
better in my fortunes?"

"Yes, but----"

Taking fondly once more in his arms the girl he had won, he whispered:

"That's why I--that's why we--are going to England, dearest. My father,
Sir William Armitage, died three weeks ago. I am heir to the title and
estates."

"I always thought you were more than you seemed," she murmured. Looking
up at him mischievously, she added: "So you deceived me-- I marry a
title, after all?"

He looked down proudly at her as he replied with his frank smile:

"But I wooed you as a poor man. You are mine--by right of conquest!"

THE END.



WHAT THE CRITICS SAY OF

THE END OF THE GAME

BY ARTHUR HORNBLOW

       *       *       *       *       *

THE LITERARY DIGEST

    "'The End of the Game' belongs to the school of good old-fashioned
    fiction which delighted the scant leisure hours of our
    grandmothers. It is a good healthy tale of normal human happenings,
    a sort of protest against the decadent type of novel which seems to
    be widening its empire among us. The characters are good human
    creatures and not the flat paper dolls found in the pages of so
    much current fiction."

New York TIMES

    "A creditable piece of work. The resemblance of the story to the
    careers of certain men who have been much in the public eye is not
    to be denied. One pronounced good quality of the novel is that the
    author has not hesitated to bring the story to a tragic and logical
    conclusion. His descriptions of the terrors of modern journalism
    are not nearly so exaggerated as the reader will probably imagine.
    The story of the patient wife has a pathos and a realism that
    strike the keynote of sincerity."

New York WORLD

    "Mr. Hornblow has novelized the brain-stormy Pittsburg millionaire
    and a few other matters that make racy reading."

New York GLOBE

    "The 70,000 readers who enjoyed Mr. Hornblow's story 'The Lion and
    the Mouse' will have a similar treat in 'The End of the Game.'"

Cleveland NEWS

    "The author's pictures of New York and Pittsburg are worthy of a
    place beside the poetic prose of Whitman."

New York EVENING SUN

    "If Mr. Hornblow's first book, 'The Lion and the Mouse,' was
    capitalized Oil on troubled waters, 'The End of the Game' is
    equally a study in steel."

Savannah (Ga.) NEWS

    "An intensely interesting and capitally told story. Mr. Hornblow
    has something to say and knows how to say it."

BOOK NEWS MONTHLY

    "The same verve and rapidity of action that characterized Mr.
    Hornblow's successful novel written from 'The Lion and the Mouse'
    are in this new and up-to-date story."

_12mo. Illustrated and handsomely bound in red cloth, $1.50_

       *       *       *       *       *

"THE PROFLIGATE"

By Arthur Hornblow

       *       *       *       *       *

The Baltimore SUN

    "In plot, incidents, emotions, verisimilitude and style this
    interesting story ranks with the best of this year's novels. The
    moral tone of the story is excellent--a welcome novelty in
    up-to-date novels."

Chicago INTER-OCEAN

    "'The Profligate' is a good story. The principal personage of the
    book is a young man wholly given to gambling and dissipation. Yet
    the author successfully intimates instinctive reserves of decency
    in his hero and thus prepares us to accept his final turning away
    from former pursuits under the inspiration of a good woman's
    affection. The author must be given credit for a certain
    originality of treatment; the denouement is sufficiently dramatic
    and the interest admirably sustained to the end."

New York WORLD

    "There are no waits between the acts in 'The Profligate.' The book
    will make a lot of money."

Philadelphia NORTH AMERICAN

    "'The Profligate' is a modern rake's progress centering in a
    mysterious tragedy that drives the hero into exile and culminating
    in a series of sensational surprises. The novelist's gifts of
    invention, his skill in inspiring and conserving interest in his
    important characters and a considerable talent for dramatic
    description should contribute in no slight degree to strengthen the
    grip of the story upon popular attention."

Charlestown, S. C. NEWS & COURIER

    "A thrilling story of love, mystery and adventure, 'The Profligate'
    claims the attention at the outset and holds it to the end. The
    story is dramatically and forcefully told and altogether is a very
    interesting book. The characters are not overdrawn, the situations
    not impossible, and the book will doubtless have a large and ready
    sale."

Mr. Hornblow's splendid achievements with "The Lion and the Mouse," and
"The End of the Game," must be fresh in the memory of all who follow
current literature.

_12mo, Cloth Bound. Illustrations by Charles Grunwald. $1.50_

G. W. DILLINGHAM CO., Publishers, NEW YORK



WHAT THE REVIEWERS SAID

About the Novel

THE LION AND THE MOUSE

Novelized from Charles Klein's great play

By ARTHUR HORNBLOW

       *       *       *       *       *

New York TRIBUNE

    "Mr. Hornblow has done his work with creditable aptitude. He is
    successful where success is most important--in keeping up the
    reader's suspense, in working effectively toward the climax. The
    book will interest those who have seen the play, and will doubtless
    send others to the theatre."

New York TIMES

    "Mr. Hornblow has made his novelization of an enormously successful
    play in a workmanlike manner. The story, like the play, belongs to
    this very minute. It is full of a spirit and a feeling that are in
    the air. It deals with subjects which much iteration has strongly
    impressed on the people, and its point of view is the most obvious.
    The novel is likely to have an enormous sale."

New York AMERICAN

    "Undoubtedly the book of the hour. Both the novel and the play
    appeal to the widest possible American public. The novelist gives
    more of the interesting story and has enhanced the virility and the
    element of suspense materially. The reader's interest will never
    lag a moment from cover to cover."

Cleveland NEWS

    "'The Lion and the Mouse,' as a novel, more than maintains the
    reputation of its author as a clean-cut exposition of throbbing
    American life by a real novelist. Mr. Hornblow knows his subject
    and has succeeded in welding his own characteristic and
    illuminating expression to the idea of another man in such a manner
    that the novel must take its place beside the play as a welcome
    addition to American art."

Washington POST

    "Will become the most talked-of book of the year.... As exciting
    and fascinating a narrative as has appeared in novel form in
    years."

New Orleans HARLEQUIN

    "Mr. Hornblow's book is written in distinguished English; its
    chapters are chiselled to exact proportions; its story is clear and
    limpid; particularly are its characters cleverly vivid, and with
    few exceptions tell themselves in the dialogue more plainly than
    they could with ever so much extrinsic aid of psychic and physical
    description. The American nation is indebted to him. He has clothed
    with the vibrant palpitating flesh of life-interest the greatest
    economic problem and evil of the day. It is a book to make the
    multitude think."





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