Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich
Author: Leacock, Stephen, 1869-1944
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Arcadian Adventures With the Idle Rich


By

Stephen Leacock, 1869-1944



CONTENTS

    I  A Little Dinner with Mr. Lucullus Fyshe
   II  The Wizard of Finance
  III  The Arrested Philanthropy of Mr. Tomlinson
   IV  The Yahi-Bahi Oriental Society of Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown
    V  The Love Story of Mr. Peter Spillikins
   VI  The Rival Churches of St. Asaph and St. Osoph
  VII  The Ministrations of the Rev. Uttermust Dumfarthing
 VIII  The Great Fight for Clean Government



CHAPTER ONE: A Little Dinner with Mr. Lucullus Fyshe

The Mausoleum Club stands on the quietest corner of the best
residential street in the City. It is a Grecian building of white
stone. About it are great elm trees with birds--the most expensive kind
of birds--singing in the branches.

The street in the softer hours of the morning has an almost reverential
quiet. Great motors move drowsily along it, with solitary chauffeurs
returning at 10.30 after conveying the earlier of the millionaires to
their downtown offices. The sunlight flickers through the elm trees,
illuminating expensive nurse-maids wheeling valuable children in little
perambulators. Some of the children are worth millions and millions. In
Europe, no doubt, you may see in the Unter den Linden avenue or the
Champs Elysees a little prince or princess go past with a clattering
military guard of honour. But that is nothing. It is not half so
impressive, in the real sense, as what you may observe every morning on
Plutoria Avenue beside the Mausoleum Club in the quietest part of the
city. Here you may see a little toddling princess in a rabbit suit who
owns fifty distilleries in her own right. There, in a lacquered
perambulator, sails past a little hooded head that controls from its
cradle an entire New Jersey corporation. The United States
attorney-general is suing her as she sits, in a vain attempt to make
her dissolve herself into constituent companies. Near by is a child of
four, in a khaki suit, who represents the merger of two trunk-line
railways. You may meet in the flickered sunlight any number of little
princes and princesses far more real than the poor survivals of Europe.
Incalculable infants wave their fifty-dollar ivory rattles in an
inarticulate greeting to one another. A million dollars of preferred
stock laughs merrily in recognition of a majority control going past in
a go-cart drawn by an imported nurse. And through it all the sunlight
falls through the elm trees, and the birds sing and the motors hum, so
that the whole world as seen from the boulevard of Plutoria Avenue is
the very pleasantest place imaginable.

Just below Plutoria Avenue, and parallel with it, the trees die out and
the brick and stone of the City begins in earnest. Even from the Avenue
you see the tops of the sky-scraping buildings in the big commercial
streets, and can hear or almost hear the roar of the elevated railway,
earning dividends. And beyond that again the City sinks lower, and is
choked and crowded with the tangled streets and little houses of the
slums.

In fact, if you were to mount to the roof of the Mausoleum Club itself
on Plutoria Avenue you could almost see the slums from there. But why
should you? And on the other hand, if you never went up on the roof,
but only dined inside among the palm trees, you would never know that
the slums existed which is much better.

There are broad steps leading up to the club, so broad and so agreeably
covered with matting that the physical exertion of lifting oneself from
one's motor to the door of the club is reduced to the smallest compass.
The richer members are not ashamed to take the steps one at a time,
first one foot and then the other; and at tight money periods, when
there is a black cloud hanging over the Stock Exchange, you may see
each and every one of the members of the Mausoleum Club dragging
himself up the steps after this fashion, his restless eyes filled with
the dumb pathos of a man wondering where he can put his hand on half a
million dollars.

But at gayer times, when there are gala receptions at the club, its
steps are all buried under expensive carpet, soft as moss and covered
over with a long pavilion of red and white awning to catch the
snowflakes; and beautiful ladies are poured into the club by the
motorful. Then, indeed, it is turned into a veritable Arcadia; and for
a beautiful pastoral scene, such as would have gladdened the heart of a
poet who understood the cost of things, commend me to the Mausoleum
Club on just such an evening. Its broad corridors and deep recesses are
filled with shepherdesses such as you never saw, dressed in beautiful
shimmering gowns, and wearing feathers in their hair that droop off
sideways at every angle known to trigonometry. And there are shepherds,
too, with broad white waistcoats and little patent leather shoes and
heavy faces and congested cheeks. And there is dancing and conversation
among the shepherds and shepherdesses, with such brilliant flashes of
wit and repartee about the rise in Wabash and the fall in Cement that
the soul of Louis Quatorze would leap to hear it. And later there is
supper at little tables, when the shepherds and shepherdesses consume
preferred stocks and gold-interest bonds in the shape of chilled
champagne and iced asparagus, and great platefuls of dividends and
special quarterly bonuses are carried to and fro in silver dishes by
Chinese philosophers dressed up to look like waiters.

But on ordinary days there are no ladies in the club, but only the
shepherds. You may see them sitting about in little groups of two and
three under the palm trees drinking whiskey and soda; though of course
the more temperate among them drink nothing but whiskey and Lithia
water, and those who have important business to do in the afternoon
limit themselves to whiskey and Radnor, or whiskey and Magi water.
There are as many kinds of bubbling, gurgling, mineral waters in the
caverns of the Mausoleum Club as ever sparkled from the rocks of
Homeric Greece. And when you have once grown used to them, it is as
impossible to go back to plain water as it is to live again in the
forgotten house in a side street that you inhabited long before you
became a member.

Thus the members sit and talk in undertones that float to the ear
through the haze of Havana smoke. You may hear the older men explaining
that the country is going to absolute ruin, and the younger ones
explaining that the country is forging ahead as it never did before;
but chiefly they love to talk of great national questions, such as the
protective tariff and the need of raising it, the sad decline of the
morality of the working man, the spread of syndicalism and the lack of
Christianity in the labour class, and the awful growth of selfishness
among the mass of the people.

So they talk, except for two or three that drop off to directors'
meetings; till the afternoon fades and darkens into evening, and the
noiseless Chinese philosophers turn on soft lights here and there among
the palm trees. Presently they dine at white tables glittering with cut
glass and green and yellow Rhine wines; and after dinner they sit again
among the palm-trees, half-hidden in the blue smoke, still talking of
the tariff and the labour class and trying to wash away the memory and
the sadness of it in floods of mineral waters. So the evening passes
into night, and one by one the great motors come throbbing to the door,
and the Mausoleum Club empties and darkens till the last member is
borne away and the Arcadian day ends in well-earned repose.

        *    *    *    *    *

"I want you to give me your opinion very, very frankly," said Mr.
Lucullus Fyshe on one side of the luncheon table to the Rev. Fareforth
Furlong on the other.

"By all means," said Mr. Furlong.

Mr. Fyshe poured out a wineglassful of soda and handed it to the rector
to drink.

"Now tell me very truthfully," he said, "is there too much carbon in
it?"

"By no means," said Mr. Furlong.

"And--quite frankly--not too much hydrogen?"

"Oh, decidedly not."

"And you would not say that the percentage of sodium bicarbonate was
too great for the ordinary taste?"

"I certainly should not," said Mr. Furlong, and in this he spoke the
truth.

"Very good then," said Mr. Fyshe, "I shall use it for the Duke of
Dulham this afternoon."

He uttered the name of the Duke with that quiet, democratic
carelessness which meant that he didn't care whether half a dozen other
members lunching at the club could hear or not. After all, what was a
duke to a man who was president of the People's Traction and Suburban
Co., and the Republican Soda and Siphon Co-operative, and chief
director of the People's District Loan and Savings? If a man with a
broad basis of popular support like that was proposing to entertain a
duke, surely there could be no doubt about his motives? None at all.

Naturally, too, if a man manufactures soda himself, he gets a little
over-sensitive about the possibility of his guests noticing the
existence of too much carbon in it.

In fact, ever so many of the members of the Mausoleum Club manufacture
things, or cause them to be manufactured, or--what is the same
thing--merge them when they are manufactured. This gives them their
peculiar chemical attitude towards their food. One often sees a member
suddenly call the head waiter at breakfast to tell him that there is
too much ammonia in the bacon; and another one protest at the amount of
glucose in the olive oil; and another that there is too high a
percentage of nitrogen in the anchovy. A man of distorted imagination
might think this tasting of chemicals in the food a sort of nemesis of
fate upon the members. But that would be very foolish, for in every
case the head waiter, who is the chief of the Chinese philosophers
mentioned above, says that he'll see to it immediately and have the
percentage removed. And as for the members themselves, they are about
as much ashamed of manufacturing and merging things as the Marquis of
Salisbury is ashamed of the founders of the Cecil family.

What more natural, therefore, than that Mr. Lucullus Fyshe, before
serving the soda to the Duke, should try it on somebody else? And what
better person could be found for this than Mr. Furlong, the saintly
young rector of St. Asaph's, who had enjoyed the kind of expensive
college education calculated to develop all the faculties. Moreover, a
rector of the Anglican Church who has been in the foreign mission field
is the kind of person from whom one can find out, more or less
incidentally, how one should address and converse with a duke, and
whether you call him, "Your Grace," or "His Grace," or just "Grace," or
"Duke," or what. All of which things would seem to a director of the
People's Bank and the president of the Republican Soda Co. so trivial
in importance that he would scorn to ask about them.

So that was why Mr. Fyshe had asked Mr. Furlong to lunch with him, and
to dine with him later on in the same day at the Mausoleum Club to meet
the Duke of Dulham. And Mr. Furlong, realizing that a clergyman must be
all things to all men and not avoid a man merely because he is a duke,
had accepted the invitation to lunch, and had promised to come to
dinner, even though it meant postponing the Willing Workers' Tango
Class of St. Asaph's until the following Friday.

Thus it had come about that Mr. Fyshe was seated at lunch, consuming a
cutlet and a pint of Moselle in the plain downright fashion of a man so
democratic that he is practically a revolutionary socialist, and
doesn't mind saying so; and the young rector of St. Asaph's was sitting
opposite to him in a religious ecstasy over a _salmi_ of duck.

"The Duke arrived this morning, did he not?" said Mr. Furlong.

"From New York," said Mr. Fyshe. "He is staying at the Grand Palaver. I
sent a telegram through one of our New York directors of the Traction,
and his Grace has very kindly promised to come over here to dine."

"Is he here for pleasure?" asked the rector.

"I understand he is--" Mr. Fyshe was going to say "about to invest a
large part of his fortune in American securities," but he thought
better of it. Even with the clergy it is well to be careful. So he
substituted "is very much interested in studying American conditions."

"Does he stay long?" asked Mr. Furlong.

Had Mr. Lucullus Fyshe replied quite truthfully, he would have said,
"Not if I can get his money out of him quickly," but he merely
answered, "That I don't know."

"He will find much to interest him," went on the rector in a musing
tone. "The position of the Anglican Church in America should afford him
an object of much consideration. I understand," he added, feeling his
way, "that his Grace is a man of deep piety."

"Very deep," said Mr. Fyshe.

"And of great philanthropy?"

"Very great."

"And I presume," said the rector, taking a devout sip of the unfinished
soda, "that he is a man of immense wealth?"

"I suppose so," answered Mr. Fyshe quite carelessly. "All these fellows
are." (Mr. Fyshe generally referred to the British aristocracy as
"these fellows.") "Land, you know, feudal estates; sheer robbery, I
call it. How the working-class, the proletariat, stand for such tyranny
is more than I can see. Mark my words, Furlong, some day they'll rise
and the whole thing will come to a sudden end."

Mr. Fyshe was here launched upon his favourite topic; but he
interrupted himself, just for a moment, to speak to the waiter.

"What the devil do you mean," he said, "by serving asparagus half-cold?"

"Very sorry, sir," said the waiter, "shall I take it out?"

"Take it out? Of course take it out, and see that you don't serve me
stuff of that sort again, or I'll report you."

"Very sorry, sir," said the waiter.

Mr. Fyshe looked at the vanishing waiter with contempt upon his
features. "These pampered fellows are getting unbearable." he said. "By
Gad, if I had my way I'd fire the whole lot of them: lock 'em out, put
'em on the street. That would teach 'em. Yes, Furlong, you'll live to
see it that the whole working-class will one day rise against the
tyranny of the upper classes, and society will be overwhelmed."

But if Mr. Fyshe had realized that at that moment, in the kitchen of
the Mausoleum Club, in those sacred precincts themselves, there was a
walking delegate of the Waiters' International Union leaning against a
sideboard, with his bowler hat over one corner of his eye, and talking
to a little group of the Chinese philosophers, he would have known that
perhaps the social catastrophe was a little nearer than even he
suspected.

        *    *    *    *    *

"Are you inviting anyone else tonight?" asked Mr. Furlong.

"I should have liked to ask your father," said Mr. Fyshe, "but
unfortunately he is out of town."

What Mr. Fyshe really meant was, "I am extremely glad not to have to
ask your father, whom I would not introduce to the Duke on any account."

Indeed, Mr. Furlong, senior, the father of the rector of St. Asaph's,
who was President of the New Amalgamated Hymnal Corporation, and
Director of the Hosanna Pipe and Steam Organ, Limited, was entirely the
wrong man for Mr. Fyshe's present purpose. In fact, he was reputed to
be as smart a man as ever sold a Bible. At this moment he was out of
town, busied in New York with the preparation of the plates of his new
Hindu Testament (copyright); but had he learned that a duke with
several millions to invest was about to visit the city, he would not
have left it for the whole of Hindustan.

"I suppose you are asking Mr. Boulder," said the rector.

"No," answered Mr. Fyshe very decidedly, dismissing the name absolutely.

Indeed, there was even better reason not to introduce Mr. Boulder to
the Duke. Mr. Fyshe had made that sort of mistake once, and never
intended to make it again. It was only a year ago, on the occasion of
the visit of young Viscount FitzThistle to the Mausoleum Club, that Mr.
Fyshe had introduced Mr. Boulder to the Viscount and had suffered
grievously thereby. For Mr. Boulder had no sooner met the Viscount than
he invited him up to his hunting-lodge in Wisconsin, and that was the
last thing known of the investment of the FitzThistle fortune.

This Mr. Boulder of whom Mr. Fyshe spoke might indeed have been seen at
that moment at a further table of the lunch room eating a solitary
meal, an oldish man with a great frame suggesting broken strength, with
a white beard and with falling under-eyelids that made him look as if
he were just about to cry. His eyes were blue and far away, and his
still, mournful face and his great bent shoulders seemed to suggest all
the power and mystery of high finance.

Gloom indeed hung over him. For, when one heard him talk of listed
stocks and cumulative dividends, there was as deep a tone in his quiet
voice as if he spoke of eternal punishment and the wages of sin.

Under his great hands a chattering viscount, or a sturdy duke, or a
popinjay Italian marquis was as nothing.

Mr. Boulder's methods with titled visitors investing money in America
were deep. He never spoke to them of money, not a word. He merely
talked of the great American forest--he had been born sixty-five years
back, in a lumber state--and, when he spoke of primeval trees and the
howl of the wolf at night among the pines, there was the stamp of
reality about it that held the visitor spellbound; and when he fell to
talking of his hunting-lodge far away in the Wisconsin timber, duke,
earl, or baron that had ever handled a double-barrelled express rifle
listened and was lost.

"I have a little place," Mr. Boulder would say in his deep tones that
seemed almost like a sob, "a sort of shooting box, I think you'd call
it, up in Wisconsin; just a plain place"--he would add, almost
crying--"made of logs."

"Oh, really," the visitor would interject, "made of logs. By Jove, how
interesting!"

All titled people are fascinated at once with logs, and Mr. Boulder
knew it--at least subconsciously.

"Yes, logs," he would continue, still in deep sorrow; "just the plain
cedar, not squared, you know, the old original timber; I had them cut
right out of the forest."

By this time the visitor's excitement was obvious. "And is there game
there?" he would ask.

"We have the timber-wolf," said Mr. Boulder, his voice half choking at
the sadness of the thing, "and of course the jack wolf and the lynx."

"And are they ferocious?"

"Oh, extremely so--quite uncontrollable."

On which the titled visitor was all excitement to start for Wisconsin
at once, even before Mr. Boulder's invitation was put in words.

And when he returned a week later, all tanned and wearing
bush-whackers' boots, and covered with wolf bites, his whole available
fortune was so completely invested in Mr. Boulder's securities that you
couldn't have shaken twenty-five cents out of him upside down.

Yet the whole thing had been done merely incidentally round a big fire
under the Wisconsin timber, with a dead wolf or two lying in the snow.

So no wonder that Mr. Fyshe did not propose to invite Mr. Boulder to
his little dinner. No, indeed. In fact, his one aim was to keep Mr.
Boulder and his log house hidden from the Duke.

And equally no wonder that as soon as Mr. Boulder read of the Duke's
arrival in New York, and saw by the _Commercial Echo and Financial
Undertone_ that he might come to the City looking for investments, he
telephoned at once to his little place in Wisconsin--which had, of
course, a primeval telephone wire running to it--and told his steward
to have the place well aired and good fires lighted; and he especially
enjoined him to see if any of the shanty men thereabouts could catch a
wolf or two, as he might need them.

        *    *    *    *    *

"Is no one else coming then?" asked the rector.

"Oh yes. President Boomer of the University. We shall be a party of
four. I thought the Duke might be interested in meeting Boomer. He may
care to hear something of the archaeological remains of the continent."

If the Duke did so care, he certainly had a splendid chance in meeting
the gigantic Dr. Boomer, the president of Plutoria University.

If he wanted to know anything of the exact distinction between the
Mexican Pueblo and the Navajo tribal house, he had his opportunity
right now. If he was eager to hear a short talk--say half an hour--on
the relative antiquity of the Neanderthal skull and the gravel deposits
of the Missouri, his chance had come. He could learn as much about the
stone age and the bronze age, in America, from President Boomer, as he
could about the gold age and the age of paper securities from Mr. Fyshe
and Mr. Boulder.

So what better man to meet a duke than an archaeological president?

And if the Duke should feel inclined, as a result of his American visit
(for Dr. Boomer, who knew everything, understood what the Duke had come
for), inclined, let us say, to endow a chair in Primitive Anthropology,
or do any useful little thing of the sort, that was only fair business
all round; or if he even was willing to give a moderate sum towards the
general fund of Plutoria University--enough, let us say, to enable the
president to dismiss an old professor and hire a new one-that surely
was reasonable enough.

The president, therefore, had said yes to Mr. Fyshe's invitation with
alacrity, and had taken a look through the list of his more incompetent
professors to refresh his memory.

        *    *    *    *    *

The Duke of Dulham had landed in New York five days before and had
looked round eagerly for a field of turnips, but hadn't seen any. He
had been driven up Fifth Avenue and had kept his eyes open for
potatoes, but there were none. Nor had he seen any shorthorns in
Central Park, nor any Southdowns on Broadway. For the Duke, of course,
like all dukes, was agricultural from his Norfolk jacket to his
hobnailed boots.

At his restaurant he had cut a potato in two and sent half of it to the
head waiter to know if it was Bermudian. It had all the look of an
early Bermudian, but the Duke feared from the shading of it that it
might be only a late Trinidad. And the head waiter sent it to the chef,
mistaking it for a complaint, and the chef sent it back to the Duke
with a message that it was not a Bermudian but a Prince Edward Island.
And the Duke sent his compliments to the chef, and the chef sent his
compliments to the Duke. And the Duke was so pleased at learning this
that he had a similar potato wrapped up for him to take away, and
tipped the head waiter twenty-five cents, feeling that in an
extravagant country the only thing to do is to go the people one
better. So the Duke carried the potato round for five days in New York
and showed it to everybody. But beyond this he got no sign of
agriculture out of the place at all. No one who entertained him seemed
to know what the beef that they gave him had been fed on; no one, even
in what seemed the best society, could talk rationally about preparing
a hog for the breakfast table. People seemed to eat cauliflower without
distinguishing the Denmark variety from the Oldenburg, and few, if any,
knew Silesian bacon even when they tasted it. And when they took the
Duke out twenty-five miles into what was called the country, there were
still no turnips, but only real estate, and railway embankments, and
advertising signs; so that altogether the obvious and visible decline
of American agriculture in what should have been its leading centre
saddened the Duke's heart. Thus the Duke passed four gloomy days.
Agriculture vexed him, and still more, of course, the money concerns
which had brought him to America.

Money is a troublesome thing. But it has got to be thought about even
by those who were not brought up to it. If, on account of money
matters, one has been driven to come over to America in the hope of
borrowing money, the awkwardness of how to go about it naturally makes
one gloomy and preoccupied. Had there been broad fields of turnips to
walk in and Holstein cattle to punch in the ribs, one might have
managed to borrow it in the course of gentlemanly intercourse, as from
one cattle-man to another. But in New York, amid piles of masonry and
roaring street-traffic and glittering lunches and palatial residences
one simply couldn't do it.

Herein lay the truth about the Duke of Dulham's visit and the error of
Mr. Lucullus Fyshe. Mr. Fyshe was thinking that the Duke had come to
_lend_ money. In reality he had come to _borrow_ it. In fact, the Duke
was reckoning that by putting a second mortgage on Dulham Towers for
twenty thousand sterling, and by selling his Scotch shooting and
leasing his Irish grazing and sub-letting his Welsh coal rent he could
raise altogether a hundred thousand pounds. This for a duke, is an
enormous sum. If he once had it he would be able to pay off the first
mortgage on Dulham Towers, buy in the rights of the present tenant of
the Scotch shooting and the claim of the present mortgagee of the Irish
grazing, and in fact be just where he started. This is ducal finance,
which moves always in a circle.

In other words the Duke was really a poor man--not poor in the American
sense, where poverty comes as a sudden blighting stringency, taking the
form of an inability to get hold of a quarter of a million dollars, no
matter how badly one needs it, and where it passes like a storm-cloud
and is gone, but poor in that permanent and distressing sense known
only to the British aristocracy. The Duke's case, of course, was
notorious, and Mr. Fyshe ought to have known of it. The Duke was so
poor that the Duchess was compelled to spend three or four months every
year at a fashionable hotel on the Riviera simply to save money, and
his eldest son, the young Marquis of Beldoodle, had to put in most of
his time shooting big game in Uganda, with only twenty or twenty-five
beaters, and with so few carriers and couriers and such a dearth of
elephant men and hyena boys that the thing was a perfect scandal. The
Duke indeed was so poor that a younger son, simply to add his efforts
to those of the rest, was compelled to pass his days in mountain
climbing in the Himalayas, and the Duke's daughter was obliged to pay
long visits to minor German princesses, putting up with all sorts of
hardship. And while the ducal family wandered about in this
way--climbing mountains, and shooting hyenas, and saving money, the
Duke's place or seat, Dulham Towers, was practically shut up, with no
one in it but servants and housekeepers and gamekeepers and tourists;
and the picture galleries, except for artists and visitors and
villagers, were closed; and the town house, except for the presence of
servants and tradesmen and secretaries, was absolutely shut. But the
Duke knew that rigid parsimony of this sort, if kept up for a
generation or two, will work wonders, and this sustained him; and the
Duchess knew it, and it sustained her; in fact, all the ducal family,
knowing that it was only a matter of a generation or two, took their
misfortune very cheerfully.

The only thing that bothered the Duke was borrowing money. This was
necessary from time to time when loans or mortgages fell in, but he
hated it. It was beneath him. His ancestors had often taken money, but
had never borrowed it, and the Duke chafed under the necessity. There
was something about the process that went against the grain. To sit
down in pleasant converse with a man, perhaps almost a gentleman, and
then lead up to the subject and take his money from him, seemed to the
Duke's mind essentially low. He could have understood knocking a man
over the head with a fire shovel and taking his money, but not
borrowing it.

So the Duke had come to America, where borrowing is notoriously easy.
Any member of the Mausoleum Club, for instance, would borrow fifty
cents to buy a cigar, or fifty thousand dollars to buy a house, or five
millions to buy a railroad with complete indifference, and pay it back,
too, if he could, and think nothing of it. In fact, ever so many of the
Duke's friends were known to have borrowed money in America with
magical ease, pledging for it their seats or their pictures, or one of
their daughters--anything.

So the Duke knew it must be easy. And yet, incredible as it may seem,
he had spent four days in New York, entertained everywhere, and made
much of, and hadn't borrowed a cent. He had been asked to lunch in a
Riverside palace, and, fool that he was, had come away without so much
as a dollar to show for it. He had been asked to a country house on the
Hudson, and, like an idiot--he admitted it himself--hadn't asked his
host for as much as his train fare. He had been driven twice round
Central Park in a motor and had been taken tamely back to his hotel not
a dollar the richer. The thing was childish, and he knew it. But to
save his life the Duke didn't know how to begin. None of the things
that he was able to talk about seemed to have the remotest connection
with the subject of money. The Duke was able to converse reasonably
well over such topics as the approaching downfall of England (they had
talked of it at Dulham Towers for sixty years), or over the duty of
England towards China, or the duty of England to Persia, or its duty to
aid the Young Turk Movement, and its duty to check the Old Servia
agitation. The Duke became so interested in these topics and in
explaining that while he had never been a Little Englander he had
always been a Big Turk, and that he stood for a Small Bulgaria and a
Restricted Austria, that he got further and further away from the topic
of money, which was what he really wanted to come to; and the Duke rose
from his conversations with a look of such obvious distress on his face
that everybody realized that his anxiety about England was killing him.

And then suddenly light had come. It was on his fourth day in New York
that he unexpectedly ran into the Viscount Belstairs (they had been
together as young men in Nigeria, and as middle-aged men in St.
Petersburg), and Belstairs, who was in abundant spirits and who was
returning to England on the _Gloritania_ at noon the next day,
explained to the Duke that he had just borrowed fifty thousand pounds,
on security that wouldn't be worth a halfpenny in England.

And the Duke said with a sigh, "How the deuce do you do it. Belstairs?"

"Do what?"

"Borrow it," said the Duke. "How do you manage to get people to talk
about it? Here I am wanting to borrow a hundred thousand, and I'm
hanged if I can even find an opening."

At which the Viscount had said, "Pooh, pooh! you don't need any
opening. Just borrow it straight out--ask for it across a dinner table,
just as you'd ask for a match; they think nothing of it here."

"Across the dinner table?" repeated the Duke, who was a literal man.

"Certainly," said the Viscount. "Not too soon, you know--say after a
second glass of wine. I assure you it's absolutely nothing."

And it was just at that moment that a telegram was handed to the Duke
from Mr. Lucullus Fyshe, praying him, as he was reported to be visiting
the next day the City where the Mausoleum Club stands, to make
acquaintance with him by dining at that institution.

And the Duke, being as I say a literal man, decided that just as soon
as Mr. Fyshe should give him a second glass of wine, that second glass
should cost Mr. Fyshe a hundred thousand pounds sterling.

And oddly enough, at about the same moment, Mr. Fyshe was calculating
that provided he could make the Duke drink a second glass of the
Mausoleum champagne, that glass would cost the Duke about five million
dollars.

        *    *    *    *    *

So the very morning after that the Duke had arrived on the New York
express in the City; and being an ordinary, democratic, commercial sort
of place, absorbed in its own affairs, it made no fuss over him
whatever. The morning edition of the _Plutopian Citizen_ simply said,
"We understand that the Duke of Dulham arrives at the Grand Palaver
this morning," after which it traced the Duke's pedigree back to Jock
of Ealing in the twelfth century and let the matter go at that; and the
noon edition of the _People's Advocate_ merely wrote, "We learn that
Duke Dulham is in town. He is a relation of Jack Ealing." But the
_Commercial Echo and Financial Undertone_, appearing at four o'clock,
printed in its stock-market columns the announcement: "We understand
that the Duke of Dulham, who arrives in town today, is proposing to
invest a large sum of money in American Industrials."

And, of course, that announcement reached every member of the Mausoleum
Club within twenty minutes.

        *    *    *    *    *

The Duke of Dulham entered the Mausoleum Club that evening at exactly
seven of the clock. He was a short, thick man with a shaven face, red
as a brick, and grizzled hair, and from the look of him he could have
got a job at sight in any lumber camp in Wisconsin. He wore a dinner
jacket, just like an ordinary person, but even without his Norfolk coat
and his hobnailed boots there was something in the way in which he
walked up the long main hall of the Mausoleum Club that every imported
waiter in the place recognized in an instant.

The Duke cast his eye about the club and approved of it. It seemed to
him a modest, quiet place, very different from the staring ostentation
that one sees too often in a German hof or an Italian palazzo. He liked
it.

Mr. Fyshe and Mr. Furlong were standing in a deep alcove or bay where
there was a fire and india-rubber trees and pictures with shaded lights
and a whiskey-and-soda table. There the Duke joined them. Mr. Fyshe he
had met already that afternoon at the Palaver, and he called him
"Fyshe" as if he had known him forever; and indeed, after a few minutes
he called the rector of St. Asaph's simply "Furlong," for he had been
familiar with the Anglican clergy in so many parts of the world that he
knew that to attribute any peculiar godliness to them, socially, was
the worst possible taste.

"By Jove," said the Duke, turning to tap the leaf of a rubber tree with
his finger, "that fellow's a Nigerian, isn't he?"

"I hardly know," said Mr. Fyshe, "I imagine so"; and he added, "You've
been in Nigeria, Duke?"

"Oh, some years ago," said the Duke, "after big game, you know--fine
place for it."

"Did you get any?" asked Mr. Fyshe.

"Not much," said the Duke; "a hippo or two."

"Ah," said Mr. Fyshe.

"And, of course, now and then a giro," the Duke went on, and added, "My
sister was luckier, though; she potted a rhino one day, straight out of
a doolie; I call that rather good."

Mr. Fyshe called it that too.

"Ah, now here's a good thing," the Duke went on, looking at a picture.
He carried in his waistcoat pocket an eyeglass that he used for
pictures and for Tamworth hogs, and he put it to his eye with one hand,
keeping the other in the left pocket of his jacket; "and this--this is
a very good thing."

"I believe so," said Mr. Fyshe.

"You really have some awfully good things here," continued the Duke. He
had seen far too many pictures in too many places ever to speak of
"values" or "compositions" or anything of that sort. The Duke merely
looked at a picture and said, "Now here's a good thing," or "Ah! here
now is a very good thing," or, "I say, here's a really good thing."

No one could get past this sort of criticism. The Duke had long since
found it bullet-proof.

"They showed me some rather good things in New York," he went on, "but
really the things you have here seem to be awfully good things."

Indeed, the Duke was truly pleased with the pictures, for something in
their composition, or else in the soft, expensive light that shone on
them, enabled him to see in the distant background of each a hundred
thousand sterling. And that is a very beautiful picture indeed.

"When you come to our side of the water, Fyshe," said the Duke, "I must
show you my Botticelli."

Had Mr. Fyshe, who knew nothing of art, expressed his real thought, he
would have said, "Show me your which?" But he only answered, "I shall
be delighted to see it."

In any case there was no time to say more, for at this moment the
portly figure and the great face of Dr. Boomer, president of Plutoria
University, loomed upon them. And with him came a great burst of
conversation that blew all previous topics into fragments. He was
introduced to the Duke, and shook hands with Mr. Furlong, and talked to
both of them, and named the kind of cocktail that he wanted, all in one
breath, and in the very next he was asking the Duke about the
Babylonian hieroglyphic bricks that his grandfather, the thirteenth
Duke, had brought home from the Euphrates, and which every
archaeologist knew were preserved in the Duke's library at Dulham
Towers. And though the Duke hadn't known about the bricks himself, he
assured Dr. Boomer that his grandfather had collected some really good
things, quite remarkable.

And the Duke, having met a man who knew about his grandfather, felt in
his own element. In fact, he was so delighted with Dr. Boomer and the
Nigerian rubber tree and the shaded pictures and the charm of the whole
place and the certainty that half a million dollars was easily findable
in it, that he put his eyeglass back in his pocket and said.

"A charming club you have here, really most charming."

"Yes," said Mr. Fyshe, in a casual tone, "a comfortable place, we like
to think."

But if he could have seen what was happening below in the kitchens of
the Mausoleum Club, Mr. Fyshe would have realized that just then it was
turning into a most uncomfortable place.

For the walking delegate with his hat on sideways, who had haunted it
all day, was busy now among the assembled Chinese philosophers, writing
down names and distributing strikers' cards of the International Union
and assuring them that the "boys" of the Grand Palaver had all walked
out at seven, and that all the "boys" of the Commercial and the Union
and of every restaurant in town were out an hour ago.

And the philosophers were taking their cards and hanging up their
waiters' coats and putting on shabby jackets and bowler hats, worn
sideways, and changing themselves by a wonderful transformation from
respectable Chinese to slouching loafers of the lowest type.

But Mr. Fyshe, being in an alcove and not in the kitchens, saw nothing
of these things. Not even when the head waiter, shaking with
apprehension, appeared with cocktails made by himself, in glasses that
he himself had had to wipe, did Mr. Fyshe, absorbed in the easy
urbanity of the Duke, notice that anything was amiss.

Neither did his guests. For Dr. Boomer, having discovered that the Duke
had visited Nigeria, was asking him his opinion of the famous Bimbaweh
remains of the lower Niger. The Duke confessed that he really hadn't
noticed them, and the Doctor assured him that Strabo had indubitably
mentioned them (he would show the Duke the very passage), and that they
apparently lay, if his memory served him, about halfway between Oohat
and Ohat; whether above Oohat and below Ohat or above Ohat and below
Oohat he would not care to say for a certainty; for that the Duke must
wait till the president had time to consult his library.

And the Duke was fascinated forthwith with the president's knowledge of
Nigerian geography, and explained that he had once actually descended
from below Timbuctoo to Oohat in a doolie manned only by four swats.

So presently, having drunk the cocktails, the party moved solemnly in a
body from the alcove towards the private dining-room upstairs, still
busily talking of the Bimbaweh remains, and the swats, and whether the
doolie was, or was not, the original goatskin boat of the book of
Genesis.

And when they entered the private dining-room with its snow-white table
and cut glass and flowers (as arranged by a retreating philosopher now
heading towards the Gaiety Theatre with his hat over his eyes), the
Duke again exclaimed,

"Really, you have a most comfortable club--delightful."

So they sat down to dinner, over which Mr. Furlong offered up a grace
as short as any that are known even to the Anglican clergy. And the
head waiter, now in deep distress--for he had been sending out
telephone messages in vain to the Grand Palaver and the Continental,
like the captain of a sinking ship--served oysters that he had opened
himself and poured Rhine wine with a trembling hand. For he knew that
unless by magic a new chef and a waiter or two could be got from the
Palaver, all hope was lost.

But the guests still knew nothing of his fears. Dr. Boomer was eating
his oysters as a Nigerian hippo might eat up the crew of a doolie, in
great mouthfuls, and commenting as he did so upon the luxuriousness of
modern life.

And in the pause that followed the oysters he illustrated for the Duke
with two pieces of bread the essential difference in structure between
the Mexican _pueblo_ and the tribal house of the Navajos, and lest the
Duke should confound either or both of them with the adobe hut of the
Bimbaweh tribes he showed the difference at once with a couple of
olives.

By this time, of course, the delay in the service was getting
noticeable. Mr. Fyshe was directing angry glances towards the door,
looking for the reappearance of the waiter, and growling an apology to
his guests. But the president waved the apology aside.

"In my college days," he said, "I should have considered a plate of
oysters an ample meal. I should have asked for nothing more. We eat,"
he said, "too much."

This, of course, started Mr. Fyshe on his favourite topic. "Luxury!" he
exclaimed, "I should think so! It is the curse of the age. The
appalling growth of luxury, the piling up of money, the ease with which
huge fortunes are made" (Good! thought the Duke, here we are coming to
it), "these are the things that are going to ruin us. Mark my words,
the whole thing is bound to end in a tremendous crash. I don't mind
telling you, Duke-my friends here, I am sure, know it already--that I
am more or less a revolutionary socialist. I am absolutely convinced,
sir, that our modern civilization will end in a great social
catastrophe. Mark what I say"--and here Mr. Fyshe became exceedingly
impressive--"a great social catastrophe. Some of us may not live to see
it, perhaps; but you, for instance, Furlong, are a younger man; you
certainly will."

But here Mr. Fyshe was understating the case. They were all going to
live to see it, right on the spot.

For it was just at this moment, when Mr. Fyshe was talking of the
social catastrophe and explaining with flashing eyes that it was bound
to come, that it came; and when it came it lit, of all places in the
world, right there in the private dining-room of the Mausoleum Club.

For the gloomy head waiter re-entered and leaned over the back of Mr.
Fyshe's chair and whispered to him.

"Eh? what?" said Mr. Fyshe.

The head waiter, his features stricken with inward agony, whispered
again.

"The infernal, damn scoundrels!" said Mr. Fyshe, starting back in his
chair. "On strike: in this club! It's an outrage!"

"I'm very sorry sir. I didn't like to tell you, sir. I'd hoped I might
have got help from the outside, but it seems, sir, the hotels are all
the same way."

"Do you mean to say," said Mr. Fyshe, speaking very slowly, "that there
is no dinner?"

"I'm sorry, sir," moaned the waiter. "It appears the chef hadn't even
cooked it. Beyond what's on the table, sir, there's nothing."

The social catastrophe had come.

Mr. Fyshe sat silent with his fist clenched. Dr. Boomer, with his great
face transfixed, stared at the empty oyster-shells, thinking perhaps of
his college days. The Duke, with his hundred thousand dashed from his
lips in the second cup of champagne that was never served, thought of
his politeness first and murmured something about taking them to his
hotel.

But there is no need to follow the unhappy details of the unended
dinner. Mr. Fyshe's one idea was to be gone: he was too true an artist
to think that finance could be carried on over the table-cloth of a
second-rate restaurant, or on an empty stomach in a deserted club. The
thing must be done over again; he must wait his time and begin anew.

And so it came about that the little dinner party of Mr. Lucullus Fyshe
dissolved itself into its constituent elements, like broken pieces of
society in the great cataclysm portrayed by Mr. Fyshe himself.

The Duke was bowled home in a snorting motor to the brilliant rotunda
of the Grand Palaver, itself waiterless and supperless.

The rector of St. Asaph's wandered off home to his rectory, musing upon
the contents of its pantry.

And Mr. Fyshe and the gigantic Doctor walked side by side homewards
along Plutoria Avenue, beneath the elm trees. Nor had they gone any
great distance before Dr. Boomer fell to talking of the Duke.

"A charming man," he said, "delightful. I feel extremely sorry for him."

"No worse off, I presume, than any of the rest of us," growled Mr.
Fyshe, who was feeling in the sourest of democratic moods; "a man
doesn't need to be a duke to have a stomach."

"Oh, pooh, pooh!" said the president, waving the topic aside with his
hand in the air; "I don't refer to that. Oh, not at all. I was thinking
of his financial position--an ancient family like the Dulhams; it seems
too bad altogether."

For, of course, to an archaeologist like Dr. Boomer an intimate
acquaintance with the pedigree and fortunes of the greater ducal
families from Jock of Ealing downwards was nothing. It went without
saying. As beside the Neanderthal skull and the Bimbaweh ruins it
didn't count.

Mr. Fyshe stopped absolutely still in his tracks. "His financial
position?" he questioned, quick as a lynx.

"Certainly," said Dr. Boomer; "I had taken it for granted that you
knew. The Dulham family are practically ruined. The Duke, I imagine, is
under the necessity of mortgaging his estates; indeed, I should suppose
he is here in America to raise money."

Mr. Fyshe was a man of lightning action. Any man accustomed to the
Stock Exchange learns to think quickly.

"One moment!" he cried; "I see we are right at your door. May I just
run in and use your telephone? I want to call up Boulder for a moment."

Two minutes later Mr. Fyshe was saying into the telephone, "Oh, is that
you, Boulder? I was looking for you in vain today--wanted you to meet
the Duke of Dulham, who came in quite unexpectedly from New York; felt
sure you'd like to meet him. Wanted you at the club for dinner, and now
it turns out that the club's all upset--waiters' strike or some such
rascality--and the Palaver, so I hear, is in the same fix. Could you
possibly--"

Here Mr. Fyshe paused, listening a moment, and then went on, "Yes, yes;
an excellent idea--most kind of you. Pray do send your motor to the
hotel and give the Duke a bite of dinner. No, I wouldn't join you,
thanks. Most kind. Good night--"

And within a few minutes more the motor of Mr. Boulder was rolling down
from Plutoria Avenue to the Grand Palaver Hotel.

What passed between Mr. Boulder and the Duke that evening is not known.
That they must have proved congenial company to one another there is no
doubt. In fact, it would seem that, dissimilar as they were in many
ways, they found a common bond of interest in sport. And it is quite
likely that Mr. Boulder may have mentioned that he had a
hunting-lodge--what the Duke would call a shooting-box--in Wisconsin
woods, and that it was made of logs, rough cedar logs not squared, and
that the timber wolves and others which surrounded it were of a
ferocity without parallel.

Those who know the Duke best could measure the effect of that upon his
temperament.

At any rate, it is certain that Mr. Lucullus Fyshe at his
breakfast-table next morning chuckled with suppressed joy to read in
the _Plutopian Citizen_ the item:

"We learn that the Duke of Dulham, who has been paying a brief visit to
the City, leaves this morning with Mr. Asmodeus Boulder for the
Wisconsin woods. We understand that Mr. Boulder intends to show his
guest, who is an ardent sportsman, something of the American wolf."

        *    *    *    *    *

And so the Duke went whirling westwards and northwards with Mr. Boulder
in the drawing-room end of a Pullman car, that was all littered up with
double-barrelled express rifles and leather game bags and lynx catchers
and wolf traps and Heaven knows what. And the Duke had on his very
roughest sporting-suit, made, apparently, of alligator hide; and as he
sat there with a rifle across his knees, while the train swept onwards
through open fields and broken woods, the real country at last, towards
the Wisconsin forest, there was such a light of genial happiness in his
face that had not been seen there since he had been marooned in the mud
jungles of Upper Burmah.

And opposite, Mr. Boulder looked at him with fixed silent eyes, and
murmured from time to time some renewed information of the ferocity of
the timber-wolf.

But of wolves other than the timber-wolf, and fiercer still into whose
hands the Duke might fall in America, he spoke never a word.

Nor is it known in the record what happened in Wisconsin, and to the
Mausoleum Club the Duke and his visit remained only as a passing and a
pleasant memory.



CHAPTER TWO: The Wizard of Finance

Down in the City itself, just below the residential street where the
Mausoleum Club is situated, there stands overlooking Central Square the
Grand Palaver Hotel. It is, in truth, at no great distance from the
club, not half a minute in one's motor. In fact, one could almost walk
it.

But in Central Square the quiet of Plutoria Avenue is exchanged for
another atmosphere. There are fountains that splash unendingly and
mingle their music with the sound of the motor-horns and the clatter of
the cabs. There are real trees and little green benches, with people
reading yesterday's newspaper, and grass cut into plots among the
asphalt. There is at one end a statue of the first governor of the
state, life-size, cut in stone; and at the other a statue of the last,
ever so much larger than life, cast in bronze. And all the people who
pass by pause and look at this statue and point at it with
walking-sticks, because it is of extraordinary interest; in fact, it is
an example of the new electro-chemical process of casting by which you
can cast a state governor any size you like, no matter what you start
from. Those who know about such things explain what an interesting
contrast the two statues are; for in the case of the governor of a
hundred years ago one had to start from plain, rough material and work
patiently for years to get the effect, whereas now the material doesn't
matter at all, and with any sort of scrap, treated in the gas furnace
under tremendous pressure, one may make a figure of colossal size like
the one in Central Square.

So naturally Central Square with its trees and its fountains and its
statues is one of the places of chief interest in the City. But
especially because there stands along one side of it the vast pile of
the Grand Palaver Hotel. It rises fifteen stories high and fills all
one side of the square. It has, overlooking the trees in the square,
twelve hundred rooms with three thousand windows, and it would have
held all George Washington's army. Even people in other cities who have
never seen it know it well from its advertising; "the most homelike
hotel in America," so it is labelled in all the magazines, the
expensive ones, on the continent. In fact, the aim of the company that
owns the Grand Palaver--and they do not attempt to conceal it--is to
make the place as much a home as possible. Therein lies its charm. It
is a home. You realize that when you look up at the Grand Palaver from
the square at night when the twelve hundred guests have turned on the
lights of the three thousand windows. You realize it at theatre time
when the great string of motors come sweeping to the doors of the
Palaver, to carry the twelve hundred guests to twelve hundred seats in
the theatres at four dollars a seat. But most of all do you appreciate
the character of the Grand Palaver when you step into its rotunda.
Aladdin's enchanted palace was nothing to it. It has a vast ceiling
with a hundred glittering lights, and within it night and day is a
surging crowd that is never still and a babel of voices that is never
hushed, and over all there hangs an enchanted cloud of thin blue
tobacco smoke such as might enshroud the conjured vision of a magician
of Baghdad or Damascus.

In and through the rotunda there are palm trees to rest the eye and
rubber trees in boxes to soothe the mind, and there are great leather
lounges and deep armchairs, and here and there huge brass ash-bowls as
big as Etruscan tear-jugs. Along one side is a counter with grated
wickets like a bank, and behind it are five clerks with flattened hair
and tall collars, dressed in long black frock-coats all day like
members of a legislature. They have great books in front of them in
which they study unceasingly, and at their lightest thought they strike
a bell with the open palm of their hand, and at the sound of it a page
boy in a monkey suit, with G.P. stamped all over him in brass, bounds
to the desk and off again, shouting a call into the unheeding crowd
vociferously. The sound of it fills for a moment the great space of the
rotunda; it echoes down the corridors to the side; it floats, softly
melodious, through the palm trees of the ladies' palm room; it is
heard, fainter and fainter, in the distant grill; and in the depths of
the barber shop below the level of the street the barber arrests a
moment-the drowsy hum of his shampoo brushes to catch the sound--as
might a miner in the sunken galleries of a coastal mine cease in his
toil a moment to hear the distant murmur of the sea.

And the clerks call for the pages, the pages call for the guests, and
the guests call for the porters, the bells clang, the elevators rattle,
till home itself was never half so homelike.

        *    *    *    *    *

"A call for Mr. Tomlinson! A call for Mr. Tomlinson!"

So went the sound, echoing through the rotunda.

And as the page boy found him and handed him on a salver a telegram to
read, the eyes of the crowd about him turned for a moment to look upon
the figure of Tomlinson, the Wizard of Finance.

There he stood in his wide-awake hat and his long black coat, his
shoulders slightly bent with his fifty-eight years. Anyone who had
known him in the olden days on his bush farm beside Tomlinson's Creek
in the country of the Great Lakes would have recognized him in a
moment. There was still on his face that strange, puzzled look that it
habitually wore, only now, of course, the financial papers were calling
it "unfathomable." There was a certain way in which his eye roved to
and fro inquiringly that might have looked like perplexity, were it not
that the _Financial Undertone_ had recognized it as the "searching look
of a captain of industry." One might have thought that for all the
goodness in it there was something simple in his face, were it not that
the _Commercial and Pictorial Review_ had called the face
"inscrutable," and had proved it so with an illustration that left no
doubt of the matter. Indeed, the face of Tomlinson of Tomlinson's
Creek, now Tomlinson the Wizard of Finance, was not commonly spoken of
as a _face_ by the paragraphers of the Saturday magazine sections, but
was more usually referred to as a mask; and it would appear that
Napoleon the First had had one also. The Saturday editors were never
tired of describing the strange, impressive personality of Tomlinson,
the great dominating character of the newest and highest finance. From
the moment when the interim prospectus of the Erie Auriferous
Consolidated had broken like a tidal wave over Stock Exchange circles,
the picture of Tomlinson, the sleeping shareholder of uncomputed
millions, had filled the imagination of every dreamer in a nation of
poets.

They all described him. And when each had finished he began again.

"The face," so wrote the editor of the "Our Own Men" section of
_Ourselves Monthly_, "is that of a typical American captain of finance,
hard, yet with a certain softness, broad but with a certain length,
ductile but not without its own firmness."

"The mouth," so wrote the editor of the "Success" column of _Brains_,
"is strong but pliable, the jaw firm and yet movable, while there is
something in the set of the ear that suggests the swift, eager mind of
the born leader of men."

So from state to state ran the portrait of Tomlinson of Tomlinson's
Creek, drawn by people who had never seen him; so did it reach out and
cross the ocean, till the French journals inserted a picture which they
used for such occasions, and called it _Monsieur Tomlinson, nouveau
capitaine de la haute finance en Amerique_; and the German weeklies,
inserting also a suitable picture from their stock, marked it _Herr
Tomlinson, Amerikanischer Industrie und Finanzcapitan_. Thus did
Tomlinson float from Tomlinson's Creek beside Lake Erie to the very
banks of the Danube and the Drave.

Some writers grew lyric about him. What visions, they asked, could one
but read them, must lie behind the quiet, dreaming eyes of that
inscrutable face?

They might have read them easily enough, had they but had the key.
Anyone who looked upon Tomlinson as he stood there in the roar and
clatter of the great rotunda of the Grand Palaver with the telegram in
his hand, fumbling at the wrong end to open it, might have read the
visions of the master-mind had he but known their nature. They were
simple enough. For the visions in the mind of Tomlinson, Wizard of
Finance, were for the most part those of a wind-swept hillside farm
beside Lake Erie, where Tomlinson's Creek runs down to the low edge of
the lake, and where the off-shore wind ripples the rushes of the
shallow water: that, and the vision of a frame house, and the snake
fences of the fourth concession road where it falls to the lakeside.
And if the eyes of the man are dreamy and abstracted, it is because
there lies over the vision of this vanished farm an infinite regret,
greater in its compass than all the shares the Erie Auriferous
Consolidated has ever thrown upon the market.

        *    *    *    *    *

When Tomlinson had opened the telegram he stood with it for a moment in
his hand, looking the boy full in the face. His look had in it that
peculiar far-away quality that the newspapers were calling "Napoleonic
abstraction." In reality he was wondering whether to give the boy
twenty-five cents or fifty.

The message that he had just read was worded, "Morning quotations show
preferred A. G. falling rapidly recommend instant sale no confidence
send instructions."

The Wizard of Finance took from his pocket a pencil (it was a
carpenter's pencil) and wrote across the face of the message: "Buy me
quite a bit more of the same yours truly."

This he gave to the boy. "Take it over to him," he said, pointing to
the telegraph corner of the rotunda. Then after another pause he
mumbled, "Here, sonny," and gave the boy a dollar.

With that he turned to walk towards the elevator, and all the people
about him who had watched the signing of the message knew that some big
financial deal was going through--a _coup_, in fact, they called it.

The elevator took the Wizard to the second floor. As he went up he felt
in his pocket and gripped a quarter, then changed his mind and felt for
a fifty-cent piece, and finally gave them both to the elevator boy,
after which he walked along the corridor till he reached the corner
suite of rooms, a palace in itself, for which he was paying a thousand
dollars a month ever since the Erie Auriferous Consolidated Company had
begun tearing up the bed of Tomlinson's Creek in Cahoga County with its
hydraulic dredges.

"Well, mother," he said as he entered.

There was a woman seated near the window, a woman with a plain, homely
face such as they wear in the farm kitchens of Cahoga County, and a set
of fashionable clothes upon her such as they sell to the ladies of
Plutoria Avenue.

This was "mother," the wife of the Wizard of Finance and eight years
younger than himself. And she, too, was in the papers and the public
eye; and whatsoever the shops had fresh from Paris, at fabulous prices,
that they sold to mother. They had put a Balkan hat upon her with an
upright feather, and they had hung gold chains on her, and everything
that was most expensive they had hung and tied on mother. You might see
her emerging any morning from the Grand Palaver in her beetle-back
jacket and her Balkan hat, a figure of infinite pathos. And whatever
she wore, the lady editors of _Spring Notes_ and _Causerie du Boudoir_
wrote it out in French, and one paper had called her a _belle
chatelaine_, and another had spoken of her as a grande dame, which the
Tomlinsons thought must be a misprint.

But in any case, for Tomlinson, the Wizard of Finance, it was a great
relief to have as his wife a woman like mother, because he knew that
she had taught school in Cahoga County and could hold her own in the
city with any of them.

So mother spent her time sitting in her beetle jacket in the
thousand-dollar suite, reading new novels in brilliant paper covers.
And the Wizard on his trips up and down to the rotunda brought her the
very best, the ones that cost a dollar fifty, because he knew that out
home she had only been able to read books like Nathaniel Hawthorne and
Walter Scott, that were only worth ten cents.

        *    *    *    *    *

"How's Fred?" said the Wizard, laying aside his hat, and looking
towards the closed door of an inner room. "Is he better?"

"Some," said mother. "He's dressed, but he's lying down."

Fred was the son of the Wizard and mother. In the inner room he lay on
a sofa, a great hulking boy of seventeen in a flowered dressing-gown,
fancying himself ill. There was a packet of cigarettes and a box of
chocolates on a chair beside him, and he had the blind drawn and his
eyes half-closed to impress himself.

Yet this was the same boy that less than a year ago on Tomlinson's
Creek had worn a rough store suit and set his sturdy shoulders to the
buck-saw. At present Fortune was busy taking from him the golden gifts
which the fairies of Cahoga County, Lake Erie, had laid in his cradle
seventeen years ago.

The Wizard tip-toed into the inner room, and from the open door his
listening wife could hear the voice of the boy saying, in a tone as of
one distraught with suffering.

"Is there any more of that jelly?"

"Could he have any, do you suppose?" asked Tomlinson coming back.

"It's all right," said mother, "if it will sit on his stomach." For
this, in the dietetics of Cahoga County, is the sole test. All those
things can be eaten which will sit on the stomach. Anything that won't
sit there is not eatable.

"Do you suppose I could get them to get any?" questioned Tomlinson.
"Would it be all right to telephone down to the office, or do you think
it would be better to ring?"

"Perhaps," said his wife, "it would be better to look out into the hall
and see if there isn't someone round that would tell them."

This was the kind of problem with which Tomlinson and his wife, in
their thousand-dollar suite in the Grand Palaver, grappled all day. And
when presently a tall waiter in dress-clothes appeared, and said,
"Jelly? Yes, sir, immediately, sir; would you like, sir, Maraschino,
sir, or Portovino, sir?" Tomlinson gazed at him gloomily, wondering if
he would take five dollars.

"What does the doctor say is wrong with Fred?" asked Tomlinson, when
the waiter had gone.

"He don't just say," said mother; "he said he must keep very quiet. He
looked in this morning for a minute or two, and he said he'd look in
later in the day again. But he said to keep Fred very quiet."

Exactly! In other words Fred had pretty much the same complaint as the
rest of Dr. Slyder's patients on Plutoria Avenue, and was to be treated
in the same way. Dr. Slyder, who was the most fashionable practitioner
in the City, spent his entire time moving to and fro in an almost
noiseless motor earnestly advising people to keep quiet. "You must keep
very quiet for a little while," he would say with a sigh, as he sat
beside a sick-bed. As he drew on his gloves in the hall below he would
shake his head very impressively and say, "You must keep him very
quiet," and so pass out, quite soundlessly. By this means Dr. Slyder
often succeeded in keeping people quiet for weeks. It was all the
medicine that he knew. But it was enough. And as his patients always
got well--there being nothing wrong with them--his reputation was
immense.

Very naturally the Wizard and his wife were impressed with him. They
had never seen such therapeutics in Cahoga County, where the practice
of medicine is carried on with forceps, pumps, squirts, splints, and
other instruments of violence.

The waiter had hardly gone when a boy appeared at the door. This time
he presented to Tomlinson not one telegram but a little bundle of them.

The Wizard read them with a lengthening face. The first ran something
like this, "Congratulate you on your daring market turned instantly";
and the next, "Your opinion justified market rose have sold at 20
points profit"; and a third, "Your forecast entirely correct C. P. rose
at once send further instructions."

These and similar messages were from brokers' offices, and all of them
were in the same tone; one told him that C. P. was up, and another T.
G. P. had passed 129, and another that T. C. R. R. had risen ten--all
of which things were imputed to the wonderful sagacity of Tomlinson.
Whereas if they had told him that X. Y. Z. had risen to the moon he
would have been just as wise as to what it meant.

"Well," said the wife of the Wizard as her husband finished looking
through the reports, "how are things this morning? Are they any better?"

"No," said Tomlinson, and he sighed as he said it; "this is the worst
day yet. It's just been a shower of telegrams, and mostly all the same.
I can't do the figuring of it like you can, but I reckon I must have
made another hundred thousand dollars since yesterday."

"You don't say so!" said mother, and they looked at one another
gloomily.

"And half a million last week, wasn't it?" said Tomlinson as he sank
into a chair. "I'm afraid, mother," he continued, "it's no good. We
don't know how. We weren't brought up to it."

All of which meant that if the editor of the _Monetary Afternoon_ or
_Financial Sunday_ had been able to know what was happening with the
two wizards, he could have written up a news story calculated to
electrify all America.

For the truth was that Tomlinson, the Wizard of Finance, was attempting
to carry out a _coup_ greater than any as yet attributed to him by the
Press. He was trying to lose his money. That, in the sickness of his
soul, crushed by the Grand Palaver, overwhelmed with the burden of high
finance, had become his aim, to be done with it, to get rid of his
whole fortune.

But if you own a fortune that is computed anywhere from fifty millions
up, with no limit at the top, if you own one-half of all the preferred
stock of an Erie Auriferous Consolidated that is digging gold in
hydraulic bucketfuls from a quarter of a mile of river bed, the task of
losing it is no easy matter.

There are men, no doubt, versed in finance, who might succeed in doing
it. But they have a training that Tomlinson lacked. Invest it as he
would in the worst securities that offered, the most rickety of stock,
the most fraudulent bonds, back it came to him. When he threw a handful
away, back came two in its place. And at every new coup the crowd
applauded the incomparable daring, the unparalleled prescience of the
Wizard.

Like the touch of Midas, his hand turned everything to gold.

"Mother," he repeated, "it's no use. It's like this here Destiny, as
the books call it."

        *    *    *    *    *

The great fortune that Tomlinson, the Wizard of Finance, was trying his
best to lose had come to him with wonderful suddenness. As yet it was
hardly six months old. As to how it had originated, there were all
sorts of stories afloat in the weekly illustrated press. They agreed
mostly on the general basis that Tomlinson had made his vast fortune by
his own indomitable pluck and dogged industry. Some said that he had
been at one time a mere farm hand who, by sheer doggedness, had fought
his way from the hay-mow to the control of the produce market of
seventeen states. Others had it that he had been a lumberjack who, by
sheer doggedness, had got possession of the whole lumber forest of the
Lake district. Others said that he had been a miner in a Lake Superior
copper mine who had, by the doggedness of his character, got a
practical monopoly of the copper supply. These Saturday articles, at
any rate, made the Saturday reader rigid with sympathetic doggedness
himself, which was all that the editor (who was doggedly trying to make
the paper pay) wanted to effect.

But in reality the making of Tomlinson's fortune was very simple. The
recipe for it is open to anyone. It is only necessary to own a hillside
farm beside Lake Erie where the uncleared bush and the broken fields go
straggling down to the lake, and to have running through it a creek,
such as that called Tomlinson's, brawling among the stones and willows,
and to discover in the bed of a creek--a gold mine.

That is all.

Nor is it necessary in these well-ordered days to discover the gold for
one's self. One might have lived a lifetime on the farm, as Tomlinson's
father had, and never discover it for one's self. For that indeed the
best medium of destiny is a geologist, let us say the senior professor
of geology at Plutoria University. That was how it happened.

The senior professor, so it chanced, was spending his vacation near by
on the shores of the lake, and his time was mostly passed--for how
better can a man spend a month of pleasure?--in looking for
outcroppings of Devonian rock of the post-tertiary period. For which
purpose he carried a vacation hammer in his pocket, and made from time
to time a note or two as he went along, or filled his pockets with the
chippings of vacation rocks.

So it chanced that he came to Tomlinson's Creek at the very point where
a great slab of Devonian rock bursts through the clay of the bank. When
the senior professor of geology saw it and noticed a stripe like a mark
on a tiger's back--a fault he called it--that ran over the face of the
block, he was at it in an instant, beating off fragments with his
little hammer.

Tomlinson and his boy Fred were logging in the underbrush near by with
a long chain and yoke of oxen, but the geologist was so excited that he
did not see them till the sound of his eager hammer had brought them to
his side. They took him up to the frame house in the clearing, where
the chatelaine was hoeing a potato patch with a man's hat on her head,
and they gave him buttermilk and soda cakes, but his hand shook so that
he could hardly eat them.

The geologist left Cahoga station that night for the City with a
newspaper full of specimens inside his suit-case, and he knew that if
any person or persons would put up money enough to tear that block of
rock away and follow the fissure down, there would be found there
something to astonish humanity, geologists and all.

        *    *    *    *    *

After that point in the launching of a gold mine the rest is easy.
Generous, warm-hearted men, interested in geology, were soon found.
There was no stint of money. The great rock was torn sideways from its
place, and from beneath it the crumbled, glittering rock-dust that
sparkled in the sun was sent in little boxes to the testing
laboratories of Plutoria University. There the senior professor of
geology had sat up with it far into the night in a darkened laboratory,
with little blue flames playing underneath crucibles, as in a
magician's cavern, and with the door locked. And as each sample that he
tested was set aside and tied in a cardboard box by itself, he labelled
it "aur. p. 75," and the pen shook in his hand as he marked it. For to
professors of geology those symbols mean "this is seventy-five per cent
pure gold." So it was no wonder that the senior professor of geology
working far into the night among the blue flames shook with excitement;
not, of course, for the gold's sake as money (he had no time to think
of that), but because if this thing was true it meant that an
auriferous vein had been found in what was Devonian rock of the
post-tertiary stratification, and if that was so it upset enough
geology to spoil a textbook. It would mean that the professor could
read a paper at the next Pan-Geological Conference that would turn the
whole assembly into a bedlam.

It pleased him, too, to know that the men he was dealing with were
generous. They had asked him to name his own price or the tests that he
made and when he had said two dollars per sample they had told him to
go right ahead. The professor was not, I suppose, a mercenary man, but
it pleased him to think that he could, clean up sixteen dollars in a
single evening in his laboratory. It showed, at any rate, that
businessmen put science at its proper value. Strangest of all was the
fact that the men had told him that even this ore was apparently
nothing to what there was; it had all come out of one single spot in
the creek, not the hundredth part of the whole claim. Lower down, where
they had thrown the big dam across to make the bed dry, they were
taking out this same stuff and even better, so they said, in cartloads.
The hydraulic dredges were tearing it from the bed of the creek all
day, and at night a great circuit of arc lights gleamed and sputtered
over the roaring labour of the friends of geological research.

Thus had the Erie Auriferous Consolidated broken in a tidal wave over
financial circles. On the Stock Exchange, in the downtown offices, and
among the palm trees of the Mausoleum Club they talked of nothing else.
And so great was the power of the wave that it washed Tomlinson and his
wife along on the crest of it, and landed them fifty feet up in their
thousand-dollar suite in the Grand Palaver. And as a result of it
"mother" wore a beetle-back jacket; and Tomlinson received a hundred
telegrams a day, and Fred quit school and ate chocolates.

But in the business world the most amazing thing about it was the
wonderful shrewdness of Tomlinson.

The first sign of it had been that he had utterly refused to allow the
Erie Auriferous Consolidated (as the friends of geology called
themselves) to take over the top half of the Tomlinson farm. For the
bottom part he let them give him one-half of the preferred stock in the
company in return for their supply of development capital. This was
their own proposition; in fact, they reckoned that in doing this they
were trading about two hundred thousand dollars' worth of machinery
for, say ten million dollars of gold. But it frightened them when
Tomlinson said "Yes" to the offer, and when he said that as to common
stock they might keep it, it was no use to him, they were alarmed and
uneasy till they made him take a block of it for the sake of market
confidence.

But the top end of the farm he refused to surrender, and the friends of
applied geology knew that there must be something pretty large behind
this refusal; the more so as the reason that Tomlinson gave was such a
simple one. He said that he didn't want to part with the top end of the
place because his father was buried on it beside the creek, and so he
didn't want the dam higher up, not for any consideration.

This was regarded in business circles as a piece of great shrewdness.
"Says his father is buried there, eh? Devilish shrewd that!"

It was so long since any of the members of the Exchange or the
Mausoleum Club had wandered into such places as Cahoga County that they
did not know that there was nothing strange in what Tomlinson said. His
father was buried there, on the farm itself, in a grave overgrown with
raspberry bushes, and with a wooden headstone encompassed by a square
of cedar rails, and slept as many another pioneer of Cahoga is sleeping.

"Devilish smart idea!" they said; and forthwith half the financial men
of the city buried their fathers, or professed to have done so, in
likely places--along the prospective right-of-way of a suburban
railway, for example; in fact, in any place that marked them out for
the joyous resurrection of an expropriation purchase.

Thus the astounding shrewdness of Tomlinson rapidly became a legend,
the more so as he turned everything he touched to gold.

They narrated little stories of him in the whiskey-and-soda corners of
the Mausoleum Club.

"I put it to him in a casual way," related, for example, Mr. Lucullus
Fyshe, "casually, but quite frankly. I said, 'See here, this is just a
bagatelle to you, no doubt, but to me it might be of some use. T. C.
bonds,' I said, 'have risen twenty-two and a half in a week. You know
as well as I do that they are only collateral trust, and that the stock
underneath never could and never can earn a par dividend. Now,' I said,
'Mr. Tomlinson, tell me what all that means?' Would you believe it, the
fellow looked me right in the face in that queer way he has and he
said, 'I don't know!'"

"He said he didn't know!" repeated the listener, in a tone of amazement
and respect. "By Jove! eh? he said he didn't know! The man's a wizard!"

"And he looked as if he didn't!" went on Mr. Fyshe. "That's the deuce
of it. That man when he wants to can put on a look, sir, that simply
means nothing, absolutely nothing."

In this way Tomlinson had earned his name of the Wizard of American
Finance.

And meantime Tomlinson and his wife, within their suite at the Grand
Palaver, had long since reached their decision. For there was one
aspect and only one in which Tomlinson was really and truly a wizard.
He saw clearly that for himself and his wife the vast fortune that had
fallen to them was of no manner of use. What did it bring them? The
noise and roar of the City in place of the silence of the farm and the
racket of the great rotunda to drown the remembered murmur of the
waters of the creek.

So Tomlinson had decided to rid himself of his new wealth, save only
such as might be needed to make his son a different kind of man from
himself.

"For Fred, of course," he said, "it's different. But out of such a lot
as that it'll be easy to keep enough for him. It'll be a grand thing
for Fred, this money. He won't have to grow up like you and me. He'll
have opportunities we never got." He was getting them already. The
opportunity to wear seven dollar patent leather shoes and a bell-shaped
overcoat with a silk collar, to lounge into moving-picture shows and
eat chocolates and smoke cigarettes--all these opportunities he was
gathering immediately. Presently, when he learned his way round a
little, he would get still bigger ones.

"He's improving fast," said mother. She was thinking of his patent
leather shoes.

"He's popular," said his father. "I notice it downstairs. He sasses any
of them just as he likes; and no matter how busy they are, as soon as
they see it's Fred they're all ready to have a laugh with him."

Certainly they were, as any hotel clerk with plastered hair is ready to
laugh with the son of a multimillionaire. It's a certain sense of
humour that they develop.

"But for us, mother," said the Wizard, "we'll be rid of it. The gold is
there. It's not right to keep it back. But we'll just find a way to
pass it on to folks that need it worse than we do."

For a time they had thought of giving away the fortune. But how? Who
did they know that would take it?

It had crossed their minds--for who could live in the City a month
without observing the imposing buildings of Plutoria University, as
fine as any departmental store in town?--that they might give it to the
college.

But there, it seemed, the way was blocked.

"You see, mother," said the puzzled Wizard, "we're not known. We're
strangers. I'd look fine going up there to the college and saying, 'I
want to give you people a million dollars.' They'd laugh at me!"

"But don't one read it in the papers," his wife had protested, "where
Mr. Carnegie gives ever so much to the colleges, more than all we've
got, and they take it?"

"That's different," said the Wizard. "He's in with them. They all know
him. Why, he's a sort of chairman of different boards of colleges, and
he knows all the heads of the schools, and the professors, so it's no
wonder that if he offers to give a pension, or anything, they take it.
Just think of me going up to one of the professors up there in the
middle of his teaching and saying; 'I'd like to give you a pension for
life!' Imagine it! Think what he'd say!"

But the Tomlinsons couldn't imagine it, which was just as well.

So it came about that they had embarked on their system. Mother, who
knew most arithmetic, was the leading spirit. She tracked out all the
stocks and bonds in the front page of the _Financial Undertone_, and on
her recommendation the Wizard bought. They knew the stocks only by
their letters, but this itself gave a touch of high finance to their
deliberations.

"I'd buy some of this R.O.P. if I was you," said mother; "it's gone
down from 127 to 107 in two days, and I reckon it'll be all gone in ten
days or so."

"Wouldn't 'G.G. deb.' be better? It goes down quicker."

"Well, it's a quick one," she assented, "but it don't go down so
steady. You can't rely on it. You take ones like R.O.P. and T.R.R.
pfd.; they go down all the time and you know where you are."

As a result of which, Tomlinson would send his instructions. He did it
all from the rotunda in a way of his own that he had evolved with a
telegraph clerk who told him the names of brokers, and he dealt thus
through brokers whom he never saw. As a result of this, the sluggish
R.O.P. and T.R.R. would take as sudden a leap into the air as might a
mule with a galvanic shock applied to its tail. At once the word was
whispered that the "Tomlinson interests" were after the R.O.P. to
reorganize it, and the whole floor of the Exchange scrambled for the
stock.

And so it was that after a month or two of these operations the Wizard
of Finance saw himself beaten.

"It's no good, mother," he repeated, "it's just a kind of Destiny."

Destiny perhaps it was.

But, if the Wizard of Finance had known it, at this very moment when he
sat with the Aladdin's palace of his golden fortune reared so strangely
about him, Destiny was preparing for him still stranger things.

Destiny, so it would seem, was devising Its own ways and means of
dealing with Tomlinson's fortune. As one of the ways and means, Destiny
was sending at this moment as its special emissaries two huge, portly
figures, wearing gigantic goloshes, and striding downwards from the
halls of Plutoria University to the Grand Palaver Hotel. And one of
these was the gigantic Dr. Boomer, the president of the college, and
the other was his professor of Greek, almost as gigantic as himself.
And they carried in their capacious pockets bundles of pamphlets on
"Archaeological Remains of Mitylene," and the "Use of the Greek
Pluperfect," and little treatises such as "Education and Philanthropy,"
by Dr. Boomer, and "The Excavation of Mitylene: An Estimate of Cost,"
by Dr. Boyster, "Boomer on the Foundation and Maintenance of Chairs,"
etc.

Many a man in city finance who had seen Dr. Boomer enter his office
with a bundle of these monographs and a fighting glitter in his eyes
had sunk back in his chair in dismay. For it meant that Dr. Boomer had
tracked him out for a benefaction to the University, and that all
resistance was hopeless.

When Dr. Boomer once laid upon a capitalist's desk his famous pamphlet
on the "Use of the Greek Pluperfect," it was as if an Arabian sultan
had sent the fatal bow-string to a condemned pasha, or Morgan the
buccaneer had served the death-sign on a shuddering pirate.

So they came nearer and nearer, shouldering the passers-by. The sound
of them as they talked was like the roaring of the sea as Homer heard
it. Never did Castor and Pollux come surging into battle as Dr. Boomer
and Dr. Boyster bore down upon the Grand Palaver Hotel.

Tomlinson, the Wizard of Finance, had hesitated about going to the
university. The university was coming to him. As for those millions of
his, he could take his choice--dormitories, apparatus, campuses,
buildings, endowment, anything he liked but choose he must. And if he
feared that, after all, his fortune was too vast even for such a
disposal, Dr. Boomer would show him how he might use it in digging up
ancient Mitylene, or modern Smyrna, or the lost cities of the Plain of
Pactolus. If the size of the fortune troubled him, Dr. Boomer would dig
him up the whole African Sahara from Alexandria to Morocco, and ask for
more.

But if Destiny held all this for Tomlinson in its outstretched palm
before it, it concealed stranger things still beneath the folds of its
toga.

There were enough surprises there to turn the faces of the whole
directorate of the Erie Auriferous Consolidated as yellow as the gold
they mined.

For at this very moment, while the president of Plutoria University
drew nearer and nearer to the Grand Palaver Hotel, the senior professor
of geology was working again beside the blue flames in his darkened
laboratory. And this time there was no shaking excitement over him. Nor
were the labels that he marked, as sample followed sample in the tests,
the same as those of the previous marking. Not by any means.

And his grave face as he worked in silence was as still as the stones
of the post-tertiary period.



CHAPTER THREE: The Arrested Philanthropy of Mr. Tomlinson

"This, Mr. Tomlinson, is our campus," said President Boomer as they
passed through the iron gates of Plutoria University.

"For camping?" said the Wizard.

"Not exactly," answered the president, "though it would, of course,
suit for that. _Nihil humunum alienum_, eh?" and he broke into a loud,
explosive laugh, while his spectacles irradiated that peculiar form of
glee derived from a Latin quotation by those able to enjoy it. Dr.
Boyster, walking on the other side of Mr. Tomlinson, joined in the
laugh in a deep, reverberating chorus.

The two had the Wizard of Finance between them, and they were marching
him up to the University. He was taken along much as is an arrested man
who has promised to go quietly. They kept their hands off him, but they
watched him sideways through their spectacles. At the least sign of
restlessness they doused him with Latin. The Wizard of Finance, having
been marked out by Dr. Boomer and Dr. Boyster as a prospective
benefactor, was having Latin poured over him to reduce him to the
proper degree of plasticity.

They had already put him through the first stage. They had, three days
ago, called on him at the Grand Palaver and served him with a pamphlet
on "The Excavation of Mitylene" as a sort of writ. Tomlinson and his
wife had looked at the pictures of the ruins, and from the appearance
of them they judged that Mitylene was in Mexico, and they said that it
was a shame to see it in that state and that the United States ought to
intervene.

As the second stage on the path of philanthropy, the Wizard of Finance
was now being taken to look at the university. Dr. Boomer knew by
experience that no rich man could look at it without wanting to give it
money.

And here the president had found that there is no better method of
dealing with businessmen than to use Latin on them. For other purposes
the president used other things. For example at a friendly dinner at
the Mausoleum Club where light conversation was in order, Dr. Boomer
chatted, as has been seen, on the archaeological remains of the
Navajos. In the same way, at Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown's Dante luncheons, he
generally talked of the Italian _cinquecentisti_ and whether Gian Gobbo
della Scala had left a greater name than Can Grande della Spiggiola.
But such talk as that was naturally only for women. Businessmen are
much too shrewd for that kind of thing; in fact, so shrewd are they, as
President Boomer had long since discovered, that nothing pleases them
so much as the quiet, firm assumption that they know Latin. It is like
writing them up an asset. So it was that Dr. Boomer would greet a
business acquaintance with a roaring salutation of, "_Terque quaterque
beatus_," or stand wringing his hand off to the tune of "_Oh et
presidium et dulce decus meum_."

This caught them every time.

"You don't," said Tomlinson the Wizard in a hesitating tone as he
looked at the smooth grass of the campus, "I suppose, raise anything on
it?"

"No, no; this is only for field sports," said the president; "_sunt
quos curriculo_--"

To which Dr. Boyster on the other side added, like a chorus, "_pulverem
Olympicum_."

This was their favourite quotation. It always gave President Boomer a
chance to speak of the final letter "m" in Latin poetry, and to say
that in his opinion the so-called elision of the final "m" was more
properly a dropping of the vowel with a repercussion of the two last
consonants. He supported this by quoting Ammianus, at which Dr. Boyster
exclaimed, "Pooh! Ammianus: more dog Latin!" and appealed to Mr.
Tomlinson as to whether any rational man nowadays cared what Ammianus
thought?

To all of which Tomlinson answered never a word, but looked steadily
first at one and then at the other. Dr. Boomer said afterwards that the
penetration of Tomlinson was wonderful, and that it was excellent to
see how Boyster tried in vain to draw him; and Boyster said afterwards
that the way in which Tomlinson quietly refused to be led on by Boomer
was delicious, and that it was a pity that Aristophanes was not there
to do it justice.

All of which was happening as they went in at the iron gates and up the
elm avenue of Plutoria University.

The university, as everyone knows, stands with its great gates on
Plutoria Avenue, and with its largest buildings, those of the faculties
of industrial and mechanical science, fronting full upon the street.

These buildings are exceptionally fine, standing fifteen stories high
and comparing favourably with the best departmental stores or factories
in the City. Indeed, after nightfall, when they are all lighted up for
the evening technical classes and when their testing machinery is in
full swing and there are students going in and out in overall suits,
people have often mistaken the university, or this newer part of it,
for a factory. A foreign visitor once said that the students looked
like plumbers, and President Boomer was so proud of it that he put the
phrase into his next Commencement address; and from there the
newspapers got it and the Associated Press took it up and sent it all
over the United States with the heading, "Have Appearance of Plumbers;
Plutoria University Congratulated on Character of Students," and it was
a proud day indeed for the heads of the Industrial Science faculty.

But the older part of the university stands so quietly and modestly at
the top end of the elm avenue, so hidden by the leaves of it, that no
one could mistake it for a factory. This, indeed, was once the whole
university, and had stood there since colonial days under the name
Concordia College. It had been filled with generations of presidents
and professors of the older type with long white beards and rusty black
clothes, and salaries of fifteen hundred dollars.

But the change both of name and of character from Concordia College to
Plutoria University was the work of President Boomer. He had changed it
from an old-fashioned college of the by-gone type to a university in
the true modern sense. At Plutoria they now taught everything.
Concordia College, for example, had no teaching of religion except
lectures on the Bible. Now they had lectures also on Confucianism,
Mohammedanism Buddhism, with an optional course on atheism for students
in the final year.

And, of course, they had long since admitted women, and there were now
beautiful creatures with Cleo de Merode hair studying astronomy at
oaken desks and looking up at the teacher with eyes like comets. The
university taught everything and did everything. It had whirling
machines on the top of it that measured the speed of the wind, and deep
in its basements it measured earthquakes with a seismograph; it held
classes on forestry and dentistry and palmistry; it sent life classes
into the slums, and death classes to the city morgue. It offered such a
vast variety of themes, topics and subjects to the students, that there
was nothing that a student was compelled to learn, while from its own
presses in its own press-building it sent out a shower of bulletins and
monographs like driven snow from a rotary plough.

In fact, it had become, as President Boomer told all the businessmen in
town, not merely a university, but a _universitas_ in the true sense,
and every one of its faculties was now a _facultas_ in the real
acceptance of the word, and its studies properly and truly _studia_;
indeed, if the businessmen would only build a few more dormitories and
put up enough money to form an adequate _fondatum_ or _fundum_, then
the good work might be looked upon as complete.

As the three walked up the elm avenue there met them a little stream of
students with college books, and female students with winged-victory
hats, and professors with last year's overcoats. And some went past
with a smile and others with a shiver.

"That's Professor Withers," said the president in a sympathetic voice
as one of the shivering figures went past; "poor Withers," and he
sighed.

"What's wrong with him?" said the Wizard; "is he sick?"

"No, not sick," said the president quietly and sadly, "merely
inefficient."

"Inefficient?"

"Unfortunately so. Mind you, I don't mean 'inefficient' in every sense.
By no means. If anyone were to come to me and say, 'Boomer, can you put
your hand for me on a first-class botanist?' I'd say, 'Take Withers.'
I'd say it in a minute." This was true. He would have. In fact, if
anyone had made this kind of rash speech, Dr. Boomer would have given
away half the professoriate.

"Well, what's wrong with him?" repeated Tomlinson, "I suppose he ain't
quite up to the mark in some ways, eh?"

"Precisely," said the president, "not quite up to the mark--a very
happy way of putting it. _Capax imperii nisi imperasset_, as no doubt
you are thinking to yourself. The fact is that Withers, though an
excellent fellow, can't manage large classes. With small classes he is
all right, but with large classes the man is lost. He can't handle
them."

"He can't, eh?" said the Wizard.

"No. But what can I do? There he is. I can't dismiss him. I can't
pension him. I've no money for it."

Here the president slackened a little in his walk and looked sideways
at the prospective benefactor. But Tomlinson gave no sign.

A second professorial figure passed them on the other side.

"There again," said the president, "that's another case of
inefficiency--Professor Shottat, our senior professor of English."

"What's wrong with _him_?" asked the Wizard.

"He can't handle _small_ classes," said the president. "With large
classes he is really excellent, but with small ones the man is simply
hopeless."

In this fashion, before Mr. Tomlinson had measured the length of the
avenue, he had had ample opportunity to judge of the crying need of
money at Plutoria University, and of the perplexity of its president.
He was shown professors who could handle the first year, but were
powerless with the second; others who were all right with the second
but broke down with the third, while others could handle the third but
collapsed with the fourth. There were professors who were all right in
their own subject, but perfectly impossible outside of it; others who
were so occupied outside of their own subject that they were useless
inside of it; others who knew their subject, but couldn't lecture; and
others again who lectured admirably, but didn't know their subject.

In short it was clear--as it was meant to be--that the need of the
moment was a sum of money sufficient to enable the president to dismiss
everybody but himself and Dr. Boyster. The latter stood in a class all
by himself. He had known the president for forty-five years, ever since
he was a fat little boy with spectacles in a classical academy,
stuffing himself on irregular Greek verbs as readily as if on oysters.

But it soon appeared that the need for dismissing the professors was
only part of the trouble. There were the buildings to consider.

"This, I am ashamed to say," said Dr. Boomer, as they passed the
imitation Greek portico of the old Concordia College building, "is our
original home, the _fons et origo_ of our studies, our faculty of arts."

It was indeed a dilapidated building, yet there was a certain majesty
about it, too, especially when one reflected that it had been standing
there looking much the same at the time when its students had trooped
off in a flock to join the army of the Potomac, and much the same,
indeed, three generations before that, when the classes were closed and
the students clapped three-cornered hats on their heads and were off to
enlist as minute men with flintlock muskets under General Washington.

But Dr. Boomer's one idea was to knock the building down and to build
on its site a real _facultas_ ten storeys high, with elevators in it.

Tomlinson looked about him humbly as he stood in the main hall. The
atmosphere of the place awed him. There were bulletins and time-tables
and notices stuck on the walls that gave evidence of the activity of
the place. "Professor Slithers will be unable to meet his classes
today," ran one of them, and another "Professor Withers will not meet
his classes this week," and another, "Owing to illness, Professor
Shottat will not lecture this month," while still another announced,
"Owing to the indisposition of Professor Podge, all botanical classes
are suspended, but Professor Podge hopes to be able to join in the
Botanical Picnic Excursion to Loon Lake on Saturday afternoon." You
could judge of the grinding routine of the work from the nature of
these notices. Anyone familiar with the work of colleges would not heed
it, but it shocked Tomlinson to think how often the professors of the
college were stricken down by overwork.

Here and there in the hall, set into niches, were bronze busts of men
with Roman faces and bare necks, and the edge of a toga cast over each
shoulder.

"Who would these be?" asked Tomlinson, pointing at them. "Some of the
chief founders and benefactors of the faculty," answered the president,
and at this the hopes of Tomlinson sank in his heart. For he realized
the class of man one had to belong to in order to be accepted as a
university benefactor.

"A splendid group of men, are they not?" said the president. "We owe
them much. This is the late Mr. Hogworth, a man of singularly large
heart." Here he pointed to a bronze figure wearing a wreath of laurel
and inscribed GULIEMUS HOGWORTH, LITT. DOC. "He had made a great
fortune in the produce business and wishing to mark his gratitude to
the community he erected the anemometer, the wind-measure, on the roof
of the building, attaching to it no other condition than that his name
should be printed in the weekly reports immediately beside the velocity
of the wind. The figure beside him is the late Mr. Underbugg, who
founded our lectures on the Four Gospels on the sole stipulation that
henceforth any reference of ours to the four gospels should be coupled
with his name."

"What's that after his name?" asked Tomlinson.

"Litt. Doc.?" said the president. "Doctor of Letters, our honorary
degree. We are always happy to grant it to our benefactors by a vote of
the faculty."

Here Dr. Boomer and Dr. Boyster wheeled half round and looked quietly
and steadily at the Wizard of Finance. To both their minds it was
perfectly plain that an honourable bargain was being struck.

"Yes, Mr. Tomlinson," said the president, as they emerged from the
building, "no doubt you begin to realize our unhappy position. Money,
money, money," he repeated half-musingly. "If I had the money I'd have
that whole building down and dismantled in a fortnight."

From the central building the three passed to the museum building,
where Tomlinson was shown a vast skeleton of a Diplodocus Maximus, and
was specially warned not to confuse it with the Dinosaurus Perfectus,
whose bones, however, could be bought if anyone, any man of large
heart; would come to the university and say straight out, "Gentlemen,
what can I do for you?" Better still, it appeared the whole museum
which was hopelessly antiquated, being twenty-five years old, could be
entirely knocked down if a sufficient sum was forthcoming; and its
curator, who was as ancient as the Dinosaurus itself, could be
dismissed on half-pay if any man had a heart large enough for the
dismissal.

From the museum they passed to the library, where there were
full-length portraits of more founders and benefactors in long red
robes, holding scrolls of paper, and others sitting holding pens and
writing on parchment, with a Greek temple and a thunderstorm in the
background.

And here again it appeared that the crying need of the moment was for
someone to come to the university and say, "Gentlemen, what can I do
for you?" On which the whole library, for it was twenty years old and
out of date, might be blown up with dynamite and carted away.

But at all this the hopes of Tomlinson sank lower and lower. The red
robes and the scrolls were too much for him.

From the library they passed to the tall buildings that housed the
faculty of industrial and mechanical science. And here again the same
pitiful lack of money was everywhere apparent. For example, in the
physical science department there was a mass of apparatus for which the
university was unable to afford suitable premises, and in the chemical
department there were vast premises for which the university was unable
to buy apparatus, and so on. Indeed it was part of Dr. Boomer's method
to get himself endowed first with premises too big for the apparatus,
and then by appealing to public spirit to call for enough apparatus to
more than fill the premises, by means of which system industrial
science at Plutoria University advanced with increasing and gigantic
strides.

But most of all, the electric department interested the Wizard of
Finance. And this time his voice lost its hesitating tone and he looked
straight at Dr. Boomer as he began,

"I have a boy--"

"Ah!" said Dr. Boomer, with a huge ejaculation of surprise and relief;
"you have a boy!"

There were volumes in his tone. What it meant was, "Now, indeed, we
have got you where we want you," and he exchanged a meaning look with
the professor of Greek.

Within five minutes the president and Tomlinson and Dr. Boyster were
gravely discussing on what terms and in what way Fred might be admitted
to study in the faculty of industrial science. The president, on
learning that Fred had put in four years in Cahoga County Section No. 3
School, and had been head of his class in ciphering, nodded his head
gravely and said it would simply be a matter of a _pro tanto_; that, in
fact, he felt sure that Fred might be admitted _ad eundem_. But the
real condition on which they meant to admit him was, of course, not
mentioned.

One door only in the faculty of industrial and mechanical science they
did not pass, a heavy oak door at the end of a corridor bearing the
painted inscription: Geological and Metallurgical Laboratories. Stuck
in the door was a card with the words (they were conceived in the
courteous phrases of mechanical science, which is almost a branch of
business in the real sense): Busy--keep out.

Dr. Boomer looked at the card. "Ah, yes," he said. "Gildas is no doubt
busy with his tests. We won't disturb him." The president was always
proud to find a professor busy; it looked well.

But if Dr. Boomer had known what was going on behind the oaken door of
the Department of Geology and Metallurgy, he would have felt
considerably disturbed himself.

For here again Gildas, senior professor of geology, was working among
his blue flames at a final test on which depended the fate of the Erie
Auriferous Consolidated and all connected with it.

Before him there were some twenty or thirty packets of crumpled dust
and splintered ore that glittered on the testing-table. It had been
taken up from the creek along its whole length, at even spaces twenty
yards apart, by an expert sent down in haste by the directorate, after
Gildas's second report, and heavily bribed to keep his mouth shut.

And as Professor Gildas stood and worked at the samples and tied them
up after analysis in little white cardboard boxes, he marked each one
very carefully and neatly with the words, PYRITES: WORTHLESS.

Beside the professor worked a young demonstrator of last year's
graduation class. It was he, in fact, who had written the polite notice
on the card.

"What is the stuff, anyway?" he asked.

"A sulphuret of iron," said the professor, "or iron pyrites. In colour
and appearance it is practically identical with gold. Indeed, in all
ages," he went on, dropping at once into the classroom tone and
adopting the professional habit of jumping backwards twenty centuries
in order to explain anything properly, "it has been readily mistaken
for the precious metal. The ancients called it 'fool's gold.' Martin
Frobisher brought back four shiploads of it from Baffin Land thinking
that he had discovered an Eldorado. There are large deposits of it in
the mines of Cornwall, and it is just possible," here the professor
measured his words as if speaking of something that he wouldn't
promise, "that the Cassiterides of the Phoenicians contained deposits
of the same sulphuret. Indeed, I defy anyone," he continued, for he was
piqued in his scientific pride, "to distinguish it from gold without a
laboratory-test. In large quantities, I concede, its lack of weight
would betray it to a trained hand, but without testing its solubility
in nitric acid, or the fact of its burning with a blue flame under the
blow-pipe, it cannot be detected. In short, when crystallized in
dodecahedrons--"

"Is it any good?" broke in the demonstrator.

"Good?" said the professor. "Oh, you mean commercially? Not in the
slightest. Much less valuable than, let us say, ordinary mud or clay.
In fact, it is absolutely good for nothing."

They were silent for a moment, watching the blue flames above the
brazier.

Then Gildas spoke again. "Oddly enough," he said, "the first set of
samples were undoubtedly pure gold--not the faintest doubt of that.
That is the really interesting part of the matter. These gentlemen
concerned in the enterprise will, of course, lose their money, and I
shall therefore decline to accept the very handsome fee which they had
offered me for my services. But the main feature, the real point of
interest in this matter remains. Here we have undoubtedly a sporadic
deposit--what miners call a pocket--of pure gold in a Devonian
formation of the post-tertiary period. This once established, we must
revise our entire theory of the distribution of igneous and aqueous
rocks. In fact, I am already getting notes together for a paper for the
Pan-Geological under the heading, Auriferous Excretions in the Devonian
Strata: a Working Hypothesis. I hope to read it at the next meeting."

The young demonstrator looked at the professor with one eye half-closed.

"I don't think I would if I were you." he said.

Now this young demonstrator knew nothing or practically nothing, of
geology, because he came of one of the richest and best families in
town and didn't need to. But he was a smart young man, dressed in the
latest fashion with brown boots and a crosswise tie, and he knew more
about money and business and the stock exchange in five minutes than
Professor Gildas in his whole existence.

"Why not?" said the professor.

"Why, don't you see what's happened?"

"Eh?" said Gildas.

"What happened to those first samples? When that bunch got interested
and planned to float the company? Don't you see? Somebody salted them
on you."

"_Salted_ them on me?" repeated the professor, mystified.

"Yes, salted them. Somebody got wise to what they were and swopped them
on you for the real thing, so as to get your certified report that the
stuff was gold."

"I begin to see," muttered the professor. "Somebody exchanged the
samples, some person no doubt desirous of establishing the theory that
a sporadic outcropping of the sort might be found in a post-tertiary
formation. I see, I see. No doubt he intended to prepare a paper on it,
and prove his thesis by these tests. I see it all!"

The demonstrator looked at the professor with a sort of pity.

"You're on!" he said, and he laughed softly to himself.

        *    *    *    *    *

"Well," said Dr. Boomer, after Tomlinson had left the university, "what
do you make of him?" The president had taken Dr. Boyster over to his
house beside the campus, and there in his study had given him a cigar
as big as a rope and taken another himself. This was a sign that Dr.
Boomer wanted Dr. Boyster's opinion in plain English, without any Latin
about it.

"Remarkable man," said the professor of Greek; "wonderful penetration,
and a man of very few words. Of course his game is clear enough?"

"Entirely so," asserted Dr. Boomer.

"It's clear enough that he means to give the money on two conditions."

"Exactly," said the president.

"First that we admit his son, who is quite unqualified, to the senior
studies in electrical science, and second that we grant him the degree
of Doctor of Letters. Those are his terms." "Can we meet them?"

"Oh, certainly. As to the son, there is no difficulty, of course; as to
the degree, it's only a question of getting the faculty to vote it. I
think we can manage it."

        *    *    *    *    *

Vote it they did that very afternoon. True, if the members of the
faculty had known the things that were being whispered, and more than
whispered, in the City about Tomlinson and his fortune, no degree would
ever have been conferred on him. But it so happened that at that moment
the whole professoriate was absorbed in one of those great educational
crises which from time to time shake a university to its base. The
meeting of the faculty that day bid fair to lose all vestige of decorum
in the excitement of the moment. For, as Dean Elderberry Foible, the
head of the faculty, said, the motion that they had before them
amounted practically to a revolution. The proposal was nothing less
than the permission of the use of lead-pencils instead of pen and ink
in the sessional examinations of the university. Anyone conversant with
the inner life of a college will realize that to many of the
professoriate this was nothing less than a last wild onslaught of
socialistic democracy against the solid bulwarks of society. They must
fight it back or die on the walls. To others it was one more step in
the splendid progress of democratic education, comparable only to such
epoch-making things as the abandonment of the cap and gown, and the
omission of the word "sir" in speaking to a professor.

No wonder that the fight raged. Elderberry Foible, his fluffed white
hair almost on end, beat in vain with his gavel for order. Finally,
Chang of Physiology, who was a perfect dynamo of energy and was known
frequently to work for three or four hours at a stretch, proposed that
the faculty should adjourn the question and meet for its further
discussion on the following Saturday morning. This revolutionary
suggestion, involving work on Saturday, reduced the meeting to a mere
turmoil, in the midst of which Elderberry Foible proposed that the
whole question of the use of lead-pencils should be adjourned till that
day six months, and that meantime a new special committee of seventeen
professors, with power to add to their number, to call witnesses and,
if need be, to hear them, should report on the entire matter _de novo_.
This motion, after the striking out of the words _de novo_ and the
insertion of _ab initio_, was finally carried, after which the faculty
sank back completely exhausted into its chair, the need of afternoon
tea and toast stamped on every face.

And it was at this moment that President Boomer, who understood
faculties as few men have done, quietly entered the room, laid his silk
hat on a volume of Demosthenes, and proposed the vote of a degree of
Doctor of Letters for Edward Tomlinson. He said that there was no need
to remind the faculty of Tomlinson's services to the nation; they knew
them. Of the members of the faculty, indeed, some thought that he meant
the Tomlinson who wrote the famous monologue on the Iota Subscript,
while others supposed that he referred to the celebrated philosopher
Tomlinson, whose new book on the Indivisibility of the Inseparable was
just then maddening the entire world. In any case, they voted the
degree without a word, still faint with exhaustion.

        *    *    *    *    *

But while the university was conferring on Tomlinson the degree of
Doctor of Letters, all over the City in business circles they were
conferring on him far other titles. "Idiot," "Scoundrel," "Swindler,"
were the least of them. Every stock and share with which his name was
known to be connected was coming down with a run, wiping out the
accumulated profits of the Wizard at the rate of a thousand dollars a
minute.

They not only questioned his honesty, but they went further and
questioned his business capacity.

"The man," said Mr. Lucullus Fyshe, sitting in the Mausoleum Club and
breathing freely at last after having disposed of all his holdings in
the Erie Auriferous, "is an ignoramus. I asked him only the other day,
quite casually, a perfectly simple business question. I said to him.
'T.C. Bonds have risen twenty-two and a half in a week. You know and I
know that they are only collateral trust, and that the stock underneath
never could and never would earn a par dividend. Now,' I said, for I
wanted to test the fellow, 'tell me what that means?' Would you believe
me, he looked me right in the face in that stupid way of his, and he
said, 'I don't know!'"

"He said he didn't know!" repeated the listener contemptuously; "the
man is a damn fool!"

        *    *    *    *    *

The reason of all this was that the results of the researches of the
professor of geology were being whispered among the directorate of the
Erie Auriferous. And the directors and chief shareholders were busily
performing the interesting process called unloading. Nor did ever a
farmer of Cahoga County in haying time with a thunderstorm threatening,
unload with greater rapidity than did the major shareholders of the
Auriferous. Mr. Lucullus Fyshe traded off a quarter of his stock to an
unwary member of the Mausoleum Club at a drop of thirty per cent, and
being too prudent to hold the rest on any terms, he conveyed it at once
as a benefaction in trust to the Plutorian Orphans' and Foundlings'
Home; while the purchaser of Mr. Fyshe's stock, learning too late of
his folly, rushed for his lawyers to have the shares conveyed as a gift
to the Home for Incurables.

Mr. Asmodeus Boulder transferred his entire holdings to the Imbeciles'
Relief Society, and Mr. Furlong, senior, passed his over to a Chinese
mission as fast as pen could traverse paper.

Down at the office of Skinyer and Beatem, the lawyers of the company,
they were working overtime drawing up deeds and conveyances and trusts
in perpetuity, with hardly time to put them into typewriting. Within
twenty-four hours the entire stock of the company bid fair to be in the
hands of Idiots, Orphans, Protestants, Foundlings, Imbeciles,
Missionaries, Chinese, and other unfinancial people, with Tomlinson the
Wizard of Finance as the senior shareholder and majority control. And
whether the gentle Wizard, as he sat with mother planning his vast
benefaction to Plutoria University, would have felt more at home with
his new group of fellow-shareholders than his old, it were hard to say.

But, meantime, at the office of Skinyer and Beatem all was activity.
For not only were they drafting the conveyances of the perpetual trusts
as fast as legal brains working overtime could do it, but in another
part of the office a section of the firm were busily making their
preparations against the expected actions for fraud and warrants of
distraint and injunctions against disposal of assets and the whole
battery of artillery which might open on them at any moment. And they
worked like a corps of military engineers fortifying an escarpment,
with the joy of battle in their faces.

The storm might break at any moment. Already at the office of the
_Financial Undertone_ the type was set for a special extra with a
heading three inches high:

             COLLAPSE
     OF THE ERIE CONSOLIDATED
    ARREST OF THE MAN TOMLINSON
       EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON

Skinyer and Beatem had paid the editor, who was crooked, two thousand
dollars cash to hold back that extra for twenty-four hours; and the
editor had paid the reporting staff, who were crooked, twenty-five
dollars each to keep the news quiet, and the compositors, who were also
crooked, ten dollars per man to hold their mouths shut till the
morning, with the result that from editors and sub-editors and
reporters and compositors the news went seething forth in a flood that
the Erie Auriferous Consolidated was going to shatter into fragments
like the bursting of a dynamite bomb. It rushed with a thousand
whispering tongues from street to street till it filled the corridors
of the law courts and the lobbies of the offices, and till every honest
man that held a share of the stock shivered in his tracks and reached
out to give, sell, or destroy it. Only the unwinking Idiots, and the
mild Orphans, and the calm Deaf mutes and the impassive Chinese held
tight to what they had. So gathered the storm, till all the town, like
the great rotunda of the Grand Palaver, was filled with a silent "call
for Mr. Tomlinson," voiceless and ominous.

And while all this was happening, and while at Skinyer and Beatem's
they worked with frantic pens and clattering type there came a knock at
the door, hesitant and uncertain, and before the eyes of the astounded
office there stood in his wide-awake hat and long black coat the figure
of "the man Tomlinson" himself.

And Skinyer, the senior partner, no sooner heard what Tomlinson wanted
than he dashed across the outer office to his partner's room with his
hyena face all excitement as he said:

"Beatem, Beatem, come over to my room. This man is absolutely the
biggest thing in America. For sheer calmness and nerve I never heard of
anything to approach him. What do you think he wants to do?"

"What?" said Beatem.

"Why, he's giving his entire fortune to the university."

"By Gad!" ejaculated Beatem, and the two lawyers looked at one another,
lost in admiration of the marvellous genius and assurance of Tomlinson.

        *    *    *    *    *

Yet what had happened was very simple.

Tomlinson had come back from the university filled with mingled hope
and hesitation. The university, he saw, needed the money and he hoped
to give it his entire fortune, to put Dr. Boomer in a position to
practically destroy the whole place. But, like many a modest man, he
lacked the assurance to speak out. He felt that up to the present the
benefactors of the university had been men of an entirely different
class from himself. It was mother who solved the situation for him.

"Well, father," she said, "there's one thing I've learned already since
we've had money. If you want to get a thing done you can always find
people to do it for you if you pay them. Why not go to those lawyers
that manage things for the company and get them to arrange it all for
you with the college?"

As a result, Tomlinson had turned up at the door of the Skinyer and
Beatem office.

        *    *    *    *    *

"Quite so, Mr. Tomlinson," said Skinyer, with his pen already dipped in
the ink, "a perfectly simple matter. I can draw up a draft of
conveyance with a few strokes of the pen. In fact, we can do it on the
spot."

What he meant was, "In fact, we can do it so fast that I can pocket a
fee of five hundred dollars right here and now while you have the money
to pay me."

"Now then," he continued, "let us see how it is to run."

"Well," said Tomlinson, "I want you to put it that I give all my stock
in the company to the university."

"All of it?" said Skinyer, with a quiet smile to Beatem.

"Every cent of it, sir," said Tomlinson; "just write down that I give
all of it to the college."

"Very good," said Skinyer, and he began to write, "I, so-and-so, and
so-and-so, of the county of so-and-so--Cahoga, I think you said, Mr.
Tomlinson?"

"Yes, sir," said the Wizard, "I was raised there."

"--do hereby give, assign, devise, transfer, and the transfer is hereby
given, devised and assigned, all those stocks, shares, hereditaments,
etc., which I hold in the etc., etc., all, several and whatever--you
will observe, Mr. Tomlinson, I am expressing myself with as great
brevity as possible--to that institution, academy, college, school,
university, now known and reputed to be Plutoria University, of the
city of etc., etc."

He paused a moment. "Now what special objects or purposes shall I
indicate?" he asked.

Whereupon Tomlinson explained as best he could, and Skinyer, working
with great rapidity, indicated that the benefaction was to include a
Demolition Fund for the removal of buildings, a Retirement Fund for the
removal of professors, an Apparatus Fund for the destruction of
apparatus, and a General Sinking Fund for the obliteration of anything
not otherwise mentioned.

"And I'd like to do something, if I could, for Mr. Boomer himself, just
as man to man," said Tomlinson.

"All right," said Beatem, and he could hardly keep his face straight.
"Give him a chunk of the stock--give him half a million."

"I will," said Tomlinson; "he deserves it."

"Undoubtedly," said Mr. Skinyer.

And within a few minutes the whole transaction was done, and Tomlinson,
filled with joy, was wringing the hands of Skinyer and Beatem, and
telling them to name their own fee.

They had meant to, anyway.

        *    *    *    *    *

"Is that legal, do you suppose?" said Beatem to Skinyer, after the
Wizard had gone. "Will it hold water?"

"Oh, I don't think so," said Skinyer, "not for a minute. In fact,
rather the other way. If they make an arrest for fraudulent flotation,
this conveyance, I should think, would help to send him to the
penitentiary. But I very much doubt if they can arrest him. Mind you,
the fellow is devilish shrewd. You know, and I know that he planned
this whole flotation with a full knowledge of the fraud. _You_ and _I_
know it--very good--but we know it more from our trained instinct in
such things than by any proof. The fellow has managed to surround
himself with such an air of good faith from start to finish that it
will be deuced hard to get at him."

"What will he do now?" said Beatem.

"I tell you what he'll do. Mark my words. Within twenty-four hours
he'll clear out and be out of the state, and if they want to get him
they'll have to extradite. I tell you he's a man of extraordinary
capacity. The rest of us are nowhere beside him."

In which, perhaps, there was some truth.

        *    *    *    *    *

"Well, mother," said the Wizard, when he reached the thousand-dollar
suite, after his interview with Skinyer and Beatem, his face irradiated
with simple joy, "it's done. I've put the college now in a position it
never was in before, nor any other college; the lawyers say so
themselves."

"That's good," said mother.

"Yes, and it's a good thing I didn't lose the money when I tried to.
You see, mother, what I hadn't realized was the good that could be done
with all that money if a man put his heart into it. They can start in
as soon as they like and tear down those buildings. My! but it's just
wonderful what you can do with money. I'm glad I didn't lose it!"

So they talked far into the evening. That night they slept in an
Aladdin's palace filled with golden fancies.

And in the morning the palace and all its visions fell tumbling about
their heads in sudden and awful catastrophe. For with Tomlinson's first
descent to the rotunda it broke. The whole great space seemed filled
with the bulletins and the broadside sheets of the morning papers, the
crowd surging to and fro buying the papers, men reading them as they
stood, and everywhere in great letters there met his eye:

            COLLAPSE
      OF THE ERIE AURIFEROUS

     THE GREAT GOLD SWINDLE

   ARREST OF THE MAN TOMLINSON
      EXPECTED THIS MORNING

So stood the Wizard of Finance beside a pillar, the paper fluttering in
his hand, his eyes fixed, while about him a thousand eager eyes and
rushing tongues sent shame into his stricken heart.

And there his boy Fred, sent from upstairs, found him; and at the sight
of the seething crowd and his father's stricken face, aged as it seemed
all in a moment, the boy's soul woke within him. What had happened he
could not tell, only that his father stood there, dazed, beaten, and
staring at him on every side in giant letters:

     ARREST OF THE MAN TOMLINSON

"Come, father come upstairs," he said, and took him by the arm,
dragging him through the crowd.

In the next half-hour as they sat and waited for the arrest in the
false grandeur of the thousand-dollar suite-Tomlinson, his wife, and
Fred-the boy learnt more than all the teaching of the industrial
faculty of Plutoria University could have taught him in a decade.
Adversity laid its hand upon him, and at its touch his adolescent heart
turned to finer stuff than the salted gold of the Erie Auriferous. As
he looked upon his father's broken figure waiting meekly for arrest,
and his mother's blubbered face, a great wrath burned itself into his
soul.

"When the sheriff comes--" said Tomlinson, and his lip trembled as he
spoke. He had no other picture of arrest than that.

"They can't arrest you, father," broke out the boy. "You've done
nothing. You never swindled them. I tell you, if they try to arrest
you, I'll--" and his voice broke and stopped upon a sob, and his hands
clenched in passion.

"You stay here, you and mother. I'll go down. Give me your money and
I'll go and pay them and we'll get out of this and go home. They can't
stop us; there's nothing to arrest you for."

Nor was there. Fred paid the bill unmolested, save for the prying eyes
and babbling tongues of the rotunda.

And a few hours from that, while the town was still ringing with news
of his downfall, the Wizard with his wife and son walked down from
their thousand-dollar suite into the corridor, their hands burdened
with their satchels. A waiter, with something between a sneer and an
obsequious smile upon his face, reached out for the valises, wondering
if it was still worth while.

"You get to hell out of that!" said Fred. He had put on again his rough
store suit in which he had come from Cahoga County, and there was a
dangerous look about his big shoulders and his set jaw. And the waiter
slunk back.

So did they pass, unarrested and unhindered, through corridor and
rotunda to the outer portals of the great hotel.

Beside the door of the Palaver as they passed out was a tall official
with a uniform and a round hat. He was called by the authorities a
_chasseur_ or a _commissionaire_, or some foreign name to mean that he
did nothing.

At the sight of him the Wizard's face flushed for a moment, with a look
of his old perplexity.

"I wonder," he began to murmur, "how much I ought--"

"Not a damn cent, father," said Fred, as he shouldered past the
magnificent _chasseur_; "let him work."

With which admirable doctrine the Wizard and his son passed from the
portals of the Grand Palaver.

        *    *    *    *    *

Nor was there any arrest either then or later. In spite of the
expectations of the rotunda and the announcements of the _Financial
Undertone_, the "man Tomlinson" was _not_ arrested, neither as he left
the Grand Palaver nor as he stood waiting at the railroad station with
Fred and mother for the outgoing train for Cahoga County.

There was nothing to arrest him for. That was not the least strange
part of the career of the Wizard of Finance. For when all the affairs
of the Erie Auriferous Consolidated were presently calculated up by the
labours of Skinyer and Beatem and the legal representatives of the
Orphans and the Idiots and the Deaf-mutes they resolved themselves into
the most beautiful and complete cipher conceivable. The salted gold
about paid for the cost of the incorporation certificate: the
development capital had disappeared, and those who lost most preferred
to say the least about it; and as for Tomlinson, if one added up his
gains on the stock market before the fall and subtracted his bill at
the Grand Palaver and the thousand dollars which he gave to Skinyer and
Beatem to recover his freehold on the lower half of his farm, and the
cost of three tickets to Cahoga station, the debit and credit account
balanced to a hair.

Thus did the whole fortune of Tomlinson vanish in a night, even as the
golden palace seen in the mirage of a desert sunset may fade before the
eyes of the beholder, and leave no trace behind.

        *    *    *    *    *

It was some months after the collapse of the Erie Auriferous that the
university conferred upon Tomlinson the degree of Doctor of Letters _in
absentia_. A university must keep its word, and Dean Elderberry Foible,
who was honesty itself, had stubbornly maintained that a vote of the
faculty of arts once taken and written in the minute book became as
irrefragable as the Devonian rock itself.

So the degree was conferred. And Dean Elderberry Foible, standing in a
long red gown before Dr. Boomer, seated in a long blue gown, read out
after the ancient custom of the college the Latin statement of the
award of the degree of Doctor of Letters, "Eduardus Tomlinsonius, vir
clarrisimus, doctissimus, praestissimus," and a great many other things
all ending in _issimus_.

But the recipient was not there to receive. He stood at that moment
with his boy Fred on a windy hillside beside Lake Erie, where
Tomlinson's Creek ran again untrammelled to the lake. Nor was the scene
altered to the eye, for Tomlinson and his son had long since broken a
hole in the dam with pickaxe and crowbar, and day by day the angry
water carried down the vestiges of the embankment till all were gone.
The cedar poles of the electric lights had been cut into fence-rails;
the wooden shanties of the Italian gang of Auriferous workers had been
torn down and split into fire wood; and where they had stood, the
burdocks and the thistles of the luxuriant summer conspired to hide the
traces of their shame. Nature reached out its hand and drew its
coverlet of green over the grave of the vanished Eldorado.

And as the Wizard and his son stood upon the hillside, they saw nothing
but the land sloping to the lake and the creek murmuring again to the
willows, while the off-shore wind rippled the rushes of the shallow
water.



CHAPTER FOUR: The Yahi-Bahi Oriental Society of Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown

Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown lived on Plutoria Avenue in a vast sandstone
palace, in which she held those fashionable entertainments which have
made the name of Rasselyer-Brown what it is. Mr. Rasselyer-Brown lived
there also.

The exterior of the house was more or less a model of the facade of an
Italian palazzo of the sixteenth century. If one questioned Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown at dinner in regard to this (which was only a fair
return for drinking five dollar champagne), she answered that the
facade was _cinquecentisti_, but that it reproduced also the Saracenic
mullioned window of the Siennese School. But if the guest said later in
the evening to Mr. Rasselyer-Brown that he understood that his house
was _cinquecentisti_, he answered that he guessed it was. After which
remark and an interval of silence, Mr. Rasselyer-Brown would probably
ask the guest if he was dry.

So from that one can tell exactly the sort of people the
Rasselyer-Browns were.

In other words, Mr. Rasselyer-Brown was a severe handicap to Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown. He was more than that; the word isn't strong enough.
He was, as Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown herself confessed to her confidential
circle of three hundred friends, a drag. He was also a tie, and a
weight, and a burden, and in Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown's religious moments a
crucifix. Even in the early years of their married life, some twenty or
twenty-five years ago, her husband had been a drag on her by being in
the coal and wood business. It is hard for a woman to have to realize
that her husband is making a fortune out of coal and wood and that
people know it. It ties one down. What a woman wants most of all--this,
of course, is merely a quotation from Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown's own
thoughts as expressed to her three hundred friends--is room to expand,
to grow. The hardest thing in the world is to be stifled: and there is
nothing more stifling than a husband who doesn't know a Giotto from a
Carlo Dolci, but who can distinguish nut coal from egg and is never
asked to dinner without talking about the furnace.

These, of course, were early trials. They had passed to some extent, or
were, at any rate, garlanded with the roses of time.

But the drag remained.

Even when the retail coal and wood stage was long since over, it was
hard to have to put up with a husband who owned a coal mine and who
bought pulp forests instead of illuminated missals of the twelfth
century. A coal mine is a dreadful thing at a dinner-table. It humbles
one so before one's guests.

It wouldn't have been so bad--this Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown herself
admitted--if Mr. Rasselyer-Brown _did_ anything. This phrase should be
clearly understood. It meant if there was any one thing that he _did_.
For instance if he had only _collected_ anything. Thus, there was Mr.
Lucullus Fyshe, who made soda-water, but at the same time everybody
knew that he had the best collection of broken Italian furniture on the
continent; there wasn't a sound piece among the lot.

And there was the similar example of old Mr. Feathertop. He didn't
exactly _collect_ things; he repudiated the name. He was wont to say,
"Don't call me a collector, I'm _not_. I simply pick things up. Just
where I happen to be, Rome, Warsaw, Bucharest, anywhere"--and it is to
be noted what fine places these are to happen to be. And to think that
Mr. Rasselyer-Brown would never put his foot outside of the United
States! Whereas Mr. Feathertop would come back from what he called a
run to Europe, and everybody would learn in a week that he had picked
up the back of a violin in Dresden (actually discovered it in a violin
shop), and the lid of an Etruscan kettle (he had lighted on it, by pure
chance, in a kettle shop in Etruria), and Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown would
feel faint with despair at the nonentity of her husband.

So one can understand how heavy her burden was.

"My dear," she often said to her bosom friend, Miss Snagg, "I shouldn't
mind things so much" (the things she wouldn't mind were, let us say,
the two million dollars of standing timber which Brown Limited, the
ominous business name of Mr. Rasselyer-Brown, were buying that year)
"if Mr. Rasselyer-Brown _did_ anything. But he does _nothing_. Every
morning after breakfast off to his wretched office, and never back till
dinner, and in the evening nothing but his club, or some business
meeting. One would think he would have more ambition. How I wish I had
been a man."

It was certainly a shame.

So it came that, in almost everything she undertook Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown had to act without the least help from her husband.
Every Wednesday, for instance, when the Dante Club met at her house
(they selected four lines each week to meditate on, and then discussed
them at lunch), Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown had to carry the whole burden of
it--her very phrase, "the whole burden"--alone. Anyone who has carried
four lines of Dante through a Moselle lunch knows what a weight it is.

In all these things her husband was useless, quite useless. It is not
right to be ashamed of one's husband. And to do her justice, Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown always explained to her three hundred intimates that
she was _not_ ashamed of him; in fact, that she _refused_ to be. But it
was hard to see him brought into comparison at their own table with
superior men. Put him, for instance, beside Mr. Sikleigh Snoop, the
sex-poet, and where was he? Nowhere. He couldn't even understand what
Mr. Snoop was saying. And when Mr. Snoop would stand on the hearth-rug
with a cup of tea balanced in his hand, and discuss whether sex was or
was not the dominant note in Botticelli, Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown would be
skulking in a corner in his ill-fitting dress suit. His wife would
often catch with an agonized ear such scraps of talk as, "When I was
first in the coal and wood business," or, "It's a coal that burns
quicker than egg, but it hasn't the heating power of nut," or even in a
low undertone the words, "If you're feeling _dry_ while he's reading--"
And this at a time when everybody in the room ought to have been
listening to Mr. Snoop.

Nor was even this the whole burden of Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown. There was
another part of it which was perhaps more _real_, though Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown herself never put it into words. In fact, of this part
of her burden she never spoke, even to her bosom friend Miss Snagg; nor
did she talk about it to the ladies of the Dante Club, nor did she make
speeches on it to the members of the Women's Afternoon Art Society, nor
to the Monday Bridge Club.

But the members of the Bridge Club and the Art Society and the Dante
Club all talked about it among themselves.

Stated very simply, it was this: Mr. Rasselyer-Brown drank. It was not
meant that he was a drunkard or that he drank too much, or anything of
that sort. He drank. That was all.

There was no excess about it. Mr. Rasselyer-Brown, of course, began the
day with an eye-opener--and after all, what alert man does not wish his
eyes well open in the morning? He followed it usually just before
breakfast with a bracer--and what wiser precaution can a businessman
take than to brace his breakfast? On his way to business he generally
had his motor stopped at the Grand Palaver for a moment, if it was a
raw day, and dropped in and took something to keep out the damp. If it
was a cold day he took something to keep out the cold, and if it was
one of those clear, sunny days that are so dangerous to the system he
took whatever the bartender (a recognized health expert) suggested to
tone the system up. After which he could sit down in his office and
transact more business, and bigger business, in coal, charcoal, wood,
pulp, pulpwood, and woodpulp, in two hours than any other man in the
business could in a week. Naturally so. For he was braced, and propped,
and toned up, and his eyes had been opened, and his brain cleared, till
outside of very big business, indeed, few men were on a footing with
him.

In fact, it was business itself which had compelled Mr. Rasselyer-Brown
to drink. It is all very well for a junior clerk on twenty dollars a
week to do his work on sandwiches and malted milk. In big business it
is not possible. When a man begins to rise in business, as Mr.
Rasselyer-Brown had begun twenty-five years ago, he finds that if he
wants to succeed he must cut malted milk clear out. In any position of
responsibility a man has got to drink. No really big deal can be put
through without it. If two keen men, sharp as flint, get together to
make a deal in which each intends to outdo the other, the only way to
succeed is for them to adjourn to some such place as the luncheon-room
of the Mausoleum Club and both get partially drunk. This is what is
called the personal element in business. And, beside it, plodding
industry is nowhere.

Most of all do these principles hold true in such manly out-of-door
enterprises as the forest and timber business, where one deals
constantly with chief rangers, and pathfinders, and wood-stalkers,
whose very names seem to suggest a horn of whiskey under a hemlock tree.

But--let it be repeated and carefully understood--there was no excess
about Mr. Rasselyer-Brown's drinking. Indeed, whatever he might be
compelled to take during the day, and at the Mausoleum Club in the
evening, after his return from his club at night Mr. Rasselyer-Brown
made it a fixed rule to take nothing. He might, perhaps, as he passed
into the house, step into the dining-room and take a very small drink
at the sideboard. But this he counted as part of the return itself, and
not after it. And he might, if his brain were over-fatigued, drop down
later in the night in his pajamas and dressing-gown when the house was
quiet, and compose his mind with a brandy and water, or something
suitable to the stillness of the hour. But this was not really a drink.
Mr. Rasselyer-Brown called it a _nip_; and of course any man may need a
_nip_ at a time when he would scorn a drink.

        *    *    *    *    *

But after all, a woman may find herself again in her daughter. There,
at least, is consolation. For, as Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown herself
admitted, her daughter, Dulphemia, was herself again. There were, of
course, differences, certain differences of face and appearance. Mr.
Snoop had expressed this fact exquisitely when he said that it was the
difference between a Burne-Jones and a Dante Gabriel Rossetti. But even
at that the mother and daughter were so alike that people, certain
people, were constantly mistaking them on the street. And as everybody
that mistook them was apt to be asked to dine on five-dollar champagne
there was plenty of temptation towards error.

There is no doubt that Dulphemia Rasselyer-Brown was a girl of
remarkable character and intellect. So is any girl who has beautiful
golden hair parted in thick bands on her forehead, and deep blue eyes
soft as an Italian sky.

Even the oldest and most serious men in town admitted that in talking
to her they were aware of a grasp, a reach, a depth that surprised
them. Thus old Judge Longerstill, who talked to her at dinner for an
hour on the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission, felt
sure from the way in which she looked up in his face at intervals and
said, "How interesting!" that she had the mind of a lawyer. And Mr.
Brace, the consulting engineer, who showed her on the table-cloth at
dessert with three forks and a spoon the method in which the overflow
of the spillway of the Gatun Dam is regulated, felt assured, from the
way she leaned her face on her hand sideways and said, "How
extraordinary!" that she had the brain of an engineer. Similarly
foreign visitors to the social circles of the city were delighted with
her. Viscount FitzThistle, who explained to Dulphemia for half an hour
the intricacies of the Irish situation, was captivated at the quick
grasp she showed by asking him at the end, without a second's
hesitation, "And which are the Nationalists?"

This kind of thing represents female intellect in its best form. Every
man that is really a man is willing to recognize it at once. As to the
young men, of course they flocked to the Rasselyer-Brown residence in
shoals. There were batches of them every Sunday afternoon at five
o'clock, encased in long black frock-coats, sitting very rigidly in
upright chairs, trying to drink tea with one hand. One might see
athletic young college men of the football team trying hard to talk
about Italian music; and Italian tenors from the Grand Opera doing
their best to talk about college football. There were young men in
business talking about art, and young men in art talking about
religion, and young clergymen talking about business. Because, of
course, the Rasselyer-Brown residence was the kind of cultivated home
where people of education and taste are at liberty to talk about things
they don't know, and to utter freely ideas that they haven't got. It
was only now and again, when one of the professors from the college
across the avenue came booming into the room, that the whole
conversation was pulverized into dust under the hammer of accurate
knowledge.

The whole process was what was called, by those who understood such
things, a _salon_. Many people said that Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown's
afternoons at home were exactly like the delightful _salons_ of the
eighteenth century: and whether the gatherings were or were not
_salons_ of the eighteenth century, there is no doubt that Mr.
Rasselyer-Brown, under whose care certain favoured guests dropped
quietly into the back alcove of the dining-room, did his best to put
the gathering on a par with the best saloons of the twentieth.

Now it so happened that there had come a singularly slack moment in the
social life of the City. The Grand Opera had sung itself into a huge
deficit and closed. There remained nothing of it except the efforts of
a committee of ladies to raise enough money to enable Signor Puffi to
leave town, and the generous attempt of another committee to gather
funds in order to keep Signor Pasti in the City. Beyond this, opera was
dead, though the fact that the deficit was nearly twice as large as it
had been the year before showed that public interest in music was
increasing. It was indeed a singularly trying time of the year. It was
too early to go to Europe; and too late to go to Bermuda. It was too
warm to go south, and yet still too cold to go north. In fact, one was
almost compelled to stay at home--which was dreadful.

As a result Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown and her three hundred friends moved
backwards and forwards on Plutoria Avenue, seeking novelty in vain.
They washed in waves of silk from tango teas to bridge afternoons. They
poured in liquid avalanches of colour into crowded receptions, and they
sat in glittering rows and listened to lectures on the enfranchisement
of the female sex. But for the moment all was weariness.

Now it happened, whether by accident or design, that just at this
moment of general _ennui_ Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown and her three hundred
friends first heard of the presence in the city of Mr. Yahi-Bahi, the
celebrated Oriental mystic. He was so celebrated that nobody even
thought of asking who he was or where he came from. They merely told
one another, and repeated it, that he was _the_ celebrated Yahi-Bahi.
They added for those who needed the knowledge that the name was
pronounced Yahhy-Bahhy, and that the doctrine taught by Mr. Yahi-Bahi
was Boohooism. This latter, if anyone inquired further, was explained
to be a form of Shoodooism, only rather more intense. In fact, it was
esoteric--on receipt of which information everybody remarked at once
how infinitely superior the Oriental peoples are to ourselves.

Now as Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown was always a leader in everything that was
done in the best circles on Plutoria Avenue, she was naturally among
the first to visit Mr. Yahi-Bahi.

"My dear," she said, in describing afterwards her experience to her
bosom friend, Miss Snagg, "it was _most_ interesting. We drove away
down to the queerest part of the City, and went to the strangest little
house imaginable, up the narrowest stairs one ever saw--quite Eastern,
in fact, just like a scene out of the Koran."

"How fascinating!" said Miss Snagg. But as a matter of fact, if Mr.
Yahi-Bahi's house had been inhabited, as it might have been, by a
streetcar conductor or a railway brakesman, Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown
wouldn't have thought it in any way peculiar or fascinating.

"It was all hung with curtains inside," she went on, "with figures of
snakes and Indian gods, perfectly weird."

"And did you see Mr. Yahi-Bahi?" asked Miss Snagg.

"Oh no, my dear. I only saw his assistant Mr. Ram Spudd; such a queer
little round man, a Bengalee, I believe. He put his back against a
curtain and spread out his arms sideways and wouldn't let me pass. He
said that Mr. Yahi-Bahi was in meditation and mustn't be disturbed."

"How delightful!" echoed Miss Snagg.

But in reality Mr. Yahi-Bahi was sitting behind the curtain eating a
ten-cent can of pork and beans.

"What I like most about eastern people," went on Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown,
"is their wonderful delicacy of feeling. After I had explained about my
invitation to Mr. Yahi-Bahi to come and speak to us on Boohooism, and
was going away, I took a dollar bill out of my purse and laid it on the
table. You should have seen the way Mr. Ram Spudd took it. He made the
deepest salaam and said, 'Isis guard you, beautiful lady.' Such perfect
courtesy, and yet with the air of scorning the money. As I passed out I
couldn't help slipping another dollar into his hand, and he took it as
if utterly unaware of it, and muttered, 'Osiris keep you, O flower of
women!' And as I got into the motor I gave him another dollar and he
said, 'Osis and Osiris both prolong your existence, O lily of the
ricefield,' and after he had said it he stood beside the door of the
motor and waited without moving till I left. He had such a strange,
rapt look, as if he were still expecting something!"

"How exquisite!" murmured Miss Snagg. It was her business in life to
murmur such things as this for Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown. On the whole,
reckoning Grand Opera tickets and dinners, she did very well out of it.

"Is it not?" said Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown. "So different from our men. I
felt so ashamed of my chauffeur, our new man, you know; he seemed such
a contrast beside Ram Spudd. The rude way in which the opened the door,
and the rude way in which he climbed on to his own seat, and the
_rudeness_ with which he turned on the power--I felt positively
ashamed. And he so managed it--I am sure he did it on purpose--that the
car splashed a lot of mud over Mr. Spudd as it started."

Yet, oddly enough, the opinion of other people on this new chauffeur,
that of Miss Dulphemia Rasselyer-Brown herself, for example, to whose
service he was specially attached, was very different.

The great recommendation of him in the eyes of Miss Dulphemia and her
friends, and the thing that gave him a touch of mystery was--and what
higher qualification can a chauffeur want?--that he didn't look like a
chauffeur at all.

"My dear Dulphie," whispered Miss Philippa Furlong, the rector's sister
(who was at that moment Dulphemia's second self), as they sat behind
the new chauffeur, "don't tell me that he is a chauffeur, because he
_isn't_. He can chauffe, of course, but that's nothing."

For the new chauffeur had a bronzed face, hard as metal, and a stern
eye; and when he put on a chauffeur's overcoat some how it seemed to
turn into a military greatcoat; and even when he put on the round cloth
cap of his profession it was converted straightway into a military
shako. And by Miss Dulphemia and her friends it was presently
reported--or was invented?--that he had served in the Philippines;
which explained at once the scar upon his forehead, which must have
been received at Iloilo, or Huila-Huila, or some other suitable place.

But what affected Miss Dulphemia Brown herself was the splendid
rudeness of the chauffeur's manner. It was so different from that of
the young men of the _salon_. Thus, when Mr. Sikleigh Snoop handed her
into the car at any time he would dance about saying, "Allow me," and
"Permit me," and would dive forward to arrange the robes. But the
Philippine chauffeur merely swung the door open and said to Dulphemia,
"Get in," and then slammed it.

This, of course, sent a thrill up the spine and through the imagination
of Miss Dulphemia Rasselyer-Brown, because it showed that the chauffeur
was a gentleman in disguise. She thought it very probable that he was a
British nobleman, a younger son, very wild, of a ducal family; and she
had her own theories as to why he had entered the service of the
Rasselyer-Browns. To be quite candid about it, she expected that the
Philippine chauffeur meant to elope with her, and every time he drove
her from a dinner or a dance she sat back luxuriously, wishing and
expecting the elopement to begin.

        *    *    *    *    *

But for the time being the interest of Dulphemia, as of everybody else
that was anybody at all, centred round Mr. Yahi-Bahi and the new cult
of Boohooism.

After the visit of Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown a great number of ladies, also
in motors, drove down to the house of Mr. Yahi-Bahi. And all of them,
whether they saw Mr. Yahi-Bahi himself or his Bengalee assistant, Mr.
Ram Spudd, came back delighted.

"Such exquisite tact!" said one. "Such delicacy! As I was about to go I
laid a five dollar gold piece on the edge of the little table. Mr.
Spudd scarcely seemed to see it. He murmured, 'Osiris help you!' and
pointed to the ceiling. I raised my eyes instinctively, and when I
lowered them the money had disappeared. I think he must have caused it
to vanish."

"Oh, I'm sure he did," said the listener.

Others came back with wonderful stories of Mr. Yahi-Bahi's occult
powers, especially his marvellous gift of reading the future.

Mrs. Buncomhearst, who had just lost her third husband--by divorce--had
received from Mr. Yahi-Bahi a glimpse into the future that was almost
uncanny in its exactness. She had asked for a divination, and Mr.
Yahi-Bahi had effected one by causing her to lay six ten-dollar pieces
on the table arranged in the form of a mystic serpent. Over these he
had bent and peered deeply, as if seeking to unravel their meaning, and
finally he had given her the prophecy, "Many things are yet to happen
before others begin."

"How _does_ he do it?" asked everybody.

        *    *    *    *    *

As a result of all this it naturally came about that Mr. Yahi-Bahi and
Mr. Ram Spudd were invited to appear at the residence of Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown; and it was understood that steps would be taken to
form a special society, to be known as the Yahi-Bahi Oriental Society.

Mr. Sikleigh Snoop, the sex-poet, was the leading spirit in the
organization. He had a special fitness for the task: he had actually
resided in India. In fact, he had spent six weeks there on a stop-over
ticket of a round-the-world 635 dollar steamship pilgrimage; and he
knew the whole country from Jehumbapore in Bhootal to Jehumbalabad in
the Carnatic. So he was looked upon as a great authority on India,
China, Mongolia, and all such places, by the ladies of Plutoria Avenue.

Next in importance was Mrs. Buncomhearst, who became later, by a
perfectly natural process, the president of the society. She was
already president of the Daughters of the Revolution, a society
confined exclusively to the descendants of Washington's officers and
others; she was also president of the Sisters of England, an
organization limited exclusively to women born in England and
elsewhere; of the Daughters of Kossuth, made up solely of Hungarians
and friends of Hungary and other nations; and of the Circle of Franz
Joseph, which was composed exclusively of the partisans, and others, of
Austria. In fact, ever since she had lost her third husband, Mrs.
Buncomhearst had thrown herself--that was her phrase--into outside
activities. Her one wish was, on her own statement, to lose herself. So
very naturally Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown looked at once to Mrs. Buncomhearst
to preside over the meetings of the new society.

        *    *    *    *    *

The large dining-room at the Rasselyer-Browns' had been cleared out as
a sort of auditorium, and in it some fifty or sixty of Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown's more intimate friends had gathered. The whole meeting
was composed of ladies, except for the presence of one or two men who
represented special cases. There was, of course, little Mr. Spillikins,
with his vacuous face and football hair, who was there, as everybody
knew, on account of Dulphemia; and there was old Judge Longerstill, who
sat leaning on a gold-headed stick with his head sideways, trying to
hear some fraction of what was being said. He came to the gathering in
the hope that it would prove a likely place for seconding a vote of
thanks and saying a few words--half an hour's talk, perhaps--on the
constitution of the United States. Failing that, he felt sure that at
least someone would call him "this eminent old gentleman," and even
that was better than staying at home.

But for the most part the audience was composed of women, and they sat
in a little buzz of conversation waiting for Mr. Yahi-Bahi.

"I wonder," called Mrs. Buncomhearst from the chair, "if some lady
would be good enough to write minutes? Miss Snagg, I wonder if you
would be kind enough to write minutes? Could you?"

"I shall be delighted," said Miss Snagg, "but I'm afraid there's hardly
time to write them before we begin, is there?"

"Oh, but it would be all right to write them _afterwards_," chorussed
several ladies who understood such things; "it's quite often done that
way."

"And I should like to move that we vote a constitution," said a stout
lady with a double eye-glass.

"Is that carried?" said Mrs. Buncomhearst. "All those in favour please
signify."

Nobody stirred.

"Carried," said the president. "And perhaps you would be good enough,
Mrs. Fyshe," she said, turning towards the stout lady, "to _write_ the
constitution."

"Do you think it necessary to _write_ it?" said Mrs. Fyshe. "I should
like to move, if I may, that I almost wonder whether it is necessary to
write the constitution--unless, of course, anybody thinks that we
really ought to."

"Ladies," said the president, "you have heard the motion. All those
against it--"

There was no sign.

"All those in favour of it--"

There was still no sign.

"Lost," she said.

Then, looking across at the clock on the mantel-piece, and realizing
that Mr. Yahi-Bahi must have been delayed and that something must be
done, she said:

"And now, ladies, as we have in our midst a most eminent gentleman who
probably has thought more deeply about constitutions than--"

All eyes turned at once towards Judge Longerstill, but as fortune had
it at this very moment Mr. Sikleigh Snoop entered, followed by Mr.
Yahi-Bahi and Mr. Ram Spudd.

Mr. Yahi-Bahi was tall. His drooping Oriental costume made him taller
still. He had a long brown face and liquid brown eyes of such depth
that when he turned them full upon the ladies before him a shiver of
interest and apprehension followed in the track of his glance.

"My dear," said Miss Snagg afterwards, "he seemed simply to see right
through us."

This was correct. He did.

Mr. Ram Spudd presented a contrast to his superior. He was short and
round, with a dimpled mahogany face and eyes that twinkled in it like
little puddles of molasses. His head was bound in a turban and his body
was swathed in so many bands and sashes that he looked almost circular.
The clothes of both Mr. Yahi-Bahi and Ram Spudd were covered with the
mystic signs of Buddha and the seven serpents of Vishnu.

It was impossible, of course, for Mr. Yahi-Bahi or Mr. Ram Spudd to
address the audience. Their knowledge of English was known to be too
slight for that. Their communications were expressed entirely through
the medium of Mr. Snoop, and even he explained afterwards that it was
very difficult. The only languages of India which he was able to speak,
he said, with any fluency were Gargamic and Gumaic both of these being
old Dravidian dialects with only two hundred and three words in each,
and hence in themselves very difficult to converse in. Mr. Yahi-Bahi
answered in what Mr. Snoop understood to be the Iramic of the Vedas, a
very rich language, but one which unfortunately he did not understand.
The dilemma is one familiar to all Oriental scholars.

All of this Mr. Snoop explained in the opening speech which he
proceeded to make. And after this he went on to disclose, amid deep
interest, the general nature of the cult of Boohooism. He said that
they could best understand it if he told them that its central doctrine
was that of Bahee. Indeed, the first aim of all followers of the cult
was to attain to Bahee. Anybody who could spend a certain number of
hours each day, say sixteen, in silent meditation on Boohooism would
find his mind gradually reaching a condition of Bahee. The chief aim of
Bahee itself was sacrifice: a true follower of the cult must be willing
to sacrifice his friends, or his relatives, and even strangers, in
order to reach Bahee. In this way one was able fully to realize oneself
and enter into the Higher Indifference. Beyond this, further meditation
and fasting--by which was meant living solely on fish, fruit, wine, and
meat--one presently attained to complete Swaraj or Control of Self, and
might in time pass into the absolute Nirvana, or the Negation of
Emptiness, the supreme goal of Boohooism.

As a first step to all this, Mr. Snoop explained, each neophyte or
candidate for holiness must, after searching his own heart, send ten
dollars to Mr. Yahi-Bahi. Gold, it appeared, was recognized in the cult
of Boohooism as typifying the three chief virtues, whereas silver or
paper money did not; even national banknotes were only regarded as do
or, a halfway palliation; and outside currencies such as Canadian or
Mexican bills were looked upon as entirely boo, or contemptible. The
Oriental view of money, said Mr. Snoop, was far superior to our own,
but it also might be attained by deep thought, and, as a beginning, by
sending ten dollars to Mr. Yahi-Bahi.

After this Mr. Snoop, in conclusion, read a very beautiful Hindu poem,
translating it as he went along. It began, "O cow, standing beside the
Ganges, and apparently without visible occupation," and it was voted
exquisite by all who heard it. The absence of rhyme and the entire
removal of ideas marked it as far beyond anything reached as yet by
Occidental culture.

When Mr. Snoop had concluded, the president called upon Judge
Longerstill for a few words of thanks, which he gave, followed by a
brief talk on the constitution of the United States.

After this the society was declared constituted, Mr. Yahi-Bahi made
four salaams, one to each point of the compass, and the meeting
dispersed.

And that evening, over fifty dinner tables, everybody discussed the
nature of Bahee, and tried in vain to explain it to men too stupid to
understand.

        *    *    *    *    *

Now it so happened that on the very afternoon of this meeting at Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown's, the Philippine chauffeur did a strange and peculiar
thing. He first asked Mr. Rasselyer-Brown for a few hours' leave of
absence to attend the funeral of his mother in-law. This was a request
which Mr. Rasselyer-Brown, on principle, never refused to a man-servant.

Whereupon, the Philippine chauffeur, no longer attired as one, visited
the residence of Mr. Yahi-Bahi. He let himself in with a marvellous
little key which he produced from a very wonderful bunch of such. He
was in the house for nearly half an hour, and when he emerged, the
notebook in his breast pocket, had there been an eye to read it, would
have been seen to be filled with stranger details in regard to Oriental
mysticism than even Mr. Yahi-Bahi had given to the world. So strange
were they that before the Philippine chauffeur returned to the
Rasselyer-Brown residence he telegraphed certain and sundry parts of
them to New York. But why he should have addressed them to the head of
a detective bureau instead of to a college of Oriental research it
passes the imagination to conceive. But as the chauffeur duly
reappeared at motor-time in the evening the incident passed unnoticed.

        *    *    *    *    *

It is beyond the scope of the present narrative to trace the progress
of Boohooism during the splendid but brief career of the Yahi-Bahi
Oriental Society. There could be no doubt of its success. Its
principles appealed with great strength to all the more cultivated
among the ladies of Plutoria Avenue. There was something in the
Oriental mysticism of its doctrines which rendered previous belief
stale and puerile. The practice of the sacred rites began at once. The
ladies' counters of the Plutorian banks were inundated with requests
for ten-dollar pieces in exchange for banknotes. At dinner in the best
houses nothing was eaten except a thin soup (or bru), followed by fish,
succeeded by meat or by game, especially such birds as are particularly
pleasing to Buddha, as the partridge, the pheasant, and the woodcock.
After this, except for fruits and wine, the principle of Swaraj, or
denial of self, was rigidly imposed. Special Oriental dinners of this
sort were given, followed by listening to the reading of Oriental
poetry, with closed eyes and with the mind as far as possible in a
state of Stoj, or Negation of Thought.

By this means the general doctrine of Boohooism spread rapidly. Indeed,
a great many of the members of the society soon attained to a stage of
Bahee, or the Higher Indifference, that it would have been hard to
equal outside of Juggapore or Jumbumbabad. For example, when Mrs.
Buncomhearst learned of the remarriage of her second husband--she had
lost him three years before, owing to a difference of opinion on the
emancipation of women--she showed the most complete Bahee possible. And
when Miss Snagg learned that her brother in Venezuela had died--a very
sudden death brought on by drinking rum for seventeen years--and had
left her ten thousand dollars, the Bahee which she exhibited almost
amounted to Nirvana.

In fact, the very general dissemination of the Oriental idea became
more and more noticeable with each week that passed. Some members
attained to so complete a Bahee, or Higher Indifference, that they even
ceased to attend the meetings of the society; others reached a Swaraj,
or Control of Self, so great that they no longer read its pamphlets;
while others again actually passed into Nirvana, to a Complete Negation
of Self, so rapidly that they did not even pay their subscriptions.

But features of this sort, of course, are familiar wherever a
successful occult creed makes its way against the prejudices of the
multitude.

The really notable part of the whole experience was the marvellous
demonstration of occult power which attended the final seance of the
society, the true nature of which is still wrapped in mystery.

For some weeks it had been rumoured that a very special feat or
demonstration of power by Mr. Yahi-Bahi was under contemplation. In
fact, the rapid spread of Swaraj and of Nirvana among the members
rendered such a feat highly desirable. Just what form the demonstration
would take was for some time a matter of doubt. It was whispered at
first that Mr. Yahi-Bahi would attempt the mysterious eastern rite of
burying Ram Spudd alive in the garden of the Rasselyer-Brown residence
and leaving him there in a state of Stoj, or Suspended Inanition, for
eight days. But this project was abandoned, owing to some doubt,
apparently, in the mind of Mr. Ram Spudd as to his astral fitness for
the high state of Stoj necessitated by the experiment.

At last it became known to the members of the Poosh, or Inner Circle,
under the seal of confidence, that Mr. Yahi-Bahi would attempt nothing
less than the supreme feat of occultism, namely, a reincarnation, or
more correctly a reastralization of Buddha.

The members of the Inner Circle shivered with a luxurious sense of
mystery when they heard of it.

"Has it ever been done before?" they asked of Mr. Snoop.

"Only a few times," he said; "once, I believe, by Jam-bum, the famous
Yogi of the Carnatic; once, perhaps twice, by Boohoo, the founder of
the sect. But it is looked upon as extremely rare. Mr. Yahi tells me
that the great danger is that, if the slightest part of the formula is
incorrectly observed, the person attempting the astralization is
swallowed up into nothingness. However, he declares himself willing to
try."

        *    *    *    *    *

The seance was to take place at Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown's residence, and
was to be at midnight.

"At midnight!" said each member in surprise. And the answer was, "Yes,
at midnight. You see, midnight here is exactly midday in Allahabad in
India."

This explanation was, of course, ample. "Midnight," repeated everybody
to everybody else, "is exactly midday in Allahabad." That made things
perfectly clear. Whereas if midnight had been midday in Timbuctoo the
whole situation would have been different.

Each of the ladies was requested to bring to the seance some ornament
of gold; but it must be plain gold, without any setting of stones.

It was known already that, according to the cult of Boohooism, gold,
plain gold, is the seat of the three virtues--beauty, wisdom and grace.
Therefore, according to the creed of Boohooism, anyone who has enough
gold, plain gold, is endowed with these virtues and is all right. All
that is needed is to have enough of it; the virtues follow as a
consequence.

But for the great experiment the gold used must not be set with stones,
with the one exception of rubies, which are known to be endowed with
the three attributes of Hindu worship, modesty, loquacity, and
pomposity.

In the present case it was found that as a number of ladies had nothing
but gold ornaments set with diamonds, a second exception was made;
especially as Mr. Yahi-Bahi, on appeal, decided that diamonds, though
less pleasing to Buddha than rubies, possessed the secondary Hindu
virtues of divisibility, movability, and disposability.

On the evening in question the residence of Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown might
have been observed at midnight wrapped in utter darkness. No lights
were shown. A single taper, brought by Ram Spudd from the Taj Mohal,
and resembling in its outer texture those sold at the five-and-ten
store near Mr. Spudd's residence, burned on a small table in the vast
dining-room. The servants had been sent upstairs and expressly enjoined
to retire at half past ten. Moreover, Mr. Rasselyer-Brown had had to
attend that evening, at the Mausoleum Club, a meeting of the trustees
of the Church of St. Asaph, and he had come home at eleven o'clock, as
he always did after diocesan work of this sort, quite used up; in fact,
so fatigued that he had gone upstairs to his own suite of rooms
sideways, his knees bending under him. So utterly used up was he with
his church work that, as far as any interest in what might be going on
in his own residence, he had attained to a state of Bahee, or Higher
Indifference, that even Buddha might have envied.

The guests, as had been arranged, arrived noiselessly and on foot. All
motors were left at least a block away. They made their way up the
steps of the darkened house, and were admitted without ringing, the
door opening silently in front of them. Mr. Yahi-Bahi and Mr. Ram
Spudd, who had arrived on foot carrying a large parcel, were already
there, and were behind a screen in the darkened room, reported to be in
meditation.

At a whispered word from Mr. Snoop, who did duty at the door, all furs
and wraps were discarded in the hall and laid in a pile. Then the
guests passed silently into the great dining room. There was no light
in it except the dim taper which stood on a little table. On this table
each guest, as instructed, laid an ornament of gold, and at the same
time was uttered in a low voice the word Ksvoo. This means, "O Buddha,
I herewith lay my unworthy offering at thy feet; take it and keep it
for ever." It was explained that this was only a form.

        *    *    *    *    *

"What is he doing?" whispered the assembled guests as they saw Mr.
Yahi-Bahi pass across the darkened room and stand in front of the
sideboard.

"Hush!" said Mr. Snoop; "he's laying the propitiatory offering for
Buddha."

"It's an Indian rite," whispered Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown.

Mr. Yahi-Bahi could be seen dimly moving to and fro in front of the
sideboard. There was a faint clinking of glass.

"He has to set out a glass of Burmese brandy, powdered over with nutmeg
and aromatics," whispered Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown. "I had the greatest
hunt to get it all for him. He said that nothing but Burmese brandy
would do, because in the Hindu religion the god can only be invoked
with Burmese brandy, or, failing that, Hennessy's with three stars,
which is not entirely displeasing to Buddha."

"The aromatics," whispered Mr. Snoop, "are supposed to waft a perfume
or incense to reach the nostrils of the god. The glass of propitiatory
wine and the aromatic spices are mentioned in the Vishnu-Buddayat."

Mr. Yahi-Bahi, his preparations completed, was now seen to stand in
front of the sideboard bowing deeply four times in an Oriental salaam.
The light of the single taper had by this time burned so dim that his
movements were vague and uncertain. His body cast great flickering
shadows on the half-seen wall. From his throat there issued a low wail
in which the word wah! wah! could be distinguished.

The excitement was intense.

"What does wah mean?" whispered Mr. Spillikins.

"Hush!" said Mr. Snoop; "it means, 'O Buddha, wherever thou art in thy
lofty Nirvana, descend yet once in astral form before our eyes!'"

Mr. Yahi-Bahi rose. He was seen to place one finger on his lips and
then, silently moving across the room, he disappeared behind the
screen. Of what Mr. Ram Spudd was doing during this period there is no
record. It was presumed that he was still praying.

The stillness was now absolute.

"We must wait in perfect silence," whispered Mr. Snoop from the extreme
tips of his lips.

Everybody sat in strained intensity, silent, looking towards the vague
outline of the sideboard.

The minutes passed. No one moved. All were spellbound in expectancy.

Still the minutes passed. The taper had flickered down till the great
room was almost in darkness.

Could it be that by some neglect in the preparations, the substitution
perhaps of the wrong brandy, the astralization could not be effected?

But no.

Quite suddenly, it seemed, everybody in the darkened room was aware of
a _presence_. That was the word as afterwards repeated in a hundred
confidential discussions. A _presence_. One couldn't call it a body. It
wasn't. It was a figure, an astral form, a presence.

"Buddha!" they gasped as they looked at it.

Just how the figure entered the room, the spectators could never
afterwards agree. Some thought it appeared through the wall,
deliberately astralizing itself as it passed through the bricks. Others
seemed to have seen it pass in at the farther door of the room, as if
it had astralized itself at the foot of the stairs in the back of the
hall outside.

Be that as it may, there it stood before them, the astralized shape of
the Indian deity, so that to every lip there rose the half-articulated
word, "Buddha"; or at least to every lip except that of Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown. From her there came no sound.

The figure as afterwards described was attired in a long _shirak_, such
as is worn by the Grand Llama of Tibet, and resembling, if the
comparison were not profane, a modern dressing-gown. The legs, if one
might so call them, of the apparition were enwrapped in loose
punjahamas, a word which is said to be the origin of the modern
pyjamas; while the feet, if they were feet, were encased in loose
slippers.

Buddha moved slowly across the room. Arrived at the sideboard the
astral figure paused, and even in the uncertain light Buddha was seen
to raise and drink the propitiatory offering. That much was perfectly
clear. Whether Buddha spoke or not is doubtful. Certain of the
spectators thought that he said, 'Must a fagotnit', which is
Hindustanee for "Blessings on this house." To Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown's
distracted mind it seemed as if Buddha said, "I must have forgotten it"
But this wild fancy she never breathed to a soul.

Silently Buddha recrossed the room, slowly wiping one arm across his
mouth after the Hindu gesture of farewell.

For perhaps a full minute after the disappearance of Buddha not a soul
moved. Then quite suddenly Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown, unable to stand the
tension any longer, pressed an electric switch and the whole room was
flooded with light.

There sat the affrighted guests staring at one another with pale faces.

But, to the amazement and horror of all, the little table in the centre
stood empty--not a single gem, not a fraction of the gold that had lain
upon it was left. All had disappeared.

The truth seemed to burst upon everyone at once. There was no doubt of
what had happened.

The gold and the jewels had been deastralized. Under the occult power
of the vision they had been demonetized, engulfed into the astral plane
along with the vanishing Buddha.

Filled with the sense of horror still to come, somebody pulled aside
the little screen. They fully expected to find the lifeless bodies of
Mr. Yahi-Bahi and the faithful Ram Spudd. What they saw before them was
more dreadful still. The outer Oriental garments of the two devotees
lay strewn upon the floor. The long sash of Yahi-Bahi and the thick
turban of Ram Spudd were side by side near them; almost sickening in
its repulsive realism was the thick black head of hair of the junior
devotee, apparently torn from his scalp as if by lightning and bearing
a horrible resemblance to the cast-off wig of an actor.

The truth was too plain.

"They are engulfed!" cried a dozen voices at once.

It was realized in a flash that Yahi-Bahi and Ram Spudd had paid the
penalty of their daring with their lives. Through some fatal neglect,
against which they had fairly warned the participants of the seance,
the two Orientals had been carried bodily in the astral plane.

"How dreadful!" murmured Mr. Snoop. "We must have made some awful
error."

"Are they deastralized?" murmured Mrs. Buncomhearst.

"Not a doubt of it," said Mr. Snoop.

And then another voice in the group was heard to say, "We must hush it
up. We _can't_ have it known!"

On which a chorus of voices joined in, everybody urging that it must be
hushed up.

"Couldn't you try to reastralize them?" said somebody to Mr. Snoop.

"No, no," said Mr. Snoop, still shaking. "Better not try to. We must
hush it up if we can."

And the general assent to this sentiment showed that, after all, the
principles of Bahee, or Indifference to Others, had taken a real root
in the society.

"Hush it up," cried everybody, and there was a general move towards the
hall.

"Good Heavens!" exclaimed Mrs. Buncomhearst; "our wraps!"

"Deastralized!" said the guests.

There was a moment of further consternation as everybody gazed at the
spot where the ill-fated pile of furs and wraps had lain.

"Never mind," said everybody, "let's go without them--don't stay. Just
think if the police should--"

And at the word police, all of a sudden there was heard in the street
the clanging of a bell and the racing gallop of the horses of the
police patrol wagon.

"The police!" cried everybody. "Hush it up! Hush it up!" For of course
the principles of Bahee are not known to the police.

In another moment the doorbell of the house rang with a long and
violent peal, and in a second as it seemed, the whole hall was filled
with bulky figures uniformed in blue.

"It's all right, Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown," cried a loud, firm voice from
the sidewalk. "We have them both. Everything is here. We got them
before they'd gone a block. But if you don't mind, the police must get
a couple of names for witnesses in the warrant."

It was the Philippine chauffeur. But he was no longer attired as such.
He wore the uniform of an inspector of police, and there was the metal
badge of the Detective Department now ostentatiously outside his coat.

And beside him, one on each side of him, there stood the deastralized
forms of Yahi-Bahi and Ram Spudd. They wore long overcoats, doubtless
the contents of the magic parcels, and the Philippine chauffeur had a
grip of iron on the neck of each as they stood. Mr. Spudd had lost his
Oriental hair, and the face of Mr. Yahi-Bahi, perhaps in the struggle
which had taken place, had been scraped white in patches.

They were making no attempt to break away. Indeed, Mr. Spudd, with that
complete Bahee, or Submission to Fate, which is attained only by long
services in state penitentiaries, was smiling and smoking a cigarette.

"We were waiting for them," explained a tall police officer to the two
or three ladies who now gathered round him with a return of courage.
"They had the stuff in a hand-cart and were pushing it away. The chief
caught them at the corner, and rang the patrol from there. You'll find
everything all right, I think, ladies," he added, as a burly assistant
was seen carrying an armload of furs up the steps.

Somehow many of the ladies realized at the moment what cheery, safe,
reliable people policemen in blue are, and what a friendly, familiar
shelter they offer against the wiles of Oriental occultism.

"Are they old criminals?" someone asked.

"Yes, ma'am. They've worked this same thing in four cities already, and
both of them have done time, and lots of it. They've only been out six
months. No need to worry over them," he concluded with a shrug of the
shoulders.

So the furs were restored and the gold and the jewels parcelled out
among the owners, and in due course Mr. Yahi-Bahi and Mr. Ram Spudd
were lifted up into the patrol wagon where they seated themselves with
a composure worthy of the best traditions of Jehumbabah and
Bahoolapore. In fact, Mr. Spudd was heard to address the police as
"boys," and to remark that they had "got them good" that time.

So the seance ended and the guests vanished, and the Yahi-Bahi Society
terminated itself without even a vote of dissolution.

And in all the later confidential discussions of the episode only one
point of mysticism remained. After they had time really to reflect on
it, free from all danger of arrest, the members of the society realized
that on one point the police were entirely off the truth of things. For
Mr. Yahi-Bahi, whether a thief or not, and whether he came from the
Orient, or, as the police said, from Missouri, had actually succeeded
in reastralizing Buddha.

Nor was anyone more emphatic on this point than Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown
herself.

"For after all," she said, "if it was not Buddha, who was it?"

And the question was never answered.



CHAPTER FIVE: The Love Story of Mr. Peter Spillikins

Almost any day, on Plutoria Avenue or thereabouts, you may see little
Mr. Spillikins out walking with his four tall sons, who are practically
as old as himself.

To be exact, Mr. Spillikins is twenty-four, and Bob, the oldest of the
boys, must be at least twenty. Their exact ages are no longer known,
because, by a dreadful accident, their mother forgot them. This was at
a time when the boys were all at Mr. Wackem's Academy for Exceptional
Youths in the foothills of Tennessee, and while their mother, Mrs.
Everleigh, was spending the winter on the Riviera and felt that for
their own sake she must not allow herself to have the boys with her.

But now, of course, since Mrs. Everleigh has remarried and become Mrs.
Everleigh-Spillikins there is no need to keep them at Mr. Wackem's any
longer. Mr. Spillikins is able to look after them.

Mr. Spillikins generally wears a little top hat and an English morning
coat. The boys are in Eton jackets and black trousers, which, at their
mother's wish, are kept just a little too short for them. This is
because Mrs. Everleigh-Spillikins feels that the day will come some
day--say fifteen years hence--when the boys will no longer be children,
and meantime it is so nice to feel that they are still mere boys. Bob
is the eldest, but Sib the youngest is the tallest, whereas Willie the
third boy is the dullest, although this has often been denied by those
who claim that Gib the second boy is just a trifle duller. Thus at any
rate there is a certain equality and good fellowship all round.

Mrs. Everleigh-Spillikins is not to be seen walking with them. She is
probably at the race-meet, being taken there by Captain Cormorant of
the United States navy, which Mr. Spillikins considers very handsome of
him. Every now and then the captain, being in the navy, is compelled to
be at sea for perhaps a whole afternoon or even several days; in which
case Mrs. Everleigh-Spillikins is very generally taken to the Hunt Club
or the Country Club by Lieutenant Hawk, which Mr. Spillikins regards as
awfully thoughtful of him. Or if Lieutenant Hawk is also out of town
for the day, as he sometimes has to be, because he is in the United
States army, Mrs. Everleigh-Spillikins is taken out by old Colonel
Shake, who is in the State militia and who is at leisure all the time.

During their walks on Plutoria Avenue one may hear the four boys
addressing Mr. Spillikins as "father" and "dad" in deep bull-frog
voices.

"Say, dad," drawls Bob, "couldn't we all go to the ball game?"

"No. Say, dad," says Gib, "let's all go back to the house and play
five-cent pool in the billiard-room."

"All right, boys," says Mr. Spillikins. And a few minutes later one may
see them all hustling up the steps of the Everleigh-Spillikins's
mansion, quite eager at the prospect, and all talking together.

        *    *    *    *    *

Now the whole of this daily panorama, to the eye that can read it,
represents the outcome of the tangled love story of Mr. Spillikins,
which culminated during the summer houseparty at Castel Casteggio, the
woodland retreat of Mr. and Mrs. Newberry.

But to understand the story one must turn back a year or so to the time
when Mr. Peter Spillikins used to walk on Plutoria Avenue alone, or sit
in the Mausoleum Club listening to the advice of people who told him
that he really ought to get married.

        *    *    *    *    *

In those days the first thing that one noticed about Mr. Peter
Spillikins was his exalted view of the other sex. Every time he passed
a beautiful woman in the street he said to himself, "I say!" Even when
he met a moderately beautiful one he murmured, "By Jove!" When an
Easter hat went sailing past, or a group of summer parasols stood
talking on a leafy corner, Mr. Spillikins ejaculated, "My word!" At the
opera and at tango teas his projecting blue eyes almost popped out of
his head.

Similarly, if he happened to be with one of his friends, he would
murmur, "I say, _do_ look at that beautiful girl," or would exclaim, "I
say, don't look, but isn't that an awfully pretty girl across the
street?" or at the opera, "Old man, don't let her see you looking, but
do you see that lovely girl in the box opposite?"

One must add to this that Mr. Spillikins, in spite of his large and
bulging blue eyes, enjoyed the heavenly gift of short sight. As a
consequence he lived in a world of amazingly beautiful women. And as
his mind was focused in the same way as his eyes he endowed them with
all the virtues and graces which ought to adhere to fifty-dollar
flowered hats and cerise parasols with ivory handles.

Nor, to do him justice, did Mr. Spillikins confine his attitude to his
view of women alone. He brought it to bear on everything. Every time he
went to the opera he would come away enthusiastic, saying, "By Jove,
isn't it simply splendid! Of course I haven't the ear to appreciate
it--I'm not musical, you know--but even with the little that I know,
it's great; it absolutely puts me to sleep." And of each new novel that
he bought he said, "It's a perfectly wonderful book! Of course I
haven't the head to understand it, so I didn't finish it, but it's
simply thrilling." Similarly with painting, "It's one of the most
marvellous pictures I ever saw," he would say. "Of course I've no eye
for pictures, and I couldn't see anything in it, but it's wonderful!"

The career of Mr. Spillikins up to the point of which we are speaking
had hitherto not been very satisfactory, or at least not from the point
of view of Mr. Boulder, who was his uncle and trustee. Mr. Boulder's
first idea had been to have Mr. Spillikins attend the university. Dr.
Boomer, the president, had done his best to spread abroad the idea that
a university education was perfectly suitable even for the rich; that
it didn't follow that because a man was a university graduate he need
either work or pursue his studies any further; that what the university
aimed to do was merely to put a certain stamp upon a man. That was all.
And this stamp, according to the tenor of the president's convocation
addresses, was perfectly harmless. No one ought to be afraid of it. As
a result, a great many of the very best young men in the City, who had
no need for education at all, were beginning to attend college. "It
marked," said Dr. Boomer, "a revolution."

Mr. Spillikins himself was fascinated with his studies. The professors
seemed to him living wonders.

"By Jove!" he said, "the professor of mathematics is a marvel. You
ought to see him explaining trigonometry on the blackboard. You can't
understand a word of it." He hardly knew which of his studies he liked
best. "Physics," he said, "is a wonderful study. I got five per cent in
it. But, by Jove! I had to work for it. I'd go in for it altogether if
they'd let me."

But that was just the trouble--they wouldn't. And so in course of time
Mr. Spillikins was compelled, for academic reasons, to abandon his life
work. His last words about it were, "Gad! I nearly passed in
trigonometry!" and he always said afterwards that he had got a
tremendous lot out of the university.

After that, as he had to leave the university, his trustee, Mr.
Boulder, put Mr. Spillikins into business. It was, of course, his own
business, one of the many enterprises for which Mr. Spillikins, ever
since he was twenty-one, had already been signing documents and
countersigning cheques. So Mr. Spillikins found himself in a mahogany
office selling wholesale oil. And he liked it. He said that business
sharpened one up tremendously.

"I'm afraid, Mr. Spillikins," a caller in the mahogany office would
say, "that we can't meet you at five dollars. Four seventy is the best
we can do on the present market."

"My dear chap," said Mr. Spillikins, "that's all right. After all,
thirty cents isn't much, eh what? Dash it, old man, we won't fight
about thirty cents. How much do you want?"

"Well, at four seventy we'll take twenty thousand barrels."

"By Jove!" said Mr. Spillikins; "twenty thousand barrels. Gad! you want
a lot, don't you? Pretty big sale, eh, for a beginner like me? I guess
uncle'll be tickled to death."

So tickled was he that after a few weeks of oil-selling Mr. Boulder
urged Mr. Spillikins to retire, and wrote off many thousand dollars
from the capital value of his estate.

So after this there was only one thing for Mr. Spillikins to do, and
everybody told him so--namely to get married. "Spillikins," said his
friends at the club after they had taken all his loose money over the
card table, "you ought to get married."

"Think so?" said Mr. Spillikins.

Goodness knows he was willing enough. In fact, up to this point Mr.
Spillikins's whole existence had been one long aspiring sigh directed
towards the joys of matrimony.

In his brief college days his timid glances had wandered by an
irresistible attraction towards the seats on the right-hand side of the
class room, where the girls of the first year sat, with golden pigtails
down their backs, doing trigonometry.

He would have married any of them. But when a girl can work out
trigonometry at sight, what use can she possibly have for marriage?
None. Mr. Spillikins knew this and it kept him silent. And even when
the most beautiful girl in the class married the demonstrator and thus
terminated her studies in her second year, Spillikins realized that it
was only because the man was, undeniably, a demonstrator and knew
things.

Later on, when Spillikins went into business and into society, the same
fate pursued him. He loved, for at least six months, Georgiana
McTeague, the niece of the presbyterian minister of St. Osoph's. He
loved her so well that for her sake he temporarily abandoned his pew at
St. Asaph's, which was episcopalian, and listened to fourteen
consecutive sermons on hell. But the affair got no further than that.
Once or twice, indeed, Spillikins walked home with Georgiana from
church and talked about hell with her; and once her uncle asked him
into the manse for cold supper after evening service, and they had a
long talk about hell all through the meal and upstairs in the
sitting-room afterwards. But somehow Spillikins could get no further
with it. He read up all he could about hell so as to be able to talk
with Georgiana, but in the end it failed: a young minister fresh from
college came and preached at St. Osoph's six special sermons on the
absolute certainty of eternal punishment, and he married Miss McTeague
as a result of it.

And, meantime, Mr. Spillikins had got engaged, or practically so, to
Adelina Lightleigh; not that he had spoken to her, but he considered
himself bound to her. For her sake he had given up hell altogether, and
was dancing till two in the morning and studying action bridge out of a
book. For a time he felt so sure that she meant to have him that he
began bringing his greatest friend, Edward Ruff of the college football
team, of whom Spillikins was very proud, up to the Lightleighs'
residence. He specially wanted Adelina and Edward to be great friends,
so that Adelina and he might ask Edward up to the house after he was
married. And they got to be such great friends, and so quickly, that
they were married in New York that autumn. After which Spillikins used
to be invited up to the house by Edward and Adelina. They both used to
tell him how much they owed him; and they, too, used to join in the
chorus and say, "You know, Peter, you're awfully silly not to get
married."

Now all this had happened and finished at about the time when the
Yahi-Bahi Society ran its course. At its first meeting Mr. Spillikins
had met Dulphemia Rasselyer-Brown. At the very sight of her he began
reading up the life of Buddha and a translation of the Upanishads so as
to fit himself to aspire to live with her. Even when the society ended
in disaster Mr. Spillikins's love only burned the stronger.
Consequently, as soon as he knew that Mr. and Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown were
going away for the summer, and that Dulphemia was to go to stay with
the Newberrys at Castel Casteggio, this latter place, the summer
retreat of the Newberrys, became the one spot on earth for Mr. Peter
Spillikins.

Naturally, therefore, Mr. Spillikins was presently transported to the
seventh heaven when in due course of time he received a note which
said, "We shall be so pleased if you can come out and spend a week or
two with us here. We will send the car down to the Thursday train to
meet you. We live here in the simplest fashion possible; in fact, as
Mr. Newberry says, we are just roughing it, but I am sure you don't
mind for a change. Dulphemia is with us, but we are quite a small
party."

The note was signed "Margaret Newberry" and was written on heavy cream
paper with a silver monogram such as people use when roughing it.

        *    *    *    *    *

The Newberrys, like everybody else, went away from town in the
summertime. Mr. Newberry being still in business, after a fashion, it
would not have looked well for him to remain in town throughout the
year. It would have created a bad impression on the market as to how
much he was making.

In fact, in the early summer everybody went out of town. The few who
ever revisited the place in August reported that they hadn't seen a
soul on the street.

It was a sort of longing for the simple life, for nature, that came
over everybody. Some people sought it at the seaside, where nature had
thrown out her broad plank walks and her long piers and her vaudeville
shows. Others sought it in the heart of the country, where nature had
spread her oiled motor roads and her wayside inns. Others, like the
Newberrys, preferred to "rough it" in country residences of their own.

Some of the people, as already said, went for business reasons, to
avoid the suspicion of having to work all the year round. Others went
to Europe to avoid the reproach of living always in America. Others,
perhaps most people, went for medical reasons, being sent away by their
doctors. Not that they were ill; but the doctors of Plutoria Avenue,
such as Doctor Slyder, always preferred to send all their patients out
of town during the summer months. No well-to-do doctor cares to be
bothered with them. And of course patients, even when they are anxious
to go anywhere on their own account, much prefer to be sent there by
their doctor.

"My dear madam," Dr. Slyder would say to a lady who, as he knew, was
most anxious to go to Virginia, "there's really nothing I can do for
you." Here he spoke the truth. "It's not a case of treatment. It's
simply a matter of dropping everything and going away. Now why don't
you go for a month or two to some quiet place, where you will simply
_do nothing?_" (She never, as he knew, did anything, anyway.) "What do
you say to Hot Springs, Virginia?--absolute quiet, good golf, not a
soul there, plenty of tennis." Or else he would say, "My dear madam,
you're simply _worn out_. Why don't you just drop everything and go to
Canada?--perfectly quiet, not a soul there, and, I believe, nowadays
quite fashionable."

Thus, after all the patients had been sent away, Dr. Slyder and his
colleagues of Plutoria Avenue managed to slip away themselves for a
month or two, heading straight for Paris and Vienna. There they were
able, so they said, to keep in touch with what continental doctors were
doing. They probably were.

Now it so happened that both the parents of Miss Dulphemia
Rasselyer-Brown had been sent out of town in this fashion. Mrs.
Rasselyer-Brown's distressing experience with Yahi-Bahi had left her in
a condition in which she was utterly fit for nothing, except to go on a
Mediterranean cruise, with about eighty other people also fit for
nothing.

Mr. Rasselyer-Brown himself, though never exactly an invalid, had
confessed that after all the fuss of the Yahi-Bahi business he needed
bracing up, needed putting into shape, and had put himself into Dr.
Slyder's hands. The doctor had examined him, questioned him searchingly
as to what he drank, and ended by prescribing port wine to be taken
firmly and unflinchingly during the evening, and for the daytime, at
any moment of exhaustion, a light cordial such as rye whiskey, or rum
and Vichy water. In addition to which Dr. Slyder had recommended Mr.
Rasselyer-Brown to leave town.

"Why don't you go down to Nagahakett on the Atlantic?" he said.

"Is that in Maine?" said Mr. Rasselyer-Brown in horror.

"Oh, dear me, no!" answered the doctor reassuringly. "It's in New
Brunswick, Canada; excellent place, most liberal licence laws; first
class cuisine and a bar in the hotel. No tourists, no golf, too cold to
swim--just the place to enjoy oneself."

So Mr. Rasselyer-Brown had gone away also, and as a result Dulphemia
Rasselyer-Brown, at the particular moment of which we speak, was
declared by the Boudoir and Society column of the _Plutorian Daily
Dollar_ to be staying with Mr. and Mrs. Newberry at their charming
retreat, Castel Casteggio.

The Newberrys belonged to the class of people whose one aim in the
summer is to lead the simple life. Mr. Newberry himself said that his
one idea of a vacation was to get right out into the bush, and put on
old clothes, and just eat when he felt like it.

This was why he had built Castel Casteggio. It stood about forty miles
from the city, out among the wooded hills on the shore of a little
lake. Except for the fifteen or twenty residences like it that dotted
the sides of the lake it was entirely isolated. The only way to reach
it was by the motor road that wound its way among leafy hills from the
railway station fifteen miles away. Every foot of the road was private
property, as all nature ought to be. The whole country about Castel
Casteggio was absolutely primeval, or at any rate as primeval as Scotch
gardeners and French landscape artists could make it. The lake itself
lay like a sparkling gem from nature's workshop--except that they had
raised the level of it ten feet, stone-banked the sides, cleared out
the brush, and put a motor road round it. Beyond that it was pure
nature.

Castel Casteggio itself, a beautiful house of white brick with sweeping
piazzas and glittering conservatories, standing among great trees with
rolling lawns broken with flower-beds as the ground sloped to the lake,
was perhaps the most beautiful house of all; at any rate, it was an
ideal spot to wear old clothes in, to dine early (at 7.30) and, except
for tennis parties, motor-boat parties, lawn teas, and golf, to live
absolutely to oneself.

It should be explained that the house was not called Castel Casteggio
because the Newberrys were Italian: they were not; nor because they
owned estates in Italy: they didn't nor had travelled there: they
hadn't. Indeed, for a time they had thought of giving it a Welsh name,
or a Scotch. But the beautiful country residence of the
Asterisk-Thomsons had stood close by in the same primeval country was
already called Penny-gw-rydd, and the woodland retreat of the
Hyphen-Joneses just across the little lake was called
Strathythan-na-Clee, and the charming chalet of the Wilson-Smiths was
called Yodel-Dudel; so it seemed fairer to select an Italian name.

        *    *    *    *    *

"By Jove! Miss Furlong, how awfully good of you to come down!"

The little suburban train--two cars only, both first class, for the
train went nowhere except out into the primeval wilderness--had drawn
up at the diminutive roadside station. Mr. Spillikins had alighted, and
there was Miss Philippa Furlong sitting behind the chauffeur in the
Newberrys' motor. She was looking as beautiful as only the younger
sister of a High Church episcopalian rector can look, dressed in white,
the colour of saintliness, on a beautiful morning in July.

There was no doubt about Philippa Furlong. Her beauty was of that
peculiar and almost sacred kind found only in the immediate
neighbourhood of the High Church clergy. It was admitted by all who
envied or admired her that she could enter a church more gracefully,
move more swimmingly up the aisle, and pray better than any girl on
Plutoria Avenue.

Mr. Spillikins, as he gazed at her in her white summer dress and wide
picture hat, with her parasol nodding above her head, realized that
after all, religion, as embodied in the younger sisters of the High
Church clergy, fills a great place in the world.

"By Jove!" he repeated, "how awfully good of you!"

"Not a bit," said Philippa. "Hop in. Dulphemia was coming, but she
couldn't. Is that all you have with you?"

The last remark was ironical. It referred to the two quite large
steamer trunks of Mr. Spillikins that were being loaded, together with
his suit-case, tennis racket, and golf kit, on to the fore part of the
motor. Mr. Spillikins, as a young man of social experience, had roughed
it before. He knew what a lot of clothes one needs for it.

So the motor sped away, and went bowling noiselessly over the oiled
road, and turning corners where the green boughs of the great trees
almost swished in their faces, and rounding and twisting among curves
of the hills as it carried Spillikins and Philippa away from the lower
domain or ordinary fields and farms up into the enchanted country of
private property and the magic castles of Casteggio and Penny-gw-rydd.

Mr. Spillikins must have assured Philippa at least a dozen times in
starting off how awfully good it was of her to come down in the motor;
and he was so pleased at her coming to meet him that Philippa never
even hinted that the truth was that she had expected somebody else on
the same train. For to a girl brought up in the principles of the High
Church the truth is a very sacred thing. She keeps it to herself.

And naturally, with such a sympathetic listener, it was not long before
Mr. Spillikins had begun to talk of Dulphemia and his hopes.

"I don't know whether she really cares for me or not," said Mr.
Spillikins, "but I have pretty good hope. The other day, or at least
about two months ago, at one of the Yahi-Bahi meetings--you were not in
that, were you?" he said breaking off.

"Only just at the beginning," said Philippa; "we went to Bermuda."

"Oh yes, I remember. Do you know, I thought it pretty rough at the end,
especially on Ram Spudd. I liked him. I sent him two pounds of tobacco
to the penitentiary last week; you can get it in to them, you know, if
you know how."

"But what were you going to say?" asked Philippa.

"Oh yes," said Mr. Spillikins. And he realized that he had actually
drifted off the topic of Dulphemia, a thing that had never happened to
him before. "I was going to say that at one of the meetings, you know,
I asked her if I might call her Dulphemia."

"And what did she say to that?" asked Philippa.

"She said she didn't care what I called her. So I think that looks
pretty good, don't you?"

"Awfully good," said Philippa.

"And a little after that I took her slippers home from the Charity Ball
at the Grand Palaver. Archie Jones took her home herself in his car,
but I took her slippers. She'd forgotten them. I thought that a pretty
good sign, wasn't it? You wouldn't let a chap carry round your slippers
unless you knew him pretty well, would you, Miss Philippa?"

"Oh no, nobody would," said Philippa. This of course, was a standing
principle of the Anglican Church.

"And a little after that Dulphemia and Charlie Mostyn and I were
walking to Mrs. Buncomhearst's musical, and we'd only just started
along the street, when she stopped and sent me back for her music--me,
mind you, not Charlie. That seems to me awfully significant."

"It seems to speak volumes," said Philippa.

"Doesn't it?" said Mr. Spillikins. "You don't mind my telling you all
about this Miss Philippa?" he added.

Incidentally Mr. Spillikins felt that it was all right to call her Miss
Philippa, because she had a sister who was really Miss Furlong, so it
would have been quite wrong, as Mr. Spillikins realized, to have called
Miss Philippa by her surname. In any case, the beauty of the morning
was against it.

"I don't mind a bit," said Philippa. "I think it's awfully nice of you
to tell me about it."

She didn't add that she knew all about it already.

"You see," said Mr. Spillikins, "you're so awfully sympathetic. It
makes it so easy to talk to you. With other girls, especially with
clever ones, even with Dulphemia. I often feel a perfect jackass beside
them. But I don t feel that way with you at all."

"Don't you really?" said Philippa, but the honest admiration in Mr.
Spillikin's protruding blue eyes forbade a sarcastic answer.

"By Jove!" said Mr. Spillikins presently, with complete irrelevance, "I
hope you don't mind my saying it, but you look awfully well in
white--stunning." He felt that a man who was affianced, or practically
so, was allowed the smaller liberty of paying honest compliments.

"Oh, this old thing," laughed Philippa, with a contemptuous shake of
her dress. "But up here, you know, we just wear anything." She didn't
say that this old thing was only two weeks old and had cost eighty
dollars, or the equivalent of one person's pew rent at St. Asaph's for
six months.

And after that they had only time, so it seemed to Mr. Spillikins, for
two or three remarks, and he had scarcely had leisure to reflect what a
charming girl Philippa had grown to be since she went to Bermuda--the
effect, no doubt, of the climate of those fortunate islands--when quite
suddenly they rounded a curve into an avenue of nodding trees, and
there were the great lawn and wide piazzas and the conservatories of
Castel Casteggio right in front of them.

"Here we are," said Philippa, "and there's Mr. Newberry out on the
lawn."

        *    *    *    *    *

"Now, here," Mr. Newberry was saying a little later, waving his hand,
"is where you get what I think the finest view of the place."

He was standing at the corner of the lawn where it sloped, dotted with
great trees, to the banks of the little lake, and was showing Mr.
Spillikins the beauties of Castel Casteggio.

Mr. Newberry wore on his short circular person the summer costume of a
man taking his ease and careless of dress: plain white flannel
trousers, not worth more than six dollars a leg, an ordinary white silk
shirt with a rolled collar, that couldn't have cost more than fifteen
dollars, and on his head an ordinary Panama hat, say forty dollars.

"By Jove!" said Mr. Spillikins, as he looked about him at the house and
the beautiful lawn with its great trees, "it's a lovely place."

"Isn't it?" said Mr. Newberry. "But you ought to have seen it when I
took hold of it. To make the motor road alone I had to dynamite out
about a hundred yards of rock, and then I fetched up cement, tons and
tons of it, and boulders to buttress the embankment."

"Did you really!" said Mr. Spillikins, looking at Mr. Newberry with
great respect.

"Yes, and even that was nothing to the house itself. Do you know, I had
to go at least forty feet for the foundations. First I went through
about twenty feet of loose clay, after that I struck sand, and I'd no
sooner got through that than, by George! I landed in eight feet of
water. I had to pump it out; I think I took out a thousand gallons
before I got clear down to the rock. Then I took my solid steel beams
in fifty-foot lengths," here Mr. Newberry imitated with his arms the
action of a man setting up a steel beam, "and set them upright and
bolted them on the rock. After that I threw my steel girders across,
clapped on my roof rafters, all steel, in sixty-foot pieces, and then
just held it easily, just supported it a bit, and let it sink gradually
to its place."

Mr. Newberry illustrated with his two arms the action of a huge house
being allowed to sink slowly to a firm rest.

"You don't say so!" said Mr. Spillikins, lost in amazement at the
wonderful physical strength that Mr. Newberry must have.

"Excuse me just a minute," broke off Mr. Newberry, "while I smooth out
the gravel where you're standing. You've rather disturbed it, I'm
afraid."

"Oh, I'm awfully sorry," said Mr. Spillikins.

"Oh, not at all, not at all," said his host. "I don't mind in the
least. It's only on account of McAlister."

"Who?" asked Mr. Spillikins.

"My gardener. He doesn't care to have us walk on the gravel paths. It
scuffs up the gravel so. But sometimes one forgets."

It should be said here, for the sake of clearness, that one of the
chief glories of Castel Casteggio lay in its servants. All of them, it
goes without saying, had been brought from Great Britain. The comfort
they gave to Mr. and Mrs. Newberry was unspeakable. In fact, as they
themselves admitted, servants of the kind are simply not to be found in
America.

"Our Scotch gardener," Mrs. Newberry always explained "is a perfect
character. I don't know how we could get another like him. Do you know,
my dear, he simply won't allow us to pick the roses; and if any of us
walk across the grass he is furious. And he positively refuses to let
us use the vegetables. He told me quite plainly that if we took any of
his young peas or his early cucumbers he would leave. We are to have
them later on when he's finished growing them."

"How delightful it is to have servants of that sort," the lady
addressed would murmur; "so devoted and so different from servants on
this side of the water. Just imagine, my dear, my chauffeur, when I was
in Colorado, actually threatened to leave me merely because I wanted to
reduce his wages. I think it's these wretched labour unions."

"I'm sure it is. Of course we have trouble with McAlister at times, but
he's always very reasonable when we put things in the right light. Last
week, for example, I was afraid that we had gone too far with him. He
is always accustomed to have a quart of beer every morning at half-past
ten--the maids are told to bring it out to him, and after that he goes
to sleep in the little arbour beside the tulip bed. And the other day
when he went there he found that one of our guests who hadn't been
told, was actually sitting in there reading. Of course he was
_furious_. I was afraid for the moment that he would give notice on the
spot."

"What _would_ you have done?"

"Positively, my dear, I don't know. But we explained to him at once
that it was only an accident and that the person hadn't known and that
of course it wouldn't occur again. After that he was softened a little,
but he went off muttering to himself, and that evening he dug up all
the new tulips and threw them over the fence. We saw him do it, but we
didn't dare say anything."

"Oh no," echoed the other lady; "if you had you might have lost him."

"Exactly. And I don't think we could possibly get another man like him;
at least, not on this side of the water."

        *    *    *    *    *

"But come," said Mr. Newberry, after he had finished adjusting the
gravel with his foot, "there are Mrs. Newberry and the girls on the
verandah. Let's go and join them."

A few minutes later Mr. Spillikins was talking with Mrs. Newberry and
Dulphemia Rasselyer-Brown, and telling Mrs. Newberry what a beautiful
house she had. Beside them stood Philippa Furlong, and she had her arm
around Dulphemia's waist; and the picture that they thus made, with
their heads close together, Dulphemia's hair being golden and
Philippa's chestnut-brown, was such that Mr. Spillikins had no eyes for
Mrs. Newberry nor for Castel Casteggio nor for anything. So much so
that he practically didn't see at all the little girl in green that
stood unobtrusively on the further side of Mrs. Newberry. Indeed,
though somebody had murmured her name in introduction, he couldn't have
repeated it if asked two minutes afterwards. His eyes and his mind were
elsewhere.

But hers were not.

For the Little Girl in Green looked at Mr. Spillikins with wide eyes,
and when she looked at him she saw all at once such wonderful things
about him as nobody had ever seen before.

For she could see from the poise of his head how awfully clever he was;
and from the way he stood with his hands in his side pockets she could
see how manly and brave he must be; and of course there was firmness
and strength written all over him. In short, she saw as she looked such
a Peter Spillikins as truly never existed, or could exist--or at least
such a Peter Spillikins as no one else in the world had ever suspected
before.

All in a moment she was ever so glad that she accepted Mrs. Newberry's
invitation to Castel Casteggio and hadn't been afraid to come. For the
Little Girl in Green, whose Christian name was Norah, was only what is
called a poor relation of Mrs. Newberry, and her father was a person of
no account whatever, who didn't belong to the Mausoleum Club or to any
other club, and who lived, with Norah, on a street that nobody who was
anybody lived upon. Norah had been asked up a few days before out of
the City to give her air--which is the only thing that can be safely
and freely given to poor relations. Thus she had arrived at Castel
Casteggio with one diminutive trunk, so small and shabby that even the
servants who carried it upstairs were ashamed of it. In it were a pair
of brand new tennis shoes (at ninety cents reduced to seventy-five) and
a white dress of the kind that is called "almost evening," and such few
other things as poor relations might bring with fear and trembling to
join in the simple rusticity of the rich.

Thus stood Norah looking at Mr. Spillikins.

As for him, such is the contrariety of human things, he had no eyes for
her at all.

"What a perfectly charming house this is," Mr. Spillikins was saying.
He always said this on such occasions, but it seemed to the Little Girl
in Green that he spoke with wonderful social ease.

"I am so glad you think so," said Mrs. Newberry (this was what she
always answered); "you've no idea what work it has been. This year we
put in all this new glass in the east conservatory, over a thousand
panes. Such a tremendous business!"

"I was just telling Mr. Spillikins," said Mr. Newberry, "about the work
we had blasting out the motor road. You can see the gap where it lies
better from here, I think, Spillikins. I must have exploded a ton and a
half of dynamite on it."

"By Jove!" said Mr. Spillikins; "it must be dangerous work eh? I wonder
you aren't afraid of it."

"One simply gets used to it, that's all," said Newberry, shrugging his
shoulders; "but of course it is dangerous. I blew up two Italians on
the last job." He paused a minute and added musingly, "Hardy fellows,
the Italians. I prefer them to any other people for blasting."

"Did you blow them up yourself?" asked Mr. Spillikins.

"I wasn't here," answered Mr. Newberry. "In fact, I never care to be
here when I'm blasting. We go to town. But I had to foot the bill for
them all the same. Quite right, too. The risk, of course, was mine, not
theirs; that's the law, you know. They cost me two thousand each."

"But come," said Mrs. Newberry, "I think we must go and dress for
dinner. Franklin will be frightfully put out if we're late. Franklin is
our butler," she went on, seeing that Mr. Spillikins didn't understand
the reference, "and as we brought him out from England we have to be
rather careful. With a good man like Franklin one is always so afraid
of losing him--and after last night we have to be doubly careful."

"Why last night?" asked Mr. Spillikins.

"Oh, it wasn't much," said Mrs. Newberry. "In fact, it was merely an
accident. Only it just chanced that at dinner, quite late in the meal,
when we had had nearly everything (we dine very simply here, Mr.
Spillikins), Mr. Newberry, who was thirsty and who wasn't really
thinking what he was saying, asked Franklin to give him a glass of
hock. Franklin said at once, 'I'm very sorry, sir, I don't care to
serve hock after the entree!'"

"And of course he was right," said Dulphemia with emphasis. "Exactly;
he was perfectly right. They know, you know. We were afraid that there
might be trouble, but Mr. Newberry went and saw Franklin afterwards and
he behaved very well over it. But suppose we go and dress? It's
half-past six already and we've only an hour."

        *    *    *    *    *

In this congenial company Mr. Spillikins spent the next three days.

Life at Castel Casteggio, as the Newberrys loved to explain, was
conducted on the very simplest plan. Early breakfast, country fashion,
at nine o'clock; after that nothing to eat till lunch, unless one cared
to have lemonade or bottled ale sent out with a biscuit or a macaroon
to the tennis court. Lunch itself was a perfectly plain midday meal,
lasting till about 1.30, and consisting simply of cold meats (say four
kinds) and salads, with perhaps a made dish or two, and, for anybody
who cared for it, a hot steak or a chop, or both. After that one had
coffee and cigarettes in the shade of the piazza and waited for
afternoon tea. This latter was served at a wicker table in any part of
the grounds that the gardener was not at that moment clipping,
trimming, or otherwise using. Afternoon tea being over, one rested or
walked on the lawn till it was time to dress for dinner.

This simple routine was broken only by irruptions of people in motors
or motor boats from Penny-gw-rydd or Yodel-Dudel Chalet.

The whole thing, from the point of view of Mr. Spillikins or Dulphemia
or Philippa, represented rusticity itself.

To the Little Girl in Green it seemed as brilliant as the Court of
Versailles; especially evening dinner--a plain home meal as the others
thought it--when she had four glasses to drink out of and used to
wonder over such problems as whether you were supposed, when Franklin
poured out wine, to tell him to stop or to wait till he stopped without
being told to stop; and other similar mysteries, such as many people
before and after have meditated upon.

During all this time Mr. Spillikins was nerving himself to propose to
Dulphemia Rasselyer-Brown. In fact, he spent part of his time walking
up and down under the trees with Philippa Furlong and discussing with
her the proposal that he meant to make, together with such topics as
marriage in general and his own unworthiness.

He might have waited indefinitely had he not learned, on the third day
of his visit, that Dulphemia was to go away in the morning to join her
father at Nagahakett.

That evening he found the necessary nerve to speak, and the proposal in
almost every aspect of it was most successful.

"By Jove!" Spillikins said to Philippa Furlong next morning, in
explaining what had happened, "she was awfully nice about it. I think
she must have guessed, in a way, don't you, what I was going to say?
But at any rate she was awfully nice--let me say everything I wanted,
and when I explained what a fool I was, she said she didn't think I was
half such a fool as people thought me. But it's all right. It turns out
that she isn't thinking of getting married. I asked her if I might
always go on thinking of her, and she said I might."

And that morning when Dulphemia was carried off in the motor to the
station, Mr. Spillikins, without exactly being aware how he had done
it, had somehow transferred himself to Philippa.

"Isn't she a splendid girl!" he said at least ten times a day to Norah,
the Little Girl in Green. And Norah always agreed, because she really
thought Philippa a perfectly wonderful creature. There is no doubt
that, but for a slight shift of circumstances, Mr. Spillikins would
have proposed to Miss Furlong. Indeed, he spent a good part of his time
rehearsing little speeches that began, "Of course I know I'm an awful
ass in a way," or, "Of course I know that I'm not at all the sort of
fellow," and so on.

But not one of them ever was delivered.

For it so happened that on the Thursday, one week after Mr.
Spillikins's arrival, Philippa went again to the station in the motor.
And when she came back there was another passenger with her, a tall
young man in tweed, and they both began calling out to the Newberrys
from a distance of at least a hundred yards.

And both the Newberrys suddenly exclaimed, "Why, it's Tom!" and rushed
off to meet the motor. And there was such a laughing and jubilation as
the two descended and carried Tom's valises to the verandah, that Mr.
Spillikins felt as suddenly and completely out of it as the Little Girl
in Green herself--especially as his ear had caught, among the first
things said, the words, "Congratulate us, Mrs. Newberry, we're engaged."

After which Mr. Spillikins had the pleasure of sitting and listening
while it was explained in wicker chairs on the verandah, that Philippa
and Tom had been engaged already for ever so long--in fact, nearly two
weeks, only they had agreed not to say a word to anybody till Tom had
gone to North Carolina and back, to see his people.

And as to who Tom was, or what was the relation between Tom and the
Newberrys, Mr. Spillikins neither knew or cared; nor did it interest
him in the least that Philippa had met Tom in Bermuda, and that she
hadn't known that he even knew the Newberry's nor any other of the
exuberant disclosures of the moment. In fact, if there was any one
period rather than another when Mr. Spillikins felt corroborated in his
private view of himself, it was at this moment.

So the next day Tom and Philippa vanished together.

"We shall be quite a small party now," said Mrs. Newberry; "in fact,
quite by ourselves till Mrs. Everleigh comes, and she won't be here for
a fortnight."

At which the heart of the Little Girl in Green was glad, because she
had been afraid that other girls might be coming, whereas she knew that
Mrs. Everleigh was a widow with four sons and must be ever so old, past
forty.

The next few days were spent by Mr. Spillikins almost entirely in the
society of Norah. He thought them on the whole rather pleasant days,
but slow. To her they were an uninterrupted dream of happiness never to
be forgotten.

The Newberrys left them to themselves; not with any intent; it was
merely that they were perpetually busy walking about the grounds of
Castel Casteggio, blowing up things with dynamite, throwing steel
bridges over gullies, and hoisting heavy timber with derricks. Nor were
they to blame for it. For it had not always been theirs to command
dynamite and control the forces of nature. There had been a time, now
long ago, when the two Newberrys had lived, both of them, on twenty
dollars a week, and Mrs. Newberry had made her own dresses, and Mr.
Newberry had spent vigorous evenings in making hand-made shelves for
their sitting-room. That was long ago, and since then Mr. Newberry,
like many other people of those earlier days, had risen to wealth and
Castel Casteggio, while others, like Norah's father, had stayed just
where they were.

So the Newberrys left Peter and Norah to themselves all day. Even after
dinner, in the evening, Mr. Newberry was very apt to call to his wife
in the dusk from some distant corner of the lawn:

"Margaret, come over here and tell me if you don't think we might cut
down this elm, tear the stump out by the roots, and throw it into the
ravine."

And the answer was, "One minute, Edward; just wait till I get a wrap."

Before they came back, the dusk had grown to darkness, and they had
redynamited half the estate.

During all of which time Mr. Spillikins sat with Norah on the piazza.
He talked and she listened. He told her, for instance, all about his
terrific experiences in the oil business, and about his exciting career
at college; or presently they went indoors and Norah played the piano
and Mr. Spillikins sat and smoked and listened. In such a house as the
Newberry's, where dynamite and the greater explosives were everyday
matters, a little thing like the use of tobacco in the drawing-room
didn't count. As for the music, "Go right ahead," said Mr. Spillikins;
"I'm not musical, but I don't mind music a bit."

In the daytime they played tennis. There was a court at one end of the
lawn beneath the trees, all chequered with sunlight and mingled shadow;
very beautiful, Norah thought, though Mr. Spillikins explained that the
spotted light put him off his game. In fact, it was owing entirely to
this bad light that Mr. Spillikins's fast drives, wonderful though they
were, somehow never got inside the service court.

Norah, of course, thought Mr. Spillikins a wonderful player. She was
glad--in fact, it suited them both--when he beat her six to nothing.
She didn't know and didn't care that there was no one else in the world
that Mr. Spillikins could beat like that. Once he even said to her.

"By Gad! you don't play half a bad game, you know. I think you know,
with practice you'd come on quite a lot."

After that the games were understood to be more or less in the form of
lessons, which put Mr. Spillikins on a pedestal of superiority, and
allowed any bad strokes on his part to be viewed as a form of
indulgence.

Also, as the tennis was viewed in this light, it was Norah's part to
pick up the balls at the net and throw them back to Mr. Spillikins. He
let her do this, not from rudeness, for it wasn't in him, but because
in such a primeval place as Castel Casteggio the natural primitive
relation of the sexes is bound to reassert itself.

But of love Mr. Spillikins never thought. He had viewed it so eagerly
and so often from a distance that when it stood here modestly at his
very elbow he did not recognize its presence. His mind had been
fashioned, as it were, to connect love with something stunning and
sensational, with Easter hats and harem skirts and the luxurious
consciousness of the unattainable.

Even at that, there is no knowing what might have happened. Tennis, in
the chequered light of sun and shadow cast by summer leaves, is a
dangerous game. There came a day when they were standing one each side
of the net and Mr. Spillikins was explaining to Norah the proper way to
hold a racquet so as to be able to give those magnificent backhand
sweeps of his, by which he generally drove the ball halfway to the
lake; and explaining this involved putting his hand right over Norah's
on the handle of the racquet, so that for just half a second her hand
was clasped tight in his; and if that half-second had been lengthened
out into a whole second it is quite possible that what was already
subconscious in his mind would have broken its way triumphantly to the
surface, and Norah's hand would have stayed in his--how willingly--!
for the rest of their two lives.

But just at that moment Mr. Spillikins looked up, and he said in quite
an altered tone.

"By Jove! who's that awfully good-looking woman getting out of the
motor?"

And their hands unclasped. Norah looked over towards the house and said:

"Why, it's Mrs. Everleigh. I thought she wasn't coming for another
week."

"I say," said Mr. Spillikins, straining his short sight to the
uttermost, "what perfectly wonderful golden hair, eh?" "Why, it's--"
Norah began, and then she stopped. It didn't seem right to explain that
Mrs. Everleigh's hair was dyed. "And who's that tall chap standing
beside her?" said Mr. Spillikins.

"I think it's Captain Cormorant, but I don't think he's going to stay.
He's only brought her up in the motor from town." "By Jove, how good of
him!" said Spillikins; and this sentiment in regard to Captain
Cormorant, though he didn't know it, was to become a keynote of his
existence.

"I didn't know she was coming so soon," said Norah, and there was
weariness already in her heart. Certainly she didn't know it; still
less did she know, or anyone else, that the reason of Mrs. Everleigh's
coming was because Mr. Spillikins was there. She came with a set
purpose, and she sent Captain Cormorant directly back in the motor
because she didn't want him on the premises.

"Oughtn't we to go up to the house?" said Norah.

"All right," said Mr. Spillikins with great alacrity, "let's go."

        *    *    *    *    *

Now as this story began with the information that Mrs. Everleigh is at
present Mrs. Everleigh-Spillikins, there is no need to pursue in detail
the stages of Mr. Spillikins's wooing. Its course was swift and happy.
Mr. Spillikins, having seen the back of Mrs. Everleigh's head, had
decided instantly that she was the most beautiful woman in the world;
and that impression is not easily corrected in the half-light of a
shaded drawing-room; nor across a dinner-table lighted only with
candles with deep red shades; nor even in the daytime through a veil.
In any case, it is only fair to state that if Mrs. Everleigh was not
and is not a singularly beautiful woman, Mr. Spillikins still doesn't
know it. And in point of attraction the homage of such experts as
Captain Cormorant and Lieutenant Hawk speaks for itself.

So the course of Mr. Spillikins's love, for love it must have been, ran
swiftly to its goal. Each stage of it was duly marked by his comments
to Norah.

"She _is_ a splendid woman," he said, "so sympathetic. She always seems
to know just what one's going to say."

So she did, for she was making him say it.

"By Jove!" he said a day later, "Mrs. Everleigh's an awfully fine
woman, isn't she? I was telling her about my having been in the oil
business for a little while, and she thinks that I'd really be awfully
good in money things. She said she wished she had me to manage her
money for her."

This also was quite true, except that Mrs. Everleigh had not made it
quite clear that the management of her money was of the form generally
known as deficit financing. In fact, her money was, very crudely
stated, nonexistent, and it needed a lot of management.

A day or two later Mr. Spillikins was saying, "I think Mrs. Everleigh
must have had great sorrow, don't you? Yesterday she was showing me a
photograph of her little boy--she has a little boy you know--"

"Yes, I know," said Norah. She didn't add that she knew that Mrs.
Everleigh had four.

"--and she was saying how awfully rough it is having him always away
from her at Dr. Something's academy where he is."

And very soon after that Mr. Spillikins was saying, with quite a quaver
in his voice,

"By Jove! yes, I'm awfully lucky; I never thought for a moment that
she'd have me, you know--a woman like her, with so much attention and
everything. I can't imagine what she sees in me."

Which was just as well.

And then Mr. Spillikins checked himself, for he noticed--this was on
the verandah in the morning--that Norah had a hat and jacket on and
that the motor was rolling towards the door.

"I say," he said, "are you going away?"

"Yes, didn't you know?" Norah said. "I thought you heard them speaking
of it at dinner last night. I have to go home; father's alone, you
know."

"Oh, I'm awfully sorry," said Mr. Spillikins; "we shan't have any more
tennis."

"Goodbye," said Norah, and as she said it and put out her hand there
were tears brimming up into her eyes. But Mr. Spillikins, being short
of sight, didn't see them.

"Goodbye," he said.

Then as the motor carried her away he stood for a moment in a sort of
reverie. Perhaps certain things that might have been rose unformed and
inarticulate before his mind. And then, a voice called from the
drawing-room within, in a measured and assured tone,

"Peter, darling, where are you?"

"Coming," cried Mr. Spillikins, and he came.

        *    *    *    *    *

On the second day of the engagement Mrs. Everleigh showed to Peter a
little photograph in a brooch.

"This is Gib, my second little boy," she said.

Mr. Spillikins started to say, "I didn't know--" and then checked
himself and said, "By Gad! what a fine-looking little chap, eh? I'm
awfully fond of boys."

"Dear little fellow, isn't he?" said Mrs. Everleigh. "He's really
rather taller than that now, because this picture was taken a little
while ago."

And the next day she said, "This is Willie, my third boy," and on the
day after that she said, "This is Sib, my youngest boy; I'm sure you'll
love him."

"I'm sure I shall," said Mr. Spillikins. He loved him already for being
the youngest.

        *    *    *    *    *

And so in the fulness of time--nor was it so very full either, in fact,
only about five weeks--Peter Spillikins and Mrs. Everleigh were married
in St. Asaph's Church on Plutoria Avenue. And the wedding was one of
the most beautiful and sumptuous of the weddings of the September
season. There were flowers, and bridesmaids in long veils, and tall
ushers in frock-coats, and awnings at the church door, and strings of
motors with wedding-favours on imported chauffeurs, and all that goes
to invest marriage on Plutoria Avenue with its peculiar sacredness. The
face of the young rector, Mr. Fareforth Furlong, wore the added
saintliness that springs from a five-hundred dollar fee. The whole town
was there, or at least everybody that was anybody; and if there was one
person absent, one who sat by herself in the darkened drawing-room of a
dull little house on a shabby street, who knew or cared?

So after the ceremony the happy couple--for were they not so?--left for
New York. There they spent their honeymoon. They had thought of
going--it was Mr. Spillikins's idea--to the coast of Maine. But Mrs.
Everleigh-Spillikins said that New York was much nicer, so restful,
whereas, as everyone knows, the coast of Maine is frightfully noisy.

Moreover, it so happened that before the Everleigh-Spillikinses had
been more than four or five days in New York the ship of Captain
Cormorant dropped anchor in the Hudson; and when the anchor of that
ship was once down it generally stayed there. So the captain was able
to take the Everleigh-Spillikinses about in New York, and to give a tea
for Mrs. Everleigh-Spillikins on the deck of his vessel so that she
might meet the officers, and another tea in a private room of a
restaurant on Fifth Avenue so that she might meet no one but himself.

And at this tea Captain Cormorant said, among other things, "Did he
kick up rough at all when you told him about the money?"

And Mrs. Everleigh, now Mrs. Everleigh-Spillikins, said, "Not he! I
think he is actually pleased to know that I haven't any. Do you know,
Arthur, he's really an awfully good fellow," and as she said it she
moved her hand away from under Captain Cormorant's on the tea-table.

"I say," said the Captain, "don't get sentimental over him."

        *    *    *    *    *

So that is how it is that the Everleigh-Spillikinses came to reside on
Plutoria Avenue in a beautiful stone house, with a billiard-room in an
extension on the second floor. Through the windows of it one can almost
hear the click of the billiard balls, and a voice saying, "Hold on,
father, you had your shot."



CHAPTER SIX: The Rival Churches of St. Asaph and St. Osoph

The church of St. Asaph, more properly call St. Asaph's in the Fields,
stands among the elm trees of Plutoria Avenue opposite the university,
its tall spire pointing to the blue sky. Its rector is fond of saying
that it seems to him to point, as it were, a warning against the sins
of a commercial age. More particularly does he say this in his Lenten
services at noonday, when the businessmen sit in front of him in rows,
their bald heads uncovered and their faces stamped with contrition as
they think of mergers that they should have made, and real estate that
they failed to buy for lack of faith.

The ground on which St. Asaph's stands is worth seven dollars and a
half a foot. The mortgagees, as they kneel in prayer in their long
frock-coats, feel that they have built upon a rock. It is a beautifully
appointed church. There are windows with priceless stained glass that
were imported from Normandy, the rector himself swearing out the
invoices to save the congregation the grievous burden of the customs
duty. There is a pipe organ in the transept that cost ten thousand
dollars to install. The debenture-holders, as they join in the morning
anthem, love to hear the dulcet notes of the great organ and to reflect
that it is as good as new. Just behind the church is St. Asaph's Sunday
School, with a ten-thousand dollar mortgage of its own. And below that
again on the side street, is the building of the Young Men's Guild with
a bowling-alley and a swimming-bath deep enough to drown two young men
at a time, and a billiard-room with seven tables. It is the rector's
boast that with a Guild House such as that there is no need for any
young man of the congregation to frequent a saloon. Nor is there.

And on Sunday mornings, when the great organ plays, and the mortgagees
and the bond-holders and the debenture-holders and the Sunday school
teachers and the billiard-markers all lift up their voices together,
there is emitted from St. Asaph's a volume of praise that is
practically as fine and effective as paid professional work.

St. Asaph's is episcopal. As a consequence it has in it and about it
all those things which go to make up the episcopal church--brass
tablets let into its walls, blackbirds singing in its elm trees,
parishioners who dine at eight o'clock, and a rector who wears a little
crucifix and dances the tango.

On the other hand, there stands upon the same street, not a hundred
yards away, the rival church of St. Osoph--presbyterian down to its
very foundations in bed-rock, thirty feet below the level of the
avenue. It has a short, squat tower--and a low roof, and its narrow
windows are glazed with frosted glass. It has dark spruce trees instead
of elms, crows instead of blackbirds, and a gloomy minister with a
shovel hat who lectures on philosophy on week-days at the university.
He loves to think that his congregation are made of the lowly and the
meek in spirit, and to reflect that, lowly and meek as they are, there
are men among them that could buy out half the congregation of St.
Asaph's.

St. Osoph's is only presbyterian in a special sense. It is, in fact,
too presbyterian to be any longer connected with any other body
whatsoever. It seceded some forty years ago from the original body to
which it belonged, and later on, with three other churches, it seceded
from the group of seceding congregations. Still later it fell into a
difference with the three other churches on the question of eternal
punishment, the word "eternal" not appearing to the elders of St.
Osoph's to designate a sufficiently long period. The dispute ended in a
secession which left the church of St. Osoph practically isolated in a
world of sin whose approaching fate it neither denied nor deplored.

In one respect the rival churches of Plutoria Avenue had had a similar
history. Each of them had moved up by successive stages from the lower
and poorer parts of the city. Forty years ago St. Asaph's had been
nothing more than a little frame church with a tin spire, away in the
west of the slums, and St. Osoph's a square, diminutive building away
in the east. But the site of St. Asaph's had been bought by a brewing
company, and the trustees, shrewd men of business, themselves rising
into wealth, had rebuilt it right in the track of the advancing tide of
a real estate boom. The elders of St. Osoph, quiet men, but illumined
by an inner light, had followed suit and moved their church right
against the side of an expanding distillery. Thus both the churches, as
decade followed decade, made their way up the slope of the City till
St. Asaph's was presently gloriously expropriated by the street railway
company, and planted its spire in triumph on Plutoria Avenue itself.
But St. Osoph's followed. With each change of site it moved nearer and
nearer to St. Asaph's. Its elders were shrewd men. With each move of
their church they took careful thought in the rebuilding. In the
manufacturing district it was built with sixteen windows on each side
and was converted at a huge profit into a bicycle factory. On the
residential street it was made long and deep and was sold to a
moving-picture company without the alteration of so much as a pew. As a
last step a syndicate, formed among the members of the congregation
themselves, bought ground on Plutoria Avenue, and sublet it to
themselves as a site for the church, at a nominal interest of five per
cent per annum, payable nominally every three months and secured by a
nominal mortgage.

As the two churches moved, their congregations, or at least all that
was best of them--such members as were sharing in the rising fortunes
of the City--moved also, and now for some six or seven years the two
churches and the two congregations had confronted one another among the
elm trees of the Avenue opposite to the university.

But at this point the fortunes of the churches had diverged. St.
Asaph's was a brilliant success; St. Osoph's was a failure. Even its
own trustees couldn't deny it. At a time when St. Asaph's was not only
paying its interest but showing a handsome surplus on everything it
undertook, the church of St. Osoph was moving steadily backwards.

There was no doubt, of course, as to the cause. Everybody knew it. It
was simply a question of men, and, as everybody said, one had only to
compare the two men conducting the churches to see why one succeeded
and the other failed.

The Reverend Edward Fareforth Furlong of St. Asaph's was a man who
threw his whole energy into his parish work. The subtleties of
theological controversy he left to minds less active than his own. His
creed was one of works rather than of words, and whatever he was doing
he did it with his whole heart. Whether he was lunching at the
Mausoleum Club with one of his church wardens, or playing the
flute--which he played as only the episcopal clergy can play
it--accompanied on the harp by one of the fairest of the ladies of his
choir, or whether he was dancing the new episcopal tango with the
younger daughters of the elder parishioners, he threw himself into it
with all his might. He could drink tea more gracefully and play tennis
better than any clergyman on this side of the Atlantic. He could stand
beside the white stone font of St. Asaph's in his long white surplice
holding a white-robed infant, worth half a million dollars, looking as
beautifully innocent as the child itself, and drawing from every matron
of the congregation with unmarried daughters the despairing cry, "What
a pity that he has no children of his own!"

Equally sound was his theology. No man was known to preach shorter
sermons or to explain away the book of Genesis more agreeably than the
rector of St. Asaph's; and if he found it necessary to refer to the
Deity he did so under the name of Jehovah or Jah, or even Yaweh in a
manner calculated not to hurt the sensitiveness of any of the
parishioners. People who would shudder at brutal talk of the older
fashion about the wrath of God listened with well-bred interest to a
sermon on the personal characteristics of Jah. In the same way Mr.
Furlong always referred to the devil, not as Satan but as Su or Swa,
which took all the sting out of him. Beelzebub he spoke of as
Behel-Zawbab, which rendered him perfectly harmless. The Garden of Eden
he spoke of as the Paradeisos, which explained it entirely; the flood
as the Diluvium, which cleared it up completely; and Jonah he named,
after the correct fashion Jon Nah, which put the whole situation (his
being swallowed by Baloo or the Great Lizard) on a perfectly
satisfactory footing. Hell itself was spoken of as She-ol, and it
appeared that it was not a place of burning, but rather of what one
might describe as moral torment. This settled She-ol once and for all:
nobody minds moral torment. In short, there was nothing in the
theological system of Mr. Furlong that need have occasioned in any of
his congregation a moment's discomfort.

There could be no greater contrast with Mr. Fareforth Furlong than the
minister of St. Osoph's, the Rev. Dr. McTeague, who was also honorary
professor of philosophy at the university. The one was young, the other
was old; the one could dance the other could not; the one moved about
at church picnics and lawn teas among a bevy of disciples in pink and
blue sashes; the other moped around under the trees of the university
campus with blinking eyes that saw nothing and an abstracted mind that
had spent fifty years in trying to reconcile Hegel with St. Paul, and
was still busy with it. Mr. Furlong went forward with the times; Dr.
McTeague slid quietly backwards with the centuries.

Dr. McTeague was a failure, and all his congregation knew it. "He is
not up to date," they said. That was his crowning sin. "He don't go
forward any," said the business members of the congregation. "That old
man believes just exactly the same sort of stuff now that he did forty
years ago. What's more, he preaches it. You can't run a church that
way, can you?"

His trustees had done their best to meet the difficulty. They had
offered Dr. McTeague a two-years' vacation to go and see the Holy Land.
He refused; he said he could picture it. They reduced his salary by
fifty per cent; he never noticed it. They offered him an assistant; but
he shook his head, saying that he didn't know where he could find a man
to do just the work that he was doing. Meantime he mooned about among
the trees concocting a mixture of St. Paul with Hegel, three parts to
one, for his Sunday sermon, and one part to three for his Monday
lecture.

No doubt it was his dual function that was to blame for his failure.
And this, perhaps, was the fault of Dr. Boomer, the president of the
university. Dr. Boomer, like all university presidents of today,
belonged to the presbyterian church; or rather, to state it more
correctly, he included presbyterianism within himself. He was of
course, a member of the board of management of St. Osoph's and it was
he who had urged, very strongly, the appointment of Dr. McTeague, then
senior professor of philosophy, as minister.

"A saintly man," he said, "the very man for the post. If you should ask
me whether he is entirely at home as a professor of philosophy on our
staff at the university, I should be compelled to say no. We are forced
to admit that as a lecturer he does not meet our views. He appears to
find it difficult to keep religion out of his teaching. In fact, his
lectures are suffused with a rather dangerous attempt at moral teaching
which is apt to contaminate our students. But in the Church I should
imagine that would be, if anything, an advantage. Indeed, if you were
to come to me and say, 'Boomer, we wish to appoint Dr. McTeague as our
minister,' I should say, quite frankly, 'Take him.'"

So Dr. McTeague had been appointed. Then, to the surprise of everybody
he refused to give up his lectures in philosophy. He said he felt a
call to give them. The salary, he said, was of no consequence. He wrote
to Mr. Furlong senior (the father of the episcopal rector and honorary
treasurer of the Plutoria University) and stated that he proposed to
give his lectures for nothing. The trustees of the college protested;
they urged that the case might set a dangerous precedent which other
professors might follow. While fully admitting that Dr. McTeague's
lectures were well worth giving for nothing, they begged him to
reconsider his offer. But he refused; and from that day on, in spite of
all offers that he should retire on double his salary, that he should
visit the Holy Land, or Syria, or Armenia, where the dreadful massacres
of Christians were taking place, Dr. McTeague clung to his post with a
tenacity worthy of the best traditions of Scotland. His only internal
perplexity was that he didn't see how, when the time came for him to
die, twenty or thirty years hence, they would ever be able to replace
him. Such was the situation of the two churches on a certain beautiful
morning in June, when an unforeseen event altered entirely the current
of their fortunes.

        *    *    *    *    *

"No, thank you, Juliana," said the young rector to his sister across
the breakfast table--and there was something as near to bitterness in
his look as his saintly, smooth-shaven face was capable of
reflecting--"no, thank you, no more porridge. Prunes? no, no, thank
you; I don't think I care for any. And, by the way," he added, "don't
bother to keep any lunch for me. I have a great deal of business--that
is, of work in the parish--to see to, and I must just find time to get
a bite of something to eat when and where I can."

In his own mind he was resolving that the place should be the Mausoleum
Club and the time just as soon as the head waiter would serve him.

After which the Reverend Edward Fareforth Furlong bowed his head for a
moment in a short, silent blessing--the one prescribed by the episcopal
church in America for a breakfast of porridge and prunes.

It was their first breakfast together, and it spoke volumes to the
rector. He knew what it implied. It stood for his elder sister
Juliana's views on the need of personal sacrifice as a means of grace.
The rector sighed as he rose. He had never missed his younger sister
Philippa, now married and departed, so keenly. Philippa had had
opinions of her own on bacon and eggs and on lamb chops with watercress
as a means of stimulating the soul. But Juliana was different. The
rector understood now exactly why it was that his father had exclaimed,
on the news of Philippa's engagement, without a second's hesitation,
"Then, of course, Juliana must live with you! Nonsense, my dear boy,
nonsense! It's my duty to spare her to you. After all, I can always eat
at the club; they can give me a bite of something or other, surely. To
a man of my age, Edward, food is really of no consequence. No, no;
Juliana must move into the rectory at once."

The rector's elder sister rose. She looked tall and sallow and
forbidding in the plain black dress that contrasted sadly with the
charming clerical costumes of white and pink and the broad episcopal
hats with flowers in them that Philippa used to wear for morning work
in the parish.

"For what time shall I order dinner?" she asked. "You and Philippa used
to have it at half-past seven, did you not? Don't you think that rather
too late?"

"A trifle perhaps," said the rector uneasily. He didn't care to explain
to Juliana that it was impossible to get home any earlier from the kind
of _the dansant_ that everybody was giving just now. "But don't trouble
about dinner. I may be working very late. If I need anything to eat I
shall get a biscuit and some tea at the Guild Rooms, or--"

He didn't finish the sentence, but in his mind he added, "or else a
really first-class dinner at the Mausoleum Club, or at the Newberrys'
or the Rasselyer-Browns'--anywhere except here."

"If you are going, then," said Juliana, "may I have the key of the
church."

A look of pain passed over the rector's face. He knew perfectly well
what Juliana wanted the key for. She meant to go into his church and
pray in it.

The rector of St. Asaph's was, he trusted, as broad-minded a man as an
Anglican clergyman ought to be. He had no objection to any reasonable
use of his church--for a thanksgiving festival or for musical recitals
for example--but when it came to opening up the church and using it to
pray in, the thing was going a little too far. What was more, he had an
idea from the look on Juliana's face that she meant to pray for _him_.
This, for a clergy man, was hard to bear. Philippa, like the good girl
that she was, had prayed only for herself, and then only at the proper
times and places, and in a proper praying costume. The rector began to
realize what difficulties it might make for a clergyman to have a
religious sister as his house-mate.

But he was never a man for unseemly argument. "It is hanging in my
study," he said.

And with that the Rev. Fareforth Furlong passed into the hall took up
the simple silk hat, the stick and gloves of the working clergyman and
walked out on to the avenue to begin his day's work in the parish.

The rector's parish viewed in its earthly aspect, was a singularly
beautiful place. For it extended all along Plutoria Avenue, where the
street is widest and the elm trees are at their leafiest and the motors
at their very drowsiest. It lay up and down the shaded side streets of
the residential district, darkened with great chestnuts and hushed in a
stillness that was almost religion itself. There was not a house in the
parish assessed at less than twenty-five thousand, and in very heart of
it the Mausoleum Club, with its smooth white stone and its Grecian
architecture, carried one back to the ancient world and made one think
of Athens and of Paul preaching on Mars Hill. It was, all considered, a
splendid thing to fight sin in such a parish and to keep it out of it.
For kept out it was. One might look the length and breadth of the broad
avenue and see no sign of sin all along it. There was certainly none in
the smooth faces of the chauffeurs trundling their drowsy motors; no
sign of it in the expensive children paraded by imported nursemaids in
the chequered light of the shaded street; least of all was there any
sign of it in the Stock Exchange members of the congregation as they
walked along side by side to their lunch at the Mausoleum Club, their
silk hats nodding together in earnest colloquy on Shares Preferred and
Profits Undivided. So might have walked, so must have walked, the very
Fathers of the Church themselves.

Whatever sin there was in the City was shoved sideways into the roaring
streets of commerce where the elevated railway ran, and below that
again into the slums. Here there must have been any quantity of sin.
The rector of St. Asaph's was certain of it. Many of the richer of his
parishioners had been down in parties late at night to look at it, and
the ladies of his congregation were joined together into all sorts of
guilds and societies and bands of endeavour for stamping it out and
driving it under or putting it into jail till it surrendered.

But the slums lay outside the rector's parish. He had no right to
interfere. They were under the charge of a special mission or
auxiliary, a remnant of the St. Asaph's of the past, placed under the
care of a divinity student, at four hundred dollars per annum. His
charge included all the slums and three police courts and two music
halls and the City jail. One Sunday afternoon in every three months the
rector and several ladies went down and sang hymns for him in his
mission-house. But his work was really very easy. A funeral, for
example, at the mission, was a simple affair, meaning nothing more than
the preparation of a plain coffin and a glassless hearse and the
distribution of a few artificial everlasting flowers to women crying in
their aprons; a thing easily done: whereas in St. Asaph's parish, where
all the really important souls were, a funeral was a large event,
requiring taste and tact, and a nice shading of delicacy in
distinguishing mourners from beneficiaries, and private grief from
business representation at the ceremony. A funeral with a plain coffin
and a hearse was as nothing beside an interment, with a casket
smothered in hot-house syringas, borne in a coach and followed by
special reporters from the financial papers.

It appeared to the rector afterwards as almost a shocking coincidence
that the first person whom he met upon the avenue should have been the
Rev. Dr. McTeague himself. Mr. Furlong gave him the form of amiable
"good morning" that the episcopal church always extends to those in
error. But he did not hear it. The minister's head was bent low, his
eyes gazed into vacancy, and from the movements of his lips and from
the fact that he carried a leather case of notes, he was plainly on his
way to his philosophical lecture. But the rector had no time to muse
upon the abstracted appearance of his rival. For, as always happened to
him, he was no sooner upon the street than his parish work of the day
began. In fact, he had hardly taken a dozen steps after passing Dr.
McTeague when he was brought up standing by two beautiful parishioners
with pink parasols.

"Oh, Mr. Furlong," exclaimed one of them, "so fortunate to happen to
catch you; we were just going into the rectory to consult you. Should
the girls--for the lawn tea for the Guild on Friday, you know--wear
white dresses with light blue sashes all the same, or do you think we
might allow them to wear any coloured sashes that they like? What do
you think?"

This was an important problem. In fact, there was a piece of parish
work here that it took the Reverend Fareforth half an hour to attend to
standing the while in earnest colloquy with the two ladies under the
shadow of the elm trees. But a clergyman must never be grudging of his
time.

"Goodbye then," they said at last. "Are you coming to the Browning Club
this morning? Oh, so sorry! but we shall see you at the musicale this
afternoon, shall we not?"

"Oh, I trust so," said the rector.

"How dreadfully hard he works," said the ladies to one another as they
moved away.

Thus slowly and with many interruptions the rector made his progress
along the avenue. At times he stopped to permit a pink-cheeked infant
in a perambulator to beat him with a rattle while he inquired its age
of an episcopal nurse, gay with flowing ribbons. He lifted his hat to
the bright parasols of his parishioners passing in glistening motors,
bowed to episcopalians, nodded amiably to presbyterians, and even
acknowledged with his lifted hat the passing of persons of graver forms
of error.

Thus he took his way along the avenue and down a side street towards
the business district of the City, until just at the edge of it, where
the trees were about to stop and the shops were about to begin, he
found himself at the door of the Hymnal Supply Corporation, Limited.
The premises as seen from the outside combined the idea of an office
with an ecclesiastical appearance. The door was as that of a chancel or
vestry; there was a large plate-glass window filled with Bibles and
Testaments, all spread open and showing every variety of language in
their pages. These were marked, Arabic, Syriac, Coptic, Ojibway, Irish
and so forth. On the window in small white lettering were the words,
HYMNAL SUPPLY CORPORATION, and below that, HOSANNA PIPE AND STEAM ORGAN
INCORPORATED, and Still lower the legend BIBLE SOCIETY OF THE GOOD
SHEPHERD LIMITED.

There was no doubt of the sacred character of the place. Here laboured
Mr. Furlong senior, the father of the Rev. Edward Fareforth. He was a
man of many activities; president and managing director of the
companies just mentioned, trustee and secretary of St. Asaph's,
honorary treasurer of the university, etc.; and each of his occupations
and offices was marked by something of a supramundane character,
something higher than ordinary business. His different official
positions naturally overlapped and brought him into contact with
himself from a variety of angles. Thus he sold himself hymn books at a
price per thousand, made as a business favour to himself, negotiated
with himself the purchase of the ten-thousand-dollar organ (making a
price on it to himself that he begged himself to regard as
confidential), and as treasurer of the college he sent himself an
informal note of enquiry asking if he knew of any sound investment for
the annual deficit of the college funds, a matter of some sixty
thousand dollars a year, which needed very careful handling. Any
man--and there are many such--who has been concerned with business
dealings of this sort with himself realizes that they are more
satisfactory than any other kind.

To what better person, then, could the rector of St. Asaph's bring the
quarterly accounts and statements of his church than to Mr. Furlong
senior.

The outer door was opened to the rector by a sanctified boy with such a
face as is only found in the choirs of the episcopal church. In an
outer office through which the rector passed were two sacred
stenographers with hair as golden as the daffodils of Sheba, copying
confidential letters on absolutely noiseless typewriters. They were
making offers of Bibles in half-car-load lots at two and a half per
cent reduction, offering to reduce St. Mark by two cents on condition
of immediate export, and to lay down St. John f.o.b. San Francisco for
seven cents, while regretting that they could deliver fifteen thousand
Rock of Ages in Missouri on no other terms than cash.

The sacred character of their work lent them a preoccupation beautiful
to behold.

In the room beyond them was a white-haired confidential clerk,
venerable as the Song of Solomon, and by him Mr. Fareforth Furlong was
duly shown into the office of his father.

"Good morning, Edward," said Mr. Furlong senior, as he shook hands. "I
was expecting you. And while I think of it, I have just had a letter
from Philippa. She and Tom will be home in two or three weeks. She
writes from Egypt. She wishes me to tell you, as no doubt you have
already anticipated, that she thinks she can hardly continue to be a
member of the congregation when they come back. No doubt you felt this
yourself?"

"Oh, entirely," said the rector. "Surely in matters of belief a wife
must follow her husband."

"Exactly; especially as Tom's uncles occupy the position they do with
regard to--" Mr. Furlong jerked his head backwards and pointed with his
thumb over his shoulder in a way that his son knew was meant to
indicate St. Osoph's Church.

The Overend brothers, who were Tom's uncles (his name being Tom
Overend) were, as everybody knew, among the principal supporters of St.
Osoph's. Not that they were, by origin, presbyterians. But they were
self-made men, which put them once and for all out of sympathy with
such a place as St. Asaph's. "We made ourselves," the two brothers used
to repeat in defiance of the catechism of the Anglican Church. They
never wearied of explaining how Mr. Dick, the senior brother, had
worked overtime by day to send Mr. George, the junior brother, to
school by night, and how Mr. George had then worked overtime by night
to send Mr. Dick to school by day. Thus they had come up the business
ladder hand over hand, landing later on in life on the platform of
success like two corpulent acrobats, panting with the strain of it.
"For years," Mr. George would explain, "we had father and mother to
keep as well; then they died, and Dick and me saw daylight." By which
he meant no harm at all, but only stated a fact, and concealed the
virtue of it.

And being self-made men they made it a point to do what they could to
lessen the importance of such an institution as St. Asaph's Church. By
the same contrariety of nature the two Overend brothers (their business
name was Overend Brothers, Limited) were supporters of the dissentient
Young Men's Guild, and the second or rival University Settlement, and
of anything or everything that showed a likelihood of making trouble.
On this principle they were warm supporters and friends of the Rev. Dr.
McTeague. The minister had even gone so far as to present to the
brothers a copy of his philosophical work "McTeague's Exposition of the
Kantian Hypothesis." and the two brothers had read it through in the
office, devoting each of them a whole morning to it. Mr. Dick, the
senior brother, had said that he had never seen anything like it, and
Mr. George, the junior, had declared that a man who could write that
was capable of anything.

On the whole it was evident that the relations between the Overend
family and the presbyterian religion were too intimate to allow Mrs.
Tom Overend, formerly Miss Philippa Furlong, to sit anywhere else of a
Sunday than under Dr. McTeague.

"Philippa writes," continued Mr. Furlong "that under the circumstances
she and Tom would like to do something for your church. She would
like--yes, I have the letter here--to give you, as a surprise, of
course, either a new font or a carved pulpit; or perhaps a cheque; she
wishes me on no account to mention it to you directly, but to ascertain
indirectly from you, what would be the better surprise."

"Oh, a cheque, I think," said the rector; "one can do so much more with
it, after all."

"Precisely," said his father; he was well aware of many things that can
be done with a cheque that cannot possibly be done with a font.

"That's settled then," resumed Mr. Furlong; "and now I suppose you want
me to run my eye over your quarterly statements, do you not, before we
send them in to the trustees? That is what you've come for, is it not?"

"Yes," said the rector, drawing a bundle of blue and white papers from
his pocket. "I have everything with me. Our showing is, I believe,
excellent, though I fear I fail to present it as clearly as it might be
done."

Mr. Furlong senior spread the papers on the table before him and
adjusted his spectacles to a more convenient angle. He smiled
indulgently as he looked at the documents before him.

"I am afraid you would never make an accountant, Edward," he said.

"I fear not," said the rector.

"Your items," said his father, "are entered wrongly. Here, for example,
in the general statement, you put down Distribution of Coals to the
Poor to your credit. In the same way, Bibles and Prizes to the Sunday
School you again mark to your credit. Why? Don't you see, my boy, that
these things are debits? When you give out Bibles or distribute fuel to
the poor you give out something for which you get no return. It is a
debit. On the other hand, such items as Church Offertory, Scholars'
Pennies, etc., are pure profit. Surely the principle is clear."

"I think I see it better now," said the Rev. Edward.

"Perfectly plain, isn't it?" his father went on. "And here again.
Paupers' Burial Fund, a loss; enter it as such. Christmas Gift to
Verger and Sexton, an absolute loss--you get nothing in return. Widows'
Mite, Fines inflicted in Sunday School, etc., these are profit; write
them down as such. By this method, you see, in ordinary business we can
tell exactly where we stand: anything which we give out without return
or reward we count as a debit; all that we take from others without
giving in return we count as so much to our credit."

"Ah, yes," murmured the rector. "I begin to understand."

"Very good. But after all, Edward, I mustn't quarrel with the mere form
of your accounts; the statement is really a splendid showing. I see
that not only is our mortgage and debenture interest all paid to date,
but that a number of our enterprises are making a handsome return. I
notice, for example, that the Girls' Friendly Society of the church not
only pays for itself, but that you are able to take something out of
its funds and transfer it to the Men's Book Club. Excellent! And I
observe that you have been able to take a large portion of the Soup
Kitchen Fund and put it into the Rector's Picnic Account. Very good
indeed. In this respect your figures are a model for church accounts
anywhere."

Mr. Furlong continued his scrutiny of the accounts. "Excellent," he
murmured, "and on the whole an annual surplus, I see, of several
thousands. But stop a bit," he continued, checking himself; "what's
this? Are you aware, Edward, that you are losing money on your Foreign
Missions Account?"

"I feared as much," said Edward.

"It's incontestable. Look at the figures for yourself: missionary's
salary so much, clothes and books to converts so much, voluntary and
other offerings of converts so much why, you're losing on it, Edward!"
exclaimed Mr. Furlong, and he shook his head dubiously at the accounts
before him.

"I thought," protested his son, "that in view of the character of the
work itself--"

"Quite so," answered his father, "quite so. I fully admit the force of
that. I am only asking you, is it worth it? Mind you, I am not speaking
now as a Christian, but as a businessman. Is it worth it?"

"I thought that perhaps, in view of the fact of our large surplus in
other directions--"

"Exactly," said his father, "a heavy surplus. It is precisely on that
point that I wished to speak to you this morning. You have at present a
large annual surplus, and there is every prospect under Providence--in
fact, I think in any case--of it continuing for years to come. If I may
speak very frankly I should say that as long as our reverend friend,
Dr. McTeague, continues in his charge of St. Osoph's--and I trust that
he may be spared for many years to come--you are likely to enjoy the
present prosperity of your church. Very good. The question arises, what
disposition are we to make of our accumulating funds?"

"Yes," said the rector, hesitating.

"I am speaking to you now," said his father "not as the secretary of
your church, but as president of the Hymnal Supply Company which I
represent here. Now please understand, Edward, I don't want in any way
to force or control your judgment. I merely wish to show you
certain--shall I say certain opportunities that present themselves for
the disposal of our funds? The matter can be taken up later, formally,
by yourself and the trustees of the church. As a matter of fact, I have
already written to myself as secretary in the matter, and I have
received what I consider a quite encouraging answer. Let me explain
what I propose."

Mr. Furlong senior rose, and opening the door of the office,

"Everett," he said to the ancient clerk, "kindly give me a Bible."

It was given to him.

Mr. Furlong stood with the Bible poised in his hand.

"Now we," he went on, "I mean the Hymnal Supply Corporation, have an
idea for bringing out an entirely new Bible."

A look of dismay appeared on the saintly face of the rector.

"A new Bible!" he gasped.

"Precisely!" said his father, "a new Bible! This one--and we find it
every day in our business--is all wrong."

"All wrong!" said the rector with horror in his face.

"My dear boy," exclaimed his father, "pray, pray, do not misunderstand
me. Don't imagine for a moment that I mean wrong in a religious sense.
Such a thought could never, I hope, enter my mind. All that I mean is
that this Bible is badly made up."

"Badly made up?" repeated his son, as mystified as ever.

"I see that you do not understand me. What I mean is this. Let me try
to make myself quite clear. For the market of today this Bible"--and he
poised it again on his hand, as if to test its weight, "is too heavy.
The people of today want something lighter, something easier to get
hold of. Now if--"

But what Mr. Furlong was about to say was lost forever to the world.

For just at this juncture something occurred calculated to divert not
only Mr. Furlong's sentence, but the fortunes and the surplus of St.
Asaph's itself. At the very moment when Mr. Furlong was speaking a
newspaper delivery man in the street outside handed to the sanctified
boy the office copy of the noonday paper. And the boy had no sooner
looked at its headlines than he said, "How dreadful!" Being sanctified,
he had no stronger form of speech than that. But he handed the paper
forthwith to one of the stenographers with hair like the daffodils of
Sheba, and when she looked at it she exclaimed, "How awful!" And she
knocked at once at the door of the ancient clerk and gave the paper to
him; and when he looked at it and saw the headline the ancient clerk
murmured, "Ah!" in the gentle tone in which very old people greet the
news of catastrophe or sudden death.

But in his turn he opened Mr. Furlong's door and put down the paper,
laying his finger on the column for a moment without a word.

Mr. Furlong stopped short in his sentence. "Dear me!" he said as his
eyes caught the item of news. "How very dreadful!"

"What is it?" said the rector.

"Dr. McTeague," answered his father. "He has been stricken with
paralysis!"

"How shocking!" said the rector, aghast. "But when? I saw him only this
morning."

"It has just happened," said his father, following down the column of
the newspaper as he spoke, "this morning, at the university, in his
classroom, at a lecture. Dear me, how dreadful! I must go and see the
president at once."

Mr. Furlong was about to reach for his hat and stick when at that
moment the aged clerk knocked at the door.

"Dr. Boomer," he announced in a tone of solemnity suited to the
occasion.

Dr. Boomer entered, shook hands in silence and sat down.

"You have heard our sad news, I suppose?" he said. He used the word
"our" as between the university president and his honorary treasurer.

"How did it happen?" asked Mr. Furlong.

"Most distressing," said the president. "Dr. McTeague, it seems, had
just entered his ten o'clock class (the hour was about ten-twenty) and
was about to open his lecture, when one of his students rose in his
seat and asked a question. It is a practice," continued Dr. Boomer,
"which, I need hardly say, we do not encourage; the young man, I
believe, was a newcomer in the philosophy class. At any rate, he asked
Dr. McTeague, quite suddenly it appears; how he could reconcile his
theory of transcendental immaterialism with a scheme of rigid moral
determinism. Dr. McTeague stared for a moment, his mouth, so the class
assert, painfully open. The student repeated the question, and poor
McTeague fell forward over his desk, paralysed."

"Is he dead?" gasped Mr. Furlong.

"No," said the president. "But we expect his death at any moment. Dr.
Slyder, I may say, is with him now and is doing all he can."

"In any case, I suppose, he could hardly recover enough to continue his
college duties," said the young rector.

"Out of the question," said the president. "I should not like to state
that of itself mere paralysis need incapacitate a professor. Dr. Thrum,
our professor of the theory of music, is, as you know, paralysed in his
ears, and Mr. Slant, our professor of optics, is paralysed in his right
eye. But this is a case of paralysis of the brain. I fear it is
incompatible with professorial work."

"Then, I suppose," said Mr. Furlong senior, "we shall have to think of
the question of a successor."

They had both _been_ thinking of it for at least three minutes. "We
must," said the president. "For the moment I feel too stunned by the
sad news to act. I have merely telegraphed to two or three leading
colleges for a _locum tenens_ and sent out a few advertisements
announcing the chair as vacant. But it will be difficult to replace
McTeague. He was a man," added Dr. Boomer, rehearsing in advance,
unconsciously, no doubt, his forthcoming oration over Dr. McTeague's
death, "of a singular grasp, a breadth of culture, and he was able, as
few men are, to instil what I might call a spirit of religion into his
teaching. His lectures, indeed, were suffused with moral instruction,
and exercised over his students an influence second only to that of the
pulpit itself."

He paused.

"Ah yes, the pulpit," said Mr. Furlong, "there indeed you will miss
him."

"That," said Dr. Boomer very reverently, "is our real loss, deep,
irreparable. I suppose, indeed I am certain, we shall never again see
such a man in the pulpit of St. Osoph's. Which reminds me," he added
more briskly, "I must ask the newspaper people to let it be known that
there will be service as usual the day after tomorrow, and that Dr.
McTeague's death will, of course, make no difference--that is to say--I
must see the newspaper people at once."

        *    *    *    *    *

That afternoon all the newspaper editors in the City were busy getting
their obituary notices ready for the demise of Dr. McTeague.

"The death of Dr. McTeague," wrote the editor of the _Commercial and
Financial Undertone_, a paper which had almost openly advocated the
minister's dismissal for five years back, "comes upon us as an
irreparable loss. His place will be difficult, nay, impossible, to
fill. Whether as a philosopher or a divine he cannot be replaced."

"We have no hesitation in saying," so wrote the editor of the
_Plutorian Times_, a three-cent morning paper, which was able to take a
broad or three-cent point of view of men and things, "that the loss of
Dr. McTeague will be just as much felt in Europe as in America. To
Germany the news that the hand that penned 'McTeague's Shorter
Exposition of the Kantian Hypothesis' has ceased to write will come
with the shock of poignant anguish; while to France--"

The editor left the article unfinished at that point. After all, he was
a ready writer, and he reflected that there would be time enough before
actually going to press to consider from what particular angle the blow
of McTeague's death would strike down the people of France.

So ran in speech and in writing, during two or three days, the requiem
of Dr. McTeague.

Altogether there were more kind things said of him in the three days
during which he was taken for dead, than in thirty years of his
life--which seemed a pity.

And after it all, at the close of the third day, Dr. McTeague feebly
opened his eyes.

But when he opened them the world had already passed on, and left him
behind.



CHAPTER SEVEN: The Ministrations of the Rev. Uttermust Dumfarthing

"Well, then, gentlemen, I think we have all agreed upon our man?"

Mr. Dick Overend looked around the table as he spoke at the managing
trustees of St. Osoph's church. They were assembled in an upper
committee room of the Mausoleum Club. Their official place of meeting
was in a board room off the vestry of the church. But they had felt a
draught in it, some four years ago, which had wafted them over to the
club as their place of assembly. In the club there were no draughts.

Mr. Dick Overend sat at the head of the table, his brother George
beside him, and Dr. Boomer at the foot. Beside them were Mr. Boulder,
Mr. Skinyer (of Skinyer and Beatem) and the rest of the trustees.

"You are agreed, then, on the Reverend Uttermust Dumfarthing?"

"Quite agreed," murmured several trustees together.

"A most remarkable man," said Dr. Boomer. "I heard him preach in his
present church. He gave utterance to thoughts that I have myself been
thinking for years. I never listened to anything so sound or so
scholarly."

"I heard him the night he preached in New York," said Mr. Boulder. "He
preached a sermon to the poor. He told them they were no good. I never
heard, outside of a Scotch pulpit, such splendid invective."

"Is he Scotch?" said one of the trustees.

"Of Scotch parentage," said the university president. "I believe he is
one of the Dumfarthings of Dunfermline, Dumfries."

Everybody said "Oh," and there was a pause.

"Is he married?" asked one of the trustees. "I understand," answered
Dr. Boomer, "that he is a widower with one child, a little girl."

"Does he make any conditions?"

"None whatever," said the chairman, consulting a letter before him,
"except that he is to have absolute control, and in regard to salary.
These two points settled, he says, he places himself entirely in our
hands."

"And the salary?" asked someone.

"Ten thousand dollars," said the chairman, "payable quarterly in
advance."

A chorus of approval went round the table. "Good," "Excellent," "A
first-class man," muttered the trustees, "just what we want."

"I am sure, gentlemen," said Mr. Dick Overend, voicing the sentiments
of everybody, "we do _not_ want a cheap man. Several of the candidates
whose names have been under consideration here have been in many
respects--in point of religious qualification, let us say--most
desirable men. The name of Dr. McSkwirt, for example, has been
mentioned with great favour by several of the trustees. But he's a
cheap man. I feel we don't want him."

"What is Mr. Dumfarthing getting where he is?" asked Mr. Boulder.

"Nine thousand nine hundred," said the chairman.

"And Dr. McSkwirt?"

"Fourteen hundred dollars."

"Well, that settles it!" exclaimed everybody with a burst of
enlightenment.

And so it was settled.

In fact, nothing could have been plainer.

"I suppose," said Mr. George Overend as they were about to rise, "that
we are quite justified in taking it for granted that Dr. McTeague will
never be able to resume work?"

"Oh, absolutely for granted," said Dr. Boomer. "Poor McTeague! I hear
from Slyder that he was making desperate efforts this morning to sit up
in bed. His nurse with difficulty prevented him."

"Is his power of speech gone?" asked Mr. Boulder.

"Practically so; in any case, Dr. Slyder insists on his not using it.
In fact, poor McTeague's mind is a wreck. His nurse was telling me that
this morning he was reaching out his hand for the newspaper, and seemed
to want to read one of the editorials. It was quite pathetic,"
concluded Dr. Boomer, shaking his head.

So the whole matter was settled, and next day all the town knew that
St. Osoph's Church had extended a call to the Rev. Uttermust
Dumfarthing, and that he had accepted it.

        *    *    *    *    *

Within a few weeks of this date the Reverend Uttermust Dumfarthing
moved into the manse of St. Osoph's and assumed his charge. And
forthwith he became the sole topic of conversation on Plutoria Avenue.
"Have you seen the new minister of St. Osoph's?" everybody asked. "Have
you been to hear Dr. Dumfarthing?" "Were you at St. Osoph's Church on
Sunday morning? Ah, you really should go! most striking sermon I ever
listened to."

The effect of him was absolute and instantaneous; there was no doubt of
it.

"My dear," said Mrs. Buncomhearst to one of her friends, in describing
how she had met him, "I never saw a more striking man. Such power in
his face! Mr. Boulder introduced him to me on the avenue, and he hardly
seemed to see me at all, simply scowled! I was never so favourably
impressed with any man."

On his very first Sunday he preached to his congregation on eternal
punishment, leaning forward in his black gown and shaking his fist at
them. Dr. McTeague had never shaken his fist in thirty years, and as
for the Rev. Fareforth Furlong, he was incapable of it.

But the Rev. Uttermust Dumfarthing told his congregation that he was
convinced that at least seventy per cent of them were destined for
eternal punishment; and he didn't call it by that name, but labelled it
simply and forcibly "hell." The word had not been heard in any church
in the better part of the City for a generation. The congregation was
so swelled next Sunday that the minister raised the percentage to
eighty-five, and everybody went away delighted. Young and old flocked
to St. Osoph's. Before a month had passed the congregation at the
evening service at St. Asaph's Church was so slender that the
offertory, as Mr. Furlong senior himself calculated, was scarcely
sufficient to pay the overhead charge of collecting it.

The presence of so many young men sitting in serried files close to the
front was the only feature of his congregation that extorted from the
Rev. Mr. Dumfarthing something like approval.

"It is a joy to me to see," he remarked to several of his trustees,
"that there are in the City so many godly young men, whatever the
elders may be."

But there may have been a secondary cause at work, for among the godly
young men of Plutoria Avenue the topic of conversation had not been,
"Have you heard the new presbyterian minister?" but, "Have you seen his
daughter? You haven't? Well, say!"

For it turned out that the "child" of Dr. Uttermust Dumfarthing,
so-called by the trustees, was the kind of child that wears a little
round hat, straight from Paris, with an upright feather in it, and a
silk dress in four sections, and shoes with high heels that would have
broken the heart of John Calvin. Moreover, she had the distinction of
being the only person on Plutoria Avenue who was not one whit afraid of
the Reverend Uttermust Dumfarthing. She even amused herself, in
violation of all rules, by attending evening service at St. Asaph's,
where she sat listening to the Reverend Edward, and feeling that she
had never heard anything so sensible in her life.

"I'm simply dying to meet your brother," she said to Mrs. Tom Overend,
otherwise Philippa; "he's such a complete contrast with father." She
knew no higher form of praise: "Father's sermons are always so
frightfully full of religion."

And Philippa promised that meet him she should.

But whatever may have been the effect of the presence of Catherine
Dumfarthing, there is no doubt the greater part of the changed
situation was due to Dr. Dumfarthing himself.

Everything he did was calculated to please. He preached sermons to the
rich and told them they were mere cobwebs, and they liked it; he
preached a special sermon to the poor and warned them to be mighty
careful; he gave a series of weekly talks to workingmen, and knocked
them sideways; and in the Sunday School he gave the children so fierce
a talk on charity and the need of giving freely and quickly, that such
a stream of pennies and nickels poured into Catherine Dumfarthing's
Sunday School Fund as hadn't been seen in the church in fifty years.

Nor was Mr. Dumfarthing different in his private walk of life. He was
heard to speak openly of the Overend brothers as "men of wrath," and
they were so pleased that they repeated it to half the town. It was the
best business advertisement they had had for years.

Dr. Boomer was captivated with the man. "True scholarship," he
murmured, as Dr. Dumfarthing poured undiluted Greek and Hebrew from the
pulpit, scorning to translate a word of it. Under Dr. Boomer's charge
the minister was taken over the length and breadth of Plutoria
University, and reviled it from the foundations up.

"Our library," said the president, "two hundred thousand volumes!"

"Aye," said the minister, "a powerful heap of rubbish, I'll be bound!"

"The photograph of our last year's graduating class," said the
president.

"A poor lot, to judge by the faces of them," said the minister.

"This, Dr. Dumfarthing, is our new radiographic laboratory; Mr. Spiff,
our demonstrator, is preparing slides which, I believe, actually show
the movements of the atom itself, do they not, Mr. Spiff?"

"Ah," said the minister, piercing Mr. Spiff from beneath his dark
brows, "it will not avail you, young man."

Dr. Boomer was delighted. "Poor McTeague," he said--"and by the way,
Boyster, I hear that McTeague is trying to walk again; a great error,
it shouldn't be allowed!--poor McTeague knew nothing of science."

The students themselves shared in the enthusiasm, especially after Dr.
Dumfarthing had given them a Sunday afternoon talk in which he showed
that their studies were absolutely futile. As soon as they knew this
they went to work with a vigour that put new life into the college.

        *    *    *    *    *

Meantime the handsome face of the Reverend Edward Fareforth Furlong
began to wear a sad and weary look that had never been seen on it
before. He watched the congregation drifting from St. Asaph's to St.
Osoph's and was powerless to prevent it. His sadness reached its climax
one bright afternoon in the late summer, when he noticed that even his
episcopal blackbirds were leaving his elms and moving westward to the
spruce trees of the manse.

He stood looking at them with melancholy on his face. "Why, Edward,"
cried his sister, Philippa, as her motor stopped beside him, "how
doleful you look! Get into the car and come out into the country for a
ride. Let the parish teas look after themselves for today."

Tom, Philippa's husband, was driving his own car--he was rich enough to
be able to--and seated with Philippa in the car was an unknown person,
as prettily dressed as Philippa herself. To the rector she was
presently introduced as Miss Catherine Something--he didn't hear the
rest of it. Nor did he need to. It was quite plain that her surname,
whatever it was, was a very temporary and transitory affair.

So they sped rapidly out of the City and away out into the country,
mile after mile, through cool, crisp air, and among woods with the
touch of autumn bright already upon them, and with blue sky and great
still clouds white overhead. And the afternoon was so beautiful and so
bright that as they went along there was no talk about religion at all!
nor was there any mention of Mothers' Auxiliaries, or Girls' Friendly
Societies, nor any discussion of the poor. It was too glorious a day.
But they spoke instead of the new dances, and whether they had come to
stay, and of such sensible topics as that. Then presently, as they went
on still further, Philippa leaned forwards and talked to Tom over his
shoulder and reminded him that this was the very road to Castel
Casteggio, and asked him if he remembered coming up it with her to join
the Newberry's ever so long ago. Whatever it was that Tom answered it
is not recorded, but it is certain that it took so long in the saying
that the Reverend Edward talked in tete-a-tete with Catherine for
fifteen measured miles, and was unaware that it was more than five
minutes. Among other things he said, and she agreed--or she said and he
agreed--that for the new dances it was necessary to have always one and
the same partner, and to keep that partner all the time. And somehow
simple sentiments of that sort, when said direct into a pair of
listening blue eyes behind a purple motor veil, acquire an infinite
significance.

Then, not much after that, say three or four minutes, they were all of
a sudden back in town again, running along Plutoria Avenue, and to the
rector's surprise the motor was stopping outside the manse, and
Catherine was saying, "Oh, thank you ever so much, Philippa; it was
just heavenly!" which showed that the afternoon had had its religious
features after all. "What!" said the rector's sister, as they moved off
again, "didn't you know? That's Catherine Dumfarthing!"

        *    *    *    *    *

When the Rev. Fareforth Furlong arrived home at the rectory he spent an
hour or so in the deepest of deep thought in an armchair in his study.
Nor was it any ordinary parish problem that he was revolving in his
mind. He was trying to think out some means by which his sister Juliana
might be induced to commit the sin of calling on the daughter of a
presbyterian minister.

The thing had to be represented as in some fashion or other an act of
self-denial, a form of mortification of the flesh. Otherwise he knew
Juliana would never do it. But to call on Miss Catherine Dumfarthing
seemed to him such an altogether delightful and unspeakably blissful
process that he hardly knew how to approach the topic. So when Juliana
presently came home the rector could find no better way of introducing
the subject than by putting it on the ground of Philippa's marriage to
Miss Dumfarthing's father's trustee's nephew.

"Juliana," he said, "don't you think that perhaps, on account of
Philippa and Tom, you ought--or at least it might be best for you to
call on Miss Dumfarthing?"

Juliana turned to her brother as he laid aside her bonnet and her black
gloves.

"I've just been there this afternoon," she said.

There was something as near to a blush on her face as her brother had
ever seen.

"But she was not there!" he said.

"No," answered Juliana, "but Mr. Dumfarthing was. I stayed and talked
some time with him, waiting for her."

The rector gave a sort of whistle, or rather that blowing out of air
which is the episcopal symbol for it.

"Didn't you find him pretty solemn?" he said.

"Solemn!" answered his sister. "Surely, Edward, a man in such a calling
as his ought to be solemn."

"I don't mean that exactly," said the rector; "I mean--er--hard,
bitter, so to speak."

"Edward!" exclaimed Juliana, "how can you speak so. Mr. Dumfarthing
hard! Mr. Dumfarthing bitter! Why, Edward, the man is gentleness and
kindness itself. I don't think I ever met anyone so full of sympathy,
of compassion with suffering."

Juliana's face had flushed It was quite plain that she saw things in
the Reverend Uttermust Dumfarthing--as some one woman does in every
man--that no one else could see.

The Reverend Edward was abashed. "I wasn't thinking of his character,"
he said. "I was thinking rather of his doctrines. Wait till you have
heard him preach."

Juliana flushed more deeply still. "I heard him last Sunday evening,"
she said.

The rector was silent, and his sister, as if impelled to speak, went on,

"And I don't see, Edward, how anyone could think him a hard or bigoted
man in his creed. He walked home with me to the gate just now, and he
was speaking of all the sin in the world, and of how few, how very few
people, can be saved, and how many will have to be burned as worthless;
and he spoke so beautifully. He regrets it, Edward, regrets it deeply.
It is a real grief to him."

On which Juliana, half in anger, withdrew, and her brother the rector
sat back in his chair with smiles rippling all over his saintly face.
For he had been wondering whether it would be possible, even remotely
possible, to get his sister to invite the Dumfarthings to high tea at
the rectory some day at six o'clock (evening dinner was out of the
question), and now he knew within himself that the thing was as good as
done.

        *    *    *    *    *

While such things as these were happening and about to happen, there
were many others of the congregation of St. Asaph's beside the rector
to whom the growing situation gave cause for serious perplexities.
Indeed, all who were interested in the church, the trustees and the
mortgagees and the underlying debenture-holders, were feeling anxious.
For some of them underlay the Sunday School, whose scholars' offerings
had declined forty per cent, and others underlay the new organ, not yet
paid for, while others were lying deeper still beneath the ground site
of the church with seven dollars and a half a square foot resting on
them.

"I don't like it," said Mr. Lucullus Fyshe to Mr. Newberry (they were
both prominent members of the congregation). "I don't like the look of
things. I took up a block of Furlong's bonds on his Guild building from
what seemed at the time the best of motives. The interest appeared
absolutely certain. Now it's a month overdue on the last quarter. I
feel alarmed."

"Neither do I like it," said Mr. Newberry, shaking his head; "and I'm
sorry for Fareforth Furlong. An excellent fellow, Fyshe, excellent. I
keep wondering Sunday after Sunday, if there isn't something I can do
to help him out. One might do something further, perhaps, in the way of
new buildings or alterations. I have, in fact, offered--by myself, I
mean, and without other aid--to dynamite out the front of his church,
underpin it, and put him in a Norman gateway; either that, or blast out
the back of it where the choir sit, just as he likes. I was thinking
about it last Sunday as they were singing the anthem, and realizing
what a lot one might do there with a few sticks of dynamite."

"I doubt it," said Mr. Fyshe. "In fact, Newberry, to speak very
frankly, I begin to ask myself, Is Furlong the man for the post?"

"Oh, surely," said Mr. Newberry in protest.

"Personally a charming fellow," went on Mr. Fyshe; "but is he, all said
and done, quite the man to conduct a church? In the _first_ place, he
is _not_ a businessman."

"No," said Mr. Newberry reluctantly, "that I admit."

"Very good. And, _secondly_, even in the matter of his religion itself,
one always feels as if he were too little fixed, too unstable. He
simply moves with the times. That, at least, is what people are
beginning to say of him, that he is perpetually moving with the times.
It doesn't do, Newberry, it doesn't do." Whereupon Mr. Newberry went
away troubled and wrote to Fareforth Furlong a confidential letter with
a signed cheque in it for the amount of Mr. Fyshe's interest, and with
such further offerings of dynamite, of underpinning and blasting as his
conscience prompted.

When the rector received and read the note and saw the figures of the
cheque, there arose such a thankfulness in his spirit as he hadn't felt
for months, and he may well have murmured, for the repose of Mr.
Newberry's soul, a prayer not found in the rubric of King James.

All the more cause had he to feel light at heart, for as it chanced, it
was on that same evening that the Dumfarthings, father and daughter,
were to take tea at the rectory. Indeed, a few minutes before six
o'clock they might have been seen making their way from the manse to
the rectory.

On their way along the avenue the minister took occasion to reprove his
daughter for the worldliness of her hat (it was a little trifle from
New York that she had bought out of the Sunday School money--a
temporary loan); and a little further on he spoke to her severely about
the parasol she carried; and further yet about the strange fashion,
specially condemned by the Old Testament, in which she wore her hair.
So Catherine knew in her heart from this that she must be looking her
very prettiest, and went into the rectory radiant.

The tea was, of course, an awkward meal at the best. There was an
initial difficulty about grace, not easily surmounted. And when the
Rev. Mr. Dumfarthing sternly refused tea as a pernicious drink
weakening to the system, the Anglican rector was too ignorant of the
presbyterian system to know enough to give him Scotch whiskey.

But there were bright spots in the meal as well. The rector was even
able to ask Catherine, sideways as a personal question, if she played
tennis; and she was able to whisper behind her hand, "Not allowed," and
to make a face in the direction of her father, who was absorbed for the
moment in a theological question with Juliana. Indeed, before the
conversation became general again the rector had contrived to make a
rapid arrangement with Catherine whereby she was to come with him to
the Newberry's tennis court the day following and learn the game, with
or without permission.

So the tea was perhaps a success in its way. And it is noteworthy that
Juliana spent the days that followed it in reading Calvin's
"Institutes" (specially loaned to her) and "Dumfarthing on the
Certainty of Damnation" (a gift), and in praying for her brother--a
task practically without hope. During which same time the rector in
white flannels, and Catherine in a white duck skirt and blouse, were
flying about on the green grass of the Newberrys' court, and calling,
"love," "love all," to one another so gaily and so brazenly that even
Mr. Newberry felt that there must be something in it.

But all these things came merely as interludes in the moving currents
of greater events; for as the summer faded into autumn and autumn into
winter the anxieties of the trustees of St. Asaph's began to call for
action of some sort.

        *    *    *    *    *

"Edward," said the rector's father on the occasion of their next
quarterly discussion, "I cannot conceal from you that the position of
things is very serious. Your statements show a falling off in every
direction. Your interest is everywhere in arrears; your current account
overdrawn to the limit. At this rate, you know, the end is inevitable.
Your debenture and bondholders will decide to foreclose; and if they
do, you know, there is no power that can stop them. Even with your
limited knowledge of business you are probably aware that there is no
higher power that can influence or control the holder of a first
mortgage."

"I fear so," said the Rev. Edward very sadly.

"Do you not think perhaps that some of the shortcoming lies with
yourself?" continued Mr. Furlong. "Is it not possible that as a
preacher you fail somewhat, do not, as it were, deal sufficiently with
fundamental things as others do? You leave untouched the truly vital
issues, such things as the creation, death, and, if I may refer to it,
the life beyond the grave."

As a result of which the Reverend Edward preached a series of special
sermons on the creation for which he made a special and arduous
preparation in the library of Plutoria University. He said that it had
taken a million, possibly a hundred million years of quite difficult
work to accomplish, and that though when we looked at it all was
darkness still we could not be far astray if we accepted and held fast
to the teachings of Sir Charles Lyell. The book of Genesis, he said was
not to be taken as meaning a day when it said a day, but rather
something other than a mere day; and the word "light" meant not exactly
light but possibly some sort of phosphorescence, and that the use of
the word "darkness" was to be understood not as meaning darkness, but
to be taken as simply indicating obscurity. And when he had quite
finished, the congregation declared the whole sermon to be mere milk
and water. It insulted their intelligence, they said. After which, a
week later, the Rev. Dr. Dumfarthing took up the same subject, and with
the aid of seven plain texts pulverized the rector into fragments.

One notable result of the controversy was that Juliana Furlong refused
henceforth to attend her brother's church and sat, even at morning
service, under the minister of St. Osoph's.

"The sermon was, I fear, a mistake," said Mr. Furlong senior; "perhaps
you had better not dwell too much on such topics. We must look for aid
in another direction. In fact, Edward, I may mention to you in
confidence that certain of your trustees are already devising ways and
means that may help us out of our dilemma."

Indeed, although the Reverend Edward did not know it, a certain idea,
or plan, was already germinating in the minds of the most influential
supporters of St. Asaph's.

Such was the situation of the rival churches of St. Asaph and St. Osoph
as the autumn slowly faded into winter: during which time the elm trees
on Plutoria Avenue shivered and dropped their leaves and the chauffeurs
of the motors first turned blue in their faces and then, when the great
snows came, were suddenly converted into liveried coachmen with tall
bearskins and whiskers like Russian horseguards, changing back again to
blue-nosed chauffeurs the very moment of a thaw. During this time also
the congregation of the Reverend Fareforth Furlong was diminishing
month by month, and that of the Reverend Uttermust Dumfarthing was so
numerous that they filled up the aisles at the back of the church. Here
the worshippers stood and froze, for the minister had abandoned the use
of steam heat in St. Osoph's on the ground that he could find no
warrant for it.

During the same period other momentous things were happening, such as
that Juliana Furlong was reading, under the immediate guidance of Dr.
Dumfarthing, the History of the Progress of Disruption in the Churches
of Scotland in ten volumes; such also as that Catherine Dumfarthing was
wearing a green and gold winter suit with Russian furs and a Balkan hat
and a Circassian feather, which cut a wide swath of destruction among
the young men on Plutoria Avenue every afternoon as she passed.
Moreover by the strangest of coincidences she scarcely ever seemed to
come along the snow-covered avenue without meeting the Reverend
Edward--a fact which elicited new exclamations of surprise from them
both every day: and by an equally strange coincidence they generally
seemed, although coming in different directions, to be bound for the
same place; towards which they wandered together with such slow steps
and in such oblivion of the passers-by that even the children on the
avenue knew by instinct whither they were wandering.

It was noted also that the broken figure of Dr. McTeague had reappeared
upon the street, leaning heavily upon a stick and greeting those he met
with such a meek and willing affability, as if in apology for his
stroke of paralysis, that all who talked with him agreed that
McTeague's mind was a wreck.

"He stood and spoke to me about the children for at least a quarter of
an hour," related one of his former parishioners, "asking after them by
name, and whether they were going to school yet and a lot of questions
like that. He never used to speak of such things. Poor old McTeague,
I'm afraid he is getting soft in the head." "I know," said the person
addressed. "His mind is no good. He stopped me the other day to say how
sorry he was to hear about my brother's illness. I could see from the
way he spoke that his brain is getting feeble. He's losing his grip. He
was speaking of how kind people had been to him after his accident and
there were tears in his eyes. I think he's getting batty."

Nor were even these things the most momentous happenings of the period.
For as winter slowly changed to early spring it became known that
something of great portent was under way. It was rumoured that the
trustees of St. Asaph's Church were putting their heads together. This
was striking news. The last time that the head of Mr. Lucullus Fyshe,
for example, had been placed side by side with that of Mr. Newberry,
there had resulted a merger of four soda-water companies, bringing what
was called industrial peace over an area as big as Texas and raising
the price of soda by three peaceful cents per bottle. And the last time
that Mr. Furlong senior's head had been laid side by side with those of
Mr. Rasselyer-Brown and Mr. Skinyer, they had practically saved the
country from the horrors of a coal famine by the simple process of
raising the price of nut coal seventy-five cents a ton and thus
guaranteeing its abundance.

Naturally, therefore, when it became known that such redoubtable heads
as those of the trustees and the underlying mortgagees of St. Asaph's
were being put together, it was fully expected that some important
development would follow. It was not accurately known from which of the
assembled heads first proceeded the great idea which was presently to
solve the difficulties of the church. It may well have come from that
of Mr. Lucullus Fyshe. Certainly a head which had brought peace out of
civil war in the hardware business by amalgamating ten rival stores and
had saved the very lives of five hundred employees by reducing their
wages fourteen per cent, was capable of it.

At any rate it was Mr. Fyshe who first gave the idea a definite
utterance.

"It's the only thing, Furlong," he said, across the lunch table at the
Mausoleum Club. "It's the one solution. The two churches can't live
under the present conditions of competition. We have here practically
the same situation as we had with two rum distilleries--the output is
too large for the demand. One or both of the two concerns must go
under. It's their turn just now, but these fellows are business men
enough to know that it may be ours tomorrow. We'll offer them a
business solution. We'll propose a merger."

"I've been thinking of it," said Mr. Furlong senior, "I suppose it's
feasible?"

"Feasible!" exclaimed Mr. Fyshe. "Why look what's being done every day
everywhere, from the Standard Oil Company downwards."

"You would hardly, I think," said Mr. Furlong, with a quiet smile,
"compare the Standard Oil Company to a church?" "Well, no, I suppose
not," said Mr. Fyshe, and he too smiled--in fact he almost laughed. The
notion was too ridiculous. One could hardly compare a mere church to a
thing of the magnitude and importance of the Standard Oil Company.

"But on a lesser scale," continued Mr. Fyshe, "it's the same sort of
thing. As for the difficulties of it, I needn't remind you of the much
greater difficulties we had to grapple with in the rum merger. There,
you remember, a number of the women held out as a matter of principle.
It was not mere business with them. Church union is different. In fact
it is one of the ideas of the day and everyone admits that what is
needed is the application of the ordinary business principles of
harmonious combination, with a proper--er--restriction of output and
general economy of operation."

"Very good," said Mr. Furlong, "I'm sure if you're willing to try, the
rest of us are."

"All right," said Mr. Fyshe. "I thought of setting Skinyer, of Skinyer
and Beatem, to work on the form of the organization. As you know he is
not only a deeply religious man but he has already handled the Tin Pot
Combination and the United Hardware and the Associated Tanneries. He
ought to find this quite simple."

        *    *    *    *    *

Within a day or two Mr. Skinyer had already commenced his labours. "I
must first," he said, "get an accurate idea of the existing legal
organization of the two churches."

For which purpose he approached the rector of St. Asaph's. "I just want
to ask you, Mr. Furlong," said the lawyer, "a question or two as to the
exact constitution, the form so to speak, of your church. What is it?
Is it a single corporate body?"

"I suppose," said the rector thoughtfully, "one would define it as an
indivisible spiritual unit manifesting itself on earth." "Quite so,"
interrupted Mr. Skinyer, "but I don't mean what it is in the religious
sense: I mean, in the real sense." "I fail to understand," said Mr.
Furlong.

"Let me put it very clearly," said the lawyer. "Where does it get its
authority?"

"From above." said the rector reverently.

"Precisely," said Mr. Skinyer, "no doubt, but I mean its authority in
the exact sense of the term."

"It was enjoined on St. Peter," began the rector, but Mr. Skinyer
interrupted him.

"That I am aware of," he said, "but what I mean is--where does your
church get its power, for example, to hold property, to collect debts,
to use distraint against the property of others, to foreclose its
mortgages and to cause judgement to be executed against those who fail
to pay their debts to it? You will say at once that it has these powers
direct from Heaven. No doubt that is true and no religious person would
deny it. But we lawyers are compelled to take a narrower, a less
elevating point of view. Are these powers conferred on you by the state
legislature or by some higher authority?"

"Oh, by a higher authority, I hope," said the rector very fervently.
Whereupon Mr. Skinyer left him without further questioning, the
rector's brain being evidently unfit for the subject of corporation law.

On the other hand he got satisfaction from the Rev. Dr. Dumfarthing at
once.

"The church of St. Osoph," said the minister, "is a perpetual trust,
holding property as such under a general law of the state and able as
such to be made the object of suit or distraint. I speak with some
assurance as I had occasion to enquire into the matter at the time when
I was looking for guidance in regard to the call I had received to come
here."

        *    *    *    *    *

"It's a quite simple matter," Mr. Skinyer presently reported to Mr.
Fyshe. "One of the churches is a perpetual trust, the other practically
a state corporation. Each has full control over its property provided
nothing is done by either to infringe the purity of its doctrine."

"Just what does that mean?" asked Mr. Fyshe.

"It must maintain its doctrine absolutely pure. Otherwise if certain of
its trustees remain pure and the rest do not, those who stay pure are
entitled to take the whole of the property. This, I believe, happens
every day in Scotland where, of course, there is great eagerness to
remain pure in doctrine."

"And what do you define as _pure_ doctrine?" asked Mr. Fyshe.

"If the trustees are in dispute," said Mr. Skinyer, "the courts decide,
but any doctrine is held to be a pure doctrine if _all_ the trustees
regard it as a pure doctrine."

"I see," said Mr. Fyshe thoughtfully, "it's the same thing as what we
called 'permissible policy' on the part of directors in the Tin Pot
Combination."

"Exactly," assented Mr. Skinyer, "and it means that for the merger we
need nothing--I state it very frankly--except general consent."

        *    *    *    *    *

The preliminary stages of the making of the merger followed along
familiar business lines. The trustees of St. Asaph's went through the
process known as 'approaching' the trustees of St. Osoph's. First of
all, for example, Mr. Lucullus Fyshe invited Mr. Asmodeus Boulder of
St. Osoph's to lunch with him at the Mausoleum Club; the cost of the
lunch, as is usual in such cases, was charged to the general expense
account of the church. Of course nothing whatever was said during the
lunch about the churches or their finances or anything concerning them.
Such discussion would have been a gross business impropriety. A few
days later the two brothers Overend dined with Mr. Furlong senior, the
dinner being charged directly to the contingencies account of St.
Asaph's. After which Mr. Skinyer and his partner, Mr. Beatem, went to
the spring races together on the Profit and Loss account of St.
Osoph's, and Philippa Overend and Catherine Dumfarthing were taken (by
the Unforeseen Disbursements Account) to the grand opera, followed by a
midnight supper.

All of these things constituted what was called the promotion of the
merger and were almost exactly identical with the successive stages of
the making of the Amalgamated Distilleries and the Associated Tin Pot
Corporation; which was considered a most hopeful sign.

        *    *    *    *    *

"Do you think they'll go into it?" asked Mr. Newberry of Mr. Furlong
senior, anxiously. "After all, what inducement have they?"

"Every inducement," said Mr. Furlong. "All said and done they've only
one large asset--Dr. Dumfarthing. We're really offering to buy up Dr.
Dumfarthing by pooling our assets with theirs."

"And what does Dr. Dumfarthing himself say to it?"

"Ah, there I am not so sure," said Mr. Furlong; "that may be a
difficulty. So far there hasn't been a word from him, and his trustees
are absolutely silent about his views. However, we shall soon know all
about it. Skinyer is asking us all to come together one evening next
week to draw up the articles of agreement."

"Has he got the financial basis arranged then?"

"I believe so," said Mr. Furlong. "His idea is to form a new
corporation to be known as the United Church Limited or by some similar
name. All the present mortgagees will be converted into unified
bondholders, the pew rents will be capitalized into preferred stock and
the common stock, drawing its dividend from the offertory, will be
distributed among all members in standing. Skinyer says that it is
really an ideal form of church union, one that he thinks is likely to
be widely adopted. It has the advantage of removing all questions of
religion, which he says are practically the only remaining obstacle to
a union of all the churches. In fact it puts the churches once and for
all on a business basis."

"But what about the question of doctrine, of belief?" asked Mr.
Newberry.

"Skinyer says he can settle it," answered Mr. Furlong.

        *    *    *    *    *

About a week after the above conversation the united trustees of St.
Asaph's and St. Osoph's were gathered about a huge egg-shaped table in
the board room of the Mausoleum Club. They were seated in intermingled
fashion after the precedent of the recent Tin Pot Amalgamation and were
smoking huge black cigars specially kept by the club for the promotion
of companies and chargeable to expenses of organization at fifty cents
a cigar. There was an air of deep peace brooding over the assembly, as
among men who have accomplished a difficult and meritorious task.

"Well, then," said Mr. Skinyer, who was in the chair, with a pile of
documents in front of him, "I think that our general basis of financial
union may be viewed as settled."

A murmur of assent went round the meeting. "The terms are set forth in
the memorandum before us, which you have already signed. Only one other
point--a minor one--remains to be considered. I refer to the doctrines
or the religious belief of the new amalgamation."

"Is it necessary to go into that?" asked Mr. Boulder.

"Not entirely, perhaps," said Mr. Skinyer. "Still there have been, as
you all know, certain points--I won't say of disagreement--but let us
say of friendly argument--between the members of the different
churches--such things for example," here he consulted his papers, "as
the theory of the creation, the salvation of the soul, and so forth,
have been mentioned in this connection. I have a memorandum of them
here, though the points escape me for the moment. These, you may say,
are not matters of first importance, especially as compared with the
intricate financial questions which we have already settled in a
satisfactory manner. Still I think it might be well if I were permitted
with your unanimous approval to jot down a memorandum or two to be
afterwards embodied in our articles."

There was a general murmur of approval. "Very good," said Mr. Skinyer,
settling himself back in his chair. "Now, first, in regard to the
creation," here he looked all round the meeting in a way to command
attention--"Is it your wish that we should leave that merely to a
gentlemen's agreement or do you want an explicit clause?"

"I think it might be well," said Mr. Dick Overend, "to leave no doubt
about the theory of the creation."

"Good," said Mr. Skinyer. "I am going to put it down then something
after this fashion: 'On and after, let us say, August 1st proximo, the
process of the creation shall be held, and is hereby held, to be such
and such only as is acceptable to a majority of the holders of common
and preferred stock voting pro rata.' Is that agreed?"

"Carried," cried several at once.

"Carried," repeated Mr. Skinyer. "Now let us pass on"--here he
consulted his notes--"to item two, eternal punishment. I have made a
memorandum as follows, 'Should any doubts arise, on or after August
first proximo, as to the existence of eternal punishment they shall be
settled absolutely and finally by a pro-rata vote of all the holders of
common and preferred stock.' Is that agreed?"

"One moment!" said Mr. Fyshe, "do you think that quite fair to the
bondholders? After all, as the virtual holders of the property, they
are the persons most interested. I should like to amend your clause and
make it read--I am not phrasing it exactly but merely giving the sense
of it--that eternal punishment should be reserved for the mortgagees
and bondholders."

At this there was an outbreak of mingled approval and dissent, several
persons speaking at once. In the opinion of some the stockholders of
the company, especially the preferred stockholders, had as good a right
to eternal punishment as the bondholders. Presently Mr. Skinyer, who
had been busily writing notes, held up his hand for silence.

"Gentlemen," he said, "will you accept this as a compromise? We will
keep the original clause but merely add to it the words, 'but no form
of eternal punishment shall be declared valid if displeasing to a
three-fifths majority of the holders of bonds.'"

"Carried, carried," cried everybody.

"To which I think we need only add," said Mr. Skinyer, "a clause to the
effect that all other points of doctrine, belief or religious principle
may be freely altered, amended, reversed or entirely abolished at any
general annual meeting!"

There was a renewed chorus of "Carried, carried," and the trustees rose
from the table shaking hands with one another, and lighting fresh
cigars as they passed out of the club into the night air.

"The only thing that I don't understand," said Mr. Newberry to Dr.
Boomer as they went out from the club arm in arm (for they might now
walk in that fashion with the same propriety as two of the principals
in a distillery merger), "the only thing that I don't understand is why
the Reverend Mr. Dumfarthing should be willing to consent to the
amalgamation."

"Do you really not know?" said Dr. Boomer.

"No."

"You have heard nothing?"

"Not a word," said Mr. Newberry.

"Ah," rejoined the president, "I see that our men have kept it very
quiet--naturally so, in view of the circumstances. The truth is that
the Reverend Mr. Dumfarthing is leaving us."

"Leaving St. Osoph's!" exclaimed Mr. Newberry in utter astonishment.

"To our great regret. He has had a call--a most inviting field of work,
he says, a splendid opportunity. They offered him ten thousand one
hundred; we were only giving him ten thousand here, though of course
that feature of the situation would not weigh at all with a man like
Dumfarthing."

"Oh no, of course not," said Mr. Newberry.

"As soon as we heard of the call we offered him ten thousand three
hundred--not that that would make any difference to a man of his
character. Indeed Dumfarthing was still waiting and looking for
guidance when they offered him eleven thousand. We couldn't meet it. It
was beyond us, though we had the consolation of knowing that with such
a man as Dumfarthing the money made no difference."

"And he has accepted the call?"

"Yes. He accepted it today. He sent word to Mr. Dick Overend our
chairman, that he would remain in his manse, looking for light, until
two-thirty, after which, if we had not communicated with him by that
hour, he would cease to look for it."

"Dear me," said Mr. Newberry, deep in reflection, "so that when your
trustees came to the meeting--"

"Exactly," said Dr. Boomer--and something like a smile passed across
his features for a moment "Dr. Dumfarthing had already sent away his
telegram of acceptance."

"Why, then," said Mr. Newberry, "at the time of our discussion tonight,
you were in the position of having no minister."

"Not at all. We had already appointed a successor."

"A successor?"

"Certainly. It will be in tomorrow morning's papers. The fact is that
we decided to ask Dr. McTeague to resume his charge."

"Dr. McTeague!" repeated Mr. Newberry in amazement. "But surely his
mind is understood to be--"

"Oh not at all," interrupted Dr. Boomer. "His mind appears if anything,
to be clearer and stronger than ever. Dr. Slyder tells us that
paralysis of the brain very frequently has this effect; it soothes the
brain--clears it, as it were, so that very often intellectual problems
which occasioned the greatest perplexity before present no difficulty
whatever afterwards. Dr. McTeague, I believe, finds no trouble now in
reconciling St. Paul's dialectic with Hegel as he used to. He says that
so far as he can see they both mean the same thing."

"Well, well," said Mr. Newberry, "and will Dr. McTeague also resume his
philosophical lectures at the university?"

"We think it wiser not," said the president. "While we feel that Dr.
McTeague's mind is in admirable condition for clerical work we fear
that professorial duties might strain it. In order to get the full
value of his remarkable intelligence, we propose to elect him to the
governing body of the university. There his brain will be safe from any
shock. As a professor there would always be the fear that one of his
students might raise a question in his class. This of course is not a
difficulty that arises in the pulpit or among the governors of the
university."

"Of course not," said Mr. Newberry.

        *    *    *    *    *

Thus was constituted the famous union or merger of the churches of St.
Asaph and St. Osoph, viewed by many of those who made it as the
beginning of a new era in the history of the modern church.

There is no doubt that it has been in every way an eminent success.

Rivalry, competition, and controversies over points of dogma have
become unknown on Plutoria Avenue. The parishioners of the two churches
may now attend either of them just as they like. As the trustees are
fond of explaining it doesn't make the slightest difference. The entire
receipts of the churches, being now pooled, are divided without
reference to individual attendance. At each half year there is issued a
printed statement which is addressed to the shareholders of the United
Churches Limited and is hardly to be distinguished in style or material
from the annual and semi-annual reports of the Tin Pot Amalgamation and
the United Hardware and other quasi-religious bodies of the sort. "Your
directors," the last of these documents states, "are happy to inform
you that in spite of the prevailing industrial depression the gross
receipts of the corporation have shown such an increase as to justify
the distribution of a stock dividend of special Offertory Stock
Cumulative, which will be offered at par to all holders of common or
preferred shares. You will also be gratified to learn that the
directors have voted unanimously in favour of a special presentation to
the Rev. Uttermust Dumfarthing on the occasion of his approaching
marriage. It was earnestly debated whether this gift should take the
form, as at first suggested, of a cash presentation, or as afterwards
suggested, of a written testimonial in the form of an address. The
latter course was finally adopted as being more fitting to the
circumstances and the address has accordingly been prepared, setting
forth to the Rev. Dr. Dumfarthing, in old English lettering and
wording, the opinion which is held of him by his former parishioners."

The "approaching marriage" referred of course to Dr. Dumfarthing's
betrothal to Juliana Furlong. It was not known that he had ever exactly
proposed to her. But it was understood that before giving up his charge
he drew her attention, in very severe terms, to the fact that, as his
daughter was now leaving him, he must either have someone else to look
after his manse or else be compelled to incur the expense of a paid
housekeeper. This latter alternative, he said, was not one that he
cared to contemplate. He also reminded her that she was now at a time
of life when she could hardly expect to pick and choose and that her
spiritual condition was one of, at least, great uncertainty. These
combined statements are held, under the law of Scotland at any rate, to
be equivalent to an offer of marriage.

Catherine Dumfarthing did not join her father in his new manse. She
first remained behind him, as the guest of Philippa Overend for a few
weeks while she was occupied in packing up her things. After that she
stayed for another two or three weeks to unpack them. This had been
rendered necessary by a conversation held with the Reverend Edward
Fareforth Furlong, in a shaded corner of the Overend's garden. After
which, in due course of time, Catherine and Edward were married, the
ceremony being performed by the Reverend Dr. McTeague whose eyes filled
with philosophical tears as he gave them his blessing.

So the two churches of St. Asaph and St. Osoph stand side by side
united and at peace. Their bells call softly back and forward to one
another on Sunday mornings and such is the harmony between them that
even the episcopal rooks in the elm trees of St. Asaph's and the
presbyterian crows in the spruce trees of St. Osoph's are known to
exchange perches on alternate Sundays.



CHAPTER EIGHT: The Great Fight for Clean Government

"As to the government of this city," said Mr. Newberry, leaning back in
a leather armchair at the Mausoleum Club and lighting a second cigar,
"it's rotten, that's all."

"Absolutely rotten," assented Mr. Dick Overend, ringing the bell for a
second whiskey and soda.

"Corrupt," said Mr. Newberry, between two puffs of his cigar.

"Full of graft," said Mr. Overend, flicking his ashes into the grate.

"Crooked aldermen," said Mr. Newberry.

"A bum city solicitor," said Mr. Overend, "and an infernal grafter for
treasurer."

"Yes," assented Mr. Newberry, and then, leaning forwards in his chair
and looking carefully about the corridors of the club, he spoke behind
his hand and said, "And the mayor's the biggest grafter of the lot. And
what's more," he added, sinking his voice to a whisper, "the time has
come to speak out about it fearlessly."

Mr. Overend nodded. "It's a tyranny," he said.

"Worse than Russia," rejoined Mr. Newberry.

        *    *    *    *    *

They had been sitting in a quiet corner of the club--it was on a Sunday
evening--and had fallen into talking, first of all, of the present
rottenness of the federal politics of the United States--not
argumentatively or with any heat, but with the reflective sadness that
steals over an elderly man when he sits in the leather armchair of a
comfortable club smoking a good cigar and musing on the decadence of
the present day. The rottenness of the federal government didn't anger
them. It merely grieved them.

They could remember--both of them--how different everything was when
they were young men just entering on life. When Mr. Newberry and Mr.
Dick Overend were young, men went into congress from pure patriotism;
there was no such thing as graft or crookedness, as they both admitted,
in those days; and as for the United States Senate--here their voices
were almost hushed in awe--why, when they were young, the United States
Senate--

But no, neither of them could find a phrase big enough for their
meaning.

They merely repeated "as for the United States Senate--" and then shook
their heads and took long drinks of whiskey and soda.

Then, naturally, speaking of the rottenness of the federal government
had led them to talk of the rottenness of the state legislature. How
different from the state legislatures that they remembered as young
men! Not merely different in the matter of graft, but different, so Mr.
Newberry said, in the calibre of the men. He recalled how he had been
taken as a boy of twelve by his father to hear a debate. He would never
forget it. Giants! he said, that was what they were. In fact, the thing
was more like a Witenagemot than a legislature. He said he distinctly
recalled a man, whose name he didn't recollect, speaking on a question
he didn't just remember what, either for or against he just couldn't
recall which; it thrilled him. He would never forget it. It stayed in
his memory as if it were yesterday.

But as for the present legislature--here Mr. Dick Overend sadly nodded
assent in advance to what he knew was coming--as for the present
legislature--well--Mr. Newberry had had, he said, occasion to visit the
state capital a week before in connection with a railway bill that he
was trying to--that is, that he was anxious to--in short in connection
with a railway bill, and when he looked about him at the men in the
legislature--positively he felt ashamed; he could put it no other way
than that--ashamed.

After which, from speaking of the crookedness of the state government
Mr. Newberry and Mr. Dick Overend were led to talk of the crookedness
of the city government! And they both agreed, as above, that things
were worse than in Russia. What secretly irritated them both most was
that they had lived and done business under this infernal corruption
for thirty or forty years and hadn't noticed it. They had been too busy.

The fact was that their conversation reflected not so much their own
original ideas as a general wave of feeling that was passing over the
whole community.

There had come a moment--quite suddenly it seemed--when it occurred to
everybody at the same time that the whole government of the city was
rotten. The word is a strong one. But it is the one that was used. Look
at the aldermen, they said--rotten! Look at the city solicitor, rotten!
And as for the mayor himself--phew!

The thing came like a wave. Everybody felt it at once. People wondered
how any sane, intelligent community could tolerate the presence of a
set of corrupt scoundrels like the twenty aldermen of the city. Their
names, it was said, were simply a byword throughout the United States
for rank criminal corruption. This was said so widely that everybody
started hunting through the daily papers to try to find out who in
blazes were aldermen, anyhow. Twenty names are hard to remember, and as
a matter of fact, at the moment when this wave of feeling struck the
city, nobody knew or cared who were aldermen, anyway.

To tell the truth, the aldermen had been much the same persons for
about fifteen or twenty years. Some were in the produce business,
others were butchers, two were grocers, and all of them wore blue
checkered waistcoats and red ties and got up at seven in the morning to
attend the vegetable and other markets. Nobody had ever really thought
about them--that is to say, nobody on Plutoria Avenue. Sometimes one
saw a picture in the paper and wondered for a moment who the person
was; but on looking more closely and noticing what was written under
it, one said, "Oh, I see, an alderman," and turned to something else.

"Whose funeral is that?" a man would sometimes ask on Plutoria Avenue.
"Oh just one of the city aldermen," a passerby would answer hurriedly.
"Oh I see, I beg your pardon, I thought it might be somebody important."

At which both laughed.

        *    *    *    *    *

It was not just clear how and where this movement of indignation had
started. People said that it was part of a new wave of public morality
that was sweeping over the entire United States. Certainly it was being
remarked in almost every section of the country. Chicago newspapers
were attributing its origin to the new vigour and the fresh ideals of
the middle west. In Boston it was said to be due to a revival of the
grand old New England spirit. In Philadelphia they called it the spirit
of William Penn. In the south it was said to be the reassertion of
southern chivalry making itself felt against the greed and selfishness
of the north, while in the north they recognized it at once as a
protest against the sluggishness and ignorance of the south. In the
west they spoke of it as a revolt against the spirit of the east and in
the east they called it a reaction against the lawlessness of the west.
But everywhere they hailed it as a new sign of the glorious unity of
the country.

If therefore Mr. Newberry and Mr. Overend were found to be discussing
the corrupt state of their city they only shared in the national
sentiments of the moment. In fact in the same city hundreds of other
citizens, as disinterested as themselves, were waking up to the
realization of what was going on. As soon as people began to look into
the condition of things in the city they were horrified at what they
found. It was discovered, for example, that Alderman Schwefeldampf was
an undertaker! Think of it! In a city with a hundred and fifty deaths a
week, and sometimes even better, an undertaker sat on the council! A
city that was about to expropriate land and to spend four hundred
thousand dollars for a new cemetery, had an undertaker on the
expropriation committee itself! And worse than that! Alderman Undercutt
was a butcher! In a city that consumed a thousand tons of meat every
week! And Alderman O'Hooligan--it leaked out--was an Irishman! Imagine
it! An Irishman sitting on the police committee of the council in a
city where thirty-eight and a half out of every hundred policemen were
Irish, either by birth or parentage! The thing was monstrous.

So when Mr. Newberry said "It's worse than Russia!" he meant it, every
word.

        *    *    *    *    *

Now just as Mr. Newberry and Mr. Dick Overend were finishing their
discussion, the huge bulky form of Mayor McGrath came ponderously past
them as they sat. He looked at them sideways out of his eyes--he had
eyes like plums in a mottled face--and, being a born politician, he
knew by the very look of them that they were talking of something that
they had no business to be talking about. But,--being a politician--he
merely said, "Good evening, gentlemen," without a sign of disturbance.

"Good evening, Mr. Mayor," said Mr. Newberry, rubbing his hands feebly
together and speaking in an ingratiating tone. There is no more
pitiable spectacle than an honest man caught in the act of speaking
boldly and fearlessly of the evil-doer.

"Good evening, Mr. Mayor," echoed Mr. Dick Overend, also rubbing his
hands; "warm evening, is it not?"

The mayor gave no other answer than that deep guttural grunt which is
technically known in municipal interviews as refusing to commit oneself.

"Did he hear?" whispered Mr. Newberry as the mayor passed out of the
club.

"I don't care if he did," whispered Mr. Dick Overend.

Half an hour later Mayor McGrath entered the premises of the Thomas
Jefferson Club, which was situated in the rear end of a saloon and pool
room far down in the town.

"Boys," he said to Alderman O'Hooligan and Alderman Gorfinkel, who were
playing freeze-out poker in a corner behind the pool tables, "you want
to let the boys know to keep pretty dark and go easy. There's a lot of
talk I don't like about the elections going round the town. Let the
boys know that just for a while the darker they keep the better."

Whereupon the word was passed from the Thomas Jefferson Club to the
George Washington Club and thence to the Eureka Club (coloured), and to
the Kossuth Club (Hungarian), and to various other centres of civic
patriotism in the lower parts of the city. And forthwith such a
darkness began to spread over them that not even honest Diogenes with
his lantern could have penetrated their doings.

"If them stiffs wants to make trouble," said the president of the
George Washington Club to Mayor McGrath a day or two later, "they won't
never know what they've bumped up against."

"Well," said the heavy mayor, speaking slowly and cautiously and eyeing
his henchman with quiet scrutiny, "you want to go pretty easy now, I
tell you."

The look which the mayor directed at his satellite was much the same
glance that Morgan the buccaneer might have given to one of his
lieutenants before throwing him overboard.

        *    *    *    *    *

Meantime the wave of civic enthusiasm as reflected in the conversations
of Plutoria Avenue grew stronger with every day.

"The thing is a scandal," said Mr. Lucullus Fyshe. "Why, these fellows
down at the city hall are simply a pack of rogues. I had occasion to do
some business there the other day (it was connected with the assessment
of our soda factories) and do you know, I actually found that these
fellows take money!"

"I say!" said Mr. Peter Spillikins, to whom he spoke, "I say! You don't
say!"

"It's a fact," repeated Mr. Fyshe. "They take money. I took the
assistant treasurer aside and I said, 'I want such and such done,' and
I slipped a fifty dollar bill into his hand. And the fellow took it,
took it like a shot."

"He took it!" gasped Mr. Spillikins.

"He did," said Mr. Fyshe. "There ought to be a criminal law for that
sort of thing."

"I say!" exclaimed Mr. Spillikins, "they ought to go to jail for a
thing like that."

"And the infernal insolence of them," Mr. Fyshe continued. "I went down
the next day to see the deputy assistant (about a thing connected with
the same matter), told him what I wanted and passed a fifty dollar bill
across the counter and the fellow fairly threw it back at me, in a
perfect rage. He refused it!"

"Refused it," gasped Mr. Spillikins, "I say!"

Conversations such as this filled up the leisure and divided the
business time of all the best people in the city.

In the general gloomy outlook, however, one bright spot was observable.
The "wave" had evidently come just at the opportune moment. For not
only were civic elections pending but just at this juncture four or
five questions of supreme importance would be settled by the incoming
council. There was, for instance, the question of the expropriation of
the Traction Company (a matter involving many millions); there was the
decision as to the renewal of the franchise of the Citizens' Light
Company--a vital question; there was also the four hundred thousand
dollar purchase of land for the new addition to the cemetery, a matter
that must be settled. And it was felt, especially on Plutoria Avenue,
to be a splendid thing that the city was waking up, in the moral sense,
at the very time when these things were under discussion. All the
shareholders of the Traction Company and the Citizens' Light--and they
included the very best, the most high-minded, people in the city--felt
that what was needed now was a great moral effort, to enable them to
lift the city up and carry it with them, or, if not all of it, at any
rate as much of it as they could.

"It's a splendid movement!" said Mr. Fyshe (he was a leading
shareholder and director of the Citizens' Light), "what a splendid
thing to think that we shan't have to deal for our new franchise with a
set of corrupt rapscallions like these present aldermen. Do you know,
Furlong, that when we approached them first with a proposition for a
renewal for a hundred and fifty years they held us up! Said it was too
long! Imagine that! A hundred and fifty years (only a century and a
half) too long for the franchise! They expect us to install all our
poles, string our wires, set up our transformers in their streets and
then perhaps at the end of a hundred years find ourselves compelled to
sell out at a beggarly valuation. Of course we knew what they wanted.
They meant us to hand them over fifty dollars each to stuff into their
rascally pockets."

"Outrageous!" said Mr. Furlong.

"And the same thing with the cemetery land deal," went on Mr. Lucullus
Fyshe. "Do you realize that, if the movement hadn't come along and
checked them, those scoundrels would have given that rogue
Schwefeldampf four hundred thousand dollars for his fifty acres! Just
think of it!"

"I don't know," said Mr. Furlong with a thoughtful look upon his face,
"that four hundred thousand dollars is an excessive price, in and of
itself, for that amount of land."

"Certainly not," said Mr. Fyshe, very quietly and decidedly, looking at
Mr. Furlong in a searching way as he spoke. "It is _not_ a high price.
It seems to me, speaking purely as an outsider, a very fair, reasonable
price for fifty acres of suburban land, if it were the right land. If,
for example, it were a case of making an offer for that very fine
stretch of land, about twenty acres, is it not, which I believe your
Corporation owns on the _other_ side of the cemetery, I should say four
hundred thousand is a most modest price."

Mr. Furlong nodded his head reflectively.

"You had thought, had you not, of offering it to the city?" said Mr.
Fyshe.

"We did," said Mr. Furlong, "at a more or less nominal sum--four
hundred thousand or whatever it might be. We felt that for such a
purpose, almost sacred as it were, one would want as little bargaining
as possible."

"Oh, none at all," assented Mr. Fyshe.

"Our feeling was," went on Mr. Furlong, "that if the city wanted our
land for the cemetery extension, it might have it at its own
figure--four hundred thousand, half a million, in fact at absolutely
any price, from four hundred thousand up, that they cared to put on it.
We didn't regard it as a commercial transaction at all. Our reward lay
merely in the fact of selling it to them."

"Exactly," said Mr. Fyshe, "and of course your land was more desirable
from every point of view. Schwefeldampf's ground is encumbered with a
growth of cypress and evergreens and weeping willows which make it
quite unsuitable for an up-to-date cemetery; whereas yours, as I
remember it, is bright and open--a loose sandy soil with no trees and
very little grass to overcome."

"Yes," said Mr. Furlong. "We thought, too, that our ground, having the
tanneries and the chemical factory along the farther side of it, was an
ideal place for--" he paused, seeking a mode of expressing his thought.

"For the dead," said Mr. Fyshe, with becoming reverence. And after this
conversation Mr. Fyshe and Mr. Furlong senior understood one another
absolutely in regard to the new movement.

It was astonishing in fact how rapidly the light spread.

"Is Rasselyer-Brown with us?" asked someone of Mr. Fyshe a few days
later.

"Heart and soul," answered Mr. Fyshe. "He's very bitter over the way
these rascals have been plundering the city on its coal supply. He says
that the city has been buying coal wholesale at the pit mouth at three
fifty--utterly worthless stuff, he tells me. He has heard it said that
everyone of these scoundrels has been paid from twenty-five to fifty
dollars a winter to connive at it."

"Dear me," said the listener.

"Abominable, is it not?" said Mr. Fyshe. "But as I said to
Rasselyer-Brown, what can one do if the citizens themselves take no
interest in these things. 'Take your own case,' I said to him, 'how is
it that you, a coal man, are not helping the city in this matter? Why
don't you supply the city?' He shook his head, 'I wouldn't do it at
three-fifty,' he said. 'No,' I answered, 'but will you at five?' He
looked at me for a moment and then he said, 'Fyshe, I'll do it; at
five, or at anything over that they like to name. If we get a new
council in they may name their own figure.' 'Good,' I said. 'I hope all
the other businessmen will be animated with the same spirit.'"

        *    *    *    *    *

Thus it was that the light broke and spread and illuminated in all
directions. People began to realize the needs of the city as they never
had before. Mr. Boulder, who owned, among other things, a stone quarry
and an asphalt company, felt that the paving of the streets was a
disgrace. Mr. Skinyer, of Skinyer and Beatem, shook his head and said
that the whole legal department of the city needed reorganization; it
needed, he said, new blood. But he added always in a despairing tone,
how could one expect to run a department with the head of it drawing
only six thousand dollars; the thing was impossible. If, he argued,
they could superannuate the present chief solicitor and get a man, a
_good_ man (Mr. Skinyer laid emphasis on this) at, say, fifteen
thousand there might be some hope.

"Of course," said Mr. Skinyer to Mr. Newberry in discussing the topic,
"one would need to give him a proper staff of assistants so as to take
off his hands all the _routine_ work--the mere appearance in court, the
preparation of briefs, the office consultation, the tax revision and
the purely legal work. In that case he would have his hands free to
devote himself entirely to those things, which--in fact to turn his
attention in whatever direction he might feel it was advisable to turn
it."

        *    *    *    *    *

Within a week or two the public movement had found definite expression
and embodied itself in the Clean Government Association. This was
organized by a group of leading and disinterested citizens who held
their first meeting in the largest upstairs room of the Mausoleum Club.
Mr. Lucullus Fyshe, Mr. Boulder, and others keenly interested in
obtaining simply justice for the stockholders of the Traction and the
Citizens' Light were prominent from the start. Mr. Rasselyer-Brown, Mr.
Furlong senior and others were there, not from special interest in the
light or traction questions, but, as they said themselves, from pure
civic spirit. Dr. Boomer was there to represent the university with
three of his most presentable professors, cultivated men who were able
to sit in a first-class club and drink whiskey and soda and talk as
well as any businessman present. Mr. Skinyer, Mr. Beatem and others
represented the bar. Dr. McTeague, blinking in the blue tobacco smoke,
was there to stand for the church. There were all-round enthusiasts as
well, such as Mr. Newberry and the Overend brothers and Mr. Peter
Spillikins.

"Isn't it fine," whispered Mr. Spillikins to Mr. Newberry, "to see a
set of men like these all going into a thing like this, not thinking of
their own interests a bit?"

        *    *    *    *    *

Mr. Fyshe, as chairman, addressed the meeting. He told them they were
there to initiate a great free voluntary movement of the people. It had
been thought wise, he said, to hold it with closed doors and to keep it
out of the newspapers. This would guarantee the league against the old
underhand control by a clique that had hitherto disgraced every part of
the administration of the city. He wanted, he said, to see everything
done henceforth in broad daylight: and for this purpose he had summoned
them there at night to discuss ways and means of action. After they
were once fully assured of exactly what they wanted to do and how they
meant to do it, the league he said, would invite the fullest and freest
advice from all classes in the city. There were none he said, amid
great applause, that were so lowly that they would not be invited--once
the platform of the league was settled--to advise and co-operate. All
might help, even the poorest. Subscription lists would be prepared
which would allow any sum at all, from one to five dollars, to be given
to the treasurer. The league was to be democratic or nothing. The
poorest might contribute as little as one dollar: even the richest
would not be allowed to give more than five. Moreover he gave notice
that he intended to propose that no actual official of the league
should be allowed under its by-laws to give anything. He himself--if
they did him the honour to make him president as he had heard it hinted
was their intention--would be the first to bow to this rule. He would
efface himself. He would obliterate himself, content in the interests
of all, to give nothing. He was able to announce similar pledges from
his friends, Mr. Boulder, Mr. Furlong, Dr. Boomer, and a number of
others.

Quite a storm of applause greeted these remarks by Mr. Fyshe, who
flushed with pride as he heard it.

"Now, gentlemen," he went on, "this meeting is open for discussion.
Remember it is quite informal, anyone may speak. I as chairman make no
claim to control or monopolize the discussion. Let everyone
understand--"

"Well then, Mr. Chairman," began Mr. Dick Overend.

"One minute, Mr. Overend," said Mr. Fyshe. "I want everyone to
understand that he may speak as--"

"May I say then--" began Mr. Newberry.

"Pardon me, Mr. Newberry," said Mr. Fyshe, "I was wishing first to
explain that not only may _all_ participate but that we _invite_--"

"In that case--" began Mr. Newberry.

"Before you speak," interrupted Mr. Fyshe, "let me add one word. We
must make our discussion as brief and to the point as possible. I have
a great number of things which I wish to say to the meeting and it
might be well if all of you would speak as briefly and as little as
possible. Has anybody anything to say?"

"Well," said Mr. Newberry, "what about organization and officers?"

"We have thought of it," said Mr. Fyshe. "We were anxious above all
things to avoid the objectionable and corrupt methods of a 'slate' and
a prepared list of officers which has disgraced every part of our city
politics until the present time. Mr. Boulder, Mr. Furlong and Mr.
Skinyer and myself have therefore prepared a short list of offices and
officers which we wish to submit to your fullest, freest consideration.
It runs thus: Hon. President Mr. L. Fyshe, Hon. Vice-president, Mr. A.
Boulder, Hon. Secretary Mr. Furlong, Hon. Treasurer Mr. O. Skinyer, et
cetera--I needn't read it all. You'll see it posted in the hall later.
Is that carried? Carried! Very good," said Mr. Fyshe.

There was a moment's pause while Mr. Furlong and Mr. Skinyer moved into
seats beside Mr. Fyshe and while Mr. Furlong drew from his pocket and
arranged the bundle of minutes of the meeting which he had brought with
him. As he himself said he was too neat and methodical a writer to
trust to jotting them down on the spot.

"Don't you think," said Mr. Newberry, "I speak as a practical man, that
we ought to do something to get the newspapers with us?"

"Most important," assented several members.

"What do you think, Dr. Boomer?" asked Mr. Fyshe of the university
president, "will the newspapers be with us?"

Dr. Boomer shook his head doubtfully. "It's an important matter," he
said. "There is no doubt that we need, more than anything, the support
of a clean, wholesome unbiassed press that can't be bribed and is not
subject to money influence. I think on the whole our best plan would be
to buy up one of the city newspapers."

"Might it not be better simply to buy up the editorial staff?" said Mr.
Dick Overend.

"We might do that," admitted Dr. Boomer. "There is no doubt that the
corruption of the press is one of the worst factors that we have to
oppose. But whether we can best fight it by buying the paper itself or
buying the staff is hard to say."

"Suppose we leave it to a committee with full power to act," said Mr.
Fyshe. "Let us direct them to take whatever steps may in their opinion
be best calculated to elevate the tone of the press, the treasurer
being authorized to second them in every way. I for one am heartily
sick of old underhand connection between city politics and the city
papers. If we can do anything to alter and elevate it, it will be a
fine work, gentlemen, well worth whatever it costs us."

        *    *    *    *    *

Thus after an hour or two of such discussion the Clean Government
League found itself organized and equipped with a treasury and a
programme and a platform. The latter was very simple. As Mr. Fyshe and
Mr. Boulder said there was no need to drag in specific questions or try
to define the action to be taken towards this or that particular
detail, such as the hundred-and-fifty-year franchise, beforehand. The
platform was simply expressed as Honesty, Purity, Integrity. This, as
Mr. Fyshe said, made a straight, flat, clean issue between the league
and all who opposed it.

This first meeting was, of course, confidential. But all that it did
was presently done over again, with wonderful freshness and spontaneity
at a large public meeting open to all citizens. There was a splendid
impromptu air about everything. For instance when somebody away back in
the hall said, "I move that Mr. Lucullus Fyshe be president of the
league," Mr. Fyshe lifted his hand in unavailing protest as if this
were the newest idea he had ever heard in his life.

After all of which the Clean Government League set itself to fight the
cohorts of darkness. It was not just known where these were. But it was
understood that they were there all right, somewhere. In the platform
speeches of the epoch they figured as working underground, working in
the dark, working behind the scenes, and so forth. But the strange
thing was that nobody could state with any exactitude just who or what
it was that the league was fighting. It stood for "honesty, purity, and
integrity." That was all you could say about it.

Take, for example, the case of the press. At the inception of the
league it has been supposed that such was the venality and corruption
of the city newspapers that it would be necessary to buy one of them.
But the word "clean government" had been no sooner uttered than it
turned out that every one of the papers in the city was in favour of
it: in fact had been working for it for years.

They vied with one another now in giving publicity to the idea. The
_Plutorian Times_ printed a dotted coupon on the corner of its front
sheet with the words, "Are you in favour of Clean Government? If so,
send us ten cents with this coupon and your name and address." The
_Plutorian Citizen and Home Advocate_, went even further. It printed a
coupon which said, "Are you out for a clean city? If so send us
twenty-five cents to this office. We pledge ourselves to use it."

The newspapers did more than this. They printed from day to day such
pictures as the portrait of Mr. Fyshe with the legend below, "Mr.
Lucullus Fyshe, who says that government ought to be by the people,
from the people, for the people and to the people"; and the next day
another labelled. "Mr. P. Spillikins, who says that all men are born
free and equal"; and the next day a picture with the words, "Tract of
ground offered for cemetery by Mr. Furlong, showing rear of tanneries,
with head of Mr. Furlong inserted."

It was, of course, plain enough that certain of the aldermen of the old
council were to be reckoned as part of the cohort of darkness. That at
least was clear. "We want no more men in control of the stamp of
Alderman Gorfinkel and Alderman Schwefeldampf," so said practically
every paper in the city. "The public sense revolts at these men. They
are vultures who have feasted too long on the prostrate corpses of our
citizens." And so on. The only trouble was to discover who or what had
ever supported Alderman Gorfinkel and Alderman Schwefeldampf. The very
organizations that might have seemed to be behind them were evidently
more eager for clean government than the league itself.

"The Thomas Jefferson Club Out for Clean Government," so ran the
newspaper headings of one day; and of the next, "Will help to clean up
City Government. Eureka Club (Coloured) endorses the League; Is done
with Darkness"; and the day after that, "Sons of Hungary Share in Good
Work: Kossuth Club will vote with the League."

So strong, indeed, was the feeling against the iniquitous aldermen that
the public demand arose to be done with a council of aldermen
altogether and to substitute government by a Board. The newspapers
contained editorials on the topic each day and it was understood that
one of the first efforts of the league would be directed towards
getting the necessary sanction of the legislature in this direction. To
help to enlighten the public on what such government meant Professor
Proaser of the university (he was one of the three already referred to)
gave a public lecture on the growth of Council Government. He traced it
from the Amphictionic Council of Greece as far down as the Oligarchical
Council of Venice; it was thought that had the evening been longer he
would have traced it clean down to modern times.

But most amazing of all was the announcement that was presently made,
and endorsed by Mr. Lucullus Fyshe in an interview, that Mayor McGrath
himself would favour clean government, and would become the official
nominee of the league itself. This certainly was strange. But it would
perhaps have been less mystifying to the public at large, had they been
able to listen to certain of the intimate conversations of Mr. Fyshe
and Mr. Boulder.

"You say then," said Mr. Boulder, "to let McGrath's name stand."

"We can't do without him," said Mr. Fyshe, "he has seven of the wards
in the hollow of his hand. If we take his offer he absolutely pledges
us every one of them."

"Can you rely on his word?" said Mr. Boulder.

"I think he means to play fair with us," answered Mr. Fyshe. "I put it
to him as a matter of honour, between man and man, a week ago. Since
then, I have had him carefully dictaphoned and I'm convinced he's
playing straight."

"How far will he go with us?" said Mr. Boulder.

"He is willing to throw overboard Gorfinkel, Schwefeldampf and
Undercutt. He says he must find a place for O'Hooligan. The Irish, he
says, don't care for clean government; they want Irish Government."

"I see," said Mr. Boulder very thoughtfully, "and in regard to the
renewal of the franchise and the expropriation, tell me just exactly
what his conditions are."

But Mr. Fyshe's answer to this was said so discreetly and in such a low
voice, that not even the birds listening in the elm trees outside the
Mausoleum Club could hear it.

No wonder, then, that if even the birds failed to know everything about
the Clean Government League, there were many things which such good
people as Mr. Newberry and Mr. Peter Spillikins never heard at all and
never guessed.

        *    *    *    *    *

Each week and every day brought fresh triumphs to the onward march of
the movement.

"Yes, gentlemen," said Mr. Fyshe to the assembled committee of the
Clean Government League a few days later, "I am glad to be able to
report our first victory. Mr. Boulder and I have visited the state
capital and we are able to tell you definitely that the legislature
will consent to change our form of government so as to replace our
council by a Board."

"Hear, hear!" cried all the committee men together.

"We saw the governor," said Mr. Fyshe. "Indeed he was good enough to
lunch with us at the Pocahontas Club. He tells us that what we are
doing is being done in every city and town of the state. He says that
the days of the old-fashioned city council are numbered. They are
setting up boards everywhere."

"Excellent!" said Mr. Newberry.

"The governor assures us that what we want will be done. The chairman
of the Democratic State Committee (he was good enough to dine with us
at the Buchanan Club) has given us the same assurance. So also does the
chairman of the Republican State Committee, who was kind enough to be
our guest in a box at the Lincoln Theatre. It is most gratifying,"
concluded Mr. Fyshe, "to feel that the legislature will give us such a
hearty, such a thoroughly American support."

"You are sure of this, are you?" questioned Mr. Newberry. "You have
actually seen the members of the legislature?"

"It was not necessary," said Mr. Fyshe. "The governor and the different
chairmen have them so well fixed--that is to say, they have such
confidence in the governor and their political organizers that they
will all be prepared to give us what I have described as thoroughly
American support."

"You are quite sure," persisted Mr. Newberry, "about the governor and
the others you mentioned?"

Mr. Fyshe paused a moment and then he said very quietly, "We are quite
sure," and he exchanged a look with Mr. Boulder that meant volumes to
those who would read it.

        *    *    *    *    *

"I hope you didn't mind my questioning you in that fashion," said Mr.
Newberry, as he and Mr. Fyshe strolled home from the club. "The truth
is I didn't feel sure in my own mind just what was meant by a 'Board,'
and 'getting them to give us government by a Board.' I know I'm
speaking like an ignoramus. I've really not paid as much attention in
the past to civic politics as I ought to have. But what is the
difference between a council and a board?"

"The difference between a council and a board?" repeated Mr. Fyshe.

"Yes," said Mr. Newberry, "the difference between a council and a
board."

"Or call it," said Mr. Fyshe reflectively, "the difference between a
board and a council."

"Precisely," said Mr Newberry.

"It's not altogether easy to explain," said Mr. Fyshe. "One chief
difference is that in the case of a board, sometimes called a
Commission, the salary is higher. You see the salary of an alderman or
councillor in most cities is generally not more than fifteen hundred or
two thousand dollars. The salary of a member of a board or commission
is at least ten thousand. That gives you at once a very different class
of men. As long as you only pay fifteen hundred you get your council
filled up with men who will do any kind of crooked work for fifteen
hundred dollars; as soon as you pay ten thousand you get men with
larger ideas."

"I see," said Mr. Newberry.

"If you have a fifteen hundred dollar man," Mr. Fyshe went on, "you can
bribe him at any time with a fifty-dollar bill. On the other hand your
ten-thousand-dollar man has a wider outlook. If you offer him fifty
dollars for his vote on the board, he'd probably laugh at you."

"Ah, yes," said Mr. Newberry, "I see the idea. A fifteen-hundred-dollar
salary is so low that it will tempt a lot of men into office merely for
what they can get out of it."

"That's it exactly," answered Mr. Fyshe.

        *    *    *    *    *

From all sides support came to the new league. The women of the
city--there were fifty thousand of them on the municipal voters
list--were not behind the men. Though not officials of the league they
rallied to its cause.

"Mr. Fyshe," said Mrs. Buncomhearst, who called at the office of the
president of the league with offers of support, "tell me what we can
do. I represent fifty thousand women voters of this city--"

(This was a favourite phrase of Mrs. Buncomhearst's, though it had
never been made quite clear how or why she represented them.)

"We want to help, we women. You know we've any amount of initiative, if
you'll only tell us what to do. You know, Mr. Fyshe, we've just as good
executive ability as you men, if you'll just tell us what to do.
Couldn't we hold a meeting of our own, all our own, to help the league
along?"

"An excellent idea," said Mr. Fyshe.

"And could you not get three or four men to come and address it so as
to stir us up?" asked Mrs. Buncomhearst anxiously.

"Oh, certainly," said Mr. Fyshe.

So it was known after this that the women were working side by side
with the men. The tea rooms of the Grand Palaver and the other hotels
were filled with them every day, busy for the cause. One of them even
invented a perfectly charming election scarf to be worn as a sort of
badge to show one's allegiance; and its great merit was that it was so
fashioned that it would go with anything.

"Yes," said Mr. Fyshe to his committee, "one of the finest signs of our
movement is that the women of the city are with us. Whatever we may
think, gentlemen, of the question of woman's rights in general--and I
think we know what we _do_ think--there is no doubt that the influence
of women makes for purity in civic politics. I am glad to inform the
committee that Mrs. Buncomhearst and her friends have organized all the
working women of the city who have votes. They tell me that they have
been able to do this at a cost as low as five dollars per woman. Some
of the women--foreigners of the lower classes whose sense of political
morality is as yet imperfectly developed--have been organized at a cost
as low as one dollar per vote. But of course with our native American
women, with a higher standard of education and morality, we can hardly
expect to do it as low as that."

        *    *    *    *    *

Nor were the women the only element of support added to the league.

"Gentlemen," reported Dr. Boomer, the president of the university, at
the next committee meeting, "I am glad to say that the spirit which
animates us has spread to the students of the university. They have
organized, entirely by themselves and on their own account, a Students'
Fair Play League which has commenced its activities. I understand that
they have already ducked Alderman Gorfinkel in a pond near the
university. I believe they are looking for Alderman Schwefeldampf
tonight. I understand they propose to throw him into the reservoir. The
leaders of them--a splendid set of young fellows--have given me a
pledge that they will do nothing to bring discredit on the university."

"I think I heard them on the street last night," said Mr. Newberry.

"I believe they had a procession," said the president.

"Yes, I heard them; they were shouting 'Rah! rah! rah! Clean
Government! Clean Government! Rah! rah!' It was really inspiring to
hear them."

"Yes," said the president, "they are banded together to put down all
the hoodlumism and disturbance on the street that has hitherto
disgraced our municipal elections. Last night, as a demonstration, they
upset two streetcars and a milk wagon."

"I heard that two of them were arrested," said Mr. Dick Overend.

"Only by an error," said the president. "There was a mistake. It was
not known that they were students. The two who were arrested were
smashing the windows of the car, after it was upset, with their hockey
sticks. A squad of police mistook them for rioters. As soon as they
were taken to the police station, the mistake was cleared up at once.
The chief-of-police telephoned an apology to the university. I believe
the league is out again tonight looking for Alderman Schwefeldampf. But
the leaders assure me there will be no breach of the peace whatever. As
I say, I think their idea is to throw him into the reservoir."

In the face of such efforts as these, opposition itself melted rapidly
away. The _Plutorian Times_ was soon able to announce that various
undesirable candidates were abandoning the field. "Alderman Gorfinkel,"
it said, "who, it will be recalled, was thrown into a pond last week by
the students of the college, was still confined to his bed when
interviewed by our representative. Mr. Gorfinkel stated that he should
not offer himself as a candidate in the approaching election. He was,
he said, weary of civic honours. He had had enough. He felt it
incumbent on him to step out and make way for others who deserved their
turn as well as himself: in future he proposed to confine his whole
attention to his Misfit Semi-Ready Establishment which he was happy to
state was offering as nobby a line of early fall suiting as was ever
seen at the price."

        *    *    *    *    *

There is no need to recount here in detail the glorious triumph of the
election day itself. It will always be remembered as the purest,
cleanest election ever held in the precincts of the city. The citizens'
organization turned out in overwhelming force to guarantee that it
should be so. Bands of Dr. Boomer's students, armed with baseball bats,
surrounded the polls to guarantee fair play. Any man wishing to cast an
unclean vote was driven from the booth: all those attempting to
introduce any element of brute force or rowdyism into the election were
cracked over the head. In the lower part of the town scores of willing
workers, recruited often from the humblest classes, kept order with
pickaxes. In every part of the city motor cars, supplied by all the
leading businessmen, lawyers, and doctors of the city, acted as patrols
to see that no unfair use should be made of other vehicles in carrying
voters to the polls.

It was a foregone victory from the first--overwhelming and complete.
The cohorts of darkness were so completely routed that it was
practically impossible to find them. As it fell dusk the streets were
filled with roaring and surging crowds celebrating the great victory
for clean government, while in front of every newspaper office huge
lantern pictures of _Mayor McGrath the Champion of Pure Government_,
and _O. Skinyer, the People's Solicitor_, and the other nominees of the
league, called forth cheer after cheer of frenzied enthusiasm.

        *    *    *    *    *

They held that night in celebration a great reception at the Mausoleum
Club on Plutoria Avenue, given at its own suggestion by the city. The
city, indeed, insisted on it.

Nor was there ever witnessed even in that home of art and refinement a
scene of greater charm. In the spacious corridor of the club a
Hungarian band wafted Viennese music from Tyrolese flutes through the
rubber trees. There was champagne bubbling at a score of sideboards
where noiseless waiters poured it into goblets as broad and flat as
floating water-lily leaves. And through it all moved the shepherds and
shepherdesses of that beautiful Arcadia--the shepherds in their Tuxedo
jackets, with vast white shirt-fronts broad as the map of Africa, with
spotless white waistcoats girdling their equators, wearing heavy gold
watch-chains and little patent shoes blacker than sin itself--and the
shepherdesses in foaming billows of silks of every colour of the
kaleidoscope, their hair bound with glittering headbands or coiled with
white feathers, the very symbol of municipal purity. One would search
in vain the pages of pastoral literature to find the equal of it.

And as they talked, the good news spread from group to group that it
was already known that the new franchise of the Citizens' Light was to
be made for two centuries so as to give the company a fair chance to
see what it could do. At the word of it, the grave faces of manly
bondholders flushed with pride, and the soft eyes of listening
shareholders laughed back in joy. For they had no doubt or fear, now
that clean government had come. They knew what the company could do.

Thus all night long, outside of the club, the soft note of the motor
horns arriving and departing wakened the sleeping leaves of the elm
trees with their message of good tidings. And all night long, within
its lighted corridors, the bubbling champagne whispered to the
listening rubber trees of the new salvation of the city. So the night
waxed and waned till the slow day broke, dimming with its cheap prosaic
glare the shaded beauty of the artificial light, and the people of the
city--the best of them--drove home to their well-earned sleep; and the
others--in the lower parts of the city--rose to their daily toil.



END





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home