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Title: Ruggles of Red Gap
Author: Wilson, Harry Leon, 1867-1939
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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By Harry Leon Wilson





At 6:30 in our Paris apartment I had finished the Honourable George,
performing those final touches that make the difference between a man
well turned out and a man merely dressed. In the main I was not
dissatisfied. His dress waistcoats, it is true, no longer permit the
inhalation of anything like a full breath, and his collars clasp too
closely. (I have always held that a collar may provide quite ample
room for the throat without sacrifice of smartness if the depth be at
least two and one quarter inches.) And it is no secret to either the
Honourable George or our intimates that I have never approved his
fashion of beard, a reddish, enveloping, brushlike affair never nicely
enough trimmed. I prefer, indeed, no beard at all, but he stubbornly
refuses to shave, possessing a difficult chin. Still, I repeat, he was
not nearly impossible as he now left my hands.

"Dining with the Americans," he remarked, as I conveyed the hat,
gloves, and stick to him in their proper order.

"Yes, sir," I replied. "And might I suggest, sir, that your choice be
a grilled undercut or something simple, bearing in mind the undoubted
effects of shell-fish upon one's complexion?" The hard truth is that
after even a very little lobster the Honourable George has a way of
coming out in spots. A single oyster patty, too, will often spot him
quite all over.

"What cheek! Decide that for myself," he retorted with a lame effort
at dignity which he was unable to sustain. His eyes fell from mine.
"Besides, I'm almost quite certain that the last time it was the
melon. Wretched things, melons!"

Then, as if to divert me, he rather fussily refused the correct
evening stick I had chosen for him and seized a knobby bit of
thornwood suitable only for moor and upland work, and brazenly quite
discarded the gloves.

"Feel a silly fool wearing gloves when there's no reason!" he
exclaimed pettishly.

"Quite so, sir," I replied, freezing instantly.

"Now, don't play the juggins," he retorted. "Let me be comfortable.
And I don't mind telling you I stand to win a hundred quid this very

"I dare say," I replied. The sum was more than needed, but I had cause
to be thus cynical.

"From the American Johnny with the eyebrows," he went on with a quite
pathetic enthusiasm. "We're to play their American game of
poker--drawing poker as they call it. I've watched them play for near
a fortnight. It's beastly simple. One has only to know when to bluff."

"A hundred pounds, yes, sir. And if one loses----"

He flashed me a look so deucedly queer that it fair chilled me.

"I fancy you'll be even more interested than I if I lose," he remarked
in tones of a curious evenness that were somehow rather deadly. The
words seemed pregnant with meaning, but before I could weigh them I
heard him noisily descending the stairs. It was only then I recalled
having noticed that he had not changed to his varnished boots, having
still on his feet the doggish and battered pair he most favoured. It
was a trick of his to evade me with them. I did for them each day all
that human boot-cream could do, but they were things no sensitive
gentleman would endure with evening dress. I was glad to reflect that
doubtless only Americans would observe them.

So began the final hours of a 14th of July in Paris that must ever be
memorable. My own birthday, it is also chosen by the French as one on
which to celebrate with carnival some one of those regrettable events
in their own distressing past.

To begin with, the day was marked first of all by the breezing in of
his lordship the Earl of Brinstead, brother of the Honourable George,
on his way to England from the Engadine. More peppery than usual had
his lordship been, his grayish side-whiskers in angry upheaval and his
inflamed words exploding quite all over the place, so that the
Honourable George and I had both perceived it to be no time for
admitting our recent financial reverse at the gaming tables of Ostend.
On the contrary, we had gamely affirmed the last quarter's allowance
to be practically untouched--a desperate stand, indeed! But there was
that in his lordship's manner to urge us to it, though even so he
appeared to be not more than half deceived.

"No good greening me!" he exploded to both of us. "Tell in a
flash--gambling, or a woman--typing-girl, milliner, dancing person,
what, what! Guilty faces, both of you. Know you too well. My word,
what, what!"

Again we stoutly protested while his lordship on the hearthrug rocked
in his boots and glared. The Honourable George gamely rattled some
loose coin of the baser sort in his pockets and tried in return for a
glare of innocence foully aspersed. I dare say he fell short of it.
His histrionic gifts are but meagre.

"Fools, quite fools, both of you!" exploded his lordship anew. "And,
make it worse, no longer young fools. Young and a fool, people make
excuses. Say, 'Fool? Yes, but so young!' But old and a fool--not a
word to say, what, what! Silly rot at forty." He clutched his
side-whiskers with frenzied hands. He seemed to comb them to a more
bristling rage.

"Dare say you'll both come croppers. Not surprise me. Silly old
George, course, course! Hoped better of Ruggles, though. Ruggles
different from old George. Got a brain. But can't use it. Have old
George wed to a charwoman presently. Hope she'll be a worker. Need to
be--support you both, what, what!"

I mean to say, he was coming it pretty thick, since he could not have
forgotten that each time I had warned him so he could hasten to save
his brother from distressing mésalliances. I refer to the affair with
the typing-girl and to the later entanglement with a Brixton milliner
encountered informally under the portico of a theatre in Charing Cross
Road. But he was in no mood to concede that I had thus far shown a
scrupulous care in these emergencies. Peppery he was, indeed. He
gathered hat and stick, glaring indignantly at each of them and then
at us.

"Greened me fair, haven't you, about money? Quite so, quite so! Not
hear from you then till next quarter. No telegraphing--no begging
letters. Shouldn't a bit know what to make of them. Plenty you got to
last. Say so yourselves." He laughed villainously here. "Morning,"
said he, and was out.

"Old Nevil been annoyed by something," said the Honourable George
after a long silence. "Know the old boy too well. Always tell when
he's been annoyed. Rather wish he hadn't been."

So we had come to the night of this memorable day, and to the
Honourable George's departure on his mysterious words about the
hundred pounds.

Left alone, I began to meditate profoundly. It was the closing of a
day I had seen dawn with the keenest misgiving, having had reason to
believe it might be fraught with significance if not disaster to
myself. The year before a gypsy at Epsom had solemnly warned me that a
great change would come into my life on or before my fortieth
birthday. To this I might have paid less heed but for its disquieting
confirmation on a later day at a psychic parlour in Edgware Road.
Proceeding there in company with my eldest brother-in-law, a
plate-layer and surfaceman on the Northern (he being uncertain about
the Derby winner for that year), I was told by the person for a trifle
of two shillings that I was soon to cross water and to meet many
strange adventures. True, later events proved her to have been
psychically unsound as to the Derby winner (so that my brother-in-law,
who was out two pounds ten, thereby threatened to have an action
against her); yet her reference to myself had confirmed the words of
the gypsy; so it will be plain why I had been anxious the whole of
this birthday.

For one thing, I had gone on the streets as little as possible, though
I should naturally have done that, for the behaviour of the French on
this bank holiday of theirs is repugnant in the extreme to the sane
English point of view--I mean their frivolous public dancing and
marked conversational levity. Indeed, in their soberest moments, they
have too little of British weight. Their best-dressed men are
apparently turned out not by menservants but by modistes. I will not
say their women are without a gift for wearing gowns, and their chefs
have unquestionably got at the inner meaning of food, but as a people
at large they would never do with us. Even their language is not based
on reason. I have had occasion, for example, to acquire their word for
bread, which is "pain." As if that were not wild enough, they
mispronounce it atrociously. Yet for years these people have been
separated from us only by a narrow strip of water!

By keeping close to our rooms, then, I had thought to evade what of
evil might have been in store for me on this day. Another evening I
might have ventured abroad to a cinema palace, but this was no time
for daring, and I took a further precaution of locking our doors.
Then, indeed, I had no misgiving save that inspired by the last words
of the Honourable George. In the event of his losing the game of poker
I was to be even more concerned than he. Yet how could evil come to
me, even should the American do him in the eye rather frightfully? In
truth, I had not the faintest belief that the Honourable George would
win the game. He fancies himself a card-player, though why he should,
God knows. At bridge with him every hand is a no-trumper. I need not
say more. Also it occurred to me that the American would be a person
not accustomed to losing. There was that about him.

More than once I had deplored this rather Bohemian taste of the
Honourable George which led him to associate with Americans as readily
as with persons of his own class; and especially had I regretted his
intimacy with the family in question. Several times I had observed
them, on the occasion of bearing messages from the Honourable
George--usually his acceptance of an invitation to dine. Too obviously
they were rather a handful. I mean to say, they were people who could
perhaps matter in their own wilds, but they would never do with us.

Their leader, with whom the Honourable George had consented to game
this evening, was a tall, careless-spoken person, with a narrow, dark
face marked with heavy black brows that were rather tremendous in
their effect when he did not smile. Almost at my first meeting him I
divined something of the public man in his bearing, a suggestion,
perhaps, of the confirmed orator, a notion in which I was somehow
further set by the gesture with which he swept back his carelessly
falling forelock. I was not surprised, then, to hear him referred to
as the "Senator." In some unexplained manner, the Honourable George,
who is never as reserved in public as I could wish him to be, had
chummed up with this person at one of the race-tracks, and had
thereafter been almost quite too pally with him and with the very
curious other members of his family--the name being Floud.

The wife might still be called youngish, a bit florid in type,
plumpish, with yellow hair, though to this a stain had been applied,
leaving it in deficient consonance with her eyebrows; these shading
grayish eyes that crackled with determination. Rather on the large
side she was, forcible of speech and manner, yet curiously eager, I
had at once detected, for the exactly correct thing in dress and

The remaining member of the family was a male cousin of the so-called
Senator, his senior evidently by half a score of years, since I took
him to have reached the late fifties. "Cousin Egbert" he was called,
and it was at once apparent to me that he had been most direly
subjugated by the woman whom he addressed with great respect as "Mrs.
Effie." Rather a seamed and drooping chap he was, with mild,
whitish-blue eyes like a porcelain doll's, a mournfully drooped gray
moustache, and a grayish jumble of hair. I early remarked his hunted
look in the presence of the woman. Timid and soft-stepping he was
beyond measure.

Such were the impressions I had been able to glean of these altogether
queer people during the fortnight since the Honourable George had so
lawlessly taken them up. Lodged they were in an hotel among the most
expensive situated near what would have been our Trafalgar Square, and
I later recalled that I had been most interestedly studied by the
so-called "Mrs. Effie" on each of the few occasions I appeared there.
I mean to say, she would not be above putting to me intimate questions
concerning my term of service with the Honourable George Augustus
Vane-Basingwell, the precise nature of the duties I performed for him,
and even the exact sum of my honourarium. On the last occasion she had
remarked--and too well I recall a strange glitter in her competent
eyes--"You are just the man needed by poor Cousin Egbert there--you
could make something of him. Look at the way he's tied that cravat
after all I've said to him."

The person referred to here shivered noticeably, stroked his chin in a
manner enabling him to conceal the cravat, and affected nervously to
be taken with a sight in the street below. In some embarrassment I
withdrew, conscious of a cold, speculative scrutiny bent upon me by
the woman.

If I have seemed tedious in my recital of the known facts concerning
these extraordinary North American natives, it will, I am sure, be
forgiven me in the light of those tragic developments about to ensue.

Meantime, let me be pictured as reposing in fancied security from all
evil predictions while I awaited the return of the Honourable George.
I was only too certain he would come suffering from an acute acid
dyspepsia, for I had seen lobster in his shifty eyes as he left me;
but beyond this I apprehended nothing poignant, and I gave myself up
to meditating profoundly upon our situation.

Frankly, it was not good. I had done my best to cheer the Honourable
George, but since our brief sojourn at Ostend, and despite the almost
continuous hospitality of the Americans, he had been having, to put it
bluntly, an awful hump. At Ostend, despite my remonstrance, he had
staked and lost the major portion of his quarter's allowance in
testing a system at the wheel which had been warranted by the person
who sold it to him in London to break any bank in a day's play. He had
meant to pause but briefly at Ostend, for little more than a test of
the system, then proceed to Monte Carlo, where his proposed terrific
winnings would occasion less alarm to the managers. Yet at Ostend the
system developed such grave faults in the first hour of play that we
were forced to lay up in Paris to economize.

For myself I had entertained doubts of the system from the moment of
its purchase, for it seemed awfully certain to me that the vendor
would have used it himself instead of parting with it for a couple of
quid, he being in plain need of fresh linen and smarter boots, to say
nothing of the quite impossible lounge-suit he wore the night we met
him in a cab shelter near Covent Garden. But the Honourable George had
not listened to me. He insisted the chap had made it all enormously
clear; that those mathematical Johnnies never valued money for its own
sake, and that we should presently be as right as two sparrows in a

Fearfully annoyed I was at the dénouement. For now we were in Paris,
rather meanly lodged in a dingy hotel on a narrow street leading from
what with us might have been Piccadilly Circus. Our rooms were rather
a good height with a carved cornice and plaster enrichments, but the
furnishings were musty and the general air depressing, notwithstanding
the effect of a few good mantel ornaments which I have long made it a
rule to carry with me.

Then had come the meeting with the Americans. Glad I was to reflect
that this had occurred in Paris instead of London. That sort of thing
gets about so. Even from Paris I was not a little fearful that news of
his mixing with this raffish set might get to the ears of his
lordship either at the town house or at Chaynes-Wotten. True, his
lordship is not over-liberal with his brother, but that is small
reason for affronting the pride of a family that attained its earldom
in the fourteenth century. Indeed the family had become important
quite long before this time, the first Vane-Basingwell having been
beheaded by no less a personage than William the Conqueror, as I
learned in one of the many hours I have been privileged to browse in
the Chaynes-Wotten library.

It need hardly be said that in my long term of service with the
Honourable George, beginning almost from the time my mother nursed
him, I have endeavoured to keep him up to his class, combating a
certain laxness that has hampered him. And most stubborn he is, and
wilful. At games he is almost quite a duffer. I once got him to play
outside left on a hockey eleven and he excited much comment, some of
which was of a favourable nature, but he cares little for hunting or
shooting and, though it is scarce a matter to be gossiped of, he
loathes cricket. Perhaps I have disclosed enough concerning him.
Although the Vane-Basingwells have quite almost always married the
right people, the Honourable George was beyond question born queer.

Again, in the matter of marriage, he was difficult. His lordship,
having married early into a family of poor lifes, was now long a
widower, and meaning to remain so he had been especially concerned
that the Honourable George should contract a proper alliance. Hence
our constant worry lest he prove too susceptible out of his class.
More than once had he shamefully funked his fences. There was the
distressing instance of the Honourable Agatha Cradleigh. Quite all
that could be desired of family and dower she was, thirty-two years
old, a bit faded though still eager, with the rather immensely high
forehead and long, thin, slightly curved Cradleigh nose.

The Honourable George at his lordship's peppery urging had at last
consented to a betrothal, and our troubles for a time promised to be
over, but it came to precisely nothing. I gathered it might have been
because she wore beads on her gown and was interested in uplift work,
or that she bred canaries, these birds being loathed by the Honourable
George with remarkable intensity, though it might equally have been
that she still mourned a deceased fiancé of her early girlhood, a
curate, I believe, whose faded letters she had preserved and would
read to the Honourable George at intimate moments, weeping bitterly
the while. Whatever may have been his fancied objection--that is the
time we disappeared and were not heard of for near a twelvemonth.

Wondering now I was how we should last until the next quarter's
allowance. We always had lasted, but each time it was a different way.
The Honourable George at a crisis of this sort invariably spoke of
entering trade, and had actually talked of selling motor-cars,
pointing out to me that even certain rulers of Europe had frankly
entered this trade as agents. It might have proved remunerative had he
known anything of motor-cars, but I was more than glad he did not, for
I have always considered machinery to be unrefined. Much I preferred
that he be a company promoter or something of that sort in the city,
knowing about bonds and debentures, as many of the best of our
families are not above doing. It seemed all he could do with
propriety, having failed in examinations for the army and the church,
and being incurably hostile to politics, which he declared silly rot.

Sharply at midnight I aroused myself from these gloomy thoughts and
breathed a long sigh of relief. Both gipsy and psychic expert had
failed in their prophecies. With a lightened heart I set about the
preparations I knew would be needed against the Honourable George's
return. Strong in my conviction that he would not have been able to
resist lobster, I made ready his hot foot-bath with its solution of
brine-crystals and put the absorbent fruit-lozenges close by, together
with his sleeping-suit, his bed-cap, and his knitted night-socks.
Scarcely was all ready when I heard his step.

He greeted me curtly on entering, swiftly averting his face as I took
his stick, hat, and top-coat. But I had seen the worst at one glance.
The Honourable George was more than spotted--he was splotchy. It was
as bad as that.

"Lobster _and_ oysters," I made bold to remark, but he affected
not to have heard, and proceeded rapidly to disrobe. He accepted the
foot-bath without demur, pulling a blanket well about his shoulders,
complaining of the water's temperature, and demanding three of the

"Not what you think at all," he then said. "It was that cursed
bar-le-duc jelly. Always puts me this way, and you quite well know

"Yes, sir, to be sure," I answered gravely, and had the satisfaction
of noting that he looked quite a little foolish. Too well he knew I
could not be deceived, and even now I could surmise that the lobster
had been supported by sherry. How many times have I not explained to
him that sherry has double the tonic vinosity of any other wine and
may not be tampered with by the sensitive. But he chose at present to
make light of it, almost as if he were chaffing above his knowledge of
some calamity.

"Some book Johnny says a chap is either a fool or a physician at
forty," he remarked, drawing the blanket more closely about him.

"I should hardly rank you as a Harley Street consultant, sir," I
swiftly retorted, which was slanging him enormously because he had
turned forty. I mean to say, there was but one thing he could take me
as meaning him to be, since at forty I considered him no physician.
But at least I had not been too blunt, the touch about the Harley
Street consultant being rather neat, I thought, yet not too subtle for

He now demanded a pipe of tobacco, and for a time smoked in silence. I
could see that his mind worked painfully.

"Stiffish lot, those Americans," he said at last.

"They do so many things one doesn't do," I answered.

"And their brogue is not what one could call top-hole, is it now? How
often they say 'I guess!' I fancy they must say it a score of times in
a half-hour."

"I fancy they do, sir," I agreed.

"I fancy that Johnny with the eyebrows will say it even oftener."

"I fancy so, sir. I fancy I've counted it well up to that."

"I fancy you're quite right. And the chap 'guesses' when he awfully
well knows, too. That's the essential rabbit. To-night he said 'I
guess I've got you beaten to a pulp,' when I fancy he wasn't guessing
at all. I mean to say, I swear he knew it perfectly."

"You lost the game of drawing poker?" I asked coldly, though I knew he
had carried little to lose.

"I lost----" he began. I observed he was strangely embarrassed. He
strangled over his pipe and began anew: "I said that to play the game
soundly you've only to know when to bluff. Studied it out myself, and
jolly well right I was, too, as far as I went. But there's further to
go in the silly game. I hadn't observed that to play it greatly one
must also know when one's opponent is bluffing."

"Really, sir?"

"Oh, really; quite important, I assure you. More important than one
would have believed, watching their silly ways. You fancy a chap's
bluffing when he's doing nothing of the sort. I'd enormously have
liked to know it before we played. Things would have been so awfully
different for us"--he broke off curiously, paused, then added--"for

"Different for me, sir?" His words seemed gruesome. They seemed open
to some vaguely sinister interpretation. But I kept myself steady.

"We live and learn, sir," I said, lightly enough.

"Some of us learn too late," he replied, increasingly ominous.

"I take it you failed to win the hundred pounds, sir?"


"I have the hundred pounds; I won it--by losing."

Again he evaded my eye.

"Played, indeed, sir," said I.

"You jolly well won't believe that for long."

Now as he had the hundred pounds, I couldn't fancy what the deuce and
all he meant by such prattle. I was half afraid he might be having me
on, as I have known him do now and again when he fancied he could get
me. I fearfully wanted to ask questions. Again I saw the dark,
absorbed face of the gipsy as he studied my future.

"Rotten shift, life is," now murmured the Honourable George quite as
if he had forgotten me. "If I'd have but put through that Monte Carlo
affair I dare say I'd have chucked the whole business--gone to South
Africa, perhaps, and set up a mine or a plantation. Shouldn't have
come back. Just cut off, and good-bye to this mess. But no capital.
Can't do things without capital. Where these American Johnnies have
the pull of us. Do anything. Nearly do what they jolly well like to.
No sense to money. Stuff that runs blind. Look at the silly beggars
that have it----" On he went quite alarmingly with his tirade. Almost
as violent he was as an ugly-headed chap I once heard ranting when I
went with my brother-in-law to a meeting of the North Brixton Radical
Club. Quite like an anarchist he was. Presently he quieted. After a
long pull at his pipe he regarded me with an entire change of manner.
Well I knew something was coming; coming swift as a rocketing
woodcock. Word for word I put down our incredible speeches:

"You are going out to America, Ruggles."

"Yes, sir; North or South, sir?"

"North, I fancy; somewhere on the West coast--Ohio, Omaha, one of those
Indian places."

"Perhaps Indiana or the Yellowstone Valley, sir."

"The chap's a sort of millionaire."

"The chap, sir?"

"Eyebrow chap. Money no end--mines, lumber, domestic animals, that
sort of thing."

"Beg pardon, sir! I'm to go----"

"Chap's wife taken a great fancy to you. Would have you to do for the
funny, sad beggar. So he's won you. Won you in a game of drawing
poker. Another man would have done as well, but the creature was keen
for you. Great strength of character. Determined sort. Hope you won't
think I didn't play soundly, but it's not a forthright game. Think
they're bluffing when they aren't. When they are you mayn't think it.
So far as hiding one's intentions, it's a most rottenly immoral game.
Low, animal cunning--that sort of thing."

"Do I understand I was the stake, sir?" I controlled myself to say.
The heavens seemed bursting about my head.

"Ultimately lost you were by the very trifling margin of superiority
that a hand known as a club flush bears over another hand consisting
of three of the eights--not quite all of them, you understand, only
three, and two other quite meaningless cards."

I could but stammer piteously, I fear. I heard myself make a wretched
failure of words that crowded to my lips.

"But it's quite simple, I tell you. I dare say I could show it you in
a moment if you've cards in your box."

"Thank you, sir, I'll not trouble you. I'm certain it was simple. But
would you mind telling me what exactly the game was played for?"

"Knew you'd not understand at once. My word, it was not too bally
simple. If I won I'd a hundred pounds. If I lost I'd to give you up to
them but still to receive a hundred pounds. I suspect the Johnny's
conscience pricked him. Thought you were worth a hundred pounds, and
guessed all the time he could do me awfully in the eye with his poker.
Quite set they were on having you. Eyebrow chap seemed to think it a
jolly good wheeze. She didn't, though. Quite off her head at having
you for that glum one who does himself so badly."

Dazed I was, to be sure, scarce comprehending the calamity that had
befallen us.

"Am I to understand, sir, that I am now in the service of the

"Stupid! Of course, of course! Explained clearly, haven't I, about the
club flush and the three eights. Only three of them, mind you. If the
other one had been in my hand, I'd have done him. As narrow a squeak
as that. But I lost. And you may be certain I lost gamely, as a
gentleman should. No laughing matter, but I laughed with them--except
the funny, sad one. He was worried and made no secret of it. They were
good enough to say I took my loss like a dead sport."

More of it followed, but always the same. Ever he came back to the
sickening, concise point that I was to go out to the American
wilderness with these grotesque folk who had but the most elementary
notions of what one does and what one does not do. Always he concluded
with his boast that he had taken his loss like a dead sport. He became
vexed at last by my painful efforts to understand how, precisely, the
dreadful thing had come about. But neither could I endure more. I fled
to my room. He had tried again to impress upon me that three eights
are but slightly inferior to the flush of clubs.

I faced my glass. My ordinary smooth, full face seemed to have
shrivelled. The marks of my anguish were upon me. Vainly had I locked
myself in. The gipsy's warning had borne its evil fruit. Sold, I'd
been; even as once the poor blackamoors were sold into American
bondage. I recalled one of their pathetic folk-songs in which the
wretches were wont to make light of their lamentable estate; a thing I
had often heard sung by a black with a banjo on the pier at Brighton;
not a genuine black, only dyed for the moment he was, but I had never
lost the plaintive quality of the verses:

    "Away down South in Michigan,
    Where I was so happy and so gay,
    'Twas there I mowed the cotton and the cane----"

How poignantly the simple words came back to me! A slave, day after
day mowing his owner's cotton and cane, plucking the maize from the
savannahs, yet happy and gay! Should I be equal to this spirit? The
Honourable George had lost; so I, his pawn, must also submit like a
dead sport.

How little I then dreamed what adventures, what adversities, what
ignominies--yes, and what triumphs were to be mine in those back
blocks of North America! I saw but a bleak wilderness, a distressing
contact with people who never for a moment would do with us. I
shuddered. I despaired.

And outside the windows gay Paris laughed and sang in the dance, ever
unheeding my plight!


In that first sleep how often do we dream that our calamity has been
only a dream. It was so in my first moments of awakening. Vestiges of
some grotesquely hideous nightmare remained with me. Wearing the
shackles of the slave, I had been mowing the corn under the fierce sun
that beats down upon the American savannahs. Sickeningly, then, a wind
of memory blew upon me and I was alive to my situation.

Nor was I forgetful of the plight in which the Honourable George would
now find himself. He is as good as lost when not properly looked
after. In the ordinary affairs of life he is a simple, trusting,
incompetent duffer, if ever there was one. Even in so rudimentary a
matter as collar-studs he is like a storm-tossed mariner--I mean to
say, like a chap in a boat on the ocean who doesn't know what sails to
pull up nor how to steer the silly rudder.

One rather feels exactly that about him.

And now he was bound to go seedy beyond description--like the time at
Mentone when he dreamed a system for playing the little horses, after
which for a fortnight I was obliged to nurse a well-connected invalid
in order that we might last over till next remittance day. The havoc
he managed to wreak among his belongings in that time would scarce be
believed should I set it down--not even a single boot properly
treed--and his appearance when I was enabled to recover him (my client
having behaved most handsomely on the eve of his departure for Spain)
being such that I passed him in the hotel lounge without even a
nod--climbing-boots, with trousers from his one suit of boating
flannels, a blazered golfing waistcoat, his best morning-coat with the
wide braid, a hunting-stock and a motoring-cap, with his beard more
than discursive, as one might say, than I had ever seen it. If I
disclose this thing it is only that my fears for him may be
comprehended when I pictured him being permanently out of hand.

Meditating thus bitterly, I had but finished dressing when I was
startled by a knock on my door and by the entrance, to my summons, of
the elder and more subdued Floud, he of the drooping mustaches and the
mournful eyes of pale blue. One glance at his attire brought freshly
to my mind the atrocious difficulties of my new situation. I may be
credited or not, but combined with tan boots and wretchedly fitting
trousers of a purple hue he wore a black frock-coat, revealing far,
far too much of a blue satin "made" cravat on which was painted a
cluster of tiny white flowers--lilies of the valley, I should say.
Unbelievably above this monstrous mélange was a rather low-crowned
bowler hat.

Hardly repressing a shudder, I bowed, whereupon he advanced solemnly
to me and put out his hand. To cover the embarrassing situation
tactfully I extended my own, and we actually shook hands, although the
clasp was limply quite formal.

"How do you do, Mr. Ruggles?" he began.

I bowed again, but speech failed me.

"She sent me over to get you," he went on. He uttered the word "She"
with such profound awe that I knew he could mean none other than Mrs.
Effie. It was most extraordinary, but I dare say only what was to have
been expected from persons of this sort. In any good-class club or
among gentlemen at large it is customary to allow one at least
twenty-four hours for the payment of one's gambling debts. Yet there I
was being collected by the winner at so early an hour as half-after
seven. If I had been a five-pound note instead of myself, I fancy it
would have been quite the same. These Americans would most indecently
have sent for their winnings before the Honourable George had
awakened. One would have thought they had expected him to refuse
payment of me after losing me the night before. How little they seemed
to realize that we were both intending to be dead sportsmen.

"Very good, sir," I said, "but I trust I may be allowed to brew the
Honourable George his tea before leaving? I'd hardly like to trust to
him alone with it, sir."

"Yes, sir," he said, so respectfully that it gave me an odd feeling.
"Take your time, Mr. Ruggles. I don't know as I am in any hurry on my
own account. It's only account of Her."

I trust it will be remembered that in reporting this person's speeches
I am making an earnest effort to set them down word for word in all
their terrific peculiarities. I mean to say, I would not be held
accountable for his phrasing, and if I corrected his speech, as of
course the tendency is, our identities might become confused. I hope
this will be understood when I report him as saying things in ways one
doesn't word them. I mean to say that it should not be thought that I
would say them in this way if it chanced that I were saying the same
things in my proper person. I fancy this should now be plain.

"Very well, sir," I said.

"If it was me," he went on, "I wouldn't want you a little bit. But
it's Her. She's got her mind made up to do the right thing and have us
all be somebody, and when she makes her mind up----" He hesitated and
studied the ceiling for some seconds. "Believe me," he continued,
"Mrs. Effie is some wildcat!"

"Yes, sir--some wildcat," I repeated.

"Believe _me_, Bill," he said again, quaintly addressing me by a
name not my own--"believe me, she'd fight a rattlesnake and give it
the first two bites."

Again let it be recalled that I put down this extraordinary speech
exactly as I heard it. I thought to detect in it that grotesque
exaggeration with which the Americans so distressingly embellish their
humour. I mean to say, it could hardly have been meant in all
seriousness. So far as my researches have extended, the rattlesnake is
an invariably poisonous reptile. Fancy giving one so downright an
advantage as the first two bites, or even one bite, although I believe
the thing does not in fact bite at all, but does one down with its
forked tongue, of which there is an excellent drawing in my little
volume, "Inquire Within; 1,000 Useful Facts."

"Yes, sir," I replied, somewhat at a loss; "quite so, sir!"

"I just thought I'd wise you up beforehand."

"Thank you, sir," I said, for his intention beneath the weird jargon
was somehow benevolent. "And if you'll be good enough to wait until I
have taken tea to the Honourable George----"

"How is the Judge this morning?" he broke in.

"The Judge, sir?" I was at a loss, until he gestured toward the room
of the Honourable George.

"The Judge, yes. Ain't he a justice of the peace or something?"

"But no, sir; not at all, sir."

"Then what do you call him 'Honourable' for, if he ain't a judge or

"Well, sir, it's done, sir," I explained, but I fear he was unable to
catch my meaning, for a moment later (the Honourable George, hearing
our voices, had thrown a boot smartly against the door) he was
addressing him as "Judge" and thereafter continued to do so, nor did
the Honourable George seem to make any moment of being thus miscalled.

I served the Ceylon tea, together with biscuits and marmalade, the
while our caller chatted nervously. He had, it appeared, procured his
own breakfast while on his way to us.

"I got to have my ham and eggs of a morning," he confided. "But she
won't let me have anything at that hotel but a continental breakfast,
which is nothing but coffee and toast and some of that there sauce
you're eating. She says when I'm on the continent I got to eat a
continental breakfast, because that's the smart thing to do, and not
stuff myself like I was on the ranch; but I got that game beat both
ways from the jack. I duck out every morning before she's up. I found
a place where you can get regular ham and eggs."

"Regular ham and eggs?" murmured the Honourable George.

"French ham and eggs is a joke. They put a slice of boiled ham in a
little dish, slosh a couple of eggs on it, and tuck the dish into the
oven a few minutes. Say, they won't ever believe that back in Red Gap
when I tell it. But I found this here little place where they do it
right, account of Americans having made trouble so much over the other
way. But, mind you, don't let on to her," he warned me suddenly.

"Certainly not, sir," I said. "Trust me to be discreet, sir."

"All right, then. Maybe we'll get on better than what I thought we
would. I was looking for trouble with you, the way she's been talking
about what you'd do for me."

"I trust matters will be pleasant, sir," I replied.

"I can be pushed just so far," he curiously warned me, "and no
farther--not by any man that wears hair."

"Yes, sir," I said again, wondering what the wearing of hair might
mean to this process of pushing him, and feeling rather absurdly glad
that my own face is smoothly shaven.

"You'll find Ruggles fairish enough after you've got used to his
ways," put in the Honourable George.

"All right, Judge; and remember it wasn't my doings," said my new
employer, rising and pulling down to his ears his fearful bowler hat.
"And now we better report to her before she does a hot-foot over here.
You can pack your grip later in the day," he added to me.

"Pack my grip--yes, sir," I said numbly, for I was on the tick of
leaving the Honourable George helpless in bed. In a voice that I fear
was broken I spoke of clothes for the day's wear which I had laid out
for him the night before. He waved a hand bravely at us and sank back
into his pillow as my new employer led me forth. There had been barely
a glance between us to betoken the dreadfulness of the moment.

At our door I was pleased to note that a taximetre cab awaited us. I
had acutely dreaded a walk through the streets, even of Paris, with my
new employer garbed as he was. The blue satin cravat of itself would
have been bound to insure us more attention than one would care for.

I fear we were both somewhat moody during the short ride. Each of us
seemed to have matters of weight to reflect upon. Only upon reaching
our destination did my companion brighten a bit. For a fare of five
francs forty centimes he gave the driver a ten-franc piece and waited
for no change.

"I always get around them that way," he said with an expression of the
brightest cunning. "She used to have the laugh on me because I got so
much counterfeit money handed to me. Now I don't take any change at

"Yes, sir," I said. "Quite right, sir."

"There's more than one way to skin a cat," he added as we ascended to
the Floud's drawing-room, though why his mind should have flown to
this brutal sport, if it be a sport, was quite beyond me. At the door
he paused and hissed at me: "Remember, no matter what she says, if you
treat me white I'll treat you white." And before I could frame any
suitable response to this puzzling announcement he had opened the door
and pushed me in, almost before I could remove my cap.

Seated at the table over coffee and rolls was Mrs. Effie. Her face
brightened as she saw me, then froze to disapproval as her glance
rested upon him I was to know as Cousin Egbert. I saw her capable
mouth set in a straight line of determination.

"You did your very worst, didn't you?" she began. "But sit down and
eat your breakfast. He'll soon change _that_." She turned to me.
"Now, Ruggles, I hope you understand the situation, and I'm sure I can
trust you to take no nonsense from him. You see plainly what you've
got to do. I let him dress to suit himself this morning, so that you
could know the worst at once. Take a good look at him--shoes, coat,
hat--that dreadful cravat!"

"I call this a right pretty necktie," mumbled her victim over a crust
of toast. She had poured coffee for him.

"You hear that?" she asked me. I bowed sympathetically.

"What does he look like?" she insisted. "Just tell him for his own
good, please."

But this I could not do. True enough, during our short ride he had
been reminding me of one of a pair of cross-talk comedians I had once
seen in a music-hall. This, of course, was not a thing one could say.

"I dare say, Madam, he could be smartened up a bit. If I might take
him to some good-class shop----"

"And burn the things he's got on----" she broke in.

"Not this here necktie," interrupted Cousin Egbert rather stubbornly.
"It was give to me by Jeff Tuttle's littlest girl last Christmas; and
this here Prince Albert coat--what's the matter of it, I'd like to
know? It come right from the One Price Clothing Store at Red Gap, and
it's plenty good to go to funerals in----"

"And then to a barber-shop with him," went on Mrs. Effie, who had paid
no heed to his outburst. "Get him done right for once."

Her relative continued to nibble nervously at a bit of toast.

"I've done something with him myself," she said, watching him
narrowly. "At first he insisted on having the whole bill-of-fare for
breakfast, but I put my foot down, and now he's satisfied with the
continental breakfast. That goes to show he has something in him, if
we can only bring it out."

"Something in him, indeed, yes, Madam!" I assented, and Cousin Egbert,
turning to me, winked heavily.

"I want him to look like some one," she resumed, "and I think you're
the man can make him if you're firm with him; but you'll have to be
firm, because he's full of tricks. And if he starts any rough stuff,
just come to me."

"Quite so, Madam," I said, but I felt I was blushing with shame at
hearing one of my own sex so slanged by a woman. That sort of thing
would never do with us. And yet there was something about this
woman--something weirdly authoritative. She showed rather well in the
morning light, her gray eyes crackling as she talked. She was wearing
a most elaborate peignoir, and of course she should not have worn the
diamonds; it seemed almost too much like the morning hour of a stage
favourite; but still one felt that when she talked one would do well
to listen.

Hereupon Cousin Egbert startled me once more.

"Won't you set up and have something with us, Mr. Ruggles?" he asked me.

I looked away, affecting not to have heard, and could feel Mrs. Effie
scowling at him. He coughed into his cup and sprayed coffee well over
himself. His intention had been obvious in the main, though exactly
what he had meant by "setting up" I couldn't fancy--as if I had been a
performing poodle!

The moment's embarrassment was well covered by Mrs. Effie, who again
renewed her instructions, and from an escritoire brought me a sheaf of
the pretentiously printed sheets which the French use in place of our

"You will spare no expense," she directed, "and don't let me see him
again until he looks like some one. Try to have him back here by five.
Some very smart friends of ours are coming for tea."

"I won't drink tea at that outlandish hour for any one," said Cousin
Egbert rather snappishly.

"You will at least refuse it like a man of the world, I hope," she
replied icily, and he drooped submissive once more. "You see?" she
added to me.

"Quite so, Madam," I said, and resolved to be firm and thorough with
Cousin Egbert. In a way I was put upon my mettle. I swore to make him
look like some one. Moreover, I now saw that his half-veiled threats
of rebellion to me had been pure swank. I had in turn but to threaten
to report him to this woman and he would be as clay in my hands.

I presently had him tucked into a closed taxicab, half-heartedly
muttering expostulations and protests to which I paid not the least
heed. During my strolls I had observed in what would have been Regent
Street at home a rather good-class shop with an English name, and to
this I now proceeded with my charge. I am afraid I rather hustled him
across the pavement and into the shop, not knowing what tricks he
might be up to, and not until he was well to the back did I attempt to
explain myself to the shop-walker who had followed us. To him I then
gave details of my charge's escape from a burning hotel the previous
night, which accounted for his extraordinary garb of the moment, he
having been obliged to accept the loan of garments that neither fitted
him nor harmonized with one another. I mean to say, I did not care to
have the chap suspect we would don tan boots, a frock-coat, and bowler
hat except under the most tremendous compulsion.

Cousin Egbert stared at me open mouthed during this recital, but the
shop-walker was only too readily convinced, as indeed who would not
have been, and called an intelligent assistant to relieve our
distress. With his help I swiftly selected an outfit that was not half
bad for ready-to-wear garments. There was a black morning-coat, snug
at the waist, moderately broad at the shoulders, closing with two
buttons, its skirt sharply cut away from the lower button and reaching
to the bend of the knee. The lapels were, of course, soft-rolled and
joined the collar with a triangular notch. It is a coat of immense
character when properly worn, and I was delighted to observe in the
trying on that Cousin Egbert filled it rather smartly. Moreover, he
submitted more meekly than I had hoped. The trousers I selected were
of gray cloth, faintly striped, the waistcoat being of the same
material as the coat, relieved at the neck-opening by an edging of

With the boots I had rather more trouble, as he refused to wear the
patent leathers that I selected, together with the pearl gray spats,
until I grimly requested the telephone assistant to put me through to
the hotel, desiring to speak to Mrs. Senator Floud. This brought him
around, although muttering, and I had less trouble with shirts,
collars, and cravats. I chose a shirt of white piqué, a wing collar
with small, square-cornered tabs, and a pearl ascot.

Then in a cabinet I superintended Cousin Egbert's change of raiment.
We clashed again in the matter of sock-suspenders, which I was
astounded to observe he did not possess. He insisted that he had never
worn them--garters he called them--and never would if he were shot for
it, so I decided to be content with what I had already gained.

By dint of urging and threatening I at length achieved my ground-work
and was more than a little pleased with my effect, as was the
shop-assistant, after I had tied the pearl ascot and adjusted a quiet
tie-pin of my own choosing.

"Now I hope you're satisfied!" growled my charge, seizing his bowler
hat and edging off.

"By no means," I said coldly. "The hat, if you please, sir."

He gave it up rebelliously, and I had again to threaten him with the
telephone before he would submit to a top-hat with a moderate bell and
broad brim. Surveying this in the glass, however, he became
perceptibly reconciled. It was plain that he rather fancied it, though
as yet he wore it consciously and would turn his head slowly and
painfully, as if his neck were stiffened.

Having chosen the proper gloves, I was, I repeat, more than pleased
with this severely simple scheme of black, white, and gray. I felt I
had been wise to resist any tendency to colour, even to the most
delicate of pastel tints. My last selection was a smartish Malacca
stick, the ideal stick for town wear, which I thrust into the
defenceless hands of my client.

"And now, sir," I said firmly, "it is but a step to a barber's stop
where English is spoken." And ruefully he accompanied me. I dare say
that by that time he had discovered that I was not to be trifled with,
for during his hour in the barber's chair he did not once rebel
openly. Only at times would he roll his eyes to mine in dumb appeal.
There was in them something of the utter confiding helplessness I had
noted in the eyes of an old setter at Chaynes-Wotten when I had been
called upon to assist the undergardener in chloroforming him. I mean
to say, the dog had jolly well known something terrible was being done
to him, yet his eyes seemed to say he knew it must be all for the best
and that he trusted us. It was this look I caught as I gave directions
about the trimming of the hair, and especially when I directed that
something radical should be done to the long, grayish moustache that
fell to either side of his chin in the form of a horseshoe. I myself
was puzzled by this difficulty, but the barber solved it rather
neatly, I thought, after a whispered consultation with me. He snipped
a bit off each end and then stoutly waxed the whole affair until the
ends stood stiffly out with distinct military implications. I shall
never forget, and indeed I was not a little touched by the look of
quivering anguish in the eyes of my client when he first beheld this
novel effect. And yet when we were once more in the street I could not
but admit that the change was worth all that it had cost him in
suffering. Strangely, he now looked like some one, especially after I
had persuaded him to a carnation for his buttonhole. I cannot say that
his carriage was all that it should have been, and he was still
conscious of his smart attire, but I nevertheless felt a distinct
thrill of pride in my own work, and was eager to reveal him to Mrs.
Effie in his new guise.

But first he would have luncheon--dinner he called it--and I was not
averse to this, for I had put in a long and trying morning. I went
with him to the little restaurant where Americans had made so much
trouble about ham and eggs, and there he insisted that I should join
him in chops and potatoes and ale. I thought it only proper then to
point out to him that there was certain differences in our walks of
life which should be more or less denoted by his manner of addressing
me. Among other things he should not address me as Mr. Ruggles, nor
was it customary for a valet to eat at the same table with his master.
He seemed much interested in these distinctions and thereupon
addressed me as "Colonel," which was of course quite absurd, but this
I could not make him see. Thereafter, I may say, that he called me
impartially either "Colonel" or "Bill." It was a situation that I had
never before been obliged to meet, and I found it trying in the
extreme. He was a chap who seemed ready to pal up with any one, and I
could not but recall the strange assertion I had so often heard that
in America one never knows who is one's superior. Fancy that! It would
never do with us. I could only determine to be on my guard.

Our luncheon done, he consented to accompany me to the hotel of the
Honourable George, whence I wished to remove my belongings. I should
have preferred to go alone, but I was too fearful of what he might do
to himself or his clothes in my absence.

We found the Honourable George still in bed, as I had feared. He had,
it seemed, been unable to discover his collar studs, which, though I
had placed them in a fresh shirt for him, he had carelessly covered
with a blanket. Begging Cousin Egbert to be seated in my room, I did a
few of the more obvious things required by my late master.

"You'd leave me here like a rat in a trap," he said reproachfully,
which I thought almost quite a little unjust. I mean to say, it had
all been his own doing, he having lost me in the game of drawing
poker, so why should he row me about it now? I silently laid out the
shirt once more.

"You might have told me where I'm to find my brown tweeds and the body

Again he was addressing me as if I had voluntarily left him without
notice, but I observed that he was still mildly speckled from the
night before, so I handed him the fruit-lozenges, and went to pack my
own box. Cousin Egbert I found sitting as I had left him, on the edge
of a chair, carefully holding his hat, stick, and gloves, and staring
into the wall. He had promised me faithfully not to fumble with his
cravat, and evidently he had not once stirred. I packed my box
swiftly--my "grip," as he called it--and we were presently off once
more, without another sight of the Honourable George, who was to join
us at tea. I could hear him moving about, using rather ultra-frightful
language, but I lacked heart for further speech with him at the

An hour later, in the Floud drawing-room, I had the supreme
satisfaction of displaying to Mrs. Effie the happy changes I had been
able to effect in my charge. Posing him, I knocked at the door of her
chamber. She came at once and drew a long breath as she surveyed him,
from varnished boots, spats, and coat to top-hat, which he still wore.
He leaned rather well on his stick, the hand to his hip, the elbow
out, while the other hand lightly held his gloves. A moment she
looked, then gave a low cry of wonder and delight, so that I felt
repaid for my trouble. Indeed, as she faced me to thank me I could see
that her eyes were dimmed.

"Wonderful!" she exclaimed. "Now he looks like some one!" And I
distinctly perceived that only just in time did she repress an impulse
to grasp me by the hand. Under the circumstances I am not sure that I
wouldn't have overlooked the lapse had she yielded to it. "Wonderful!"
she said again.


Hereupon Cousin Egbert, much embarrassed, leaned his stick against the
wall; the stick fell, and in reaching down for it his hat fell, and in
reaching for that he dropped his gloves; but I soon restored him to
order and he was safely seated where he might be studied in further
detail, especially as to his moustaches, which I had considered rather
the supreme touch.

"He looks exactly like some well-known clubman," exclaimed Mrs. Effie.

Her relative growled as if he were quite ready to savage her.

"Like a man about town," she murmured. "Who would have thought he had
it in him until you brought it out?" I knew then that we two should
understand each other.

The slight tension was here relieved by two of the hotel servants who
brought tea things. At a nod from Mrs. Effie I directed the laying out
of these.

At that moment came the other Floud, he of the eyebrows, and a cousin
cub called Elmer, who, I understood, studied art. I became aware that
they were both suddenly engaged and silenced by the sight of Cousin
Egbert. I caught their amazed stares, and then terrifically they broke
into gales of laughter. The cub threw himself on a couch, waving his
feet in the air, and holding his middle as if he'd suffered a sudden
acute dyspepsia, while the elder threw his head back and shrieked
hysterically. Cousin Egbert merely glared at them and, endeavouring
to stroke his moustache, succeeded in unwaxing one side of it so that
it once more hung limply down his chin, whereat they renewed their
boorishness. The elder Floud was now quite dangerously purple, and the
cub on the couch was shrieking: "No matter how dark the clouds, remember
she is still your stepmother," or words to some such silly effect as
that. How it might have ended I hardly dare conjecture--perhaps Cousin
Egbert would presently have roughed them--but a knock sounded, and it
became my duty to open our door upon other guests, women mostly;
Americans in Paris; that sort of thing.

I served the tea amid their babble. The Honourable George was shown up
a bit later, having done to himself quite all I thought he might in
the matter of dress. In spite of serious discrepancies in his attire,
however, I saw that Mrs. Effie meant to lionize him tremendously. With
vast ceremony he was presented to her guests--the Honourable George
Augustus Vane-Basingwell, brother of his lordship the Earl of
Brinstead. The women fluttered about him rather, though he behaved
moodily, and at the first opportunity fell to the tea and cakes quite

In spite of my aversion to the American wilderness, I felt a bit of
professional pride in reflecting that my first day in this new service
was about to end so auspiciously. Yet even in that moment, being as
yet unfamiliar with the room's lesser furniture, I stumbled slightly
against a hassock hid from me by the tray I carried. A cup of tea was
lost, though my recovery was quick. Too late I observed that the
hitherto self-effacing Cousin Egbert was in range of my clumsiness.

"There goes tea all over my new pants!" he said in a high, pained

"Sorry, indeed, sir," said I, a ready napkin in hand. "Let me dry it,

"Yes, sir, I fancy quite so, sir," said he.

I most truly would have liked to shake him smartly for this. I saw
that my work was cut out for me among these Americans, from whom at
their best one expects so little.


As I brisked out of bed the following morning at half-after six, I
could not but wonder rather nervously what the day might have in store
for me. I was obliged to admit that what I was in for looked a bit
thick. As I opened my door I heard stealthy footsteps down the hall
and looked out in time to observe Cousin Egbert entering his own room.
It was not this that startled me. He would have been abroad, I knew,
for the ham and eggs that were forbidden him. Yet I stood aghast, for
with the lounge-suit of tweeds I had selected the day before he had
worn his top-hat! I am aware that these things I relate of him may not
be credited. I can only put them down in all sincerity.

I hastened to him and removed the thing from his head. I fear it was
not with the utmost deference, for I have my human moments.

"It's not done, sir," I protested. He saw that I was offended.

"All right, sir," he replied meekly. "But how was I to know? I thought
it kind of set me off." He referred to it as a "stove-pipe" hat. I
knew then that I should find myself overlooking many things in him. He
was not a person one could be stern with, and I even promised that
Mrs. Effie should not be told of his offence, he promising in turn
never again to stir abroad without first submitting himself to me and
agreeing also to wear sock-suspenders from that day forth. I saw,
indeed, that diplomacy might work wonders with him.

At breakfast in the drawing-room, during which Cousin Egbert earned
warm praise from Mrs. Effie for his lack of appetite (he winking
violently at me during this), I learned that I should be expected to
accompany him to a certain art gallery which corresponds to our
British Museum. I was a bit surprised, indeed, to learn that he
largely spent his days there, and was accustomed to make notes of the
various objects of interest.

"I insisted," explained Mrs. Effie, "that he should absorb all the
culture he could on his trip abroad, so I got him a notebook in which
he puts down his impressions, and I must say he's done fine. Some of
his remarks are so good that when he gets home I may have him read a
paper before our Onwards and Upwards Club."

Cousin Egbert wriggled modestly at this and said: "Shucks!" which I
took to be a term of deprecation.

"You needn't pretend," said Mrs. Effie. "Just let Ruggles here look
over some of the notes you have made," and she handed me a notebook of
ruled paper in which there was a deal of writing. I glanced, as
bidden, at one or two of the paragraphs, and confess that I, too, was
amazed at the fluency and insight displayed along lines in which I
should have thought the man entirely uninformed. "This choice work
represents the first or formative period of the Master," began one
note, "but distinctly foreshadows that later method which made him at
once the hope and despair of his contemporaries. In the 'Portrait of
the Artist by Himself' we have a canvas that well repays patient
study, since here is displayed in its full flower that ruthless
realism, happily attenuated by a superbly subtle delicacy of brush
work----" It was really quite amazing, and I perceived for the first
time that Cousin Egbert must be "a diamond in the rough," as the
well-known saying has it. I felt, indeed, that I would be very pleased
to accompany him on one of his instructive strolls through this
gallery, for I have always been of a studious habit and anxious to
improve myself in the fine arts.

"You see?" asked Mrs. Effie, when I had perused this fragment. "And
yet folks back home would tell you that he's just a----" Cousin Egbert
here coughed alarmingly. "No matter," she continued. "He'll show them
that he's got something in him, mark my words."

"Quite so, Madam," I said, "and I shall consider it a privilege to be
present when he further prosecutes his art studies."

"You may keep him out till dinner-time," she continued. "I'm shopping
this morning, and in the afternoon I shall motor to have tea in the
Boy with the Senator and Mr. Nevil Vane-Basingwell."

Presently, then, my charge and I set out for what I hoped was to be a
peaceful and instructive day among objects of art, though first I was
obliged to escort him to a hatter's and glover's to remedy some minor
discrepancies in his attire. He was very pleased when I permitted him
to select his own hat. I was safe in this, as the shop was really
artists in gentlemen's headwear, and carried only shapes, I observed,
that were confined to exclusive firms so as to insure their being worn
by the right set. As to gloves and a stick, he was again rather
pettish and had to be set right with some firmness. He declared he had
lost his stick and gloves of the previous day. I discovered later that
he had presented them to the lift attendant. But I soon convinced him
that he would not be let to appear without these adjuncts to a
gentleman's toilet.

Then, having once more stood by at the barber's while he was shaved
and his moustaches firmly waxed anew, I saw that he was fit at last
for his art studies. The barber this day suggested curling the
moustaches with a heated iron, but at this my charge fell into so
unseemly a rage that I deemed it wise not to insist. He, indeed,
bluntly threatened a nameless violence to the barber if he were so
much as touched with the iron, and revealed an altogether shocking
gift for profanity, saying loudly: "I'll be--dashed--if you will!" I
mean to say, I have written "dashed" for what he actually said. But at
length I had him once more quieted.

"Now, sir," I said, when I had got him from the barber's shop, to the
barber's manifest relief: "I fancy we've time to do a few objects of
art before luncheon. I've the book here for your comments," I added.

"Quite so," he replied, and led me at a rapid pace along the street in
what I presumed was the direction of the art museum. At the end of a
few blocks he paused at one of those open-air public houses that
disgracefully line the streets of the French capital. I mean to say
that chairs and tables are set out upon the pavement in the most
brazen manner and occupied by the populace, who there drink their
silly beverages and idle away their time. After scanning the score or
so of persons present, even at so early an hour as ten of the morning,
he fell into one of the iron chairs at one of the iron tables and
motioned me to another at his side.

When I had seated myself he said "Beer" to the waiter who appeared,
and held up two fingers.

"Now, look at here," he resumed to me, "this is a good place to do
about four pages of art, and then we can go out and have some
recreation somewhere." Seeing that I was puzzled, he added: "This
way--you take that notebook and write in it out of this here other
book till I think you've done enough, then I'll tell you to stop." And
while I was still bewildered, he drew from an inner pocket a small,
well-thumbed volume which I took from him and saw to be entitled "One
Hundred Masterpieces of the Louvre."

"Open her about the middle," he directed, "and pick out something that
begins good, like 'Here the true art-lover will stand entranced----'
You got to write it, because I guess you can write faster than what I
can. I'll tell her I dictated to you. Get a hustle on now, so's we can
get through. Write down about four pages of that stuff."

Stunned I was for a moment at his audacity. Too plainly I saw through
his deception. Each day, doubtless, he had come to a low place of this
sort and copied into the notebook from the printed volume.

"But, sir," I protested, "why not at least go to the gallery where
these art objects are stored? Copy the notes there if that must be

"I don't know where the darned place is," he confessed. "I did start
for it the first day, but I run into a Punch and Judy show in a little
park, and I just couldn't get away from it, it was so comical, with
all the French kids hollering their heads off at it. Anyway, what's
the use? I'd rather set here in front of this saloon, where everything
is nice."

"It's very extraordinary, sir," I said, wondering if I oughtn't to cut
off to the hotel and warn Mrs. Effie so that she might do a heated
foot to him, as he had once expressed it.

"Well, I guess I've got my rights as well as anybody," he insisted.
"I'll be pushed just so far and no farther, not if I never get any
more cultured than a jack-rabbit. And now you better go on and write
or I'll be--dashed--if I'll ever wear another thing you tell me to."

He had a most bitter and dangerous expression on his face, so I
thought best to humour him once more. Accordingly I set about writing
in his notebook from the volume of criticism he had supplied.

"Change a word now and then and skip around here and there," he
suggested as I wrote, "so's it'll sound more like me."

"Quite so, sir," I said, and continued to transcribe from the printed
page. I was beginning the fifth page in the notebook, being in the
midst of an enthusiastic description of the bit of statuary entitled
"The Winged Victory," when I was startled by a wild yell in my ear.
Cousin Egbert had leaped to his feet and now danced in the middle of
the pavement, waving his stick and hat high in the air and shouting
incoherently. At once we attracted the most undesirable attention from
the loungers about us, the waiters and the passers-by in the street,
many of whom stopped at once to survey my charge with the liveliest
interest. It was then I saw that he had merely wished to attract the
attention of some one passing in a cab. Half a block down the
boulevard I saw a man likewise waving excitedly, standing erect in the
cab to do so. The cab thereupon turned sharply, came back on the
opposite side of the street, crossed over to us, and the occupant

He was an American, as one might have fancied from his behaviour, a
tall, dark-skinned person, wearing a drooping moustache after the
former style of Cousin Egbert, supplemented by an imperial. He wore a
loose-fitting suit of black which had evidently received no proper
attention from the day he purchased it. Under a folded collar he wore
a narrow cravat tied in a bowknot, and in the bosom of his white shirt
there sparkled a diamond such as might have come from a collection of
crown-jewels. This much I had time to notice as he neared us. Cousin
Egbert had not ceased to shout, nor had he paid the least attention to
my tugs at his coat. When the cab's occupant descended to the pavement
they fell upon each other and did for some moments a wild dance such
as I imagine they might have seen the red Indians of western America
perform. Most savagely they punched each other, calling out in the
meantime: "Well, old horse!" and "Who'd ever expected to see you here,
darn your old skin!" (Their actual phrases, be it remembered.)

The crowd, I was glad to note, fell rapidly away, many of them
shrugging their shoulders in a way the French have, and even the
waiters about us quickly lost interest in the pair, as if they were
hardened to the sight of Americans greeting one another. The two were
still saying: "Well! well!" rather breathlessly, but had become a bit
more coherent.

"Jeff Tuttle, you--dashed--old long-horn!" exclaimed Cousin Egbert.

"Good old Sour-dough!" exploded the other. "Ain't this just like old
home week!"

"I thought mebbe you wouldn't know me with all my beadwork and my new
war-bonnet on," continued Cousin Egbert.

"Know you, why, you knock-kneed old Siwash, I could pick out your hide
in a tanyard!"

"Well, well, well!" replied Cousin Egbert.

"Well, well, well!" said the other, and again they dealt each other
smart blows.

"Where'd you turn up from?" demanded Cousin Egbert.

"Europe," said the other. "We been all over Europe and Italy--just
come from some place up over the divide where they talk Dutch, the
Madam and the two girls and me, with the Reverend Timmins and his wife
riding line on us. Say, he's an out-and-out devil for cathedrals--it's
just one church after another with him--Baptist, Methodist,
Presbyterian, Lutheran, takes 'em all in--never overlooks a bet. He's
got Addie and the girls out now. My gosh! it's solemn work! Me? I
ducked out this morning."

"How'd you do it?"

"Told the little woman I had to have a tooth pulled--I was working it
up on the train all day yesterday. Say, what you all rigged out like
that for, Sour-dough, and what you done to your face?"

Cousin Egbert here turned to me in some embarrassment. "Colonel
Ruggles, shake hands with my friend Jeff Tuttle from the State of

"Pleased to meet you, Colonel," said the other before I could explain
that I had no military title whatever, never having, in fact, served
our King, even in the ranks. He shook my hand warmly.

"Any friend of Sour-dough Floud's is all right with me," he assured
me. "What's the matter with having a drink?"

"Say, listen here! I wouldn't have to be blinded and backed into it,"
said Cousin Egbert, enigmatically, I thought, but as they sat down I,
too, seated myself. Something within me had sounded a warning. As well
as I know it now I knew then in my inmost soul that I should summon
Mrs. Effie before matters went farther.

"Beer is all I know how to say," suggested Cousin Egbert.

"Leave that to me," said his new friend masterfully. "Where's the boy?
Here, boy! Veesky-soda! That's French for high-ball," he explained.
"I've had to pick up a lot of their lingo."

Cousin Egbert looked at him admiringly. "Good old Jeff!" he said
simply. He glanced aside to me for a second with downright hostility,
then turned back to his friend. "Something tells me, Jeff, that this
is going to be the first happy day I've had since I crossed the state
line. I've been pestered to death, Jeff--what with Mrs. Effie after me
to improve myself so's I can be a social credit to her back in Red
Gap, and learn to wear clothes and go without my breakfast and attend
art galleries. If you'd stand by me I'd throw her down good and hard
right now, but you know what she is----"

"I sure do," put in Mr. Tuttle so fervently that I knew he spoke the
truth. "That woman can bite through nails. But here's your drink,
Sour-dough. Maybe it will cheer you up."

Extraordinary! I mean to say, biting through nails.

"Three rousing cheers!" exclaimed Cousin Egbert with more animation
than I had ever known him display.

"Here's looking at you, Colonel," said his friend to me, whereupon I
partook of the drink, not wishing to offend him. Decidedly he was not
vogue. His hat was remarkable, being of a black felt with high crown
and a wide and flopping brim. Across his waistcoat was a watch-chain
of heavy links, with a weighty charm consisting of a sculptured gold
horse in full gallop. That sort of thing would never do with us.

"Here, George," he immediately called to the waiter, for they had
quickly drained their glasses, "tell the bartender three more. By
gosh! but that's good, after the way I've been held down."

"Me, too," said Cousin Egbert. "I didn't know how to say it in

"The Reverend held me down," continued the Tuttle person. "'A glass of
native wine,' he says, 'may perhaps be taken now and then without
harm.' 'Well,' I says, 'leave us have ales, wines, liquors, and
cigars,' I says, but not him. I'd get a thimbleful of elderberry wine
or something about every second Friday, except when I'd duck out the
side door of a church and find some caffy. Here, George, foomer,
foomer--bring us some seegars, and then stay on that spot--I may want

"Well, well!" said Cousin Egbert again, as if the meeting were still

"You old stinging-lizard!" responded the other affectionately. The
cigars were brought and I felt constrained to light one.

"The State of Washington needn't ever get nervous over the prospect of
losing me," said the Tuttle person, biting off the end of his cigar.

I gathered at once that the Americans have actually named one of our
colonies "Washington" after the rebel George Washington, though one
would have thought that the indelicacy of this would have been only
too apparent. But, then, I recalled, as well, the city where their
so-called parliament assembles, Washington, D. C. Doubtless the
initials indicate that it was named in "honour" of another member of
this notorious family. I could not but reflect how shocked our King
would be to learn of this effrontery.

Cousin Egbert, who had been for some moments moving his lips without
sound, here spoke:

"I'm going to try it myself," he said. "Here, Charley, veesky-soda! He
made me right off," he continued as the waiter disappeared. "Say,
Jeff, I bet I could have learned a lot of this language if I'd had
some one like you around."

"Well, it took me some time to get the accent," replied the other with
a modesty which I could detect was assumed. More acutely than ever was
I conscious of a psychic warning to separate these two, and I resolved
to act upon it with the utmost diplomacy. The third whiskey and soda
was served us.

"Three rousing cheers!" said Cousin Egbert.

"Here's looking at you!" said the other, and I drank. When my glass was
drained I arose briskly and said:

"I think we should be getting along now, sir, if Mr. Tuttle will be
good enough to excuse us." They both stared at me.

"Yes, sir--I fancy not, sir," said Cousin Egbert.

"Stop your kidding, you fat rascal!" said the other.

"Old Bill means all right," said Cousin Egbert, "so don't let him
irritate you. Bill's our new hired man. He's all right--just let him
talk along."

"Can't he talk setting down?" asked the other. "Does he have to stand
up every time he talks? Ain't that a good chair?" he demanded of me.
"Here, take mine," and to my great embarrassment he arose and offered
me his chair in such a manner that I felt moved to accept it.
Thereupon he took the chair I had vacated and beamed upon us, "Now
that we're all home-folks, together once more, I would suggest a bit
of refreshment. Boy, veesky-soda!"

"I fancy so, sir," said Cousin Egbert, dreamily contemplating me as
the order was served. I was conscious even then that he seemed to be
studying my attire with a critical eye, and indeed he remarked as if
to himself: "What a coat!" I was rather shocked by this, for my suit
was quite a decent lounge-suit that had become too snug for the
Honourable George some two years before. Yet something warned me to
ignore the comment.

"Three rousing cheers!" he said as the drink was served.

"Here's looking at you!" said the Tuttle person.

And again I drank with them, against my better judgment, wondering if
I might escape long enough to be put through to Mrs. Floud on the
telephone. Too plainly the situation was rapidly getting out of hand,
and yet I hesitated. The Tuttle person under an exterior geniality was
rather abrupt. And, moreover, I now recalled having observed a person
much like him in manner and attire in a certain cinema drama of the
far Wild West. He had been a constable or sheriff in the piece and had
subdued a band of armed border ruffians with only a small pocket
pistol. I thought it as well not to cross him.

When they had drunk, each one again said, "Well! well!"

"You old maverick!" said Cousin Egbert.

"You--dashed--old horned toad!" responded his friend.

"What's the matter with a little snack?"

"Not a thing on earth. My appetite ain't been so powerful craving
since Heck was a pup."

These were their actual words, though it may not be believed. The
Tuttle person now approached his cabman, who had waited beside the

"Say, Frank," he began, "Ally restorong," and this he supplemented
with a crude but informing pantomime of one eating. Cousin Egbert was
already seated in the cab, and I could do nothing but follow. "Ally
restorong!" commanded our new friend in a louder tone, and the cabman
with an explosion of understanding drove rapidly off.

"It's a genuine wonder to me how you learned the language so quick,"
said Cousin Egbert.

"It's all in the accent," protested the other. I occupied a narrow
seat in the front. Facing me in the back seat, they lolled easily and
smoked their cigars. Down the thronged boulevard we proceeded at a
rapid pace and were passing presently before an immense gray edifice
which I recognized as the so-called Louvre from its illustration on
the cover of Cousin Egbert's art book. He himself regarded it with
interest, though I fancy he did not recognize it, for, waving his
cigar toward it, he announced to his friend:

"The Public Library." His friend surveyed the building with every sign
of approval.

"That Carnegie is a hot sport, all right," he declared warmly. "I'll
bet that shack set him back some."

"Three rousing cheers!" said Cousin Egbert, without point that I could

We now crossed their Thames over what would have been Westminster
Bridge, I fancy, and were presently bowling through a sort of
Battersea part of the city. The streets grew quite narrow and the
shops smaller, and I found myself wondering not without alarm what
sort of restaurant our abrupt friend had chosen.

"Three rousing cheers!" said Cousin Egbert from time to time, with
almost childish delight.

Debouching from a narrow street again into what the French term a
boulevard, we halted before what was indeed a restaurant, for several
tables were laid on the pavement before the door, but I saw at once
that it was anything but a nice place. "Au Rendezvous des Cochers
Fideles," read the announcement on the flap of the awning, and truly
enough it was a low resort frequented by cabbies--"The meeting-place
of faithful coachmen." Along the curb half a score of horses were
eating from their bags, while their drivers lounged before the place,
eating, drinking, and conversing excitedly in their grotesque jargon.

We descended, in spite of the repellent aspect of the place, and our
driver went to the foot of the line, where he fed his own horse.
Cousin Egbert, already at one of the open-air tables, was rapping
smartly for a waiter.

"What's the matter with having just one little one before grub?" asked
the Tuttle person as we joined him. He had a most curious fashion of
speech. I mean to say, when he suggested anything whatsoever he
invariably wished to know what might be the matter with it.

"Veesky-soda!" demanded Cousin Egbert of the serving person who now
appeared, "and ask your driver to have one," he then urged his friend.

The latter hereupon addressed the cabman who had now come up.

"Vooley-voos take something!" he demanded, and the cabman appeared to

"Vooley-voos your friends take something, too?" he demanded further,
with a gesture that embraced all the cabmen present, and these, too,
appeared to accept with the utmost cordiality.

"You're a wonder, Jeff," said Cousin Egbert. "You talk it like a

"It come natural to me," said the fellow, "and it's a good thing, too.
If you know a little French you can go all over Europe without a bit
of trouble."

Inside the place was all activity, for many cabmen were now accepting
the proffered hospitality, and calling "votry santy!" to their host,
who seemed much pleased. Then to my amazement Cousin Egbert insisted
that our cabman should sit at table with us. I trust I have as little
foolish pride as most people, but this did seem like crowding it on a
bit thick. In fact, it looked rather dicky. I was glad to remember
that we were in what seemed to be the foreign quarter of the town,
where it was probable that no one would recognize us. The drink came,
though our cabman refused the whiskey and secured a bottle of native

"Three rousing cheers!" said Cousin Egbert as we drank once more, and
added as an afterthought, "What a beautiful world we live in!"

"Vooley-voos make-um bring dinner!" said the Tuttle person to the
cabman, who thereupon spoke at length in his native tongue to the
waiter. By this means we secured a soup that was not half bad and
presently a stew of mutton which Cousin Egbert declared was "some
goo." To my astonishment I ate heartily, even in such raffish
surroundings. In fact, I found myself pigging it with the rest of
them. With coffee, cigars were brought from the tobacconist's
next-door, each cabman present accepting one. Our own man was plainly
feeling a vast pride in his party, and now circulated among his
fellows with an account of our merits.

"This is what I call life," said the Tuttle person, leaning back in
his chair.

"I'm coming right back here every day," declared Cousin Egbert

"What's the matter with a little drive to see some well-known objects
of interest?" inquired his friend.

"Not art galleries," insisted Cousin Egbert.

"And not churches," said his friend. "Every day's been Sunday with me
long enough."

"And not clothing stores," said Cousin Egbert firmly. "The Colonel
here is awful fussy about my clothes," he added.

"Is, heh?" inquired his friend. "How do you like this hat of mine?" he
asked, turning to me. It was that sudden I nearly fluffed the catch,
but recovered myself in time.

"I should consider it a hat of sound wearing properties, sir," I said.

He took it off, examined it carefully, and replaced it.

"So far, so good," he said gravely. "But why be fussy about clothes
when God has given you only one life to live?"

"Don't argue about religion," warned Cousin Egbert.

"I always like to see people well dressed, sir," I said, "because it
makes such a difference in their appearance."

He slapped his thigh fiercely. "My gosh! that's true. He's got you
there, Sour-dough. I never thought of that."

"He makes me wear these chest-protectors on my ankles," said Cousin
Egbert bitterly, extending one foot.

"What's the matter of taking a little drive to see some well-known
objects of interest?" said his friend.

"Not art galleries," said Cousin Egbert firmly.

"We said that before--and not churches."

"And not gents' furnishing goods."

"You said that before."

"Well, you said not churches before."

"Well, what's the matter with taking a little drive?"

"Not art galleries," insisted Cousin Egbert. The thing seemed
interminable. I mean to say, they went about the circle as before. It
looked to me as if they were having a bit of a spree.

"We'll have one last drink," said the Tuttle person.

"No," said Cousin Egbert firmly, "not another drop. Don't you see the
condition poor Bill here is in?" To my amazement he was referring to
me. Candidly, he was attempting to convey the impression that I had
taken a drop too much. The other regarded me intently.

"Pickled," he said.

"Always affects him that way," said Cousin Egbert. "He's got no head
for it."

"Beg pardon, sir," I said, wishing to explain, but this I was not let
to do.

"Don't start anything like that here," broke in the Tuttle person,
"the police wouldn't stand for it. Just keep quiet and remember you're
among friends."

"Yes, sir; quite so, sir," said I, being somewhat puzzled by these
strange words. "I was merely----"

"Look out, Jeff," warned Cousin Egbert, interrupting me; "he's a devil
when he starts."

"Have you got a knife?" demanded the other suddenly.

"I fancy so, sir," I answered, and produced from my waistcoat pocket
the small metal-handled affair I have long carried. This he quickly
seized from me.

"You can keep your gun," he remarked, "but you can't be trusted with
this in your condition. I ain't afraid of a gun, but I am afraid of a
knife. You could have backed me off the board any time with this

"Didn't I tell you?" asked Cousin Egbert.

"Beg pardon, sir," I began, for this was drawing it quite too thick,
but again he interrupted me.

"We'd better get him away from this place right off," he said.

"A drive in the fresh air might fix him," suggested Cousin Egbert.
"He's as good a scout as you want to know when he's himself."
Hereupon, calling our waiting cabman, they both, to my embarrassment,
assisted me to the vehicle.

"Ally caffy!" directed the Tuttle person, and we were driven off, to
the raised hats of the remaining cabmen, through many long, quiet

"I wouldn't have had this happen for anything," said Cousin Egbert,
indicating me.

"Lucky I got that knife away from him," said the other.

To this I thought it best to remain silent, it being plain that the
men were both well along, so to say.

The cab now approached an open square from which issued discordant
blasts of music. One glance showed it to be a street fair. I prayed
that we might pass it, but my companions hailed it with delight and at
once halted the cabby.

"Ally caffy on the corner," directed the Tuttle person, and once more
we were seated at an iron table with whiskey and soda ordered. Before
us was the street fair in all its silly activity. There were many
tinselled booths at which games of chance or marksmanship were played,
or at which articles of ornament or household decoration were
displayed for sale, and about these were throngs of low-class French
idling away their afternoon in that mad pursuit of pleasure which is
so characteristic of this race. In the centre of the place was a
carrousel from which came the blare of a steam orchestrion playing the
"Marseillaise," one of their popular songs. From where I sat I could
perceive the circle of gaudily painted beasts that revolved about this
musical atrocity. A fashion of horses seemed to predominate, but there
was also an ostrich (a bearded Frenchman being astride this bird for
the moment), a zebra, a lion, and a gaudily emblazoned giraffe. I
shuddered as I thought of the evil possibilities that might be
suggested to my two companions by this affair. For the moment I was
pleased to note that they had forgotten my supposed indisposition, yet
another equally absurd complication ensued when the drink arrived.

"Say, don't your friend ever loosen up?" asked the Tuttle person of
Cousin Egbert.

"Tighter than Dick's hatband," replied the latter.

"And then some! He ain't bought once. Say, Bo," he continued to me as
I was striving to divine the drift of these comments, "have I got my
fingers crossed or not?"

Seeing that he held one hand behind him I thought to humour him by
saying, "I fancy so, sir."

"He means 'yes,'" said Cousin Egbert.

The other held his hand before me with the first two fingers spread
wide apart. "You lost," he said. "How's that, Sour-dough? We stuck him
the first rattle out of the box."

"Good work," said Cousin Egbert. "You're stuck for this round," he
added to me. "Three rousing cheers!"

I readily perceived that they meant me to pay the score, which I
accordingly did, though I at once suspected the fairness of the game.
I mean to say, if my opponent had been a trickster he could easily
have rearranged his fingers to defeat me before displaying them. I do
not say it was done in this instance. I am merely pointing out that it
left open a way to trickery. I mean to say, one would wish to be
assured of his opponent's social standing before playing this game

No sooner had we finished the drink than the Tuttle person said to me:

"I'll give you one chance to get even. I'll guess your fingers this
time." Accordingly I put one hand behind me and firmly crossed the
fingers, fancying that he would guess them to be uncrossed. Instead of
which he called out "Crossed," and I was obliged to show them in that
wise, though, as before pointed out, I could easily have defeated him
by uncrossing them before revealing my hand. I mean to say, it is not
on the face of it a game one would care to play with casual
acquaintances, and I questioned even then in my own mind its
prevalence in the States. (As a matter of fact, I may say that in my
later life in the States I could find no trace of it, and now believe
it to have been a pure invention on the part of the Tuttle person. I
mean to say, I later became convinced that it was, properly speaking,
not a game at all.)

Again they were hugely delighted at my loss and rapped smartly on the
table for more drink, and now to my embarrassment I discovered that I
lacked the money to pay for this "round" as they would call it.

"Beg pardon, sir," said I discreetly to Cousin Egbert, "but if you
could let me have a bit of change, a half-crown or so----" To my
surprise he regarded me coldly and shook his head emphatically in the

"Not me," he said; "I've been had too often. You're a good smooth
talker and you may be all right, but I can't take a chance at my time
of life."

"What's he want now?" asked the other.

"The old story," said Cousin Egbert: "come off and left his purse on
the hatrack or out in the woodshed some place." This was the height of
absurdity, for I had said nothing of the sort.

"I was looking for something like that," said the other "I never make
a mistake in faces. You got a watch there haven't you?"

"Yes, sir," I said, and laid on the table my silver English
half-hunter with Albert. They both fell to examining this with
interest, and presently the Tuttle person spoke up excitedly:

"Well, darn my skin if he ain't got a genuine double Gazottz. How did
you come by this, my man?" he demanded sharply.

"It came from my brother-in-law, sir," I explained, "six years ago as
security for a trifling loan."

"He sounds honest enough," said the Tuttle person to Cousin Egbert.

"Yes, but maybe it ain't a regular double Gazottz," said the latter.
"The market is flooded with imitations."

"No, sir, I can't be fooled on them boys," insisted the other.
"Blindfold me and I could pick a double Gazottz out every time. I'm
going to take a chance on it, anyway." Whereupon the fellow pocketed
my watch and from his wallet passed me a note of the so-called French
money which I was astounded to observe was for the equivalent of four
pounds, or one hundred francs, as the French will have it. "I'll
advance that much on it," he said, "but don't ask for another cent
until I've had it thoroughly gone over by a plumber. It may have moths
in it."

It seemed to me that the chap was quite off his head, for the watch
was worth not more than ten shillings at the most, though what a
double Gazottz might be I could not guess. However, I saw it would be
wise to appear to accept the loan, and tendered the note in payment of
the score.

When I had secured the change I sought to intimate that we should be
leaving. I thought even the street fair would be better for us than
this rapid consumption of stimulants.

"I bet he'd go without buying," said Cousin Egbert.

"No, he wouldn't," said the other. "He knows what's customary in a
case like this. He's just a little embarrassed. Wait and see if I
ain't right." At which they both sat and stared at me in silence for
some moments until at last I ordered more drink, as I saw was expected
of me.

"He wants the cabman to have one with him," said Cousin Egbert,
whereat the other not only beckoned our cabby to join us, but called
to two labourers who were passing, and also induced the waiter who
served us to join in the "round."

"He seems to have a lot of tough friends," said Cousin Egbert as we
all drank, though he well knew I had extended none of these

"Acts like a drunken sailor soon as he gets a little money," said the

"Three rousing cheers!" replied Cousin Egbert, and to my great chagrin
he leaped to his feet, seized one of the navvies about the waist, and
there on the public pavement did a crude dance with him to the strain
of the "Marseillaise" from the steam orchestrion. Not only this, but
when the music had ceased he traded hats with the navvy, securing a
most shocking affair in place of the new one, and as they parted he
presented the fellow with the gloves and stick I had purchased for him
that very morning. As I stared aghast at this _faux pas_ the navvy,
with his new hat at an angle and twirling the stick, proceeded down the
street with mincing steps and exaggerated airs of gentility, to the
applause of the entire crowd, including Cousin Egbert.

"This ain't quite the hat I want," he said as he returned to us, "but
the day is young. I'll have other chances," and with the help of the
public-house window as a mirror he adjusted the unmentionable thing
with affectations of great nicety.

"He always was a dressy old scoundrel," remarked the Tuttle person.
And then, as the music came to us once more, he continued: "Say,
Sour-dough, let's go over to the rodeo--they got some likely looking
broncs over there."

Arm in arm, accordingly, they crossed the street and proceeded to the
carrousel, first warning the cabby and myself to stay by them lest
harm should come to us. What now ensued was perhaps their most
remarkable behaviour at the day. At the time I could account for it
only by the liquor they had consumed, but later experience in the
States convinced me that they were at times consciously spoofing. I
mean to say, it was quite too absurd--their seriously believing what
they seemed to believe.

The carrousel being at rest when we approached, they gravely examined
each one of the painted wooden effigies, looking into such of the
mouths as were open, and cautiously feeling the forelegs of the
different mounts, keeping up an elaborate pretence the while that the
beasts were real and that they were in danger of being kicked. One
absurdly painted horse they agreed would be the most difficult to
ride. Examining his mouth, they disputed as to his age, and called the
cabby to have his opinion of the thing's fetlocks, warning each other
to beware of his rearing. The cabby, who was doubtless also
intoxicated, made an equal pretence of the beast's realness, and
indulged, I gathered, in various criticisms of its legs at great

"I think he's right," remarked the Tuttle person when the cabby had
finished. "It's a bad case of splints. The leg would be blistered if I
had him."

"I wouldn't give him corral room," said Cousin Egbert. "He's a bad
actor. Look at his eye! Whoa! there--you would, would you!" Here he
made a pretence that the beast had seized him by the shoulder. "He's a
man-eater! What did I tell you? Keep him away!"

"I'll take that out of him," said the Tuttle person. "I'll show him
who's his master."

"You ain't never going to try to ride him, Jeff? Think of the wife and
little ones!"

"You know me, Sour-dough. No horse never stepped out from under me
yet. I'll not only ride him, but I'll put a silver dollar in each
stirrup and give you a thousand for each one I lose and a thousand for
every time I touch leather."

Cousin Egbert here began to plead tearfully:

"Don't do it, Jeff--come on around here. There's a big five-year-old
roan around here that will be safe as a church for you. Let that pinto
alone. They ought to be arrested for having him here."

But the other seemed obdurate.

"Start her up, Professor, when I give the word!" he called to the
proprietor, and handed him one of the French banknotes. "Play it all
out!" he directed, as this person gasped with amazement.

Cousin Egbert then proceeded to the head of the beast.

"You'll have to blind him," he said.

"Sure!" replied the other, and with loud and profane cries to the
animal they bound a handkerchief about his eyes.

"I can tell he's going to be a twister," warned Cousin Egbert. "I
better ear him," and to my increased amazement he took one of the
beast's leather ears between his teeth and held it tightly. Then with
soothing words to the supposedly dangerous animal, the Tuttle person
mounted him.

"Let him go!" he called to Cousin Egbert, who released the ear from
between his teeth.

"Wait!" called the latter. "We're all going with you," whereupon he
insisted that the cabby and I should enter a sort of swan-boat
directly in the rear. I felt a silly fool, but I saw there was nothing
else to be done. Cousin Egbert himself mounted a horse he had called a
"blue roan," waved his hand to the proprietor, who switched a lever,
the "Marseillaise" blared forth, and the platform began to revolve. As
we moved, the Tuttle person whisked the handkerchief from off the eyes
of his mount and with loud, shrill cries began to beat the sides of
its head with his soft hat, bobbing about in his saddle, moreover, as
if the beast were most unruly and like to dismount him. Cousin Egbert
joined in the yelling, I am sorry to say, and lashed his beast as if
he would overtake his companion. The cabman also became excited and
shouted his utmost, apparently in the way of encouragement. Strange to
say, I presume on account of the motion, I felt the thing was becoming
infectious and was absurdly moved to join in the shouts, restraining
myself with difficulty. I could distinctly imagine we were in the
hunting field and riding the tails off the hounds, as one might say.

In view of what was later most unjustly alleged of me, I think it as
well to record now that, though I had partaken freely of the
stimulants since our meeting with the Tuttle person, I was not
intoxicated, nor until this moment had I felt even the slightest
elation. Now, however, I did begin to feel conscious of a mild
exhilaration, and to be aware that I was viewing the behaviour of my
companions with a sort of superior but amused tolerance. I can account
for this only by supposing that the swift revolutions of the carrousel
had in some occult manner intensified or consummated, as one might
say, the effect of my previous potations. I mean to say, the continued
swirling about gave me a frothy feeling that was not unpleasant.

As the contrivance came to rest, Cousin Egbert ran to the Tuttle
person, who had dismounted, and warmly shook his hand, as did the

"I certainly thought he had you there once, Jeff," said Cousin Egbert.
"Of all the twisters I ever saw, that outlaw is the worst."

"Wanted to roll me," said the other, "but I learned him something."

It may not be credited, but at this moment I found myself examining
the beast and saying: "He's crocked himself up, sir--he's gone tender
at the heel." I knew perfectly, it must be understood, that this was
silly, and yet I further added, "I fancy he's picked up a stone." I
mean to say, it was the most utter rot, pretending seriously that way.

"You come away," said Cousin Egbert. "Next thing you'll be thinking
you can ride him yourself." I did in truth experience an earnest
craving for more of the revolutions and said as much, adding that I
rode at twelve stone.

"Let him break his neck if he wants to," urged the Tuttle person.

"It wouldn't be right," replied Cousin Egbert, "not in his condition.
Let's see if we can't find something gentle for him. Not the roan--I
found she ain't bridle-wise. How about that pheasant?"

"It's an ostrich, sir," I corrected him, as indeed it most distinctly
was, though at my words they both indulged in loud laughter, affecting
to consider that I had misnamed the creature.

"Ostrich!" they shouted. "Poor old Bill--he thinks it's an ostrich!"

"Quite so, sir," I said, pleasantly but firmly, determining not to be
hoaxed again.

"Don't drivel that way," said the Tuttle person.

"Leave it to the driver, Jeff--maybe he'll believe _him_," said
Cousin Egbert almost sadly, whereupon the other addressed the cabby:

"Hey, Frank," he began, and continued with some French words, among
which I caught "vooley-vous, ally caffy, foomer"; and something that
sounded much like "kafoozleum," at which the cabby spoke at some
length in his native language concerning the ostrich. When he had
done, the Tuttle person turned to me with a superior frown.

"Now I guess you're satisfied," he remarked. "You heard what Frank
said--it's an Arabian muffin bird." Of course I was perfectly certain
that the chap had said nothing of the sort, but I resolved to enter
into the spirit of the thing, so I merely said: "Yes, sir; my error;
it was only at first glance that it seemed to be an ostrich."

"Come along," said Cousin Egbert. "I won't let him ride anything he
can't guess the name of. It wouldn't be right to his folks."

"Well, what's that, then?" demanded the other, pointing full at the

"It's a bally ant-eater, sir," I replied, divining that I should be
wise not to seem too obvious in naming the beast.

"Well, well, so it is!" exclaimed the Tuttle person delightedly.

"He's got the eye with him this time," said Cousin Egbert admiringly.

"He's sure a wonder," said the other. "That thing had me fooled; I
thought at first it was a Russian mouse hound."

"Well, let him ride it, then," said Cousin Egbert, and I was
practically lifted into the saddle by the pair of them.

"One moment," said Cousin Egbert. "Can't you see the poor thing has a
sore throat? Wait till I fix him." And forthwith he removed his spats
and in another moment had buckled them securely high about the throat
of the giraffe. It will be seen that I was not myself when I say that
this performance did not shock me as it should have done, though I
was, of course, less entertained by it than were the remainder of our
party and a circle of the French lower classes that had formed about

"Give him his head! Let's see what time you can make!" shouted Cousin
Egbert as the affair began once more to revolve. I saw that both my
companions held opened watches in their hands.

It here becomes difficult for me to be lucid about the succeeding
events of the day. I was conscious of a mounting exhilaration as my
beast swept me around the circle, and of a marked impatience with many
of the proprieties of behaviour that ordinarily with me matter
enormously. I swung my cap and joyously urged my strange steed to a
faster pace, being conscious of loud applause each time I passed my
companions. For certain lapses of memory thereafter I must wholly
blame this insidious motion.

For example, though I believed myself to be still mounted and whirling
(indeed I was strongly aware of the motion), I found myself seated
again at the corner public house and rapping smartly for drink, which
I paid for. I was feeling remarkably fit, and suffered only a mild
wonder that I should have left the carrousel without observing it.
Having drained my glass, I then remember asking Cousin Egbert if he
would consent to change hats with the cabby, which he willingly did.
It was a top-hat of some strange, hard material brightly glazed.
Although many unjust things were said of me later, this is the sole
incident of the day which causes me to admit that I might have taken a
glass too much, especially as I undoubtedly praised Cousin Egbert's
appearance when the exchange had been made, and was heard to wish that
we might all have hats so smart.

It was directly after this that young Mr. Elmer, the art student,
invited us to his studio, though I had not before remarked his
presence, and cannot recall now where we met him. The occurrence in
the studio, however, was entirely natural. I wished to please my
friends and made no demur whatever when asked to don the things--a
trouserish affair, of sheep's wool, which they called "chapps," a
flannel shirt of blue (they knotted a scarlet handkerchief around my
neck), and a wide-brimmed white hat with four indentations in the
crown, such as one may see worn in the cinema dramas by cow-persons
and other western-coast desperadoes. When they had strapped around my
waist a large pistol in a leather jacket, I considered the effect
picturesque in the extreme, and my friends were loud in their approval
of it.

I repeat, it was an occasion when it would have been boorish in me to
refuse to meet them halfway. I even told them an excellent wheeze I
had long known, which I thought they might not, have heard. It runs:
"Why is Charing Cross? Because the Strand runs into it." I mean to
say, this is comic providing one enters wholly into the spirit of it,
as there is required a certain nimbleness of mind to get the point, as
one might say. In the present instance some needed element was
lacking, for they actually drew aloof from me and conversed in low
tones among themselves, pointedly ignoring me. I repeated the thing to
make sure they should see it, whereat I heard Cousin Egbert say.
"Better not irritate him--he'll get mad if we don't laugh," after
which they burst into laughter so extravagant that I knew it to be
feigned. Hereupon, feeling quite drowsy, I resolved to have forty
winks, and with due apologies reclined upon the couch, where I drifted
into a refreshing slumber.

Later I inferred that I must have slept for some hours. I was awakened
by a light flashed in my eyes, and beheld Cousin Egbert and the Tuttle
person, the latter wishing to know how late I expected to keep them
up. I was on my feet at once with apologies, but they instantly
hustled me to the door, down a flight of steps, through a court-yard,
and into the waiting cab. It was then I noticed that I was wearing the
curious hat of the American Far-West, but when I would have gone back
to leave it, and secure my own, they protested vehemently, wishing to
know if I had not given them trouble enough that day.

In the cab I was still somewhat drowsy, but gathered that my
companions had left me, to dine and attend a public dance-hall with
the cubbish art student. They had not seemed to need sleep and were
still wakeful, for they sang from time to time, and Cousin Egbert
lifted the cabby's hat, which he still wore, bowing to imaginary
throngs along the street who were supposed to be applauding him. I at
once became conscience-stricken at the thought of Mrs. Effie's
feelings when she should discover him to be in this state, and was on
the point of suggesting that he seek another apartment for the night,
when the cab pulled up in front of our own hotel.

Though I protest that I was now entirely recovered from any effect
that the alcohol might have had upon me, it was not until this moment
that I most horribly discovered myself to be in the full cow-person's
regalia I had donned in the studio in a spirit of pure frolic. I mean
to say, I had never intended to wear the things beyond the door and
could not have been hired to do so. What was my amazement then to find
my companions laboriously lifting me from the cab in this impossible
tenue. I objected vehemently, but little good it did me.

"Get a policeman if he starts any of that rough stuff," said the
Tuttle person, and in sheer horror of a scandal I subsided, while one
on either side they hustled me through the hotel lounge--happily
vacant of every one but a tariff manager--and into the lift. And now I
perceived that they were once more pretending to themselves that I was
in a bad way from drink, though I could not at once suspect the full
iniquity of their design.

As we reached our own floor, one of them still seeming to support me
on either side, they began loud and excited admonitions to me to be
still, to come along as quickly as possible, to stop singing, and not
to shoot. I mean to say, I was entirely quiet, I was coming along as
quickly as they would let me, I had not sung, and did not wish to
shoot, yet they persisted in making this loud ado over my supposed
intoxication, aimlessly as I thought, until the door of the Floud
drawing-room opened and Mrs. Effie appeared in the hallway. At this
they redoubled their absurd violence with me, and by dint of tripping
me they actually made it appear that I was scarce able to walk, nor do
I imagine that the costume I wore was any testimonial to my sobriety.

"Now we got him safe," panted Cousin Egbert, pushing open the door of
my room.

"Get his gun, first!" warned the Tuttle person, and this being taken
from me, I was unceremoniously shoved inside.

"What does all this mean?" demanded Mrs. Effie, coming rapidly down
the hall. "Where have you been till this time of night? I bet it's
your fault, Jeff Tuttle--you've been getting him going."

They were both voluble with denials of this, and though I could scarce
believe my ears, they proceeded to tell a story that laid the blame
entirely on me.

"No, ma'am, Mis' Effie," began the Tuttle person. "It ain't that way
at all. You wrong me if ever a man was wronged."

"You just seen what state he was in, didn't you?" asked Cousin Egbert
in tones of deep injury. "Do you want to take another look at him?"
and he made as if to push the door farther open upon me.

"Don't do it--don't get him started again!" warned the Tuttle person.
"I've had trouble enough with that man to-day."

"I seen it coming this morning," said Cousin Egbert, "when we was at
the art gallery. He had a kind of wild look in his eyes, and I says
right then: 'There's a man ought to be watched,' and, well, one thing
led to another--look at this hat he made me wear--nothing would
satisfy him but I should trade hats with some cab-driver----"

"I was coming along from looking at two or three good churches," broke
in the Tuttle person, "when I seen Sour-dough here having a kind of a
mix-up with this man because of him insisting he must ride a kangaroo
or something on a merry-go-round, and wanting Sour-dough to ride an
ostrich with him, and then when we got him quieted down a little,
nothing would do him but he's got to be a cowboy--you seen his
clothes, didn't you? And of course I wanted to get back to Addie and
the girls, but I seen Sour-dough here was in trouble, so I stayed
right by him, and between us we got the maniac here."

"He's one of them should never touch liquor," said Cousin Egbert; "it
makes a demon of him."

"I got his knife away from him early in the game," said the other.

"I don't suppose I got to wear this cabman's hat just because he told
me to, have I?" demanded Cousin Egbert.

"And here I'd been looking forward to a quiet day seeing some
well-known objects of interest," came from the other, "after I got my
tooth pulled, that is."

"And me with a tooth, too, that nearly drove me out of my mind," said
Cousin Egbert suddenly.

I could not see Mrs. Effie, but she had evidently listened to this
outrageous tale with more or less belief, though not wholly credulous.

"You men have both been drinking yourselves," she said shrewdly.

"We had to take a little; he made us," declared the Tuttle person

"He got so he insisted on our taking something every time he did,"
added Cousin Egbert. "And, anyway, I didn't care so much, with this
tooth of mine aching like it does."

"You come right out with me and around to that dentist I went to this
morning," said the Tuttle person. "You'll suffer all night if you

"Maybe I'd better," said Cousin Egbert, "though I hate to leave this
comfortable hotel and go out into the night air again."

"I'll have the right of this in the morning," said Mrs. Effie. "Don't
think it's going to stop here!" At this my door was pulled to and the
key turned in the lock.

Frankly I am aware that what I have put down above is incredible, yet
not a single detail have I distorted. With a quite devilish ingenuity
they had fastened upon some true bits: I had suggested the change of
hats with the cabby, I had wished to ride the giraffe, and the Tuttle
person had secured my knife, but how monstrously untrue of me was the
impression conveyed by these isolated facts. I could believe now quite
all the tales I had ever heard of the queerness of Americans.
Queerness, indeed! I went to bed resolving to let the morrow take care
of itself.

Again I was awakened by a light flashing in my eyes, and became aware
that Cousin Egbert stood in the middle of the room. He was reading
from his notebook of art criticisms, with something of an oratorical
effect. Through the half-drawn curtains I could see that dawn was
breaking. Cousin Egbert was no longer wearing the cabby's hat. It was
now the flat cap of the Paris constable or policeman.


The sight was a fair crumpler after the outrageous slander that had
been put upon me by this elderly inebriate and his accomplice. I sat
up at once, prepared to bully him down a bit. Although I was not sure
that I engaged his attention, I told him that his reading could be
very well done without and that he might take himself off. At this he
became silent and regarded me solemnly.

"Why did Charing Cross the Strand? Because three rousing cheers," said

Of course he had the wheeze all wrong and I saw that he should be in
bed. So with gentle words I lured him to his own chamber. Here, with a
quite unexpected perversity, he accused me of having kept him up the
night long and begged now to be allowed to retire. This he did with
muttered complaints of my behaviour, and was almost instantly asleep.
I concealed the constable's cap in one of his boxes, for I feared that
he had not come by this honestly. I then returned to my own room,
where for a long time I meditated profoundly upon the situation that
now confronted me.

It seemed probable that I should be shopped by Mrs. Effie for what she
had been led to believe was my rowdyish behaviour. However dastardly
the injustice to me, it was a solution of the problem that I saw I
could bring myself to meet with considerable philosophy. It meant a
return to the quiet service of the Honourable George and that I need
no longer face the distressing vicissitudes of life in the back blocks
of unexplored America. I would not be obliged to muddle along in the
blind fashion of the last two days, feeling a frightful fool. Mrs.
Effie would surely not keep me on, and that was all about it. I had
merely to make no defence of myself. And even if I chose to make one I
was not certain that she would believe me, so cunning had been the
accusations against me, with that tiny thread of fact which I make no
doubt has so often enabled historians to give a false colouring to
their recitals without stating downright untruths. Indeed, my
shameless appearance in the garb of a cow person would alone have cast
doubt upon the truth as I knew it to be.

Then suddenly I suffered an illumination. I perceived all at once that
to make any sort of defence of myself would not be cricket. I mean to
say, I saw the proceedings of the previous day in a new light. It is
well known that I do not hold with the abuse of alcoholic stimulants,
and yet on the day before, in moments that I now confess to have been
slightly elevated, I had been conscious of a certain feeling of
fellowship with my two companions that was rather wonderful. Though
obviously they were not university men, they seemed to belong to what
in America would be called the landed gentry, and yet I had felt
myself on terms of undoubted equality with them. It may be believed or
not, but there had been brief spaces when I forgot that I was a
gentleman's man. Astoundingly I had experienced the confident ease of
a gentleman among his equals. I was obliged to admit now that this
might have been a mere delusion of the cup, and yet I wondered, too,
if perchance I might not have caught something of that American spirit
of equality which is said to be peculiar to republics. Needless to say
I had never believed in the existence of this spirit, but had
considered it rather a ghastly jest, having been a reader of our own
periodical press since earliest youth. I mean to say, there could
hardly be a stable society in which one had no superiors, because in
that case one would not know who were one's inferiors. Nevertheless, I
repeat that I had felt a most novel enlargement of myself; had, in
fact, felt that I was a gentleman among gentlemen, using the word in
its strictly technical sense. And so vividly did this conviction
remain with me that I now saw any defence of my course to be out of
the question.

I perceived that my companions had meant to have me on toast from the
first. I mean to say, they had started a rag with me--a bit of
chaff--and I now found myself rather preposterously enjoying the
manner in which they had chivied me. I mean to say, I felt myself
taking it as one gentleman would take a rag from other gentlemen--not
as a bit of a sneak who would tell the truth to save his face. A
couple of chaffing old beggars they were, but they had found me a
topping dead sportsman of their own sort. Be it remembered I was still
uncertain whether I had caught something of that alleged American
spirit, or whether the drink had made me feel equal at least to
Americans. Whatever it might be, it was rather great, and I was
prepared to face Mrs. Effie without a tremor--to face her, of course,
as one overtaken by a weakness for spirits.

When the bell at last rang I donned my service coat and, assuming a
look of profound remorse, I went to the drawing-room to serve the
morning coffee. As I suspected, only Mrs. Effie was present. I believe
it has been before remarked that she is a person of commanding
presence, with a manner of marked determination. She favoured me with
a brief but chilling glance, and for some moments thereafter affected
quite to ignore me. Obviously she had been completely greened the
night before and was treating me with a proper contempt. I saw that it
was no use grousing at fate and that it was better for me not to go
into the American wilderness, since a rolling stone gathers no moss. I
was prepared to accept instant dismissal without a character.

She began upon me, however, after her first cup of coffee, more mildly
than I had expected.

"Ruggles, I'm horribly disappointed in you."

"Not more so than I myself, Madam," I replied.

"I am more disappointed," she continued, "because I felt that Cousin
Egbert had something in him----"

"Something in him, yes, Madam," I murmured sympathetically.

"And that you were the man to bring it out. I was quite hopeful after
you got him into those new clothes. I don't believe any one else could
have done it. And now it turns out that you have this weakness for
drink. Not only that, but you have a mania for insisting that other
men drink with you. Think of those two poor fellows trailing you over
Paris yesterday trying to save you from yourself."

"I shall never forget it, Madam," I said.

"Of course I don't believe that Jeff Tuttle always has to have it
forced on him. Jeff Tuttle is an Indian. But Cousin Egbert is
different. You tore him away from that art gallery where he was
improving his mind, and led him into places that must have been
disgusting to him. All he wanted was to study the world's masterpieces
in canvas and marble, yet you put a cabman's hat on him and made him
ride an antelope, or whatever the thing was. I can't think where you
got such ideas."

"I was not myself. I can only say that I seemed to be subject to an
attack." And the Tuttle person was one of their Indians! This
explained so much about him.

"You don't look like a periodical souse," she remarked.

"Quite so, Madam."

"But you must be a wonder when you do start. The point is: am I doing
right to intrust Cousin Egbert to you again?"

"Quite so, Madam."

"It seems doubtful if you are the person to develop his higher

Against my better judgment I here felt obliged to protest that I had
always been given the highest character for quietness and general
behaviour and that I could safely promise that I should be guilty of
no further lapses of this kind. Frankly, I was wishing to be shopped,
and yet I could not resist making this mild defence of myself. Such I
have found to be the way of human nature. To my surprise I found that
Mrs. Effie was more than half persuaded by these words and was on the
point of giving me another trial. I cannot say that I was delighted at
this. I was ready to give up all Americans as problems one too many
for me, and yet I was strangely a little warmed at thinking I might
not have seen the last of Cousin Egbert, whom I had just given a

"You shall have your chance," she said at last, "and just to show you
that I'm not narrow, you can go over to the sideboard there and pour
yourself out a little one. It ought to be a lifesaver to you, feeling
the way you must this morning."

"Thank you, Madam," and I did as she suggested. I was feeling
especially fit, but I knew that I ought to play in character, as one
might say.

"Three rousing cheers!" I said, having gathered the previous day that
this was a popular American toast. She stared at me rather oddly, but
made no comment other than to announce her departure on a shopping
tour. Her bonnet, I noted, was quite wrong. Too extremely modish it
was, accenting its own lines at the expense of a face to which less
attention should have been called. This is a mistake common to the
sex, however. They little dream how sadly they mock and betray their
own faces. Nothing I think is more pathetic than their trustful
unconsciousness of the tragedy--the rather plainish face under the
contemptuous structure that points to it and shrieks derision. The
rather plain woman who knows what to put upon her head is a woman of
genius. I have seen three, perhaps.

I now went to the room of Cousin Egbert. I found him awake and
cheerful, but disinclined to arise. It was hard for me to realize that
his simple, kindly face could mask the guile he had displayed the
night before. He showed no sign of regret for the false light in which
he had placed me. Indeed he was sitting up in bed as cheerful and
independent as if he had paid two-pence for a park chair.

"I fancy," he began, "that we ought to spend a peaceful day indoors.
The trouble with these foreign parts is that they don't have enough
home life. If it isn't one thing it's another."

"Sometimes it's both, sir," I said, and he saw at once that I was not
to be wheedled. Thereupon he grinned brazenly at me, and demanded:

"What did she say?"

"Well, sir," I said, "she was highly indignant at me for taking you
and Mr. Tuttle into public houses and forcing you to drink liquor, but
she was good enough, after I had expressed my great regret and
promised to do better in the future, to promise that I should have
another chance. It was more than I could have hoped, sir, after the
outrageous manner in which I behaved."

He grinned again at this, and in spite of my resentment I found myself
grinning with him. I am aware that this was a most undignified
submission to the injustice he had put upon me, and it was far from
the line of stern rebuke that I had fully meant to adopt with him, but
there seemed no other way. I mean to say, I couldn't help it.

"I'm glad to hear you talk that way," he said. "It shows you may have
something in you after all. What you want to do is to learn to say no.
Then you won't be so much trouble to those who have to look after

"Yes, sir," I said, "I shall try, sir."

"Then I'll give you another chance," he said sternly.

I mean to say, it was all spoofing, the way we talked. I am certain he
knew it as well as I did, and I am sure we both enjoyed it. I am not
one of those who think it shows a lack of dignity to unbend in this
manner on occasion. True, it is not with every one I could afford to
do so, but Cousin Egbert seemed to be an exception to almost every
rule of conduct.

At his earnest request I now procured for him another carafe of iced
water (he seemed already to have consumed two of these), after which
he suggested that I read to him. The book he had was the well-known
story, "Robinson Crusoe," and I began a chapter which describes some
of the hero's adventures on his lonely island.

Cousin Egbert, I was glad to note, was soon sleeping soundly, so I
left him and retired to my own room for a bit of needed rest. The
story of "Robinson Crusoe" is one in which many interesting facts are
conveyed regarding life upon remote islands where there are
practically no modern conveniences and one is put to all sorts of
crude makeshifts, but for me the narrative contains too little

For the remainder of the day I was left to myself, a period of peace
that I found most welcome. Not until evening did I meet any of the
family except Cousin Egbert, who partook of some light nourishment
late in the afternoon. Then it was that Mrs. Effie summoned me when
she had dressed for dinner, to say:

"We are sailing for home the day after to-morrow. See that Cousin
Egbert has everything he needs."

The following day was a busy one, for there were many boxes to be
packed against the morrow's sailing, and much shopping to do for
Cousin Egbert, although he was much against this.

"It's all nonsense," he insisted, "her saying all that truck helps to
'finish' me. Look at me! I've been in Europe darned near four months
and I can't see that I'm a lick more finished than when I left Red
Gap. Of course it may show on me so other people can see it, but I
don't believe it does, at that." Nevertheless, I bought him no end of
suits and smart haberdashery.

When the last box had been strapped I hastened to our old lodgings on
the chance of seeing the Honourable George once more. I found him
dejectedly studying an ancient copy of the "Referee." Too evidently he
had dined that night in a costume which would, I am sure, have
offended even Cousin Egbert. Above his dress trousers he wore a
golfing waistcoat and a shooting jacket. However, I could not allow
myself to be distressed by this. Indeed, I knew that worse would come.
I forebore to comment upon the extraordinary choice of garments he had
made. I knew it was quite useless. From any word that he let fall
during our chat, he might have supposed himself to be dressed as an
English gentleman should be.

He bade me seat myself, and for some time we smoked our pipes in a
friendly silence. I had feared that, as on the last occasion, he would
row me for having deserted him, but he no longer seemed to harbour
this unjust thought. We spoke of America, and I suggested that he
might some time come out to shoot big game along the Ohio or the
Mississippi. He replied moodily, after a long interval, that if he
ever did come out it would be to set up a cattle plantation. It was
rather agreed that he would come should I send for him. "Can't sit
around forever waiting for old Nevil's toast crumbs," said he.

We chatted for a time of home politics, which was, of course, in a
wretched state. There was a time when we might both have been won to a
sane and reasoned liberalism, but the present so-called government was
coming it a bit too thick for us. We said some sharp things about the
little Welsh attorney who was beginning to be England's humiliation.
Then it was time for me to go.

The moment was rather awkward, for the Honourable George, to my great
embarrassment, pressed upon me his dispatch-case, one that we had
carried during all our travels and into which tidily fitted a quart
flask. Brandy we usually carried in it. I managed to accept it with a
word of thanks, and then amazingly he shook hands twice with me as we
said good-night. I had never dreamed he could be so greatly affected.
Indeed, I had always supposed that there was nothing of the
sentimentalist about him.

So the Honourable George and I were definitely apart for the first
time in our lives.

It was with mingled emotions that I set sail next day for the foreign
land to which I had been exiled by a turn of the cards. Not only was I
off to a wilderness where a life of daily adventure was the normal
life, but I was to mingle with foreigners who promised to be quite
almost impossibly queer, if the family of Flouds could be taken as a
sample of the native American--knowing Indians like the Tuttle person;
that sort of thing. If some would be less queer, others would be even
more queer, with queerness of a sort to tax even my _savoir
faire_, something which had been sorely taxed, I need hardly say,
since that fatal evening when the Honourable George's intuitions had
played him false in the game of drawing poker. I was not the first of
my countrymen, however, to find himself in desperate straits, and I
resolved to behave as England expects us to.

I have said that I was viewing the prospect with mingled emotions.
Before we had been out many hours they became so mingled that, having
crossed the Channel many times, I could no longer pretend to ignore
their true nature. For three days I was at the mercy of the elements,
and it was then I discovered a certain hardness in the nature of
Cousin Egbert which I had not before suspected. It was only by
speaking in the sharpest manner to him that I was able to secure the
nursing my condition demanded. I made no doubt he would actually have
left me to the care of a steward had I not been firm with him. I have
known him leave my bedside for an hour at a time when it seemed
probable that I would pass away at any moment. And more than once,
when I summoned him in the night to administer one of the remedies
with which I had provided myself, or perhaps to question him if the
ship were out of danger, he exhibited something very like irritation.
Indeed he was never properly impressed by my suffering, and at times
when he would answer my call it was plain to be seen that he had been
passing idle moments in the smoke-room or elsewhere, quite as if the
situation were an ordinary one.

It is only fair to say, however, that toward the end of my long and
interesting illness I had quite broken his spirit and brought him to
be as attentive as even I could wish. By the time I was able with his
assistance to go upon deck again he was bringing me nutritive wines
and jellies without being told, and so attentive did he remain that
I overheard a fellow-passenger address him as Florence Nightingale.
I also overheard the Senator tell him that I had got his sheep,
whatever that may have meant--a sheep or a goat--some domestic animal.
Yet with all his willingness he was clumsy in his handling of me; he
seemed to take nothing with any proper seriousness, and in spite of my
sharpest warning he would never wear the proper clothes, so that I
always felt he was attracting undue attention to us. Indeed, I should
hardly care to cross with him again, and this I told him straight.

Of the so-called joys of ship-life, concerning which the boat
companies speak so enthusiastically in their folders, the less said
the better. It is a childish mind, I think, that can be impressed by
the mere wabbly bulk of water. It is undoubtedly tremendous, but
nothing to kick up such a row about. The truth is that the prospect
from a ship's deck lacks that variety which one may enjoy from almost
any English hillside. One sees merely water, and that's all about it.

It will be understood, therefore, that I hailed our approach to the
shores of foreign America with relief if not with enthusiasm. Even
this was better than an ocean which has only size in its favour and
has been quite too foolishly overrated.

We were soon steaming into the harbour of one of their large cities.
Chicago, I had fancied it to be, until the chance remark of an
American who looked to be a well-informed fellow identified it as New
York. I was much annoyed now at the behaviour of Cousin Egbert, who
burst into silly cheers at the slightest excuse, a passing steamer, a
green hill, or a rusty statue of quite ungainly height which seemed to
be made of crude iron. Do as I would, I could not restrain him from
these unseemly shouts. I could not help contrasting his boisterousness
with the fine reserve which, for example, the Honourable George would
have maintained under these circumstances.

A further relief it was, therefore, when we were on the dock and his
mind was diverted to other matters. A long time we were detained by
customs officials who seemed rather overwhelmed by the gowns and
millinery of Mrs. Effie, but we were at last free and taken through
the streets of the crude new American city of New York to a hotel
overlooking what I dare say in their simplicity they call their Hyde


I must admit that at this inn they did things quite nicely, doubtless
because it seemed to be almost entirely staffed by foreigners. One
would scarce have known within its walls that one had come out to
North America, nor that savage wilderness surrounded one on every
hand. Indeed I was surprised to learn that we were quite at the edge
of the rough Western frontier, for in but one night's journey we were
to reach the American mountains to visit some people who inhabited a
camp in their dense wilds.

A bit of romantic thrill I felt in this adventure, for we should
encounter, I inferred, people of the hardy pioneer stock that has
pushed the American civilization, such as it is, ever westward. I
pictured the stalwart woodsman, axe in hand, braving the forest to
fell trees for his rustic home, while at night the red savages prowled
about to scalp any who might stray from the blazing campfire. On the
day of our landing I had read something of this--of depredations
committed by their Indians at Arizona.

From what would, I take it, be their Victoria station, we three began
our journey in one of the Pullman night coaches, the Senator of this
family having proceeded to their home settlement of Red Gap with word
that he must "look after his fences," referring, doubtless, to those
about his cattle plantation.

As our train moved out Mrs. Effie summoned me for a serious talk
concerning the significance of our present visit; not of the
wilderness dangers to which we might be exposed, but of its social
aspects, which seemed to be of prime importance. We were to visit, I
learned, one Charles Belknap-Jackson of Boston and Red Gap, he being a
person who mattered enormously, coming from one of the very oldest
families of Boston, a port on their east coast, and a place, I
gathered, in which some decent attention is given to the matter of who
has been one's family. A bit of a shock it was to learn that in this
rough land they had their castes and precedences. I saw I had been
right to suspect that even a crude society could not exist without its
rules for separating one's superiors from the lower sorts. I began to
feel at once more at home and I attended the discourse of Mrs. Effie
with close attention.

The Boston person, in one of those irresponsibly romantic moments that
sometimes trap the best of us, had married far beneath him, espousing
the simple daughter of one of the crude, old-settling families of Red
Gap. Further, so inattentive to details had he been, he had neglected
to secure an ante-nuptial settlement as our own men so wisely make it
their rule to do, and was now suffering a painful embarrassment from
this folly; for the mother-in-law, controlling the rather sizable
family fortune, had harshly insisted that the pair reside in Red Gap,
permitting no more than an occasional summer visit to his native
Boston, whose inhabitants she affected not to admire.

"Of course the poor fellow suffers frightfully," explained Mrs. Effie,
"shut off there away from all he'd been brought up to, but good has
come of it, for his presence has simply done wonders for us. Before he
came our social life was too awful for words--oh, a _mixture_!
Practically every one in town attended our dances; no one had ever
told us any better. The Bohemian set mingled freely with the very
oldest families--oh, in a way that would never be tolerated in London
society, I'm sure. And everything so crude! Why, I can remember when
no one thought of putting doilies under the finger-bowls. No tone to
it at all. For years we had no country club, if you can believe that.
And even now, in spite of the efforts of Charles and a few of us,
there are still some of the older families that are simply sloppy in
their entertaining. And promiscuous. The trouble I've had with the
Senator and Cousin Egbert!"

"The Flouds are an old family?" I suggested, wishing to understand
these matters deeply.

"The Flouds," she answered impressively, "were living in Red Gap
before the spur track was ever run out to the canning factory--and I
guess you know what that means!"

"Quite so, Madam," I suggested; and, indeed, though it puzzled me a
bit, it sounded rather tremendous, as meaning with us something like
since the battle of Hastings.

"But, as I say, Charles at once gave us a glimpse of the better
things. Thanks to him, the Bohemian set and the North Side set are now
fairly distinct. The scraps we've had with that Bohemian set! He has a
real genius for leadership, Charles has, but I know he often finds it
so discouraging, getting people to know their places. Even his own
mother-in-law, Mrs. Lysander John Pettengill--but you'll see to-morrow
how impossible she is, poor old soul! I shouldn't talk about her, I
really shouldn't. Awfully good heart the poor old dear has, but--well,
I don't see why I shouldn't tell you the exact truth in plain
words--you'd find it out soon enough. She is simply a confirmed
_mixer_. The trial she's been and is to poor Charles! Almost no
respect for any of the higher things he stands for--and temper? Well,
I've heard her swear at him till you'd have thought it was Jeff Tuttle
packing a green cayuse for the first time. Words? Talk about words!
And Cousin Egbert always standing in with her. He's been another awful
trial, refusing to play tennis at the country club, or to take up
golf, or do any of those smart things, though I got him a beautiful
lot of sticks. But no: when he isn't out in the hills, he'd rather sit
down in that back room at the Silver Dollar saloon, playing cribbage
all day with a lot of drunken loafers. But I'm so hoping that will be
changed, now that I've made him see there are better things in life.
Don't you really think he's another man?"

"To an extent, Madam, I dare say," I replied cautiously.

"It's chiefly what I got you for," she went on. "And then, in a
general way you will give tone to our establishment. The moment I saw
you I knew you could be an influence for good among us. No one there
has ever had anything like you. Not even Charles. He's tried to have
American valets, but you never can get them to understand their place.
Charles finds them so offensively familiar. They don't seem to
realize. But of course you realize."

I inclined my head in sympathetic understanding.

"I'm looking forward to Charles meeting you. I guess he'll be a little
put out at our having you, but there's no harm letting him see I'm to
be reckoned with. Naturally his wife, Millie, is more or less
mentioned as a social leader, but I never could see that she is really
any more prominent than I am. In fact, last year after our Bazaar of
All Nations our pictures in costume were in the Spokane paper as 'Red
Gap's Rival Society Queens,' and I suppose that's what we are, though
we work together pretty well as a rule. Still, I must say, having you
puts me a couple of notches ahead of her. Only, for heaven's sake,
keep your eye on Cousin Egbert!"

"I shall do my duty, Madam," I returned, thinking it all rather
morbidly interesting, these weird details about their county families.

"I'm sure you will," she said at parting. "I feel that we shall do
things right this year. Last year the Sunday Spokane paper used to
have nearly a column under the heading 'Social Doings of Red Gap's
Smart Set.' This year we'll have a good two columns, if I don't miss
my guess."

In the smoking-compartment I found Cousin Egbert staring gloomily into
vacancy, as one might say, the reason I knew being that he had vainly
pleaded with Mrs. Effie to be allowed to spend this time at their
Coney Island, which is a sort of Brighton. He transferred his stare to
me, but it lost none of its gloom.

"Hell begins to pop!" said he.

"Referring to what, sir?" I rejoined with some severity, for I have
never held with profanity.

"Referring to Charles Belknap Hyphen Jackson of Boston, Mass.," said
he, "the greatest little trouble-maker that ever crossed the
hills--with a bracelet on one wrist and a watch on the other and a
one-shot eyeglass and a gold cigareet case and key chains, rings,
bangles, and jewellery till he'd sink like lead if he ever fell into
the crick with all that metal on."

"You are speaking, sir, about a person who matters enormously," I
rebuked him.

"If I hadn't been afraid of getting arrested I'd have shot him long

"It's not done, sir," I said, quite horrified by his rash words.

"It's liable to be," he insisted. "I bet Ma Pettengill will go in with
me on it any time I give her the word. Say, listen! there's one good

"The confirmed Mixer, sir?" For I remembered the term.

"The best ever. Any one can set into her game that's got a stack of
chips." He uttered this with deep feeling, whatever it might exactly

"I can be pushed just so far," he insisted sullenly. It struck me then
that he should perhaps have been kept longer in one of the European
capitals. I feared his brief contact with those refining influences
had left him less polished than Mrs. Effie seemed to hope. I wondered
uneasily if he might not cause her to miss her guess. Yet I saw he was
in no mood to be reasoned with, and I retired to my bed which the
blackamoor guard had done out. Here I meditated profoundly for some
time before I slept.

Morning found our coach shunted to a siding at a backwoods settlement
on the borders of an inland sea. The scene was wild beyond
description, where quite almost anything might be expected to happen,
though I was a bit reassured by the presence of a number of persons of
both sexes who appeared to make little of the dangers by which we were
surrounded. I mean to say since they thus took their women into the
wilds so freely, I would still be a dead sportsman.

After a brief wait at a rude quay we embarked on a launch and steamed
out over the water. Mile after mile we passed wooded shores that
sloped up to mountains of prodigious height. Indeed the description of
the Rocky Mountains, of which I take these to be a part, have not been
overdrawn. From time to time, at the edge of the primeval forest, I
could make out the rude shelters of hunter and trapper who braved
these perils for the sake of a scanty livelihood for their hardy wives
and little ones.

Cousin Egbert, beside me, seemed unimpressed, making no outcry at the
fearsome wildness of the scene, and when I spoke of the terrific
height of the mountains he merely admonished me to "quit my kidding."
The sole interest he had thus far displayed was in the title of our
craft--_Storm King_.

"Think of the guy's imagination, naming this here chafing dish the
_Storm King_!" said he; but I was impatient of levity at so
solemn a moment, and promptly rebuked him for having donned a cravat
that I had warned him was for town wear alone; whereat he subsided and
did not again intrude upon me.

Far ahead, at length, I could descry an open glade at the forest edge,
and above this I soon spied floating the North American flag, or
national emblem. It is, of course, known to us that the natives are
given to making rather a silly noise over this flag of theirs, but in
this instance--the pioneer fighting his way into the wilderness and
hoisting it above his frontier home--I felt strangely indisposed to
criticise. I understood that he could be greatly cheered by the flag
of the country he had left behind.

We now neared a small dock from which two ladies brandished
handkerchiefs at us, and were presently welcomed by them. I had no
difficulty in identifying the Mrs. Charles Belknap-Jackson, a lively
featured brunette of neutral tints, rather stubby as to figure, but
modishly done out in white flannels. She surveyed us interestedly
through a lorgnon, observing which Mrs. Effie was quick with her own.
I surmised that neither of them was skilled with this form of glass
(which must really be raised with an air or it's no good); also that
each was not a little chagrined to note that the other possessed one.

Nor was it less evident that the other lady was the mother of Mrs.
Belknap-Jackson; I mean to say, the confirmed Mixer--an elderly person
of immense bulk in gray walking-skirt, heavy boots, and a flowered
blouse that was overwhelming. Her face, under her grayish thatch of
hair, was broad and smiling, the eyes keen, the mouth wide, and the
nose rather a bit blobby. Although at every point she was far from
vogue, she impressed me not unpleasantly. Even her voice, a
magnificently hoarse rumble, was primed with a sort of uncouth
good-will which one might accept in the States. Of course it would
never do with us.

I fancied I could at once detect why they had called her the "Mixer."
She embraced Mrs. Effie with an air of being about to strangle the
woman; she affectionately wrung the hands of Cousin Egbert, and had
grasped my own tightly before I could evade her, not having looked for
that sort of thing.

"That's Cousin Egbert's man!" called Mrs. Effie. But even then the
powerful creature would not release me until her daughter had called
sharply, "Maw! Don't you hear? He's a _man_!" Nevertheless she
gave my hand a parting shake before turning to the others.

"Glad to see a human face at last!" she boomed. "Here I've been a
month in this dinky hole," which I thought strange, since we were
surrounded by league upon league of the primal wilderness. "Cooped up
like a hen in a barrel," she added in tones that must have carried
well out over the lake.

"Cousin Egbert's man," repeated Mrs. Effie, a little ostentatiously, I
thought. "Poor Egbert's so dependent on him--quite helpless without

Cousin Egbert muttered sullenly to himself as he assisted me with the
bags. Then he straightened himself to address them.

"Won him in a game of freeze-out," he remarked quite viciously.

"Does he doll Sour-dough up like that all the time?" demanded the
Mixer, "or has he just come from a masquerade? What's he represent,
anyway?" And these words when I had taken especial pains and resorted
to all manner of threats to turn him smartly out in the walking-suit
of a pioneer!

"Maw!" cried our hostess, "do try to forget that dreadful nickname of

"I sure will if he keeps his disguise on," she rumbled back. "The old
horned toad is most as funny as Jackson."

Really, I mean to say, they talked most amazingly. I was but too glad
when they moved on and we could follow with the bags.

"Calls her 'Maw' all right now," hissed Cousin Egbert in my ear, "but
when that begoshed husband of hers is around the house she calls her

His tone was vastly bitter. He continued to mutter sullenly to
himself--a way he had--until we had disposed of the luggage and I was
laying out his afternoon and evening wear in one of the small detached
houses to which we had been assigned. Nor did he sink his grievance on
the arrival of the Mixer a few moments later. He now addressed her as
"Ma" and asked if she had "the makings," which puzzled me until she
drew from the pocket of her skirt a small cloth sack of tobacco and
some bits of brown paper, from which they both fashioned cigarettes.

"The smart set of Red Gap is holding its first annual meeting for the
election of officers back there," she began after she had emitted twin
jets of smoke from the widely separated corners of her set mouth.

"I say, you know, where's Hyphen old top?" demanded Cousin Egbert in a
quite vile imitation of one speaking in the correct manner.

"Fishing," answered the Mixer with a grin. "In a thousand dollars'
worth of clothes. These here Eastern trout won't notice you unless you
dress right." I thought this strange indeed, but Cousin Egbert merely
grinned in his turn.

"How'd he get you into this awfully horrid rough place?" he next

"Made him. 'This or Red Gap for yours,' I says. The two weeks in New
York wasn't so bad, what with Millie and me getting new clothes,
though him and her both jumped on me that I'm getting too gay about
clothes for a party of my age. 'What's age to me,' I says, 'when I
like bright colours?' Then we tried his home-folks in Boston, but I
played that string out in a week.

"Two old-maid sisters, thin noses and knitted shawls! Stick around in
the back parlour talking about families--whether it was Aunt Lucy's
Abigail or the Concord cousin's Hester that married an Adams in '78
and moved out west to Buffalo. I thought first I could liven them up
some, _you_ know. Looked like it would help a lot for them to get
out in a hack and get a few shots of hooch under their belts, stop at
a few roadhouses, take in a good variety show; get 'em to feeling
good, understand? No use. Wouldn't start. Darn it! they held off from
me. Don't know why. I sure wore clothes for them. Yes, sir. I'd get
dressed up like a broken arm every afternoon; and, say, I got one
sheath skirt, black and white striped, that just has to be looked at.
Never phased them, though.

"I got to thinking mebbe it was because I made my own smokes instead
of using those vegetable cigarettes of Jackson's, or maybe because I'd
get parched and demand a slug of booze before supper. Like a Sunday
afternoon all the time, when you eat a big dinner and everybody's
sleepy and mad because they can't take a nap, and have to set around
and play a few church tunes on the organ or look through the album

"Ain't that right? Don't it fade you?" murmured Cousin Egbert with
deep feeling.

"And little Lysander, my only grandson, poor kid, getting the fidgets
because they try to make him talk different, and raise hell every time
he knocks over a vase or busts a window. Say, would you believe it?
they wanted to keep him there--yes, sir--make him refined. Not for me!
'His father's about all he can survive in those respects,' I says.
What do you think? Wanted to let his hair grow so he'd have curls.
Some dames, yes? I bet they'd have give the kid lovely days. 'Boston
may be all O.K. for grandfathers,' I says; 'not for grandsons,

"Then Jackson was set on Bar Harbor, and I had to be firm again. Darn
it! that man is always making me be firm. So here we are. He said it
was a camp, and that sounded good. But my lands! he wears his full
evening dress suit for supper every night, and you had ought to heard
him go on one day when the patent ice-machine went bad."

"My good gosh!" said Cousin Egbert quite simply.

I had now finished laying out his things and was about to withdraw.

"Is he always like that?" suddenly demanded the Mixer, pointing at me.

"Oh, Bill's all right when you get him out with a crowd," explained
the other. "Bill's really got the makings of one fine little mixer."

They both regarded me genially. It was vastly puzzling. I mean to say,
I was at a loss how to take it, for, of course, that sort of thing
would never do with us. And yet I felt a queer, confused sort of
pleasure in the talk. Absurd though it may seem, I felt there might
come moments in which America would appear almost not impossible.

As I went out Cousin Egbert was telling her of Paris. I lingered to
hear him disclose that all Frenchmen have "M" for their first
initial, and that the Louer family must be one of their wealthiest,
the name "A. Louer" being conspicuous on millions of dollars' worth of
their real estate. This family, he said, must be like the Rothschilds.
Of course the poor soul was absurdly wrong. I mean to say, the letter
"M" merely indicates "Monsieur," which is their foreign way of
spelling Mister, while "A Louer" signifies "to let." I resolved to
explain this to him at the first opportunity, not thinking it right
that he should spread such gross error among a race still but

Having now a bit of time to myself, I observed the construction of
this rude homestead, a dozen or more detached or semi-detached
structures of the native log, yet with the interiors more smartly done
out than I had supposed was common even with the most prosperous of
their scouts and trappers. I suspected a false idea of this rude life
had been given by the cinema dramas. I mean to say, with pianos,
ice-machines, telephones, objects of art, and servants, one saw that
these woodsmen were not primitive in any true sense of the word.

The butler proved to be a genuine blackamoor, a Mr. Waterman, he
informed me, his wife, also a black, being the cook. An elderly
creature of the utmost gravity of bearing, he brought to his
professional duties a finish, a dignity, a manner in short that I have
scarce known excelled among our own serving people. And a creature he
was of the most eventful past, as he informed me at our first
encounter. As a slave he had commanded an immensely high price, some
twenty thousand dollars, as the American money is called, and two
prominent slaveholders had once fought a duel to the death over his
possession. Not many, he assured me, had been so eagerly sought after,
they being for the most part held cheaper--"common black trash," he
put it.

Early tiring of the life of slavery, he had fled to the wilds and for
some years led a desperate band of outlaws whose crimes soon put a
price upon his head. He spoke frankly and with considerable regret of
these lawless years. At the outbreak of the American war, however,
with a reward of fifty thousand dollars offered for his body, he had
boldly surrendered to their Secretary of State for War, receiving a
full pardon for his crimes on condition that he assist in directing
the military operations against the slaveholding aristocracy.
Invaluable he had been in this service, I gathered, two generals,
named respectively Grant and Sherman, having repeatedly assured him
that but for his aid they would more than once in sheer despair have
laid down their swords.

I could readily imagine that after these years of strife he had been
glad to embrace the peaceful calling in which I found him engaged. He
was, as I have intimated, a person of lofty demeanour, with a vein of
high seriousness. Yet he would unbend at moments as frankly as a child
and play at a simple game of chance with a pair of dice. This he was
good enough to teach to myself and gained from me quite a number of
shillings that I chanced to have. For his consort, a person of
tremendous bulk named Clarice, he showed a most chivalric
consideration, and even what I might have mistaken for timidity in one
not a confessed desperado. In truth, he rather flinched when she
interrupted our chat from the kitchen doorway by roundly calling him
"an old black liar." I saw that his must indeed be a complex nature.

From this encounter I chanced upon two lads who seemed to present the
marks of the backwoods life as I had conceived it. Strolling up a
woodland path, I discovered a tent pitched among the trees, before it
a smouldering campfire, over which a cooking-pot hung. The two lads,
of ten years or so, rushed from the tent to regard me, both attired in
shirts and leggings of deerskin profusely fringed after the manner in
which the red Indians decorate their outing or lounge-suits. They were
armed with sheath knives and revolvers, and the taller bore a rifle.

"Howdy, stranger?" exclaimed this one, and the other repeated the
simple American phrase of greeting. Responding in kind, I was bade to
seat myself on a fallen log, which I did. For some moments they
appeared to ignore me, excitedly discussing an adventure of the night
before, and addressing each other as Dead Shot and Hawk Eye. From
their quaint backwoods speech I gathered that Dead Shot, the taller
lad, had the day before been captured by a band of hostile redskins
who would have burned him at the stake but for the happy chance that
the chieftain's daughter had become enamoured of him and cut his

They now planned to return to the encampment at nightfall to fetch
away the daughter, whose name was White Fawn, and cleaned and oiled
their weapons for the enterprise. Dead Shot was vindictive in the
extreme, swearing to engage the chieftain in mortal combat and to cut
his heart out, the same chieftain in former years having led his
savage band against the forest home of Dead Shot while he was yet too
young to defend it, and scalped both of his parents. "I was a mere
stripling then, but now the coward will feel my steel!" he coldly

It had become absurdly evident as I listened that the whole thing was
but spoofing of a silly sort that lads of this age will indulge in,
for I had seen the younger one take his seat at the luncheon table.
But now they spoke of a raid on the settlement to procure "grub," as
the American slang for food has it. Bidding me stop on there and to
utter the cry of the great horned owl if danger threatened, they
stealthily crept toward the buildings of the camp. Presently came a
scream, followed by a hoarse shout of rage. A second later the two
dashed by me into the dense woods, Hawk Eye bearing a plucked fowl.
Soon Mr. Waterman panted up the path brandishing a barge pole and
demanding to know the whereabouts of the marauders. As he had
apparently for the moment reverted to his primal African savagery, I
deliberately misled him by indicating a false direction, upon which he
went off, muttering the most frightful threats.

The two culprits returned, put their fowl in the pot to boil, and
swore me eternal fidelity for having saved them. They declared I
should thereafter be known as Keen Knife, and that, needing a service,
I might call upon them freely.

"Dead Shot never forgets a friend," affirmed the taller lad, whereupon
I formally shook hands with the pair and left them to their childish
devices. They were plotting as I left to capture "that nigger," as
they called him, and put him to death by slow torture.

But I was now shrewd enough to suspect that I might still be far from
the western frontier of America. The evidence had been cumulative but
was no longer questionable. I mean to say, one might do here somewhat
after the way of our own people at a country house in the shires. I
resolved at the first opportunity to have a look at a good map of our
late colonies.

Late in the afternoon our party gathered upon the small dock and I
understood that our host now returned from his trouting. Along the
shore of the lake he came, propelled in a native canoe by a hairy
backwoods person quite wretchedly gotten up, even for a wilderness.
Our host himself, I was quick to observe, was vogue to the last
detail, with a sense of dress and equipment that can never be
acquired, having to be born in one. As he stepped from his frail craft
I saw that he was rather slight of stature, dark, with slender
moustaches, a finely sensitive nose, and eyes of an almost austere
repose. That he had much of the real manner was at once apparent. He
greeted the Flouds and his own family with just that faint touch of
easy superiority which would stamp him to the trained eye as one that
really mattered. Mrs. Effie beckoned me to the group.

"Let Ruggles take your things--Cousin Egbert's man," she was saying.
After a startled glance at Cousin Egbert, our host turned to regard me
with flattering interest for a moment, then transferred to me his
oddments of fishing machinery: his rod, his creel, his luncheon
hamper, landing net, small scales, ointment for warding off midges, a
jar of cold cream, a case containing smoked glasses, a rolled map, a
camera, a book of flies. As I was stowing these he explained that his
sport had been wretched; no fish had been hooked because his guide had
not known where to find them. I here glanced at the backwoods person
referred to and at once did not like the look in his eyes. He winked
swiftly at Cousin Egbert, who coughed rather formally.

"Let Ruggles help you to change," continued Mrs. Effie. "He's awfully
handy. Poor Cousin Egbert is perfectly helpless now without him."

So I followed our host to his own detached hut, though feeling a bit
queer at being passed about in this manner, I mean to say, as if I
were a basket of fruit. Yet I found it a grateful change to be serving
one who knew our respective places and what I should do for him. His
manner of speech, also, was less barbarous than that of the others,
suggesting that he might have lived among our own people a fortnight
or so and have tried earnestly to correct his deficiencies. In fact he
remarked to me after a bit: "I fancy I talk rather like one of
yourselves, what?" and was pleased as Punch when I assured him that I
had observed this. He questioned me at length regarding my association
with the Honourable George, and the houses at which we would have
stayed, being immensely particular about names and titles.

"You'll find us vastly different here," he said with a sigh, as I held
his coat for him. "Crude, I may say. In truth, Red Gap, where my
interests largely confine me, is a town of impossible persons. You'll
see in no time what I mean."

"I can already imagine it, sir," I said sympathetically.

"It's not for want of example," he added. "Scores of times I show them
better ways, but they're eaten up with commercialism--money-grubbing."

I perceived him to be a person of profound and interesting views, and
it was with regret I left him to bully Cousin Egbert into evening
dress. It is undoubtedly true that he will never wear this except it
have the look of having been forced upon him by several persons of
superior physical strength.

The evening passed in a refined manner with cards and music, the
latter being emitted from a phonograph which I was asked to attend to
and upon which I reproduced many of their quaint North American
folksongs, such as "Everybody Is Doing It," which has a rare native
rhythm. At ten o'clock, it being noticed by the three playing dummy
bridge that Cousin Egbert and the Mixer were absent, I accompanied our
host in search of them. In Cousin Egbert's hut we found them, seated
at a bare table, playing at cards--a game called seven-upwards, I
learned. Cousin Egbert had removed his coat, collar, and cravat, and
his sleeves were rolled to his elbows like a navvy's. Both smoked the
brown paper cigarettes.

"You see?" murmured Mr. Belknap-Jackson as we looked in upon them.

"Quite so, sir," I said discreetly.

The Mixer regarded her son-in-law with some annoyance, I thought.

"Run off to bed, Jackson!" she directed. "We're busy. I'm putting a
nick in Sour-dough's bank roll."

Our host turned away with a contemptuous shrug that I dare say might
have offended her had she observed it, but she was now speaking to
Cousin Egbert, who had stared at us brazenly.

"Ring that bell for the coon, Sour-dough. I'll split a bottle of
Scotch with you."

It queerly occurred to me that she made this monstrous suggestion in a
spirit of bravado to annoy Mr. Belknap-Jackson.


There are times when all Nature seems to smile, yet when to the
sensitive mind it will be faintly brought that the possibilities are
quite tremendously otherwise if one will consider them pro and con. I
mean to say, one often suspects things may happen when it doesn't look

The succeeding three days passed with so ordered a calm that little
would any but a profound thinker have fancied tragedy to lurk so near
their placid surface. Mrs. Effie and Mrs. Belknap-Jackson continued to
plan the approaching social campaign at Red Gap. Cousin Egbert and the
Mixer continued their card game for the trifling stake of a shilling a
game, or "two bits," as it is known in the American monetary system.
And our host continued his recreation.

Each morning I turned him out in the smartest of fishing costumes and
each evening I assisted him to change. It is true I was now compelled
to observe at these times a certain lofty irritability in his
character, yet I more than half fancied this to be queerly assumed in
order to inform me that he was not unaccustomed to services such as I
rendered him. There was that about him. I mean to say, when he sharply
rebuked me for clumsiness or cried out "Stupid!" it had a perfunctory
languor, as if meant to show me he could address a servant in what he
believed to be the grand manner. In this, to be sure, he was so oddly
wrong that the pathos of it quite drowned what I might otherwise have
felt of resentment.

But I next observed that he was sharp in the same manner with the
hairy backwoods person who took him to fish each day, using words to
him which I, for one, would have employed, had I thought them merited,
only after the gravest hesitation. I have before remarked that I did
not like the gleam in this person's eyes: he was very apparently a not
quite nice person. Also I more than once observed him to wink at
Cousin Egbert in an evil manner.

As I have so truly said, how close may tragedy be to us when life
seems most correct! It was Belknap-Jackson's custom to raise a view
halloo each evening when he returned down the lake, so that we might
gather at the dock to oversee his landing. I must admit that he
disembarked with somewhat the manner of a visiting royalty, demanding
much attention and assistance with his impedimenta. Undoubtedly he
liked to be looked at. This was what one rather felt. And I can fancy
that this very human trait of his had in a manner worn upon the
probably undisciplined nerves of the backwoods josser--had, in fact,
deprived him of his "goat," as the native people have it.

Be this as it may, we gathered at the dock on the afternoon of the
third day of our stay to assist at the return. As the native log craft
neared the dock our host daringly arose to a graceful kneeling posture
in the bow and saluted us charmingly, the woods person in the stern
wielding his single oar in gloomy silence. At the moment a most poetic
image occurred to me--that he was like a dull grim figure of Fate that
fetches us low at the moment of our highest seeming. I mean to say, it
was a silly thought, perhaps, yet I afterward recalled it most

Holding his creel aloft our host hailed us:

"Full to-day, thanks to going where I wished and paying no attention
to silly guides' talk." He beamed upon us in an unquestionably
superior manner, and again from the moody figure at the stern I
intercepted the flash of a wink to Cousin Egbert. Then as the frail
craft had all but touched the dock and our host had half risen, there
was a sharp dipping of the thing and he was ejected into the chilling
waters, where he almost instantly sank. There were loud cries of alarm
from all, including the woodsman himself, who had kept the craft
upright, and in these Mr. Belknap-Jackson heartily joined the moment
his head appeared above the surface, calling "Help!" in the quite
loudest of tones, which was thoughtless enough, as we were close at
hand and could easily have heard his ordinary speaking voice.

The woods person now stepped to the dock, and firmly grasping the
collar of the drowning man hauled him out with but little effort, at
the same time becoming voluble with apologies and sympathy. The
rescued man, however, was quite off his head with rage and bluntly
berated the fellow for having tried to assassinate him. Indeed he put
forth rather a torrent of execration, but to all of this the fellow
merely repeated his crude protestations of regret and astonishment,
seeming to be sincerely grieved that his intentions should have been

From his friends about him the unfortunate man was receiving the most
urgent advice to seek dry garments lest he perish of chill, whereupon
he turned abruptly to me and cried: "Well, Stupid, don't you see the
state that fellow has put me in? What are you doing? Have you lost
your wits?"

Now I had suffered a very proper alarm and solicitude for him, but the
injustice of this got a bit on me. I mean to say, I suddenly felt a
bit of temper myself, though to be sure retaining my control.

"Yes, sir; quite so, sir," I replied smoothly. "I'll have you right as
rain in no time at all, sir," and started to conduct him off the dock.
But now, having gone a little distance, he began to utter the most
violent threats against the woods person, declaring, in fact, he would
pull the fellow's nose. However, I restrained him from rushing back,
as I subtly felt I was wished to do, and he at length consented again
to be led toward his hut.

But now the woods person called out: "You're forgetting all your
pretties!" By which I saw him to mean the fishing impedimenta he had
placed on the dock. And most unreasonably at this Mr. Belknap-Jackson
again turned upon me, wishing anew to be told if I had lost my wits
and directing me to fetch the stuff. Again I was conscious of that
within me which no gentleman's man should confess to. I mean to say, I
felt like shaking him. But I hastened back to fetch the rod, the
creel, the luncheon hamper, the midge ointment, the camera, and other
articles which the woods fellow handed me.

With these somewhat awkwardly carried, I returned to our still
turbulent host. More like a volcano he was than a man who has had a
narrow squeak from drowning, and before we had gone a dozen feet more
he again turned and declared he would "go back and thrash the
unspeakable cad within an inch of his life." Their relative sizes
rendering an attempt of this sort quite too unwise, I was conscious of
renewed irritation toward him; indeed, the vulgar words, "Oh, stow
that piffle!" swiftly formed in the back of my mind, but again I
controlled myself, as the chap was now sneezing violently.

"Best hurry on, sir," I said with exemplary tact. "One might contract
a severe head-cold from such a wetting," and further endeavoured to
sooth him while I started ahead to lead him away from the fellow. Then
there happened that which fulfilled my direst premonitions. Looking
back from a moment of calm, the psychology of the crisis is of a
rudimentary simplicity.

Enraged beyond measure at the woods person, Mr. Belknap-Jackson yet
retained a fine native caution which counselled him to attempt no
violence upon that offender; but his mental tension was such that it
could be relieved only by his attacking some one; preferably some one
forbidden to retaliate. I walked there temptingly but a pace ahead of
him, after my well-meant word of advice.

I make no defence of my own course. I am aware there can be none. I
can only plead that I had already been vexed not a little by his
unjust accusations of stupidity, and dismiss with as few words as
possible an incident that will ever seem to me quite too indecently
criminal. Briefly, then, with my well-intended "Best not lower
yourself, sir," Mr. Belknap-Jackson forgot himself and I forgot
myself. It will be recalled that I was in front of him, but I turned
rather quickly. (His belongings I had carried were widely

Instantly there were wild outcries from the others, who had started
toward the main, or living house.

"He's killed Charles!" I heard Mrs. Belknap-Jackson scream; then came
the deep-chested rumble of the Mixer, "Jackson kicked him first!" They
ran for us. They had reached us while our host was down, even while my
fist was still clenched. Now again the unfortunate man cried "Help!"
as his wife assisted him to his feet.

"Send for an officer!" cried she.

"The man's an anarchist!" shouted her husband.

"Nonsense!" boomed the Mixer. "Jackson got what he was looking for. Do
it myself if he kicked me!"

"Oh, Maw! Oh, Mater!" cried her daughter tearfully.

"Gee! He done it in one punch!" I heard Cousin Egbert say with what I
was aghast to suspect was admiration.

Mrs. Effie, trembling, could but glare at me and gasp. Mercifully she
was beyond speech for the moment.

Mr. Belknap-Jackson was now painfully rubbing his right eye, which was
not what he should have done, and I said as much.

"Beg pardon, sir, but one does better with a bit of raw beef."

"How dare you, you great hulking brute!" cried his wife, and made as
if to shield her husband from another attack from me, which I submit
was unjust.

"Bill's right," said Cousin Egbert casually. "Put a piece of raw steak
on it. Gee! with one wallop!" And then, quite strangely, for a moment
we all amiably discussed whether cold compresses might not be better.
Presently our host was led off by his wife. Mrs. Effie followed them,
moaning: "Oh, oh, oh!" in the keenest distress.

At this I took to my own room in dire confusion, making no doubt I
would presently be given in charge and left to languish in gaol,
perhaps given six months' hard.

Cousin Egbert came to me in a little while and laughed heartily at my
fear that anything legal would be done. He also made some ill-timed
compliments on the neatness of the blow I had dealt Mr.
Belknap-Jackson, but these I found in wretched taste and was begging
him to desist, when the Mixer entered and began to speak much in the
same strain.

"Don't you ever dare do a thing like that again," she warned me,
"unless I got a ringside seat," to which I remained severely silent,
for I felt my offence should not be made light of.

"Three rousing cheers!" exclaimed Cousin Egbert, whereat the two most
unfeelingly went through a vivid pantomime of cheering.

Our host, I understood, had his dinner in bed that night, and
throughout the evening, as I sat solitary in remorse, came the mocking
strains of another of their American folksongs with the refrain:

    "You made me what I am to-day,
    I hope you're satisfied!"

I conceived it to be the Mixer and Cousin Egbert who did this and,
considering the plight of our host, I thought it in the worst possible
taste. I had raised my hand against the one American I had met who was
at all times vogue. And not only this: For I now recalled a certain
phrase I had flung out as I stood over him, ranting indeed no better
than an anarchist, a phrase which showed my poor culture to be the
flimsiest veneer.

Late in the night, as I lay looking back on the frightful scene, I
recalled with wonder a swift picture of Cousin Egbert caught as I once
looked back to the dock. He had most amazingly shaken the woods person
by the hand, quickly but with marked cordiality. And yet I am quite
certain he had never been presented to the fellow.

Promptly the next morning came the dreaded summons to meet Mrs. Effie.
I was of course prepared to accept instant dismissal without a
character, if indeed I were not to be given in charge. I found her
wearing an expression of the utmost sternness, erect and formidable by
the now silent phonograph. Cousin Egbert, who was present, also wore
an expression of sternness, though I perceived him to wink at me.

"I really don't know what we're to do with you, Ruggles," began the
stricken woman, and so done out she plainly was that I at once felt
the warmest sympathy for her as she continued: "First you lead poor
Cousin Egbert into a drunken debauch----"

Cousin Egbert here coughed nervously and eyed me with strong

"--then you behave like a murderer. What have you to say for

At this I saw there was little I could say, except that I had coarsely
given way to the brute in me, and yet I knew I should try to explain.

"I dare say, Madam, it may have been because Mr. Belknap-Jackson was
quite sober at the unfortunate moment."

"Of course Charles was sober. The idea! What of it?"

"I was remembering an occasion at Chaynes-Wotten when Lord Ivor
Cradleigh behaved toward me somewhat as Mr. Belknap-Jackson did last
night and when my own deportment was quite all that could be wished.
It occurs to me now that it was because his lordship was, how shall I
say?--quite far gone in liquor at the time, so that I could without
loss of dignity pass it off as a mere prank. Indeed, he regarded it as
such himself, performing the act with a good nature that I found quite
irresistible, and I am certain that neither his lordship nor I have
ever thought the less of each other because of it. I revert to this
merely to show that I have not always acted in a ruffianly manner
under these circumstances. It seems rather to depend upon how the
thing is done--the mood of the performer--his mental state. Had Mr.
Belknap-Jackson been--pardon me--quite drunk, I feel that the outcome
would have been happier for us all. So far as I have thought along
these lines, it seems to me that if one is to be kicked at all, one
must be kicked good-naturedly. I mean to say, with a certain
camaraderie, a lightness, a gayety, a genuine good-will that for the
moment expresses itself uncouthly--an element, I regret to say, that
was conspicuously lacking from the brief activities of Mr.

"I never heard such crazy talk," responded Mrs. Effie, "and really I
never saw such a man as you are for wanting people to become
disgustingly drunk. You made poor Cousin Egbert and Jeff Tuttle act
like beasts, and now nothing will satisfy you but that Charles should
roll in the gutter. Such dissipated talk I never did hear, and poor
Charles rarely taking anything but a single glass of wine, it upsets
him so; even our reception punch he finds too stimulating!"

I mean to say, the woman had cleanly missed my point, for never have I
advocated the use of fermented liquors to excess; but I saw it was no
good trying to tell her this.

"And the worst of it," she went rapidly on, "Cousin Egbert here is
acting stranger than I ever knew him to act. He swears if he can't
keep you he'll never have another man, and you know yourself what that
means in his case--and Mrs. Pettengill saying she means to employ you
herself if we let you go. Heaven knows what the poor woman can be
thinking of! Oh, it's awful--and everything was going so beautifully.
Of course Charles would simply never be brought to accept an

"I am only too anxious to make one," I submitted.

"Here's the poor fellow now," said Cousin Egbert almost gleefully, and
our host entered. He carried a patch over his right eye and was not
attired for sport on the lake, but in a dark morning suit of quietly
beautiful lines that I thought showed a fine sense of the situation.
He shot me one superior glance from his left eye and turned to Mrs.

"I see you still harbour the ruffian?"

"I've just given him a call-down," said Mrs. Effie, plainly ill at
ease, "and he says it was all because you were sober; that if you'd
been in the state Lord Ivor Cradleigh was the time it happened at
Chaynes-Wotten he wouldn't have done anything to you, probably."

"What's this, what's this? Lord Ivor Cradleigh--Chaynes-Wotten?" The
man seemed to be curiously interested by the mere names, in spite of
himself. "His lordship was at Chaynes-Wotten for the shooting, I
suppose?" This, most amazingly, to me.

"A house party at Whitsuntide, sir," I explained.

"Ah! And you say his lordship was----"

"Oh, quite, quite in his cups, sir. If I might explain, it was that,
sir--its being done under circumstances and in a certain entirely
genial spirit of irritation to which I could take no offence, sir. His
lordship is a very decent sort, sir. I've known him intimately for

"Dear, dear!" he replied. "Too bad, too bad! And I dare say you
thought me out of temper last night? Nothing of the sort. You should
have taken it in quite the same spirit as you did from Lord Ivor

"It seemed different, sir," I said firmly. "If I may take the liberty
of putting it so, I felt quite offended by your manner. I missed from
it at the most critical moment, as one might say, a certain urbanity
that I found in his lordship, sir."

"Well, well, well! It's too bad, really. I'm quite aware that I show a
sort of brusqueness at times, but mind you, it's all on the surface.
Had you known me as long as you've known his lordship, I dare say
you'd have noticed the same rough urbanity in me as well. I rather
fancy some of us over here don't do those things so very differently.
A few of us, at least."

"I'm glad, indeed, to hear it, sir. It's only necessary to understand
that there is a certain mood in which one really cannot permit one's
self to be--you perceive, I trust."

"Perfectly, perfectly," said he, "and I can only express my regret
that you should have mistaken my own mood, which, I am confident, was
exactly the thing his lordship might have felt."

"I gladly accept your apology, sir," I returned quickly, "as I should
have accepted his lordship's had his manner permitted any
misapprehension on my part. And in return I wish to apologize most
contritely for the phrase I applied to you just after it happened,
sir. I rarely use strong language, but----"

"I remember hearing none," said he.

"I regret to say, sir, that I called you a blighted little mug----"

"You needn't have mentioned it," he replied with just a trace of
sharpness, "and I trust that in future----"

"I am sure, sir, that in future you will give me no occasion to
misunderstand your intentions--no more than would his lordship," I
added as he raised his brows.

Thus in a manner wholly unexpected was a frightful situation eased

"I'm so glad it's settled!" cried Mrs. Effie, who had listened almost
breathlessly to our exchange.

"I fancy I settled it as Cradleigh would have--eh, Ruggles?" And the
man actually smiled at me.

"Entirely so, sir," said I.

"If only it doesn't get out," said Mrs. Effie now. "We shouldn't want
it known in Red Gap. Think of the talk!"

"Certainly," rejoined Mr. Belknap-Jackson jauntily, "we are all here
above gossip about an affair of that sort. I am sure--" He broke off
and looked uneasily at Cousin Egbert, who coughed into his hand and
looked out over the lake before he spoke.

"What would I want to tell a thing like that for?" he demanded
indignantly, as if an accusation had been made against him. But I saw
his eyes glitter with an evil light.

An hour later I chanced to be with him in our detached hut, when the
Mixer entered.

"What happened?" she demanded.

"What do you reckon happened?" returned Cousin Egbert. "They get to
talking about Lord Ivy Craddles, or some guy, and before we know it
Mr. Belknap Hyphen Jackson is apologizing to Bill here."

"No?" bellowed the Mixer.

"Sure did he!" affirmed Cousin Egbert.

Here they grasped each other's arms and did a rude native dance about
the room, nor did they desist when I sought to explain that the name
was not at all Ivy Craddles.


Now once more it seemed that for a time I might lead a sanely ordered
existence. Not for long did I hope it. I think I had become resigned
to the unending series of shocks that seemed to compose the daily life
in North America. Few had been my peaceful hours since that fatal
evening in Paris. And the shocks had become increasingly violent. When
I tried to picture what the next might be I found myself shuddering.
For the present, like a stag that has eluded the hounds but hears
their distant baying, I lay panting in momentary security, gathering
breath for some new course. I mean to say, one couldn't tell what
might happen next. Again and again I found myself coming all over

Wholly restored I was now in the esteem of Mr. Belknap-Jackson, who
never tired of discussing with me our own life and people. Indeed he
was quite the most intelligent foreigner I had encountered. I may seem
to exaggerate in the American fashion, but I doubt if a single one of
the others could have named the counties of England or the present
Lord Mayor of London. Our host was not like that. Also he early gave
me to know that he felt quite as we do concerning the rebellion of our
American colonies, holding it a matter for the deepest regret; and
justly proud he was of the circumstance that at the time of that
rebellion his own family had put all possible obstacles in the way of
the traitorous Washington. To be sure, I dare say he may have boasted
a bit in this.

It was during the long journey across America which we now set out
upon that I came to this sympathetic understanding of his character
and of the chagrin he constantly felt at being compelled to live among
people with whom he could have as little sympathy as I myself had.

This journey began pleasantly enough, and through the farming counties
of Philadelphia, Ohio, and Chicago was not without interest. Beyond
came an incredibly large region, much like the steppes of Siberia, I
fancy: vast uninhabited stretches of heath and down, with but here and
there some rude settlement about which the poor peasants would eagerly
assemble as our train passed through. I could not wonder that our own
travellers have always spoken so disparagingly of the American
civilization. It is a country that would never do with us.

Although we lived in this train a matter of nearly four days, I fancy
not a single person dressed for dinner as one would on shipboard. Even
Belknap-Jackson dined in a lounge-suit, though he wore gloves
constantly by day, which was more than I could get Cousin Egbert to

As we went ever farther over these leagues of fen and fell and rolling
veldt, I could but speculate unquietly as to what sort of place the
Red Gap must be. A residential town for gentlemen and families, I had
understood, with a little colony of people that really mattered, as I
had gathered from Mrs. Effie. And yet I was unable to divine their
object in going so far away to live. One goes to distant places for
the winter sports or for big game shooting, but this seemed rather
grotesquely perverse.

Little did I then dream of the spiritual agencies that were to insure
my gradual understanding of the town and its people. Unsuspectingly I
fronted a future so wildly improbable that no power could have made me
credit it had it then been foretold by the most rarely endowed gypsy.
It is always now with a sort of terror that I look back to those last
moments before my destiny had unfolded far enough to be actually
alarming. I was as one floating in fancied security down the calm
river above their famous Niagara Falls--to be presently dashed without
warning over the horrible verge. I mean to say, I never suspected.

Our last day of travel arrived. We were now in a roughened and most
untidy welter of mountain and jungle and glen, with violent tarns and
bleak bits of moorland that had all too evidently never known the
calming touch of the landscape gardener; a region, moreover, peopled
by a much more lawless appearing peasantry than I had observed back in
the Chicago counties, people for the most part quite wretchedly gotten
up and distinctly of the lower or working classes.

Late in the afternoon our train wound out of a narrow cutting and into
a valley that broadened away on every hand to distant mountains.
Beyond doubt this prospect could, in a loose way of speaking, be
called scenery, but of too violent a character it was for cultivated
tastes. Then, as my eye caught the vague outlines of a settlement or
village in the midst of this valley, Cousin Egbert, who also looked
from, the coach window, amazed me by crying out:

"There she is--little old Red Gap! The fastest growing town in the
State, if any one should ask you."

"Yes, sir; I'll try to remember, sir," I said, wondering why I should
be asked this.

"Garden spot of the world," he added in a kind of ecstasy, to which I
made no response, for this was too preposterous. Nearing the place our
train passed an immense hoarding erected by the roadway, a score of
feet high, I should say, and at least a dozen times as long, upon
which was emblazoned in mammoth red letters on a black ground,
"_Keep Your Eye on Red Gap!_" At either end of this lettering was
painted a gigantic staring human eye. Regarding this monstrosity with
startled interest, I heard myself addressed by Belknap-Jackson:

"The sort of vulgarity I'm obliged to contend with," said he, with a
contemptuous gesture toward the hoarding. Indeed the thing lacked
refinement in its diction, while the painted eyes were not Art in any
true sense of the word. "The work of our precious Chamber of
Commerce," he added, "though I pleaded with them for days and days."

"It's a sort of thing would never do with us, sir," I said.

"It's what one has to expect from a commercialized bourgeoise," he
returned bitterly. "And even our association, 'The City Beautiful,' of
which I was president, helped to erect the thing. Of course I resigned
at once."

"Naturally, sir; the colours are atrocious."

"And the words a mere blatant boast!" He groaned and left me, for we
were now well into a suburb of detached villas, many of them of a
squalid character, and presently we had halted at the station. About
this bleak affair was the usual gathering of peasantry and the common
people, villagers, agricultural labourers, and the like, and these at
once showed a tremendous interest in our party, many of them hailing
various members of us with a quite offensive familiarity.

Belknap-Jackson, of course, bore himself through this with a proper
aloofness, as did his wife and Mrs. Effie, but I heard the Mixer
booming salutations right and left. It was Cousin Egbert, however, who
most embarrassed me by the freedom of his manner with these persons.
He shook hands warmly with at least a dozen of them and these hailed
him with rude shouts, dealt him smart blows on the back and, forming a
circle about him, escorted him to a carriage where Mrs. Effie and I
awaited him. Here the driver, a loutish and familiar youth, also
seized his hand and, with some crude effect of oratory, shouted to the

"What's the matter with Sour-dough?" To this, with a flourish of their
impossible hats, they quickly responded in unison,

"He's all right!" accenting the first word terrifically.

Then, to the immense relief of Mrs. Effie and myself, he was released
and we were driven quickly off from the raffish set. Through their
Regent and Bond streets we went, though I mean to say they were on an
unbelievably small or village scale, to an outlying region of detached
villas that doubtless would be their St. John's Wood, but my efforts
to observe closely were distracted by the extraordinary freedom with
which our driver essayed to chat with us, saying he "guessed" we were
glad to get back to God's country, and things of a similar intimate
nature. This was even more embarrassing to Mrs. Effie than it was to
me, since she more than once felt obliged to answer the fellow with a
feigned cordiality.

Relieved I was when we drew up before the town house of the Flouds.
Set well back from the driveway in a faded stretch of common, it was
of rather a garbled architecture, with the Tudor, late Gothic, and
French Renaissance so intermixed that one was puzzled to separate the
periods. Nor was the result so vast as this might sound. Hardly would
the thing have made a wing of the manor house at Chaynes-Wotten. The
common or small park before it was shielded from the main thoroughfare
by a fence of iron palings, and back of this on either side of a
gravelled walk that led to the main entrance were two life-sized stags
not badly sculptured from metal.

Once inside I began to suspect that my position was going to be more
than a bit dicky. I mean to say, it was not an establishment in our
sense of the word, being staffed, apparently, by two China persons who
performed the functions of cook, housemaids, footmen, butler, and
housekeeper. There was not even a billiard room.

During the ensuing hour, marked by the arrival of our luggage and the
unpacking of boxes, I meditated profoundly over the difficulties of my
situation. In a wilderness, beyond the confines of civilization, I
would undoubtedly be compelled to endure the hardships of the pioneer;
yet for the present I resolved to let no inkling of my dismay escape.

The evening meal over--dinner in but the barest technical sense--I sat
alone in my own room, meditating thus darkly. Nor was I at all cheered
by the voice of Cousin Egbert, who sang in his own room adjoining. I
had found this to be a habit of his, and his songs are always dolorous
to the last degree. Now, for example, while life seemed all too black
to me, he sang a favourite of his, the pathetic ballad of two small
children evidently begging in a business thoroughfare:

    "Lone and weary through the streets we wander,
      For we have no place to lay our head;
    Not a friend is left on earth to shelter us,
      For both our parents now are dead."

It was a fair crumpler in my then mood. It made me wish to be out of
North America--made me long for London; London with a yellow fog and
its greasy pavements, where one knew what to apprehend. I wanted him
to stop, but still he atrociously sang in his high, cracked voice:

    "Dear mother died when we were both young,
      And father built for us a home,
    But now he's killed by falling timbers,
      And we are left here all alone."

I dare say I should have rushed madly into the night had there been
another verse, but now he was still. A moment later, however, he
entered nay room with the suggestion that I stroll about the village
streets with him, he having a mission to perform for Mrs. Effie. I had
already heard her confide this to him. He was to proceed to the office
of their newspaper and there leave with the press chap a notice of our
arrival which from day to day she had been composing on the train.

"I just got to leave this here piece for the _Recorder_," he
said; "then we can sasshay up and down for a while and meet some of
the boys."

How profoundly may our whole destiny be affected by the mood of an
idle moment; by some superficial indecision, mere fruit of a transient
unrest. We lightly debate, we hesitate, we yawn, unconscious of the
brink. We half-heartedly decline a suggested course, then lightly
accept from sheer ennui, and "life," as I have read in a quite
meritorious poem, "is never the same again." It was thus I now toyed
there with my fate in my hands, as might a child have toyed with a
bauble. I mean to say, I was looking for nothing thick.

"She's wrote a very fancy piece for that newspaper," Cousin Egbert
went on, handing me the sheets of manuscript. Idly I glanced down the

"Yesterday saw the return to Red Gap of Mrs. Senator James Knox Floud
and Egbert G. Floud from their extensive European tour," it began.
Farther I caught vagrant lines, salient phrases: "--the well-known
social leader of our North Side set ... planning a series of
entertainments for the approaching social season that promise to
eclipse all previous gayeties of Red Gap's smart set ... holding the
reins of social leadership with a firm grasp ... distinguished for her
social graces and tact as a hostess ... their palatial home on Ophir
Avenue, the scene of so much of the smart social life that has
distinguished our beautiful city."

It left me rather unmoved from my depression, even the concluding
note: "The Flouds are accompanied by their English manservant, secured
through the kind offices of the brother of his lordship Earl of
Brinstead, the well-known English peer, who will no doubt do much to
impart to the coming functions that air of smartness which
distinguishes the highest social circles of London, Paris, and other
capitals of the great world of fashion."

"Some mess of words, that," observed Cousin Egbert, and it did indeed
seem to be rather intimately phrased.

"Better come along with me," he again urged. There was a moment's
fateful silence, then, quite mechanically, I arose and prepared to
accompany him. In the hall below I handed him his evening stick and
gloves, which he absently took from me, and we presently traversed
that street of houses much in the fashion of the Floud house and
nearly all boasting some sculptured bit of wild life on their

It was a calm night of late summer; all Nature seemed at peace. I
looked aloft and reflected that the same stars were shining upon the
civilization I had left so far behind. As we walked I lost myself in
musing pensively upon this curious astronomical fact and upon the
further vicissitudes to which I would surely be exposed. I compared
myself whimsically to an explorer chap who has ventured among a tribe
of natives and who must seem to adopt their weird manners and customs
to save himself from their fanatic violence.

From this I was aroused by Cousin Egbert, who, with sudden dismay
regarding his stick and gloves, uttered a low cry of anguish and
thrust them into my hands before I had divined his purpose.

"You'll have to tote them there things," he swiftly explained. "I
forgot where I was." I demurred sharply, but he would not listen.

"I didn't mind it so much in Paris and Europe, where I ain't so very
well known, but my good gosh! man, this is my home town. You'll have
to take them. People won't notice it in you so much, you being a
foreigner, anyway."

Without further objection I wearily took them, finding a desperate
drollery in being regarded as a foreigner, whereas I was simply alone
among foreigners; but I knew that Cousin Egbert lacked the subtlety to
grasp this point of view and made no effort to lay it before him. It
was clear to me then, I think, that he would forever remain socially
impossible, though perhaps no bad sort from a mere human point of

We continued our stroll, turning presently from this residential
avenue to a street of small unlighted shops, and from this into a
wider and brilliantly lighted thoroughfare of larger shops, where my
companion presently began to greet native acquaintances. And now once
more he affected that fashion of presenting me to his friends that I
had so deplored in Paris. His own greeting made, he would call out
heartily: "Shake hands with my friend Colonel Ruggles!" Nor would he
heed my protests at this, so that in sheer desperation I presently
ceased making them, reflecting that after all we were encountering the
street classes of the town.

At a score of such casual meetings I was thus presented, for he seemed
to know quite almost every one and at times there would be a group of
natives about us on the pavement. Twice we went into "saloons," as
they rather pretentiously style their public houses, where Cousin
Egbert would stand the drinks for all present, not omitting each time
to present me formally to the bar-man. In all these instances I was at
once asked what I thought of their town, which was at first rather
embarrassing, as I was confident that any frank disclosure of my
opinion, being necessarily hurried, might easily be misunderstood. I
at length devised a conventional formula of praise which, although
feeling a frightful fool, I delivered each time thereafter.

Thus we progressed the length of their commercial centre, the
incidents varying but little.

"Hello, Sour-dough, you old shellback! When did you come off the

"Just got in. My lands! but it's good to be back. Billy, shake hands
with my friend Colonel Ruggles."

I mean to say, the persons were not all named "Billy," that being used
only by way of illustration. Sometimes they would be called "Doc" or
"Hank" or "Al" or "Chris." Nor was my companion invariably called
"shellback." "Horned-toad" and "Stinging-lizard" were also epithets
much in favour with his friends.

At the end of this street we at length paused before the office, as I
saw, of "The Red Gap _Recorder_; Daily and Weekly." Cousin Egbert
entered here, but came out almost at once.

"Henshaw ain't there, and she said I got to be sure and give him this
here piece personally; so come on. He's up to a lawn-feet."

"A social function, sir?" I asked.

"No; just a lawn-feet up in Judge Ballard's front yard to raise money
for new uniforms for the band--that's what the boy said in there."

"But would it not be highly improper for me to appear there, sir?" I
at once objected. "I fear it's not done, sir."

"Shucks!" he insisted, "don't talk foolish that way. You're a peach of
a little mixer all right. Come on! Everybody goes. They'll even let me
in. I can give this here piece to Henshaw and then we'll spend a
little money to help the band-boys along."

My misgivings were by no means dispelled, yet as the affair seemed to
be public rather than smart, I allowed myself to be led on.

Into another street of residences we turned, and after a brisk walk I
was able to identify the "front yard" of which my companion had
spoken. The strains of an orchestra came to us and from the trees and
shrubbery gleamed the lights of paper lanterns. I could discern tents
and marquees, a throng of people moving among them. Nearer, I observed
a refreshment pavilion and a dancing platform.

Reaching the gate, Cousin Egbert paid for us an entrance fee of two
shillings to a young lady in gypsy costume whom he greeted cordially
as Beryl Mae, not omitting to present me to her as Colonel Ruggles.

We moved into the thick of the crowd. There was much laughter and
hearty speech, and it at once occurred to me that Cousin Egbert had
been right: it would not be an assemblage of people that mattered, but
rather of small tradesmen, artisans, tenant-farmers and the like with
whom I could properly mingle.

My companion was greeted by several of the throng, to whom he in turn
presented me, among them after a bit to a slight, reddish-bearded
person wearing thick nose-glasses whom I understood to be the pressman
we were in search of. Nervous of manner he was and preoccupied with a
notebook in which he frantically scribbled items from time to time.
Yet no sooner was I presented to him than he began a quizzing sort of
conversation with me that lasted near a half-hour, I should say. Very
interested he seemed to hear of my previous life, having in full
measure that naïve curiosity about one which Americans take so little
pains to hide. Like the other natives I had met that evening, he was
especially concerned to know what I thought of Red Gap. The chat was
not at all unpleasant, as he seemed to be a well-informed person, and
it was not without regret that I noted the approach of Cousin Egbert
in company with a pleasant-faced, middle-aged lady in Oriental garb,
carrying a tambourine.

"Mrs. Ballard, allow me to make you acquainted with my friend Colonel
Ruggles!" Thus Cousin Egbert performed his ceremony. The lady grasped
my hand with great cordiality.

"You men have monopolized the Colonel long enough," she began with a
large coquetry that I found not unpleasing, and firmly grasping my arm
she led me off in the direction of the refreshment pavilion, where I
was playfully let to know that I should purchase her bits of
refreshment, coffee, plum-cake, an ice, things of that sort. Through
it all she kept up a running fire of banter, from time to time
presenting me to other women young and old who happened about us, all
of whom betrayed an interest in my personality that was not
unflattering, even from this commoner sort of the town's people.

Nor would my new friend release me when she had refreshed herself, but
had it that I must dance with her. I had now to confess that I was
unskilled in the native American folk dances which I had observed
being performed, whereupon she briskly chided me for my backwardness,
but commanded a valse from the musicians, and this we danced together.

I may here say that I am not without a certain finesse on the
dancing-floor and I rather enjoyed the momentary abandon with this
village worthy. Indeed I had rather enjoyed the whole affair, though I
felt that my manner was gradually marking me as one apart from the
natives; made conscious I was of a more finished, a suaver formality
in myself--the Mrs. Ballard I had met came at length to be by way of
tapping me coquettishly with her tambourine in our lighter moments.
Also my presence increasingly drew attention, more and more of the
village belles and matrons demanding in their hearty way to be
presented to me. Indeed the society was vastly more enlivening, I
reflected, than I had found it in a similar walk of life at home.

Rather regretfully I left with Cousin Egbert, who found me at last in
one of the tents having my palm read by the gypsy young person who had
taken our fees at the gate. Of course I am aware that she was probably
without any real gifts for this science, as so few are who undertake
it at charity bazaars, yet she told me not a few things that were
significant: that my somewhat cold exterior and air of sternness were
but a mask to shield a too-impulsive nature; that I possessed great
firmness of character and was fond of Nature. She added peculiarly at
the last "I see trouble ahead, but you are not to be downcast--the
skies will brighten."

It was at this point that Cousin Egbert found me, and after he had
warned the young woman that I was "some mixer" we departed. Not until
we had reached the Floud home did he discover that he had quite
forgotten to hand the press-chap Mrs. Effie's manuscript.

"Dog on the luck!" said he in his quaint tone of exasperation, "here
I've went and forgot to give Mrs. Effie's piece to the editor." He
sighed ruefully. "Well, to-morrow's another day."

And so the die was cast. To-morrow was indeed another day!

Yet I fell asleep on a memory of the evening that brought me a sort of
shamed pleasure--that I had falsely borne the stick and gloves of
Cousin Egbert. I knew they had given me rather an air.


I have never been able to recall the precise moment the next morning
when I began to feel a strange disquietude but the opening hours of the
day were marked by a series of occurrences slight in themselves yet so
cumulatively ominous that they seemed to lower above me like a cloud
of menace.

Looking from my window, shortly after the rising hour, I observed a
paper boy pass through the street, whistling a popular melody as he
ran up to toss folded journals into doorways. Something I cannot
explain went through me even then; some premonition of disaster
slinking furtively under my casual reflection that even in this remote
wild the public press was not unknown.

Half an hour later the telephone rang in a lower room and I heard Mrs.
Effie speak in answer. An unusual note in her voice caused me to
listen more attentively. I stepped outside my door. To some one she
was expressing amazement, doubt, and quick impatience which seemed to
culminate, after she had again, listened, in a piercing cry of
consternation. The term is not too strong. Evidently by the unknown
speaker she had been first puzzled, then startled, then horrified; and
now, as her anguished cry still rang in my ears, that snaky
premonition of evil again writhed across my consciousness.

Presently I heard the front door open and close. Peering into the
hallway below I saw that she had secured the newspaper I had seen
dropped. Her own door now closed upon her. I waited, listening
intently. Something told me that the incident was not closed. A brief
interval elapsed and she was again at the telephone, excitedly
demanding to be put through to a number.

"Come at once!" I heard her cry. "It's unspeakable! There isn't a
moment to lose! Come as you are!" Hereupon, banging the receiver into
its place with frenzied roughness, she ran halfway up the stairs to

"Egbert Floud! Egbert Floud! You march right down here this minute,

From his room I heard an alarmed response, and a moment later knew
that he had joined her. The door closed upon them, but high words
reached me. Mostly the words of Mrs. Effie they were, though I could
detect muffled retorts from the other. Wondering what this could
portend, I noted from my window some ten minutes later the hurried
arrival of the C. Belknap-Jacksons. The husband clenched a crumpled
newspaper in one hand and both he and his wife betrayed signs to the
trained eye of having performed hasty toilets for this early call.

As the door of the drawing-room closed upon them there ensued a
terrific outburst carrying a rich general effect of astounded rage.
Some moments the sinister chorus continued, then a door sharply opened
and I heard my own name cried out by Mrs. Effie in a tone that caused
me to shudder. Rapidly descending the stairs, I entered the room to
face the excited group. Cousin Egbert crouched on a sofa in a far
corner like a hunted beast, but the others were standing, and all
glared at me furiously.

The ladies addressed me simultaneously, one of them, I believe, asking
me what I meant by it and the other demanding how dared I, which had
the sole effect of adding to my bewilderment, nor did the words of
Cousin Egbert diminish this.

"Hello, Bill!" he called, adding with a sort of timid bravado: "Don't
you let 'em bluff you, not for a minute!"

"Yes, and it was probably all that wretched Cousin Egbert's fault in
the first place," snapped Mrs. Belknap-Jackson almost tearfully.

"Say, listen here, now; I don't see as how I've done anything wrong,"
he feebly protested. "Bill's human, ain't he? Answer me that!"

"One sees it all!" This from Belknap-Jackson in bitter and judicial
tones. He flung out his hands at Cousin Egbert in a gesture of
pitiless scorn. "I dare say," he continued, "that poor Ruggles was
merely a tool in his hands--weak, possibly, but not vicious."

"May I inquire----" I made bold to begin, but Mrs. Effie shut me off,
brandishing the newspaper before me.

"Read it!" she commanded in hoarse, tragic tones. "There!" she added,
pointing at monstrous black headlines on the page as I weakly took it
from her. And then I saw. There before them, divining now the enormity
of what had come to pass, I controlled myself to master the following


    Colonel Marmaduke Ruggles of London and Paris, late of the
    British army, bon-vivant and man of the world, is in our midst
    for an indefinite stay, being at present the honoured house
    guest of Senator and Mrs. James Knox Floud, who returned from
    foreign parts on the 5:16 flyer yesterday afternoon. Colonel
    Ruggles has long been intimately associated with the family
    of his lordship the Earl of Brinstead, and especially with
    his lordship's brother, the Honourable George Augustus
    Vane-Basingwell, with whom he has recently been sojourning
    in la belle France. In a brief interview which the Colonel
    genially accorded ye scribe, he expressed himself as delighted
    with our thriving little city.

    "It's somewhat a town--if I've caught your American slang,"
    he said with a merry twinkle in his eyes. "You have the garden
    spot of the West, if not of the civilized world, and your
    people display a charm that must be, I dare say, typically
    American. Altogether, I am enchanted with the wonders I have
    beheld since landing at your New York, particularly with the
    habit your best people have of roughing it in camps like that
    of Mr. C. Belknap-Jackson among the mountains of New York, where
    I was most pleasantly entertained by himself and his delightful
    wife. The length of my stay among you is uncertain, though I
    have been pressed by the Flouds, with whom I am stopping, and
    by the C. Belknap-Jacksons to prolong it indefinitely, and in
    fact to identify myself to an extent with your social life."

    The Colonel is a man of distinguished appearance, with the
    seasoned bearing of an old campaigner, and though at moments
    he displays that cool reserve so typical of the English
    gentleman, evidence was not lacking last evening that he can
    unbend on occasion. At the lawn fête held in the spacious
    grounds of Judge Ballard, where a myriad Japanese lanterns
    made the scene a veritable fairyland, he was quite the most
    sought-after notable present, and gayly tripped the light
    fantastic toe with the élite of Red Gap's smart set there

    From his cordial manner of entering into the spirit of the
    affair we predict that Colonel Ruggles will be a decided
    acquisition to our social life, and we understand that a
    series of recherché entertainments in his honour has already
    been planned by Mrs. County Judge Ballard, who took the
    distinguished guest under her wing the moment he appeared
    last evening. Welcome to our city, Colonel! And may the warm
    hearts of Red Gap cause you to forget that European world of
    fashion of which you have long been so distinguished an

In a sickening silence I finished the thing. As the absurd sheet fell
from my nerveless fingers Mrs. Effie cried in a voice hoarse with

"Do you realize the dreadful thing you've done to us?"

Speechless I was with humiliation, unequal even to protesting that I
had said nothing of the sort to the press-chap. I mean to say, he had
wretchedly twisted my harmless words.

"Have you nothing to say for yourself?" demanded Mrs. Belknap-Jackson,
also in a voice hoarse with emotion. I glanced at her husband. He,
too, was pale with anger and trembling, so that I fancied he dared not
trust himself to speak.

"The wretched man," declared Mrs. Effie, addressing them all, "simply
can't realize--how disgraceful it is. Oh, we shall never be able to
live it down!"

"Imagine those flippant Spokane sheets dressing up the thing," hissed
Belknap-Jackson, speaking for the first time. "Imagine their
blackguardly humour!"

"And that awful Cousin Egbert," broke in Mrs. Effie, pointing a
desperate finger toward him. "Think of the laughing-stock he'll
become! Why, he'll simply never be able to hold up his head again."

"Say, you listen here," exclaimed Cousin Egbert with sudden heat;
"never you mind about my head. I always been able to hold up my head
any time I felt like it." And again to me he threw out, "Don't you let
'em bluff you, Bill!"

"I gave him a notice for the paper," explained Mrs. Effie plaintively;
"I'd written it all nicely out to save them time in the office, and
that would have prevented this disgrace, but he never gave it in."

"I clean forgot it," declared the offender. "What with one thing and
another, and gassing back and forth with some o' the boys, it kind of
went out o' my head."

"Meeting our best people--actually dancing with them!" murmured Mrs.
Belknap-Jackson in a voice vibrant with horror. "My dear, I truly am
so sorry for you."

"You people entertained him delightfully at your camp," murmured Mrs.
Effie quickly in her turn, with a gesture toward the journal.

"Oh, we're both in it, I know. I know. It's appalling!"

"We'll never be able to live it down!" said Mrs. Effie. "We shall have
to go away somewhere."

"Can't you imagine what Jen' Ballard will say when she learns the
truth?" asked the other bitterly. "Say we did it on purpose to
humiliate her, and just as all our little scraps were being smoothed
out, so we could get together and put that Bohemian set in its place.
Oh, it's so dreadful!" On the verge of tears she seemed.

"And scarcely a word mentioned of our own return--when I'd taken such
pains with the notice!"

"Listen here!" said Cousin Egbert brightly. "I'll take the piece down
now and he can print it in his paper for you to-morrow."

"You can't understand," she replied impatiently. "I casually mentioned
our having brought an English manservant. Print that now and insult
all our best people who received him!"

"Pathetic how little the poor chap understands," sighed
Belknap-Jackson. "No sense at all of our plight--naturally,

"'A series of entertainments being planned in his honour!'" quavered
Mrs. Belknap-Jackson.

"'The most sought-after notable present!'" echoed Mrs. Effie

Again and again I had essayed to protest my innocence, only to provoke
renewed outbursts. I could but stand there with what dignity I
retained and let them savage me. Cousin Egbert now spoke again:

"Shucks! What's all the fuss? Just because I took Bill out and give
him a good time! Didn't you say yourself in that there very piece that
he'd impart to coming functions an air of smartiness like they have
all over Europe? Didn't you write them very words? And ain't he
already done it the very first night he gets here, right at that there
lawn-feet where I took him? What for do you jump on me then? I took
him and he done it; he done it good. Bill's a born mixer. Why, he had
all them North Side society dames stung the minute I flashed him;
after him quicker than hell could scorch a feather; run out from under
their hats to get introduced to him--and now you all turn on me like a
passel of starved wolves." He finished with a note of genuine
irritation I had never heard in his voice.

"The poor creature's demented," remarked Mrs. Belknap-Jackson

"Always been that way," said Mrs. Effie hopelessly.

Belknap-Jackson contented himself with a mere clicking sound of

"All right, then, if you're so smart," continued Cousin Egbert. "Just
the same Bill, here, is the most popular thing in the whole Kulanche
Valley this minute, so all I got to say is if you want to play this
here society game you better stick close by him. First thing you know,
some o' them other dames'll have him won from you. That Mis' Ballard's
going to invite him to supper or dinner or some other doings right
away. I heard her say so."

To my amazement a curious and prolonged silence greeted this amazing
tirade. The three at length were regarding each other almost
furtively. Belknap-Jackson began to pace the floor in deep thought.

"After all, no one knows except ourselves," he said in curiously
hushed tones at last.

"Of course it's one way out of a dreadful mess," observed his wife.

"Colonel Marmaduke Ruggles of the British army," said Mrs. Effie in a
peculiar tone, as if she were trying over a song.

"It may indeed be the best way out of an impossible situation,"
continued Belknap-Jackson musingly. "Otherwise we face a social
upheaval that might leave us demoralized for years--say nothing of
making us a laughingstock with the rabble. In fact, I see nothing else
to be done."

"Cousin Egbert would be sure to spoil it all again," objected Mrs.
Effie, glaring at him.

"No danger," returned the other with his superior smile. "Being quite
unable to realize what has happened, he will be equally unable to
realize what is going to happen. We may speak before him as before a
babe in arms; the amenities of the situation are forever beyond him."

"I guess I always been able to hold up my head when I felt like it,"
put in Cousin Egbert, now again both sullen and puzzled. Once more he
threw out his encouragement to me: "Don't let 'em run any bluffs,
Bill! They can't touch you, and they know it."

"'Touch him,'" murmured Mrs. Belknap-Jackson with an able sneer. "My
dear, what a trial he must have been to you. I never knew. He's as bad
as the mater, actually."

"And such hopes I had of him in Paris," replied Mrs. Effie, "when he
was taking up Art and dressing for dinner and everything!"

"I can be pushed just so far!" muttered the offender darkly.

There was now a ring at the door which I took the liberty of
answering, and received two notes from a messenger. One bore the
address of Mrs. Floud and the other was quite astonishingly to myself,
the name preceded by "Colonel."

"That's Jen' Ballard's stationery!" cried Mrs. Belknap-Jackson. "Trust
her not to lose one second in getting busy!"

"But he mustn't answer the door that way," exclaimed her husband as I
handed Mrs. Effie her note.

They were indeed both from my acquaintance of the night before.
Receiving permission to read my own, I found it to be a dinner
invitation for the following Friday. Mrs. Effie looked up from hers.

"It's all too true," she announced grimly. "We're asked to dinner and
she earnestly hopes dear Colonel Ruggles will have made no other
engagement. She also says hasn't he the darlingest English accent. Oh,
isn't it a mess!"

"You see how right I am," said Belknap-Jackson.

"I guess we've got to go through with it," conceded Mrs. Effie.

"The pushing thing that Ballard woman is!" observed her friend.

"Ruggles!" exclaimed Belknap-Jackson, addressing me with sudden

"Yes, sir."

"Listen carefully--I'm quite serious. In future you will try to
address me as if I were your equal. Ah! rather you will try to address
me as if you were _my_ equal. I dare say it will come to you
easily after a bit of practice. Your employers will wish you to
address them in the same manner. You will cultivate toward us a manner
of easy friendliness--remember I'm entirely serious--quite as if you
were one of us. You must try to be, in short, the Colonel Marmaduke
Ruggles that wretched penny-a-liner has foisted upon these innocent
people. We shall thus avert a most humiliating contretemps."

The thing fair staggered me. I fell weakly into the chair by which I
had stood, for the first time in a not uneventful career feeling that
my _savoir faire_ had been overtaxed.

"Quite right," he went on. "Be seated as one of us," and he amazingly
proffered me his cigarette case. "Do take one, old chap," he insisted
as I weakly waved it away, and against my will I did so. "Dare say
you'll fancy them--a non-throat cigarette especially prescribed for
me." He now held a match so that I was obliged to smoke. Never have I
been in less humour for it.

"There, not so hard, is it? You see, we're getting on famously."

"Ain't I always said Bill was a good mixer?" called Cousin Egbert, but
his gaucherie was pointedly ignored.

"Now," continued Belknap-Jackson, "suppose you tell us in a chatty,
friendly way just what you think about this regrettable affair." All
sat forward interestedly.

"But I met what I supposed were your villagers," I said; "your small
tradesmen, your artisans, clerks, shop-assistants, tenant-farmers, and
the like, I'd no idea in the world they were your county families.
Seemed quite a bit too jolly for that. And your press-chap--preposterous,
quite! He quizzed me rather, I admit, but he made it vastly different.
Your pressmen are remarkable. That thing is a fair crumpler."

"But surely," put in Mrs. Effie, "you could see that Mrs. Judge
Ballard must be one of our best people."

"I saw she was a goodish sort," I explained, "but it never occurred to
me one would meet her in your best houses. And when she spoke of
entertaining me I fancied I might stroll by her cottage some fair day
and be asked in to a slice from one of her own loaves and a dish of
tea. There was that about her."

"Mercy!" exclaimed both ladies, Mrs. Belknap-Jackson adding a bit
maliciously I thought, "Oh, don't you awfully wish she could hear him
say it just that way?"

"As to the title," I continued, "Mr. Egbert has from the first had a
curious American tendency to present me to his many friends as
'Colonel.' I am sure he means as little by it as when he calls me
'Bill,' which I have often reminded him is not a name of mine."

"Oh, we understand the poor chap is a social incompetent," said
Belknap-Jackson with a despairing shrug.

"Say, look here," suddenly exclaimed Cousin Egbert, a new heat in his
tone, "what I call Bill ain't a marker to what I call you when I
really get going. You ought to hear me some day when I'm feeling

"Really!" exclaimed the other with elaborate sarcasm.

"Yes, sir. Surest thing you know. I could call you a lot of good
things right now if so many ladies wasn't around. You don't think I'd
be afraid, do you? Why, Bill there had you licked with one wallop."

"But really, really!" protested the other with a helpless shrug to the
ladies, who were gasping with dismay.

"You ruffian!" cried his wife.

"Egbert Floud," said Mrs. Effie fiercely, "you will apologize to
Charles before you leave this room. The idea of forgetting yourself
that way. Apologize at once!"

"Oh, very well," he grumbled, "I apologize like I'm made to." But he
added quickly with even more irritation, "only don't you get the idea
it's because I'm afraid of you."

"Tush, tush!" said Belknap-Jackson.

"No, sir; I apologize, but it ain't for one minute because I'm afraid
of you."

"Your bare apology is ample; I'm bound to accept it," replied the
other, a bit uneasily I thought.

"Come right down to it," continued Cousin Egbert, "I ain't afraid of
hardly any person. I can be pushed just so far." Here he looked
significantly at Mrs. Effie.

"After all I've tried to do for him!" she moaned. "I thought he had
something in him."

"Darn it all, I like to be friendly with my friends," he bluntly
persisted. "I call a man anything that suits me. And I ain't ever
apologized yet because I was afraid. I want all parties here to get

"Say no more, please. It's quite understood," said Belknap-Jackson
hastily. The other subsided into low mutterings.

"I trust you fully understand the situation, Ruggles--Colonel
Ruggles," he continued to me.

"It's preposterous, but plain as a pillar-box," I answered. "I can
only regret it as keenly as any right-minded person should. It's not
at all what I've been accustomed to."

"Very well. Then I suggest that you accompany me for a drive this
afternoon. I'll call for you with the trap, say at three."

"Perhaps," suggested his wife, "it might be as well if Colonel Ruggles
were to come to us as a guest." She was regarding me with a gaze that
was frankly speculative.

"Oh, not at all, not at all!" retorted Mrs. Effie crisply. "Having
been announced as our house guest--never do in the world for him to go
to you so soon. We must be careful in this. Later, perhaps, my dear."

Briefly the ladies measured each other with a glance. Could it be, I
asked myself, that they were sparring for the possession of me?

"Naturally he will be asked about everywhere, and there'll be loads of
entertaining to do in return."

"Of course," returned Mrs. Effie, "and I'd never think of putting it
off on to you, dear, when we're wholly to blame for the awful thing."

"That's so thoughtful of you, dear," replied her friend coldly.

"At three, then," said Belknap-Jackson as we arose.

"I shall be delighted," I murmured.

"I bet you won't," said Cousin Egbert sourly. "He wants to show you
off." This, I could see, was ignored as a sheer indecency.

"We shall have to get a reception in quick," said Mrs. Effie, her eyes
narrowed in calculation.

"I don't see what all the fuss was about," remarked Cousin Egbert
again, as if to himself; "tearing me to pieces like a passel of

The Belknap-Jacksons left hastily, not deigning him a glance. And to
do the poor soul justice, I believe he did not at all know what the
"fuss" had been about. The niceties of the situation were beyond him,
dear old sort though he had shown himself to be. I knew then I was
never again to be harsh with him, let him dress as he would.

"Say," he asked, the moment we were alone, "you remember that thing
you called him back there that night--'blighted little mug,' was it?"

"It's best forgotten, sir," I said.

"Well, sir, some way it sounded just the thing to call him. It sounded
bully. What does it mean?"

So far was his darkened mind from comprehending that I, in a foreign
land, among a weird people, must now have a go at being a gentleman;
and that if I fluffed my catch we should all be gossipped to rags!

Alone in my room I made a hasty inventory of my wardrobe. Thanks to
the circumstance that the Honourable George, despite my warning, had
for several years refused to bant, it was rather well stocked. The
evening clothes were irreproachable; so were the frock coat and a
morning suit. Of waistcoats there were a number showing but slight
wear. The three lounge-suits of tweed, though slightly demoded, would
still be vogue in this remote spot. For sticks, gloves, cravats, and
body-linen I saw that I should be compelled to levy on the store I had
laid in for Cousin Egbert, and I happily discovered that his top-hat
set me quite effectively.

Also in a casket of trifles that had knocked about in my box I had the
good fortune to find the monocle that the Honourable George had
discarded some years before on the ground that it was "bally
nonsense." I screwed the glass into my eye. The effect was tremendous.

Rather a lark I might have thought it but for the false military
title. That was rank deception, and I have always regarded any sort of
wrongdoing as detestable. Perhaps if he had introduced me as a mere
subaltern in a line regiment--but I was powerless.

For the afternoon's drive I chose the smartest of the lounge-suits, a
Carlsbad hat which Cousin Egbert had bitterly resented for himself,
and for top-coat a light weight, straight-hanging Chesterfield with
velvet collar which, although the cut studiously avoids a fitted
effect, is yet a garment that intrigues the eye when carried with any
distinction. So many top-coats are but mere wrappings! I had, too,
gloves of a delicately contrasting tint.

Altogether I felt I had turned myself out well, and this I found to be
the verdict of Mrs. Effie, who engaged me in the hall to say that I
was to have anything in the way of equipment I liked to ask for.
Belknap-Jackson also, arriving now in a smart trap to which he drove
two cobs tandem, was at once impressed and made me compliments upon my
tenue. I was aware that I appeared not badly beside him. I mean to
say, I felt that I was vogue in the finest sense of the word.

Mrs. Effie waved us a farewell from the doorway, and I was conscious
that from several houses on either side of the avenue we attracted
more than a bit of attention. There were doors opened, blinds pushed
aside, faces--that sort of thing.

At a leisurely pace we progressed through the main thoroughfares. That
we created a sensation, especially along the commercial streets, where
my host halted at shops to order goods, cannot be denied. Furore is
perhaps the word. I mean to say, almost quite every one stared. Rather
more like a parade it was than I could have wished, but I was again
resolved to be a dead sportsman.

Among those who saluted us from time to time were several of the
lesser townsmen to whom Cousin Egbert had presented me the evening
before, and I now perceived that most of these were truly persons I
must not know in my present station--hodmen, road-menders, grooms,
delivery-chaps, that sort. In responding to the often florid
salutations of such, I instilled into my barely perceptible nod a
certain frigidity that I trusted might be informing. I mean to say,
having now a position to keep up, it would never do at all to chatter
and pal about loosely as Cousin Egbert did.

When we had done a fairish number of streets, both of shops and
villas, we drove out a winding roadway along a tarn to the country
club. The house was an unpretentious structure of native wood,
fronting a couple of tennis courts and a golf links, but although it
was tea-time, not a soul was present. Having unlocked the door, my
host suggested refreshment and I consented to partake of a glass of
sherry and a biscuit. But these, it seemed, were not to be had; so
over pegs of ginger ale, found in an ice-chest, we sat for a time and

"You will find us crude, Ruggles, as I warned you," my host observed.
"Take this deserted clubhouse at this hour. It tells the story. Take
again the matter of sherry and a biscuit--so simple! Yet no one ever
thinks of them, and what you mean by a biscuit is in this wretched
hole spoken of as a cracker."

I thanked him for the item, resolving to add it to my list of curious
Americanisms. Already I had begun a narrative of my adventures in this
wild land, a thing I had tentatively entitled, "Alone in North

"Though we have people in abundance of ample means," he went on, "you
will regret to know that we have not achieved a leisured class. Barely
once in a fortnight will you see this club patronized, after all the
pains I took in its organization. They simply haven't evolved to the
idea yet; sometimes I have moments in which I despair of their ever
doing so."

As usual he grew depressed when speaking of social Red Gap, so that we
did not tarry long in the silent place that should have been quite
alive with people smartly having their tea. As we drove back he
touched briefly and with all delicacy on our changed relations.

"What made me only too glad to consent to it," he said, "is the sodden
depravity of that Floud chap. Really he's a menace to the community. I
saw from the degenerate leer on his face this morning that he will not
be able to keep silent about that little affair of ours back there.
Mark my words, he'll talk. And fancy how embarrassing had you
continued in the office for which you were engaged. Fancy it being
known I had been assaulted by a--you see what I mean. But now, let him
talk his vilest. What is it? A mere disagreement between two
gentlemen, generous, hot-tempered chaps, followed by mutual apologies.
A mere nothing!"

I was conscious of more than a little irritation at his manner of
speaking of Cousin Egbert, but this in my new character I could hardly

When he set me down at the Floud house, "Thanks for the breeze-out," I
said; then, with an easy wave of the hand and in firm tones, "Good
day, Jackson! See you again, old chap!"

I had nerved myself to it as to an icy tub and was rewarded by a glow
such as had suffused me that morning in Paris after the shameful
proceedings with Cousin Egbert and the Indian Tuttle. I mean to say, I
felt again that wonderful thrill of equality--quite as if my superiors
were not all about me.

Inside the house Mrs. Effie addressed the last of a heap of
invitations for an early reception--"To meet Colonel Marmaduke
Ruggles," they read.


Of the following fortnight I find it difficult to write coherently. I
found myself in a steady whirl of receptions, luncheons, dinners,
teas, and assemblies of rather a pretentious character, at the greater
number of which I was obliged to appear as the guest of honour. It
began with the reception of Mrs. Floud, at which I may be said to have
made my first formal bow to the smarter element of Red Gap, followed
by the dinner of the Mrs. Ballard, with whom I had formed acquaintance
on that first memorable evening.

I was during this time like a babe at blind play with a set of chess
men, not knowing king from pawn nor one rule of the game. Senator
Floud--who was but a member of their provincial assembly, I
discovered--sought an early opportunity to felicitate me on my changed
estate, though he seemed not a little amused by it.

"Good work!" he said. "You know I was afraid our having an English
valet would put me in bad with the voters this fall. They're already
saying I wear silk stockings since I've been abroad. My wife did buy
me six pair, but I've never worn any. Shows how people talk, though.
And even now they'll probably say I'm making up to the British army.
But it's better than having a valet in the house. The plain people
would never stand my having a valet and I know it."

I thought this most remarkable, that his constituency should resent
his having proper house service. American politics were, then, more
debased than even we of England had dreamed.

"Good work!" he said again. "And say, take out your papers--become one
of us. Be a citizen. Nothing better than an American citizen on God's
green earth. Read the Declaration of Independence. Here----" From a
bookcase at his hand he reached me a volume. "Read and reflect, my
man! Become a citizen of a country where true worth has always its
chance and one may hope to climb to any heights whatsoever." Quite
like an advertisement he talked, but I read their so-called
Declaration, finding it snarky in the extreme and with no end of silly
rot about equality. In no way at all did it solve the problems by
which I had been so suddenly confronted.

Social lines in the town seemed to have been drawn by no rule
whatever. There were actually tradesmen who seemed to matter
enormously; on the other hand, there were those of undoubted
qualifications, like Mrs. Pettengill, for example, and Cousin Egbert,
who deliberately chose not to matter, and mingled as freely with the
Bohemian set as they did with the county families. Thus one could
never be quite certain whom one was meeting. There was the Tuttle
person. I had learned from Mrs. Effie in Paris that he was an Indian
(accounting for much that was startling in his behaviour there) yet
despite his being an aborigine I now learned that his was one of the
county families and he and his white American wife were guests at that
first dinner. Throughout the meal both Cousin Egbert and he winked
atrociously at me whenever they could catch my eye.

There was, again, an English person calling himself Hobbs, a baker, to
whom Cousin Egbert presented me, full of delight at the idea that as
compatriots we were bound to be congenial. Yet it needed only a glance
and a moment's listening to the fellow's execrable cockney dialect to
perceive that he was distinctly low-class, and I was immensely
relieved, upon inquiry, to learn that he affiliated only with the
Bohemian set. I felt a marked antagonism between us at that first
meeting; the fellow eyed me with frank suspicion and displayed a taste
for low chaffing which I felt bound to rebuke. He it was, I may now
disclose, who later began a fashion of referring to me as "Lord Algy,"
which I found in the worst possible taste. "Sets himself up for a
gentleman, does he? He ain't no more a gentleman than wot I be!" This
speech of his reported to me will show how impossible the creature
was. He was simply a person one does not know, and I was not long in
letting him see it.

And there was the woman who was to play so active a part in my later
history, of whom it will be well to speak at once. I had remarked her
on the main street before I knew her identity. I am bound to say she
stood out from the other women of Red Gap by reason of a certain dash,
not to say beauty. Rather above medium height and of pleasingly full
figure, her face was piquantly alert, with long-lashed eyes of a
peculiar green, a small nose, the least bit raised, a lifted chin, and
an abundance of yellowish hair. But it was the expertness of her
gowning that really held my attention at that first view, and the fact
that she knew what to put on her head. For the most part, the ladies I
had met were well enough gotten up yet looked curiously all wrong,
lacking a genius for harmony of detail.

This person, I repeat, displayed a taste that was faultless, a
knowledge of the peculiar needs of her face and figure that was
unimpeachable. Rather with regret it was I found her to be a Mrs.
Kenner, the leader of the Bohemian set. And then came the further
items that marked her as one that could not be taken up. Perhaps a
summary of these may be conveyed when I say that she had long been
known as Klondike Kate. She had some years before, it seemed, been a
dancing person in the far Alaska north and had there married the
proprietor of one of the resorts in which she disported herself--a man
who had accumulated a very sizable fortune in his public house and who
was shot to death by one of his patrons who had alleged unfairness in
a game of chance. The widow had then purchased a townhouse in Red Gap
and had quickly gathered about her what was known as the Bohemian set,
the county families, of course, refusing to know her.

After that first brief study of her I could more easily account for
the undercurrents of bitterness I had felt in Red Gap society. She
would be, I saw, a dangerous woman in any situation where she was
opposed; there was that about her--a sort of daring disregard of the
established social order. I was not surprised to learn that the men of
the community strongly favoured her, especially the younger dancing
set who were not restrained by domestic considerations. Small wonder
then that the women of the "old noblesse," as I may call them, were
outspokenly bitter in their comments upon her. This I discovered when
I attended an afternoon meeting of the ladies' "Onwards and Upwards
Club," which, I had been told, would be devoted to a study of the
English Lake poets, and where, it having been discovered that I read
rather well, I had consented to favour the assembly with some of the
more significant bits from these bards. The meeting, I regret to say,
after a formal enough opening was diverted from its original purpose,
the time being occupied in a quite heated discussion of a so-called
"Dutch Supper" the Klondike person had given the evening before, the
same having been attended, it seemed, by the husbands of at least
three of those present, who had gone incognito, as it were. At no time
during the ensuing two hours was there a moment that seemed opportune
for the introduction of some of our noblest verse.

And so, by often painful stages, did my education progress. At the
country club I played golf with Mr. Jackson. At social affairs I
appeared with the Flouds. I played bridge. I danced the more dignified
dances. And, though there was no proper church in the town--only
dissenting chapels, Methodist, Presbyterian, and such outlandish
persuasions--I attended services each Sabbath, and more than once had
tea with what at home would have been the vicar of the parish.

It was now, when I had begun to feel a bit at ease in my queer foreign
environment, that Mr. Belknap-Jackson broached his ill-starred plan
for amateur theatricals. At the first suggestion of this I was
immensely taken with the idea, suspecting that he would perhaps
present "Hamlet," a part to which I have devoted long and intelligent
study and to which I feel that I could bring something which has not
yet been imparted to it by even the most skilled of our professional
actors. But at my suggestion of this Mr. Belknap-Jackson informed me
that he had already played Hamlet himself the year before, leaving
nothing further to be done in that direction, and he wished now to
attempt something more difficult; something, moreover, that would
appeal to the little group of thinking people about us--he would have
"a little theatre of ideas," as he phrased it--and he had chosen for
his first offering a play entitled "Ghosts" by the foreign dramatist

I suspected at first that this might be a farce where a supposititious
ghost brings about absurd predicaments in a country house, having seen
something along these lines, but a reading of the thing enlightened me
as to its character, which, to put it bluntly, is rather thick. There
is a strain of immorality running through it which I believe cannot be
too strongly condemned if the world is to be made better, and this is
rendered the more repugnant to right-thinking people by the fact that
the participants are middle-class persons who converse in quite
commonplace language such as one may hear any day in the home.

Wrongdoing is surely never so objectionable as when it is indulged in
by common people and talked about in ordinary language, and the
language of this play is not stage language at all. Immorality such as
one gets in Shakespeare is of so elevated a character that one accepts
it, the language having a grandeur incomparably above what any person
was ever capable of in private life, being always elegant and

Though I felt this strongly, I was in no position to urge my
objections, and at length consented to take a part in the production,
reflecting that the people depicted were really foreigners and the
part I would play was that of a clergyman whose behaviour throughout
is above reproach. For himself Mr. Jackson had chosen the part of
Oswald, a youth who goes quite dotty at the last for reasons which are
better not talked about. His wife was to play the part of a
serving-maid, who was rather a baggage, while Mrs. Judge Ballard was
to enact his mother. (I may say in passing I have learned that the
plays of this foreigner are largely concerned with people who have
been queer at one time or another, so that one's parentage is often
uncertain, though they always pay for it by going off in the head
before the final curtain. I mean to say, there is too much
neighbourhood scandal in them.)

There remained but one part to fill, that of the father of the
serving-maid, an uncouth sort of drinking-man, quite low-class, who,
in my opinion, should never have been allowed on the stage at all,
since no moral lesson is taught by him. It was in the casting of this
part that Mr. Jackson showed himself of a forgiving nature. He offered
it to Cousin Egbert, saying he was the true "type"--"with his weak,
dissolute face"--and that "types" were all the rage in theatricals.

At first the latter heatedly declined the honour, but after being
urged and browbeaten for three days by Mrs. Effie he somewhat sullenly
consented, being shown that there were not many lines for him to
learn. From the first, I think, he was rendered quite miserable by the
ordeal before him, yet he submitted to the rehearsals with a rather
pathetic desire to please, and for a time all seemed well. Many an
hour found him mugging away at the book, earnestly striving to
memorize the part, or, as he quaintly expressed it, "that there piece
they want me to speak." But as the day of our performance drew near it
became evident to me, at least, that he was in a desperately black
state of mind. As best I could I cheered him with words of praise, but
his eye met mine blankly at such times and I could see him shudder
poignantly while waiting the moment of his entrance.

And still all might have been well, I fancy, but for the extremely
conscientious views of Mr. Jackson in the matter of our costuming and
make-up. With his lines fairly learned, Cousin Egbert on the night of
our dress rehearsal was called upon first to don the garb of the
foreign carpenter he was to enact, the same involving shorts and gray
woollen hose to his knees, at which he protested violently. So far as
I could gather, his modesty was affronted by this revelation of his
lower legs. Being at length persuaded to this sacrifice, he next
submitted his face to Mr. Jackson, who adjusted it to a labouring
person's beard and eyebrows, crimsoning the cheeks and nose heavily
with grease-paint and crowning all with an unkempt wig.

The result, I am bound to say, was artistic in the extreme. No one
would have suspected the identity of Cousin Egbert, and I had hopes
that he would feel a new courage for his part when he beheld himself.
Instead, however, after one quick glance into the glass he emitted a
gasp of horror that was most eloquent, and thereafter refused to be
comforted, holding himself aloof and glaring hideously at all who
approached him. Rather like a mad dog he was.

Half an hour later, when all was ready for our first act, Cousin
Egbert was not to be found. I need not dwell upon the annoyance this
occasioned, nor upon how a substitute in the person of our hall's
custodian, or janitor, was impressed to read the part. Suffice it to
tell briefly that Cousin Egbert, costumed and bedizened as he was, had
fled not only the theatre but the town as well. Search for him on the
morrow was unavailing. Not until the second day did it become known
that he had been seen at daybreak forty miles from Red Gap, goading a
spent horse into the wilds of the adjacent mountains. Our informant
disclosed that one side of his face was still bearded and that he had
kept glancing back over his shoulder at frequent intervals, as if
fearful of pursuit. Something of his frantic state may also be gleaned
from the circumstance that the horse he rode was one he had found
hitched in a side street near the hall, its ownership being unknown to

For the rest it may be said that our performance was given as
scheduled, announcement being made of the sudden illness of Mr. Egbert
Floud, and his part being read from the book in a rich and cultivated
voice by the superintendent of the high school. Our efforts were
received with respectful attention by a large audience, among whom I
noted many of the Bohemian set, and this I took as an especial tribute
to our merits. Mr. Belknap-Jackson, however, to whom I mentioned the
circumstance, was pessimistic.

"I fear," said he, "we have not heard the last of it. I am sure they
came for no good purpose."

"They were quite orderly in their behaviour," I suggested

"Which is why I suspect them. That Kenner woman, Hobbs, the baker, the
others of their set--they're not thinking people; I dare say they
never consider social problems seriously. And you may have noticed
that they announce an amateur minstrel performance for a week hence.
I'm quite convinced that they mean to be vulgar to the last
extreme--there has been so much talk of the behaviour of the wretched
Floud, a fellow who really has no place in our modern civilization. He
should be compelled to remain on his ranche."

And indeed these suspicions proved to be only too well founded. That
which followed was so atrociously personal that in any country but
America we could have had an action against them. As Mr.
Belknap-Jackson so bitterly said when all was over, "Our boasted
liberty has degenerated into license."

It is best told in a few words, this affair of the minstrel
performance, which I understood was to be an entertainment wherein the
participants darkened themselves to resemble blackamoors. Naturally, I
did not attend, it being agreed that the best people should signify
their disapproval by staying away, but the disgraceful affair was
recounted to me in all its details by more than one of the large
audience that assembled. In the so-called "grand first part" there
seemed to have been little that was flagrantly insulting to us,
although in their exchange of conundrums, which is a peculiar feature
of this form of entertainment, certain names were bandied about with a
freedom that boded no good.

It was in the after-piece that the poltroons gave free play to their
vilest fancies. Our piece having been announced as "Ghosts; a Drama
for Thinking People," this part was entitled on their programme,
"Gloats; a Dram for Drinking People," a transposition that should
perhaps suffice to show the dreadful lengths to which they went; yet I
feel that the thing should be set down in full.

The stage was set as our own had been, but it would scarce be credited
that the Kenner woman in male attire had made herself up in a
curiously accurate resemblance to Belknap-Jackson as he had rendered
the part of Oswald, copying not alone his wig, moustache, and fashion
of speech, but appearing in a golfing suit which was recognized by
those present as actually belonging to him.

Nor was this the worst, for the fellow Hobbs had copied my own dress
and make-up and persisted in speaking in an exaggerated manner alleged
to resemble mine. This, of course, was the most shocking bad taste,
and while it was quite to have been expected of Hobbs, I was indeed
rather surprised that the entire assembly did not leave the auditorium
in disgust the moment they perceived his base intention. But it was
Cousin Egbert whom they had chosen to rag most unmercifully, and they
were not long in displaying their clumsy attempts at humour.

As the curtain went up they were searching for him, affecting to be
unconscious of the presence of their audience, and declaring that the
play couldn't go on without him. "Have you tried all the saloons?"
asked one, to which another responded, "Yes, and he's been in all of
them, but now he has fled. The sheriff has put bloodhounds on his
trail and promises to have him here, dead or alive."

"Then while we are waiting," declared the character supposed to
represent myself, "I will tell you a wheeze," whereupon both the
female characters fell to their knees shrieking, "Not that! My God,
not that!" while Oswald sneered viciously and muttered, "Serves me
right for leaving Boston."

To show the infamy of the thing, I must here explain that at several
social gatherings, in an effort which I still believe was
praiseworthy, I had told an excellent wheeze which runs: "Have you
heard the story of the three holes in the ground?" I mean to say, I
would ask this in an interested manner, as if I were about to relate
the anecdote, and upon being answered "No!" I would exclaim with mock
seriousness, "Well! Well! Well!" This had gone rippingly almost quite
every time I had favoured a company with it, hardly any one of my
hearers failing to get the joke at a second telling. I mean to say,
the three holes in the ground being three "Wells!" uttered in rapid

Of course if one doesn't see it at once, or finds it a bit subtle,
it's quite silly to attempt to explain it, because logically there is
no adequate explanation. It is merely a bit of nonsense, and that's
quite all to it. But these boors now fell upon it with their coarse
humour, the fellow Hobbs pretending to get it all wrong by asking if
they had heard the story about the three wells and the others
replying: "No, tell us the hole thing," which made utter nonsense of
it, whereupon they all began to cry, "Well! well! well!" at each other
until interrupted by a terrific noise in the wings, which was followed
by the entrance of the supposed Cousin Egbert, a part enacted by the
cab-driver who had conveyed us from the station the day of our
arrival. Dragged on he was by the sheriff and two of the town
constables, the latter being armed with fowling-pieces and the sheriff
holding two large dogs in leash. The character himself was heavily
manacled and madly rattled his chains, his face being disguised to
resemble Cousin Egbert's after the beard had been adjusted.

"Here he is!" exclaimed the supposed sheriff; "the dogs ran him into
the third hole left by the well-diggers, and we lured him out by
making a noise like sour dough." During this speech, I am told, the
character snarled continuously and tried to bite his captors. At this
the woman, who had so deplorably unsexed herself for the character of
Mr. Belknap-Jackson as he had played Oswald, approached the prisoner
and smartly drew forth a handful of his beard which she stuffed into a
pipe and proceeded to smoke, after which they pretended that the play
went on. But no more than a few speeches had been uttered when the
supposed Cousin Egbert eluded his captors and, emitting a loud shriek
of horror, leaped headlong through the window at the back of the
stage, his disappearance being followed by the sounds of breaking
glass as he was supposed to fall to the street below.

"How lovely!" exclaimed the mimic Oswald. "Perhaps he has broken both
his legs so he can't run off any more," at which the fellow Hobbs
remarked in his affected tones: "That sort of thing would never do
with us."

This I learned aroused much laughter, the idea being that the remark
had been one which I am supposed to make in private life, though I
dare say I have never uttered anything remotely like it.

"The fellow is quite impossible," continued the spurious Oswald, with
a doubtless rather clever imitation of Mr. Belknap-Jackson's manner.
"If he is killed, feed him to the goldfish and let one of the dogs
read his part. We must get along with this play. Now, then. 'Ah! why
did I ever leave Boston where every one is nice and proper?'" To which
his supposed mother replied with feigned emotion: "It was because of
your father, my poor boy. Ah, what I had to endure through those years
when he cursed and spoke disrespectfully of our city. 'Scissors and
white aprons,' he would cry out, 'Why is Boston?' But I bore it all
for your sake, and now you, too, are smoking--you will go the same

"But promise me, mother," returns Oswald, "promise me if I ever get
dusty in the garret, that Lord Algy here will tell me one of his funny
wheezes and put me out of pain. You could not bear to hear me knocking
Boston as poor father did. And I feel it coming--already my
mother-in-law has bluffed me into admitting that Red Gap has a right
to be on the same map with Boston if it's a big map."

And this was the coarsely wretched buffoonery that refined people were
expected to sit through! Yet worse followed, for at their climax, the
mimic Oswald having gone quite off his head, the Hobbs person, still
with the preposterous affectation of taking me off in speech and
manner, was persuaded by the stricken mother to sing. "Sing that dear
old plantation melody from London," she cried, "so that my poor boy
may know there are worse things than death." And all this witless
piffle because of a quite natural misunderstanding of mine.

I have before referred to what I supposed was an American plantation
melody which I had heard a black sing at Brighton, meaning one of the
English blacks who colour themselves for the purpose, but on reciting
the lines at an evening affair, when the American folksongs were under
discussion, I was told that it could hardly have been written by an
American at all, but doubtless by one of our own composers who had
taken too little trouble with his facts. I mean to say, the song as I
had it, betrayed misapprehensions both of a geographical and faunal
nature, but I am certain that no one thought the worse of me for
having been deceived, and I had supposed the thing forgotten. Yet now
what did I hear but that a garbled version of this song had been
supposedly sung by myself, the Hobbs person meantime mincing across
the stage and gesturing with a monocle which he had somehow procured,
the words being quite simply:

    "Away down south in Michigan,
      Where I was a slave, so happy and so gay,
    'Twas there I mowed the cotton and the cane.
    I used to hunt the elephants, the tigers, and giraffes,
      And the alligators at the break of day.
    But the blooming Injuns prowled about my cabin every night,
      So I'd take me down my banjo and I'd play,
    And I'd sing a little song and I'd make them dance with glee,
      On the banks of the Ohio far away."

I mean to say, there was nothing to make a dust about even if the song
were not of a true American origin, yet I was told that the creature
who sang it received hearty applause and even responded to an encore.


I need hardly say that this public ridicule left me dazed. Desperately
I recalled our calm and orderly England where such things would not be
permitted. There we are born to our stations and are not allowed to
forget them. We matter from birth, or we do not matter, and that's all
to it. Here there seemed to be no stations to which one was born; the
effect was sheer anarchy, and one might ridicule any one whomsoever.
As was actually said in that snarky manifesto drawn up by the rebel
leaders at the time our colonies revolted, "All men are created free
and equal"--than which absurdity could go no farther--yet the lower
middle classes seemed to behave quite as if it were true.

And now through no fault of my own another awkward circumstance was
threatening to call further attention to me, which was highly
undesirable at this moment when the cheap one-and-six Hobbs fellow had
so pointedly singled me out for his loathsome buffoonery.

Some ten days before, walking alone at the edge of town one calm
afternoon, where I might commune with Nature, of which I have always
been fond, I noted an humble vine-clad cot, in the kitchen garden of
which there toiled a youngish, neat-figured woman whom I at once
recognized as a person who did occasional charring for the Flouds on
the occasion of their dinners or receptions. As she had appeared to be
cheerful and competent, of respectful manners and a quite marked
intelligence, I made nothing of stopping at her gate for a moment's
chat, feeling a quite decided relief in the thought that here was one
with whom I need make no pretence, her social position being sharply

We spoke of the day's heat, which was bland, of the vegetables which
she watered with a lawn hose, particularly of the tomatoes of which
she was pardonably proud, and of the flowering vine which shielded her
piazza from the sun. And when she presently and with due courtesy
invited me to enter, I very affably did so, finding the atmosphere of
the place reposeful and her conversation of a character that I could
approve. She was dressed in a blue print gown that suited her no end,
the sleeves turned back over her capable arms; her brown hair was
arranged with scrupulous neatness, her face was pleasantly flushed
from her agricultural labours, and her blue eyes flashed a friendly
welcome and a pleased acknowledgment of the compliments I made her on
the garden. Altogether, she was a person with whom I at once felt
myself at ease, and a relief, I confess it was, after the strain of my
high social endeavours.

After a tour of the garden I found myself in the cool twilight of her
little parlour, where she begged me to be seated while she prepared me
a dish of tea, which she did in the adjoining kitchen, to a cheerful
accompaniment of song, quite with an honest, unpretentious
good-heartedness. Glad I was for the moment to forget the social
rancors of the town, the affronted dignities of the North Side set,
and the pernicious activities of the Bohemians, for here all was of a
simple humanity such as I would have found in a farmer's cottage at

As I rested in the parlour I could not but approve its general air of
comfort and good taste--its clean flowered wall-paper, the pair of
stuffed birds on the mantel, the comfortable chairs, the neat carpet,
the pictures, and, on a slender-legged stand, the globe of goldfish.
These I noted with an especial pleasure, for I have always found an
intense satisfaction in their silent companionship. Of the pictures I
noted particularly a life-sized drawing in black-and-white in a large
gold frame, of a man whom I divined was the deceased husband of my
hostess. There was also a spirited reproduction of "The Stag at Bay"
and some charming coloured prints of villagers, children, and domestic
animals in their lighter moments.

Tea being presently ready, I genially insisted that it should be
served in the kitchen where it had been prepared, though to this my
hostess at first stoutly objected, declaring that the room was in no
suitable state. But this was a mere womanish hypocrisy, as the place
was spotless, orderly, and in fact quite meticulous in its neatness.
The tea was astonishingly excellent, so few Americans I had observed
having the faintest notion of the real meaning of tea, and I was
offered with it bread and butter and a genuinely satisfying compote of
plums of which my hostess confessed herself the fabricator, having, as
she quaintly phrased the thing, "put it up."

And so, over this collation, we chatted for quite all of an hour. The
lady did, as I have intimated, a bit of charring, a bit of plain
sewing, and also derived no small revenue from her vegetables and
fruit, thus managing, as she owned the free-hold of the premises, to
make a decent living for herself and child. I have said that she was
cheerful and competent, and these epithets kept returning to me as we
talked. Her husband--she spoke of him as "poor Judson"--had been a
carter and odd-job fellow, decent enough, I dare say, but hardly the
man for her, I thought, after studying his portrait. There was a sort
of foppish weakness in his face. And indeed his going seemed to have
worked her no hardship, nor to have left any incurable sting of loss.

Three cups of the almost perfect tea I drank, as we talked of her own
simple affairs and of the town at large, and at length of her child
who awakened noisily from slumber in an adjacent room and came
voraciously to partake of food. It was a male child of some two and a
half years, rather suggesting the generous good-nature of the mother,
but in the most shocking condition, a thing I should have spoken
strongly to her about at once had I known her better. Queer it seemed
to me that a woman of her apparently sound judgment should let her
offspring reach this terrible state without some effort to alleviate
it. The poor thing, to be blunt, was grossly corpulent, legs, arms,
body, and face being wretchedly fat, and yet she now fed it a large
slice of bread thickly spread with butter and loaded to overflowing
with the fattening sweet. Banting of the strictest sort was of course
what it needed. I have had but the slightest experience with children,
but there could be no doubt of this if its figure was to be
maintained. Its waistline was quite impossible, and its eyes, as it
owlishly scrutinized me over its superfluous food, showed from a face
already quite as puffy as the Honourable George's. I did, indeed,
venture so far as suggesting that food at untimely hours made for a
too-rounded outline, but to my surprise the mother took this as a
tribute to the creature's grace, crying, "Yes, he wuzzum wuzzums a
fatty ole sing," with an air of most fatuous pride, and followed this
by announcing my name to it with concerned precision.

"Ruggums," it exclaimed promptly, getting the name all wrong and
staring at me with cold detachment; then "Ruggums-Ruggums-Ruggums!" as
if it were a game, but still stuffing itself meanwhile. There was a
sort of horrid fascination in the sight, but I strove as well as I
could to keep my gaze from it, and the mother and I again talked of
matters at large.

I come now to speak of an incident which made this quite harmless
visit memorable and entailed unforeseen consequences of an almost
quite serious character.

As we sat at tea there stalked into the kitchen a nondescript sort of
dog, a creature of fairish size, of a rambling structure, so to speak,
coloured a puzzling grayish brown with underlying hints of yellow,
with vast drooping ears, and a long and most saturnine countenance.

Quite a shock it gave me when I looked up to find the beast staring at
me with what I took to be the most hearty disapproval. My hostess
paused in silence as she noted my glance. The beast then approached
me, sniffed at my boots inquiringly, then at my hands with increasing
animation, and at last leaped into my lap and had licked my face
before I could prevent it.

I need hardly say that this attention was embarrassing and most
distasteful, since I have never held with dogs. They are doubtless
well enough in their place, but there is a vast deal of sentiment
about them that is silly, and outside the hunting field the most
finely bred of them are too apt to be noisy nuisances. When I say that
the beast in question was quite an American dog, obviously of no
breeding whatever, my dismay will be readily imagined. Rather
impulsively, I confess, I threw him to the floor with a stern,
"Begone, sir!" whereat he merely crawled to my feet and whimpered,
looking up into my eyes with a most horrid and sickening air of
devotion. Hereupon, to my surprise, my hostess gayly called out:

"Why, look at Mr. Barker--he's actually taken up with you right away,
and him usually so suspicious of strangers. Only yesterday he bit an
agent that was calling with silver polish to sell--bit him in the leg
so I had to buy some from the poor fellow--and now see! He's as
friendly with you as you could wish. They do say that dogs know when
people are all right. Look at him trying to get into your lap again."
And indeed the beast was again fawning upon me in the most abject
manner, licking my hands and seeming to express for me some hideous
admiration. Seeing that I repulsed his advances none too gently, his
owner called to him:

"Down, Mr. Barker, down, sir! Get out!" she continued, seeing that he
paid her no attention, and then she thoughtfully seized him by the
collar and dragged him to a safe distance where she held him, he
nevertheless continuing to regard me with the most servile affection.


"Ruggums, Ruggums, Ruggums!" exploded the child at this, excitedly
waving the crust of its bread.

"Behave, Mr. Barker!" called his owner again. "The gentleman probably
doesn't want you climbing all over him."

The remainder of my visit was somewhat marred by the determination of
Mr. Barker, as he was indeed quite seriously called, to force his
monstrous affections upon me, and by the well-meant but often careless
efforts of his mistress to restrain him. She, indeed, appeared to
believe that I would feel immensely pleased at these tokens of his

As I took my leave after sincere expressions of my pleasure in the
call, the child with its face one fearful smear of jam again waved its
crust and shouted, "Ruggums!" while the dog was plainly bent on
departing with me. Not until he had been secured by a rope to one of
the porch stanchions could I safely leave, and as I went he howled
dismally after violent efforts to chew the detaining rope apart.

I finished my stroll with the greatest satisfaction, for during the
entire hour I had been enabled to forget the manifold cares of my
position. Again it seemed to me that the portrait in the little
parlour was not that of a man who had been entirely suited to this
worthy and energetic young woman. Highly deserving she seemed, and
when I knew her better, as I made no doubt I should, I resolved to
instruct her in the matter of a more suitable diet for her offspring,
the present one, as I have said, carrying quite too large a
preponderance of animal fats. Also, I mused upon the extraordinary
tolerance she accorded to the sad-faced but too demonstrative Mr.
Barker. He had been named, I fancied, by some one with a primitive
sense of humour, I mean to say, he might have been facetiously called
"Barker" because he actually barked a bit, though adding the "Mister"
to it seemed to be rather forcing the poor drollery. At any rate, I
was glad to believe I should see little of him in his free state.

And yet it was precisely the curious fondness of this brute for myself
that now added to my embarrassments. On two succeeding days I paused
briefly at Mrs. Judson's in my afternoon strolls, finding the lady as
wholesomely reposeful as ever in her effect upon my nature, but
finding the unspeakable dog each time more lavish of his disgusting
affection for me.

Then, one day, when I had made back to the town and was in fact
traversing the main commercial thoroughfare in a dignified manner, I
was made aware that the brute had broken away to follow me. Close at
my heels he skulked. Strong words hissed under my breath would not
repulse him, and to blows I durst not proceed, for I suddenly divined
that his juxtaposition to me was exciting amused comment among certain
of the natives who observed us. The fellow Hobbs, in the doorway of
his bake-shop, was especially offensive, bursting into a shout of
boorish laughter and directing to me the attention of a nearby group
of loungers, who likewise professed to become entertained. So
situated, I was of course obliged to affect unconsciousness of the
awful beast, and he was presently running joyously at my side as if
secure in my approval, or perhaps his brute intelligence divined that
for the moment I durst not turn upon him with blows.

Nor did the true perversity of the situation at once occur to me. Not
until we had gained one of the residence avenues did I realize the
significance of the ill-concealed merriment we had aroused. It was not
that I had been followed by a random cur, but by one known to be the
dog of the lady I had called upon. I mean to say, the creature had
advertised my acquaintance with his owner in a way that would lead
base minds to misconstrue its extent.

Thoroughly maddened by this thought, and being now safely beyond close
observers, I turned upon the animal to give it a hearty drubbing with
my stick, but it drew quickly off, as if divining my intention, and
when I hurled the stick at it, retrieved it, and brought it to me
quite as if it forgave my hostility. Discovering at length that this
method not only availed nothing but was bringing faces to neighbouring
windows, and that it did not the slightest good to speak strongly to
the beast, I had perforce to accompany it to its home, where I had the
satisfaction of seeing its owner once more secure it firmly with the

Thus far a trivial annoyance one might say, but when the next day the
creature bounded up to me as I escorted homeward two ladies from the
Onwards and Upwards Club, leaping upon me with extravagant
manifestations of delight and trailing a length of gnawed rope, it
will be seen that the thing was little short of serious.

"It's Mr. Barker," exclaimed one of the ladies, regarding me brightly.

At a cutlery shop I then bought a stout chain, escorted the brute to
his home, and saw him tethered. The thing was rather getting on me.
The following morning he waited for me at the Floud door and was
beside himself with rapture when I appeared. He had slipped his
collar. And once more I saw him moored. Each time I had apologized to
Mrs. Judson for seeming to attract her pet from home, for I could not
bring myself to say that the beast was highly repugnant to me, and
least of all could I intimate that his public devotion to me would be
seized upon by the coarser village wits to her disadvantage.

"I never saw him so fascinated with any one before," explained the
lady as she once more adjusted his leash. But that afternoon, as I
waited in the trap for Mr. Jackson before the post-office, the beast
seemed to appear from out the earth to leap into the trap beside me.
After a rather undignified struggle I ejected him, whereupon he
followed the trap madly to the country club and made a farce of my
golf game by retrieving the ball after every drive. This time, I
learned, the child had released him.

It is enough to add that for those remaining days until the present
the unspeakable creature's mad infatuation for me had made my life
well-nigh a torment, to say nothing of its being a matter of low
public jesting. Hardly did I dare show myself in the business centres,
for as surely as I did the animal found me and crawled to fawn upon
me, affecting his release each day in some novel manner. Each morning
I looked abroad from my window on arising, more than likely detecting
his outstretched form on the walk below, patiently awaiting my
appearance, and each night I was liable to dreams of his coming upon
me, a monstrous creature, sad-faced but eager, tireless, resolute,
determined to have me for his own.

Musing desperately over this impossible state of affairs, I was now
surprised to receive a letter from the wretched Cousin Egbert, sent by
the hand of the Tuttle person. It was written in pencil on ruled
sheets apparently torn from a cheap notebook, quite as if proper pens
and decent stationery were not to be had, and ran as follows:


    Well, Bill, I know God hates a quitter, but I guess I got
    a streak of yellow in me wider than the Comstock lode. I was
    kicking at my stirrups even before I seen that bunch of whiskers,
    and when I took a flash of them and seen he was intending I
    should go out before folks without any regular pants on, I says
    I can be pushed just so far. Well, Bill, I beat it like a bat
    out of hell, as I guess you know by this time, and I would like
    to seen them catch me as I had a good bronc. If you know whose
    bronc it was tell him I will make it all O.K. The bronc will be
    all right when he rests up some. Well, Bill, I am here on the
    ranche, where everything is nice, and I would never come back
    unless certain parties agree to do what is right. I would not
    speak pieces that way for the President of the U.S. if he ask
    me to on his bended knees. Well, Bill, I wish you would come
    out here yourself, where everything is nice. You can't tell what
    that bunch of crazies would be wanting you to do next thing with
    false whiskers and no right pants. I would tell them "I can be
    pushed just so far, and now I will go out to the ranche with
    Sour-dough for some time, where things are nice." Well, Bill,
    if you will come out Jeff Tuttle will bring you Wednesday when
    he comes with more grub, and you will find everything nice. I
    have told Jeff to bring you, so no more at present, with kind
    regards and hoping to see you here soon.

                          Your true friend,

                                           E.G. FLOUD.

    P.S. Mrs. Effie said she would broaden me out. Maybe she did,
    because I felt pretty flat. Ha! ha!

Truth to tell, this wild suggestion at once appealed to me. I had an
impulse to withdraw for a season from the social whirl, to seek repose
among the glens and gorges of this cattle plantation, and there try to
adjust myself more intelligently to my strange new environment. In the
meantime, I hoped, something might happen to the dog of Mrs. Judson;
or he might, perhaps, in my absence outlive his curious mania for me.

Mrs. Effie, whom I now consulted, after reading the letter of Cousin
Egbert, proved to be in favour of my going to him to make one last
appeal to his higher nature.

"If only he'd stick out there in the brush where he belongs, I'd let
him stay," she explained. "But he won't stick; he gets tired after
awhile and drops in perhaps on the very night when we're entertaining
some of the best people at dinner--and of course we're obliged to have
him, though he's dropped whatever manners I've taught him and picked
up his old rough talk, and he eats until you wonder how he can. It's
awful! Sometimes I've wondered if it couldn't be adenoids--there's a
lot of talk about those just now--some very select people have them,
and perhaps they're what kept him back and made him so hopelessly low
in his tastes, but I just know he'd never go to a doctor about them.
For heaven's sake, use what influence you have to get him back here
and to take his rightful place in society."

I had a profound conviction that he would never take his rightful
place in society, be it the fault of adenoids or whatever; that low
passion of his for being pally with all sorts made it seem that his
sense of values must have been at fault from birth, and yet I could
not bring myself to abandon him utterly, for, as I have intimated,
something in the fellow's nature appealed to me. I accordingly
murmured my sympathy discreetly and set about preparations for my

Feeling instinctively that Cousin Egbert would not now be dressing for
dinner, I omitted evening clothes from my box, including only a
morning-suit and one of form-fitting tweeds which I fancied would do
me well enough. But no sooner was my box packed than the Tuttle person
informed me that I could take no box whatever. It appeared that all
luggage would be strapped to the backs of animals and thus
transported. Even so, when I had reduced myself to one park
riding-suit and a small bundle of necessary adjuncts, I was told that
the golf-sticks must be left behind. It appeared there would be no

And so quite early one morning I started on this curious pilgrimage
from what was called a "feed corral" in a low part of the town. Here
the Tuttle person had assembled a goods-train of a half-dozen animals,
the luggage being adjusted to their backs by himself and two
assistants, all using language of the most disgraceful character
throughout the process. The Tuttle person I had half expected to
appear garbed in his native dress--Mrs. Effie had once more referred
to "that Indian Jeff Tuttle"--but he wore instead, as did his two
assistants, the outing or lounge suit of the Western desperado, nor,
though I listened closely, could I hear him exclaim, "Ugh! Ugh!" in
moments of emotional stress as my reading had informed me that the
Indian frequently does.

The two assistants, solemn-faced, ill-groomed fellows, bore the
curious American names of Hank and Buck, and furiously chewed the
tobacco plant at all times. After betraying a momentary interest in my
smart riding-suit, they paid me little attention, at which I was well
pleased, for their manners were often repellent and their abrupt,
direct fashion of speech quite disconcerting.

The Tuttle person welcomed me heartily and himself adjusted the saddle
to my mount, expressing the hope that I would "get my fill of
scenery," and volunteering the information that my destination was
"one sleep" away.


Although fond of rural surroundings and always interested in nature,
the adventure in which I had become involved is not one I can
recommend to a person of refined tastes. I found it little enough to
my own taste even during the first two hours of travel when we kept to
the beaten thoroughfare, for the sun was hot, the dust stifling, and
the language with which the goods-animals were berated coarse in the

Yet from this plain roadway and a country of rolling down and heather
which was at least not terrifying, our leader, the Tuttle person,
swerved all at once into an untried jungle, in what at the moment I
supposed to be a fit of absent-mindedness, following a narrow path
that led up a fearsomely slanted incline among trees and boulders of
granite thrown about in the greatest disorder. He was followed,
however, by the goods-animals and by the two cow-persons, so that I
soon saw the new course must be intended.

The mountains were now literally quite everywhere, some higher than
others, but all of a rough appearance, and uninviting in the extreme.
The narrow path, moreover, became more and more difficult, and seemed
altogether quite insane with its twistings and fearsome declivities.
One's first thought was that at least a bit of road-metal might have
been put upon it. But there was no sign of this throughout our
toilsome day, nor did I once observe a rustic seat along the way,
although I saw an abundance of suitable nooks for these. Needless to
say, in all England there is not an estate so poorly kept up.

There being no halt made for luncheon, I began to look forward to
tea-time, but what was my dismay to observe that this hour also passed
unnoted. Not until night was drawing upon us did our caravan halt
beside a tarn, and here I learned that we would sup and sleep,
although it was distressing to observe how remote we were from proper
surroundings. There was no shelter and no modern conveniences; not
even a wash-hand-stand or water-jug. There was, of course, no central
heating, and no electricity for one's smoothing-iron, so that one's
clothing must become quite disreputable for want of pressing. Also the
informal manner of cooking and eating was not what I had been
accustomed to, and the idea of sleeping publicly on the bare ground
was repugnant in the extreme. I mean to say, there was no _vie
intime_. Truly it was a coarser type of wilderness than that which
I had encountered near New York City.

The animals, being unladen, were fitted with a species of leather
bracelet about their forefeet and allowed to stray at their will. A
fire was built and coarse food made ready. It is hardly a thing to
speak of, but their manner of preparing tea was utterly depraved, the
leaves being flung into a tin of boiling water and allowed to
_stew_. The result was something that I imagine etchers might use
in making lines upon their metal plates. But for my day's fast I
should have been unequal to this, or to the crude output of their

Yet I was indeed glad that no sign of my dismay had escaped me, for
the cow-persons, Hank and Buck, as I discovered, had given unusual
care to the repast on my account, and I should not have liked to seem
unappreciative. Quite by accident I overheard the honest fellows
quarrelling about an oversight: they had, it seemed, left the
finger-bowls behind; each was bitterly blaming the other for this,
seeming to feel that the meal could not go forward. I had not to be
told that they would not ordinarily carry finger-bowls for their own
use, and that the forgotten utensils must have been meant solely for
my comfort. Accordingly, when the quarrel was at its highest I broke
in upon it, protesting that the oversight was of no consequence, and
that I was quite prepared to roughen it with them in the best of good
fellowship. They were unable to conceal their chagrin at my having
overheard them, and slunk off abashed to the cooking-fire. It was
plain that under their repellent exteriors they concealed veins of the
finest chivalry, and I took pains during the remainder of the evening
to put them at their ease, asking them many questions about their wild

Of the dangers of the jungle by which we were surrounded the most
formidable, it seemed, was not the grizzly bear, of which I had read,
but an animal quaintly called the "high-behind," which lurks about
camping-places such as ours and is often known to attack man in its
search for tinned milk of which it is inordinately fond. The spoor of
one of these beasts had been detected near our campfire by the
cow-person called Buck, and he now told us of it, though having at
first resolved to be silent rather than alarm us.

As we carried a supply of the animal's favourite food, I was given two
of the tins with instructions to hurl them quickly at any high-behind
that might approach during the night, my companions arming themselves
in a similar manner. It appears that the beast has tushes similar in
shape to tin openers with which it deftly bites into any tins of milk
that may be thrown at it. The person called Hank had once escaped with
his life only by means of a tin of milk which had caught on the
sabrelike tushes of the animal pursuing him, thus rendering him
harmless and easy of capture.

Needless to say, I was greatly interested in this animal of the quaint
name, and resolved to remain on watch during the night in the hope of
seeing one, but at this juncture we were rejoined by the Tuttle
person, who proceeded to recount to Hank and Buck a highly coloured
version of my regrettable encounter with Mr. C. Belknap-Jackson back
in the New York wilderness, whereat they both lost interest in the
high-behind and greatly embarrassed me with their congratulations upon
this lesser matter. Cousin Egbert, it seemed, had most indiscreetly
talked of the thing, which was now a matter of common gossip in Red
Gap. Thereafter I could get from them no further information about the
habits of the high-behind, nor did I remain awake to watch for one as
I had resolved to, the fatigues of the day proving too much for me.
But doubtless none approached during the night, as the two tins of
milk with which I was armed were untouched when I awoke at dawn.

Again we set off after a barbarous breakfast, driving our laden
animals ever deeper into the mountain fastness, until it seemed that
none of us could ever emerge, for I had ascertained that there was not
a compass in the party. There was now a certain new friendliness in
the manner of the two cow-persons toward me, born, it would seem, of
their knowledge of my assault upon Belknap-Jackson, and I was somewhat
at a loss to know how to receive this, well intentioned though it was.
I mean to say, they were undoubtedly of the servant-class, and of
course one must remember one's own position, but I at length decided
to be quite friendly and American with them.

The truth must be told that I was now feeling in quite a bit of a funk
and should have welcomed any friendship offered me; I even found
myself remembering with rather a pensive tolerance the attentions of
Mr. Barker, though doubtless back in Red Gap I should have found them
as loathsome as ever. My hump was due, I made no doubt, first, to my
precarious position in the wilderness, but more than that to my
anomalous social position, for it seemed to me now that I was neither
fish nor fowl. I was no longer a gentleman's man--the familiar
boundaries of that office had been swept away; on the other hand, I
was most emphatically not the gentleman I had set myself up to be, and
I was weary of the pretence. The friendliness of these uncouth
companions, then, proved doubly welcome, for with them I could conduct
myself in a natural manner, happily forgetting my former limitations
and my present quite fictitious dignities.

I even found myself talking to them of cricket as we rode, telling
them I had once hit an eight--fully run out it was and not an
overthrow--though I dare say it meant little to them. I also took
pains to describe to them the correct method of brewing tea, which
they promised thereafter to observe, though this I fear they did from
mere politeness.

Our way continued adventurously upward until mid-afternoon, when we
began an equally adventurous descent through a jungle of pine trees,
not a few of which would have done credit to one of our own parks,
though there were, of course, too many of them here to be at all
effective. Indeed, it may be said that from a scenic standpoint
everything through which we had passed was overdone: mountains, rocks,
streams, trees, all sounding a characteristic American note of

Then at last we came to the wilderness abode of Cousin Egbert. A rude
hut of native logs it was, set in this highland glen beside a tarn.
From afar we descried its smoke, and presently in the doorway observed
Cousin Egbert himself, who waved cheerfully at us. His appearance gave
me a shock. Quite aware of his inclination to laxness, I was yet
unprepared for his present state. Never, indeed, have I seen a man so
badly turned out. Too evidently unshaven since his disappearance, he
was gotten up in a faded flannel shirt, open at the neck and without
the sign of cravat, a pair of overalls, also faded and quite wretchedly
spotty, and boots of the most shocking description. Yet in spite of
this dreadful tenue he greeted me without embarrassment and indeed
with a kind of artless pleasure. Truly the man was impossible, and when
I observed the placard he had allowed to remain on the waistband of his
overalls, boastfully alleging their indestructibility, my sympathies
flew back to Mrs. Effie. There was a cartoon emblazoned on this placard,
depicting the futile efforts of two teams of stout horses, each attached
to a leg of the garment, to wrench it in twain. I mean to say, one might
be reduced to overalls, but this blatant emblem was not a thing any
gentleman need have retained. And again, observing his footgear, I was
glad to recall that I had included a plentiful supply of boot-cream in
my scanty luggage.

Three of the goods-animals were now unladen, their burden of
provisions being piled beside the door while Cousin Egbert chatted
gayly with the cow-persons and the Indian Tuttle, after which these
three took their leave, being madly bent, it appeared, upon
penetrating still farther into the wilderness to another cattle farm.
Then, left alone with Cousin Egbert, I was not long in discovering
that, strictly speaking, he had no establishment. Not only were there
no servants, but there were no drains, no water-taps, no ice-machine,
no scullery, no central heating, no electric wiring. His hut consisted
of but a single room, and this without a floor other than the packed
earth, while the appointments were such as in any civilized country
would have indicated the direst poverty. Two beds of the rudest
description stood in opposite corners, and one end of the room was
almost wholly occupied by a stone fireplace of primitive construction,
over which the owner now hovered in certain feats of cookery.

Thanks to my famished state I was in no mood to criticise his efforts,
which he presently set forth upon the rough deal table in a hearty but
quite inelegant manner. The meal, I am bound to say, was more than
welcome to my now indiscriminating palate, though at a less urgent
moment I should doubtless have found the bread soggy and the beans a
pernicious mass. There was a stew of venison, however, which only the
most skilful hands could have bettered, though how the man had
obtained a deer was beyond me, since it was evident he possessed no
shooting or deer-stalking costume. As to the tea, I made bold to speak
my mind and succeeded in brewing some for myself.

Throughout the repast Cousin Egbert was constantly attentive to my
needs and was more cheerful of demeanour than I had ever seen him. The
hunted look about his eyes, which had heretofore always distinguished
him, was now gone, and he bore himself like a free man.

"Yes, sir," he said, as we smoked over the remains of the meal, "you
stay with me and I'll give you one swell little time. I'll do the
cooking, and between whiles we can sit right here and play cribbage
day in and day out. You can get a taste of real life without moving."

I saw then, if never before, that his deeper nature would not be
aroused. Doubtless my passing success with him in Paris had marked the
very highest stage of his spiritual development. I did not need to be
told now that he had left off sock-suspenders forever, nor did I waste
words in trying to recall him to his better self. Indeed for the
moment I was too overwhelmed by fatigue even to remonstrate about his
wretched lounge-suit, and I early fell asleep on one of the beds while
he was still engaged in washing the metal dishes upon which we had
eaten, singing the while the doleful ballad of "Rosalie, the Prairie

It seemed but a moment later that I awoke, for Cousin Egbert was again
busy among the dishes, but I saw that another day had come and his
song had changed to one equally sad but quite different. "In the hazel
dell my Nellie's sleeping," he sang, though in a low voice and quite
cheerfully. Indeed his entire repertoire of ballads was confined to
the saddest themes, chiefly of desirable maidens taken off untimely
either by disease or accident. Besides "Rosalie, the Prairie Flower,"
there was "Lovely Annie Lisle," over whom the willows waved and
earthly music could not waken; another named "Sweet Alice Ben Bolt"
lying in the churchyard, and still another, "Lily Dale," who was
pictured "'neath the trees in the flowery vale," with the wild rose
blossoming o'er the little green grave.

His face was indeed sad as he rendered these woful ballads and yet his
voice and manner were of the cheeriest, and I dare say he sang without
reference to their real tragedy. It was a school of American balladry
quite at variance with the cheerful optimism of those I had heard from
the Belknap-Jackson phonograph, where the persons are not dead at all
but are gayly calling upon one another to come on and do a folkdance,
or hear a band or crawl under--things of that sort. As Cousin Egbert
bent over a frying pan in which ham was cooking he crooned softly:

    "In the hazel dell my Nellie's sleeping,
      Nellie loved so long,
    While my lonely, lonely watch I'm keeping,
      Nellie lost and gone."

I could attribute his choice only to that natural perversity which
prompted him always to do the wrong thing, for surely this affecting
verse was not meant to be sung at such a moment.

Attempting to arise, I became aware that the two days' journey had
left me sadly lame and wayworn, also that my face was burned from the
sun and that I had been awakened too soon. Fortunately I had with me a
shilling jar of Ridley's Society Complexion Food, "the all-weather
wonder," which I applied to my face with cooling results, and I then
felt able to partake of a bit of the breakfast which Cousin Egbert now
brought to my bedside. The ham was of course not cooked correctly and
the tea was again a mere corrosive, but so anxious was my host to
please me that I refrained from any criticism, though at another time
I should have told him straight what I thought of such cookery.

When we had both eaten I slept again to the accompaniment of another
sad song and the muted rattle of the pans as Cousin Egbert did the
scullery work, and it was long past the luncheon hour when I awoke,
still lame from the saddle, but greatly refreshed.

It was now that another blow befell me, for upon arising and searching
through my kit I discovered that my razors had been left behind. By
any thinking man the effect of this oversight will be instantly
perceived. Already low in spirits, the prospect of going unshaven
could but aggravate my funk. I surrendered to the wave of homesickness
that swept over me. I wanted London again, London with its yellow fog
and greasy pavements, I wished to buy cockles off a barrow, I longed
for toasted crumpets, and most of all I longed for my old rightful
station; longed to turn out a gentleman, longed for the Honourable
George and our peaceful if sometimes precarious existence among people
of the right sort. The continued shocks since that fateful night of
the cards had told upon me. I knew now that I had not been meant for
adventure. Yet here I had turned up in the most savage of lands after
leading a life of dishonest pretence in a station to which I had not
been born--and, for I knew not how many days, I should not be able to
shave my face.

But here again a ferment stirred in my blood, some electric thrill of
anarchy which had come from association with these Americans, a
strange, lawless impulse toward their quite absurd ideals of equality,
a monstrous ambition to be in myself some one that mattered, instead
of that pretended Colonel Ruggles who, I now recalled, was to-day
promised to bridge at the home of Mrs. Judge Ballard, where he would
talk of hunting in the shires, of the royal enclosure at Ascot, of
Hurlingham and Ranleigh, of Cowes in June, of the excellence of the
converts at Chaynes-Wotten. No doubt it was a sort of madness now
seized me, consequent upon the lack of shaving utensils.

I wondered desperately if there was a true place for me in this life.
I had tasted their equality that day of debauch in Paris, but
obviously the sensation could not permanently be maintained upon
spirits. Perhaps I might obtain a post in a bank; I might become a
shop-assistant, bag-man, even a pressman. These moody and unwholesome
thoughts were clouding my mind as I surveyed myself in the wrinkled
mirror which had seemed to suffice the uncritical Cousin Egbert for
his toilet. It hung between the portrait of a champion middle-weight
crouching in position and the calendar advertisement of a brewery
which, as I could not fancy Cousin Egbert being in the least concerned
about the day of the month, had too evidently been hung on his wall
because of the coloured lithograph of a blond creature in theatrical
undress who smirked most immorally.

Studying the curiously wavy effect this glass produced upon my face, I
chanced to observe in a corner of the frame a printed card with the
heading "Take Courage!" To my surprise the thing, when I had read it,
capped my black musings upon my position in a rather uncanny way.
Briefly it recited the humble beginnings of a score or more of the
world's notable figures.

"Demosthenes was the son of a cutler," it began. "Horace was the son
of a shopkeeper. Virgil's father was a porter. Cardinal Wolsey was the
son of a butcher. Shakespeare the son of a wool-stapler." Followed the
obscure parentage of such well-known persons as Milton, Napoleon,
Columbus, Cromwell. Even Mohammed was noted as a shepherd and
camel-driver, though it seemed rather questionable taste to include in
the list one whose religion, as to family life, was rather scandalous.
More to the point was the citation of various Americans who had sprung
from humble beginnings: Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Garfield, Edison. It
is true that there was not, apparently, a gentleman's servant among
them; they were rail-splitters, boatmen, tailors, artisans of sorts,
but the combined effect was rather overwhelming.

From the first moment of my encountering the American social system,
it seemed, I had been by way of becoming a rabid anarchist--that is,
one feeling that he might become a gentleman regardless of his
birth--and here were the disconcerting facts concerning a score of
notables to confirm me in my heresy. It was not a thing to be spoken
lightly of in loose discussion, but there can be no doubt that at
this moment I coldly questioned the soundness of our British system,
the vital marrow of which is to teach that there is a difference
between men and men. To be sure, it will have been seen that I was not
myself, having for a quarter year been subjected to a series of
nervous shocks, and having had my mind contaminated, moreover, by
being brought into daily contact with this unthinking American
equality in the person of Cousin Egbert, who, I make bold to assert,
had never for one instant since his doubtless obscure birth considered
himself the superior of any human being whatsoever.

This much I advance for myself in extenuation of my lawless
imaginings, but of them I can abate no jot; it was all at once clear
to me, monstrous as it may seem, that Nature and the British Empire
were at variance in their decrees, and that somehow a system was base
which taught that one man is necessarily inferior to another. I dare
say it was a sort of poisonous intoxication--that I should all at once

"His lordship tenth Earl of Brinstead and Marmaduke Ruggles are two
men; one has made an acceptable peer and one an acceptable valet, yet
the twain are equal, and the system which has made one inferior
socially to the other is false and bad and cannot endure." For a
moment, I repeat, I saw myself a gentleman in the making--a clear
fairway without bunkers from tee to green--meeting my equals with a
friendly eye; and then the illumining shock, for I unconsciously added
to myself, "Regarding my inferiors with a kindly tolerance." It was
there I caught myself. So much a part of the system was I that,
although I could readily conceive a society in which I had no
superiors, I could not picture one in which I had not inferiors. The
same poison that ran in the veins of their lordships ran also in the
veins of their servants. I was indeed, it appeared, hopelessly
inoculated. Again I read the card. Horace was the son of a shopkeeper,
but I made no doubt that, after he became a popular and successful
writer of Latin verse, he looked down upon his own father. Only could
it have been otherwise, I thought, had he been born in this fermenting
America to no station whatever and left to achieve his rightful one.

So I mused thus licentiously until one clear conviction possessed me:
that I would no longer pretend to the social superiority of one
Colonel Marmaduke Ruggles. I would concede no inferiority in myself,
but I would not again, before Red Gap's county families vaunt myself
as other than I was. That this was more than a vagrant fancy on my
part will be seen when I aver that suddenly, strangely, alarmingly, I
no longer cared that I was unshaven and must remain so for an untold
number of days. I welcomed the unhandsome stubble that now projected
itself upon my face; I curiously wished all at once to be as badly
gotten up as Cousin Egbert, with as little thought for my station in
life. I would no longer refrain from doing things because they were
"not done." My own taste would be the law.

It was at this moment that Cousin Egbert appeared in the doorway with
four trout from the stream nearby, though how he had managed to snare
them I could not think, since he possessed no correct equipment for
angling. I fancy I rather overwhelmed him by exclaiming, "Hello,
Sour-dough!" since never before had I addressed him in any save a
formal fashion, and it is certain I embarrassed him by my next
proceeding, which was to grasp his hand and shake it heartily, an
action that I could explain no more than he, except that the violence
of my self-communion was still upon me and required an outlet. He
grinned amiably, then regarded me with a shrewd eye and demanded if I
had been drinking.

"This," I said; "I am drunk with this," and held the card up to him.
But when he took it interestedly he merely read the obverse side which
I had not observed until now. "Go to Epstein's for Everything You
Wear," it said in large type, and added, "The Square Deal Mammoth

"They carry a nice stock," he said, still a bit puzzled by my tone,
"though I generally trade at the Red Front." I turned the card over
for him and he studied the list of humble-born notables, though from a
point of view peculiarly his own. "I don't see," he began, "what right
they got to rake up all that stuff about people that's dead and gone.
Who cares what their folks was!" And he added, "'Horace was the son of
a shopkeeper'--Horace who?" Plainly the matter did not excite him, and
I saw it would be useless to try to convey to him what the items had
meant to me.

"I mean to say, I'm glad to be here with you," I said.

"I knew you'd like it," he answered. "Everything is nice here."

"America is some country," I said.

"She is, she is," he answered. "And now you can bile up a pot of tea
in your own way while I clean these here fish for sapper."

I made the tea. I regret to say there was not a tea cozy in the place;
indeed the linen, silver, and general table equipment were sadly
deficient, but in my reckless mood I made no comment.

"Your tea smells good, but it ain't got no kick to it," he observed
over his first cup. "When I drench my insides with tea I sort of want
it to take a hold." And still I made no effort to set him right. I now
saw that in all true essentials he did not need me to set him right.
For so uncouth a person he was strangely commendable and worthy.

As we sipped our tea in companionable silence, I busy with my new and
disturbing thoughts, a long shout came to us from the outer distance.
Cousin Egbert brightened.

"I'm darned if that ain't Ma Pettengill!" he exclaimed. "She's rid
over from the Arrowhead."

We rushed to the door, and in the distance, riding down upon us at
terrific speed, I indeed beheld the Mixer. A moment later she reigned
in her horse before us and hoarsely rumbled her greetings. I had last
seen her at a formal dinner where she was rather formidably done out
in black velvet and diamonds. Now she appeared in a startling tenue of
khaki riding-breeches and flannel shirt, with one of the wide-brimmed
cow-person hats. Even at the moment of greeting her I could not but
reflect how shocked our dear Queen would be at the sight of this
riding habit.

She dismounted with hearty explanations of how she had left her
"round-up" and ridden over to visit, having heard from the Tuttle
person that we were here. Cousin Egbert took her horse and she entered
the hut, where to my utter amazement she at once did a feminine thing.
Though from her garb one at a little distance might have thought her a
man, a portly, florid, carelessly attired man, she made at once for
the wrinkled mirror where, after anxiously scanning her burned face
for an instant, she produced powder and puff from a pocket of her
shirt and daintily powdered her generous blob of a nose. Having
achieved this to her apparent satisfaction, she unrolled a bundle she
had carried at her saddle and donned a riding skirt, buttoning it
about the waist and smoothing down its folds--before I could retire.

"There, now," she boomed, as if some satisfying finality had been
brought about. Such was the Mixer. That sort of thing would never do
with us, and yet I suddenly saw that she, like Cousin Egbert, was
strangely commendable and worthy. I mean to say, I no longer felt it
was my part to set her right in any of the social niceties. Some
curious change had come upon me. I knew then that I should no longer
resist America.


With a curious friendly glow upon me I set about helping Cousin Egbert
in the preparation of our evening meal, a work from which, owing to
the number and apparent difficulty of my suggestions, he presently
withdrew, leaving me in entire charge. It is quite true that I have
pronounced views as to the preparation and serving of food, and I dare
say I embarrassed the worthy fellow without at all meaning to do so,
for too many of his culinary efforts betray the fumbling touch of the
amateur. And as I worked over the open fire, doing the trout to a
turn, stirring the beans, and perfecting the stew with deft touches of
seasoning, I worded to myself for the first time a most severe
indictment against the North American cookery, based upon my
observations across the continent and my experience as a diner-out in
Red Gap.

I saw that it would never do with us, and that it ought, as a matter
of fact, to be uplifted. Even then, while our guest chattered gossip
of the town over her brown paper cigarettes, I felt the stirring of an
impulse to teach Americans how to do themselves better at table. For
the moment, of course, I was hampered by lack of equipment (there was
not even a fish slice in the establishment), but even so I brewed
proper tea and was able to impart to the simple viands a touch of
distinction which they had lacked under Cousin Egbert's
all-too-careless manipulation.

As I served the repast Cousin Egbert produced a bottle of the brown
American whiskey at which we pegged a bit before sitting to table.

"Three rousing cheers!" said he, and the Mixer responded with "Happy

As on that former occasion, the draught of spirits flooded my being
with a vast consciousness of personal worth and of good feeling toward
my companions. With a true insight I suddenly perceived that one might
belong to the great lower middle-class in America and still matter in
the truest, correctest sense of the term.

As we fell hungrily to the food, the Mixer did not fail to praise my
cooking of the trout, and she and Cousin Egbert were presently
lamenting the difficulty of obtaining a well-cooked meal in Red Gap.
At this I boldly spoke up, declaring that American cookery lacked
constructive imagination, making only the barest use of its
magnificent opportunities, following certain beaten and
all-too-familiar roads with a slavish stupidity.

"We nearly had a good restaurant," said the Mixer. "A Frenchman came
and showed us a little flash of form, but he only lasted a month
because he got homesick. He had half the people in town going there
for dinner, too, to get away from their Chinamen--and after I spent a
lot of money fixing the place up for him, too."

I recalled the establishment, on the main street, though I had not
known that our guest was its owner. Vacant it was now, and looking
quite as if the bailiffs had been in.

"He couldn't cook ham and eggs proper," suggested Cousin Egbert. "I
tried him three times, and every time he done something French to 'em
that nobody had ought to do to ham and eggs."

Hereupon I ventured to assert that a too-intense nationalism would
prove the ruin of any chef outside his own country; there must be a
certain breadth of treatment, a blending of the best features of
different schools. One must know English and French methods and yet be
a slave to neither; one must even know American cookery and be
prepared to adapt its half-dozen or so undoubted excellencies. From
this I ventured further into a general criticism of the dinners I had
eaten at Red Gap's smartest houses. Too profuse they were, I said, and
too little satisfying in any one feature; too many courses,
constructed, as I had observed, after photographs printed in the back
pages of women's magazines; doubtless they possessed a certain
artistic value as sights for the eye, but considered as food they were
devoid of any inner meaning.

"Bill's right," said Cousin Egbert warmly. "Mrs. Effie, she gets up
about nine of them pictures, with nuts and grated eggs and scrambled
tomatoes all over 'em, and nobody knowing what's what, and even when
you strike one that tastes good they's only a dab of it and you
mustn't ask for any more. When I go out to dinner, what I want is to
have 'em say, 'Pass up your plate, Mr. Floud, for another piece of the
steak and some potatoes, and have some more squash and help yourself
to the quince jelly.' That's how it had ought to be, but I keep eatin'
these here little plates of cut-up things and waiting for the real
stuff, and first thing I know I get a spoonful of coffee in something
like you put eye medicine into, and I know it's all over. Last time I
was out I hid up a dish of these here salted almuns under a fern and
et the whole lot from time to time, kind of absent like. It helped
some, but it wasn't dinner."

"Same here," put in the Mixer, saturating half a slice of bread in the
sauce of the stew. "I can't afford to act otherwise than like I am a
lady at one of them dinners, but the minute I'm home I beat it for the
icebox. I suppose it's all right to be socially elegant, but we hadn't
ought to let it contaminate our food none. And even at that New York
hotel this summer you had to make trouble to get fed proper. I wanted
strawberry shortcake, and what do you reckon they dealt me? A thing
looking like a marble palace--sponge cake and whipped cream with a few
red spots in between. Well, long as we're friends here together, I may
say that I raised hell until I had the chef himself up and told him
exactly what to do; biscuit dough baked and prized apart and buttered,
strawberries with sugar on 'em in between and on top, and plenty of
regular cream. Well, after three days' trying he finally managed to
get simple--he just couldn't believe I meant it at first, and kept
building on the whipped cream--and the thing cost eight dollars, but
you can bet he had me, even then; the bonehead smarty had sweetened
the cream and grated nutmeg into it. I give up.

"And if you can't get right food in New York, how can you expect to
here? And Jackson, the idiot, has just fired the only real cook in Red
Gap. Yes, sir; he's let the coons go. It come out that Waterman had
sneaked out that suit of his golf clothes that Kate Kenner wore in the
minstrel show, so he fired them both, and now I got to support 'em,
because, as long as we're friends here, I don't mind telling you I
egged the coon on to do it."

I saw that she was referring to the black and his wife whom I had met
at the New York camp, though it seemed quaint to me that they should
be called "coons," which is, I take it, a diminutive for "raccoon," a
species of ground game to be found in America.

Truth to tell, I enjoyed myself immensely at this simple but
satisfying meal, feeling myself one with these homely people, and I
was sorry when we had finished.

"That was some little dinner itself," said the Mixer as she rolled a
cigarette; "and now you boys set still while I do up the dishes." Nor
would she allow either of us to assist her in this work. When she had
done, Cousin Egbert proceeded to mix hot toddies from the whiskey, and
we gathered about the table before the open fire.

"Now we'll have a nice home evening," said the Mixer, and to my great
embarrassment she began at once to speak to myself.

"A strong man like him has got no business becoming a social
butterfly," she remarked to Cousin Egbert.

"Oh, Bill's all right," insisted the latter, as he had done so many
times before.

"He's all right so far, but let him go on for a year or so and he
won't be a darned bit better than what Jackson is, mark my words. Just
a social butterfly, wearing funny clothes and attending afternoon

"Well, I don't say you ain't right," said Cousin Egbert thoughtfully;
"that's one reason I got him out here where everything is nice. What
with speaking pieces like an actor, I was afraid they'd have him
making more kinds of a fool of himself than what Jackson does, him
being a foreigner, and his mind kind o' running on what clothes a man
had ought to wear."

Hereupon, so flushed was I with the good feeling of the occasion, I
told them straight that I had resolved to quit being Colonel Ruggles
of the British army and associate of the nobility; that I had
determined to forget all class distinctions and to become one of
themselves, plain, simple, and unpretentious. It is true that I had
consumed two of the hot grogs, but my mind was clear enough, and both
my companions applauded this resolution.

"If he can just get his mind off clothes for a bit he might amount to
something," said Cousin Egbert, and it will scarcely be credited, but
at the moment I felt actually grateful to him for this admission.

"We'll think about his case," said the Mixer, taking her own second
toddy, whereupon the two fell to talking of other things, chiefly of
their cattle plantations and the price of beef-stock, which then
seemed to be six and one half, though what this meant I had no notion.
Also I gathered that the Mixer at her own cattle-farm had been
watching her calves marked with her monogram, though I would never
have credited her with so much sentiment.

When the retiring hour came, Cousin Egbert and I prepared to take our
blankets outside to sleep, but the Mixer would have none of this.

"The last time I slept in here," she remarked, "mice was crawling over
me all night, so you keep your shack and I'll bed down outside. I
ain't afraid of mice, understand, but I don't like to feel their feet
on my face."

And to my great dismay, though Cousin Egbert took it calmly enough,
she took a roll of blankets and made a crude pallet on the ground
outside, under a spreading pine tree. I take it she was that sort. The
least I could do was to secure two tins of milk from our larder and
place them near her cot, in case of some lurking high-behind, though I
said nothing of this, not wishing to alarm her needlessly.

Inside the hut Cousin Egbert and I partook of a final toddy before
retiring. He was unusually thoughtful and I had difficulty in
persuading him to any conversation. Thus having noted a bearskin
before my bed, I asked him if he had killed the animal.

"No," said he shortly, "I wouldn't lie for a bear as small as that."
As he was again silent, I made no further approaches to him.

From my first sleep I was awakened by a long, booming yell from our
guest outside. Cousin Egbert and I reached the door at the same time.

"I've got it!" bellowed the Mixer, and we went out to her in the chill
night. She sat up with the blankets muffled about her.

"We start Bill in that restaurant," she began. "It come to me in a
flash. I judge he's got the right ideas, and Waterman and his wife can
cook for him."

"Bully!" exclaimed Cousin Egbert. "I was thinking he ought to have a
gents' furnishing store, on account of his mind running to dress, but
you got the best idea."

"I'll stake him to the rent," she put in.

"And I'll stake him to the rest," exclaimed Cousin Egbert delightedly,
and, strange as it may seem, I suddenly saw myself a licensed

"I'll call it the 'United States Grill,'" I said suddenly, as if by

"Three rousing cheers for the U.S. Grill!" shouted Cousin Egbert to
the surrounding hills, and repairing to the hut he brought out hot
toddies with which we drank success to the new enterprise. For a
half-hour, I dare say, we discussed details there in the cold night,
not seeing that it was quite preposterously bizarre. Returning to the
hut at last, Cousin Egbert declared himself so chilled that he must
have another toddy before retiring, and, although I was already
feeling myself the equal of any American, I consented to join him.

Just before retiring again my attention centred a second time upon the
bearskin before my bed and, forgetting that I had already inquired
about it, I demanded of him if he had killed the animal. "Sure," said
he; "killed it with one shot just as it was going to claw me. It was
an awful big one."

Morning found the three of us engrossed with the new plan, and by the
time our guest rode away after luncheon the thing was well forward and
I had the Mixer's order upon her estate agent at Red Gap for admission
to the vacant premises. During the remainder of the day, between games
of cribbage, Cousin Egbert and I discussed the venture. And it was now
that I began to foresee a certain difficulty.

How, I asked myself, would the going into trade of Colonel Marmaduke
Ruggles be regarded by those who had been his social sponsors in Red
Gap? I mean to say, would not Mrs. Effie and the Belknap-Jacksons feel
that I had played them false? Had I not given them the right to
believe that I should continue, during my stay in their town, to be
one whom their county families would consider rather a personage? It
was idle, indeed, for me to deny that my personality as well as my
assumed origin and social position abroad had conferred a sort of
prestige upon my sponsors; that on my account, in short, the North
Side set had been newly armed in its battle with the Bohemian set. And
they relied upon my continued influence. How, then, could I face them
with the declaration that I meant to become a tradesman? Should I be
doing a caddish thing, I wondered?

Putting the difficulty to Cousin Egbert, he dismissed it impatiently
by saying: "Oh, shucks!" In truth I do not believe he comprehended it
in the least. But then it was that I fell upon my inspiration. I might
take Colonel Marmaduke Ruggles from the North Side set, but I would
give them another and bigger notable in his place. This should be none
other than the Honourable George, whom I would now summon. A fortnight
before I had received a rather snarky letter from him demanding to
know how long I meant to remain in North America and disclosing that
he was in a wretched state for want of some one to look after him. And
he had even hinted that in the event of my continued absence he might
himself come out to America and fetch me back. His quarter's
allowance, would, I knew, be due in a fortnight, and my letter would
reach him, therefore, before some adventurer had sold him a system for
beating the French games of chance. And my letter would be compelling.
I would make it a summons he could not resist. Thus, when I met the
reproachful gaze of the C. Belknap-Jacksons and of Mrs. Effie, I
should be able to tell them: "I go from you, but I leave you a better
man in my place." With the Honourable George Augustus Vane-Basingwell,
next Earl of Brinstead, as their house guest, I made no doubt that the
North Side set would at once prevail as it never had before, the
Bohemian set losing at once such of its members as really mattered,
who would of course be sensible of the tremendous social importance of
the Honourable George.

Yet there came moments in which I would again find myself in no end of
a funk, foreseeing difficulties of an insurmountable character. At
such times Cousin Egbert strove to cheer me with all sorts of
assurances, and to divert my mind he took me upon excursions of the
roughest sort into the surrounding jungle, in search either of fish or
ground game. After three days of this my park-suit became almost a
total ruin, particularly as to the trousers, so that I was glad to
borrow a pair of overalls such as Cousin Egbert wore. They were a tidy
fit, but, having resolved not to resist America any longer, I donned
them without even removing the advertising placard.

With my ever-lengthening stubble of beard it will be understood that I
now appeared as one of their hearty Western Americans of the roughest
type, which was almost quite a little odd, considering my former
principles. Cousin Egbert, I need hardly say, was immensely pleased
with my changed appearance, and remarked that I was "sure a live
wire." He also heartened me in the matter of the possible disapproval
of C. Belknap-Jackson, which he had divined was the essential rabbit
in my moodiness.

"I admit the guy uses beautiful language," he conceded, "and probably
he's top-notched in education, but jest the same he ain't the whole
seven pillars of the house of wisdom, not by a long shot. If he gets
fancy with you, soak him again. You done it once." So far was the
worthy fellow from divining the intimate niceties involved in my
giving up a social career for trade. Nor could he properly estimate
the importance of my plan to summon the Honourable George to Red Gap,
merely remarking that the "Judge" was all right and a good mixer and
that the boys would give him a swell time.

Our return journey to Red Gap was made in company with the Indian
Tuttle, and the two cow-persons, Hank and Buck, all of whom professed
themselves glad to meet me again, and they, too, were wildly
enthusiastic at hearing from Cousin Egbert of my proposed business
venture. Needless to say they were of a class that would bother itself
little with any question of social propriety involved in my entering
trade, and they were loud in their promises of future patronage. At
this I again felt some misgiving, for I meant the United States Grill
to possess an atmosphere of quiet refinement calculated to appeal to
particular people that really mattered; and yet it was plain that,
keeping a public house, I must be prepared to entertain agricultural
labourers and members of the lower or working classes. For a time I
debated having an ordinary for such as these, where they could be shut
away from my selecter patrons, but eventually decided upon a tariff
that would be prohibitive to all but desirable people. The rougher or
Bohemian element, being required to spring an extra shilling, would
doubtless seek other places.

For two days we again filed through mountain gorges of a most awkward
character, reaching Red Gap at dusk. For this I was rather grateful,
not only because of my beard and the overalls, but on account of a hat
of the most shocking description which Cousin Egbert had pressed upon
me when my own deer-stalker was lost in a glen. I was willing to
roughen it in all good-fellowship with these worthy Americans, but I
knew that to those who had remarked my careful taste in dress my
present appearance would seem almost a little singular. I would rather
I did not shock them to this extent.

Yet when our animals had been left in their corral, or rude enclosure,
I found it would be ungracious to decline the hospitality of my new
friends who wished to drink to the success of the U.S. Grill, and so I
accompanied them to several public houses, though with the shocking
hat pulled well down over my face. Also, as the dinner hour passed, I
consented to dine with them at the establishment of a Chinese, where
we sat on high stools at a counter and were served ham and eggs and
some of the simpler American foods.

The meal being over, I knew that we ought to cut off home directly,
but Cousin Egbert again insisted upon visiting drinking-places, and I
had no mind to leave him, particularly as he was growing more and more
bitter in my behalf against Mr. Belknap-Jackson. I had a doubtless
absurd fear that he would seek the gentleman out and do him a
mischief, though for the moment he was merely urging me to do this. It
would, he asserted, vastly entertain the Indian Tuttle and the
cow-persons if I were to come upon Mr. Belknap-Jackson and savage him
without warning, or at least with only a paltry excuse, which he
seemed proud of having devised.

"You go up to the guy," he insisted, "very polite, you understand, and
ask him what day this is. If he says it's Tuesday, soak him."

"But it is Tuesday," I said.

"Sure," he replied, "that's where the joke comes in."

Of course this was the crudest sort of American humour and not to be
given a moment's serious thought, so I redoubled my efforts to detach
him from our honest but noisy friends, and presently had the
satisfaction of doing so by pleading that I must be up early on the
morrow and would also require his assistance. At parting, to my
embarrassment, he insisted on leading the group in a cheer. "What's
the matter with Ruggles?" they loudly demanded in unison, following
the query swiftly with: "He's all right!" the "he" being eloquently

But at last we were away from them and off into the darker avenue, to
my great relief, remembering my garb. I might be a living wire, as
Cousin Egbert had said, but I was keenly aware that his overalls and
hat would rather convey the impression that I was what they call in
the States a bad person from a bitter creek.

To my further relief, the Floud house was quite dark as we approached
and let ourselves in. Cousin Egbert, however, would enter the
drawing-room, flood it with light, and seat himself in an easy-chair
with his feet lifted to a sofa. He then raised his voice in a ballad
of an infant that had perished, rendering it most tearfully, the
refrain being, "Empty is the cradle, baby's gone!" Apprehensive at
this, I stole softly up the stairs and had but reached the door of my
own room when I heard Mrs. Effie below. I could fancy the chilling
gaze which she fastened upon the singer, and I heard her coldly
demand, "Where are your feet?" Whereupon the plaintive voice of Cousin
Egbert arose to me, "Just below my legs." I mean to say, he had taken
the thing as a quiz in anatomy rather than as the rebuke it was meant
to be. As I closed my door, I heard him add that he could be pushed
just so far.


Having written and posted my letter to the Honourable George the
following morning, I summoned Mr. Belknap-Jackson, conceiving it my
first duty to notify him and Mrs. Effie of my trade intentions. I also
requested Cousin Egbert to be present, since he was my business

All being gathered at the Floud house, including Mrs. Belknap-Jackson,
I told them straight that I had resolved to abandon my social career,
brilliant though it had been, and to enter trade quite as one of their
middle-class Americans. They all gasped a bit at my first words, as I
had quite expected them to do, but what was my surprise, when I went
on to announce the nature of my enterprise, to find them not a little
intrigued by it, and to discover that in their view I should not in
the least be lowering myself.

"Capital, capital!" exclaimed Belknap-Jackson, and the ladies emitted
little exclamations of similar import.

"At last," said Mrs. Belknap-Jackson, "we shall have a place with tone
to it. The hall above will be splendid for our dinner dances, and now
we can have smart luncheons and afternoon teas."

"And a red-coated orchestra and after-theatre suppers," said Mrs.

"Only," put in Belknap-Jackson thoughtfully, "he will of course be
compelled to use discretion about his patrons. The rabble, of
course----" He broke off with a wave of his hand which, although not
pointedly, seemed to indicate Cousin Egbert, who once more wore the
hunted look about his eyes and who sat by uneasily. I saw him wince.

"Some people's money is just as good as other people's if you come
right down to it," he muttered, "and Bill is out for the coin.
Besides, we all got to eat, ain't we?"

Belknap-Jackson smiled deprecatingly and again waved his hand as if
there were no need for words.

"That rowdy Bohemian set----" began Mrs. Effie, but I made bold to
interrupt. There might, I said, be awkward moments, but I had no doubt
that I should be able to meet them with a flawless tact. Meantime, for
the ultimate confusion of the Bohemian set of Red Gap, I had to
announce that the Honourable George Augustus Vane-Basingwell would
presently be with us. With him as a member of the North Side set, I
pointed out, it was not possible to believe that any desirable members
of the Bohemian set would longer refuse to affiliate with the smartest

My announcement made quite all the sensation I had anticipated.
Belknap-Jackson, indeed, arose quickly and grasped me by the hand,
echoing, "The Honourable George Augustus Vane-Basingwell, brother of
the Earl of Brinstead," with little shivers of ecstasy in his voice,
while the ladies pealed their excitement incoherently, with "Really!
really!" and "Actually coming to Red Gap--the brother of a lord!"

Then almost at once I detected curiously cold glances being darted at
each other by the ladies.

"Of course we will be only too glad to put him up," said Mrs.
Belknap-Jackson quickly.

"But, my dear, he will of course come to us first," put in Mrs. Effie.
"Afterward, to be sure----"

"It's so important that he should receive a favourable impression,"
responded Mrs. Belknap-Jackson.

"That's exactly why----" Mrs. Effie came back with not a little
obvious warmth. Belknap-Jackson here caught my eye.

"I dare say Ruggles and I can be depended upon to decide a minor
matter like that," he said.

The ladies both broke in at this, rather sputteringly, but Cousin
Egbert silenced them.

"Shake dice for him," he said--"poker dice, three throws, aces low."

"How shockingly vulgar!" hissed Mrs. Belknap-Jackson.

"Even if there were no other reason for his coming to us," remarked
her husband coldly, "there are certain unfortunate associations which
ought to make his entertainment here quite impossible."

"If you're calling me 'unfortunate associations,'" remarked Cousin
Egbert, "you want to get it out of your head right off. I don't mind
telling you, the Judge and I get along fine together. I told him when
I was in Paris and Europe to look me up the first thing if ever he
come here, and he said he sure would. The Judge is some mixer, believe

"The 'Judge'!" echoed the Belknap-Jacksons in deep disgust.

"You come right down to it--I bet a cookie he stays just where I tell
him to stay," insisted Cousin Egbert. The evident conviction of his
tone alarmed his hearers, who regarded each other with pained

"Right where I tell him to stay and no place else," insisted Cousin
Egbert, sensing the impression he had made.

"But this is too monstrous!" said Mr. Jackson, regarding me

"The Honourable George," I admitted, "has been known to do unexpected
things, and there have been times when he was not as sensitive as I
could wish to the demands of his caste----"

"Bill is stalling--he knows darned well the Judge is a mixer," broke
in Cousin Egbert, somewhat to my embarrassment, nor did any reply
occur to me. There was a moment's awkward silence during which I
became sensitive to a radical change in the attitude which these
people bore to Cousin Egbert. They shot him looks of furtive but
unmistakable respect, and Mrs. Effie remarked almost with tenderness:
"We must admit that Cousin Egbert has a certain way with him."

"I dare say Floud and I can adjust the matter satisfactorily to all,"
remarked Belknap-Jackson, and with a jaunty affection of
good-fellowship, he opened his cigarette case to Cousin Egbert.

"I ain't made up my mind yet where I'll have him stay," announced the
latter, too evidently feeling his newly acquired importance. "I may
have him stay one place, then again I may have him stay another. I
can't decide things like that off-hand."

And here the matter was preposterously left, the aspirants for this
social honour patiently bending their knees to the erstwhile despised
Cousin Egbert, and the latter being visibly puffed up. By rather
awkward stages they came again to a discussion of the United States

"The name, of course, might be thought flamboyant," suggested
Belknap-Jackson delicately.

"But I have determined," I said, "no longer to resist America, and so
I can think of no name more fitting."

"Your determination," he answered, "bears rather sinister
implications. One may be vanquished by America as I have been. One may
even submit; but surely one may always resist a little, may not one?
One need not abjectly surrender one's finest convictions, need one?"

"Oh, shucks," put in Cousin Egbert petulantly, "what's the use of all
that 'one' stuff? Bill wants a good American name for his place. Me? I
first thought the 'Bon Ton Eating House' would be kind of a nice name
for it, but as soon as he said the 'United States Grill' I knew it was
a better one. It sounds kind of grand and important."

Belknap-Jackson here made deprecating clucks, but not too directly
toward Cousin Egbert, and my choice of a name was not further
criticised. I went on to assure them that I should have an
establishment quietly smart rather than noisily elegant, and that I
made no doubt the place would give a new tone to Red Gap, whereat they
all expressed themselves as immensely pleased, and our little
conference came to an end.

In company with Cousin Egbert I now went to examine the premises I was
to take over. There was a spacious corner room, lighted from the front
and side, which would adapt itself well to the decorative scheme I had
in mind. The kitchen with its ranges I found would be almost quite
suitable for my purpose, requiring but little alteration, but the
large room was of course atrociously impossible in the American
fashion, with unsightly walls, the floors covered with American cloth
of a garish pattern, and the small, oblong tables and flimsy chairs
vastly uninviting.

As to the gross ideals of the former tenant, I need only say that he
had made, as I now learned, a window display of foods, quite after the
manner of a draper's window: moulds of custard set in a row, flanked
on either side by "pies," as the natives call their tarts, with
perhaps a roast fowl or ham in the centre. Artistic vulgarity could of
course go little beyond this, but almost as offensive were the
abundant wall-placards pathetically remaining in place.

"Coffee like mother used to make," read one. Impertinently intimate
this, professing a familiarity with one's people that would never do
with us. "Try our Boston Baked Beans," pleaded another, quite
abjectly. And several others quite indelicately stated the prices at
which different dishes might be had: "Irish Stew, 25 cents";
"Philadelphia Capon, 35 cents"; "Fried Chicken, Maryland, 50 cents";
"New York Fancy Broil, 40 cents." Indeed the poor chap seemed to have
been possessed by a geographical mania, finding it difficult to submit
the simplest viands without crediting them to distant towns or

Upon Cousin Egbert's remarking that these bedizened placards would
"come in handy," I took pains to explain to him just how different the
United States Grill would be. The walls would be done in deep red; the
floor would be covered with a heavy Turkey carpet of the same tone;
the present crude electric lighting fixtures must be replaced with
indirect lighting from the ceiling and electric candlesticks for the
tables. The latter would be massive and of stained oak, my general
colour-scheme being red and brown. The chairs would be of the same
style, comfortable chairs in which patrons would be tempted to linger.
The windows would be heavily draped. In a word, the place would have
atmosphere; not the loud and blaring, elegance which I had observed in
the smartest of New York establishments, with shrieking decorations
and tables jammed together, but an atmosphere of distinction which,
though subtle, would yet impress shop-assistants, plate-layers and
road-menders, hodmen, carters, cattle-persons--in short the
middle-class native.

Cousin Egbert, I fear, was not properly impressed with my plan, for he
looked longingly at the wall-placards, yet he made the most loyal
pretence to this effect, even when I explained further that I should
probably have no printed menu, which I have always regarded as the
ultimate vulgarity in a place where there are any proper relations
between patrons and steward. He made one wistful, timid reference to
the "Try Our Merchant's Lunch for 35 cents," after which he gave in
entirely, particularly when I explained that ham and eggs in the best
manner would be forthcoming at his order, even though no placard
vaunted them or named their price. Advertising one's ability to serve
ham and eggs, I pointed out to him, would be quite like advertising
that one was a member of the Church of England.

After this he meekly enough accompanied me to his bank, where he
placed a thousand pounds to my credit, adding that I could go as much
farther as I liked, whereupon I set in motion the machinery for
decorating and furnishing the place, with particular attention to
silver, linen, china, and glassware, all of which, I was resolved,
should have an air of its own.

Nor did I neglect to seek out the pair of blacks and enter into an
agreement with them to assist in staffing my place. I had feared that
the male black might have resolved to return to his adventurous life
of outlawry after leaving the employment of Belknap-Jackson, but I
found him peacefully inclined and entirely willing to accept service
with me, while his wife, upon whom I would depend for much of the
actual cooking, was wholly enthusiastic, admiring especially my
colour-scheme of reds. I observed at once that her almost exclusive
notion of preparing food was to fry it, but I made no doubt that I
would be able to broaden her scope, since there are of course things
that one simply does not fry.

The male black, or raccoon, at first alarmed me not a little by reason
of threats he made against Belknap-Jackson on account of having been
shopped. He nursed an intention, so he informed me, of putting
snake-dust in the boots of his late employer and so bringing evil upon
him, either by disease or violence, but in this I discouraged him
smartly, apprising him that the Belknap-Jacksons would doubtless be
among our most desirable patrons, whereupon his wife promised for him
that he would do nothing of the sort. She was a native of formidable
bulk, and her menacing glare at her consort as she made this promise
gave me instant confidence in her power to control him, desperate
fellow though he was.

Later in the day, at the door of the silversmith's, Cousin Egbert
hailed the pressman I had met on the evening of my arrival, and
insisted that I impart to him the details of my venture. The chap
seemed vastly interested, and his sheet the following morning
published the following:


    Colonel Marmaduke Ruggles of London and Paris, for the past
    two months a social favourite in Red Gap's select North Side
    set, has decided to cast his lot among us and will henceforth
    be reckoned as one of our leading business men. The plan of
    the Colonel is nothing less than to give Red Gap a truly élite
    and recherché restaurant after the best models of London and
    Paris, to which purpose he will devote a considerable portion
    of his ample means. The establishment will occupy the roomy
    corner store of the Pettengill block, and orders have already
    been placed for its decoration and furnishing, which will be
    sumptuous beyond anything yet seen in our thriving metropolis.

    In speaking of his enterprise yesterday, the Colonel remarked,
    with a sly twinkle in his eye, "Demosthenes was the son of a
    cutler, Cromwell's father was a brewer, your General Grant was
    a tanner, and a Mr. Garfield, who held, I gather, an important
    post in your government, was once employed on a canal-ship, so
    I trust that in this land of equality it will not be presumptuous
    on my part to seek to become the managing owner of a restaurant
    that will be a credit to the fastest growing town in the state.

    "You Americans have," continued the Colonel in his dry, inimitable
    manner, "a bewildering variety of foodstuffs, but I trust I may
    be forgiven for saying that you have used too little constructive
    imagination in the cooking of it. In the one matter of tea,
    for example, I have been obliged to figure in some episodes
    that were profoundly regrettable. Again, amid the profusion of
    fresh vegetables and meats, you are becoming a nation of tinned
    food eaters, or canned food as you prefer to call it. This,
    I need hardly say, adds to your cost of living and also makes
    you liable to one of the most dreaded of modern diseases, a
    disease whose rise can be traced to the rise of the tinned-food
    industry. Your tin openers rasp into the tin with the result
    that a fine sawdust of metal must drop into the contents and
    so enter the human system. The result is perhaps negligible in
    a large majority of cases, but that it is not universally so
    is proved by the prevalence of appendicitis. Not orange or
    grape pips, as was so long believed, but the deadly fine rain
    of metal shavings must be held responsible for this scourge.
    I need hardly say that at the United States Grill no tinned
    food will be used."

    This latest discovery of the Colonel's is important if true.
    Be that as it may, his restaurant will fill a long-felt want,
    and will doubtless prove to be an important factor in the social
    gayeties of our smart set. Due notice of its opening will be
    given in the news and doubtless in the advertising columns of
    this journal.

Again I was brought to marvel at a peculiarity of the American press,
a certain childish eagerness for marvels and grotesque wonders. I had
given but passing thought to my remarks about appendicitis and its
relation to the American tinned-food habit, nor, on reading the chap's
screed, did they impress me as being fraught with vital interest to
thinking people; in truth, I was more concerned with the comparison of
myself to a restaurateur of the crude new city of New York, which
might belittle rather than distinguish me, I suspected. But what was
my astonishment to perceive in the course of a few days that I had
created rather a sensation, with attending newspaper publicity which,
although bizarre enough, I am bound to say contributed not a little to
the consideration in which I afterward came to be held by the more
serious-minded persons of Red Gap.

Busied with the multitude of details attending my installation, I was
called upon by another press chap, representing a Spokane sheet, who
wished me to elaborate my views concerning the most probable cause of
appendicitis, which I found myself able to do with some eloquence,
reciting among other details that even though the metal dust might be
of an almost microscopic fineness, it could still do a mischief to
one's appendix. The press chap appeared wholly receptive to my views,
and, after securing details of my plan to smarten Red Gap with a
restaurant of real distinction, he asked so civilly for a photographic
portrait of myself that I was unable to refuse him. The thing was a
snap taken of me one morning at Chaynes-Wotten by Higgins, the butler,
as I stood by his lordship's saddle mare. It was not by any means the
best likeness I have had, but there was a rather effective bit of
background disclosing the driveway and the façade of the East Wing.

This episode I had well-nigh forgotten when on the following Sunday I
found the thing emblazoned across a page of the Spokane sheet under a
shrieking headline: "Can Opener Blamed for Appendicitis." A secondary
heading ran, "Famous British Sportsman and Bon Vivant Advances Novel
Theory." Accompanying this was a print of the photograph entitled,
"Colonel Marmaduke Ruggles with His Favourite Hunter, at His English
Country Seat."

Although the article made suitable reference to myself and my
enterprise, it was devoted chiefly to a discussion of my tin-opening
theory and was supplemented by a rather snarky statement signed by a
physician declaring it to be nonsense. I thought the fellow might have
chosen his words with more care, but again dismissed the matter from
my mind. Yet this was not to be the last of it. In due time came a New
York sheet with a most extraordinary page. "Titled Englishman Learns
Cause of Appendicitis," read the heading in large, muddy type. Below
was the photograph of myself, now entitled, "Sir Marmaduke Ruggles and
His Favourite Hunter." But this was only one of the illustrations.
From the upper right-hand corner a gigantic hand wielding a tin-opener
rained a voluminous spray of metal, presumably, upon a cowering wretch
in the lower left-hand corner, who was quite plainly all in. There
were tables of statistics showing the increase, side by side of
appendicitis and the tinned-food industry, a matter to which I had
devoted, said the print, years of research before announcing my
discovery. Followed statements from half a dozen distinguished
surgeons, each signed autographically, all but one rather bluntly
disagreeing with me, insisting that the tin-opener cuts cleanly and,
if not man's best friend, should at least be considered one of the
triumphs of civilization. The only exception announced that he was at
present conducting laboratory experiments with a view to testing my
theory and would disclose his results in due time. Meantime, he
counselled the public to be not unduly alarmed.

Of the further flood of these screeds, which continued for the better
part of a year, I need not speak. They ran the gamut from serious
leaders in medical journals to paid ridicule of my theory in
advertisements printed by the food-tinning persons, and I have to
admit that in the end the public returned to a full confidence in its
tinned foods. But that is beside the point, which was that Red Gap had
become intensely interested in the United States Grill, and to this I
was not averse, though I would rather I had been regarded as one of
their plain, common sort, instead of the fictitious Colonel which
Cousin Egbert's well-meaning stupidity had foisted upon the town. The
"Sir Marmaduke Ruggles and His Favourite Hunter" had been especially
repugnant to my finer taste, particularly as it was seized upon by the
cheap one-and-six fellow Hobbs for some of his coarsest humour, he
more than once referring to that detestable cur of Mrs. Judson's, who
had quickly resumed his allegiance to me, as my "hunting pack."

The other tradesmen of the town, I am bound to say, exhibited a
friendly interest in my venture which was always welcome and often
helpful. Even one of my competitors showed himself to be a dead sport
by coming to me from time to time with hints and advice. He was an
entirely worthy person who advertised his restaurant as "Bert's
Place." "Go to Bert's Place for a Square Meal," was his favoured line
in the public prints. He, also, I regret to say, made a practice of
displaying cooked foods in his show-window, the window carrying the
line in enamelled letters, "Tables Reserved for Ladies."

Of course between such an establishment and my own there could be
little in common, and I was obliged to reject a placard which he
offered me, reading, "No Checks Cashed. This Means You!" although he
and Cousin Egbert warmly advised that I display it in a conspicuous
place. "Some of them dead beats in the North Side set will put you
sideways if you don't," warned the latter, but I held firmly to the
line of quiet refinement which I had laid down, and explained that I
could allow no such inconsiderate mention of money to be obtruded upon
the notice of my guests. I would devise some subtler protection
against the dead beet-roots.

In the matter of music, however, I was pleased to accept the advice of
Cousin Egbert. "Get one of them musical pianos that you put a nickel
in," he counselled me, and this I did, together with an assorted
repertoire of selections both classical and popular, the latter
consisting chiefly of the ragging time songs to which the native
Americans perform their folkdances.

And now, as the date of my opening drew near, I began to suspect that
its social values might become a bit complicated. Mrs. Belknap-Jackson,
for example, approached me in confidence to know if she might reserve
all the tables in my establishment for the opening evening, remarking
that it would be as well to put the correct social cachet upon the
place at once, which would be achieved by her inviting only the
desirable people. Though she was all for settling the matter at once,
something prompted me to take it under consideration.

The same evening Mrs. Effie approached me with a similar suggestion,
remarking that she would gladly take it upon herself to see that the
occasion was unmarred by the presence of those one would not care to
meet in one's own home. Again I was non-committal, somewhat to her

The following morning I was sought by Mrs. Judge Ballard with the
information that much would depend upon my opening, and if the matter
were left entirely in her hands she would be more than glad to insure
its success. Of her, also, I begged a day's consideration, suspecting
then that I might be compelled to ask these three social leaders to
unite amicably as patronesses of an affair that was bound to have a
supreme social significance. But as I still meditated profoundly over
the complication late that afternoon, overlooking in the meanwhile an
electrician who was busy with my shaded candlesticks, I was surprised
by the self-possessed entrance of the leader of the Bohemian set, the
Klondike person of whom I have spoken. Again I was compelled to
observe that she was quite the most smartly gowned woman in Red Gap,
and that she marvellously knew what to put on her head.

She coolly surveyed my decorations and such of the furnishings as were
in place before addressing me.

"I wish to engage one of your best tables," she began, "for your
opening night--the tenth, isn't it?--this large one in the corner will
do nicely. There will be eight of us. Your place really won't be half
bad, if your food is at all possible."

The creature spoke with a sublime effrontery, quite as if she had not
helped a few weeks before to ridicule all that was best in Red Gap
society, yet there was that about her which prevented me from rebuking
her even by the faintest shade in my manner. More than this, I
suddenly saw that the Bohemian set would be a factor in my trade which
I could not afford to ignore. While I affected to consider her request
she tapped the toe of a small boot with a correctly rolled umbrella,
lifting her chin rather attractively meanwhile to survey my freshly
done ceiling. I may say here that the effect of her was most
compelling, and I could well understand the bitterness with which the
ladies of the Onwards and Upwards Society had gossiped her to rags.
Incidently, this was the first correctly rolled umbrella, saving my
own, that I had seen in North America.

"I shall be pleased," I said, "to reserve this table for you--eight
places, I believe you said?"

She left me as a duchess might have. She was that sort. I felt almost
quite unequal to her. And the die was cast. I faced each of the three
ladies who had previously approached me with the declaration that I
was a licensed victualler, bound to serve all who might apply. That
while I was keenly sensitive to the social aspects of my business, it
was yet a business, and I must, therefore, be in supreme control. In
justice to myself I could not exclusively entertain any faction of the
North Side set, nor even the set in its entirety. In each instance, I
added that I could not debar from my tables even such members of the
Bohemian set as conducted themselves in a seemly manner. It was a
difficult situation, calling out all my tact, yet I faced it with a
firmness which was later to react to my advantage in ways I did not
yet dream of.

So engrossed for a month had I been with furnishers, decorators, char
persons, and others that the time of the Honourable George's arrival
drew on quite before I realized it. A brief and still snarky note had
apprised me of his intention to come out to North America, whereupon I
had all but forgotten him, until a telegram from Chicago or one of
those places had warned me of his imminence. This I displayed to
Cousin Egbert, who, much pleased with himself, declared that the
Honourable George should be taken to the Floud home directly upon his

"I meant to rope him in there on the start," he confided to me, "but I
let on I wasn't decided yet, just to keep 'em stirred up. Mrs. Effie
she butters me up with soft words every day of my life, and that
Jackson lad has offered me about ten thousand of them vegetable
cigarettes, but I'll have to throw him down. He's the human flivver.
Put him in a car of dressed beef and he'd freeze it between here and
Spokane. Yes, sir; you could cut his ear off and it wouldn't bleed. I
ain't going to run the Judge against no such proposition like that."
Of course the poor chap was speaking his own backwoods metaphor, as I
am quite sure he would have been incapable of mutilating
Belknap-Jackson, or even of imprisoning him in a goods van of beef. I
mean to say, it was merely his way of speaking and was not to be taken
at all literally.

As a result of his ensuing call upon the pressman, the sheet of the
following morning contained word of the Honourable George's coming,
the facts being not garbled more than was usual with this chap.


    En route for our thriving metropolis is a personage no
    less distinguished than the Honourable George Augustus
    Vane-Basingwell, only brother and next in line of
    succession to his lordship the Earl of Brinstead, the
    well-known British peer of London, England. Our noble
    visitor will be the house guest of Senator and Mrs.
    J. K. Floud, at their palatial residence on Ophir Avenue,
    where he will be extensively entertained, particularly by
    our esteemed fellow-townsman, Egbert G. Floud, with whom
    he recently hobnobbed during the latter's stay in Paris,
    France. His advent will doubtless prelude a season of
    unparalleled gayety, particularly as Mr. Egbert Floud
    assures us that the "Judge," as he affectionately calls
    him, is "sure some mixer." If this be true, the gentleman
    has selected a community where his talent will find ample
    scope, and we bespeak for his lordship a hearty welcome.


I must do Cousin Egbert the justice to say that he showed a due sense of
his responsibility in meeting the Honourable George. By general consent
the honour had seemed to fall to him, both the Belknap-Jacksons and Mrs.
Effie rather timidly conceding his claim that the distinguished guest
would prefer it so. Indeed, Cousin Egbert had been loudly arrogant in
the matter, speaking largely of his European intimacy with the "Judge"
until, as he confided to me, he "had them all bisoned," or, I believe,
"buffaloed" is the term he used, referring to the big-game animal that
has been swept from the American savannahs.

At all events no one further questioned his right to be at the station
when the Honourable George arrived, and for the first time almost
since his own homecoming he got himself up with some attention to
detail. If left to himself I dare say he would have donned frock-coat
and top-hat, but at my suggestion he chose his smartest lounge-suit,
and I took pains to see that the minor details of hat, boots, hose,
gloves, etc., were studiously correct without being at all assertive.

For my own part, I was also at some pains with my attire going
consciously a bit further with details than Cousin Egbert, thinking it
best the Honourable George should at once observe a change in my
bearing and social consequence so that nothing in his manner toward me
might embarrassingly publish our former relations. The stick, gloves,
and monocle would achieve this for the moment, and once alone I meant
to tell him straight that all was over between us as master and man,
we having passed out of each other's lives in that respect. If
necessary, I meant to read to him certain passages from the so-called
"Declaration of Independence," and to show him the fateful little card
I had found, which would acquaint him, I made no doubt, with the great
change that had come upon me, after which our intimacy would rest
solely upon the mutual esteem which I knew to exist between us. I mean
to say, it would never have done for one moment at home, but finding
ourselves together in this wild and lawless country we would neither
of us try to resist America, but face each other as one equal native
to another.

Waiting on the station platform with Cousin Egbert, he confided to the
loungers there that he was come to meet his friend Judge Basingwell,
whereat all betrayed a friendly interest, though they were not at all
persons that mattered, being of the semi-leisured class who each day
went down, as they put it, "to see Number Six go through." There was
thus a rather tense air of expectancy when the train pulled in. From
one of the Pullman night coaches emerged the Honourable George,
preceded by a blackamoor or raccoon bearing bags and bundles, and
followed by another uniformed raccoon and a white guard, also bearing
bags and bundles, and all betraying a marked anxiety.

One glance at the Honourable George served to confirm certain fears I
had suffered regarding his appearance. Topped by a deer-stalking
fore-and-aft cap in an inferior state of preservation, he wore the
jacket of a lounge-suit, once possible, doubtless, but now demoded,
and a blazered golfing waistcoat, striking for its poisonous greens,
trousers from an outing suit that I myself had discarded after it came
to me, and boots of an entirely shocking character. Of his cravat I
have not the heart to speak, but I may mention that all his garments
were quite horrid with wrinkles and seemed to have been slept in

Cousin Egbert at once rushed forward to greet his guest, while I
busied myself in receiving the hand-luggage, wishing to have our guest
effaced from the scene and secluded, with all possible speed. There
were three battered handbags, two rolls of travelling rugs, a
stick-case, a dispatch-case, a pair of binoculars, a hat-box, a
top-coat, a storm-coat, a portfolio of correspondence materials, a
camera, a medicine-case, some of these lacking either strap or handle.
The attendants all emitted hearty sighs of relief when these articles
had been deposited upon the platform. Without being told, I divined
that the Honourable George had greatly worried them during the long
journey with his fretful demands for service, and I tipped them
handsomely while he was still engaged with Cousin Egbert and the
latter's station-lounging friends to whom he was being presented. At
last, observing me, he came forward, but halted on surveying the
luggage, and screamed hoarsely to the last attendant who was now
boarding the train. The latter vanished, but reappeared, as the train
moved off, with two more articles, a vacuum night-flask and a tin of
charcoal biscuits, the absence of which had been swiftly detected by
their owner.

It was at that moment that one of the loungers nearby made a peculiar
observation. "Gee!" said he to a native beside him, "it must take an
awful lot of trouble to be an Englishman." At the moment this seemed
to me to be pregnant with meaning, though doubtless it was because I
had so long been a resident of the North American wilds.

Again the Honourable George approached me and grasped my hand before
certain details of my attire and, I fancy, a certain change in my
bearing, attracted his notice. Perhaps it was the single glass. His
grasp of my hand relaxed and he rubbed his eyes as if dazed from a
blow, but I was able to carry the situation off quite nicely under
cover of the confusion attending his many bags and bundles, being
helped also at the moment by the deeply humiliating discovery of a
certain omission from his attire. I could not at first believe my eyes
and was obliged to look again and again, but there could be no doubt
about it: the Honourable George was wearing a single spat!

I cried out at this, pointing, I fancy, in a most undignified manner,
so terrific had been the shock of it, and what was my amazement to
hear him say: "But I _had_ only one, you silly! How could I wear
'em both when the other was lost in that bally rabbit-hutch they put
me in on shipboard? No bigger than a parcels-lift!" And he had too
plainly crossed North America in this shocking state! Glad I was then
that Belknap-Jackson was not present. The others, I dare say,
considered it a mere freak of fashion. As quickly as I could, I
hustled him into the waiting carriage, piling his luggage about him to
the best advantage and hurrying Cousin Egbert after him as rapidly as
I could, though the latter, as on the occasion of my own arrival,
halted our departure long enough to present the Honourable George to
the driver.

"Judge, shake hands with my friend Eddie Pierce." adding as the
ceremony was performed, "Eddie keeps a good team, any time you want a

"Sure, Judge," remarked the driver cordially. "Just call up Main 224,
any time. Any friend of Sour-dough's can have anything they want night
or day." Whereupon he climbed to his box and we at last drove away.

The Honourable George had continued from the moment of our meeting to
glance at me in a peculiar, side-long fashion. He seemed fascinated
and yet unequal to a straight look at me. He was undoubtedly dazed, as
I could discern from his absent manner of opening the tin of charcoal
biscuits and munching one. I mean to say, it was too obviously a mere
mechanical impulse.

"I say," he remarked to Cousin Egbert, who was beaming fondly at him,
"how strange it all is! It's quite foreign."

"The fastest-growing little town in the State," said Cousin Egbert.

"But what makes it grow so silly fast?" demanded the other.

"Enterprise and industries," answered Cousin Egbert loftily.

"Nothing to make a dust about," remarked the Honourable George,
staring glassily at the main business thoroughfare. "I've seen larger
towns--scores of them."

"You ain't begun to see this town yet," responded Cousin Egbert
loyally, and he called to the driver, "Has he, Eddie?"

"Sure, he ain't!" said the driver person genially. "Wait till he sees
the new waterworks and the sash-and-blind factory!"

"Is he one of your gentleman drivers?" demanded the Honourable George.
"And why a blind factory?"

"Oh, Eddie's good people all right," answered the other, "and the
factory turns out blinds and things."

"Why turn them out?" he left this and continued: "He's like that
American Johnny in London that drives his own coach to Brighton, yes?
Ripping idea! Gentleman driver. But I say, you know, I'll sit on the
box with him. Pull up a bit, old son!"

To my consternation the driver chap halted, and before I could
remonstrate the Honourable George had mounted to the box beside him.
Thankful I was we had left the main street, though in the residence
avenue where the change was made we attracted far more attention than
was desirable. "Didn't I tell you he was some mixer?" demanded Cousin
Egbert of me, but I was too sickened to make any suitable response.
The Honourable George's possession of a single spat was now flaunted,
as it were, in the face of Red Gap's best families.

"How foreign it all is!" he repeated, turning back to us, yet with
only his side-glance for me. "But the American Johnny in London had a
much smarter coach than this, and better animals, too. You're not up
to his class yet, old thing!"

"That dish-faced pinto on the off side," remarked the driver, "can
outrun anything in this town for fun, money, or marbles."

"Marbles!" called the Honourable George to us; "why marbles? Silly
things! It's all bally strange! And why do your villagers stare so?"

"Some little mixer, all right, all right," murmured Cousin Egbert in a
sort of ecstasy, as we drew up at the Floud home. "And yet one of them
guys back there called him a typical Britisher. You bet I shut him up
quick--saying a thing like that about a plumb stranger. I'd 'a' mixed
it with him right there except I thought it was better to have things
nice and not start something the minute the Judge got here."

With all possible speed I hurried the party indoors, for already faces
were appearing at the windows of neighbouring houses. Mrs. Effie, who
met us, allowed her glare at Cousin Egbert, I fancy, to affect the
cordiality of her greeting to the Honourable George; at least she
seemed to be quite as dazed as he, and there was a moment of
constraint before he went on up to the room that had been prepared for
him. Once safely within the room I contrived a moment alone with him
and removed his single spat, not too gently, I fear, for the nervous
strain since his arrival had told upon me.

"You have reason to be thankful," I said, "that Belknap-Jackson was
not present to witness this."

"They cost seven and six," he muttered, regarding the one spat
wistfully. "But why Belknap-Jackson?"

"Mr. C. Belknap-Jackson of Boston and Red Gap," I returned sternly.
"He does himself perfectly. To think he might have seen you in this
rowdyish state!" And I hastened to seek a presentable lounge-suit from
his bags.

"Everything is so strange," he muttered again, quite helplessly. "And
why the mural decoration at the edge of the settlement? Why keep one's
eye upon it? Why should they do such things? I say, it's all quite
monstrous, you know."

I saw that indeed he was quite done for with amazement, so I ran him a
bath and procured him a dish of tea. He rambled oddly at moments of
things the guard on the night-coach had told him of North America, of
Niagara Falls, and Missouri and other objects of interest. He was
still almost quite a bit dotty when I was obliged to leave him for an
appointment with the raccoon and his wife to discuss the menu of my
opening dinner, but Cousin Egbert, who had rejoined us, was listening
sympathetically. As I left, the two were pegging it from a bottle of
hunting sherry which the Honourable George had carried in his
dispatch-case. I was about to warn him that he would come out spotted,
but instantly I saw that there must be an end to such surveillance. I
could not manage an enterprise of the magnitude of the United States
Grill and yet have an eye to his meat and drink. I resolved to let
spots come as they would.

On all hands I was now congratulated by members of the North Side set
upon the master-stroke I had played in adding the Honourable George to
their number. Not only did it promise to reunite certain warring
factions in the North Side set itself, but it truly bade fair to
disintegrate the Bohemian set. Belknap-Jackson wrung my hand that
afternoon, begging me to inform the Honourable George that he would
call on the morrow to pay his respects. Mrs. Judge Ballard besought me
to engage him for an early dinner, and Mrs. Effie, it is needless to
say, after recovering from the shock of his arrival, which she
attributed to Cousin Egbert's want of taste, thanked me with a wealth
of genuine emotion.

Only by slight degrees, then, did it fall to be noticed that the
Honourable George did not hold himself to be too strictly bound by our
social conventions as to whom one should be pally with. Thus, on the
morrow, at the hour when the Belknap-Jacksons called, he was
regrettably absent on what Cousin Egbert called "a hack-ride" with the
driver person he had met the day before, nor did they return until
after the callers had waited the better part of two hours. Cousin
Egbert, as usual, received the blame for this, yet neither of the
Belknap-Jacksons nor Mrs. Effie dared to upbraid him.

Being presented to the callers, I am bound to say that the Honourable
George showed himself to be immensely impressed by Belknap-Jackson,
whom I had never beheld more perfectly vogue in all his appointments.
He became, in fact, rather moody in the presence of this subtle
niceness of detail, being made conscious, I dare say, of his own
sloppy lounge-suit, rumpled cravat, and shocking boots, and despite
Belknap-Jackson's amiable efforts to draw him into talk about hunting
in the shires and our county society at home, I began to fear that
they would not hit it off together. The Honourable George did,
however, consent to drive with his caller the following day, and I
relied upon the tandem to recall him to his better self. But when the
callers had departed he became quite almost plaintive to me.

"I say, you know, I shan't be wanted to pal up much with that chap,
shall I? I mean to say, he wears so many clothes. They make me writhe
as if I wore them myself. It won't do, you know."

I told him very firmly that this was piffle of the most wretched sort.
That his caller wore but the prescribed number of garments, each vogue
to the last note, and that he was a person whom one must know. He
responded pettishly that he vastly preferred the gentleman driver with
whom he had spent the afternoon, and "Sour-dough," as he was now
calling Cousin Egbert.

"Jolly chaps, with no swank," he insisted. "We drove quite almost
everywhere--waterworks, cemetery, sash-and-blind factory. You know I
thought 'blind factory' was some of their bally American slang for the
shop of a chap who made eyeglasses and that sort of thing, but nothing
of the kind. They saw up timbers there quite all over the place and
nail them up again into articles. It's all quite foreign."

Nor was his account of his drive with Belknap-Jackson the following
day a bit more reassuring.

"He wouldn't stop again at the sash-and-blind factory, where I wished
to see the timbers being sawed and nailed, but drove me to a country
club which was not in the country and wasn't a club; not a human
there, not even a barman. Fancy a club of that sort! But he took me to
his own house for a glass of sherry and a biscuit, and there it wasn't
so rotten. Rather a mother-in-law I think, she is--bally old booming
grenadier--topping sort--no end of fun. We palled up immensely and I
quite forgot the Jackson chap till it was time for him to drive me
back to these diggings. Rather sulky he was, I fancy; uppish sort.
Told him the old one was quite like old Caroline, dowager duchess of
Clewe, but couldn't tell if it pleased him. Seemed to like it and
seemed not to: rather uncertain.

"Asked him why the people of the settlement pronounced his name
'Belknap Hyphen Jackson,' and that seemed to make him snarky again. I
mean to say names with hyphen marks in 'em--I'd never heard the hyphen
pronounced before, but everything is so strange. He said only the
lowest classes did it as a form of coarse wit, and that he was wasting
himself here. Wouldn't stay another day if it were not for family
reasons. Queer sort of wheeze to say 'hyphen' in a chap's name as if
it were a word, when it wasn't at all. The old girl, though--bellower
she is--perfectly top-hole; familiar with cattle--all that sort of
thing. Sent away the chap's sherry and had 'em bring whiskey and soda.
The hyphen chap fidgeted a good bit--nervous sort, I take it. Looked
through a score of magazines, I dare say, when he found we didn't
notice him much; turned the leaves too fast to see anything, though;
made noises and coughed--that sort of thing. Fine old girl. Daughter,
hyphen chap's wife, tried to talk, too, some rot about the season
being well on here, and was there a good deal of society in London,
and would I be free for dinner on the ninth?

"Silly chatter! old girl talked sense: cattle, mines, timber, blind
factory, two-year olds, that kind of thing. Shall see her often. Not
the hyphen chap, though; too much like one of those Bond Street
milliner-chap managers."

Vague misgivings here beset me as to the value of the Honourable
George to the North Side set. Nor could I feel at all reassured on the
following day when Mrs. Effie held an afternoon reception in his
honour. That he should be unaware of the event's importance was to be
expected, for as yet I had been unable to get him to take the Red Gap
social crisis seriously. At the hour when he should have been dressed
and ready I found him playing at cribbage with Cousin Egbert in the
latter's apartment, and to my dismay he insisted upon finishing the
rubber although guests were already arriving.

Even when the game was done he flatly refused to dress suitably,
declaring that his lounge-suit should be entirely acceptable to these
rough frontier people, and he consented to go down at all only on
condition that Cousin Egbert would accompany him. Thereafter for an
hour the two of them drank tea uncomfortably as often as it was given
them, and while the Honourable George undoubtedly made his impression,
I could not but regret that he had so few conversational graces.

How different, I reflected, had been my own entrée into this county
society! As well as I might I again carried off the day for the
Honourable George, endeavouring from time to time to put him at his
ease, yet he breathed an unfeigned sigh of relief when the last guest
had left and he could resume his cribbage with Cousin Egbert. But he
had received one impression of which I was glad: an impression of my
own altered social quality, for I had graced the occasion with an
urbanity which was as far beyond him as it must have been astonishing.
It was now that he began to take seriously what I had told him of my
business enterprise, so many of the guests having mentioned it to him
in terms of the utmost enthusiasm. After my first accounts to him he
had persisted in referring to it as a tuck-shop, a sort of place where
schoolboys would exchange their halfpence for toffy, sweet-cakes, and

Now he demanded to be shown the premises and was at once duly
impressed both with their quiet elegance and my own business acumen.
How it had all come about, and why I should be addressed as "Colonel
Ruggles" and treated as a person of some importance in the community,
I dare say he has never comprehended to this day. As I had planned to
do, I later endeavoured to explain to him that in North America
persons were almost quite equal to one another--being born so--but at
this he told me not to be silly and continued to regard my rise as an
insoluble part of the strangeness he everywhere encountered, even
after I added that Demosthenes was the son of a cutler, that Cardinal
Wolsey's father had been a pork butcher, and that Garfield had worked
on a canal-boat. I found him quite hopeless. "Chaps go dotty talkin'
that piffle," was his comment.

At another time, I dare say, I should have been rather distressed over
this inability of the Honourable George to comprehend and adapt
himself to the peculiarities of American life as readily as I had
done, but just now I was quite too taken up with the details of my
opening to give it the deeper consideration it deserved. In fact,
there were moments when I confessed to myself that I did not care
tuppence about it, such was the strain upon my executive faculties.
When decorators and furnishers had done their work, when the choice
carpet was laid, when the kitchen and table equipments were completed
to the last detail, and when the lighting was artistically correct,
there was still the matter of service.

As to this, I conceived and carried out what I fancy was rather a
brilliant stroke, which was nothing less than to eliminate the fellow
Hobbs as a social factor of even the Bohemian set. In contracting with
him for my bread and rolls, I took an early opportunity of setting the
chap in his place, as indeed it was not difficult to do when he had
observed the splendid scale on which I was operating. At our second
interview he was removing his hat and addressing me as "sir."

While I have found that I can quite gracefully place myself on a level
with the middle-class American, there is a serving type of our own
people to which I shall eternally feel superior; the Hobbs fellow was
of this sort, having undeniably the soul of a lackey. In addition to
jobbing his bread and rolls, I engaged him as pantry man, and took on
such members of his numerous family as were competent. His wife was to
assist my raccoon cook in the kitchen, three of his sons were to serve
as waiters, and his youngest, a lad in his teens, I installed as
vestiare, garbing him in a smart uniform and posting him to relieve my
gentleman patrons of their hats and top-coats. A daughter was
similarly installed as maid, and the two achieved an effect of
smartness unprecedented in Red Gap, an effect to which I am glad to
say that the community responded instantly.

In other establishments it was the custom for patrons to hang their
garments on hat-pegs, often under a printed warning that the
proprietor would disclaim responsibility in case of loss. In the one
known as "Bert's Place" indeed the warning was positively vulgar:
"Watch Your Overcoat." Of course that sort of coarseness would have
been impossible in my own place.

As another important detail I had taken over from Mrs. Judson her
stock of jellies and compotes which I had found to be of a most
excellent character, and had ordered as much more as she could manage
to produce, together with cut flowers from her garden for my tables.
She, herself, being a young woman of the most pleasing capabilities,
had done a bit of charring for me and was now to be in charge of the
glassware, linen, and silver. I had found her, indeed, highly
sympathetic with my highest aims, and not a few of her suggestions as
to management proved to be entirely sound. Her unspeakable dog
continued his quite objectionable advances to me at every opportunity,
in spite of my hitting him about, rather, when I could do so
unobserved, but the sinister interpretation that might be placed upon
this by the baser-minded was now happily answered by the circumstance
of her being in my employment. Her child, I regret to say, was still
grossly overfed, seldom having its face free from jam or other smears.
It persisted, moreover, in twisting my name into "Ruggums," which I
found not a little embarrassing.

The night of my opening found me calmly awaiting the triumph that was
due me. As some one has said of Napoleon, I had won my battle in my
tent before the firing of a single shot. I mean to say, I had looked
so conscientiously after details, even to assuring myself that Cousin
Egbert and the Honourable George would appear in evening dress, my
last act having been to coerce each of them into purchasing varnished
boots, the former submitting meekly enough, though the Honourable
George insisted it was a silly fuss.

At seven o'clock, having devoted a final inspection to the kitchen
where the female raccoon was well on with the dinner, and having noted
that the members of my staff were in their places, I gave a last
pleased survey of my dining-room, with its smartly equipped tables,
flower-bedecked, gleaming in the softened light from my shaded
candlesticks. Truly it was a scene of refined elegance such as Red Gap
had never before witnessed within its own confines, and I had seen to
it that the dinner as well would mark an epoch in the lives of these
simple but worthy people.

Not a heavy nor a cloying repast would they find. Indeed, the bare
simplicity of my menu, had it been previously disclosed, would
doubtless have disappointed more than one of my dinner-giving
patronesses; but each item had been perfected to an extent never
achieved by them. Their weakness had ever been to serve a profusion of
neutral dishes, pleasing enough to the eye, but unedifying except as a
spectacle. I mean to say, as food it was noncommittal; it failed to

I should serve only a thin soup, a fish, small birds, two vegetables,
a salad, a sweet and a savoury, but each item would prove worthy of
the profoundest consideration. In the matter of thin soup, for
example, the local practice was to serve a fluid of which, beyond the
circumstance that it was warmish and slightly tinted, nothing of
interest could ever be ascertained. My own thin soup would be a
revelation to them. Again, in the matter of fish. This course with the
hostesses of Red Gap had seemed to be merely an excuse for a pause. I
had truly sympathized with Cousin Egbert's bitter complaint: "They
hand you a dab of something about the size of a watch-charm with two
strings of potato."

For the first time, then, the fish course in Red Gap was to be an
event, an abundant portion of native fish with a lobster sauce which I
had carried out to its highest power. My birds, hot from the oven,
would be food in the strictest sense of the word, my vegetables cooked
with a zealous attention, and my sweet immensely appealing without
being pretentiously spectacular. And for what I believed to be quite
the first time in the town, good coffee would be served.
Disheartening, indeed, had been the various attenuations of coffee
which had been imposed upon me in my brief career as a diner-out among
these people. Not one among them had possessed the genius to master an
acceptable decoction of the berry, the bald simplicity of the correct
formula being doubtless incredible to them.

The blare of a motor horn aroused me from this musing, and from that
moment I had little time for meditation until the evening, as the
_Journal_ recorded the next morning, "had gone down into history."
My patrons arrived in groups, couples, or singly, almost faster than
I could seat them. The Hobbs lad, as vestiare, would halt them for
hats and wraps, during which pause they would emit subdued cries of
surprise and delight at my beautifully toned ensemble, after which,
as they walked to their tables, it was not difficult to see that they
were properly impressed.

Mrs. Effie, escorted by the Honourable George and cousin Egbert, was
among the early arrivals; the Senator being absent from town at a
sitting of the House. These were quickly followed by the
Belknap-Jacksons and the Mixer, resplendent in purple satin and
diamonds, all being at one of my large tables, so that the Honourable
George sat between Mrs. Belknap-Jackson and Mrs. Effie, though he at
first made a somewhat undignified essay to seat himself next the
Mixer. Needless to say, all were in evening dress, though the
Honourable George had fumbled grossly with his cravat and rumpled his
shirt, nor had he submitted to having his beard trimmed, as I had
warned him to do. As for Belknap-Jackson, I had never beheld him more
truly vogue in every detail, and his slightly austere manner in any
Red Gap gathering had never set him better. Both Mrs. Belknap-Jackson
and Mrs. Effie wielded their lorgnons upon the later comers, thus
giving their table quite an air.

Mrs. Judge Ballard, who had come to be one of my staunchest adherents,
occupied an adjacent table with her family party and two or three of
the younger dancing set. The Indian Tuttle with his wife and two
daughters were also among the early comers, and I could not but marvel
anew at the red man's histrionic powers. In almost quite correct
evening attire, and entirely decorous in speech and gesture, he might
readily have been thought some one that mattered, had he not at an
early opportunity caught my eye and winked with a sly significance.

Quite almost every one of the North Side set was present, imparting to
my room a general air of distinguished smartness, and in addition
there were not a few of what Belknap-Jackson had called the "rabble,"
persons of no social value, to be sure, but honest, well-mannered
folk, small tradesmen, shop-assistants, and the like. These plain
people, I may say, I took especial pains to welcome and put at their
ease, for I had resolved, in effect, to be one of them, after the
manner prescribed by their Declaration thing.

With quite all of them I chatted easily a moment or two, expressing
the hope that they would be well pleased with their entertainment. I
noted while thus engaged that Belknap-Jackson eyed me with frank and
superior cynicism, but this affected me quite not at all and I took
pains to point my indifference, chatting with increased urbanity with
the two cow-persons, Hank and Buck, who had entered rather
uncertainly, not in evening dress, to be sure, but in decent black as
befitted their stations. When I had prevailed upon them to surrender
their hats to the vestiare and had seated them at a table for two,
they informed me in hoarse undertones that they were prepared to "put
a bet down on every card from soda to hock," so that I at first
suspected they had thought me conducting a gaming establishment, but
ultimately gathered that they were merely expressing a cordial
determination to enter into the spirit of the occasion.

There then entered, somewhat to my uneasiness, the Klondike woman and
her party. Being almost the last, it will be understood that they
created no little sensation as she led them down the thronged room to
her table. She was wearing an evening gown of lustrous black with the
apparently simple lines that are so baffling to any but the expert
maker, with a black picture hat that suited her no end. I saw more
than one matron of the North Side set stiffen in her seat, while Mrs.
Belknap-Jackson and Mrs. Effie turned upon her the chilling broadside
of their lorgnons. Belknap-Jackson merely drew himself up austerely.
The three other women of her party, flutterers rather, did little but
set off their hostess. The four men were of a youngish sort, chaps in
banks, chemists' assistants, that sort of thing, who were constantly
to be seen in her train. They were especially reprobated by the
matrons of the correct set by reason of their deliberately choosing to
ally themselves with the Bohemian set.

Acutely feeling the antagonism aroused by this group, I was
momentarily discouraged in a design I had half formed of using my
undoubted influence to unite the warring social factions of Red Gap,
even as Bismarck had once brought the warring Prussian states together
in a federated Germany. I began to see that the Klondike woman would
forever prove unacceptable to the North Side set. The cliques would
unite against her, even if one should find in her a spirit of
reconciliation, which I supremely doubted.

The bustle having in a measure subsided, I gave orders for the soup to
be served, at the same time turning the current into the electric
pianoforte. I had wished for this opening number something attractive
yet dignified, which would in a manner of speaking symbolize an
occasion to me at least highly momentous. To this end I had chosen
Handel's celebrated Largo, and at the first strains of this highly
meritorious composition I knew that I had chosen surely. I am sure the
piece was indelibly engraved upon the minds of those many
dinner-givers who were for the first time in their lives realizing
that a thin soup may be made a thing to take seriously.

Nominally, I occupied a seat at the table with the Belknap-Jacksons
and Mrs. Effie, though I apprehended having to be more or less up and
down in the direction of my staff. Having now seated myself to soup, I
was for the first time made aware of the curious behaviour of the
Honourable George. Disregarding his own soup, which was of itself
unusual with him, he was staring straight ahead with a curious
intensity. A half turn of my head was enough. He sat facing the
Klondike woman. As I again turned a bit I saw that under cover of her
animated converse with her table companions she was at intervals
allowing her very effective eyes to rest, as if absently, upon him. I
may say now that a curious chill seized me, bringing with it a sudden
psychic warning that all was not going to be as it should be. Some
calamity impended. The man was quite apparently fascinated, staring
with a fixed, hypnotic intensity that had already been noted by his
companions on either side.

With a word about the soup, shot quickly and directly at him, I
managed to divert his gaze, but his eyes had returned even before the
spoon had gone once to his lips. The second time there was a soup
stain upon his already rumpled shirt front. Presently it became only
too horribly certain that the man was out of himself, for when the
fish course was served he remained serenely unconscious that none of
the lobster sauce accompanied his own portion. It was a rich sauce,
and the almost immediate effect of shell-fish upon his complexion
being only too well known to me, I had directed that his fish should
be served without it, though I had fully expected him to row me for it
and perhaps create a scene. The circumstance of his blindly attacking
the unsauced fish was eloquent indeed.

The Belknap-Jacksons and Mrs. Effie were now plainly alarmed, and
somewhat feverishly sought to engage his attention, with the result
only that he snapped monosyllables at them without removing his gaze
from its mark. And the woman was now too obviously pluming herself
upon the effect she had achieved; upon us all she flashed an amused
consciousness of her power, yet with a fine affectation of quite
ignoring us. I was here obliged to leave the table to oversee the
serving of the wine, returning after an interval to find the situation
unchanged, save that the woman no longer glanced at the Honourable
George. Such were her tactics. Having enmeshed him, she confidently
left him to complete his own undoing. I had returned with the serving
of the small birds. Observing his own before him, the Honourable
George wished to be told why he had not been served with fish, and
only with difficulty could be convinced that he had partaken of this.
"Of course in public places one must expect to come into contact with
persons of that sort," remarked Mrs. Effie.

"Something should be done about it," observed Mrs. Belknap-Jackson,
and they both murmured "Creature!" though it was plain that the
Honourable George had little notion to whom they referred. Observing,
however, that the woman no longer glanced at him, he fell to his bird
somewhat whole-heartedly, as indeed did all my guests.

From every side I could hear eager approval of the repast which was
now being supplemented at most of the tables by a sound wine of the
Burgundy type which I had recommended or by a dry champagne. Meantime,
the electric pianoforte played steadily through a repertoire that had
progressed from the Largo to more vivacious pieces of the American
folkdance school. As was said in the press the following day, "Gayety
and good-feeling reigned supreme, and one and all felt that it was
indeed good to be there."

Through the sweet and the savoury the dinner progressed, the latter
proving to be a novelty that the hostesses of Red Gap thereafter
slavishly copied, and with the advent of the coffee ensued a
noticeable relaxation. People began to visit one another's tables and
there was a blithe undercurrent of praise for my efforts to smarten
the town's public dining.

The Klondike woman, I fancy, was the first to light a cigarette,
though quickly followed by the ladies of her party. Mrs.
Belknap-Jackson and Mrs. Effie, after a period of futile glaring at
her through the lorgnons, seemed to make their resolves
simultaneously, and forthwith themselves lighted cigarettes.

"Of course it's done in the smart English restaurants," murmured
Belknap-Jackson as he assisted the ladies to their lights. Thereupon
Mrs. Judge Ballard, farther down the room, began to smoke what I
believe was her first cigarette, which proved to be a signal for other
ladies of the Onwards and Upwards Society to do the same, Mrs. Ballard
being their president. It occurred to me that these ladies were grimly
bent on showing the Klondike woman that they could trifle quite as
gracefully as she with the lesser vices of Bohemia; or perhaps they
wished to demonstrate to the younger dancing men in her train that the
North Side set was not desolately austere in its recreation. The
Honourable George, I regret to say, produced a smelly pipe which he
would have lighted; but at a shocked and cold glance from me he put it
by and allowed the Mixer to roll him one of the yellow paper
cigarettes from a sack of tobacco which she had produced from some
secret recess of her costume.

Cousin Egbert had been excitedly happy throughout the meal and now
paid me a quaint compliment upon the food. "Some eats, Bill!" he
called to me. "I got to hand it to you," though what precisely it was
he wished to hand me I never ascertained, for the Mixer at that moment
claimed my attention with a compliment of her own. "That," said she,
"is the only dinner I've eaten for a long time that was composed
entirely of food."

This hour succeeding the repast I found quite entirely agreeable, more
than one person that mattered assuring me that I had assisted Red Gap
to a notable advance in the finest and correctest sense of the word,
and it was with a very definite regret that I beheld my guests
departing. Returning to our table from a group of these who had called
me to make their adieus, I saw that a most regrettable incident had
occurred--nothing less than the formal presentation of the Honourable
George to the Klondike woman. And the Mixer had appallingly done it!

"Everything is so strange here," I heard him saying as I passed their
table, and the woman echoed, "Everything!" while her glance enveloped
him with a curious effect of appraisal. The others of her party were
making much of him, I could see, quite as if they had preposterous
designs of wresting him from the North Side set to be one of
themselves. Mrs. Belknap-Jackson and Mrs. Effie affected to ignore the
meeting. Belknap-Jackson stared into vacancy with a quite shocked
expression as if vandals had desecrated an altar in his presence.
Cousin Egbert having drawn off one of his newly purchased boots during
the dinner was now replacing it with audible groans, but I caught his
joyous comment a moment later: "Didn't I tell you the Judge was some

"Mixing, indeed," snapped the ladies.

A half-hour later the historic evening had come to an end. The last
guest had departed, and all of my staff, save Mrs. Judson and her male
child. These I begged to escort to their home, since the way was
rather far and dark. The child, incautiously left in the kitchen at
the mercy of the female black, had with criminal stupidity been
stuffed with food, traces of almost every course of the dinner being
apparent upon its puffy countenance. Being now in a stupor from
overfeeding, I was obliged to lug the thing over my shoulder. I
resolved to warn the mother at an early opportunity of the perils of
an unrestricted diet, although the deluded creature seemed actually to
glory in its corpulence. I discovered when halfway to her residence
that the thing was still tightly clutching the gnawed thigh-bone of a
fowl which was spotting the shoulder of my smartest top-coat. The
mother, however, was so ingenuously delighted with my success and so
full of prattle concerning my future triumphs that I forbore to
instruct her at this time. I may say that of all my staff she had
betrayed the most intelligent understanding of my ideals, and I bade
her good-night with a strong conviction that she would greatly assist
me in the future. She also promised that Mr. Barker should thereafter
be locked in a cellar at such times as she was serving me.

Returning through the town, I heard strains of music from the
establishment known as "Bert's Place," and was shocked on staring
through his show window to observe the Honourable George and Cousin
Egbert waltzing madly with the cow-persons, Hank and Buck, to the
strains of a mechanical piano. The Honourable George had exchanged his
top-hat for his partner's cow-person hat, which came down over his
ears in a most regrettable manner.

I thought it best not to intrude upon their coarse amusement and went
on to the grill to see that all was safe for the night. Returning from
my inspection some half-hour later, I came upon the two, Cousin Egbert
in the lead, the Honourable George behind him. They greeted me
somewhat boisterously, but I saw that they were now content to return
home and to bed. As they walked somewhat mincingly, I noticed that
they were in their hose, carrying their varnished boots in either

Of the Honourable George, who still wore the cow-person's hat, I began
now to have the gravest doubts. There had been an evil light in the
eyes of the Klondike woman and her Bohemian cohorts as they surveyed
him. As he preceded me I heard him murmur ecstatically: "Sush is


Launched now upon a business venture that would require my unremitting
attention if it were to prosper, it may be imagined that I had little
leisure for the social vagaries of the Honourable George, shocking as
these might be to one's finer tastes. And yet on the following morning
I found time to tell him what. To put it quite bluntly, I gave him
beans for his loose behaviour the previous evening, in publicly ogling
and meeting as an equal one whom one didn't know.

To my amazement, instead of being heartily ashamed of his
licentiousness, I found him recalcitrant. Stubborn as a mule he was
and with a low animal cunning that I had never given him credit for.
"Demosthenes was the son of a cutler," said he, "and Napoleon worked
on a canal-boat, what? Didn't you say so yourself, you juggins, what?
Fancy there being upper and lower classes among natives! What rot! And
I like North America. I don't mind telling you straight I'm going to
take it up."

Horrified by these reckless words, I could only say "Noblesse oblige,"
meaning to convey that whatever the North Americans did, the next Earl
of Brinstead must not meet persons one doesn't know, whereat he
rejoined tartly that I was "to stow that piffle!"

Being now quite alarmed, I took the further time to call upon
Belknap-Jackson, believing that he, if any one, could recall the
Honourable George to his better nature. He, too, was shocked, as I had
been, and at first would have put the blame entirely upon the
shoulders of Cousin Egbert, but at this I was obliged to admit that
the Honourable George had too often shown a regrettable fondness for
the society of persons that did not matter, especially females, and I
cited the case of the typing-girl and the Brixton millinery person,
with either of whom he would have allied himself in marriage had not
his lordship intervened. Belknap-Jackson was quite properly horrified
at these revelations.

"Has he no sense of 'Noblesse oblige'?" he demanded, at which I quoted
the result of my own use of this phrase to the unfortunate man. Quite
too plain it was that "Noblesse oblige!" would never stop him from
yielding to his baser impulses.

"We must be tactful, then," remarked Belknap-Jackson. "Without
appearing to oppose him we must yet show him who is really who in Red
Gap. We shall let him see that we have standards which must be as
rigidly adhered to as those of an older civilization. I fancy it can
be done."

Privately I fancied not, yet I forbore to say this or to prolong the
painful interview, particularly as I was due at the United States

The _Recorder_ of that morning had done me handsomely, declaring
my opening to have been a social event long to be remembered, and
describing the costumes of a dozen or more of the smartly gowned
matrons, quite as if it had been an assembly ball. My task now was to
see that the Grill was kept to the high level of its opening, both as
a social ganglion, if one may use the term, and as a place to which
the public would ever turn for food that mattered. For my first
luncheon the raccoons had prepared, under my direction, a
steak-and-kidney pie, in addition to which I offered a thick soup and
a pudding of high nutritive value.

To my pleased astonishment the crowd at midday was quite all that my
staff could serve, several of the Hobbs brood being at school, and the
luncheon was received with every sign of approval by the business
persons who sat to it. Not only were there drapers, chemists, and
shop-assistants, but solicitors and barristers, bankers and estate
agents, and all quite eager with their praise of my fare. To each of
these I explained that I should give them but few things, but that
these would be food in the finest sense of the word, adding that the
fault of the American school lay in attempting a too-great profusion
of dishes, none of which in consequence could be raised to its highest

So sound was my theory and so nicely did my simple-dished luncheon
demonstrate it that I was engaged on the spot to provide the
bi-monthly banquet of the Chamber of Commerce, the president of which
rather seriously proposed that it now be made a monthly affair, since
they would no longer be at the mercy of a hotel caterer whose ambition
ran inversely to his skill. Indeed, after the pudding, I was this day
asked to become a member of the body, and I now felt that I was
indubitably one of them--America and I had taken each other as
seriously as could be desired.

More than once during the afternoon I wondered rather painfully what
the Honourable George might be doing. I knew that he had been promised
to a meeting of the Onwards and Upwards Club through the influence of
Mrs. Effie, where it had been hoped that he would give a talk on
Country Life in England. At least she had hinted to them that he might
do this, though I had known from the beginning that he would do
nothing of the sort, and had merely hoped that he would appear for a
dish of tea and stay quiet, which was as much as the North Side set
could expect of him. Induced to speak, I was quite certain he would
tell them straight that Country Life in England was silly rot, and
that was all to it. Now, not having seen him during the day, I could
but hope that he had attended the gathering in suitable afternoon
attire, and that he would have divined that the cattle-person's hat
did not coordinate with this.

At four-thirty, while I was still concerned over the possible
misadventures of the Honourable George, my first patrons for tea began
to arrive, for I had let it be known that I should specialize in this.
Toasted crumpets there were, and muffins, and a tea cake rich with
plums, and tea, I need not say, which was all that tea could be.
Several tables were filled with prominent ladies of the North Side
set, who were loud in their exclamations of delight, especially at the
finished smartness of my service, for it was perhaps now that the
profoundly serious thought I had given to my silver, linen, and
glassware showed to best advantage. I suspect that this was the first
time many of my guests had encountered a tea cozy, since from that day
they began to be prevalent in Red Gap homes. Also my wagon containing
the crumpets, muffins, tea cake, jam and bread-and-butter, which I now
used for the first time created a veritable sensation.

There was an agreeable hum of chatter from these early comers when I
found myself welcoming Mrs. Judge Ballard and half a dozen members of
the Onwards and Upwards Club, all of them wearing what I made out to
be a baffled look. From these I presently managed to gather that their
guest of honour for the afternoon had simply not appeared, and that
the meeting, after awaiting him for two hours, had dissolved in some
resentment, the time having been spent chiefly in an unflattering
dissection of the Klondike woman's behaviour the evening before.

"He is a naughty man to disappoint us so cruelly!" declared Mrs. Judge
Ballard of the Honourable George, but the coquetry of it was feigned
to cover a very real irritation. I made haste with possible excuses. I
said that he might be ill, or that important letters in that day's
post might have detained him. I knew he had been astonishingly well
that morning, also that he loathed letters and almost practically
never received any; but something had to be said.

"A naughty, naughty fellow!" repeated Mrs. Ballard, and the members of
her party echoed it. They had looked forward rather pathetically, I
saw, to hearing about Country Life in England from one who had lived

I was now drawn to greet the Belknap-Jacksons, who entered, and to the
pleasure of winning their hearty approval for the perfection of my
arrangements. As the wife presently joined Mrs. Ballard's group, the
husband called me to his table and disclosed that almost the worst
might be feared of the Honourable George. He was at that moment, it
appeared, with a rabble of cow-persons and members of the lower class
gathered at a stockade at the edge of town, where various native
horses fresh from the wilderness were being taught to be ridden.

"The wretched Floud is with him," continued my informant, "also the
Tuttle chap, who continues to be received by our best people in spite
of my remonstrances, and he yells quite like a demon when one of the
riders is thrown. I passed as quickly as I could. The spectacle
was--of course I make allowances for Vane-Basingwell's ignorance of
our standards--it was nothing short of disgusting; a man of his
position consorting with the herd!"

"He told me no longer ago than this morning," I said, "that he was
going to take up America."

"He _has_!" said Belknap-Jackson with bitter emphasis. "You
should see what he has on--a cowboy hat and chapps! And the very
lowest of them are calling him 'Judge'!"

"He flunked a meeting of the Onwards and Upwards Society," I added.

"I know! I know! And who could have expected it in one of his lineage?
At this very moment he should be conducting himself as one of his
class. Can you wonder at my impatience with the West? Here at an hour
when our social life should be in evidence, when all trade should be
forgotten, I am the only man in the town who shows himself in a
tea-room; and Vane-Basingwell over there debasing himself with our
commonest sort!"

All at once I saw that I myself must bear the brunt of this scandal. I
had brought hither the Honourable George, promising a personage who
would for once and all unify the North Side set and perhaps
disintegrate its rival. I had been felicitated upon my master-stroke.
And now it seemed I had come a cropper. But I resolved not to give up,
and said as much now to Belknap-Jackson.

"I may be blamed for bringing him among you, but trust me if things
are really as bad as they seem. I'll get him off again. I'll not let
myself be bowled by such a silly lob as that. Trust me to devote
profound thought to this problem."

"We all have every confidence in you," he assured me, "but don't be
too severe all at once with the chap. He might recover a sane balance
even yet."

"I shall use discretion," I assured him, "but if it proves that I have
fluffed my catch, rely upon me to use extreme measures."

"Red Gap needs your best effort," he replied in a voice that brimmed
with feeling.

At five-thirty, my rush being over, I repaired to the neighbourhood
where the Honourable George had been reported. The stockade now
contained only a half-score of the untaught horses, but across the
road from it was a public house, or saloon, from which came
unmistakable sounds of carousing. It was an unsavoury place,
frequented only by cattle and horse persons, the proprietor being an
abandoned character named Spilmer, who had once done a patron to death
in a drunken quarrel. Only slight legal difficulties had been made for
him, however, it having been pleaded that he acted in self-defence,
and the creature had at once resumed his trade as publican. There was
even public sympathy for him at the time on the ground that he
possessed a blind mother, though I have never been able to see that
this should have been a factor in adjudging him.

I paused now before the low place, imagining I could detect the tones
of the Honourable George high above the chorus that came out to me.
Deciding that in any event it would not become me to enter a resort of
this stamp, I walked slowly back toward the more reputable part of
town, and was presently rewarded by seeing the crowd emerge. It was
led, I saw, by the Honourable George. The cattle-hat was still down
upon his ears, and to my horror he had come upon the public
thoroughfare with his legs encased in the chapps--a species of
leathern pantalettes covered with goat's wool--a garment which I need
not say no gentleman should be seen abroad in. As worn by the
cow-persons in their daily toil they are only just possible, being as
far from true vogue as anything well could be.

Accompanying him were Cousin Egbert, the Indian Tuttle, the
cow-persons, Hank and Buck, and three or four others of the same rough
stamp. Unobtrusively I followed them to our main thoroughfare, deeply
humiliated by the atrocious spectacle the Honourable George was making
of himself, only to observe them turn into another public house
entitled "The Family Liquor Store," where if seemed only too certain,
since the bearing of all was highly animated, that they would again

At once seeing my duty, I boldly entered, finding them aligned against
the American bar and clamouring for drink. My welcome was heartfelt,
even enthusiastic, almost every one of them beginning to regale me
with incidents of the afternoon's horse-breaking. The Honourable
George, it seemed, had himself briefly mounted one of the animals,
having fallen into the belief that the cow-persons did not try
earnestly enough to stay on their mounts. I gathered that one
experience had dissuaded him from this opinion.

"That there little paint horse," observed Cousin Egbert genially,
"stepped out from under the Judge the prettiest you ever saw."

"He sure did," remarked the Honourable George, with a palpable effort
to speak the American brogue. "A most flighty beast he was--nerves all
gone--I dare say a hopeless neurasthenic."

And then when I would have rebuked him for so shamefully disappointing
the ladies of the Onwards and Upwards Society, he began to tell me of
the public house he had just left.

"I say, you know that Spilmer chap, he's a genuine murderer--he let me
hold the weapon with which he did it--and he has blind relatives
dependent upon him, or something of that sort, otherwise I fancy
they'd have sent him to the gallows. And, by Gad! he's a witty
scoundrel, what! Looking at his sign--leaving the settlement it reads,
'Last Chance,' but entering the settlement it reads, 'First Chance.'
Last chance and first chance for a peg, do you see what I mean? I
tried it out; walked both ways under the sign and looked up; it worked
perfectly. Enter the settlement, 'First Chance'; leave the settlement,
'Last Chance.' Do you see what I mean? Suggestive, what! Witty! You'd
never have expected that murderer-Johnny to be so subtle. Our own
murderers aren't that way. I say, it's a tremendous wheeze. I wonder
the press-chaps don't take it up. It's better than the blind factory,
though the chap's mother or something is blind. What ho! But that's
silly! To be sure one has nothing to do with the other. I say, have
another, you chaps! I've not felt so fit in ages. I'm going to take up

Plainly it was no occasion to use serious words to the man. He slapped
his companions smartly on their backs and was slapped in turn by all
of them. One or two of them called him an old horse! Not only was I
doing no good for the North Side set, but I had felt obliged to
consume two glasses of spirits that I did not wish. So I discreetly
withdrew. As I went, the Honourable George was again telling them that
he was "going in" for North America, and Cousin Egbert was calling
"Three rousing cheers!"

Thus luridly began, I may say, a scandal that was to be far-reaching
in its dreadful effects. Far from feeling a proper shame on the
following day, the Honourable George was as pleased as Punch with
himself, declaring his intention of again consorting with the cattle
and horse persons and very definitely declining an invitation to play
at golf with Belknap-Jackson.

"Golf!" he spluttered. "You do it, and then you've directly to do it
all over again. I mean to say, one gets nowhere. A silly game--what!"

Wishing to be in no manner held responsible for his vicious pursuits,
I that day removed my diggings from the Floud home to chambers in the
Pettengill block above the Grill, where I did myself quite nicely with
decent mantel ornaments, some vivacious prints of old-world
cathedrals, and a few good books, having for body-servant one of the
Hobbs lads who seemed rather teachable. I must admit, however, that I
was frequently obliged to address him more sharply than one should
ever address one's servant, my theory having always been that a
serving person should be treated quite as if he were a gentleman
temporarily performing menial duties, but there was that strain of
lowness in all the Hobbses which often forbade this, a blending of
servility with more or less skilfully dissembled impertinence, which I
dare say is the distinguishing mark of our lower-class serving people.

Removed now from the immediate and more intimate effects of the
Honourable George's digressions, I was privileged for days at a time
to devote my attention exclusively to my enterprise. It had thriven
from the beginning, and after a month I had so perfected the minor
details of management that everything was right as rain. In my
catering I continued to steer a middle course between the British
school of plain roast and boiled and a too often piffling French
complexity, seeking to retain the desirable features of each. My
luncheons for the tradesmen rather held to a cut from the joint with
vegetables and a suitable sweet, while in my dinners I relaxed a bit
into somewhat imaginative salads and entrées. For the tea-hour I
constantly strove to provide some appetizing novelty, often, I
confess, sacrificing nutrition to mere sightliness in view of my
almost exclusive feminine patronage, yet never carrying this to an
undignified extreme.

As a result of my sound judgment, dinner-giving in Red Gap began that
winter to be done almost entirely in my place. There might be small
informal affairs at home, but for dinners of any pretension the
hostesses of the North Side set came to me, relying almost quite
entirely upon my taste in the selection of the menu. Although at first
I was required to employ unlimited tact in dissuading them from
strange and laboured concoctions, whose photographs they fetched me
from their women's magazines, I at length converted them from this
unwholesome striving for novelty and laid the foundations for that
sound scheme of gastronomy which to-day distinguishes this
fastest-growing town in the state, if not in the West of America.

It was during these early months, I ought perhaps to say, that I
rather distinguished myself in the matter of a relish which I
compounded one day when there was a cold round of beef for luncheon.
Little dreaming of the magnitude of the moment, I brought together
English mustard and the American tomato catsup, in proportions which
for reasons that will be made obvious I do not here disclose, together
with three other and lesser condiments whose identity also must remain
a secret. Serving this with my cold joint, I was rather amazed at the
sensation it created. My patrons clamoured for it repeatedly and a
barrister wished me to prepare a flask of it for use in his home. The
following day it was again demanded and other requests were made for
private supplies, while by the end of the week my relish had become
rather famous. Followed a suggestion from Mrs. Judson as she
overlooked my preparation of it one day from her own task of polishing
the glassware.

"Put it on the market," said she, and at once I felt the inspiration
of her idea. To her I entrusted the formula. I procured a quantity of
suitable flasks, while in her own home she compounded the stuff and
filled them. Having no mind to claim credit not my own, I may now say
that this rather remarkable woman also evolved the idea of the label,
including the name, which was pasted upon the bottles when our product
was launched.

"Ruggles' International Relish" she had named it after a moment's
thought. Below was a print of my face taken from an excellent
photographic portrait, followed by a brief summary of the article's
unsurpassed excellence, together with a list of the viands for which
it was commended. As the International Relish is now a matter of
history, the demand for it having spread as far east as Chicago and
those places, I may add that it was this capable woman again who
devised the large placard for hoardings in which a middle-aged but
glowing bon-vivant in evening dress rebukes the blackamoor who has
served his dinner for not having at once placed Ruggles' International
Relish upon the table. The genial annoyance of the diner and the
apologetic concern of the black are excellently depicted by the
artist, for the original drawing of which I paid a stiffish price to
the leading artist fellow of Spokane. This now adorns the wall of my

It must not be supposed that I had been free during these months from
annoyance and chagrin at the manner in which the Honourable George was
conducting himself. In the beginning it was hoped both by
Belknap-Jackson and myself that he might do no worse than merely
consort with the rougher element of the town. I mean to say, we
suspected that the apparent charm of the raffish cattle-persons might
suffice to keep him from any notorious alliance with the dreaded
Bohemian set. So long as he abstained from this he might still be
received at our best homes, despite his regrettable fondness for low
company. Even when he brought the murderer Spilmer to dine with him at
my place, the thing was condoned as a freakish grotesquerie in one
who, of unassailable social position, might well afford to stoop

I must say that the murderer--a heavy-jowled brute of husky voice, and
quite lacking a forehead--conducted himself on this occasion with an
entirely decent restraint of manner, quite in contrast to the
Honourable George, who betrayed an expansively naïve pride in his
guest, seeming to wish the world to know of the event. Between them
they consumed a fair bottle of the relish. Indeed, the Honourable
George was inordinately fond of this, as a result of which he would
often come out quite spotty again. Cousin Egbert was another who
became so addicted to it that his fondness might well have been called
a vice. Both he and the Honourable George would drench quite every
course with the sauce, and Cousin Egbert, with that explicit
directness which distinguished his character, would frankly sop his
bread-crusts in it, or even sip it with a coffee-spoon.

As I have intimated, in spite of the Honourable George's affiliations
with the slum-characters of what I may call Red Gap's East End, he had
not yet publicly identified himself with the Klondike woman and her
Bohemian set, in consequence of which--let him dine and wine a Spilmer
as he would--there was yet hope that he would not alienate himself
from the North Side set.

At intervals during the early months of his sojourn among us he
accepted dinner invitations at the Grill from our social leaders; in
fact, after the launching of the International Relish, I know of none
that he declined, but it was evident to me that he moved but
half-heartedly in this higher circle. On one occasion, too, he
appeared in the trousers of a lounge-suit of tweeds instead of his
dress trousers, and with tan boots. The trousers, to be sure, were of
a sombre hue, but the brown boots were quite too dreadfully
unmistakable. After this I may say that I looked for anything, and my
worst fears were soon confirmed.

It began as the vaguest sort of gossip. The Honourable George, it was
said, had been a guest at one of the Klondike woman's evening affairs.
The rumour crystallized. He had been asked to meet the Bohemian set at
a Dutch supper and had gone. He had lingered until a late hour,
dancing the American folkdances (for which he had shown a surprising
adaptability) and conducting himself generally as the next Earl of
Brinstead should not have done. He had repeated his visit, repairing
to the woman's house both afternoon and evening. He had become a
constant visitor. He had spoken regrettably of the dulness of a
meeting of the Onwards and Upwards Society which he had attended. He
was in the woman's toils.

With gossip of this sort there was naturally much indignation, and yet
the leaders of the North Side set were so delicately placed that there
was every reason for concealing it. They redoubled their attentions to
the unfortunate man, seeking to leave him not an unoccupied evening or
afternoon. Such was the gravity of the crisis. Belknap-Jackson alone
remained finely judicial.

"The situation is of the gravest character," he confided to me, "but
we must be wary. The day isn't lost so long as he doesn't appear
publicly in the creature's train. For the present we have only
unverified rumour. As a man about town Vane-Basingwell may feel free
to consort with vicious companions and still maintain his proper
standing. Deplore it as all right-thinking people must, under present
social conditions he is undoubtedly free to lead what is called a
double life. We can only wait."

Such was the state of the public mind, be it understood, up to the
time of the notorious and scandalous defection of this obsessed
creature, an occasion which I cannot recall without shuddering, and
which inspired me to a course that was later to have the most
inexplicable and far-reaching consequences.

Theatrical plays had been numerous with us during the season, with the
natural result of many after-theatre suppers being given by those who
attended, among them the North Side leaders, and frequently the
Klondike woman with her following. On several of these occasions,
moreover, the latter brought as supper guests certain representatives
of the theatrical profession, both male and female, she apparently
having a wide acquaintance with such persons. That this sort of thing
increased her unpopularity with the North Side set will be understood
when I add that now and then her guests would be of undoubted
respectability in their private lives, as theatrical persons often
are, and such as our smartest hostesses would have been only too glad
to entertain.

To counteract this effect Belknap-Jackson now broached to me a plan of
undoubted merit, which was nothing less than to hold an afternoon
reception at his home in honour of the world's greatest pianoforte
artist, who was presently to give a recital in Red Gap.

"I've not met the chap myself," he began, "but I knew his secretary
and travelling companion quite well in a happier day in Boston. The
recital here will be Saturday evening, which means that they will
remain here on Sunday until the evening train East. I shall suggest to
my friend that his employer, to while away the tedium of the Sunday,
might care to look in upon me in the afternoon and meet a few of our
best people. Nothing boring, of course. I've no doubt he will arrange
it. I've written him to Portland, where they now are."

"Rather a card that will be," I instantly cried. "Rather better class
than entertaining strolling players." Indeed the merit of the proposal
rather overwhelmed me. It would be dignified and yet spectacular. It
would show the Klondike woman that we chose to have contact only with
artists of acknowledged preëminence and that such were quite willing
to accept our courtesies. I had hopes, too, that the Honourable George
might be aroused to advantages which he seemed bent upon casting to
the American winds.

A week later Belknap-Jackson joyously informed me that the great
artist had consented to accept his hospitality. There would be light
refreshments, with which I was charged. I suggested tea in the Russian
manner, which he applauded.

"And everything dainty in the way of food," he warned me. "Nothing
common, nothing heavy. Some of those tiny lettuce sandwiches, a bit of
caviare, macaroons--nothing gross--a decanter of dry sherry, perhaps,
a few of the lightest wafers; things that cultivated persons may
trifle with--things not repugnant to the artist soul."

I promised my profoundest consideration to these matters.

"And it occurs to me," he thoughtfully added, "that this may be a time
for Vane-Basingwell to silence the slurs upon himself that are
becoming so common. I shall beg him to meet our guest at his hotel and
escort him to my place. A note to my friend, 'the bearer, the
Honourable George Augustus Vane-Basingwell, brother of his lordship
the Earl of Brinstead, will take great pleasure in escorting to my
home----' You get the idea? Not bad!"

Again I applauded, resolving that for once the Honourable George would
be suitably attired even if I had to bully him. And so was launched
what promised to be Red Gap's most notable social event of the season.
The Honourable George, being consulted, promised after a rather sulky
hesitation to act as the great artist's escort, though he persisted in
referring to him as "that piano Johnny," and betrayed a suspicion that
Belknap-Jackson was merely bent upon getting him to perform without

"But no," cried Belknap-Jackson, "I should never think of anything so
indelicate as asking him to play. My own piano will be tightly closed
and I dare say removed to another room."

At this the Honourable George professed to wonder why the chap was
desired if he wasn't to perform. "All hair and bad English--silly
brutes when they don't play," he declared. In the end, however, as I
have said, he consented to act as he was wished to. Cousin Egbert, who
was present at this interview, took somewhat the same view as the
Honourable George, even asserting that he should not attend the

"He don't sing, he don't dance, he don't recite; just plays the piano.
That ain't any kind of a show for folks to set up a whole evening
for," he protested bitterly, and he went on to mention various
theatrical pieces which he had considered worthy, among them I recall
being one entitled "The Two Johns," which he regretted not having
witnessed for several years, and another called "Ben Hur," which was
better than all the piano players alive, he declared. But with the
Honourable George enlisted, both Belknap-Jackson and I considered the
opinions of Cousin Egbert to be quite wholly negligible.

Saturday's _Recorder_, in its advance notice of the recital,
announced that the Belknap-Jacksons of Boston and Red Gap would
entertain the artist on the following afternoon at their palatial home
in the Pettengill addition, where a select few of the North Side set
had been invited to meet him. Belknap-Jackson himself was as a man
uplifted. He constantly revised and re-revised his invitation list; he
sought me out each day to suggest subtle changes in the very artistic
menu I had prepared for the affair. His last touch was to supplement
the decanter of sherry with a bottle of vodka. About the caviare he
worried quite fearfully until it proved upon arrival to be fresh and
of prime quality. My man, the Hobbs boy, had under my instructions
pressed and smarted the Honourable George's suit for afternoon wear.
The carriage was engaged. Saturday night it was tremendously certain
that no hitch could occur to mar the affair. We had left no detail to

The recital itself was quite all that could have been expected, but
underneath the enthusiastic applause there ran even a more intense
fervour among those fortunate ones who were to meet the artist on the

Belknap-Jackson knew himself to be a hero. He was elaborately cool. He
smiled tolerantly at intervals and undoubtedly applauded with the
least hint of languid proprietorship in his manner. He was heard to
speak of the artist by his first name. The Klondike woman and many of
her Bohemian set were prominently among those present and sustained
glances of pitying triumph from those members of the North Side set so
soon to be distinguished above her.

The morrow dawned auspiciously, very cloudy with smartish drives of
wind and rain. Confined to the dingy squalor of his hotel, how gladly
would the artist, it was felt, seek the refined cheer of one of our
best homes where he would be enlivened by an hour or so of contact
with our most cultivated people. Belknap-Jackson telephoned me with
increasing frequency as the hour drew near, nervously seeming to dread
that I would have overlooked some detail of his refined refreshments,
or that I would not have them at his house on time. He telephoned
often to the Honourable George to be assured that the carriage with
its escort would be prompt. He telephoned repeatedly to the driver
chap, to impress upon him the importance of his mission.

His guests began to arrive even before I had decked his sideboard with
what was, I have no hesitation in declaring, the most superbly dainty
buffet collation that Red Gap had ever beheld. The atmosphere at once
became tense with expectation.

At three o'clock the host announced from the telephone:
"Vane-Basingwell has started from the Floud house." The guests
thrilled and hushed the careless chatter of new arrivals.
Belknap-Jackson remained heroically at the telephone, having demanded
to be put through to the hotel. He was flushed with excitement. A
score of minutes later he announced with an effort to control his
voice: "They have left the hotel--they are on the way."

The guests stiffened in their seats. Some of them nervously and for no
apparent reason exchanged chairs with others. Some late arrivals
bustled in and were immediately awed to the same electric silence of
waiting. Belknap-Jackson placed the sherry decanter where the vodka
bottle had been and the vodka bottle where the sherry decanter had
been. "The effect is better," he remarked, and went to stand where he
could view the driveway. The moments passed.

At such crises, which I need not say have been plentiful in my life, I
have always known that I possessed an immense reserve of coolness.
Seldom have I ever been so much as slightly flustered. Now I was
calmness itself, and the knowledge brought me no little satisfaction
as I noted the rather painful distraction of our host. The moments
passed--long, heavy, silent moments. Our host ascended trippingly to
an upper floor whence he could see farther down the drive. The guests
held themselves in smiling readiness. Our host descended and again
took up his post at a lower window.

The moments passed--stilled, leaden moments. The silence had become
intolerable. Our host jiggled on his feet. Some of the quicker-minded
guests made a pretence of little conversational flurries: "That second
movement--oh, exquisitely rendered!... No one has ever read Chopin so
divinely.... How his family must idolize him!... They say.... That
exquisite concerto!... Hasn't he the most stunning hair.... Those
staccato passages left me actually limp--I'm starting Myrtle in
Tuesday to take of Professor Gluckstein. She wants to take
stenography, but I tell her.... Did you think the preludes were just
the tiniest bit idealized.... I always say if one has one's music, and
one's books, of course--He must be very, _very_ fond of music!"

Such were the hushed, tentative fragments I caught.

The moments passed. Belknap-Jackson went to the telephone. "What? But
they're not here! Very strange! They should have been here half an
hour ago. Send some one--yes, at once." In the ensuing silence he
repaired to the buffet and drank a glass of vodka. Quite distraught he

The moments passed. Again several guests exchanged seats with other
guests. It seemed to be a device for relieving the strain. Once more
there were scattering efforts at normal talk. "Myrtle is a strange
girl--a creature of moods, I call her. She wanted to act in the moving
pictures until papa bought the car. And she knows every one of the new
tango steps, but I tell her a few lessons in cooking wouldn't--Beryl
Mae is just the same puzzling child; one thing one day, and another
thing the next; a mere bundle of nerves, and so sensitive if you say
the least little thing to her ... If we could only get Ling Wong
back--this Jap boy is always threatening to leave if the men don't get
up to breakfast on time, or if Gertie makes fudge in his kitchen of an
afternoon ... Our boy sends all his wages to his uncle in China, but I
simply can't get him to say, 'Dinner is served.' He just slides in and
says, 'All right, you come!' It's very annoying, but I always tell the
family, 'Remember what a time we had with the Swede----'"

I mean to say, things were becoming rapidly impossible. The moments
passed. Belknap-Jackson again telephoned: "You did send a man after
them? Send some one after him, then. Yes, at once!" He poured himself
another peg of the vodka. Silence fell again. The waiting was terrific.
We had endured an hour of it, and but little more was possible to any
sensitive human organism. All at once, as if the very last possible
moment of silence had passed, the conversation broke loudly and
generally: "And did you notice that slimpsy thing she wore last
night? Indecent, if you ask me, with not a petticoat under it, I'll
be bound!... Always wears shoes twice too small for her ... What men
can see in her ... How they can endure that perpetual smirk!..." They
were at last discussing the Klondike woman, and whatever had befallen
our guest of honour I knew that those present would never regain their
first awe of the occasion. It was now unrestrained gabble.

The second hour passed quickly enough, the latter half of it being
enlivened by the buffet collation which elicited many compliments upon
my ingenuity and good taste. Quite almost every guest partook of a
glass of the vodka. They chattered of everything but music, I dare say
it being thought graceful to ignore the afternoon's disaster.

Belknap-Jackson had sunk into a mood of sullen desperation. He drained
the vodka bottle. Perhaps the liquor brought him something of the
chill Russian fatalism. He was dignified but sodden, with a depression
that seemed to blow from the bleak Siberian steppes. His wife was
already receiving the adieus of their guests. She was smouldering
ominously, uncertain where the blame lay, but certain there was blame.
Criminal blame! I could read as much in her narrowed eyes as she
tried for aplomb with her guests.

My own leave I took unobtrusively. I knew our strangely missing guest
was to depart by the six-two train, and I strolled toward the station.
A block away I halted, waiting. It had been a time of waiting. The
moments passed. I heard the whistle of the approaching train. At the
same moment I was startled by the approach of a team that I took to be
running away.

I saw it was the carriage of the Pierce chap and that he was driving
with the most abandoned recklessness. His passengers were the
Honourable George, Cousin Egbert, and our missing guest. The great
artist as they passed me seemed to feel a vast delight in his wild
ride. He was cheering on the driver. He waved his arms and himself
shouted to the maddened horses. The carriage drew up to the station
with the train, and the three descended.

The artist hurriedly shook hands in the warmest manner with his
companions, including the Pierce chap, who had driven them. He
beckoned to his secretary, who was waiting with his bags. He mounted
the steps of the coach, and as the train pulled out he waved
frantically to the three. He kissed his hand to them, looking far out
as the train gathered momentum. Again and again he kissed his hand to
the hat-waving trio.

It was too much. The strain of the afternoon had told even upon my own
iron nerves. I felt unequal at that moment to the simplest inquiry,
and plainly the situation was not one to attack in haste. I mean to
say, it was too pregnant with meaning. I withdrew rapidly from the
scene, feeling the need for rest and silence.

As I walked I meditated profoundly.


From the innocent lips of Cousin Egbert the following morning there
fell a tale of such cold-blooded depravity that I found myself with
difficulty giving it credit. At ten o'clock, while I still mused
pensively over the events of the previous day, he entered the Grill in
search of breakfast, as had lately become his habit. I greeted him
with perceptible restraint, not knowing what guilt might be his, but
his manner to me was so unconsciously genial that I at once acquitted
him of any complicity in whatever base doings had been forward.

He took his accustomed seat with a pleasant word to me. I waited.

"Feeling a mite off this morning," he began, "account of a lot of
truck I eat yesterday. I guess I'll just take something kind of
dainty. Tell Clarice to cook me up a nice little steak with plenty of
fat on it, and some fried potatoes, and a cup of coffee and a few
waffles to come. The Judge he wouldn't get up yet. He looked kind of
mottled and anguished, but I guess he'll pull around all right. I had
the chink take him up about a gallon of strong tea. Say, listen here,
the Judge ain't so awful much of a stayer, is he?"

Burning with curiosity I was to learn what he could tell me of the day
before, yet I controlled myself to the calmest of leisurely
questioning in order not to alarm him. It was too plain that he had no
realization of what had occurred. It was always the way with him, I
had noticed. Events the most momentous might culminate furiously about
his head, but he never knew that anything had happened.

"The Honourable George," I began, "was with you yesterday? Perhaps he
ate something he shouldn't."

"He did, he did; he done it repeatedly. He et pretty near as much of
that sauerkraut and frankfurters as the piano guy himself did, and
that's some tribute, believe me, Bill! Some tribute!"

"The piano guy?" I murmured quite casually.

"And say, listen here, that guy is all right if anybody should ask
you. You talk about your mixers!"

This was a bit puzzling, for of course I had never "talked about my
mixers." I shouldn't a bit know how to go on. I ventured another

"Where was it this mixing and that sort of thing took place?"

"Why, up at Mis' Kenner's, where we was having a little party:
frankfurters and sauerkraut and beer. My stars! but that steak looks
good. I'm feeling better already." His food was before him, and he
attacked it with no end of spirit.

"Tell me quite all about it," I amiably suggested, and after a
moment's hurried devotion to the steak, he slowed up a bit to talk.

"Well, listen here, now. The Judge says to me when Eddie Pierce comes,
'Sour-dough,' he says, 'look in at Mis' Kenner's this afternoon if you
got nothing else on; I fancy it will repay you.' Just like that.
'Well,' I says, 'all right, Judge, I fancy I will. I fancy I ain't got
anything else on,' I says. 'And I'm always glad to go there,' I says,
because no matter what they're always saying about this here Bohemian
stuff, Kate Kenner is one good scout, take it from me. So in a little
while I slicked up some and went on around to her house. Then hitched
outside I seen Eddie Pierce's hack, and I says, 'My lands! that's a
funny thing,' I says. 'I thought the Judge was going to haul this here
piano guy out to the Jackson place where he could while away the
tejum, like Jackson said, and now it looks as if they was here. Or
mebbe it's just Eddie himself that has fancied to look in, not having
anything else on.'

"Well, so anyway I go up on the stoop and knock, and when I get in the
parlour there the piano guy is and the Judge and Eddie Pierce, too,
Eddie helping the Jap around with frankfurters and sauerkraut and beer
and one thing and another.

"Besides them was about a dozen of Mis' Kenner's own particular
friends, all of 'em good scouts, let me tell you, and everybody
laughing and gassing back and forth and cutting up and having a good
time all around. Well, so as soon as they seen me, everybody says,
'Oh, here comes Sour-dough--good old Sour-dough!' and all like that,
and they introduced me to the piano guy, who gets up to shake hands
with me and spills his beer off the chair arm on to the wife of Eddie
Fosdick in the Farmers' and Merchants' National, and so I sat down and
et with 'em and had a few steins of beer, and everybody had a good
time all around."

The wonderful man appeared to believe that he had told me quite all of
interest concerning this monstrous festivity. He surveyed the
mutilated remnant of his steak and said: "I guess Clarice might as
well fry me a few eggs. I'm feeling a lot better." I directed that
this be done, musing upon the dreadful menu he had recited and
recalling the exquisite finish of the collation I myself had prepared.
Sausages, to be sure, have their place, and beer as well, but
sauerkraut I have never been able to regard as an at all possible food
for persons that really matter. Germans, to be sure!

Discreetly I renewed my inquiry: "I dare say the Honourable George was
in good form?" I suggested.

"Well, he et a lot. Him and the piano guy was bragging which could eat
the most sausages."

I was unable to restrain a shudder at the thought of this revolting

"The piano guy beat him out, though. He'd been at the Palace Hotel for
three meals and I guess his appetite was right craving."

"And afterward?"

"Well, it was like Jackson said: this lad wanted to while away the
tejum of a Sunday afternoon, and so he whiled it, that's all. Purty
soon Mis' Kenner set down to the piano and sung some coon songs that
tickled him most to death, and then she got to playing ragtime--say,
believe me, Bill, when she starts in on that rag stuff she can make a
piano simply stutter itself to death.


"Well, at that the piano guy says it's great stuff, and so he sets
down himself to try it, and he catches on pretty good, I'll say that
for him, so we got to dancing while he plays for us, only he don't
remember the tunes good and has to fake a lot. Then he makes Mis'
Kenner play again while he dances with Mis' Fosdick that he spilled
the beer on, and after that we had some more beer and this guy et
another plate of kraut and a few sausages, and Mis' Kenner sings 'The
Robert E. Lee' and a couple more good ones, and the guy played some
more ragtime himself, trying to get the tunes right, and then he
played some fancy pieces that he'd practised up on, and we danced some
and had a few more beers, with everybody laughing and cutting up and
having a nice home afternoon.

"Well, the piano guy enjoyed himself every minute, if anybody asks
you, being lit up like a main chandelier. They made him feel like he
was one of their own folks. You certainly got to hand it to him for
being one little good mixer. Talk about whiling away the tejum! He
done it, all right, all right. He whiled away so much tejum there he
darned near missed his train. Eddie Pierce kept telling him what time
it was, only he'd keep asking Mis' Kenner to play just one more rag,
and at last we had to just shoot him into his fur overcoat while he
was kissing all the women on their hands, and we'd have missed the
train at that if Eddie hadn't poured the leather into them skates of
his all the way down to the dee-po. He just did make it, and he told
the Judge and Eddie and me that he ain't had such a good time since he
left home. I kind of hated to see him go."

He here attacked the eggs with what seemed to be a freshening of his
remarkable appetite. And as yet, be it noted, I had detected no
consciousness on his part that a foul betrayal of confidence had been
committed. I approached the point.

"The Belknap-Jacksons were rather expecting him, you know. My
impression was that the Honourable George had been sent to escort him
to the Belknap-Jackson house."

"Well, that's what I thought, too, but I guess the Judge forgot it, or
mebbe he thinks the guy will mix in better with Mis' Kenner's crowd.
Anyway, there they was, and it probably didn't make any difference to
the guy himself. He likely thought he could while away the tejum there
as well as he could while it any place, all of them being such good
scouts. And the Judge has certainly got a case on Mis' Kenner, so
mebby she asked him to drop in with any friend of his. She's got him
bridle-wise and broke to all gaits." He visibly groped for an
illumining phrase. "He--he just looks at her."

The simple words fell upon my ears with a sickening finality. "He just
looks at her." I had seen him "just look" at the typing-girl and at
the Brixton milliner. All too fearfully I divined their preposterous
significance. Beyond question a black infamy had been laid bare, but I
made no effort to convey its magnitude to my guileless informant. As I
left him he was mildly bemoaning his own lack of skill on the

"Darned if I don't wish I'd 'a' took some lessons on the piano myself
like that guy done. It certainly does help to while away the tejum
when you got friends in for the afternoon. But then I was just a
hill-billy. Likely I couldn't have learned the notes good."

It was a half-hour later that I was called to the telephone to listen
to the anguished accents of Belknap-Jackson.

"Have you heard it?" he called. I answered that I had.

"The man is a paranoiac. He should be at once confined in an asylum
for the criminal insane."

"I shall row him fiercely about it, never fear. I've not seen him

"But the creature should be watched. He may do harm to himself or to
some innocent person. They--they run wild, they kill, they burn--set
fire to buildings--that sort of thing. I tell you, none of us is

"The situation," I answered, "has even more shocking possibilities,
but I've an idea I shall be equal to it. If the worst seems to be
imminent I shall adopt extreme measures." I closed the interview. It
was too painful. I wished to summon all my powers of deliberation.

To my amazement who should presently appear among my throng of
luncheon patrons but the Honourable George. I will not say that he
slunk in, but there was an unaccustomed diffidence in his bearing. He
did not meet my eye, and it was not difficult to perceive that he had
no wish to engage my notice. As he sought a vacant table I observed
that he was spotted quite profusely, and his luncheon order was of the

Straight I went to him. He winced a bit, I thought, as he saw me
approach, but then he apparently resolved to brass it out, for he
glanced full at me with a terrific assumption of bravado and at once
began to give me beans about my service.

"Your bally tea shop running down, what! Louts for waiters, cloddish
louts! Disgraceful, my word! Slow beggars! Take a year to do you a
rasher and a bit of toast, what!"

To this absurd tirade I replied not a word, but stood silently
regarding him. I dare say my gaze was of the most chilling character
and steady. He endured it but a moment. His eyes fell, his bravado
vanished, he fumbled with the cutlery. Quite abashed he was.

"Come, your explanation!" I said curtly, divining that the moment was
one in which to adopt a tone with him. He wriggled a bit, crumpling a
roll with panic fingers.

"Come, come!" I commanded.

His face brightened, though with an intention most obviously false. He
coughed--a cough of pure deception. Not only were his eyes averted
from mine, but they were glassed to an uncanny degree. The fingers
wrought piteously at the now plastic roll.

"My word, the chap was taken bad; had to be seen to, what! Revived, I
mean to say. All piano Johnnies that way--nervous wrecks, what!
Spells! Spells, man--spells!"

"Come, come!" I said crisply. The glassed eyes were those of one

"In the carriage--to the hyphen chap's place, to be sure. Fainting
spell--weak heart, what! No stimulants about. Passing house! Perhaps
have stimulants--heart tablets, er--beer--things of that sort. Lead
him in. Revive him. Quite well presently, but not well enough to go
on. Couldn't let a piano Johnny die on our hands, what! Inquest,
evidence, witnesses--all that silly rot. Save his life, what! Presence
of mind! Kind hearts, what! Humanity! Do as much for any chap. Not let
him die like a dog in the gutter, what! Get no credit, though----" His
curiously mechanical utterance trailed off to be lost in a mere husky
murmur. The glassy stare was still at my wall.

I have in the course of my eventful career had occasion to mark the
varying degrees of plausibility with which men speak untruths, but
never, I confidently aver, have I beheld one lie with so piteous a
futility. The art--and I dare say with diplomat chaps and that sort it
may properly be called an art--demands as its very essence that the
speaker seem to be himself convinced of the truth of that which he
utters. And the Honourable George in his youth mentioned for the
Foreign Office!

I turned away. The exhibition was quite too indecent. I left him to
mince at his meagre fare. As I glanced his way at odd moments
thereafter, he would be muttering feverishly to himself. I mean to
say, he no longer _was_ himself. He presently made his way to the
street, looking neither to right nor left. He had, in truth, the dazed
manner of one stupefied by some powerful narcotic. I wondered
pityingly when I should again behold him--if it might be that his poor
wits were bedevilled past mending.

My period of uncertainty was all too brief. Some two hours later, full
into the tide of our afternoon shopping throng, there issued a
spectacle that removed any lingering doubt of the unfortunate man's
plight. In the rather smart pony-trap of the Klondike woman, driven by
the person herself, rode the Honourable George. Full in the startled
gaze of many of our best people he advertised his defection from all
that makes for a sanely governed stability in our social organism. He
had gone flagrantly over to the Bohemian set.

I could detect that his eyes were still glassy, but his head was
erect. He seemed to flaunt his shame. And the guilty partner of his
downfall drove with an affectation of easy carelessness, yet with a
lift of the chin which, though barely perceptible, had all the effect
of binding the prisoner to her chariot wheels; a prisoner, moreover,
whom it was plain she meant to parade to the last ignominious degree.
She drove leisurely, and in the little infrequent curt turns of her
head to address her companion she contrived to instill so finished an
effect of boredom that she must have goaded to frenzy any matron of
the North Side set who chanced to observe her, as more than one of
them did.

Thrice did she halt along our main thoroughfare for bits of shopping,
a mere running into of shops or to the doors of them where she could
issue verbal orders, the while she surveyed her waiting and drugged
captive with a certain half-veiled but good-humoured insolence. At
these moments--for I took pains to overlook the shocking scene--the
Honourable George followed her with eyes no longer glassed; the eyes
of helpless infatuation. "He looks at her," Cousin Egbert had said. He
had told it all and told it well. The equipage graced our street upon
one paltry excuse or another for the better part of an hour, the woman
being minded that none of us should longer question her supremacy over
the next and eleventh Earl of Brinstead.

Not for another hour did the effects of the sensation die out among
tradesmen and the street crowds. It was like waves that recede but
gradually. They talked. They stopped to talk. They passed on talking.
They hissed vivaciously; they rose to exclamations. I mean to say,
there was no end of a gabbling row about it.

There was in my mind no longer any room for hesitation. The quite
harshest of extreme measures must be at once adopted before all was
too late. I made my way to the telegraph office. It was not a time for
correspondence by post.

Afterward I had myself put through by telephone to Belknap-Jackson.
With his sensitive nature he had stopped in all day. Although still
averse to appearing publicly, he now consented to meet me at my
chambers late that evening.

"The whole town is seething with indignation," he called to me. "It
was disgraceful. I shall come at ten. We rely upon you."

Again I saw that he was concerned solely with his humiliation as a
would-be host. Not yet had he divined that the deluded Honourable
George might go to the unspeakable length of a matrimonial alliance
with the woman who had enchained him. And as to his own disaster, he
was less than accurate when he said that the whole town was seething
with indignation. The members of the North Side set, to be sure, were
seething furiously, but a flippant element of the baser sort was quite
openly rejoicing. As at the time of that most slanderous minstrel
performance, it was said that the Bohemian set had again, if I have
caught the phrase, "put a thing over upon" the North Side set. Many
persons of low taste seemed quite to enjoy the dreadful affair, and
the members of the Bohemian set, naturally, throughout the day had
been quite coarsely beside themselves with glee.

Little they knew, I reflected, what power I could wield nor that I had
already set in motion its deadly springs. Little did the woman dream,
flaunting her triumph up and down our main business thoroughfare, that
one who watched her there had but to raise his hand to wrest the
victim from her toils. Little did she now dream that he would stop at
no half measures. I mean to say, she would never think I could bowl
her out as easy as buying cockles off a barrow.

At the hour for our conference Belknap-Jackson arrived at my chambers
muffled in an ulster and with a soft hat well over his face. I
gathered that he had not wished to be observed.

"I feel that this is a crisis," he began as he gloomily shook my hand.
"Where is our boasted twentieth-century culture if outrages like this
are permitted? For the first time I understand how these Western
communities have in the past resorted to mob violence. Public feeling
is already running high against the creature and her unspeakable set."

I met this outburst with the serenity of one who holds the winning
cards in his hand, and begged him to be seated. Thereupon I disclosed
to him the weakly, susceptible nature of the Honourable George,
reciting the incidents of the typing-girl and the Brixton milliner. I
added that now, as before, I should not hesitate to preserve the
family honour.

"A dreadful thing, indeed," he murmured, "if that adventuress should
trap him into a marriage. Imagine her one day a Countess of Brinstead!
But suppose the fellow prove stubborn; suppose his infatuation dulls
all his finer instincts?"

I explained that the Honourable George, while he might upon the spur
of the moment commit a folly, was not to be taken too seriously; that
he was, I believed, quite incapable of a grand passion. I mean to say,
he always forgot them after a few days. More like a child staring into
shop-windows he was, rapidly forgetting one desired object in the
presence of others. I added that I had adopted the extremest measures.

Thereupon, perceiving that I had something in my sleeve, as the saying
is, my caller besought me to confide in him. Without a word I handed
him a copy of my cable message sent that afternoon to his lordship:

    _"Your immediate presence required to prevent a monstrous

He brightened as he read it.

"You actually mean to say----" he began.

"His lordship," I explained, "will at once understand the nature of
what is threatened. He knows, moreover, that I would not alarm him
without cause. He will come at once, and the Honourable George will be
told what. His lordship has never failed. He tells him what perfectly,
and that's quite all to it. The poor chap will be saved."

My caller was profoundly stirred. "Coming here--to Red Gap--his
lordship the Earl of Brinstead--actually coming here! My God! This is
wonderful!" He paused; he seemed to moisten his dry lips; he began
once more, and now his voice trembled with emotion: "He will need a
place to stay; our hotel is impossible; had you thought----" He
glanced at me appealingly.

"I dare say," I replied, "that his lordship will be pleased to have
you put him up; you would do him quite nicely."

"You mean it--seriously? That would be--oh, inexpressible. He would be
our house guest! The Earl of Brinstead! I fancy that would silence a
few of these serpent tongues that are wagging so venomously to-day!"

"But before his coming," I insisted, "there must be no word of his
arrival. The Honourable George would know the meaning of it, and the
woman, though I suspect now that she is only making a show of him,
might go on to the bitter end. They must suspect nothing."

"I had merely thought of a brief and dignified notice in our press,"
he began, quite wistfully, "but if you think it might defeat our

"It must wait until he has come."

"Glorious!" he exclaimed. "It will be even more of a blow to them." He
began to murmur as if reading from a journal, "'His lordship the Earl
of Brinstead is visiting for a few days'--it will surely be as much as
a few days, perhaps a week or more--'is visiting for a few days the C.
Belknap-Jacksons of Boston and Red Gap.'" He seemed to regard the
printed words. "Better still, 'The C. Belknap-Jacksons of Boston and
Red Gap are for a few days entertaining as their honoured house guest
his lordship the Earl of Brinstead----' Yes, that's admirable."

He arose and impulsively clasped my hand. "Ruggles, dear old chap, I
shan't know at all how to repay you. The Bohemian set, such as are
possible, will be bound to come over to us. There will be left of it
but one unprincipled woman--and she wretched and an outcast. She has
made me absurd. I shall grind her under my heel. The east room shall
be prepared for his lordship; he shall breakfast there if he wishes. I
fancy he'll find us rather more like himself than he suspects. He
shall see that we have ideals that are not half bad."

He wrung my hand again. His eyes were misty with gratitude.


Three days later came the satisfying answer to my cable message:

    _"Damn! Sailing Wednesday_.--BRINSTEAD."

Glad I was he had used the cable. In a letter there would doubtless
have been still other words improper to a peer of England.

Belknap-Jackson thereafter bore himself with a dignity quite
tremendous even for him. Graciously aloof, he was as one carrying an
inner light. "We hold them in the hollow of our hand," said he, and
both his wife and himself took pains on our own thoroughfare to cut
the Honourable George dead, though I dare say the poor chap never at
all noticed it. They spoke of him as "a remittance man"--the black
sheep of a noble family. They mentioned sympathetically the trouble
his vicious ways had been to his brother, the Earl. Indeed, so
mysteriously important were they in allusions of this sort that I was
obliged to caution them, lest they let out the truth. As it was, there
ran through the town an undercurrent of puzzled suspicion. It was
intimated that we had something in our sleeves.

Whether this tension was felt by the Honourable George, I had no means
of knowing. I dare say not, as he is self-centred, being seldom aware
of anything beyond his own immediate sensations. But I had reason to
believe that the Klondike woman had divined some menace in our
attitude of marked indifference. Her own manner, when it could be
observed, grew increasingly defiant, if that were possible. The
alliance of the Honourable George with the Bohemian set had become, of
course, a public scandal after the day of his appearance in her trap
and after his betrayal of the Belknap-Jacksons had been gossiped to
rags. He no longer troubled himself to pretend any esteem whatever for
the North Side set. Scarce a day passed but he appeared in public as
the woman's escort. He flagrantly performed her commissions, and at
their questionable Bohemian gatherings, with their beer and sausages
and that sort of thing, he was the gayest of that gay, mad set.

Indeed, of his old associates, Cousin Egbert quite almost alone seemed
to find him any longer desirable, and him I had no heart to caution,
knowing that I should only wound without enlightening him, he being
entirely impervious to even these cruder aspects of class distinction.
I dare say he would have considered the marriage of the Honourable
George as no more than the marriage of one of his cattle-person
companions. I mean to say, he is a dear old sort and I should never
fail to defend him in the most disheartening of his vagaries, but he
is undeniably insensitive to what one does and does not do.

The conviction ran, let me repeat, that we had another pot of broth on
the fire. I gleaned as much from the Mixer, she being one of the few
others besides Cousin Egbert in whose liking the Honourable George had
not terrifically descended. She made it a point to address me on the
subject over a dish of tea at the Grill one afternoon, choosing a
table sufficiently remote from my other feminine guests, who
doubtless, at their own tables, discussed the same complication. I was
indeed glad that we were remote from other occupied tables, because in
the course of her remarks she quite forcefully uttered an oath, which
I thought it as well not to have known that I cared to tolerate in my
lady patrons.

"As to what Jackson feels about the way it was handed out to him that
Sunday," she bluntly declared, "I don't care a----" The oath quite
dazed me for a moment, although I had been warned that she would use
language on occasion. "What I do care about," she went on briskly, "is
that I won't have this girl pestered by Jackson or by you or by any
man that wears hair! Why, Jackson talks so silly about her sometimes
you'd think she was a bad woman--and he keeps hinting about something
he's going to put over till I can hardly keep my hands off him. I just
know some day he'll make me forget I'm a lady. Now, take it from me,
Bill, if you're setting in with him, don't start anything you can't

Really she was quite fierce about it. I mean to say, the glitter in
her eyes made me recall what Cousin Egbert had said of Mrs. Effie, her
being quite entirely willing to take on a rattlesnake and give it the
advantage of the first two assaults. Somewhat flustered I was, yet I
hastened to assure her that, whatever steps I might feel obliged to
take for the protection of the Honourable George, they would involve
nothing at all unfair to the lady in question.

"Well, they better hadn't!" she resumed threateningly. "That girl had
a hard time all right, but listen here--she's as right as a church.
She couldn't fool me a minute if she wasn't. Don't you suppose I been
around and around quite some? Just because she likes to have a good
time and outdresses these dames here--is that any reason they should
get out their hammers? Ain't she earned some right to a good time,
tell me, after being married when she was a silly kid to Two-spot
Kenner, the swine--and God bless the trigger finger of the man that
bumped him off! As for the poor old Judge, don't worry. I like the old
boy, but Kate Kenner won't do anything more than make a monkey of him
just to spite Jackson and his band of lady knockers. Marry him? Say,
get me right, Bill--I'll put it as delicate as I can--the Judge is too
darned far from being a mental giant for that."

I dare say she would have slanged me for another half-hour but for the
constant strain of keeping her voice down. As it was, she boomed up
now and again in a way that reduced to listening silence the ladies at
several distant tables.

As to the various points she had raised, I was somewhat confused.
About the Honourable George, for example: He was, to be sure, no
mental giant. But one occupying his position is not required to be.
Indeed, in the class to which he was born one well knows that a mental
giant would be quite as distressingly bizarre as any other freak. I
regretted not having retorted this to her, for it now occurred to me
that she had gone it rather strong with her "poor old Judge." I mean
to say, it was almost quite a little bit raw for a native American to
adopt this patronizing tone toward one of us.

And yet I found that my esteem for the Mixer had increased rather than
diminished by reason of her plucky defence of the Klondike woman. I
had no reason to suppose that the designing creature was worth a
defence, but I could only admire the valour that made it. Also I found
food for profound meditation in the Mixer's assertion that the woman's
sole aim was to "make a monkey" of the Honourable George. If she were
right, a mésalliance need not be feared, at which thought I felt a
great relief. That she should achieve the lesser and perhaps equally
easy feat with the poor chap was a calamity that would be, I fancied,
endured by his lordship with a serene fortitude.

Curiously enough, as I went over the Mixer's tirade point by point, I
found in myself an inexplicable loss of animus toward the Klondike
woman. I will not say I was moved to sympathy for her, but doubtless
that strange ferment of equality stirred me toward her with something
less than the indignation I had formerly felt. Perhaps she was an
entirely worthy creature. In that case, I merely wished her to be
taught that one must not look too far above one's station, even in
America, in so serious an affair as matrimony. With all my heart I
should wish her a worthy mate of her own class, and I was glad indeed
to reflect upon the truth of my assertion to the Mixer, that no unfair
advantage would be taken of her. His lordship would remove the
Honourable George from her toils, a made monkey, perhaps, but no

Again that day did I listen to a defence of this woman, and from a
source whence I could little have expected it. Meditating upon the
matter, I found myself staring at Mrs. Judson as she polished some
glassware in the pantry. As always, the worthy woman made a pleasing
picture in her neat print gown. From staring at her rather absently I
caught myself reflecting that she was one of the few women whose hair
is always perfectly coiffed. I mean to say, no matter what the press
of her occupation, it never goes here and there.

From the hair, my meditative eye, still rather absently, I believe,
descended her quite good figure to her boots. Thereupon, my gaze
ceased to be absent. They were not boots. They were bronzed slippers
with high heels and metal buckles and of a character so distinctive
that I instantly knew they had once before been impressed upon my
vision. Swiftly my mind identified them: they had been worn by the
Klondike woman on the occasion of a dinner at the Grill, in
conjunction with a gown to match and a bluish scarf--all combining to
achieve an immense effect.

My assistant hummed at her task, unconscious of my scrutiny. I recall
that I coughed slightly before disclosing to her that my attention had
been attracted to her slippers. She took the reference lightly,
affecting, as the sex will, to belittle any prized possession in the
face of masculine praise.

"I have seen them before," I ventured.

"She gives me all of hers. I haven't had to buy shoes since baby was
born. She gives me--lots of things--stockings and things. She likes me
to have them."

"I didn't know you knew her."

"Years! I'm there once a week to give the house a good going over.
That Jap of hers is the limit. Dust till you can't rest. And when I
clean he just grins."

I mused upon this. The woman was already giving half her time to
superintending two assistants in the preparation of the International

"Her work is too much in addition to your own," I suggested.

"Me? Work too hard? Not in a thousand years. I do all right for you,
don't I?"

It was true; she was anything but a slacker. I more nearly approached
my real objection.

"A woman in your position," I began, "can't be too careful as to the
associations she forms----" I had meant to go on, but found it quite
absurdly impossible. My assistant set down the glass she had and quite
venomously brandished her towel at me.

"So that's it?" she began, and almost could get no farther for mere
sputtering. I mean to say, I had long recognized that she possessed
character, but never had I suspected that she would have so inadequate
a control of her temper.

"So that's it?" she sputtered again, "And I thought you were too
decent to join in that talk about a woman just because she's young and
wears pretty clothes and likes to go out. I'm astonished at you, I
really am. I thought you were more of a man!" She broke off, scowling
at me most furiously.

Feeling all at once rather a fool, I sought to conciliate her. "I have
joined in no talk," I said. "I merely suggested----" But she shut me
off sharply.

"And let me tell you one thing: I can pick out my associates in this
town without any outside help. The idea! That girl is just as nice a
person as ever walked the earth, and nobody ever said she wasn't
except those frumpy old cats that hate her good looks because the men
all like her."

"Old cats!" I echoed, wishing to rebuke this violence of epithet, but
she would have none of me.

"Nasty old spite-cats," she insisted with even more violence, and went
on to an almost quite blasphemous absurdity. "A prince in his palace
wouldn't be any too good for her!"

"Tut, tut!" I said, greatly shocked.

"Tut nothing!" she retorted fiercely. "A regular prince in his palace,
that's what she deserves. There isn't a single man in this one-horse
town that's good enough to pick up her glove. And she knows it, too.
She's carrying on with your silly Englishman now, but it's just to pay
those old cats back in their own coin. She'll carry on with him--yes!
But marry? Good heavens and earth! Marriage is serious!" With this
novel conclusion she seized another glass and began to wipe it
viciously. She glared at me, seeming to believe that she had closed
the interview. But I couldn't stop. In some curious way she had
stirred me rather out of myself--but not about the Klondike woman nor
about the Honourable George. I began most illogically, I admit, to
rage inwardly about another matter.

"You have other associates," I exclaimed quite violently, "those
cattle-persons--I know quite all about it. That Hank and Buck--they
come here on the chance of seeing you; they bring you boxes of candy,
they bring you little presents. Twice they've escorted you home at
night when you quite well knew I was only too glad to do it----" I
felt my temper most curiously running away with me, ranting about
things I hadn't meant to at all. I looked for another outburst from
her, but to my amazement she flashed me a smile with a most enigmatic
look back of it. She tossed her head, but resumed her wiping of the
glass with a certain demureness. She spoke almost meekly:

"They're very old friends, and I'm sure they always act right. I don't
see anything wrong in it, even if Buck Edwards has shown me a good
deal of attention."

But this very meekness of hers seemed to arouse all the violence in my

"I won't have it!" I said. "You have no right to receive presents from
men. I tell you I won't have it! You've no right!"

"Haven't I?" she suddenly said in the most curious, cool little voice,
her eyes falling before mine. "Haven't I? I didn't know."

It was quite chilling, her tone and manner. I was cool in an instant.
Things seemed to mean so much more than I had supposed they did. I
mean to say, it was a fair crumpler. She paused in her wiping of the
glass but did not regard me. I was horribly moved to go to her, but
coolly remembered that that sort of thing would never do.

"I trust I have said enough," I remarked with entirely recovered

"You have," she said.

"I mean I won't have such things," I said.

"I hear you," she said, and fell again to her work. I thereupon
investigated an ice-box and found enough matter for complaint against
the Hobbs boy to enable me to manage a dignified withdrawal to the
rear. The remarkable creature was humming again as I left.

I stood in the back door of the Grill giving upon the alley, where I
mused rather excitedly. Here I was presently interrupted by the dog,
Mr. Barker. For weeks now I had been relieved of his odious
attentions, by the very curious circumstance that he had transferred
them to the Honourable George. Not all my kicks and cuffs and beatings
had sufficed one whit to repulse him. He had kept after me, fawned
upon me, in spite of them. And then on a day he had suddenly, with
glad cries, become enamoured of the Honourable George, waiting for him
at doors, following him, hanging upon his every look. And the
Honourable George had rather fancied the beast and made much of him.

And yet this animal is reputed by poets and that sort of thing to be
man's best friend, faithfully sharing his good fortune and his bad,
staying by his side to the bitter end, even refusing to leave his body
when he has perished--starving there with a dauntless fidelity. How
chagrined the weavers of these tributes would have been to observe the
fickle nature of the beast in question! For weeks he had hardly
deigned me a glance. It had been a relief, to be sure, but what a
sickening disclosure of the cur's trifling inconstancy. Even now,
though he sniffed hungrily at the open door, he paid me not the least
attention--me whom he had once idolized!

I slipped back to the ice-box and procured some slices of beef that
were far too good for him. He fell to them with only a perfunctory
acknowledgment of my agency in procuring them.

"Why, I thought you hated him!" suddenly said the voice of his owner.
She had tiptoed to my side.

"I do," I said quite savagely, "but the unspeakable beast can't be
left to starve, can he?"

I felt her eyes upon me, but would not turn. Suddenly she put her hand
upon my shoulder, patting it rather curiously, as she might have
soothed her child. When I did turn she was back at her task. She was
humming again, nor did she glance my way. Quite certainly she was no
longer conscious that I stood about. She had quite forgotten me. I
could tell as much from her manner. "Such," I reflected, with an
unaccustomed cynicism, "is the light inconsequence of women and dogs."
Yet I still experienced a curiously thrilling determination to protect
her from her own good nature in the matter of her associates.

At a later and cooler moment of the day I reflected upon her defence
of the Klondike woman. A "prince in his palace" not too good for her!
No doubt she had meant me to take these remarkable words quite
seriously. It was amazing, I thought, with what seriousness the lower
classes of the country took their dogma of equality, and with what
naïve confidence they relied upon us to accept it. Equality in North
America was indeed praiseworthy; I had already given it the full
weight of my approval and meant to live by it. But at home, of course,
that sort of thing would never do. The crude moral worth of the
Klondike woman might be all that her two defenders had alleged, and
indeed I felt again that strange little thrill of almost sympathy for
her as one who had been unjustly aspersed. But I could only resolve
that I would be no party to any unfair plan of opposing her. The
Honourable George must be saved from her trifling as well as from her
serious designs, if such she might have; but so far as I could
influence the process it should cause as little chagrin as possible to
the offender. This much the Mixer and my charwoman had achieved with
me. Indeed, quite hopeful I was that when the creature had been set
right as to what was due one of our oldest and proudest families she
would find life entirely pleasant among those of her own station. She
seemed to have a good heart.

As the day of his lordship's arrival drew near, Belknap-Jackson became
increasingly concerned about the precise manner of his reception and
the details of his entertainment, despite my best assurances that no
especially profound thought need be given to either, his lordship
being quite that sort, fussy enough in his own way but hardly formal
or pretentious.

His prospective host, after many consultations with me, at length
allowed himself to be dissuaded from meeting his lordship in correct
afternoon garb of frock-coat and top-hat, consenting, at my urgent
suggestion, to a mere lounge-suit of tweeds with a soft-rolled hat and
a suitable rough day stick. Again in the matter of the menu for his
lordship's initial dinner which we had determined might well be
tendered him at my establishment. Both husband and wife were rather
keen for an elaborate repast of many courses, feeling that anything
less would be doing insufficient honour to their illustrious guest,
but I at length convinced them that I quite knew what his lordship
would prefer: a vegetable soup, an abundance of boiled mutton with
potatoes, a thick pudding, a bit of scientifically correct cheese, and
a jug of beer. Rather trying they were at my first mention of this--a
dinner quite without finesse, to be sure, but eminently nutritive--and
only their certainty that I knew his lordship's ways made them give

The affair was to be confined to the family, his lordship the only
guest, this being thought discreet for the night of his arrival in
view of the peculiar nature of his mission. Belknap-Jackson had hoped
against hope that the Mixer might not be present, and even so late as
the day of his lordship's arrival he was cheered by word that she
might be compelled to keep her bed with a neuralgia.

To the afternoon train I accompanied him in his new motor-car, finding
him not a little distressed because the chauffeur, a native of the
town, had stoutly--and with some not nice words, I gathered--refused
to wear the smart uniform which his employer had provided.

"I would have shopped the fellow in an instant," he confided to me,
"had it been at any other time. He was most impertinent. But as usual,
here I am at the mercy of circumstances. We couldn't well subject
Brinstead to those loathsome public conveyances."

We waited in the usual throng of the leisured lower-classes who are so
naïvely pleased at the passage of a train. I found myself picturing
their childish wonder had they guessed the identity of him we were
there to meet. Even as the train appeared Belknap-Jackson made a last
moan of complaint.

"Mrs. Pettengill," he observed dejectedly, "is about the house again
and I fear will be quite well enough to be with us this evening." For
a moment I almost quite disapproved of the fellow. I mean to say, he
was vogue and all that, and no doubt had been wretchedly mistreated,
but after all the Mixer was not one to be wished ill to.

A moment later I was contrasting the quiet arrival of his lordship
with the clamour and confusion that had marked the advent among us of
the Honourable George. He carried but one bag and attracted no
attention whatever from the station loungers. While I have never known
him be entirely vogue in his appointments, his lordship carries off a
lounge-suit and his gray-cloth hat with a certain manner which the
Honourable George was never known to achieve even in the days when I
groomed him. The grayish rather aggressive looking side-whiskers first
caught my eye, and a moment later I had taken his hand.
Belknap-Jackson at the same time took his bag, and with a trepidation
so obvious that his lordship may perhaps have been excusable for a
momentary misapprehension. I mean to say, he instantly and crisply
directed Belknap-Jackson to go forward to the luggage van and recover
his box.

A bit awkward it was, to be sure, but I speedily took the situation in
hand by formally presenting the two men, covering the palpable
embarrassment of the host by explaining to his lordship the astounding
ingenuity of the American luggage system. By the time I had deprived
him of his check and convinced him that his box would be admirably
recovered by a person delegated to that service, Belknap-Jackson,
again in form, was apologizing to him for the squalid character of the
station and for the hardships he must be prepared to endure in a crude
Western village. Here again the host was annoyed by having to call
repeatedly to his mechanician in order to detach him from a gossiping
group of loungers. He came smoking a quite fearfully bad cigar and
took his place at the wheel entirely without any suitable deference to
his employer.

His lordship during the ride rather pointedly surveyed me, being
impressed, I dare say, by something in my appearance and manner quite
new to him. Doubtless I had been feeling equal for so long that the
thing was to be noticed in my manner. He made no comment upon me,
however. Indeed almost the only time he spoke during our passage was
to voice his astonishment at not having been able to procure the
London _Times_ at the press-stalls along the way. His host made
clucking noises of sympathy at this. He had, he said, already warned
his lordship that America was still crude.

"Crude? Of course, what, what!" exclaimed his lordship. "But naturally
they'd have the _Times_! I dare say the beggars were too lazy to
look it out. Laziness, what, what!"

"We've a job teaching them to know their places," ventured
Belknap-Jackson, moodily regarding the back of his chauffeur which
somehow contrived to be eloquent with disrespect for him.

"My word, what rot!" rejoined his lordship. I saw that he had arrived
in one of his peppery moods. I fancy he could not have recited a
multiplication table without becoming fanatically assertive about it.
That was his way. I doubt if he had ever condescended to have an
opinion. What might have been opinions came out on him like a rash in
form of the most violent convictions.

"What rot not to know their places, when they must know them!" he
snappishly added.

"Quite so, quite so!" his host hastened to assure him.

"A--dashed--fine big country you have," was his only other

"Indeed, indeed," murmured his host mildly. I had rather dreaded the
oath which his lordship is prone to use lightly.

Reaching the Belknap-Jackson house, his lordship was shown to the
apartment prepared for him.

"Tea will be served in half an hour, your--er--Brinstead," announced
his host cordially, although seemingly at a loss how to address him.

"Quite so, what, what! Tea, of course, of course! Why wouldn't it be?
Meantime, if you don't mind, I'll have a word with Ruggles. At once."

Belknap-Jackson softly and politely withdrew at once.

Alone with his lordship, I thought it best to acquaint him instantly
with the change in my circumstances, touching lightly upon the matter
of my now being an equal with rather most of the North Americans. He
listened with exemplary patience to my brief recital and was good
enough to felicitate me.

"Assure you, glad to hear it--glad no end. Worthy fellow; always knew
it. And equal, of course, of course! Take up their equality by all
means if you take 'em up themselves. Curious lot of nose-talking
beggars, and putting r's every place one shouldn't, but don't blame
you. Do it myself if I could--England gone to pot. Quite!"

"Gone to pot, sir?" I gasped.

"Don't argue. Course it has. Women! Slasher fiends and firebrands!
Pictures, churches, golf-greens, cabinet members--nothing safe.
Pouring their beastly filth into pillar boxes. Women one knows.
Hussies, though! Want the vote--rot! Awful rot! Don't blame you for
America. Wish I might, too. Good thing, my word! No backbone in
Downing Street. Let the fiends out again directly they're hungry. No
system! No firmness! No dash! Starve 'em proper, I would."

He was working himself into no end of a state. I sought to divert him.

"About the Honourable George, sir----" I ventured.

"What's the silly ass up to now? Dancing girl got him--yes? How he
does it, I can't think. No looks, no manner, no way with women. Can't
stand him myself. How ever can they? Frightful bore, old George is.
Well, well, man, I'm waiting. Tell me, tell me, tell me!"

Briefly I disclosed to him that his brother had entangled himself with
a young person who had indeed been a dancing girl or a bit like that
in the province of Alaska. That at the time of my cable there was
strong reason to believe she would stop at nothing--even marriage, but
that I had since come to suspect that she might be bent only on making
a fool of her victim, she being, although an honest enough character,
rather inclined to levity and without proper respect for established

I hinted briefly at the social warfare of which she had been a storm
centre. I said again, remembering the warm words of the Mixer and of
my charwoman, that to the best of my knowledge her character was
without blemish. All at once I was feeling preposterously sorry for
the creature.

His lordship listened, though with a cross-fire of interruptions.
"Alaska dancing girl. Silly! Nothing but snow and mines in Alaska."
Or, again, "Make a fool of old George? What silly piffle! Already done
it himself, what, what! Waste her time!" And if she wasn't keen to
marry him, had I called him across the ocean to intervene in a vulgar
village squabble about social precedence? "Social precedence silly

I insisted that his brother should be seen to. One couldn't tell what
the woman might do. Her audacity was tremendous, even for an American.
To this he listened more patiently.

"Dare say you're right. You don't go off your head easily. I'll rag
him proper, now I'm here. Always knew the ass would make a silly
marriage if he could. Yes, yes, I'll break it up quick enough. I say
I'll break it up proper. Dancers and that sort. Dangerous. But I know
their tricks."

A summons to tea below interrupted him.

"Hungry, my word! Hardly dared eat in that dining-coach. Tinned stuff
all about one. Appendicitis! American journal--some Colonel chap found
it out. Hunting sort. Looked a fool beside his silly horse, but seemed
to know. Took no chances. Said the tin-opener slays its thousands.
Rot, no doubt. Perhaps not."

I led him below, hardly daring at the moment to confess my own
responsibility for his fears. Another time, I thought, we might chat
of it.

Belknap-Jackson with his wife and the Mixer awaited us. His lordship
was presented, and I excused myself.

"Mrs. Pettengill, his lordship the Earl of Brinstead," had been the
host's speech of presentation to the Mixer.

"How do do, Earl; I'm right glad to meet you," had been the Mixer's
acknowledgment, together with a hearty grasp of the hand. I saw his
lordship's face brighten.

"What ho!" he cried with the first cheerfulness he had exhibited, and
the Mixer, still vigorously pumping his hand, had replied, "Same
here!" with a vast smile of good nature. It occurred to me that they,
at least, were quite going to "get" each other, as Americans say.

"Come right in and set down in the parlour," she was saying at the
last. "I don't eat between meals like you English folks are always
doing, but I'll take a shot of hooch with you."

The Belknap-Jacksons stood back not a little distressed. They seemed
to publish that their guest was being torn from them.

"A shot of hooch!" observed his lordship "I dare say your shooting
over here is absolutely top-hole--keener sport than our popping at
driven birds. What, what!"


At a latish seven, when the Grill had become nicely filled with a
representative crowd, the Belknap-Jacksons arrived with his lordship.
The latter had not dressed and I was able to detect that
Belknap-Jackson, doubtless noting his guest's attire at the last
moment, had hastily changed back to a lounge-suit of his own. Also I
noted the absence of the Mixer and wondered how the host had contrived
to eliminate her. On this point he found an opportunity to enlighten
me before taking his seat.

"Mark my words, that old devil is up to something," he darkly said,
and I saw that he was genuinely put about, for not often does he fall
into strong language.

"After pushing herself forward with his lordship all through tea-time
in the most brazen manner, she announces that she has a previous
dinner engagement and can't be with us. I'm as well pleased to have
her absent, of course, but I'd pay handsomely to know what her little
game is. Imagine her not dining with the Earl of Brinstead when she
had the chance! That shows something's wrong. I don't like it. I tell
you she's capable of things."

I mused upon this. The Mixer was undoubtedly capable of things.
Especially things concerning her son-in-law. And yet I could imagine
no opening for her at the present moment and said as much. And Mrs.
Belknap-Jackson, I was glad to observe, did not share her husband's
evident worry. She had entered the place plumingly, as it were,
sweeping the length of the room before his lordship with quite all the
manner her somewhat stubby figure could carry off. Seated, she became
at once vivacious, chatting to his lordship brightly and continuously,
raking the room the while with her lorgnon. Half a dozen ladies of the
North Side set were with parties at other tables. I saw she was
immensely stimulated by the circumstance that these friends were
unaware of her guest's identity. I divined that before the evening was
over she would contrive to disclose it.

His lordship responded but dully to her animated chat. He is never
less urbane than when hungry, and I took pains to have his favourite
soup served quite almost at once. This he fell upon. I may say that he
has always a hearty manner of attacking his soup. Not infrequently he
makes noises. He did so on this occasion. I mean to say, there was no
finesse. I hovered near, anxious that the service should be without

His head bent slightly over his plate, I saw a spoonful of soup
ascending with precision toward his lips. But curiously it halted in
mid-air, then fell back. His lordship's eyes had become fixed upon
some one back of me. At once, too, I noted looks of consternation upon
the faces of the Belknap-Jacksons, the hostess freezing in the very
midst of some choice phrase she had smilingly begun.

I turned quickly. It was the Klondike person, radiant in the costume
of black and the black hat. She moved down the hushed room with
well-lifted chin, eyes straight ahead and narrowed to but a faint
offended consciousness of the staring crowd. It was well done. It was
superior. I am able to judge those things.

Reaching a table the second but one from the Belknap-Jacksons's, she
relaxed finely from the austere note of her progress and turned to her
companions with a pretty and quite perfect confusion as to which chair
she might occupy. Quite awfully these companions were the Mixer,
overwhelming in black velvet and diamonds, and Cousin Egbert,
uncomfortable enough looking but as correctly enveloped in evening
dress as he could ever manage by himself. His cravat had been tied
many times and needed it once more.

They were seated by the raccoon with quite all his impressiveness of
manner. They faced the Belknap-Jackson party, yet seemed unconscious
of its presence. Cousin Egbert, with a bored manner which I am certain
he achieved only with tremendous effort, scanned my simple menu. The
Mixer settled herself with a vast air of comfort and arranged various
hand-belongings about her on the table.

Between them the Klondike woman sat with a restraint that would
actually not have ill-become one of our own women. She did not look
about; her hands were still, her head was up. At former times with her
own set she had been wont to exhibit a rather defiant vivacity. Now
she did not challenge. Finely, eloquently, there pervaded her a
reserve that seemed almost to exhale a fragrance. But of course that
is silly rot. I mean to say, she drew the attention without visible
effort. She only waited.

The Earl of Brinstead, as we all saw, had continued to stare. Thrice
slowly arose the spoon of soup, for mere animal habit was strong upon
him, yet at a certain elevation it each time fell slowly back. He was
acting like a mechanical toy. Then the Mixer caught his eye and nodded
crisply. He bobbed in response.

"What ho! The dowager!" he exclaimed, and that time the soup was
successfully resumed.

"Poor old mater!" sighed his hostess. "She's constantly taking up
people. One does, you know, in these queer Western towns."

"Jolly old thing, awfully good sort!" said his lordship, but his eyes
were not on the Mixer.

Terribly then I recalled the Honourable George's behaviour at that
same table the night he had first viewed this Klondike person. His
lordship was staring in much the same fashion. Yet I was relieved to
observe that the woman this time was quite unconscious of the interest
she had aroused. In the case of the Honourable George, who had frankly
ogled her--for the poor chap has ever lacked the finer shades in these
matters--she had not only been aware of it but had deliberately played
upon it. It is not too much to say that she had shown herself to be a
creature of blandishments. More than once she had permitted her eyes
to rest upon him with that peculiarly womanish gaze which, although
superficially of a blank innocence, is yet all-seeing and even shoots
little fine arrows of questions from its ambuscade. But now she was
ignoring his lordship as utterly as she did the Belknap-Jacksons.

To be sure she may later have been in some way informed that his eyes
were seeking her, but never once, I am sure, did she descend to even a
veiled challenge of his glance or betray the faintest discreet
consciousness of it. And this I was indeed glad to note in her.
Clearly she must know where to draw the line, permitting herself a
malicious laxity with a younger brother which she would not have the
presumption to essay with the holder of the title. Pleased I was, I
say, to detect in her this proper respect for his lordship's position.
It showed her to be not all unworthy.

The dinner proceeded, his lordship being good enough to compliment me
on the fare which I knew was done to his liking. Yet, even in the very
presence of the boiled mutton, his eyes were too often upon his
neighbour. When he behaved thus in the presence of a dish of mutton I
had not to be told that he was strongly moved. I uneasily recalled now
that he had once been a bit of a dog himself. I mean to say, there was
talk in the countryside, though of course it had died out a score of
years ago. I thought it as well, however, that he be told almost
immediately that the person he honoured with his glance was no other
than the one he had come to subtract his unfortunate brother from.

The dinner progressed--somewhat jerkily because of his lordship's
inattention--through the pudding and cheese to coffee. Never had I
known his lordship behave so languidly in the presence of food he
cared for. His hosts ate even less. They were worried. Mrs.
Belknap-Jackson, however, could simply no longer contain within
herself the secret of their guest's identity. With excuses to the deaf
ears of his lordship she left to address a friend at a distant table.
She addressed others at other tables, leaving a flutter of sensation
in her wake.

Belknap-Jackson, having lighted one of his non-throat cigarettes,
endeavoured to engross his lordship with an account of their last
election of officers to the country club. His lordship was not
properly attentive to this. Indeed, with his hostess gone he no longer
made any pretence of concealing his interest in the other table. I saw
him catch the eye of the Mixer and astonishingly intercepted from her
a swift but most egregious wink.

"One moment," said his lordship to the host. "Must pay my respects to
the dowager, what, what! Jolly old muggins, yes!" And he was gone.

I heard the Mixer's amazing presentation speech.

"Mrs. Kenner, Mr. Floud, his lordship--say, listen here, is your right
name Brinstead, or Basingwell, like your brother's?"

The Klondike person acknowledged the thing with a faintly gracious
nod. It carried an air, despite the slightness of it. Cousin Egbert
was more cordial.

"Pleased to meet you, Lord!" said he, and grasped the newcomer's hand.
"Come on, set in with us and have some coffee and a cigar. Here, Jeff,
bring the lord a good cigar. We was just talking about you that
minute. How do you like our town? Say, this here Kulanche Valley----" I
lost the rest. His lordship had seated himself. At his own table
Belknap-Jackson writhed acutely. He was lighting a second
cigarette--the first not yet a quarter consumed!

At once the four began to be thick as thieves, though it was apparent
his lordship had eyes only for the woman. Coffee was brought. His
lordship lighted his cigar. And now the word had so run from Mrs.
Belknap-Jackson that all eyes were drawn to this table. She had
created her sensation and it had become all at once more of one than
she had thought. From Mrs. Judge Ballard's table I caught her glare at
her unconscious mother. It was not the way one's daughter should
regard one in public.

Presently contriving to pass the table again, I noted that Cousin
Egbert had changed his form of address.

"Have some brandy with your coffee, Earl. Here, Jeff, bring Earl and
all of us some lee-cures." I divined the monstrous truth that he
supposed himself to be calling his lordship by his first name, and he
in turn must have understood my shocked glance of rebuke, for a bit
later, with glad relief in his tones, he was addressing his lordship
as "Cap!" And myself he had given the rank of colonel!

The Klondike person in the beginning finely maintained her reserve.
Only at the last did she descend to vivacity or the use of her eyes.
This later laxness made me wonder if, after all, she would feel bound
to pay his lordship the respect he was wont to command from her class.

"You and poor George are rather alike," I overheard, "except that he
uses the single 'what' and you use the double. Hasn't he any right to
use the double 'what' yet, and what does it mean, anyway? Tell us."

"What, what!" demanded his lordship, a bit puzzled.

"But that's it! What do you say 'What, what' for? It can't do you any

"What, what! But I mean to say, you're having me on. My word you
are--spoofing, I mean to say. What, what! To be sure. Chaffing lot,
you are!" He laughed. He was behaving almost with levity.

"But poor old George is so much younger than you--you must make
allowances," I again caught her saying; and his lordship replied:

"Not at all; not at all! Matter of a half-score years. Barely a
half-score; nine and a few months. Younger? What rot! Chaffing again."

Really it was a bit thick, the creature saying "poor old George" quite
as if he were something in an institution, having to be wheeled about
in a bath-chair with rugs and water-bottles!

Glad I was when the trio gave signs of departure. It was woman's craft
dictating it, I dare say. She had made her effect and knew when to go.

"Of course we shall have to talk over my dreadful designs on your poor
old George," said the amazing woman, intently regarding his lordship
at parting.

"Leave it to me," said he, with a scarcely veiled significance.

"Well, see you again, Cap," said Cousin Egbert warmly. "I'll take you
around to meet some of the boys. We'll see you have a good time."

"What ho!" his lordship replied cordially. The Klondike person flashed
him one enigmatic look, then turned to precede her companions. Again
down the thronged room she swept, with that chin-lifted,
drooping-eyed, faintly offended half consciousness of some staring
rabble at hand that concerned her not at all. Her alert feminine foes,
I am certain, read no slightest trace of amusement in her unwavering
lowered glance. So easily she could have been crude here!

Belknap-Jackson, enduring his ignominious solitude to the limit of his
powers, had joined his wife at the lower end of the room. They had
taken the unfortunate development with what grace they could. His
lordship had dropped in upon them quite informally--charming man that
he was. Of course he would quickly break up the disgraceful affair.
Beginning at once. They would doubtless entertain for him in a quiet

At the deserted table his lordship now relieved a certain sickening
apprehension that had beset me.

"What, what! Quite right to call me out here. Shan't forget it.
Dangerous creature, that. Badly needed, I was. Can't think why you
waited so long! Anything might have happened to old George. Break it
up proper, though. Never do at all. Impossible person for him. Quite!"

I saw they had indeed taken no pains to hide the woman's identity from
him nor their knowledge of his reason for coming out to the States,
though with wretchedly low taste they had done this chaffingly. Yet it
was only too plain that his lordship now realized what had been the
profound gravity of the situation, and I was glad to see that he meant
to end it without any nonsense.

"Silly ass, old George, though," he added as the Belknap-Jacksons
approached. "How a creature like that could ever have fancied him!
What, what!"

His hosts were profuse in their apologies for having so thoughtlessly
run away from his lordship--they carried it off rather well. They were
keen for sitting at the table once more, as the other observant diners
were lingering on, but his lordship would have none of this.

"Stuffy place!" said he. "Best be getting on." And so, reluctantly,
they led him down the gauntlet of widened eyes. Even so, the tenth
Earl of Brinstead had dined publicly with them. More than repaid they
were for the slight the Honourable George had put upon them in the
affair of the pianoforte artist.

An hour later Belknap-Jackson had me on by telephone. His voice was
not a little worried.

"I say, is his lordship, the Earl, subject to spells of any sort? We
were in the library where I was showing him some photographic views of
dear old Boston, and right over a superb print of our public library
he seemed to lose consciousness. Might it be a stroke? Or do you think
it's just a healthy sleep? And shall I venture to shake him? How would
he take that? Or should I merely cover him with a travelling rug? It
would be so dreadful if anything happened when he's been with us such
a little time."

I knew his lordship. He has the gift of sleeping quite informally when
his attention is not too closely engaged. I suggested that the host
set his musical phonograph in motion on some one of the more audible
selections. As I heard no more from him that night I dare say my plan

Our town, as may be imagined, buzzed with transcendent gossip on the
morrow. The _Recorder_ disclosed at last that the Belknap-Jacksons
of Boston and Red Gap were quietly entertaining his lordship, the
Earl of Brinstead, though since the evening before this had been news
to hardly any one. Nor need it be said that a viciously fermenting
element in the gossip concerned the apparently cordial meeting of his
lordship with the Klondike person, an encounter that had been watched
with jealous eyes by more than one matron of the North Side set. It
was even intimated that if his lordship had come to put the creature
in her place he had chosen a curious way to set about it.

Also there were hard words uttered of the Belknap-Jacksons by Mrs.
Effie, and severe blame put upon myself because his lordship had not
come out to the Flouds'.

"But the Brinsteads have always stopped with us before," she went
about saying, as if there had been a quite long succession of them. I
mean to say, only the Honourable George had stopped on with them,
unless, indeed, the woman actually counted me as one. Between herself
and Mrs. Belknap-Jackson, I understood, there ensued early that
morning by telephone a passage of virulent acidity, Mrs. Effie being
heard by Cousin Egbert to say bluntly that she would get even.

Undoubtedly she did not share the annoyance of the Belknap-Jacksons at
certain eccentricities now developed by his lordship which made him at
times a trying house guest. That first morning he arose at five sharp,
a custom of his which I deeply regretted not having warned his host
about. Discovering quite no one about, he had ventured abroad in
search of breakfast, finding it at length in the eating establishment
known as "Bert's Place," in company with engine-drivers, plate-layers,
milk persons, and others of a common sort.

Thereafter he had tramped furiously about the town and its environs
for some hours, at last encountering Cousin Egbert who escorted him to
the Floud home for his first interview with the Honourable George. The
latter received his lordship in bed, so Cousin Egbert later informed
me. He had left the two together, whereupon for an hour there were
heard quite all over the house words of the most explosive character.
Cousin Egbert, much alarmed at the passionate beginning of the
interview, suspected they might do each other a mischief, and for some
moments hovered about with the aim, if need be, of preserving human
life. But as the uproar continued evenly, he at length concluded they
would do no more than talk, the outcome proving the accuracy of his

Mrs. Effie, meantime, saw her opportunity and seized it with a cool
readiness which I have often remarked in her. Belknap-Jackson,
distressed beyond measure at the strange absence of his guest, had
communicated with me by telephone several times without result. Not
until near noon was I able to give him any light. Mrs. Effie had then
called me to know what his lordship preferred for luncheon. Replying
that cold beef, pickles, and beer were his usual mid-day fancy, I
hastened to allay the fears of the Belknap-Jacksons, only to find that
Mrs. Effie had been before me.

"She says," came the annoyed voice of the host, "that the dear Earl
dropped in for a chat with his brother and has most delightfully
begged her to give him luncheon. She says he will doubtless wish to
drive with them this afternoon, but I had already planned to drive him
myself--to the country club and about. The woman is high-handed, I
must say. For God's sake, can't you do something?"

I was obliged to tell him straight that the thing was beyond me,
though I promised to recover his guest promptly, should any
opportunity occur. The latter did not, however, drive with the Flouds
that afternoon. He was observed walking abroad with Cousin Egbert, and
it was later reported by persons of unimpeachable veracity that they
had been seen to enter the Klondike person's establishment.

Evening drew on without further news. But then certain elated members
of the Bohemian set made it loosely known that they were that evening
to dine informally at their leader's house to meet his lordship. It
seemed a bit extraordinary to me, yet I could not but rejoice that he
should thus adopt the peaceful methods of diplomacy for the
extrication of his brother.

Belknap-Jackson now telephoning to know if I had heard this
report--"canard" he styled it--I confirmed it and remarked that his
lordship was undoubtedly by way of bringing strong pressure to bear on
the woman.

"But I had expected him to meet a few people here this evening," cried
the host pathetically. I was then obliged to tell him that the
Brinsteads for centuries had been bluntly averse to meeting a few
people. It seemed to run in the blood.

The Bohemian dinner, although quite informal, was said to have been
highly enjoyed by all, including the Honourable George, who was among
those present, as well as Cousin Egbert. The latter gossiped briefly
of the affair the following day.

"Sure, the Cap had a good time all right," he said. "Of course he
ain't the mixer the Judge is, but he livens up quite some, now and
then. Talks like a bunch of firecrackers going off all to once, don't
he? Funny guy. I walked with him to the Jacksons' about twelve or one.
He's going back to Mis' Kenner's house today. He says it'll take a lot
of talking back and forth to get this thing settled right, and it's
got to be right, he says. He seen that right off." He paused as if to
meditate profoundly.

"If you was to ask me, though, I'd say she had him--just like that!"

He held an open hand toward me, then tightly clenched it.

Suspecting he might spread absurd gossip of this sort, I explained
carefully to him that his lordship had indeed at once perceived her to
be a dangerous woman; and that he was now taking his own cunning way
to break off the distressing affair between her and his brother. He
listened patiently, but seemed wedded to some monstrous view of his

"Them dames of that there North Side set better watch out," he
remarked ominously. "First thing they know, what that Kate Kenner'll
hand them--they can make a lemonade out of!"

I could make but little of this, save its general import, which was of
course quite shockingly preposterous. I found myself wishing, to be
sure, that his lordship had been able to accomplish his mission to
North America without appearing to meet the person as a social equal,
as I feared indeed that a wrong impression of his attitude would be
gained by the undiscerning public. It might have been better, I was
almost quite certain, had he adopted a stern and even brutal method at
the outset, instead of the circuitous and diplomatic. Belknap-Jackson
shared this view with me.

"I should hate dreadfully to have his lordship's reputation suffer for
this," he confided to me.

The first week dragged to its close in this regrettable fashion.
Oftener than not his hosts caught no glimpse of his lordship
throughout the day. The smart trap and the tandem team were constantly
ready, but he had not yet been driven abroad by his host. Each day he
alleged the necessity of conferring with the woman.

"Dangerous creature, my word! But dangerous!" he would announce.
"Takes no end of managing. Do it, though; do it proper. Take a high
hand with her. Can't have silly old George in a mess. Own brother,
what, what! Time needed, though. Not with you at dinner, if you don't
mind. Creature has a way of picking up things not half nasty."

But each day Belknap-Jackson met him with pressing offers of such
entertainment as the town afforded. Three several times he had been
obliged to postpone the informal evening affair for a few smart
people. Yet, though patient, he was determined. Reluctantly at last he
abandoned the design of driving his guest about in the trap, but he
insistently put forward the motor-car. He would drive it himself. They
would spend pleasant hours going about the country. His lordship
continued elusive. To myself he confided that his host was a nagger.

"Awfully nagging sort, yes. Doesn't know the strain I'm under getting
this silly affair straight. Country interesting no doubt, what, what!
But, my word! saw nothing but country coming out. Country quite all
about, miles and miles both sides of the metals. Seen enough country.
Seen motor-cars, too, my word. Enough of both, what, what!"

Yet it seemed that on the Saturday after his arrival he could no
longer decently put off his insistent host. He consented to accompany
him in the motor-car. Rotten judging it was on the part of
Belknap-Jackson. He should have listened to me. They departed after
luncheon, the host at the wheel. I had his account of such following
events as I did not myself observe.

"Our country club," he observed early in the drive. "No one there, of
course. You'd never believe the trouble I've had----"

"Jolly good club," replied his lordship. "Drive back that way."

"Back that way," it appeared, would take them by the detached villa of
the Klondike person.

"Stop here," directed his lordship. "Shan't detain you a moment."

This was at two-thirty of a fair afternoon. I am able to give but the
bare facts, yet I must assume that the emotions of Belknap-Jackson as
he waited there during the ensuing two hours were of a quite
distressing nature. As much was intimated by several observant
townspeople who passed him. He was said to be distrait; to be smoking
his cigarettes furiously.

At four-thirty his lordship reappeared. With apparent solicitude he
escorted the Klondike person, fetchingly gowned in a street costume of
the latest mode. They chatted gayly to the car.

"Hope I've not kept you waiting, old chap," said his lordship
genially. "Time slips by one so. You two met, of course, course!" He
bestowed his companion in the tonneau and ensconced himself beside

"Drive," said he, "to your goods shops, draper's, chemist's--where was

"To the Central Market," responded the lady in bell-like tones, "then
to the Red Front store, and to that dear little Japanese shop, if he
doesn't mind."

"Mind! Mind! Course not, course not! Are you warm? Let me fasten the

I confess to have felt a horrid fascination for this moment as I was
able to reconstruct it from Belknap-Jackson's impassioned words. It
was by way of being one of those scenes we properly loathe yet
morbidly cannot resist overlooking if opportunity offers.

Into the flood tide of our Saturday shopping throng swept the car and
its remarkably assembled occupants. The street fair gasped. The
woman's former parade of the Honourable George had been as nothing to
this exposure.

"Poor Jackson's face was a study," declared the Mixer to me later.

I dare say. It was still a study when my own turn came to observe it.
The car halted before the shops that had been designated. The Klondike
person dispatched her commissions in a superbly leisured manner,
attentively accompanied by the Earl of Brinstead bearing packages for

Belknap-Jackson, at the wheel, stared straight ahead. I am told he
bore himself with dignity even when some of our more ingenuous
citizens paused to converse with him concerning his new motor-car. He
is even said to have managed a smile when his passengers returned.

"I have it," exclaimed his lordship now. "Deuced good plan--go to that
Ruggles place for a jolly fat tea. No end of a spree, what, what!"

It is said that on three occasions in turning his car and traversing
the short block to the Grill the owner escaped disastrous collision
with other vehicles only by the narrowest possible margin. He may have
courted something of the sort. I dare say he was desperate.

"Join us, of course!" said his lordship, as he assisted his companion
to alight. Again I am told the host managed to illumine his refusal
with a smile. He would take no tea--the doctor's orders.

The surprising pair entered at the height of my tea-hour and were
served to an accompaniment of stares from the ladies present. To this
they appeared oblivious, being intent upon their conference. His
lordship was amiable to a degree. It now occurred to me that he had
found the woman even more dangerous than he had at first supposed. He
was being forced to play a deep game with her and was meeting guile
with guile. He had, I suspected, found his poor brother far deeper in
than any of us had thought. Doubtless he had written compromising
letters that must be secured--letters she would hold at a price.

And yet I had never before had excuse to believe his lordship
possessed the diplomatic temperament. I reflected that I must always
have misread him. He was deep, after all. Not until the two left did I
learn that Belknap-Jackson awaited them with his car. He loitered
about in adjacent doorways, quite like a hired fellow. He was
passionately smoking more cigarettes than were good for him.

I escorted my guests to the car. Belknap-Jackson took his seat with
but one glance at me, yet it was eloquent of all the ignominy that had
been heaped upon him.

"Home, I think," said the lady when they were well seated. She said it

"Home," repeated his lordship. "Are you quite protected by the robe?"

An incautious pedestrian at the next crossing narrowly escaped being
run down. He shook a fist at the vanishing car and uttered a stream of
oaths so vile that he would instantly have been taken up in any
well-policed city.

Half an hour later Belknap-Jackson called me.

"He got out with that fiend! He's staying on there. But, my God! can
nothing be done?"

"His lordship is playing a most desperate game," I hastened to assure
him. "He's meeting difficulties. She must have her dupe's letters in
her possession. Blackmail, I dare say. Best leave his lordship free.
He's a deep character."

"He presumed far this afternoon--only the man's position saved him
with me!" His voice seemed choked with anger. Then, remotely, faint as
distant cannonading, a rumble reached me. It was hoarse laughter of
the Mixer, perhaps in another room. The electric telephone has been
perfected in the States to a marvellous delicacy of response.

I now found myself observing Mrs. Effie, who had been among the
absorbed onlookers while the pair were at their tea, she having
occupied a table with Mrs. Judge Ballard and Mrs. Dr. Martingale.
Deeply immersed in thought she had been, scarce replying to her
companions. Her eyes had narrowed in a way I well knew when she
reviewed the social field.

Still absorbed she was when Cousin Egbert entered, accompanied by the
Honourable George. The latter had seen but little of his brother since
their first stormy interview, but he had also seen little of the
Klondike woman. His spirits, however, had seemed quite undashed. He
rarely missed his tea. Now as they seated themselves they were joined
quickly by Mrs. Effie, who engaged her relative in earnest converse.
It was easy to see that she begged a favour. She kept a hand on his
arm. She urged. Presently, seeming to have achieved her purpose, she
left them, and I paused to greet the pair.

"I guess that there Mrs. Effie is awful silly," remarked Cousin Egbert
enigmatically. "No, sir; she can't ever tell how the cat is going to
jump." Nor would he say more, though he most elatedly held a secret.

With this circumstance I connected the announcement in Monday's
_Recorder_ that Mrs. Senator Floud would on that evening entertain
at dinner the members of Red Gap's Bohemian set, including Mrs. Kate
Kenner, the guest of honour being his lordship the Earl of Brinstead,
"at present visiting in this city. Covers," it added, "would be laid
for fourteen." I saw that Cousin Egbert would have been made the
ambassador to conduct what must have been a business of some delicacy.

Among the members of the North Side set the report occasioned the
wildest alarm. And yet so staunch were known to be the principles of
Mrs. Effie that but few accused her of downright treachery. It seemed
to be felt that she was but lending herself to the furtherance of some
deep design of his lordship's. Blackmail, the recovery of compromising
letters, the avoidance of legal proceedings--these were hinted at. For
myself I suspected that she had merely misconstrued the seeming
cordiality of his lordship toward the woman and, at the expense of the
Belknap-Jacksons, had sought the honour of entertaining him. If, to do
that, she must entertain the woman, well and good. She was not one to
funk her fences with the game in sight.

Consulting me as to the menu for her dinner, she allowed herself to be
persuaded to the vegetable soup, boiled mutton, thick pudding, and
cheese which I recommended, though she pleaded at length for a chance
to use the new fish set and for a complicated salad portrayed in her
latest woman's magazine. Covered with grated nuts it was in the
illustration. I was able, however, to convince her that his lordship
would regard grated nuts as silly.

From Belknap-Jackson I learned by telephone (during these days, being
sensitive, he stopped in almost quite continuously) that Mrs. Effie
had profusely explained to his wife about the dinner. "Of course, my
dear, I couldn't have the presumption to ask you and your husband to
sit at table with the creature, even if he did think it all right to
drive her about town on a shopping trip. But I thought we ought to do
something to make the dear Earl's visit one to be remembered--he's
_so_ appreciative! I'm sure you understand just how things

In reciting this speech to me Belknap-Jackson essayed to simulate the
tone and excessive manner of a woman gushing falsely. The fellow was
quite bitter about it.

"I sometimes think I'll give up," he concluded. "God only knows what
things are coming to!"

It began to seem even to me that they were coming a bit thick. But I
knew that his lordship was a determined man. He was of the bulldog
breed that has made old England what it is. I mean to say, I knew he
would put the woman in her place.


Echoes of the Monday night dinner reached me the following day. The
affair had passed off pleasantly enough, the members of the Bohemian
set conducting themselves quite as persons who mattered, with the
exception of the Klondike woman herself, who, I gathered, had
descended to a mood of most indecorous liveliness considering who the
guest of honour was. She had not only played and sung those noisy
native folksongs of hers, but she had, it seemed, conducted herself
with a certain facetious familiarity toward his lordship.

"Every now and then," said Cousin Egbert, my principal informant,
"she'd whirl in and josh the Cap all over the place about them funny
whiskers he wears. She told him out and out he'd just got to lose

"Shocking rudeness!" I exclaimed.

"Oh, sure, sure!" he agreed, yet without indignation. "And the Cap
just hated her for it--you could tell that by the way he looked at
her. Oh, he hates her something terrible. He just can't bear the sight
of her."

"Naturally enough," I observed, though there had been an undercurrent
to his speech that I thought almost quite a little odd. His accents
were queerly placed. Had I not known him too well I should have
thought him trying to be deep. I recalled his other phrases, that Mrs.
Effie was seeing which way a cat would leap, and that the Klondike
person would hand the ladies of the North Side set a lemon squash. I
put them all down as childish prattle and said as much to the Mixer
later in the day as she had a dish of tea at the Grill.

"Yes, Sour-dough's right," she observed. "That Earl just hates the
sight of her--can't bear to look at her a minute." But she, too,
intoned the thing queerly.

"He's putting pressure to bear on her," I said.

"Pressure!" said the Mixer; and then, "Hum!" very dryly.

With this news, however, it was plain as a pillar-box that things were
going badly with his lordship's effort to release the Honourable
George from his entanglement. The woman, doubtless with his
compromising letters, would be holding out for a stiffish price; she
would think them worth no end. And plainly again, his lordship had
thrown off his mask; was unable longer to conceal his aversion for
her. This, to be sure, was more in accordance with his character as I
had long observed it. If he hated her it was like him to show it when
he looked at her. I mean he was quite like that with almost any one. I
hoped, however, that diplomacy might still save us all sorts of a
nasty row.

To my relief when the pair appeared for tea that afternoon--a sight no
longer causing the least sensation--I saw that his lordship must have
returned to his first or diplomatic manner. Doubtless he still hated
her, but one would little have suspected it from his manner of looking
at her. I mean to say, he looked at her another way. The opposite way,
in fact. He was being subtle in the extreme. I fancied it must have
been her wretched levity regarding his beard that had goaded him into
the exhibitions of hatred noted by Cousin Egbert and the Mixer.
Unquestionably his lordship may be goaded in no time if one
deliberately sets about it. At the time, doubtless, he had sliced a
drive or two, as one might say, but now he was back in form.

Again I confess I was not a little sorry for the creature, seeing her
there so smartly taken in by his effusive manner. He was having her on
in the most obvious way and she, poor dupe, taking it all quite
seriously. Prime it was, though, considering the creature's designs;
and I again marvelled that in all the years of my association with his
lordship I had never suspected what a topping sort he could be at this
game. His mask was now perfect. It recalled, indeed, Cousin Egbert's
simple but telling phrase about the Honourable George--"He looks at
her!" It could now have been said of his lordship with the utmost
significance to any but those in the know.

And so began, quite as had the first, the second week of his
lordship's stay among us. Knowing he had booked a return from Cooks, I
fancied that results of some sort must soon ensue. The pressure he was
putting on the woman must begin to tell. And this was the extreme of
the encouragement I was able to offer the Belknap-Jacksons. Both he
and his wife were of course in a bit of a state. Nor could I blame
them. With an Earl for house guest they must be content with but a
glimpse of him at odd moments. Rather a barren honour they were
finding it.

His lordship's conferences with the woman were unabated. When not
secluded with her at her own establishment he would be abroad with her
in her trap or in the car of Belknap-Jackson. The owner, however, no
longer drove his car. He had never taken another chance. And well I
knew these activities of his lordship's were being basely misconstrued
by the gossips.

"The Cap is certainly some queener," remarked Cousin Egbert, which
perhaps reflected the view of the deceived public at this time, the
curious term implying that his lordship was by way of being a bit of a
dog. But calm I remained under these aspersions, counting upon a
clean-cut vindication of his lordship's methods when he should have
got the woman where he wished her.

I remained, I repeat, serenely confident that a signal triumph would
presently crown his lordship's subtly planned attack. And then, at
midweek, I was rudely shocked to the suspicion that all might not be
going well with his plan. I had not seen the pair for a day, and when
they did appear for their tea I instantly detected a profound change
in their mutual bearing. His lordship still looked at the woman, but
the raillery of their past meetings had gone. Too plainly something
momentous had occurred. Even the woman was serious. Had they fought to
the last stand? Would she have been too much for him? I mean to say,
was the Honourable George cooked?

I now recalled that I had observed an almost similar change in the
latter's manner. His face wore a look of wildest gloom that might have
been mitigated perhaps by a proper trimming of his beard, but even
then it would have been remarked by those who knew him well. I
divined, I repeat, that something momentous had now occurred and that
the Honourable George was one not least affected by it.

Rather a sleepless night I passed, wondering fearfully if, after all,
his lordship would have been unable to extricate the poor chap from
this sordid entanglement. Had the creature held out for too much? Had
she refused to compromise? Would there be one of those appalling legal
things which our best families so often suffer? What if the victim
were to cut off home?

Nor was my trepidation allayed by the cryptic remark of Mrs. Judson as
I passed her at her tasks in the pantry that morning:

"A prince in his palace not too good--that's what I said!"

She shot the thing at me with a manner suspiciously near to flippancy.
I sternly demanded her meaning.

"I mean what I mean," she retorted, shutting her lips upon it in a
definite way she has. Well enough I knew the import of her uncivil
speech, but I resolved not to bandy words with her, because in my
position it would be undignified; because, further, of an unfortunate
effect she has upon my temper at such times.

"She's being terrible careful about _her_ associates," she
presently went on, with a most irritating effect of addressing only
herself; "nothing at all but just dukes and earls and lords day in and
day out!" Too often when the woman seems to wish it she contrives to
get me in motion, as the American saying is.

"And it is deeply to be regretted," I replied with dignity, "that
other persons must say less of themselves if put to it."

Well she knew what I meant. Despite my previous clear warning, she had
more than once accepted small gifts from the cattle-persons, Hank and
Buck, and had even been seen brazenly in public with them at a cinema
palace. One of a more suspicious nature than I might have guessed that
she conducted herself thus for the specific purpose of enraging me,
but I am glad to say that no nature could be more free than mine from
vulgar jealousy, and I spoke now from the mere wish that she should
more carefully guard her reputation. As before, she exhibited a
surprising meekness under this rebuke, though I uneasily wondered if
there might not be guile beneath it.

"Can I help it," she asked, "if they like to show me attentions? I
guess I'm a free woman." She lifted her head to observe a glass she
had polished. Her eyes were curiously lighted. She had this way of
embarrassing me. And invariably, moreover, she aroused all that is
evil in my nature against the two cattle-persons, especially the Buck
one, actually on another occasion professing admiration for "his wavy
chestnut hair!" I saw now that I could not trust myself to speak of
the fellow. I took up another matter.

"That baby of yours is too horribly fat," I said suddenly. I had long
meant to put this to her. "It's too fat. It eats too much!"

To my amazement the creature was transformed into a vixen.

"It--it! Too fat! You call my boy 'it' and say he's too fat! Don't you
dare! What does a creature like you know of babies? Why, you wouldn't
even know----"

But the thing was too painful. Let her angry words be forgotten.
Suffice to say, she permitted herself to cry out things that might
have given grave offence to one less certain of himself than I. Rather
chilled I admit I was by her frenzied outburst. I was shrewd enough to
see instantly that anything in the nature of a criticism of her
offspring must be led up to, rather; perhaps couched in less direct
phrases than I had chosen. Fearful I was that she would burst into
another torrent of rage, but to my amazement she all at once smiled.

"What a fool I am!" she exclaimed. "Kidding me, were you? Trying to
make me mad about the baby. Well, I'll give you good. You did it. Yes,
sir, I never would have thought you had a kidding streak in you--old

"Little you know me," I retorted, and quickly withdrew, for I was then
more embarrassed than ever, and, besides, there were other and graver
matters forward to depress and occupy me.

In my fitful sleep of the night before I had dreamed vividly that I
saw the Honourable George being dragged shackled to the altar. I trust
I am not superstitious, but the vision had remained with me in all its
tormenting detail. A veiled woman had grimly awaited him as he
struggled with his uniformed captors. I mean to say, he was being
hustled along by two constables.

That day, let me now put down, was to be a day of the most fearful
shocks that a man of rather sensitive nervous organism has ever been
called upon to endure. There are now lines in my face that I make no
doubt showed then for the first time.

And it was a day that dragged interminably, so that I became fair off
my head with the suspense of it, feeling that at any moment the worst
might happen. For hours I saw no one with whom I could consult. Once I
was almost moved to call up Belknap-Jackson, so intolerable was the
menacing uncertainty; but this I knew bordered on hysteria, and I
restrained the impulse with an iron will.

But I wretchedly longed for a sight of Cousin Egbert or the Mixer, or
even of the Honourable George; some one to assure me that my horrid
dream of the night before had been a baseless fabric, as the saying
is. The very absence of these people and of his lordship was in itself

Nervously I kept to a post at one of my windows where I could survey
the street. And here at mid-day I sustained my first shock. Terrific
it was. His lordship had emerged from the chemist's across the street.
He paused a moment, as if to recall his next mission, then walked
briskly off. And this is what I had been stupefied to note: he was
clean shaven! The Brinstead side-whiskers were gone! Whiskers that had
been worn in precisely that fashion by a tremendous line of the Earls
of Brinstead! And the tenth of his line had abandoned them. As well, I
thought, could he have defaced the Brinstead arms.

It was plain as a pillar-box, indeed. The woman had our family at her
mercy, and she would show no mercy. My heart sank as I pictured the
Honourable George in her toils. My dream had been prophetic. Then I
reflected that this very circumstance of his lordship's having
pandered to her lawless whim about his beard would go to show he had
not yet given up the fight. If the thing were hopeless I knew he would
have seen her--dashed--before he would have relinquished it. There
plainly was still hope for poor George. Indeed his lordship might well
have planned some splendid coup; this defacement would be a part of
his strategy, suffered in anguish for his ultimate triumph. Quite
cheered I became at the thought. I still scanned the street crowd for
some one who could acquaint me with developments I must have missed.

But then a moment later came the call by telephone of Belknap-Jackson.
I answered it, though with little hope than to hear more of his
unending complaints about his lordship's negligence. Startled
instantly I was, however, for his voice was stranger than I had known
it even in moments of his acutest distress. Hoarse it was, and his
words alarming but hardly intelligible.

"Heard?--My God!--Heard?--My God!--Marriage! Marriage! God!" But here
he broke off into the most appalling laughter--the blood-curdling
laughter of a chained patient in a mad-house. Hardly could I endure it
and grateful I was when I heard the line close. Even when he attempted
vocables he had sounded quite like an inferior record on a
phonographic machine. But I had heard enough to leave me aghast.
Beyond doubt now the very worst had come upon our family. His
lordship's tremendous sacrifice would have been all in vain. Marriage!
The Honourable George was done for. Better had it been the
typing-girl, I bitterly reflected. Her father had at least been a

Thankful enough I now was for the luncheon-hour rush: I could distract
myself from the appalling disaster. That day I took rather more than
my accustomed charge of the serving. I chatted with our business
chaps, recommending the joint in the highest terms; drawing corks;
seeing that the relish was abundantly stocked at every table. I was
striving to forget.

Mrs. Judson alone persisted in reminding me of the impending scandal.
"A prince in his palace," she would maliciously murmur as I
encountered her. I think she must have observed that I was bitter, for
she at last spoke quite amiably of our morning's dust-up.

"You certainly got my goat," she said in the quaint American fashion,
"telling me little No-no was too fat. You had me going there for a
minute, thinking you meant it!"

The creature's name was Albert, yet she persisted in calling it
"No-no," because the child itself would thus falsely declare its name
upon being questioned, having in some strange manner gained this
impression. It was another matter I meant to bring to her attention,
but at this crisis I had no heart for it.

My crowd left. I was again alone to muse bitterly upon our plight.
Still I scanned the street, hoping for a sight of Cousin Egbert, who,
I fancied, would be informed as to the wretched details. Instead, now,
I saw the Honourable George. He walked on the opposite side of the
thoroughfare, his manner of dejection precisely what I should have
expected. Followed closely as usual he was by the Judson cur. A spirit
of desperate mockery seized me. I called to Mrs. Judson, who was
gathering glasses from a table. I indicated the pair.

"Mr. Barker," I said, "is dogging his footsteps." I mean to say, I
uttered the words in the most solemn manner. Little the woman knew
that one may often be moved in the most distressing moments to a jest
of this sort. She laughed heartily, being of quick discernment. And
thus jauntily did I carry my knowledge of the lowering cloud. But I
permitted myself no further sallies of that sort. I stayed expectantly
by the window, and I dare say my bearing would have deceived the most
alert. I was steadily calm. The situation called precisely for that.

The hours sped darkly and my fears mounted. In sheer desperation, at
length, I had myself put through to Belknap-Jackson. To my
astonishment he seemed quite revived, though in a state of feverish
gayety. He fair bubbled.

"Just leaving this moment with his lordship to gather up some friends.
We meet at your place. Yes, yes--all the uncertainty is past. Better
set up that largest table--rather a celebration."

Almost more confusing it was than his former message, which had been
confined to calls upon his Maker and to maniac laughter. Was he, I
wondered, merely making the best of it? Had he resolved to be a dead
sportsman? A few moments later he discharged his lordship at my door
and drove rapidly on. (Only a question of time it is when he will be
had heavily for damages due to his reckless driving.)

His lordship bustled in with a cheerfulness that staggered me. He,
too, was gay; almost debonair. A gardenia was in his lapel. He was
vogue to the last detail in a form-fitting gray morning-suit that had
all the style essentials. Almost it seemed as if three valets had been
needed to groom him. He briskly rubbed his hands.

"Biggest table--people. Tea, that sort of thing. Have a go of
champagne, too, what, what! Beard off, much younger appearing? Of
course, course! Trust women, those matters. Tea cake, toast, crumpets,
marmalade--things like that. Plenty champagne! Not happen every day!
Ha! ha!"

To my acute distress he here thumbed me in the ribs and laughed again.
Was he, too, I wondered, madly resolved to be a dead sportsman in the
face of the unavoidable? I sought to edge in a discreet word of
condolence, for I knew that between us there need be no pretence.

"I know you did your best, sir," I observed. "And I was never quite
free of a fear that the woman would prove too many for us. I trust the
Honourable George----"

But I had said as much as he would let me. He interrupted me with his
thumb again, and on his face was what in a lesser person I should
unhesitatingly have called a leer.

"You dog, you! Woman prove too many for us, what, what! Dare say you
knew what to expect. Silly old George! Though how she could ever have
fancied the juggins----"

I was about to remark that the creature had of course played her game
from entirely sordid motives and I should doubtless have ventured to
applaud the game spirit in which he was taking the blow. But before I
could shape my phrases on this delicate ground Mrs. Effie, the
Senator, and Cousin Egbert arrived. They somewhat formally had the air
of being expected. All of them rushed upon his lordship with an
excessive manner. Apparently they were all to be dead sportsmen
together. And then Mrs. Effie called me aside.

"You can do me a favour," she began. "About the wedding breakfast and
reception. Dear Kate's place is so small. It wouldn't do. There will
be a crush, of course. I've had the loveliest idea for it--our own
house. You know how delighted we'd be. The Earl has been so charming
and everything has turned out so splendidly. Oh, I'd love to do them
this little parting kindness. Use your influence like a good fellow,
won't you, when the thing is suggested?"

"Only too gladly," I responded, sick at heart, and she returned to the
group. Well I knew her motive. She was by way of getting even with the
Belknap-Jacksons. As Cousin Egbert in his American fashion would put
it, she was trying to pass them a bison. But I was willing enough she
should house the dreadful affair. The more private the better, thought

A moment later Belknap-Jackson's car appeared at my door, now
discharging the Klondike woman, effusively escorted by the Mixer and
by Mrs. Belknap-Jackson. The latter at least, I had thought, would
show more principle. But she had buckled atrociously, quite as had her
husband, who had quickly, almost merrily, followed them. There was
increased gayety as they seated themselves about the large table, a
silly noise of pretended felicitation over a calamity that not even
the tenth Earl of Brinstead had been able to avert. And then
Belknap-Jackson beckoned me aside.

"I want your help, old chap, in case it's needed," he began.

"The wedding breakfast and reception?" I said quite cynically.

"You've thought of it? Good! Her own place is far too small. Crowd, of
course. And it's rather proper at our place, too, his lordship having
been our house guest. You see? Use what influence you have. The affair
will be rather widely commented on--even the New York papers, I dare

"Count upon me," I answered blandly, even as I had promised Mrs.
Effie. Disgusted I was. Let them maul each other about over the
wretched "honour." They could all be dead sports if they chose, but I
was now firmly resolved that for myself I should make not a bit of
pretence. The creature might trick poor George into a marriage, but I
for one would not affect to regard it as other than a blight upon our
house. I was just on the point of hoping that the victim himself might
have cut off to unknown parts when I saw him enter. By the other
members of the party he was hailed with cries of delight, though his
own air was finely honest, being dejected in the extreme. He was
dressed as regrettably as usual, this time in parts of two

As he joined those at the table I constrained myself to serve the
champagne. Senator Floud arose with a brimming glass.

"My friends," he began in his public-speaking manner, "let us remember
that Red Gap's loss is England's gain--to the future Countess of

To my astonishment this appalling breach of good taste was received
with the loudest applause, nor was his lordship the least clamorous of
them. I mean to say, the chap had as good as wished that his lordship
would directly pop off. It was beyond me. I walked to the farthest
window and stood a long time gazing pensively out; I wished to be away
from that false show. But they noticed my absence at length and called
to me. Monstrously I was desired to drink to the happiness of the
groom. I thought they were pressing me too far, but as they quite
gabbled now with their tea and things, I hoped to pass it off. The
Senator, however, seemed to fasten me with his eye as he proposed the
toast--"To the happy man!"

I drank perforce.

"A body would think Bill was drinking to the Judge," remarked Cousin
Egbert in a high voice.

"Eh?" I said, startled to this outburst by his strange words.

"Good old George!" exclaimed his lordship. "Owe it all to the old
juggins, what, what!"

The Klondike person spoke. I heard her voice as a bell pealing through
breakers at sea. I mean to say, I was now fair dazed.

"Not to old George," said she. "To old Ruggles!"

"To old Ruggles!" promptly cried the Senator, and they drank.

Muddled indeed I was. Again in my eventful career I felt myself
tremble; I knew not what I should say, any _savoir faire_ being
quite gone. I had received a crumpler of some sort--but what

My sleeve was touched. I turned blindly, as in a nightmare. The Hobbs
cub who was my vestiare was handing me our evening paper. I took it
from him, staring--staring until my knees grew weak. Across the page
in clarion type rang the unbelievable words:


    His Lordship Tenth Earl of Brinstead to Wed One of Red Gap's
    Fairest Daughters

My hands so shook that in quick subterfuge I dropped the sheet, then
stooped for it, trusting to control myself before I again raised my
face. Mercifully the others were diverted by the journal. It was
seized from me, passed from hand to hand, the incredible words read
aloud by each in turn. They jested of it!

"Amazing chaps, your pressmen!" Thus the tenth Earl of Brinstead,
while I pinched myself viciously to bring back my lost aplomb. "Speedy
beggars, what, what! Never knew it myself till last night. She would
and she wouldn't."

"I think you knew," said the lady. Stricken as I was I noted that she
eyed him rather strangely, quite as if she felt some decent respect
for him.

"Marriage is serious," boomed the Mixer.

"Don't blame her, don't blame her--swear I don't!" returned his
lordship. "Few days to think it over--quite right, quite right. Got to
know their own minds, my word!"

While their attention was thus mercifully diverted from me, my own
world by painful degrees resumed its stability. I mean to say, I am
not the fainting sort, but if I were, then I should have keeled over
at my first sight of that journal. But now I merely recovered my glass
of champagne and drained it. Rather pigged it a bit, I fancy. Badly
needing a stimulant I was, to be sure.

They now discussed details: the ceremony--that sort of thing.

"Before a registrar, quickest way," said his lordship.

"Nonsense! Church, of course!" rumbled the Mixer very arbitrarily.

"Quite so, then," assented his lordship. "Get me the rector of the
parish--a vicar, a curate, something of that sort."

"Then the breakfast and reception," suggested Mrs. Effie with a
meaning glance at me before she turned to the lady. "Of course,
dearest, your own tiny nest would never hold your host of friends----"

"I've never noticed," said the other quickly. "It's always seemed big
enough," she added in pensive tones and with downcast eyes.

"Oh, not large enough by half," put in Belknap-Jackson, "Most charming
little home-nook but worlds too small for all your well-wishers." With
a glance at me he narrowed his eyes in friendly calculation. "I'm
somewhat puzzled myself--Suppose we see what the capable Ruggles has
to suggest."

"Let Ruggles suggest something by all means!" cried Mrs. Effie.

I mean to say, they both quite thought they knew what I would suggest,
but it was nothing of the sort. The situation had entirely changed.
Quite another sort of thing it was. Quickly I resolved to fling them
both aside. I, too, would be a dead sportsman.

"I was about to suggest," I remarked, "that my place here is the only
one at all suitable for the breakfast and reception. I can promise
that the affair will go off smartly."

The two had looked up with such radiant expectation at my opening
words and were so plainly in a state at my conclusion that I dare say
the future Countess of Brinstead at once knew what. She flashed them a
look, then eyed me with quick understanding.

"Great!" she exclaimed in a hearty American manner. "Then that's
settled," she continued briskly, as both Belknap-Jackson and Mrs.
Effie would have interposed "Ruggles shall do everything: take it off
our shoulders--ices, flowers, invitations."

"The invitation list will need great care, of course," remarked
Belknap-Jackson with a quite savage glance at me.

"But you just called him 'the capable Ruggles,'" insisted the fiancée.
"We shall leave it all to him. How many will you ask, Ruggles?" Her
eyes flicked from mine to Belknap-Jackson.

"Quite almost every one," I answered firmly.

"Fine!" she said.

"Ripping!" said his lordship.

"His lordship will of course wish a best man," suggested
Belknap-Jackson. "I should be only too glad----"

"You're going to suggest Ruggles again!" cried the lady. "Just the man
for it! You're quite right. Why, we owe it all to Ruggles, don't we?"

She here beamed upon his lordship. Belknap-Jackson wore an expression
of the keenest disrelish.

"Of course, course!" replied his lordship. "Dashed good man, Ruggles!
Owe it all to him, what, what!"

I fancy in the cordial excitement of the moment he was quite sincere.
As to her ladyship, I am to this day unable to still a faint suspicion
that she was having me on. True, she owed it all to me. But I hadn't a
bit meant it and well she knew it. Subtle she was, I dare say, but
bore me no malice, though she was not above setting Belknap-Jackson
back a pace or two each time he moved up.

A final toast was drunk and my guests drifted out. Belknap-Jackson
again glared savagely at me as he went, but Mrs. Effie rather
outglared him. Even I should hardly have cared to face her at that

And I was still in a high state of muddle. It was all beyond me. Had
his lordship, I wondered, too seriously taken my careless words about
American equality? Of course I had meant them to apply only to those
stopping on in the States.

Cousin Egbert lingered to the last, rather with a troubled air of
wishing to consult me. When I at length came up with him he held the
journal before me, indicating lines in the article--"relict of an
Alaskan capitalist, now for some years one of Red Gap's social

"Read that there," he commanded grimly. Then with a terrific
earnestness I had never before remarked in him: "Say, listen here! I
better go round right off and mix it up with that fresh guy. What's he
hinting around at by that there word 'relict'? Why, say, she was
married to him----"

I hastily corrected his preposterous interpretation of the word, much
to his relief.

I was still in my precious state of muddle. Mrs. Judson took occasion
to flounce by me in her work of clearing the table.

"A prince in his palace," she taunted. I laughed in a lofty manner.

"Why, you poor thing, I've known it all for some days," I said.

"Well, I must say you're the deep one if you did--never letting on!"

She was unable to repress a glance of admiration at me as she moved

I stood where she had left me, meditating profoundly.


Two days later at high noon was solemnized the marriage of his
lordship to the woman who, without a bit meaning it, I had so
curiously caused to enter his life. The day was for myself so crowded
with emotions that it returns in rather a jumble: patches of
incidents, little floating clouds of memory; some meaningless and one
at least to be significant to my last day.

The ceremony was had in our most nearly smart church. It was only a
Methodist church, but I took pains to assure myself that a ceremony
performed by its curate would be legal. I still seem to hear the
organ, strains of "The Voice That Breathed Through Eden," as we neared
the altar; also the Mixer's rumbling whisper about a lost handkerchief
which she apparently found herself needing at that moment.

The responses of bride and groom were unhesitating, even firm. Her
ladyship, I thought, had never appeared to better advantage than in
the pearl-tinted lustreless going-away gown she had chosen. As always,
she had finely known what to put on her head.

Senator Floud, despite Belknap-Jackson's suggestion of himself for the
office, had been selected to give away the bride, as the saying is. He
performed his function with dignity, though I recall being seized with
horror when the moment came; almost certain I am he restrained himself
with difficulty from making a sort of a speech.

The church was thronged. I had seen to that. I had told her ladyship
that I should ask quite almost every one, and this I had done,
squarely in the face of Belknap-Jackson's pleading that discretion be
used. For a great white light, as one might say, had now suffused me.
I had seen that the moment was come when the warring factions of Red
Gap should be reunited. A Bismarck I felt myself, indeed. That I acted
ably was later to be seen.

Even for the wedding breakfast, which occurred directly after the
ceremony, I had shown myself a dictator in the matter of guests.
Covers were laid in my room for seventy and among these were included
not only the members of the North Side set and the entire Bohemian
set, but many worthy persons not hitherto socially existent yet who
had been friends or well-wishers of the bride.

I am persuaded to confess that in a few of these instances I was not
above a snarky little wish to correct the social horizon of
Belknap-Jackson; to make it more broadly accord, as I may say, with
the spirit of American equality for which their forefathers bled and
died on the battlefields of Boston, New York, and Vicksburg.

Not the least of my reward, then, was to see his eyebrows more than
once eloquently raise, as when the cattle-persons, Hank and Buck,
appeared in suits of decent black, or when the driver chap Pierce
entered with his quite obscure mother on his arm, or a few other
cattle and horse persons with whom the Honourable George had palled up
during his process of going in for America.

This laxity I felt that the Earl of Brinstead and his bride could
amply afford, while for myself I had soundly determined that Red Gap
should henceforth be without "sets." I mean to say, having frankly
taken up America, I was at last resolved to do it whole-heartedly. If
I could not take up the whole of it, I would not take up a part. Quite
instinctively I had chosen the slogan of our Chamber of Commerce:
"Don't Knock--Boost; and Boost Altogether." Rudely worded though it
is, I had seen it to be sound in spirit.

These thoughts ran in my mind during the smart repast that now
followed. Insidiously I wrought among the guests to amalgamate into
one friendly whole certain elements that had hitherto been hostile.
The Bohemian set was not segregated. Almost my first inspiration had
been to scatter its members widely among the conservative pillars of
the North Side set. Left in one group, I had known they would plume
themselves quite intolerably over the signal triumph of their leader;
perhaps, in the American speech, "start something." Widely scattered,
they became mere parts of the whole I was seeking to achieve.

The banquet progressed gayly to its finish. Toasts were drunk no end,
all of them proposed by Senator Floud who, toward the last, kept
almost constantly on his feet. From the bride and groom he expanded
geographically through Red Gap, the Kulanche Valley, the State of
Washington, and the United States to the British Empire, not omitting
the Honourable George--who, I noticed, called for the relish and
consumed quite almost an entire bottle during the meal. Also I was
proposed--"through whose lifelong friendship for the illustrious groom
this meeting of hearts and hands has been so happily brought about."

Her ladyship's eyes rested briefly upon mine as her lips touched the
glass to this. They conveyed the unspeakable. Rather a fool I felt,
and unable to look away until she released me. She had been wondrously
quiet through it all. Not dazed in the least, as might have been
looked for in one of her lowly station thus prodigiously elevated; and
not feverishly gay, as might also have been anticipated. Simple and
quiet she was, showing a complete but perfectly controlled awareness
of her position.

For the first time then, I think, I did envision her as the Countess
of Brinstead. She was going to carry it off. Perhaps quite as well as
even I could have wished his lordship's chosen mate to do. I observed
her look at his lordship with those strange lights in her eyes, as if
only half realizing yet wholly believing all that he believed. And
once at the height of the gayety I saw her reach out to touch his
sleeve, furtively, swiftly, and so gently he never knew.

It occurred to me there were things about the woman we had taken too
little trouble to know. I wondered what old memories might be coming
to her now; what staring faces might obtrude, what old, far-off,
perhaps hated, voices might be sounding to her; what of remembered
hurts and heartaches might newly echo back to make her flinch and
wonder if she dreamed. She touched the sleeve again, as it might have
been in protection from them, her eyes narrowed, her gaze fixed. It
queerly occurred to me that his lordship might find her as difficult
to know as we had--and yet would keep always trying more than we had,
to be sure. I mean to say, she was no gabbler.

The responses to the Senator's toasts increased in volume. His final
flight, I recall, involved terms like "our blood-cousins of the
British Isles," and introduced a figure of speech about "hands across
the sea," which I thought striking, indeed. The applause aroused by
this was noisy in the extreme, a number of the cattle and horse
persons, including the redskin Tuttle, emitting a shrill, concerted
"yipping" which, though it would never have done with us, seemed
somehow not out of place in North America, although I observed
Belknap-Jackson to make gestures of extreme repugnance while it

There ensued a rather flurried wishing of happiness to the pair. A
novel sight it was, the most austere matrons of the North Side set
vying for places in the line that led past them. I found myself trying
to analyze the inner emotions of some of them I best knew as they
fondly greeted the now radiant Countess of Brinstead. But that way
madness lay, as Shakespeare has so aptly said of another matter. I
recalled, though, the low-toned comment of Cousin Egbert, who stood
near me.

"Don't them dames stand the gaff noble!" It was quite true. They were
heroic. I recalled then his other quaint prophecy that her ladyship
would hand them a bottle of lemonade. As is curiously usual with this
simple soul, he had gone to the heart of the matter.

The throng dwindled to the more intimate friends. Among those who
lingered were the Belknap-Jacksons and Mrs. Effie. Quite solicitous
they were for the "dear Countess," as they rather defiantly called her
to one another. Belknap-Jackson casually mentioned in my hearing that
he had been asked to Chaynes-Wotten for the shooting. Mrs. Effie, who
also heard, swiftly remarked that she would doubtless run over in the
spring--the dear Earl was so insistent. They rather glared at each
other. But in truth his lordship had insisted that quite almost every
one should come and stop on with him.

"Of course, course, what, what! Jolly party, no end of fun. Week-end,
that sort of thing. Know she'll like her old friends best. Wouldn't be
keen for the creature if she'd not. Have 'em all, have 'em all.
Capital, by Jove!"

To be sure it was a manner of speaking, born of the expansive good
feeling of the moment. Yet I believe Cousin Egbert was the only
invited one to decline. He did so with evident distress at having to

"I like your little woman a whole lot," he observed to his lordship,
"but Europe is too kind of uncomfortable for me; keeps me upset all
the time, what with all the foreigners and one thing and another. But,
listen here, Cap! You pack the little woman back once in a while. Just
to give us a flash at her. We'll give you both a good time."

"What ho!" returned his lordship. "Of course, course! Fancy we'd like
it vastly, what, what!"

"Yes, sir, I fancy you would, too," and rather startlingly Cousin
Egbert seized her ladyship and kissed her heartily. Whereupon her
ladyship kissed the fellow in return.

"Yes, sir, I dare say I fancy you would," he called back a bit
nervously as he left.

Belknap-Jackson drove the party to the station, feeling, I am sure,
that he scored over Mrs. Effie, though he was obliged to include the
Mixer, from whom her ladyship bluntly refused to be separated. I
inferred that she must have found the time and seclusion in which to
weep a bit on the Mixer's shoulder. The waist of the latter's purple
satin gown was quite spotty at the height of her ladyship's eyes.

Belknap-Jackson on this occasion drove his car with the greatest
solicitude, proceeding more slowly than I had ever known him do. As I
attended to certain luggage details at the station he was regretting
to his lordship that they had not had a longer time at the country
club the day it was exhibited.

"Look a bit after silly old George," said his lordship to me at
parting. "Chap's dotty, I dare say. Talking about a plantation of
apple trees now. For his old age--that sort of thing. Be something new
in a fortnight, though. Like him, of course, course!"

Her ladyship closed upon my hand with a remarkable vigour of grip.

"We owe it all to you," she said, again with dancing eyes. Then her
eyes steadied queerly. "Maybe you won't be sorry."

"Know I shan't." I fancy I rather growled it, stupidly feeling I was
not rising to the occasion. "Knew his lordship wouldn't rest till he
had you where he wanted you. Glad he's got you." And curiously I felt
a bit of a glad little squeeze in my throat for her. I groped for
something light--something American.

"You are some Countess," I at last added in a silly way.

"What, what!" said his lordship, but I had caught her eyes. They
brimmed with understanding.

With the going of that train all life seemed to go. I mean to say,
things all at once became flat. I turned to the dull station.

"Give you a lift, old chap," said Belknap-Jackson. Again he was
cordial. So firmly had I kept the reins of the whole affair in my
grasp, such prestige he knew it would give me, he dared not broach his

Some half-remembered American phrase of Cousin Egbert's ran in my
mind. I had put a buffalo on him!

"Thank you," I said, "I'm needing a bit of a stretch and a

I wished to walk that I might the better meditate. With
Belknap-Jackson one does not sufficiently meditate.

A block up from the station I was struck by the sight of the
Honourable George. Plodding solitary down that low street he was,
heeled as usual by the Judson cur. He came to the Spilmer public house
and for a moment stared up, quite still, at the "Last Chance" on its
chaffing signboard. Then he wheeled abruptly and entered. I was moved
to follow him, but I knew it would never do. He would row me about the
service of the Grill--something of that sort. I dare say he had
fancied her ladyship as keenly as one of his volatile nature might.
But I knew him!

Back on our street the festival atmosphere still lingered. Groups of
recent guests paused to discuss the astounding event. The afternoon
paper was being scanned by many of them. An account of the wedding was
its "feature," as they say. I had no heart for that, but on the second
page my eye caught a minor item:

    "A special meeting of the Ladies Onwards and Upwards Club is
    called for to-morrow afternoon at two sharp at the residence
    of Mrs. Dr. Percy Hailey Martingale, for the transaction of
    important business."

One could fancy, I thought, what the meeting would discuss. Nor was I
wrong, for I may here state that the evening paper of the following
day disclosed that her ladyship the Countess of Brinstead had
unanimously been elected to a life honorary membership in the club.

Back in the Grill I found the work of clearing the tables well
advanced, and very soon its before-dinner aspect of calm waiting was
restored. Surveying it I reflected that one might well wonder if aught
momentous had indeed so lately occurred here. A motley day it had

I passed into the linen and glass pantry.

Mrs. Judson, polishing my glassware, burst into tears at my approach,
frankly stanching them with her towel. I saw it to be a mere overflow
of the meaningless emotion that women stock so abundantly on the
occasion of a wedding. She is an almost intensely feminine person, as
can be seen at once by any one who understands women. In a goods box
in the passage beyond I noted her nipper fast asleep, a mammoth
beef-rib clasped to its fat chest. I debated putting this abuse to her
once more but feared the moment was not propitious. She dried her eyes
and smiled again.

"A prince in his palace," she murmured inanely. "She thought first he
was going to be as funny as the other one; then she found he wasn't. I
liked him, too. I didn't blame her a bit. He's one of that kind--his
bark's worse than his bite. And to think you knew all the time what
was coming off. My, but you're the Mr. Deep-one!"

I saw no reason to stultify myself by denying this. I mean to say, if
she thought it, let her!

"The last thing yesterday she gave me this dress."

I had already noted the very becoming dull blue house gown she wore.
Quite with an air she carried it. To be sure, it was not suitable to
her duties. The excitements of the day, I suppose, had rendered me a
bit sterner than is my wont. Perhaps a little authoritative.

"A handsome gown," I replied icily, "but one would hardly choose it
for the work you are performing."

"Rubbish!" she retorted plainly. "I wanted to look nice--I had to go
in there lots of times. And I wanted to be dressed for to-night."

"Why to-night, may I ask?" I was all at once uncomfortably curious.

"Why, the boys are coming for me. They're going to take No-no home,
then we're all going to the movies. They've got a new bill at the
Bijou, and Buck Edwards especially wants me to see it. One of the
cowboys in it that does some star riding looks just like Buck--wavy
chestnut hair. Buck himself is one of the best riders in the whole

The woman seemed to have some fiendish power to enrage me. As she
prattled thus, her eyes demurely on the glass she dried, I felt a deep
flush mantle my brow. She could never have dreamed that she had this
malign power, but she was now at least to suspect it.

"Your Mr. Edwards," I began calmly enough, "may be like the cinema
actor: the two may be as like each other as makes no difference--but
you are not going." I was aware that the latter phrase was heated
where I had merely meant it to be impressive. Dignified firmness had
been the line I intended, but my rage was mounting. She stared at me.
Astonished beyond words she was, if I can read human expressions.

"I am!" she snapped at last.

"You are not!" I repeated, stepping a bit toward her. I was conscious
of a bit of the rowdy in my manner, but I seemed powerless to prevent
it. All my culture was again but the flimsiest veneer.

"I am, too!" she again said, though plainly dismayed.

"No!" I quite thundered it, I dare say. "No, no! No, no!"

The nipper cried out from his box. Not until later did it occur to me
that he had considered himself to be addressed in angry tones.

"No, no!" I thundered again. I couldn't help myself, though silly rot
I call it now. And then to my horror the mother herself began to weep.

"I will!" she sobbed. "I will! I will! I will!"

"No, no!" I insisted, and I found myself seizing her shoulders, not
knowing if I mightn't shake her smartly, so drawn-out had the woman
got me; and still I kept shouting my senseless "No, no!" at which the
nipper was now yelling.

She struggled her best as I clutched her, but I seemed to have the
strength of a dozen men; the woman was nothing in my grasp, and my
arms were taking their blind rage out on her.

Secure I held her, and presently she no longer struggled, and I was
curiously no longer angry, but found myself soothing her in many
strange ways. I mean to say, the passage between us had fallen to be
of the very shockingly most sentimental character.

"You are so masterful!" she panted.

"I'll have my own way," I threatened; "I've told you often enough."

"Oh, you're so domineering!" she murmured. I dare say I am a bit that

"I'll show you who's to be master!"

"But I never dreamed you meant this," she answered. True, I had most
brutally taken her by surprise. I could easily see how, expecting
nothing of the faintest sort, she had been rudely shocked.

"I meant it all along," I said firmly, "from the very first moment."
And now again she spoke in almost awed tones of my "deepness." I have
never believed in that excessive intuition which is so widely boasted
for woman.

"I never dreamed of it," she said again, and added: "Mrs. Kenner and I
were talking about this dress only last night and I said--I never,
never dreamed of such a thing!" She broke off with sudden
inconsequence, as women will.

We had now to quiet the nipper in his box. I saw even then that,
domineering though I may be, I should probably never care to bring the
child's condition to her notice again. There was something about
her--something volcanic in her femininity. I knew it would never do.
Better let the thing continue to be a monstrosity! I might, unnoticed,
of course, snatch a bun from its grasp now and then.

Our evening rush came and went quite as if nothing had happened. I may
have been rather absent, reflecting pensively. I mean to say, I had at
times considered this alliance as a dawning possibility, but never had
I meant to be sudden. Only for the woman's remarkably stubborn
obtuseness I dare say the understanding might have been deferred to a
more suitable moment and arranged in a calm and orderly manner. But
the die was cast. Like his lordship, I had chosen an American
bride--taken her by storm and carried her off her feet before she knew
it. We English are often that way.

At ten o'clock we closed the Grill upon a day that had been historic
in the truest sense of the word. I shouldered the sleeping nipper. He
still passionately clutched the beef-rib and for some reason I felt
averse to depriving him of it, even though it would mean a spotty

Strangely enough, we talked but little in our walk. It seemed rather
too tremendous to talk of.

When I gave the child into her arms at the door it had become half

"Ruggums!" it muttered sleepily.

"Ruggums!" echoed the mother, and again, very softly in the still
night: "Ruggums--Ruggums!"

       *       *       *       *       *

That in the few months since that rather agreeable night I have
acquired the title of Red Gap's social dictator cannot be denied. More
than one person of discernment may now be heard to speak of my
"reign," though this, of course, is coming it a bit thick.

The removal by his lordship of one who, despite her sterling
qualities, had been a source of discord, left the social elements of
the town in a state of the wildest disorganization. And having for
myself acquired a remarkable prestige from my intimate association
with the affair, I promptly seized the reins and drew the scattered
forces together.

First, at an early day I sought an interview with Belknap-Jackson and
Mrs. Effie and told them straight precisely why I had played them both
false in the matter of the wedding breakfast. With the honour granted
to either of them, I explained, I had foreseen another era of cliques,
divisions, and acrimony. Therefore I had done the thing myself, as a
measure of peace.

Flatly then I declared my intention of reconciling all those formerly
opposed elements and of creating a society in Red Gap that would be a
social union in the finest sense of the word. I said that contact with
their curious American life had taught me that their equality should
be more than a name, and that, especially in the younger settlements,
a certain relaxation from the rigid requirements of an older order is
not only unavoidable but vastly to be desired. I meant to say, if we
were going to be Americans it was silly rot trying to be English at
the same time.

I pointed out that their former social leaders had ever been inspired
by the idea of exclusion; the soul of their leadership had been to
cast others out; and that the campaign I planned was to be one of
inclusion--even to the extent of Bohemians and well-behaved
cattle-persons---which I believed to be in the finest harmony with
their North American theory of human association. It might be thought
a naïve theory, I said, but so long as they had chosen it I should
staunchly abide by it.

I added what I dare say they did not believe: that the position of
leader was not one I should cherish for any other reason than the
public good. That when one better fitted might appear they would find
me the first to rejoice.

I need not say that I was interrupted frequently and acridly during
this harangue, but I had given them both a buffalo and well they knew
it. And I worked swiftly from that moment. I gave the following week
the first of a series of subscription balls in the dancing hall above
the Grill, and both Mrs. Belknap-Jackson and Mrs. Effie early enrolled
themselves as patronesses, even after I had made it plain that I alone
should name the guests.

The success of the affair was all I could have wished. Red Gap had
become a social unit. Nor was appreciation for my leadership wanting.
There will be malcontents, I foresee, and from the informed inner
circles I learn that I have already been slightingly spoken of as a
foreigner wielding a sceptre over native-born Americans, but I have
the support of quite all who really matter, and I am confident these
rebellions may be put down by tact alone. It is too well understood by
those who know me that I have Equality for my watchword.

I mean to say, at the next ball of the series I may even see that the
fellow Hobbs has a card if I can become assured that he has quite
freed himself from certain debasing class-ideals of his native
country. This to be sure is an extreme case, because the fellow is
that type of our serving class to whom equality is unthinkable. They
must, from their centuries of servility, look either up or down; and I
scarce know in which attitude they are more offensive to our American
point of view. Still I mean to be broad. Even Hobbs shall have his
chance with us!

       *       *       *       *       *

It is late June. Mrs. Ruggles and I are comfortably installed in her
enlarged and repaired house. We have a fowl-run on a stretch of her
free-hold, and the kitchen-garden thrives under the care of the
Japanese agricultural labourer I have employed.

Already I have discharged more than half my debt to Cousin Egbert, who
exclaims, "Oh, shucks!" each time I make him a payment. He and the
Honourable George remain pally no end and spend much of their abundant
leisure at Cousin Egbert's modest country house. At times when they
are in town they rather consort with street persons, but such is the
breadth of our social scheme that I shall never exclude them from our
gayeties, though it is true that more often than not they decline to
be present.

Mrs. Ruggles, I may say, is a lady of quite amazing capacities
combined strangely with the commonest feminine weaknesses. She has
acute business judgment at most times, yet would fly at me in a rage
if I were to say what I think of the nipper's appalling grossness.
Quite naturally I do not push my unquestioned mastery to this extreme.
There are other matters in which I amusedly let her have her way,
though she fondly reminds me almost daily of my brutal self-will.

On one point I have just been obliged to assert this. She came running
to me with a suggestion for economizing in the manufacture of the
relish. She had devised a cheaper formula. But I was firm.

"So long as the inventor's face is on that flask," I said, "its
contents shall not be debased a tuppence. My name and face will
guarantee its purity."

She gave in nicely, merely declaring that I needn't growl like one of
their bears with a painful foot.

At my carefully mild suggestion she has just brought the nipper in
from where he was cattying the young fowls, much to their detriment.
But she is now heaping compote upon a slice of thickly buttered bread
for him, glancing meanwhile at our evening newspaper.

"Ruggums always has his awful own way, doesn't ums?" she remarks to
the nipper.

Deeply ignoring this, I resume my elocutionary studies of the
Declaration of Independence. For I should say that a signal honour of
a municipal character has just been done me. A committee of the
Chamber of Commerce has invited me to participate in their exercises
on an early day in July--the fourth, I fancy--when they celebrate the
issuance of this famous document. I have been asked to read it,
preceding a patriotic address to be made by Senator Floud.

I accepted with the utmost pleasure, and now on my vine-sheltered
porch have begun trying it out for the proper voice effects. Its
substance, I need not say, is already familiar to me.

The nipper is horribly gulping at its food, jam smears quite all about
its countenance. Mrs. Ruggles glances over her journal.

"How would you like it," she suddenly demands, "if I went around town
like these English women--burning churches and houses of Parliament
and cutting up fine oil paintings. How would that suit your grouchy

"This is not England," I answer shortly. "That sort of thing would
never do with us."

"My, but isn't he the fierce old Ruggums!" she cries in affected alarm
to the now half-suffocated nipper.

Once more I take up the Declaration of Independence. It lends itself
rather well to reciting. I feel that my voice is going to carry.


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