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´╗┐Title: In the Hands of the Malays, and Other Stories
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In the Hands of the Malays, and Other Stories" ***

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                    In the Hands of the Malays

                        And Other Stories

                         BY G. A. HENTY

    Author of "The Cat of Bubastes" "With Kitchener in the Soudan" "Beric
    the Briton" "For Name and Fame" &c.


    _Printed in Great Britain by
    Blackie & Son, Limited, Glasgow_

    50 Old Bailey, LONDON
    17 Stanhope Street, GLASGOW

    Warwick House, Fort Street, BOMBAY

    1118 Bay Street, TORONTO

[Illustration: MAROONED]



       IN THE HANDS OF THE MALAYS                          7

       ON THE TRACK--

           CHAPTER I.--A SAD CHRISTMAS                    55

              "    II.--TRUE FRIENDS                      71

              "    III.--MAKING A START                   89

              "    IV.--A CLUE                           102

              "    V.--THE FOG CLEARS                    117

              "    VI.--CONCLUSION                       132

       A FRONTIER GIRL                                   149


On the 1st of May, 1669, a man was standing at the edge of the shore of
a rocky island, one of a group of a dozen or so similar in character,
lying off the south-western portion of Sumatra. It would have been
difficult to fix his nationality. The outline of the face was Arab; the
colour of the skin showed that though one or other of his parents had
been white, the other had been either Arab or Malay. He stood looking
after a Dutch vessel, carrying guns, like all those engaged at that time
in the Eastern trade. His hands were clenched, and he was regarding the
ship with an expression of malignant hate.

Close by where he stood, a roughly-made grave piled with rocks, with a
wooden cross standing at its head, showed that a Christian had been
buried there. Any seaman of the time who had seen the man would have
rightly concluded that he had been marooned for some crime committed on
board the ship that was sailing away, and their judgment would have
been a correct one.

The _Dordrecht_, a Dutch merchantman carrying sixteen guns, was
chartered by a dozen rich citizens of Holland, who had sailed in her,
determined to take up land, to settle, and to cultivate the plants that
grew in the island of Java on a large scale. Some were traders, others
had been tempted by the tales of the wealth of the island, where the
Dutch had, fifty years before, acquired a settlement by conquest. The
ship had touched at the Cape to take in a fresh supply of water and fill
up with provisions. They had lost their cook overboard in a storm, and
thought themselves fortunate in engaging in his place a man who had
served with the governor there, and who was recommended as thoroughly
understanding his work, whose only drawback was that he possessed a
passionate and revengeful disposition, which had led to his dismissal
from his office. This, in a vessel carrying a strong crew and some fifty
soldiers, was not considered of any importance, and the man speedily
justified his recommendation in other respects.

"I don't like the fellow," the lieutenant in command of the troops said
to his subaltern one day, when they were a month out from the Cape. "I
grant you that he is a good cook, but if I offended him I should not
care to touch any food he handled. The fellow is capable of poisoning a
whole crew to get his revenge on one of them."

The other laughed. "I grant he has an evil face, Van Houten, but I think
that you are a little prejudiced. I own, though, that I felt inclined to
knock him down myself this afternoon, when he stood at the door of the
galley staring at Fraulein Meyers through his half-closed eyes. He put
me in mind of a cat watching a mouse."

"Yes, I have noticed it myself several times," the other said hotly. "It
is hardly a thing one can take up. The fellow might declare that it was
not her that he was looking at, but that he was merely meditating; and
to tell you the truth, although I am no coward, I would rather not make
a mortal enemy of that man. I have no fancy for being stabbed to the
heart while I am asleep. If he said or did anything insolent it would be
another matter. I would have him ironed and sent down below, and kept
there till we got to Batavia."

The other laughed again. "You would get into hot water with all the
passengers, Van Houten; the fellow cooks so well that they are always
singing his praises."

"Yes, there has been a great improvement in the diet since we left the
Cape; but still, even at the risk of displeasing the worshipful
passengers, I would put the fellow in irons did he give me the shadow of
an excuse. I should not be surprised if he did so, for of late I have
observed a malignant look on his face as his eyes fell upon me. It is
absurd to suppose that the hound feels any ill-will towards me because I
am a good deal with Fraulein Meyers. The assumption is too monstrous,
but I really don't see any other reason for him to dislike me. I have
never spoken to him since he came on board."

"Perhaps the matter will be taken out of your hands altogether," the
other said. "I heard the mate having a row with him this morning, and
certainly he is not likely to put up with any nonsense; and he is strong
enough to pick the Arab, or whatever he is, up with one hand and throw
him overboard."

"I am not quite so sure about that, Erasmus. He looks small beside the
mate, I acknowledge, but I should say that what there is of him is all
sinew and muscle, and it would be like a fight between a panther and a

A week later the passengers were down at dinner. They were in high
spirits, for the hills of Sumatra were dimly visible on the port side,
and another two or three days' sail would take them to Batavia. Suddenly
a shout was heard, and then a sudden uproar. The captain and Van Houten
ran up. On the deck lay the mate stabbed to the heart, while the cook,
with a knife in his hand, was struggling in the grasp of half a dozen

"How did this happen?" the captain asked as he came up to the group.

"I don't know how it began," one of the crew said, "but the cook was
standing at the door of his galley, the mate said something to him, and
the cook burst into a volley of curses. The mate knocked him down, but
he was up in a moment. With his knife in his hand he flung himself upon
the mate, and the latter fell, as you see. Two or three of us who were
close by threw ourselves on the cook, but it was hard work to hold him,
for he fought like a wild cat, and he had slashed some of us before we
could get hold of his wrists."

"Drop that knife!" the captain said sternly; but the man was half-mad
with passion and continued to struggle desperately. Van Houten caught up
a belaying pin from its place and struck him heavily on his fingers. The
knife dropped to the deck, and one of the soldiers snatched it up. The
man instantly ceased struggling and stood impassive, although his breast
still heaved with his exertion; then he said in a quiet voice to the
young officer: "That is another I owe you, Van Houten, but I will get
even with you one day."

"Your threat is an idle one," the captain said. "At sunset you shall
swing from the yard-arm. Tie him up tightly, men, and fasten him to the
mast. Carry the mate's body forward, and throw a flag over it. We will
bury him after we have done with this fellow."

Going below, the captain briefly stated what had occurred.

"But you will not hang him, captain, will you?" one of the lady
passengers said. "It is awful that the mate should have been killed, but
you see he gave the most terrible provocation. It would be a sad ending
to our voyage if a man were hanged on board. Could you not hand him over
to the authorities when we get to Batavia?"

"No, madam. I certainly might do so, but the chances are that the fellow
would make his escape long before his trial was concluded. I know that
he speaks Malay, and he would find some means to get some natives
outside to help him, and I do not care to run the risk of the fate that
has befallen the mate. I should hardly think that Van Houten would care
about it either. I fancy that he would be the first victim, by the look
that the fellow gave him."

An hour later the captain went up to Van Houten.

"The women have been begging me not to hang that fellow. As it is
evident that I shall gain much ill-will if I do, for he has well
satisfied them, and as I have no mind to risk my life and yours if he
should get free at Batavia, I have a good mind to land him on one of the
islets ahead. I might heave the ship to for an hour, land the poor mate
and bury him, and leave the scoundrel there. It will amount to the same
thing in the end, for as the rocks are thirty miles from the coast there
would be no chance of his getting off, for it would be very improbable
that any native craft will come along this way: they always keep close
inshore. That way one would avoid a scene with the women; and I own that
there is something in what they say. The deed was done in a moment of
passion, and under great provocation, for Werter was a strong fighter
and a hasty man, and a blow from his fist was no joke."

"Just as you think fit, captain. It will give him time to think over
his misdeeds, which no doubt are pretty numerous, for I dare say his
career has been a black one. It certainly has, if his face does not
belie him greatly. Still, I would much prefer to see him hung."

Accordingly an hour later the vessel was hove to. The remains of the
mate, covered with a flag, were placed in a boat; the cook, still bound,
was made to descend into it; and the second mate and eight well-armed
sailors, with picks and shovels, took their places in it. The ship's
carpenter had made a rough cross, which he handed to the second mate.
When they reached the shore, two men were left there with the cook; the
others dug a shallow grave, laid the body in it, refilled it, and heaped
great stones upon it, and then stuck the cross in the sands at its head.
The Arab was brought ashore, and the ropes that bound him were
unfastened. The crew and second mate took their places in the boat and
rowed off to the ship, which was put on her way again as soon as they
reached it. As far as they could make out the figure of the man on
shore, he was standing where they had left him, gazing at the ship. On
the following day there was a heavy gale offshore, and the ship was
blown some little distance out of her course.

In two days, however, the wind fell, and the _Dordrecht_ arrived five
days later at Batavia. The passengers landed at once, and the captain
went ashore on the following day with his log-book. "Is there any
special item to which you wish to call my attention?" the official

"This is the only one, sir." And he pointed to the last page. "Cook
stabbed the mate."

"And you marooned him on one of the rocky islands off the coast of
Sumatra. Why did you not hang him?"

"Well, sir, we had a good many lady passengers on board, and they all
rather took the man's part, on the ground that the mate had knocked him
down, and that he stabbed him in the heat of passion; but really I think
it was because they had been highly satisfied with his cooking during
the voyage."

"What nationality was the man?"

"A mixture. He spoke Dutch perfectly well, but his features were Arab
rather than European."

The official did not speak for nearly a minute. "What height was he?"

"About the average height," the captain said with some surprise in his
tone; "broader than Arabs generally are, but lithe and sinewy. I used
to think there must be some Malay blood in him."

The official got up and took down a book from a shelf. "How long had he
been at the Cape before you hired him, do you know?" he asked as he
turned over the leaves.

"I did not question him. He said that he had been six months cook at the
governor's house, and that was good enough for me."

"Had he any particular mark on his face?" the official asked, as he
found the entry for which he was in search.

"He had a scar on one cheek," the captain said, "a white line, as if it
had been a clean cut with a knife."

"That is the man, then. Your first description at once struck me. I will
read to you what is written here. 'Middle height; age about thirty-five;
clean shaven; very strong and active figure. Nationality uncertain,
believed to be Arab on the father's side by Dutch or Portuguese woman,
probably some Malay blood. Long thin scar across one cheek.'"

"That is the man to a T."

"Well, captain, you have missed five hundred pounds and the great credit
you would have gained if you had brought in that man dead or alive. He
was the boldest and most savage of the pirates who infest these seas,
and is feared by the native traders as much as by the Dutch merchants
who trade with the East. He never spared a man, white or brown, that
fell into his hands. Sometimes he would sail alone, sometimes with a
score of native craft. With these he would land on one of the islands or
on the mainland, burn, plunder, and murder, and carry off into slavery
the young men and women. The last we heard of him was two years ago. A
boat was picked up with two men still alive in her; they were the sole
survivors of one of our vessels that had been captured by him. He had
transferred the greater part of his own crew to her. Every soul on board
our ship had been murdered, with the exception of these two men, who
managed to conceal themselves among the cargo, and had, while the
pirates were carousing, dropped into a boat that lay alongside, and
escaped. In the morning they could see their own ship bearing west while
the original pirate was making for the north-east.

"From that day nothing was heard of the Arab. It was supposed that he
had intended to cruise near the Cape. There his appearance would enable
him unsuspected to approach ships. Six months later, however, a ship
arriving here brought news that the _Heldin_, which was the name of the
vessel that they had taken, had been lost with all hands some forty
miles from the Cape. The natives had brought down a story of a wreck
having occurred near their village, and a craft was despatched to the
spot, and found the shore strewn with timber. Among the wreckage was the
stern of a boat bearing the _Heldin's_ name, and an empty keg also
stamped with it. That seemed to settle the question, and the wreck had
taken place just about the time that the pirate would, had she held on
the course on which she was last seen, have arrived off the Cape. There
is not much doubt now that the "Sea Tiger", for so he was always called,
managed to reach the shore and make his way to the town, and when he
found that he was the sole survivor, and no suspicion existed that the
ship had changed hands before she was wrecked, found some sort of
employment until, by means no doubt of forged testimonials, he obtained
a position in the household of the governor. I must at once inform the
council, who are now sitting, of what has taken place."

An hour later a government craft, with twenty soldiers on board, sailed
from Batavia, taking with it the second mate of the _Dordrecht_ to point
out to them the island upon which the pirate had been landed and the
spot where they had set him on shore. She returned a week later. No
traces of the man they sought had been found; but on the shore was a
deep mark, evidently caused by a native boat having been pulled up there
during the storm. The sand around was greatly trampled, there were chips
of wood as if some repairs had been done; and there was little doubt
that after the storm had abated and the craft been sufficiently
repaired, the whole party had sailed away. The news that the famous
pirate known as the "Sea Tiger" had escaped and was again at large,
caused great consternation among the merchant community of Batavia.

The captain of the _Dordrecht_ was severely censured by the authorities,
and was so overwhelmed with reproaches by the merchants that he was glad
indeed when he had discharged his cargo and taken in another, and left
the island behind him. The female passengers, whose intercession had
saved the pirate's life, came in for some share of the unpopularity of
the captain, and were made to regret bitterly the part they had taken in
the affair. Three months later reports were brought by natives of the
doings of a piratical fleet, who had taken and sunk numbers of native
craft, had landed at various points on the coast of Sumatra, and
destroyed Dutch factories. The natives who had escaped from these
massacres all agreed in stating that the leader of this fleet was the
dreaded "Sea Tiger" of whom nothing had been heard for so long. Then
three Dutch ships which were due did not arrive, and one which came in
reported that they had seen a glow of light in mid-ocean. It could have
been caused only by a ship on fire very many miles away.

The ship had been headed in this direction, but the wind was contrary
and the light had disappeared suddenly. They, however, kept on their
course, and although the next morning they came upon some wreckage of
charred timber, and had cruised for some hours in the neighbourhood,
they had seen no signs of boats. Then rapidly came in the news that
descents had been made upon various points on the mainland, and one
morning a horseman rode in, saying that a landing had been effected at a
point about thirty miles from Batavia. Plantations had been destroyed,
all the white colonists killed, and able-bodied natives carried off as
slaves. There was only one vessel of war at Batavia, but the governor
and council took up two merchantmen that happened to be there, and put
on board of each fifty soldiers, together with a strong crew to work
the guns. Lieutenant Van Houten was in command of the soldiers on one of
these vessels. His engagement to Fraulein Meyers had now been announced.
Her father was settled on a plantation that he had purchased from a
colonist whose health had suffered from the climate, and who was now
returning home. It was twelve miles to the east of the town, and
situated near the sea-shore.

He had been appointed to the command at his own request. He had more
than shared in the general consternation at the pirate's escape. He was
not one, however, to blame the captain. Certainly the Arab had acted
under great provocation, and he knew that had he been in the captain's
place he would have yielded to the solicitations of the ladies,
especially as it seemed that the death of the culprit was as certain as,
if slower than, that by the rope. He himself would vastly have preferred
to have seen the man hung. He recognized how dangerous an enemy he was;
and as soon as he heard of his escape he became anxious about the safety
of his betrothed, remembering as he did the evident admiration that this
scoundrel had felt for her. He had even begged her father to move into
the town until the depredations of the pirates had been arrested. But
Mr. Meyers had scoffed at the idea. "It is just the time for nutmeg
picking. It is quite absurd. There is no other plantation within three
miles, and even if they came along here, it would not pay them to land
for the plunder of a solitary house."

His daughter was very tearful when she heard that her lover was going
out in search of the pirate. "There is no occasion for you to go," she
said. "Why should you have volunteered for such dangerous service?"

"Because I have a particular wish to capture or kill this pirate. I have
no doubt that he has a strong enmity against all connected with the
_Dordrecht_, and I shall never feel comfortable so long as he roves the
sea. Even putting our own case aside, see the frightful destruction that
he is causing. He is depopulating islands, massacring peaceable natives,
capturing ships, and murdering all on board. There is not an officer
here but is burning to take part in his capture. Besides, I feel he has
a particular animosity against me. How it arises does not matter. I know
that he has that feeling, and so long as he is abroad and powerful my
life is not safe, even in the streets of Batavia."

After this, his betrothed had no further objection to his going. It was
known that the pirate's rendezvous was on the east coast of Sumatra,
where he had made an alliance with a tribe at war with its neighbours,
and had aided in conquering the latter; and it was in that direction
that the three ships steered their course, hoping to encounter the
pirates as they came down the Straits of Malacca on one of their
expeditions. They cruised backwards and forwards for a week without
seeing a sail, save a few native boats creeping along close to the
shore. One morning, however, the look-out at the mast-head saw a number
of sail in the distance. Among them were two vessels much larger than
the others. These were doubtless the Dutch ships that had been captured;
the others were native craft, most of them rowing, as could be seen as
the sun flashed on their oars. Preparations were at once made for
battle, for there was no change in the direction of the pirate flotilla
after it was certain that they must have seen the Dutch fleet.

"It almost looks", Van Houten said to Erasmus, his young subaltern, who
was again with him, "as if they had received information as to our
starting in pursuit of them, otherwise there would surely have been some
hesitation when they first saw us, some consultation whether they should
attack us or not. Unless I am greatly mistaken one of the ships is the
_Dordrecht_. She was only three weeks at Batavia. The fellow must have
lost no time in getting allies among the native princes in order to
waylay her when she came out again. She would be the first object of his

"She certainly looks like her," the other agreed. "Well, if so, there is
one more debt to be paid off. The captain was a good old fellow, and I
liked the second mate very much. I hope both of them fell before the
vessel was seized, for we may be sure that they would not have had an
easy death if they were captured. It will be a tough fight, for I have
no doubt that the boats are crammed with men. There is one thing which I
do not expect they have--many guns, except in the two ships; but
counting only fifty men a boat--and no doubt many of them carry a
hundred--we shall be tremendously outnumbered if they get alongside."

"Yes. It is a little unfortunate that there is not more wind; then we
might keep away from their boats, and pepper them hotly. As it is, they
can move three feet to our one."

As soon as the pirates were within range, the three Dutch vessels opened
fire. They were unanswered for a short time, for the two pirate ships
had been outstripped by the prahs. But several of the latter now took
them in tow, and presently they began to return the fire with their
bow-guns. Although several of the prahs were sunk, and some so badly
damaged that they had to drop behind, the others pressed on.

At a signal from the commander of the ship of war his consorts now
brought their heads round so that they lay nearly in a line, with their
broadsides to the pirates.

With loud shouts, beating of drums, and the blowing of horns, the prahs
came along at racing speed. Instead of using round-shot, the guns were
now crammed to the muzzle with bags of bullets, and these did terrible
execution. But the Malays did not relax their efforts, and presently
dashed alongside of the Dutch ships. Soon a desperate fight took place.
The soldiers kept up an incessant musketry-fire as fast as they could
load; the sailors cut down those who attempted to board; and the Malays
threw showers of spears, stink-pots, and missiles of all kinds.

For half an hour the fight continued, and the result was still in doubt,
when there was a crash, and the decks were swept by a storm of bullets.
Scarce noticed while the struggle was going on, the two pirate ships had
come up, passed ahead of the Dutch vessels, and had sailed close up on
the opposite side to that on which the fight with the prahs was taking
place. The pirates had shifted all their guns so as to bear on the Dutch
vessels. Each mounted sixteen cannon, and these poured in their contents
simultaneously. The effect was terrible! More than half the defenders
were swept away, and a minute later the pirate ships were alongside; and
as the Dutch turned to repel the storm of figures leaping on to their
decks, the men in the canoes crowded up on the other side. The Dutch
soldiers and sailors fought with desperation. They knew there was no
quarter, and held out to the last. But in five minutes the ship of war
and the one next to her had been captured, and the last of the defenders

The ship that carried Van Houten was at the end of the line, and had up
to now been only attacked by the natives. A few of the sailors were
withdrawn from their work of the defence of the bulwarks, and were
ordered to haul on the sheets so that the sails might catch what wind
there was. If she could escape from the attack of the two ships, she
might yet beat off the natives. But it was too late; the pirates threw
off the grapnels that attached them to the ships they had captured, and
again some of the canoes took them in tow. Several of these were sunk,
but the way given was sufficient, and the leading vessel ranged
alongside the merchantman.

The exultant shouts of the Malays rose high in the air as the men from
the pirate ship and prahs swarmed on deck. The Dutch soldiers held
together and fought steadily, but their numbers lessened fast as the
spears of the Malays flew among them. Few of them had time to reload
their muskets and fire a second shot. Erasmus fell by Van Houten's side
when the latter had but a dozen men left around him. The leader of the
pirates, whom he now recognized, shouted: "Do not touch that white
officer! Make him prisoner--I want him!"

A moment later there was a general rush of the Malays. Three of them
sprang upon Van Houten and dragged him to the ground, and soon a yell of
triumph told that the last of the defenders had fallen. Van Houten was
now allowed to rise to his feet, his arms still clasped by his
assailants. "Why don't you kill me, you scoundrel, the same as the
others?" he said to the pirate.

"You will be killed soon enough," the Arab said; "but I want to keep you
for a while just to have the pleasure of showing you that girl in my
hands. I was not good enough to look at her, you thought. Good or not,
she shall be mine! I settled on that the first moment that I saw her.
Bind him tightly and take him below. Be sure that his cords are tight.
No!--tie him to the mast; we shall have the pleasure of looking at him
and talking to him sometimes."

Then he gave a number of orders. Prize crews were told off to the three
captured vessels; the remaining prahs took the five ships in tow, and in
a body they moved away. Six hours' rowing brought them to a narrow
inlet. Here was a native village. Two of the men were placed as guards
over Van Houten, and the work of emptying the ships of their valuables
then began and continued until late at night, everything being taken
ashore by the boats. Three days passed in feasting and rejoicing. The
prisoner's arms were unbound, so that he could eat the food given him at
regular intervals. His guards were changed every two hours, and the
pirate came round each day to taunt his captive. Even had the guards
been removed, the latter could not have freed himself, for the ropes
round his legs and chest were all tied round the other side of the
mast, and he could not therefore possibly get at the knots.

On the third evening Van Houten saw that one at least of the two men who
came on guard was the worse for liquor. He grumbled loudly at being
brought off from the pleasures on shore to look after this white

"However," he said, "I have brought off my gourd."

"You had better be careful," the other said. "If the captain came off
and found you drunk, he would shoot you like a dog."

"Bah! He went into his hut half an hour ago, and he won't be out again
to-night. Besides, I am not going to get drunk; I am just comfortable,
that is all."

Nevertheless, the warning had its effect, and the man only took small
sips from his gourd. Van Houten let his chin drop on his breast as if
asleep, and presently the man, as he passed in front of him, lurched
against him. In a moment Van Houten snatched one of the knives from his
girdle and hid it beneath his coat. The other guard was standing a few
paces away watching the shore, and the action was unnoticed. Feeling for
the first time since he had been captured that there was some hope, the
young soldier now went off to sleep, a thing he had not been able to do
before owing to the tightness of his bonds. When he woke, the sun was
just rising, and his guard had been twice changed. The day passed as
before, but that evening the boats pushed off to their various ships.

Early the next morning these were towed out of the inlet. The boats that
were not to accompany them returned to the village. Slowly and clumsily
the sails were hoisted, and the five vessels, each crowded with Malays,
set sail. Van Houten had been carried the evening before to the warship
of which the pirate captain had taken the command. He was, as before,
tied to the mast, but was fastened in a sitting position on the deck
instead of a standing one.

"I do not wish you to die yet," the man said, giving him a kick. "I
don't want you to be so sleepy that you will be stupid. I want you to be
able to take it all in."

The change was an intense relief. For five days he had been kept
standing; at times his legs refused to bear his weight, and he had been
supported entirely by the ropes round his body. He dropped almost
instantaneously asleep when the pirate left him, and the sun was high
next day before he awoke. For a time his neck was so stiff from the
position he had slept in that he almost cried out from the pain as he
lifted it. He had been dreaming that he was in the dungeon of the
Spanish Inquisition, and that he was being tortured, and for a moment he
could scarce understand where he was, for the pain of the tightly bound
ropes seemed to be part of his dream.

Four days passed. He was no longer strictly guarded, for escape in
mid-ocean was impossible; nevertheless, the knots of his ropes were
examined two or three times a day, as had been the case all along. He
was liberated from his bonds for five minutes four times a day, four of
the Malays keeping close to him to prevent him from jumping overboard.
Early one afternoon the western extremity of Sumatra was made out, and
after the fleet had passed through the narrow straits between that
island and the island of Banca, they headed south, keeping close
inshore, towards the Straits of Sunda. As Van Houten, when he had taken
his last walk before it became dark, saw the ships' heads were pointed
south, he thought that from the course they were taking they would
strike the island of Java early next morning some thirty miles to the
west of Batavia.

"I have no doubt you are thinking," the pirate said to him coldly, "that
the people on shore will see us in the morning and take the alarm. There
is no fear of that. Before it is light, the two ships I had before will
make their way to sea again. We shall have the Dutch flag flying, and
shall sail along two miles or so from the coast. Of course we shall be
recognized as we pass Batavia, and the authorities will suppose that
their fleet has not come upon the vessels they were in search of, and,
having obtained news that they were likely to attempt a landing on the
island farther to the east, are now coasting along in hopes of falling
in with them.

"A bold plan, is it not? By evening we shall be back again off the
Meyers's plantation, and by nightfall I shall have my beauty on board.
We shall have been already joined by our consorts, and shall sail
together to Batavia. The artillerymen in the fort will think we have
made a capture during the night, and we shall get in without a shot
being fired at us. At the same time the party that have landed will
attack the place on the land side. Then we will sack and burn the town,
attack the forts from the land side, where they are weak, kill the
artillerymen, and carry off such guns as we choose. After that, we
shall have a wedding, which you shall witness. If we cannot get a
minister to perform it, we will manage to do without one. She shall then
be taken on board my ship while I superintend your roasting on a
bonfire. That is my programme, what do you think of it?"

Van Houten had stared stolidly astern while the pirate was speaking. The
latter, apparently not expecting any answer to his question, with a
mocking laugh turned away. As soon as it had become quite dark a boat
had been lowered, and the pirate had gone on board the other vessels to
give his orders. The prisoner listened eagerly for his return. If the
boat were pulled up it seemed to him that the last chance of escape was
gone, for, cramped as he was by his long confinement, he felt sure he
would not be able to swim ashore. He almost held his breath as he heard
it returning to the ship's side. There were no such appliances as now
exist for raising boats, and to get one of the clumsy and heavy boats on
deck was a work of no small labour.

The pirate sprung on deck and gave an order to the men in the boat. As
the prisoner did not understand Malay he was ignorant of its purport;
but when the four men who had been rowing her came on deck, and one of
them, holding the boat's painter in his hand, walked astern with it, he
felt sure that she was to be allowed to tow there, at any rate till
morning. After the ships had been put on their course, parallel with the
shore, there was soon silence on board. There was no moon, but the stars
were bright, and the vessels moved along with a gentle breeze, about
three knots an hour. That evening the guard of two men had again been
posted over the prisoner, for, certain as the captain felt that escape
was impossible, he thought it would be as well to neglect no precaution
now that land was near. The Malays themselves seemed to consider that a
guard was altogether unnecessary, and, after some talk between them, one
lay down between the guns, while the other took up his place by the mast
and leant against it, close to Van Houten.

The latter waited for half an hour until he felt that the other guard
was asleep, then, taking out his knife, he cut the cords. The slight
noise as these fell aroused the sentry on guard, half-asleep as he leant
against the mast, and he stooped down so as to assure himself that all
was right. Van Houten seized his throat with one hand, and with the
other drove his knife up to the hilt into him. There was no need to
repeat the blow. It had been driven through the heart. Noiselessly Van
Houten lowered him to the deck, then, moving a little on one side,
propped up the body against the mast in the attitude in which he himself
had been bound. After taking off his shoes he made his way astern. The
Malays were lying thickly between the guns on either side, but all were
sound asleep. Reaching the ladder up to the lofty poop he climbed it.

There were no Malays here except the man at the wheel, and he was so
intent on his work that he did not notice Van Houten as he crept past.
He found the boat's rope, which was tied to the rail, and lowered
himself till he was in the water. The boat was some ten yards astern,
and, severing the rope, he was soon alongside her. Keeping his hand on
the gunwale, he worked along it till he reached the stern; this he
grasped and hung on. The boat soon lost her way, and the ship receded
fast. He made no effort to climb into the boat until the latter had
quite disappeared from his sight, for had he, in climbing on board,
moved one of the oars in her, the rattle might have been heard by
someone sleeping lightly on the ship. Once assured that she was well
away, he cautiously raised himself and clambered over the stern, using
the utmost care in each movement so as to avoid touching anything
movable. He waited a quarter of an hour, then he crept forward; took off
his coat, cut off one of the sleeves, fastened this round one of the
heavy oars and put it out over the stern, so that the cloth was in the
groove made for the purpose of enabling one man to scull her when near
shore. This would prevent the slightest chance of the pirates hearing
him at work.

He found it terribly hard at first, so sore was his body from the
pressure of the ropes. Gradually, however, as he warmed to his work, he
became able to put out his strength, the stars being a sufficient guide
to enable him to make his way straight to shore. He had no fear of being
overtaken even if his escape were speedily discovered, for they would
not be able to tell how long a time had elapsed since he got away. He
thought it probable, however, that the escape would not be discovered
until morning. The other Malay would have slept till he was roused by
his comrade, and would not be likely to wake until day broke, when he
would discover the change that had been effected.

The heavy boat moved but slowly, and it was not until a good hour after
leaving the ship that he made out the shore. Fortunately the breeze
during the afternoon had been a good one, and so the pirates had passed
the Straits of Sunda at nine o'clock, and had then changed their course
to the east. What wind there was, was from the north, and so helped him,
and two hours after leaving the ship he reached the shore. He had fifty
miles to go to Batavia, but there would be plenty of time. It was
certain that the attack at the station could not take place till the
following night. He knew a plantation where a colonist with whom he was
acquainted lived, and this could not be more than two or three miles
away. His strength, weakened by suffering and mental torment, was
greatly diminished, and after walking for a mile he felt that it would
be better for him to rest till morning broke, when he would be able to
ascertain exactly where he was, and find his way to the plantation.

Accordingly he lay down, but would not permit himself to doze, as, worn
out as he was from want of rest, if he did so he might sleep far into
the day. He soon found that, lying down, it would be impossible for him
to keep awake, and accordingly sat down by a large rock in the position
to which he had become accustomed. The hours passed slowly, but he had
now no difficulty in keeping awake. He was filled with exultation at his
escape and at the prospect of turning the tables upon the pirate. As
soon as day broke he struck inland, for he knew that a road ran east and
west, by which the various products of the land were taken to the town.
In half an hour he came upon it, and after following it for a mile came
upon the plantation fence. Arriving at the gate, he entered and made his
way up to the house. There was already movement there. A group of native
labourers were receiving orders from an overseer, who looked in
astonishment at the appearance of an officer, haggard, and blistered by
the sun, and whose uniform was still wet, and one sleeve altogether

"This is the station of Meinheer de Koning, is it not?" Van Houten

"It is, sir; but he is not up yet."

"I am the bearer of important news and must see him at once. Will you
order one of the servants to arouse him, and tell him that Lieutenant
Van Houten desires to see him instantly on a matter of the most pressing

In five minutes the planter came down. Philip had met him several times
in Batavia. The latter gazed at him in surprise, failing at first to
recognize the figure before him as the smart young officer of his

"It is I, just escaped from one of the ships of the 'Sea Tiger', who,
with four vessels beside his own, is on his way to attack Batavia, and
unless I can arrive there in time to warn them, he will do terrible

"Which way were the ships going?" De Koning asked in consternation.

"They were going east. The five ships are crowded with Malays, and they
reckon upon destroying the town and overrunning the whole country. I beg
of you that you will at once lend me a good horse."

"You don't look fit to ride five miles much less fifty. I will have two
horses put into my vehicle and drive you myself. In the meantime, come
in and take a glass of wine and some bread. I will have a basket of
provisions put in the trap for you to eat as we go along."

In a quarter of an hour a light vehicle drawn by two horses drew up to
the door. Philip, who felt refreshed and strengthened by the wine, at
once clambered up. The planter took the reins, and they started.

On their way Philip told the story of the events he had gone through.

"And so the scoundrels captured the ship of war and her two consorts? No
wonder they think that, with five ships crowded, as you say, with men,
they can take Batavia."

The basket contained a good supply of provisions and fruit, and Philip
was able to make a hearty meal after the diet of bread and water on
which he had lived for the last ten days. The planter had lent him a
doublet, which he had put on in place of his uniform coat, and they
therefore attracted no attention when, after six hours' drive, they
arrived at Batavia and went straight to the governor's house. The
latter, on hearing Philip's story, summoned the members of the council
and the military commander. After some discussion the plan of action was
decided upon. All the troops in garrison were to march to Meyers's
plantation. They were to take with them six light guns. The crier went
round the town summoning all the inhabitants to gather in the

Here the governor told them the news that he had received, and then
explained the plan of operations. "The artillery are to remain here to
man the guns of the fort in case the pirates should change their plan,
and one company of soldiers is also to stay behind to oppose any
landing. In the first place, I beg that all having vehicles will place
them at our disposal--they will be used to carry the troops out to
Meyers's station. Then if the troops hear firing here, they will know
that the pirates have changed their plans, and will be brought back to
the town with all speed, so that in a little over an hour after the
first gun is fired they will be here ready to help in the defence. In
the next place, it is all-important for the safety of the island and the
town that a heavy blow shall be dealt these pirates. There are now four
merchant ships in the harbour and a number of native boats. I trust that
every man capable of bearing arms will volunteer to man them. I myself
shall remain here, but all the members of the council have decided to go
in the boats. I think it probable that by far the greater portion of the
Malays will land and attempt to capture Meyers's plantation, with the
intention of afterwards marching upon the town and attacking it on the
land side. If they do this their ships will naturally be but feebly
manned, and we have decided to adopt the suggestion made by Lieutenant
Van Houten, who has been in the hands of the pirates and has escaped
from them, that as soon as the fight begins on shore, and the attention
of the pirates on board is fixed on the struggle, they shall be attacked
on the other side by the flotilla of boats.

"This attack shall be chiefly directed against the ship of war, which, I
am sorry to say, they have captured. She carries heavier guns than the
others, and is a fast sailer. Therefore, when she is once taken, her
guns can be turned on the others, and I hope these will all be
recaptured. The officers and crew of the merchant ships here will aid in
the attack. They have as great an interest as we have in their
destruction, and will be able to work the guns. If we are successful, we
shall at one blow destroy the power of this terrible pirate, the
'Sea-Tiger', and render the sea open again to commerce. Captain Smidt,
one of your council, who is, as you know, a distinguished naval officer,
has volunteered to take the command of the expedition, and will lead the
boats to the attack.

"He will also arrange the crews of each boat. I beg that you will all
inscribe your names as ready to fight for your homes, families, and
possessions, all of which will be in grievous danger unless these
pirates are crushed. At seven o'clock this evening those who have
volunteered will assemble at the fort. The boats will be in readiness
with a number painted on each, so that when you are told off you will be
able each one to take his place without confusion in his allotted boat,
or in one or other of the ships. The pirates will make their landing
about eleven o'clock. The boats will row till within three miles of
them, then they will be taken in tow by the ships. The sounds of the
boats' oars would be heard for a long way on a still night. You will
probably get quite close to them before you are seen. The moment the
alarm is given, the tow-ropes must be thrown off. The ships will fire a
broadside into the man-of-war, and at once range alongside her, and the
boats will attack the other pirates."

The speech was received in silence, save that a hearty shout arose when
the governor called upon them to volunteer.

"Captain Smidt is already at the town-hall," he said. "Go there and
register your names, in order that he may know how many boats will be
required, and will be able to make his arrangements accordingly. A
cordon of troops has been placed round the town, and no one will be
allowed to leave without a permit. Some of the natives might, if they
knew the preparations that have been made, make off, and swim to the
pirate ships with the news."

As he ceased speaking, the little crowd moved off towards the town-hall.
Mounted men were at once despatched to all plantations within fifteen
miles, calling upon the planters to drive in instantly with their arms
for the defence of the town, which was menaced by an attack from

At four o'clock in the afternoon the three vessels that had left there
ten days before were seen sailing past the town. They should have been
sighted some hours earlier, but shortly after daybreak the wind had
fallen, and the calm had lasted till midday. All were flying the Dutch
flag, which they hauled down in salute to those flying on the fort, but
proceeded on their way without changing their course. Everything was
apparently quiet in the fort, and the salutes were duly returned. Boats
sufficient to carry the number of men available had by this time been
drawn up close to the shore, each bearing its number painted on her bow.

At half-past six the townspeople began to gather. All were armed with
muskets or rifles, pikes or swords, and quietly and without confusion
they took their allotted places, some on the boats, some on the two

The troops had marched an hour before, joined by between forty and fifty
men who came in from the plantations. Van Houten had gone with them.
They halted half a mile from the station. It was desirable that they
should not come up until the native labourers were all asleep. Van
Houten himself rode on, and it was nearly nine o'clock as he entered. He
was greeted by a cry of joy and surprise from the planter's daughter.

"Why, Philip!" she exclaimed. "How have you got here? We saw your three
vessels come along just as it became dark, an hour ago. I suppose you
must have landed as they passed Batavia. But what is the matter? you
look strangely ill. Have you been wounded in a fight with those

"You do look strange," her father added, "and you are not in uniform."

"Things have gone badly," he replied. "Our three vessels have all been
captured, and I am the sole survivor of the crews. I have been a
prisoner, and only escaped last night."

"Then what are the three ships we saw?" the planter said. "I could have
sworn to the man-of-war _Leyden_. I was not sure as to the other two

"They were full of pirates, meinheer, and have probably been joined by
two more ships by this time. They are going to land at about eleven
o'clock to burn this place down and carry your daughter off, and after
that they will storm and sack Batavia."

"Are you in earnest, Van Houten, or dreaming? If your news is true,
there is not a moment to be lost. We must have the horses and trap round
at once and drive inland or to Batavia. The town can successfully

"I should certainly advise Elise to retire at once to a station a mile
or two away. There will be a battle fought here. Two hundred soldiers
and forty or fifty planters, with six guns, halted a mile away. They
will be here in an hour's time, and will give the Malays a reception
that they do not dream of. As soon as the fight begins, their ships will
be attacked by two merchantmen and a flotilla of boats manned by every
available man in Batavia, with the exception of the governor himself and
a small garrison, who will remain in the fort to protect the town should
the pirates change their plans. Captain Smidt is in command of the
flotilla, Colonel Stern is with the troops."

"This is startling news indeed," the planter said after a moment's
silence. "You say they will not attack till eleven. I will have the
horses put in at once. I will take Elise to my neighbour Rogen, whose
house is three miles inland. I shall be back again in plenty of time to
take my part in the affair. Or, no--you shall drive her there, Van
Houten. I dare say that you would like to do so."

"Thank you, sir!"

"But can I not stay here?"

"No, dear," her father said decisively; "you might be hit by a chance
shot, and I don't want to be in a state of anxiety about you while I
have other things to do."

He rang the bell standing on the table. A servant entered. "In the first
place, go and tell Domingo to put the horses into the carriage at once
and to bring it round to the door, then bring in glasses and a bottle of
Rhine wine."

Ten minutes later Van Houten started with Elise, the native driving. On
the way he gave her a sketch of all that had happened since he went
away, and told her of the plans of the "Sea Tiger". The girl shuddered.

"From what a fate have you saved me!" she murmured; "but it would not
have been so, for I would have killed myself."

"I do not think that he would have given you much opportunity for doing
that. He said that he would take good care that no weapon should be put
in your way. However, thank God that his schemes have been thwarted by
his own folly in torturing me by telling me of his intentions! You need
have no fear of the results of this fight; taken wholly by surprise as
they will be, and bewildered by the attack on their ships, we are
certain to defeat them on land, and I trust that we shall capture all
their ships; and the lesson will be so terrible that it will be a long
time before any other is likely to follow the 'Sea Tiger's' example."

On arriving at the planter's house he found that he and his son had
ridden into Batavia at four o'clock in obedience to the governor's call.
His wife and daughter were glad to have Elise with them, and, leaving
her to tell the story, Philip drove back to her father's.

The column arrived three minutes after his return, and the colonel went
round the ground with Van Houten and the planter. The house stood some
three hundred yards from the shore, the ground slanting gradually down
from it; there were plantations on either side. Four of the guns were
placed under the broad verandah, with the five-and-twenty men who were
to work them. The rest were distributed among the shrubberies on either
side of the open space running down from the house towards the water,
where they would take the pirates, as they advanced, in flank. Van
Houten offered to take ten of the planters down to destroy the boats
when the Malays had left them.

Ten of the colonists volunteered for the service, and were provided from
the storehouse with axes for staving in the boards. They posted
themselves in a clump of bushes close to the shore. A quarter of an hour
passed, and then they heard five loud splashes and a confused noise, and
knew that the pirate's ships had anchored. Then came a creaking of
pulleys and grating sounds, and they knew that the boats had been
lowered. The lights in the house had all been extinguished, and perfect
silence reigned. Presently there was a sound of many oars and the beat
of paddles, and five minutes later ten large boats crowded with men
appeared, making for the shore, and in a few minutes the grating of the
keels was heard on the sand, and dark figures could be seen making their
way up the beach.

"There must be three hundred of them at least," Van Houten said to the
man who was standing next to him, "and I fancy that about the same
number remain on board. As far as I can make out, there are only one or
two men left on guard at each boat. We will creep up as quietly as we
can, directly the firing breaks out; each of you will pick off his
man--the noise will not be noticed in the row that will be going on up
above. Then let two go to each boat and stave in a couple of planks, and
then go along and do the same with the others, but see that it is done
thoroughly. Directly all the boats are damaged hurry back here and open
fire upon the pirates as they return. Traces have been fastened to the
guns, and the artillerymen will run them down towards the water's edge,
and the soldiers will advance and surround the scoundrels as they strive
to push the boats off; not one of them should be able to regain their

The pirates were led by a man whose white dress showed up clearly in the
darkness, and who Van Houten was sure was the "Sea Tiger" himself. They
advanced towards the house in an irregular line, the two flanks rather
in advance. No sound was heard among them. It was evident that they had
been ordered to preserve silence until the house was surrounded. They
went on and on until they could be no longer seen by the watchers.
Suddenly a voice shouted "Fire!"

Six guns loaded to the muzzle with bullets spoke out, and the musketry,
in a semicircle, flashed from the shrubbery. "Now is our time!" Van
Houten cried. The ten men went forward at a run. Within twenty yards of
the nearest boat they halted and poured in their fire, and more than
half the men standing together on the beach fell. Then they dashed
forward. Two minutes sufficed to do the work, and they ran back to the
bush from which they started. The din above was terrible. The Malays,
for a moment staggered by the terrible and unexpected fire, had run back
a few paces; but the voice of their leader encouraged them, and with
loud yells they again rushed forward.

The cannon were silent, for loading was a long operation in those days;
but by the colonel's orders only half the soldiers had taken part in the
first volley, and the others now poured in their fire.

The Malays pushed on recklessly, and were within twenty yards of the
house when they paused, as two broadsides were fired in quick succession
out at sea. The Dutch vessels had passed behind the pirates, and, having
delivered their first broadside, had tacked and laid themselves
alongside the ship of war, pouring in their other broadside as they did
so. At the same moment a musketry-fire opened from the whole of the
pirate ships, answered more loudly from the boats, for comparatively
few of the Malays carried firearms.

This unexpected attack did what the fear of death could not effect. With
a yell of alarm and rage they turned and ran down towards their boats.
Then the soldiers poured out from their concealment. Those by the guns
seized the traces and ran them down to a distance of fifty yards from
the shore, and poured their contents into the crowded mass. The Malays
leapt into their boats and pushed them off, but before they were fairly
afloat they were full of water to the gunwale. Most of them jumped over
and started to swim towards the ships; others leapt ashore, and, drawing
their krises, rushed at the troops and fell there, fighting fiercely to
the end. Then the guns were run down to the shore and poured showers of
grape among the swimmers. In the meantime firing had ceased on board the
ship of war and two of the pirates, and the cheers of their captors rose
loudly. On the others fighting was still going on, and the yells of the
Malays and the cheers of the Dutch could be plainly heard.

In one the fighting presently ceased, but in the other the Malays were
apparently successful. The sounds grew fainter, and the direction showed
that the Malays had beaten off their opponents, cut their cable, and
were under sail. Three minutes later there was a flash of guns, and
their light showed the warship also under sail, evidently in pursuit.
Answering guns came back, and these grew farther away. Of the Malays who
had landed, some twenty unwounded had alone been taken prisoners. These
were placed under a strong guard. The colonel hailed the ships to send a
boat ashore. It presently arrived, and they heard, as they supposed,
that four of the ships had been recaptured and that the _Leyden_ was in
pursuit of the other.

They also heard that only some twenty of the men of the naval expedition
had been killed, for so completely were the Malays taken by surprise
that their assailants had gained a footing on their decks comparatively
without opposition. Sails had been at once hoisted when the boat had
rowed ashore, and the vessels made for Batavia, where, at noon next day,
the _Leyden_ arrived with her prize. Not a man had fallen of the Dutch
force on shore, though a few had been wounded by the Malays, who,
finding their retreat cut off, had rushed at them.

Directly the fight was over, Philip drove over in the trap that had been
kept waiting on the other side of the house, and told Elise and the
Rogens that all was over, that the former's father and he were both
unhurt, and that the dreaded pirate had fallen, shot through the head,
within twenty yards of the house.

"Your father requests that you will stay here till morning, Elise," he
said, "then he will drive over and take you into Batavia, where he will
join you, and you will stay there until all signs of the fight have been

Batavia went wild with joy at the news of the capture of the whole of
the pirate fleet, and the destruction of the "Sea Tiger" and his
followers. No quarter had been given on board the vessels first
captured, and thirty Malays alone survived the fight of the vessel
brought in by the _Leyden_. All the prisoners were tried and shot three
days later. Van Houten was the hero of the occasion, and received
immediate promotion. All felt that, had he not warned them, the town
would almost certainly have been captured and every soul in it

A month later the whole of Batavia and the neighbourhood thronged to the
church to witness the marriage of Captain Van Houten and Elise Meyers.




Never had there been such a sensation since the day when Brownsville,
Ohio, was first founded, as that which was experienced on the 23rd of
December, 1879, at the news that Mr. Partridge, the cashier at the bank,
had absconded, and that a great number of valuable securities, and a
large sum of money, were missing. The first report indeed stated that
the bank would have to suspend payment; but the panic caused by this was
speedily allayed by the issue of a notice, signed by James Johnstone,
President, to the effect that the loss, although heavy, would in no
degree affect the stability of the bank, that the assets were equal to
all demands, and that the books had already been placed in the hands of
skilled accountants, who would before nightfall certify to the
stability of the bank.

This did not, however, prevent a run taking place; but as all demands
were promptly met, and as at six o'clock in the afternoon a satisfactory
assurance as to the state of the bank, signed by the two accountants,
was affixed to the doors, confidence was restored, and the people were
able to concentrate their attention upon the subject of the missing
cashier. A few said that they had always suspected that something was
wrong, but these were the people who are always wise after an event; the
majority admitted frankly that there was nothing in William Partridge's
antecedents or behaviour which would warrant a shadow of suspicion as to
his probity. He was not altogether a popular man, and was what the
people of Brownsville called high in his notions; that is to say, he did
not care about mixing much in general society, being intimate only with
a small circle of friends.

There was nothing indeed in Mr. Partridge's way of living which would
not have been warranted by the salary he was known to draw. He lived in
a pretty house just outside the town, and certainly spent more money
than his neighbours in keeping his garden bright with flowers but he
never entertained on a large scale. His dinners were choice but small,
he kept no equipage, and had no expensive tastes. His reputation indeed
was that of a somewhat retiring man with a higher degree of culture and
education than most of his neighbours, with quiet and refined manners
and studious tastes. All these things, however, would not have prevented
him from being seized with the demon "speculation". For many another
man, apparently as quiet and as refined, had ruined himself that way;
and the verdict of Brownsville was unanimous that he must have become
involved in some extensive speculations which had failed signally, and
to bolster himself up must have taken the bank funds and securities,
hoping to be able to replace them at the next turn of luck.

Everyone agreed that the greatest credit was due to the president, whose
vigilance and astuteness had detected the defalcations before they had
reached a point which would have proved ruinous to the bank, its
shareholders, and depositors. Mr. James Johnstone had always been a
popular personage in Brownsville, but he was never so popular as upon
this occasion. A deputation of shareholders and depositors waited upon
him to express their thanks for his vigilance and watchfulness; and
although Mr. Johnstone did not say much he led them to understand that
they had every reason to be grateful, for that things would very shortly
have been in a very bad way had it not been for his interposition.

The president was a tall man, and just sufficiently inclined to
stoutness to add to his appearance of respectability and solvency. He
was smoothly shaven, and wore gold eye-glasses, and looked a director
every inch. While his cashier never attended public gatherings on
scientific, political, or sordid subjects, the president was always a
prominent figure at them. He never, however, took a leading part on
either side, but appeared rather in the character of an arbitrator. His
speeches were always pleasing to both parties, throwing oil on the
troubled waters. He was a large subscriber to all the local charities,
and although he himself belonged to the Baptist persuasion he made no
distinction between the various creeds in the distribution of his alms.
Such being the case, when Brownsville once realized the fact that its
own savings were in no jeopardy, its sympathy with the banker for the
annoyance and trouble that this occurrence would cause him became very
great. The matter was discussed in all lights at every tea-table in
Brownsville, and even formed the principal topic of conversation among a
number of young people who were preparing a school-room for the
festivities which were to take place on the following evening.

"What is to be done about Roland Partridge?" Lilla Fairfax, a girl of
some sixteen years of age, asked during a pause in the buzz of

"Of course he won't have the bad taste to show his face here," Percy
Johnstone, the president's son, replied.

"I don't see that," Cissie White, a girl who had, however, taken no part
in the conversation, but had been sitting in a corner, undisturbed,
manufacturing wreaths, said warmly. "He is not to blame for the faults
of his father."

"Bravo, Cissie!" Percy Johnstone said in a sneering voice. "It is as
well that he should know what a valiant champion he has; but, you see,
we have scriptural authority for saying that children must suffer for
the faults of their fathers."

"It was not meant in that way," the girl retorted, "and I think it very
mean of you to talk so. I suppose you think because Roland Partridge is
to suffer for the fault of his father that you are a great man because
of the numerous virtues of yours."

There was a general laugh, for Percy Johnstone was known to give himself
airs to no inconsiderable extent on account of the social position of
the banker. He coloured hotly at the reply and the laughter that
followed it, but found no answer ready at hand.

"But really," Lilla Fairfax said, "we ought to decide what we are to do
about Roland Partridge. I don't see that there is any necessity for
quarrelling over it, but we have got to discuss it. It would not be
quite pleasant, you know, for him to be coming amongst us just as if
nothing had happened. You would not like it yourself, Cissie."

"I should not like what?" Cissie White asked shortly.

"Well, you would not like to go out sleighing with him, for example."

"I should certainly go out sleighing with him if he asked me," Cissie
answered quietly. "Indeed he did ask me two days ago, and I said yes,
and if he comes to fetch me I shall certainly go now."

"He is not likely to," Jane Simmonds, the eldest girl present, said.

"No, he is not likely to," Cissie agreed; "he has other things to think
about. I only say that if he does come I shall keep my engagement."

"Quite right, Cissie!" Tom Fernlea said heartily. "I like a friend who
is a friend, not a mere fair-weather bird. There is no better fellow
going than Roland. He may not be quite so brilliant as some fellows,"
and he glanced at Percy, "and he does not go out of his own way to make
himself popular; but I prefer good, straightforward, earnest fellows,
and I would almost back him against all Brownsville."

"There are a good many people," Percy Johnstone said coldly, "who would
perhaps have said as much two days ago for his father. Perhaps you may
change your opinion one of these days."

"I am not likely to change my opinion of you, at any rate," Tom replied
hotly, "and that is a pretty strong one, I can tell you. Everyone knows
that you never liked Roland, because he always beat you in class, and he
is a better baseball player, and a better skater, and a better fellow
all round than you are!"

"Oh dear, oh dear!" Lilla Fairfax exclaimed plaintively, "whatever are
you all quarrelling about? We have come here to make decorations for
to-morrow, and the demon of discord seems to have entered in. I vote,
girls, that the next person who quarrels, whoever he or she may be,
shall be unanimously expelled from this society."

There was a chorus of assent. Jane Simmonds dexterously changed the
conversation by asking whether the arrangements had quite been settled
for the programme of the following evening. It was easy, however, to
see, during the rest of the meeting, that less interest than usual was
taken in the various discussions, and that the thoughts of most of the
young people were otherwise occupied. Little whispered conferences went
on before they broke up; the opinions of most of those present were
ascertained, and were found to be pretty equally divided, as to the
advisability or otherwise of treating Roland Partridge just as if his
father had still been occupying the position of cashier at the bank.

While the conversation had been going on, the subject of it was pacing
up and down the sitting-room at home discussing the matter with his
mother. Roland had, a few days before, gone over to stay for a week with
an uncle who lived some twenty miles away, and had that morning received
a telegram from his mother begging him to return at once, and it was not
until he reached home in the evening that he heard the terrible news.

"But it is impossible, mother, absolutely impossible, that my father can
have done this thing!"

"That is what I say, Roland. Your father is the last man in the world to
do such a thing."

"He never speculated, as far as you know, mother?"

"No, Roland, I am quite sure that he didn't. He was quite contented with
his position. He wanted nothing more; and I have often heard him say
that no one connected with a bank had any right whatever to engage in
business outside it."

"But what did he say, mother? Surely he must have said something when he
left you last night?"

"He came in about half-past nine, Roland. He has been staying late at
the bank this week making up the books. He was as pale as death. His
lips were trembling, and he could hardly speak. When I begged him to
tell me what was the matter with him, he said, as nearly as I can
remember his words: 'A terrible thing has happened, and I must go away
at once. The bank has been robbed!'"

"'But what has that to do with you, William?' I asked. 'I am accused of
doing it,' he said. I almost laughed, it seemed so absurd. But he went
on: 'Appearances are terribly against me. It is all a mystery to me. But
if I stay I shall be arrested to-morrow morning, and surely condemned,
and I could not stand it. It would kill me. I must go. There is no other
way. I will write to you and tell you what to do when I can think it
over. But I can't think now.' He was in such a nervous state that it was
useless to speak to him; and, indeed, I was so stunned with the news
myself that I could think of nothing. I did say: 'It would be far better
for you to stay, William, and face it out. Your innocence is sure to be
proved.' But he only shook his head, and repeated, 'I must go.'

"So I hurried to get a few things together for him, and the moment that
I had done so he was off to catch the train. I don't think he was five
minutes in the house altogether, and it was not till he had gone that I
was able to think clearly what had happened."

"I am not blaming you, mother dear," Roland said tenderly. "But it is
most unfortunate that father should have acted as he did. You and I know
perfectly well that he is innocent, but his running away will, of
course, convince everyone else that he is guilty. It would have been a
thousand times better to have braved it out, however strong the
circumstances might be that point against him."

"So I think, of course, Roland. But you know what your father is, and
naturally I understand him even better than you do. You have only known
him since he was prosperous and respected here; but in the early days of
our marriage, when he was still a struggling young man, I learnt, I will
not say the faults, my son, but the weaknesses of his character. He is,
as you know, a man of strict, nay, of extreme, honour and integrity. But
he is sensitive almost to a fault. He has no self-assertion and very
little self-confidence. He is just the man, in fact, to bend before a
storm rather than brave it; and although I may greatly lament it, I am
not a bit surprised that, when suddenly confronted with such a terrible
accusation as this, and seeing, as he says, that circumstances are
altogether against him, he should abandon the field without a struggle
rather than face the storm of public obloquy and indignation."

Roland was silent. He knew how his father shrunk from anything like a
public turmoil, and how easily upset he was by trifles which another
would scarcely have noticed; and although he had never acknowledged as
much to himself, he had even when much younger been vaguely conscious
that his father was lacking in force of character. There was a
disinclination to find fault, a shrinking from unpleasantness, and an
avoidance even of argument; a desire that everything should go on with
clock-like regularity, and that nothing should disturb the even tenor of
life, which seemed to show a constitutional avoidance of effort or
struggle. Still, as Roland had, as his mother said, only seen his father
under circumstances of ease and comfort, he could not tell how far this
was an innate defect in his character until it now showed itself so

"You don't know where he has gone to, mother?" he said at length;
"because, if you have the slightest idea as to the locality, I will
start at once to try and find him, and to persuade him to return,
whatever the circumstances may be against him. It would be a thousand
times better to brave it out than, by running away, to make what cannot
but appear a tacit confession of guilt. And now, mother dear, what do
you intend to do?"

"That is what I was wanting to talk to you about, Roland. It seems to me
that the best thing to do will be to give up our house at once, and to
sell the furniture; and then, in the meantime, if I do not hear from
your father, to move right away to some place where we shall not be
known, and where I can earn a little money by my needle, and you perhaps
can obtain a situation of some sort."

"No, mother," Roland said decidedly. "I quite agree with you as to
giving up the house and selling the furniture, but go away we will not.
Father may have given up the battle in despair, but I shall stay and
fight it out. We know that he did not take this money--it is for me to
find out who did so. If we go away the matter can never be cleared up;
so long as we remain here there is a chance of our striking on some clue
or other."

"It will be dreadful," Mrs. Partridge began.

"It will be horribly painful," Roland agreed. "Awful to have to meet all
your old friends and know that they regard one as the son of a swindler.
But it has to be done, mother, for only so can we hope to prove that
father is an honest man. But I don't ask you to stay, mother. I am quite
sure that uncle will be glad for you to go and live with him at the
farm. He was saying only yesterday that it had been a dull life for him
since aunt had gone."

"No, my boy, I could not do that," Mrs. Partridge said. "I could not
leave you here to bear the burden alone."

"Don't think me unkind, mother, when I say I would rather that you
would. I think I could bear the changed faces of old friends so long as
the slights affect only myself, but I should suffer ten times more in
seeing you suffer. Therefore, mother, I do think that my plan is the
best. I hope that it will not be for very long; but till matters are
made clear it will be best for you to stay with uncle, and I could run
over from time to time to see you and tell you how I am getting on."

"At any rate, Roland, there is no occasion to decide for a few days. The
first thing to do is to get rid of the house and sell the furniture.
When that is done, we can talk matters over again."

The next morning Roland called upon their landlord and asked him if he
would take the house off their hands at once. This the landlord
willingly agreed to do, and was indeed well pleased with the
proposition. He had already been wondering how Mrs. Partridge intended
to manage. The lease had still two years to run, but he did not see how
she would be able to pay her rent. He had that morning received an
application from a gentleman who was willing to take the house if he
could obtain possession at once, and Roland's proposal to move out at
the end of a week exactly suited him. After settling this matter Roland
went to an auctioneer, and arranged that notice should at once be issued
of the immediate sale of the furniture. He returned home well pleased
with the success of his mission.

"As far as I am concerned, mother, I think things will be better than I
expected. I see there is a difference of opinion in Brownsville. I have
met several people we know well this morning. Some of them just gave me
a nod, as much as to say, we see you, but don't want to speak to you.
Others nodded, as if they would have liked to have stopped and chatted
with me, but were rather afraid to do so; while Tom Fernlea and two
other fellows came up and shook hands just as heartily as usual, and
asked when I came back from uncle's, what I had been doing, and so on,
as if nothing had happened. At any rate, mother, a thing like this gives
one an opportunity of finding out which of your friends are worth having
and which are not."

There was a certain indication of bitterness in his tone, and his mother
looked at him a little anxiously. "You will not get cynical, I hope,
Roland, my dear boy. You must remember that a vast number of people act
quite as much in accordance with what they think other people will do,
as with their own convictions. We are all apt to be guided by the
opinions of the world; and though it seems hard that the sins of parents
should in any degree be visited upon their children, we must remember
that children get the benefit the other way. If a boy or a girl's father
is a rich and popular man, they will be made more of than when not so
situated. Of course this is wrong, and everyone should be judged by
themselves, and no doubt that eventually is the case. Of course if one
whom we believed to be a true friend fell away at a time of trial, it
would be a proof that his friendship was not a true one; but we must not
be surprised if any mere acquaintances go with the stream, whatever its
direction may be."

"You are becoming quite a philosopher, little mother," Roland laughed.
"At any rate, as I said, things are better than I expected. Of course it
is no good doing anything for the next day or two;" and a shade passed
over Roland's face as he thought how widely his Christmas day would
differ from his anticipations of it; "but next week I will go round and
see if I can get something to do. I am not particular what it is, as
long as it enables me to stay at Brownsville."



Late in the afternoon Roland went out to get a few things that were
required. Suddenly he came on a group of half a dozen girls who had just
finished putting up the decorations in the school-room. The first couple
passed him with a bow, but Cissie White, who was walking next, stopped
with her companion and shook hands with him.

"How are you, Roland? We have missed you at decorations this afternoon."

"I was sorry not to be able to come, Cissie," Roland said, "and I am
sorry I shall not be able to keep my engagement to go sleighing on the

"I am very sorry too; I should have been so glad to have gone with you,
if you could have taken me, but I was afraid you would not be able to. I
want to tell you, Roland,"--and she hesitated. "I don't know whether
people talk about such things, but I am sure you won't mind. I want to
tell you how sorry we all are about the news we have heard, and to say I
hope it is not going to make any difference to you."

"I am afraid it must make a difference, Cissie," Roland answered; "but
thank you very much for what you have said, and I want to tell you that
whatever people may think, I and my mother know that my father did not
do this thing that they accuse him of, and some day I hope to prove his

"I am so glad to hear you say so, Roland; it did seem impossible, and
yet,"--and she hesitated.

"And yet everyone said so," he put in. "Unfortunately my father is a
very nervous and sensitive man, and the thought of such a charge made
him well-nigh beside himself, and he went away; but he is not guilty for
all that, and some day I will prove it. Will you please tell the
people--the people I know, I mean--not that my father is innocent, for
they might not believe it, but that his wife and son are absolutely sure
that he is so?"

"I will indeed, Roland, and I am very, very glad to hear what you say.
You may be sure that whatever other people say in future, I shall
believe it as you tell me. Good-bye now!" And again shaking hands
warmly, she hurried away after her companions, who were waiting for her
at the corner of the next block.

"What have you found to talk about, Cissie? I would have stopped and
spoken too, only I could not think what I should say."

"I told him that I was sorry to hear the news," Cissie said, "and that I
hoped it would not make any difference to him."

"Oh, Cissie, you don't mean to say you alluded to that! How could
you!"--a chorus from the others.

"Why not?" Cissie asked. "He knew that we must be thinking about it, and
why shouldn't I say it? and I am glad I did, for if I had not spoken
perhaps he would not have alluded to the matter, and he told me that
whatever other people might say, he and his mother were quite sure that
Mr. Partridge did not take the money."

There was an incredulous "Oh!" from her hearers, and Jane Simmonds
asked, "What did he run away for, then, if he wasn't guilty?"

"Because he is sensitive, and could not stay to face such an accusation.
Of course Roland did not say that he was foolish, but I could see that
he thought that it was an awful pity."

"I should think it was," Jane Simmonds replied sarcastically. "Of course
his wife and son say they think he is innocent, that is only natural;
but they won't get anyone to believe them."

"You are wrong for once, Jane," Cissie said quietly, "although I know
that it must appear to you to be quite impossible; but, as it happens, I
believe them entirely, and although I am a very insignificant person,
still I am somebody, and that, you see, upsets your sweeping assertion."

"Well, my dear," Jane Simmonds replied, "if you wish to retain your
reputation as a sensible girl I should advise you to keep your opinion
to yourself, unless indeed you wish to set up as knowing more than
anyone else in the town."

"I shall do nothing of the sort," Cissie replied. "Cassandra was looked
upon as an idiot, you know, but she turned out to be right. Brownsville
is welcome to entertain the same opinion about me, and I am content that
they should think so till I turn out to be right, as you will see will
be the case in the end; and now I must be off to tea."

The sale came off on the day arranged. No word had been received from
Mr. Partridge, but his wife had hardly expected that he would write so
soon; and as she knew he had some hundred dollars in his possession when
he went away, she was under no uneasiness respecting him. On the morning
of the sale she went to her brother's, Roland's plan having finally been
decided upon as the best. The day before the sale Mrs. Partridge
received a note from Mr. Johnstone saying that he should be glad to
obtain a position for her son in a mercantile house in New York; to
which Mrs. Partridge replied that she was greatly obliged and thankful
for the offer, but that Roland had quite made up his mind that for the
present he should remain in Brownsville, where he hoped to obtain some
sort of occupation.

The refusal was speedily known in Brownsville, Percy Johnstone spreading
the news everywhere; it excited surprise among some, displeasure among

"I think it was wonderfully good of my father," Percy told his friends,
"after the trouble and loss the fellow's father has caused, to offer to
put him into a situation. I should have thought that he would have been
only too glad to have got away from here, and I am sure his absence
would have been a relief to us all. I can't understand his motives."

Many others, even among those most favourably disposed towards Roland,
were inclined to agree with Percy. His continued presence in Brownsville
would be a source of embarrassment and trouble to those who had
previously been intimate with him, and it did seem strange that he
should prefer to live among people cognisant of his father's misdoings,
instead of taking the opportunity that offered of beginning life

Mr. Johnstone's conduct in interesting himself on his behalf was
considered kind in the extreme. Still more surprise was excited when, at
the meeting of the directors of the bank called a day or two after the
beginning of the new year, after explaining the amount of the loss to
the bank, he said, in reply to questions, that he had not as yet offered
any reward for the apprehension of the fugitive, and had not indeed
instructed the police to take any steps in the matter. Rumours to that
effect had already been current, for the police authorities, when
interviewed on the subject, had declared that they had no instructions
on the matter; but it was generally supposed that this was mere official
reticence intended to lull the fugitive into security, while they were
quietly working to arrest him. The announcement of Mr. Johnstone caused
quite a sensation among his colleagues.

"I must say, Mr. Johnstone," one said angrily, "that your course in this
matter appears to me to be most extraordinary. As you did not call us
together at once, we naturally supposed that you were taking all the
necessary steps, and that Partridge would, in a few days at latest, be
in the hands of the police; and now you meet us and tell us that you
have done nothing. You said, in fact, when we wanted to go into the
question on the morning after the discovery of the cashier's flight, and
one of us suggested that a hot pursuit should be at once set on foot,
that we could safely leave that matter in your hands, and that we had
best confine our attention to the investigation of the accounts."

Several others spoke to the same effect, and Mr. Johnstone then rose
with his usual placid and undisturbed aspect. "Gentlemen," he said, "in
the first place I have not called you together earlier because just at
this time of year every man is occupied more or less by family matters;
and as it did not seem to me that there was any extreme urgency in the
matter, I thought I would allow you to enjoy the holiday undisturbed.
Now, as to the main subject of your remarks, namely, that I have taken
no steps to secure the arrest of our late cashier. Well, gentlemen, I am
aware that in not doing so I have assumed a certain amount of
responsibility. Certainly, when I met you ten days since, I had intended
to set the police at work without delay. For the first twenty-four
hours, however, I was so occupied with the investigations into the
state of the books, and, I may say, with reassuring the minds of our
depositors and restoring confidence, that I had really no time to move
in the matter.

"Then, gentlemen, came Christmas, with Christmas thoughts, Christmas
sermons, and Christmas associations, and I said to myself, this man is
undoubtedly a thief and a defaulter. But how stands it? The man should
be punished; but, gentlemen, for the last fifteen years he has been our
friend. We have all been proud of him as a gentleman of singular
culture. Most of us have been intimate at his house and acquainted with
his wife, one of the most charming ladies in our section. In all these
years his conduct has been above reproach, and although he has had
passing through his hands the funds of the bank, he has up till now
accounted for them up to the last penny. There can be no doubt that the
mania of speculation, which is the bane of our civilization, seized upon
this unhappy man, and that in a moment, I may say of temporary insanity,
he laid his hands upon the bank funds to meet some loss, intending, no
doubt, to replace them at the earliest opportunity.

"Well, gentlemen, that opportunity never came. We know the usual sad
story in these cases. Loss follows loss, and a man becomes desperate,
until at last comes the inevitable discovery. Gentlemen, we all know
that the man who does these things should be punished, but it seemed to
me that no punishment that the law could allot would add very greatly to
that which he must be now suffering. Imagine, gentlemen, a man with
refined tastes and habits skulking, a fugitive from justice, perhaps by
this time half-way across the ocean, knowing that he can never raise his
head again in the society of honest men. There was nothing to gain, for
you may be sure that the money has long since passed out of his hands,
and I feel that it would do us no good were he arrested and tried.
Everyone knows now that the bank has made a loss; they are also
satisfied that the bank is solvent; confidence is restored, and we have
avoided anything like a run. No one, indeed, has any idea how large the
losses really are outside this board.

"Now, gentlemen, if we were to have a trial, the real amount of the loss
would become known; and although we ourselves may feel confident that we
can weather the storm, and can in time pull round, it is by no means
certain that the public will take the same view. The run which has now
been averted might then take place, and the bank be compelled to shut
its doors. And you know, gentlemen, that when you come to a forced
realization of effects, how far the sum realized falls short of the
value placed upon it, and how heavy the calls upon the shareholders to
make up the deficiency! Well, gentlemen, we are all large shareholders
in the bank, and now that ten days have elapsed, and we have kept
matters quiet, I ask you, is it worth while to run the risk of bringing
ruin upon the bank, and beggary upon its shareholders, merely for the
pleasure of knowing that our defaulting cashier has got so many years of
penal servitude?"

Put in this light the matter assumed a very different appearance. The
directors knew well enough that although they had put a good face on the
matter, the loss did seriously compromise the stability of the bank, and
that the less the matter was dragged before the public the better. The
directors looked at each other in silence when Mr. Johnstone concluded.
But one said: "The public will think it a most extraordinary thing that
we do not prosecute."

"But we intend to prosecute," Mr. Johnstone said. "It is distinctly
understood that is our intention. But facts have come to our knowledge
which leave no doubt that our cashier escaped into Canada within a few
hours of his leaving this place, and it is believed by this time he has
crossed the Atlantic. Should he ever return to this country he will, of
course, be prosecuted at once on grounds of public policy and as a duty
to the shareholders; but at the same time we have no objection to its
being whispered abroad that although the directors would strictly carry
out their duty had the opportunity been afforded, they are at heart by
no means sorry, both for the sake of the man himself and for that of his
wife, that he has succeeded in escaping before the hand of justice could
be laid upon him."

After some further discussion, the view taken by the president was
unanimously approved of, and the report that the cashier was known to
have escaped into Canada, and had made his way to Europe, and that the
bank authorities were convinced that he had managed to take but little
with him, and were not sorry that the painful duty of prosecuting him
had been avoided, was speedily spread through the town.

The unpleasantness which his former friends had anticipated from the
strange resolution of Roland Partridge to remain in Brownsville was not
experienced, for he never showed himself in his old resorts, and was
seldom to be met with in the streets. It was known that he had applied
for several situations, but without success, and that he was at present
living in a poor lodging in the outskirts of the place.

"Have you seen Roland Partridge lately?" Cissie White asked Tom Fernlea.

"No, I haven't. I have not seen him since Christmas eve."

"Have you been to see him, Tom? you know where he lives."

"Yes, I know. No, I have not been there yet. I have been meaning to go
every day, but what with the sleighing parties, and one thing and
another, I have never found time."

"Then you ought to have found it," Cissie said indignantly. "I did not
think that you were that sort of boy, Tom. I thought that you would have
stuck to your friend. I am downright ashamed of you."

"Well, I am ashamed of myself, now that you have put it so, though I
really do mean to stick to him, you know. I have an engagement this
evening, but I will get out of it and go."

"You ought to have gone a week since," Cissie said, very little
mollified. "Call yourself a friend, and let your amusements stand in the
way for ten days of your going to see a chum who is all alone and in
trouble! I would not give a fig for such friendship as that!"

"Well, you are a staunch friend anyhow, Cissie!" Tom said admiringly.
"It is not every girl who would care to stick up for a boy as you do for

"Why shouldn't I stick up for him?" she asked scornfully. "His mother
and mine were friends, and many a pleasant afternoon have I spent there.
Why shouldn't a girl stick up for her friend as well as a boy, I should
like to know? I liked Roland Partridge better than any of the boys in
our set, and I don't care who knows it. And I say it is scandalous his
being cut because his father turned out badly, even if he did turn out
badly, which I don't believe."

"Oh, come now, Cissie, that is too much. Somebody said that you did not
believe Mr. Partridge was guilty, but I put that down to pure obstinacy.
Well, you need not look angry about it, because I like people who are
obstinate for their friends; but I did not imagine that you really could
think so."

"Why shouldn't I? I have a right to my thoughts, Tom Fernlea, I suppose,
as well as you have. Do you think that Roland Partridge would tell a

"No, I am sure that he wouldn't," Tom said. "All the years that I have
known him I have never heard him tell anything like an untruth."

"Well then, why shouldn't you believe him now he says that he and his
mother are absolutely convinced that his father is innocent? I suppose
they are quite as likely to know the truth of the matter as anyone in

"Well, Cissie, if Roland says that, he must have grounds for such a
statement. Anyhow, I will go to see him this evening. I need not tell
him, I suppose, that you sent me?"

"If you do I will never speak to you again, Tom Fernlea, so now you

When Tom called at Roland's lodgings that evening he was told that he
was out, whereupon he took post at the door and waited for an hour, when
his friend returned.

"I have come for a chat," he said, "old fellow, if you will let me in. I
have been waiting for an hour to see you. I should have called before,
but you know how engaged fellows are, just at this time of the year.
However, I was determined I would come this evening, so I threw over the
party at the Dawsons', and here I am."

"I am glad to see you, Tom. Come in," Roland said quietly. He led the
way up to his room, and lighted a candle.

"You are looking pale and out of sorts, old fellow," he said as he saw
Roland's face. "I know you have had an awful lot to upset you, but still
it is of no use letting it make you ill. It is easy, I know, for me to
talk," he went on, as he saw a slight smile on Roland's face, "for I am
sure that I should be horribly cut up if I were in your position. Do you
think it quite wise, Roland, your determination to stop here? I should
have thought that you would be only too glad to be away from it all, but
they say that you refused an offer that Mr. Johnstone made you of a
situation in New York. Of course, you know your own business best, but
if I had been in your place I should have jumped at it."

"Well, you see, Tom, it depends how you look at things. If I thought my
father guilty I would go right away, quick enough, but as I am sure that
he is not, you see I stop."

"Yes; Cissie White was telling me so this afternoon, Roland. I heard
before that she was saying so, but it was not until she told me herself
this afternoon that I believed she was quite in earnest. You will excuse
my saying so, but up till then I had thought as other people do; but
when she said that you had assured her that your mother and yourself
were thoroughly convinced that your father was innocent, I saw matters
in an entirely different light. For I know that even on such a thing as
that, you would not say anything that you didn't really believe; but in
that case you don't mind my asking you why your father went away?"

"I don't mind your asking at all, Tom. I would much rather people spoke
plainly what they think, instead of avoiding all allusion to the
subject. I was away, you know, when father went, but from what he said
to my mother I imagine that in some way, I can't say how, he felt that
circumstances were against him, and that although he was perfectly
innocent he was not in a position to prove it. He is a very sensitive,
nervous man, and I believe he felt at the moment that anything in the
world would be better than standing up before everyone who believed that
he was guilty. I think that it was a terrible mistake; however, I can
understand my father, whose disposition is entirely different from
mine, taking the course he did. Now, believing as I do that he is the
victim of somebody else's crime, I made up my mind to stay here and
brave it out, in order that, if it be possible, I may find out who has
done it. How I am going to set about it I cannot tell you, but I may say
that I will watch everyone who is connected with the bank, and possibly
I may obtain some clue."

"I understand now, Roland, and quite agree with you as to your course. I
am very glad that you have told me, for before, I could not make you

"Of course you understand, Tom, this is for you alone. If the real thief
had an idea that he was being watched, it would make him careful and
diminish my chances. I had rather people thought that I had stopped here
from pure pig-headed obstinacy."

"You have not got a place yet, have you, Roland?"

"No; I have applied for several situations, but have always met with
refusals; no doubt the people thought that I was better away out of

"I will speak to my father, if you don't mind, Roland, my giving him a
hint of what your motives are. The old man is no talker, and I know he
used to like you very much, and I am sure he will do what he can for
you. Is there anything else that I can do?"

"The thing I want to know," Roland said, "is if anyone connected with
the bank here has been speculating in New York, but I don't know how to
set about it."

"Let me see," Tom said thoughtfully. "You know my cousin Arthur went
away last year to a broker's office there; of course he knows lots of
clerks in other offices. Now, if you don't mind my writing to him and
telling him frankly all about it, I am sure he will set to work, heart
and soul, in the matter, and maybe he will find out something."

Roland eagerly agreed, and then for a couple of hours the lads sat
chatting about school and other matters, and when Tom took his leave he
felt that he had cheered his friend up and done him service.



Two days later Tom Fernlea again called on Roland.

"My father says will you look round to his office to-morrow morning? He
did not tell me exactly what he wanted you for, but I expect it is all
right. He was very much interested in what I told him yesterday, and
when the old man takes a thing up he generally carries it through, so I
expect there is something in the wind. What a pity it is, Roland, you
did not see your father before he went away! I have been thinking it
over, and it seems to me that if he had told you the whole
circumstances, you would have been sure to have got some clue to work

"That is what I have thought a hundred times, Tom. I hope that we shall
hear from him ere long. I may tell you privately that he is in Canada.
My mother has had two short notes from him. He is evidently in a sadly
depressed state, but says he is well. The letters having Canadian stamps
on them, we knew they came from there, but he says nothing about where
he is. He is no doubt afraid that he may be traced and his extradition
demanded; but I hope soon that he will give us some address to which we
can write to him. Directly he does, I shall send him a letter saying
that I am settled here, and am going to make it the business of my life
to prove his innocence, and shall implore him to write to me fully every
detail he can respecting the affair, as his story may give me some sort
of a clue as to the real thief."

The next morning Roland presented himself at the office of Mr. Fernlea,
who was the leading lawyer of the town. He was at once shown into the
inner office.

"Glad to see you, Roland; you have not been up at the house with Tom for
the last month. He has been talking to me about this business of your
father's. I quite take the view you do. I have been puzzled over the
affair ever since I first heard of it, but your father's foolish flight
deceived me, as well as the rest of us. I have no doubt what you say is
correct, and that he has been so badly scared that he helped the game of
the rascals who are the real criminals by bolting. However, although
that may be your opinion and mine, it does not advance the case a bit.
Your father, by his own act, has, so to speak, pleaded guilty, and has
been condemned and sentenced accordingly by public opinion, and I tell
you frankly that I don't think it is likely you will ever obtain a
reversal of the sentence. Still, I approve of the resolution which Tom
tells me that you have taken. You could not have a nobler aim in life
than to clear your father's name, and I am ready to aid you so far as to
give you a seat in my office here with a salary of six dollars a
week--no great thing, but enough to keep you. It is unlikely, to my
mind, that you will ever get any clue which will aid you; but if you
should do, I shall be most heartily glad to help you with my advice, or
in any other way in my power. I had always a high respect for your
father, and will be glad to assist you for his sake, but I may say
frankly, I will do so especially because you are a great friend of my
Tom; and although he is not particularly bright he has, I think, enough
good sense to choose his friends wisely, and indeed I know now, from my
own observation in this instance, he has done so. Now what do you say to
my offer?"

"I am extremely obliged to you, sir; it is most kind of you, and is far
better than anything I had hoped for."

"That is settled then; you may as well begin at once. Mr. Mullins will
show you what you have to do."

Roland was indeed glad at the opening which Mr. Fernlea had made for
him. The utmost he had hoped for was to obtain a position in a store,
and as hitherto it had been intended that he should go to Harvard at the
beginning of the next term, the thought of entering a store had gone
somewhat against the grain. Now, with the position in Mr. Fernlea's
office he might be considered not only to retain the position he
occupied among his school-fellows and friends, but to have taken the
first step in a promising career.

When it became known in Brownsville that Mr. Fernlea had taken Roland
Partridge into his office, there was much surprise and comment. More
than one leading man in the place had made overtures to the lawyer for
placing his son with him, but he had always declined, saying that he
found that he and Mullins were able to get through the work, and that he
did not care for the trouble of teaching young bears. There was a
general feeling among these that the lawyer had, in some sort of way,
done them a personal wrong by thus taking into his office the son of a
defaulter, and one whom they had hoped would be obliged to leave the
place from his inability to find employment there.

The lawyer, however, was not the man to concern himself with the
opinions of others, and would have been unconscious of the comments his
decision had excited had not Tom told him, laughing, that he had
outraged the feelings of all the old women in the place. Tom did not
forget his promise to write to his cousin in New York, and to interest
him in the search which Roland had undertaken, and did this so
effectually that he received a letter by return saying that the writer
would do anything he could to aid his old school-fellow, and that he
would set enquiries on foot among all his acquaintances in brokers'
offices to find out, if possible, if any resident in Brownsville had
lately been going into extensive speculations. A few days after Roland
had entered upon his new duties Mr. Fernlea called him into his office.

"By the way, Partridge," he said, "I have been thinking over that matter
of yours with the idea that I might perhaps hit upon some clue upon
which you might work. I have not done so, for a curious difficulty at
once presented itself. It naturally occurred to me that one of the
methods to be first pursued was to find out through whose hands some of
the stolen securities had passed, and then to trace them backwards; but
when I came to think of it, it at once struck me that the list of the
securities stolen had never been published. This was so singular and so
out of the usual course that yesterday I spoke to one of the directors
of the bank, who had come in to smoke a cigar with me. He said it had
been decided by the board that as the frauds had extended over some
months, and as the defaulter had got safely away to Canada, there was no
chance of being able to recover the securities, which by this time had
probably passed through a dozen hands, and it was thought better for the
credit of the bank, and so on, to let the whole matter drop, but of
course the defaulter would be arrested at once if he ever showed his
face in this country again.

"The course the directors have taken strikes me as being a very unusual
one. I do not say that from some points of view it may not be a very
wise one. The loss may be heavier than people suppose, and they may
think it better not to call any further attention to it. It may be that
it was policy, in fact I think perhaps it was so. Still, it is certainly
unusual, and angry men do not always take the wisest course. I said as
much to my friend. From what he said, I gathered that they had been to
some extent influenced by a feeling of sympathy with you and your
mother, and by their respect for your father's former position in the
place. He said that was the view the president took, and that they all
fell in with it. It wasn't my business to make any remark, and I changed
the subject, but I must own, the more I think it over the more unusual
and singular it appears to me.

"No doubt they were influenced far more by the thought of the credit of
the bank than by their sympathy with your father and mother, and I must
say that I am glad I am not a large shareholder in the bank. Still, it
is curious, and at any rate one result is that there are no clues to be
obtained from following up any of the missing securities. Of course the
directors all know what has been taken, but naturally they will keep
their own council, and no help is to be obtained in that way."

Now that it was manifest that Roland Partridge was settled for good in
Brownsville the little party who had from the first taken his side
gained ground rapidly. Their argument was indeed unanswerable: now that
he was there it was as well to make the best of it. Tom Fernlea and
several others of his set would anyhow stick to him, and as he would be
met in their company it was of no use pretending to ignore his presence;
it would indeed only cause unpleasantness and disagreement.
Consequently, it was decided, with but few dissentient voices, headed by
Percy Johnstone, that Roland Partridge should again be received into the
set as if nothing unpleasant had taken place. Accordingly, he received
an invitation to one of the first parties that was got up. He showed it
to Tom Fernlea.

"Yes, I knew it was coming," Tom said, laughing. "We have won all along
the line."

"Of course I shall not go," Roland said.

"Of course you will go," Tom replied. "Don't make a fool or a martyr of
yourself. What has happened was natural enough. People thought your
father had got into a scrape, and all the shareholders of the bank
considered that they lost a lot of money by him. It was generally
thought that you would be leaving the town, and naturally there was some
sort of awkwardness about your joining in our fun as usual. Nobody
thought any the worse of you, for it was, of course, not your fault; it
was simply the awkwardness. Now that you are going to stay, the matter
has altered. A month has passed, and the story has become an old one.
Everyone will meet you just as before, and I shall be glad to have you
with us again. Besides, if you were to refuse, it would place me and
the others who have stuck to you all along in a very uncomfortable
position; for whenever you happened to be with us, and we met some of
the people whom you refuse to visit, we should either have to pass
without speaking, or you would have to stand aloof in the cold while we
were talking to them. You made up your mind to live here, and it is of
no use your putting your back up and going about like a moral hedgehog.
So sit down like a good fellow, and write and say that you will be happy
to accept the invitation; then go at once and secure a cutter for the
day, and ask Cissie White if she will keep her old engagement. I am
going to take Bessie Hartley, and I will arrange that two or three
others shall start just at the same time and place, so we can all drive
there together in a party."

Roland felt that his friend's advice was good, and, although it needed
an effort to follow it, he sat down at once and wrote saying that he
would be very glad to join the party. Then he went out and secured the
cutter, and called at Mrs. White's and saw Cissie.

"I have been asked to join the sleighing party next Thursday, Cissie;
will you let me drive you?"

"With pleasure, Roland. I have an outstanding engagement with you, you
know, and I have been hoping that you would call and remind me of it; in
fact I made so sure you would, that I considered myself engaged and
refused two invitations yesterday."

"That was good of you, Cissie; you have been my best friend all through
this business."

"Not better than many others, Roland," she said quietly. "The two sides
were pretty equally divided all along, and, now we have won, it is a
triumph for us all."

Four cutters drew up together at Mrs. White's door at four o'clock on
the Thursday afternoon. Tom Fernlea and Bessie Hartley occupied one; two
of the others were filled with couples full of life and spirits; while
Roland Partridge held the reins in the fourth. Cissie White was all
ready to start and came out at once, and was soon muffled in the rugs by
his side.

"Hoorah!" Tom Fernlea shouted as they started. "This is what I call
jolly--a glorious day, capital company, and lots of fun before us!"

The whole party were in great spirits, and their laughter rose high as,
at a rapid pace, they dashed along towards their destination. This was a
barn belonging to the father of one of the party, who lived ten miles
away. Two or three of the boys had gone over the day before to sweep and
decorate the place. The contributions of provisions had been sent over
in a sleigh the previous afternoon, and two or three cutters had driven
on an hour or two before the rest, to light the fire and prepare tea. A
fiddler had been engaged, and after tea they were to dance, and drive
back at ten o'clock by moonlight.

On the way the party overtook several of the cutters, and ten of them
dashed up together in procession to the barn. The jingling of the bells
and the joyous shouts brought the early arrivals to the door, and there
was general greeting and shaking of hands, and Roland, who had rather
dreaded the moment, soon felt himself at home again. First of all the
horses had to be put up in the stables and some empty barns, and when
this was done the boys made their way to the place of assembly. Some
forty young people were gathered there, all in the highest spirits. A
great wood fire blazed at one end, and over it hung a huge cauldron of
boiling water. Tables of boards and rough trestles were arranged down
the side of the barn. They were covered with snowy table-cloths, on
which were placed a great variety of eatables.

A committee had decided what each of those present should contribute.
The most solid viands had been provided by the lads, and cold turkeys,
chickens, and joints of meat showed that there was an ample store for
the fifty who were to share the feast; while the variety of fruit-pies,
cakes, and sweets of all descriptions showed that the girls had fully
done their share. As soon as the last comers had arrived the meal began,
and all did full justice to it, for the drive had sharpened their
appetites. By the time it was finished it was growing dark, and while
the boys cleared the tables and carried them outside, others lit the
candles, placed in the sconces hired for the occasion and nailed against
the sides of the barn, while the girls washed up the tea-things and
packed them away in baskets ready for transport home on the following
day. Then came five hours of dancing, and as the clock struck ten the
boys hurried off for the horses, and the party started for home. Roland
had enjoyed himself thoroughly. With the exception of Percy Johnstone
and one or two others, everyone had behaved to him just as if the last
month had been a blank, except perhaps that there was a little extra
kindness and cordiality, as if each wished to show how glad he or she
was to see him among them again.

"It was not so very dreadful, was it?" Cissie asked as they drove

"It was not dreadful at all," he said. "I think, Cissie, half our
troubles arise from our own selfconsciousness. We fancy people are
thinking and talking about us, when in fact they are not giving us a
thought; and if one does but grasp the nettle firmly, one finds that
there is no sting in it."

The next morning Roland received a letter from his mother saying that
she had again heard from his father, and although he had not precisely
given his address, he had given indications by which a letter could be
addressed to him under a name not his own; and Roland that night sat
down and wrote to him at great length. He told him that he and his
mother were convinced that he was the victim of another's misdoings, and
that he had determined that if it was humanly possible he would find out
the guilty party; but that before he set about doing so with any chance
of success, it was absolutely necessary that he should be in possession
of all the facts of the case, and he implored him to write fully and
frankly to him, giving him every detail, however minute, which could
bear upon it. He concluded by saying:

"My dear father, I know how very painful to you the thought must be of
appearing in the light of a suspected person in the presence of those
who have known and respected you, but I cannot but think that it would
have been better if you had made an effort and faced it out, for your
innocence must sooner or later have been proved. However, for the sake
of your good name and my mother's happiness, it is clearly incumbent on
you now to aid us to the utmost in our effort to re-establish your good
name, even if to do so you should have to come back and demand a trial.
However, this is not necessary now, and I hope never will be. But the
first thing of all is for us to understand exactly what the
circumstances were that have caused a suspicion of this crime to fall
upon you."



A week later Roland received a letter from his father in answer to that
he had written him. Its contents were as follows:

"My dear Roland,--I know that with your young heart and strong courage
and a complete and happy absence of nerves, you cannot but think it
weak and cowardly of me to run away instead of waiting and fighting hard
against circumstances. I know as well as anyone can tell me that this is
the course I should have adopted, and a score of times since I came away
I have been on the point of returning and giving myself up, but each
time when it has come to the point I have drawn back, and despised
myself for my cowardice. But I cannot overcome it. I had an unhappy
childhood under a stern father and a very unkind stepmother, and I think
that any spirit I ever had was frightened out of me by the time I
entered life--a shrinking, sensitive young fellow, conscious that I
possessed fair abilities, but altogether unfit to fight my own way.

"For some years life was very hard to me, and my failing increased
rather than diminished; and then by some good chance, certainly from no
solicitation on my part, a course opened before me. I married. Your
mother's firmness gave me support, and her love and goodness brought me
happiness. Then when I obtained the post of cashier at the bank of
Brownsville, it seemed that my trials were over. Although I could never
bring myself to mix much with other men, I gained confidence in myself,
and believed that I had grown out of that extreme sensibility which had
rendered my early years so unhappy. When the trial came upon me suddenly
I found that I was mistaken. The thought of standing before the world
accused of theft filled me with an overpowering fear, and rather than
stay and face it I should have put an end to my existence. I know that
you will scarcely understand this feeling. I know that you will think it
weak and cowardly. I simply say, my boy, that I cannot help it, and that
I can no more withstand it than a madman can check his impulses.

"And now I have told you so much, my son, I will tell you of the events
of that evening. For some days I had been low and out of sorts; a
haunting sense that something was wrong had been upon me. The last
clerk, before leaving, had, as usual, laid the keys on the desk beside
me. I told him he could go, as I had some hours' work before me. For an
hour I went through the books, and then a sudden impulse seized me. I
would examine some of the securities and see that none were missing. I
took the keys and went down to the strong room, a thing which I never
that I can recall had done after the bank was shut; took out some large
parcels of shares and bonds, and locked the doors again. I took them up
with me to count in my room, and compare them with the books. I had just
set to work when I heard the latch-key of the front door turn, and a
minute later Mr. Johnstone came in. 'You are at work late, Partridge,'
he said. 'I saw your light burning as I was passing. Why, hallo!' he
said with a change of voice, 'what have you got all the securities up
for? that is rather unusual, isn't it? Wasn't the strong room locked up
before the clerks went away?' It had not struck me that there was
anything strange about it, but the tone of the president's voice showed
me that there was, and my old nervousness seized me as if with a sudden
grip; and I have no doubt that the tone in which I explained my reason
for going down into the strong room and bringing up the securities added
to his suspicion. However, he said coldly: 'I am not aware of anything
that should have excited your suspicions that all was not right, and
induced you to unlock the strong room after the bank was closed.
However, as you have brought up some of the securities, and I have
nothing to do for the next half-hour, I will go through them with you.'

"He sat down by my side, and took the book containing the lists of the
securities held by the bank and I read out the number of the bonds.
'New York Centrals of five hundred dollars each.' Presently he said
sharply: 'That does not tally with the book.' He ran his eye down and
remarked: 'There are fifty missing here, running in successive numbers,
between the last two you read out.' 'Perhaps they are out of place,' I
said, and looked through the rest of the bonds, but they were not there.
'How do you account for this?' the president asked sharply. 'I cannot
account for it,' I said, bewildered. 'Oh!' he said in an awkward tone,
that particularly struck me. 'Here are your initials to all these
figures, showing that they have been paid out. When were they redeemed?'
I looked at the book; there were my initials sure enough. The bonds had
not been redeemed at all, I was certain, but there were my initials. I
looked at them thunderstruck.

"'I have the highest opinion of you, Mr. Partridge,' the president said,
'but this, you must admit, has a very curious appearance. Here I find
you have, after the bank has closed, opened the strong room, and have
got some of the securities up here, and I find that some of them are
missing, but that the book is initialled by you, so that anyone else
going through it with the securities would suppose that they had been
parted with in due course. Your own manner, if you will excuse my saying
so, strikes me as altogether suspicious. However, let us go through some

"Each bundle that we examined showed deficiencies, and although I had
not brought up one-tenth of the bonds and securities, we found a
deficiency of over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. When we had
done, Mr. Johnstone did not make a single observation beyond briefly
pointing out the numbers of the missing securities, and added: 'You see,
Mr. Partridge, I have but one course to follow. The bank has been robbed
of an immense amount. How much as yet I have no means of knowing. I find
you here with the securities brought out of the strong room at this
unusual hour. These securities were entirely in your hands, and no one
touches them but yourself. You can give me no explanation of the
deficiency, and in every case your initials are appended, as a proof
that they have been paid out in due course. Under such circumstances it
is my duty to at once give you into custody.'

"I had been getting more nervous and confused as each fresh discovery
was made, and the horrible consciousness of my position became

"'I am innocent, sir!' I exclaimed; 'before God I am innocent!'

"'In that case, Mr. Partridge, you will no doubt be able to prove it to
the satisfaction of the jury. In my mind I confess the matter is clear.
This book in which your entries are made is your own private property,
and you keep it, I presume, in your own safe here, of which no one but
yourself has a key, and it is not the sort of book that you are in the
habit of leaving about. What you have done with the proceeds of the
bonds I know not, but that you have taken them seems to me as clear as
day. Of course the matter may be explained in some way. I hope that it
will be. You have worked here with me for the last fifteen years, and I
have hitherto not only had implicit confidence in you, but respect and
liking. I would give anything to escape the situation in which I am
placed, but my duty is clear. I must hand you over to the police.'

"'It will kill me!' I said. 'I am innocent, Mr. Johnstone, innocent as a
child, but the disgrace of this will kill me!'

"He was silent for some time, and then he said: 'I am sorry for you, Mr.
Partridge, with all my heart, and still more sorry for your wife. This
money, I suppose, is hopelessly gone in some wild speculation,'--I
again protested, but he waved to me to be silent--'and irretrievably
lost. For the sake of our long friendship and of the good lady your
wife, I will suffer you to leave this office a free man. I will take no
steps till morning. More than that, I will, if possible, keep the affair
out of the hands of the police for the next twelve hours, by which time
you ought to be across the frontier into Canada. I am risking a great
deal in doing this, but I will do it, and I will satisfy my colleagues
as well as I can. There, let no more be said. Go! and strive in future,
by a life of strict honesty, to justify the course which I am taking.'

"I murmured something, whether of thanks or protest I know not, and,
seizing my hat, went out into the air. Anyone who had noticed me on my
way home must have thought me drunk, for I know that I staggered blindly
along. Your mother will have told you what happened when I got home.
That is the tale, Roland, and it makes things look very black against
me. I was at the bank late, having opened the strong room and taken out
the securities. The president, coming in and finding me so employed,
went through the books with me, and discovered large deficiencies in the
securities, which were never handled by anyone but myself. Worst of
all, in my private book, kept always under lock and key, are my
initials, showing that I am cognizant of the securities having been
parted with. Lastly, there is my flight and my manner against me. In
answer I give my bare protest that I knew nothing about the securities
being missing, and that though the initials appear indeed to be my own,
that I certainly never signed them, though I own that the book was never
to my knowledge out of my custody at any time, and that the safe in
which it was kept was always locked up by me of an evening. That
somebody has taken the securities is clear; also that somebody has got
at my book and forged my initials.

"But it is only this bare assertion that I have against all the facts
that seem to prove me guilty. I am going west. I have made the
acquaintance of a gentleman, who has given me letters to two or three
large store-keepers in Winnipeg, where, under another name, I hope to
obtain employment. There, I trust, your mother will follow me. As for
yourself, you have told me you have been taken by Mr. Fernlea into his
office, and I trust, in spite of the terrible blot I have brought upon
our name, that you will succeed. I have, however, no hope that you will
be able to clear up the mystery of which I am the victim. Still, I will
not dissuade you from trying, and although I cannot hope, I shall pray,
day and night, that success may attend your efforts."

Roland read the letter through and through until he had almost learnt it
by heart. The next morning he took it in to Mr. Fernlea. "You know what
my object is in remaining at Brownsville, Mr. Fernlea. I should like you
to read this letter which I have received from my father. I need not say
that I shall show it to no one else. I received it yesterday evening,
and have been thinking it over all night, but I cannot see that it
furnishes me with any clue such as I had hoped. But you may think

Mr. Fernlea read the letter through to the end; then, without a word, he
turned it over and re-read it. "Frankly, Roland," he said, when he laid
it down, "is there no impression left in your mind after reading that

"Well, sir," Roland said hesitatingly, "it seems too absurd, but I
cannot but think it a little strange that Mr. Johnstone should let my
father go off like that."

"That is it," Mr. Fernlea said. "Johnstone has the reputation of being a
pleasant gentleman adverse to trouble and contention, and desirous of
keeping on good terms with everyone, but he has nevertheless been always
sharp enough on creditors to the bank, and has several times prosecuted
when it appeared that the bank was the victim of sharp practices. I have
always wondered that no attempt to discover and arrest your father was
made when the loss was first discovered, which was, I understood, when
Johnstone examined the bonds on the morning when your father was found
missing; but now that I find he knew it before your father left, it is
still more surprising to me that he should have let him go. He assumed,
as it seems by this letter, that your father had spent all the proceeds
of the robbery; but why should he assume that?

"Your father might still have had a great number of bonds in hand, and
by arresting him at once a considerable number of the stolen securities
might have been recovered. But this is not all. There is one very
singular fact in the story. Your father was reading over the numbers of
the bonds, when Mr. Johnstone suddenly exclaimed, 'That is wrong; there
are fifty bonds missing between the last two numbers you read out. Where
are they?' Why should he have said that? As I take it, the number of the
bonds which had hitherto been read corresponded with the number of
those marked still in hand, that is to say, of those against which no
initial had been placed. But it seems that these fifty were initialled.
What was there, then, to call Johnstone's attention to the fact that
they should have been there? That is very remarkable, to say the least
of it."

Roland clasped his hands before him. "Oh, Mr. Fernlea, do you really

"I don't think anything, Roland," Mr. Fernlea said sharply. "Mr.
Johnstone is president of the bank, a prominent citizen, a man of
unblemished reputation. I simply say that these facts, stated together,
are singular, and I think they give you a clue. How that clue is to be
followed up, I cannot at present suggest, I simply affirm that it is a
clue. Now I want you to take the next train to Chicago. A client of mine
wants some enquiries made about a house which he is thinking of
purchasing. Here are the papers connected with it; you can study them as
you go along. Of course you will go to the land office and see if there
are any mortgages on it, and you will look up the titles."

Roland reached Chicago in the afternoon, where he at once set about
making the necessary enquiries. The lawyers upon whom he first called at
once showed him the titles, which appeared to him to be correct, but of
which he made an abstract for Mr. Fernlea's inspection. He then went to
the land office and found that mortgages were registered on the house.
From there he walked to the address of the owner, which he found to be
in a small street. The house was shut up. He made some enquiries
carefully among the neighbours, and found the reputation of the man was
the reverse of favourable. It was now getting late in the afternoon, and
he rode to the Central Telegraph office to send off a short message to
Mr. Fernlea with the result of his enquiries. Two or three persons were
writing their messages, and to his surprise he at once recognized in one
of them Mr. Johnstone of Brownsville.

There was nothing in the least strange that the banker should be at
Chicago, a hundred and fifty miles from Brownsville; and had it not been
that Roland had been thinking of him all day, the meeting would not have
given him a second thought. As it was, he drew back instantly and took
his place at a distant desk to write his own message. "House mortgaged
for 2500 dollars, title apparently good; vendor's house shut up,
neighbours give bad account of him; I wait instructions." Just as he had
finished, Mr. Johnstone turned from the desk and went up to the
pigeon-hole and handed in his message. A question or two was asked, and
having paid his money he left.

Roland at once went to the same pigeon-hole. The girl was in the act of
handing the message she had just received to an operator. "It is a
cipher. What tiresome things those are! one has to be so careful with
them, and there is no sense to help one."

"Mine is not a cipher," Roland said as he handed his in; "but my
handwriting is not a very clear one. Your last message ought not to be
difficult to make out, for I know Mr. Johnstone's writing is as clear as

"Johnstone!" the girl said, glancing back over the other's shoulder; "it
isn't Johnstone, it is Westerton."

Roland felt a thrill shoot through him, but he answered carelessly: "Oh,
is it? I was mistaken in my man then, I thought I knew him."

An hour later he received a telegram from Mr. Fernlea in answer to that
he had sent. It simply said "Come back". He accordingly took the night
train to Brownsville, and appeared at the office as usual in the

"You have found out just what we wanted to know, Partridge. The man is a
sort of acquaintance of my client, and wanted him to let him have a
thousand dollars to-day, pending the examination of the titles. Of
course he said nothing about the mortgage already on the house. My
client believed it was all right, and would have advanced the money had
I not begged him to wait twenty-four hours; so your trip has prevented
him from throwing away a thousand dollars."

"I am very glad I went, sir, on my own account," Roland said, "for I
have made a discovery which may be of importance. I have found out that
Mr. Johnstone is in the habit of going over to Chicago and despatching
telegrams there in the name of Westerton."

And he then related the incident of the telegraph office.

"That may be of importance," Mr. Fernlea said, "but we must not place
too much importance upon it. He may possibly have sent off a message for
some friend; still, it is a clue."

So Tom Fernlea thought when Roland told him the circumstances. "I must
get you to write off again, Tom, to your cousin. You told me two days
ago that, so far, he had not found out among his acquaintances that
anyone here connected with the bank was speculating. The thing now is to
ask among them if anyone knows of a Mr. Westerton of Chicago, dealing in
ventures of that sort."



A week later Tom brought Roland a letter which he had received from his
cousin. "My dear Tom,--The plot begins to thicken, and I think we are on
the right scent. I was taking drinks with some other stock exchange men
this afternoon, when I said, 'Does anyone know Westerton of Chicago?'

"'Yes, he is a client of ours,' one of them replied. 'He speculates
pretty heavily in all sorts of stock and has dropped a lot of money the
last six months. Do you know him? Because if you do, it is more than
anyone in Chicago seems to. The chief has asked lots of men there about
him, but no one seems to know the name. Of course it does not matter to
us, because there is always ample cover, so we cannot burn our fingers;
but it does seem rum that a man who can go in for such heavy
speculations should not be known to anyone there.'

"'No, I don't know him,' I said, 'but a man was asking me about him. I
fancy he speculates with him too.'

"'Likely enough, these fellows always have two or three agents. We think
it rather probable that it is a false name. There is many a man who
dabbles in speculations, that none of his friends would ever believe did
anything of the sort, such as clergymen, and merchants with solid
businesses, whose credit would be injured if men thought that they
speculated, and so on. We who are behind the scenes would astonish the
world if we were to tell all we know.'

"However, I turned the subject, as I did not want him to suspect that I
had any particular interest in Westerton. So, you see, Tom, the first
step is gained, and we have found out that the respectable president of
Brownsville Bank speculates largely under an assumed name. I don't know
what Partridge's next move may be, but if I can give any further
assistance you can rely upon me."

"What are you going to do next?" Tom said as he closed the letter.

"I haven't the least idea, Tom; but at any rate, I will consult your
father. It is something to learn as much as we have, and we certainly
seem to have got on the right clue. I never quite despaired, but I feel
now pretty certain that we shall get to the bottom of it at last."

"It will do Percy Johnstone a world of good to take down his conceit a
bit--a stuck-up monkey!"

"Don't say that, Tom. I felt it myself so much that I am sure I could
not wish my worst enemy to go through such a thing."

"I don't wish Percy Johnstone any particular ill, Roland; but if
somebody has got to suffer, I would rather it was him than anyone else
in Brownsville. The insufferable airs that fellow gives himself are

Mr. Fernlea was greatly interested when he heard the news. "I have no
doubt whatever that you are on the right track now, Roland. Taking your
father's letter, the points we noticed when we read it, and the facts we
know now, that Johnstone is a heavy and unsuccessful speculator, seem to
show without doubt that he is the real thief. His conduct in not
arresting your father at once, and in allowing him without pursuit to
get across the frontier, is accounted for now. He did not want anything
like a public trial, for in that case the numbers of the missing bonds
must have been made public, and might in that way have been traced to
him. I have no doubt whatever that he is the thief. But the question is,
how are we to prove it?

"Of course if Johnstone goes on at this game and it continues to be
unnoticed, there will be a smash up sooner or later; but even then the
whole thing might not come out. If your father should come back here,
they would be obliged to arrest him. But even if he denounced Johnstone
as the real thief, we have nothing to go upon. The mere fact that he has
speculated would in itself be no proof, or that he did so under an
assumed name, for he would urge that many people do the same, and that
he only adopted this precaution because, being in the position of
president of the bank, he did not wish people here to know that he
dabbled in shares. I own that I do not see what our next step is to be.
It seems to me that we must wait and watch."

"That is what I was thinking, sir. Will you kindly give me leave to be
away from your office till this is done? I should like to come here of a
morning and go in and out as if I was in your employment, in case Mr.
Johnstone was watching me, which is not likely. He would then suppose
that I am still working for you, but went out rather frequently on

"Certainly, Roland, and if you want any money let me know. Anything that
you may require to carry the matter through I shall be glad to let you

"Thank you, sir! but I hope I shall not be obliged to avail myself of
your kind offer. My mother still has the proceeds of the sale of our
furniture, and I need hardly say how glad she will be to spend it if she
knows that there is a chance of proving my father's innocence."

Roland now kept a strict watch upon Mr. Johnstone's movements, and the
next time that gentleman boarded the train at Brownsville, Roland did
the same, but got into a third-class compartment forward. He was close
at hand, however, when the banker presently took out his ticket, which
was only for a town some thirty miles out; but when the train stopped at
this station the banker ran into the office, and, procuring a ticket for
Chicago, continued his journey to that city. When he alighted there
Roland followed him. He went to a small house in a retired quarter, and
on knocking at the door was admitted without question, and Roland
concluded that he habitually stayed there. He came out in a few minutes
without the bag which he had carried in, and as soon as he was fairly
away Roland, seeing that there was a notice in the window that there was
an apartment to let, knocked at the door.

"You have a room to let," he said. "Can I see it?"

"Certainly, sir;" and Roland followed the woman upstairs. "The room will
do very nicely," he said. "I shall not be a troublesome lodger, for I am
a great deal away, and shall only sleep here occasionally; but I like to
have a place of my own instead of always putting up at an hotel."

"That is just the case with our lodger downstairs, sir. He does not
often sleep here--not more than one night in the week. He travels, I
believe, for some house of business; but, as he says, he likes to have a
quiet place to come to when here."

"He is your only other lodger, I hope?" Roland said, "for above all
things I like quietness."

"Yes, sir; we only let these rooms. He is quiet enough. When he comes
here he generally comes in the afternoon, but goes out directly, and
comes back again at seven to his dinner; and he always goes off at six
o'clock in the morning. A quieter gentleman no one could wish to have
for a lodger than Mr. Westerton."

Roland at once agreed to take the room, and, paying a deposit, said that
he would come on the following day to take possession. "My name is
Rowlands, but it is not likely that anyone will come to enquire for me."

Having watched Mr. Johnstone off by the first train in the morning,
Roland went to his lodgings, where he soon became friendly with his
landlady, who was quite ready to gossip. She was full of praise for her
other lodger. "I expect he has got a good situation," she said. "Money
don't seem of any consequence to him. He always has the best of
everything that is in season, no matter what it costs, and he has got
quite a cellar of wine, and always takes a bottle with his dinner. I am
sure the room was furnished nice enough for anything when he came; but
he had all the furniture turned out, and put in fresh himself, and a
heap of money it must have cost him, I can tell you; fresh paper on the
walls, and looking-glasses, and pictures. They are nice rooms, indeed
they could not be nicer--except that the sitting-room is spoilt by a big
ugly safe he has got, to keep his papers in. It just spoils the room, as
I told him. But he don't seem to mind, so there ain't no reason why I

"I should like to see the rooms," Roland said. "Not that I can afford to
furnish mine like them at present."

"I will show you them with pleasure, sir. Only, if you meets him and
gets to know him afterwards, don't you let out that I showed you his
rooms. He is a mighty perticular sort of gent, though he is so affable
and pleasant."

The rooms were quietly and handsomely furnished, as Roland had expected.
There was nothing whatever in them to give a clue to the identity of
their owner. No letters or papers were lying about. Roland's attention
was particularly drawn towards the safe. It was a strong, burglar-proof
structure, by one of the best makers.

"Yes," he said, "I agree with you. The furniture is very handsome and
good, but I should not care, if it were mine, to spoil it with that

"He told me he had lost a valuable lot of papers once, and had
determined that he would never run such a risk again, and so he got a
safe that could be neither carried off nor broken into."

The next day Roland returned to Brownsville and informed Mr. Fernlea of
the progress that he had made.

"Capital, Roland! I shall certainly employ you in any detective work
that may in future come into the office. The two next steps to be taken
are clear enough, but it is not so easy to see how we are to take them.
In the first place, we shall have to obtain a list of the missing
securities, and the next to find out whether any of them are still in
that safe. Those are the steps, but how on earth are we to take them?
Your father would hardly be likely to remember the numbers of the
missing bonds, and I could not ask one of the directors without taking
him into our confidence, which I am averse to doing, for they all hold
Johnstone in such respect that our idea would seem to them altogether

"At any rate I could write to my father and ask him," Roland said. "He
may not remember the numbers; it is hardly possible that he should, when
there are such a lot of them missing; but he might be able to give us
some hint how to set about it."

Accordingly Roland wrote a letter to his father informing him of the
steps which he had taken and the discoveries which he had made.

"You see, father," he wrote, "that while Mr. Fernlea has no more doubt
than I have that Johnstone stole the securities which he accused you of
taking, it is very difficult to bring the matter home to him; and as a
first step it is absolutely necessary to get the numbers of the bonds,
and that without there being a possibility of its coming to his ears
that I am moving in the matter. Can you suggest any plan?"

A week later, when Roland had returned to his lodgings after dark, a man
was standing at the gate.

"Roland, my boy, is that you?"

"Good heavens, father, how you startled me! I am glad indeed to see you
again, but it is surely imprudent to venture back just at this moment,
for were your presence here discovered it would upset all our plans. But
come in. I have a key, and you can go up with me. But even if the woman
of the house saw you, she would hardly be likely to recognize you, for
she has not been settled in the town very long."

As soon as they were in his room Roland struck a light, and was able to
look at his father. He would hardly have recognized him, so pale and
haggard was he. "Why, father, have you been ill?"

"Not actually ill, Roland, though almost out of my mind at times; but I
trust that it is nearly over. Your letter has given me new life, for it
has made me hope that this black cloud which has fallen over me will be
cleared away, and that I can again lift up my head and look my
fellow-men in the face. I am ready now to give myself up, if Mr. Fernlea
thinks that it will be the best thing for me to do, and to stand my
trial. Before, I had nothing, save a bare negative, to oppose the
evidence against me. Now there is at least a story to tell."

"We must not tell it at present, father; we must wait till it is
complete. If there is any evidence in that safe at Chicago connecting
Johnstone with the thefts, we may be sure that it would be destroyed the
instant you appeared on the scene. The first thing, as Mr. Fernlea says,
is to obtain a list of, at any rate some of the securities that are
missing. We hardly hoped that you would be able to furnish them."

"No, Roland. I could tell you the stocks to which they belonged, but not
the numbers. And, so far as I know, there is but one way of doing so
besides that of obtaining the list from one of the directors, which, you
said in your letter Mr. Fernlea thinks would be dangerous to do."

"And what is that, father?"

"It is for me to go to the bank and get the book which Johnstone and I
went through together that night."

"But how are you to do that, father? It is probably in the safe if it is
still in existence."

"I supposed so, Roland. But when I went away I never thought of leaving
the keys behind me, and found them days afterwards in the pocket of my
overcoat. Unless they have changed the fastenings, there is nothing to
prevent my unlocking the door, going up to my old room, entering it, and
opening the safe as usual. There would be no occasion even for a light,
for I know the feel of the book so well, with its locked clasp, that I
could tell it in the dark if I put my hand on it."

"But it would be an awful risk, father, were you detected. You would be
accused--" And he hesitated.

"Of trying to rob the bank for a second time," Mr. Partridge said.
"Well, if necessary, I must run the risk."

"At any rate, father, before you attempt it I must speak to Mr. Fernlea.
He has been so good a friend throughout the business that we must not
move a single step without consulting him. I will go up and see him at
once. Before I start I will tell the woman of the house that I have a
friend come to stop with me for a day or two. She has a spare room, and
will get it ready for you. Will you have some supper before I start?"

"No, no, Roland. Go at once, and I will have a nap in your easy-chair
while you are away, for I have travelled without stopping once since I
got your letter. I am not so strong as I used to be."

Mr. Fernlea listened attentively to Roland's account of his interview
with his father.

"It is a dangerous step to take," he said thoughtfully, "but I don't
know that I can propose anything better. Of course, if he is taken, I
should come forward and declare that he was my client, that he has been
wrongly accused all through, and that he was only going to the bank for
the purpose of possessing himself of the book which was his private
property, in order to obtain the list of the missing securities, that he
might, if possible, trace their course. I should reserve suspicion about
Johnstone until the trial, but, of course, there they would have to
accuse him of the original theft of the securities. I will go back with
you now and talk to him myself."

"My poor friend," he said as he entered the room where Mr. Partridge,
too anxious to sleep, was walking restlessly to and fro, "I see that all
this has told upon you sadly. However, I hope that we are in a fair way
of putting matters right at last. I tell you frankly, I thought at the
time that it was foolish of you to run away as you did. But I think now
that it has turned out the best, for we had little or no defence beyond
a bare denial, whereas we could make out a strong case of suspicion
anyhow against Johnstone from what we know already."

"Do you approve of my plan for the recovery of the book?"

"Yes, if it can be carried out. But I fear that they are likely to have
changed the locks. That is the first suggestion which the new cashier,
on learning that the keys were missing, would make."

"I did not think of that till I was half-way here, but I am afraid that
it is only too likely."

"The best plan, father," Roland said, "will be to give me the keys of
the door. I can go round to-night and try it. If I find it opens it, you
can carry out your plan to-morrow night; if not, there is no use your
running the risk of being detected."

"But you might be taken in my place, Roland."

"Not at all, father. I am not going to enter the bank. I shall simply
put the key in the lock and turn it, and see if the door opens, and I
shall take good care that no one is near when I do it. If by any
possible chance I were caught at it--I don't see, though, how such a
thing can happen--I should simply say that, having come across the key,
I went for a matter of curiosity to see if it was the one that would
open the bank door."

"Yes, I don't think there would be much risk in that," Mr. Fernlea
agreed. "You had better go at once, Roland, and I will remain with your
father until you come back. If by any chance you are detected in trying
the door, it would be far better that it should be at this time of the
evening, when you might be passing by accidentally, and have acted upon
the impulse to see if the key fitted, than if you were to go down in the
middle of the night."

In twenty minutes Roland returned.

"A new lock has been put upon the door, father. The key won't go in at

Mr. Partridge gave an exclamation of disappointment.

"Don't trouble about that," Mr. Fernlea said. "I don't think that it
matters very much. You see, the list would only be perfect so far as the
securities you went through which was only a small proportion of those
in the hands of the bank. It is essential that we should get the entire
list. It might happen that he has parted with those which you know to
have been stolen, while he may have some of the others still in his
possession. I will think the matter over to-night, and see if I can hit
upon a plausible excuse for wanting to get the list of the missing
securities without being obliged to hint at the purpose for which we
require them."



In the morning Mr. Fernlea said to Roland, when he appeared at the
office, "The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that it would
be dangerous to try and get any of the directors to act with us.
Johnstone virtually runs the concern, and the others know very little
about it, and I do not think that I could get any of them to move. The
best man that I can think of is Hertman. He is one of our most prominent
men of business, and is a large shareholder in the bank, and is
intelligent and independent; and if he were convinced that wrong had
been done he would take it up. Hitherto he has, of course, been under
the impression that your father was guilty, and expressed himself freely
in condemnation of the policy of the directors in allowing him to escape
and in hushing matters up. He is not a client of mine, but I am
concerned in business transactions with him, and I think he has a
respect for my judgment, as I have for his. I have written a note saying
that I want to speak to him on business, and shall be glad if he will
come over to my office, or I will go over to his, as will be most
convenient to him. Will you take it across at once? His office is in
Exchange Street."

Mr. Hertman glanced at the note, and told Roland to say that he would be
across in a few minutes.

"What I am going to say, Mr. Hertman, will surprise you," Mr. Fernlea
said, when his visitor had taken a seat. "You are, I am aware, one of
the largest shareholders in the bank."

"I am sorry to say that I am," Mr. Hertman said. "I wish I were not, but
I can't get rid of my shares except at a very heavy loss. That
mysterious affair three months ago has greatly depressed the value of
the stock, for, in fact, no one seems to know what is the amount of the
losses we suffered. The directors told me that the matter was kept quiet
to avoid a run upon the bank, and in that respect no doubt they
succeeded, and public confidence seems pretty well restored. I have no
idea as to how we have come out of it."

"Well, Mr. Hertman, it may surprise you when I tell you that in this
matter I am acting on behalf of Partridge."

"What! the absconding cashier, Mr. Fernlea?"

"Just so. I have always entertained a strong idea that he was innocent
and was the victim of others, and I am happy to say I am now far on my
way to be able to prove it."

"You don't say so!" Mr. Hertman said in surprise; "why, I thought there
was no doubt in the matter."

"So most other people thought," Mr. Fernlea said dryly, "and certainly
his running away instead of staying to meet the charge was terribly
against him, but it has not proved so unwise a step as I thought it
would. Had he been arrested and tried then, it would have gone hard with
him; but as matters have turned out, things have come to light which
alter the complexion of the case. You have heard, perhaps, that I took
his son into my office."

"Yes, I heard that," Mr. Hertman replied. "I thought that it was a piece
of mistaken kindness on your part, and that the young fellow would have
done better to leave the place and begin life elsewhere."

"I took him, Mr. Hertman, in order that he might remain upon the spot to
devote himself to getting at the bottom of this mystery, and I may tell
you at once that he is within a short distance of success."

Mr. Fernlea then related the whole of the incidents connected with the

"There can be little doubt that you are right in the matter," Mr.
Hertman said, when he had concluded, "and that this man Johnstone is
really the culprit. A great wrong has clearly been done, and you can
command my assistance to the utmost in aiding you. What is
wanted--funds? I will draw you a cheque for any amount that you may

"Thank you, Mr. Hertman! From my knowledge of your character I expected
nothing less, but that is not my object in taking you into our
confidence. What we want is the list of the securities stolen."

"I should doubt," Mr. Hertman said, "whether there is any such list in
existence. One of the directors, who is a personal friend of mine, told
me at the time of the meeting that the president explained to them what
shares and scrip were missing, and their value, and that the board had
individually pledged themselves to keep absolute silence until the
meeting of shareholders, which will not take place for another six
months yet. Certainly if your suspicions are correct, and I think they
are, it would be greatly to the interest of the president that nobody
except himself should have such a list.

"In that case," Mr. Fernlea said, "the only way of getting at them is to
obtain Partridge's private book. There has been no fresh cashier
appointed, has there?"

"No; the chief clerk is acting as cashier at present; the appointment
has not been filled up."

"Do you possess any influence with him?"

"Yes, a good deal; he got his appointment as clerk there some fifteen
years ago from my recommendation. He is the son of a man with whom I am
closely connected in business matters."

"Then perhaps you might manage it for us. What I should propose, if you
will consent, is, that some afternoon when we know that Johnstone has
just left for Chicago, you should see this man, and tell him you have a
clue to some of the missing securities, but that it is necessary for you
to ascertain the exact numbers, and that you think you can do so by an
examination of the book kept by Partridge, on which, as I understand,
Johnstone scored with red ink some at least of those found to be
missing. You might say that you only wanted it for two or three hours,
and that if he would let you have it, you would pledge yourself to place
it in his hands again the first thing the next morning. You could, of
course, say that, for the success of the endeavour you are making, it is
absolutely necessary that no one, not even the president and directors,
should have an idea that anything was being done in the matter."

"I think I can do that," Mr. Hertman said. "Smithson will naturally
think that if anything comes of it he will get some credit for aiding us
in the matter."

"Very well, then," Mr. Fernlea said; "I will let you know next time that
Mr. Johnstone goes to Chicago. He generally takes the trip once a week,
and to-morrow is his usual day."

The next evening the book was handed to Mr. Fernlea.

"Can I be of any further use?" Mr. Hertman asked.

"Well, if you can spare two or three hours I should be glad if you
would go through the lists with us. Partridge is in the next room

"Certainly I will. I tell you I have taken up this business in earnest,
and am prepared to help you in every way possible."

A minute later Mr. Partridge was called in.

"I am glad to see you," Mr. Hertman said, "and regard you as a deeply
wronged man, and would spend my bottom dollar, if necessary, in clearing
up this business."

The three men at once sat down to their work, and turned to the pages
where Mr. Johnstone had scored a line of red ink against the securities
found to be missing.

"We will take down the numbers and descriptions of the marked ones
first," Mr. Fernlea said, "because as to these there can be no mistake."

This was soon done.

"Now, Mr. Partridge, will you look at these initials closely; are they

After a long examination Mr. Partridge said, "They are very like mine."

"Well, let us compare them with the real ones," Mr. Fernlea said,
producing a magnifying glass.

"I see a difference," Mr. Hertman said. "Do you see, in your own
initials, you do not take your hand off the paper at all, while in
these there is a little break; the W. J. are written together, but the
writer has paused before making the P. The manner in which you form the
letter P is rather a peculiar one, while the W. and J. are easy enough
to imitate; and I expect that after having finished the first letters he
looked at the copy before commencing the third. You see," he continued,
"the upstroke from the J to the P is as nearly as possible continuous,
but with the glass you can make out that sometimes the lines do not
quite touch, and at others they overlap slightly."

The others at once perceived the point that he had indicated, and they
now went through the whole book and without difficulty marked off the
shares against which the false initials had been placed. It took them
five hours' work, and it was just midnight when they concluded.

"We have got the list complete now," Mr. Fernlea said.

"And a very long one it is," Mr. Hertman said. "Seven hundred thousand
dollars! why, it is more than the called-up capital of the bank. He
never told the men who examined the books on the day after the affair
was first known, what the real extent of the loss was, or they would
never have signed that announcement reassuring the public. However,
there is a reserve to call up, and if things are put into good hands the
bank may pull through yet. Now what is the next step that you propose,
Mr. Fernlea?"

"I intend myself to go to New York to obtain the assistance of the
police and to call upon the broker who has acted for Westerton--that is,
for Johnstone. I shall tell him frankly we are tracing an extensive
robbery, and that we have reasons to believe that large numbers of the
foreign securities have passed through his hands, sent to him from
Chicago. I shall show him this list, and ask him if he has dealt in any
of them. If he says yes, we shall then have nothing to do but to go to
Chicago and obtain a warrant for the arrest of Westerton. We will not
bring Johnstone into it. Then the next time he goes over, we will pounce
upon him. I should like you to give me an authority to ask for you, as
one of the principal shareholders of the bank."

"I will go with you myself," Mr. Hertman said. "I shall have to go there
on business in a few days anyway, and can kill two birds with one
stone." "I suppose you will take Mr. Partridge with you?"

"Certainly. I shall have to tell the whole story to the commissioner of
police, and he will want what I say confirmed, both as to the theft and
the numbers of the missing securities."

The mission to New York was attended with complete success. The broker,
when called upon by Mr. Fernlea, Mr. Hertman, and the chief commissioner
himself, had no hesitation in disclosing his dealings with Westerton. It
was found that a large proportion of the securities noted had passed
through his hands.

"I have had my own suspicions that something was not quite right with
that gentleman lately. Two months ago he made a very lucky hit in corn.
Up to that time he had been unfortunate; and, as you see, all those
securities have been sold by him through me to meet his losses. Since
then he has been buying. But what struck me as singular was that he
insisted upon getting back the very securities he had parted with. He
had a special reason, he said, for wanting these particular shares and
no others. It gave me a lot of trouble, because the buyers had often
parted with them, and sometimes they had gone through two or three
hands, and I had to offer something over the market price to get them
again. However, with the exception of sixty thousand dollars' worth, I
have got them all, or rather, he has got them, and I am in treaty for
most of those he still wants. He said in his letter that it was a
crotchet of his, and I put it down that he was either a crank or a
thief, and yet, even in the latter case, I could not see any reason for
his wanting to get into his hands securities which he had once parted

"I can only suppose," Mr. Fernlea said, "that he was afraid that at the
meeting of the shareholders they would insist upon a committee being
appointed to investigate the whole affair, and the list of the missing
securities would then be published, in which case they would, of course,
be traced back to him--at least to Westerton."

"Then his name is not Westerton?"

"It is not," the chief commissioner said. "But I don't think we will
mention just at present what his real name is, though you are likely to
know it before long. Now," he went on, when they had left the broker's
office, "our course is clear enough. I will send one of my men with you
gentlemen to Chicago, with instructions to the local police to aid him
in the arrest of one Westerton on the charge of stealing a large number
of valuable securities, the property of the Brownsville Bank. And I
think I can congratulate you and the other shareholders of the bank on
what you have just heard. I fancy it likely that in that safe will be
found the whole of the missing property, with the exception of the small
number not yet bought up, and even these will probably be recovered, for
of course the broker has already received money to buy them with."

Five days later Roland Partridge, looking out from his window at his
lodgings in Chicago, saw six men stop before the house. He went quietly
downstairs and opened the door, and said, "That is the room."

The door opened and the party entered.

"Westerton, _alias_ Johnstone, I arrest you on the charge of stealing
securities, the property of the Brownsville Bank."

There was an exclamation, a slight struggle, and then Mr. Johnstone
stood handcuffed among his captors. The safe stood open. Mr. Fernlea and
Mr. Hertman stepped forward and glanced at its contents.

"It is as we expected," the former said. "I cannot say how many are
missing, but these are the securities stolen from the bank."

"I have been recovering them," Mr. Johnstone said hoarsely. "I have
been purchasing them so as to save the shareholders the loss. Another
week and I should have got them all. I received a batch to-day, and
there are only fifteen thousand dollars' worth missing."

"That may be true enough," Mr. Hertman said, "but we know that you stole
them all in the first place--that you yourself stole them, and put the
blame on your unfortunate cashier."

The excitement in Brownsville on the absconding of the cashier of the
bank was as nothing to that caused when the local paper came out with
the following telegram from its correspondent at Chicago:--

"A most important arrest was effected here this evening in the person of
a man known as Johnstone, _alias_ Westerton. This man has for months
occupied a lodging in Hale Street in this city. He only used it one
night a week, and was supposed by Mrs. James, the landlady--a person of
the highest respectability--to be a commercial traveller. This evening
he was arrested by an officer who came down especially from New York,
aided by our own active and intelligent police authorities, on the
charge of stealing a great number of valuable securities, the property
of the Brownsville Bank, which institution was, as our readers may
remember, threatened with a run, towards the conclusion of last year, by
the discovery of a robbery, which was at that time supposed to have been
effected by Mr. William Partridge, the cashier of the bank.

"The extraordinary part of the business is, that the man Westerton turns
out to be the president of the bank, Mr. James Johnstone, who has
hitherto borne the highest of characters, being considered quite the
leading citizen of Brownsville. The whole circumstances are most
romantic, and I shall be able to telegraph further details for your next
edition. I am enabled to state that this startling discovery has been
brought to light chiefly by the efforts of Mr. Roland Partridge, son of
Mr. William Partridge, hitherto suspected of the theft. Mr. Partridge
has been assisted by those well-known citizens of Brownsville, Mr.
Fernlea and Mr. Robert Hertman. These gentlemen are, with the two Mr.
Partridges, at present in Chicago, and will, I understand, leave by the
first train in the morning for Brownsville. The prisoner will also be
taken over in course of the day in charge of the police, and will be
charged before the justices of your city with his offence. I am informed
that the greater portion of the securities stolen have been recovered by
the police, so that the bank is not likely to be the loser of more than
a few thousand dollars by this crime."

Brownsville could at first scarcely believe the news, but enquiries
elicited the fact that Mr. Johnstone was absent, and that the police
had, late the previous evening, on the receipt of a telegram from
Chicago, gone to his house and placed seals upon the drawers and
cabinets. The machines of the _Brownsville Gazette_ were insufficient to
cope with the demands for papers of the second edition, which gave full
details of the affair, and were bought up even more eagerly than the

There was quite a crowd at the station to meet the first train from
Chicago, and a number of gentlemen who had previously known Mr.
Partridge, pressed forward to shake hands with him and to congratulate
him as he alighted from the train with his two friends. Roland did not
accompany him, having left the train two stations back to fetch his
mother, to whom the glad news had been telegraphed on the previous
night. Mr. Partridge could not himself go, as his presence would be
necessary at the court. There was no feeling of pity for Mr. Johnstone.
Later on he received sentence of five years' penal servitude--a sentence
that would have been heavier had not the court believed his statement
that he had intended to return the stolen securities to the bank. But
the effect of this was in public opinion neutralized by his conduct in
throwing the blame on to Mr. Partridge, and in allowing him to suffer
for his guilt.

Mr. Partridge was forced to overcome his objection to public gatherings
so far as to receive a banquet and presentation from his
fellow-townsmen, and was unanimously elected by the shareholders of the
Brownsville Bank president of that institution. Mr. Johnstone's family
left the town immediately after his arrest, and Percy Johnstone is at
present a clerk in a store in Broadway. Roland Partridge is still in Mr.
Fernlea's office, and will shortly, it is said, be admitted as a partner
in the business. About which time, it is also rumoured, he will enter
into another partnership with a young lady who was his staunchest
defender in his dark days.



A girl of fifteen, slim and lithe in figure--although it would scarcely
have suggested itself to a casual observer, so disfigured was it by the
thick, homespun garment in which she was clothed--stood looking out from
the door of a log cabin over the lake which lay a hundred yards away.
Her face would have been almost childish had it not been for a certain
alertness of expression and keenness of glance which would never have
been seen in the face of a town-bred girl, nor in one brought up in a
country where the only danger ever to be encountered was in crossing a
meadow in which a bull was grazing. Mary Mitford was the only child of
the settler who owned the cabin. He had at one time been a well-to-do
farmer, but he had fallen into difficulties and been obliged to give up
his farm and travel farther west, where land could be had for the
taking up.

The times had been peaceful, and although the spot he had fixed upon was
ten miles from the nearest village, that did not deter him from settling
there. It was a natural clearing of some twenty acres in extent. The
land was fertile, and sloped gradually down to the lake. A clear spring
rose close to the spot where he had determined to make his house, and as
to Indian troubles he shrugged his shoulders and said: "If the Indians
break out I shall only have to shut up my cabin and move into the
village; but as there is no house nearer than that, no tracks in the
forest leading past my place, and nothing worth stealing, it is hardly
likely that the red-skins will come my way. They are more likely to
attack the village than they are to visit my shanty."

He had now lived on his little farm for four years, and had had no
reason to regret his choice. The cabin originally built had been
enlarged. He had a horse to do his ploughing, and some ten acres under
tillage; a score of half-wild pigs roamed by day in the forest, picking
up their living there, and returning of their own accord to their sties
in the evening for their one regular meal. Five or six cows and a score
of sheep grazed on the untilled ground; geese and ducks waddled down to
the lake at daybreak and returned at nightfall; two or three dozen
chickens found plenty of grubs and worms to eat between the rows of corn
and vegetables on the tilled ground. Altogether John Mitford was doing
well. He went down once a week with ducks, geese, fowls, and vegetables
to the village, using a large boat, on which he had built a sort of
cabin where he often passed the night on the lake, returning home to
breakfast with a goodly store of wild duck he had shot, and sometimes a
stag which he had overtaken as it swam across the lake.

So well had he done, indeed, that he had settled to take on three or
four hired men to extend the clearing by cutting down and grubbing up
the forest. He had been ably assisted by his wife, who not only looked
after the house, but assisted on the farm at busy times; while Mary, who
was but nine years old when they came there, made herself as useful as
she could at light work, fed the animals, cooked when her mother was in
the fields, and as she grew older spent a good deal of her time in a
small birch-bark canoe her father had bought for her in the village. She
added a good deal to the family store by fishing; not only was the
house well supplied, but she enabled her father to take a large
basketful down when he went to the village, where the people were all
too busy to fish for themselves.

She also learned to use her father's rifle with a skill equal to his
own, and could hit any duck that came within range of the weapon. From
time to time there were rumours of trouble with the Indians; but these
either proved to be without foundation, or the troubles took place at
distant spots on the border. Sometimes Mary's mother accompanied her
father to the village when stores had to be laid in, and materials for
garments purchased for which their own homespun cloth was unsuitable.
They had started together this morning, and the three men who had been
engaged were to return with them. These were to be accommodated in an
outhouse until they had built a log cabin for themselves, and a store of
groceries, saws and axes, blankets, and other necessaries for their use
were also to be purchased and brought up.

They had, when the settler had gone down on the previous week, heard
that councils had been held among the village elders as to the rumoured
Indian troubles, and as to the best method of defending the place should
the enemy threaten an attack. John Mitford had received many warnings,
but he paid little attention to them, and while speaking lightly of them
to his wife, remarked with a laugh, that with the hired men they would
have quite a garrison.

"They will all bring their guns up with them," he said, "and it will
scarcely be worth the while of any Indians to attack us when they know
that we should be able to make a stout fight, and that even if they took
the place there would be nothing to pay them except our scalps for the
loss of life they would suffer. The men I hired to-day are all
accustomed to border work, and claim to be good shots. I can say as much
for myself, and Mary here is a good bit better than I am, and you have
learned to make very fair practice, wife."

"I have not had time for much of it, John, but at least I think that I
could scarcely miss an Indian at fifty yards; however, as you say, we
have been hearing these rumours every three or four months since we
settled here, and nothing has ever come of it."

So little did they think of the matter that when they started in the
scow an hour before daybreak no allusion was made to it, and Mary was to
have supper ready for them on their return.

"Remember that there will be six, Mary, and you will have to provide
plentifully for the men. It would never do to give them a bad impression
on their arrival. We shall be back before nightfall."

When they had gone, Mary went about her usual work--let the pigs out,
and saw them well on their way towards the forest, the ducks started
down to the lake and the chickens to the fields, while the geese began
to graze in the meadow between the house and the lake, where the horse
and other animals joined them as soon as they were let out. Having
attended to these matters, she went about the work of the house. From
time to time she came to the door to see that all was going on well. It
was three o'clock in the afternoon when she heard a sudden squeal of
alarm in the forest, and a minute or two later the pigs came galloping
out of it. Accustomed as Mary was to all the noises of the place, the
sudden outcry startled her.

"What can have frightened the pigs?" she said to herself; "it may be
that a mountain lion has sprang down upon one of them, but it may be
that there are Indians."

She went back at once into the house, pulled out the moss from the
loopholes that had been made when it was built in case they should ever
be attacked, and, going from one to another, gazed into the forest.
Before doing so, she had looked to the priming of the three rifles and
two shot-guns that hung on the walls. She could see nothing, but
observed that there was a general feeling of uneasiness among the
animals. The horse had stopped feeding, and with ears outstretched
seemed to be listening for sounds in the forest; the cows, after staring
about, commenced to walk in the direction of their byres; and some geese
which were near the edge of the lake, gave warning cries, keeping close
together, and also moved towards the house. The girl had heard so many
stories of Indian raids on lonely settlements that she felt sure that an
attack would not be made until after dark. They could hardly know that
she was alone in the house, and would not risk losing lives by an
advance against it in broad daylight.

As she moved from loophole to loophole she thought over what was best to
be done. Although the Indians might wait till nightfall, if they saw no
advantage in attacking before, they would assuredly fall upon her
father's party as they landed, as, with the advantage of such a
surprise, they might expect to slaughter them without resistance. It
was hardly likely that any large party could be in the wood. She had
heard her father often say that any body of Indians on the war-path
would make straight for the settlements and would not waste their time
upon isolated farms, though stragglers from the main body might do so.

"I must do something at once," she said to herself at last; "if the
Indians see no one about they may crawl up here, and though I might
shoot one or two of them, I could not be on all sides of the house at
once. If I were killed, father and mother would be sure to fall into the
trap. From the way those geese behaved I believe it must be a party who
were travelling down the lake, and, knowing of the clearing, they landed
some little distance away and moved along the shore. As canoes often
traverse the lake, and the Indians have an eye for every detail, they
would know that its occupants possess a scow, and that as it was not
there some of the inhabitants were certainly away. They would therefore
probably wait until their return before making an attack on the hut,
which could be easily captured; while, were they to attack the cabin at
once, the firing might be heard, and those on the scow being thus warned
might go at once to the village, where their report would give the
alarm to the inhabitants, and so put them on their guard against the
attack that was to be made upon them by the main body that night."

All these things were thought over by the girl. She had so often
listened to the stories of Indian raids told by passing hunters who put
up for the night, that she was able to judge the situation as accurately
as an older settler might have done. She was pale, but this was the only
sign of her consciousness that her life was in extreme danger. She knew
that if an attack had not been made at once, the Indians must have good
reasons for waiting. From time to time Indian canoes had stopped there,
and the occupants had landed in order to exchange skins and other
articles for tobacco and powder, and so save themselves the journey down
to the settlement, and they would know that her mother, father, and
herself were the sole occupants. The absence of the scow showed that her
father was away, and that the place could be easily captured, though
perhaps not without loss of blood, for women of the frontier were
usually able to use a rifle on an emergency. She went out occasionally,
took some food for the pigs, and hung up some clothes to dry, in a quiet
and unconcerned manner, in order to show that no suspicion was
entertained that Indians were in the neighbourhood.

At last she determined upon the best course to be pursued. It was above
all things necessary to warn her parents. That the attempt might cost
her her life did not weigh in the slightest; she would certainly be
killed if she remained there. There was just a possibility that she
might succeed in saving their lives as well as her own by action. Once
in her canoe she might escape; it was very small and light. Constant
exercise had so strengthened her arms that she could make it fly through
the water at a speed at which few of the Indians with whom she had
sometimes tried a spin could surpass. The canoe or canoes, however, in
which the red-skins had arrived were doubtless paddled by three or more
men, and these would certainly overtake her. It was the knowledge that
this was so that had prevented her from making an earlier start. To give
her a chance of getting away she must carry a rifle with her, and once
the lurking enemy, who were doubtless watching her every movement,
perceived that she was armed they would guess at once that she was
conscious of their presence, and would rush out and tomahawk her before
she reached the water's edge.

At last she decided upon a plan. Taking off her gown, she fastened the
rifle with a cord round her body. The butt was against her shoulder and
the barrel came down just below her ankle, projecting but an inch or two
below her gown. When she put it on again, even the sharpest Indian eye
could scarcely notice this as she walked through the grass. She had
passed the rope but once round her body, and had tied the end in a bow
so that she could in a moment unloose it on reaching the canoe, for it
would be impossible for her to kneel down with the rifle in its present
position. She took a powder-horn which she slung over her shoulder by a
cord, and put a dozen bullets into her pocket. Then she put some grain
into a basket, and was ready to start. Before leaving the house she
stood for a few minutes in silent prayer, for she was unable to kneel;
then she went out.

It needed a great effort to saunter leisurely along, but the thought of
her parents' danger nerved her, and she went from animal to animal,
giving each a handful or two of grain, calling them to her, and singing
in a voice in which at first there was a little quaver, but which soon
rang out loud and fearlessly. Fortunately the horse and one or two of
the cows were feeding close down by the lake. As she went her hopes
rose. After feeding them she strolled in a leisurely way towards her
canoe, and, standing close to it, looked over the water, then she went
down to its edge, and gazed down the lake as if looking for the
returning scow. After standing thus for a minute or two she returned to
the canoe, pulled at the ends of the rope under her loose dress, and let
the muzzle of the rifle drop to the ground. She stooped over the canoe
as if arranging the paddles, and placed the rifle in it. The action, she
thought, could hardly have been seen by the Indians, for the trees were
two hundred yards on each side of her. She then lifted the light canoe
and carried it down to the water.

This was the critical moment. The Indians might allow her to go
unmolested, thinking that she was only going for a short paddle to pass
away the time until her parents returned, and in that case they would
crawl across and enter the cabin in order to take the party by surprise
as they unsuspectingly strolled up from the scow. On the other hand, if
they thought that she had had any idea of their presence, and was going
to warn her father, they would know the coveted scalps would be lost if
they did not succeed in catching her. As she seated herself in the
canoe and took up her paddle, her heart beat high with hope, but,
glancing towards the trees, she saw six red-skins running at full speed
from the edge of the forest. What she hadn't reckoned upon had occurred.
Their sharp eyes had caught the flash of the sun upon the barrel of the
rifle as she put it in, and they at once guessed that she was aware of
their presence, and was endeavouring to escape.

It was well that she had lost not a moment's time after placing the
canoe in the water. Her nervousness had now passed away, and with rapid
but steady strokes she drove the light craft ahead, and was fifty or
sixty yards out on to the lake before the Indians reached the spot she
had left. They had been silent hitherto, but their yells rose fiercely
as they fired shot after shot; but the powder sold to the Indians was
always of a poor quality, and though the balls fell close to her none
struck her. The red-skins did not wait to reload, but ran back to the
forest, and a minute after they had disappeared among the trees she saw
a canoe with three paddlers dash out from some bushes in which it had
been concealed. She had but some three hundred yards' start, and
although she was rowing her hardest, looking over her shoulder from
time to time, she found that they were gaining upon her. When a mile had
been passed she was but seventy or eighty yards ahead. With a sweep of
her paddle she turned the canoe broadside to her pursuers, laid her
paddle in, seized her rifle, took a steady aim, and fired.

The report was followed by a yell, and the Indian in the bow dropped his
paddle and fell back. At other times, at so short a distance, she would
not have missed her aim at the centre of his chest by a finger's
breadth; but though she had held her breath in order to steady her
rifle, her arms were quivering from her exertions, and she had only hit
him on his right shoulder, the red mark on the brown skin showing where
he was struck. A moment later she was again on her way. The fall of the
man against the red-skin behind him had nearly upset the Indian canoe,
and she had gained several lengths before the pursuit was continued. She
looked round, and saw that the wounded man was again kneeling in his
place. His paddle had fallen overboard when he was struck, and even had
it not been so, he could have rendered but slight assistance to his
comrades with but one hand available.

"It is lucky that he was not killed," she said to herself. "If he had
been, they would have thrown him overboard."

A minute later she heard a splash. The wounded man had leapt into the
water, and was making for the shore.

"It is a fair race now," she thought. "Their canoe is a large one, as it
held three sitters besides the rowers. Now I must take it steadily. I am
sure they will not gain on me as long as I can keep up--it is just a
question of last."

She rowed, however, her hardest for a few minutes, as it was
all-important to get beyond the range of the Indians' guns. When a
glance round showed her that she was some hundred and twenty yards ahead
of her pursuers, she settled down into a long steady stroke. She knew
well that she was now practically safe, for even if one of their guns
could carry to her, it was difficult even for the best shot to aim from
a dancing canoe. For half an hour there was no change in the position.
The Indians were rowing their hardest, but the weight of their
comparatively heavy canoe was telling upon them as much as the labour of
driving her light craft was upon the girl. It was well for her that an
out-of-door life and daily practice had hardened her muscles and
strengthened her frame. She had once paused for a couple of seconds and
pulled off her frock, which at once cumbered her movements and was
terribly hot. The speed of the canoe had scarcely slackened when the
paddle was at work again, and she felt a sensible relief from the
freedom of her limbs.

A few minutes later a little cry of joy broke from her as she saw the
scow come out from behind a point some two miles away. The sight gave
her renewed hope and strength. They must have left the village earlier
than she had expected. On the other hand, a yell from the red-skins told
her that they too had seen the scow, and would certainly exert
themselves to the utmost to overtake her before she reached it. Although
it had seemed that the paddlers were all doing their best before, the
added speed of the canoes told that their exertions had been redoubled.
When within a mile of the scow, the girl glanced backwards. The Indians
had gained some thirty yards upon her; but another five minutes would
bring her within rifle-shot of the scow. She could see by the motion of
the oars that the rowers were doing their utmost, while the others were
standing up watching the chase with their rifles in their hands.

Her strength was failing her fast now, but she struggled on
determinedly; at least she had saved her father and mother. Two minutes
later she started at the report of a gun behind, and the splash of a
ball in the water alongside the canoe. She felt that she was safe now.
The red-skins would not have stopped to fire had they not felt that it
was their last chance of revenge. A few more strokes and she looked
round. The Indians were already on their way towards the shore. Then she
let her paddle drop, and collapsed in the bottom of the canoe, hearing
but faintly the sound of repeated shots from the scow, which was now but
a little more than a quarter of a mile away. Hitherto they had been
unable to fire, as the two canoes were in a line. Faintly she heard a
shout in her father's voice: "Are you hit, Mary?" But she was incapable
of making an effort to reply, and it was not until the scow came
alongside and she was lifted on board that she was able to answer. The
relief of her father and mother was intense when they found that she was
unwounded. They had heard the Indians fire, and at the distance they
were away it had seemed to them that the canoes were close to each
other. They then saw the red-skins at once make for shore, and she had
so quickly afterwards sunk into the canoe that they greatly feared she
was wounded. The men with them, however, were unanimous in agreeing that
she had not been hit. If she had been, they argued, her pursuers would
certainly have paddled up to the canoe and taken her scalp before making
for the shore. It was some time before she was able to tell her story,
and the frontiersmen were as warm in their expressions of admiration for
her coolness as were her parents.

A consultation was now held as to the best plan to be pursued. It was
finally agreed that one of the men should take the canoe and return to
the village, which was but four miles away, and warn them to prepare for
an attack that night. The stockades had already been strengthened, and
if prepared, it was probable that the settlers would be able to beat off
any attack. The scow was then put in motion again. It was felt that the
three Indians on shore would have done nothing until they learned from
the men in the canoe that the pursuit had failed, and that the settlers
had been warned. They would probably have followed along the shore to
see the result, and might either return, burn the cabin, and slaughter
the cattle, or might go on and join the Indians who were doubtless
gathered close to the village. The frontiersmen were of opinion that
they would take the latter course.

"The red-skins are fond of revenge," one of the men said, "but they are
fonder of scalps. They will not expect to get much plunder from your
house, and will certainly get no scalps; and though they might do a lot
of mischief on your clearing, this would offer less satisfaction to them
than getting their share of the plunder and scalps from the village."

"Besides," another put in, "they would certainly get into bad odour with
their tribe if they were absent from the attack. I take it for certain
that they had orders to go straight there, and that it was only the hope
that they would bring in some scalps that induced them to land at your
clearing. I think that it is plumb sure that they will go straight on."

Rowing vigorously, they reached the farm an hour before sunset. To their
great satisfaction they saw the animals grazing as usual, the cabin
intact, and no signs of an enemy's presence; nevertheless the
frontiersmen advised Mr. Mitford to proceed cautiously, for it was just
possible the Indians were hidden in the house. Accordingly he told his
wife and daughter to remain in the scow, which, when the men landed,
was pushed off into deep water and the grapnel dropped. The men moved up
through the trees until abreast of the house.

"I am convinced that they are not there," the settler said. "The animals
are all feeding quietly, and the geese are just in front of the door. I
am sure that if red-skins were inside, the horse and cattle would all be
gathered by the water, and the geese, which are as watchful as dogs,
would not be near the house."

The others agreed, and, stooping low, made their way through the
standing grain until within some thirty yards of the house. Then with
rifles advanced ready to fire, they dashed forward. Still all was quiet.

"They are not here," one of the men said positively. "They certainly
would have fired, and not let us get up against the wall. We have only
to walk in."

They went round to the door and entered. All was exactly as Mary had
left it. The fire had burnt low, but the pot was still simmering over
it. The farmer went down to the water and fetched up his wife and Mary.

"If it hadn't been for you, Mary," he said, "everything would have been
destroyed here, and we should be lying dead on the shore."

The question was next discussed what they had best do. The frontiersmen
were unanimous in their opinion that there was no fear of an attack that
night, but were equally certain that one would be made the next night,
or at the latest on that following.

"No matter whether they take the village or not, they are sure to attack
you. If they have won, the varmint you have baulked to-day will bring a
party of their friends here for plunder and scalps. If they are beaten
off they will, before they return home, ravage every outlying farm. To
make matters sure, I should say it would be safest for your wife and
daughter to sleep on board the scow. We can bring her in close to the
shore and camp down there ourselves, so that, if needs be, we can get on
board and put out into the lake. They have only one canoe, as far as we
know; but if they had a dozen they would not dare to attack us. I do not
think that there is a chance of any trouble to-night. In the morning, I
should say your best plan would be to get the things you most value on
board the scow, with enough meat and provisions to last for a week. You
must stay with the ladies on board, and we will drive all the animals a
couple of miles into the forest. The worst that can happen then is that,
when the Indians come, they will burn down the house. I don't see that
we can prevent that. If we were to lay off here in the scow, we could
keep them from approaching within range of our rifles, but we could not
prevent them from coming down from behind the house.

"It does not matter about the cabin," the settler said; "that is easily
put up again. And, indeed, I had intended before long to pull it down
and rebuild it in better style, and put it close down by the water."

"That would be a good plan, boss. If you were to put it there, and make
a strong palisade running from it on each side down to the water, you
could fight it out against a big lot of red-skins, and if the worst came
to the worst, could make off in your scow. I would put a bag or two of
grain in the boat, if I were you, now. When you start in the morning,
row along the shore to the east till you see us come out. We will bunch
the animals close by there, and if we give them a feed every evening
they are safe not to wander very far. It is not likely the red-skins
will trouble to hunt for them; they will burn your house and then make
off. You might leave half a dozen of your sheep here. If they come, the
Indians can make a meal, and they won't be wanting to search the woods
for one, and are safe to make off without delay. When they have once got
a beating they don't care to hang about; and if they have succeeded at
the village, and got scalps and booty, some of them will at once start
for home to have a dance after their victory, and the others will be off
to strike a blow at some other village before the news of what has
occurred reaches the settlers."

And so the matter was carried out. The night passed quietly, but in the
morning the frontiersmen, putting their ears down to the surface of the
lake, could make out heavy firing in the distance, and knew that the
attack on the village had begun. The work was then set about. The whole
of the feathered stock were tied by their legs and placed in the scow.
The store of provisions, groceries, the linen, and clothes were all
placed on board, and then the settler, with his wife and daughter,
pushed off, while the three men drove the animals into the forest. Three
hours later those on the scow saw them appear at the edge of the lake
nearly three miles from the clearing, and the scow was at once rowed
ashore. The animals had been driven to a small clearing a quarter of a
mile away, and on the party going up they were found to be still there.
Mary went round petting them and giving them handfuls of grain, and
after remaining there for half an hour they returned to the lake. The
scow was hidden under some branches overhanging the water. In the
afternoon a small canoe with a solitary paddler was seen coming along,
keeping close inshore. As it approached, Mary recognized her canoe, and
the men declared that the rower was their comrade who had gone to give
the alarm to the village.

"What news, Reuben?" they shouted as soon as he was within hearing.

"Bad news," he said. "The village is taken, and every soul but myself
murdered! They made a good fight, but the red-skins were too strong. I
got hit in the leg pretty early in the fight, and, finding that I was no
more use, I got two women to carry me down to the canoe. I knew that I
should be as comfortable there as anywhere, and if things went wrong it
gave me a chance. Two hours later I heard by the screaming that the
red-skins had forced the palisades and were in the village, so I thought
that it was time for me to be off. I was able to sit up, though I was
badly hit below the knee, and I paddled off and made for the clearing.
When I got there I saw at once that all the animals were gone, and made
sure that they had been driven into the forest, and that you had taken
to the scow. I did not suppose that you had gone very far, so I came on
looking for you, and glad enough I was to hear your shout."

"You fear that all in the village have been murdered?" Mr. Mitford said.

"I have not a doubt of it. Those red fiends spare no one, especially as
there was a stout resistance, and a good many of them have been wiped

He was now helped out of the canoe. His comrades, all of whom had much
experience of wounds, examined his leg carefully, and were of opinion
that, although the bone was splintered, it was not broken, and that the
ball had gone out behind.

"The best thing to do," one of them said, "will be to make a deep cut
and pick out all the pieces of bone. It will never heal properly with
them in."

"Fire away then!" the wounded man said coolly. "It is best to make a
good job of it at once. Now I know that the bone is not really broken I
don't mind what you do with it."

"Do you happen to have a new knife, Mr. Mitford?" one of the other
frontiersmen said, turning to the settler. "One wants a new knife and a
sharp one."

"I cannot give you a new one, but it was only yesterday that I ground my
own knife, and it is both sharp and clean."

"That will do first rate."

And, taking the long knife the settler wore in a sheath hanging from his
belt, he proceeded to operate. Not a groan or a sigh proceeded from the
wounded man. Accustomed to a hard life as these men were, they were
almost as insensible to pain as the Indians themselves. After the
splinters of bone had been removed, the wound was washed with warm water
and then carefully bandaged. A fire had by this time been lit a short
distance in the forest in a position where its light could not be
observed by any passing canoe. Here the men bivouacked, taking it by
turns to keep watch. For four days they remained here; then one of them
started as soon as it was dark, in Mary's canoe, to examine the
clearing. He returned in little over an hour. The cabin and outbuildings
had all been burnt, and the place was absolutely deserted. It was agreed
that there was not the slightest chance of the Indians returning there,
and the settler and three of the men at once began to fell trees; while
the fourth, who could not assist in active work for some time, went down
in the canoe to the village, which he found had been entirely destroyed,
but that a body of the State militia had arrived there. From them he
learned that another village had been destroyed; but in an attack on a
third the Indians had been repulsed with great loss, and had not since
been heard of, and it was believed that they had retired to their own

Three months later a log-house had been erected by the water-side, with
palisades running down into deep water. It was large and comfortable,
and being built of square logs and well loopholed, and with the doors
and windows on the water-side only, it could resist a formidable attack.
A very strong gate in one of the palisades would admit of the animals
being driven in there for shelter. All those which had been taken into
the forest had been recovered. The house done, the men set to work to
enlarge the clearing, and ten years later it was one of the largest and
best-cultivated farms on the lake. Mary, whose exploit had gained for
her a wide reputation throughout the district for her courage and
coolness, had long before married a young Englishman who had come out
with some capital, with the intention of farming. Mary would not hear of
leaving her father and mother, and accordingly he entered into
partnership with Mr. Mitford, and his energy and capital had no small
share in developing the farm. A second log-house was built within some
twenty yards of the other, and connected with it by a strong palisade.
However, the settlers were never again disturbed by the Indians, and so
many new-comers had settled beyond them that it could no longer be
called an outlying settlement, especially as a town of considerable size
had sprung into existence on the site of the village that had been

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