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Title: Satan Sanderson
Author: Rives, Hallie Erminie, 1876-
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 "Satan Sanderson" ***

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generously made available by Internet Archive (http://archive.org/)

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      *      *      *      *      *

Books by



  Illustrated by A. B. Wenzell

  Illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy

  Illustrated by Reginald B. Birch

  Illustrated by A. B. Wenzell

      *      *      *      *      *





Author of
The Castaway, Hearts Courageous, etc.

With Illustrations by A. B. Wenzell

The Bobbs-Merrill Company

Copyright 1907
The Bobbs-Merrill Company


Press of
Braunworth & Co.
Bookbinders and Printers
Brooklyn, N. Y.


CHAPTER                                      PAGE
      I AS A MAN SOWS                           1

     II DOCTOR MOREAU                          15

    III THE COMING OF A PRODIGAL               20


      V THE BISHOP SPEAKS                      47

     VI WHAT CAME OF A WEDDING                 50

    VII OUT OF THE DARK                        60

   VIII "AM I MY BROTHER'S KEEPER?"            68

     IX AFTER A YEAR                           75

      X THE GAME                               85


    XII THE FALL OF THE CURTAIN               105

   XIII THE CLOSED DOOR                       108

    XIV THE WOMAN WHO REMEMBERED              115

     XV THE MAN WHO HAD FORGOTTEN             125

    XVI THE AWAKENING                         137

   XVII AT THE TURN OF THE TRAIL              147


    XIX THE EVIL EYE                          160

     XX MRS. HALLORAN TELLS A STORY           167

    XXI A VISIT AND A VIOLIN                  171


  XXIII A RACE WITH DEATH                     187

   XXIV ON SMOKY MOUNTAIN                     198

    XXV THE OPEN WINDOW                       210

   XXVI LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT             222

  XXVII INTO THE GOLDEN SUNSET                229

 XXVIII THE TENANTLESS HOUSE                  238

   XXIX THE CALL OF LOVE                      250

    XXX IN A FOREST OF ARDEN                  259


  XXXII THE WHITE HORSE SKIN                  277

 XXXIII THE RENEGADE                          282

  XXXIV THE TEMPTATION                        289

   XXXV FELDER TAKES A CASE                   302

  XXXVI THE HAND AT THE DOOR                  305

 XXXVII THE PENITENT THIEF                    311

XXXVIII A DAY FOR THE STATE                   319


     XL FATE'S WAY                            335


   XLII THE RECKONING                         344

  XLIII THE LITTLE GOLD CROSS                 353

   XLIV THE IMPOSTOR                          360

    XLV AN APPEAL TO CÆSAR                    369

   XLVI FACE TO FACE                          376


 XLVIII THE VERDICT                           390

   XLIX THE CRIMSON DISK                      395

      L WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE                 397




"_To my son Hugh, in return for the care and sorrow he has caused me all
the days of his life, for his dissolute career and his desertion, I do
give and bequeath the sum of one thousand dollars and the memory of his
misspent youth._"

It was very quiet in the wide, richly furnished library. The May night
was still, but a faint suspiration, heavy with the fragrance of jasmin
flowers, stirred the Venetian blind before the open window and rustled
the moon-silvered leaves of the aspens outside. As the incisive
professional pronouncement of the judge cut through the lamp-lighted
silence, the grim, furrowed face with its sunken eyes and gray military
mustaches on the pillow of the wheel-chair set more grimly; a girl
seated in the damask shadow of the fire-screen caught her breath; and
from across the polished table the Reverend Henry Sanderson turned his
handsome, clean-shaven face and looked at the old man.

A peevish misogynist the neighborhood labeled the latter, with the
parish chapel for hobby, and for thorn-in-the-flesh this only son Hugh,
a black sheep whose open breaches of decorum the town had borne as best
it might, till the tradition of his forebears took him off to an eastern
university. A reckless life there and three wastrel years abroad, had
sent him back to resume his peccadilloes on a larger scale, to quarrel
bitterly with his father, and to leave his home in anger. In what rough
business of life was Hugh now chewing the cud of his folly? Harry
Sanderson was wondering.

"Wait," came the querulous voice from the chair. "Write in 'graceless'
before the word 'desertion'."

"_For his dissolute career and his--graceless--desertion_," repeated the
lawyer, the parchment crackling under his pen.

The stubborn antagonism that was a part of David Stires' nature flared
under the bushy eyebrows. "As a man sows!" he said, a kind of bitter
jocularity in the tone. "That should be the text, if this sermon of mine
needed any, Sanderson! It won't have as large an audience as your
discourses draw, but it will be remembered by one of its hearers, at

Judge Conwell glanced curiously at Harry Sanderson as he blotted the
emendation. He knew the liking of the cross-grained and taciturn old
invalid--St. James' richest parishioner--for this young man of
twenty-five who had come to the parish only two months before, fresh
from his theological studies, to fill a place temporarily vacant--and
had stayed by sheer force of personality. He wondered if, aside from
natural magnetic qualities, this liking had not been due first of all to
the curious resemblance between the young minister and the absent son
whom David Stires was disinheriting. For, as far as mold of feature
went, the young minister and the ne'er-do-well might have been twin
brothers; yet a totally different manner and coloring made this likeness
rather suggestive than striking.

No one, perhaps, had ever interested the community more than had Harry
Sanderson. He had entered upon his duties with the marks of youth, good
looks, self-possession and an ample income thick upon him, and had
brought with him a peculiar charm of manner and an apparent incapacity
for doing things in a hackneyed way. Convention sat lightly upon Harry
Sanderson. He recognized few precedents, either in the new methods and
millinery with which he had invested the service, or in his personal
habits. Instead of attending the meeting of St. Andrew's Guild, after
the constant custom of his predecessor, he was apt to be found playing
his violin (a passion with him) in the smart study that adjoined the
Gothic chapel where he shepherded his fashionable flock, or tramping
across the country with a briar pipe in his mouth and his brown spaniel
"Rummy" nosing at his heels. His athletic frame and clean-chiselled
features made him a rare figure for the reading-desk, as his violin
practice, the cut of his golf-flannels, the immaculate elegance of his
motor-car--even the white carnation he affected in his buttonhole--made
him for the younger men a goodly pattern of the cloth; and it had
speedily grown to be the fashion to hear the brilliant young minister,
to memorize his classical aphorisms or to look up his latest quotation
from Keats or Walter Pater. So that Harry Sanderson, whose innovations
had at first disturbed and ruffled the sensibilities of those who would
have preferred a fogy, in the end had drifted, apparently without
special effort, into a far wider popularity than that which bowed to the
whim of the old invalid in the white house in the aspens.

Something of all this was in the lawyer's mind as he paused--a
perfunctory pause--before he continued:

"_... I do give and bequeath the sum of one thousand dollars, and the
memory of his misspent youth._"

Harry Sanderson's eyes had wandered from the chair to the slim figure
of the girl who sat by the screen. This was Jessica Holme, the orphaned
daughter of a friend of the old man's early years, who had recently come
to the house in the aspens to fill the void left by Hugh's departure.
Harry could see the contour of throat and wrists, the wild-rose mesh of
the skin against the Romney-blue gown, the plenteous red-bronze hair
uncoiled and falling in a single braid, and the shadowy pathos of her
eyes. Clear hazel eyes they were, wide and full, but there was in them
no depth of expression--for Jessica Holme was blind. As the crisp
deliberate accent pointed the judicial period, as with a subterranean
echo of irrefutable condemnation, Harry saw her under lip indrawn, her
hands clasp tightly, then unclasp in her lap. Pliant, graceful hands, he
thought, which even blindness could not make maladroit. In the chapel
porch stood the figure of an angel which she had modelled solely by the
wonderful touch in the finger-tips.

"Go on," rasped the old man.

"_The residue of my estate, real and personal, I do give and bequeath to
my ward, Jessica Holme, to be and become--_"

He broke off suddenly, for the girl was kneeling by the chair, groping
for the restless hand that wandered on the afghan, and crying in a
strained, agitated voice: "No ... no ... you must not! Please, please! I
never could bear it!"

"Why not?" The old man's irritant query was belligerent. "Why not? What
is there for you to bear, I'd like to know!"

"He is your son!"

"In the eyes of the law, yes. But not otherwise!" His voice rose. "What
has he done to deserve anything from me? What has he had all his life
but kindness? And how has he repaid it? By being a waster and a
prodigal. By setting me in contempt, and finally by forsaking me in my
old age for his own paths of ribaldry."

The girl shook her head. "You don't know where he is now, or what he is
doing. Oh, he was wild and reckless, I have no doubt. But when he
quarrelled and left you, wasn't it perhaps because he was too
quick-tempered? And if he hasn't come back, isn't it perhaps because he
is too proud? Why, he wouldn't be your son if he weren't proud! No
matter how sorry he might be, it would make no difference then. I could
give him the money you had given me, but I couldn't change the fact.
You, his own father, would have disowned him, disinherited him, taken
away his birthright!"

"And richly he'd deserve it!" he snapped, his bent fingers plucking
angrily at the wool of the afghan. "He doesn't want a father or a home.
He wants his own way and a freedom that is license! I know him. You
don't; you never saw him."

"I never saw you either," she said, a little sadly.

"Come," he answered a shade more gently. "I didn't mean your eyes, my
dear! I mean that you never met him in your life. He had shaken off the
dust of his feet against this house before you came to brighten it,
Jessica. I've not forgiven him seven times; I've forgiven him seventy
times seven. But he doesn't want forgiveness. To him I am only 'the old
man' who refused to 'put up' longer for his fopperies and extravagances!
When he left this house six months ago, he declared he would never enter
it again. Very well--let him stay away! He shan't come back when I am in
my grave, to play ducks and drakes with the money he misuses! And I've
fixed it so that you won't be able to give it away either, Jessica. Give
me the pen," he said to the judge, "and, Sanderson, will you ring? We
shall need the butler to witness with you."

As Harry Sanderson rose to his feet the girl, still kneeling, turned
half about with a hopeless gesture. "Oh, won't you help me?" she said.
She spoke more to herself, it seemed, than to either of the men who
waited. Harry's face was in the shadow. The lawyer with careful
deliberation was putting a new pen into the holder.

"Sanderson," said the old man with bitter fierceness, lifting his hand,
"I dare say you think I am hard; but I tell you there has never been a
day since Hugh was born when I wouldn't have laid down my life for him!
You are so like! When I look at you, I seem to see him as he might have
been but for his own wayward choice! If he were only as like you in
other things as he is in feature! You are nearly the same age; you went
to the same college, I believe; you have had the same advantages and the
same temptations. Yet you, an orphan, come out a divinity student, and
Hugh--my son!--comes out a roisterer with gambling debts, a member of
the 'fast set,' one of a dissolute fraternity known as 'The Saints,'
whose very existence, no doubt, was a shame to the institution!"

Harry Sanderson turned slowly to the light. A strange panorama in that
moment had flashed through his brain--kaleidoscopic pictures of an
earlier reckless era when he had not been known as the "Reverend Henry
Sanderson." An odd, sensitive flush burned his forehead. The hand he had
outstretched to the bell-cord dropped to his side, and he said, with
painful steadiness:

"I think I ought to say that I was the founder, and at the time you
speak of, the Abbot of The Saints."

The pen rattled against the mahogany, as the man of law leaned back to
regard the speaker with a stare of surprise whetted with a keen edge of
satiric amusement. The old man sat silent, and the girl crouched by the
chair with parted lips. The look in Harry's face was not now that of the
decorative young churchman of the Sabbath surplice. It held a keen
electric sense of the sharp contrasts of life, touched with a wakeful
pain of conscience.

"I was in the same year with Hugh," Harry went on. "We sowed our wild
oats together--a tidy crop, I fancy, for us both. That page of my life
is pasted down. I speak of it now because it would be cowardly not to. I
have not seen Hugh since college closed four years ago. But then I was
all you have called him--a waster and a prodigal. And I was more; for
while others followed, I led. At college I was known as 'Satan

He stopped. The old man cleared his throat, but did not speak. He was
looking at Harry fixedly. In the pause the girl found his gnarled hand
and laid her cheek against it. Harry leaned an elbow upon the
mantelpiece as he continued, in a low voice:

"Colleges are not moral strait-jackets. Men have there to cast about,
try themselves and find their bearings. They are in hand-touch with
temptation, and out of earshot of the warnings of experience. The mental
and moral machine lacks a governor. Slips of the cog then may or may not
count seriously to character in the end. They sometimes signify only a
phase. They may be mere idiosyncrasy. I have thought that it stood in
this case," he added with the glimmer of a smile, "with Satan Sanderson;
he seems to me from this focus to be quite another individual from the
present rector of St. James."

"It is only the Hugh of the present that I am dealing with," interposed
the old man. For David Stires was just and he was feeling a grim respect
for Harry's honesty.

Harry acknowledged the brusque kindliness of the tone with a little
motion of the hand. As he spoke he had been feeling his way through a
maze of contradictory impulses. For a moment he had been back in that
old irresponsible time; the Hugh he had known then had sprung to his
mind's eye--an imitative idler, with a certain grace and brilliancy of
manner that made him hail-fellow-well-met, but withal shallow, foppish
and incorrigible, a cheap and shabby imitator of the outward manner, not
the inner graces, of good-fellowship. Yet Hugh had been one of his own
"fast set"; they had called him "Satan's shadow," a tribute to the
actual resemblance as well as to the palpable imitation he affected.
Harry shivered a little. The situation seemed, in antic irony, to be
reversing itself. It was as if not alone Hugh, but he, Harry Sanderson,
in the person of that past of his, was now brought to bar for judgment
in that room. For the instant he forgot how utterly characterless Hugh
had shown himself of old, how devoid of all desire for rehabilitation
his present reputation in the town argued him. At that moment it seemed
as if in saving Hugh from this condemnation, he was pleading for himself
as he had been--for the further chance which he, but for circumstances,
perhaps, had needed, too. His mind, working swiftly, told him that no
appeal to mere sentiment would suffice--he must touch another note. As
he paused, his eyes wandered to an oil portrait on the wall, and
suddenly he saw his way.

"You," he said, "have lived a life of just and balanced action. It is
bred in the bone. You hate all loose conduct, and rightly. You hate it
most in Hugh for the simple reason that he is your son. The very
relation makes it more impossible to countenance. He should be like
you--of temperate and prudent habit. But did you and he start on equal
terms? Your grandfather was a Standish; your ancestry was undiluted
Puritan. Did Hugh have all your fund of resistance?"

The old man's gaze for the first time left Harry's face. It lifted for
an instant to the portrait at which Harry had glanced--a picture of
Hugh's dark gipsy-like mother, painted in the month of her marriage, and
the year of her death--and in that instant the stern lines about the
mouth relaxed a little. Harry had laid his finger on the deepest cord of
feeling in the old man's gruff nature. The glow that had smoldered in
the cavernous eyes faded and a troubled cloud came to belie their former

"'As a man sows,' you say, and you deny him another seeding and it may
be a better harvest. You shut the door;--and if you shut it, it may not
swing open again! With me it was the turning of a long lane. Hugh
perhaps has not turned--yet." A breath of that past life had swept anew
over Harry, the old shuddering recoil again had rushed upon him. It gave
his voice a curious energy as he ended: "And I have seen how far a man
may go and yet--come back!"

There was a pause. The judge had an inspiration. He folded the
parchment, and rose.

"Perhaps it would be as well," he said in a matter-of-fact way, "if the
signing be left open for the present. Last testaments, whatever their
provisions, are more or less serious matters, and in your case,"--he
nodded toward the occupant of the chair--"there is not the element of
necessitous haste. Of course," he added tentatively, "I am at your
service at any time."

He rose as he spoke, and laid the document on the table.

For a moment David Stires sat in silence. Then he said, with a glint of
the old ironic fire: "You should have been a special pleader, Sanderson.
There's no client too bad for them to make out a case for! Well ... well
... we won't sign to-night. I will read it over again when I am more
equal to it."

His visitors made their adieux, and as the door closed upon them, the
girl came to the wheel-chair and wistfully drew the parchment from his

"You're a good girl, Jessica," he said, "too good to a rascal you've
never known. But there--go to your room, child. I can ring for Blake
when I want anything."

For long the old man sat alone, musing in his chair, his eyes on the
painted portrait on the wall. The image there was just as young and fair
and joyous as though yesterday she had stood in bridal white beside
him, instead of so long ago--so long ago! His lips moved. "In return
for the care and sorrow," he muttered, "all the days of his life!"

At length he sighed and took up a magazine. He was thinking of Harry

"How like!" he said aloud. "So Sanderson sowed his wild oats, too!...
When he stood there, with the light on his face--when he talked--I--I
could almost have thought it was Hugh!"




Harry Sanderson and the judge parted at the gate, and Harry walked
slowly home in the moonlight.

The youthful follies that he had resurrected when he had called himself
his old nickname of "Satan Sanderson" he had left so far behind him, had
buried so deep, that the ironic turn of circumstance that had dragged
them into view, sorry skeletons, seemed intrusive and malicious. Not
that he was desirous of sailing under false colors; he had brought into
his new career more than a _soupçon_ of the old indifference to popular
estimation, the old propensity to go his own way and to care very little
what others thought of him. The sting was a nearer one; it was his own
present of fair example and good repute that recoiled with a fastidious
sense of abasement from the recollection.

As he stood in the library, his hand on the mantelpiece, he had been
painfully conscious of detail. He remembered vividly the half amused
smile of the lawyer, the silent, listening attitude of the girl
crouched by the wheel-chair. He had seen Jessica Holme scarcely a
half-dozen times, then only at service, or driving behind the Stires
bays. That moment when she had thrown herself beside the old man's chair
to plead for the son she had never seen--an instant revelation wrought
by the strenuous agitation of the moment--had been illuminative; it had
given him a lightning-like glimpse into the unplummeted deeps of womanly
unselfishness and sympathy. He flushed suddenly. He had not realized
that she was so beautiful.

What a tragedy to be blind, for a woman with temperament, talent and
heart! To be sightless to the beauty of such a perfect night, with that
silver bridge of stars, those far hills rising like purple tulips--an
alluring night for those who saw! The picture she had made, kneeling
with the lamplight rosying in her hair, hung before him. The
flower-scent with which the room had been full was in his nostrils, and
verses flashed into his mind:

     And I swear, as I thought of her thus, in that hour,
       And of how, after all, old things were best,
     That I smelt the smell of that jasmin-flower
       Which she used to wear in her breast.

Under his thought the lines repeated themselves in a mystical monotone.

He had saved an old college-mate from possible disinheritance and the
grind of poverty, for David Stires' health was precarious. He thought of
this with a tinge of satisfaction. The least of that peculiar clan, one
who had held his place, not by likable qualities but by a versatile
talent for entertainment, Hugh Stires yet deserved thus much. Harry
Sanderson had never shirked an obligation. "As a man sows"--the old
man's words recurred to him. Did any man reap what he sowed, after all?
Was he, the "Satan Sanderson" that was, getting his deserts?

"If there is a Providence that parcels out our earthly rewards and
penalties," he said to himself, "it has missed me! If there is any
virtue in example, I ought to be the black sheep. Hugh never influenced
anybody; he was a natural camp-follower. I was in the van. All I said
was a sneer, all I did a challenge to respectability. Yet here I am, a
shepherd of the faithful, a brother of Aaron!"

Harry stepped more briskly along the gas-lighted square, nodding now and
then to an acquaintance, and bowing on a crossing to a carriage that
bowled by with the wife of the Very Reverend, the Bishop of the Diocese.
As he passed a darkened entrance, a door with a small barred window in
its upper panel opened, and a man came into the street--a man light and
fair with watery blue eyes and a drooping, blond mustache. He lifted his
silk hat with a faded, Chesterfieldian grace as he came down the steps
with outstretched hand.

"My dear Sanderson!" he said effusively. "In the interest of sweetness
and light, where did you stumble on your new chauffeur? His style is the
admiration of the town. Next to having your gift of eloquence, I can
think of nothing so splendid as possessing such a _tonneau_! The city is
in your debt; you have shown it that even a cleric can be 'fast' without

Harry Sanderson saw the weak features and ingratiating smile, the
clayey, dry-lined skin and restless eyes, but he did not seem to see the
extended hand. He did not smile at the badinage as he replied evenly:

"My chauffeur, Doctor, is a Finn; and his style is his own. I see,
however, that I must decrease his speed-limit."

Doctor Moreau stood a moment looking after him, his womanish hands
clenching and his cynical glance full of an evil light.

"The university prig!" he said under his breath. "Doesn't he take
himself for the whole thing, with his money and his buttonhole bouquet,
and his smug self-righteousness! He thinks I'm hardly fit to speak to
since I've had to quit the hospital! I'd like to take him down a peg!"

He watched the alert, ministerial figure till it rounded the corner. He
looked up and down the street, hesitating; then, shrugging his
shoulders, he turned and reëntered the door with the narrow barred



The later night was very still and the moon, lifting like a paper
lantern over the aspen tops, silvered all the landscape. In its placid
radiance the white house loomed in a ghostly pallor. The windows of one
side were blank, but behind the library shade the bulbous lamp still
drowsed like a monster glow-worm. From the shadowy side of the building
stretched a narrow L, its front covered by a rose-trellis, whose pale
blossoms in the soft night air mingled their delicate fragrance with
that of the jasmin.

Save for the one bright pane, there seemed now no life or movement in
the house. But outside, in the moonlight, a lurching, shabbily-clothed
figure moved, making his uncertain way with the deliberation of composed
inebriety. The sash of the window was raised a few inches and he nodded
sagely at the yellow shade.

"Gay old silver-top!" he hiccoughed; "see you in the morning!"

He capsized against an althea bush and shook his head with owlish
gravity as he disentangled himself. Then he staggered serenely to the
rose-trellis, and, choosing its angle with an assurance that betrayed
ancient practice, climbed to the upper window, shot its bolt with a
knife, and let himself in. He painstakingly closed both windows and
inner blinds, before he turned on an electric light.

In the room in which he now stood he had stored his boyish treasures and
shirked his maturer tasks. It should have had deeper human associations,
too, for once, before the house had been enlarged to its present
proportions, that chamber had been his mother's. The _Maréchal Niel_
rose that clambered to the window-sill had been planted by her hand. In
that room he had been born. And in it had occurred that sharp, corrosive
quarrel with his father on the night he had flung himself from the house
vowing never to return.

As Hugh Stires stood looking about him, it seemed for an instant to his
clouded senses that the past six months of wandering and unsavory
adventure were a dream. There was his bed, with its clean linen sheets
and soft pillows. How he would like to lie down just as he was and sleep
a full round of the clock! Last night he had slept--where had he slept?
He had forgotten for the moment. He looked longingly at the spotless
coverlid. No; some one might appear, and it would not do to be seen in
his present condition. It was scarcely ten. Time enough for that

He drew out the drawer of a chiffonier, opened a closet and gloated over
the order and plenty of their contents. He made difficult selection from
these, and, steadying his progress by wall and chair, opened the door of
an adjoining bath-room. It contained a circular bath with a needle
shower. Without removing his clothing, he climbed into this, balancing
himself with an effort, found and turned the cold faucet, and let the
icy water, chilled from artesian depths, trickle over him in a hundred
stinging needle-points.

It was a very different figure that reëntered the larger room a
half-hour later, from the slinking mud-lark that had climbed the
rose-trellis. The old Hugh lay, a heap of soiled and sodden garments;
the new stood forth shaven, fragrant with fresh linen and clean and fit
apparel. The maudlin had vanished, the gaze was unvexed and bright, the
whole man seemed to have settled into himself, to have grown trim,
nonchalant, debonair. He held up his hand, palm outward, between the
electric globe and his eye--there was not a tremor of nerve or muscle.
He smiled. No headache, no fever, no uncertain feet or trembling hands
or swollen tongue, after more than a week of deep potations. He could
still "sober-up" as he used to do (with Blake the butler to help him)
when it had been a mere matter of an evening's tipsiness! And how fine
it felt to be decently clad again!

He crossed to a cheval-glass. The dark handsome face that looked out at
him was clean-cut and aristocratic, perfect save for one blemish--a pale
line that slanted across the right brow, a birth-mark, resembling a
scar. All his life this mark had been an eyesore to its owner. It had a
trick of turning an evil red under the stress of anger or emotion.

On the features, young and vigorous as they were, subtle lines of
self-indulgence had already set themselves, and beneath their
expression, cavalier and caressing, lay the unmistakable stigmata of
inherited weakness. But these the gazer did not see. He regarded himself
with egotistic complacency. Here he was, just as sound as ever. He had
had his fling, and taught "the Governor" that he could get along well
enough without any paternal help if he chose. Needs must when the devil
drives, but his father should never guess the coarse and desperate
expediences that had sickened him of his bargain, or the stringent
calculation of his return. He was no milksop, either, to come sneaking
to him with his hat in his hand. When he saw him now, he would be
dressed as the gentleman he was!

He attentively surveyed the room. It was clean and dusted--evidently it
had been carefully tended. He might have stepped out of it yesterday.
There in a corner was his banjo. On the edge of a silver tray was a
half-consumed cigar. It crumbled between his fingers. He had been
smoking that cigar when his father had entered the room on that last
night. There, too, was the deck of cards he had angrily flung on to the
table when he left. Not a thing had been disturbed--yes, one thing. His
portrait, that had hung over his bed, was not in its place. A momentary
sense of trepidation rushed through him. Could his father really have
meant all he had said in his rage? Did he really mean to disown him?

For an instant he faced the hall door with clenched hands. Somewhere in
the house, unconscious of his presence, was that ward of whose coming he
had learned. Moreau was a good friend to have warned him! Was she part
of a plan of reprisal--her presence there a tentative threat to him?
Could his father mean to adopt her? Might that great house, those
grounds, the bulk of his wealth, go to her, and he, the son, be left in
the cold? He shivered. Perhaps he had stayed away too long!


As he turned again, he heard a sound in the hall. He listened. A light
step was approaching--the swish of a gown. With a sudden impulse he
stepped into the embrasure of the window, as the figure of a girl paused
at the door. He felt his face flush; she had thrown a crimson kimono
over her white night-gown, and the apparition seemed to part the dusk of
the doorway like the red breast of a robin. She held in her hands a
bunch of the pale _Maréchal Niel_ roses, and his eye caught the long
rebellious sweep of her bronze hair, and the rosy tint of bare feet
through the worsted meshes of her night-slippers.

To his wonder the sight of the lighted room seemed to cause her no
surprise. For an instant she stood still as though listening, then
entered and placed the roses in a vase on a reading-stand by the

Hugh gasped. To reach the stand the girl had passed the spot where he
stood, but she had taken no note of him. Her gaze had gone by him as if
he had been empty air. Then he realized the truth; Jessica Holme was
blind! Moreau's letter had given him no inkling of that. So this was the
girl with whom his father now threatened him! Was she counting on his
not coming back, waiting for the windfall? She was blind--but she was
beautiful! Suppose he were to turn the tables on the old man, not only
climb back into his good graces through her, but even--

The thin line on his brow sprang suddenly scarlet. What a supple,
graceful arm she had! How adroit her fingers as they arranged the
rose-stems! Was he already wholly blackened in her opinion? What did she
think of him? Why did she bring those flowers to that empty room? Could
it have been she who had kept it clean and fresh and unaltered against
his return? A confident, daring look grew in his eyes; he wished she
could see him in that purple tie and velvet smoking-jacket! What an
opportunity for a romantic self-justification! Should he speak? Suppose
it should frighten her?

Chance answered him. His respiration had conveyed to her the knowledge
of a presence in the room. He heard her draw a quick breath. "Some one
is here!" she whispered.

He started forward. "Wait! wait!" he said in a loud whisper, as she
sprang back. But the voice seemed to startle her the more, and before he
could reach her side she was gone. He heard her flying steps descend the
stair, and the opening and closing of a door.

The sudden flight jarred Hugh's pleasurable sense of novelty. He thrust
his hands deep into his pockets. Now he was in for it! She would alarm
the house, rouse the servants--he should have a staring, domestic
audience for the imminent reconciliation his sobered sense told him was
so necessary. Why could he not slip back into the old rut, he thought
sullenly, without such a boring, perfunctory ceremony? He had intended
to postpone this, if possible, until a night's sleep had fortified him.
But now the sooner the ordeal was over, the better! Shrugging his
shoulders, he went quickly down the stair to the library.

He had known exactly what he should see there--the vivid girl with the
hue of fright in her cheeks, the shaded lamp, the wheel-chair, and the
feeble old man with his furrowed face and gray mustaches. What he
himself should say he had not had time to reflect.

The figure in the chair looked up as the door opened. "Hugh!" he cried,
and half lifted himself from his seat. Then he settled back, and the
sunken, indomitable eyes fastened themselves on his son's face.

Hugh was melodramatic--cheaply so. He saw the girl start at the name,
saw her hands catch at the kimono to draw its folds over the bare white
throat, saw the rich color that flooded her brow. He saw himself
suddenly the moving hero of the stagery, the tractive force of the
situation. Real tears came to his eyes--tears of insincere feeling, due
partly to the cheap whisky he had drunk that day, whose outward
consequences he had so drastically banished, and partly to sheer nervous

"Father!" he said, and came and caught the gaunt hand that shook against
the chair.

Then the deeps of the old man's heart were suddenly broken up. "My son!"
he cried, and threw his arms about him. "Hugh--my boy, my boy!"

Jessica waited to hear no more. Thrilling with gladness, and flushing
with the sudden recollection of her bare throat and feet, she slipped
away to her room to creep into bed and lie wide-eyed and thinking.

What did he look like? Of his face she had never seen even a counterfeit
presentment. Through what adventures had he passed? Now that he had come
home, forgiving and forgiven, would he stay? He had been in his room
when she entered it with the roses--must have guessed, if he had not
already known, that she was blind. Would he guess that she had cared for
that room, had placed fresh flowers there often and often?

Since she had come to the house in the aspens Jessica had found the
imagined figure of Hugh a dominant presence in a horizon lightened with
a throng of new impressions. The direful catastrophe of her
blindness--it had been the sudden result of an accident--had fallen like
a thunderbolt upon a nature elastic and joyous. It had brought her face
to face with a revelation of mental agony, made her feel herself the
hapless martyr of that curt thing called Chance; one moment seeing a
universe unfolding before her in line and hue, the next feeling it
thrust rudely behind a gruesome blank of darkness. The two years that
followed had been a period when despair had covered her; when
specialists had peered with cunning instruments into her darkened eyes,
to utter hopeful platitudes--and to counsel not at all. Then into her
own painful self-absorption had intruded her father's death, and the
very hurt of this, perhaps, had been a salving one. It had of necessity
changed her whole course of living. In her new surroundings she had
taken up life once more. Her alert imagination had begun to stir, to
turn diffidently to new channels of exploration and interest. She had
always lived largely in books and pictures, and her world was still full
of ideals and of brave adventures. Gratitude had made her love the
morose old invalid with his crabbed tempers; and the wandering son,
choosing for pride's sake a resourceless battle with the world--the
very mystery of his whereabouts--had taken strong hold of her
imagination. Of the quarrel which had preceded Hugh's departure, she had
made her own version. That he should have come back on this very night,
when the disinheritance she had dreaded had been so nearly consummated,
seemed now to have an especial and an appealing significance.

Presently she rose, slipped on the red kimono, and, taking a key from
the pocket of her gown, stole from the room. She ascended a stairway and
unlocked the door of a wide, bare attic where the moonlight poured
through a skylight in the roof upon an unfinished statue. In this statue
she had begun to fashion, in the imagined figure of Hugh, her conception
of the Prodigal Son; not the battered and husk-filled wayfarer of the
parable, but a figure of character and pathos, erring through youthful
pride and spirit. The unfinished clay no eyes had seen, for those walls
bounded her especial domain.

Carefully, one by one, she unwound the wet cloths that swathed the
figure. In the streaming radiance of the night, the clay looked white as
snow and she a crimson ghost. She passed her fingers lightly over the
features. Was the real Hugh's face like that? One day, perhaps, her own
eyes would tell her, and she would finish it. Then she might show it to
him, but not now.

She replaced the coverings, relocked the door, and went softly down to
her bed.

When Hugh went shamefacedly up the stair from the library, the
artificial glow that had tingled to his finger-tips had faded. The poise
of mind, the certitude of all the faculties of eye and hand that his icy
bath had given him, were yielding. The penalties he had dislodged were
returning reinforced. He was rapidly becoming drunk.

He groped his way to his room, turned out the light, threw himself fully
dressed upon the bed, and slept the deep sleep of deferred intoxication.



On a June day a month later, Harry Sanderson sat in his study, looking
out of the window across the dim summer haze of heat, negligently
smoking. On the distant hill overlooking the town was the cemetery,
flanked by fields of growing corn where sulky, round-shouldered crows
quarrelled and pilfered. He could see the long white marl road, bending
in a broad curve between clover-stippled meadows, to skirt the
willow-green bluff above the river. There, miles away, on the high bank,
he could distinguish the railroad bridge, a long black skeleton spanning
"the hole," a deep, fish-haunted pool, the deepest spot in the river for
fifty miles. From the nearer, elm-shaded streets came the muffled clack
of trade and the discordant treble of a huckster, somewhere a
trolley-bell was buzzing angrily, and the impudent scream of a blue jay
sheared across the monotone. Harry's gaze went past the streets--past
the open square, with its chapel spire lifting from a beryl sea of
foliage--to a white colonial porch, peering from between aspens that
quivered in the tremulous sunlight.

The dog on the rug rose, stretching, and came to thrust an eager
insinuating muzzle into its master's lap. Rummy whined, the stubby tail
wagged, but his master paid no heed, and with dejected ears, he slunk
out into the sunshine. Harry was looking, with brows gathered to a
frown, at the far-away porch. The look was full of a troubled question,
a vague misgiving, an interrogative anxiety. He was thinking of a night
when he had saved the son of that house from the calamity of
disinheritance--to what end?

For since that moonlighted evening of the will-making Harry had learned
that the long lane had had no true turning for Hugh. He had sifted him
through and through. At college he had put him down for a
weakling--unballasted, misdemeanant. Now he knew him for what he really
was--a moral mollusk, a scamp in embryo, a decadent, realizing an ugly
propensity to a deplorable _finale_. A consistent career of loose living
had carried Hugh far since those college days when he had been dubbed
"Satan's Shadow." While to Harry Sanderson the eccentric and agnostical
had then been, as it were, the mask through which his temperament looked
at life, to Hugh it had spelled shipwreck. Harry Sanderson had done
broadly as he pleased. He had entertained whom he listed; had gone
"slumming"; had once boxed to a finish, for a wager, a local pugilist
whose acquaintance he affected, known as "Gentleman Jim." He had been
both the hardest hitter and the hardest drinker in his class, yet withal
its most brilliant student. Native character had enabled him to persist,
as the exasperating function of success which dissipation declined to
eliminate. But the same natural gravitation which in spite of all
aberration had given Harry Sanderson classical honors, had brought Hugh
Stires to the imminent brink of expulsion. And since that time, without
the character which belonged to Harry as a possession, Hugh had
continued to drift aimlessly on down the broad lax way of profligacy.

The conditions he found upon his return, however, had opened Hugh's eyes
to the perilous strait in which he stood. He was a materialist, and the
taste he had had of deprivation had sickened him. In the first
revulsion, when the contrast between recent famine and present plenty
was strong upon him, he had been at anxious pains to make himself secure
with his father--and with Jessica Holme. Harry's mental sight--keen as
the hunter's sight on the rifle-barrel--was sharpened by his knowledge
of the old Hugh, an intuitive knowledge gained in a significant
formative period. He saw more clearly than the townfolk who, in a
general way, had known Hugh Stires all their lives. Week by week Harry
had seen him regain lost ground in his father's esteem; day by day he
had seen him making studious appeal to all that was romantic in Jessica,
climbing to the favor of each on the ladder of the other's regard. Hugh
was naturally a _poseur_, with a keen sense of effect. He could be
brilliant at will, could play a little on piano, banjo and violin, could
sing a little, and had himself well in hand. And feeling the unconscious
cord of romance vibrate to his touch, he had played upon it with no
unskilful fingers.

Jessica was comparatively free from that coquetry by means of which a
woman's instinct experiments in emotion. Although she had been artist
enough before the cloistered years of her blindness to know that she was
comely, she had never employed that beauty in the ordinary blandishments
of girlish fascination. But steadily and unconsciously she had turned in
her darkness more and more to the bright and tender air with which Hugh
clothed all their intercourse. Her blindness had been of too short
duration to have developed that fine sense-perception with which nature
seeks to supplement the darkened vision. The ineradicable marks which
ill-governed living had set in Hugh's face--the self-indulgence and
egotism--she could not see. She mistook impulse for instinct. She read
him by the untrustworthy light of a colorful imagination. She deemed him
high-spirited and debonair, a Prince Charming, whose prideful rebellion
had been atoned for by a touching and manly surrender.

All this Harry had watched with a painful sense of impotence, and this
feeling was upon him to-day as he stared out from the study toward the
white porch, glistening in the sun.

At length, with a little gesture expressive at once of helplessness and
puzzle, he turned from the window, took his violin and began to play. He
began a barcarole, but the music wandered away, through insensible
variations, into a moving minor, a composition of his own.

It broke off suddenly at a dog's fierce snarl from the yard, and the
rattle of a thrown pebble. Immediately a knock came at the door, and a
man entered.

"Don't stop," said the new-comer. "I've dropped in for only a minute!
That's an ill-tempered little brute of yours! If I were you, I'd get rid
of him."

Harry Sanderson laid the violin carefully in its case and shut the lid
before he answered. "Rummy is impulsive," he said dryly. "How is your
father to-day, Hugh?"

The other tapped the toe of his shining patent-leather with his cane as
he said with a look of ill-humor:

"About as well as usual. He's planning now to put me in business, and
expects me to become a staid pillar of society--'like Sanderson,' as he
says forty times a week. How do you do it, Harry? There isn't an old
lady in town who thinks her parlor carpet half good enough for you to
walk on! You're only a month older than I am, yet you can wind the whole
vestry, and the bishop to boot, around your finger!"

"I wasn't aware of the idolatry." Harry laughed a little--a distant
laugh. "You are observant, Hugh."

"Oh, anybody can see it. I'd like to know how you do it. It was always
so with you, even at college. You could do pretty much as you liked, and
yet be popular, too. Why, there was never a jamboree complete without
you and your violin at the head of the table."

"That is a long time ago," said Harry.

"More than four years. Four years and a month to-morrow, since that last
evening of college. Yet I imagine it will be longer before we forget it!
I think of it still, sometimes, in the night--" Hugh went on more
slowly,--"that last dinner of The Saints, and poor Archie singing with
that wobbly smilax wreath over one eye and the claret spilled down his
shirt-front--then the sudden silence like a wet blanket! I can see him
yet, when his head dropped. He seemed to shrivel right up in his chair.
How horrible to die like that! I didn't touch a drink for a month
afterward!" He shivered slightly, and walked to the window.

Harry did not speak. The words had torn the network of the past as
sheet-lightning tears the summer dusk; had called up a ghost that he had
labored hard to lay--a memory-specter of a select coterie whose wild
days and nights had once revolved about him as its central sun. The
sharp tragedy of that long-ago evening had been the awakening. The
swift, appalling catastrophe had crashed into his career at the pivotal
moment. It had shocked him from his orbit and set him to the
right-about-face. And the moral _bouleversement_ had carried him, in
abrupt recoil, into the ministry.

An odd confusion blurred his vision. Perhaps to cover this, he crossed
the room to a small private safe which stood open in the corner, in
which he kept his tithes and his charities. When Hugh, shrugging his
shoulders as if to dismiss the unwelcome picture he had painted, turned
again, Harry was putting into it some papers from his pocket. Hugh saw
the action; his eyes fastened on the safe avidly.

"I say," he said after a moment's pause, as Harry made to shut its door,
"can you loan me another fifty? I'm flat on my uppers again, and the
old man has been tight as nails with me since I came back. I'm sure to
be able to return it with the rest, in a week or two."

Harry stretched his hand again toward the safe--then drew it back with
compressed lips. He had met Hugh with persistent courtesy, and the other
had found him sufficiently obliging with loans. Of late, however, his
nerves had been on edge. The patent calculation of Hugh's course had
sickened, and his flippant cynicism had jarred and disconcerted him. A
growing sense of security, too, had made Hugh less circumspect. More
than once during the past month Harry had seen him issue from the
shadowed door whose upper panel held the little barred window--the door
at which Doctor Moreau had entrance, though decent doors were closed in
his face.

Hugh's lowered gaze saw the arrested movement and his cheek flushed.

"Oh, if it's inconvenient, I won't trouble you for the accommodation,"
he said. "I dare say I can raise it."

The attempt at nonchalance cost him a palpable effort. Comparatively
small as the amount was, he needed it. He was in sore straits. By hook
or crook he must stave off an evil day whose approach he knew not how to

"It isn't that it is inconvenient, Hugh," said Harry. "It's that I
can't approve your manner of living lately, and--I don't know where the
fifty is going."

The mark on Hugh's brow reddened. "I wasn't aware that I was expected to
render you an accounting," he said sulkily, "if I do borrow a dollar or
two now and then! What if I play cards, and drink a little when I'm dry?
I've got to have a bit of amusement once in a while between prayers. You
liked it yourself well enough, before you discovered a sudden talent for

"Some men hide their talents under a napkin," said Harry. "You drown
yours--in a bottle. You have been steadily going downhill. You are
deceiving your father--and others--with a pretended reform which isn't
skin-deep! You have made them believe you are living straight, when you
are carousing; that you keep respectable company, when you have taken up
with a besotted and discredited gambler!"

"I suppose you mean Doctor Moreau," returned Hugh. "There are plenty of
people in town who are worse than he is."

"He is a quack--dropped from the hospital staff for addiction to drugs,
and expelled from his club for cheating at cards."

"He's down and out," said Hugh sullenly, "and any cur can bite him. He
never cheated me, and I find him better company than your sanctimonious,
psalm-singing sort. I'm not going to give him the cold shoulder because
everybody else does. I never went back on a friend yet. I'm not that

A steely look had come to Harry Sanderson's eyes; he was thinking of the
house in the aspens. While he talked, shooting pictures had been
flashing through his mind. Now, at the boast of this eager protester of
loyalty, this recreant who "never went back on a friend," his face set
like a flint.

"You never had a friend, Hugh," he said steadily. "You never really
loved anybody or anything but yourself. You are utterly selfish. You are
deliberately lying, every hour you live, to those who love you. You are
playing a part--for your own ends! You were only a good imitation of a
good fellow at college. You are a poor imitation of a man of honor now."

Hugh rose to his feet, as he answered hotly: "And what are you, I'd like
to know? Just because I take my pleasure as I please, while you choose
to make a stained-glass cherub of yourself, is no reason why I'm not
just as good as you! I knew you well enough before you set up for such a
pattern. You didn't go in much then for a theological diet. Pshaw!" he
went on, snapping his fingers toward the well-stocked book-shelves. "I
wonder how much of all that you really believe!"

Harry passed the insolence of the remark. He flecked a bit of dust from
his sleeve before he answered, smiling a little disdainfully:

"And how much do _you_ believe, Hugh?"

"I believe in running my own affairs, and letting other people run
theirs! I don't believe in talking cant, and posing as a
little-tin-god-on-wheels! If I lived in a glass-house, I'd be precious
careful not to throw stones!"

Harry Sanderson was staring at him curiously now--a stare of singular
inquiry. This shallow witness of his youthful misconduct, then, judged
him by himself; deemed him a mere masquerader in the domino of decorous
life, carrying the reckless and vicious humors of his nonage into the
wider issues of living, and clothing an arrant hypocrisy under the habit
of one of God's ministers!

The elastic weight of air in the study seemed suddenly grown
suffocating. He reached and flung open the chapel door, and stood
looking across the choir, through the mellow light of the duskily tinted
nave, solemn as with the hush of past prayer. On this interior had been
lavished the special love of the invalid, who had given of his riches
that this place for the comfort of souls might be. It was an expanse of
dim colors and dark woodwork. At its eastern end was the high altar,
with tall flowers in stately gilt vases on either side, and a brass
lectern glimmered near-by. In the western wall was set a great
rose-window of rich stained glass--a picture of the eternal tragedy of
Calvary. As Harry stood gazing into the mellow light, Hugh paced moodily
up and down behind him. Suddenly he caught Harry's arm and pointed.

Harry turned and looked.

Above the mantel was set a mirror, and from where they stood, this
reflected Hugh's face. It startled Harry, for some trick of the
atmosphere, or the sunlight falling through the painted glass,
lightening the sallow face and leaving the hair in deeper shade--as a
cunning painter by a single line will alter a whole physiognomy--had for
the instant wiped out all superficial unresemblance and left a weird
likeness. As Hugh's mocking countenance looked from the oval frame,
Harry had a queer sensation as if he were looking at his own face, with
some indefinable smear of attaint upon it--the trail of evil. As he drew
away from the other's touch, his eye followed the bar of amber light to
the rose-window in the chapel; it was falling through the face of the
unrepentant thief.

The movement broke the spell. When he looked again the eerie impression
of identity was gone.

Hugh had felt the recoil. "Not complimented, eh?" he said with a
half-sneer. "Too bad the prodigal should resemble Satan Sanderson, the
fashionable parish rector who waves his arms so gracefully in the
pulpit, and preaches such nice little sermons! You didn't mind it so
much in the old days! Pardon me," he added with malice, "I forgot. It's
the 'Reverend Henry' at present, of course! I imagine your friends don't
call you 'Satan' now."

"No," returned Harry quietly. "They don't call me 'Satan' now!"

He went back to the safe.

The movement set Hugh instantly to regretting his hasty tongue. If he
had only assumed penitence, instead of flying into a passion, he might
have had the money he wanted just as well as not!

"There's no sense in us two quarrelling," he said hastily. "We've been
friends a long time. I'm sure I didn't intend to when I came in. I
suppose you're right about some things, and probably dropping Moreau
wouldn't hurt me any. I'm sorry I said all I did. Only--the money
seemed such a little thing, and I--I needed it."

Harry stood an instant with his hand on the knob, then instead of
closing the door, he drew out a little drawer. He lifted a packet of
crisp yellow-backs and slowly counted out one hundred dollars. "I'm
trying to believe you mean what you say, Hugh," he said.

Hugh's fingers closed eagerly over the crackling notes. "Now that's
white of you, after everything I said! You're a good fellow, Harry,
after all, and I'll always say so. I wish Old Gooseberry was half as
decent in a money way. He seems to think fifty dollars a week is plenty
till I marry and settle down. He talks of retiring then, and I suppose
he'll come down handsomely, and give me a chance to look my debts in the
face." He pocketed the money with an air of relief and picked up his hat
and cane.

Just then from the dusty street came the sound of carriage-wheels and
the click of the gate-latch.

"It's Bishop Ludlow," he said, glancing through the window. "He's coming
in. I think I'll slip out the side way. Thanks for the loan and--I'll
think over what you've said!"

Avoiding the bishop, Hugh stepped toward the gate. The money was in his
pocket. Well, one of these days he would not have to grovel for a
paltry fifty dollars! He would be his own master, and could afford to
let Harry Sanderson and everybody else think what they liked.

"So I'm playing a part, am I!" he said to himself. "Why should your
Holiness trouble yourself over it, if I am! Not because you're so
careful of the Governor's feelings; not by a long shot! It's because you
choose to think Jessica Holme is too good for me! That's where the shoe
pinches! Perhaps you'd like to play at that game yourself, eh?"

He walked jauntily up the street--toward the door with the little barred

"The old man is fond of her. He thinks I mean to settle down and let the
moss grow over my ears, and he'll do the proper thing. It'll be a good
way to put my head above water and keep it there. It must be soon,
though!" A smile came to his face, a pretentious, boastful smile, and
his shining patent-leathers stepped more confidently. "She's the
finest-looking girl in this town, even without her eyes. She may get
back her sight sometime. But even if she doesn't, blindness in a wife
might not be such a bad thing, after all!"



Inside the study, meanwhile, the bishop was greeting Harry Sanderson. He
had officiated at his ordination and liked him. His eyes took in the
simple order of the room, lingering with a light tinge of disapproval
upon the violin case in the corner, and with a deeper shade of question
upon the jewel on the other's finger--a pigeon-blood ruby in a setting
curiously twisted of the two initial letters of his name.

There came to his mind for an instant a whisper of early prodigalities
and wildnesses which he had heard. For the lawyer who had listened to
Harry Sanderson's recital on the night of the making of the will had not
considered it a professional disclosure. He had thought it a "good
story," and had told it at his club, whence it had percolated at leisure
through the heavier strata of town-talk. The tale, however, had seemed
rather to increase than to discourage popular interest in Harry
Sanderson. The bishop knew that those whose approval had been withheld
were in the hopeless minority, and that even these could not have denied
that he possessed desirable qualities--a manner by turns sparkling and
grave, picturesqueness in the pulpit, and the unteachable tone of
blood--and had infused new life into a generally sleepy parish. He had
dismissed the whisper with a smile, but oddly enough it recurred to him
now at sight of the ruby ring.

"I looked in to tell you a bit of news," said the bishop. "I've just
come from David Stires--he has a letter from Van Lennap, the great
eye-surgeon of Vienna. He disagrees with the rest of them--thinks
Jessica's case may not be hopeless."

The cloud that Hugh's call had left on Harry's countenance lifted.

"Thank God!" he said. "Will she go to him?"

The bishop looked at him curiously, for the exclamation seemed to hold
more than a conventional relief.

"He is to be in America next month. He will come here then to examine,
and perhaps to operate. An exceptional girl," went on the bishop, "with
a remarkable talent! The angel in the chapel porch, I suppose you know,
is her modelling, though that isn't just masculine enough in feature to
suit me. The Scriptures are silent on the subject of woman-angels in
Heaven; though, mind you, I don't say they're not common on earth!" The
bishop chuckled mildly at his own epigram.

"Poor child!" he continued more soberly. "It will be a terrible thing
for her if this last hope fails her, too! Especially now, when she and
Hugh are to make a match of it."

Harry's face was turned away, or the bishop would have seen it suddenly
startled. "To make a match of it!" To hide the flush he felt staining
his cheek, Harry bent to close the safe. A something that had darkled in
some obscure depth of his being, whose existence he had not guessed, was
throbbing now to a painful resentment. Jessica was to marry Hugh!

"A handsome fellow--Hugh!" said the bishop. "He seems to have returned
with a new heart--a brand plucked from the burning. You had the same
_alma mater_, I think you told me. Your influence has done the boy good,
Sanderson!" He laid his hand kindly on the other's shoulder. "The fact
that you were in college together makes him look up to you--as the whole
parish does," he added.

Harry was setting the combination, and did not answer. But through the
turmoil in his brain a satiric voice kept repeating:

"No, they don't call me 'Satan' now!"



The white house in the aspens was in gala attire. Flowers--great banks
of bloom--were massed in the hall, along the stairway and in the
window-seats, and wreaths of delicate fern trembled on the prim-hung
chandeliers. Over all breathed the sweet fragrance of jasmin. Musicians
sat behind a screen of palms in a corridor, and a long scarlet carpet
strip ran down the front steps to the driveway, up which passed bravely
dressed folk, arriving in carriages and on foot, to witness the
completion of a much-booted romance.

For a fortnight this afternoon's event had been the chat of the town,
for David Stires, who to-day retired from active business, was its
magnate, the owner of its finest single estate and of its most important
bank. From his scapegrace boyhood Hugh Stires had made himself the
subject of uncomfortable discussion. His sudden disappearance after the
rumored quarrel with his father, and the advent of Jessica Holme, had
furnished the community sufficient material for gossip. The wedding had
capped this gossip with an appropriate climax. Tongues had wagged over
its pros and cons--for Hugh's past had induced a wholesome skepticism of
his future. But the carping were willing to let bygones be bygones, and
the wiseacres, to whose experience marriage stood as a sedative for the
harum-scarum, augured well.

There was an additional element of romance, too, in the situation; for
Jessica, who had never yet seen her lover, would see her husband. The
great surgeon on whose prognostication she had built so much, had
arrived and had operated. He was not alone an eminent consultant in
diagnosis, but an operator of masterly precision, whose daring of
scalpel had made him well-nigh a last resort in the delicate
adventurings of eye surgery. The experiment had been completely
successful, and Jessica's hope of vision had become a sure and certain

To see once again! To walk free and careless! To mold the plastic clay
into the shapes that thronged her brain! To finish the statue which she
had never yet shown to any one, in the great sky-lighted attic! To see
flowers, and the sunset, the new green of the trees in spring, and the
sparkle of the snow in winter, and people's faces!--to see Hugh! That
had been at the core of her thought when it reeled dizzily back from
the merciful oblivion of the anesthetic, to touch the strange gauze
wrappings on her eyes--the tight bandage that must stay for so long,
while nature plied her silent medicaments of healing.

Meanwhile the accepted lover had become the importunate one. The
operation over, there had remained many days before the bandages could
be removed--before Jessica could be given her first glimpse of the world
for nearly three years. Hugh had urged against delay. If he had
stringent reasons of his own, he was silent concerning them. And
Jessica, steeped in the delicious wonder of new and inchoate sensations,
had yielded.

So it had come about that the wedding was to be on this hot August
afternoon, although it would be yet some time before the eye-bandages
might be laid aside, save in a darkened room. In her girlish, passionate
ideality, Jessica had offered a sacrifice to her sentiment. She had
promised herself that the first form her new sight should behold should
be, not her lover, but her husband! The idea pleased her sense of
romance. So, hugging the fancy, she had denied herself. She was to see
Hugh for the first time in a shaded room, after the glare and nervous
excitement of the ceremony.

Gossip had heard and had seized upon this tidbit with relish. The blind
marriage--a bride with hoodwinked eyes, who had never seen the man she
was to marry--the moment's imperfect vision of him, a poor dole for
memory to carry into the honeymoon--these ingredients had given the
occasion a titillating sense of the extraordinary and romantic, and
sharpened the buzz of the waiting guests, as they whiled away the
irksome minutes.

It was a sweltering afternoon, and in the wide east parlor, limp
handkerchiefs and energetic fans fought vainly against the intolerable
heat. There, as the clock struck six, a hundred pairs of eyes galloped
between two centers of interest: the door at which the bride would
enter, and the raised platform at the other end of the room where,
prayer-book in hand, in his wide robes and flowing sleeves, Harry
Sanderson had just taken his stand. Perhaps more looked at Harry than at
the door.

He seemed his usual magnetic self as he stood there, backed by the
flowers, his waving brown hair unsmoothed, the ruby-ring glowing
dull-red against the dark leather of the book he held. Few felt it much
a matter of regret that the humdrum and less personable Bishop of the
Diocese should be away at convocation, since the young rector furnished
the final esthetic touch to a perfectly appointed function. But Harry
Sanderson was far from feeling the grave, alien, figure he appeared. In
the past weeks he had waged a silent warfare with himself, bitterer
because repressed. The strange new thing that had sprung up in him he
had trampled mercilessly under. From the thought that he loved the
promised wife of another, a quick, fastidious sense in him recoiled
abashed. This painful struggle had been sharpened by his sense of Hugh's
utter worthlessness. To that rustling assemblage, the man who was to
make those solemn promises was David Stires' son, who had had his fling,
turned over his new leaf becomingly, and was now offering substantial
hostages to good repute. To him, Harry Sanderson, he was a _flâneur_, a
marginless gambler in the futures of his father's favor and a woman's
heart. He had shrunk from the ceremony, but circumstances had
constrained him. There had been choice only between an evasion--to which
he would not stoop--and a flat refusal, the result of which would have
been a footless scandal--ugly town-talk--a sneer at himself and his
motives--a quietus, possibly, to his whole career.

So now he stood to face a task which was doubly painful, but which he
would go through with to the bitter end!

Only a moment Harry stood waiting; then the palm-screened musicians
began the march, and Hugh took his place, animated and assured, looking
the flushed and expectant bridegroom. At the same instant the
chattering and hubbub ceased; Jessica, on the arm of the old man, erect
but walking feebly with his cane, was advancing down the roped lane.

She was in simple white, the point-lace on the frock an heirloom. Her
bronze hair was drawn low, hiding much of the disfiguring bandage, under
which her lips were parted in a half-smile, human, intimate and eager,
full of the hope and intoxication of living.

Harry's eyes dropped to the opened book, though he knew the office by
heart. He spoke the time-worn adjuration with clear enunciation, with
almost perfunctory distinctness. He did not look at Hugh.

"_If any man can show just cause why they may not lawfully be joined
together, let him speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace._" In
the pause--the slightest pause--that turned the page, he felt an insane
prompting to tear off his robes, to proclaim to this roomful of heated,
gaping, fan-fluttering humanity, that he himself, a minister of the
gospel, the celebrant of the rite, knew "just cause"!

The choking impulse passed. The periods rolled on--the long white glove
was slipped from the hand, the ring put on the finger, and the pair,
whom God and Harry Sanderson had joined together, were kneeling on the
white satin prie-dieu with bowed heads under the final invocation. As
they knelt, choir voices rose:

     "O perfect love, all human thought transcending,
     Lowly we kneel in prayer before Thy throne--"

Then, while the music lingered, the hush of the room broke in a confused
murmur; the white ribbon-wound ropes were let down, and a voluble wave
of congratulators swept over the spot. In a moment more Harry found
himself laying off his robes in the next room.

With a sigh of relief, he stepped through the wide French window into
the garden, fresh with the scent of growing things and the humid odors
of the soil. The twitter and bustle he had left came painfully out to
him, and a whiff of evening coolness breathed through the oppressive
air. The strain over, he longed for the solitude of his study. But David
Stires had asked him to remain for a final word, since bride and groom
were to leave on an early evening train; the old man was to accompany
them a part of the journey, and "the Stires place" was to be closed for
an indefinite period. Harry found a bench and sat down, where camelias
dropped like blood.

What would Jessica suffer in the inevitable awakening, when the tinted
petals of her dreams were shattered and strewn? For the first time he
looked down through his sore sense of outrage and protest to deeps in
himself--as a diver peers through a water-glass to the depths of a river
troubled and opaque, dimly descrying vague shapes of ill. Poetry,
passion and dreams had been his also, but he had dreamed too late!

It was not long before the sound of gay voices and of carriage-wheels
came around the corner of the house, for the reception was to be
curtailed. There had been neither bridesmaids nor groomsmen, and there
was no skylarking on the cards; the guests, who on lesser occasions
would have lingered to throw rice and old shoes, departed from the house
in the aspens with primness and dignity.

One by one he heard the carriages roll down the graveled driveway. A
bicycle careened across the lawn from a side-gate, carrying a bank
messenger--the last shaft of commerce before old David Stires washed his
tenacious mind of business. A few moments later the messenger reappeared
and rode away whistling. A last chime of voices talking together--Harry
could distinguish Hugh's voice now--and at length quiet told him the
last of the guests were gone. Thinking that he would now see his old
friends for a last farewell, he rose and went slowly back through the
French window.

The east room was empty, save for servants who were gathering some of
the cut flowers for themselves. He stood aimlessly for a few moments
looking about him. A white carnation lay at the foot of the dais, fallen
from Jessica's shower-bouquet. He picked this up, abstractedly smelled
its perfume, and drew the stem through his buttonhole. Then, passing
into the next room, he found his robes leisurely and laid them by--he
had now only to embellish the sham with his best wishes!

All at once he heard voices in the library. He opened the door and

Harry Sanderson stopped stock-still. In the room sat old David Stires in
his wheel-chair opposite his son. He was deadly pale, and his fierce
eyes blazed like fire in tinder. And what a Hugh! Not the indolently gay
prodigal Harry had known in the past, nor the flushed bridegroom of a
half-hour ago! It was a cringing, a hang-dog Hugh now; with a slinking
dread in the face--a trembling of the hands--a tense expectation in the
posture. The thin line across his brow was a livid pallor. His eyes
lifted to Harry's for an instant, then returned in a kind of fascination
to a slip of paper on the desk, on which his father's forefinger rested,
like a nail transfixing an animate infamy.

"Sanderson," said the old man in a low, hoarse, unnatural voice, "come
in and shut the door. God forgive us--we have married Jessica to a
common thief! Hugh--my son, my only child, whom I have forgiven beyond
all reckoning--has forged my name to a draft for five thousand dollars!"



For a moment there was dead silence in the room. In the hall the tall
clock struck ponderously, and a porch blind slammed beneath a
caretaker's hand. Harry's breath caught in his throat, and the old man's
eye again impaled his hapless son.

Hugh threw up his head with an attempt at jauntiness, but with furtive
apprehension in every muscle--for he could not solve the look he saw on
his father's face--and said:

"You act as if it were a cool million! I'm no worse than a lot who have
better luck than I. Suppose I did draw the five thousand?--you were
going to give me ten for a wedding present. I had to have the money
then, and you wouldn't have given it to me. You know that as well as I
do. Besides, I was going to take it up myself and you would never have
been the wiser. He promised to hold it--it's a low trick for him to
round on me like this. I'll pay him off for it sometime! I don't see
that it's anybody else's business but ours, anyway," he continued, with
a surly glance at Harry.

Harry had been staring at him, but with a vision turned curiously
backward--a vision that seemed to see Hugh standing at a carpeted dais
in a flower-hung room, while his own voice said out of a lurid shadow:
"_Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband...._"

"Stay, Sanderson," said the old man; then turning to Hugh: "Who advanced
you money on this and promised to 'hold it'?"

"Doctor Moreau."

"He profited by it?"

"He got his margin," said Hugh sullenly.

"How much margin did he get?"

"A thousand."

"Where is the rest?" David Stires' voice was like a whip of steel.

Hugh hesitated a moment. He had still a few hundreds in pocket, but he
did not mention them.

"I used most of it. I--had a few debts."

"Debts of honor, I presume!"

Hugh's sensibility quivered at the fierce, grating irony of the inquiry.

"If you'd been more decent with spending-money," he said with a flare of
the old effrontery, "I'd have been all right! Ever since I came home
you've kept me strapped. I was ashamed to stick up any more of my
friends. And of course I couldn't borrow from Jessica."

"Ashamed!" exclaimed the old man with harsh sternness. "You are without
the decency of shame! If you were capable of feeling it, you would not
mention her name now!"

Hugh thought he saw a glimmer through the storm-cloud. Jessica was his
anchor to windward. What hurt him, would hurt her. He would pull

"Well," he said, "it's done, and there's no good making such a row about
it. She's my wife and she'll stand by me, if nobody else does!"

No one had ever seen such a look on David Stires' face as came to it
now--a sudden blaze of fury and righteous scorn, that burned it like a

"You impudent blackguard! You drag my name in the gutter and then try to
trade on my self-respect and Jessica's affection. You thought you would
take it up yourself--and I would be none the wiser! And if I did find it
out, you counted on my love for the poor deluded girl you have married,
to make me condone your criminality--to perjure myself--to admit the
signature and shield you from the consequences. You imagine because you
are my son, that you can do this thing and all still go on as before!
Do you suppose I don't consider Jessica? Do you think because you have
fooled and cheated her--and me--and married her, that I will give her
now to a caught thief--a common jailbird?"

Hugh started. A sickly pallor came to his sallow cheek. That salient
chin, that mouth close-gripped--those words, vengeful, vindictive, the
utterance of a wrath so mighty in the feeble frame as to seem almost
uncouth--smote him with a mastering terror.

A jailbird! That was what his father called _him_! Did he mean to give
him up, then? To have him arrested--tried--put in prison? When he had
canvassed the risks of discovery, he had imagined a scene, bitter
anger--perhaps even disinheritance. His marriage to Jessica, he had
reckoned, would cover that extremity. But he had never thought of
something worse. Now, for the first time, he saw himself in the grip of
that impersonal thing known as the law--handcuffs on his wrists, riding
through the streets in the "Black-Maria"--standing at the dock an
outcast, gazed at with contempt by all the town--at length sitting in a
cell somewhere, no more pleasures or gaming, or fine linen, but dressed
in convict's dress, loose, ill-shapen, hanging on him like bags, with
broad black-and-white stripes. He had been through the penetentiary
once. He remembered the sullen, stolid faces, the rough, hobnailed
shoes, the cropped heads! His mind turned from the picture with fear and

In the thoughts that were darting through Hugh's mind, there was none
now of regret or of pity for Jessica. His fear was the fear of the
trapped spoiler, who discerns capture and its consequent penalties in
the patrolling bull's-eye flashed upon him. He studied his father with
hunted, calculating eyes, as the old man turned to Harry Sanderson.

"Sanderson," said David Stires, once more in his even, deadly voice,
"Jessica is waiting in the room above this. She will not understand the
delay. Will you go to her? Make some excuse--any you can think of--till
I come."

Harry nodded and left the room, shutting the door carefully behind him,
carrying with him the cowering helpless look with which Hugh saw himself
left alone with his implacable judge. What to say to her? How to say it?

As he passed the hall, the haste of demolition had already begun.
Florists' assistants were carrying the plants from the east room, and
through the open door a man was rolling up the red carpet. The cluttered
emptiness struck him with a sense of fateful symbolism--as though it
shadowed forth the shattering of Jessica's ordered dream of happiness.
He mounted the stair as if a pack swung from his shoulders. He paused a
moment at the door, then knocked, turned the knob, and entered.


There, in the middle of the blue-hung room, in her wedding-dress, with
her bandaged eyes, and her bridal bouquet on the table, stood Jessica.
Twilight was near, but even so, all the shutters were drawn save one,
through which a last glow of refracted sunlight sifted to fall upon his
face. Her hands were clasped before her, he could hear her
breathing--the full hurried respiration of expectancy.

Then, while his hand closed the door behind him, a thing unexpected,
anomalous, happened--a thing that took him as utterly by surprise as if
the solid floor had yawned before him. Slim fingers tore away the broad
encircling bandage. She started forward. Her arms were flung about his

"Hugh!... Hugh!" she cried. "My husband!"

The paleness was stricken suddenly from Harry's face. An odd, dazed
color--a flush of mortification, of self-reproach, flooded it from chin
to brow. Despite himself, he had felt his lips molding to an answering
kiss beneath her own. He drew a gasping breath, his hand nervously
caught the bandage, replaced it over the eyes, and tied it tightly,
putting down her protesting hands.

"Oh, Hugh," she pleaded, "not for a moment--not when I am so happy! Your
face is what I dreamed it must be! Why did you make me wait so long? And
I can see, Hugh! I can really see! Let it stay off, just for one little
moment more!"

He held her hands by force. "Jessica--wait!" he said in a broken
whisper. "You must not take it off again--not now!"

An incredible confusion enveloped him--his tongue cleaved to the roof of
his mouth. Not only had the painful _contretemps_ nonplussed and
dismayed him; not only had it heightened and horrified the realization
of what she must presently be told. It had laid a careless hand upon his
own secret, touching it with an almost vulgar mockery. It had overthrown
in an instant the barricades he had been piling. The pressure of those
lips on his had sent coursing to the furthest recesses of his nature a
great wave which dikes nor locks might ever again forbid.

Her look, leaping to his face, had not noted the ministerial dress, nor
in the ecstasy of the moment did she catch the agitation in his voice;
or if she did, she attributed it to a feeling like her own. She was
laughing happily, while he stood, trembling slightly, holding himself
with an effort.

"What a dear goose you are!" she said. "The light didn't hurt
them--indeed, indeed! Only to think, Hugh! Your wife will have her
sight! Do go and tell your father! He will be waiting to know!"

Harry made some incoherent reply. He was desperately anxious to get
away--his thought was a snarl of tatters, threaded by one lucid purpose:
to spare her coming self-abasement this sardonic humiliation. He did not
think of a time in the future, when her error must naturally disclose
itself. The tangle spelled _Now_. Not to tell her--not to let her know!

He almost ran from the room and down the stair.



At the foot of the landing he paused, drawing a deep breath as if to
lift a weight of air. He needed to get his bearings--to win back a
measure of calmness.

As he stood there, Hugh came from the library. His head was down and he
went furtively and slinkingly, as though dreading even a casual regard.
He snatched his hat from the rack, passed out of the house, and was
swallowed up in the dusk. David Stires had followed his son into the
hall. He answered the gloomy question in Harry's eyes:

"He is gone," he said, "and I hope to Heaven I may never see his face
again!" Then, slowly and feebly, he ascended the stair.

The library windows were shadowed by shrubbery, and the sunset
splintered against the wall in a broad stripe, like cloth of crimson
silk. Harry leaned his hot forehead against the chill marble of the
mantelpiece and gazed frowningly at the dark Korean desk--an antique
gift of his own to David Stires--where the slip of paper still lay that
had spelled such ruin and shame. From the rear of the house came the
pert, tittering laugh of a maid bantering an expressman, and the heavy,
rattling thump of rolled trunks. There was something ghastly in the
incomprehension of all the house save the four chief actors of the
melodrama. The travesty was over, the curtain rung down to clapping of
hands, the scene-shifters clearing away--and behind all, in the wings,
unseen by any spectator, the last act of a living tragedy was rushing to

Ten, fifteen minutes passed, and old David Stires reëntered the room,
went feebly to his wheel-chair, and sat down. He sat a moment in
silence, looking at a portrait of Jessica--a painting by Altsheler that
hung above the mantel--in a light fleecy gown, with one white rose in
the bronze hair. When he spoke the body's infirmity had become all at
once pitifully apparent. The fiery wrath seemed suddenly to have burned
itself out, leaving only dead ashes behind. His eyes had shrunk away
into almost empty sockets. The authority had faded from his face. He was
all at once a feeble, gentle-looking, ill, old man, with white mustaches
and uncertain hands, dressed in ceremonial broadcloth.

"I have told her," he said presently, in a broken voice. "You are kind,
Sanderson, very kind. God help us!"

"What has God to do with it?" fell a voice behind them. Harry faced
about. It was Jessica, as he had first seen her in the upper room, with
the bandage across her eyes.

"What has God to do with it?" she repeated, in a hard tone. "Perhaps Mr.
Sanderson can tell us. It is in his line!"

"Please--" said Harry.

He could not have told what he would have asked, though the accent was
almost one of entreaty. The harsh satire touched his sacred calling;
coming from her lips it affronted at once his religious instinct and his
awakened love. It was all he said, for he stopped suddenly at sight of
her face, pain-frosted, white as the folded cloth.

"Oh," she said, turning toward the voice, "I remember what you said that
night, right here in this very room--that you sowed your wild oats at
college with Hugh--that they were 'a tidy crop'! You were strong, and he
was weak. You led, and he followed. You were 'Satan Sanderson,' Abbot of
The Saints, the set in which he learned gambling. Why, it was in your
rooms that he played his first game of poker--he told me so himself! And
now he has gone to be an outcast, and you stand in the pulpit in a
cassock, you, the 'Reverend Henry Sanderson'! You helped to make him
what he has become! Can you undo it?"

Harry was looking at her with a stricken countenance. He had no answer
ready. The wave of confusion that had submerged him when he had restored
the bandage to her eyes had again welled over him. He stood shocked and
confounded. His hand fumbled at his lapel, and the white carnation,
crushed by his fingers, dropped at his feet.

"I am not excusing Hugh now," she went on wildly. "He has gone beyond
excuse or forgiveness. He is as dead to me as though I had never known
him, though the word you spoke an hour ago made me his wife. I shall
have that to remember all my life--that, and the one moment I had waited
for so long, for my first sight of his face, and my bride's kiss! I must
carry it with me always. I can never wipe that face from my brain, or
the sting of that kiss from my lips--the kiss of a forger--of my

The old man groaned. "I didn't know he had seen her!" he said
helplessly. "Jessica, Hugh's sin is not Sanderson's fault!"

In her bitter words was an injustice as passionate as her pain, but for
her life she could not help it. She was a woman wrenched and torn,
tortured beyond control, numb with anguish. Every quivering tendril of
feeling was a live protest, every voice of her soul was crying out
against the fact. In those dreadful minutes when her mind took in the
full extent of her calamity, Hugh's past intimacy and present grim
contrast with Harry Sanderson had mercilessly thrust themselves upon
her, and her agony had seared the swift antithesis on her brain.

To Harry Sanderson, however, her words fell with a wholly
disproportionate violence. It had never occurred to him that he himself
had been individually and actively the cause of Hugh's downfall. The
accusation pierced through the armor of self-esteem that he had linked
and riveted with habit. The same pain of mind that had spurred him, on
that long-ago night, to the admission she had heard, had started to new
life a bared, a scathed, a rekindling sin.

"It is all true," he said. It was the inveterate voice of conscience
that spoke. "I have been deceiving myself. I was my brother's keeper! I
see it now."

She did not catch the deep compunction in the judicial utterance. In her
agony the very composure and restraint cut more deeply than silence. She
stood an instant quivering, then turned, and feeling blindly for the
door, swept from their sight.

White and breathless, Jessica climbed the stair. In her room, she took
a key from a drawer and ran swiftly to the attic-studio. She unlocked
the door with hurried fingers, tore the wrappings from the tall white
figure of the Prodigal Son, and found a heavy mallet. She lifted this
with all her strength, and showered blow upon blow on the hard clay, her
face and hair and shimmering train powdered with the white dust, till
the statue lay on the floor, a heap of tumbled fragments.

Fateful and passionate as the scene in the library had been, her going
left a pall of silence in the room. Harry Sanderson looked at David
Stires with pale intentness.

"Yet I would have given my life," he said in a low voice, "to save her

Something in the tone caught the old man. He glanced up.

"I never guessed!" he said slowly. "I never guessed that you loved her,

But Harry had not heard. He did not even know that he had spoken aloud.

David Stires turned his wheel-chair to the Korean desk, touching the
bell as he did so. He took up the draft and put it into his pocket. He
pressed a spring, a panel dropped, and disclosed a hidden drawer, from
which he took a crackling parchment. It was the will against whose
signing Harry had pleaded months before in that same room. The butler

"Witness my signature, Blake," he said, and wrote his name on the last
page. "Mr. Sanderson will sign with you."

An hour later the fast express that bore Jessica and David Stires was
shrieking across the long skeleton railroad bridge, a dotted trail of
fire against the deepening night. The sound crossed the still miles. It
called to Harry Sanderson, where he sat in his study with the evening
paper before him. It called his eyes from a paragraph he was reading
through a painful mist--a paragraph under heavy leads, on its front

     This city has seldom seen so brilliant a gathering as that
     witnessed, late this afternoon, at the residence of the groom, the
     marriage of Mr. Hugh Stires and Miss Jessica Holme, both of this

     The ceremony was performed by the Reverend Henry Sanderson, rector
     of St. James.

     The groom is the son of one of our leading citizens, and the beauty
     and talent of the bride have long made her noted. The happy couple,
     accompanied by the groom's father, left on an early train, carrying
     with them the congratulations and good wishes of the entire

     A full account of the wedding will be given in to-morrow morning's



Night had fallen. The busy racket of wheeled traffic was still, the
pavements were garish with electric light, windows were open, and crowds
jostled to and fro on the cool pavements. But Harry Sanderson, as he
walked slowly back from a long ramble in knickerbockers and norfolk
jacket over the hills, was not thinking of the sights and sounds of the
pleasant evening. He had tramped miles since sundown, and had returned
as he set out, gloomy, unrequited, a follower of a baffled quest. Even
the dog at his heels seemed to partake of his master's mood; he padded
along soberly, forging ahead now and again to look up inquiringly at the
preoccupied face.

Set back from the street in a wide estate of trees and shrubbery, stood
a great white-porched house that gloomed darkly from amid its aspens.
Not a light had twinkled from it for nearly a year. The little city had
wondered at first, then by degrees had grown indifferent. The secret of
that prolonged honeymoon, that dearth and absence, Harry Sanderson and
the bishop alone could have told. For the bishop knew of Hugh's
criminal act; he was named executor of the will that lay in the Korean
chest, and him David Stires had written the truth. His heart had gone
out with pity for Jessica, and understanding. The secret he locked in
his own breast, as did Harry Sanderson, each thinking the other ignorant
of it.

Since that wedding-day no shred of news had come to either. Harry had
wished for none. To think of Jessica was a recurrent pang, and yet the
very combination of the safe in his study he had formed of the letters
of her name! In each memory of her he felt the fresh assault of a new
and tireless foe--the love which he must deny.

Until their meeting his moral existence had been strangely without
struggle. When at a single blow he had cut away, root and branch, from
his old life, he had left behind him its vices and temptations. That
life had been, as he himself had dimly realized at the time, a phase,
not a quality, of his development. It had known no profound emotions.
The first deep feeling of his experience had come with that college
catastrophe which had brought the abrupt change to all his habits of
living. He did not know that the impulse which then drew him to the
Church was the gravitational force of an austere ancestry, itself an
inheritance from a long line of sectarian progenitors--an Archbishop of
Canterbury among them--reaching from Colony times, when King George had
sent the first Sanderson, a virile, sport-loving churchman, to the
tobacco emoluments of the Old Dominion. He did not know that in the
reaction the pendulum of his nature was swinging back along an old
groove in obeisance to the subtle call of blood.

In his new life, problems were already solved for him. He had only to
drift with the current of tradition, whereon was smooth sailing. And so
he had drifted till that evening when "Satan Sanderson," dead and done
and buried, had risen in his grave-clothes to mock him in the person of
Hugh. Each hour since then had sensitized him, had put him through
exercises of self-control. And then, with that kiss of Jessica's, had
come the sudden illumination that had made him curse the work of his
hands--that had shown him what had dawned for him, too late!

Outcast and criminal as he was, castaway, who had stolen a bank's money
and a woman's love, Hugh was still her husband. Hugh's wife--what could
she be to him? And this fevered conflict was shot through with yet
another pang; for the waking smart of compunction which had risen at
Jessica's bitter cry, "You helped to make him what he has become!"
would not down. That cry had shown him, in one clarifying instant, the
follies and delinquencies of his early career reduplicated as through
the facets of a crystal, and in the polarized light of conscience,
Hugh--loafer, gambler and thief--stood as the type and sign of an
enduring accusation.

But if the recollection of that wedding-day and its aftermath stalked
always with him--if that kiss had seemed to cling again and again to his
lips as he sat in the quiet of his study--no one guessed. He seldom
played his violin now, but he had shown no outward sign. As time went
on, he had become no less brilliant, though more inscrutable; no less
popular, save perhaps to the parish heresy-hunter for whom he had never
cared a straw. But beneath the surface a great change had come to Harry

To-night, as he wended his way past the house in the aspens, through the
clatter and commotion of the evening, there was a kind of glaze over his
whole face--a shell of melancholy.

Judge Conwell drove by in his dog-cart, with the superintendent of the
long, low hospital. The man of briefs looked keenly at the handsome face
on the pavement. "Seems the worse for wear," he remarked sententiously.

The surgeon nodded wisely. "That's the trouble with most of you
professional people," he said; "you think too much!" The judge clucked
to his mare and drove on at a smart trot.

The friendly, critical eye clove to the fact; it discerned the
mental state of which gloom, depression and insomnia were but the
physical reagents. Harry had lately felt disquieting symptoms of
strain--irritable weakness, fitful repose, a sense of vague, mysterious
messages in a strange language never before heard. He had found that the
long walks no longer brought the old reaction--that even the swift rush
of his motor-car, as it bore him through the dusk of an evening, gave
him of late only a momentary relief. To-morrow began his summer
vacation, and he had planned a month's pedestrian outing through the
wide ranch valleys and the further ranges, and this should set him up

Now, however, as he walked along, he was bitterly absorbed in thoughts
other than his own needs. He passed more than one acquaintance with a
stare of non-recognition. One of these was the bishop, who turned an
instant to look after him. The bishop had seen that look frequently of
late, and had wondered if it betokened physical illness or mental
unquiet. More than once he had remembered with a sigh the old whisper of
Harry Sanderson's early wildness. But he knew youth and its lapses, and
he liked and respected him. Only two days before, on the second
anniversary of Harry's ordination, he had given him for his silken
watch-guard a little gold cross engraved with his name, and containing
the date. The bishop had seen his gift sparkling against Harry's
waistcoat as he passed. He walked on with a puzzled frown.

The bishop was pursy and prosy, conventional and somewhat stereotyped in
ideas, but he was full of the milk of human kindness. Now he promised
himself that when the hour's errand on which he was hastening was done,
he would stop at the study and if he found Harry in, would have a quiet
chat with him. Perhaps he could put his finger on the trouble.

At a crossing, the sight of a knot of people on the opposite side of the
street awoke Harry from his abstraction. They had gathered around a
peripatetic street preacher, who was holding forth in a shrill voice.
Beside him, on a short pole, hung a dripping gasoline flare, and the
hissing flame lit his bare head, his thin features, his long hair, and
his bony hands moving in vehement gestures. A small melodeon on four
wheels stood beside him, and on its front was painted in glaring white

              "HALLELUJAH JONES."

     "_Suffer me that I may speak; and after
     that I have spoken, mock on._"

                                 Job, xxi, 3

From over the way Harry gazed at the tall, stooping figure, pitilessly
betrayed by the thin alpaca coat, at the ascetic face burned a brick-red
from exposure to wind and sun, at the flashing eyes, the impassioned
earnestness. He paused at the curb and listened curiously, for
Hallelujah Jones with his evangelism mingled a spice of the rancor of
the socialist. In his thinking, the rich and the wicked were mingled
inextricably in the great chastisement. He was preaching now from his
favorite text: _Woe to them that are at ease in Zion_.

Harry smiled grimly. He had always been "at ease in Zion." He wore
sumptuous clothes--the ruby in his ring would bring what this plodding
exhorter would call a fortune. At this moment, Hede, his dapper Finn
chauffeur, was polishing the motor-car for him to take his cool evening
spin. That very afternoon he had put into the little safe in the chapel
study two thousand dollars in gold, which he had drawn, a part for his
charities and quarterly payments and a part to take with him for the
exigencies of his trip. The street evangelist over there, preaching
paradise and perdition to the grinning yokels, often needed a square
meal, and was lucky if he always knew where he would sleep. Yet did the
Reverend Henry Sanderson, after all, get more out of life than
Hallelujah Jones?

The thread of his thought broke. The bareheaded figure had ended his
harangue. The eternal fires were banked for a time, while, seated on a
camp-stool at his crazy melodeon, he proceeded to transport his audience
to the heavenly meads of the New Jerusalem. He began a "gospel song"
that everybody knew:

      "I saw a wayworn traveller,
        The sun was bending low.
      He overtopped the mountain
        And reached the vale below.
      He saw the Golden City,
        His everlasting home,
      And shouted as he journeyed,
        'Deliverance will come!

         "'Palms of Victory,
           Crowns of Glory!
     Palms of Victory, I shall wear!'"

The voice was weather-cracked, and the canvas bellows of the instrument
coughed and wheezed, but the music was infectious, and half from
overflowing spirits, and half from the mere swing of the melody, the
crowd chanted the refrain:

         "'Palms of Victory;
           Crowns of Glory!
     Palms of Victory, I shall wear!'"

Two, three verses of the old-fashioned hymn he sang, and after each
verse more of the bystanders--some in real earnestness, some in impious
hilarity--shouted in the chorus:

     "'Palms of Victory, I shall wear!'"

Harry walked on in a brown study, the refrain ringing through his brain.
There came to him the memory of Hugh's old sneer as he looked at his
book-shelves--whereon Nietzsche and Pascal sat cheek by jowl with
_Theron Ware_ and _Robert Elsmere_--"I wonder how much of all that you
really believe!" How much _did_ he really believe? "I used to read
Thomas à Kempis then," he said to himself, "and Jonathan Edwards; now I
read Rénan and the _Origins of Christian Mythology_!"

At the chapel-gate lounged his chauffeur, awaiting orders.

"Bring the car round, Hede," said Harry, "and I shan't need you after
that to-night. I'll drive her myself. You can meet me at the garage."

Hede, the dapper, good-looking Scandinavian, touched his glossy straw
hat respectfully. It was a piece of luck that his master had not planned
a motor trip instead of a tour afoot. For a month, after to-night, his
time was his own. His quarter's wages were in his pocket, and he slapped
the wad with satisfaction as he sauntered off to the bowling-alley.

The study was pitch-dark, and Rummy halted on the threshold with a low,
ominous growl as Harry fumbled for the electric switch. As he found and
pressed it and the place flooded with light, he saw a figure there--the
figure of a man who had been sitting alone--beside the empty hearth, who
rose, shrinking back from the sudden brilliancy.

It was Hugh Stires.



Harry Sanderson stared at the apparition with a strange feeling, like
rising from the dead. There flashed into his mind the reflection he had
seen once in the mirror above the mantel--the face on which fell the
amber ray from the chapel window, shining through the figure of the
unrepentant thief--the face that had seemed so like his own!

The likeness, however, was not so startling now. The aristocratic
features were ravaged like a nicked blade. Dissipation, exposure, shame
and unbridled passion had each set its separate seal upon the handsome
countenance. Hugh's clothes were shabby-genteel and the old slinking
grace of wearing them was gone. A thin beard covered his chin, and his
shifty look, as he turned it first on Harry and then nervously over his
shoulder, had in it a hunted dread, a dogging terror, constant and
indefinable. From bad to worse had been a swift descent for Hugh Stires.

The wave of feeling ebbed. Harry drew the window-curtains, swung a
shade before the light, and motioned to the chair.

"Sit down," he said.

Hugh looked his old friend in the face a moment, then his unsteady
glance fell to the white carnation in his lapel as he said: "I suppose
you wonder why I have come here."

Harry did not answer the implied question. His scrutiny was deliberate,
critical and inquiring. "What have you been doing the last year?" he

"A little of everything," replied Hugh. "I ran a bucket-shop with Moreau
in Sacramento for a while. Then I went over in the mining country. I
took up a claim at Smoky Mountain--that's worth something, or may be

"Why did you leave it?"

Hugh touched his parched lips with his tongue--again that nervous,
sidelong look, that fearful glance over his shoulder.

"I had no money to work it. I had to live. Besides, I'm tired of the
whole thing."

The backward glance, the look of dread, were tangible tokens. Harry
translated them:

"You are not telling the truth," he said shortly. "What have you

Hugh flinched, but he made sullen answer: "Nothing. What should I have

"That is what I am now inquiring of myself," said Harry. "Your face is a
book for any one to read. I see things written on it, Hugh--things that
tell a story of wrong-doing. You are afraid."

Hugh shivered under the regard. Did his face really tell so much?

"I don't care to be seen in town," he said. "You wouldn't either,
probably, under the circumstances." His gaze dropped to his frayed
coat-sleeve. In his craven fear of something that he dared not name even
to himself, and in his wretched need, he remembered a night once before,
when he had sidled into town drunken and soiled--to a luxurious room, a
refreshing bath, clean linen and a welcome. Abject drops of self-pity
started in his eyes.

"You're the only one in the world I dared come to," he said miserably.
"I've walked ten miles to-day, for I haven't a red cent in my pocket.
Nor even decent clothes," he ended.

"That can be partly remedied," said Harry after a pause. He took a dark
coat from its hook and tossed it to him. "Put that on," he said. "You
needn't return it."

Hugh caught the garment. In another moment he had exchanged it for the
one he wore, and was emptying the old coat's pockets.

"Don't sneak!" said Harry with sudden contempt. "Don't you suppose I
know a deck of cards when I see it?"

The thin scar on Hugh's brow reddened. He thrust into his pocket the
pasteboards he had made an instinctive move to conceal and buttoned the
coat around him. It fitted sufficiently. His eyes avoided the well-set
figure standing in white negligée shirt, norfolk jacket and leather
belt. As they had been wont to do in the comfortable past, they fixed
themselves on the little safe.

"Look here, Harry," he began, "you were a good fellow in the old days.
I'm sorry I never paid you the money I borrowed. I would have, but
for--what happened. But you won't go back on me now, will you? I want to
get out of the country and begin over again somewhere. Will you loan me
the money to do it?"

Hugh was eager and voluble now. The man to whom he appealed was his
forlorn hope. He had come with no intention of throwing himself upon his
father's mercy. He had wished to see anybody in the world but him. In
his urgent need, he had had a wild thought of appealing to Jessica, or
at worst to get speech with Blake, the old butler who many a time of old
had hidden his backslidings from the parental eye. But he had found the
white house in the aspens closed and desolate, the servants gone. Harry
Sanderson was his last resort.

"If you will, I'll never forget it, Harry!" he cried. "Never, the
longest day I live! I'll use every dollar of it just as I say! I will,
on my honor!"

But the sight of the poker deck had been steel to Harry's soul. It had
touched an excoriated spot that in the past months had grown as
sensitive as an exposed nerve. The pictured squares were the ironic
badge of Hugh's incorrigibility. They had ruined him, and the ruin had
broken his father's heart, and wrecked the life of Jessica Holme. And
out of this havoc a popular rector named Harry Sanderson had emerged
pitifully the worse.

"Honor!" he said. "Have you enough to swear by? You are what you are
because you are a bad egg! You were born a gentleman, but you choose to
be a rogue. Do you know the meaning of the word honor, or right, or
justice? Have you a single purpose of mind which isn't crooked?"

"You're just like the rest, then," Hugh retorted. "Just because I did
that one thing, you'll give me no more chance. Yet the first thing I did
with that money was to square myself. I paid every debt of honor I had.
That's why I'm in the hole now. But I get no credit for it, even from
you. I wish you could put yourself in my place!"

Harry had been looking steadily at the sallow face with its hoof-print
of the satyr, not seeing it, but hearing his own voice say to Jessica:
"I was my brother's keeper! I see it now." And out of the distance, it
seemed, his voice answered:

"Put myself in your place! I wish I could! I wish to God I could!"

The exclamation was involuntary, automatic, the cumulative expression of
every throe of conscience Harry had endured since then, the voice of
that remorse that had cried insistently for reparation, dinning in his
ears the fateful question that God asked of Cain! Suddenly a whirl of
rage seized him, unmeasured, savage, malicious. He had despised Hugh,
now he hated him; hated him because he was Jessica's husband, and more
than all, because he was the symbol of his own self-abasement. A
dare-devil side of the old Satan Sanderson that he had chained and
barred, rose up and took him by the throat. He struck the oak
wainscoting with his fist, feeling a red mist grow before his eyes.

"So you paid every 'debt of honor' you had, eh? You acknowledge a
gamester's honor, but not the obligation of right action between man
and man! Very well! Give me that pack of cards. You want money--here it

He swiftly turned the clicking combination of the safe, wrenched open
the door and took out two heavy canvas bags. He snapped the cord from
the neck of one of these and a ringing stream of double-eagles swept
jingling on the table. He dipped his hand in the yellow pile. A thought
mad as the hoofs of runaway horses was careening through his brain. He
felt an odd lightness of mind, a tense tingling of every nerve and

"Here is two thousand dollars!--yours, if you win it! For you shall play
for it, you gambler who pays his debts of 'honor' and no other! You
shall play fair and straight, if you never play again!"

Hugh gazed at Harry in a startled way. This was not the ministerial
Harry Sanderson he had known--this _gauche_ figure, with the white
infuriate face, the sparkling eyes and the strange, veiled look. This
reminded him of the reckless spirit of his college days, that he had
patterned after and had stood in awe of. Only he had never seen him look
so then. Could Harry be in earnest? Hugh glanced from him to the pile of
coin and back again. His fingers itched.

"How can I play," he said, "when you know very well I haven't a _sou

Harry stuffed the gold back into the bag. He snatched the cards from
Hugh's hand and a box of waxen envelope wafers from his desk. There was
a strange light in his eye, a tremor in his fingers.

"It is I who play with money!" he said. "My gold against your counters!
Each of those hundred red disks represents a day of your life--a day, do
you understand?--a red day of your sin! A day of yours against a
double-eagle! What you win you keep. But for every counter I win, you
shall pay me one straight, white day, a clean day, lived for decency and
for the right!"

He was the old Satan Sanderson now, with the blood bubbling in his
veins--the Satan Sanderson who could "talk like Bob Ingersoll or an
angel," as the college saying was--the cool, daring, enigmatical Abbot
of The Saints, primed for any audacity. It was the old character again,
but curiously changed. The new overlaid it. Under the spur of some
driving impulse the will was travelling along a disused and preposterous
channel to a paramount end.

Hugh's eyes were fastened on the gold in Harry's fingers. Two thousand
dollars! If luck came his way he could go far on that--far enough to
escape the nameless terror that pursued him in every shadow. Money
against red wafers? Why, it was plenty if he won, and if he lost he had
staked nothing. What a fool Harry was!

Harry saw the shrewd, calculating look that came to his eyes. He caught
his wrist.

"Not here!" he said hoarsely. He flung open the chapel door and pushed
him inside. He seized one of the altar candles, lit it with a match and
stuck it upright in its own wax on the small communion table that stood
just inside the altar-rail, with the cards, the red wafers and the bags
of coin. He dragged two chairs forward.

"Now," he said in a strained voice, "put up your hand--your right
hand--and swear before this altar, on the gambler's honor you boast of,
win or lose, to abide by this game!"

Hugh shrank. He was superstitious. The calculating look had fled. He
glanced half fearfully about him--at Harry's white face--at the high
altar with its vases of August lilies--at the great rose-window, now a
mass of white, opaque blotches on which the three black crosses stood
out with weird distinctness--at the lurking, unlighted shadows in the
corners. He looked longingly at the gold, shining yellow in the
candle-light. It fascinated him.

He lifted his hand. It was trembling.

"I swear I will!" he said. "I'll stand by the cards, Harry, and for
every day you win, I'll walk a chalk line--so help me God!"

Harry Sanderson sat down. He emptied one of the bags at his elbow, and
pushed the box of wafers across the table. He shuffled the cards swiftly
and cut.

"Your deal!" he said.



Hallelujah Jones had finished his labor for the night. The crowd had
grown restive, and finally melted away, and, his audience gone, he
folded the camp-stool, turned off the gasoline flare, shut down the lid
of his melodeon, and trundled it up the street. A goodly number of
coppers had rattled into his worn hat, and to the workman belonged his
wage. There was a little settlement on the river, a handful of miles
away, and the trudge under the stars would be cool and pleasant. If he
grew tired, there was his blanket strapped atop the melodeon, and the
open night was dry and balmy.

As he pushed up the street he came to a great motor-car standing at the
curb under the maples. There was no one in it, but somewhere in its
interior a muffled whirring throb beat evenly like a double, metallic
heart. He stopped and regarded it inquisitively; a rich man's property,
to be sure!

He looked up--it was at the gate of the chapel. No doubt it belonged to
the fashionable rector who had been pointed out to him on the street the
day before. He remembered the young, handsome face, the stylish
broadcloth. He thought he would have liked to lean over the Reverend
Henry Sanderson's shoulder and lay his finger on a text: _How hardly
shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of Heaven_. Yet it was a
beautiful edifice that wealth had built there for Christ! He saw dimly
the stone angel standing in the porch, and, leaving his melodeon on the
pavement, entered the gate to examine it.

He noticed now a dim flicker that lit one corner of the great
rose-window. Moving softly over the cropped grass, he approached, tilted
one of the hinged panels, and peered in. Two men were there, behind the
altar-railing, seated at the communion table.

Hallelujah Jones started back. There on the table was a bag of coin,
cards and counters. They were playing--he heard the fall of the cards on
the hard wood, saw the gleam of a gold-piece, the smear of melted wax
marring the polished oak. The reddish glow of the candle was reflected
on the players' faces. Well he knew the devil's tools: had he not sung
and exhorted in Black Hill mining camps and prayed in frontier faro
"joints"? They were gambling! At God's holy altar, and on Christ's
table! Who would dare such a profanation?

He craned his neck. Suddenly he gave a smothered cry. The player facing
him he recognized--it was the rector himself! He bent forward, gazing
with a tense and horrified curiosity.

In that hazard within the altar-rail strange forces were contending,
whose meaning he could not fathom. Between the two men who played, not a
word had been spoken save those demanded by the exigencies of the game.
Harry had seemed to act almost automatically, but his mind was working
clearly, his hand was firm and cool as the blossom on his coat; he made
his play with that old steely nonchalance with which, once upon a time,
he had staked--and lost--so often. But in his brain a thousand spindles
were whirring, a maze of refractory images was rushing past him into an
eddying phantasmagoria. A kind of exaltation possessed him. He was
putting his past into the dice-box to redeem a soul in pawn, fighting
the devil with his own fire, gambling for God!

Five times, ten times, the cards had changed hands, and with every deal
he lost. The gold disks had slipped steadily across the table. But Harry
had seemed to be looking beyond the ebb and flow of the jettons and the
pale face opposite him that gloated over its yellow pile. Though that
pile grew larger and larger, Harry's face had never changed. Hugh's was
the shaking hand when he discarded, the convulsed features when he
scanned his draw, the desperate anxiety when for a moment fortune seemed
to waver. He had never in his life had such luck! He swept his winnings
into his pockets with a discordant laugh as he noted that, of the
contents of the opened bag, Harry had but one double-eagle remaining.

Harry paused an instant. He snapped the little gold cross he wore from
its silken tether and set it upright by him on the table.

His hand won, and the next, and the next. Hugh hoarded his gold: he
staked the red wafers--each one a day! He had won almost a thousand
dollars, but the second bag had not yet been opened, and the vampire
intoxication was running molten-hot in his veins. The untouched bag drew
him as the magnet mountain drew the adventurous Sindbad--he could have
snatched it in his eagerness.

But the luck had changed; his red counters diminished, melted; he would
soon have to draw on his real winnings. Cold beads of sweat broke on his

Neither had heard the creak of the rose-window as the hinged panel drew
back. Neither saw the face pressed against the aperture. Neither guessed
the wild and terrible thoughts that were raging through the mind of the
solitary watcher as he peered and peered.

This minister! This corrupt, ungodly shepherd! He could be neither
hanged nor put in jail, yet he committed a crime for which hell itself
scarce held adequate penalty and punishment! The street preacher's eyes
dilated, the hand that held the panel trembled, spots of unhealthy white
sprang into his burning cheeks. The flaring candles--the table with its
carven legend, _This Do In Remembrance of Me_--the little gold cross,
set there, it seemed to him, in a satanic derision! It was the evil the
Apostle Paul wrestled against, of "wicked spirits in high places." It
was sacrilege! It was blasphemy! It was the Arch-Fiend laughing, making
a mock of God's own altar with the guilty pleasures of the pit--a very
sacrament of the damned!

Scarce knowing what he did, he closed the panel softly and ran across
the chapel lawn. On the pavement outside he met a man approaching. It
was the bishop, on his way to his contemplated chat with Harry
Sanderson. The excited evangelist did not know the man, but his eye
caught the ministerial dress, the plain, sturdy piety of the face. In
his zeal he saw an instrument to his hand. He grasped the bishop's arm.

"Quick! Quick!" he gasped. "There's devil's work doing in there! Come
and see!" He fairly pulled him inside the gate.

The puzzled bishop saw the intense excitement of the other's demeanor.
He saw the faint glow in the corner of the rose-window. Were there
thieves after the altar-plate?

He shook off the eager hand that was drawing him toward the window. "Not
there--come this way!" he said, and hurried toward the porch. He tried
the chapel door--it was fast. He had a key to this in his pocket. He
inserted it with caution, opened the door noiselessly and went in, the
street preacher at his heels.

What the bishop saw was photographed instantaneously on his mind in
fiery, indelible colors. It ate into his soul like hot iron into
quivering flesh, searing itself upon his memory. It was destined to
haunt his sleep for many months afterward, a phantom of regret and
shame. He was, in his way, a man of the world, travelled, sophisticated,
acquainted with sin in unexpected forms and places. But this sight, in
all its coarse suggestion of license, in its harrowing implication of
hidden vice and hypocrisy, was damning and appalling. The evangelist of
the pave had been horrified, shocked to word and action; the bishop was
frozen, inarticulate, impaled. For any evil in Hugh Stires he was
prepared--since the forgery. But Hugh's companion now was the man whom
he himself had ordained and anointed, by the laying on of hands, with
the chrism of his holy ministry.

It was sin, then, that had set the look he had marvelled at in Harry
Sanderson's face--sin, flaunting, mocking and terrible! He whom the
church had ordained to shepherd its little ones, to comfort its
afflicted, to give in marriage and to bless, to hold before the world
the white and stainless banner--a renegade, polluting the sanctuary! A
priest apostate, surprised in a hideous revel, gambling, as the Roman
soldiers gambled for the seamless garment, at the foot of the cross! An
irrepressible exclamation burst from his lips.

With the sound both men at the table started to their feet. Hugh, with a
single glance behind him, uttering a wild laugh, leaped the railing,
dashed through the study, and vanished into the night; Harry, as though
suddenly turned to stone, stood staring at the accusatory figure, with
the eager form of the evangelist behind it. It was as if the horror on
the stern, set face of the bishop mirrored itself instantaneously upon
his countenance, his imagination opening in a shocked, awed way to the
concentrated light of feeling, so that he stood bewildered in the
paralysis of a like dismay.

To the bishop it seemed the attitude of guilt detected.

What was Harry Sanderson thinking, as, under that speechless regard, he
mechanically gathered the scattered cards and lifted the little cross
and the unopened bag of double-eagles from the table? Where was the odd
excitement, the strange exaltation that had possessed him? The spindles
in his brain had stilled, and an algid calm had succeeded, as abrupt as
the quiet, deadly assurance with which his mind now saw the pit into
which his own feet had led him. The paradoxical impulse that had bred
this sinister topsyturvydom had fallen away. The same judicial Harry
Sanderson who had said to Jessica, "I was my brother's keeper,"
arraigned and judged himself, and pronounced the sentence on the
bishop's face conclusive, irrefutable, without the power of explanation
or appeal.

He blew out the candle, replaced it carefully in its altar bracket, made
shift to wipe the wax from the table, and slowly, half blindly, and
without a word, went into the study.

The bishop came forward, drew the key from the inside of the study door,
closed it and locked it from the chapel side. Harry did not turn, but he
was acutely conscious of every sound. He heard the door shut sharply,
the harsh grate of the key in the lock, and the sound came to him like
the last sentence--the realization of a soul on whom the gate of the
good closes for ever.

In the dark silence of the chapel Hallelujah Jones smote his thin hands
together approvingly, as he followed the bishop to the outer door. There
the older man laid his hand on his shoulder.

"_Let him that thinketh he standeth_," he said, "_take heed lest he
fall_! Let not this knowledge be spread abroad that it make the
unrighteous to blaspheme. When you pray for your own soul to-night, pray
for the soul of that man from whom God's face is turned away!"

Something in the churchless evangelist bowed to the voice of
ecclesiastical authority. He went without a word.

In the study Harry Sanderson stood for a moment with the cards and the
bag of double-eagles in his hand. In his soft shirt and disordered hair,
with his preternaturally bright eyes, the white blossom on his lapel,
and the brilliant light upon his face, he might have been that
satin-sleeved colonial ancestor of his, in dissolute maturity, coming
from an unclerical bout at Loo, two hundred years ago.

Finally he put the cards and the canvas bag methodically into the safe
and closed it. Then he knelt by his desk and said, clearly and aloud--to
that cold inner symbol of consciousness in his soul:

"O God, I do not know if Thou art, as has been said, a seer of the good
that is in the bad, and of the bad that is in the good, and a lover of
them both. But I know that I am in a final extremity. I can no longer do
my labor consistently before the world and before Thee. If I am
delivered, it must be by some way of Thine own that I can not conceive,
for I can not help myself. Amen."

He rose to his feet, mechanically put on a coat that was lying on a
chair--Hugh's coat, but he did not notice this--and bareheaded passed
out to the street. The motor-car stood there. He took his place in the
forward seat, and threw on the power.

Barking joyously, Rummy, the brown spaniel, tore out of the gate, but
his master did not stop. The little creature pursued the moving car,
made a frantic leap to gain his seat, but missed, and the huge armored
wheel struck and hurled him to the gutter.

Harry did not hear the sharp yelp of pain; his hand was on the lever,
pushing it over, over, to its last notch, and the great mechanism,
responding with a leap, sped away, faster and faster, through the night.



Harry Sanderson was acting in a kind of fevered dream. His head and
hands were bare, his face white and immobile, and his eyes stared
straight before him with the persistent fixity of the sleep-walker's.
They did not see a bowed, plodding figure pushing a rickety, wheeled
melodeon, who scurried from before the hurtling weight that had all but
run him down. Nor could they see far behind in the eddying dust a little
dog, moaning, limping piteously on three legs, with tongue lolling and
shaggy coat caked with mud--following the hopeless, bird-like flight.

One mile, two miles, three miles. The streets were far behind now. The
country road spun before him, a dusty white ribbon, along which the dry
battered corn rattled as if in a surge of torrid wind. The great
motor-car was reeling off the distance like a maddened thing, swooping
through the haloed dark, the throttle out, the lever pushed to its
utmost limit of speed, rocking drunkenly, every inch of tested steel
ringing and throbbing. Yet Harry's fingers had no tremor, no hesitancy,
no lack of cunning. His heart was beating measuredly. He kept the road
by a kind of instinct as rudimentary as that which points the homing
carrier-pigeon. He seemed to be moving in a mental world created by some
significant clairvoyancy, in which the purpose operated without recourse
to the spring of reason. The light of neurasthenia burned behind his
eyelids; he felt at once a consuming flame within, a paralyzing frost
without. The light autumn mist drenched him like a fine, sifting rain;
the wheel-flung dust adhered like yellow mud, and above the clatter of
the exhaust the still air shrieked past like a shrewd wind.

Five miles, through the dark, under the breathless, expectant stars. The
car was on the broad curve now, where the road bent to the bluff above
the river to pass the skeleton railroad bridge. But Harry knew neither
place nor time. He was conscious only of motion--swift, swallow-like,
irresistible--this, and the racing pictures in his brain, stencilled on
the blur of night that closed around him. These pictures came and went;
the last revel of The Saints when he was Satan Sanderson--Hugh sneering
at his calling--Jessica facing him with unbandaged eyes--Hallelujah
Jones, preaching on the street corner. The figure of the street
evangelist recurred again and again with a singular persistency. It grew
more tangible! It threatened him!

Something in Harry's brain seemed to snap. A tiny shutter, like that of
a camera, fell down. His hands dropped from the steering-wheel, and,
swaying in his seat, he began to sing, in a voice made high and uneven
by the speed of the car:

         "Palms of Victory,
         Crowns of Glory!
     Palms of Victory, I shall wear!"

He sang but the three lines. For suddenly the car left the road--the
inflated tires rebounded from the steel ridge of the railroad track--the
forward axle caught an iron signal post--and the great motor-car, its
shattered lamp jingling like a gong, its pistons thrusting in midair,
reared on two wheels, hurling its occupant out like a pebble thrown from
a sling, half-turned, and, leaving a trail of sparks like the tail of a
rocket behind it, plunged heavily over the rim of the bluff into the

A moment later the deep black waters of "the hole" had closed above the
mass of sentient steel. The swift current had smoothed away every trace
of the strange monster it had engulfed, and there, by the side of the
track, huddled against the broken signal post, his clothing plastered
with mud and grime, motionless, and with a nasty cut on the temple, lay
Harry Sanderson.



A long saturating peace, a deep and drenching darkness, had folded Harry
Sanderson. Dully at first, at length more insistently and sharply, a
rhythmic pulsing sound began to annoy the quietude. K-track, k-track,
k-track--it grew louder; it grew more momentous and material; it
irritated the calm that had wrapped the animate universe. Shreds of
confusing impression had begun to arrange themselves on a void of
nothingness, blurred inchoate images to struggle through a delicious
sensation of indifference and repose. Outlines were filling, contours
growing distinct; the brain was beginning to resume its interrupted
function. As though from an immeasurable distance he heard a low
continuous roar, and now and again, through the roar, nearer voices.

Harry awoke. His mind awoke, but his eyes did not open at once, for the
gentle swaying that cradled him was pleasant and the muffled clack and
hum soothed him like opium. He was as serenely comfortable as a
stevedore who dozes out of the long stupefaction of exhaustion to the
realization that the day is a holiday. His blood was coursing like
quicksilver. He felt a buoyancy, a volatile pleasure, a sense of
complete emancipation from all that clogged and cloyed--the sensuous
delight of the full pulse and the perfect bodily mechanism.

He opened his eyes.

It was daylight. He was lying on dusty boards that rattled and vibrated
beneath him--the floor of an empty freight car in motion. The sliding
door was part-way open, and through it was borne the moist air of a
river bay and the purring wash of the tide. A small brown dog, an
abject, muddied and shivering morsel, was snuggled close to his side. It
whined, as if with joy to see his eyes opened, and its stubby tail beat
the floor.

Harry turned his head. Two men in dingy garments were seated on the
floor a little distance away, thumbing a decrepit pack of cards over an
empty box. He could see both side-faces, one weather-beaten and
good-humored, the other crafty--knights of the road.

The sudden movement had sent a momentary twinge to his temple; he put up
his hand--it touched a coarse handkerchief that had been bound tightly
about it. The corner hung down--it was soiled and stiff with blood. What
was he doing there? Where was he? _Who was he?_

It came to him with a start that he actually for the moment did not
know who he was--that he had ridiculously slipped the leash of his
identity. He smiled at his predicament. He would lie quietly for a few
moments and it would come: of course it would come!

Yet it did not come, though he lay many moments, the fingers of his mind
fumbling for the latch of the closed door. He had waked perfectly
well--all save the slight cut on his temple, and that was clearly
superficial, a mere scratch. Not a trouble or anxiety marred his soul;
his mind was as clear and light as a lark's. Body and brain together
felt as if they had never had a serious ache in the world. But all that
had preceded his awakening was gone from him as completely as though it
had had no existence. His mind, so far as memory of incident was
concerned, was wiped clean, as a wet sponge wipes off a slate. Yet he
felt no trouble or anxiety. That part of his brain which had vibrated to
these emotions was, as it were, under a curious anesthesia. Goaded and
overkeyed into a state of hypertension, it had retaliated with
insensibility. All that had vexed and hurt was gone into the limbo with
its own disturbing memories.

Stealthily he rose to a sitting posture and, with a frown of humorous
perplexity, took a swift and silent inventory. Here he was, in a
freight car, speeding somewhere or other, with a sore and damaged skull.
The dog clearly belonged to him, or he to the dog--there was an old
intimacy in the fawning fondness of the amber eyes. Yonder were two
tramps, diverting themselves in their own way, irresponsible and
questionable birds of passage. He scanned his own clothing. It was
little better than theirs. His coat was threadbare, and with mud, oil
and coal-dust, was in a more disreputable state. His wristbands were
grimy, and one cuff-link had been torn away. He had no hat.

He bethought himself of his pockets, and went through them methodically
one by one. They yielded several dollars in coin, a penknife and a tiny
gold cross, but not a letter, not a scrap of paper, nothing to serve
him. The gleam of a ring on his finger caught his eye; he rubbed away
the dirt and carefully examined it, wondering if the stone was real. His
hand was slightly cut and swollen, and the circlet would not come off,
but by shifting it slightly he could see the white depression made by
long wear. The setting was an odd one, formed of the twisted letters H.
S. Those naturally should be his initials, but there he stopped. He
repeated to himself all the names he could think of beginning with S,
but they told him nothing.

He looked himself over again, carefully, reflectively--many a time of
old he had regarded himself with the same amused, fastidious tolerance
when dressed for a "slumming" expedition--his head a little to one side,
the ghost of a smile on his lips. He put out his hand and laid it on the
spaniel's head.

Its rough tongue licked his fingers; it held up one forepaw mutely and
lamely. He drew the feverish, dirty little creature into his lap and
examined the limp member. It was broken.

"Poor little beggar!" said he under his breath. "So you've been knocked
out, too!" With his knife he cut a piece from the lining of his coat and
with a splinter of wood from the floor he set the fractured bone and
wrapped the leg tightly. The dog submitted without a whimper, and when
he set it down, it lay quietly beside him, watching him with
affectionate canine solicitude.

"I wonder who we are, you and I," muttered Harry Sanderson whimsically.
"I wonder!"

His gaze turned to where he could see the sunshine dancing and
shimmering from the tremulous water. He sniffed the warm air--it was
clear and sweet. Not a cloud was in the perfect sky. How fine he felt,
broken head and all!

He looked across the car, where the card players were still absorbed.
Over the shoulder of one he could see the hand he held--a queen, two
aces, a seven and a deuce. For an instant something in his brain snapped
and crackled like the sputtering spark of an incomplete insulation--for
an instant the fingers almost touched the latch of the closed door. Then
the sensation faded, and left a blank as before. He rose to his feet and
walked forward.

The players looked around. One of them nodded approvingly.

"Right as a trivet!" he said. "I made a pretty good job of that cut of
yours. Hurt you much?"

"No," said Harry. "I'm obliged to you for the attention."

"Foolish to walk on a railroad track," the other went on. "By your
looks, you've been on the road long enough to know better. We figgered
it out that you was just a-going to cross the railroad bridge when the
freight raised merry hell with you. We stopped to tank there and we
picked you up, you and your four-legged mate. Must have been a bit
squiffy, eh?"

He winked, and took a flask from his pocket. "Have a hair of the dog
that bit you?" he said.

Harry took the flask, and, wiping the top on his sleeve, uncorked it.
Something in the penetrating odor of the contents seemed to cleave
through far mental wastes to an intimate, though mysterious goal. He put
it to his lips and drank thirstily.

As the burning liquid scorched his throat, a recrudescence of old
impulses surged up through the crust of more modern usage. Mentally,
characteristically, he was once more the incongruous devil-may-care
figure in whom conspicuous achievement and contradictory excesses had
walked hand in hand. The Harry Sanderson of the new, remorseful,
temperate life, of chastened impulses, of rote and rule and reformed
habit--the rector of St. James--had been lost on that wild night ride.
The man who had awakened in the freight car was the Satan Sanderson of
four years before, who, under stress of mental illness and its warped
purview, in that strenuous scene in the chapel, had regained his ancient

Harry handed back the flask with a long breath. There was a composed yet
reckless light in his eye--the old veiled gleam of vagary, and paradox,
and escapade. He seated himself beside them.

"Thank you," he said. "With your permission, gentlemen, I will take a
hand in the game."



Since that tragical wedding-day at the white house in the aspens,
Jessica had passed through a confusion of experiences. She had always
lived much in herself, and to her natural reserve her blindness had
added. As a result her knowledge both of herself and of life had been
superficial. She had been drawn to Hugh by both the weakest and the
noblest in her, in a self-obliterating worship that had counted her
restored sight only an ornament and glory for her love. In the baleful
hour of enlightenment she had been lost, whirled away, out into the
storm and void, every landmark gone, every light extinguished, her feet
set in the "abomination of desolation." The first bitter shock of the
catastrophe, however, seemed to burn up in her the very capacity for
further poignant suffering, and she went through the motions of life

Change of scene and the declining health of David Stires occupied,
fortunately, much of her waking thoughts. After the first few months of
travel he failed steadily. His citric-acid moods were forgotten, his
harsh tempers put aside. Hour after hour he lay in his chair, gazing out
from the wide sun parlor of the sanatorium on the crest of Smoky
Mountain, whither their journeying had finally brought them. He had
never spoken of Hugh. But Jessica, sitting each day beside him, reading
to him till he dropped asleep, seeing the ever-increasing sadness in his
face, knew the hidden canker that gnawed his heart.

To the northward the slope of the mountain fell gradually to fields of
violet-eyed alfalfa, and twice a day a self-important little
donkey-engine drew a single car up and down between the great glass
building on the ridge and the junction of the northern railroad. This
view did not attract her; she liked best the southern exposure, with its
flushed, serrated snow-peaks in the distance, the warmer brown shadows
of the gulch-seamed hills unrolling at her feet, and at their base the
treeless, busy little county-seat two miles away. In time her fiercer
pain had dulled, and her imagination--naturally so importunate--had
begun to seize upon her surroundings. In the summer season the
sanatorium had few guests, and for this she was thankful. Doctor Brent,
its head, rallying her on her paleness, drove her out of doors with
good-natured severity, and when she was not with David Stires she
walked or rode for hours at a time over the mountain trails. Breathing
in the crisp air of altitude her spirits grew more buoyant. The beauty
of shrub and flower, of cloud and sky, began to call to her, and the
breath of October found a tinge of color in her cheek. She fed the
squirrels, listened to the pert chirp of the whisky-jack and the
whirring drum of the partridge, or sat on a hidden elevation which she
named "The Knob," facing across the shallow valley to the south.

The Knob overlooked a little grassy shelf a few hundred feet below,
where stood a miner's cabin, with weed-grown gravel heaps near by, in
front of which a tree bore the legend, painted roughly on a board: "The
Little Paymaster Claim." From its point of vantage, too, unobserved, she
could look down into the gulch far below, where yellowish-brown cones
reared like gigantic ant-hills--the ear-marks of the placer miner--and
gray streaks indicated the flumes in which, by tortuous meanderings, the
water descended to do its work in the sluices. She could even watch the
toiling miners, hoisting the gravel by windlasses, or shovelling it into
the long narrow boxes through which the foaming water raced. So limpid
was the air that in the little town she could distinguish each several
building lining the single straight street--a familiar succession of
gilded café, general emporium and drug store, with the dull terra cotta
"depot" at one end, and on the other, on a sunburned acre of its own,
the glaring white court-house, flanked by the post-office and the jail.
She could see the clouds of dust, the wagons hitched at the curb and the
drab figures grouped at the corners or passing in and out of doorways.

Her interest had opened eagerly to these scenes. The solitudes soothed
and the life of the community below, frankly primitive and
uncomplicated, attracted her. Between the town of Smoky Mountain and the
expensive sanatorium on the ridge a great social gulf was fixed; the
latter's patrons for the most part came and went by the narrow-gage road
that linked with the northern junction; the settlement far below was
only a feature of the panorama for which they paid so well. Even Doctor
Brent--who had perched this place of healing where his patients could
breathe air fresh from the Pacific and cooled by the snow-peaks--knew it
chiefly through two of its citizens, Mrs. Halloran, the capable,
bustling wife of the proprietor of the Mountain Valley House, the town's
single hostelry, who brewed old-fashioned blackberry wine and cordials
for his patients, and Tom Felder, a young lawyer whom he had known on
the coast before ill health had sent him to hang out his shingle in a
more genial altitude.

The latter sometimes came for a chat with the physician, and on one of
these calls Jessica and he had met. She had liked his keen, good-humored
face and waving, slightly graying hair. She had met him once since on
the mountain road, and he had walked with her and told her quaint
stories of the townspeople. She did not guess that more than once since
then he had walked there hoping to meet her again. He had taken her to
Mrs. Halloran, whose heart she had won by praise of her cherry cordial.

As Mrs. Halloran said afterward: "'Twas no flirt with the bottle and
make love to the spoon! She ain't a bit set up. Take the word I give
you, Tom Felder, an' go and swap lies with the doctor at the santaranium
soon again. Ye can do worse."

This had been Jessica's first near acquaintance with the town, but since
that time she had often reined up at the door of the neat hotel to pass
a word with Mrs. Halloran or to ask for another bottle of the cherry
cordial, which the sick man she daily tended found grateful to his jaded

"It brings back my boyhood," David Stires said to her one afternoon,
tapping the bottle by his wheel-chair. "That was before the chemist
married the vintner's daughter. Somehow this has the old taste."

"It is nearly gone," she said. "I'll get another bottle--I am going for
a ride now. I think it does you good."

"Before you go," he said, "fetch my writing-case and I will dictate a

She brought and opened it with a trouble at her heart, for the request
showed his increasing weakness. Until to-day the few letters he had
written had been done with his own hand. Thinking of this as she waited,
her fingers nervously plucked at the inside of the leather cover. The
morocco flap fell and disclosed a slip of paper. It was a canceled
bank-draft. It bore Hugh's name, and across its face, in David Stires'
crabbed hand, written large, was the venomous word _Forgery_.

The room swam before her eyes. Only by a fierce effort could she compel
her pen to trace the dictated words. Hugh's misdeed, evil as it was, had
been to her but an abstract crime; now it suddenly lay bare before her,
a concrete expression of coarse thievery, a living symbol of crafty
simulation. Scarce knowing why she did it, she drew the draft covertly
from its receptacle, and slipped it into her bosom. Her fingers trembled
as they replaced the flap, and her face was pale when she put away the
writing-case and went to don her habit.

The evidence of Hugh's sin! As the horse pounded down the winding road,
she held her hand hard against her breast, as though it were a live coal
that she would press into her flesh in self-torture. That paper must
remain, as the sin that made it remained--the sign-manual of her
dishonor and loss! The man whose hand had penned its lying signature was
the man she had thought she loved. By that act he had thrust himself
from her for ever. Yet he lived. Somewhere in the world he walked, in
shame and degradation, beyond the pale of honorable living--and she was
his wife!

_She was his wife!_ The words hummed in the hoof-beats and taunted her.
The odors of the balsam boughs about her became all at once the scent of
jasmin, the sigh of the wind turned to the chanting of choir voices, and
beneath her closed eyelids came a face seen but once, but never to be
erased or forgotten, a face startled, quivering with a strange,
remorseful flush--which she had not guessed was guilt!

_She was his wife!_ Though she called herself Jessica Holme, yet, in the
law, his name and fame were hers. There was deep in her the unreasoned,
intuitive regard, handed down through inflexible feminine generations,
for the relentless mandate, "let not man put asunder;" but she had no
finical conception of woman's duty to convention. To break the bond? To
divorce the husband to whom she was wife in name only? That would be to
spread abroad the disgrace under which she cringed! She thought of the
old man she had left--uncomplaining, growing feebler every day. To shame
him before the world, whose ancestors had been upright and clean-handed?
To add the final sting to his sufferings--who had done her only good?
No, she could not do that. Time must solve the problem for her in some
other way.

The main street of the town was busy, yet quiet withal, with the
peculiar quiet which marks the absence of cobblestone and trolley-bell.
Farmers from outlying fruit ranches gossiped on the court-house square;
here and there a linen collar and white straw hat betokened the
professional man or drummer; and miners in overalls and thong-laced
boots kept a-swing the rattan half-doors of the saloons.

"Look at that steady hand, now, an' her hair as red as glory!" said Mrs.
Halloran, gazing admiringly from the doorstep where she had been
chatting with Tom Felder. "Ye needn't stare yer gray eyes out though, or
she'll stop at th' joolry shop to buy ye a ring--to shame ye fer jest
hankerin' and sayin' nothin'!"

Felder laughed as he crossed the street, raising his felt hat gallantly
to the approaching rider. Mrs. Halloran was a privileged character. The
ravage of drudgery had not robbed her of comeliness that gave her face
an Indian summer charm, and she was as kindly as her husband was morose.
It was not Michael Halloran who kept the Mountain Valley House popular!
The old woman hurried to the curb and tied the horse as Jessica

"How did ye guess I made some more this day?" she exclaimed. "Sure, if
ye drink it yerself, my dearie, them cheeks is all th' trade-mark I
need!" She led the way into the little carpeted side room, by courtesy
denominated "the parlor." "I'll go an' put it up in two shakes," she
said. "Sit ye down an' I'll not be ten minutes." So saying she bustled

Left alone, Jessica gazed abstractedly about her. Her mind was still
full of the painful reflections of her ride. A door opened from the room
into the office. It was ajar; she stepped close and looked in.

A group of miners lounged in the space before the front
windows--familiarly referred to by its habitués as "the Amen
Corner"--chatting and watching the passers-by.

Suddenly she clapped her hand to her mouth to stifle a cry. A name had
been spoken--the name that was in her thought--the name of "Hugh
Stires." She leaned forward, listening breathlessly.

"I wonder where the young blackleg's been," said one, peering through
the windows. "He'd better have stayed away for good, I'm thinking. What
does he want to come back for, to a place where there aren't three men
who will take a drink with him?"

The reply was as contemptuous.

"We get some rare black sheep in the hills!" The voice spoke meaningly.
"If I had my way, he'd leave this region almighty quick!"

Jessica looked about her an instant wildly, guiltily. She could not be
mistaken in the name! Was Hugh here, whither by the veriest accident she
had come--here in this very town that she had gazed down upon every day
for weeks? _Was he?_ She pressed her cold hands to her colder cheeks.
The contempt in the voices had smitten through her like a sword.

A revulsion seized her. No, no, it could not be! She had not heard
aright. It was only a fancy! But she had an overwhelming desire to
satisfy herself with her own eyes. From where she stood she could not
see the street. She bethought herself of the upper balcony.

Swiftly, on tiptoe, she crossed to the hall door, threw it open, and ran
hastily up the stair.



If the man who had been the subject of the observations Jessica had
heard had been less absorbed, as he walked leisurely along on the
opposite side of the street, he would have noticed the look of dislike
in the eyes of those he passed. They drew away from him, and one
spoke--to no one in particular and with an oath offensive and fervid.
But weather-beaten, tanned, indifferently clad, and with a small brown
dog following him, the new-comer passed along, oblivious to the sidelong
scrutiny. He did not stare about him after the manner of a stranger,
though, so far as he knew, he had never been in the place before. So far
as he knew--for Harry Sanderson had no memories save those which had
begun on a certain day a month before in a box-car. He walked with eyes
on the pavement, absorbed in thoughts of his own.

But Harry Sanderson now was not the man who had ridden into oblivion in
the motor-car. The rector of St. James was in a strange eclipse.
Mentally and externally he had reverted to the old Satan Sanderson, of
the brilliant flashing originality, of the curt risk and daring. The
deeply human and sensitive side, that had developed during his divinity
years, was in abeyance; it showed itself only in the affection he
bestowed on the little nameless dog that followed him like a brown,
shaggy shadow.

He was like that old self of his, and yet, if he had but known it, he
was wonderfully like some one else, too--some one who had belonged to
the long ago and garbled past that still eluded him; some one who had
been a part also of the life of this very town, till a little over a
month before, when he had left it with dread dogging his footsteps!

Curious coincidences had wrought together for this likeness. In the past
weeks Harry had grown perceptibly thinner. A spare beard was now on his
chin, and the fiery sun that had darkened his cheeks to sallow had
lightened his brown hair a shade. The cut on his brow had healed to the
semblance of a thin red birth-mark. Most of all, the renaissance of the
old character had given his look, to the casual eye, a certain flare and
jauntiness, which dissipation and license, unclogged now with memory or
compunction, had matured and vitalized. His was now a replica of the
face he had once seen, in that lost life of his, mirrored in his chapel
study--his own face, with the trail of evil upon it, and yet weirdly
like Hugh Stires'.

Fate--or God!--was doing strange things for Harry Sanderson!

Harry's game of cards in the freight-car had been a sequent of the game
in the chapel. It was an instinctive effort of the newly-stirring
consciousness to relink the broken chain, utilizing the mental formula
which had been stamped deeply upon it when the curtain of oblivion
descended--which had persisted, as the photograph of the dead retina
shows the scene upon which the living eye last looked. The weeks that
followed were reversionary. Rebellion against convention,
dissipation--these had been the mask through which the odd temperament
of Satan Sanderson had looked at life. This mask had fallen before a
career of new meanings and motives. These blotted suddenly out with
their inspirations and habits, and, the old spring touched, the mind had
automatically resumed its old viewpoint.

He had studied himself with a sardonic, _ex parte_ interest. He had
found at his disposal a well-stocked mind, a copious vocabulary. Terms
of science, historic references, the thousand and one allusions of the
daily newspaper that the unlearned pass over, all had their
significance for him. He was no superficial observer, and readily
recognized the evidences of mental culture. But the cord that had bound
all together into character had snapped. He was a ship without a rudder;
a derelict, drifting with the avid winds of chance on the tide of fate.
A thousand ways he had turned and turned. A thousand tricks he had tried
to cajole the unwilling memory. All were vain. When he had awakened in
the freight-car, many miles had lain between him and his vanished
history, between him and St. James parish, the town he had impressed,
the desolate white house in the aspens, the chapel service and surplice,
and the swift and secret-keeping river. Between him and all that these
things had meant, there lay a gulf of silence and blankness as wide as
infinity itself.

But drifting, adventuring, blown by the gipsy wind of chance, learning
the alphabet and the rule of three of "the road," the man was at once a
part of it and apart from it. The side that rejoiced in the liberty and
madcap adventure was overlaid by another darkling side whose fingers
were ever feeling for the lost latch. In the nomad weeks of wind and
sun, as the tissues of the brain grew slowly back to a state of normal
action, the mind seized again and again upon the bitter question of his
identity. It had obtruded into clicking leagues on steel-rails, into
miles afoot by fruit-hung lanes, on white Pacific shell-roads under
cedar branches, on busy highways. It had stalked into days of labor in
hop-fields, work with hand and foot that brought dreamless sleep and
generous wage; into nights of less savory experience in city purlieus,
where a self-forgotten man gamed and drank, recklessly, audaciously,
forbiddingly. Who was he? From what equation of life had he been
eliminated? Had he loved anything or anybody? Had he a friend, any
friend, in the world? At first it was not often that he cared; only
occasionally some deep-rooted instinct would stir, subtly conscious,
without actual contrast, of the missed and evaded. But he came to ask it
no longer quizzically or sardonically, but gloomily and fiercely. And
lacking answer, the man of no yesterdays had plunged on toward the
ardent, alien to-morrow, and further into audacious folly. He had drunk
deeper, the sign-posts of warning were set in his countenance, and his
smile had grown as dangerous as a sunstroke.

The man of no memories gave no heed to the men on the street who looked
at him askance. He sauntered along unconsciously, his hands thrust deep
in his pockets. With a casual glance at the hotel across the way, he
entered a saloon, where a score of patrons were standing at the bar, or
shaking dice noisily at the tables ranged against the wall. The
bartender nodded to his greeting--the slightest possible nod. The dog
who had followed him into the place leaped up against him, its forepaws
on his knee.

"Brandy, if you please," said the new arrival, and poured indolently
from the bottle set before him.

The conversation in the room had chilled. To its occupants the man who
had entered was no stranger; he was Hugh Stires, returned unwelcome to a
place from which he had lately vanished. Moreover, what they felt for
him was not alone the crude hatred which the honest toiler feels for the
trickster who gains a living by devious knaveries. There was an uglier
suspicion afloat of Hugh Stires! A blue-shirted miner called gruffly for
his score, threw down the silver and went out, slamming the swing-door.
Another glowered at the new arrival, and ostentatiously drew his glass
farther along the bar.

The new-comer regarded none of them. He poured his glass slowly full,
sipped from it, and holding it in his hand, turned and glanced
deliberately about the place. He looked at everybody in the room,
suddenly sensible of the hostile atmosphere, with what seemed a careless
amusement. Then he raised his glass.

"Will you join me, gentlemen?" he said.

There was but one response. A soiled, shambling figure, blear,
white-haired and hesitating, with a battered violin under its arm,
slouched from a corner and grasped eagerly for the bottle the bartender
contemptuously pushed toward him. No one else moved.

The man who waited studied the roomful with a disdainful smile, with
eyes sparkling like steel points. He as wholly misunderstood their
dislike as they misconstrued his effrontery--did not guess that to them
he stood as one whom they had known and had good reason to despise.
Their attitude struck him as so manifestly unreasonable and absurd--so
primarily the sulky hatred of the laborious boor for the manifestly more
flippant member of society--that it diverted him. He had drunk at
bar-rooms in many strange places; never before had he encountered a
community like this. His veiled, insolent smile swept the room.

"A spirit of brotherhood almost Christian!" he said. "If I observe that
the town's brandy is of superior vintage to its breeding, let me not be
understood as complimenting the former without reservation. I have drunk
better brandy; I have never seen worse manners!"

He looked smilingly at the soiled figure beside him--a fragment of
flotsam tossed on the tide of failure. "I erred in my general
salutation," he said. "Gentility is, after all, less a habit than an
instinct." He lifted his glass--to the castaway. "I drink to the health
of the only other gentleman present," he said, and tossed the drink off.

A snort and a truculent shuffle came from the standing men. Their faces
were dark. Tom Felder, the lawyer, entered the saloon just in time to
see big Devlin, the owner of the corner dance-hall, rise from a table,
rolling up flannel sleeves along tattooed arms. He saw him stride
forward and, with a well-directed shove, send the shambling inebriate
reeling across the floor.

"Two curs at the bar are enough at a time!" quoth Devlin.

Then the lawyer saw an extraordinary thing. The emptied glass rang
sharply on the bar, the arm that held it straightened, the lithe form
behind it seemed to expand--and the big bulk of Devlin went backward
through the doorway, and collapsed in a sprawling heap on the pavement.

"For my part," said an even, infuriate voice from the threshold, "I
prefer but one."

The face the roomful saw now as they pushed to the outer air, and which
turned on the flocking crowd, bore anything but the slinking look they
had been used to see on the face of Hugh Stires. The smile that meant
danger played over it; there was both calculation and savagery in it. It
was the look of the man to whom all risks are alike, to whom nothing
counts. In the instant confusion, every one there recognized the element
of hardihood dumfounded. Here was one who, as Barney McGinn, the
freighter, said afterward, "hadn't the sand of a sick coyote," bearding
a bully and the most formidable antagonist the town afforded. Devlin
himself was not overpopular; his action had been plainly enough a play
to the galleries; and courage--that animal attribute which no
circumstance or condition can rob of due admiration--had appeared in an
unexpected quarter. But the man they despised had infuriated them with
insult, and Devlin had the sympathy that clings to a fair cause. An ugly
growl was running through the crowd, and several started forward. Even
when Tom Felder put up his hand with a sharp, indignant exclamation,
they fell back with an unwilling compulsion.

The prostrate man was on his feet in an instant, wiping the blood from a
cleft lip, and peeled off his vest with a vile epithet.

"That is incidentally a venturesome word to select from your
vocabulary," said the even voice, a sort of detonation in it. "You will
feel like apologizing presently."

Devlin came on with a bull-like rush. The lawyer's eye, shrewdly gaging
the situation, gave the slighter man short shrift, and for several
intense seconds every breath stopped. Those seconds called up from some
mysterious covert all the skill and strength of the old hard-hitting
Satan Sanderson, all the science of parry and feint learned in those
bluff college bouts with the gloves with Gentleman Jim. And this hidden
reserve rushed into combat with an avid thirst and wild ferocity as
strange as the steady eye and hand that cloaked them beneath a sardonic

It was a short, sharp contest. Not a blow broke the guard of the man
whose back was to the doorway--on the other hand, Devlin's face was
puffed and bleeding. When for a breath he drew back, gulping, a sudden
glint of doubt and fear had slipped beneath the blood and sweat.

The end came quickly. Harry stepped to meet him, there was a series of
swift passes--then one, two, lightning-like blows, and Devlin went down
white and stunned in the dust of the roadway.

So high was the tension and so instantaneous the close, that for a
moment the crowd was noiseless, the spell still upon them. In that
moment Tom Felder came hastily forward, for, though sharing the general
dislike, admiration was strong in him, and, knowing the temper of the
bystanders, he expected trouble.

The man who had administered Devlin's punishment, however, did not see
his approach. He was looking somewhere above their heads--at the upper
balcony of the hotel opposite--staring, in a kind of strained and
horrified expectancy, at a girl who leaned forward, her hands clenching
the balustrade, her eyes fixed on his face. The late sunlight on her
hair made it gleam like burnished copper over her green riding-habit,
and her cheeks were blanched.

There was something in that face, in that intense look, that seemed to
cleave the gray veil that swathed Harry Sanderson's past. Somewhere,
buried in some cell of his brain, a forgotten memory tugged at its
shackles--a memory of a time when, thousands and thousands of years ago,
he had been something more than the initials "H. S." The look pierced
through the daredevil present in which the mind astray had roved
reckless and insensate, to a deeper stratum in which slept maturer
qualities of refined taste, of dignity and of repute. It stripped off
the protecting cicatrice and left him enveloped in an odd embarrassment.
A flush burned his face.

Only an instant the gaze hung between them. It served as a distraction,
for other eyes had raced to the balcony. Loud voices were suddenly
hushed, for there was not wanting in the crowd that instinctive regard
for the proprieties which belongs to communities where gentlewomen are
few. In that instant Felder put his hand on the arm of the staring man
and drew him to the door of the hotel.

"Inside, quickly!" he said under his breath, for a rumble from the crowd
told him the girl had left the balcony above. He pushed the other
through the doorway and turned for a second on the threshold.

"Whatever private feelings you may have," he said in a tone that all
heard, "don't disgrace the town. Fair play--no matter who he is! McGinn,
I should think you, at least, were big enough to settle your grudges
without the help of a crowd."

The freighter reddened angrily for a second, then with a shame-faced
laugh, shrugged his shoulders and turned away. The lawyer went in,
shutting the hotel door behind him.



The man whose part the lawyer had taken had yielded to his touch almost
dazedly as the girl disappeared. The keen, pleasurable tang of danger
which had leaped in his blood when he faced the enmity of the crowded
street--the reckless zest with which he would have met any odds and any
outcome with the same smile, and gone down if need be fighting like the
tiger in the jungle--had been pierced through by that look from the
balcony. His poise for a puzzling moment had been shaken, his
self-command overthrown. Feeling a dull sense of anger at the curious
embarrassment upon him, he went slowly through the office to the desk,
and with his back to the room, lit a cigar.

The action was half mechanical, but to the men gathered at the windows,
as they got down from the chairs on which they had been standing,
interested spectators of the proceedings outside, it seemed a pose of
gratuitous insolence. Tom Felder, entering, saw it with something of

"That was a close squeak," he said. "Do you realize that? In five
minutes more you'd have been handled a sight worse than you handled your
man, let me tell you!"

The man of no memories smiled, the same smile that had infuriated the
bar-room--and yet somehow it was more difficult to smile now.

"Is it possible," he asked, "that through an unlucky error I have
trounced the local archbishop?"

Felder looked at him narrowly. Beneath the sarcasm he distinguished
unfamiliarity, aloofness, a genuine astonishment. The appearance in the
person of Hugh Stires of the qualities of nerve and courage had
surprised him out of his usual indifference. The "tinhorn gambler" had
fought like a man. His present _sang-froid_ was as singular. Had he been
an absolute stranger in the town he might have acted and spoken no
differently. Felder's smooth-shaven, earnest face was puzzled as he
answered curtly:

"You've trounced a man who will remember it a long time."

"Ah?" said the man addressed easily. "He has a better memory than I,

He gazed over the heads of the silent roomful to the simmering street
where Devlin, with the aid of a supporting arm, was staggering into the
saloon in which his humiliation had begun. "They seem agitated," he
said. The feeling of embarrassment was passing, the old daring was
lifting. His glance, scanning the room, set itself on a shabby, blear
figure in the background, apologetic yet keenly and pridefully
interested. A whimsical light was in his eye. He crossed to him and,
reaching out his hand, drew the violin from under his arm.

"Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast," he said, and, opening
the door, he tucked the instrument under his chin and began to play.

What absolute contempt of danger, what insane prompting possessed him,
can scarcely be imagined. As he stood there on the threshold with that
veiled smile, he seemed utterly careless of consequence, beckoning
attack, flaunting an egregious impertinence in the face of anger and
dislike. Felder looked for a quick end to the folly, but he saw the men
in the street, even as they moved forward, waver and pause. With almost
the first note, it had come to them that they were hearing music such as
the squeaking fiddles of the dance-halls never knew. Those on the
opposite pavement crossed over, and men far down the street stood still
to listen.

More than the adept's cunning, that had at first tingled in his fingers
at sight of the instrument, was in Harry Sanderson's playing. The
violin had been the single passion which the old Satan Sanderson had
carried with him into the new career. The impulse to "soothe the savage
breast" had been a flare of the old character he had been reliving; but
the music, begun in bravado, swept him almost instantly beyond its
bounds. He had never been an indifferent performer; now he was playing
as he had never played in his life, with inspiration and abandon. There
was a diabolism in it. He had forgotten the fight, the crowd, his own
mocking mood. He had forgotten where he was. He was afloat on a
fluctuant tide of melody that was carrying him back--back--into the
far-away past--toward all that he had loved and lost!

"It's _Home, Sweet Home_," said Barney McGinn,--"no, it's _Annie
Laurie_. No, it's--hanged if I know what it is!"

The player himself could not have told him. He was in a kind of tranced
dream. The self-made music was calling with a sweet insistence to buried
things that were stirring from a long sleep. It sent a gulp into the
throat of more than one standing moveless in the street. It brought a
suspicious moisture to Tom Felder's eyes. It drew Mrs. Halloran from the
kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. It called to a girl who crouched
in the upper hall with her miserable face buried in her hands, drew her
down the stair to the office door, her eyes wide with a breathless
wonder, her face glistening with feeling.

From the balcony Jessica had witnessed the fight without understanding
its meaning. A fascination she could not gainsay had glued her eyes to
the struggle. It was he--it was the face she knew, seen but once for a
single moment in the hour of her marriage, but stamped indelibly upon
her memory. It was no longer smooth-shaven, and it was changed, evilly
changed. But it was the same! There was recklessness and mockery in it,
and yet strength, not weakness. Shunned and despised as he might be--the
chief actor, as it seemed to her, in a cheap and desperate bar-room
affray, a coarse affair of fisticuffs in the public street--yet there
was something intrepid in his bearing, something splendid in his
victory. In spite of the sharp, momentary sense of antagonism that had
bruised her inmost fiber, when the brutal bulk of his opponent fell she
could have wept with relief! Then, suddenly, she had found that look
chaining her own. It had given her a strange thrill, had both puzzled
and touched her. She had dragged her eyes away with a choking sensation,
a sense of helplessness and capture. When the violin sounded, a
resistless rush of feeling had swept her to the lower door, where she
stood behind the spectators, spellbound.

In the man who played, weird forces were contending. The feel of the
polished wood on his cheek, the odor of the resined catgut in his
nostrils, were plucking, plucking at the closed door. A new note crept
to the strings. They had spoken pathos--now they told of pain. All the
struggle whose very meaning was forgotten, the unrequital, the baffled
quest, the longing of that last year which had been born of a woman's
kiss in a darkened room, never voiced in that lost life, poured forth
broken, inarticulate.

To Jessica, standing with hands close-clasped, it seemed the agony of
remorse for a past fall, the cry of a forlorn soul, knowing itself cast
out, appealing to its good angel for pity and pardon. Hugh had often
played to her, lightly, carelessly, as he did all things. She had deemed
it only one of his many clever, amateurish accomplishments. Now it
struck her with a pang that there had been in him a deeper side that she
had not guessed. Since her wedding-day she had thought of her marriage
as a loathed bond, from which his false pretense had absolved her. Now a
doubt of her own position assailed her. Had loneliness and outlawry
driven him into the career that had made him shunned even in this rough
town--a course which she, had she been faithful to her vow "for better,
for worse," might have turned to his redemption? God forgave, but she
had not forgiven! Smarting tears scorched her eyelids.

For Harry Sanderson the music was the imprisoned memory, crying out
strongly in the first tongue it had found. But the ear was alien, the
mind knew no by-path of understanding. It was a blind wave, feeling
round some under-sea cavern of suffering. Beneath the pressure the
closed door yielded, though it did not wholly open. The past with its
memories remained hidden, but through the rift, miraculously called by
the melody, the real character that had been the Reverend Henry
Sanderson came forth. The perplexed phantom that had been moving down
the natural declivity of resurrected predisposition, fell away. The
slumbering qualities that had stirred uneasily at sight of the face on
the balcony, awoke. Who he was and had been he knew no more than before;
but the new writhing self-consciousness, starting from its sleep, with
almost a sense of shock, became conscious of the gaping crowd, the dusty
street, the red sunset, and of himself at the end of a vulgar brawl,
sawing a violin in silly braggadocio in a hotel doorway.

The music faltered and broke off. The bow dropped at his feet. He picked
it up fumblingly and turned back into the office, as a man entered from
a rear door. The new-comer was Michael Halloran, the hotel's proprietor,
short, thick-set and surly. Asleep in his room, he had neither seen the
fracas nor heard the playing. He saw instantly, however, that something
unusual was forward, and, blinking on the threshold, caught sight of the
man who was handing the violin back to its owner. He clenched his fist
with a scowl and started toward him.

His wife caught his arm.

"Oh, Michael, Michael!" she cried. "Say nothing, lad! Ye should have
heard him play!"

"Play!" he exclaimed. "Let him go fiddle to his side-partner Prendergast
and the other riffraff he's run with the year past!" He turned blackly
to Harry. "Take yourself from this house, Hugh Stires!" he said.
"Whether all's true that's said of you I don't say, but you'll not come

Harry had turned very white. With the spoken name--a name how
familiar!--his eyes had fallen to the ring on his finger--the ring with
the initials H. S. A sudden comprehension had darted to his mind. A
score of circumstances that had seemed odd stood out now in a baleful
light. The looks of dislike in the bar-room--the attitude of the
street--this angry diatribe--all smacked of acquaintance, and not alone
acquaintance, but obloquy. His name was Hugh Stires! He belonged to
this very town! And he was a man hated, despised, forbidden entrance to
an uncouth hostelry, an unwelcome visitant even in a bar-room!

An hour earlier the discovery would not so have appalled him. But the
violin music, in the emergence of the real Harry Sanderson, had, as it
were, flushed the mind of its turgid silt of devil-may-care and left it
quick and quivering. He turned to Felder and said in a low voice--to
him, not to the hotel-keeper, or to the roomful:

"When I entered this town to-day, I did not know my name, or that I had
ever set foot in it before. I was struck by a train a month ago, and
remember nothing beyond that time. It seems that the town knows me
better than I know myself."

Halloran looked about him with a laugh of derision and incredulity, but
few joined in it. Those who had heard the playing realized that in some
eerie way the personality of the man they had known had been altered.
Before the painful, shocked intensity of his face, the lawyer felt his
instant skepticism fraying. This was little like acting! He felt an
inclination to hold out his hand, but something held him back.

Harry Sanderson turned quietly and walked out of the door. Pavement and
street were a hubbub of excited talk. The groups parted as he came out,
and he passed between them with eyes straight before him.

As he turned down the street, a fragment of quartz, thrown with
deliberate and venomous aim, flew from the saloon doorway. It grazed his
head, knocking off his hat.

Tom Felder had seen the flying missile, and he leaped to the center of
the street with rage in his heart. "If I find out who threw that," he
said, "I'll send him up for it, so help me God!"

Harry stooped and picked up his hat, and as he put it on again, turned a
moment toward the crowd. Then he walked on, down the middle of the
street, his eyes glaring, his face white, into the dusky blue of the
falling twilight.



The scene in the hotel office had left Jessica in a state of mental
distraction in which reason was in abeyance. In the confusion she had
slipped into the little sitting-room unnoticed, feeling a sense almost
of physical sickness, to sit in the half-light, listening to the
diminishing noises of the spilling crowd. She was wind-swept,
storm-tossed, in the grip of primal emotions. The surprise had shocked
her, and the strange appeal of the violin had disturbed her equipoise.

The significant words of awakening spoken in the office had come to her
distinctly. In their light she had read the piteous puzzle of that gaze
that had held her motionless on the balcony. Hugh had forgotten the
past--all of it, its crime, its penalty. In forgetting the past, he had
forgotten even her, his wife! Yet in some mysterious way her face had
been familiar to him; it had touched for an instant the spring of the
befogged memory.

As she spurred through the transient twilight past the selvage of the
town and into the somber mountain slope, she struck the horse sharply
with her crop. He who had entrapped her, who had married her under the
shadow of a criminal act, who had broken her future with his, when his
whole bright life had crashed down in black ruin--could such a one look
as he had looked at her? Could he make such music that had wrung her

All at once the horse shied violently, almost unseating her. A man was
lying by the side of the road, tossing and muttering to himself. She
forced the unwilling animal closer, and, leaning from the saddle, saw
who it was. In a moment she was off and beside the prostrate form, a
spasm of dread clutching at her throat at sight of the nerveless limbs,
the chalky pallor of the brow, the fever spots in the cheeks.

A wave of pity swept over her. He was ill and alone; he could not be
left there--he must have shelter. She looked fearfully about her. What
could she do? In that town, whose intolerance and dislike she had seen
so actively demonstrated, was there no one who would care for him? She
turned her head, listening to a nearing sound--footsteps were plodding
up the road. She called, and presently a pedestrian emerged from the
half-dark and came toward her.

He bent over the form she showed him.

"It's Stires," he said with a chuckle. "I heard he'd come back." The
chuckle turned to a cough, and he shook his head. "This is sad! You
could never believe how I have labored with the boy, but"--he turned out
his hands--"you see, there is the temptation. It is his unhappy

Jessica remembered the yellow, smirking face now. She had passed him on
the day Tom Felder had walked with her from the Mountain Valley House,
and the lawyer had told her he lived in the cabin just below the Knob,
where she so often sat. She felt a quiver of repulsion.

"He is not intoxicated," she said coldly. "He is ill. You know him,

"Know him!" he echoed, and laughed--a dry, cackling laugh. "I ought to.
And I guess he knows me." He shook the inert arm. "Get up, Hugh!" he
said. "It's Prendergast!"

There flashed through her mind the phrase of the surly hotel-keeper:
"His side-partner, Prendergast!" Could it be? Had Hugh really lived in
the cabin on which she had so often peered down during those past weeks?
And with this chosen crony!

She touched Prendergast's arm. "He is ill, I say," she repeated. "He
must be cared for at once. Your cabin is on the hillside, isn't it?"

"_His_ cabin," he corrected. "A rough place, but it has sheltered us
both. I am but guide, philosopher and friend."

She bit her lips. "Lift him on my horse," she said. She stooped and put
her hands under the twitching shoulders. "I will help you. I am quite

With her aid he lifted the swaying form on to the saddle and supported
it while Jessica led the way up the darkening road.

"Here is the cut-off," he said presently. "Ah, you know it!" for she had
turned into the side-path that led along the hill, under the gray,
snake-like flume--the shortest route to the grassy shelf on which the
cabin stood.

The by-way was steep and rugged, and rhododendron clumps caught at her
ankles, and once she heard a snake slip over the dry rustle of leaves,
but she went on rapidly, dragging at the bridle, turning back now and
then anxiously to urge the horse to greater speed. She scarcely heard
the offensively honied compliments which Prendergast offered to her
courage and resource. Her pulses were throbbing unsteadily, her mind in
a ferment.

It seemed an eternity they climbed; in reality it was scarcely twenty
minutes before they reached the grassy knoll and the cabin whose crazy
swinging door stood wide to the night air. She tied the horse, went in
and at Prendergast's direction found matches and lit a candle. The bare,
two-room interior it revealed, was unkempt and disordered. Rough bunks,
a table and a couple of hewn chairs were almost its only furniture. The
window was broken and the roof admitted sun and rain. Prendergast laid
the man they had brought on one of the bunks and threw over him a shabby

"My dear young lady," he said, "you are a good Samaritan. How shall we
thank you, my poor friend here and I?"

Jessica had taken money from her pocket and now she held it out to him.
"He must have a doctor," she said. "You must fetch one."

The yellow eyes fastened on the bill, even while his gesture protested.
"You shame me!" he exclaimed. "And yet you are right; it is for him." He
folded it and put it into his pocket. "As soon as I have built a fire, I
will go for our local _medico_. He will not always come at the call of
the luckless miner. All are not so charitable as you."

He untied her horse and extended a hand, but she mounted without his
help. "He will thank you one day--this friend of mine," he said, "far
better than I can do."

"It is not at all necessary to tell him," she replied frigidly. "The
sick are always to be helped, in every circumstance."

She gave her horse the rein as she spoke and turned him up the steep
path that climbed back of the cabin, past the Knob, and so by a narrow
trail to the mountain road.

Emmet Prendergast stood listening to the dulling hoof-beats a moment,
then reëntered the cabin. The man on the bunk had lifted to a sitting
position, his eyes were open, dazed and staring.

"That's right," the older man said. "You're coming round. How does it
feel to be back in the old shebang? Can't guess how you got here, can
you? You were towed on horseback by a beauty, Hughey, my boy--a
rip-staving beauty! I'll tell you about it in the morning, if you're

The man he addressed made no answer; his eyes were on the other,
industrious and bewildered.

"I heard about the row," went on Prendergast. "They didn't think it was
in you, and neither did I." He looked at him cunningly. "Neither did
Moreau, eh, eh? You're a clever one, Hugh, but the lost-memory racket
won't stand you in anything. You hadn't any call to get scared in the
first place--_I_ don't tell all I know!"

He shoved the candle nearer on the table. "There's a queer look in your
face, Hugh!" he said, with a clumsy attempt at kindness. "That rock they
threw must have hurt you. Feel sort of dizzy, eh? Never mind, I'll show
you a sight for sore eyes. You went off without your share of the last
swag, but I've saved it for you. Prendergast wouldn't cheat a pal!"

From a cranny in the clay-chinked wall he took a chamois-skin bag. It
contained a quantity of gold-dust and small nuggets, which he poured
into a miner's scales on the table and proceeded to divide in two
portions. This accomplished, he emptied one of the portions on to a
paper and pushed it out.

"That's yours," he said.

Harry's eyes were on his with a piercing intensity now, as though they
looked through him to a vast distance beyond. He was staring through a
gray mist, at something far off but significant that eluded his direct
vision. The board table, the yellow gold, the flickering candle-light
recalled something horrifying, in some other world, in some other life,
millions of ages ago.

He lurched to his feet, overturning the table. The gold-dust rattled to
the floor.

"Your deal!" he said. Then with a vague laugh, he fell sidewise upon
the bunk.

Emmet Prendergast stared at him with a look of amazement on his yellow
face. "He's crazy as a chicken!" he said.

He sat watching him a while, then rose and kindled a fire on the unswept
hearth. From a litter of cans and dented utensils in a corner he
proceeded to cook himself supper, after which he carefully brushed up
the scattered gold-dust and returned it all to its hiding-place. Lastly
he rummaged on a shelf and found a phial; this proved to be empty,
however, and he set it on the table.

"I guess you'll do well enough without any painkiller," he said to
himself. "Doctors are expensive. Anyway, I'll be back by midnight."

He threw more wood on the fire, blew out the candle, and, closing the
door behind him, set off down the trail to the town--where a faro-bank
soon acquired the bill Jessica had given him.



It was pitch-dark when Jessica reached the sanatorium, though she went
like a whirlwind, the chill damp smell of the dewy balsams in her
nostrils, the dust rising ghost-like behind the rapid hoofs. She found
David Stires anxious and peevish over her late coming.

Sitting beside him as he ate his supper, and reading to him afterward,
she had little time for coherent thought; all the while she was
maintaining her self-control with an effort. Since she had ridden away
that afternoon, she felt as if years had gone over her with all their
changes. She was oppressed with a new sense of fate, of power beyond and
stronger than herself, and her mind was enveloped in a haze of futurity.
She felt a relief when the old man grew tired and was wheeled to his

Left alone, her reflections returned. She began to be tortured. She
tried to read--the printed characters swam beyond her comprehension. At
length she drew a hood over her head and stole out on to the wide porch.

It was only nine o'clock, and along the gravel paths that wound among
the shrubbery a few dim forms were strolling--she caught the scent of a
cigar and the sound of a woman's laugh. The air was crisp and bracing,
with a promise of frost and painted leaves. She gazed down across the
dark gulches toward the town, a straggling design pricked in blinking
yellow points. Halfway between, folded in the darkness, lay the green
shelf and the cabin to which her thought recurred with a kind of

Her eyes searched the darkness anxiously. He had seemed dangerously ill;
he might die, perhaps. If he did, what would it be for her, his wife,
but freedom from a galling bond? She thought of the violin playing. Had
that been but the soul's swan-song, the last cry of his stained and
desolate spirit before it passed from this world that knew its
temptation and its fall? If she could only know what the doctor had

There was no moon, but the stars were glowing like tiny, green-gilt
coals, and the yellow road lay plain and clear. With a sudden
determination she drew her light cloak closely about her, stepped down,
sped across the grass to a footpath, and so to the road.

As she ran on down the curving stretch under the trees, moving like a
hastening, gray phantom through a purple world of shadows, the
crackling slip of bank-paper that lay in her bosom seemed to burn her
flesh. She was stealing away to gaze upon the outcast who had shamed and
humbled her--going, she knew not why, with burning cheeks and hammering

She slipped through the side trail to the cabin with a choking
sensation. She stole to the window and peered in--in the firelight she
could see the form on the bunk, tossing and muttering. Otherwise the
place was empty. She lifted the latch softly and entered.

The strained anxiety of Jessica's look relaxed as she gazed about her.
She saw the phial on the table--the doctor had been there, then. If he
were in serious case, Prendergast would be with him. She threw back her
hood, drew one of the chairs to the side of the bunk and sat down, her
eyes fixed on his face. The weakness and helplessness of his posture
struck through and through her. Two sides of her were struggling in a
chaotic combat for mastery.

"I hate you! I hate you!" she said under her breath, clenching her cold
hand. "I _must_ hate you! You stole my love and put it under your feet!
You have disgraced my present and ruined my future! What if you have
forgotten the past--your crime? Does that make you the less guilty, or
me the less wretched?"

But withal a silent voice within her gave the lie to her vehemence.
Some element of her character that had been rigid and intact was
crumbling down. An old, sweet something, that a dreadful mill had ground
and crushed and annihilated, was rising whole and undefiled, superior to
any petty distinction, regardless of all that lifted combative in her
inheritance, not to be gainsaid or denied.

She leaned closer, listening to the incoherent words and broken phrases
borne on the turbid channels of fever. But she could not link them
together into meaning. Only one name he spoke clearly over and over
again--the name Hugh Stires--repeated with the dreary monotony of a
child conning a lesson. She noted the mark across his brow. Before her
marriage, in her blindness, she had used to wonder what it was like. It
was not in the least disfiguring--it gave a touch of the extraordinary.
It was so small she did not wonder that in that ecstatic moment of her
bride's kiss she had not seen it.

Slowly, half fearfully, she stretched out her hand and laid it on his.
As if at the touch the mutterings ceased. The eyes opened, and a
confused, troubled look crept to them. Then they closed again, and the
look faded out into a peace that remained.

Jessica dropped to her knees and buried her face in the blanket,
burning and chilling with an indescribable sensation of mingled pain and
pleasure. She scarcely knew what she was thinking. It seemed to her that
his very weakness and helplessness voiced again the something that had
sounded in the music of the violin, when the buried, forgotten past had
cried out its pain and shame and plea, half unconsciously--to her! A
thrill ran through her, the sense of moral power of the weak over the
strong, of the feminine over the masculine.

A rising flush stained her cheeks. With a sudden impulse, and with a
guilty backward glance, she bent and touched her lips to his forehead.

She drew back quickly, her face flooded with color, caught her breath,
then, drawing her hood over her head, went swiftly to the door and was
swallowed up in the darkness.



Harry Sanderson, harking back from the perilous pathway of fever, was to
see himself in the light of reawakened instincts. The man of no
memories, in his pointless wanderings, had felt dissatisfaction, a
fierce resentment, a savage unrest, but morally he had not suffered. The
spiritual elements of the maturer growth had slept. At a woman's look
they had awakened, to rise to full stature under the strange spell of
melody. When the real, remorseful nature, newly emerged, found itself an
object of animadversion and contempt, face to face with a past of shame
and reproach, the shock had been profound. The stirring of the old
conscience was as painful as is the first gasp of air to the drowned
lung. It had thrown the brain into a fever to whose fierce onslaught the
body had temporarily succumbed.

When, toward midnight, the fever ebbed, he had fallen into a deep sleep
of exhaustion, from which he opened his eyes next morning upon the
figure of Prendergast, sitting pipe in mouth in the sunny doorway.

He lifted himself on his elbow. That crafty face had been inexplicably
woven with the delirious fantasies of his fever. Where and when had he
known it? Then in a great wave welled over him the memory of his last
conscious hours--the scene in the saloon, the fight, the music, the
sudden appalling discovery of his name and repute. He remembered the
sickening wave of self-disgust, the fierce agony of resentment that had
beat in his every vein as he walked up the darkening street. He
remembered the thrown quartz. No doubt another missile had struck home,
or he had been set upon, kicked and pommelled into insensibility. This
old man--a miner probably, for there were picks and shovels in the
corner--had succored him. He had been ill, there was lassitude in every
limb, and shadowy recollections tantalized him. As in the garish day one
mistily recalls a dream of the night before, he retained a dim
consciousness of a woman's face--the face he had seen on the
balcony--leaning near him, bringing into a painful disorder a sense of
grateful coolness, of fragrance, and of rest.

He turned his head. Through the window he could see the blue, ravined
mountain--a slope of verdure soaked in placid, yellow sunshine, rising
gradually to the ridge, peaceful and Arcadian.

As he stared again at the seated figure, the grim fact reared like a
grisly specter, deriding, thrusting its haggard presence upon him. In
this little community, which apparently he had forsaken and to which he
had by chance returned, he stood a rogue and a scoundrel, a thing to
point the finger at and to avoid! The question that had burned his brain
to fire flamed up again. The town despised him. What had been his
career? How had he become a pariah? And by what miracle had he been so
altered as to look upon himself with loathing?

He was dimly conscious withal that some fundamental change had passed
over him, though how or when he could not tell. Some mysterious moral
alchemy had transmuted his elements. What he had been he was no more. He
was no longer even the man who had awakened in the box-car. Yet the
debts of the unknown yesterday must be paid in the coin of the known

He lifted himself upright, dropping his feet to the floor. At the
movement the man on the doorstep rose quickly and came forward.

"You're better, Hugh," he said. "Take it easy, though. Don't get up just
yet--I'm going to cook you some breakfast." He turned to the hearth,
kicked the smoldering log-ends together and set a saucepan on them.
"You'll be stronger when you've got something between your ribs," he

"How long have I been lying here?" asked Harry.

"Only since last night. You've had a fever."

"Where is my dog?"

"Dog?" said the other. "I never knew you had one."

Harry's lips set bitterly. It had fared more hardly, then, than he. It
had been a ready object for the crowd to wreak their hatred upon,
because it belonged to him--because it was Hugh Stires' dog! He leaned
back a moment against the cabin wall, with closed eyes, while
Prendergast stirred the heating mixture, which gave forth a savory

"Is this your cabin, my friend?"

The figure bending over the hearth straightened itself with a jerk and
the blinking yellow eyes looked hard at him. Prendergast came close to
the bunk.

"That's the game you played in the town," he said with a surly sneer.
"It's all right for those that take it in, but you needn't try to
bamboozle me, pretending you don't know your own claim and cabin! I'm no
such fool!"

A dull flush came to Harry's face. Here was a page from that iniquitous
past that faced him. His own cabin? And his own claim? Well, why not?

"You are mistaken," he said calmly. "I am not pretending. I can not
remember you."

Prendergast laughed in an ugly, derisive way. "I suppose you've
forgotten the half-year we've lived here together, and the gold-dust
we've gathered in now and again--slipped it all, have you?"

Harry stood up. The motion brought a temporary dizziness, but it passed.
He walked to the door and gazed out on the pleasant green of the
hillside. On a tree near-by was nailed a rough, weather-beaten board on
which was scrawled "The Little Paymaster Claim." He saw the grass-grown
gravel-trenches, evidence of abandoned work. He had been a miner. That
in itself was honest toil. Across the waving foliage he could look down
to the distant straggling street with its huddles of houses and its
far-off swinging signs. Some of these signs hung above resorts of
clicking wheels and green baize tables; more than once in the past month
on such tables he had doubled many times over a paltry stake with that
satiric luck which smiles on the uncaring. His eye ran back up the

"The claim is good, then," he said over his shoulder. "We found the

Prendergast contemplated him a moment in grim silence, with a scowl.
"You're either really fuddled, Hugh," he said then, "or else you're a
star play-actor, and up to something deep. Well, have it your own
way--it's all the same to me. But you can't pull the wool over my eyes

There was mockery and threat in his tone, but more than both, the evil
intimacy in his words gave Harry a qualm of disgust. This man had been
his associate. That one hour in the town had shown him what his own life
there had been.

What should he do? Forsake for ever the neighborhood where he had made
his blistering mark? Fling all aside and start again somewhere? And
leave behind this disgraceful present, with that face that had looked
into his from above the dusty street?

If fate intended that, why had it turned him back? Why had he been
plucked rudely from his purpose and set once more here, where every
man's hand was against him--every one but this sorry comrade? There was
in him an intuitive obstinacy, a steadfastness under stress which
approved this drastic coercion. If such was the bed he had made, he
would lie in it. He would drink the gall and vinegar without whimpering.
Whatever lay behind, he would live it down. This man at least had
befriended him.

He turned into the room. "Perhaps I shall remember after a while." He
took the saucepan from Prendergast's hand. "I'll cook the breakfast," he

Prendergast filled his pipe and watched him. "I guess there _are_ bats
in your belfry, sure enough, Hugh," he said at length. "You never
offered to do your stint before."



From the moment her kiss fell upon the forehead of the delirious man in
the cabin, Jessica began to be a prey to new emotions, the significance
of which she did not comprehend. She was no longer a child; she had
attained to womanhood on that summer's wedding-day that seemed so far
away. But her woman's heart was untried, and it felt itself opening to
this new experience with a strange confusion.

That kiss, she told herself that night, had been given to her dead
ideal, that had lain there in its purifying grave-clothes of
forgetfulness. Yet it burned on her lips, as that other kiss in a
darkened room had burned afterward, but with a sense of pleasure, not of
hurt. It took her back into crimson meadows with her lost girlhood and
its opaled outlook--and Hugh. Then the warring emotions racked her
again; she felt a whirl of anger at herself, of hot impatience, of
mortification, of self-pity, and of stifled longing for she knew not

But largest of all in her mind next day was anxiety. She must know how
he fared. In the open daylight she could not approach the cabin, but she
reflected that the doctor had been there, and no doubt had carried some
report of him to the town. So, as the morning grew, she rode down the
mountain, ostensibly to get the cherry cordial she had left behind her
the day before--really to satisfy her hunger for news.

As it happened, Mrs. Halloran's first greeting set her anxiety at rest.
Prendergast had bought some tobacco at the general store an hour before,
while she had been making her daily order, and the store-keeper had
questioned him. Prendergast had a fawning liking for the notice of his
fellows--save for his saloon cronies, few enough in the town, where it
was currently reported that he had a prison record in Arkansas, ever
exchanged more than a nod with him--and he had responded eagerly to the
civil inquiries. To an interested audience he had told of the finding of
Hugh on the mountain road in a sort of crazy fever, and enlarged upon
the part the girl on horseback had played. Hugh was all right now, he
said, except that he didn't remember him, or the cabin, or Smoky

Here was new interest. Though her name was known to few, Jessica had
come to be a familiar figure on the streets--she was the only lady rider
the place knew--and the description was readily recognizable without
the name which Mrs. Halloran supplied. In an hour the story had found a
hundred listeners, and as Jessica rode by that day, many a passer-by had
turned to gaze after her.

What Prendergast had said Mrs. Halloran told her in a breath. Before she
finished she found that Jessica had not heard of the incident in the
saloon which had precipitated the fight with Devlin, and with
sympathetic rhetoric Mrs. Halloran told this, too.

"He deserved it, ye see, dearie," she finished. "But no less was it a
brave thing that--what ye did last night, alone on the mountain with
them two, an' countin' yerself as safe as if ye were in God's pocket! To
hear that scalawag Prendergast talk, he's been Hugh Stires' good
angel--the oily hypocrite! An' do ye think it's true that he's lost his
memory--Stires, I mean--an' don't know nothin' that's ever happened with
him? Could that be, do ye think?"

"I've often heard of such a thing, Mrs. Halloran," responded Jessica.
Her heart was throbbing painfully. "But why does Smoky Mountain hate him
so? What has he done?"

Mrs. Halloran shook her head. "I never knew anything myself," she said
judiciously. "I reckon the town allus counted him just a general
low-down. The rest is only suspicion an' give the dog a bad name."

There had been comfort for Jessica in this interview. The burden of that
illness off her mind--she had not realized how great a load this had
been till it was lifted--she turned eagerly toward this rift in the
cloud of infamy that seemed to envelop the reputation of the man whose
life her own had again so strangely touched. She was feeling a new
kinship with the town; it was now not alone a spot upon which she had
loved to gaze from the height; it was the place wherein the man she had
once loved had lived and moved.

Mrs. Halloran's story had materially increased the poignant force of her
pity. What had seemed to her a vulgar brawl, had been in reality a
courageous and unselfish championship of a defenseless outcast. Thinking
of this, the self-blame and contrition which she had felt when she
listened to the violin assailed her anew, till she seemed a very part of
the guilt, an equal sinner by omission.

Yet she rode homeward that day with almost a light heart.



Prendergast's first view had been one of suspicion, but this had been
shaken, and thereafter he had studied Harry with a sneering tolerance.
There had been little talk between them during the meal which the
younger man had cooked, taking the saucepan from the other's hands.
Shrinking acutely from the details of the dismal past which he must
learn, Harry had asked no questions and Prendergast had maintained a
morose silence. The latter had soon betaken himself down the
mountain--to his audience in the general store.

As Harry stood in the cabin doorway, looking after him, toward the town
glistening far below in the morning sunlight, he thought bitterly of his
reception there.

"They all knew me," he thought; "every one knew me, on the street, in
the hotel. They know me for what I have been to them. Yet to me it is
all a blank! What shameful deeds have I done?" He shrank from memory
now! "What was I doing so far away, where was I going, on the night when
I was picked up beside the railroad track? I may be a drunkard," he
said to himself. "No, in the past month I have drunk hard, but not for
the taste of the liquor! I may be a gambler--the first thing I remember
is that game of cards in the box-car! I may be a cheat, a thief. Yet how
is it possible for bad deeds to be blotted out and leave no trace?
Actions breed habit, if they do not spring from it, and habit,
automatically repeated, becomes character. I feel no inherent propensity
to rob, or defraud. Shall I? Will these things come back to me if my
memory does? Shall I become once more one with this vile old man, my
'side-partner,' to share the evil secrets that I see in his eyes--as I
must once have shared them?" He shuddered.

There welled over him again, full force, the passionate resentment, the
agony of protest, that had been the gift of the resuscitated character.
He found himself fighting a wild desire to fling his resolution behind
him and fly from his reputation and its penalties.

In the battle that he fought now he turned, even in his weakness, to
manual labor, striving to dull his thought with mechanical movement. He
cleaned and put to rights both rooms and sorted their litter of odds and
ends. But at times the inclination to escape became well-nigh
insupportable. When the conflict was fiercest he would think of a
girl's face, once seen, and the thought would restrain him. Who was she?
Why had her look pierced through him? In that hateful career that seemed
so curiously alien, could she have had a part?

He did not know that she of whom he wondered, in the bitterest of those
hours had been very near him--that on her way up the mountain she had
stolen down to the Knob to look through the parted bushes to the cabin
with the blue spiral rising from its chimney. He could not guess that
she gazed with a strained, agitated interest, a curiosity even more
intense than his own, the look of a heart that was strangely learning
itself with mingled and tremulous emotions.

Though the homely task to which he turned failed to allay his struggle,
by nightfall Harry had put the warring elements under. When Prendergast
returned at supper-time the candle was lighted in its wall-box, the
dinted tea-kettle was singing over a crackling fire, and Harry was
perspiring over the scouring of the last utensil.

Prendergast looked the orderly interior over on the threshold with a
contemptuous amusement. "Almost thought I was in church," he said. He
took off his coat and lazily watched the other cook the frugal evening
meal. "Excuse my not volunteering," he observed; "you do it so nicely
I'm almost afraid you'll have another attack of that forgettery of
yours, and go back to the old line."

Presently he looked at the bunk, clean and springy with fresh cut
spruce-shoots. He went to it, knelt down and thrust an arm into the
empty space beneath it. He got up hastily.

"What have you done with that?" he demanded with an angry snarl.

"With what?" Harry turned his head, as he set two tin plates on the bare

"With what was under here."

"There was nothing there but an old horse skin," said Harry. "It is
hanging on the side of the cabin."

With an oath Prendergast flung open the door and went outside. He
reëntered quickly with the white hide in his arms, wrapped it in a
blanket and thrust it back under the bunk.

"Has any one been here to-day--since you put it out there?" he asked

"No," said Harry, surprised. "Why?"

Prendergast chuckled. The chuckle grew to a guffaw and he sat down,
slapping his thigh. Presently he went to the wall, took the chamois-skin
bag from its hiding-place and poured some of its yellow contents into
his palm. "That's why. Do you remember that, eh?"

Harry looked at it. "Gold-dust," he said. "I seem to recall that. I am
going to begin work in the trench to-morrow; there should be more where
that came from."

Prendergast poured the gold back into the bag with a cunning look. The
other had asked for no share of it. At that moment he decided to say
nothing of the evening before, of the girl or the horseback
journey--lest Hugh, cudgelling his brains, might remember he had been
offered a half. If Hugh's peculiar craziness wanted to dig in the dirt,
very well. It might be profitable for them both. He put the pouch into
his pocket with a grin.

"There's plenty more where that came from, all right," he said, "and
I'll teach you again how to get it, one of these days."

Prendergast said little during the meal. When the table was cleared he
lit his pipe and took from a shelf a board covered with penciled figures
and scrutinized it.

"Hope you remember how to play old sledge," he said. "When we stopped
last game you owed me a little over seventeen thousand dollars. If you
forget it isn't a cash game some day and pay up, why, I won't kick," he
added with rough jocularity. He threw a pack of cards on to the table
and drew up the chairs.

Harry did not move. As they ate he had been wondering how long he could
abide that sinister presence. The garish cards themselves now smote him
with a shrinking distaste. As he was about to speak a knock came at the
cabin door and Prendergast opened it.

The visitor Harry recognized instantly; it was the man who had called
for fair play at the fight before the saloon, who had drawn him into the

Felder carried a bundle under his arm. He nodded curtly to Prendergast
and addressed himself to Harry.

"I am the bearer of a gift from some one in the town," he said. "I have
been asked to deliver this to you." He put the bundle into the other's

Harry drew up one of the chairs hastily. "Please sit down," he said
courteously. He looked at the bundle curiously. "_Et eos dona
ferentes_," he said slowly. "A gift from some one in the town!"

A keen surprise flashed into the lawyer's glance. "The quotation is
classic," he said, "but it need not apply here." He took the bundle,
unwrapped it and disclosed a battered violin. "Let me explain," he
continued. "For the owner of this you fought a battle yesterday. You
tested its tone a little later--it seems that you are a master of the
most difficult of instruments. There was a time, I believe, when the old
man was its master also; he was once, they say, the conductor of an
orchestra in San Francisco. Drink and the devil finally brought him
down. For three years past he has lived in Smoky Mountain. Nobody knows
his name--the town has always called him 'Old Despair.' You did him what
is perhaps the first real kindness he has ever known at its hands. He
has done the only thing he could to requite it."

Harry had colored painfully as Felder began to speak. The words brought
back that playing and its strange rejuvenescence of emotion, with acute
vividness. His voice was unsteady as he answered:

"I appreciate it--I am deeply grateful--but it is quite impossible that
I accept it from him."

"You need not hesitate," said the lawyer. "Old Despair needs it no
longer. He died last night in Devlin's dance-hall, where he played--when
he was sober enough--for his lodging. I happened to be near-by, and I
assure you it was his express wish that I give the violin to you."

Rising, he held out his hand. "Good night," he said. "I hope your memory
will soon return. The town is much interested in your case."

The flush grew deeper in Harry's cheek, though he saw there was nothing
ironical in the remark. "I scarcely hope so much," he replied. "I am
learning that forgetfulness has its advantages."

As the door closed behind the visitor, Prendergast kicked the chair back
to the table.

"You're getting on!" he sneered, his oily tone forgotten. "Damn his
impertinence! He didn't offer to shake with _me_! Come on and play."

Harry opened the door again and sat down on the cool step, the violin in
his hands.

"I think I don't care for the cards to-night," he said. "I'd rather play



The little town had been unconsciously grateful for its new sensation.
The return of Hugh Stires and his apparent curious transformation was
the prime subject of conversation. For a half-year the place had known
but one other event as startling: that was the finding, some months
before, of a dead body--that of a comparative stranger in the
place--thrust beneath a thicket on Smoky Mountain, on the very claim
which now held Prendergast and his partner.

The "Amen Corner" of the Mountain Valley House had discussed the pros
and cons exhaustively. There were many who sneered at the loss of memory
and took their cue from Devlin who, smarting from his humiliation and
nursing venom, revamped suspicions wherever he showed his battered face.
In his opinion Hugh Stires was "playing a slick game."

"Your view is colored by your prejudices, Devlin," said Felder. "He's
been a blackleg in the past--granted. But give the devil his due. As
for the other ugly tale, there's no more evidence against him than there
is against you or me!"

"They didn't find the body on _my_ ground," had been the other's surly
retort, "and _I_ didn't clear out the day before, either!"

The phenomenon, however, whether credited or pooh-poohed, was a drawing
card. More than a few found occasion to climb the mountain by the
hillside trail that skirted the lonely cabin. These, as likely as not,
saw Prendergast lounging in the doorway smoking, while the younger man
worked, leading a trench along the brow of the hill to bring the water
from its intake--which Harry's quick eye had seen was practicable--and
digging through the shale and gravel to the bed-rock, to the sparse
yellow grains that yielded themselves so grudgingly. Some of the
pedestrians nodded, a few passed the time of day, and to each Harry
returned his exact coin of salutation.

The spectacle of Hugh Stires, who had been used to pass his days in the
saloons and his nights in even less becoming resorts, turned practical
miner, added a touch of _opera bouffe_ to the situation that, to a
degree, modulated the rigor of dispraise. It was the consensus of
opinion that the new Hugh Stires seemed vastly different from the old;
that if he were "playing a game," it was a curious one.

The casual espionage Prendergast observed with a scowl, as he watched
Harry's labors--when he was at the cabin, for after the first few days
he spent most of his time in haunts of his own in the town, returning
only at meal-time, gruff and surly. Harry, however, recognized nothing
unusual in the curious glances. He worked on, intent upon his own
problem of dark contrasts.

On the one side was a black record, exemplified in Prendergast, clouded
infamy, a shuddering abhorrence of his past self as he saw it through
the pitiless lens of public opinion; on the other was a grim constancy
of purpose, a passionate wish to reconstruct the warped structure of
life of which he found himself the tenant, days of healthful,
peace-inspiring toil, a woman's face that threaded his every thought. As
he wielded his pick in the trench or laboriously washed out the few
glistening grains that now were to mean his daily sustenance, he turned
often to gaze up the slope where, set in its foliage, the glass roof of
the sanatorium sparkled softly through the Indian haze. Strange that the
sight should mysteriously suggest the face that haunted him!

Emmet Prendergast saw the abstracted regard as he came up the trail
from the town. He was in an ugly humor. The bag of gold-dust which he
had shown to Harry he had not returned to the hiding-place in the wall,
and with this in his pocket the faro-table had that day tempted him. The
pouch was empty now.

Harry's back was toward him, and the gold-pan in which he had been
washing the gravel lay at his feet. With a noiseless, mirthless laugh
Prendergast stole into the cabin and reached down from the shelf the
bottle into which each day Harry had poured his scanty findings. He
weighed it in his hand--almost two ounces, a little less than twenty
dollars. He hastily took the empty bag from his pocket.

But just then a shadow darkened the doorway and Harry entered. He saw
the action, and, striding forward, took the bottle from the other's

Prendergast turned on him, a sinister snarl under his affectation of
surprise. "Can't you attend to your own rat-killing?" he growled. "I
guess I've got a right to what I need."

"Not to that," said Harry quietly. "We shall touch the bottom of the
flour sack to-morrow. You expect to get your meals here, I presume."

"I still look forward to that pleasure," answered Prendergast with an
evil sneer. "Three meals a day and a rotten roof over my head. When I
think of the little I have done to deserve it, the hospitality overcomes
me! All I have done is to keep you from starving to death and out of
quod at the same time. I only taught you a safe way to beat the game--an
easier one than you seem to know now--and to live on Easy Street!"

"I am looking for no easy way," responded Harry, "whatever you mean by
that. I expect to earn my living as I'm earning it now--it's an honest
method, at all events."

"You've grown all-fired particular since you lost your memory," retorted
Prendergast, his eyes narrowing. "You'll be turning dominie one of these
days! Perhaps you expect to get the town to take up with you, and to
make love to the beauty in the green riding-habit that brought you here
on her horse the night you were out of your head!"

Harry started. "What do you mean?" he asked thickly.

Prendergast's oily manner was gone now. His savage temper came

"I forgot you didn't know about that," he scoffed. "I made a neat story
of it in the town. They've been gabbling about it ever since."

Harry caught his breath. As through a mist he saw again that green
habit on the hotel balcony--that face that had haunted his waking
consciousness. It had not been Prendergast alone, then, who had brought
him here. And her act of charity had been made, no doubt, a thing for
the tittering of the town, cheapened by chatter, coarsened by joke!

"I wonder if she'd done it if she'd known all I know," continued the
other malevolently. "You'd better go up to the sanatorium, Hugh, and
give her a nice sweet kiss for it!"

A lust of rage rose in Harry's throat, but he choked it down. His hand
fell like iron on Prendergast's shoulder, and turned him forcibly toward
the open door. His other hand pointed, and his suppressed voice said:

"This cabin has grown too small for us both. The town will suit you

Prendergast shrank before the wrath-whitened face, the dangerous sparkle
in the eyes. "You've got through with me," he glowered, "and you think
you can go it alone." The old suspicion leaped in the malicious
countenance. "Well, it won't pay you to try it yet. I know too much! Do
you understand? _I know too much!_"

Harry went out of the cabin. At the door he turned. "If there is
anything you own here," he said, "take it with you. You needn't be here
when I come back."

His fingers shaking with the black rage in his heart, Prendergast
gathered his few belongings, rolled them in the white horse-skin which
he drew from beneath his bunk, and wrapped the whole in a blanket. He
fastened the bundle in a pack-strap, slung it over his shoulder, and
left the cabin. Harry was seated on one of the gravel-heaps, some
distance away, looking out over the valley, his back toward him. As he
took the steep path leading toward the little town Prendergast shot the
figure an envenomed look.

"What's your scheme, I wonder?" he muttered darkly. "Whatever it is,
I'll find out, never fear! And if there's anything in it, you'll come
down from that high horse!" He settled his burden and went rapidly down
the trail, turning over in his mind his future schemes.

As it chanced, there was one who saw his vindictive face. Jessica,
crouched on the Knob, had seen him come and now depart, pack on back,
and guessed that the pair had parted company. Her whole being flamed
with sympathy. She could see his malignant scowl plainly from where she
leaned, screened by the bushes. It terrified her. What had passed
between them in the cabin? She left the Knob wondering.

All that evening she was ill at ease. At midnight, sleepless, she was
looking out from her bedroom window across the phantom-peopled shadows,
where on the face of the pale sky the stars trembled like slow tears.
Anxiety and dread were in her heart; a pale phantom of fear seemed
lurking in the shadows; the night was full of dread.



On the day following the expulsion of Prendergast, Harry woke restless
and unrefreshed. Fleeting sensations mocked him--a disturbing conviction
that the struggling memory in some measure had succeeded in reasserting
itself in the shadowy kingdom of sleep. Waking, the apparitions were
fled again into their obscurity, leaving only the wraiths of
recollection to startle and disquiet.

A girl's face hovered always before him--ruling his consciousness as it
had ruled his sleeping thought. "Is it only fancy?" he asked himself.
"Or is it more? It was there--my memory--in shreds and patches, on my
sleep; now when I wake, it is only the fraying mist of dreams....
Dreams!" He drew a deep breath. "Yet the overmastering sense of reality
remains. Last night I walked in intimate, forgotten ways--and she was in
them--_she!_" He flushed, an odd, sensitive flush. "Dreams!" he said.
"All dreams and fancies!"

At length he took down from its shelf the bottle he had rescued from
Prendergast's intention and emptied it of its glistening grains--enough
to replenish his depleted stock of provisions. He paused a moment as he
put on his hat, smiling whimsically, a little sadly. He dreaded entering
the town. But there could be no remedy in concealment. If he was to live
and work there, appear he must on the streets sooner or later. Smoky
Mountain must continue to think of him as it might; what he was from
that time on, was all that could count to him.

If he had but known it, there was good reason for hesitation to-day.
Early that morning an angry rumor had disturbed the town; the sluice of
the hydraulic company had been robbed again. Some two months previously
there had occurred a series of depredations by which the company had
suffered. The boxes were not swept of their golden harvest each day, and
in spite of all precautions, coarse gold had disappeared mysteriously
from the riffles--this, although armed men had watched all night. There
had been much guess-work. The cabin on the hillside was the nearest
habitation--the company's flume disgorged its flood in the gulch beneath
it--and suspicion had eventually pointed its way. The sudden ceasing of
the robberies with the disappearance of Hugh Stires had given focus to
this suspicion. Now, almost coincident with his return, the thievery
had recommenced. It had been a red-letter day for Devlin and his ilk who
cavilled at the more charitable. Of all this, however, the object of
their "I-told-you-so" was serenely ignorant.

As Harry walked briskly down the mountain, a feeling of unreality stole
upon him. The bell was ringing in the steeple of the little Catholic
church below, and the high metallic sound came to him with a mysterious
and potential familiarity. With the first note, his hand in his pocket
closed upon an object he always carried--the little gold cross he had
found there when he awakened in the freight-car, the only token he
possessed of his vanished past. More than once it had been laid for a
mascot on the faro-table or the roulette-board with his last coin.
Always it had brought the stake back, till he had gained a whimsical
belief in its luck.

He drew it out now and looked at it. "Strange that the sound of a bell
always reminds me of that," he muttered. "Association of ideas, I fancy,
since there is a cross on the church steeple. And what is there in that
bell? It is a faint sound even from here, yet night after night, up
there in the cabin, that far-off peal has waked me suddenly from sleep.
Why is it, I wonder?"

Entering the town, there were few stirring on the sunny streets, but he
could not but be aware that those he met stopped to gaze after him.
Some, indeed, followed. His first objective point was a jeweler's, where
he could turn his gold-dust into readier coin for needful purchases. He
saw a sign next the Mountain Valley House, and entered.

The jeweler weighed the dust with a distrustful frown, but Harry's head
was turned away. He was reading a freshly printed placard tacked on the
wall--an offer of reward for the detection of the sluice thief. He read
it through mechanically, for as he read there came from the street
outside a sound that touched a muffled chord in his brain. It was the
exhaust of a motor-car.

He thrust the money the goldsmith grudgingly handed him into his pocket
and turned to the door. A long red automobile had stopped at the curb.
Two men whom it carried were just entering the hotel.

Harry had seen many such machines in his wanderings, and they had
aroused no baffling instinct of habitude. But the old self was stirring
now, every sense alert. Hour by hour he had found himself growing more
delicately susceptible to subtle mental impressions, haunted by shadowy
reminders of things and places. Something in the sight of the long, low
"racer" reminded him--of what? His eye traced its polished lines,
noting its cunning mechanism, its build for silent speed, with the eager
lighting of a connoisseur. He took a step toward it, oblivious to all
about him.

He did not note that men were gathering, that the nearest saloon was
emptying of its occupants. Nor did he see a girl on horseback, with a
tiny child before her on the saddle, who reined up sharply opposite.

The rider was Jessica; the child, an ecstatic five-year-old she had
picked up on the fringe of the town, to canter in with her hands
gripping the pommel of the saddle. She saw Harry's position instantly
and guessed it perilous. What did the men mean to do? She leaned
forward, a swift apprehension in her face.

Harry came back suddenly to a realization of his surroundings. He looked
about him, startled, his cheek darkening its red, every muscle
instinctively tightening. He saw danger in the lowering faces, and the
old lust of daring leaped up instantly to grapple with the rejuvenated

Devlin's voice came over the heads of the crowd as, burly and
shirt-sleeved, he strode across the street:

"Hand over the dust you've stolen before you are tarred and feathered,
Hugh Stires!"

Harry looked at him surprised, his mind instantly recurring to the
placard he had seen. Here was a tangible accusation.

"I have stolen nothing," he responded quietly.

"Where did he get what he just sold me?" The jeweler's sour query rose
behind him from the doorway.

"We'll find that out!" was the rough rejoinder.

In face of his threatening peril, Jessica forgot all else--the restive
horse, the child. She sprang to the ground, her face pained and
indignant, and started to run across the street. But with a cry of
dismay she turned back. The horse had caught sight of the red
automobile, and, snorting and wild-eyed, had swung into the roadway.

"It's Devlin's kid!" some one cried out, and Devlin, turning, went
suddenly ashen. The baby was the one soft spot in his ruffianly heart.
He sprang toward the animal, but the movement and the hands clutching at
the bridle sent it to a leaping terror. In another instant it had broken
through the ring of bystanders, and, frenzied at its freedom, dashed
down the long, level street with the child clinging to the

It was all the work of a moment, one of panic and confusion, through
which rang Jessica's scream of remorse and fright. Torpor held the
crowd--all save one, whose action followed the scream as leap follows
the spur. In a single step Harry gained the automobile. With an
instantaneous movement he pushed the lever down and jerked the throttle
wide. The machine bounded into its pace, the people rolling back before
it, and, gathering headway, darted after the runaway.

The spectators stood staring. "He'll never catch him," said Michael
Halloran, who had joined the crowd. "Funeral Hollow's only a mile away."
With others he hurried to the hotel balcony, where he could watch the
exciting race. Jessica stood stock-still, as blanched as Devlin,
wringing her hands.

Harry Sanderson had acted with headlong intention, without calculation,
almost without consciousness of mental process. Standing on the
pavement, with the subtle lure of the motor creeping in his veins, his
whole body responding--as his fingers had tingled at sight of the
violin--to the muffled vibrations of that halted bundle of steel, in the
sharp exigency he had answered an overmastering impulse. In the same
breath he had realized Jessica's presence and the child's peril, both
linked in that anguished cry. With the first bound of the car under him,
as the crowd was snatched behind, a weird, exultant thrill shot through
every nerve. Each bolt and bar he knew as one would tell his fingers.
Somewhere, at some time, he had known such flight--through mellow
sunlight, with the air singing past. Where? When?

Not for the fraction of a second, however, did his gaze waver. He knew
that the flat on which the town was built fell away in a hollow ravine
to the southward--he could see it from the cabin doorway--a stretch of
breakneck road only a mile ahead. Could the child hold on? Could he
distance those frenzied hoofs in time? The arrow of the indicator stole
forward on the dial.

Far behind, as the crowd watched, a cry rose from the hotel balcony. It
was Barney McGinn, the freighter, with a glass at his eye. "He's
gaining!" he shouted. "He has almost overtaken the horse!"

The horse's first fury of speed was tiring. The steel steed was creeping
closer. A thunder of hoofs in pursuit would have maddened the flying
animal, but the gliding thing that was now so close to him came on with
noiseless swiftness. Harry had reserved, with the nicety of a practised
hand, a last increment of speed. With the front wheels at the horse's
flank, he drew suddenly on this. As the car responded, he swerved it
sharply in, and, holding with one hand, leaned far out from the step,
and lifted the child from the saddle.

The automobile halted again before the hotel amid a hush. The men who a
little while before had been ripe for violence, now stood in shamefaced
silence. It was Jessica who ran forward and took the child, still
sobbing a little, from Harry's hands. One long look passed between
them--a look on her part brimming with a great gratitude for his lifting
of her weight of dread and compunction, and with something besides that
mantled her cheeks with rich color. She kissed the child and placed her
in her father's arms.

Devlin's countenance broke up. He struggled to speak, but could not,
and, burying his face in the child's dress and crying like a baby, he
crossed the street hastily to his own door.

Harry stepped to the pavement with a dull kind of embarrassment at the
manifold scrutiny. He had misconstrued Jessica's flushing silence, and
the inference stung. The fierce zest was gone, and the rankling barb of
accusation smarted. He should apologize to the owner, he reflected
satirically, for helping himself to the automobile--he who stole
gold-dust, he at whose door the town laid its unferreted thieveries! He
who was the scapegoat for the town's offenses!

That owner, in very fact, stood just then in the hotel doorway regarding
him with interest. He was the sheriff of the county. He was about to
step forward, when an interruption occurred. A scuffle and a weak bark
sounded, and a lean brown streak shot across the pavement.

"Rummy!" cried Harry. "Rummy!"

Through some chink of the dead wall in his brain the name slipped out, a
tiny atom of flotsam retrieved from the wreck of memory. That was all,
but to the animal which had just found its lost master, the word meant a
sublimation of delight, the clearing of the puzzle of namelessness that
had perplexed its canine brain. The dog's heaven was reached!

Down on his knees on the pavement went Harry, with his arms about the
starved, palpitating little creature, and his cheek against its shaggy
coat. In another moment he had picked it up in his arms and was walking
up the street.

Late that night Tom Felder, sitting in his office, heard the story of
the runaway from the sheriff's lips. He himself had been in court at the

"And the horse?" he asked.

"In the Hollow, with his back broken," said the sheriff.

The lawyer sprang from his chair. "Good God!" he exclaimed. "How can a
man like that ever have been a scoundrel?"

The sheriff relit his dead cigar reflectively. "It's a curious thing,"
he said. "They are saying on the street that he's sent Prendergast
packing. He'll have to watch out--the old tarantula will sting him if he

Harry Sanderson went back to his cabin with a strange feeling of
exaltation and disappointment--exaltation at the recurrence of something
of his old adventures, disappointment at the flushed silence with which
Jessica had received the child.



Jessica bore back from the town that afternoon a spirit of tremulous
gladness. In the few moments of that thrilling ride and rescue, a
mysterious change had been wrought in her.

In the past days her soul had been possessed by a painful agitation
which she did not attempt to analyze. At moments the ingrained hatred of
Hugh's act, the resentment that had been the result of that year of
pain, had risen to battle for the inherent justice of things. At such
times she was restless and _distraite_, sitting much alone, and puzzling
David Stires by meaningless responses.

She could not tell him that the son whose name he never took upon his
lips was so near: that he whose crime his father's pride of name had
hidden, through all the months since then, had gone down with the
current, shunned by honest folk, adding to his one dismal act the weight
of persistent repetition! She could not tell him this, even though that
son now lived without memory of the evil he had done; though he
struggled under a cloud of hatred, reaching out to clean deed and high

Now, however, all distrust and trepidation had vanished. Strangely and
suddenly the complex warfare in her mind had stilled. Standing with Mrs.
Halloran, she had listened to the comment with shining eyes. Not that
she distinguished any sudden and violent _volte-face_ of opinion to turn
persecution to popularity and make the reprobate of to-day the favorite
of to-morrow. But in its very reserve she instinctively felt a new
tension of respect. Suspicion and dislike aside, there was none there
who would again hinder the man who had made that race with death!

For her own part, she only knew that she had no longer fear of soul or
sense of irrevocable loss, or suffering. What were those old Bible words
about being born again? What was that rebirth but a divine forgetting, a
wiping out, a "remembering no more?" If it was the memory of his shame
that had dragged him down, that memory was gone, perhaps for ever. The
Hugh she now loved was not the Hugh who had sinned!

She sat by David Stires that evening chatting gaily--he had been much
weaker and more nervous of late and she would not have him told of the
runaway--talking of cheerful things, radiating a glow from her own
happiness that warmed the softly-lighted sick-room. All the while her
heart was on the hillside where a rough cabin held him who embodied for
her all the mystery and meaning of life. By a kind of clairvoyance she
saw him sitting in the snug firelight, thinking perhaps of the instant
their eyes had met. She did not guess that for him that moment had held
an added pang.

So the hours had passed, and the sun, when it rose next day, shone on a
freshly created world. The wind no longer moaned for the lost legends of
the trees. There was a bloom on every flowering bush, a song in the
throat of every bird. She was full of new feelings that yielded in their
sway only to new problems that loomed on her mental horizon. As the
puzzle of the present cleared, the future was become the all-dominating
thing. She knew now that she had never hated, had never really ceased to
love. And Hugh? Love was not a mere product of times and places. It was
only the memory that was gone, his love lived on underneath. Surely that
was what the violin--what the look on his face had said! When the broken
chain was welded, he would know her! Would it be chance--some sudden
mental shock--that would furnish the clue? She had heard of such things.

But suppose he did not recover his memory. In the very nature of the
case, he must sometime learn the facts of his past. Was it not better to
know the very worst it contained now, to put all behind him, and face a
future that held no hidden menace? She alone could tell him what had
clouded his career--the thing whose sign and symbol was the forged
draft. She carried the slip of paper in the bosom of her dress, and
every day she took it out and looked at it as at some maleficent relic.
It was a token of the old buried misery that, its final purpose
accomplished, should be forgotten for ever. How to convey the truth with
as little pain as might be--this was the problem--and she had found the
solution. She would leave the draft secretly in the cabin, where he must
see it. It bore his own name, and the deadly word David Stires' cramped
fist had written across it, told its significant story. How it got there
Hugh would not question; it would be to him only a detail of his
forgotten life there.

She was glad when in the late afternoon Doctor Brent came for his chat
with David Stires, and the latter sent her out for a walk. It was a
garlanded day, a day of clear blue spaces between lavender clouds
lolling in the sky, and over all the late summer landscape a dull gold
wash of sun. There had long ceased to be for her any direction save
one--down the mountain road to where a rambling, overgrown path led to
the little grassy plateau with its jutting rock, which was her point of
observation. She did not keep to the main road, but chose a short-cut
through the thick underbrush that brought her more quickly to the Knob.
There she sat down, and, parting the bushes, peered through them.

All was quiet. No wisp of smoke curled from the cabin chimney, no work
was forward; for Harry had climbed far up the mountain, alone with his
thoughts. It was a favorable opportunity.

Jessica had the fateful draft in her hand as she ran quickly down the
trail and across the cleared space to the cabin door. It was wide open.
Peering warily she saw that both rooms were empty, and, with a guilty
last glance about her, she entered. A smile curved her lips as she saw
the plain neatness of the interior; the scoured cooking-utensils, the
coarse Mackinaw clothing hung from wooden pegs, the clean bacon
suspended from the rafters. A nail in the wall held an old violin, and
beneath it was a shelf of books.

To these, battered and dog-eared novels rescued from the mildewed litter
of the cabin, Harry had turned eagerly in the long evenings for lack of
mental pabulum. She took one from the meager row, and opened it
curiously. It was _David Copperfield_, and she saw with kindling
interest that heavy lines were drawn along certain of the pages. The
words that had been marked revealed to the loving woman something of his

She looked about her. Where should she put the draft? He had left a
marker in the book; he would open it again, no doubt. She laid the draft
between the printed leaves, beyond the marker. Then, replacing the
volume on the shelf, she ran from the door and hastened back up the
steep trail to the Knob.

Leaning back against the warm rock, lapped in the serene peacefulness of
the spot, Jessica fell into reverie. Never since her wedding-day had she
said to herself boldly: "I love him!"--never till yesterday. Now all was
changed. Her thought was a tremulous assurance: "I shall stay here near
him day after day, watching. Some day his memory will come back, and
then my love will comfort him. The town will forget it has hated, and
will come to honor him. Sometime, seeing how he is changed, his father
will forgive him and take him back, and we shall all three go home to
the white house in the aspens. If not, then my place will still be with
Hugh! Perhaps we shall live here. Perhaps a cabin like that will be
home, and I shall live with him, and work with him, and care for him."

Thus she dreamed--a new day-dream, unravaged by the sordid tests of

So absorbed was she that she did not hear a step approaching over the
springy moss--a sharply drawn breath, as the intruder stifled an
exclamation. She had drawn her handkerchief across her eyes against the
dancing glimmer of sunlight. Suddenly it dropped to her lap, and she
half turned.

In the instant of surprise, as Harry's look flashed into hers, a name
sprang unbidden to her lips--a name that struck his strained face to
sudden whiteness, ringing in his ears like the note of a sunken bell.
All that was clamoring in him for speech rushed into words.

"You call my name!" he cried. "You know me! Have I ever been 'Hugh' to
you? Is that what your look said to me? Is that why your face has
haunted me? Tell me, I pray you!"

She had struggled to her feet, her hands pressed to her bosom. The
surprise had swung her from her moorings. Her heart had been so full in
her self-communings that now, between the impulse toward revealment and
the warning of caution, she stood confused.

"I had never seen you in the town before that day," she said. "I am
stopping there"--she pointed to the ridge above, where the roof of the
sanatorium glistened in the sunlight. "I was at the hotel by merest
accident when--you played."

The light died in his eyes. He turned abruptly and stared across the
foliaged space. There was a moment's pause.

"Forgive me!" he said at length, in a voice curiously dull. "You must
think me a madman to be talking to you like this. To be sure, every one
knows me. It is not strange that you should have spoken my name. It was
a sudden impulse to which I yielded. I had imagined ... I had dreamed
... but no matter. Only, your face--that white band across your
eyes--your voice--they came to me like something far away that I have
known. I was mistaken. I was crazy to think that you--"

He stopped. A wave of sympathy passed over her. She felt a mad wish to
throw all aside, to cry to him: "You _did_ know me! You loved me once! I
am Jessica--I am your wife!" So intense was her emotion that it seemed
to her as if she had spoken his name again audibly, but her lips had not
moved, and the tap of a woodpecker on a near-by trunk sounded with harsh

"I have wanted to speak to you," she said, after an instant in which she
struggled for self-control. "You did a brave thing yesterday--a
splendid thing. It saved me from sorrow all my life!"

He put aside her thanks with a gesture. "You saved me also. You found me
ill and suffering and your horse carried me to my cabin."

"I want to tell you," she went on hastily, her fingers lacing, "that I
do not judge you as others do. I know about your past life--what you
have forgotten. I know you have put it all behind you."

His face changed swiftly. To-day the determination with which he had
striven to put from his mind the problem of his clouded past had broken
down. In the light of the charge which had been flung in his teeth the
afternoon before, his imagination had dwelt intolerably on it. "Better
to have ended it all under the wheels of the freight-engine," he had
told himself. "What profit to have another character, if the old lies
chuckling in the shadow, an old-man-of-the-sea, a lurking thing, like a
personal devil, to pull me down!" In these gloomy reflections her
features had recurred with a painful persistence. He had had a bad
half-hour on the mountain, and now, before her look and tone, the
ever-torturing query burst its bonds.

"You know!" he said hoarsely. "Yet you say that? They stoned me in the
street the day I came back. Yesterday they counted me a thief. It is
like a hideous nightmare that I can't wake from. Who am I? Where did I
come from? I dare not ask, for fear of further shame! Can you imagine
what that means?"

He broke off, leaning an unsteady hand against a tree. "I've no excuse
for this raving!" he said, in a moment, his face turned away. "I have
seen you but twice. I do not even know your name. I am a man snatched
out of the limbo and dropped into hell, to watch the bright spirits
passing on the other side of the gulf!"

Pain lay very deep in the words, and it pierced her like a bodily pang,
so close did she seem to him in spirit. She felt in it unrest,
rebellion, the shrinking sensibility that had writhed in loneliness, and
the longing for new foothold on the submerged causeway of life.

She came close to him and touched his arm.

"I know all that you suffer," she said. "You are doing the strong thing,
the brave thing! The man in you is not astray now; it was lost, but it
has found its way back. When your memory comes, you will see that it is
fate that has been leading you. There was nothing in your past that can
not be buried and forgotten. What you have been you will never be again.
I know that! I saw you fight Devlin and I know why you did it. I heard
you play the violin! Whatever has been, I have faith in you now!"

She spoke breathlessly, in very abandon, carried away by her feeling. As
she spoke he had turned toward her, his paleness flushed, his eyes
leaping up like hungry fires, devouring her face. At the look timidity
rushed upon her. She stopped abruptly and took a startled step from him.

He turned from her instantly, his hands dropped at his sides. The word
that had almost sprung to speech had slipped back into the void.

"I thank you for the charity you have for me," he said, "which I in no
way deserve. I ... I shall always remember it."

She hesitated an instant, made as if to speak. Then, turning, she went
quickly from him. At the edge of the bushes she stopped with a sudden
impulse. She looked at the handkerchief she held in her hand. Some tiny
lettering was embroidered in its corner, the word _Jessica_. She looked
back--he had not moved. Rolling it into a ball, she threw it back, over
the bushes, then ran on hastily through the trees.

After a time Harry turned slowly, his shoulders lifting in a deep
respiration. He drew his hand across his brow as though to dispel a
vision. This was the first time he had hit upon the place. He saw the
flat ledge, with the bushes twisted before it for a screen. She had
known the place before, then! The white and filmy cambric caught his
eye, lying at the base of the great, knob-like rock. He went to it,
picked it up, and looked at it closely.

"Jessica!" he whispered. The name clung about him; the very leaves
repeated it in music. He had a curious sensation as if, while she spoke,
that very name had half framed itself in some curtained recess of his
thought. He pressed the handkerchief to his face. The faint perfume it
exhaled, like the dust of dead roses, gave him a ghostly impression of
the familiar.

He thought of what she had said; she had not known him! And yet that
look, the strange dreaming sense of her presence, his name on her lips
in the moment of bewilderment!

He struck his forehead sharply with his open hand.

"Fool!" he said, with a bitter laugh. "Fool!"



Over the sanatorium on the ridge sleep had descended. On its broad
grounds there was no light of moon or stars, and its chamber windows
were dark, save where here and there the soft glow of a night-lamp
sifted through a shutter. The evening had closed gloomily, breeding
storm. The air was sultry and windless, and now and then sheet-lightning
threw into blunt relief the dark bodies of the trees. Inside the
building all slumbered, soundly or fitfully as health or illness
decreed, carrying the humors of the stirring day into the wider realm of

Jessica had closed her eyes, thinking of a time when secrecy would all
be ended, disguise done, when she would wear again the ring she had
taken off in bitterness, when indeed and in name she would be a wife
before the world. She had picked a great bowl of wild star-jasmin and
set it by her bedside and the room was sweet with the delicate scent.
The odor carried her irresistibly back to the far-away mansion that had
since seemed a haunted dwelling, to the days of her blindness and of
Hugh's courtship. Before she extinguished the light she searched in a
drawer and found her wedding-ring--the one she had worn for less than an
hour. It was folded away in a box which she had not opened since the
dreadful day when she had broken in pieces her model of the Prodigal
Son. When she crept into bed, the ring was on her finger. She had fallen
asleep with her cheek resting on it.

She awoke with a start, with a vague, inexplicable uneasiness, an
instinct that the night had voiced an unusual sound. She sat up in bed,
staring into the dark depths of the room. Her instant thought had been
of David Stires, but the tiny bell on the wall whose wire led to his
bedroom was not vibrating. She listened a moment, but there was only a
deep silence.

Slipping out of bed, she crossed the room and parted the curtain from
before the tall French window. The room was on the ground floor and the
window gave directly on the lawn. The wind seemed dead, and the world
outside--the broad, cleared expanse of trees and shrubs, and the
descending forest that closed it round--was wrapped in a dense
blackness. While she gazed there came a sudden yellow flare of lightning
and far-distant mutter of thunder spoke behind the hills.

Still with the unreasoning uneasiness holding her, she groped to the
door, drew the bolt and looked out into the wide, softly carpeted hall,
lighted dimly by a lamp set just at the turn of the staircase. All at
once a shiver ran through her. There, a dozen steps away, the light full
upon him, stood the man who filled her thoughts.

He stood perfectly still, without movement or gesture, gazing at her.
She could see his face distinctly, silhouetted on the pearl-gray wall.
It wore an expression of strained concern and of deep helplessness. The
instant agitation and surprise blotted the puzzle of his presence there.
She forgot that it was the dead of night, that she was in her nightgown.
It flashed across her mind that some near and desperate trouble had
befallen him. All the protective and maternal in her love welled up. She
went quickly toward him.

He did not move or stir, and then she realized that though his eyes
seemed to look at her, it was with a passive tranced fixity. They saw
nothing. He was asleep.

It was the mind which was conscious, the action of the brain was at
rest. The body, through the operation of some irreducible law of the
subjective self, was moving in an automatic somnambulism. The
intermittent memory that had begun to emerge in sleep, that had given
him on waking the eerie impression of a dual identity, had led him,
involuntarily and unerringly, to her.

She halted, a deep compassion and a painful wonderment holding her,
feeling with a thrill the power she possessed over him. Then, like a
cold wave, surged over her a numbing sense of his position. How had he
entered? Had he broken locks like a burglar? The situation was
anomalous. What should she do? Waked abruptly, the result might be
disastrous. Discovered, his presence there when all slumbered, suspected
as he had been, would be ruinous. She must get him away, out of the
house, and quickly.

A breath of cool air swept past her, putting out the lamp--an outer door
was open. At the same instant she heard steps beyond the curve of the
hall, Doctor Brent's voice peremptory and inquiring. Her nerves chilled;
he blocked the sole avenue of retreat. No, there was one other, and only
one--a single way to shield him. Quiet and resourceful now, though her
cheeks were hot, she took the hand of the unconscious man, drew him
silent and unresisting into the friendly shadow of her room, closed the
door noiselessly and bolted it.

For a moment she stood motionless, her heart beating violently. Had he
been seen? Or had the open door created an alarm? Releasing his hand
gently, she found her way softly to a stand, lighted a tiny night-taper,
and threw a shawl about her. Through its ground-glass the light cast a
wan glimmer which showed the shadowy outlines of the room, its white
rumpled bed, its scattered belongings eloquent of a woman's ownership,
and the pallid countenance of the sleeping man. He had stopped still; a
troubled frown was on his face, and his head was bent as if listening.

A sudden confusion tingled through her veins, a sense of maidenly shame
that she could be there beside him _en déshabille_, opposing the sweet
reminder of their real relationship--was he not in fact her
husband?--that lay ever beneath her thought to justify and explain. He
must wake before he left that room. What would he think? She flushed
scarlet in the semi-darkness; she could not tell him--that! Not there
and then! The blood forsook her heart as footsteps sounded outside the
door. They paused, passed on, returned and died away.

Suddenly, in the tense silence of the room, the mantel-clock struck
three, a deep chime, like the vibration of a far-off church bell. The
tone was not loud--indeed the low roll of the thunder had been well-nigh
as loud--but there was in the intrusive metallic cadence a peculiar
suggestion to the dormant mind. As the sound of the church bell in the
town had done so often, it penetrated the crust of sleep; it touched the
inner ear of the conscious intelligence that stirred so painfully,
throbbing keenly to sights and sounds and odors that to the wakeful mind
left only a cloudy impression eddying to some unfamiliar center. Harry
started, a shudder ran through his frame, he swayed dizzily, his hand
went to his forehead.

In the instant of shocked awakening, Jessica was at his side in an agony
of apprehension, her arm thrown about him, her hand pressed across his
lips, her own lips at his ear in an agonized warning:

"Hush, do not speak! It is I, Jessica. Make no noise."

She felt her wrist caught in a grasp that made her wince. His whole body
was trembling violently. "Jessica!" he said in a painfully articulated
whisper. "You? Where am I?"

"This is my room," she breathed. "You have been walking in your sleep.
Make no sound. We shall be heard."

A low exclamation broke from his lips. He looked bewilderedly about him,
his eyes returning to her face with a horrified realization. "I ... came
here ... to your room?" The voice was scarcely audible.

"It was I who brought you here. You were in the hall--you would have
been found. The house is roused."

He turned abruptly to the door, but she caught his arm. "What are you
going to do? You will be seen!"

"So much the better; it will be at my proper measure--as a prowler, a
housebreaker, a disturber of honest sleep!"

"No, no!" she protested in a panic. "You shall not; I will not have you
taken for what you are not! I know--but they would not know! No one must
see you leave this room! Do you not think of me?"

He caught his breath hard. "Think of you!" he repeated huskily. "Is
there ever an hour when I do not think of you? Is there a day when I
would not die to serve you? Yet in my very sleep--"

He paused, gazing at her where she stood in the half-light, a misty,
uncertain figure. She was curiously happy. The delicious and pangless
sense of guilt, however--the guilt of the hidden, not the blameworthy
thing--that was tingling through her was for him a shrinking and acute

"Here!" he said under his breath. "To have brought myself here, of all
places, for you of all women to risk yourself for me! I only know that I
was wandering for years and years in a shadowy desert, searching for
something that would not be found--and then, suddenly I was here and
you were speaking to me! You should have left me to be dragged away
where I could trouble no one again."

She was silent. "Forgive me," he said, "if you can. I--I can never
forgive myself. How can I best go?"

For answer she moved to the window, slender and wraith-like. He followed
silently. A million vague new impressions were clutching at him; the
fragrance in the room was like a hypnotic incense veiling shadowy forms.
Lines started from the blank:

     And I swear, as I thought of her thus, in that hour,
       And how, after all, old things were best,
     That I smelt the smell of that jasmin-flower
       Which she used to wear in her breast!

As she parted the curtain, a second of bright lightning revealed the
landscape, the dark hedges and clustered trees. It blackened, and she
drew him back with a hushed word, pointing where a lantern was flashing
through the shrubbery.

"It is a watchman," she said. "He will be gone presently."

Looking at her, where she stood in the dim light, half turned away, one
hand against her cheek, there welled through him a wave of that hopeless
longing which her kiss had awakened in that epoch moment of the
Reverend Henry Sanderson. The clinging white gown, with the filmy lace
at its throat, the taper's faint glow glimmering to a numbus in her
loosened hair, the sweet intangible suggestions of the room--all these
called to him potently, through the lines that raced in his brain.

     But O, the smell of that jasmin-flower!
       And O that music! and O the way
     That voice rang out from the donjon tower--

"God help me!" he whispered, the pent passion of his dreams rushing to
utterance. "Why did I ever see your face? I was reckless and careless
then. I had damned the decent side of me that now is quivering alive! I
have tried to blot your face from my memory. But it is useless. I shall
always see it."

A rumble of nearer thunder sounded and a tentative dash of rain struck
the pane. She was shaken to her depths. She stood in a whirlwind of
emotion. She seemed to feel his arms clasping her, his lips on hers, his
adjuring words in her ears. The odor of the flowers wreathed them both.
The beating of her heart seemed to fill all the silent room.

On the lawn just outside the window, low voices were heard through the
increasing rain. They passed, and after a moment he softly unlatched the

"Good-by," he said.

She stretched out her hand. He touched it, then drew the window wide. As
he stepped noiselessly down on to the springy turf, the lightning
flashed again--a pale-green glow that seemed almost before her face. She
drew back, and the same instant, through the thunder, the electric bell
on the wall rang sharply. She threw on her dressing-gown, thrust her
feet into slippers, and hastened from the room.

The same flash that had startled Jessica lighted brightly the physician
and the watchman, who stood at the corner of the building, having
finished their tour of inspection. It was the latter who had found the
open door and who had aroused the doctor, insisting that he had seen a
man in the hall. The other had pooh-poohed this, but now by the
lightning both saw the figure emerge from the French window and
disappear in the darkness.

They ran back, the physician ahead. The window was not locked, and they
stepped through it into an empty room.

"To be sure!" said the doctor disgustedly. "He was here all the
time--heard us searching the halls, and took the first unlocked door he
found. Miss Holme, no doubt, is sitting up with Mr. Stires. Not a word
of this," he added as they walked along the hall. "Unless she misses
something, there is no need of frightening her."

He barred the outer door behind the watchman and went on. As he reached
David Stires' room, the door opened and Jessica came out. She spoke to
him in a low, anxious voice. "I was coming for you," she said. "I am
afraid he is not so well. I can not rouse him. Will you come in and see
what you can do?"

The doctor entered, and a glance at his patient alarmed him. Until dawn
he sat with Jessica watching. When the early sunlight was flooding the
room, however, David Stires opened his eyes and looked upon her quite

"Where is Harry Sanderson?" he asked. "I thought he was here."

She looked at him with a forced smile. "You have been dreaming," she

He seemed to realize where he was. "I suppose so," he said with a sigh,
"but it was very real. I thought he came in and spoke your name."

She stroked his hand. "It was fancy, dear." If he but knew who had
really been there that night! If she could only tell him all the happy

He lay silent a moment. Then he said: "If it could only have been Harry
you married instead of Hugh! For he loved you, Jessica."

She flushed as she said: "Ah, that was fancy, too!"

It was the first time since the day of her marriage that he had spoken
Hugh's name.



Dawn had come with an unleashed wind and the crash of thunder. The
electric storm, which had muttered and menaced like a Sabbath of witches
till daylight, had broken at length and turned the world to a raving
turmoil, pitilessly scarring the mountain and deluging the gulches with

In the cabin on the hillside Harry had watched the rage of the elements
with a dull sense of accord; it typified the wild range of feeling in
which his soul had been harried. Battle had been the keynote of a series
of days and doings of which the tense awakening in Jessica's chamber,
with its supreme moment of passion and longing, had been a weird

As he made his way down the mountain in the blank and heavy dark,
correcting his path by the lightning, he had faced squarely the question
that in that dim room had become an imminent demand.

"_What if I love her!_ What right have I to love her, with a wretched
name like mine? She has refinement, a measure of wealth, no doubt, and
I am poor as poverty, dependent on the day's grubbing in the ditch for
to-morrow's bacon and flour. Yet that would not stand in the way! I am
no venal rogue, angling for the loaves and fishes. Whatever else she
cursed me with, Nature gave me a brain, and culture and experience have
educated it. With hand or brain I can hew my own niche to stand in! Must
I put away the longing that drove me to her in sleep, with her dawning
love that shielded me? And if, knowing all, she love me, must the past,
that is so unreal to me, block my way to happiness? I am putting it deep
underground, and its ghost shall not rise! Time passes, reputations
change. Mine will change. And when I have squared my living here, the
world is wide. What does it matter who she is, if she is the one woman
for me? What does it matter what I have been, if I shall be that no

So he had argued, but his argument ended always with the same stern and
unanswerable conclusion: "To drag her down in order to lift myself!
Because she pities me--pity is akin to love!--shall I take advantage of
her interest and innocence? Shall I play upon divine compassion and
sinister propinquity, like any mean adventurer who inveigles a romantic
girl into marrying a rascal to reform him?"

In the cabin, through the long hours till the dawn began to infiltrate
the dark hollows of the wood he had lain wide-eyed, thinking. When day
came he had cooked his breakfast and thereafter sat watching the havoc
of the storm through the window. Hours passed thus before the fury of
the wind had spent itself, and with the diminution of the rain, a
crouching mist had crept over the range from the west, from which Smoky
Mountain jutted like a drenched emerald island. At length he rose, threw
open the door and stood looking out upon the wind-whipped foliage and
the drab desolation of the fog. Then he threw on his Mackinaw coat,
picked up his gold-pan and climbed down the slope. Beneath all other
problems must lie the sordid problem of his daily food. He had uncovered
a crevice in the bed-rock at the end of his trench the day before, and
now he scraped a pailful of the soggy gravel it contained and carried it
back to the cabin. A fresh onslaught of rain came just then, and setting
the heaped-up pan on the doorstep, he reëntered the room.

With a sigh he took off his damp coat and threw a log on the fire. He
abstractedly watched it kindle, then filled and lit his pipe and turned
to the book-shelf. He ran his hand absently along the row. Where had
been that wide, dim expanse of library walls that hovered like a mirage
beyond his visual sight? He chose a volume he had been reading, and
turned the pages.

All at once his hand clenched. He gave a choked cry. He was staring at a
canceled bank-draft bearing his own name--a draft across whose face was
written, in the cramped hand resembling the signature, a word that
seemed etched in livid characters of shame--_Forgery!_

"Pay to Hugh Stires"--"the sum of five thousand dollars"--he read the
phrases in a hoarse, husky monotone, every vein beating fiercely, his
body hot with the heat of a forge. There it was, a hideous chapter of
it, the damnable truth from which he had shrunk! "I may be a thief!"--he
had said that to himself long ago. His mind had revolted at the idea,
yet the thought had clung. It had made him a coward. When the allegation
had passed before the jeweler's shop, it had stung the deeper for his
dread. He had been the beneficiary of that forgery. He alone could have
perpetrated it. The popular suspicion was well grounded: he was a common

Did the town know? He snatched at the draft and read the date. More than
a year ago, and it had been presented for payment in a distant city, the
city near which he had been picked up beside the railroad track. The
forged name was the same as his own. Who was David Stires? His father?
Had that city been his home once, and that infamous act the forerunner
of his flight or exile? He looked at the paper again with painful
intentness. It was canceled--therefore had been paid without question.
Yet the man it had robbed had stamped it with that venomous hall-mark.
Clearly the law had not stepped in--for here he was at liberty, owning
his name. He had been let go, then, disowned, to carry his badge of
crime here into the wilderness! And how had he lived since then? Harry

What now? It was no longer a question only of his life and repute here
at Smoky Mountain. The trail led infinitely further; it led to the
greater world, into which he had fondly dreamed of going. The words
Jessica had spoken on the hillside sounded in his ears: "_Whatever has
been_ I have faith in you now." His face lightened. That assurance had
swept the past utterly aside, had leaned only on the present. His
present, at least, was clean!

He drew a sudden breath and the color faded from his cheek; a baleful
suggestion had insinuated itself with a harrowing pain. _Was_ it clean?
He had forced an entrance in the dead of night to tread dark halls like
a thief--and he had laid that flattering unction to his soul! Suppose he
had not gone there innocent of purpose? What if, not alone the memory,
but the lusts and vices of the former man were reasserting themselves in
sleep? What if the new Hugh Stires, unknown to the waking consciousness,
was carrying on the deeds of the old? What if the town was right? What
if there was, indeed, good reason for suspecting him?

He stumbled to a chair and sat down, his frame rigid. He thought of the
robbed sluice in the gulch below, of his own unhappy adventure of the
night. How could he tell what he had done--what he might do? Minutes
went by as he sat motionless, his mind catching strange kaleidoscopic
pictures that fled past him into the void. At length he rose and went to
the window. Far down the hillside, a faint line through the mist spanned
the gulch bottom. A groan burst from his lips:

"That is the hydraulic flume," he said aloud. "Gold has been stolen
there in the past, again and again. Some was stolen two nights ago. _How
do I know but that I am the thief?_" Was that what Prendergast had meant
by the "easier way"? A shiver ran over him. "How do I know!" he thought.
"I can see myself--the evil side of me--when the dark had fallen, waking
and active ... I see myself creeping down there, stealing from shadow to
shadow, to scoop the gold from the riffles when the moon is under a
cloud. I see men sitting from dark to daylight, with loaded rifles
across their knees, watching. I see a flash of fire ... I hear a report.
I see myself there by the sluice-boxes, dead, shot down in the act of a
thief, making good the name men know me by!"

The figure of Jessica came before him, standing in her soft white gown,
her hand against her cheek and the jasmin odors about her. The dream he
had dreamed could not be--never, never, never! All that was left was
surrender, ignominious flight to scenes barren of suggestion.

To a place where he could work and save and repay! He looked at the slip
of bank-paper in his hand.

At that instant a shining point caught his eye. It came from the pan of
gravel on the doorstep on which the rain had been beating. He thrust the
draft into his pocket and seized a double handful of the gravel. He
plunged it into a pail of water and held it to the light. It sparkled
with coarse, yellow flakes of gold. He dropped the handful with a sharp
exclamation, threw on his coat and rushed from the cabin.

All day, alone on the fog-soaked hillside, Harry toiled in the trench
without food or rest.



It was a fair, sweet evening, and the room where Jessica sat beside
David Stires' bed, reading aloud to him, was flooded with the failing
sunlight. The height was still in brightness, but the gulches below were
wine-red and on their rims the spruces stood shadow-straight against the
golden ivory of the southern sky. Since the old man's seizure in the
night he had been much worse and she had scarcely left his room. To-day,
however, he had sat propped by pillows, able to read and chat, and the
deep personal anxiety that had numbed her had yielded. She was reading
now from a life of that poetess whose grave has made a lonely Colorado
mountain a place of pilgrimage. She read in a low voice, holding the
page to the dimming light:

     "The spot she chose was a bare knoll, facing out across the curved
     chasm, the wide empty gulf on three sides, a plot hounded by a knot
     of noble trees that whispered softly together. Here above the sky
     was beautifully blue, the searching fall wind that numbed the
     fingers in the draw of the gorge was gone, and the warm sunshine
     was mellow and pleasant. It was a spot to dream in, leaning upon
     the great facts of God that He teaches best to those who love His
     Nature. A spot in which to be laid at last for the long sleep, when
     mortal dreams are over and work is done."

"That is beautiful," he said. "I should choose a spot like that." He
pointed down the long slope, where a red beam of the sun touched the
gray face of the Knob and turned it to a spot of crimson-lake. "That
must be such a place."

Her cheeks flushed. She knew what he was thinking. He would not wish to
lie in the far-away cemetery that looked down on the white house in the
aspens, the theater of his son's downfall! The Knob, she thought with a
thrill, overlooked the place of Hugh's regeneration.

A knock came at the door. It was a nurse with letters for him from the
mail, and while he opened them Jessica laid aside the book and went
slowly down the hall to the sun-parlor, where the doctor stood with the
group gathered after the early supper, chatting of the newest "strike"
on the mountain.

"We'll be famous if we keep on," he was saying, as she looked out of the
wide windows across the haze where the sunlight drifted down in dust of
gold. "I've a mind to stake out a claim myself."

"We pay you better," said one of the occupants grimly. "Anyway, the
whole of Smoky Mountain was staked in the excitement a year ago. There's
no doubt about this find, I suppose?"

"It's on exhibition at the bank," the doctor replied. "More than five
thousand dollars, _cached_ in a crevice in the glacial age, as neat as a
Christmas stocking!"

"Wish it was _my_ stocking," grunted the other. "It would help pay my
bill here."

The man of medicine laughed and nodded to Jessica where she stood, her
cheeks reddened by the crimsoning light. She had scarcely listened to
the chatter, or, if she did, paid little heed. All her thoughts were
with the man she loved. Watching the luminous purple shadows grow slowly
over the landscape, she longed to run down to the Knob, to sit where she
had first spoken to him, perhaps by very excess of yearning to call him
to her side. She had a keen sense of the compunction he must feel, and
longed, as love must, to reassure him.

The talk went on about her.

"Where is the lucky claim?" some one asked.

"Just below this ridge," the doctor replied. "It is called the 'Little

The name caught her ear now. The Little Paymaster? That was the name on
the tree--on Hugh's claim! At that instant she thought she heard David
Stires calling. She turned and ran quickly up the long hall to his open

The sight of his face at first startled her, for it was held captive of
emotion; but it was an emotion of joy, not of pain. A letter fluttered
in his grasp. He thrust it into her hands.

"Jessica!" he exclaimed. "Hugh has paid it! He has sent the five
thousand dollars, interest and principal, to the bank, to my account."

For a moment she stood transfixed. The talk she had mechanically heard
leaped into significance, and her mind ran back to the hour when she had
left the draft at the cabin. She caught the old man's hand and knelt by
his chair, laughing and crying at once.

"I knew--oh, I knew!" she cried, and hid her face in the coverlet.

"It is what I have prayed for," he said, after a moment, in a shaking
voice. "I said I hoped I would never see his face again, but I was
bitter then. He was my only son, after all, and he is your husband. I
have thought it all over lying here."

Jessica lifted her eyes, shining with a great thankfulness. During these
last few days the impulse to tell all that she had concealed had been
almost irresistible; now the barrier had fallen. The secret she had
repressed so long came forth in a rush of sentences that left him mute
and amazed.

"I should have told you before," she ended, "but I didn't know--I wasn't
sure--" She broke down for very joy.

He looked at her with eyes unnaturally bright. "Tell me everything,
Jessica!" he said. "Everything from the beginning!"

She drew the shade wider before the open window, where he could look
down across the two miles of darkening foliage to the far huddle of the
town--a group of toy houses now hazily indistinct--and, seated beside
him, his hand in hers, poured out the whole. She had never framed it
into words; she had pondered each incident severally, apart, as it were,
from its context. Now, with the loss of memory and the pitiful struggle
of recollection as a background, the narrative painted itself in vivid
colors to whose pathos and meaning her every instinct was alive. Her
first view of Hugh, the street fight and the revelation of the
violin--the part she and Prendergast had taken--the rescue of the
child--the leaving of the draft in the cabin, and the strange
sleep-walking that had so nearly found a dubious ending--she told all.
She did not realize that she was revealing the depths of her own heart
without reserve. If she omitted to tell of his evil reputation and the
neighborhood's hatred, who could blame? She was a woman, and she loved
them both.

Dusk came before the moving recital was finished. The rose of sunset
grew over the trellised west, faded, and the gloom deepened to darkness,
pricked by stars. The old man from the first had scarcely spoken. When
she ended she could hardly see his face, and waited anxiously to hear
what he might say. Presently he broke the silence.

"He was young and irresponsible, Jessica," he said. "Money always came
so easily. He didn't realize what he was doing when he signed that
draft. He has learned a lesson out in the world. It won't hurt his
career in the end, for no one but you and I and one other knows it.
Thank God! If his memory comes back--"

"Oh, it will!" she breathed. "It must! That day on the Knob he only
needed the clue! When I tell him who I am, he will know me. He will
remember it all. I am sure--sure! Will you let me bring him to you?" she
added softly.

"Yes," he said, pressing her hand, "to-morrow. I shall be stronger in
the morning."

She rose and lighted the lamp, shading it from his eyes.

"Do you remember the will, Jessica?" he asked her presently. "The will
I drew the day he came back? You never knew, but I signed it--the night
of your wedding. Harry Sanderson was right, my dear, wasn't he?

"I wish now I hadn't signed it, Jessica," he added. "I must set it
right--I must set it right!" He watched her with a smile on his face. "I
will rest now," he said, and she adjusted the pillows and turned the
lamp low.

Crossing the room, she stepped through the long window on to the porch,
and stood leaning on the railing. From the dark hedges where the brown
birds built came a drowsy twitter as from a nest of dreams. A long time
she stood there, a thousand thoughts busy in her brain--of Hugh, of the
beckoning future. She thought of the day she had destroyed the model
that her fingers longed to remold, now that the Prodigal was indeed
returned. The words of the biblical narrative flashed through her mind:
_And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way
off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his
neck, and kissed him._ So Hugh's father would meet him now! The dewed
odors of the jasmin brought the memory of that stormy night when he had
come to her in his sleep. She imagined she heard again his last
word--his whispered "Good-by" in the sound of the rain.

She thought it a memory, but the word that flashed into her mind was
carried to her from the shadow, where a man stood in the shrubbery
watching her dim figure and her face white and beautiful in the light
from a near-by window, with a passionate longing and rebellion.

Harry was seeing her, he told himself, for the last time. He had made up
his mind to this on that stormy morning when he had found the lucky
crevice. For days he had labored, spurred by a fierce haste to make
requital. Till the last ounce of the rich "pocket" had been washed, and
the whole taken to the bank in the town, no one had known of the find.
It had repaid the forgery and left him a handful of dollars over--enough
to take him far away from the only thing that made life worth the
effort. He had climbed to the ridge on the bare chance of seeing
Jessica--not of speaking to her. Watching her, it required all his
repression not to yield to the reckless desire that prompted him to go
to her, look into her eyes, and tell her he loved her. He made a step
forward, but stopped short, as she turned and vanished through the

Standing on the porch, a gradual feeling of apprehension had come to
Jessica--an impression of blankness and chill that affected her
strangely. Inside the room she stood still, frightened at the sudden
sense of utter soundlessness.

She caught up the lamp, and, turning the wick, approached the bed. She
put out her hand and touched the wasted one on the coverlet. Then a
sobbing cry came from her lips.

David Stires was gone. A crowning joy had goldened his bitterness at the
last moment, and he had gone away with his son's face in his heart and
the smile of welcome on his lips.



Dark was falling keen and cool, for frost was in the air, touching the
fall foliage on the hills to crimson and amber, silvering the long
curving road that skirted the river bluff, and etching delicate hoar
tracery on the spidery framework of the long black railroad bridge that
hung above "the hole." The warning light from a signal-post threw a
crimson splash on the ground. Its green pane cast a pallor on a bearded
face turned out over the gloomy water.

The man who had paused there had come from far, and his posture
betokened weariness, but his features were sharp and eager. He turned
and paced back along the track to the signal-post.

"It was here," he said aloud. He stood a moment, his hands clenched.
"The new life began here. Here, then, is where the old life ended." From
where he stood he could see blossoming the yellow lights of the little
city, five miles away. He set his shoulders, whistled to the small dog
that nosed near-by, and set off at a quick pace down the road.

What had brought him there? He scarcely could have told. Partly,
perhaps, a painful curiosity, a flagellant longing to press the iron
that had seared him to his soul. So, after a fortnight of drifting, the
dark maelstrom of his thoughts had swept him to its dead center. This
was the spot that held the key to the secret whose shame had sent him
hither by night, like a jailbird revisiting the haunts that can know him
no more. He came at length to a fork in the road; he mechanically took
the right, and it led him soon to a paved road and to more cheerful

Once in the streets, a bar to curious glances, he turned up his coat
collar and settled the brim of his felt hat more closely over his eyes.
He halted once before a shadowed door with a barred window set in its
upper panel--the badge of a gambling-house. As he had walked, baffling
hints of pictures, unfilled outlines like a painter's studies had been
flitting before him, as faces flit noiselessly across the opaque ground
of a camera-obscura. Now, down the steps from that barred door, a filmy,
faded, Chesterfieldian figure seemed to be coming toward him with
outstretched hand--one of the ghosts of his world of shadows.

He walked on. He crossed an open square and presently came to the gate
of a Gothic chapel, set well back from the street. Its great
rose-window was alight, for on this evening was to be held a memorial
service for the old man whose money had built the pile, who had died a
fortnight before in a distant sanatorium. A burnished brass plate was
set beside the gate, bearing the legend: "St. James Chapel. Reverend
Henry Sanderson, Rector." The gaze with which the man's eye traced the
words was as mechanical as the movement with which his hand, in his
pocket, closed on the little gold cross; for organ practice was
beginning, and the air, throbbing to it, was peopled with confused
images--but no realization of the past emerged.

He turned at the sound of wheels, and the blur shocked itself apart to
reveal a kindly face that looked at him for an instant framed in the
window of a passing carriage. With the look a specter plucked at the
flesh of the wayfarer with intangible fingers. He shrank closer against
the palings.

Inside the carriage Bishop Ludlow settled back with a sigh. "Only a face
on the pavement," he said to his wife, "but it reminded me somehow of
Harry Sanderson."

"How strange it is!" she said--the bishop had no secrets from his
wife--"never a word or a sign, and everything in his study just as he
left it. What can you do, John? It is four months ago now, and the
parish needs a rector."

He did not reply for a moment. The question touched the trouble that was
ever present in his mind. The whereabouts of Harry Sanderson had caused
him many sleepless hours, and the look of frozen realization which had
met his stern and horrified gaze that unforgetable night--a look like
that of a tranced occultist waked in the demon-constrained commission of
some rueful impiety--had haunted the good man's vigils. He had knowledge
of the by-paths of the human soul, and the more he reflected the less
the fact had fitted. The wild laugh of Hugh's, as he had vanished into
the darkness, had come to seem the derisive glee of the tempter
rejoicing in his handiwork. Recollection of Harry's depression and the
insomnia of which he had complained had deepened his conviction that
some phase of mental illness had been responsible. In the end he had
revolted against his first crass conclusion. When the announced vacation
had lengthened into months, he had been still more deeply perplexed, for
the welfare of the parish must be considered.

"I know," he said at length. "I may have failed in my whole duty, but I
haven't known how to tell David Stires, especially since we heard of his
illness. I had written to him--the whole story; the ink was not dry on
the paper when the letter came from Jessica telling us of his death."

Behind them, as they talked, the man on the pavement was walking on
feverishly, the organ music pursuing him, the dog following with a
reluctant whine.

At last he came to a wide, dark lawn set thick with aspens clustering
about a white house that loomed grayly in the farther shadow. He
hesitated a moment, then walked slowly up the broad, weed-grown garden
path toward its porch. In the half light the massive silver door-plate
stood out clearly. He had known instinctively that that house had been a
part of his life, and yet a tremor caught him as he read the
name--STIRES. The intuition that had bent his steps from the street, the
old stirring of dead memory, had brought him to his past at last. This
house had been his home!

He stood looking at it with trouble in his face. He seemed now to
remember the wide colonnaded porch, the tall fluted columns, the green
blinds. Clearly it was unoccupied. He remembered the scent of jasmin
flowers! He remembered--

He started. A man in his shirt-sleeves was standing by a half-open side
door, regarding him narrowly.

"Thinking of buying?" The query was good-humoredly satiric. "Or maybe
just looking the old ranch over with a view to a shake-down!"

The trespasser smiled grimly. It was not the first time he had seen that
weather-beaten face. "You have given up surgery as a profession, I see,"
he said.

The other came nearer, looked at him in a puzzled way, then laughed.

"If it isn't the card-sharp we picked up on the railroad track!" he
said, "dog and all! I thought you were far down the coast, where it's
warmer. Nothing much doing with you, eh?"

"Nothing much," answered the man he addressed. Others might recognize
him as the black sheep, but this nondescript watchman whom chance had
set here could not. He knew him only as the dingy vagabond whose broken
head he had bandaged in the box-car!

"I'm in better luck," went on the man in shirt-sleeves. "I struck this
about two months ago, as gardener first, and now I'm a kind of a sort of
a watchman. They gave me a bunk in the summer-house there"--he jerked
his thumb backward over his shoulder--"but I know a game worth two of
that for these cold nights. I'll show you. I can put you up for the
night," he added, "if you like."

The wayfarer shook his head. "I must get away to-night, but I'm much

"Haven't done anything, have you?" asked his one-time companion
curiously. "You didn't seem that sort."

The bearded face turned away. "I'm not 'wanted' by the police, no. But
I'm on the move, and the sooner I take the trail the better. I don't
mind night travel."

"You'd be better for a rest," said the watchman, "but you're the doctor.
Come in and we'll have a nip of something warm, anyhow."

He led the way to the open door and beckoned the other inside, closing
it carefully to. "It's a bully old hole," he observed, as he lit a brace
of candles. "It wasn't any trick to file a key, and I sleep in the
library now as snug as a bug in a rug." He held the light higher. "You
look a sight better," he said. "More flesh on your bones, and the beard
changes you some, too. That scar healed up fine on your forehead--it's
nothing but a red line now."

His guest followed him into a spacious hall, scarce conscious of what he
did. A double door to the left was shut, but he nevertheless knew
perfectly that the room it hid had a tall French window, letting on to a
garden where camelias had once dropped like blood. The open door to the
right led to the library.

There the yellow light touched the dark wainscoting, the marble
mantelpiece, dim paintings on the wall, and a great brass-bound Korean
desk in a corner. What black thing had once happened in that room? What
face had once looked at him from that wheel-chair? It was an old face,
gray and lined and passionate--his father, doubtless. He told himself
this calmly, with an odd sense of apartness.

The other's glance followed his pridefully. "It's a fine property," he
said. "The owner's an invalid, I hear, with one leg in the grave. He's
in some sanatorium and can't get much good of it. Nice pictures, them,"
he added, sweeping a candle round. "That's a good-looker over
there--must be the old man's daughter, I reckon. Well, I'll go and get
you a finger or two to keep the frost out of your lungs. It'll be cold
as Billy-be-dam to-night. Make yourself at home." The door closed behind

The man he left was trembling violently. He had scarcely repressed a
cry. The portrait that hung above the mantelpiece was Jessica's, in a
house-dress of soft Romney-blue and a single white rose caught in her
hair. "The old man's daughter!"--the words seemed to echo and reëcho
about the walls, voicing a new agony without a name. Then Jessica was
his sister!

The owner of the house, his father, an invalid in a sanatorium? It was a
sanatorium on the ridge of Smoky Mountain where she had stayed, into
which he had broken that stormy night! Had his father been there then,
yearning in pain and illness over that evil career of his in the town
beneath? Was relationship the secret of Jessica's interest, her
magnanimity, that he had dreamed was something more? A dizzy sickness
fell upon him, and he clenched his hands till the nails struck purple
crescents into the palms.

As he stared dry-eyed at the picture in the candle-light, the misery
slowly passed. He must _know_. Who she was, what she was to him, he must
learn beyond peradventure. He cast a swift glance around him; orderly
rows of books stared from the shelves, the mahogany table held only a
pile of old magazines. He strode to the desk, drew down its lid and
tried the drawers. They opened readily and he rapidly turned over their
litter of papers, written in the same crabbed hand that had etched the
one damning word on the draft he had found in the cabin on Smoky

This antique desk, with its crude symbols and quaint brass-work, a gift
to him once upon a time from Harry Sanderson, had been David Stires'
carry-all; he had been spending a last half-hour in sorting its contents
when the bank-messenger, on that fateful day, had brought him the slip
of paper that had told his son's disgrace. Most of the papers the
searcher saw at a glance were of no import, and they gave him no clue to
what he sought. Then, mysteriously guided by the subtle memory that
seemed of late to haunt him, though he was but half conscious of its
guidance, his nervous fingers suddenly found and pressed a spring--a
panel fell down, and he drew out a folded parchment.

Another instant and he was bending over it with the candle, his fingers
tracing familiar legal phrases of a will laid there long ago. He read
with the blood shrinking from his heart:

"_To my son Hugh, in return for the care and sorrow he has caused me all
the days of his life, for his dissolute career and his graceless
desertion, I do give and bequeath the sum of one thousand dollars and
the memory of his misspent youth. The residue of my estate, real and
personal, I do give and bequeath to my ward, Jessica Holme_--"

The blood swept back to his heart in a flood. Ward, not daughter! He
could still keep the one sweet thing left him. His love was justified.
Tears sprang to his eyes, and he laid the parchment back and closed the
desk. He hastily brushed the drops away, as the rough figure of the
watchman entered and set down two glasses and a bottle with a flourish.

"There you are; that'll be worth five miles to you!" He poured noisily.
"Here's how!" he said.

His guest drank, set down the glass and held out his hand. "Good luck,"
he said. "You've got a good, warm berth here; maybe I shall find one,
too, one of these days."

The dog thrust a cold muzzle into his hand as he walked down the gravel
path slowly, feeling the glow of the liquor gratefully, with the
grudging release it brought from mental tension. He had not consciously
asked himself whither now. In some subconscious corner of his brain this
had been asked and answered. He was going to his father. Not to seek to
change the stern decree; not to annul those bitter phrases: _his
dissolute career--the memory of his misspent youth!_ Only to ask his
forgiveness and to make what reparation was possible, then to go out
once more to the world to fight out his battle. His way was clear before
him now. Fate had guided him, strangely and certainly, to knowledge. He
was thankful for that. He had come a silent shadow; like a shadow he
would go.

He retraced his steps, and again stood on the square near where the
rose-window of the Gothic chapel cast a tinted luster on the clustering
shrubbery. The audience-room was full now, a string of carriages waited
at the curb, and as he stood on the opposite pavement the treble of the
choir rose full and clear:

     "Lead, kindly Light, amid th' encircling gloom,
                 Lead Thou me on;
     The night is dark, and I am far from home,
                 Lead Thou me on!
     Keep Thou my feet! I do not care to see
     The distant scene; one step enough for me."

He drew his hat-brim over his eyes, and mingled with the hurrying



The bell was tapping in the steeple of the little Catholic church on the
edge of the town, and the mellow tone came clearly up the slope of the
mountain where once more the one-time partner of Prendergast stood on
the threshold of the lonely cabin, sentinel over the mounds of yellow
gravel that marked his toil.

The returned wanderer had met with a distinct surprise in the town. As
he passed through the streets more than one had nodded, or had spoken
his name, and the recognition had sent a glow to his cheek and a
lightness to his step.

Since the daring feat in the automobile, the tone of the gossip had
changed. His name was no longer connected with the sluice robberies. The
lucky find, too, constituted a material boom for Smoky Mountain and
bettered the stock in its hydraulic enterprises, and this had been
written on the credit side of the ledger. Opinion, so all-powerful in a
new community, had altered. Devlin had abruptly ordered from his place
one who had done no more than to repeat his own earlier gibes, and even
Michael Halloran, the proprietor of the Mountain Valley House, had given
countenance to the more charitable view championed by Tom Felder. All
this he who had been the outcast could not guess, but he felt the change
with satisfaction.

As he gazed up the slope, all gloriously afire with the marvellous
frost-hues of the autumn--dahlia crimsons, daffodil golds and maple
tints like the flames of long-sought desires--toward the glass roof that
sparkled on the ridge above, one comfort warmed his breast. If it had
been the subtle stirring of blood kinship, the blind instinct of love,
that had drawn him to that nocturnal house-breaking, not the lawless
appetence of the natural criminal! Whether his father was indeed there
he must discover.

Till the sun was low he sat in the cabin thinking. At length he called
the dog and fastened it in its accustomed place, and began slowly to
climb the steep ascent. When he came to a certain vine-grown trail that
met the main path, he turned aside. Here lay the spot where he had first
spoken with her, face to face. Here she had told him there was nothing
in his past which could not be buried and forgotten!

As he parted the bushes and stepped into the narrow space beside the
jutting ledge, he stopped short with an exclamation. The place was no
longer a tangle of vines. A grave had been lately made there, and behind
it, fresh-chiseled in the rock, was a statue: a figure seated, chin on
hand, as if regarding the near-by mound. As in a dream he realized that
its features were his own. Awestruck, the living man drew near.

It was Jessica's conception of the Prodigal Son, as she had modelled it
in Aniston in her blindness, after Hugh's early return to the house in
the aspens. That David Stires should have pointed out the distant Knob
as a spot in which he would choose to be buried had had a peculiar
significance to her, and the wish had been observed. Her sorrow for his
death had been deepened by the thought that the end had come too
suddenly for David Stires to have reinstated his son. This sorrow had
possessed one comfort--that he had known at the last and had forgiven
Hugh. Of this she could assure him when he returned, for she could not
really believe--so deep is the heart of a woman--that he would not
return. In the days of vigil she had found relief in the rough, hard
work of the mallet. None had intruded in that out-of-the-way spot, save
that one day Mrs. Halloran, led by curiosity to see the grave of the
rich man whose whim it had been to be buried on the mountain side, had
found her at her work, and her Jessica had pledged to silence. She was
no fool, was Mrs. Halloran, and to learn the name of the dead man was to
put two and two together. The guess the good woman evolved undershot the
mark, but it was more than sufficient to summon all the romance that
lurked beneath that prosaic exterior; nevertheless she shut her lips
against temptation, and all her motherly heart overflowed to the girl
who worked each day at that self-appointed task. Only the afternoon
before Jessica had finished carving the words on the base of the statue
on which the look of the startled man was now resting: _I will arise and
go unto my father_.

The gazer turned from the words, with quick question, to the mound. He
came close, and in the fading light looked at the name on the low
headstone. So he had come too late!

_And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in
thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son._ Though for him
there could have been no robe or ring, or fatted calf or merriment, yet
he had longed for the dearer boon of confession and understanding. If he
could only have learned the truth earlier! If he might only put back the
hands of the clock!

Hours went by. The shadows dreamed themselves away and dark fell,
cloudless and starry. The half-moon brightened upon him sitting moveless
beside the stone figure. At length he rose to his feet, his limbs
cramped and stiffened, and made his way back to the lonely cabin on the

There he found fuel, kindled a blaze in the fireplace and cooked his
frugal supper. The shock of surprise past, he realized his sorrow as a
thing subjective and cerebral. The dead man had been his father; so he
told himself, but with an emotion curiously destitute of primitive
feeling. The very relationship was a portion of that past that he could
never grasp; all that was of the present was Jessica!

He thought of the losing battle he had fought there once before, when
tempest shrieked without--the battle which had ended in _débacle_ and
defeat. He thought of the will he had seen, now sealed with the Great
Seal of Death. He was the shorn beggar, she the beneficiary. What duty
she had owed his father was ended now. Desolate she might be--in need of
a hand to guide and guard--but she was beyond the reach of penury. This
gave him a sense of satisfaction. Was she there on the mountain at that
moment? There came upon him again the passionate longing that had held
him in that misty sanatorium room when the odor of the jasmin had
wreathed them both--when she had protected and saved him!

At last he took Old Despair's battered violin from the wall, and,
seating himself in the open doorway, looking across the mysterious
purple of the gulches to the skyline sown with pale stars, drew the bow
softly across the strings. In the long-past days, when he had been the
Reverend Henry Sanderson, in the darker moods of his study, he had been
used to seek the relief to which he now turned. Never but once since
then had he played with utter oblivion of self. Now his struggle and
longing crept into the music. The ghosts that haunted him clustered
together in the obscurity of the night, and stood between his opening
future and her.

Through manifold variations the music wandered, till at length there
came from the hollowed wood an air that was an unconscious echo of a
forgotten wedding-day--"O perfect love, all human thought transcending."
After the fitful medley that had spoken, the placid cadence fell with a
searching pathos that throbbed painfully on the empty silence of the

Empty indeed he thought it. But the light breeze that shook the
pine-needles had borne the sound far to an ear that had grown tense with
listening--to one on the ridge above to whom it had sounded the supreme
call of youth and life. He did not feel her nearer presence as she
stole breathless across the dark path, and stood there behind him with
outstretched hands, her whole being merged in that mute appeal.

The music died, the violin slipped from beneath his chin, the bow
dropped and his head fell on his arms. Then he felt a touch on his
shoulder and heard the whisper: "Hugh! Hugh!"

"Jessica!" he cried, and sprang to his feet.

In those three words all was asked and answered. It did not need the low
cry with which she flung herself on her knees beside the rough-hewn
steps, or the broken sentences with which he poured out the fear and
hope that he had battled with.

"I have watched every day and listened every night," she said. "I knew
that you would come--that you _must_ come back!"

"If I had never gone, Jessica!" he exclaimed. "Then I might have seen my
father! But I didn't know--"

She clasped her hands together. "You know now--you remember it all?"

He shook his head. "I have been there"--he pointed to the hillside--"and
I have guessed who it is that lies there. I know I sinned against him
and against myself, and left him to die unforgiving. That is what the
statue said to me--as he must have said: _I am no more worthy to be
called thy son_."

"Ah," she cried, "he knew and he forgave you, Hugh. His last thought was
of your coming! That is why I carved the figure there."

"You carved it?" he exclaimed. She bent her forehead to his hands, as
they clasped her own.

"The prodigal is yourself," she said. "I modelled it once before when
you came back to him, in the time you have forgotten. But I destroyed
it,"--the words were very low now--"on my wedding-day."

His hands released hers, and, looking up, she saw, even in the
moonlight, that with the last word his face had gone ghastly white. At
the sight, timidity, maidenly reserve, fell, and all the woman in her
rushed uppermost. She lifted her arms and clasped his face.

"Hugh," she cried, "can't you remember? Don't you understand? Think! I
was blind, dear, blind--a white bandage was across my eyes, and you came
to me in a shaded room! Why did you come to me?"

A spark seemed to dart through his brain, like the prickling discharge
from a Leyden jar. A spot of the mental blackness visualized, and for an
instant sprang out in outlines of red. He smelled the odor of jasmin
flowers. He saw himself standing, facing a figure with bandaged eyes.
He saw the bandage torn off, felt that yielding body in his arms, heard
a voice--her voice--crying, "Hugh--Hugh! My husband!" and felt those
lips pressed to his own in the tense air of a darkened room.

A cry broke from his lips: "Yes, yes! I remember! Jessica, my wife!" His
arms went round her, and with a little sob she nestled close to him on
the doorstep.

The blank might close again about him now! He had had that instantaneous
glimpse of the past, like lightning through a rifted pall, and in that
glimpse was joy. For him there was now no more consciousless past or
remorseful present. No forgery or exile, no Prendergast, or hatred, or
evil repute. For her, all that had embittered, all that stood for loss
and grieving, was ended. The fire on the hearth behind them domed and
sank, and far below the lights of the streets wavered unheeded.

The shadowed silence of the cathedral pines closed them round. Above in
the calm sky the great constellations burned on and swung lower, and in
that dim confessional she absolved him from all sin.



Keen, morning sunlight, a sky clean as a hound's tooth, and an air cool
and tinctured with the wine of perfect autumn! Jessica breathed it
deeply as her buoyant step carried her along the mountain trails, brave
in the pageant of the passing year. Her face reflected the rich color
and her eyes were deep as the sky.

Only last night had been that sweet unfolding in which the past had been
swept away for ever. To-day her heart was almost too full to bear,
beating to thought of the man to whose arms the violin had called her.
That had been the hour of confidence, of love's sacrament, the closure
of all her distrust and agony. Now she longed inexpressibly for the
further assurance she knew would look from his eyes to hers; yet her joy
was so poignant that it was near to pain, and withal was so enwound with
maidenly consciousness that, knowing him near, she must have fled from
him. She walked rapidly on, losing herself in the windings of blind
wood-paths, revelling in the beauty of the silent, empty forest.

The morning had found the man whose image filled her mental horizon no
less a prey to conflicting emotions than herself. That hour on the
mountain-side, under the stars, had left Harry possessed of a mêlée of
perplexing emotions. Dreaming and waking, Jessica's face hung before his
eyes, her voice sounded in his ear. Yet over his happiness more than
once a chill had fallen, an odd shrinking, an unexplainable sense of
flush, of fastidiousness, of mortification. This subtle conflict of
feeling, not understood, had driven him, in sheer nervousness, to the
peaceful healing of the solitudes.

The future held no longer any doubt--it held only her. Where was that
future to be? Back in the city to which his painful curiosity had so
lately driven him? This lay no longer in his own choice; it was for her
to decide now, Jessica--his wife. He said the word softly, under his
breath, to the sweet secret grasses, as something mysterious and sacred.
How appealing, how womanly she was--how incommunicably dear, how--

He looked up transfixed, for she stood there before him, ankle-deep in a
brown whirlwind of leaves from a frost-stung oak, her hand to her cheek
in an adorable gesture that he knew, her lips parted and eager. She said
no word, nor did he, but he came swiftly and caught her to him, and her
face buried itself on his breast.

As he looked down at her thus folded, the trouble, the sense of vexing
complexity vanished, and the primitive demand reasserted its sway.
Presently he released her, and drew her gently to a seat on the
sprawling oak roots.

"I wanted so to find you," she said. "I have so many, many things to

"It is all wonderfully strange and new!" he said. "It is as though I had
rubbed Aladdin's lamp, and suddenly had my heart's desire."

"Ah," she breathed, "am I that?"

"More than that, and yet once I--Jessica, Jessica! When I woke this
morning in the cabin down there, it seemed to me for a moment that only
last night was real, and all the past an ugly dream. How could you have
loved me? And how could I have thrown my pearl away?"

"We are not to think of that," she protested, "never, never any more."

"You are right," he rejoined cheerfully; "it is what is to come that we
must think of." He paused an instant, then he said:

"Last night, when you told me of the white house in the aspens, I did
not tell you that I had just come from there--from Aniston."

She made an exclamation of wonder. "Tell me," she said.

Sitting with her hand in his, he told of that night's experiences, the
fear that had held him as he gazed at her portrait in the library, the
secret of the Korean desk that had solaced his misery and sent him back
to the father he was not to see.

At mention of the will she threw out her hand with a passionate gesture.
"The money is not mine!" she cried. "It is yours! He intended to change
it--he told me so the day he died. Oh, if you think I--"

"No, no," he said gently. "There is no resentment, no false pride in my
love, Jessica. I am thinking of you--and of Aniston. You would have me
go back, would you not?"

She looked up smiling and slowly shook her head. "You are a blind
guesser," she said. "Don't you think I know what is in your mind? Not
Aniston, Hugh. Sometime, but not now--not yet. It is nearer than that!"

His eyes flowed into hers. "You understand! Yes, it is here. This is
where I must finish my fight first. Yesterday I would have left Smoky
Mountain for ever, because you were here. Now--"

"I will help you," she said. "All the world besides counts nothing if
only we are together! I could live in a cabin here on the mountain
always, in a Forest of Arden, till I grow old, and want nothing but
that--and you!" She paused, with a happy laugh, her eye turned away.


A log cabin, but a home glorified by her presence! In a dozen words she
had sketched a sufficient Paradise. As he did not answer, she faced him
with crimsoning cheeks, then reading his look she suddenly threw her
arms about his neck.

"Hugh," she cried, "we belong to each other now. There is no one else to
consider, is there? I want to be to you what I haven't been--to bear
things with you, and help you."

He kissed her eyes and hair. "You _have_ helped, you _do_ help me,
Jessica!" he urged. "But I am jealous for your love. It must not be
offended. The town of Smoky Mountain must not sneer--and it would sneer

"Let it!" she exclaimed resentfully. "As if I would care!"

"But _I_ would care," he said softly. "I want to climb a little higher

She was silent a moment, her fingers twisting the fallen leaves. "You
don't want them to know that I am your wife?"

"Not yet--till I can see my way."

She nodded and smiled and the cloud lifted from her face. "You must know
best," she said. "This is what I shall do, then. I shall leave the
sanatorium to-morrow. The people there are nothing to me, but the town
of Smoky Mountain is yours, and I must be a part of it, too. I am going
to the Mountain Valley House. Mrs. Halloran will take care of me." She
sprang to her feet as she added: "I shall go to see her about it now."

He knew the dear desire her determination masked--to do her part in
softening prejudice, in clearing his way--and the thought of her
great-heartedness brought a mist to his eyes. He rose and walked with
her through the bracken to the road. They came out to the driveway just
below the trail that led to the Knob. The bank was high, and leaping
first he held up his arms to her and lifted her lightly down. In the
instant, as she lay in his arms, he bent and kissed her on the lips.

Neither noted two figures walking together that at that moment rounded
the bend of the road a little way above. They were Tom Felder and Doctor
Brent, the latter swinging a light suit-case, for he was on his way to
the station of the valley railroad. He had chosen to walk that he might
have a longer chat with his friend. Both men saw the kiss and
instinctively drew back, the lawyer with a sudden color on his face,
the doctor with a look of blank astonishment.

The latter, in one way, knew little about the town. Beside Felder and
Mrs. Halloran, whose surly husband he had once doctored when the town's
practitioner was away--thereby earning her admiration and
gratitude--there were few with whom he had more than a nodding
acquaintance. He had liked David Stires, and Jessica he genuinely
admired, though he had thought her at times somewhat distant. He himself
had introduced Felder to her, on one of the latter's visits. He had not
observed that the young lawyer's calls had grown more frequent, nor
guessed that he had more than once loitered on the mountain trails
hoping to meet her.

The doctor noted now the telltale flush on his companion's face.

"We have surprised a romance," he said, as the two unconscious figures
disappeared down the curving stretch. "Who is the man?"

"He is the one we have been talking about."

The other stared. "Not your local Jekyll and Hyde, the sneak who lost
his memory and found himself an honest man?"

Felder nodded. "His cabin is just below here, on the hillside."

"Good Lord!" ejaculated the doctor. "What an infernal pity! What's his

"Hugh Stires."

"Stires?" the other repeated. "Stires? How odd!" He stood a moment,
tapping his suit-case with his stick. Suddenly he took the lawyer's arm
and led him into the side-path.

"Come," he said, "I want to show you something."

He led the way quickly to the Knob, where he stopped, as much astonished
as his companion, for he had known nothing of the statue. They read the
words chiselled on its base. "The prodigal son," said Felder.

"Now look at the name on the headstone," said the physician.

Felder's glance lifted from the stone, to peer through the screening
bushes to the cabin on the shelf below, and returned to the other's face
with quick comprehension. "You think--"

"Who could doubt it? _I will arise and go unto my father._ The old man's
whim to be buried here had a meaning, after all. The statue is Miss
Holme's work--nobody in Smoky Mountain could do it--and I've seen her
modelling in clay at the sanatorium. What we saw just now is the key to
what might have been a pretty riddle if we had ever looked further than
our noses. It's a case of a clever rascal and damnable propinquity. The
ward has fallen in love with the black sheep!"

They betook themselves down the mountain in silence, the doctor
wondering how deep a hurt lay back of that instant's color on his
friend's now imperturbable face, and more than disturbed on Jessica's
account. Her care for the cross-grained, likable invalid had touched

"A fine old man to own a worthless son," he said at length, musingly. "A
gentleman of the old school. Your amiable blackleg has education and
good blood in him, too!"

"I've wondered sometimes," said Felder, "if the old Hugh Stires, that
disreputable one that came here, wasn't the unreal one, and the Hugh
Stires the town is beginning to like, the real one, brought back by the
accident that took his memory. You medical men have cases of such double
identity, haven't you?"

"The books have," responded the other, "but they're like Kellner's
disease or Ludwig's Angina--nobody but the original discoverer ever sees

As they parted at the station the doctor said: "We needn't take the town
into our confidence, eh? Some one will stumble on the statue sooner or
later, but we won't help the thing along." He looked shrewdly in the
other's face as they shook hands.

"You know the old saying: There's as many good fish in the sea as ever
were caught."

The lawyer half laughed. "Don't worry," he said. "If I had been in
danger, the signal was hung out in plenty of time!"



Hallelujah Jones was in his element. With his wheezy melodeon, his
gasoline flare and his wild earnestness, he crowded the main street of
the little mining-town, making the engagement of the "San Francisco
Amazons" at the clapboard "opera house" a losing venture. The effete
civilization of wealthy bailiwicks did not draw forth his powers as did
the open and unveneered debaucheries of less restricted settlements.
Against these he could inveigh with surety, at least, of an appreciative

He had not lacked for listeners here, for he was a new sensation. His
battered music-box, with its huge painted text, was far and away more
attractive than the thumping pianolas of the saloons or the
Brobdignagian gramophone of the dance-hall, and his old-fashioned songs
were enthusiastically encored. When he lit his flare in the court-house
square at dusk on the second evening, the office of the Mountain Valley
House was emptied and the bar-rooms and gaming-tables well-nigh
deserted of their patrons.

Jessica had seen the mustering crowd from the hotel entrance. Mrs.
Halloran had welcomed her errand that day and given her her best room, a
chamber overlooking the street. She had persuaded her visitor to spend
the afternoon and insisted that she stay to supper, "just to see how she
would like it for a steady diet." Now, as Jessica passed along toward
the mountain road, the spectacle chained her feet on the outskirts of
the gathering. She watched and listened with a preoccupied mind; she was
thinking that on her way to the sanatorium she would cross to the cabin
for a good-night word with the man upon whom her every thought centered.

As it happened, however, Harry was at that moment very near her. Alone
on the mountain, the perplexing conflict of feeling had again descended
upon him. He had fought it, but it had prevailed, and at nightfall had
driven him down to the town, where the street preacher now held forth.
He stood alone, unnoted, a little distance away, near the court-house
steps, where, by reason of the crowd, Jessica could see neither him nor
the dog which sniffed at the heels of the circle of bystanders as if to
inquire casually of salvation.

Numbers were swelling now, and the street preacher, shaking back his
long hair, drew a premonitory, wavering chord from his melodeon, and
struck up a gospel song:

     "My days are gliding swiftly by,
       And I, a pilgrim stranger,
     Would not detain them as they fly,
       These hours of toil and danger.
     For Oh, we tread on Jordan's strand,
       Our friends are passing over,
     And just before the shining shore
       We may almost discover."

The song ended, he mounted his camp-stool to propound his usual fiery

The watcher by the steps was gazing with a strange, alert intentness.
Something in the scene--the spluttering, dripping flame, the music, the
forensic earnestness of the pilgrim--held him enthralled. The dormant
sense that in the recent weeks had again and again stirred at some
elusive touch of memory, was throbbing. Since last night, with its
sudden lightning flash of the past that had faded again into blankness,
he had been as sensitive as a photographic plate.

Hallelujah Jones knew the melodramatic value of contrast. As his mood
called, he passed abruptly from exhortation to song, from prayer to
fulmination, and he embellished his harangue with anecdotes drawn from
his lifelong campaign against the Arch-Enemy of Souls. Of what he had
said the solitary observer had been quite unconscious. It was the
_ensemble_--the repetition of something experienced somewhere
before--that appealed to him. Suddenly, however, a chance phrase pierced
to his understanding.

Another moment and he was leaning forward, his eyes fixed, his breath
straining at his breast. For each word of the speaker now was knocking a
sledge-hammer blow upon the blank wall in his brain. Hallelujah Jones
had launched into the recital of an incident which had become the _chef
d'ouvre_ of his repertory--a story which, though the stern charge of a
bishop had kept him silent as to name and locality, yet, possessing the
vividness of an actual experience, had lost little in the telling. It
was the tale of an evening when he had peered through the tilted window
of a chapel, and seen its dissolute rector gambling on the table of the

Back in the shadow the listener, breathless and staring, saw the scene
unroll like the shifting slide of a stereopticon--the epitaph on his own
dead self. Nerve and muscle and brain tightened as if to withstand a
shock, for the man who moved through the pictures was himself! He saw
the cards and counters falling on the table, the entrance of the two
intruding figures, heard Hugh's wild laugh as he fled, and the grate of
the key in the lock behind him as he stood in his study. He heard the
rush of the wind past the motor-car, the rustle of dry corn in the
hedges, and felt the mist beating on his bare head--

     "Palms of Victory,
     Crowns of Glory!
     Palms of Victory
     I shall wear!"

He did not know that it was the voice of the street preacher which was
singing now. The words shrieked themselves through his brain. Harry
Sanderson, not Hugh Stires! Not an outcast! Not criminal, thief and
forger! The curtain was rent. The dead wall in his brain was down, and
the real past swept over him in an ungovernable flood. Hallelujah Jones
had furnished the clue to the maze. His story was the last great wave,
which had crumbled, all at once, the cliff of oblivion that the normal
process of the recovered mind had been stealthily undermining. The
formula, lost so long in the mysterious labyrinth of the brain, had
reëstablished itself, and the thousand shreds of recollection that he
had misconstrued had fallen into their true place in the old pattern.
Harry Sanderson at last knew his past and all of puzzlement and distress
that it had held.

Shaking in every limb and feeling all along the court-house wall like a
drunken man, he made his way to the further deserted street. A passer-by
would have shrunk at sight of his face and his burning eyes.

For these months, he, the Reverend Henry Sanderson, disgraced, had
suffered eclipse, had been sunk out of sight and touch and hearing like
a stone in a pool. For these months--through an accidental facial
resemblance and a fortuitous concurrence of circumstances--he had owned
the name and ignominy of Hugh Stires. And Jessica? Deceived no less than
he, dating her piteous error from that mistaken moment when she had torn
the bandage from her eyes on her wedding-day. She had never seen the
real Hugh in Smoky Mountain. She must learn the truth. Yet, how to tell
her? How could he tell her _all_?

At any hour yesterday, hard as the telling must have been, he could have
told her. Last night the hour passed. How could he tell her now? Yet she
was the real Hugh's wife by law and right; he himself could not marry
her! If God would but turn back the universe and give him yesterday!

Why not _be_ Hugh Stires? The wild idea came to him to throw away his
own self for ever, never to tell her, never to return to Aniston, to
live on here or fly to some distant place, till years had made
recognition impossible. He struck his forehead with his closed hand. He,
a priest of God, to summon her to an illegal union? To live a serial
story of hypocrisy, with the guilty shadow of the living Hugh always
between them, the sword of Damocles always suspended above their heads,
to cleave to the heart of his Fool's Paradise? The mad thought died. Yet
what justice of Heaven was it that Jessica, whose very soul had been
broken on the wheel, should now, through no conscious fault, be led by
his hand through a new Inferno of suffering?

His feet dragging as though from cold, he climbed the mountain road. As
he walked he took from his pocket the little gold cross, and his
fingers, numb with misery, tied it to his thong watch-guard. It had been
only a bauble, a pocket-piece acquired he knew not when or how; now he
knew it for the badge of his calling. He remembered now that, pressed a
certain way, it would open, and engraved inside were his name and the
date of his ordination.

He might shut the cabin door, but he could not forbid the torturer that
came with him across the threshold. He might throw himself upon his
knees and bury his face in the rough skin of the couch, but he could not
shut out words that blent in golden-lettered flashes across his
throbbing eyeballs: _Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife_.

So he crouched, a man under whose feet life had crashed, leaving him
pinned beneath the wreck, to watch the fire that must creep nearer and



Curiosity held Jessica until the evangelist closed his melodeon
preparatory to a descent upon the dance-hall. Then, thinking of the
growing dark with some trepidation--for the recent "strike" had brought
its influx of undesirable characters to the town--she started toward the

Ahead of her a muffled puff-puff sounded, and the dark bulk of an
automobile--the sheriff's, the only one the town of Smoky Mountain
boasted--was moving slowly in the same direction, and she quickened her
pace, glad of this quasi-company. It soon forged ahead, but she had
passed the outskirts of the town then and was not afraid.

A little way up the ascent a cumbrous shadow startled her. She saw in a
moment that it was the automobile, halted at the side of the road. Her
footsteps made no sound and she was close upon it when she saw the three
men it had carried standing near-by. She made to pass them, and had
crossed half the intervening space, when some instinct sent her to the
shade of the trees. They had stopped opposite the hydraulic concession,
where a side path left the main road--it was the same path by which she
and Emmet Prendergast had taken their unconscious burden on a night long
ago--leading along the hillside, overlooking the snake-like flume, and
forming a steeper short-cut to the cabin above. They were conversing in
low tones, and as they talked they pointed, she thought toward it.

Jessica had never in her life been an eavesdropper, but her excited
senses made her anxious. Moreover, she was in a way committed, for she
could not now emerge without being seen. As she waited, a man came from
the path and joined the others. The sky had been overcast and gloomy,
but the moon drew out just then and she saw that the new-comer,
evidently a patrol, carried a rifle in the hollow of his arm. She also
saw that one of the first three was the automobile's owner.

For some minutes they conversed in undertones, whose very secrecy
inflamed her imagination. It seemed to her that they made some reference
to the flume. Had there been another robbery of the sluice-boxes, and
could they still suspect Hugh?

Dread and indignation made her bold. When they turned into the path she
followed, treading noiselessly, till she was close behind them. They
had stopped again, and were looking intently at a shadowy gray something
that moved in the bottom below.

She heard the man who carried the rifle say, with a smothered laugh:

"It's only Barney McGinn's old white horse taking a drink out of the
sluice-box. He often does that."

Then the sheriff's voice said: "McGinn's horse is in town to-night, with
Barney on her back. Horse or no horse, I'm going to"--the rest was lost
in the swift action with which he snatched the firearm from the first
speaker, sighted, and fired.

In the still night the concussion seemed to rock the ground, and roused
a hundred echoes. It startled and shocked the listening girl, but not so
much as the sound that followed it--a cry that had nothing animal-like,
and that sent the men running down the slope toward an object that lay
huddled by the sluice-box.

In horrified curiosity Jessica followed, slipping from shadow to shadow.
She saw the sheriff kneel down and draw a collapsed and empty horse's
skin from a figure whose thieving cunning it would never cloak again.

"So it was you, after all, Prendergast!" the sheriff said

The white face stared up at them, venomous and writhing, turning about
the circle as though searching for some one who was not there.

"How did--you guess?"

The sheriff, who had been making a swift examination, answered the
panted question. "You have no time to think of that now," he said.

A sinister look darted into the filming yellow eyes, and hatred and
certainty rekindled them. Prendergast struggled to a sitting posture,
then fell back, convulsed. "Hugh Stires! He was the only--one who
knew--how it was done. He's clever, but he can't get the best of
Prendergast!" A spasm distorted his features. "Wait--wait!"

He fumbled in his breast and his fingers brought forth a crumpled piece
of paper. He thrust it into the sheriff's hands.

"Look! Look!" he gasped. "The man they found murdered on the claim
there"--he pointed wildly up the hillside--"Doctor Moreau. I found
him--dying! Stires--"

Strength was fast failing him. He tried again to speak, but only
inarticulate sounds came from his throat.

A blind terror had clutched the heart of the girl leaning from the
shadow. "Doctor Moreau"--"murdered." Why, he had been one of Hugh's
friends! Why did this man couple Hugh's name with that worst of crimes?
What dreadful thing was he trying to tell? She hardly repressed a desire
to scream aloud.

"Be careful what you say, Prendergast," said the sheriff sternly.

The wretched man gathered force for a last effort. His voice came in a
croaking whisper:

"It was Stires killed him. Moreau wrote it down--and I--kept the paper.
Tell Hugh--we break--even!"

That was all. His head fell back with a shiver, and Emmet Prendergast
was gone on a longer journey than ever his revenge could warm him.



While the man whom the town knew as Hugh Stires listened to the tale of
the street preacher, another, unlike yet curiously like him in feature,
had slowly climbed the hilly slope from the north by the sanatorium
road. He walked with a jaunty swagger bred of too frequent applications
to a flask in his pocket.

Since the evening of the momentous scene in the chapel with Harry
Sanderson, Hugh had had more and more recourse to that black comforter.
It had grown to be his constant companion. When, late on the night of
the game, some miles away, he had gloatingly counted the money in his
pockets, he had found nearly a thousand dollars in double-eagles, and a
single red counter--the last he had had to stake against Harry's gold.
He put the crimson disk into his pocket, "to remember the bishop by," he
thought with a chuckle, but the fact that for each of the counters Harry
had won he had sworn to render a day of clean and decent living, he
straightway forgot. For the other's position he had wasted no pity.
Harry would find it difficult to explain the matter to the bishop! Well,
if it "broke" him, served him right! What business had he to set himself
so far above every one else?

For some time thereafter Hugh had seriously contemplated going abroad,
for a wholesome fear had dogged him in his flight from Smoky Mountain.
For weeks he had travelled by night, scanning the daily newspapers with
a desperate anxiety, his ears keen for hue and cry. But with money in
his pocket, courage returned, and in the end fear lulled. There had been
no witness to that deed on the hillside. There might be suspicion, but
no more! At length the old-time attraction of the race-course had
absorbed him. He had followed the horses in "the circuit," winning and
losing, consorting with the tipsters, growing heavier with generous
living, and welcoming excitement and change. But the ghost of Doctor
Moreau haunted him, and would not be exorcized.

Money, however, could not last always, and a persistent run of ill luck
depleted his store. When poverty again was at his elbow a vagrant rumor
had told him, with the usual exaggerations, of the rich "find" on the
Little Paymaster Claim on Smoky Mountain. Too late he cursed the
reasonless panic that had sent him into flight. Had the ground been
"jumped" by some one who now profited? Nevertheless, it was still his
own to claim; miners' law gave him a year, and he had left enough
possessions in the cabin, he thought cunningly, to disprove abandonment.
He dreaded a return, but want and cupidity at length overcame his fears.
He had arrived at Smoky Mountain on this night to claim his own.

As he walked unsteadily along, Hugh drank more than once from the flask
to deaden the superstitious dread of the place which was stealing over
him. On the crest of the ridge he skirted the sanatorium grounds and at
length gained the road that twisted down toward the lights of the town.
In the dubious moonlight he mistook the narrow trail to the Knob for the
lower path to the cabin. As he turned into it, the report of a rifle
came faintly from the gulch below. It seemed to his excited senses like
the ghostly echo of a shot he had himself fired there on a night like
this long before--a hollow echo from another world.

He quickened his steps and stumbled all at once into the little clearing
that held the new-made grave and Jessica's statue. The sight terrified
his intoxicated imagination. His hair rose. The name on the headstone
was STIRES, and there was himself--no, a ghost of himself!--sitting
near! He turned and broke into a run down the steep slope. In his
fear--for he imagined the white figure was pursuing him--he tripped and
fell, regained his feet, rushed across the level space, threw his weight
against the cabin door, and burst into the room.

A dog sprang up with a growl, and in the light of the fire that burned
on the hearth, a man sitting at the rough-hewn table lifted a haggard
face from his arms and each recognized the other.

The ghost was gone now before firelight and human presence, and Hugh,
with a loud laugh of tipsy incredulity, stood staring at the man before

"Harry Sanderson!" he cried. "By the great horn spoon!" His shifty eyes
surveyed the other's figure--the corduroys, the high laced boots, the
soft blue flannel shirt. "Not exactly in purple and fine linen," he
said--the impudent swagger of intoxication had slipped over him again,
and his boisterous laugh broke with a hiccough. "I thought the gospel
game was about played out that night in the chapel. And now you are
willing to take a hint from the prodigal. How did you find my nest? And
perhaps you can tell me who has been making himself so infernally at
home here lately?"

"_I_ have," said Harry evenly.

Hugh's glance, that had been wavering about the neat interior, returned
to Harry, and knowledge and anger leaped into it. "So it was you, was
it? You are the one who has been trying his hand as a claim-jumper!" He
lurched toward the table and leaned upon it. "I've always heard that the
devil took care of his own. The runaway rector stumbles on my manor, and
with his usual luck--'Satan's luck' we called it at college--steps in
just in time to strike it rich!"

He stretched his hand suddenly and caught a tiny object that glittered
against Harry's coat--the little gold cross, which the other had tied to
his watch-guard. The thong snapped and Hugh sent the pendant rattling
across the doorway.

"You were something of a howling swell as a parson," he said insolently,
"but you don't need the jewelry now!"

Harry Sanderson's eyes had not left Hugh's face; he was thinking
swiftly. The bolt from the blue had been so recent that this sudden
apparition seemed a natural concomitant of the situation. Only the
problem was no longer imminent; it was upon him. Jessica was not for
him--he had accepted that. Though the clock might not turn backward,
this man must stand between them. Yet his presence now in the
predicament was intolerable. This drunken, criminal maligner had it in
his power to precipitate the climax for her in a coarse and brutal
_exposé_. Hugh had no idea of the true tangle, else he had not been seen
in the town. But if not to-night, then to-morrow! Harry's heart turned
cold within him. If he could eliminate Hugh from the problem till he
could see his way!

"Well," said Hugh with a sneer, "what have you got to say?"

Harry rose slowly and pushed the door shut. "When we last met," he said,
"what you most wanted was to leave the country."

"I changed my mind," retorted Hugh. "I've got a right to do that, I
suppose. I've come back now to get what is mine, and I'll have it, too!"
He rapped the table with his knuckles.

Hugh had no recollection now of past generosities. His selfish
materialism saw only money that might be his. "I know all about the
strike," he went on, "and there's no green in my eye!"

"How much will you take for the property?"

Hugh laughed again jeeringly. "That's your game, is it? But I'm not such
a numskull! Whatever you could offer, it's worth more to me. You've
found a good thing here, and you'd like to skin me as a butcher skins a
sheep." In the warmer air of the cabin the liquor he had drunk was
firing his brain, and an old suspicion leaped to his tongue.

"I know you, Satan Sanderson," he sneered. "You were always the same
precious hypocrite in the old days, pretending to be so almighty
virtuous, while you looked out for number one. I saw through you then,
too, when you were posing as my friend and trying your best all along to
queer me with the old man! I knew it well enough. I knew what the reason
was, too! You wanted Jessica! You--"

Self-control left Harry suddenly, as a ship's sail is whipped from its
gaskets in a white squall. Before the words could be uttered, his
fingers were at Hugh's throat.

At that instant there was the sound of running feet outside, a hurried
knock at the door and an agitated voice that chilled Harry's blood to

His hands relaxed their hold; he dragged Hugh to the door of the inner
room, thrust him inside, shut and bolted it upon him.

Then he went and opened the outer door.



Jessica's eyes met Harry's in a look he could not translate, save that
it held both yearning and anguish.

The accusation of Prendergast had stunned her faculties. As in an evil
dream, with the low breeze murmuring by and the fitful moon overhead,
she had seen the sheriff rise to his feet and methodically put the
fragment of paper into his pocket-book. A moment later she was running
up the dark path, her thoughts a confusion in which only one coherent
purpose stood distinct--to warn him. They would know no need to hasten.
If the man she loved had reached the cabin, she would be before them.

Not that she believed him guilty; in his lost past there could be no
stain so dark as that! She recalled the look of personal hatred she had
once surprised on Prendergast's face. He hated Hugh, and dying, had left
this black lie behind to do him a mischief. He was innocent, innocent!
But would the charge not be believed? They would arrest him, drag him
down to the town, to the brick jail on the court-house square. The
community was prejudiced. Innocent men had been convicted before of
crimes they never committed. In those breathless minutes she did not
reason further; she knew only that a vital danger threatened him, and
that he must fly from it. The lighted pane had told her the occupant of
the cabin had returned.

She stood before the door, her hands clasped tightly, her eyes on
Harry's face, even in this crucial moment drinking in thirstily what she
saw there; for in this crisis, hanging on the narrow verge of
catastrophe, when he had need to summon all his store of poise and
contained strength, his look melted over her in a mist of tenderness.

"What has happened?" he asked.

He did not offer to touch or to kiss her, but this she did not remember
till afterward. In what words could she tell him? Would he think she
believed him guilty when she besought him to fly? She answered simply,
directly, with only a deep appeal in her eyes:

"Men will be here soon--men from the town. I overheard them. I wanted to
let you know!" she hesitated; it had grown all at once difficult to put
into words.

"Coming here? Why?"

"To arrest a man who is accused of murder."

If her eyes could have pierced the bolted door a few feet away! If she
could have seen that listening face behind it, as her clear tones fell,
grow instinct with recognition, amazement, and evil suspicion--a look
that her last word swept into a sickly gray terror! If she could have
heard the groan from the wretched man beyond!

"Whose murder?"

"Doctor Moreau's."

In all Harry Sanderson's life was to be never such a moment of
revealment. He knew that she meant himself. The murderer of Doctor
Moreau--Hugh's one-time crony and loose associate, who had shared in the
plunder of the forged draft, and had then abandoned his cat's-paw to
discovery! The man Hugh had promised to "pay off for it some time!" Had
Moreau also made this his stamping-ground? A swift memory swept him of
Hugh's hang-dog look, his nervous dread when he had begged in the chapel
study for money with which to leave the country. It did not need the
smothered gasp from behind the bolted door to point the way to the swift
conclusion Harry's mind was racing to. A dull flush spread to his

Jessica waited with caught breath, searching his countenance. It was
told now, but he must know that she had not credited it--that "for
better, for worse," she must believe in him now. "I knew, oh, I knew!"
she cried. "You need not tell me!"

The hell of two passions that were struggling within him--a savage
exultation and a submerging wave of pity for her utter ignorance, her
blind faith, for the painful dénouement that was rushing upon her--died,
and left him cold and still. "No," he said gravely, "I am not the man
they want. It has all come back to me--the past that I had lost. Such a
crime has no part in it."

At another time the abrupt news of this retrieval must have affected her
strangely, for she had wondered much concerning the return of that
memory that held alike their early love and his own tragedy and shame.
Now, however, a greater contingency absorbed her. He must go, and
without delay. Her lips were opened to speak when he closed the door
behind him and stepped quickly down toward her. At all odds, he was
thinking, she must not see the man in that inner room! If she remained
he could not guess what shock might result.

"Jessica," he said, "you have tried to save me from danger to-night. I
need a greater service of you now; it is to ask no questions, but to go
at once. I can not explain why, but you must not stay here a moment."

"Oh," she cried bitterly, "you don't intend to leave! You choose to face
it, and you want to spare me. If you really want to spare me, you will
go! Why, you would have no chance where they have hated you so.
Prendergast was killed robbing the sluice to-night, and he
lied--lied--lied! He swore you did it, and they will believe it!"

He put back her beseeching hands. How could he explain? Only to get her
away--to gain time--_to think_!

"Listen!" she went on wildly. "They will wait to carry him to the town.
I can go and bring my horse here for you. There is time! You have only
to send me word, and I will follow you to the end of the world! Only say
you will go!"

He caught at the straw. The expedient might serve.

"Very well," he said; "bring him to the upper trail, and wait there for

She gave a sob of relief at his acquiescence. "I will hurry, hurry!" she
cried, and was gone, swift as a swallow-flight, into the darkness.

As he reëntered the cabin, the calmness fell from Harry Sanderson as a
mask drops, and the latent passion sprang in its place. He crossed the
room and drew the bolt for the wretched man who, after one swift glance
at his face, grovelled on his knees before him, sobered and shivering.

"For God's sake, Harry, you won't give me up?" Hugh cried. "You can't
mean to do that! Why, we were in college together! I'd been drinking
to-night, or I wouldn't have talked to you as I did. I'm sober enough
now, Harry! You can have the claim. I'll give it to you and all you've
got out of it. Only let me go before they come to take me!"

Harry drew his feet from the frantic hands that clasped them. "Did you
kill Moreau?" he asked shortly.

"It was an accident," moaned Hugh. "I never intended to--I swear to
Heaven I didn't! He hounded me, and he tried to bleed me. I only meant
to frighten him off! Then--then--I was afraid, and I ran for it. That
was when I came to you at Aniston and--we played." Hugh's breath came in
gasps and drops of sweat stood on his forehead.

A weird, crowding clamor was sweeping through Harry's brain. When, at
the sound of Jessica's voice, he had thrust Hugh into the inner room, it
had been only to gain time, to push further back, if by but a moment,
the shock which was inevitable. Then, in the twinkling of an eye, Fate
had swept the board. Hugh's worthless life was forfeit. He would stand
no longer between him and Jessica! The enginery of the law would be
their savior.

Neither crime nor penalty was of his making. He owed Hugh nothing--the
very money he had taken from the ground, save a bare living, had gone to
pay his thievery. He could surrender him to the law, then take Jessica
far away where the truth would come mercifully softened by distance and
lightened by future happiness. It was not his to intervene, to cozen
Justice, to compound a felony and defeat a righteous Providence! He owed
mercy to Jessica. He owed none to this cringing, lying thing before him,
who now reminded him of that chapel game that had ruined the Reverend
Henry Sanderson!

"When we played!" he echoed. "How have you settled your debt--the 'debt
of honor' you once counted so highly? How have you lived since then?
Have you paid me those days of decent living you staked, and lost?"

Hugh looked past him with hollow, hunted gaze. There was no escape, no
weapon to his hand, and those eyes were on him like unwavering sparks of

"But I will!" he exclaimed desperately. "If you'll only help me out of
this, I'll live straight to my dying day! You don't know how I've
suffered, Harry, or you'd have some mercy on me now! I can never get
away from it! That's why I was drunk to-day. Night and day I see
him--Moreau, as I saw him lying here that night on the hillside. He
haunts me! You don't know what it means to be always afraid, to wake up
in the night with the feel of handcuffs on your wrists, to know that
such a thing is behind you, following you, following you, never letting
you rest, never forgetting!" A choking sob burst from his lips. "Let me
go, Harry," he pleaded; "for my father's sake!"

"Your father is dead," said Harry.

"Then for old-time's sake!" He tried to clasp Harry's knees. "They may
be here at any minute! I must have been seen as I crossed the mountain!
I thought it would never come out, or I wouldn't have come! I'll go far
enough away. I'll go to South America, and you will never see me alive
again, neither you nor Jessica! I knew her voice just now--I know she's
here. I don't care how or why! You don't need to give me up to get her!
I'll give her to you! For God's sake, Harry, listen! Jessica wouldn't
want to see me hung! For _her_ sake!"

Harry caught his breath sharply. The thrust had gone deep; it had
sheared through the specious arguments he had been weaving. The
commandment that an hour before had etched itself in letters of fire
upon his eyelids hung again before him. He had coveted his neighbor's
wife. This man, felon as he was--pitiful hound to whom the news of his
father's death brought no flicker of sorrow or remorse, who now offered
to barter Jessica for his own safety!--he himself, however unwittingly,
had irreparably wronged. Between them stood the accusing wraith of one
immortal hour, when the heart of love had beat against his own. If he
delivered Hugh to the hangman, would it be for justice's sake?

The scales fell from his eyes. For him, loving Jessica, it could be only
a dastard act. Yet if he aided the real Hugh to escape, he, the
supposititious Hugh who had played his rôle, must continue it. He must
second the villainy, and in so doing play the cheaply tragic part. He
must pose as an accused murderer before the town whose good opinion he
had longed to gain--before Jessica!--until Hugh had had time to win safe
away! He might do even more. The real Hugh would stand small chance;
even were the evidence not flawless, the old record would condemn him.
But he himself had lightened that record. He had gained liking and
sympathy; there might be a chance for him of acquittal.

If this might only be! The truth then need never be known and Hugh
Stires, to all belief having been put once in jeopardy, need fear no
more. Life would be before him again, to pay the days of righteous
living he had played for in the chapel game, to reverse the record of
his selfish and remorseless career. If the trial went against him--Hugh
would have had his chance, would be far away. He, Harry Sanderson, would
not have betrayed him. A hundred people, if he chose to summon them,
would establish his own identity. It would be cheating justice, making a
mock of law, but he was in a position where human statute must yield to
a higher rule of action. The law might punish, but he would have been
true to his own soul. Jessica would understand. The truth held pain and
shame for her, but he would have tried to save her from a greater. And
he would have cancelled his debt to Hugh!

It was the Harry Sanderson of St. James parish, of the scrupulous
conscience--whose college career as Satan Sanderson had come to be a
fiery sore in his breast--who now spoke:

"Get up!" he said. "Have you any money?"

Hugh rose, trembling and ashen. "Hardly ten dollars," he answered.

Harry considered hastily. He was almost penniless; nearly all his share
of the strike had gone to repay the forged draft. "I have no ready
cash," he said, "but the night we played in the chapel, I left a
thousand dollars in my study safe. I have not been there since." He
took pencil and paper from his pocket and wrote down some figures
hastily. "Here is the combination. You must try to get that money."

"Wait," he added, as Hugh's hand was on the latch. He must risk nothing;
he could make assurance doubly sure. "A half-mile from the foot of the
mountain, where the road comes in from Funeral Hollow, wait for me. I
will bring a horse there for you."

Hugh crushed the paper into his pocket and opened the door. "I'll wait,"
he said. He darted out, slipped around the corner of the cabin, and
stealthily disappeared.

Harry sat down upon the doorstep. The strain had been great; in the
reaction, he was faint, and a mist was before his eyes. The die was
cast. Hugh could easily escape; until he himself spoke, he would not
even be hunted. He, Harry Sanderson, was the scapegoat, left to play his

How long he sat there he did not know. He sprang up at a muffled sound.
He had still a work to do before they came--for Hugh! He saw in an
instant, however, that it was Jessica, leading her horse by the bridle.

"I could not wait," she breathed. "You did not come, and I was afraid!"

Mounting, he leaned from the saddle and took both her hands in
his--still he did not kiss her.

"Jessica, you believe I am innocent?" he asked anxiously.


"Will you believe what I am doing is for the best?"

"Always, always!" she whispered, her voice vibrating. "Only go!"

"Whatever happens?"

"Whatever happens!"

He released her hands and rode quickly up the grassy path.

As she stood looking after him, a dog's whine came from the cabin. She
ran and released the spaniel and took him up in her arms.

As she did so a sparkle caught her eye. It came from the tiny gold cross
lying where Hugh had flung it, near the lighted doorway. She picked it
up, looked at it a moment abstractedly and thrust it into her
pocket--scarce consciously, for her heart was keeping time to the
silenced hoof-beat that was bearing the man she loved from danger.

Where the way opened into the gloomy cut of Funeral Hollow, Harry
dismounted and went forward slowly afoot, leading the horse, till a
figure stepped from a clump of bushes to meet him with an exclamation of
relief. Hugh had waited at the rendezvous in shivering apprehension and
dismal suspicion of Harry's intentions, and had not approached till he
had convinced himself that the other came alone. He wrung Harry's hand
as he said:

"If I get out of this, I'll do better the rest of my life, I will, upon
my soul, Harry!"

"You may not be able to get into the chapel," said Harry; "my rooms"--he
felt his cheek burn as he spoke--"may be occupied. On the chance that
you fail, take this." He took off the ruby ring, whose interlaced
initials had once fortified him in his error of identity. "The stone is
worth a good deal. It should be enough to take you anywhere."

Hugh nodded, slipped the ring on his finger, and rode quickly off. Then
Harry turned and walked rapidly back toward the town.



The sheriff stopped his automobile before the dingy telegraph office.
The street had been ringing that evening with more exciting events than
it had known in a year.

"He's off," he said disgustedly to the men who had curiously gathered.
"He must have got wind of it somehow, and he had a horse ready. We
traced the hoof-prints from the cabin as far as the Hollow. I'm going to
use the wire."

"That's a lie!" rumbled an angry voice behind him, as Devlin strode into
the crowd. "Hugh Stires gave himself up fifteen minutes ago at the

"How do you know that?" demanded the sheriff, relieved but chagrined at
his fool's-errand.

"Because I saw him do it," answered Devlin surlily. "I was there."

"Well, it saves trouble for me. That'll tickle you, Felder," the sheriff
added satirically, turning toward the lawyer. "You're a sentimentalist,
and he's been your special fancy. What do you think now, eh?"

"I'll tell you what _I_ think," said Devlin, his big hands working. "I
think it's a damned lie of Prendergast's!"

"Oh, ho!" exclaimed the sheriff amusedly. "You once danced to a
different tune, Devlin!"

The blood was in the big, lowering face. "I did," he admitted. "I went
up against him when the liquor was in me, and by the same token he wiped
this street with me. He stood me fair and he whipped me, and I needed
it, though I hated him well enough afterwards. An'--an'--"

He gulped painfully. No one spoke.

"It's many's the time since then I've wished the hand was shrivelled
that heaved that rock at him in the road! The day when I saw my bit of a
lass, holdin' to the horse's mane, ridin' to her death in the
Hollow--an'--when he brought her back--" He stopped, struggling with
himself, tears rolling down his cheeks.

"No murderer did that!" he burst out. "We gave him the back of the hand
an' the sole of the foot, an' we kept to it, though he fought it down
an' lived straight an' decent. He never did it! I don't care what they
say! I'll see Prendergast in hell before I'll believe it, or any dirty
paper he saved to swear a man's life away."

The listeners were silent. No one had ever heard such a speech from the
huge owner of the dance-hall. The sheriff lighted a cigar before he

"That's all right, Devlin. We all understand your prejudices, but I'm
afraid they haven't much weight with legal minds, like Mr. Felder's
here, for instance."

"Excuse me," said Felder. "I fear my prejudices are with Devlin. Good
night," he added, moving up the street.

"Where are you bound?" asked the other casually.

"To the jail," answered the lawyer, "to see a client--I hope."

The sheriff emitted a low whistle. "_I_ hope there'll be enough sane men
left to get a jury!" he said.



At the sound of steps in the jail corridor and the harsh grating of the
key in the lock, Harry rose hastily from the iron cot whereon he had
been sitting and took a step forward.

"Jessica!" he exclaimed.

She came toward him, her breath hurried, her cheek pale. Tom Felder's
face was at her shoulder. "I have a little matter to attend to in the
office," he said, nodding to Harry. "I shall wait for you there, Miss

She thanked him with a grateful look, and as he vanished, Harry took her
hand and kissed it. He longed to take her in his arms.

"I heard of it only at noon," she began, her voice uncertain. "I was
afraid they would not let me see you, so I went to Mr. Felder. They were
saying on the street that he had offered to defend you."

"I had not been here an hour when he came," he said.

"I know you have no money," she went on; "I know what you did with the
gold you found. And I have begged him to let me pay for any other
counsel he will name. I have not told him--what I am to you, but I have
told him that I am far from poor, and that nothing counts beside your
life. He says you have forbidden him to do this--forbidden him to allow
any help from any one. Hugh, Hugh! Why do you do this? The money should
be yours, not mine, for it was your father's! It _is_ yours, for I am
your wife!"

He kissed her hand again without answering.

"Haven't I a right now to be at your side? Mayn't I tell them?"

He shook his head. "Not yet, Jessica."

"I must obey you," she said with a wan smile, "yet I would share your
shame as proudly as your glory! You are thinking me weak and despicable,
perhaps, because I wanted you to go away. But women are not men, and
I--I love you so, Hugh!"

"I think you are all that is brave and good," he protested.

"I want you to believe," she went on, "that I knew you had done no
murder. If an angel from Heaven had come to declare it, I would not have
believed it. I only want now to understand."

"What do you not understand?" he asked gently.

She half turned toward the door, as she said, in a lower key: "Last
night I was overwrought. I had no time to reason, or even to be glad
that you had recovered your memory. I thought only of your escaping
somewhere--where you would be safe, and where I could follow. But after
you had gone, many things came back to me that seemed strange--something
curious in your manner. You had not seemed wholly surprised when I told
you you were accused. Why did you shut the cabin door, and speak so low?
Was there any one else there when I came?"

He averted his face, but he did not answer. She was treading on near

"My horse came back this afternoon," she continued. "He had been ridden
hard in the night and his flanks were cut cruelly with a whip. You did
not use him, but some one did."

She waited a moment, still he made no reply.

"I want to ask you," she said abruptly, "do you know who killed Doctor

His blood chilled at the question. He looked down at her speechless.
"You must let me speak," she said. "You won't answer that. Then you do
know who really did it. Oh, I have thought so much since last night! For
some reason you are shielding him. Was it the man who was in the
cabin--who rode my horse? If he is guilty, why do you help him off, and
so make yourself partly guilty?"

He looked down at her and put a finger on her lips. "Do you remember
what you told me last night--that you would believe what I did was for
the best?"

"But I thought then you were going away! How can I believe it now? Why,
they hang men who murder, and it is you who are accused! If you protect
the real murderer, you will have to stand in his place. The whole town
believes you are guilty--I see it in all their faces. They are sorry,
many of them, for they don't hate you as they did, but they think you
did it. Even Mr. Felder, though I have told him what I suspect, and
though he is working now to defend you!"

"Jessica," he urged, "you must trust me and have faith in me. I know it
is hard, but I can't explain to you! I can't tell you--yet--why I do as
I am doing, but you must believe that I am right."

She was puzzled and confused. When she had put this and that together,
guided by her intuition, the conclusion that he knew the guilty one had
brought a huge relief. Now this fell into disarray. She felt beneath his
manner a kind of appeal, a deprecation, almost a hidden pity for her--as
though the danger were hers, not his, and she the one caught in this
catastrophe. She looked at him pale and distraught.

"You speak as if you were sorry for me," she said, "and not for
yourself. Is it because you know you are not in real danger--that you
know the truth must come out, only you can't tell it yourself, or tell
me either? Is that it?"

A wave of feeling passed over Harry, of hopeless longing. Whichever way
the issue turned there was anguish for her--for she loved him. If he
were acquitted, she must learn that past love between them had been
illicit, that present love was shame, and future love an impossibility.
Convicted, there must be added to this the bitter knowledge that her
husband in very truth was a murderer, doomed to lurk in hiding so long
as he might live. Yet not to reassure her now was cruelty.

"It is not that, Jessica," he said gravely; "yet you must not fear for
me--for my life. Try to believe me when I say that some time you will
understand and know that I did only what I must."

"Will that be soon?" she asked.

"I think it may be soon," he answered.

Her face lighted. The puzzle and dread lifted. "Oh, then," she
said--"oh, then, I shall not be afraid. I can not share your thoughts,
nor your secret, and I must rebel at that. You mustn't blame me--I
wouldn't be a woman if I did not--but I love you more than all the
world, and I shall believe that you know best. Hugh," she added softly,
"do you know that--you haven't kissed me?"

Before her upturned, pleading eyes and trembling lips, the iron of his
purpose bent to the man in him, and he took her into his arms.



A frosty gloom was over the city of Aniston, moon and stars hidden by a
cloudy sky, from which a light snow--the first of the season--was
sifting down. The streets were asleep; only occasional belated
pedestrians were to be seen in the chilly air. These saw a man, his face
muffled from the snowflakes, pass hurriedly toward the fountained
square, from whose steeple two o'clock was just striking. The wayfarer
skirted the square, keeping in cover of the buildings as though avoiding
chance observation, till he stood on the pavement of a Gothic chapel
fronting the open space.

Here he paused and glanced furtively about him. He could see the
entrance to the minister's study, at which he had so often knocked and
the great rose-window of the audience-room where he had once gamed with
Harry Sanderson. This was the building he must enter like a thief.

On the night of his flight from Smoky Mountain, Hugh had ridden hard
till dawn, abandoning the horse to find its way back as best it might.
Hidden in a snug retreat, he had slept through the next day, to
recommence his journeying at nightfall. He had thus been obliged to make
haste slowly and had lost much valuable time. For two days after his
arrival, he had hung about outside the town in a fever of impatience;
for though he had readily ascertained that the premises were unoccupied,
the first night he had been frightened away by the too zealous scrutiny
of a policeman, and on the next he had been unable to force the door.
That morning he had secured a skeleton-key, and now the weather was
propitious for his purpose.

After a moment's reconnoitering, he scaled the frost-fretted iron
palings and gained the shelter of the porch. He tried the key anxiously;
to his relief it fitted. Another minute and he stood in the study, the
door locked behind him, his veins beating with excitement.

He felt along the wall, drawing his hand back sharply as it encountered
the electric switch. He struck a wax _fusée_ and by its feeble ray gazed
about him. The room looked as it had always looked, with Harry's books
on the shelves, and his heavy walking-stick in the corner, and there
against the wall stood the substantial iron safe that held his own
ransom. Crouching down before it, he took from his pocket the paper upon
which was written the combination; ten to the right, five to the left,
twice nineteen to the right--

The match scorched his fingers, and he lighted another and began to turn
the knob. The lock bore both figures and letters in concentric rings,
and he saw that the seven figures Harry had written formed a word. Hugh
dropped the match with a smothered exclamation, for the word was
Jessica! So Harry really had loved her in the old days! Had he profited
by that wedding-day expulsion to make love to her himself? Yet on the
night of the game with Harry in the chapel the house in the aspens had
been closed and dark. How had she come to be in Smoky Mountain? His
father was dead--so Harry had said. If so, the money had gone to her, no
doubt. Well, at any rate, she had never been anything to him and he was
no dog-in-the-manger. What he needed now was the thousand dollars, and
here it was. He swung the massive door wide and took out the canvas bag.
With this and the ruby ring--it must easily be worth as much again--he
could put the round world between himself and capture.

He closed the safe, and with the bag of coin in his hand, groped his way
to the door of the chapel. It was less dark there, for the snow was
making a white night outside, and the stained glass cast a wan glimmer
across the aisles. He could almost see himself and Harry Sanderson
sitting in the candle-light at the communion table inside the
altar-rail, almost hear the musical chink of the gold! His hand wandered
to his pocket, where lay the one wax wafer he had kept as a
pocket-piece. At that altar he had sworn to pay a day of clean living
for each of the counters he had lost. He had not kept that oath, and now
vengeance was near to overtaking him. He shuddered. He had turned over a
new leaf this time in earnest, and he would make up for the broken vow!

But meanwhile he greatly needed sleep, and to-night in the open that was
out of the question. He could gain several good hours' rest where he
was, and still get away before daybreak. He drew together the
altar-cushions and lay down, the canvas bag beside him, but he was cold,
and at length he rose and went into the vestry for a surplice. He
wrapped this about him, and, lighting a cigarette, lay down again. He
was very tired, but his limbs twitched from nervousness. He lighted one
cigarette after another, but sleep was coy. He tried to woo it with
nonsense rhymes, but the lines ran together. He tried the remedy of his
restless, precocious childhood--the counting of innumerable sheep as
they leaped the hurdle one by one; but now all of the sheep were black.
There came before his eyes, uncalled, the portrait of his dead mother,
that had always hung at home in the wainscoted library. In her memory
his father had built this very chapel. He wondered again whether she had
looked like the picture.

A softer feeling came to him. She would be sorry if she could know his
plight. Perhaps if she had lived his life might have been different.
Slow tears stole down his cheeks--not now of affected sentimentalism, or
of hysterical self-pity, but warmer drops from some deeper well that had
not overflowed since he was a little boy. If he had the chance he would
live from now on so that if she were alive she need not be ashamed! The
promise he made himself at that moment was an honester one than all his
selfish years had known, for it sprang not from dread, but from the
better feeling that his maturity had trampled and denied. He felt a kind
of peace--the first real peace he had known since his school-days--and
with it drowsiness came at last. With the drops wet on his cheek,
forgetfulness found him. In a few minutes he was sleeping heavily.

The last half-consumed cigarette dropped from his relaxing fingers to
the cushion, where it made a smoldering nest of fire. A tiny tongue of
flame caught the edge of a wall-hanging, ran up to the dry oaken rafters
and speedily ignited them. In fifteen minutes the interior of the
chapel was a mass of flame, and Hugh woke gasping and bewildered.

With a cry of alarm he sprang to his feet, seized the bag of coin and
ran to the door of the study. In his haste he stumbled against it, and
the dead-lock snapped to. He was a prisoner now, for he had left the
skeleton-key in the inside of the outer door. Clutching his treasure, he
ran to the main entrance; it was fast. He tried the smaller windows;
iron bars were set across them. He made shift to wrap the surplice about
his mouth, against the stifling smoke and fiery vapors. The bag dropped
from his hand and the gold rolled about the floor. He stooped and
clutched a handful of the coins and crammed them into his pocket. Was he
to die after all like this, caught like a rat in a trap? In his panic of
terror he forgot all necessity of concealment; he longed for nothing so
much as discovery by those whose cries he now heard filling the waking
street. Many voices were swelling the clamor there. Bells were pealing a
terror-tongued alarm, but those on the spot saw that the structure was
doomed. Hugh screamed desperately, but the roar of the flames overhead
and the angry crackling of the woodwork drowned all else. The roof
timbers were snapping, the muffling surplice was scorching, a thousand
luminous points about him were bursting into fire in the sickening
heat. He pounded with all his might upon the door panels, but in vain.
Who outside could have imagined that a human being was pent within that
fiery furnace?

Uttering a hoarse cry, with the strength of despair, Hugh wrenched a pew
from the floor and made of it a ladder to reach the rose-window.
Mounting this, he beat frantically with his fist upon the painted glass.
The crystal shivered beneath the blows, and clinging to the iron
supports, his beard burnt to the skin, he set his face to the aperture
and drew a gulping breath of the sweet, cold air. In his agony, with
that fiery hell opening beneath him, he could see the massed people
watching from the safety that was so near.

"Look! Look!" The sudden cry went up, and a thrill of awe ran through
the crowd. The glass Hugh had shattered had formed the face of the
Penitent Thief in the window-design, and his outstretched arms fitted
those of the figure. It was as though by some ghastly miracle the
painted features had suddenly sprung into life, the haggard eyes opened
in appeal. The watchers gasped in amazement.

The flame was upon him now. He was going to his last account--with no
time to alter the record. But had not his sleeping vow been one of
reformation? He tried to shriek this to the deaf heavens, but all the
spellbound watchers heard was the cry: "Lord, Lord, remember--" And this
articulate prayer from the crucified malefactor filled them with a
superstitious horror. In the crowd more than one covered his face with
his hands.

All at once there came a shout of warning. The wall opened outward,
tottered and fell.

Then it was that they saw the writhing figure, tangled in the twisted
lead bars of the wrecked rose-window. Shielding their faces from the
unendurable heat, they reached and bore it to safety, laying it on the
crisp, snowy grass, and tearing off the singed and smoking ministerial

Judge Conwell was one of these. In the flaring confusion he leaned over
the figure--the gleam of the ruby ring on the finger caught his eye. He
bent forward to look into the drawn and distorted face.

"Good God!" he said. "It's Harry Sanderson!"



In communities such as Smoky Mountain the law moves with fateful
rapidity. Harry had been formally arraigned the second morning after his
self-surrender and had pleaded not guilty. The Grand Jury was in
session--indeed, had about finished its labors--and there had been no
reason for delay. All necessary witnesses for the state were on the
ground, and Felder for his part had no others to summon. So that when
Doctor Brent, one keen forenoon, swung himself off a Pullman at the
station, returning from his ten days' absence, he found the town
thrilling with the excitement of the first day of the trial. Before he
left the station, he had learned of Prendergast's death and accusation
and knew that Tom Felder had come to the prisoner's defense.

Doctor Brent had taken no stock in the young lawyer's view of Hugh
Stires. The incident that they had witnessed on the mountain road--it
had troubled him during his trip--had been to him only another chapter
in the hackneyed tragedy of romantic womanhood flattered by a rascal.
He was inclined now to lay the championship as much to interest in
Jessica as in the man who had won her love.

He walked thoughtfully to his friend's deserted office, and leaving his
suit-case there, betook himself to the filled court-room, where Smoky
Mountain had gathered to watch Felder's fight for the life and liberty
of the man who for days past had been the center of interest. The court
had opened two hours before and half the jury had been selected. He
found a seat with some difficulty, and thereafter his attention was
given first to the bench where the prisoner sat, and second to a chair
close to the railing beside Mrs. Halloran's, where a girl's face
glimmered palely under a light veil.

Toward this chair the hundreds of eyes in the room that morning had
often turned. Since the day Mrs. Halloran had surprised Jessica at work
upon the rock statue, she had kept her counsel, but as the physician had
conjectured, the monument had been stumbled upon and had drawn curious
visitors. Thus the name on the grave had become common property and the
coincidence had been chattered of. That Jessica had chiselled the statue
was not doubted--she had bought the tools in town, and old Paddy Wise,
the blacksmith, had sharpened them for her. The story Prendergast had
told in the general store, too, had not been forgotten, and the aid she
had given the fever-stricken man had acquired a new significance in face
of the knowledge that she had more than once been admitted to the jail
with Felder. No one in Smoky Mountain would have ventured to "pump" the
lawyer, and the town had been too mindful of its manners to catechize
her, but it had buzzed with theories. From the moment of the opening of
the trial she had divided interest with the prisoner.

The first appearance of the latter, between two deputies, had caused a
murmur of surprise. In the weeks of wholesome toil and mountain air, the
sallow, haggard look that Harry had brought to the town had gradually
faded; his step had grown more elastic, his cheek ruddier, his eye a
clearer blue. The scar on his temple had become less noticeable. Day by
day, he had been growing back to the old look. The beard and mustache
now were gone; the face they saw was smooth-shaven, calm, alien and
absorbed. He had bowed slightly to the judge, shaken hands gravely with
Felder and sat down with a quick, flashing smile at the quivering face
behind the veil. He had seemed of all there the one who had least
personal concern in the deliberations that were forward. Yet beneath
that mask of calmness Harry's every nerve was stretched, every sense

In the interviews he had had with his client, Felder had been puzzled
and nonplussed. To tell the truth, when he had first come to his defense
it had been not with a conviction of his innocence, but with a belief in
the present altered character that made the law's penalty seem excessive
and supererogatory; in fine, that whatever he might have deserved when
he did it--assuming that he did it--he did not deserve hanging now. But
the man's manner had made him lean more and more upon an assumption of
actual innocence. In the end, while discarding Jessica's reasoning, he
had accepted her conclusion. The man was certainly guiltless. Since this
time, he had felt his position keenly. It had been one thing to do the
very best possible for a presumptively guilty man--to get him off
against the evidence if he could; it was a vastly different thing to
defend one whom he believed actually guiltless against damning

With the filling of the jury-box the court adjourned for an hour and
Doctor Brent saw the two women's figures disappear with Felder into a
side room, while the prisoner was taken in charge by the deputies. The
doctor lunched hastily at the Mountain Valley House, irritated out of
his usual urbanity by the chatter of the crowded dining-room, realizing
then how busy gossip had been with Jessica's name. He walked back to
the court-room moodily smoking.

The afternoon session commenced with a concise opening by the district
attorney; Felder's reply was as brief, and the real business of the day
began with the witnesses for the state.

Circumstantially speaking, the evidence was flawless. Doctor Moreau,
while little known and less liked, had figured in the town as a promoter
and an inventor of "slick" stock schemes. He had come there with Hugh
Stires, from Sacramento, where they had had a business partnership--of
short duration. There had been bad blood between them there, as the
latter had once admitted. The prisoner had preëmpted the claim on Smoky
Mountain in an abortive "boom" which Moreau had engineered, and over
whose proceeds the pair, it was believed, had fallen out. He had then,
to use the attorney's phrase, "swapped the devil for the witch," and had
taken up with Prendergast, who by the manner of his taking off had
finally justified a jail record in another state. Soon after this break
Hugh Stires had vanished. On the day following his last appearance in
the town, the body of Moreau had been found on the Little Paymaster
Claim, shot by a cowardly bullet through the back--a fact which
precluded the possibility that the deed had been done in self-defense.
There was evidence that he had died a painful and lingering death.
Suspicion had naturally pointed to the vanished man, and this suspicion
had grown until, after some months' absence, he had returned, alleging
that he had lost his memory of the past, to resume his life in the cabin
on the mountain and his partnership with the thief Prendergast. The two
had finally quarrelled and Prendergast had taken up his abode in the
town. Subsequent to this, the latter had been heard to make dark
insinuations, unnoted at the time but since grown significant, hinting
at criminal knowledge of the prisoner. The close of this chapter had
been Prendergast's dismal end in the gulch, when he had produced the
scrap of paper which was the crux of the case. He declared he had found
Moreau dying; that the latter had traced with his own hand the
accusation which fastened the crime upon Hugh Stires. Specimens of
Moreau's handwriting were not lacking and seemed to prove beyond
question its authenticity.

Such were the links of the coil which wound, with each witness, closer
and closer--none knew better how closely than Harry Sanderson himself.
As witness succeeded witness, his heart sank. Jessica's burden was not
to be lightened; Hugh must remain a Cain, a dweller in the dark places
of the earth. In the larger part, his own sacrifice was to fail!

In his cross-examination Felder had fought gamely to lighten the weight
of the evidence: The prisoner's old associations with Moreau had been
amicable, else they would not have come to Smoky Mountain together; if
he had been disliked and avoided, the circumstance was referable rather
to his companionships than to his own actions; whatever the pervasive
contempt, there had been nothing criminal on the books against him. The
lawyer's questions touched the baleful whisper that had become
allegation and indictment, a prejudged conviction of guilt. They made it
clear that the current belief had been the fruit of antipathy and bias;
that it had been no question of evidence; so far as that went, he,
Felder, might have done the deed, or Prendergast, or any one there. But
Smoky Mountain would have said, as it did say, "It was Hugh Stires!" He
compelled the jury to recognize that but one bit of actual evidence had
been offered--there had been no eye-witness, no telltale incident. All
rested upon a single scrap of paper, a fragment of handwriting in no way
difficult of imitation, and this in turn upon the allegation of a thief,
struck down in an act of crime, whose word in an ordinary case of fact
would not be worth a farthing. No motive had been alleged for the
killing of Moreau by the prisoner, but Prendergast had had motive enough
in his accusation. It had been open knowledge that he hated Hugh Stires,
and his own character made it evident that he would not have scrupled to
fasten a murder upon him.

But as Felder studied the twelve grave faces in the jury-box, who in the
last analysis were all that counted, he shared his client's
hopelessness. Judgment and experience told him how futile were all
theories in the face of that inarticulate but damning witness that
Prendergast had left behind him. So the afternoon dragged through, a day
for the State.

Sunset came early at that season. Dark fell and the electric bulbs made
their mimic day, but no one left the room. The outcome seemed a foregone
conclusion. The jurymen no longer gazed at the prisoner, and when they
looked at one another, it was with grim understanding. As the last
witness for the State stepped down and the prosecutor rested, the judge
glanced at the clock.

"There is a bare half-hour," he said tentatively. "Perhaps the defense
would prefer not to open testimony till to-morrow."

Felder had risen. He saw his opportunity--to bring out sharply a
contrasting point in the prisoner's favor, the one circumstance,
considered apart, pointing toward innocence rather than guilt--to leave
this for the jury to take with them, to off-set by its effect the weight
of the evidence that had been given.

"I will proceed, if your Honor pleases," he said, and amid a rustle of
surprise and interest called Jessica to the stand.

As she went forward to the witness chair, she put back the shielding
veil, and her face, pale as bramble-bloom under her red-bronze hair,
made an appealing picture. A cluster of white carnations was pinned to
her coat and as she passed Harry she bent and laid one in his hand. The
slight act, not lost upon the spectators, called forth a sibilant
flutter of sympathy. For it wore no touch of designed effect; its
impulse was as pure and unmistakable as its meaning.

Harry had started uncontrollably as she rose, for he had had no inkling
of the lawyer's intention, and a flush darkened his cheek at the cool
touch of the flower. But this faded to a settled pallor, as under
Felder's grave questioning she told in a voice as clear as a child's,
yet with a woman's emotion struggling through it, the story of her
disregarded warning. While she spoke pain and shame travelled through
his every vein, for--though technically she had not brought herself into
the perplexing purview of the law--she was laying bare the secret of
her own heart, which now he would have covered at any cost.

"That is all, your Honor," said Felder, when Jessica had finished her

"Do you wish to cross-examine?" asked the judge perfunctorily.

The prosecutor looked at her an instant. He saw the faintness in her
eyes, the twitching of the gloved hand on the rail. "By no means," he
said courteously, and turned to his papers.

At the same moment, as Jessica stepped into the open aisle, the ironic
chance which so often relieves the strain of the tragic by a breath of
the banal, treated the spellbound audience to a novel sensation. Every
electric light suddenly went out, and darkness swooped upon the town and
the court-room. A second's carelessness at the power-house a half-mile
away--the dropping of a bit of waste into a cog-wheel--and the larger
mechanism that governed the issues of life and death was thrown into
instant confusion. Hubbub arose--people stood up in their places.

The judge's gavel pounded viciously and his stentorian voice bellowed
for order.

"Keep your seats, everybody!" he commanded. "Mr. Clerk, get some
candles. This court is not yet adjourned!"

To Jessica the sudden blankness came with a nervous shock. Since that
first meeting in the jail she had pinned her faith on the reassurance
that had been given her. She had fought down doubt and questioning and
leaned hard upon her trust. But in her overwrought condition, as the end
drew near with no solution of the enigma, this faith sometimes faltered.
The mystery was so impenetrable, the peril so imminent! To-day, in the
court-room, her subtle sense had told her that, belief and conviction
aside, a pronounced feeling of sympathy existed for the man she loved.
She had not needed Mrs. Halloran's comforting assurances on this score,
for the atmosphere was surcharged with it. She had felt it when she laid
the carnation in his hand, and even more unmistakably while she had
given her testimony. She had realized the value of that one unvarnished
fact, introduced so effectively--that he had had time to get away, and
instead had chosen to surrender himself.

Yet even as she thrilled to the responsive current, Jessica had not been
deceived. She felt the pitiful impotence of mere sympathy against the
apparent weight of evidence that had frightened her. Surely, surely, if
he was to save himself, the truth must come out speedily! But the end of
it all was in sight and he had not spoken. To-day as she watched his
face, the thought had come to her that perhaps his reassurance had been
given only to comfort her and spare her anguish. The thought had come
again and again to torture her; only by a great effort had she been able
to give her testimony. As the pall of darkness fell upon the court-room,
it brought a sense of premonition, as though the incident prefigured the
gloomy end. She turned sick, and stumbled down the aisle, feeling that
she must reach the outer air.

A pushing handful opened the way to the corridor, and in a moment more
she was in the starlit out-of-doors, fighting down her faintness, with
the babble of talk behind her and the cool breeze on her cheek.



In the room Jessica had left, the turmoil was simmering down; here and
there a match was struck and showed a circle of brightness. The glimmer
of one of them lit the countenance of a man who had brushed her sleeve
as he entered. It was Hallelujah Jones. The evangelist had prolonged his
stay at Smoky Mountain, for the town, thrilling to its drama of crime
and judgment, had seemed a fruitful vineyard. He had no local interest
in the trial of Hugh Stires, and had not attended its session; but he
had been passing the place when the lights went out and in curiosity had
crowded into the confusion, where now he looked about him with eager

A candle-flame fluttered now, like a golden butterfly, on the judge's
desk, another on the table inside the bar. More grew along the walls
until the room was bathed in tremulous yellow light. It touched the
profile of the prisoner, turned now, for his look had followed Jessica
and was fixed questioningly on her empty seat. In the unseeing darkness
Harry had held the white carnation to his lips before he drew its stem
through his lapel.

The street preacher's jaw dropped in blank astonishment, for what he saw
before him brought irresistibly back another scene that, months before,
had bit into his mind. The judge's high desk turned instantly to a
chapel altar, and the table back of the polished railing to a communion
table. The minister that had looked across it in the candle-light had
worn a white carnation in his buttonhole. His face--

Hallelujah Jones started forward with an exclamation. A thousand times
his zealot imagination had pictured the recreant clergyman he had
unmasked as an outcast, plunging toward the lake of brimstone. Here it
was at last in his hand, the end of the story! The worst of criminals,
skulking beneath an alias! He sprang up the aisle.

"Wait! wait!" he cried. "I have evidence to give!" He pointed excitedly
toward Harry. "This man is not what you think! He is not--"

Forensic thunder loosed itself from the wrathful judge's desk, and
crashed across the stupefied room. His gavel thumped upon the wood. "How
dare you," he vociferated, "break in upon the deliberations of this
court! I fine you twenty dollars for contempt!"

Felder had leaped to his feet, every sense on the _qui vive_. Like a
drowning man he grasped at the straw. What could this man know? He took
a bill from his pocket and clapped it down on the clerk's desk.

"I beg to purge him of contempt," he said, "and call him as a witness."

The district attorney broke in:

"Your Honor, I think I am within my rights in protesting against this
unheard-of proceeding. The man is a vagrant of unknown character. His
very action proclaims him mentally unbalanced. Beyond all question he
can know nothing of this case."

"I have not my learned opponent's gift of clairvoyance," retorted Felder
tartly. "I repeat that I call this man as a witness."

The judge pulled his whiskers and looked at the evangelist in severe
annoyance. "Take the stand," he said gruffly.

Hallelujah Jones snatched the Bible from the clerk's hands and kissed
it. Knowledge was burning his tongue. The jury were leaning forward in
their seats.

"Have you ever seen the prisoner before?" asked Felder.



"When he was a minister of the gospel."

Felder stared. The judge frowned. The jury looked at one another and a
laugh ran round the hushed room.

The merriment kindled the evangelist's distempered passion. Sudden anger
flamed in him. He leaned forward and shook his hand vehemently at the
table where Harry sat, his face as colorless as the flower he wore.

"That man's name," he blazed, "is not Hugh Stires! It is a cloak he has
chosen to cover his shame! He is the Reverend Henry Sanderson of



Harry's pulses had leaped with excitement when the street preacher's
first exclamation startled the court-room; now they were beating as
though they must burst. He was not to finish the losing struggle. The
decision was to be taken from his hands. Fate had interfered. This bigot
who had once been the means of his undoing, was to be the _deus ex
machina_. Through the stir about him he heard the crisp voice of the
district attorney:

"I ask your Honor's permission, before this extraordinary witness is
examined further," he said caustically, "to read an item printed here
which has a bearing upon the testimony." He held in his hand a newspaper
which, earlier in the afternoon, with cynical disregard of Felder's
tactics, he had been casually perusing.

"I object, of course," returned Felder grimly.

"Objection overruled!" snapped the irritated judge. "Read it, sir."

Holding the newspaper to a candle, the lawyer read in an even voice,
prefacing his reading with the journal's name and date:

     "This city, which was aroused in the night by the burning of St.
     James Chapel, will be greatly shocked to learn that its rector, the
     Reverend Henry Sanderson, who has been for some months on a
     prolonged vacation, was in the building at the time, and now lies
     at the city hospital, suffering from injuries from which it is
     rumored there is grave doubt of his recovery."

In the titter that rippled the court-room Harry felt his heart bound and
swell. Under the succinct statement he clearly discerned the fact. He
saw the pitfall into which Hugh had fallen--the trap into which he
himself had sent him on that fatal errand with the ruby ring on his
finger. "Grave doubt of his recovery!"--a surge of relief swept over him
to his finger-tips. Dead men can not be brought to bar--so Jessica would
escape shame. With Hugh passed beyond human justice, he could declare
himself. The bishop had guarded his secret, and saved the parish from an
unwelcome scandal. He could explain--could tell him that illness and
unbalance lay beneath that chapel game! He could take up his career! He
would be free to go back--to be himself again--to be Jessica's--if Hugh
died! The reading voice drummed in his ears:

     "The facts have not as yet been ascertained, but it seems clear
     that the popular young minister returned to town unexpectedly last
     night, and was asleep in his study when the fire started. His
     presence in the building was unguessed until too late, and it was
     by little short of a miracle that he was brought out alive.

     "As we go to press we learn that Mr. Sanderson's condition is much
     more hopeful than was at first reported."

Harry's heart contracted as if a giant hand had clutched it. His elation
fell like a rotten tree girdled at the roots. If Hugh _did not_ die! He
chilled as though in a spray of liquid air. Hugh's escape--the chance
his conscience had given him, was cut off. He had not betrayed him when
the way was open; how could he do so now when flight was barred? If to
deliver him then to the hangman would have been cowardice, how much more
cowardly now, when it was to save himself, and when the other was
helpless? And the law demanded its victim!

As a drowning man sees flit before him the panorama of his life, so in
this clarifying instant these lurid pictures of the tangle of his past
flashed across Harry's mental vision.

The judge reached for the newspaper the lawyer held, ran his eye over
it, and brought his gavel down with an angry snort.

"Take him away," he said. "His testimony is ordered stricken from the
records. The fine is remitted, Mr. Felder--we can't make you responsible
for lunatics. Bailiff, see that this man has no further chance to
disturb these proceedings. The court stands adjourned."



Felder had been among the last to leave the court-room. He was
discomfited and angry. He had meant to make a telling point for the
defense, and the unbalanced imagination of a strolling, bigot gospeller
had undone him. His own precipitate and ill-considered action had
uncovered an idiotic mare's-nest, to taint his appeal with bathos and
open his cause with a farcical anti-climax. He glumly gathered his
scattered papers, put with them the leaf of the newspaper from which the
district attorney had read, and despatched the lot to his office by a

At the door of the court-house Doctor Brent slipped an arm through his.

"Too bad, Tom," he said sympathizingly. "I don't think you quite
deserved it."

Felder paced a moment without speaking. "I need evidence," he said then,
"--anything that may help. I made a mistake. You heard all the

The other nodded.

"What did you think of it?"

"What could any one think? I give all credit to your motive, Tom, but
it's a pity you're mixed up in it."


"Because, if there's anything in human evidence, he's a thoroughly
worthless reprobate. He lay for Moreau and murdered him in cold blood,
and he ought to swing."

"The casual view," said the lawyer gloomily. "Just what I should have
said myself--if this had happened a month ago."

His friend looked at him with an amused expression. "I begin to think he
must be a remarkable man!" he said. "Is it possible he has really
convinced you that he isn't guilty?"

Felder turned upon the doctor squarely. "Yes," he returned bluntly. "He
has. Whatever I may have believed when I took this case, I have come to
the conclusion--against all my professional instincts, mind you--that he
never killed Moreau. I believe he's as innocent as either you or I!"

The physician looked puzzled. "You believe Moreau's hand didn't write
that accusation?"

"I don't know."

"Do you think he lied?"

"I don't know what to think. But I am convinced Hugh Stires isn't
lying. There's a mystery in the thing that I can't get hold of." He
caught the physician's half-smile. "Oh, I know what you think," he said
resentfully. "You think it is Miss Holme. I assure you I am defending
Hugh Stires for his own sake!"

"She played you a close second to-day," observed the doctor shrewdly.
"That carnation--I never saw a thing better done."

Felder drew his arm away. "Miss Holme," he said almost stiffly, "is as
far from acting--"

"My dear fellow!" exclaimed the other. "Don't snap me up. She's a
gentlewoman, and everything that is lovely. If she were the reason, I
should honor you for it. I'm very deeply sorry for her. For my part, I'm
sure I wish you might get him off. She loves him, and doesn't care who
sees it, and if he were as bad as the worst, a woman like that could
make a man of him. But I know juries. In towns like this they take
themselves pathetically in earnest. On the evidence so far, they'll
convict fast enough."

"I know it," said the lawyer despondently. "And yet he's innocent. I'd
stake my life on it. It's worthless as evidence and I shan't introduce
it, but he has as good as admitted to her that he knows who did it."

"Come, come! Putting his neck into the noose for mere Quixotic feeling?
And who, pray, in this Godforsaken town, should he be sacrificing
himself for?" the doctor asked satirically.

"That's the rub," said the lawyer. "Nobody. Yet I hang by my

"Well, he'll hang by something less tenuous, I'm afraid. But it won't be
your fault. The crazy evangelist was only an incident. He merely served
to jolt us back to the normal. By the way, did you hear him splutter
after he got out?"


"You remember the story he told the other night of the minister who was
caught gambling on his own communion table? Well, Hugh Stires is not
only the Reverend Henry Something-or-other, but he is that man, too! The
crack-brained old idiot would have told the tale all over again, only
the crowd hustled him.

"There he is now," he said suddenly, as a light sprang up and voices
broke out on the opposite corner. "The gang is standing by. I see your
friend Barney McGinn," he added, with a grim enjoyment. "I doubt if
there are many converts to-night."

Even as he spoke, there came a shout of laughter and warning. The
spectators scattered in all directions, and a stream of water from a
well-directed hose deluged the itinerant and his music-box.

Ten minutes later the street preacher, drenched and furious, was
trundling his melodeon toward Funeral Hollow, on his way to the coast.



As Harry stood again in the obscure half-darkness of his cell, it came
to him that the present had a far-reaching significance--that it was but
the handiwork and resultant of forces in his own past. He himself had
brewed the bitter wormwood he must drink. Jessica's quivering
arraignment on that lurid wedding-day in the white house in the
aspens--it had been engraven ever since on his buried memory!--rang in
his mind:

_You were strong and he was weak. You led and he followed. You were
"Satan Sanderson," Abbot of the Saints, the set in which he learned
gambling. You helped to make him what he has become!_

They had made variant choice, and that choice had left Harry Sanderson
in training for the gaiters of a bishop, and Hugh Stires treading the
paths of dalliance and the gambler. But he himself had set Hugh's feet
on the red path that had pointed him to the shameful terminus. He had
gambled for Hugh's future, forgetting that his past remained, a thing
that must be covered. He had won Hugh's counters, but his own right to
be himself he had staked and lost long before that game on the communion
table under the painted crucifixion.

The words he had once said to Hugh recurred to him with a kind of awe:
"Put myself in your place? I wish to God I could!"

Fate--or was it God?--had taken him at his word. He had been hurled like
a stone from a catapult into Hugh's place, to bear his knavery, to
suffer his dishonor, and to redeem the baleful reputation he had made.
He had been his brother's keeper and had failed in the trust; now the
circle of retribution, noiseless and inexorable as the wheeling of that
vast scorpion cluster in the sky, evened the score and brought him again
to the test! And, in the supreme strait, was he, a poor poltroon, to
step aside, to cry "enough," to yield ignobly? Even if to put aside the
temptation might bring him face to face with the final shameful penalty?

This, then, was the meaning of the strange sequence of events through
which he had been passing since the hour when he had awakened in the
box-car! Living, he was not to betray Hugh; the Great Purpose behind all
meant that he should go forward on the path he had chosen to the end!

A step outside the cell, the turning of the key. The door opened, and
Jessica, pale and trembling, stood on the threshold.

"I can not help it," she said, as she came toward him, "though you told
me not to come. I have trusted all the while, and waited, and--and
prayed. But to-day I was afraid."

She paused, locking her hands before her, looking at him in an agony of
entreaty. When she had fled from the court-room to the open air, she had
walked straight away toward the mountain, struggling in the cool wind
and motion against the feeling of physical sickness and anguish. But she
had only partly regained her self-possession. Returning, the thinning
groups about the dim-lit door had made it clear that the session was
over. In her painful confusion of mind she had acted on a peremptory
impulse that drove her to the jail, where her face had quickly gained
her entrance.

"Surely, surely," she went on, "the man you are protecting has had time
enough! Hasn't he? Won't you tell them the truth now?"

He knew not how to meet the piteous reproach and terror of that look.
She had not heard the street preacher's declaration, he knew, but even
if she had, it would have been to her only an echo of the old mooted
likeness. He had given her comfort once--but this was no more to be. No
matter what it meant to him, or to her!

"Jessica," he said steadily, "when you came to me here that first day,
and I told you not to fear for me, I did not mean to deceive you. I
thought then that it would all come right. But something has happened
since then--something that makes a difference. I can not tell who was
the murderer of Moreau. I can not tell you or any one else, either now
or at any time."

She gazed at him startled. She had a sudden conception of some element
hitherto unguessed in his make-up, something inveterate and adamant.
Could it be that he did not intend to tell at all? The very idea was
monstrous! Yet that clearly was his meaning. She looked at him with
flashing eyes.

"You mean you will not?" she exclaimed bitterly. "You are bent on
sacrificing yourself, then! You are going to take this risk because you
think it brave and noble, because somehow it fits your man's gospel!
Can't you see how wicked and selfish it is? You are thinking only of
him, and of yourself, not of me!"

"Jessica, Jessica!" he protested with a groan. But in the self-torture
of her questionings she paid no heed.

"Don't you think I suffer? Haven't I borne enough in the months since I
married you, for you to want to save me this? Do you owe me nothing, me
whom you so wronged, whose--"

She stopped suddenly at the look on his face of mortal pain, for she had
struck harder than she knew. It pierced through the fierce resentment to
her deepest heart, and all her love and pity gushed back upon her in a
torrent. She threw herself on her knees by the bare cot, crying

"Oh, forgive me! Forget what I said! I did not mean it. I have forgiven
you a thousand times over. I never ceased to love you. I love you now,
more than all the world."

"It is true," he said, hoarse misery in his tone. "I have wronged you.
If I could coin my blood drop by drop, to pay for the past, I could not
set that right. If giving my life over and over again would save you
pain, I would give it gladly. But what you ask now is the one thing I
can not do. It would make me a pitiful coward. I did not kill Moreau.
That is all I can say to you or to those who try me."

"Your life!" she said with dry lips. "It will mean that. That counts so
fearfully much to me--more than my own life a hundred times. Yet there
is something that counts more than all that to you!"

His face was that of a man who holds his hand in the fire. "Jessica,"
he said, "it is like this with me. When you found me here--the day I saw
you on the balcony--I was a man whose soul had lost its compass and its
bearings. My conscience was asleep. You woke it, and it is fiercely
alive now. And now with my memory has come back a debt of my past that I
never paid. Whatever the outcome, for my soul's sake I must settle it
now and wipe it from the score for ever. Nothing counts--nothing can
count--more than you! But I must sail by the needle; I must be truthful
to the best that is in me."

She rose slowly to her feet with a despairing gesture.

"'_He saved others_,'" she quoted in a hard voice, "'_himself he could
not save!_' I once heard a minister preach from that text at home; it
was your friend, the Reverend Henry Sanderson. I thought it a very
spiritual sermon then--that was before I knew what his companionship had
been to you!"

In the exclamation was the old bitterness that had had its spring in
that far-away evening at the white house in the aspens, when Harry
Sanderson had lifted the curtain from his college career. In spite of
David Stires' predilection, since that day she had distrusted and
disliked, at moments actively hated him. His mannerisms had seemed a
pose and his pretensions hypocrisy. On her wedding-day, when she lashed
him with the blame of Hugh's ruin, this had become an ingrained
prejudice, impregnable because rooted deeper than reason, in the
heritage of her sex, the eternal proclivity, which saw Harry Sanderson,
his motley covered with the sober domino of the Church, standing
self-righteously in surplice and stole, while Hugh slid downward to

"If there were any justice in the universe," she added, "it should be he
immolating himself now, not you!"

His face was not toward her and she could not see it go deadly white.
The sudden shift she had given the conversation had startled him. He
turned to the tiny barred window that looked out across the court-yard
square--where such a little time since he had found his lost self.

"I think," he said, "that in my place, he would do the same."

"You always admired him," she went on, the hard ring of misery in her
tone. "You admire him yet. Oh, men like him have such strange and wicked
power! Satan Sanderson!--it was a fit name. What right has he to be
rector of St. James, while you--"

He put out a hand in flinching protest. "Jessica! Don't!" he begged.

"Why should I not say it?" she retorted, with quivering lips. "But for
him you would never be here! He ruined your life and mine, and I hate
and despise him for a selfish hypocrite!"

That was what he himself had seemed to her in those old days! The edge
of a flush touched his forehead as he said slowly, almost appealingly:

"He was not a hypocrite, Jessica. Whatever he was it was not that. At
college he did what he did too openly. That was his failing--not caring
what others thought. He despised weakness in others; he thought it none
of his affair. So others were influenced. But after he came to see
things differently, from another standpoint--when he went into the
ministry--he would have given the world to undo it."

"That may have been the Harry Sanderson you knew," she said stonily.
"The one I knew drove an imported motor-car and had a dozen fads that
people were always imitating. You are still loyal to the old college
worship. As men go, you count him still your friend!"

"As men go," he echoed grimly, "the very closest!"

"Men's likings are strange," she said. "Because he never had temptations
like yours, and has never done what the law calls wrong, you think he is
as noble as you--noble enough to shield a murderer to his own danger."

"Ah, no, Jessica," he interposed gently. "I only said that in my place,
he would do the same."

"But _you_ are shielding a murderer," she insisted fiercely. "You will
not admit it, but I know! There can be no justice or right in that! If
Harry Sanderson is all you think him--if he stood here now and knew the
whole--he would say it was wicked. Not brave and noble but wicked and

He shook his head, and the sad shadow of a bitter smile touched his
lips. "He would not say so," he said.

A dry sob answered him. He turned and leaned his elbows on the narrow
window-sill, every nerve aching, but powerless to comfort. He heard her
step--the door closed sharply.

Then he faced into the empty cell, sat down on the cot and threw out his
arms with a hopeless cry:

"Jessica, Jessica!"



Jessica left the jail with despair in her heart. The hope on which she
had fed these past days had failed her. What was there left for her to
do? Like a swift wind she went up the street to Felder's office.

A block beyond the court-house a crowd was enjoying the watery
discomfiture of Hallelujah Jones, and shrinking from recognition even in
the darkness--for the arc lights were still black--she crossed the
roadway and ran on to the unpretentious building where the lawyer had
his sanctum. She groped her way up the unlighted stair and tapped on the
door. There was no answer. She pushed it open and entered the empty
outer room, where a study lamp burned on the desk.

A pile of legal looking papers had been set beside it and with them lay
a torn page of a newspaper whose familiar caption gave her a stab of
pain. Perhaps the news of the trial had found its way across the ranges,
to where the names of Stires and Moreau had been known. Perhaps every
one at Aniston already knew of it, was reading about it, pitying her!
She picked it up and scanned it hastily. There was no hint of the trial,
but her eye caught the news which had played its rôle in the court-room,
and she read it to the end.

Even in her own trouble she read it with a shiver. Yet, awful as the
fate which Harry Sanderson had so narrowly missed, it was not to be
compared with that which awaited Hugh, for, awful as it was, it held no

In a gust of feeling she slipped to her knees by the one sofa the room
contained and prayed passionately. As she drew out her handkerchief to
stanch the tears that came, something fell with a musical tinkle at her
feet. It was the little cross she had found in front of the hillside
cabin, that had lain forgotten in her pocket during the past anxious
days. She picked it up now and held it tightly in her hand, as if the
tangible symbol brought her closer to the Infinite Sympathy to which she
turned in her misery. As she pressed it, the ring at the top turned and
the cross parted in halves. Words were engraved on the inside of the
arms--a date and the name _Henry Sanderson_.

The recurrence of the name jarred and surprised her. Hugh had dropped
it--an old keepsake of the friend who had been his _beau idéal_, his
exemplar, and whose ancient influence was still dominant. He had clung
loyally to the memento, blind in his constant liking, to the wrong that
friend had done him. She looked at the date--it was May 28th. She
shuddered, for that was the month and day on which Doctor Moreau had
been killed--the point had been clearly established to-day by the
prosecution. To the original owner of that cross, perhaps, the date that
had come into Hugh's life with such a sinister meaning, was a glad

Suddenly she caught her hand to her cheek. A weird idea had rushed
through her brain. The religious symbol had stood for Harry Sanderson
and the chance coincidence of date had irresistibly pointed to the
murder. To her excited senses the juxtaposition held a bizarre, uncanny
suggestion. This cross--the very emblem of vicarious sacrifice!--suppose
Harry Sanderson had never given it to Hugh! Suppose he had lost it on
the hillside himself!

She snatched up the paper again: "Who has been for some months on a
prolonged vacation"--the phrase stared sardonically at her. That might
carry far back--she said it under her breath, fearfully--beyond the
murder of Doctor Moreau! Her face burned, and her breath came sharp and
fast. Why, when she brought her warning to the cabin, had Hugh been so
anxious to get her away, unless to prevent her sight of the man who was
there--to whom he had taken her horse? Who was there in Smoky Mountain
whom he would protect at hazard of his own life? Yet in this crisis,
even, her appeal to his love had been fruitless. He had called Harry
Sanderson his closest friend, had said that in his place Harry would do
the same. She remembered his cry: "What you ask is the one thing I can
not do. It would make me a pitiful coward!" She had asked only that he
tell the truth. To protect a vulgar murderer was not courageous. But
what if they were bound by ties of old friendship and college
_camaraderie_? Men had their standards.

Jessica's veins were all afire. A rector-murderer? A double career? Was
it beyond possibility? At the sanatorium she had re-read _The Mystery of
Edwin Drood_; now she thought of John Jasper, the choir-master, stealing
away from the cathedral to the London opium den to plan the murder of
his nephew. The mad thought gripped her imagination. Harry Sanderson had
been wild and lawless in his university days, a gamester, a skeptic--the
Abbot of the Saints! To her his pretensions had never seemed more than a
graceful sham, the generalities of religion he spread for the
delectation of fashionable St. James only "as sounding brass and a
tinkling cymbal." He had been a hard drinker in those days. What if the
old desire had run on beneath the fair exterior, denied and repressed
till it had burst control--till he had fled from those who knew him, to
Hugh, in whose loyalty he trusted, to give it rein in a debauch? Say
that this had happened, and that in the midst of it Moreau, whom he had
known in Aniston, had come upon him. Anticipating recognition, to cover
his own shame and save his career, in drunken frenzy perhaps, he might
have fired the shot on the hillside--that Moreau, taken unawares, had
thought was Hugh's!

It came to her like an impinging ray of light--the old curious likeness
that had sometimes been made a jest of at the white house in the aspens.
Moreau and Prendergast had believed it to be Hugh! So had the town, for
the body had been found on his ground! But on the night when the real
murderer came again to the cabin--perhaps it was his coming that had
brought back the lost memory!--Hugh had known the truth. In the light of
this supposition his strained manner then, his present determination not
to speak, all stood plain.

What had he meant by a debt of his past that he had never paid? He could
owe no debt to Harry Sanderson. If he owed any debt, it was to his dead
father, a thousand times more than the draft he had repaid. Could he be
thinking in his remorse that his father had cast him off--counting
himself nothing, remembering only that Harry Sanderson had been David
Stires' favorite, and St. James, which must be smirched by the odium of
its rector, the apple of his eye?

Jessica had snatched at a straw, because it was the only buoyant thing
afloat in the dragging tide; now with a blind fatuousness she hugged it
tighter to her bosom. The joints of her reasoning seemed to dovetail
with fateful accuracy. She was swayed by instinct, and apparent
fallacies were glozed by old mistrust and terror of the outcome which
was driving her to any desperate expedient. Beside Hugh's salvation the
whole universe counted as nothing. She was in the grip of that fierce
passion of love's defense which feeds the romance of the world. One
purpose possessed her: to confront Harry Sanderson. What matter though
she missed the remainder of the trial? She could do nothing--her hands
were tied. If the truth lay at Aniston she would find it. She thought no
further than this. Once in Harry Sanderson's presence, what she should
say or do she scarcely imagined. The horrifying question filled her
thought to the exclusion of all that must follow its answer. It was
surety and self-conviction she craved--only to read in his eyes the
truth about the murder of Moreau.

She suddenly began to tremble. Would the doctors let her see him? What
excuse could she give? If he was the man who had been in Hugh's cabin
that night, he had heard her speak, had known she was there. He must not
know beforehand of her coming, lest he have suspicion of her errand.
Bishop Ludlow--he could gain her access to him. Injured, dying perhaps,
maybe he did not guess that Hugh was in jeopardy for his crime. Guilty
and dying, if he knew this, he would surely tell the truth. But if he
died before she could reach him? The paper was some days old; he might
be dead already. She took heart, however, from the statement of his
improved condition.

She sprang to her feet and looked at her chatelaine watch. The
east-bound express was overdue. There was no time to lose--minutes might
count. She examined her purse--she had money enough with her.

Five minutes later she was at the station, a scribbled note was on its
way to Mrs. Halloran, and before a swinging red lantern, the long
incoming train was shuddering to a stop.



In the long hospital the air was cool and filtered, drab figures passed
with soft footfalls and voices were measured and hushed. But no sense of
coolness or repose had come to the man whose racked body had been
tenderly borne there in the snowy dawn which saw the blackened ruins of
Aniston's most perfect edifice.

Because of him tongues clacked on the street corner and bulletins were
posted in newspaper windows; carriages of tasteful equipment halted at
the hospital porte-cochère, messages flew back and forth, and the
telephone in the outer office whirred busily at unseasonable hours; but
from the clean screened room where he lay, all this was shut out. Only
the surgeons came and went, deftly refreshing the bandages which swathed
one side of his face, where the disfiguring flame had smitten--the other
side was untouched, save for a line across the brow, seemingly a thin,
red mark of excoriation.

Hugh had sunk into unconsciousness with the awestruck exclamation
ringing in his ears: "Good God! It's Harry Sanderson!" He had drifted
back to conscious knowledge with the same words racing in his brain.
They implied that, so far as capture went, the old, curious resemblance
would stand his friend till he betrayed himself, or till the existence
of the real Harry Sanderson at Smoky Mountain did so for him. The
delusion must hold till he could have himself moved to some place where
his secret would be safer--till he could get away!

This thought grew swiftly paramount; it overlapped the rigid agony of
his burns that made the bed on which he lay a fiery furnace; it gave
method to his every word and look. He took up the difficult part, and
after the superficial anguish dulled, complained no more and
successfully counterfeited cheerfulness and betterment. He said nothing
of the curiously recurrent and sickening stab of pain, searching and
deep-seated, that took his breath and left each time an increasing
giddiness. Whatever inner hurt this might betoken, he must hide it, the
sooner to leave the hospital, where each hour brought nearer the
inevitable disclosure.

He thanked fortune now for the chapel game; few enough in Aniston would
care to see the unfrocked, disgraced rector of St. James! He did not
know that the secret was Bishop Ludlow's own, until the hour when he
opened his eyes, after a fitful sleep, upon the latter's face.

The bishop was the first visitor and it was his first visit, for he had
been in a distant city at the time of the fire. Waiting the waking, he
had been mystified at the change a few months had wrought in the
countenance of the man whose disappearance had cost him so many
sleepless hours. The months of indulgence and rich living--on the money
he had won from Harry--had taken away Hugh's slightness, and his fuller
cheeks were now of the contour of Harry's own. But the bishop
distinguished new lines in the face on the pillow, an expression
unfamiliar and puzzling; the firmness and strength were gone, and in
their place was a haunting something that gave him a flitting suggestion
of the discarded that he could not shake off.

Waking, the unexpected sight of the bishop startled Hugh; to the good
man's pain he had turned his face away.

"My dear boy," the bishop had said, "they tell me you are stronger and
better. I thank God for it!"

He spoke gently and with deep feeling. How could he tell to what extent
he himself, in mistaken severity, had been responsible for that
unaccustomed look? When Hugh did not answer, the bishop misconstrued the
silence. He leaned over the bed; the big cool hand touched the fevered
one on the white coverlid, where the ruby ring glowed, a coal in snow.

"Harry," he said, "you have suffered--you are suffering now. But think
of me only as your friend. I ask no questions. We are going to begin
again where we left off."

The words and tone had shown Hugh the situation and given him his cue.
He could put himself fairly in Harry's place, and with the instinct of
the actor he did so now, meeting the other's friendliness with a
hesitant eagerness.

"I would like to do that," he said, "--to begin again. But the chapel is

"Never mind that," said the bishop cheerfully. "You are only to get
well. We are going to rebuild soon, and we want your judgment on the
plans. Aniston is hanging on your condition, Harry," he went on.
"There's a small cartload of visiting-cards down-stairs for you. But I
imagine you haven't begun to receive yet, eh?"

"I--I've seen nobody." Hugh spoke hurriedly and hoarsely. "Tell the
doctor to let no one come--no one but you. I--I'm not up to it!"

"Why, of course not," said the bishop quickly. "You need quiet, and the
people can wait."

The bishop chatted a while of the parish, Hugh replying only when he
must, and went away heartened. Before he left Hugh saw his way to hasten
his own going. On the next visit the seed was dropped in the bishop's
mind so cleverly that he thought the idea his own. That day he said to
the surgeon in charge:

"He is gaining so rapidly, I have been wondering if he couldn't be taken
away where the climate will benefit him. Will he be able to travel

"I think so," answered the surgeon. "We suspected internal injury at
first, but I imagine the worst he has to fear is the disfigurement.
Mountain or sea air would do him good," he added reflectively; "what he
will need is tonic and building up."

The bishop had revolved this in his mind. He knew a place on the coast,
tucked away in the cypresses, which would be admirable for
convalescence. He could arrange a special car and he himself could make
the journey with him. He proposed this to the surgeon and with his
approval put his plan in motion. In two days more Hugh found his going
fully settled.

The idea admirably fitted his necessity. The spot the bishop had
selected was quiet and retired, and more, was near the port at which he
could most readily take ship for South America. Only one reflection made
him shiver: the route lay through the town of Smoky Mountain. Yet who
would dream of looking for a fugitive from the law in the secluded car
that carried a sick man? The risk would be small enough, and it was the
one way open!

On the last afternoon before the departure, Hugh asked for the clothes
he had worn when he was brought to the hospital, found the gold-pieces
he had snatched in the burning chapel and tied them in a handkerchief
about his neck. They would suffice to buy his sea-passage. The one red
counter he had kept--it was from henceforth to be a reminder of the good
resolutions he had made so long ago--he slipped into a pocket of the
clothes he was to wear away, a suit of loose, comfortable tweed.

Waiting restlessly for the hour of his going, Hugh asked for the
newspapers. Since the first he had had them read to him each day,
listening fearfully for the hue and cry. But to-day the surgeon put his
request aside.

"After you are there," he said, "if Bishop Ludlow will let you. Not now.
You are almost out of my clutches, and I must tyrannize while I can."

A quick look passed from him to his assistant as he spoke, for the
newspapers that afternoon had worn startling head-lines. The sordid
affairs of a mining town across the ranges had little interest for
Aniston, but the names of Stires and Moreau on the clicking wire had
waked it, thus late, to the sensation. The professional caution of the
tinker of human bodies wished, however, that no excitement should be
added to the unavoidable fatigue of his patient's departure.

This fatigue was near to spelling defeat, after all, for the exertion
brought again the dreadful, stabbing pain, and this time it carried Hugh
into a region where feeling ceased, consciousness passed, and from which
he struggled back finally to find the surgeon bending anxiously over

"I don't like that sinking spell," the latter confided to his assistant
an hour later as they stood looking through the window after the
receding carriage. "It was too pronounced. Yet he has complained of no
pain. He will be in good hands at any rate." He tapped the glass
musingly with his forefinger. "It's curious," he said after a pause; "I
always liked Sanderson--in the pulpit. Somehow he doesn't appeal to me
at close range."

The special car which the bishop had ready had been made a pleasant
interior; fern-boxes were in the corners, a caged canary swung from a
bracket, and a softly cushioned couch had been prepared for the sick
man. A moment before the start, as it was being coupled to the rear of
the resting train, while the bishop chatted with the conductor, a
flustered messenger boy handed him a telegram. It read:

     I arrive Aniston to-morrow five. Confidential. Must see
     you. Urgent.                                  JESSICA.

The bishop read it in some perplexity. It was the first word he had
received from her since her marriage, but, aware of Hugh's forgery and
disgrace, he had not wondered at this. Since the news of David Stires'
death, he had looked for her return, for she was the old man's heir and
mistress now of the white house in the aspens. But he realized that it
would need all her courage to come back to this town whence she had fled
with her trouble--to lay bare an unsuspected and shameful secret, to
meet old friends, and answer questions that must be asked. The
newspapers to-day pictured a still worse shame for her, in the position
of the man who, in name still, was her husband--who had trod so swiftly
the downward path from thievery to the worst of crimes. Could Jessica's
coming have to do with that? He must see her, yet his departure could
not now be delayed. He consulted with the conductor and the latter pored
over his tablets.

As a result, his answering message flashed along the wires to Jessica's
far-away train:

     Sanderson injured. Taking him to coast train forty-eight due Twin
     Peaks two to-morrow afternoon.

And thus the fateful moment approached when the great appeal should be



The evidence of the first day's trial of the case of the People against
Hugh Stires was the all-engrossing topic that night in Smoky Mountain.
In the "Amen Corner" of the Mountain Valley House it held sway. Among
the sedate group there gathered, there seemed but one belief: that the
accused man was guilty--but one feeling: that of regret. Gravity lay so
heavily upon the atmosphere there that when Mrs. Halloran momentarily
entered the discussion to declare fiercely that "if Hugh Stires was a
murderer, then they were all thieves and she a cannibal" she aroused no
smile. Barney McGinn perhaps aptly expressed the consensus of opinion
when he said: "I allow we all know he's guilty, but nobody believes it."

Late as Smoky Mountain sat up that night, however, it was on hand next
morning, rank and file, when the court convened.

All the previous evening, save for a short visit to the cell of his
client, Felder had remained shut in his office, thinking of the morrow.
In his talk with Harry he had not concealed his deep anxiety, but to
his questions there was no new answer, and he had returned from the
interview more nonplussed than ever. He had wondered that Jessica, on
this last night, did not come to his office, but had been rather
relieved than otherwise that she did not. He had gone to bed heavy with
discouragement and had waked in the morning with foreboding.

As he shook hands with the prisoner in the packed court-room, Felder
felt a keen admiration that his sense of painful impotence could not
overlay. He read in the composed face the same prescience that possessed
him, but it held no fear or shadow of turning. He was facing the
scaffold; facing it--if the woman he loved was right in her
conclusions--in obedience to a set idea of self-martyrdom and with
indomitable spirit. It was inconceivable that a sane man would do this
for a sneaking assassin. It was either aberration or a relentless
purpose so extraordinary that it lay far removed from the ordinary
courses of reasoning. Felder's own conviction had no bolstering of fact,
no logical premise; indeed, as he had admitted to Doctor Brent, it was
thoroughly unprofessional. Even to cite the circumstances on which
Jessica based her belief that Hugh knew the real murderer would weaken
his case. The suggestion would seem a mere bungling expedient to inject
the tantalizing fillip of mystery and unbelievable Quixotic motive,
and, lacking evidence to support it, would touch the whole fabric with
the taint of the meretricious. The sense of painful responsibility and
hopelessness oppressed him, for, so far as real evidence went, he had
entered on this second day of the struggle without a tangible theory of

As he turned from greeting his client, Felder noted with surprise that
Jessica was not in her place. Not that he needed her further testimony,
for he had drawn from her the day before all he intended to utilize, but
her absence disturbed him, and instinctively he turned and looked across
the sea of faces toward the door.

Harry's glance followed his, and a deeper pain beleaguered it as his
eyes returned to the empty chair. He saw Mrs. Halloran whisper eagerly
with the lawyer, who turned away with a puzzled look. In his bitterness
the thought came to him that the testimony had sapped her conviction of
his innocence--that his refusal to answer her entreaties had been the
last straw to the load under which it had gone down--that she believed
him indeed the murderer of Moreau. To seem the cringing criminal, the
pitiful liar and actor in her eyes! The thought stung him. Her faith had
meant so much!

The ominous feeling weighed heavily on Felder when he rose to continue
the testimony for the prisoner, so rudely disturbed the evening before.
In such a community pettifogging was of no avail. Throwing expert dust
in jurors' eyes would be worse than useless. In his opening words he
made no attempt to conceal the weakness of the defense, evidentially
considered. Stripped of all husk, his was to be an appeal to Cæsar.

Through a cloud of witnesses, concisely, consistently--yet with a
winning tactfulness that disarmed the objections of the prosecution--he
began to lead them through the series of events that had followed the
arrival of the self-forgotten man. Out of the mouths of their own
neighbors--Devlin, Barney McGinn, Mrs. Halloran, who came down
weeping--they were made to see, as in a cyclorama, the struggle for
rehabilitation against hatred and suspicion, the courage that had dared
for a child's life, the honesty of purpose that showed in
self-surrender. The prisoner, he said, had recovered his memory before
the accusation and asserted his absolute innocence. Those who believed
him guilty of the murder of Doctor Moreau must believe him also a vulgar
liar and _poseur_. He left the inference clear: If the prisoner had
fired that cowardly shot, he knew it now; if he lied now he had lied all
along, and the later life he had lived at Smoky Mountain--eloquent of
fair-dealing, straightforwardness of purpose, kindliness and
courage--had been but hypocrisy, the bootless artifice of a shallow

It was an appeal sustained and moving, addressed to folk who,
untrammelled by a complex and variform convention, felt simply and
deeply the simplest and deepest passions of human kind. Often, as the
morning grew, Felder's glance turned toward the empty chair near-by, and
more than once, though his active thought never wavered from the serious
business in hand, his subconscious mind wondered. Mrs. Halloran had told
him of the note from Jessica--it had said only that she would return at
the earliest possible moment. The wonder in Felder's mind was general
throughout the court-room, for none who had listened to Jessica's
testimony--and the whole town had heard it--could doubt the strength of
her love. The eyes that saw the empty chair were full of pity. Only the
knot of serious faces in the jury-box was seldom turned that way.

The session was prolonged past the noon hour, and when Felder rested his
case it seemed that all that was possible had been said. He had done his
utmost. He had drawn from the people of Smoky Mountain a dramatic story,
and had filled in its outlines with color, force and feeling. And yet,
as he closed, the lawyer felt a sick sense of failure.

Court adjourned for an hour, and in the interim Felder remained in a
little room in the building, whither Doctor Brent was to send him
sandwiches and coffee from the hotel.

"You made a fine effort, Tom," the latter said, as they stood for a
moment in the emptying court-room. "You're doing wonders with no case,
and the town ought to send you to Congress on the strength of it! I
declare, some of your evidence made me feel as mean as a dog about the
rascal, though I knew all the time he was as guilty as the devil."

The lawyer shook his head. "I don't blame you, Brent," he said, "for you
don't know him as I do. I have seen much of him lately, been often with
him, watched him under stress--for he doesn't deceive himself, he has no
thought of acquittal! We none of us knew Hugh Stires. We put him down
for a shallow, vulgar blackleg, without redeeming qualities. But the man
we are trying is a gentleman, a refined and cultivated man of taste and
feeling. I have learned his true character during these days."

"Well," said the other, "if you believe in him, so much the better.
You'll make the better speech for it. Tell me one thing--where was Miss

"I don't know."

The doctor raised his eyebrows. "Good-by," he said. "I'll send over the
coffee and sandwiches," he added as he turned away.

"She thinks he is guilty!" he said to himself as he walked up the
street. "She thinks he is guilty, too!"



To stand face to face with Harry Sanderson--that had been Jessica's sole
thought. The news that the bishop, with the man she suspected, was
speeding toward her--to pass the very town wherein Hugh stood for his
life--seemed a prearrangement of eternal justice. When the telegram
reached her, she had already gone by Twin Peaks. To proceed would be to
pass the coming train. At a farther station, however, she was able to
take a night train back, arriving again at Twin Peaks in the gray dawn
of the next morning. At the dingy station hotel there she undressed and
lay down, but her nerves were quivering and she could not close her
eyes. Toward noon she dressed and forced herself to breakfast, realizing
the need of strength. She spent the rest of the time of waiting walking
up and down in the crisp air, which steadied her nerves and gave her a
measure of control.

When the train for which she waited came in, the curtained car at its
end, she did not wait for the bishop to find her on the platform, but
stepped aboard and made her way slowly back. It started again as she
threaded the last Pullman, to find the bishop on its rear platform
peering out anxiously at the receding station.

He took both her hands and drew her into the empty drawing-room. He was
startled at her pallor. "I know," he said pityingly. "I have heard."

She winced. "Does Aniston know?"

"Yes," he answered. "Yesterday's newspapers told it."

She put her hand on his arm. "Can you guess why I was coming home?" she
asked. "It was to tell Harry Sanderson! I know of the fire," she went on
quickly, "and of his injury. I can guess you want to spare him strain or
excitement, but I must tell him!"

"It is a matter of physical strength, Jessica," he said. "He has been a
sick man. Forgive my saying it, child, but--what good could it do?"

"Believe, oh, you must believe," she pleaded, "that I do not ask this
lightly, that I have a purpose that makes it necessary. It means so
much--more than my life to me! Why, I have waited here at Twin Peaks all
through the night, till now, when this very day and hour they are trying
him there at Smoky Mountain! You must let me tell him!"

He reflected a moment. He thought he guessed what was in her mind. If
there was any one who had ever had an influence over Hugh for good, it
was Harry Sanderson. He himself, he thought, had none. Perhaps,
remembering their old comradeship, she was longing now to have this
influence exerted, to bring Hugh to a better mind--thinking of his
eternal welfare, of his making his peace with his Maker. Beneath his
prosy churchmanship and somewhat elaborate piety, the bishop had a
spirituality almost medieval in its simplicity. Perhaps this was God's
way. His eyes lighted.

"Very well," he said. "Come," and led the way into the car.

Jessica followed, her hands clenched tightly. She saw the couch, the
profile on its cushions turned toward the window where forest and stream
slipped past--a face curiously like Hugh's! Yet it was different,
lacking the other's strength, even its refinement. And this man had
molded Hugh! These vague thoughts lost themselves instantly in the
momentous surmise that filled her imagination. The bishop put out his
hand and touched the relaxed arm.

The trepidation that darted into the bandaged face as it turned upon the
girlish figure, the frosty fear that blanched the haggard countenance,
spoke Hugh's surprise and dread. It was she, and she knew the real
Harry Sanderson was in Smoky Mountain. Had she heard of the chapel fire,
guessed the imposture, and come to denounce him, the guilty husband she
had such reason to hate? The twitching limbs stiffened. "Jessica!" he
said in a hoarse whisper.

For an instant a fierce sense of triumph flamed through her every nerve.
But a cold doubt chilled it. Her suspicion might be the veriest chimera.
It seemed suddenly too wild for belief. She sat down abruptly and for a
fleeting moment hid her face. The bishop touched the bowed, brown head.

"Harry," he said, "Jessica is in great trouble. She has come with sad
news. Hugh, her husband, your old college mate, is in a terrible
position. He is accused of murder. I kept the newspapers from you to-day
because they told of it."

She had caught the meaning of the pity in his tone--for her, not for
Hugh! "Ah," she cried passionately, lifting her head, "but they did not
tell it all! Did they tell you that he is unjustly, wickedly accused by
an enemy? That, though they may convict him, he is innocent--innocent?"

The bishop looked at her in surprise. In spite of all the past--the
shameful, conscienceless past and her own wrong--she loved and believed
in her husband!

Hugh's hand lifted, wavered an instant before his brow. Did she say he
was innocent? "I don't--understand," he said hoarsely.

Jessica's wide eyes fastened on his as though to search his secret soul.
"I will tell it all," she said, "then you will understand." The bishop
drew a chair close, but her gaze did not waver from the face on the
cushions--the face which she must read!

As she told the broken tale the car was still, save for the labored,
irregular breathing of the prostrate man, and the muffled roar that
penetrated the walls, a multitudinous, elfin din. Once the swinging
canary broke forth into liquid warbling, as though in all the world were
no throe of body or dolor of mind. In that telling Jessica's mind
traversed wastes of alternate certainty and doubt, as she hung upon the
look of the man who listened--a look that merged slowly into a fearful
understanding. Hugh understood now!

Jessica had believed him to be her husband, and she believed so still.
And Harry did not intend to tell. He was safe ... safe! In the reaction
from his fear, Hugh felt sick and faint.

The bishop had been listening in some anxiety, both for her and for his
charge. There was a strained intensity in her manner now that betokened
almost unbalance--so it seemed to him. The side-lights he had had of
Hugh's career led him to believe him incapable of such a self-sacrifice
as her tale recited. A strange power there was in woman's love!

"You see," she ended, "that is why I know he is innocent. _You_ can
not"--her eyes held Hugh's--"_you_ can not doubt it, can you?"

Hugh's tongue wet his parched lips. A tremor ran through him. He did not

Jessica started to her feet. Self-possession was falling from her; she
was fighting to seize the vital knowledge that evaded her. She held out
her hand--in the palm lay a small emblem of gold.

"By this cross," she cried with desperate earnestness, "I ask you for
the truth. It is his life or death--Hugh's life or death! He did not
kill Doctor Moreau. _Who did?_"

Hugh had shrunk back on the couch, his face ghastly. "I know
nothing--nothing!" he stammered. "Do not ask me!"

The bishop had risen in alarm; he thought her hysterical. "Jessica!
Jessica!" he exclaimed. He threw his arm about her and led her from the
couch. "You don't know what you are saying. You are beside yourself." He
forced her into the drawing-room and made her sit down. She was tense
and quivering. The cross fell from her hand and he stooped and picked it

"Try to calm yourself," he said, "to think of other things for a few
moments. This little cross--I wonder how you come to have it? I gave it
to Sanderson last May to commemorate his ordination." He twisted it
open. "See, here is the date, May twenty-eighth--that was the day I gave
it to him."

She gave a quick gasp and the last vestige of color faded from her
cheek. She looked at him in a stricken way. "_Last_ May!" she said
faintly. Harry Sanderson had been in Aniston, then, on the day Doctor
Moreau had been murdered. Her house of cards fell. She had been
mistaken! She leaned her head back against the cushion and closed her

Presently she felt a cold glass touch her lips. "Here is some water,"
the bishop's voice said. "You are better, are you not? Poor child! You
have been through a terrible strain. I would give the world to help you
if I could!"

He left her, and she sat dully trying to think. The regular jar of the
trucks had set itself to a rhythm--no hope, no hope, no hope! She knew
now that there was none. When the bishop reëntered she did not turn her
head. He sat beside her a while and she was aware again of his voice,
speaking soothingly. At moments thereafter he was there, at others she
knew that she was alone, but she was unconscious of the flight of time.
She knew only that the day was fading. On the chilly whirling landscape
she saw only a crowded room, a jury-box, a judge's bench, and Hugh
before it, listening to the sentence that would take him from her for
ever. The bright sunlight was mercilessly, satanically cruel, and God a
sneering monster turning a crank.

Into her conscious view grew distant snowy ranges, hills unrolling at
their feet, a straggling town, a staring white court-house and a grim
low building beside it. She rose stumblingly, the train quivering to the
brakes, as the bishop entered.

"This is Smoky Mountain," she said with numb lips. "That is the building
where he is being tried. I am going there now."

The bishop opened the door. "We stop here twenty minutes," he said. "I
will walk a little way with you."



Hugh's haggard face peered after them through a rift in a window
curtain. What could she have suspected? Not the truth! And only that
could betray him. Presently the bishop would return, the train would
start again, and this spot of terror would be behind him. What had he to
do with Harry Sanderson?

He bethought himself suddenly of the door--if some one should come in
upon him! With a qualm of fear he stood up, staggered to it and turned
the key in the lock. There was not the wonted buzz about the station;
the place was silent, save for the throb of the halted engine, and the
shadow of the train on the frosty platform quivered like a criminal. A
block away he saw the court-house--knots of people were standing about
its door, waiting for what? A fit of trembling seized him.

All his years Hugh had been a moral coward. Life to him had been sweet
for the grosser, material pleasures it held. He had cared for nobody,
had held nothing sacred. When his sins had found him out, he had not
repented; he had only cursed the accident of discovery. The sincerest
feeling of regret he had known had been in the chapel when he had
thought of his dead mother. Since one dismal night on Smoky Mountain,
dread, dogging and relentless, had been his hateful bedfellow. He had
now only to keep silence, let Harry Sanderson pay the penalty, and he
need dread no more. Hugh Stires, to the persuasion of the law, would be
dead. As soon as might be he could disappear--as the rector of St. James
had disappeared before. He might change his name and live at ease in
some other quarter of the world, his alarm laid for ever.

But a worse thing would haunt him, to scare his sleep. He would be
doubly blood-guilty!

In the awful moment while he clung to the iron bars of the collapsing
rose-window, with the flames clutching at him, Hugh had looked into
hell, and shivered before the judgment: _The wages of sin is death_. In
that fiery ordeal the cheapness and swagger, the ostentation and
self-esteem had burned away, and his soul had stood naked as a winter
wood. Dying had not then been the Austere Terror. What came after--that
had appalled him. Yet Harry Sanderson was not afraid of the hereafter;
he chose death calmly, knowing that he, Hugh, was unfit to die!

He thought of the little gold cross Jessica had held before him. The
last time he had seen it was during that memorable game when Harry had
set it on the table. In his pocket was a battered red disk--a reminder
of the days that Harry had won, which had never been rendered. He
thought of the stabbing agony that had come and come again, to strike
each time more deeply. The death that he had cheated in the chapel might
be near him now. But whenever death should come, what should he say when
he stood before his Judge, with such a fearful double burden on his
soul? He was horribly afraid!

Suppose he waited. Harry might be convicted, sentenced, but he could
save him at the last moment. When he was safe on his way to South
America, he could write the bishop--beg him to go to Smoky Mountain and
convince himself. But how soon would that be? It would be long,
long--and justice was swift. And what if death should take him unawares
beforehand? It would be too late then, too late for ever and ever!

Suppose he told the truth now and saved Harry. He had never done a brave
deed for the sake of truth or righteousness, or for the love of any
human being, but he could do one now. For the one red counter that had
been a symbol of a day of evil living, he could render a deed that would
make requital for those unpaid days! He would not have played the
coward's part. It would repair the wrong he had done Jessica. He would
have made expiation. Forgiveness and pity, not reproaches and shame,
would follow him. And it would balance, perhaps, the one dreadful count
that stood against him. He thought of the scaffold and shivered. Yet
there was a more terrible thought: _It is a fearful thing to fall into
the hands of the living God!_

He made his way again to the door and unlocked it. It was only to cross
that space, to speak, and then the grim brick building--and the penalty.

With a hoarse cry he slammed the door to and frantically locked it. The
edge of the searching pain was upon him again. He stumbled back to the
couch and fell across it face down, dragging the cushions in frantic
haste over his head, to shut out the sick throbbing of the steam, that
seemed shuddering at the fate his cowering soul dared not face.

The groups outside of the court-house made way deferentially for
Jessica, but she was unconscious of it. Some one asked a question on the
steps, and she heard the answer: "The State has just finished, and the
judge is charging."

The narrow hall was filled, and though all who saw gave her instant
place, the space beyond the inner door was crowded beyond the
possibility of passage. She could see the judge's bench, with its sedate
gray-bearded figure, the jury-box at the left, the moving restless faces
about it, set like a living mosaic. Only the table where the lawyers and
the prisoner sat she could not see, or the empty chair where she had sat
yesterday. What had Hugh thought, she wondered dully, when he had not
seen her there that day? Had he thought that her trust had failed?

She became aware suddenly that the figure at the high bench was
speaking, had been speaking all along. She could not think clearly, and
her brain struggled with the incisive matter-of-fact sentences.

"With the prisoner's later career in Smoky Mountain they had nothing to
do, nor had the law. The question it asked--the only question it
asked--was, did he kill Moreau? They might be loath to believe the same
man capable of such contradictory acts--the courageous saving of a child
from death, for example, and the shooting down of a fellow-mortal in
cold blood--but it had been truly said that such contrasts were not
impossible, nay, were even matters of common observation. Prejudice and
bias aside, and sympathy and liking aside, they constituted a tribunal
of justice. This the State had a right to demand, and this they, the
jury, had made solemn oath to give."

The words had no meaning for her ears. "What did he say?" she whispered
to herself piteously.

In her abyss of torture she felt the tense expectancy stirring audibly
in the room like a still breeze in forest leaves--saw the averted faces
of the jury as they rose to file out. She caught but a glimpse of the
prisoner, as the sheriff touched his arm and led the way quickly to the
door through which he had been brought.

It opened and closed upon them, and the tension of the packed room broke
all at once in a great respiration of relief and a buzz of conversation.

A voice spoke beside her. It was Doctor Brent. "Come with me," he said.
"Felder asked me to watch for you. We can wait in the judge's room."



Meanwhile in the narrow cell Harry was alone with his bitterness. His
judicial sense, keenly alive, from the very first had appreciated the
woeful weakness, evidentially speaking, of his position. He had no
illusions on this score. A little while--after such deliberation as was
decent and seemly--and he would be a condemned criminal, waiting in the
shadow of the hempen noose. In such localities justice was swift. There
would be scant time between verdict and penalty--not enough, doubtless,
for the problem to solve itself. For the only solution possible was
Hugh's dying in the hospital at Aniston. So long as the other lived, he
must play out the rôle.

And if Hugh did die, but died too late? What a satire on truth and
justice! The same error which put the rope about his own neck would fold
the real Hugh in the odor of sanctity. He would lie in the little jail
yard in a felon's grave, and Hugh in the cemetery on the hill, beneath a
marble monument erected by St. James Parish to the Reverend Henry
Sanderson. He was in an _impasse_. In the dock, or in the cell with the
death-watch sitting at its door, it was all one. He had elected the
path, and if it led to the bleak edge of life, to the barren abyss of
shame, he must tread it.

His own life--he had come in his thinking to a point where that mattered
least of all. Harry Sanderson, the vanished rector of St. James,
mattered. And Jessica! On the cot lay a slender blue-bound
book--Tennyson's _Becket_. She had sent it to him, in a hamper of her
favorites, some days before. He picked it up and held it in his hand,
touching the limp leather gently. It was as soft as her cheek, and there
was about the leaves a hint of that intangible perfume that his mind
always associated with her--

     ... the smell of the jasmin-flower
     That she used to wear in her breast!

Far more than his life, more than the name and fame of the Reverend
Henry Sanderson, she mattered! Could he write it for her eye, the whole
truth, so that sometime--afterward--the bishop might know, and the blot
be erased from his career? Impossible! With Hugh buried in Aniston and
he in Smoky Mountain, who was there but would smile at such a tale? She
might shout it to the world, and it would answer with derision. And
what comfort would the truth be to her?

Could he say to her: "Your husband lies dead under my tombstone, not
innocent, but unregenerate and vile. I, who you think am your husband,
am not and never was. You have come to my call--but I am nothing to you.
You are the wife of the guilty murderer of Moreau!" Could he leave this
behind him, and, passing from her life for ever, turn the memory of
their love into an irremediable bitterness? No--no! Better never to tell
her! Better to let her live her life, holding her faith and dream,
treasuring her belief in his regeneration and innocence!

He thought of the closing chapter in his life at Aniston, when in that
hour of his despair he had prayed by his study desk. The words he had
then said aloud recurred to him: "If I am delivered, it must be by some
way of Thine Own that I can not conceive, for I can not help myself." He
was powerless to help himself still. He had given over his life into the
keeping of a Power in which his better manhood had trusted. If it
exacted the final tribute for those ribald years of Satan Sanderson, the
price would be paid!

A step came in the corridor--a voice spoke his name. The summons had
come. As he laid the blue book back on the cot, its closing words--the
dying utterance of the martyred Becket--flashed through his mind, the
personal cry of his own soul:

"Into Thy hands, O Lord--into Thy hands!"

Before the opening door the hum of voices in the court-room sank to
stillness itself. The jury had taken their places; their looks were
sober and downcast. The judge was in his seat, his hand combing his
beard. Harry faced him calmly. The door of a side room was partly open
and a girl's white face looked in, but he did not see.

"Gentlemen of the jury, have you arrived at a verdict?"

"We have."

There was a confusion in the hall--abrupt voices and the sound of feet.
The crowd stirred and the judge frowningly lifted his gavel.

"What say you, guilty or not guilty?"

The foreman did not answer. He was leaning forward, looking over the
heads of the crowd. The judge stood up. People turned, and the room was
suddenly a-rustle with surprised movement. The crowd at the back of the
room parted, and up the center aisle, toward the judge's desk, staggered
a figure--a man whose face, ghastly and convulsed, was partly swathed
in bandages. At the door of the judge's room a girl stood transfixed and

The crowd gasped. They saw the familiar profile, a replica of the
prisoner's--the mark that slanted across the brow--the eyes
preternaturally bright and fevered.

A pale-faced, breathless man in clerical dress pushed forward through
the press, as the figure stopped ... thrust out his hands blindly.

"Not--guilty, your Honor!" he said.

A cry came from the prisoner at the bar. He leaped toward him as he fell
and caught him in his arms.



The group in the judge's room was hushed in awestruck silence. The door
was shut, but through the panels, from the court-room, came the murmur
of many wondering voices. By the sofa on which lay the man who had made
expiation stood the bishop and Harry Sanderson. Jessica knelt beside it,
and the judge and those who stood with him in the background knew that
the curtain was falling upon a strange and tangled drama of life and

After the one long, sobbing cry of realization, throughout the
excitement and confusion, Jessica had been strangely calm. She read the
swift certainty in Doctor Brent's face, and she felt a painful
thankfulness. The last appeal would not be to man's justice, but to
God's mercy! The memories of the old blind days and the knowledge that
this man--not the one to whom she had given her love at Smoky Mountain,
at whom she dared not look--had then been her lover, rolled about her in
a stinging mist. But as she knelt by the sofa the hand that chafed the
nerveless one was firm, and she wiped the cold lips deftly and tenderly.

Hugh's eyes were filming. That harrowing struggle of soul, that
convulsive effort of the injured body, had demanded its price. The
direful agony and its weakness had seized him--his stiffening fingers
were slipping from the ledge of life, and he knew it.

He heard the bishop's earnest voice speaking from the void: "_Greater
love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
friends!_" The words roused his fading senses, called them back to the
outpost of feeling.

"Not because I--loved," he said. "It--was because--I--was afraid!"

False as his habit of life had been, in that moment only the bare truth
remained. With a last effort the dying man thrust his hand into his
pocket, drew out a small, battered, red disk, and laid it in the other's
hand. He smiled.

"Satan--" he whispered, as Harry bent over him, and the flicker of light
fell in his eyes, "do you--think it will--count--when I cash in?"

But Harry's answer Hugh did not hear. He had passed out of the sound of
mortal speech for ever.



There came a day when the brown ravines of Smoky Mountain laughed in
genial sunshine, when the tangled thickets, and the foliaged reaches,
painted with the cardinal and bishop's-purple of late autumn, flushed
and stirred to the touch of their golden lover, and the silver water
gushing through the flumes sang to a quicker melody. There was no wind;
everywhere, save for the breathing life of the forest, was dreamy beauty
and waiting peace.

In the soft stillness Harry stood on the doorstep of the hillside
cabin--for the last time. Below him in the gulch the light glanced and
sparkled from the running flume, and beyond glimmered the long street of
the town where the dead past of Satan Sanderson had been buried for ever
and the old remorseful pain of conscience had found its surcease. In
that last lack-luster year before the rector of the old St. James had
been snuffed out in the wild motor-ride, he had come to doubt the
ultimate Prescience and Purpose. How small and futile now seemed those
doubts in face of the new conception he had apprehended, in the tacit
acceptance of a watchful Will and Plan not his own.

Here had been the theater of his pain and his temptation. Sitting on
that very spot, with the wise stars overhead, he had drawn from Old
Despair's violin the strain that had brought him Jessica, her hand in
his, her head upon his breast! In the far distance, a tender haze
softening their outline, stood the violet silhouette of the enduring
ranges, and far beyond them lay Aniston, where waited his newer life,
his newer, better work--and the hope that was the April of his dreams.

Since that tragic day in the court-room he had seen Jessica once
only--in the hour when the bishop's solemn "dust to dust" had been
spoken above the man who had been her husband. One thought had comforted
him--the town of Smoky Mountain had never known, need never know, the
secret of her wifehood. And Aniston was far away. About the coming of
Hugh injured and dying to his rescue, would be thrown a glamour of
knight-errantry that would bespeak charity of judgment. When Jessica
went back to the white house in the aspens she would meet only
tenderness and sympathy. And that was well.

He shut the door of his cabin and, whistling to his dog, climbed the
steep path, where the wrinkled creeper flung its new splash of scarlet,
and along the trail to the Knob, under the needled song of the redwoods.
There in the dappled shade stood Jessica's rock-statue, and now it
looked upon two mounds. The Prodigal had returned at last, father and
son rested side by side, and that, too, was well.

He went slowly through the brown hollows to the winding mountain road,
crossed it, and entered the denser forest. He wanted to see once more
the dear spot where he and Jessica had met--that deep, sweet day before
the rude awakening. He walked on in a reverie; his thoughts were very
far away.

He stopped suddenly--there before him was the little knoll where she had
stood waiting, on the threshold of his Palace of Enchantment, that one
roseate morning. And she was there to-day--not standing with parted lips
and eager eyes under the twittering trees, but lying face down on the
moss, her red bronze hair shaming the gold of the fallen leaves.

There was a gesture in the outstretched arms that caught at his heart.
He stepped forward, and at the sound she looked up startled.

He saw the creeping color that mounted to her brow, the proud yet
passionate hunger of her eyes. He dropped on his knees and took her
hands and kissed them:

"My dear love that is!" he whispered. "My dearer wife that is to be!"

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Satan Sanderson" ***

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