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: Drift from Two Shores
Author: Harte, Bret, 1836-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Drift from Two Shores" ***

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



DRIFT FROM TWO SHORES


by

BRET HARTE



CONTENTS

  THE MAN ON THE BEACH
  TWO SAINTS OF THE FOOT-HILLS
  "JINNY"
  ROGER CATRON'S FRIEND
  "WHO WAS MY QUIET FRIEND?"
  A GHOST OF THE SIERRAS
  THE HOODLUM BAND
  THE MAN WHOSE YOKE WAS NOT EASY
  MY FRIEND, THE TRAMP
  THE MAN FROM SOLANO
  THE OFFICE SEEKER
  A SLEEPING-CAR EXPERIENCE
  MORNING ON THE AVENUE
  WITH THE ENTREES



DRIFT FROM TWO SHORES



THE MAN ON THE BEACH

I

He lived beside a river that emptied into a great ocean.  The narrow
strip of land that lay between him and the estuary was covered at high
tide by a shining film of water, at low tide with the cast-up offerings
of sea and shore.  Logs yet green, and saplings washed away from inland
banks, battered fragments of wrecks and orange crates of bamboo, broken
into tiny rafts yet odorous with their lost freight, lay in long
successive curves,--the fringes and overlappings of the sea.  At high
noon the shadow of a seagull's wing, or a sudden flurry and gray squall
of sandpipers, themselves but shadows, was all that broke the
monotonous glare of the level sands.

He had lived there alone for a twelvemonth.  Although but a few miles
from a thriving settlement, during that time his retirement had never
been intruded upon, his seclusion remained unbroken.  In any other
community he might have been the subject of rumor or criticism, but the
miners at Camp Rogue and the traders at Trinidad Head, themselves
individual and eccentric, were profoundly indifferent to all other
forms of eccentricity or heterodoxy that did not come in contact with
their own.  And certainly there was no form of eccentricity less
aggressive than that of a hermit, had they chosen to give him that
appellation.  But they did not even do that, probably from lack of
interest or perception.  To the various traders who supplied his small
wants he was known as "Kernel," "Judge," and "Boss."  To the general
public "The Man on the Beach" was considered a sufficiently
distinguishing title.  His name, his occupation, rank, or antecedents,
nobody cared to inquire.  Whether this arose from a fear of reciprocal
inquiry and interest, or from the profound indifference before referred
to, I cannot say.

He did not look like a hermit.  A man yet young, erect, well-dressed,
clean-shaven, with a low voice, and a smile half melancholy, half
cynical, was scarcely the conventional idea of a solitary.  His
dwelling, a rude improvement on a fisherman's cabin, had all the severe
exterior simplicity of frontier architecture, but within it was
comfortable and wholesome.  Three rooms--a kitchen, a living room, and
a bedroom--were all it contained.

He had lived there long enough to see the dull monotony of one season
lapse into the dull monotony of the other.  The bleak northwest
trade-winds had brought him mornings of staring sunlight and nights of
fog and silence.  The warmer southwest trades had brought him clouds,
rain, and the transient glories of quick grasses and odorous beach
blossoms.  But summer or winter, wet or dry season, on one side rose
always the sharply defined hills with their changeless background of
evergreens; on the other side stretched always the illimitable ocean as
sharply defined against the horizon, and as unchanging in its hue.  The
onset of spring and autumn tides, some changes among his feathered
neighbors, the footprints of certain wild animals along the river's
bank, and the hanging out of party-colored signals from the wooded
hillside far inland, helped him to record the slow months.  On summer
afternoons, when the sun sank behind a bank of fog that, moving
solemnly shoreward, at last encompassed him and blotted out sea and
sky, his isolation was complete.  The damp gray sea that flowed above
and around and about him always seemed to shut out an intangible world
beyond, and to be the only real presence.  The booming of breakers
scarce a dozen rods from his dwelling was but a vague and
unintelligible sound, or the echo of something past forever.  Every
morning when the sun tore away the misty curtain he awoke, dazed and
bewildered, as upon a new world.  The first sense of oppression over,
he came to love at last this subtle spirit of oblivion; and at night,
when its cloudy wings were folded over his cabin, he would sit alone
with a sense of security he had never felt before.  On such occasions
he was apt to leave his door open, and listen as for footsteps; for
what might not come to him out of this vague, nebulous world beyond?
Perhaps even SHE,--for this strange solitary was not insane nor
visionary.  He was never in spirit alone.  For night and day, sleeping
or waking, pacing the beach or crouching over his driftwood fire, a
woman's face was always before him,--the face for whose sake and for
cause of whom he sat there alone.  He saw it in the morning sunlight;
it was her white hands that were lifted from the crested breakers; it
was the rustling of her skirt when the sea wind swept through the beach
grasses; it was the loving whisper of her low voice when the long waves
sank and died among the sedge and rushes.  She was as omnipresent as
sea and sky and level sand.  Hence when the fog wiped them away, she
seemed to draw closer to him in the darkness. On one or two more
gracious nights in midsummer, when the influence of the fervid noonday
sun was still felt on the heated sands, the warm breath of the fog
touched his cheek as if it had been hers, and the tears started to his
eyes.

Before the fogs came--for he arrived there in winter--he had found
surcease and rest in the steady glow of a lighthouse upon the little
promontory a league below his habitation.  Even on the darkest nights,
and in the tumults of storm, it spoke to him of a patience that was
enduring and a steadfastness that was immutable. Later on he found a
certain dumb companionship in an uprooted tree, which, floating down
the river, had stranded hopelessly upon his beach, but in the evening
had again drifted away.  Rowing across the estuary a day or two
afterward, he recognized the tree again from a "blaze" of the settler's
axe still upon its trunk.  He was not surprised a week later to find
the same tree in the sands before his dwelling, or that the next
morning it should be again launched on its purposeless wanderings.  And
so, impelled by wind or tide, but always haunting his seclusion, he
would meet it voyaging up the river at the flood, or see it tossing
among the breakers on the bar, but always with the confidence of its
returning sooner or later to an anchorage beside him.  After the third
month of his self-imposed exile, he was forced into a more human
companionship, that was brief but regular.  He was obliged to have
menial assistance.  While he might have eaten his bread "in sorrow"
carelessly and mechanically, if it had been prepared for him, the
occupation of cooking his own food brought the vulgarity and
materialness of existence so near to his morbid sensitiveness that he
could not eat the meal he had himself prepared.  He did not yet wish to
die, and when starvation or society seemed to be the only alternative,
he chose the latter.  An Indian woman, so hideous as to scarcely
suggest humanity, at stated times performed for him these offices.
When she did not come, which was not infrequent, he did not eat.

Such was the mental and physical condition of the Man on the Beach on
the 1st of January, 1869.


It was a still, bright day, following a week of rain and wind.  Low
down the horizon still lingered a few white flecks--the flying
squadrons of the storm--as vague as distant sails.  Southward the
harbor bar whitened occasionally but lazily; even the turbulent Pacific
swell stretched its length wearily upon the shore.  And toiling from
the settlement over the low sand dunes, a carriage at last halted half
a mile from the solitary's dwelling.

"I reckon ye'll hev to git out here," said the driver, pulling up to
breathe his panting horses.  "Ye can't git any nigher."

There was a groan of execration from the interior of the vehicle, a
hysterical little shriek, and one or two shrill expressions of feminine
disapprobation, but the driver moved not.  At last a masculine head
expostulated from the window: "Look here; you agreed to take us to the
house.  Why, it's a mile away at least!"

"Thar, or tharabouts, I reckon," said the driver, coolly crossing his
legs on the box.

"It's no use talking; I can never walk through this sand and horrid
glare," said a female voice quickly and imperatively.  Then,
apprehensively, "Well, of all the places!"

"Well, I never!"

"This DOES exceed everything."

"It's really TOO idiotic for anything."

It was noticeable that while the voices betrayed the difference of age
and sex, they bore a singular resemblance to each other, and a certain
querulousness of pitch that was dominant.

"I reckon I've gone about as fur as I allow to go with them hosses,"
continued the driver suggestively, "and as time's vallyble, ye'd better
unload."

"The wretch does not mean to leave us here alone?" said a female voice
in shrill indignation.  "You'll wait for us, driver?" said a masculine
voice, confidently.

"How long?" asked the driver.

There was a hurried consultation within.  The words "Might send us
packing!" "May take all night to get him to listen to reason," "Bother!
whole thing over in ten minutes," came from the window. The driver
meanwhile had settled himself back in his seat, and whistled in patient
contempt of a fashionable fare that didn't know its own mind nor
destination.  Finally, the masculine head was thrust out, and, with a
certain potential air of judicially ending a difficulty, said:--

"You're to follow us slowly, and put up your horses in the stable or
barn until we want you."

An ironical laugh burst from the driver.  "Oh, yes--in the stable or
barn--in course.  But, my eyes sorter failin' me, mebbee, now, some ev
you younger folks will kindly pint out the stable or barn of the
Kernel's.  Woa!--will ye?--woa!  Give me a chance to pick out that
there barn or stable to put ye in!"  This in arch confidence to the
horses, who had not moved.

Here the previous speaker, rotund, dignified, and elderly, alighted
indignantly, closely followed by the rest of the party, two ladies and
a gentleman.  One of the ladies was past the age, but not the fashion,
of youth, and her Parisian dress clung over her wasted figure and
well-bred bones artistically if not gracefully; the younger lady,
evidently her daughter, was crisp and pretty, and carried off the
aquiline nose and aristocratic emaciation of her mother with a certain
piquancy and a dash that was charming.  The gentleman was young, thin,
with the family characteristics, but otherwise indistinctive.

With one accord they all faced directly toward the spot indicated by
the driver's whip.  Nothing but the bare, bleak, rectangular outlines
of the cabin of the Man on the Beach met their eyes.  All else was a
desolate expanse, unrelieved by any structure higher than the tussocks
of scant beach grass that clothed it.  They were so utterly helpless
that the driver's derisive laughter gave way at last to good humor and
suggestion.  "Look yer," he said finally, "I don't know ez it's your
fault you don't know this kentry ez well ez you do Yurup; so I'll drag
this yer team over to Robinson's on the river, give the horses a bite,
and then meander down this yer ridge, and wait for ye.  Ye'll see me
from the Kernel's."  And without waiting for a reply, he swung his
horses' heads toward the river, and rolled away.

The same querulous protest that had come from the windows arose from
the group, but vainly.  Then followed accusations and recrimination.
"It's YOUR fault; you might have written, and had him meet us at the
settlement."  "You wanted to take him by surprise!"  "I didn't.  You
know if I'd written that we were coming, he'd have taken good care to
run away from us."  "Yes, to some more inaccessible place."  "There can
be none worse than this," etc., etc.  But it was so clearly evident
that nothing was to be done but to go forward, that even in the midst
of their wrangling they straggled on in Indian file toward the distant
cabin, sinking ankle-deep in the yielding sand, punctuating their
verbal altercation with sighs, and only abating it at a scream from the
elder lady.

"Where's Maria?"

"Gone on ahead!" grunted the younger gentleman, in a bass voice, so
incongruously large for him that it seemed to have been a
ventriloquistic contribution by somebody else.

It was too true.  Maria, after adding her pungency to the general
conversation, had darted on ahead.  But alas! that swift Camilla, after
scouring the plain some two hundred feet with her demitrain, came to
grief on an unbending tussock and sat down, panting but savage.  As
they plodded wearily toward her, she bit her red lips, smacked them on
her cruel little white teeth like a festive and sprightly ghoul, and
lisped:--

"You DO look so like guys!  For all the world like those English
shopkeepers we met on the Righi, doing the three-guinea excursion in
their Sunday clothes!"

Certainly the spectacle of these exotically plumed bipeds, whose fine
feathers were already bedrabbled by sand and growing limp in the sea
breeze, was somewhat dissonant with the rudeness of sea and sky and
shore.  A few gulls screamed at them; a loon, startled from the lagoon,
arose shrieking and protesting, with painfully extended legs, in
obvious burlesque of the younger gentleman.  The elder lady felt the
justice of her gentle daughter's criticism, and retaliated with simple
directness:--

"Your skirt is ruined, your hair is coming down, your hat is half off
your head, and your shoes--in Heaven's name, Maria! what HAVE you done
with your shoes?"

Maria had exhibited a slim stockinged foot from under her skirt. It was
scarcely three fingers broad, with an arch as patrician as her nose.
"Somewhere between here and the carriage," she answered; "Dick can run
back and find it, while he is looking for your brooch, mamma.  Dick's
so obliging."

The robust voice of Dick thundered, but the wasted figure of Dick
feebly ploughed its way back, and returned with the missing buskin.

"I may as well carry them in my hand like the market girls at Saumur,
for we have got to wade soon," said Miss Maria, sinking her own terrors
in the delightful contemplation of the horror in her parent's face, as
she pointed to a shining film of water slowly deepening in a narrow
swale in the sands between them and the cabin.

"It's the tide," said the elder gentleman.  "If we intend to go on we
must hasten; permit me, my dear madam," and before she could reply he
had lifted the astounded matron in his arms, and made gallantly for the
ford.  The gentle Maria cast an ominous eye on her brother, who, with
manifest reluctance, performed for her the same office.  But that acute
young lady kept her eyes upon the preceding figure of the elder
gentleman, and seeing him suddenly and mysteriously disappear to his
armpits, unhesitatingly threw herself from her brother's protecting
arms,--an action which instantly precipitated him into the water,--and
paddled hastily to the opposite bank, where she eventually assisted in
pulling the elderly gentleman out of the hollow into which he had
fallen, and in rescuing her mother, who floated helplessly on the
surface, upheld by her skirts, like a gigantic and variegated
water-lily. Dick followed with a single gaiter.  In another minute they
were safe on the opposite bank.

The elder lady gave way to tears; Maria laughed hysterically; Dick
mingled a bass oath with the now audible surf; the elder gentleman,
whose florid face the salt water had bleached, and whose dignity seemed
to have been washed away, accounted for both by saying he thought it
was a quicksand.

"It might have been," said a quiet voice behind them; "you should have
followed the sand dunes half a mile further to the estuary."

They turned instantly at the voice.  It was that of the Man on the
Beach.  They all rose to their feet and uttered together, save one, the
single exclamation, "James!"  The elder gentleman said "Mr. North,"
and, with a slight resumption of his former dignity, buttoned his coat
over his damp shirt front.

There was a silence, in which the Man on the Beach looked gravely down
upon them.  If they had intended to impress him by any suggestion of a
gay, brilliant, and sensuous world beyond in their own persons, they
had failed, and they knew it.  Keenly alive as they had always been to
external prepossession, they felt that they looked forlorn and
ludicrous, and that the situation lay in his hands.  The elderly lady
again burst into tears of genuine distress, Maria colored over her
cheek-bones, and Dick stared at the ground in sullen disquiet.

"You had better get up," said the Man on the Beach, after a moment's
thought, "and come up to the cabin.  I cannot offer you a change of
garments, but you can dry them by the fire."

They all rose together, and again said in chorus, "James!" but this
time with an evident effort to recall some speech or action previously
resolved upon and committed to memory.  The elder lady got so far as to
clasp her hands and add, "You have not forgotten us--James, oh,
James!"; the younger gentleman to attempt a brusque "Why, Jim, old
boy," that ended in querulous incoherence; the young lady to cast a
half-searching, half-coquettish look at him; and the old gentleman to
begin, "Our desire, Mr. North"--but the effort was futile.  Mr. James
North, standing before them with folded arms, looked from the one to
the other.

"I have not thought much of you for a twelvemonth," he said, quietly,
"but I have not forgotten you.  Come!"

He led the way a few steps in advance, they following silently.  In
this brief interview they felt he had resumed the old dominance and
independence, against which they had rebelled; more than that, in this
half failure of their first concerted action they had changed their
querulous bickerings to a sullen distrust of each other, and walked
moodily apart as they followed James North into his house. A fire
blazed brightly on the hearth; a few extra seats were quickly
extemporized from boxes and chests, and the elder lady, with the skirt
of her dress folded over her knees,--looking not unlike an exceedingly
overdressed jointed doll,--dried her flounces and her tears together.
Miss Maria took in the scant appointments of the house in one single
glance, and then fixed her eyes upon James North, who, the least
concerned of the party, stood before them, grave and patiently
expectant.

"Well," began the elder lady in a high key, "after all this worry and
trouble you have given us, James, haven't you anything to say? Do you
know--have you the least idea what you are doing? what egregious folly
you are committing? what everybody is saying?  Eh? Heavens and
earth!--do you know who I am?"

"You are my father's brother's widow, Aunt Mary," returned James,
quietly.  "If I am committing any folly it only concerns myself; if I
cared for what people said I should not be here; if I loved society
enough to appreciate its good report I should stay with it."

"But they say you have run away from society to pine alone for a
worthless creature--a woman who has used you, as she has used and
thrown away others--a--"

"A woman," chimed in Dick, who had thrown himself on James's bed while
his patent leathers were drying, "a woman that all the fellers know
never intended"--here, however, he met James North's eye, and muttering
something about "whole thing being too idiotic to talk about," relapsed
into silence.

"You know," continued Mrs. North, "that while we and all our set shut
our eyes to your very obvious relations with that woman, and while I
myself often spoke of it to others as a simple flirtation, and averted
a scandal for your sake, and when the climax was reached, and she
herself gave you an opportunity to sever your relations, and nobody
need have been wiser--and she'd have had all the blame--and it's only
what she's accustomed to--you--you! you, James North!--you must
nonsensically go, and, by this extravagant piece of idiocy and
sentimental tomfoolery, let everybody see how serious the whole affair
was, and how deep it hurt you! and here in this awful place,
alone--where you're half drowned to get to it and are willing to be
wholly drowned to get away!  Oh, don't talk to me!  I won't hear
it--it's just too idiotic for anything!"

The subject of this outburst neither spoke nor moved a single muscle.

"Your aunt, Mr. North, speaks excitedly," said the elder gentleman;
"yet I think she does not overestimate the unfortunate position in
which your odd fancy places you.  I know nothing of the reasons that
have impelled you to this step; I only know that the popular opinion is
that the cause is utterly inadequate.  You are still young, with a
future before you.  I need not say how your present conduct may imperil
that.  If you expected to achieve any good--even to your own
satisfaction--but this conduct--"

"Yes--if there was anything to be gained by it!" broke in Mrs. North.

"If you ever thought she'd come back!--but that kind of woman don't.
They must have change.  Why"--began Dick suddenly, and as suddenly
lying down again.

"Is this all you have come to say?" asked James North, after a moment's
patient silence, looking from one to the other.

"All?" screamed Mrs. North; "is it not enough?"

"Not to change my mind nor my residence at present," replied North,
coolly.

"Do you mean to continue this folly all your life?"

"And have a coroner's inquest, and advertisements and all the facts in
the papers?"

"And have HER read the melancholy details, and know that you were
faithful and she was not?"

This last shot was from the gentle Maria, who bit her lips as it
glanced from the immovable man.

"I believe there is nothing more to say," continued North, quietly. "I
am willing to believe your intentions are as worthy as your zeal.  Let
us say no more," he added, with grave weariness; "the tide is rising,
and your coachman is signaling you from the bank."

There was no mistaking the unshaken positiveness of the man, which was
all the more noticeable from its gentle but utter indifference to the
wishes of the party.  He turned his back upon them as they gathered
hurriedly around the elder gentleman, while the words, "He cannot be in
his right mind," "It's your duty to do it," "It's sheer insanity,"
"Look at his eye!" all fell unconsciously upon his ear.

"One word more, Mr. North," said the elder gentleman, a little
portentously, to conceal an evident embarrassment.  "It may be that
your conduct might suggest to minds more practical than your own the
existence of some aberration of the intellect--some temporary
mania--that might force your best friends into a quasi-legal attitude
of--"

"Declaring me insane," interrupted James North, with the slight
impatience of a man more anxious to end a prolix interview than to
combat an argument.  "I think differently.  As my aunt's lawyer, you
know that within the last year I have deeded most of my property to her
and her family.  I cannot believe that so shrewd an adviser as Mr.
Edmund Carter would ever permit proceedings that would invalidate that
conveyance."

Maria burst into a laugh of such wicked gratification that James North,
for the first time, raised his eyes with something of interest to her
face.  She colored under them, but returned his glance with another
like a bayonet flash.  The party slowly moved toward the door, James
North following.

"Then this is your final answer?" asked Mrs. North, stopping
imperiously on the threshold.

"I beg your pardon?" queried North, half abstractedly.

"Your final answer?"

"Oh, certainly."

Mrs. North flounced away a dozen rods in rage.  This was unfortunate
for North.  It gave them the final attack in detail. Dick began: "Come
along!  You know you can advertise for her with a personal down there
and the old woman wouldn't object as long as you were careful and put
in an appearance now and then!"

As Dick limped away, Mr. Carter thought, in confidence, that the whole
matter--even to suit Mr. North's sensitive nature--might be settled
there.  "SHE evidently expects you to return.  My opinion is that she
never left San Francisco.  You can't tell anything about these women."

With this last sentence on his indifferent ear, James North seemed to
be left free.  Maria had rejoined her mother; but as they crossed the
ford, and an intervening sand-hill hid the others from sight, that
piquant young lady suddenly appeared on the hill and stood before him.

"And you're not coming back?" she said directly.

"No."

"Never?"

"I cannot say."

"Tell me! what is there about some women to make men love them so?"

"Love," replied North, quietly.

"No, it cannot be--it is not THAT!"

North looked over the hill and round the hill, and looked bored.

"Oh, I'm going now.  But one moment, Jem!  I didn't want to come. They
dragged me here.  Good-by."

She raised a burning face and eyes to his.  He leaned forward and
imprinted the perfunctory cousinly kiss of the period upon her cheek.

"Not that way," she said angrily, clutching his wrists with her long,
thin fingers; "you shan't kiss me in that way, James North."

With the faintest, ghost-like passing of a twinkle in the corners of
his sad eyes, he touched his lips to hers.  With the contact, she
caught him round the neck, pressed her burning lips and face to his
forehead, his cheeks, the very curves of his chin and throat, and--with
a laugh was gone.


II

Had the kinsfolk of James North any hope that their visit might revive
some lingering desire he still combated to enter once more the world
they represented, that hope would have soon died. Whatever effect this
episode had upon the solitary,--and he had become so self-indulgent of
his sorrow, and so careless of all that came between him and it, as to
meet opposition with profound indifference,--the only appreciable
result was a greater attraction for the solitude that protected him,
and he grew even to love the bleak shore and barren sands that had
proved so inhospitable to others.  There was a new meaning to the roar
of the surges, an honest, loyal sturdiness in the unchanging
persistency of the uncouth and blustering trade-winds, and a mute
fidelity in the shining sands, treacherous to all but him.  With such
bandogs to lie in wait for trespassers, should he not be grateful?

If no bitterness was awakened by the repeated avowal of the
unfaithfulness of the woman he loved, it was because he had always made
the observation and experience of others give way to the dominance of
his own insight.  No array of contradictory facts ever shook his belief
or unbelief; like all egotists, he accepted them as truths controlled
by a larger truth of which he alone was cognizant.  His simplicity,
which was but another form of his egotism, was so complete as to baffle
ordinary malicious cunning, and so he was spared the experience and
knowledge that come to a lower nature, and help debase it.

Exercise and the stimulus of the few wants that sent him hunting or
fishing kept up his physical health.  Never a lover of rude freedom or
outdoor life his sedentary predilections and nice tastes kept him from
lapsing into barbarian excess; never a sportsman he followed the chase
with no feverish exaltation.  Even dumb creatures found out his secret,
and at times, stalking moodily over the upland, the brown deer and elk
would cross his path without fear or molestation, or, idly lounging in
his canoe within the river bar, flocks of wild fowl would settle within
stroke of his listless oar.  And so the second winter of his hermitage
drew near its close, and with it came a storm that passed into local
history, and is still remembered.  It uprooted giant trees along the
river, and with them the tiny rootlets of the life he was idly
fostering.

The morning had been fitfully turbulent, the wind veering several
points south and west, with suspicions lulls, unlike the steady onset
of the regular southwest trades.  High overhead the long manes of
racing cirro stratus streamed with flying gulls and hurrying
water-fowl; plover piped incessantly, and a flock of timorous
sand-pipers sought the low ridge of his cabin, while a wrecking crew of
curlew hastily manned the uprooted tree that tossed wearily beyond the
bar.  By noon the flying clouds huddled together in masses, and then
were suddenly exploded in one vast opaque sheet over the heavens.  The
sea became gray, and suddenly wrinkled and old.  There was a dumb,
half-articulate cry in the air,--rather a confusion of many sounds, as
of the booming of distant guns, the clangor of a bell, the trampling of
many waves, the creaking of timbers and soughing of leaves, that sank
and fell ere you could yet distinguish them.  And then it came on to
blow. For two hours it blew strongly.  At the time the sun should have
set the wind had increased; in fifteen minutes darkness shut down, even
the white sands lost their outlines, and sea and shore and sky lay in
the grip of a relentless and aggressive power.

Within his cabin, by the leaping light of his gusty fire, North sat
alone.  His first curiosity passed, the turmoil without no longer
carried his thought beyond its one converging centre.  SHE had come to
him on the wings of the storm, even as she had been borne to him on the
summer fog-cloud.  Now and then the wind shook the cabin, but he heeded
it not.  He had no fears for its safety; it presented its low gable to
the full fury of the wind that year by year had piled, and even now was
piling, protecting buttresses of sand against it.  With each succeeding
gust it seemed to nestle more closely to its foundations, in the whirl
of flying sand that rattled against its roof and windows.  It was
nearly midnight when a sudden thought brought him to his feet.  What if
SHE were exposed to the fury of such a night as this?  What could he do
to help her? Perhaps even now, as he sat there idle, she--Hark! was not
that a gun--No?  Yes, surely!

He hurriedly unbolted the door, but the strength of the wind and the
impact of drifted sand resisted his efforts.  With a new and feverish
strength possessing him he forced it open wide enough to permit his
egress when the wind caught him as a feather, rolled him over and over,
and then, grappling him again, held him down hard and fast against the
drift.  Unharmed, but unable to move, he lay there, hearing the
multitudinous roar of the storm, but unable to distinguish one familiar
sound in the savage medley.  At last he managed to crawl flat on his
face to the cabin, and refastening the door, threw himself upon his bed.

He was awakened from a fitful dream of his Cousin Maria.  She with a
supernatural strength seemed to be holding the door against some
unseen, unknown power that moaned and strove without, and threw itself
in despairing force against the cabin.  He could see the lithe
undulations of her form as she alternately yielded to its power, and
again drew the door against it, coiling herself around the log-hewn
doorpost with a hideous, snake-like suggestion.  And then a struggle
and a heavy blow, which shook the very foundations of the structure,
awoke him.  He leaped to his feet, and into an inch of water!  By the
flickering firelight he could see it oozing and dripping from the
crevices of the logs and broadening into a pool by the chimney.  A
scrap of paper torn from an envelope was floating idly on its current.
Was it the overflow of the backed-up waters of the river?  He was not
left long in doubt.  Another blow upon the gable of the house, and a
torrent of spray leaped down the chimney, scattered the embers far and
wide, and left him in utter darkness.  Some of the spray clung to his
lips.  It was salt.  The great ocean had beaten down the river bar and
was upon him!

Was there aught to fly to?  No!  The cabin stood upon the highest point
of the sand spit, and the low swale on one side crossed by his late
visitors was a seething mass of breakers, while the estuary behind him
was now the ocean itself.  There was nothing to do but to wait.

The very helplessness of his situation was, to a man of his peculiar
temperament, an element of patient strength.  The instinct of
self-preservation was still strong in him, but he had no fear of death,
nor, indeed, any presentiment of it; yet if it came, it was an easy
solution of the problem that had been troubling him, and it wiped off
the slate!  He thought of the sarcastic prediction of his cousin, and
death in the form that threatened him was the obliteration of his home
and even the ground upon which it stood. There would be nothing to
record, no stain could come upon the living.  The instinct that kept
him true to HER would tell her how he died; if it did not, it was
equally well.  And with this simple fatalism his only belief, this
strange man groped his way to his bed, lay down, and in a few moments
was asleep.  The storm still roared without.  Once again the surges
leaped against the cabin, but it was evident that the wind was abating
with the tide.

When he awoke it was high noon, and the sun was shining brightly. For
some time he lay in a delicious languor, doubting if he was alive or
dead, but feeling through every nerve and fibre an exquisite sense of
peace--a rest he had not known since his boyhood--a relief he scarcely
knew from what.  He felt that he was smiling, and yet his pillow was
wet with the tears that glittered still on his lashes.  The sand
blocking up his doorway, he leaped lightly from his window.  A few
clouds were still sailing slowly in the heavens, the trailing plumes of
a great benediction that lay on sea and shore.  He scarcely recognized
the familiar landscape; a new bar had been formed in the river, and a
narrow causeway of sand that crossed the lagoon and marshes to the
river bank and the upland trail seemed to bring him nearer to humanity
again.  He was conscious of a fresh, childlike delight in all this, and
when, a moment later, he saw the old uprooted tree, now apparently
forever moored and imbedded in the sand beside his cabin, he ran to it
with a sense of joy.

Its trailing roots were festooned with clinging sea-weed and the long,
snaky, undulating stems of the sea-turnip; and fixed between two
crossing roots was a bamboo orange crate, almost intact.  As he walked
toward it he heard a strange cry, unlike anything the barren sands had
borne before.  Thinking it might be some strange sea bird caught in the
meshes of the sea-weed, he ran to the crate and looked within.  It was
half filled with sea-moss and feathery algae.  The cry was repeated.
He brushed aside the weeds with his hands.  It was not a wounded sea
bird, but a living human child!

As he lifted it from its damp enwrappings he saw that it was an infant
eight or nine months old.  How and when it had been brought there, or
what force had guided that elfish cradle to his very door, he could not
determine; but it must have been left early, for it was quite warm, and
its clothing almost dried by the blazing morning sun.  To wrap his coat
about it, to run to his cabin with it, to start out again with the
appalling conviction that nothing could be done for it there, occupied
some moments.  His nearest neighbor was Trinidad Joe, a "logger," three
miles up the river. He remembered to have heard vaguely that he was a
man of family. To half strangle the child with a few drops from his
whisky flask, to extricate his canoe from the marsh, and strike out
into the river with his waif, was at least to do something.  In half an
hour he had reached the straggling cabin and sheds of Trinidad Joe, and
from the few scanty flowers that mingled with the brushwood fence, and
a surplus of linen fluttering on the line, he knew that his surmise as
to Trinidad Joe's domestic establishment was correct.

The door at which he knocked opened upon a neat, plainly-furnished
room, and the figure of a buxom woman of twenty-five.  With an
awkwardness new to him, North stammered out the circumstances of his
finding the infant, and the object of his visit.  Before he had
finished, the woman, by some feminine trick, had taken the child from
his hands ere he knew it; and when he paused, out of breath, burst into
a fit of laughter.  North tried to laugh too, but failed.

When the woman had wiped the tears from a pair of very frank blue eyes,
and hidden two rows of very strong white teeth again, she said:--

"Look yar!  You're that looney sort a' chap that lives alone over on
the spit yonder, ain't ye?"

North hastened to admit all that the statement might imply.

"And so ye've had a baby left ye to keep you company?  Lordy!" Here she
looked as if dangerously near a relapse, and then added, as if in
explanation of her conduct,--

"When I saw ye paddlin' down here,--you thet ez shy as elk in
summer,--I sez, 'He's sick.'  But a baby,--Oh, Lordy!"

For a moment North almost hated her.  A woman who, in this pathetic,
perhaps almost tragic, picture saw only a ludicrous image, and that
image himself, was of another race than that he had ever mingled with.
Profoundly indifferent as he had always been to the criticism of his
equals in station, the mischievous laughter of this illiterate woman
jarred upon him worse than his cousin's sarcasm.  It was with a little
dignity that he pointed out the fact that at present the child needed
nourishment.  "It's very young," he added.  "I'm afraid it wants its
natural nourishment."

"Whar is it to get it?" asked the woman.

James North hesitated, and looked around.  There should be a baby
somewhere! there MUST be a baby somewhere!  "I thought that you," he
stammered, conscious of an awkward coloring,--"I--that is--I--" He
stopped short, for she was already cramming her apron into her mouth,
too late, however, to stop the laugh that overflowed it. When she found
her breath again, she said,--

"Look yar!  I don't wonder they said you was looney!  I'm Trinidad
Joe's onmarried darter, and the only woman in this house.  Any fool
could have told you that.  Now, ef you can rig us up a baby out o' them
facts, I'd like to see it done."

Inwardly furious but outwardly polite, James North begged her pardon,
deplored his ignorance, and, with a courtly bow, made a movement to
take the child.  But the woman as quickly drew it away.

"Not much," she said, hastily.  "What! trust that poor critter to you?
No, sir!  Thar's more ways of feeding a baby, young man, than you knows
on, with all your 'nat'ral nourishment.'  But it looks kinder logy and
stupid."

North freezingly admitted that he had given the infant whisky as a
stimulant.

"You did?  Come, now, that ain't so looney after all.  Well, I'll take
the baby, and when Dad comes home we'll see what can be done."

North hesitated.  His dislike of the woman was intense, and yet he knew
no one else and the baby needed instant care.  Besides, he began to see
the ludicrousness of his making a first call on his neighbors with a
foundling to dispose of.  She saw his hesitation, and said,--

"Ye don't know me, in course.  Well, I'm Bessy Robinson, Trinidad Joe
Robinson's daughter.  I reckon Dad will give me a character if you want
references, or any of the boys on the river."

"I'm only thinking of the trouble I'm giving you, Miss Robinson, I
assure you.  Any expense you may incur--"

"Young man," said Bessy Robinson, turning sharply on her heel, and
facing him with her black brows a little contracted, "if it comes to
expenses, I reckon I'll pay you for that baby, or not take it at all.
But I don't know you well enough to quarrel with you on sight.  So
leave the child to me, and, if you choose, paddle down here to-morrow,
after sun up--the ride will do you good--and see it, and Dad thrown in.
Good by!" and with one powerful but well-shaped arm thrown around the
child, and the other crooked at the dimpled elbow a little
aggressively, she swept by James North and entered a bedroom, closing
the door behind her.

When Mr. James North reached his cabin it was dark.  As he rebuilt his
fire, and tried to rearrange the scattered and disordered furniture,
and remove the debris of last night's storm, he was conscious for the
first time of feeling lonely.  He did not miss the child.  Beyond the
instincts of humanity and duty he had really no interest in its welfare
or future.  He was rather glad to get rid of it, he would have
preferred to some one else, and yet SHE looked as if she were
competent.  And then came the reflection that since the morning he had
not once thought of the woman he loved. The like had never occurred in
his twelvemonth solitude.  So he set to work, thinking of her and of
his sorrows, until the word "Looney," in connection with his suffering,
flashed across his memory.  "Looney!"  It was not a nice word.  It
suggested something less than insanity; something that might happen to
a common, unintellectual sort of person.  He remembered the loon, an
ungainly feathered neighbor, that was popularly supposed to have lent
its name to the adjective.  Could it be possible that people looked
upon him as one too hopelessly and uninterestingly afflicted for
sympathy or companionship, too unimportant and common for even
ridicule; or was this but the coarse interpretation of that vulgar girl?

Nevertheless, the next morning "after sun up" James North was at
Trinidad Joe's cabin.  That worthy proprietor himself--a long, lank
man, with even more than the ordinary rural Western characteristics of
ill health, ill feeding, and melancholy--met him on the bank, clothed
in a manner and costume that was a singular combination of the
frontiersman and the sailor.  When North had again related the story of
his finding the child, Trinidad Joe pondered.

"It mout hev been stowed away in one of them crates for safe-keeping,"
he said, musingly, "and washed off the deck o' one o' them Tahiti brigs
goin' down fer oranges.  Least-ways, it never got thar from these
parts."

"But it's a miracle its life was saved at all.  It must have been some
hours in the water."

"Them brigs lays their course well inshore, and it was just mebbe a
toss up if the vessel clawed off the reef at all!  And ez to the child
keepin' up, why, dog my skin! that's just the contrariness o' things,"
continued Joe, in sententious cynicism.  "Ef an able seaman had fallen
from the yard-arm that night he'd been sunk in sight o' the ship, and
thet baby ez can't swim a stroke sails ashore, sound asleep, with the
waves for a baby-jumper."

North, who was half relieved, yet half awkwardly disappointed at not
seeing Bessy, ventured to ask how the child was doing.

"She'll do all right now," said a frank voice above, and, looking up,
North discerned the round arms, blue eyes, and white teeth of the
daughter at the window.  "She's all hunky, and has an appetite--ef she
hezn't got her 'nat'ral nourishment.'  Come, Dad! heave ahead, and tell
the stranger what you and me allow we'll do, and don't stand there
swappin' lies with him."

"Weel," said Trinidad Joe, dejectedly, "Bess allows she can rar that
baby and do justice to it.  And I don't say--though I'm her
father--that she can't.  But when Bess wants anything she wants it all,
clean down; no half-ways nor leavin's for her."

"That's me! go on, Dad--you're chippin' in the same notch every time,"
said Miss Robinson, with cheerful directness.

"Well, we agree to put the job up this way.  We'll take the child and
you'll give us a paper or writin' makin' over all your right and title.
How's that?"

Without knowing exactly why he did, Mr. North objected decidedly.

"Do you think we won't take good care of it?" asked Miss Bessy, sharply.

"That is not the question," said North, a little hotly.  "In the first
place, the child is not mine to give.  It has fallen into my hands as a
trust,--the first hands that received it from its parents.  I do not
think it right to allow any other hands to come between theirs and
mine."

Miss Bessy left the window.  In another moment she appeared from the
house, and, walking directly towards North, held out a somewhat
substantial hand.  "Good!" she said, as she gave his fingers an honest
squeeze.  "You ain't so looney after all.  Dad, he's right! He shan't
gin it up, but we'll go halves in it, he and me.  He'll be father and
I'll be mother 'til death do us part, or the reg'lar family turns up.
Well--what do you say?"

More pleased than he dared confess to himself with the praise of this
common girl, Mr. James North assented.  Then would he see the baby?  He
would, and Trinidad Joe having already seen the baby, and talked of the
baby, and felt the baby, and indeed had the baby offered to him in
every way during the past night, concluded to give some of his valuable
time to logging, and left them together.

Mr. North was obliged to admit that the baby was thriving.  He moreover
listened with polite interest to the statement that the baby's eyes
were hazel, like his own; that it had five teeth; that she was, for a
girl of that probable age, a robust child; and yet Mr. North lingered.
Finally, with his hand on the door-lock, he turned to Bessy and said,--

"May I ask you an odd question, Miss Robinson?"

"Go on."

"Why did you think I was--'looney'?"

The frank Miss Robinson bent her head over the baby.

"Why?"

"Yes, why?"

"Because you WERE looney."

"Oh!"

"But--"

"Yes--"

"You'll get over it."

And under the shallow pretext of getting the baby's food, she retired
to the kitchen, where Mr. North had the supreme satisfaction of seeing
her, as he passed the window, sitting on a chair with her apron over
her head, shaking with laughter.

For the next two or three days he did not visit the Robinsons, but gave
himself up to past memories.  On the third day he had--it must be
confessed not without some effort--brought himself into that condition
of patient sorrow which had been his habit.  The episode of the storm
and the finding of the baby began to fade, as had faded the visit of
his relatives.  It had been a dull, wet day and he was sitting by his
fire, when there came a tap at his door. "Flora;" by which juvenescent
name his aged Indian handmaid was known, usually announced her presence
with an imitation of a curlew's cry: it could not be her.  He fancied
he heard the trailing of a woman's dress against the boards, and
started to his feet, deathly pale, with a name upon his lips.  But the
door was impatiently thrown open, and showed Bessy Robinson!  And the
baby!

With a feeling of relief he could not understand he offered her a seat.
She turned her frank eyes on him curiously.

"You look skeert!"

"I was startled.  You know I see nobody here!"

"Thet's so.  But look yar, do you ever use a doctor?"

Not clearly understanding her, he in turn asked, "Why?"

"Cause you must rise up and get one now--thet's why.  This yer baby of
ours is sick.  We don't use a doctor at our house, we don't beleeve in
'em, hain't no call for 'em--but this yer baby's parents mebbee did.
So rise up out o' that cheer and get one."

James North looked at Miss Robinson and rose, albeit a little in doubt,
and hesitating.

Miss Robinson saw it.  "I shouldn't hev troubled ye, nor ridden three
mile to do it, if ther hed been any one else to send.  But Dad's over
at Eureka, buying logs, and I'm alone.  Hello--wher yer goin'?"

North had seized his hat and opened the door.  "For a doctor," he
replied amazedly.

"Did ye kalkilate to walk six miles and back?"

"Certainly--I have no horse."

"But I have, and you'll find her tethered outside.  She ain't much to
look at, but when you strike the trail she'll go."

"But YOU--how will YOU return?"

"Well," said Miss Robinson, drawing her chair to the fire, taking off
her hat and shawl, and warming her knees by the blaze, "I didn't reckon
to return.  You'll find me here when you come back with the doctor.
Go!  Skedaddle quick!"

She did not have to repeat the command.  In another instant James North
was in Miss Bessy's seat--a man's dragoon saddle,--and pounding away
through the sand.  Two facts were in his mind: one was that he, the
"looney," was about to open communication with the wisdom and
contemporary criticism of the settlement, by going for a doctor to
administer to a sick and anonymous infant in his possession; the other
was that his solitary house was in the hands of a self-invited,
large-limbed, illiterate, but rather comely young woman.  These facts
he could not gallop away from, but to his credit be it recorded that he
fulfilled his mission zealously, if not coherently, to the doctor, who
during the rapid ride gathered the idea that North had rescued a young
married woman from drowning, who had since given birth to a child.

The few words that set the doctor right when he arrived at the cabin
might in any other community have required further explanation, but Dr.
Duchesne, an old army surgeon, was prepared for everything and
indifferent to all.  "The infant," he said, "was threatened with
inflammation of the lungs; at present there was no danger, but the
greatest care and caution must be exercised. Particularly exposure
should be avoided."  "That settles the whole matter, then," said Bessy
potentially.  Both gentlemen looked their surprise.  "It means," she
condescended to further explain, "that YOU must ride that filly home,
wait for the old man to come to-morrow, and then ride back here with
some of my duds, for thar's no 'day-days' nor picknicking for that baby
ontil she's better.  And I reckon to stay with her ontil she is."

"She certainly is unable to bear any exposure at present," said the
doctor, with an amused side glance at North's perplexed face. "Miss
Robinson is right.  I'll ride with you over the sands as far as the
trail."

"I'm afraid," said North, feeling it incumbent upon him to say
something, "that you'll hardly find it as comfortable here as--"

"I reckon not," she said simply, "but I didn't expect much."

North turned a little wearily away.  "Good night," she said suddenly,
extending her hand, with a gentler smile of lip and eye than he had
ever before noticed, "good night--take good care of Dad."

The doctor and North rode together some moments in silence.  North had
another fact presented to him, i. e. that he was going a-visiting, and
that he had virtually abandoned his former life; also that it would be
profanation to think of his sacred woe in the house of a stranger.

"I dare say," said the doctor, suddenly, "you are not familiar with the
type of woman Miss Bessy presents so perfectly.  Your life has been
spent among the conventional class."

North froze instantly at what seemed to be a probing of his secret.
Disregarding the last suggestion, he made answer simply and truthfully
that he had never met any Western girl like Bessy.

"That's your bad luck," said the doctor.  "You think her coarse and
illiterate?"

Mr. North had been so much struck with her kindness that really he had
not thought of it.

"That's not so," said the doctor, curtly; "although even if you told
her so she would not think any the less of you--nor of herself.  If she
spoke rustic Greek instead of bad English, and wore a cestus in place
of an ill-fitting corset, you'd swear she was a goddess.  There's your
trail.  Good night."


III

James North did not sleep well that night.  He had taken Miss Bessy's
bedroom, at her suggestion, there being but two, and "Dad never using
sheets and not bein' keerful in his habits."  It was neat, but that was
all.  The scant ornamentation was atrocious; two or three highly
colored prints, a shell work-box, a ghastly winter bouquet of skeleton
leaves and mosses, a star-fish, and two china vases hideous enough to
have been worshiped as Buddhist idols, exhibited the gentle recreation
of the fair occupant, and the possible future education of the child.
In the morning he was met by Joe, who received the message of his
daughter with his usual dejection, and suggested that North stay with
him until the child was better.  That event was still remote; North
found, on his return to his cabin, that the child had been worse; but
he did not know, until Miss Bessy dropped a casual remark, that she had
not closed her own eyes that night.  It was a week before he regained
his own quarters, but an active week--indeed, on the whole, a rather
pleasant week.  For there was a delicate flattery in being domineered
by a wholesome and handsome woman, and Mr. James North had by this time
made up his mind that she was both.  Once or twice he found himself
contemplating her splendid figure with a recollection of the doctor's
compliment, and later, emulating her own frankness, told her of it.

"And what did YOU say?" she asked.

"Oh, I laughed and said--nothing."

And so did she.

A month after this interchange of frankness, she asked him if he could
spend the next evening at her house.  "You see," she said, "there's to
be a dance down at the hall at Eureka, and I haven't kicked a fut since
last spring.  Hank Fisher's comin' up to take me over, and I'm goin' to
let the shanty slide for the night."

"But what's to become of the baby?" asked North, a little testily.

"Well," said Miss Robinson, facing him somewhat aggressively, "I reckon
it won't hurt ye to take care of it for a night.  Dad can't--and if he
could, he don't know how.  Liked to have pizened me after mar died.
No, young man, I don't propose to ask Hank Fisher to tote thet child
over to Eureka and back, and spile his fun."

"Then I suppose I must make way for Mr. Hank--Hank--Fisher?" said
North, with the least tinge of sarcasm in his speech.

"Of course.  You've got nothing else to do, you know."

North would have given worlds to have pleaded a previous engagement on
business of importance, but he knew that Bessy spoke truly.  He had
nothing to do.  "And Fisher has, I suppose?" he asked.

"Of course--to look after ME!"

A more unpleasant evening James North had not spent since the first day
of his solitude.  He almost began to hate the unconscious cause of his
absurd position, as he paced up and down the floor with it. "Was there
ever such egregious folly?" he began, but remembering he was quoting
Maria North's favorite resume of his own conduct, he stopped.  The
child cried, missing, no doubt, the full rounded curves and plump arm
of its nurse.  North danced it violently, with an inward accompaniment
that was not musical, and thought of the other dancers.  "Doubtless,"
he mused, "she has told this beau of hers that she has left the baby
with the 'looney' Man on the Beach. Perhaps I may be offered a
permanent engagement as a harmless simpleton accustomed to the care of
children.  Mothers may cry for me.  The doctor is at Eureka.  Of
course, he will be there to see his untranslated goddess, and condole
with her over the imbecility of the Man on the Beach."  Once he
carelessly asked Joe who the company were.

"Well," said Joe, mournfully, "thar's Widder Higsby and darter; the
four Stubbs gals; in course Polly Doble will be on hand with that
feller that's clerking over at the Head for Jones, and Jones's wife.
Then thar's French Pete, and Whisky Ben, and that chap that shot
Archer,--I disremember his name,--and the barber--what's that little
mulatto's name--that 'ar Kanaka?  I swow!" continued Joe, drearily,
"I'll be forgettin' my own next--and--"

"That will do," interrupted North, only half concealing his disgust as
he rose and carried the baby to the other room, beyond the reach of
names that might shock its ladylike ears.  The next morning he met the
from-dance-returning Bessy abstractedly, and soon took his leave, full
of a disloyal plan, conceived in the sleeplessness of her own
bedchamber.  He was satisfied that he owed a duty to its unknown
parents to remove the child from the degrading influences of the barber
Kanaka, and Hank Fisher especially, and he resolved to write to his
relatives, stating the case, asking a home for the waif and assistance
to find its parents.  He addressed this letter to his cousin Maria,
partly in consideration of the dramatic farewell of that young lady,
and its possible influence in turning her susceptible heart towards his
protege.  He then quietly settled back to his old solitary habits, and
for a week left the Robinsons unvisited.  The result was a morning call
by Trinidad Joe on the hermit.  "It's a whim of my gal's, Mr. North,"
he said, dejectedly, "and ez I told you before and warned ye, when that
gal hez an idee, fower yoke of oxen and seving men can't drag it outer
her.  She's got a idee o' larnin'--never hevin' hed much schoolin', and
we ony takin' the papers, permiskiss like--and she says YOU can teach
her--not hevin' anythin' else to do.  Do ye folly me?"

"Yes," said North, "certainly."

"Well, she allows ez mebbee you're proud, and didn't like her takin'
care of the baby for nowt; and she reckons that ef you'll gin her some
book larnin', and get her to sling some fancy talk in fash'n'ble
style--why, she'll call it squar."

"You can tell her," said North, very honestly, "that I shall be only
too glad to help her in any way, without ever hoping to cancel my debt
of obligation to her."

"Then it's a go?" said the mystified Joe, with a desperate attempt to
convey the foregoing statement to his own intellect in three Saxon
words.

"It's a go," replied North, cheerfully.

And he felt relieved.  For he was not quite satisfied with his own want
of frankness to her.  But here was a way to pay off the debt he owed
her, and yet retain his own dignity.  And now he could tell her what he
had done, and he trusted to the ambitious instinct that prompted her to
seek a better education to explain his reasons for it.

He saw her that evening and confessed all to her frankly.  She kept her
head averted, but when she turned her blue eyes to him they were wet
with honest tears.  North had a man's horror of a ready feminine
lachrymal gland; but it was not like Bessy to cry, and it meant
something; and then she did it in a large, goddess-like way, without
sniffling, or chocking, or getting her nose red, but rather with a
gentle deliquescence, a harmonious melting, so that he was fain to
comfort her with nearer contact, gentleness in his own sad eyes, and a
pressure of her large hand.

"It's all right, I s'pose," she said, sadly; "but I didn't reckon on
yer havin' any relations, but thought you was alone, like me."

James North, thinking of Hank Fisher and the "mullater," could not help
intimating that his relations were very wealthy and fashionable people,
and had visited him last summer.  A recollection of the manner in which
they had so visited him and his own reception of them prevented his
saying more.  But Miss Bessy could not forego a certain feminine
curiosity, and asked,--

"Did they come with Sam Baker's team?"

"Yes."

"Last July?"

"Yes."

"And Sam drove the horses here for a bite?"

"I believe so."

"And them's your relations?"

"They are."

Miss Robinson reached over the cradle and enfolded the sleeping infant
in her powerful arms.  Then she lifted her eyes, wrathful through her
still glittering tears, and said, slowly, "They
don't--have--this--child--then!"

"But why?"

"Oh, why?  I saw them!  That's why, and enough!  You can't play any
such gay and festive skeletons on this poor baby for flesh and blood
parents.  No, sir!"

"I think you judge them hastily, Miss Bessy," said North, secretly
amused; "my aunt may not, at first, favorably impress strangers, yet
she has many friends.  But surely you do not object to my cousin Maria,
the young lady?"

"What! that dried cuttle-fish, with nothing livin' about her but her
eyes?  James North, ye may be a fool like the old woman,--perhaps it's
in the family,--but ye ain't a devil, like that gal! That ends it."

And it did.  North dispatched a second letter to Maria saying that he
had already made other arrangements for the baby.  Pleased with her
easy victory, Miss Bessy became more than usually gracious, and the
next day bowed her shapely neck meekly to the yoke of her teacher, and
became a docile pupil.  James North could not have helped noticing her
ready intelligence, even had he been less prejudiced in her favor than
he was fast becoming now.  If he had found it pleasant before to be
admonished by her there was still more delicious flattery in her
perfect trust in his omniscient skill as a pilot over this unknown sea.
There was a certain enjoyment in guiding her hand over the
writing-book, that I fear he could not have obtained from an intellect
less graciously sustained by its physical nature.  The weeks flew
quickly by on gossamer wings, and when she placed a bunch of larkspurs
and poppies in his hand one morning, he remembered for the first that
it was spring.

I cannot say that there was more to record of Miss Bessy's education
than this.  Once North, half jestingly, remarked that he had never yet
seen her admirer, Mr. Hank Fisher.  Miss Bessy (coloring but
cool)--"You never will!"  North (white but hot)--"Why?"  Miss Bessy
(faintly)--"I'd rather not."  North (resolutely)--"I insist."  Bessy
(yielding)--"As my teacher?" North (hesitatingly, at the limitation of
the epithet)--"Y-e-e-s!" Bessy--"And you'll promise never to speak of
it again?"  North--"Never." Bessy (slowly)--"Well, he said I did an
awful thing to go over to your cabin and stay."  North (in the genuine
simplicity of a refined nature)--"But how?"  Miss Bessy (half piqued,
but absolutely admiring that nature)--"Quit! and keep your promise!"

They were so happy in these new relations that it occurred to Miss
Bessy one day to take James North to task for obliging her to ask to be
his pupil.  "You knew how ignorant I was," she added; and Mr. North
retorted by relating to her the doctor's criticism on her independence.
"To tell you the truth," he added, "I was afraid you would not take it
as kindly as he thought."

"That is, you thought me as vain as yourself.  It seems to me you and
the doctor had a great deal to say to each other."

"On the contrary," laughed North, "that was all we said."

"And you didn't make fun of me?"

Perhaps it was not necessary for North to take her hand to emphasize
his denial, but he did.

Miss Bessy, being still reminiscent, perhaps, did not notice it. "If it
hadn't been for that ar--I mean that thar--no, that baby--I wouldn't
have known you!" she said dreamily.

"No," returned North, mischievously, "but you still would have known
Hank Fisher."

No woman is perfect.  Miss Bessy looked at him with a sudden--her first
and last--flash of coquetry.  Then stooped and kissed--the baby.

James North was a simple gentleman, but not altogether a fool.  He
returned the kiss, but not vicariously.

There was a footstep on the porch.  These two turned the hues of a
dying dolphin, and then laughed.  It was Joe.  He held a newspaper in
his hand.  "I reckon ye woz right, Mr. North, about my takin' these yar
papers reg'lar.  For I allow here's suthin' that may clar up the
mystery o' that baby's parents."  With the hesitation of a slowly
grappling intellect, Joe sat down on the table and read from the San
Francisco "Herald" as follows: "'It is now ascertained beyond doubt
that the wreck reported by the Aeolus was the American brig Pomare
bound hence to Tahiti.  The worst surmises are found correct.  The body
of the woman has been since identified as that of the beau-ti-ful
daughter of--of--of--Terp--Terp--Terpish'--Well! I swow that name just
tackles me."

"Gin it to me, Dad," said Bessy pertly.  "You never had any education,
any way.  Hear your accomplished daughter."  With a mock bow to the new
schoolmaster, and a capital burlesque of a confident school girl, she
strode to the middle of the room the paper held and folded book-wise in
her hands.  "Ahem!  Where did you leave off?  Oh, 'the beautiful
daughter of Terpsichore--whose name was prom-i-nently connected with a
mysterious social scandal of last year--the gifted but unfortunate
Grace Chatterton'--No--don't stop me--there's some more!  'The body of
her child, a lovely infant of six months, has not been recovered, and
it is supposed was washed overboard.'  There! may be that's the child,
Mr. North.  Why, Dad! Look, O my God!  He's falling.  Catch him, Dad!
Quick!"

But her strong arm had anticipated her father's.  She caught him,
lifted him to the bed, on which he lay henceforth for many days
unconscious.  Then fever supervened, and delirium, and Dr. Duchesne
telegraphed for his friends; but at the end of a week and the opening
of a summer day the storm passed, as the other storm had passed, and he
awoke, enfeebled, but at peace.  Bessy was at his side--he was glad to
see--alone.

"Bessy, dear," he said hesitatingly, "when I am stronger I have
something to tell you."

"I know it all, Jem," she said with a trembling lip; "I heard it
all--no, not from THEM, but from your own lips in your delirium. I'm
glad it came from YOU--even then."

"Do you forgive me, Bessy?"

She pressed her lips to his forehead and said hastily, and then
falteringly, as if afraid of her impulse:--

"Yes.  Yes."

"And you will still be mother to the child?"

"HER child?"

"No dear, not hers, but MINE!"

She started, cried a little, and then putting her arms around him,
said: "Yes."

And as there was but one way of fulfilling that sacred promise, they
were married in the autumn.



TWO SAINTS OF THE FOOT-HILLS

It never was clearly ascertained how long they had been there.  The
first settler of Rough-and-Ready--one Low, playfully known to his
familiars as "The Poor Indian"--declared that the Saints were afore his
time, and occupied a cabin in the brush when he "blazed" his way to the
North Fork.  It is certain that the two were present when the water was
first turned on the Union Ditch and then and there received the
designation of Daddy Downey and Mammy Downey, which they kept to the
last.  As they tottered toward the refreshment tent, they were welcomed
with the greatest enthusiasm by the boys; or, to borrow the more
refined language of the "Union Recorder,"--"Their gray hairs and bent
figures, recalling as they did the happy paternal eastern homes of the
spectators, and the blessings that fell from venerable lips when they
left those homes to journey in quest of the Golden Fleece on Occidental
Slopes, caused many to burst into tears."  The nearer facts, that many
of these spectators were orphans, that a few were unable to establish
any legal parentage whatever, that others had enjoyed a State's
guardianship and discipline, and that a majority had left their
paternal roofs without any embarrassing preliminary formula, were mere
passing clouds that did not dim the golden imagery of the writer.  From
that day the Saints were adopted as historical lay figures, and entered
at once into possession of uninterrupted gratuities and endowment.

It was not strange that, in a country largely made up of ambitious and
reckless youth, these two--types of conservative and settled
forms--should be thus celebrated.  Apart from any sentiment or
veneration, they were admirable foils to the community's youthful
progress and energy.  They were put forward at every social gathering,
occupied prominent seats on the platform at every public meeting,
walked first in every procession, were conspicuous at the frequent
funeral and rarer wedding, and were godfather and godmother to the
first baby born in Rough-and-Ready.  At the first poll opened in that
precinct, Daddy Downey cast the first vote, and, as was his custom on
all momentous occasions, became volubly reminiscent.  "The first vote I
ever cast," said Daddy, "was for Andrew Jackson; the father o' some on
your peart young chaps wasn't born then; he! he! that was 'way long in
'33, wasn't it?  I disremember now, but if Mammy was here, she bein' a
school-gal at the time, she could say.  But my memory's failin' me.
I'm an old man, boys; yet I likes to see the young ones go ahead.  I
recklect that thar vote from a suckumstance.  Squire Adams was present,
and seein' it was my first vote, he put a goold piece into my hand,
and, sez he, sez Squire Adams, 'Let that always be a reminder of the
exercise of a glorious freeman's privilege!'  He did; he! he! Lord,
boys!  I feel so proud of ye, that I wish I had a hundred votes to cast
for ye all."

It was hardly necessary to say that the memorial tribute of Squire
Adams was increased tenfold by the judges, inspectors, and clerks, and
that the old man tottered back to Mammy, considerably heavier than he
came.  As both of the rival candidates were equally sure of his vote,
and each had called upon him and offered a conveyance, it is but fair
to presume they were equally beneficent.  But Daddy insisted upon
walking to the polls,--a distance of two miles,--as a moral example,
and a text for the California paragraphers, who hastened to record that
such was the influence of the foot-hill climate, that "a citizen of
Rough-and-Ready, aged eighty-four, rose at six o'clock, and, after
milking two cows, walked a distance of twelve miles to the polls, and
returned in time to chop a cord of wood before dinner."

Slightly exaggerated as this statement may have been, the fact that
Daddy was always found by the visitor to be engaged at his wood-pile,
which seemed neither to increase nor diminish under his axe, a fact,
doubtless, owing to the activity of Mammy, who was always at the same
time making pies, seemed to give some credence to the story.  Indeed,
the wood-pile of Daddy Downey was a standing reproof to the indolent
and sluggish miner.

"Ole Daddy must use up a pow'ful sight of wood; every time I've passed
by his shanty he's been makin' the chips fly.  But what gets me is,
that the pile don't seem to come down," said Whisky Dick to his
neighbor.

"Well, you derned fool!" growled his neighbor, "spose some chap happens
to pass by thar, and sees the old man doin' a man's work at eighty, and
slouches like you and me lying round drunk, and that chap, feelin'
kinder humped, goes up some dark night and heaves a load of cut pine
over his fence, who's got anything to say about it?  Say?"  Certainly
not the speaker, who had done the act suggested, nor the penitent and
remorseful hearer, who repeated it next day.

The pies and cakes made by the old woman were, I think, remarkable
rather for their inducing the same loyal and generous spirit than for
their intrinsic excellence, and it may be said appealed more strongly
to the nobler aspirations of humanity than its vulgar appetite.
Howbeit, everybody ate Mammy Downey's pies, and thought of his
childhood.  "Take 'em, dear boys," the old lady would say; "it does me
good to see you eat 'em; reminds me kinder of my poor Sammy, that, ef
he'd lived, would hev been ez strong and beg ez you be, but was taken
down with lung fever, at Sweetwater.  I kin see him yet; that's forty
year ago, dear! comin' out o' the lot to the bake-house, and smilin'
such a beautiful smile, like yours, dear boy, as I handed him a mince
or a lemming turnover.  Dear, dear, how I do run on! and those days is
past! but I seems to live in you again!"  The wife of the hotel-keeper,
actuated by a low jealousy, had suggested that she "seemed to live OFF
them;" but as that person tried to demonstrate the truth of her
statement by reference to the cost of the raw material used by the old
lady, it was considered by the camp as too practical and economical for
consideration.  "Besides," added Cy Perkins, "ef old Mammy wants to
turn an honest penny in her old age, let her do it.  How would you like
your old mother to make pies on grub wages? eh?"  A suggestion that so
affected his hearer (who had no mother) that he bought three on the
spot.  The quality of these pies had never been discussed but once.  It
is related that a young lawyer from San Francisco, dining at the
Palmetto restaurant, pushed away one of Mammy Downey's pies with every
expression of disgust and dissatisfaction.  At this juncture, Whisky
Dick, considerably affected by his favorite stimulant, approached the
stranger's table, and, drawing up a chair, sat uninvited before him.

"Mebbee, young man," he began gravely, "ye don't like Mammy Downey's
pies?"

The stranger replied curtly, and in some astonishment, that he did not,
as a rule, "eat pie."

"Young man," continued Dick, with drunken gravity, "mebbee you're
accustomed to Charlotte rusks and blue mange; mebbee ye can't eat
unless your grub is got up by one o' them French cooks'?  Yet WE--us
boys yar in this camp--calls that pie--a good--a com-pe-tent pie!"

The stranger again disclaimed anything but a general dislike of that
form of pastry.

"Young man," continued Dick, utterly unheeding the explanation,--"young
man, mebbee you onst had an ole--a very ole mother, who, tottering down
the vale o' years, made pies.  Mebbee, and it's like your blank
epicurean soul, ye turned up your nose on the ole woman, and went back
on the pies, and on her!  She that dandled ye when ye woz a baby,--a
little baby!  Mebbee ye went back on her, and shook her, and played off
on her, and gave her away--dead away!  And now, mebbee, young man--I
wouldn't hurt ye for the world, but mebbee, afore ye leave this yar
table, YE'LL EAT THAT PIE!"

The stranger rose to his feet, but the muzzle of a dragoon revolver in
the unsteady hands of Whisky Dick, caused him to sit down again. He ate
the pie, and lost his case likewise, before a Rough-and-Ready jury.

Indeed, far from exhibiting the cynical doubts and distrusts of age,
Daddy Downey received always with childlike delight the progress of
modern improvement and energy.  "In my day, long back in the twenties,
it took us nigh a week--a week, boys--to get up a barn, and all the
young ones--I was one then--for miles 'round at the raisin'; and yer's
you boys--rascals ye are, too--runs up this yer shanty for Mammy and me
'twixt sun-up and dark!  Eh, eh, you're teachin' the old folks new
tricks, are ye?  Ah, get along, you!" and in playful simulation of
anger he would shake his white hair and his hickory staff at the
"rascals."  The only indication of the conservative tendencies of age
was visible in his continual protest against the extravagance of the
boys.  "Why," he would say, "a family, a hull family,--leavin' alone me
and the old woman,--might be supported on what you young rascals throw
away in a single spree.  Ah, you young dogs, didn't I hear about your
scattering half-dollars on the stage the other night when that
Eyetalian Papist was singin'?  And that money goes out of Ameriky--ivry
cent!"

There was little doubt that the old couple were saving, if not
avaricious.  But when it was known, through the indiscreet volubility
of Mammy Downey, that Daddy Downey sent the bulk of their savings,
gratuities, and gifts to a dissipated and prodigal son in the
East,--whose photograph the old man always carried with him,--it rather
elevated him in their regard.  "When ye write to that gay and festive
son o' yourn, Daddy," said Joe Robinson, "send him this yer specimen.
Give him my compliments, and tell him, ef he kin spend money faster
than I can, I call him!  Tell him, ef he wants a first-class jamboree,
to kem out here, and me and the boys will show him what a square drunk
is!"  In vain would the old man continue to protest against the spirit
of the gift; the miner generally returned with his pockets that much
the lighter, and it is not improbable a little less intoxicated than he
otherwise might have been.  It may be premised that Daddy Downey was
strictly temperate.  The only way he managed to avoid hurting the
feelings of the camp was by accepting the frequent donations of whisky
to be used for the purposes of liniment.

"Next to snake-oil, my son," he would say, "and dilberry-juice,--and ye
don't seem to pro-duce 'em hereabouts,--whisky is good for rubbin' onto
old bones to make 'em limber.  But pure cold water, 'sparklin' and
bright in its liquid light,' and, so to speak, reflectin' of God's own
linyments on its surfiss, is the best, onless, like poor ol' Mammy and
me, ye gets the dumb-agur from over-use."

The fame of the Downey couple was not confined to the foot-hills. The
Rev. Henry Gushington, D.D., of Boston, making a bronchial tour of
California, wrote to the "Christian Pathfinder" an affecting account of
his visit to them, placed Daddy Downey's age at 102, and attributed the
recent conversions in Rough-and-Ready to their influence.  That gifted
literary Hessian, Bill Smith, traveling in the interests of various
capitalists, and the trustworthy correspondent of four "only
independent American journals," quoted him as an evidence of the
longevity superinduced by the climate, offered him as an example of the
security of helpless life and property in the mountains, used him as an
advertisement of the Union Ditch, and it is said in some vague way
cited him as proving the collateral facts of a timber and ore-producing
region existing in the foot-hills worthy the attention of Eastern
capitalists.

Praised thus by the lips of distinguished report, fostered by the care
and sustained by the pecuniary offerings of their fellow-citizens, the
Saints led for two years a peaceful life of gentle absorption.  To
relieve them from the embarrassing appearance of eleemosynary
receipts,--an embarrassment felt more by the givers than the
recipients,--the postmastership of Rough-and-Ready was procured for
Daddy, and the duty of receiving and delivering the United States mails
performed by him, with the advice and assistance of the boys.  If a few
letters went astray at this time, it was easily attributed to this
undisciplined aid, and the boys themselves were always ready to make up
the value of a missing money-letter and "keep the old man's accounts
square."  To these functions presently were added the treasurerships of
the Masons' and Odd Fellows' charitable funds,--the old man being far
advanced in their respective degrees,--and even the position of almoner
of their bounties was super-added.  Here, unfortunately, Daddy's habits
of economy and avaricious propensity came near making him unpopular,
and very often needy brothers were forced to object to the quantity and
quality of the help extended.  They always met with more generous
relief from the private hands of the brothers themselves, and the
remark, "that the ol' man was trying to set an example,--that he meant
well,"--and that they would yet be thankful for his zealous care and
economy.  A few, I think, suffered in noble silence, rather than bring
the old man's infirmity to the public notice.

And so with this honor of Daddy and Mammy, the days of the miners were
long and profitable in the land of the foot-hills.  The mines yielded
their abundance, the winters were singularly open and yet there was no
drouth nor lack of water, and peace and plenty smiled on the Sierrean
foothills, from their highest sunny upland to the trailing falda of
wild oats and poppies.  If a certain superstition got abroad among the
other camps, connecting the fortunes of Rough-and-Ready with Daddy and
Mammy, it was a gentle, harmless fancy, and was not, I think,
altogether rejected by the old people.  A certain large, patriarchal,
bountiful manner, of late visible in Daddy, and the increase of much
white hair and beard, kept up the poetic illusion, while Mammy, day by
day, grew more and more like somebody's fairy godmother.  An attempt
was made by a rival camp to emulate these paying virtues of reverence,
and an aged mariner was procured from the Sailor's Snug Harbor in San
Francisco, on trial. But the unfortunate seaman was more or less
diseased, was not always presentable, through a weakness for ardent
spirits, and finally, to use the powerful idiom of one of his
disappointed foster-children, "up and died in a week, without slinging
ary blessin'."

But vicissitude reaches young and old alike.  Youthful Rough-and-Ready
and the Saints had climbed to their meridian together, and it seemed
fit that they should together decline.  The first shadow fell with the
immigration to Rough-and-Ready of a second aged pair. The landlady of
the Independence Hotel had not abated her malevolence towards the
Saints, and had imported at considerable expense her grand-aunt and
grand-uncle, who had been enjoying for some years a sequestered
retirement in the poorhouse at East Machias.  They were indeed very
old.  By what miracle, even as anatomical specimens, they had been
preserved during their long journey was a mystery to the camp.  In some
respects they had superior memories and reminiscences.  The old
man--Abner Trix--had shouldered a musket in the war of 1812; his wife,
Abigail, had seen Lady Washington.  She could sing hymns; he knew every
text between "the leds" of a Bible.  There is little doubt but that in
many respects, to the superficial and giddy crowd of youthful
spectators, they were the more interesting spectacle.

Whether it was jealousy, distrust, or timidity that overcame the
Saints, was never known, but they studiously declined to meet the
strangers.  When directly approached upon the subject, Daddy Downey
pleaded illness, kept himself in close seclusion, and the Sunday that
the Trixes attended church in the school-house on the hill, the triumph
of the Trix party was mitigated by the fact that the Downeys were not
in their accustomed pew.  "You bet that Daddy and Mammy is lying low
jest to ketch them old mummies yet," explained a Downeyite.  For by
this time schism and division had crept into the camp; the younger and
later members of the settlement adhering to the Trixes, while the older
pioneers stood not only loyal to their own favorites, but even, in the
true spirit of partisanship, began to seek for a principle underlying
their personal feelings.  "I tell ye what, boys," observed Sweetwater
Joe, "if this yer camp is goin' to be run by greenhorns, and old
pioneers, like Daddy and the rest of us, must take back seats, it's
time we emigrated and shoved out, and tuk Daddy with us.  Why, they're
talkin' of rotation in offiss, and of putting that skeleton that Ma'am
Decker sets up at the table, to take her boarders' appetites away, into
the post-office in place o' Daddy."  And, indeed, there were some fears
of such a conclusion; the newer men of Rough-and-Ready were in the
majority, and wielded a more than equal influence of wealth and outside
enterprise.  "Frisco," as a Downeyite bitterly remarked, "already owned
half the town."  The old friends that rallied around Daddy and Mammy
were, like most loyal friends in adversity, in bad case themselves, and
were beginning to look and act, it was observed, not unlike their old
favorites.

At this juncture Mammy died.

The sudden blow for a few days seemed to reunite dissevered
Rough-and-Ready.  Both factions hastened to the bereaved Daddy with
condolements, and offers of aid and assistance.  But the old man
received them sternly.  A change had come over the weak and yielding
octogenarian.  Those who expected to find him maudlin, helpless,
disconsolate, shrank from the cold, hard eyes and truculent voice that
bade them "begone," and "leave him with his dead."  Even his own
friends failed to make him respond to their sympathy, and were fain to
content themselves with his cold intimation that both the wishes of his
dead wife and his own instincts were against any display, or the
reception of any favor from the camp that might tend to keep up the
divisions they had innocently created.  The refusal of Daddy to accept
any service offered was so unlike him as to have but one dreadful
meaning!  The sudden shock had turned his brain!  Yet so impressed were
they with his resolution that they permitted him to perform the last
sad offices himself, and only a select few of his nearer neighbors
assisted him in carrying the plain deal coffin from his lonely cabin in
the woods to the still lonelier cemetery on the hill-top.

When the shallow grave was filled, he dismissed even these curtly, shut
himself up in his cabin, and for days remained unseen.  It was evident
that he was no longer in his right mind.

His harmless aberration was accepted and treated with a degree of
intelligent delicacy hardly to be believed of so rough a community.
During his wife's sudden and severe illness, the safe containing the
funds intrusted to his care by the various benevolent associations was
broken into and robbed, and although the act was clearly attributable
to his carelessness and preoccupation, all allusion to the fact was
withheld from him in his severe affliction.  When he appeared again
before the camp, and the circumstances were considerately explained to
him, with the remark that "the boys had made it all right," the vacant,
hopeless, unintelligent eye that he turned upon the speaker showed too
plainly that he had forgotten all about it.  "Don't trouble the old
man," said Whisky Dick, with a burst of honest poetry.  "Don't ye see
his memory's dead, and lying there in the coffin with Mammy?" Perhaps
the speaker was nearer right than he imagined.

Failing in religious consolation, they took various means of diverting
his mind with worldly amusements, and one was a visit to a traveling
variety troupe, then performing in the town.  The result of the visit
was briefly told by Whisky Dick.  "Well, sir, we went in, and I sot the
old man down in a front seat, and kinder propped him up with some other
of the fellers round him, and there he sot as silent and awful ez the
grave.  And then that fancy dancer, Miss Grace Somerset, comes in, and
dern my skin, ef the old man didn't get to trembling and fidgeting all
over, as she cut them pidgin wings.  I tell ye what, boys, men is men,
way down to their boots,--whether they're crazy or not!  Well, he took
on so, that I'm blamed if at last that gal HERSELF didn't notice him!
and she ups, suddenly, and blows him a kiss--so! with her fingers!"

Whether this narration were exaggerated or not, it is certain that the
old man Downey every succeeding night of the performance was a
spectator.  That he may have aspired to more than that was suggested a
day or two later in the following incident:  A number of the boys were
sitting around the stove in the Magnolia saloon, listening to the onset
of a winter storm against the windows, when Whisky Dick, tremulous,
excited, and bristling with rain-drops and information, broke in upon
them.

"Well, boys, I've got just the biggest thing out.  Ef I hadn't seed it
myself, I wouldn't hev believed it!"

"It ain't thet ghost ag'in?" growled Robinson, from the depths of his
arm-chair; "thet ghost's about played."

"Wot ghost?" asked a new-comer.

"Why, ole Mammy's ghost, that every feller about yer sees when he's
half full and out late o' nights."

"Where?"

"Where?  Why, where should a ghost be?  Meanderin' round her grave on
the hill, yander, in course."

"It's suthin bigger nor thet, pard," said Dick confidently; "no ghost
kin rake down the pot ag'in the keerds I've got here.  This ain't no
bluff!"

"Well, go on!" said a dozen excited voices.

Dick paused a moment, diffidently, with the hesitation of an artistic
raconteur.

"Well," he said, with affected deliberation, "let's see!  It's nigh
onto an hour ago ez I was down thar at the variety show.  When the
curtain was down betwixt the ax, I looks round fer Daddy.  No Daddy
thar!  I goes out and asks some o' the boys.  'Daddy WAS there a minnit
ago,' they say; 'must hev gone home.'  Bein' kinder responsible for the
old man, I hangs around, and goes out in the hall and sees a passage
leadin' behind the scenes.  Now the queer thing about this, boys, ez
that suthin in my bones tells me the old man is THAR.  I pushes in,
and, sure as a gun, I hears his voice. Kinder pathetic, kinder
pleadin', kinder--"

"Love-makin'!" broke in the impatient Robinson.

"You've hit it, pard,--you've rung the bell every time!  But she says,
'wants thet money down, or I'll--' and here I couldn't get to hear the
rest.  And then he kinder coaxes, and she says, sorter sassy, but
listenin' all the time,--woman like, ye know, Eve and the sarpint!--and
she says, 'I'll see to-morrow.'  And he says, 'You won't blow on me?'
and I gets excited and peeps in, and may I be teetotally durned ef I
didn't see--"

"What?" yelled the crowd.

"Why, DADDY ON HIS KNEES TO THAT THERE FANCY DANCER, Grace Somerset!
Now, if Mammy's ghost is meanderin' round, why, et's about time she
left the cemetery and put in an appearance in Jackson's Hall.  Thet's
all!"

"Look yar, boys," said Robinson, rising, "I don't know ez it's the
square thing to spile Daddy's fun.  I don't object to it, provided she
ain't takin' in the old man, and givin' him dead away.  But ez we're
his guardeens, I propose that we go down thar and see the lady, and
find out ef her intentions is honorable.  If she means marry, and the
old man persists, why, I reckon we kin give the young couple a send-off
thet won't disgrace this yer camp!  Hey, boys?"

It is unnecessary to say that the proposition was received with
acclamation, and that the crowd at once departed on their discreet
mission.  But the result was never known, for the next morning brought
a shock to Rough-and-Ready before which all other interest paled to
nothingness.

The grave of Mammy Downey was found violated and despoiled; the coffin
opened, and half filled with the papers and accounts of the robbed
benevolent associations; but the body of Mammy was gone! Nor, on
examination, did it appear that the sacred and ancient form of that
female had ever reposed in its recesses!

Daddy Downey was not to be found, nor is it necessary to say that the
ingenuous Grace Somerset was also missing.

For three days the reason of Rough-and-Ready trembled in the balance.
No work was done in the ditches, in the flume, nor in the mills.
Groups of men stood by the grave of the lamented relict of Daddy
Downey, as open-mouthed and vacant as that sepulchre.  Never since the
great earthquake of '52 had Rough-and-Ready been so stirred to its
deepest foundations.

On the third day the sheriff of Calaveras--a quiet, gentle, thoughtful
man--arrived in town, and passed from one to the other of excited
groups, dropping here and there detached but concise and practical
information.

"Yes, gentlemen, you are right, Mrs. Downey is not dead, because there
wasn't any Mrs. Downey!  Her part was played by George F. Fenwick, of
Sydney,--a 'ticket-of-leave-man,' who was, they say, a good actor.
Downey?  Oh, yes Downey was Jem Flanigan, who, in '52, used to run the
variety troupe in Australia, where Miss Somerset made her debut.  Stand
back a little, boys.  Steady!  'The money?' Oh, yes, they've got away
with that, sure!  How are ye, Joe?  Why, you're looking well and
hearty!  I rather expected ye court week. How's things your way?"

"Then they were only play-actors, Joe Hall?" broke in a dozen voices.

"I reckon!" returned the sheriff, coolly.

"And for a matter o' five blank years," said Whisky Dick, sadly, "they
played this camp!"



"JINNY"

I think that the few who were permitted to know and love the object of
this sketch spent the rest of their days not only in an attitude of
apology for having at first failed to recognize her higher nature, but
of remorse that they should have ever lent a credulous ear to a priori
tradition concerning her family characteristics. She had not escaped
that calumny which she shared with the rest of her sex for those
youthful follies, levities, and indiscretions which belong to
immaturity.  It is very probable that the firmness that distinguished
her maturer will in youth might have been taken for obstinacy, that her
nice discrimination might at the same period have been taken for
adolescent caprice, and that the positive expression of her quick
intellect might have been thought youthful impertinence before her
years had won respect for her judgment.

She was foaled at Indian Creek, and one month later, when she was
brought over to Sawyer's Bar, was considered the smallest donkey ever
seen in the foot-hills.  The legend that she was brought over in one of
"Dan the Quartz Crusher's" boots required corroboration from that
gentleman; but his denial being evidently based upon a masculine vanity
regarding the size of his foot rather than a desire to be historically
accurate, it went for nothing.  It is certain that for the next two
months she occupied the cabin of Dan, until, perhaps incensed at this
and other scandals, she one night made her way out.  "I hadn't the
least idee wot woz comin'," said Dan, "but about midnight I seemed to
hear hail onto the roof, and a shower of rocks and stones like to a
blast started in the canyon. When I got up and struck a light, thar was
suthin' like onto a cord o' kindlin' wood and splinters whar she'd
stood asleep, and a hole in the side o' the shanty, and--no Jinny!
Lookin' at them hoofs o' hern--and mighty porty they is to look at,
too--you would allow she could do it!"  I fear that this performance
laid the foundation of her later infelicitous reputation, and perhaps
awakened in her youthful breast a misplaced ambition, and an emulation
which might at that time have been diverted into a nobler channel.  For
the fame of this juvenile performance--and its possible promise in the
future--brought at once upon her the dangerous flattery and attention
of the whole camp.  Under intelligently directed provocation she would
repeat her misguided exercise, until most of the scanty furniture of
the cabin was reduced to a hopeless wreck, and sprains and callosities
were developed upon the limbs of her admirers.  Yet even at this early
stage of her history, that penetrating intellect which was in after
years her dominant quality was evident to all.  She could not be made
to kick at quartz tailings, at a barrel of Boston crackers, or at the
head or shin of "Nigger Pete."  An artistic discrimination economized
her surplus energy.  "Ef you'll notiss," said Dan, with a large
parental softness, "she never lets herself out to onst like them mules
or any jackass ez I've heerd of, but kinder holds herself in, and, so
to speak, takes her bearings--sorter feels round gently with that off
foot, takes her distance and her rest, and then with that ar' foot
hoverin' round in the air softly, like an angel's wing, and a gentle,
dreamy kind o' look in them eyes, she lites out!  Don't ye, Jinny?
Thar! jist ez I told ye," continued Dan, with an artist's noble
forgetfulness of self, as he slowly crawled from the splintered ruin of
the barrel on which he had been sitting.  "Thur! did ye ever see the
like!  Did ye dream that all the while I was talkin' she was a
meditatin' that?"

The same artistic perception and noble reticence distinguished her
bray.  It was one of which a less sagacious animal would have been
foolishly vain or ostentatiously prodigal.  It was a contralto of great
compass and profundity--reaching from low G to high C--perhaps a trifle
stronger in the lower register, and not altogether free from a nasal
falsetto in the upper.  Daring and brilliant as it was in the middle
notes, it was perhaps more musically remarkable for its great
sustaining power.  The element of surprise always entered into the
hearer's enjoyment; long after any ordinary strain of human origin
would have ceased, faint echoes of Jinny's last note were perpetually
recurring.  But it was as an intellectual and moral expression that her
bray was perfect.  As far beyond her size as were her aspirations, it
was a free and running commentary of scorn at all created things
extant, with ironical and sardonic additions that were terrible.  It
reviled all human endeavor, it quenched all sentiment, it suspended
frivolity, it scattered reverie, it paralyzed action.  It was
omnipotent. More wonderful and characteristic than all, the very
existence of this tremendous organ was unknown to the camp for six
months after the arrival of its modest owner, and only revealed to them
under circumstances that seemed to point more conclusively than ever to
her rare discretion.

It was the beginning of a warm night and the middle of a heated
political discussion.  Sawyer's Bar had gathered in force at the
Crossing, and by the light of flaring pine torches, cheered and
applauded the rival speakers who from a rude platform addressed the
excited multitude.  Partisan spirit at that time ran high in the
foot-hills; crimination and recrimination, challenge, reply,
accusation, and retort had already inflamed the meeting, and Colonel
Bungstarter, after a withering review of his opponent's policy,
culminated with a personal attack upon the career and private character
of the eloquent and chivalrous Colonel Culpepper Starbottle of
Siskiyou.  That eloquent and chivalrous gentleman was known to be
present; it was rumored that the attack was expected to provoke a
challenge from Colonel Starbottle which would give Bungstarter the
choice of weapons, and deprive Starbottle of his advantage as a dead
shot.  It was whispered also that the sagacious Starbottle, aware of
this fact, would retaliate in kind so outrageously as to leave
Bungstarter no recourse but to demand satisfaction on the spot.  As
Colonel Starbottle rose, the eager crowd drew together, elbowing each
other in rapt and ecstatic expectancy.  "He can't get even on
Bungstarter, onless he allows his sister ran off with a nigger, or that
he put up his grandmother at draw poker and lost her," whispered the
Quartz Crusher; "kin he?"  All ears were alert, particularly the very
long and hairy ones just rising above the railing of the speaker's
platform; for Jinny, having a feminine distrust of solitude and a
fondness for show, had followed her master to the meeting and had
insinuated herself upon the platform, where way was made for her with
that frontier courtesy always extended to her age and sex.

Colonel Starbottle, stertorous and purple, advanced to the railing.
There he unbuttoned his collar and laid his neckcloth aside, then with
his eye fixed on his antagonist he drew off his blue frock coat, and
thrusting one hand into his ruffled shirt front, and raising the other
to the dark canopy above him, he opened his vindictive lips.  The
action, the attitude, were Starbottle's.  But the voice was not.  For
at that supreme moment, a bray--so profound, so appalling, so utterly
soul-subduing, so paralyzing that everything else sank to mere
insignificance beside it--filled woods, and sky, and air.  For a moment
only the multitude gasped in speechless astonishment--it was a moment
only--and then the welkin roared with their shouts.  In vain silence
was commanded, in vain Colonel Starbottle, with a ghastly smile,
remarked that he recognized in the interruption the voice and the
intellect of the opposition; the laugh continued, the more as it was
discovered that Jinny had not yet finished, and was still recurring to
her original theme.  "Gentlemen," gasped Starbottle, "any attempt by
[Hee-haw! from Jinny] brutal buffoonery to restrict the right of free
speech to all [a prolonged assent from Jinny] is worthy only the
dastardly"--but here a diminuendo so long drawn as to appear a striking
imitation of the Colonel's own apoplectic sentences drowned his voice
with shrieks of laughter.

It must not be supposed that during this performance a vigorous attempt
was not made to oust Jinny from the platform.  But all in vain.
Equally demoralizing in either extremity, Jinny speedily cleared a
circle with her flying hoofs, smashed the speaker's table and water
pitcher, sent the railing flying in fragments over the cheering crowd,
and only succumbed to two blankets, in which, with her head concealed,
she was finally dragged, half captive, half victor, from the field.
Even then a muffled and supplemental bray that came from the woods at
intervals drew half the crowd away and reduced the other half to mere
perfunctory hearers.  The demoralized meeting was adjourned; Colonel
Starbottle's withering reply remained unuttered, and the Bungstarter
party were triumphant.

For the rest of the evening Jinny was the heroine of the hour, but no
cajolery nor flattery could induce her to again exhibit her powers.  In
vain did Dean of Angel's extemporize a short harangue in the hope that
Jinny would be tempted to reply; in vain was every provocation offered
that might sting her sensitive nature to eloquent revolt.  She replied
only with her heels.  Whether or not this was simple caprice, or
whether she was satisfied with her maiden effort, or indignant at her
subsequent treatment, she remained silent.  "She made her little game,"
said Dan, who was a political adherent of Starbottle's, and who yet
from that day enjoyed the great speaker's undying hatred, "and even if
me and her don't agree on politics--YOU let her alone."  Alas, it would
have been well for Dan if he could have been true to his instincts, but
the offer of one hundred dollars from the Bungstarter party proved too
tempting.  She passed irrevocably from his hands into those of the
enemy.  But any reader of these lines will, I trust, rejoice to hear
that this attempt to restrain free political expression in the
foot-hills failed signally.  For, although she was again covertly
introduced on the platform by the Bungstarters, and placed face to face
with Colonel Starbottle at Murphy's Camp, she was dumb.  Even a brass
band failed to excite her emulation.  Either she had become disgusted
with politics or the higher prices paid by the party to other and less
effective speakers aroused her jealousy and shocked her self-esteem,
but she remained a passive spectator.  When the Hon. Sylvester
Rourback, who received, for the use of his political faculties for a
single night, double the sum for which she was purchased outright,
appeared on the same platform with herself, she forsook it hurriedly
and took to the woods.  Here she might have starved but for the
intervention of one McCarty, a poor market gardener, who found her, and
gave her food and shelter under the implied contract that she should
forsake politics and go to work. The latter she for a long time
resisted, but as she was considered large enough by this time to draw a
cart, McCarty broke her to single harness, with a severe fracture of
his leg and the loss of four teeth and a small spring wagon.  At
length, when she could be trusted to carry his wares to Murphy's Camp,
and could be checked from entering a shop with the cart attached to
her,--a fact of which she always affected perfect disbelief,--her
education was considered as complete as that of the average California
donkey. It was still unsafe to leave her alone, as she disliked
solitude, and always made it a point to join any group of loungers with
her unnecessary cart, and even to follow some good-looking miner to his
cabin.  The first time this peculiarity was discovered by her owner was
on his return to the street after driving a bargain within the walls of
the Temperance Hotel.  Jinny was nowhere to be seen.  Her devious
course, however, was pleasingly indicated by vegetables that strewed
the road until she was at last tracked to the veranda of the Arcade
saloon, where she was found looking through the window at a game of
euchre, and only deterred by the impeding cart from entering the
building.  A visit one Sunday to the little Catholic chapel at French
Camp, where she attempted to introduce an antiphonal service and the
cart, brought shame and disgrace upon her unlucky master.  For the cart
contained freshly-gathered vegetables, and the fact that McCarty had
been Sabbath-breaking was painfully evident.  Father Sullivan was quick
to turn an incident that provoked only the risibilities of his audience
into a moral lesson.  "It's the poor dumb beast that has a more
Christian sowl than Michael," he commented; but here Jinny assented so
positively that they were fain to drag her away by main force.

To her eccentric and thoughtless youth succeeded a calm maturity in
which her conservative sagacity was steadily developed.  She now worked
for her living, subject, however, to a nice discrimination by which she
limited herself to a certain amount of work, beyond which neither
threats, beatings, nor cajoleries would force her. At certain hours she
would start for the stable with or without the incumbrances of the cart
or Michael, turning two long and deaf ears on all expostulation or
entreaty.  "Now, God be good to me," said Michael, one day picking
himself out from a ditch as he gazed sorrowfully after the flying heels
of Jinny, "but it's only the second load of cabbages I'm bringin' the
day, and if she's shtruck NOW, it's ruined I am entoirely."  But he was
mistaken; after two hours of rumination Jinny returned of her own free
will, having evidently mistaken the time, and it is said even consented
to draw an extra load to make up the deficiency.  It may be imagined
from this and other circumstances that Michael stood a little in awe of
Jinny's superior intellect, and that Jinny occasionally, with the
instinct of her sex, presumed upon it.  After the Sunday episode,
already referred to, she was given her liberty on that day, a privilege
she gracefully recognized by somewhat unbending her usual austerity in
the indulgence of a saturnine humor.  She would visit the mining camps,
and, grazing lazily and thoughtfully before the cabins, would, by
various artifices and coquetries known to the female heart, induce some
credulous stranger to approach her with the intention of taking a ride.
She would submit hesitatingly to a halter, allow him to mount her back,
and, with every expression of timid and fearful reluctance, at last
permit him to guide her in a laborious trot out of sight of human
habitation.  What happened then was never clearly known.  In a few
moments the camp would be aroused by shouts and execrations, and the
spectacle of Jinny tearing by at a frightful pace, with the stranger
clinging with his arms around her neck, afraid to slip off, from terror
of her circumvolving heels, and vainly imploring assistance.  Again and
again she would dash by the applauding groups, adding the aggravation
of her voice to the danger of her heels, until suddenly wheeling, she
would gallop to Carter's Pond, and deposit her luckless freight in the
muddy ditch.  This practical joke was repeated until one Sunday she was
approached by Juan Ramirez, a Mexican vaquero, booted and spurred, and
carrying a riata.  A crowd was assembled to see her discomfiture.  But,
to the intense disappointment of the camp, Jinny, after quietly
surveying the stranger, uttered a sardonic bray, and ambled away to the
little cemetery on the hill, whose tangled chapparal effectually
prevented all pursuit by her skilled antagonist.  From that day she
forsook the camp, and spent her Sabbaths in mortuary reflections among
the pine head-boards and cold "hic jacets" of the dead.

Happy would it have been if this circumstance, which resulted in the
one poetic episode of her life, had occurred earlier; for the cemetery
was the favorite resort of Miss Jessie Lawton, a gentle invalid from
San Francisco, who had sought the foot-hills for the balsam of pine and
fir, and in the faint hope that the freshness of the wild roses might
call back her own.  The extended views from the cemetery satisfied Miss
Lawton's artistic taste, and here frequently, with her sketch-book in
hand, she indulged that taste and a certain shy reserve which kept her
from contact with strangers.  On one of the leaves of that sketch-book
appears a study of a donkey's head, being none other than the grave
features of Jinny, as once projected timidly over the artist's
shoulder. The preliminaries of this intimacy have never transpired, nor
is it a settled fact if Jinny made the first advances.  The result was
only known to the men of Sawyer's Bar by a vision which remained fresh
in their memories long after the gentle lady and her four-footed friend
had passed beyond their voices.  As two of the tunnel-men were
returning from work one evening, they chanced to look up the little
trail, kept sacred from secular intrusion, that led from the cemetery
to the settlement.  In the dim twilight, against a sunset sky, they
beheld a pale-faced girl riding slowly toward them.  With a delicate
instinct, new to those rough men, they drew closer in the shadow of the
bushes until she passed. There was no mistaking the familiar
grotesqueness of Jinny; there was no mistaking the languid grace of
Miss Lawton.  But a wreath of wild roses was around Jinny's neck, from
her long ears floated Miss Jessie's hat ribbons, and a mischievous,
girlish smile was upon Miss Jessie's face, as fresh as the azaleas in
her hair.  By the next day the story of this gentle apparition was
known to a dozen miners in camp, and all were sworn to secrecy.  But
the next evening, and the next, from the safe shadows of the woods they
watched and drank in the beauty of that fanciful and all unconscious
procession.  They kept their secret, and never a whisper or footfall
from these rough men broke its charm or betrayed their presence.  The
man who could have shocked the sensitive reserve of the young girl
would have paid for it with his life.

And then one day the character of the procession changed, and this
little incident having been told, it was permitted that Jinny should
follow her friend, caparisoned even as before, but this time by the
rougher but no less loving hands of men.  When the cortege reached the
ferry where the gentle girl was to begin her silent journey to the sea,
Jinny broke from those who held her, and after a frantic effort to
mount the barge fell into the swiftly rushing Stanislaus.  A dozen
stout arms were stretched to save her, and a rope skilfully thrown was
caught around her feet.  For an instant she was passive, and, as it
seemed, saved.  But the next moment her dominant instinct returned, and
with one stroke of her powerful heel she snapped the rope in twain and
so drifted with her mistress to the sea.



ROGER CATRON'S FRIEND

I think that, from the beginning, we all knew how it would end.  He had
always been so quiet and conventional, although by nature an impulsive
man; always so temperate and abstemious, although a man with a quick
appreciation of pleasure; always so cautious and practical, although an
imaginative man, that when, at last, one by one he loosed these bands,
and gave himself up to a life, perhaps not worse than other lives which
the world has accepted as the natural expression of their various
owners, we at once decided that the case was a hopeless one.  And when
one night we picked him up out of the Union Ditch, a begrimed and
weather-worn drunkard, a hopeless debtor, a self-confessed spendthrift,
and a half-conscious, maudlin imbecile, we knew that the end had come.
The wife he had abandoned had in turn deserted him; the woman he had
misled had already realized her folly, and left him with her
reproaches; the associates of his reckless life, who had used and
abused him, had found him no longer of service, or even amusement, and
clearly there was nothing left to do but to hand him over to the state,
and we took him to the nearest penitential asylum. Conscious of the
Samaritan deed, we went back to our respective wives, and told his
story.  It is only just to say that these sympathetic creatures were
more interested in the philanthropy of their respective husbands than
in its miserable object.  "It was good and kind in you, dear," said
loving Mrs. Maston to her spouse, as returning home that night he flung
his coat on a chair with an air of fatigued righteousness; "it was like
your kind heart to care for that beast; but after he left that good
wife of his--that perfect saint--to take up with that awful woman, I
think I'd have left him to die in the ditch.  Only to think of it,
dear, a woman that you wouldn't speak to!"  Here Mr. Maston coughed
slightly, colored a little, mumbled something about "women not
understanding some things," "that men were men," etc., and then went
comfortably to sleep, leaving the outcast, happily oblivious of all
things, and especially this criticism, locked up in Hangtown Jail.

For the next twelve hours he lay there, apathetic and half-conscious.
Recovering from this after a while, he became furious, vengeful, and
unmanageable, filling the cell and corridor with maledictions of friend
and enemy; and again sullen, morose, and watchful.  Then he refused
food, and did not sleep, pacing his limits with the incessant, feverish
tread of a caged tiger.  Two physicians, diagnosing his case from the
scant facts, pronounced him insane, and he was accordingly transported
to Sacramento.  But on the way thither he managed to elude the
vigilance of his guards, and escaped.  The alarm was given, a hue and
cry followed him, the best detectives of San Francisco were on his
track, and finally recovered his dead body--emaciated and wasted by
exhaustion and fever--in the Stanislaus Marshes, identified it, and,
receiving the reward of $1,000 offered by his surviving relatives and
family, assisted in legally establishing the end we had predicted.

Unfortunately for the moral, the facts were somewhat inconsistent with
the theory.  A day or two after the remains were discovered and
identified, the real body of "Roger Catron, aged 52 years, slight,
iron-gray hair, and shabby in apparel," as the advertisement read,
dragged itself, travel-worn, trembling, and disheveled, up the steep
slope of Deadwood Hill.  How he should do it, he had long since
determined,--ever since he had hidden his Derringer, a mere baby
pistol, from the vigilance of his keepers. Where he should do it, he
had settled within his mind only within the last few moments.  Deadwood
Hill was seldom frequented; his body might lie there for months before
it was discovered.  He had once thought of the river, but he remembered
it had an ugly way of exposing its secrets on sandbar and shallow, and
that the body of Whisky Jim, bloated and disfigured almost beyond
recognition, had been once delivered to the eyes of Sandy Bar, before
breakfast, on the left bank of the Stanislaus.  He toiled up through
the chimisal that clothed the southern slope of the hill until he
reached the bald, storm-scarred cap of the mountain, ironically decked
with the picked, featherless plumes of a few dying pines.  One,
stripped of all but two lateral branches, brought a boyish recollection
to his fevered brain.  Against a background of dull sunset fire, it
extended two gaunt arms--black, rigid, and pathetic.  Calvary!

With the very word upon his lips, he threw himself, face downwards, on
the ground beneath it, and, with his fingers clutched in the soil, lay
there for some moments, silent and still.  In this attitude, albeit a
skeptic and unorthodox man, he prayed.  I cannot say--indeed I DARE not
say--that his prayer was heard, or that God visited him thus.  Let us
rather hope that all there was of God in him, in this crucial moment of
agony and shame, strove outward and upward.  Howbeit, when the moon
rose he rose too, perhaps a trifle less steady than the planet, and
began to descend the hill with feverish haste, yet with this marked
difference between his present haste and his former recklessness, that
it seemed to have a well-defined purpose.  When he reached the road
again, he struck into a well-worn trail, where, in the distance, a
light faintly twinkled. Following this beacon, he kept on, and at last
flung himself heavily against the door of the little cabin from whose
window the light had shone.  As he did so, it opened upon the figure of
a square, thickset man, who, in the impetuosity of Catron's onset,
received him, literally, in his arms.

"Captain Dick," said Roger Catron, hoarsely, "Captain Dick, save me!
For God's sake, save me!"

Captain Dick, without a word, placed a large, protecting hand upon
Catron's shoulder, allowed it to slip to his waist, and then drew his
visitor quietly, but firmly, within the cabin.  Yet, in the very
movement, he had managed to gently and unobtrusively possess himself of
Catron's pistol.

"Save ye!  From which?" asked Captain Dick, as quietly and
unobtrusively dropping the Derringer in a flour sack.

"From everything," gasped Catron, "from the men that are hounding me,
from my family, from my friends, but most of all--from, from--myself!"

He had, in turn, grasped Captain Dick, and forced him frenziedly
against the wall.  The captain released himself, and, taking the hands
of his excited visitor, said slowly,--

"Ye wan some blue mass--suthin' to unload your liver.  I'll get it up
for ye."

"But, Captain Dick, I'm an outcast, shamed, disgraced--"

"Two on them pills taken now, and two in the morning," continued the
captain, gravely, rolling a bolus in his fingers, "will bring yer head
to the wind again.  Yer fallin' to leeward all the time, and ye want to
brace up."

"But, Captain," continued the agonized man, again clutching the sinewy
arms of his host, and forcing his livid face and fixed eyes within a
few inches of Captain Dick's, "hear me!  You must and shall hear me.
I've been in jail--do you hear?--in jail, like a common felon.  I've
been sent to the asylum, like a demented pauper.  I've--"

"Two now, and two in the morning," continued the captain, quietly
releasing one hand only to place two enormous pills in the mouth of the
excited Catron, "thar now--a drink o' whisky--thar, that'll do--just
enough to take the taste out of yer mouth, wash it down, and belay it,
so to speak.  And how are the mills running, gin'rally, over at the
Bar?"

"Captain Dick, hear me--if you ARE my friend, for God's sake hear me!
An hour ago I should have been a dead man--"

"They say that Sam Bolin hez sold out of the Excelsior--"

"Captain Dick!  Listen, for God's sake; I have suffered--"

But Captain Dick was engaged in critically examining his man.  "I guess
I'll ladle ye out some o' that soothin' mixture I bought down at
Simpson's t' other day," he said, reflectively.  "And I onderstand the
boys up on the Bar think the rains will set in airly."

But here Nature was omnipotent.  Worn by exhaustion, excitement, and
fever, and possibly a little affected by Captain Dick's later potion,
Roger Catron turned white, and lapsed against the wall.  In an instant
Captain Dick had caught him, as a child, lifted him in his stalwart
arms, wrapped a blanket around him, and deposited him in his bunk.
Yet, even in his prostration, Catron made one more despairing appeal
for mental sympathy from his host.

"I know I'm sick--dying, perhaps," he gasped, from under the blankets;
"but promise me, whatever comes, tell my wife--say to--"

"It has been lookin' consid'ble like rain, lately, hereabouts,"
continued the captain, coolly, in a kind of amphibious slang,
characteristic of the man, "but in these yer latitudes no man kin set
up to be a weather sharp."

"Captain! will you hear me?"

"Yer goin' to sleep, now," said the captain, potentially.

"But, Captain, they are pursuing me!  If they should track me here?"

"Thar is a rifle over thar, and yer's my navy revolver.  When I've
emptied them, and want you to bear a hand, I'll call ye.  Just now your
lay is to turn in.  It's my watch."

There was something so positive, strong, assuring, and a little awesome
in the captain's manner, that the trembling, nervously-prostrated man
beneath the blankets forbore to question further. In a few moments his
breathing, albeit hurried and irregular, announced that he slept.  The
captain then arose, for a moment critically examined the sleeping man,
holding his head a little on one side, whistling softly, and stepping
backwards to get a good perspective, but always with contemplative good
humor, as if Catron were a work of art, which he (the captain) had
created, yet one that he was not yet entirely satisfied with.  Then he
put a large pea-jacket over his flannel blouse, dragged a Mexican
serape from the corner, and putting it over his shoulders, opened the
cabin door, sat down on the doorstep, and leaning back against the
door-post, composed himself to meditation.  The moon lifted herself
slowly over the crest of Deadwood Hill, and looked down, not unkindly,
on his broad, white, shaven face, round and smooth as her own disc,
encircled with a thin fringe of white hair and whiskers. Indeed, he
looked so like the prevailing caricatures in a comic almanac of
planets, with dimly outlined features, that the moon would have been
quite justified in flirting with him, as she clearly did, insinuating a
twinkle into his keen, gray eyes, making the shadow of a dimple on his
broad, fat chin, and otherwise idealizing him after the fashion of her
hero-worshiping sex. Touched by these benign influences, Captain Dick
presently broke forth in melody.  His song was various, but chiefly, I
think, confined to the recital of the exploits of one "Lorenzo," who,
as related by himself,--

    "Shipped on board of a Liner,
                'Renzo, boys, Renzo,"--

a fact that seemed to have deprived him at once of all metre, grammar,
or even the power of coherent narration.  At times a groan or a
half-articulate cry would come from the "bunk" whereon Roger Catron
lay, a circumstance that always seemed to excite Captain Dick to
greater effort and more rapid vocalization.  Toward morning, in the
midst of a prolonged howl from the captain, who was finishing the
"Starboard Watch, ahoy!" in three different keys, Roger Catron's voice
broke suddenly and sharply from his enwrappings:--

"Dry up, you d--d old fool, will you?"

Captain Dick stopped instantly.  Rising to his feet, and looking over
the landscape, he took all nature into his confidence in one
inconceivably arch and crafty wink.  "He's coming up to the wind," he
said softly, rubbing his hands.  "The pills is fetchin' him. Steady
now, boys, steady.  Steady as she goes on her course," and with another
wink of ineffable wisdom, he entered the cabin and locked the door.


Meanwhile, the best society of Sandy Bar was kind to the newly-made
widow.  Without being definitely expressed, it was generally felt that
sympathy with her was now safe, and carried no moral responsibility
with it.  Even practical and pecuniary aid, which before had been
withheld, lest it should be diverted from its proper intent, and,
perhaps through the weakness of the wife, made to minister to the
wickedness of the husband,--even that was now openly suggested.
Everybody felt that somebody should do something for the widow.  A few
did it.  Her own sex rallied to her side, generally with large
sympathy, but, unfortunately, small pecuniary or practical result.  At
last, when the feasibility of her taking a boarding-house in San
Francisco, and identifying herself with that large class of American
gentlewomen who have seen better days, but clearly are on the road
never to see them again, was suggested, a few of her own and her
husband's rich relatives came to the front to rehabilitate her.  It was
easier to take her into their homes as an equal than to refuse to call
upon her as the mistress of a lodging-house in the adjoining street.
And upon inspection it was found that she was still quite an eligible
partie, prepossessing, and withal, in her widow's weeds, a kind of
poetical and sentimental presence, as necessary in a wealthy and
fashionable American family as a work of art.  "Yes, poor Caroline has
had a sad, sad history," the languid Mrs. Walker Catron would say, "and
we all sympathize with her deeply; Walker always regards her as a
sister."  What was this dark history never came out, but its very
mystery always thrilled the visitor, and seemed to indicate plainly the
respectability of the hostess.  An American family without a genteel
skeleton in its closet could scarcely add to that gossip which keeps
society from forgetting its members.  Nor was it altogether unnatural
that presently Mrs. Roger Catron lent herself to this sentimental
deception, and began to think that she really was a more exquisitely
aggrieved woman than she had imagined.  At times, when this vague load
of iniquity put upon her dead husband assumed, through the mystery of
her friends, the rumor of murder and highway robbery, and even an
attempt upon her own life, she went to her room, a little frightened,
and had "a good cry," reappearing more mournful and pathetic than ever,
and corroborating the suspicions of her friends.  Indeed, one or two
impulsive gentlemen, fired by her pathetic eyelids, openly regretted
that the deceased had not been hanged, to which Mrs. Walker Catron
responded that, "Thank Heaven, they were spared at least that
disgrace!" and so sent conviction into the minds of her hearers.

It was scarcely two months after this painful close of her matrimonial
life that one rainy February morning the servant brought a card to Mrs.
Roger Catron, bearing the following inscription:--

          "Richard Graeme Macleod."


Women are more readily affected by names than we are, and there was a
certain Highland respectability about this that, albeit, not knowing
its possessor, impelled Mrs. Catron to send word that she "would be
down in a few moments."  At the end of this femininely indefinite
period,--a quarter of an hour by the French clock on the
mantel-piece,--Mrs. Roger Catron made her appearance in the
reception-room.  It was a dull, wet day, as I have said before, but on
the Contra Costa hills the greens and a few flowers were already
showing a promise of rejuvenescence and an early spring.  There was
something of this, I think, in Mrs. Catron's presence, shown perhaps in
the coquettish bow of a ribbon, in a larger and more delicate ruche, in
a tighter belting of her black cashmere gown; but still there was a
suggestion of recent rain in the eyes, and threatening weather.  As she
entered the room, the sun came out, too, and revealed the prettiness
and delicacy of her figure, and I regret to state, also, the somewhat
obtrusive plainness of her visitor.

"I knew ye'd be sorter disapp'inted at first, not gettin' the regular
bearings o' my name, but I'm 'Captain Dick.'  Mebbe ye've heard your
husband--that is, your husband ez waz, Roger Catron--speak o' me?"

Mrs. Catron, feeling herself outraged and deceived in belt, ruche, and
ribbon, freezingly admitted that she had heard of him before.

"In course," said the captain; "why, Lord love ye, Mrs. Catron,--ez
waz,--he used to be all the time talkin' of ye.  And allers in a free,
easy, confidential way.  Why, one night--don't ye remember?--when he
came home, carryin', mebbee, more canvas than was seamanlike, and you
shet him out the house, and laid for him with a broomstick, or one o'
them crokay mallets, I disremember which, and he kem over to me, ole
Captain Dick, and I sez to him, sez I, 'Why, Roger, them's only love
pats, and yer condishun is such ez to make any woman mad-like.'  Why,
Lord bless ye! there ain't enny of them mootool differences you and him
hed ez I doesn't knows on, and didn't always stand by, and lend ye a
hand, and heave in a word or two of advice when called on."

Mrs. Catron, ice everywhere but in her pink cheeks, was glad that Mr.
Catron seemed to have always a friend to whom he confided EVERYTHING,
even the base falsehoods he had invented.

"Mebbe now they WAZ falsehoods," said the captain, thoughtfully. "But
don't ye go to think," he added conscientiously, "that he kept on that
tack all the time.  Why, that day he made a raise, gambling, I think,
over at Dutch Flat, and give ye them bracelets,--regular solid
gold,--why, it would have done your heart good to have heard him talk
about you--said you had the prettiest arm in Californy.  Well," said
the captain, looking around for a suitable climax, "well, you'd have
thought that he was sorter proud of ye! Why, I woz with him in 'Frisco
when he bought that A1 prize bonnet for ye for $75, and not hevin' over
$50 in his pocket, borryed the other $25 outer me.  Mebbe it was a
little fancy for a bonnet; but I allers thought he took it a little too
much to heart when you swopped it off for that Dollar Varden dress,
just because that Lawyer Maxwell said the Dollar Vardens was becomin'
to ye.  Ye know, I reckon, he was always sorter jealous of that thar
shark--"

"May I venture to ask what your business is with me?" interrupted Mrs.
Catron, sharply.

"In course," said the captain, rising.  "Ye see," he said,
apologetically, "we got to talking o' Roger and ole times, and I got a
little out o' my course.  It's a matter of--" he began to fumble in his
pockets, and finally produced a small memorandum-book, which he glanced
over--"it's a matter of $250."

"I don't understand you," said Mrs. Catron, in indignant astonishment.

"On the 15th of July," said the captain, consulting his
memorandum-book, "Roger sold his claim at Nye's Ford for $1,500.  Now,
le's see.  Thar was nigh on $350 ez he admitted to me he lost at poker,
and we'll add $50 to that for treating, suppers, and drinks
gin'rally--put Roger down for $400.  Then there was YOU.  Now you spent
$250 on your trip to 'Frisco thet summer; then $200 went for them
presents you sent your Aunt Jane, and thar was $400 for house expenses.
Well, thet foots up $1,250.  Now, what's become of thet other $250?"

Mrs. Catron's woman's impulse to retaliate sharply overcame her first
natural indignation at her visitor's impudence.

Therein she lost, woman-like, her ground of vantage.

"Perhaps the woman he fled with can tell you," she said savagely.

"Thet," said the captain, slowly, "is a good, a reasonable idee. But it
ain't true; from all I can gather SHE lent HIM money.  It didn't go
THAR."

"Roger Catron left me penniless," said Mrs. Catron, hotly.

"Thet's jist what gets me.  You oughter have $250 somewhar lying round."

Mrs. Catron saw her error.  "May I ask what right you have to question
me?  If you have any, I must refer you to my lawyer or my
brother-in-law; if you have none, I hope you will not oblige me to call
the servants to put you from the house."

"Thet sounds reasonable and square, too," said the captain,
thoughtfully; "I've a power of attorney from Roger Catron to settle up
his affairs and pay his debts, given a week afore them detectives
handed ye over his dead body.  But I thought that you and me might save
lawyer's fees and all fuss and feathers, ef, in a sociable, sad-like
way,--lookin' back sorter on Roger ez you and me once knew him,--we had
a quiet talk together."

"Good morning, sir," said Mrs. Catron, rising stiffly.  The captain
hesitated a moment, a slight flush of color came in his face as he at
last rose as the lady backed out of the room.  "Good morning, ma'am,"
said the captain, and departed.

Very little was known of this interview except the general impression
in the family that Mrs. Catron had successfully resisted a vague
attempt at blackmail from one of her husband's former dissolute
companions.  Yet it is only fair to say that Mrs. Catron snapped up,
quite savagely, two male sympathizers on this subject, and cried a good
deal for two days afterward, and once, in the hearing of her
sister-in-law, to that lady's great horror, "wished she was dead."

A week after this interview, as Lawyer Phillips sat in his office, he
was visited by Macleod.  Recognizing, possibly, some practical
difference between the widow and the lawyer, Captain Dick this time
first produced his credentials,--a "power of attorney."  "I need not
tell you," said Phillips, "that the death of your principal renders
this instrument invalid, and I suppose you know that, leaving no will,
and no property, his estate has not been administered upon."

"Mebbe it is, and mebbe it isn't.  But I hain't askin' for anythin' but
information.  There was a bit o' prop'ty and a mill onto it, over at
Heavytree, ez sold for $10,000.  I don't see," said the captain,
consulting his memorandum-book, "ez HE got anything out of it."

"It was mortgaged for $7,000," said the lawyer, quickly, "and the
interest and fees amount to about $3,000 more."

"The mortgage was given as security for a note?"

"Yes, a gambling debt," said the lawyer, sharply.

"Thet's so, and my belief ez that it wasn't a square game.  He
shouldn't hev given no note.  Why, don't ye mind, 'way back in '60,
when you and me waz in Marysville, that night that you bucked agin
faro, and lost seving hundred dollars, and then refoosed to take up
your checks, saying it was fraud and a gambling debt?  And don't ye
mind when that chap kicked ye, and I helped to drag him off ye--and--"

"I'm busy now, Mr. Macleod," said Phillips, hastily; "my clerk will
give you all the information you require.  Good morning."

"It's mighty queer," said the captain, thoughtfully, as he descended
the stairs, "but the moment the conversation gets limber and
sociable-like, and I gets to runnin' free under easy sail, it's always
'Good morning, Captain,' and we're becalmed."

By some occult influence, all the foregoing conversation, slightly
exaggerated, and the whole interview of the captain with the widow with
sundry additions, became the common property of Sandy Bar, to the great
delight of the boys.  There was scarcely a person who had ever had
business or social relations with Roger Catron, whom "The Frozen
Truth," as Sandy Bar delighted to designate the captain, had not
"interviewed," as simply and directly.  It is said that he closed a
conversation with one of the San Francisco detectives, who had found
Roger Catron's body, in these words: "And now hevin' got throo'
bizness, I was goin' to ask ye what's gone of Matt. Jones, who was with
ye in the bush in Austraily.  Lord, how he got me quite interested in
ye, telling me how you and him got out on a ticket-of-leave, and was
chased by them milishy guards, and at last swam out to a San Francisco
bark and escaped;" but here the inevitable pressure of previous
business always stopped the captain's conversational flow.  The natural
result of this was a singular reaction in favor of the late Roger
Catron in the public sentiment of Sandy Bar, so strong, indeed, as to
induce the Rev. Mr. Joshua McSnagly, the next Sunday, to combat it with
the moral of Catron's life.  After the service, he was approached in
the vestibule, and in the hearing of some of his audience, by Captain
Dick, with the following compliment: "In many pints ye hed jess got
Roger Catron down to a hair.  I knew ye'd do it: why, Lord love ye, you
and him had pints in common; and when he giv' ye that hundred dollars
arter the fire in Sacramento, to help ye rebuild the parsonage, he said
to me,--me not likin' ye on account o' my being on the committee that
invited ye to resign from Marysville all along o' that affair with
Deacon Pursell's darter; and a piece she was, parson! eh?--well, Roger,
he ups and sez to me, 'Every man hez his faults,' sez he; and sez he,
'there's no reason why a parson ain't a human being like us, and that
gal o' Pursell's is pizen, ez I know.'  So ye see, I seed that ye was
hittin' yourself over Catron's shoulder, like them early martyrs."  But
here, as Captain Dick was clearly blocking up all egress from the
church, the sexton obliged him to move on, and again he was stopped in
his conversational career.

But only for a time.  Before long, it was whispered that Captain Dick
had ordered a meeting of the creditors, debtors, and friends of Roger
Catron at Robinson's Hall.  It was suggested, with some show of reason,
that this had been done at the instigation of various practical jokers
of Sandy Bar, who had imposed on the simple directness of the captain,
and the attendance that night certainly indicated something more than a
mere business meeting. All of Sandy Bar crowded into Robinson's Hall,
and long before Captain Dick made his appearance on the platform, with
his inevitable memorandum-book, every inch of floor was crowded.

The captain began to read the expenditures of Roger Catron with
relentless fidelity of detail.  The several losses by poker, the whisky
bills, and the record of a "jamboree" at Tooley's, the vague expenses
whereof footed up $275, were received with enthusiastic cheers by the
audience.  A single milliner's bill for $125 was hailed with delight;
$100 expended in treating the Vestal Virgin Combination Troupe almost
canonized his memory; $50 for a simple buggy ride with Deacon Fisk
brought down the house; $500 advanced, without security, and unpaid,
for the electioneering expenses of Assemblyman Jones, who had recently
introduced a bill to prevent gambling and the sale of lager beer on
Sundays, was received with an ominous groan.  One or two other items of
money loaned occasioned the withdrawal of several gentlemen from the
audience amidst the hisses or ironical cheers of the others.

At last Captain Dick stopped and advanced to the footlights.

"Gentlemen and friends," he said, slowly.  "I foots up $25,000 as Roger
Catron hez MADE, fair and square, in this yer county.  I foots up
$27,000 ez he has SPENT in this yer county.  I puts it to you ez
men,--far-minded men,--ef this man was a pauper and debtor? I put it to
you ez far-minded men,--ez free and easy men,--ez political
economists,--ez this the kind of men to impoverish a county?"

An overwhelming and instantaneous "No!" almost drowned the last
utterance of the speaker.

"Thar is only one item," said Captain Dick, slowly, "only one item,
that ez men,--ez far-minded men,--ez political economists,--it seems to
me we hez the right to question.  It's this:  Thar is an item, read to
you by me, of $2,000 paid to certing San Francisco detectives, paid out
o' the assets o' Roger Catron, for the finding of Roger Catron's body.
Gentlemen of Sandy Bar and friends, I found that body, and yer it is!"

And Roger Catron, a little pale and nervous, but palpably in the flesh,
stepped upon the platform.

Of course the newspapers were full of it the next day.  Of course, in
due time, it appeared as a garbled and romantic item in the San
Francisco press.  Of course Mrs. Catron, on reading it, fainted, and
for two days said that this last cruel blow ended all relations between
her husband and herself.  On the third day she expressed her belief
that, if he had had the slightest feeling for her, he would, long
since, for the sake of mere decency, have communicated with her.  On
the fourth day she thought she had been, perhaps, badly advised, had an
open quarrel with her relatives, and intimated that a wife had certain
obligations, etc.  On the sixth day, still not hearing from him, she
quoted Scripture, spoke of a seventy-times-seven forgiveness, and went
generally into mild hysterics.  On the seventh, she left in the morning
train for Sandy Bar.

And really I don't know as I have anything more to tell.  I dined with
them recently, and, upon my word, a more decorous, correct,
conventional, and dull dinner I never ate in my life.



"WHO WAS MY QUIET FRIEND?"

"Stranger!"

The voice was not loud, but clear and penetrating.  I looked vainly up
and down the narrow, darkening trail.  No one in the fringe of alder
ahead; no one on the gullied slope behind.

"O! stranger!"

This time a little impatiently.  The California classical vocative,
"O," always meant business.

I looked up, and perceived for the first time on the ledge, thirty feet
above me, another trail parallel with my own, and looking down upon me
through the buckeye bushes a small man on a black horse.

Five things to be here noted by the circumspect mountaineer. FIRST, the
locality,--lonely and inaccessible, and away from the regular faring of
teamsters and miners.  SECONDLY, the stranger's superior knowledge of
the road, from the fact that the other trail was unknown to the
ordinary traveler.  THIRDLY, that he was well armed and equipped.
FOURTHLY, that he was better mounted. FIFTHLY, that any distrust or
timidity arising from the contemplation of these facts had better be
kept to one's self.

All this passed rapidly through my mind as I returned his salutation.

"Got any tobacco?" he asked.

I had, and signified the fact, holding up the pouch inquiringly.

"All right, I'll come down.  Ride on, and I'll jine ye on the slide."

"The slide!"  Here was a new geographical discovery as odd as the
second trail.  I had ridden over the trail a dozen times, and seen no
communication between the ledge and trail.  Nevertheless, I went on a
hundred yards or so, when there was a sharp crackling in the
underbrush, a shower of stones on the trail, and my friend plunged
through the bushes to my side, down a grade that I should scarcely have
dared to lead my horse.  There was no doubt he was an accomplished
rider,--another fact to be noted.

As he ranged beside me, I found I was not mistaken as to his size; he
was quite under the medium height, and but for a pair of cold, gray
eyes, was rather commonplace in feature.

"You've got a good horse there," I suggested.

He was filling his pipe from my pouch, but looked up a little
surprised, and said, "Of course."  He then puffed away with the nervous
eagerness of a man long deprived of that sedative. Finally, between the
puffs, he asked me whence I came.

I replied, "From Lagrange."

He looked at me a few moments curiously, but on my adding that I had
only halted there for a few hours, he said: "I thought I knew every man
between Lagrange and Indian Spring, but somehow I sorter disremember
your face and your name."

Not particularly caring that he should remember either, I replied half
laughingly, that, as I lived the other side of Indian Spring, it was
quite natural.  He took the rebuff, if such it was, so quietly that as
an act of mere perfunctory politeness I asked him where he came from.

"Lagrange."

"And you are going to--"

"Well! that depends pretty much on how things pan out, and whether I
can make the riffle."  He let his hand rest quite unconsciously on the
leathern holster of his dragoon revolver, yet with a strong suggestion
to me of his ability "to make the riffle" if he wanted to, and added:
"But just now I was reck'nin' on taking a little pasear with you."

There was nothing offensive in his speech save its familiarity, and the
reflection, perhaps, that whether I objected or not, he was quite able
to do as he said.  I only replied that if our pasear was prolonged
beyond Heavytree Hill, I should have to borrow his beast. To my
surprise he replied quietly, "That's so," adding that the horse was at
my disposal when he wasn't using it, and HALF of it when he was.  "Dick
has carried double many a time before this," he continued, "and kin do
it again; when your mustang gives out I'll give you a lift and room to
spare."

I could not help smiling at the idea of appearing before the boys at
Red Gulch en croupe with the stranger; but neither could I help being
oddly affected by the suggestion that his horse had done double duty
before.  "On what occasion, and why?" was a question I kept to myself.
We were ascending the long, rocky flank of the divide; the narrowness
of the trail obliged us to proceed slowly, and in file, so that there
was little chance for conversation, had he been disposed to satisfy my
curiosity.

We toiled on in silence, the buckeye giving way to chimisal, the
westering sun, reflected again from the blank walls beside us, blinding
our eyes with its glare.  The pines in the canyon below were olive
gulfs of heat, over which a hawk here and there drifted lazily, or,
rising to our level, cast a weird and gigantic shadow of slowly moving
wings on the mountain side.  The superiority of the stranger's horse
led him often far in advance, and made me hope that he might forget me
entirely, or push on, growing weary of waiting.  But regularly he would
halt by a bowlder, or reappear from some chimisal, where he had
patiently halted.  I was beginning to hate him mildly, when at one of
those reappearances he drew up to my side, and asked me how I liked
Dickens!

Had he asked my opinion of Huxley or Darwin, I could not have been more
astonished.  Thinking it were possible that he referred to some local
celebrity of Lagrange, I said, hesitatingly:--

"You mean--"

"Charles Dickens.  Of course you've read him?  Which of his books do
you like best?"

I replied with considerable embarrassment that I liked them all,--as I
certainly did.

He grasped my hand for a moment with a fervor quite unlike his usual
phlegm, and said, "That's me, old man.  Dickens ain't no slouch.  You
can count on him pretty much all the time."

With this rough preface, he launched into a criticism of the novelist,
which for intelligent sympathy and hearty appreciation I had rarely
heard equaled.  Not only did he dwell upon the exuberance of his humor,
but upon the power of his pathos and the all-pervading element of his
poetry.  I looked at the man in astonishment.  I had considered myself
a rather diligent student of the great master of fiction, but the
stranger's felicity of quotation and illustration staggered me.  It is
true, that his thought was not always clothed in the best language, and
often appeared in the slouching, slangy undress of the place and
period, yet it never was rustic nor homespun, and sometimes struck me
with its precision and fitness.  Considerably softened toward him, I
tried him with other literature.  But vainly.  Beyond a few of the
lyrical and emotional poets, he knew nothing.  Under the influence and
enthusiasm of his own speech, he himself had softened considerably;
offered to change horses with me, readjusted my saddle with
professional skill, transferred my pack to his own horse, insisted upon
my sharing the contents of his whisky flask, and, noticing that I was
unarmed, pressed upon me a silver-mounted Derringer, which he assured
me he could "warrant."  These various offices of good will and the
diversion of his talk beguiled me from noticing the fact that the trail
was beginning to become obscure and unrecognizable.  We were evidently
pursuing a route unknown before to me.  I pointed out the fact to my
companion, a little impatiently.  He instantly resumed his old manner
and dialect.

"Well, I reckon one trail's as good as another, and what hev ye got to
say about it?"

I pointed out, with some dignity, that I preferred the old trail.

"Mebbe you did.  But you're jiss now takin' a pasear with ME.  This yer
trail will bring you right into Indian Spring, and ONNOTICED, and no
questions asked.  Don't you mind now, I'll see you through."

It was necessary here to make some stand against my strange companion.
I said firmly, yet as politely as I could, that I had proposed stopping
over night with a friend.

"Whar?"

I hesitated.  The friend was an eccentric Eastern man, well known in
the locality for his fastidiousness and his habits as a recluse. A
misanthrope, of ample family and ample means, he had chosen a secluded
but picturesque valley in the Sierras where he could rail against the
world without opposition.  "Lone Valley," or "Boston Ranch," as it was
familiarly called, was the one spot that the average miner both
respected and feared.  Mr. Sylvester, its proprietor, had never
affiliated with "the boys," nor had he ever lost their respect by any
active opposition to their ideas.  If seclusion had been his object, he
certainly was gratified. Nevertheless, in the darkening shadows of the
night, and on a lonely and unknown trail, I hesitated a little at
repeating his name to a stranger of whom I knew so little.  But my
mysterious companion took the matter out of my hands.

"Look yar," he said, suddenly, "thar ain't but one place twixt yer and
Indian Spring whar ye can stop, and that is Sylvester's."

I assented, a little sullenly.

"Well," said the stranger, quietly, and with a slight suggestion of
conferring a favor on me, "ef yer pointed for Sylvester's--why--I DON'T
MIND STOPPING THAR WITH YE.  It's a little off the road--I'll lose some
time--but taking it by and large, I don't much mind."

I stated, as rapidly and as strongly as I could, that my acquaintance
with Mr. Sylvester did not justify the introduction of a stranger to
his hospitality; that he was unlike most of the people here,--in short,
that he was a queer man, etc., etc.

To my surprise my companion answered quietly: "Oh, that's all right.
I've heerd of him.  Ef you don't feel like checking me through, or if
you'd rather put 'C. O. D.' on my back, why it's all the same to me.
I'll play it alone.  Only you just count me in. Say 'Sylvester' all the
time.  That's me!"

What could I oppose to this man's quiet assurance?  I felt myself
growing red with anger and nervous with embarrassment.  What would the
correct Sylvester say to me?  What would the girls,--I was a young man
then, and had won an entree to their domestic circle by my
reserve,--known by a less complimentary adjective among "the
boys,"--what would they say to my new acquaintance?  Yet I certainly
could not object to his assuming all risks on his own personal
recognizances, nor could I resist a certain feeling of shame at my
embarrassment.

We were beginning to descend.  In the distance below us already
twinkled the lights in the solitary rancho of Lone Valley.  I turned to
my companion.  "But you have forgotten that I don't even know your
name.  What am I to call you?"

"That's so," he said, musingly.  "Now, let's see.  'Kearney' would be a
good name.  It's short and easy like.  Thar's a street in 'Frisco the
same title; Kearney it is."

"But--" I began impatiently.

"Now you leave all that to me," he interrupted, with a superb
self-confidence that I could not but admire.  "The name ain't no
account.  It's the man that's responsible.  Ef I was to lay for a man
that I reckoned was named Jones, and after I fetched him I found out on
the inquest that his real name was Smith, that wouldn't make no matter,
as long as I got the man."

The illustration, forcible as it was, did not strike me as offering a
prepossessing introduction, but we were already at the rancho. The
barking of dogs brought Sylvester to the door of the pretty little
cottage which his taste had adorned.

I briefly introduced Mr. Kearney.  "Kearney will do--Kearney's good
enough for me," commented the soi-disant Kearney half-aloud, to my own
horror and Sylvester's evident mystification, and then he blandly
excused himself for a moment that he might personally supervise the
care of his own beast.  When he was out of ear-shot I drew the puzzled
Sylvester aside.

"I have picked up--I mean I have been picked up on the road by a gentle
maniac, whose name is not Kearney.  He is well armed and quotes
Dickens.  With care, acquiescence in his views on all subjects, and
general submission to his commands, he may be placated.  Doubtless the
spectacle of your helpless family, the contemplation of your daughter's
beauty and innocence, may touch his fine sense of humor and pathos.
Meanwhile, Heaven help you, and forgive me."

I ran upstairs to the little den that my hospitable host had kept
always reserved for me in my wanderings.  I lingered some time over my
ablutions, hearing the languid, gentlemanly drawl of Sylvester below,
mingled with the equally cool, easy slang of my mysterious
acquaintance.  When I came down to the sitting-room I was surprised,
however, to find the self-styled Kearney quietly seated on the sofa,
the gentle May Sylvester, the "Lily of Lone Valley," sitting with
maidenly awe and unaffected interest on one side of him, while on the
other that arrant flirt, her cousin Kate, was practicing the pitiless
archery of her eyes, with an excitement that seemed almost real.

"Who is your deliciously cool friend?" she managed to whisper to me at
supper, as I sat utterly dazed and bewildered between the enrapt May
Sylvester, who seemed to hang upon his words, and this giddy girl of
the period, who was emptying the battery of her charms in active
rivalry upon him.  "Of course we know his name isn't Kearney.  But how
romantic!  And isn't he perfectly lovely?  And who is he?"

I replied with severe irony that I was not aware what foreign potentate
was then traveling incognito in the Sierras of California, but that
when his royal highness was pleased to inform me, I should be glad to
introduce him properly.  "Until then," I added, "I fear the
acquaintance must be Morganatic."

"You're only jealous of him," she said pertly.  "Look at May--she is
completely fascinated.  And her father, too."  And actually, the
languid, world-sick, cynical Sylvester was regarding him with a boyish
interest and enthusiasm almost incompatible with his nature. Yet I
submit honestly to the clear-headed reason of my own sex, that I could
see nothing more in the man than I have already delivered to the reader.

In the middle of an exciting story of adventure, of which he, to the
already prejudiced mind of his fair auditors, was evidently the hero,
he stopped suddenly.

"It's only some pack train passing the bridge on the lower trail,"
explained Sylvester; "go on."

"It may be my horse is a trifle oneasy in the stable," said the alleged
Kearney; "he ain't used to boards and covering."  Heaven only knows
what wild and delicious revelation lay in the statement of this fact,
but the girls looked at each other with cheeks pink with excitement as
Kearney arose, and, with quiet absence of ceremony, quitted the table.

"Ain't he just lovely?" said Kate, gasping for breath, "and so witty."

"Witty!" said the gentle May, with just the slightest trace of defiance
in her sweet voice; "witty, my dear? why, don't you see that his heart
is just breaking with pathos?  Witty, indeed; why, when he was speaking
of that poor Mexican woman that was hung, I saw the tears gather in his
eyes.  Witty, indeed!"

"Tears," laughed the cynical Sylvester, "tears, idle tears.  Why, you
silly children, the man is a man of the world, a philosopher, quiet,
observant, unassuming."

"Unassuming!"  Was Sylvester intoxicated, or had the mysterious
stranger mixed the "insane verb" with the family pottage?  He returned
before I could answer this self-asked inquiry, and resumed coolly his
broken narrative.  Finding myself forgotten in the man I had so long
hesitated to introduce to my friends, I retired to rest early, only to
hear, through the thin partitions, two hours later, enthusiastic
praises of the new guest from the voluble lips of the girls, as they
chatted in the next room before retiring.

At midnight I was startled by the sound of horses' hoofs and the
jingling of spurs below.  A conversation between my host and some
mysterious personage in the darkness was carried on in such a low tone
that I could not learn its import.  As the cavalcade rode away I raised
the window.

"What's the matter?"

"Nothing," said Sylvester, coolly, "only another one of those playful
homicidal freaks peculiar to the country.  A man was shot by Cherokee
Jack over at Lagrange this morning, and that was the sheriff of
Calaveras and his posse hunting him.  I told him I'd seen nobody but
you and your friend.  By the way, I hope the cursed noise hasn't
disturbed him.  The poor fellow looked as if he wanted rest."

I thought so, too.  Nevertheless, I went softly to his room.  It was
empty.  My impression was that he had distanced the sheriff of
Calaveras about two hours.



A GHOST OF THE SIERRAS

It was a vast silence of pines, redolent with balsamic breath, and
muffled with the dry dust of dead bark and matted mosses.  Lying on our
backs, we looked upward through a hundred feet of clear, unbroken
interval to the first lateral branches that formed the flat canopy
above us.  Here and there the fierce sun, from whose active persecution
we had just escaped, searched for us through the woods, but its keen
blade was dulled and turned aside by intercostal boughs, and its
brightness dissipated in nebulous mists throughout the roofing of the
dim, brown aisles around us.  We were in another atmosphere, under
another sky; indeed, in another world than the dazzling one we had just
quitted.  The grave silence seemed so much a part of the grateful
coolness, that we hesitated to speak, and for some moments lay quietly
outstretched on the pine tassels where we had first thrown ourselves.
Finally, a voice broke the silence:--

"Ask the old Major; he knows all about it!"

The person here alluded to under that military title was myself.  I
hardly need explain to any Californian that it by no means followed
that I was a "Major," or that I was "old," or that I knew anything
about "it," or indeed what "it" referred to.  The whole remark was
merely one of the usual conventional feelers to conversation,--a kind
of social preamble, quite common to our slangy camp intercourse.
Nevertheless, as I was always known as the Major, perhaps for no better
reason than that the speaker, an old journalist, was always called
Doctor, I recognized the fact so far as to kick aside an intervening
saddle, so that I could see the speaker's face on a level with my own,
and said nothing.

"About ghosts!" said the Doctor, after a pause, which nobody broke or
was expected to break.  "Ghosts, sir!  That's what we want to know.
What are we doing here in this blanked old mausoleum of Calaveras
County, if it isn't to find out something about 'em, eh?"

Nobody replied.

"Thar's that haunted house at Cave City.  Can't be more than a mile or
two away, anyhow.  Used to be just off the trail."

A dead silence.

The Doctor (addressing space generally) "Yes, sir; it WAS a mighty
queer story."

Still the same reposeful indifference.  We all knew the Doctor's skill
as a raconteur; we all knew that a story was coming, and we all knew
that any interruption would be fatal.  Time and time again, in our
prospecting experience, had a word of polite encouragement, a rash
expression of interest, even a too eager attitude of silent expectancy,
brought the Doctor to a sudden change of subject.  Time and time again
have we seen the unwary stranger stand amazed and bewildered between
our own indifference and the sudden termination of a promising
anecdote, through his own unlucky interference.  So we said nothing.
"The Judge"--another instance of arbitrary nomenclature--pretended to
sleep.  Jack began to twist a cigarrito.  Thornton bit off the ends of
pine needles reflectively.

"Yes, sir," continued the Doctor, coolly resting the back of his head
on the palms of his hands, "it WAS rather curious.  All except the
murder.  THAT'S what gets me, for the murder had no new points, no
fancy touches, no sentiment, no mystery.  Was just one of the old
style, 'sub-head' paragraphs.  Old-fashioned miner scrubs along on
hardtack and beans, and saves up a little money to go home and see
relations.  Old-fashioned assassin sharpens up knife, old style; loads
old flint-lock, brass-mounted pistol; walks in on old-fashioned miner
one dark night, sends him home to his relations away back to several
generations, and walks off with the swag.  No mystery THERE; nothing to
clear up; subsequent revelations only impertinence.  Nothing for any
ghost to do--who meant business. More than that, over forty murders,
same old kind, committed every year in Calaveras, and no spiritual post
obits coming due every anniversary; no assessments made on the peace
and quiet of the surviving community.  I tell you what, boys, I've
always been inclined to throw off on the Cave City ghost for that
alone.  It's a bad precedent, sir.  If that kind o' thing is going to
obtain in the foot-hills, we'll have the trails full of chaps formerly
knocked over by Mexicans and road agents; every little camp and grocery
will have stock enough on hand to go into business, and where's there
any security for surviving life and property, eh? What's your opinion,
Judge, as a fair-minded legislator?"

Of course there was no response.  Yet it was part of the Doctor's
system of aggravation to become discursive at these moments, in the
hope of interruption, and he continued for some moments to dwell on the
terrible possibility of a state of affairs in which a gentleman could
no longer settle a dispute with an enemy without being subjected to
succeeding spiritual embarrassment.  But all this digression fell upon
apparently inattentive ears.

"Well, sir, after the murder, the cabin stood for a long time deserted
and tenantless.  Popular opinion was against it.  One day a ragged
prospector, savage with hard labor and harder luck, came to the camp,
looking for a place to live and a chance to prospect. After the boys
had taken his measure, they concluded that he'd already tackled so much
in the way of difficulties that a ghost more or less wouldn't be of
much account.  So they sent him to the haunted cabin.  He had a big
yellow dog with him, about as ugly and as savage as himself; and the
boys sort o' congratulated themselves, from a practical view-point,
that while they were giving the old ruffian a shelter, they were
helping in the cause of Christianity against ghosts and goblins.  They
had little faith in the old man, but went their whole pile on that dog.
That's where they were mistaken.

"The house stood almost three hundred feet from the nearest cave, and
on dark nights, being in a hollow, was as lonely as if it had been on
the top of Shasta.  If you ever saw the spot when there was just moon
enough to bring out the little surrounding clumps of chapparal until
they looked like crouching figures, and make the bits of broken quartz
glisten like skulls, you'd begin to understand how big a contract that
man and that yellow dog undertook.

"They went into possession that afternoon, and old Hard Times set out
to cook his supper.  When it was over he sat down by the embers and lit
his pipe, the yellow dog lying at his feet.  Suddenly 'Rap! rap!' comes
from the door.  'Come in,' says the man, gruffly. 'Rap!' again.  'Come
in and be d--d to you,' says the man, who has no idea of getting up to
open the door.  But no one responded, and the next moment smash goes
the only sound pane in the only window. Seeing this, old Hard Times
gets up, with the devil in his eye, and a revolver in his hand,
followed by the yellow dog, with every tooth showing, and swings open
the door.  No one there!  But as the man opened the door, that yellow
dog, that had been so chipper before, suddenly begins to crouch and
step backward, step by step, trembling and shivering, and at last
crouches down in the chimney, without even so much as looking at his
master.  The man slams the door shut again, but there comes another
smash.

"This time it seems to come from inside the cabin, and it isn't until
the man looks around and sees everything quiet that he gets up, without
speaking, and makes a dash for the door, and tears round outside the
cabin like mad, but finds nothing but silence and darkness.  Then he
comes back swearing and calls the dog.  But that great yellow dog that
the boys would have staked all their money on is crouching under the
bunk, and has to be dragged out like a coon from a hollow tree, and
lies there, his eyes starting from their sockets; every limb and muscle
quivering with fear, and his very hair drawn up in bristling ridges.
The man calls him to the door. He drags himself a few steps, stops,
sniffs, and refuses to go further.  The man calls him again, with an
oath and a threat. Then, what does that yellow dog do?  He crawls
edgewise towards the door, crouching himself against the bunk till he's
flatter than a knife blade; then, half way, he stops.  Then that d--d
yellow dog begins to walk gingerly--lifting each foot up in the air,
one after the other, still trembling in every limb.  Then he stops
again. Then he crouches.  Then he gives one little shuddering leap--not
straight forward, but up,--clearing the floor about six inches, as if--"

"Over something," interrupted the Judge, hastily, lifting himself on
his elbow.

The Doctor stopped instantly.  "Juan," he said coolly, to one of the
Mexican packers, "quit foolin' with that riata.  You'll have that stake
out and that mule loose in another minute.  Come over this way!"

The Mexican turned a scared, white face to the Doctor, muttering
something, and let go the deer-skin hide.  We all up-raised our voices
with one accord, the Judge most penitently and apologetically, and
implored the Doctor to go on.  "I'll shoot the first man who interrupts
you again," added Thornton; persuasively.

But the Doctor, with his hands languidly under his head, had lost his
interest.  "Well, the dog ran off to the hills, and neither the threats
nor cajoleries of his master could ever make him enter the cabin again.
The next day the man left the camp.  What time is it? Getting on to
sundown, ain't it?  Keep off my leg, will you, you d--d Greaser, and
stop stumbling round there!  Lie down."

But we knew that the Doctor had not completely finished his story, and
we waited patiently for the conclusion.  Meanwhile the old, gray
silence of the woods again asserted itself, but shadows were now
beginning to gather in the heavy beams of the roof above, and the dim
aisles seemed to be narrowing and closing in around us. Presently the
Doctor recommenced lazily, as if no interruption had occurred.

"As I said before, I never put much faith in that story, and shouldn't
have told it, but for a rather curious experience of my own.  It was in
the spring of '62, and I was one of a party of four, coming up from
O'Neill's, when we had been snowed up.  It was awful weather; the snow
had changed to sleet and rain after we crossed the divide, and the
water was out everywhere; every ditch was a creek, every creek a river.
We had lost two horses on the North Fork, we were dead beat, off the
trail, and sloshing round, with night coming on, and the level hail
like shot in our faces. Things were looking bleak and scary when,
riding a little ahead of the party, I saw a light twinkling in a hollow
beyond.  My horse was still fresh, and calling out to the boys to
follow me and bear for the light, I struck out for it.  In another
moment I was before a little cabin that half burrowed in the black
chapparal; I dismounted and rapped at the door.  There was no response.
I then tried to force the door, but it was fastened securely from
within. I was all the more surprised when one of the boys, who had
overtaken me, told me that he had just seen through a window a man
reading by the fire.  Indignant at this inhospitality, we both made a
resolute onset against the door, at the same time raising our angry
voices to a yell.  Suddenly there was a quick response, the hurried
withdrawing of a bolt, and the door opened.

"The occupant was a short, thick-set man, with a pale, careworn face,
whose prevailing expression was one of gentle good humor and patient
suffering.  When we entered, he asked us hastily why we had not 'sung
out' before.

"'But we KNOCKED!' I said, impatiently, 'and almost drove your door in.'

"'That's nothing,' he said, patiently.  'I'm used to THAT.'

"I looked again at the man's patient, fateful face, and then around the
cabin.  In an instant the whole situation flashed before me. 'Are we
not near Cave City?' I asked.

"'Yes,' he replied, 'it's just below.  You must have passed it in the
storm.'

"'I see.'  I again looked around the cabin.  'Isn't this what they call
the haunted house?'

"He looked at me curiously.  'It is,' he said, simply.

"You can imagine my delight!  Here was an opportunity to test the whole
story, to work down to the bed rock, and see how it would pan out!  We
were too many and too well armed to fear tricks or dangers from
outsiders.  If--as one theory had been held--the disturbance was kept
up by a band of concealed marauders or road agents, whose purpose was
to preserve their haunts from intrusion, we were quite able to pay them
back in kind for any assault.  I need not say that the boys were
delighted with this prospect when the fact was revealed to them.  The
only one doubtful or apathetic spirit there was our host, who quietly
resumed his seat and his book, with his old expression of patient
martyrdom.  It would have been easy for me to have drawn him out, but I
felt that I did not want to corroborate anybody else's experience; only
to record my own.  And I thought it better to keep the boys from any
predisposing terrors.

"We ate our supper, and then sat, patiently and expectant, around the
fire.  An hour slipped away, but no disturbance; another hour passed as
monotonously.  Our host read his book; only the dash of hail against
the roof broke the silence.  But--"

The Doctor stopped.  Since the last interruption, I noticed he had
changed the easy slangy style of his story to a more perfect, artistic,
and even studied manner.  He dropped now suddenly into his old
colloquial speech, and quietly said: "If you don't quit stumbling over
those riatas, Juan, I'll hobble YOU.  Come here, there; lie down, will
you?"

We all turned fiercely on the cause of this second dangerous
interruption, but a sight of the poor fellow's pale and frightened face
withheld our vindictive tongues.  And the Doctor, happily, of his own
accord, went on:--

"But I had forgotten that it was no easy matter to keep these
high-spirited boys, bent on a row, in decent subjection; and after the
third hour passed without a supernatural exhibition, I observed, from
certain winks and whispers, that they were determined to get up
indications of their own.  In a few moments violent rappings were heard
from all parts of the cabin; large stones (adroitly thrown up the
chimney) fell with a heavy thud on the roof.  Strange groans and
ominous yells seemed to come from the outside (where the interstices
between the logs were wide enough).  Yet, through all this uproar, our
host sat still and patient, with no sign of indignation or reproach
upon his good-humored but haggard features. Before long it became
evident that this exhibition was exclusively for HIS benefit.  Under
the thin disguise of asking him to assist them in discovering the
disturbers OUTSIDE the cabin, those inside took advantage of his
absence to turn the cabin topsy-turvy.

"'You see what the spirits have done, old man,' said the arch leader of
this mischief.  'They've upset that there flour barrel while we wasn't
looking, and then kicked over the water jug and spilled all the water!'

"The patient man lifted his head and looked at the flour-strewn walls.
Then he glanced down at the floor, but drew back with a slight tremor.

"'It ain't water!' he said, quietly.

"'What is it, then?'

"'It's BLOOD!  Look!'

"The nearest man gave a sudden start and sank back white as a sheet.

"For there, gentlemen, on the floor, just before the door, where the
old man had seen the dog hesitate and lift his feet, there!
there!--gentlemen--upon my honor, slowly widened and broadened a dark
red pool of human blood!  Stop him!  Quick!  Stop him, I say!"

There was a blinding flash that lit up the dark woods, and a sharp
report!  When we reached the Doctor's side he was holding the smoking
pistol, just discharged, in one hand, while with the other he was
pointing to the rapidly disappearing figure of Juan, our Mexican
vaquero!

"Missed him! by G-d!" said the Doctor.  "But did you hear him?  Did you
see his livid face as he rose up at the name of blood?  Did you see his
guilty conscience in his face.  Eh?  Why don't you speak? What are you
staring at?"

"Was it the murdered man's ghost, Doctor?" we all panted in one quick
breath.

"Ghost be d--d!  No!  But in that Mexican vaquero--that cursed Juan
Ramirez!--I saw and shot at his murderer!"



THE HOODLUM BAND

OR

THE BOY CHIEF, THE INFANT POLITICIAN, AND THE PIRATE PRODIGY

BY JACK WHACKAWAY

Author of "The Boy Slaver," "The Immature Incendiary," "The Precocious
Pugilist," etc., etc.


CHAPTER I

It was a quiet New England village.  Nowhere in the valley of the
Connecticut the autumn sun shone upon a more peaceful, pastoral,
manufacturing community.  The wooden nutmegs were slowly ripening on
the trees, and the white pine hams for Western consumption were
gradually rounding into form under the deft manipulation of the hardy
American artisan.  The honest Connecticut farmer was quietly gathering
from his threshing floor the shoe-pegs, which, when intermixed with a
fair proportion of oats, offered a pleasing substitute for fodder to
the effete civilizations of Europe.  An almost Sabbath-like stillness
prevailed.  Doemville was only seven miles from Hartford, and the
surrounding landscape smiled with the conviction of being fully insured.

Few would have thought that this peaceful village was the home of the
three young heroes whose exploits would hereafter--but we anticipate.

Doemville Academy was the principal seat of learning in the county.
Under the grave and gentle administration of the venerable Doctor
Context, it had attained just popularity.  Yet the increasing
infirmities of age obliged the doctor to relinquish much of his trust
to his assistants, who, it is needless to say, abused his confidence.
Before long their brutal tyranny and deep-laid malevolence became
apparent.  Boys were absolutely forced to study their lessons.  The
sickening fact will hardly be believed, but during school hours they
were obliged to remain in their seats with the appearance at least of
discipline.  It is stated by good authority that the rolling of croquet
balls across the floor during recitation was objected to, under the
fiendish excuse of its interfering with their studies.  The breaking of
windows by base balls, and the beating of small scholars with bats,
were declared against.  At last, bloated and arrogant with success, the
under-teachers threw aside all disguise and revealed themselves in
their true colors.  A cigar was actually taken out of a day scholar's
mouth during prayers!  A flask of whisky was dragged from another's
desk, and then thrown out of the window.  And finally, Profanity,
Hazing, Theft, and Lying were almost discouraged!

Could the youth of America, conscious of their power and a literature
of their own, tamely submit to this tyranny?  Never!  We repeat it
firmly.  Never!  We repeat it to parents and guardians. Never!  But the
fiendish tutors, chuckling in their glee, little knew what was passing
through the cold, haughty intellect of Charles Fanuel Hall Golightly,
aged ten; what curled the lip of Benjamin Franklin Jenkins, aged seven;
or what shone in the bold blue eyes of Bromley Chitterlings, aged six
and a half, as they sat in the corner of the playground at recess.
Their only other companion and confidant was the negro porter and
janitor of the school, known as "Pirate Jim."

Fitly, indeed, was he named, as the secrets of his early wild
career--confessed freely to his noble young friends--plainly showed.  A
slaver at the age of seventeen, the ringleader of a mutiny on the
African Coast at the age of twenty, a privateersman during the last war
with England, the commander of a fire-ship and its sole survivor at
twenty-five, with a wild intermediate career of unmixed piracy, until
the Rebellion called him to civil service again as a blockade-runner,
and peace and a desire for rural repose led him to seek the janitorship
of the Doemville Academy, where no questions were asked and references
not exchanged: he was, indeed, a fit mentor for our daring youth.
Although a man whose days had exceeded the usual space allotted to
humanity, the various episodes of his career footing his age up to
nearly one hundred and fifty-nine years, he scarcely looked it, and was
still hale and vigorous.

"Yes," continued Pirate Jim, critically, "I don't think he was any
bigger nor you, Master Chitterlings, if as big, when he stood on the
fork'stle of my ship, and shot the captain o' that East Injymen dead.
We used to call him little Weevils, he was so young-like. But, bless
your hearts, boys! he wa'n't anything to little Sammy Barlow, ez once
crep' up inter the captain's stateroom on a Rooshin frigate, stabbed
him to the heart with a jack-knife, then put on the captain's uniform
and his cocked hat, took command of the ship and fout her hisself."

"Wasn't the captain's clothes big for him?" asked B. Franklin Jenkins,
anxiously.

The janitor eyed young Jenkins with pained dignity.

"Didn't I say the Rooshin captain was a small, a very small man?
Rooshins is small, likewise Greeks."

A noble enthusiasm beamed in the faces of the youthful heroes.

"Was Barlow as large as me?" asked C. F. Hall Golightly, lifting his
curls from his Jove-like brow.

"Yes; but then he hed hed, so to speak, experiences.  It was allowed
that he had pizened his schoolmaster afore he went to sea. But it's dry
talking, boys."

Golightly drew a flask from his jacket and handed it to the janitor.
It was his father's best brandy.  The heart of the honest old seaman
was touched.

"Bless ye, my own pirate boy!" he said, in a voice suffocating with
emotion.

"I've got some tobacco," said the youthful Jenkins, "but it's fine-cut;
I use only that now."

"I kin buy some plug at the corner grocery," said Pirate Jim, "only I
left my port-money at home."

"Take this watch," said young Golightly; "it is my father's.  Since he
became a tyrant and usurper, and forced me to join a corsair's band,
I've began by dividing the property."

"This is idle trifling," said young Chitterlings, mildly.  "Every
moment is precious.  Is this an hour to give to wine and wassail? Ha,
we want action--action!  We must strike the blow for freedom
to-night--aye, this very night.  The scow is already anchored in the
mill-dam, freighted with provisions for a three months' voyage. I have
a black flag in my pocket.  Why, then, this cowardly delay?"

The two elder youths turned with a slight feeling of awe and shame to
gaze on the glowing cheeks, and high, haughty crest of their youngest
comrade--the bright, the beautiful Bromley Chitterlings. Alas! that
very moment of forgetfulness and mutual admiration was fraught with
danger.  A thin, dyspeptic, half-starved tutor approached.

"It is time to resume your studies, young gentlemen," he said, with
fiendish politeness.

They were his last words on earth.

"Down, tyrant!" screamed Chitterlings.

"Sic him--I mean, Sic semper tyrannis!" said the classical Golightly.

A heavy blow on the head from a base-ball bat, and the rapid projection
of a base ball against his empty stomach, brought the tutor a limp and
lifeless mass to the ground.  Golightly shuddered. Let not my young
readers blame him too rashly.  It was his first homicide.

"Search his pockets," said the practical Jenkins.

They did so, and found nothing but a Harvard Triennial Catalogue.

"Let us fly," said Jenkins.

"Forward to the boats!" cried the enthusiastic Chitterlings.

But C. F. Hall Golightly stood gazing thoughtfully at the prostrate
tutor.

"This," he said calmly, "is the result of a too free government and the
common school system.  What the country needs is reform.  I cannot go
with you, boys."

"Traitor!" screamed the others.

C. F. H. Golightly smiled sadly.

"You know me not.  I shall not become a pirate--but a Congressman!"

Jenkins and Chitterlings turned pale.

"I have already organized two caucuses in a base ball club, and bribed
the delegates of another.  Nay, turn not away.  Let us be friends,
pursuing through various ways one common end.  Farewell!" They shook
hands.

"But where is Pirate Jim?" asked Jenkins.

"He left us but for a moment to raise money on the watch to purchase
armament for the scow.  Farewell!"

And so the gallant, youthful spirits parted, bright with the sunrise of
hope.

That night a conflagration raged in Doemville.  The Doemville Academy,
mysteriously fired, first fell a victim to the devouring element.  The
candy shop and cigar store, both holding heavy liabilities against the
academy, quickly followed.  By the lurid gleams of the flames, a long,
low, sloop-rigged scow, with every mast gone except one, slowly worked
her way out of the mill-dam towards the Sound.  The next day three boys
were missing--C. F. Hall Golightly, B. F. Jenkins, and Bromley
Chitterlings.  Had they perished in the flames who shall say?  Enough
that never more under these names did they again appear in the homes of
their ancestors.

Happy, indeed, would it have been for Doemville had the mystery ended
here.  But a darker interest and scandal rested upon the peaceful
village.  During that awful night the boarding-school of Madam
Brimborion was visited stealthily, and two of the fairest heiresses of
Connecticut--daughters of the president of a savings bank, and
insurance director--were the next morning found to have eloped.  With
them also disappeared the entire contents of the Savings Bank, and on
the following day the Flamingo Fire Insurance Company failed.


CHAPTER II

Let my young readers now sail with me to warmer and more hospitable
climes.  Off the coast of Patagonia a long, low, black schooner proudly
rides the seas, that breaks softly upon the vine-clad shores of that
luxuriant land.  Who is this that, wrapped in Persian rugs, and dressed
in the most expensive manner, calmly reclines on the quarter-deck of
the schooner, toying lightly ever and anon with the luscious fruits of
the vicinity, held in baskets of solid gold by Nubian slaves? or at
intervals, with daring grace, guides an ebony velocipede over the
polished black walnut decks, and in and out the intricacies of the
rigging.  Who is it? well may be asked.  What name is it that blanches
with terror the cheeks of the Patagonian navy?  Who but the Pirate
Prodigy--the relentless Boy Scourer of Patagonian seas?  Voyagers
slowly drifting by the Silurian beach, coasters along the Devonian
shore, still shudder at the name of Bromley Chitterlings--the Boy
Avenger, late of Hartford, Connecticut.

It has been often asked by the idly curious, Why Avenger, and of what?
Let us not seek to disclose the awful secret hidden under that youthful
jacket.  Enough that there may have been that of bitterness in his past
life that he

    "Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wave,"

or "whose soul would heave above the sickening wave," did not
understand.  Only one knew him, perhaps too well--a queen of the
Amazons, taken prisoner off Terra del Fuego a week previous.  She loved
the Boy Avenger.  But in vain; his youthful heart seemed obdurate.

"Hear me," at last he said, when she had for the seventh time wildly
proffered her hand and her kingdom in marriage, "and know once and
forever why I must decline your flattering proposal: I love another."

With a wild, despairing cry, she leaped into the sea, but was instantly
rescued by the Pirate Prodigy.  Yet, even in that supreme moment, such
was his coolness that on his way to the surface he captured a mermaid,
and, placing her in charge of his steward, with directions to give her
a stateroom, with hot and cold water, calmly resumed his place by the
Amazon's side.  When the cabin door closed on his faithful servant,
bringing champagne and ices to the interesting stranger, Chitterlings
resumed his narrative with a choking voice:--

"When I first fled from the roof of a tyrannical parent, I loved the
beautiful and accomplished Eliza J. Sniffen.  Her father was president
of the Workingmen's Savings Bank, and it was perfectly understood that
in the course of time the entire deposits would be his.  But, like a
vain fool, I wished to anticipate the future, and in a wild moment
persuaded Miss Sniffen to elope with me; and, with the entire cash
assets of the bank, we fled together."  He paused, overcome with
emotion.  "But fate decreed it otherwise.  In my feverish haste, I had
forgotten to place among the stores of my pirate craft that peculiar
kind of chocolate caramel to which Eliza Jane was most partial.  We
were obliged to put into New Rochelle on the second day out, to enable
Miss Sniffen to procure that delicacy at the nearest confectioner's,
and match some zephyr worsteds at the first fancy shop.  Fatal mistake.
She went--she never returned!"  In a moment he resumed in a choking
voice, "After a week's weary waiting, I was obliged to put to sea
again, bearing a broken heart and the broken bank of her father.  I
have never seen her since."

"And you still love her?" asked the Amazon queen, excitedly.

"Aye, forever!"

"Noble youth.  Here take the reward of thy fidelity, for know, Bromley
Chitterlings, that I am Eliza Jane.  Wearied with waiting, I embarked
on a Peruvian guano ship--but it's a long story, dear."

"And altogether too thin," said the Boy Avenger, fiercely, releasing
himself from her encircling arms.  "Eliza Jane's age, a year ago, was
only thirteen, and you are forty, if a day."

"True," she returned, sadly, "but I have suffered much, and time passes
rapidly, and I've grown.  You would scarcely believe that this is my
own hair."

"I know not," he replied, in gloomy abstraction.

"Forgive my deceit," she returned.  "If you are affianced to another,
let me at least be--a mother to you."

The Pirate Prodigy started, and tears came to his eyes.  The scene was
affecting in the extreme.  Several of the oldest seamen--men who had
gone through scenes of suffering with tearless eyes and unblanched
cheeks--now retired to the spirit-room to conceal their emotion.  A few
went into caucus in the forecastle, and returned with the request that
the Amazonian queen should hereafter be known as the "Queen of the
Pirates' Isle."

"Mother!" gasped the Pirate Prodigy.

"My son!" screamed the Amazonian queen.

They embraced.  At the same moment a loud flop was heard on the
quarter-deck.  It was the forgotten mermaid, who, emerging from her
state-room and ascending the companion-way at that moment, had fainted
at the spectacle.  The Pirate Prodigy rushed to her side with a bottle
of smelling-salts.

She recovered slowly.  "Permit me," she said, rising with dignity, "to
leave the ship.  I am unaccustomed to such conduct."

"Hear me--she is my mother!"

"She certainly is old enough to be," replied the mermaid; "and to speak
of that being her own hair!" she added with a scornful laugh, as she
rearranged her own luxuriant tresses with characteristic grace, a comb,
and a small hand-mirror.

"If I couldn't afford any other clothes, I might wear a switch, too!"
hissed the Amazonian queen.  "I suppose you don't dye it on account of
the salt water.  But perhaps you prefer green, dear?"

"A little salt water might improve your own complexion, love."

"Fishwoman!" screamed the Amazonian queen.

"Bloomerite!" shrieked the mermaid.

In another instant they had seized each other.

"Mutiny!  Overboard with them!" cried the Pirate Prodigy, rising to the
occasion, and casting aside all human affection in the peril of the
moment.

A plank was brought and two women placed upon it.

"After you, dear," said the mermaid, significantly, to the Amazonian
queen; "you're the oldest."

"Thank you!" said the Amazonian queen, stepping back.  "Fish is always
served first."

Stung by the insult, with a wild scream of rage, the mermaid grappled
her in her arms and leaped into the sea.

As the waters closed over them forever, the Pirate Prodigy sprang to
his feet.  "Up with the black flag, and bear away for New London," he
shouted in trumpet-like tones.  "Ha, ha!  Once more the Rover is free!"

Indeed it was too true.  In that fatal moment he had again loosed
himself from the trammels of human feeling, and was once more the Boy
Avenger.


CHAPTER III

Again I must ask my young friends to mount my hippogriff and hie with
me to the almost inaccessible heights of the Rocky Mountains. There,
for years, a band of wild and untamable savages, known as the "Pigeon
Feet," had resisted the blankets and Bibles of civilization.  For years
the trails leading to their camp were marked by the bones of teamsters
and broken wagons, and the trees were decked with the drying scalp
locks of women and children.  The boldest of military leaders hesitated
to attack them in their fortresses, and prudently left the scalping
knives, rifles, powder, and shot, provided by a paternal government for
their welfare, lying on the ground a few miles from their encampment,
with the request that they were not to be used until the military had
safely retired.  Hitherto, save an occasional incursion into the
territory of the "Knock-knees," a rival tribe, they had limited their
depredations to the vicinity.

But lately a baleful change had come over them.  Acting under some evil
influence, they now pushed their warfare into the white settlements,
carrying fire and destruction with them.  Again and again had the
government offered them a free pass to Washington and the privilege of
being photographed, but under the same evil guidance they refused.
There was a singular mystery in their mode of aggression.
School-houses were always burned, the schoolmasters taken into
captivity, and never again heard from.  A palace car on the Union
Pacific Railway, containing an excursion party of teachers en route to
San Francisco, was surrounded, its inmates captured, and--their
vacancies in the school catalogue never again filled.  Even a Board of
Educational Examiners, proceeding to Cheyenne, were taken prisoners,
and obliged to answer questions they themselves had proposed, amidst
horrible tortures.  By degrees these atrocities were traced to the
malign influence of a new chief of the tribe.  As yet little was known
of him but through his baleful appellations, "Young Man who Goes for
his Teacher," and "He Lifts the Hair of the School Marm."  He was said
to be small and exceedingly youthful in appearance.  Indeed, his
earlier appellative, "He Wipes his Nose on his Sleeve," was said to
have been given to him to indicate his still boy-like habits.

It was night in the encampment and among the lodges of the "Pigeon
Toes."  Dusky maidens flitted in and out among the camp-fires like
brown moths, cooking the toothsome buffalo hump, frying the fragrant
bear's meat, and stewing the esculent bean for the braves. For a few
favored ones spitted grasshoppers were reserved as a rare delicacy,
although the proud Spartan soul of their chief scorned all such
luxuries.

He was seated alone in his wigwam, attended only by the gentle
Mushymush, fairest of the "Pigeon Feet" maidens.  Nowhere were the
characteristics of her great tribe more plainly shown than in the
little feet that lapped over each other in walking.  A single glance at
the chief was sufficient to show the truth of the wild rumors
respecting his youth.  He was scarcely twelve, of proud and lofty
bearing, and clad completely in wrappings of various-colored scalloped
cloths, which gave him the appearance of a somewhat extra-sized
pen-wiper.  An enormous eagle's feather, torn from the wing of a bald
eagle who once attempted to carry him away, completed his attire.  It
was also the memento of one of his most superhuman feats of courage.
He would undoubtedly have scalped the eagle but that nature had
anticipated him.

"Why is the Great Chief sad?" asked Mushymush, softly.  "Does his soul
still yearn for the blood of the pale-faced teachers?  Did not the
scalping of two professors of geology in the Yale exploring party
satisfy his warrior's heart yesterday?  Has he forgotten that Hayden
and Clarence King are still to follow?  Shall his own Mushymush bring
him a botanist to-morrow?  Speak, for the silence of my brother lies on
my heart like the snow on the mountain, and checks the flow of my
speech."

Still the proud Boy Chief sat silent.  Suddenly he said: "Hist!" and
rose to his feet.  Taking a long rifle from the ground he adjusted its
sight.  Exactly seven miles away on the slope of the mountain the
figure of a man was seen walking.  The Boy Chief raised the rifle to
his unerring eye and fired.  The man fell.

A scout was dispatched to scalp and search the body.  He presently
returned.

"Who was the pale face?" eagerly asked the chief.

"A life insurance agent."

A dark scowl settled on the face of the chief.

"I thought it was a book-peddler."

"Why is my brother's heart sore against the book-peddler?" asked
Mushymush.

"Because," said the Boy Chief, fiercely, "I am again without my regular
dime novel, and I thought he might have one in his pack. Hear me,
Mushymush; the United States mails no longer bring me my 'Young
America,' or my 'Boys' and Girls' Weekly.'  I find it impossible, even
with my fastest scouts, to keep up with the rear of General Howard, and
replenish my literature from the sutler's wagon.  Without a dime novel
or a 'Young America,' how am I to keep up this Injin business?"

Mushymush remained in meditation a single moment.  Then she looked up
proudly.

"My brother has spoken.  It is well.  He shall have his dime novel. He
shall know what kind of a hair-pin his sister Mushymush is."

And she arose and gamboled lightly as the fawn out of his presence.

In two hours she returned.  In one hand she held three small flaxen
scalps, in the other "The Boy Marauder," complete in one volume, price
ten cents.

"Three pale-faced children," she gasped, "were reading it in the tail
end of an emigrant wagon.  I crept up to them softly.  Their parents
are still unaware of the accident," and she sank helpless at his feet.

"Noble girl!" said the Boy Chief, gazing proudly on her prostrate form;
"and these are the people that a military despotism expects to subdue!"


CHAPTER IV

But the capture of several wagon-loads of commissary whisky, and the
destruction of two tons of stationery intended for the general
commanding, which interfered with his regular correspondence with the
War Department, at last awakened the United States military authorities
to active exertion.  A quantity of troops were massed before the
"Pigeon Feet" encampment, and an attack was hourly imminent.

"Shine your boots, sir?"

It was the voice of a youth in humble attire, standing before the flap
of the commanding general's tent.

The General raised his head from his correspondence.

"Ah," he said, looking down on the humble boy, "I see; I shall write
that the appliances of civilization move steadily forward with the
army.  Yes," he added, "you may shine my military boots. You
understand, however, that to get your pay you must first--"

"Make a requisition on the commissary-general, have it certified to by
the quartermaster, countersigned by the post-adjutant, and submitted by
you to the War Department--"

"And charged as stationery," added the General, gently.  "You are, I
see, an intelligent and thoughtful boy.  I trust you neither use
whisky, tobacco, nor are ever profane?"

"I promised my sainted mother--"

"Enough!  Go on with your blacking; I have to lead the attack on the
'Pigeon Feet' at eight precisely.  It is now half-past seven," said the
General, consulting a large kitchen clock that stood in the corner of
his tent.

The little boot-black looked up; the General was absorbed in his
correspondence.  The boot-black drew a tin putty blower from his
pocket, took unerring aim, and nailed in a single shot the minute hand
to the dial.  Going on with his blacking, yet stopping ever and anon to
glance over the General's plan of campaign, spread on the table before
him, he was at last interrupted by the entrance of an officer.

"Everything is ready for the attack, General.  It is now eight o'clock."

"Impossible!  It is only half-past seven."

"But my watch and the watches of your staff--"

"Are regulated by my kitchen clock, that has been in my family for
years.  Enough!  It is only half-past seven."

The officer retired; the boot-black had finished one boot.  Another
officer appeared.

"Instead of attacking the enemy, General, we are attacked ourselves.
Our pickets are already driven in."

"Military pickets should not differ from other pickets," interrupted
the boot-black, modestly.  "To stand firmly they should be well driven
in."

"Ha! there is something in that," said the General, thoughtfully. "But
who are you, who speak thus?"

Rising to his full height, the boot-black threw off his outer rags, and
revealed the figure of the Boy Chief of the "Pigeon Feet."

"Treason!" shrieked the General; "order an advance along the whole
line."

But in vain.  The next moment he fell beneath the tomahawk of the Boy
Chief, and within the next quarter of an hour the United States Army
was dispersed.  Thus ended the battle of Boot-black Creek.


CHAPTER V

And yet the Boy Chief was not entirely happy.  Indeed, at times he
seriously thought of accepting the invitation extended by the Great
Chief at Washington, immediately after the massacre of the soldiers,
and once more revisiting the haunts of civilization.  His soul sickened
in feverish inactivity; schoolmasters palled on his taste; he had
introduced base ball, blind hooky, marbles, and peg-top among his
Indian subjects, but only with indifferent success. The squaws insisted
in boring holes through the china alleys and wearing them as necklaces;
his warriors stuck spikes in their base ball bats and made war clubs of
them.  He could not but feel, too, that the gentle Mushymush, although
devoted to her pale-faced brother, was deficient in culinary education.
Her mince pies were abominable; her jam far inferior to that made by
his Aunt Sally of Doemville.  Only an unexpected incident kept him
equally from the extreme of listless Sybaritic indulgence, or of morbid
cynicism. Indeed, at the age of twelve, he already had become disgusted
with existence.

He had returned to his wigwam after an exhausting buffalo hunt in which
he had slain two hundred and seventy-five buffalos with his own hand,
not counting the individual buffalo on which he had leaped so as to
join the herd, and which he afterward led into the camp a captive and a
present to the lovely Mushymush.  He had scalped two express riders and
a correspondent of the "New York Herald"; had despoiled the Overland
Mail Stage of a quantity of vouchers which enabled him to draw double
rations from the government, and was reclining on a bear skin, smoking
and thinking of the vanity of human endeavor, when a scout entered,
saying that a pale-face youth had demanded access to his person.

"Is he a commissioner?  If so, say that the red man is rapidly passing
to the happy hunting-grounds of his fathers, and now desires only
peace, blankets, and ammunition; obtain the latter and then scalp the
commissioner."

"But it is only a youth who asks an interview."

"Does he look like an insurance agent?  If so, say that I have already
policies in three Hartford companies.  Meanwhile prepare the stake, and
see that the squaws are ready with their implements of torture."

The youth was admitted; he was evidently only half the age of the Boy
Chief.  As he entered the wigwam and stood revealed to his host they
both started.  In another moment they were locked in each other's arms.

"Jenky, old boy!"

"Bromley, old fel!"

B. F. Jenkins, for such was the name of the Boy Chief, was the first to
recover his calmness.  Turning to his warriors he said, proudly--

"Let my children retire while I speak to the agent of our Great Father
in Washington.  Hereafter no latch keys will be provided for the
wigwams of the warriors.  The practice of late hours must be
discouraged."

"How!" said the warriors, and instantly retired.

"Whisper," said Jenkins, drawing his friend aside; "I am known here
only as the Boy Chief of the 'Pigeon toes.'"

"And I," said Bromley Chitterlings, proudly, "am known everywhere as
the Pirate Prodigy--the Boy Avenger of the Patagonian Coast."

"But how came you here?"

"Listen!  My pirate brig, the 'Lively Mermaid,' now lies at Meiggs's
Wharf in San Francisco, disguised as a Mendocino lumber vessel.  My
pirate crew accompanied me here in a palace car from San Francisco."

"It must have been expensive," said the prudent Jenkins.

"It was, but they defrayed it by a collection from the other
passengers--you understand, an enforced collection.  The papers will be
full of it to-morrow.  Do you take the 'New York Sun'?"

"No; I dislike their Indian policy.  But why are you here?"

"Hear me, Jenk!  'Tis a long and a sad story.  The lovely Eliza J.
Sniffen, who fled with me from Doemville, was seized by her parents and
torn from my arms at New Rochelle.  Reduced to poverty by the breaking
of the savings bank of which he was president,--a failure to which I
largely contributed, and the profits of which I enjoyed,--I have since
ascertained that Eliza Jane Sniffen was forced to become a
schoolmistress, departed to take charge of a seminary in Colorado, and
since then has never been heard from."

Why did the Boy Chief turn pale, and clutch at the tent-pole for
support?  Why, indeed!

"Eliza J. Sniffen," gasped Jenkins, "aged fourteen, red-haired, with a
slight tendency to strabismus?"

"The same."

"Heaven help me!  She died by my mandate!"

"Traitor!" shrieked Chitterlings, rushing at Jenkins with a drawn
poniard.

But a figure interposed.  The slight girlish form of Mushymush with
outstretched hands stood between the exasperated Pirate Prodigy and the
Boy Chief.

"Forbear," she said sternly to Chitterlings; "you know not what you do."

The two youths paused.

"Hear me," she said rapidly.  "When captured in a confectioner's shop
at New Rochelle, E. J. Sniffen was taken back to poverty.  She resolved
to become a schoolmistress.  Hearing of an opening in the West, she
proceeded to Colorado to take exclusive charge of the pensionnat of
Mad. Choflie, late of Paris.  On the way thither she was captured by
the emissaries of the Boy Chief--"

"In consummation of a fatal vow I made never to spare educational
instructors," interrupted Jenkins.

"But in her captivity," continued Mushymush, "she managed to stain her
face with poke-berry juice, and mingling with the Indian maidens was
enabled to pass for one of the tribe.  Once undetected, she boldly
ingratiated herself with the Boy Chief,--how honestly and devotedly he
best can tell,--for I, Mushymush, the little sister of the Boy Chief,
am Eliza Jane Sniffen."

The Pirate Prodigy clasped her in his arms.  The Boy Chief, raising his
hand, ejaculated:--

"Bless you, my children!"

"There is but one thing wanting to complete this reunion," said
Chitterlings, after a pause, but the hurried entrance of a scout
stopped his utterance.

"A commissioner from the Great Father in Washington."

"Scalp him!" shrieked the Boy Chief; "this is no time for diplomatic
trifling."

"We have, but he still insists upon seeing you, and has sent in his
card."

The Boy Chief took it, and read aloud, in agonized accents:--

"Charles F. Hall Golightly, late Page in United States Senate, and
Acting Commissioner of United States."

In another moment, Golightly, pale, bleeding, and, as it were,
prematurely bald, but still cold and intellectual, entered the wigwam.
They fell upon his neck and begged his forgiveness.

"Don't mention it," he said, quietly; "these things must and will
happen under our present system of government.  My story is brief.
Obtaining political influence through caucuses, I became at last Page
in the Senate.  Through the exertions of political friends I was
appointed clerk to the commissioner whose functions I now represent.
Knowing through political spies in your own camp who you were, I acted
upon the physical fears of the commissioner, who was an ex-clergyman,
and easily induced him to deputize me to consult with you.  In doing
so, I have lost my scalp, but as the hirsute signs of juvenility have
worked against my political progress I do not regret it.  As a
partially bald young man I shall have more power.  The terms that I
have to offer are simply this: you can do everything you want, go
anywhere you choose, if you will only leave this place.  I have a
hundred thousand-dollar draft on the United States Treasury in my
pocket at your immediate disposal."

"But what's to become of me?" asked Chitterlings.

"Your case has already been under advisement.  The Secretary of State,
who is an intelligent man, is determined to recognize you as de jure
and de facto the only loyal representative of the Patagonian
government.  You may safely proceed to Washington as its envoy
extraordinary.  I dine with the secretary next week."

"And yourself, old fellow?"

"I only wish that twenty years from now you will recognize by your
influence and votes the rights of C. F. H. Golightly to the presidency."

And here ends our story.  Trusting that my dear young friends may take
whatever example or moral their respective parents and guardians may
deem fittest from these pages, I hope in future years to portray
further the career of those three young heroes I have already
introduced in the spring-time of life to their charitable consideration.



THE MAN WHOSE YOKE WAS NOT EASY

He was a spare man, and, physically, an ill-conditioned man, but at
first glance scarcely a seedy man.  The indications of reduced
circumstances in the male of the better class are, I fancy, first
visible in the boots and shirt; the boots offensively exhibiting a
degree of polish inconsistent with their dilapidated condition, and the
shirt showing an extent of ostentatious surface that is invariably
fatal to the threadbare waist-coat that it partially covers.  He was a
pale man, and, I fancied, still paler from his black clothes.

He handed me a note.

It was from a certain physician; a man of broad culture and broader
experience; a man who had devoted the greater part of his active life
to the alleviation of sorrow and suffering; a man who had lived up to
the noble vows of a noble profession; a man who locked in his honorable
breast the secrets of a hundred families, whose face was as kindly,
whose touch was as gentle, in the wards of the great public hospitals
as it was beside the laced curtains of the dying Narcissa; a man who,
through long contact with suffering, had acquired a universal
tenderness and breadth of kindly philosophy; a man who, day and night,
was at the beck and call of anguish; a man who never asked the creed,
belief, moral or worldly standing of the sufferer, or even his ability
to pay the few coins that enabled him (the physician) to exist and
practice his calling; in brief, a man who so nearly lived up to the
example of the Great Master that it seems strange I am writing of him
as a doctor of medicine and not of divinity.

The note was in pencil, characteristically brief, and ran thus:--

"Here is the man I spoke of.  He ought to be good material for you."

For a moment I sat looking from the note to the man, and sounding the
"dim perilous depths" of my memory for the meaning of this mysterious
communication.  The good "material," however, soon relieved my
embarrassment by putting his hand on his waistcoat, coming toward me,
and saying, "It is just here, you can feel it."

It was not necessary for me to do so.  In a flash I remembered that my
medical friend had told me of a certain poor patient, once a soldier,
who, among his other trials and uncertainties, was afflicted with an
aneurism caused by the buckle of his knapsack pressing upon the arch of
the aorta.  It was liable to burst at any shock or any moment.  The
poor fellow's yoke had indeed been too heavy.

In the presence of such a tremendous possibility I think for an instant
I felt anxious only about myself.  What I should do; how dispose of the
body; how explain the circumstance of his taking off; how evade the
ubiquitous reporter and the coroner's inquest; how a suspicion might
arise that I had in some way, through negligence or for some dark
purpose, unknown to the jury, precipitated the catastrophe, all flashed
before me.  Even the note, with its darkly suggestive offer of "good
material" for me, looked diabolically significant.  What might not an
intelligent lawyer make of it?

I tore it up instantly, and with feverish courtesy begged him to be
seated.

"You don't care to feel it?" he asked, a little anxiously.

"No."

"Nor see it?"

"No."

He sighed, a trifle sadly, as if I had rejected the only favor he could
bestow.  I saw at once that he had been under frequent exhibition to
the doctors, and that he was, perhaps, a trifle vain of this attention.
This perception was corroborated a moment later by his producing a copy
of a medical magazine, with a remark that on the sixth page I would
find a full statement of his case.

"Could I serve him in any way?" I asked.

It appeared that I could.  If I could help him to any light employment,
something that did not require any great physical exertion or mental
excitement, he would be thankful.  But he wanted me to understand that
he was not, strictly speaking, a poor man; that some years before the
discovery of his fatal complaint he had taken out a life insurance
policy for five thousand dollars, and that he had raked and scraped
enough together to pay it up, and that he would not leave his wife and
four children destitute.  "You see," he added, "if I could find some
sort of light work to do, and kinder sled along, you know--until--"

He stopped, awkwardly.

I have heard several noted actors thrill their audiences with a single
phrase.  I think I never was as honestly moved by any spoken word as
that "until," or the pause that followed it.  He was evidently quite
unconscious of its effect, for as I took a seat beside him on the sofa,
and looked more closely in his waxen face, I could see that he was
evidently embarrassed, and would have explained himself further, if I
had not stopped him.

Possibly it was the dramatic idea, or possibly chance; but a few days
afterward, meeting a certain kind-hearted theatrical manager, I asked
him if he had any light employment for a man who was an invalid?  "Can
he walk?"  "Yes."  "Stand up for fifteen minutes?" "Yes."  "Then I'll
take him.  He'll do for the last scene in the 'Destruction of
Sennacherib'--it's a tremendous thing, you know. We'll have two
thousand people on the stage."  I was a trifle alarmed at the title,
and ventured to suggest (without betraying my poor friend's secret)
that he could not actively engage in the "Destruction of Sennacherib,"
and that even the spectacle of it might be too much for him.  "Needn't
see it at all," said my managerial friend; "put him in front, nothing
to do but march in and march out, and dodge curtain."

He was engaged.  I admit I was at times haunted by grave doubts as to
whether I should not have informed the manager of his physical
condition, and the possibility that he might some evening perpetrate a
real tragedy on the mimic stage, but on the first performance of "The
Destruction of Sennacherib," which I conscientiously attended, I was
somewhat relieved.  I had often been amused with the placid way in
which the chorus in the opera invariably received the most astounding
information, and witnessed the most appalling tragedies by poison or
the block, without anything more than a vocal protest or command,
always delivered to the audience and never to the actors, but I think
my poor friend's utter impassiveness to the wild carnage and the
terrible exhibitions of incendiarism that were going on around him
transcended even that.  Dressed in a costume that seemed to be the very
soul of anachronism, he stood a little outside the proscenium, holding
a spear, the other hand pressed apparently upon the secret within his
breast, calmly surveying, with his waxen face, the gay auditorium.  I
could not help thinking that there was a certain pride visible even in
his placid features, as of one who was conscious that at any moment he
might change this simulated catastrophe into real terror.  I could not
help saying this to the Doctor, who was with me.  "Yes," he said with
professional exactitude; "when it happens he'll throw his arms up above
his head, utter an ejaculation, and fall forward on his face,--it's a
singular thing, they always fall forward on their face,--and they'll
pick up the man as dead as Julius Caesar."

After that, I used to go night after night, with a certain hideous
fascination; but, while it will be remembered the "Destruction of
Sennacherib" had a tremendous run, it will also be remembered that not
a single life was really lost during its representation.

It was only a few weeks after this modest first appearance on the
boards of "The Man with an Aneurism," that, happening to be at dinner
party of practical business men, I sought to interest them with the
details of the above story, delivered with such skill and pathos as I
could command.  I regret to say that, as a pathetic story, it for a
moment seemed to be a dead failure.  At last a prominent banker sitting
next to me turned to me with the awful question: "Why don't your friend
try to realize on his life insurance?"  I begged his pardon, I didn't
quite understand.  "Oh, discount, sell out.  Look here--(after a
pause).  Let him assign his policy to me, it's not much of a risk, on
your statement. Well--I'll give him his five thousand dollars, clear."

And he did.  Under the advice of this cool-headed--I think I may add
warm-hearted--banker, "The Man with an Aneurism" invested his money in
the name of and for the benefit of his wife in certain securities that
paid him a small but regular stipend.  But he still continued upon the
boards of the theatre.

By reason of some business engagements that called me away from the
city, I did not see my friend the physician for three months afterward.
When I did I asked tidings of The Man with the Aneurism.  The Doctor's
kind face grew sad.  "I'm afraid--that is, I don't exactly know whether
I've good news or bad.  Did you ever see his wife?"

I never had.

"Well, she was younger than he, and rather attractive.  One of those
doll-faced women.  You remember, he settled that life insurance policy
on her and the children: she might have waited; she didn't.  The other
day she eloped with some fellow, I don't remember his name, with the
children and the five thousand dollars."

"And the shock killed him," I said with poetic promptitude.

"No--that is--not yet; I saw him yesterday," said the Doctor, with
conscientious professional precision, looking over his list of calls.

"Well, where is the poor fellow now?"

"He's still at the theatre.  James, if these powders are called for,
you'll find them, here in this envelope.  Tell Mrs. Blank I'll be there
at seven--and she can give the baby this until I come. Say there's no
danger.  These women are an awful bother!  Yes, he's at the theatre
yet.  Which way are you going?  Down town?  Why can't you step into my
carriage, and I'll give you a lift, and we'll talk on the way down?
Well--he's at the theatre yet. And--and--do you remember the
'Destruction of Sennacherib?'  No?  Yes you do.  You remember that
woman in pink, who pirouetted in the famous ballet scene!  You don't?
Why, yes you do!  Well, I imagine, of course I don't know, it's only a
summary diagnosis, but I imagine that our friend with the aneurism has
attached himself to her."

"Doctor, you horrify me."

"There are more things, Mr. Poet, in heaven and earth than are yet
dreamt of in your philosophy.  Listen.  My diagnosis may be wrong, but
that woman called the other day at my office to ask about him, his
health, and general condition.  I told her the truth--and she FAINTED.
It was about as dead a faint as I ever saw; I was nearly an hour in
bringing her out of it.  Of course it was the heat of the room, her
exertions the preceding week, and I prescribed for her.  Queer, wasn't
it?  Now, if I were a writer, and had your faculty, I'd make something
out of that."

"But how is his general health?"

"Oh, about the same.  He can't evade what will come, you know, at any
moment.  He was up here the other day.  Why, the pulsation was as
plain--why, the entire arch of the aorta--  What! you get out here?
Good-by."

Of course no moralist, no man writing for a sensitive and strictly
virtuous public, could further interest himself in this man.  So I
dismissed him at once from my mind, and returned to the literary
contemplation of virtue that was clearly and positively defined, and of
Sin, that invariably commenced with a capital letter.  That this man,
in his awful condition, hovering on the verge of eternity, should allow
himself to be attracted by--but it was horrible to contemplate.

Nevertheless, a month afterwards, I was returning from a festivity with
my intimate friend Smith, my distinguished friend Jobling, my most
respectable friend Robinson, and my wittiest friend Jones.  It was a
clear, star-lit morning, and we seemed to hold the broad, beautiful
avenue to ourselves; and I fear we acted as if it were so.  As we
hilariously passed the corner of Eighteenth Street, a coupe rolled by,
and I suddenly heard my name called from its gloomy depths.

"I beg your pardon," said the Doctor, as his driver drew up by the
sidewalk, "but I've some news for you.  I've just been to see our poor
friend ----.  Of course I was too late.  He was gone in a flash."

"What! dead?"

"As Pharaoh!  In an instant, just as I said.  You see, the rupture took
place in the descending arch of--"

"But, Doctor!"

"It's a queer story.  Am I keeping you from your friends?  No? Well,
you see she--that woman I spoke of--had written a note to him based on
what I had told her.  He got it, and dropped in his dressing-room, dead
as a herring."

"How could she have been so cruel, knowing his condition?  She might,
with woman's tact, have rejected him less abruptly."

"Yes; but you're all wrong.  By Jove! she ACCEPTED him! was willing to
marry him!"

"What?"

"Yes.  Don't you see?  It was joy that killed him.  Gad, we never
thought of THAT!  Queer, ain't it?  See here, don't you think you might
make a story out of it?"

"But, Doctor, it hasn't got any moral."

"Humph!  That's so.  Good morning.  Drive on, John."



MY FRIEND, THE TRAMP

I had been sauntering over the clover downs of a certain noted New
England seaport.  It was a Sabbath morning, so singularly reposeful and
gracious, so replete with the significance of the seventh day of rest,
that even the Sabbath bells ringing a mile away over the salt marshes
had little that was monitory, mandatory, or even supplicatory in their
drowsy voices.  Rather they seemed to call from their cloudy towers,
like some renegade muezzin: "Sleep is better than prayer; sleep on, O
sons of the Puritans!  Slumber still, O deacons and vestrymen!  Let, oh
let those feet that are swift to wickedness curl up beneath thee! those
palms that are itching for the shekels of the ungodly lie clasped
beneath thy pillow!  Sleep is better than prayer."

And, indeed, though it was high morning, sleep was still in the air.
Wrought upon at last by the combined influences of sea and sky and
atmosphere, I succumbed, and lay down on one of the boulders of a
little stony slope that gave upon the sea.  The great Atlantic lay
before me, not yet quite awake, but slowly heaving the rhythmical
expiration of slumber.  There was no sail visible in the misty horizon.
There was nothing to do but to lie and stare at the unwinking ether.

Suddenly I became aware of the strong fumes of tobacco.  Turning my
head, I saw a pale blue smoke curling up from behind an adjacent
boulder.  Rising, and climbing over the intermediate granite, I came
upon a little hollow, in which, comfortably extended on the mosses and
lichens, lay a powerfully-built man.  He was very ragged; he was very
dirty; there was a strong suggestion about him of his having too much
hair, too much nail, too much perspiration; too much of those
superfluous excrescences and exudations that society and civilization
strive to keep under.  But it was noticeable that he had not much of
anything else.  It was The Tramp.

With that swift severity with which we always visit rebuke upon the
person who happens to present any one of our vices offensively before
us, in his own person, I was deeply indignant at his laziness.  Perhaps
I showed it in my manner, for he rose to a half-sitting attitude,
returned my stare apologetically, and made a movement toward knocking
the fire from his pipe against the granite.

"Shure, sur, and if I'd belaved that I was trispassin on yer honor's
grounds, it's meself that would hev laid down on the say shore and
takin' the salt waves for me blankits.  But it's sivinteen miles I've
walked this blessed noight, with nothin' to sustain me, and hevin' a
mortal wakeness to fight wid in me bowels, by reason of starvation, and
only a bit o' baccy that the Widdy Maloney gi' me at the cross roads,
to kape me up entoirley.  But it was the dark day I left me home in
Milwaukee to walk to Boston; and if ye'll oblige a lone man who has
left a wife and six children in Milwaukee, wid the loan of twenty-five
cints, furninst the time he gits worruk, God'll be good to ye."

It instantly flashed through my mind that the man before me had the
previous night partaken of the kitchen hospitality of my little
cottage, two miles away.  That he presented himself in the guise of a
distressed fisherman, mulcted of his wages by an inhuman captain; that
he had a wife lying sick of consumption in the next village, and two
children, one of whom was a cripple, wandering in the streets of
Boston.  I remembered that this tremendous indictment against Fortune
touched the family, and that the distressed fisherman was provided with
clothes, food, and some small change. The food and small change had
disappeared, but the garments for the consumptive wife, where were
they?  He had been using them for a pillow.

I instantly pointed out this fact, and charged him with the deception.
To my surprise, he took it quietly, and even a little complacently.

"Bedad, yer roight; ye see, sur" (confidentially), "ye see, sur, until
I get worruk--and it's worruk I'm lukin' for--I have to desave now and
thin to shute the locality.  Ah, God save us! but on the say-coast
thay'r that har-rud upon thim that don't belong to the say."

I ventured to suggest that a strong, healthy man like him might have
found work somewhere between Milwaukee and Boston.

"Ah, but ye see I got free passage on a freight train, and didn't
sthop.  It was in the Aist that I expected to find worruk."

"Have you any trade?"

"Trade, is it?  I'm a brickmaker, God knows, and many's the lift I've
had at makin' bricks in Milwaukee.  Shure, I've as aisy a hand at it as
any man.  Maybe yer honor might know of a kill hereabout?"

Now to my certain knowledge, there was not a brick kiln within fifty
miles of that spot, and of all unlikely places to find one would have
been this sandy peninsula, given up to the summer residences of a few
wealthy people.  Yet I could not help admiring the assumption of the
scamp, who knew this fact as well as myself. But I said, "I can give
you work for a day or two;" and, bidding him gather up his sick wife's
apparel, led the way across the downs to my cottage.  At first I think
the offer took him by surprise, and gave him some consternation, but he
presently recovered his spirits, and almost instantly his speech.  "Ah,
worruk, is it?  God be praised! it's meself that's ready and willin'.
'Though maybe me hand is spoilt wid brickmakin'."

I assured him that the work I would give him would require no delicate
manipulation, and so we fared on over the sleepy downs. But I could not
help noticing that, although an invalid, I was a much better pedestrian
than my companion, frequently leaving him behind, and that even as a
"tramp," he was etymologically an impostor.  He had a way of lingering
beside the fences we had to climb over, as if to continue more
confidentially the history of his misfortunes and troubles, which he
was delivering to me during our homeward walk, and I noticed that he
could seldom resist the invitation of a mossy boulder or a tussock of
salt grass.  "Ye see, sur," he would say, suddenly sitting down, "it's
along uv me misfortunes beginnin' in Milwaukee that--" and it was not
until I was out of hearing that he would languidly gather his traps
again and saunter after me.  When I reached my own garden gate he
leaned for a moment over it, with both of his powerful arms extended
downward, and said, "Ah, but it's a blessin' that Sunday comes to give
rest fur the wake and the weary, and them as walks sivinteen miles to
get it."  Of course I took the hint.  There was evidently no work to be
had from my friend, the Tramp, that day.  Yet his countenance
brightened as he saw the limited extent of my domain, and observed that
the garden, so called, was only a flower-bed about twenty-five by ten.
As he had doubtless before this been utilized, to the extent of his
capacity, in digging, he had probably expected that kind of work; and I
daresay I discomfitted him by pointing him to an almost leveled stone
wall, about twenty feet long, with the remark that his work would be
the rebuilding of that stone wall, with stone brought from the
neighboring slopes. In a few moments he was comfortably provided for in
the kitchen, where the cook, a woman of his own nativity, apparently,
"chaffed" him with a raillery that was to me quite unintelligible.  Yet
I noticed that when, at sunset, he accompanied Bridget to the spring
for water, ostentatiously flourishing the empty bucket in his hand,
when they returned in the gloaming Bridget was carrying the water, and
my friend, the Tramp, was some paces behind her, cheerfully
"colloguing," and picking blackberries.

At seven the next morning he started in cheerfully to work.  At nine,
A. M., he had placed three large stones on the first course in
position, an hour having been spent in looking for a pick and hammer,
and in the incidental "chaffing" with Bridget.  At ten o'clock I went
to overlook his work; it was a rash action, as it caused him to
respectfully doff his hat, discontinue his labors, and lean back
against the fence in cheerful and easy conservation. "Are you fond uv
blackberries, Captain?"  I told him that the children were in the habit
of getting them from the meadow beyond, hoping to estop the suggestion
I knew was coming.  "Ah, but, Captain, it's meself that with wanderin'
and havin' nothin' to pass me lips but the berries I'd pick from the
hedges,--it's meself knows where to find thim.  Sure, it's yer childer,
and foine boys they are, Captain, that's besaching me to go wid 'em to
the place, known'st only to meself."  It is unnecessary to say that he
triumphed.  After the manner of vagabonds of all degrees, he had
enlisted the women and children on his side--and my friend, the Tramp,
had his own way.  He departed at eleven and returned at four, P. M.,
with a tin dinner-pail half filled.  On interrogating the boys it
appeared that they had had a "bully time," but on cross-examination it
came out that THEY had picked the berries. From four to six, three more
stones were laid, and the arduous labors of the day were over.  As I
stood looking at the first course of six stones, my friend, the Tramp,
stretched his strong arms out to their fullest extent and said: "Ay,
but it's worruk that's good for me; give me worruk, and it's all I'll
be askin' fur."

I ventured to suggest that he had not yet accomplished much.

"Wait till to-morror.  Ah, but ye'll see thin.  It's me hand that's yet
onaisy wid brick-makin' and sthrange to the shtones.  An ye'll wait
till to-morror?"

Unfortunately I did not wait.  An engagement took me away at an early
hour, and when I rode up to my cottage at noon my eyes were greeted
with the astonishing spectacle of my two boys hard at work laying the
courses of the stone wall, assisted by Bridget and Norah, who were
dragging stones from the hillsides, while comfortably stretched on the
top of the wall lay my friend, the Tramp, quietly overseeing the
operation with lazy and humorous comment.  For an instant I was
foolishly indignant, but he soon brought me to my senses.  "Shure, sur,
it's only larnin' the boys the habits uv industhry I was--and may they
niver know, be the same token, what it is to worruk fur the bread
betune their lips.  Shure it's but makin' 'em think it play I was.  As
fur the colleens beyint in the kitchen, sure isn't it betther they was
helping your honor here than colloguing with themselves inside?"

Nevertheless, I thought it expedient to forbid henceforth any
interruption of servants or children with my friend's "worruk." Perhaps
it was the result of this embargo that the next morning early the Tramp
wanted to see me.

"And it's sorry I am to say it to ye, sur," he began, "but it's the
handlin' of this stun that's desthroyin' me touch at the brick-makin',
and it's better I should lave ye and find worruk at me own thrade.  For
it's worruk I am nadin'.  It isn't meself, Captain, to ate the bread of
oidleness here.  And so good-by to ye, and if it's fifty cints ye can
be givin' me ontil I'll find a kill--it's God that'll repay ye."

He got the money.  But he got also conditionally a note from me to my
next neighbor, a wealthy retired physician, possessed of a large
domain, a man eminently practical and businesslike in his management of
it.  He employed many laborers on the sterile waste he called his
"farm," and it occurred to me that if there really was any work in my
friend, the Tramp, which my own indolence and preoccupation had failed
to bring out, he was the man to do it.

I met him a week after.  It was with some embarrassment that I inquired
after my friend, the Tramp.  "Oh, yes," he said, reflectively, "let's
see: he came Monday and left me Thursday.  He was, I think, a stout,
strong man, a well-meaning, good-humored fellow, but afflicted with a
most singular variety of diseases. The first day I put him at work in
the stables he developed chills and fever caught in the swamps of
Louisiana--"

"Excuse me," I said hurriedly, "you mean in Milwaukee!"

"I know what I'm talking about," returned the Doctor, testily; "he told
me his whole wretched story--his escape from the Confederate service,
the attack upon him by armed negroes, his concealment in the bayous and
swamps--"

"Go on, Doctor," I said, feebly; "you were speaking of his work."

"Yes.  Well, his system was full of malaria; the first day I had him
wrapped up in blankets, and dosed with quinine.  The next day he was
taken with all the symptoms of cholera morbus, and I had to keep him up
on brandy and capsicum.  Rheumatism set in on the following day, and
incapacitated him for work, and I concluded I had better give him a
note to the director of the City Hospital than keep him here.  As a
pathological study he was good; but as I was looking for a man to help
about the stable, I couldn't afford to keep him in both capacities."

As I never could really tell when the Doctor was in joke or in earnest,
I dropped the subject.  And so my friend, the Tramp, gradually faded
from my memory, not however without leaving behind him in the barn
where he had slept a lingering flavor of whisky, onions, and
fluffiness.  But in two weeks this had gone, and the "Shebang" (as my
friends irreverently termed my habitation) knew him no more.  Yet it
was pleasant to think of him as having at last found a job at
brick-making, or having returned to his family at Milwaukee, or making
his Louisiana home once more happy with his presence, or again tempting
the fish-producing main--this time with a noble and equitable captain.

It was a lovely August morning when I rode across the sandy peninsula
to visit a certain noted family, whereof all the sons were valiant and
the daughters beautiful.  The front of the house was deserted, but on
the rear veranda I heard the rustle of gowns, and above it arose what
seemed to be the voice of Ulysses, reciting his wanderings.  There was
no mistaking that voice, it was my friend, the Tramp!

From what I could hastily gather from his speech, he had walked from
St. John, N. B., to rejoin a distressed wife in New York, who was,
however, living with opulent but objectionable relatives. "An' shure,
miss, I wouldn't be askin' ye the loan of a cint if I could get worruk
at me trade of carpet-wavin'--and maybe ye know of some mannfacthory
where they wave carpets beyant here.  Ah, miss, and if ye don't give me
a cint, it's enough for the loikes of me to know that me troubles has
brought the tears in the most beautiful oiyes in the wurruld, and God
bless ye for it, miss!"

Now I knew that the Most Beautiful Eyes in the World belonged to one of
the most sympathetic and tenderest hearts in the world, and I felt that
common justice demanded my interference between it and one of the
biggest scamps in the world.  So, without waiting to be announced by
the servant, I opened the door, and joined the group on the veranda.

If I expected to touch the conscience of my friend, the Tramp, by a
dramatic entrance, I failed utterly; for no sooner did he see me, than
he instantly gave vent to a howl of delight, and, falling on his knees
before me, grasped my hand, and turned oratorically to the ladies.

"Oh, but it's himself--himself that has come as a witness to me
carrakther!  Oh, but it's himself that lifted me four wakes ago, when I
was lyin' with a mortal wakeness on the say-coast, and tuk me to his
house.  Oh, but it's himself that shupported me over the faldes, and
whin the chills and faver came on me and I shivered wid the cold, it
was himself, God bless him, as sthripped the coat off his back, and giv
it me, sayin', 'Take it, Dinnis, it's shtarved with the cowld say air
ye'll be entoirely.'  Ah, but look at him--will ye, miss!  Look at his
swate, modist face--a blushin' like your own, miss.  Ah! look at him,
will ye?  He'll be denyin' of it in a minit--may the blessin' uv God
folly him.  Look at him, miss! Ah, but it's a swate pair ye'd make!
(the rascal knew I was a married man).  Ah, miss, if you could see him
wroightin' day and night with such an illigant hand of his own--(he had
evidently believed from the gossip of my servants that I was a
professor of chirography)--if ye could see him, miss, as I have, ye'd
be proud of him."

He stopped out of breath.  I was so completely astounded I could say
nothing: the tremendous indictment I had framed to utter as I opened
the door vanished completely.  And as the Most Beautiful Eyes in the
Wurruld turned gratefully to mine--well--

I still retained enough principle to ask the ladies to withdraw, while
I would take upon myself the duty of examining into the case of my
friend, the Tramp, and giving him such relief as was required.  (I did
not know until afterward, however, that the rascal had already
despoiled their scant purses of three dollars and fifty cents.)  When
the door was closed upon them I turned upon him.

"You infernal rascal!"

"Ah, Captain, and would ye be refusin' ME a carrakther and me givin' YE
such a one as Oi did!  God save us! but if ye'd hav' seen the luk that
the purty one give ye.  Well, before the chills and faver bruk me
spirits entirely, when I was a young man, and makin' me tin dollars a
week brick-makin', it's meself that wud hav' given--"

"I consider," I broke in, "that a dollar is a fair price for your
story, and as I shall have to take it all back and expose you before
the next twenty-four hours pass, I think you had better hasten to
Milwaukee, New York, or Louisiana."

I handed him the dollar.  "Mind, I don't want to see your face again."

"Ye wun't, captain."

And I did not.

But it so chanced that later in the season, when the migratory
inhabitants had flown to their hot-air registers in Boston and
Providence, I breakfasted with one who had lingered.  It was a certain
Boston lawyer,--replete with principle, honesty, self-discipline,
statistics, aesthetics, and a perfect consciousness of possessing all
these virtues, and a full recognition of their market values.  I think
he tolerated me as a kind of foreigner, gently but firmly waiving all
argument on any topic, frequently distrusting my facts, generally my
deductions, and always my ideas. In conversation he always appeared to
descend only half way down a long moral and intellectual staircase, and
always delivered his conclusions over the balusters.

I had been speaking of my friend, the Tramp.  "There is but one way of
treating that class of impostors; it is simply to recognize the fact
that the law calls him a 'vagrant,' and makes his trade a misdemeanor.
Any sentiment on the other side renders you particeps criminis.  I
don't know but an action would lie against you for encouraging tramps.
Now, I have an efficacious way of dealing with these gentry."  He rose
and took a double-barreled fowling-piece from the chimney.  "When a
tramp appears on my property, I warn him off.  If he persists, I fire
on him--as I would on any criminal trespasser."

"Fire on him?" I echoed in alarm.

"Yes--BUT WITH POWDER ONLY!  Of course HE doesn't know that.  But he
doesn't come back."

It struck me for the first time that possibly many other of my friend's
arguments might be only blank cartridges, and used to frighten off
other trespassing intellects.

"Of course, if the tramp still persisted, I would be justified in using
shot.  Last evening I had a visit from one.  He was coming over the
wall.  My shot gun was efficacious; you should have seen him run!"

It was useless to argue with so positive a mind, and I dropped the
subject.  After breakfast I strolled over the downs, my friend
promising to join me as soon as he arranged some household business.

It was a lovely, peaceful morning, not unlike the day when I first met
my friend, the Tramp.  The hush of a great benediction lay on land and
sea.  A few white sails twinkled afar, but sleepily; one or two large
ships were creeping in lazily, like my friend, the Tramp.  A voice
behind me startled me.

My host had rejoined me.  His face, however, looked a little troubled.

"I just now learned something of importance," he began.  "It appears
that with all my precautions that Tramp has visited my kitchen, and the
servants have entertained him.  Yesterday morning, it appears, while I
was absent, he had the audacity to borrow my gun to go duck-shooting.
At the end of two or three hours he returned with two ducks and--the
gun."

"That was, at least, honest."

"Yes--but!  That fool of a girl says that, as he handed back the gun,
he told her it was all right, and that he had loaded it up again to
save the master trouble."

I think I showed my concern in my face, for he added, hastily: "It was
only duck-shot; a few wouldn't hurt him!"

Nevertheless, we both walked on in silence for a moment.  "I thought
the gun kicked a little," he said at last, musingly; "but the idea of--
Hallo! what's this?"

He stopped before the hollow where I had first seen my Tramp.  It was
deserted, but on the mosses there were spots of blood and fragments of
an old gown, blood-stained, as if used for bandages. I looked at it
closely: it was the gown intended for the consumptive wife of my
friend, the Tramp.

But my host was already nervously tracking the bloodstains that on
rock, moss, and boulder were steadily leading toward the sea.  When I
overtook him at last on the shore, he was standing before a flat rock,
on which lay a bundle I recognized, tied up in a handkerchief, and a
crooked grape-vine stick.

"He may have come here to wash his wounds--salt is a styptic," said my
host, who had recovered his correct precision of statement.

I said nothing, but looked toward the sea.  Whatever secret lay hid in
its breast, it kept it fast.  Whatever its calm eyes had seen that
summer night, it gave no reflection now.  It lay there passive,
imperturbable, and reticent.  But my friend, the Tramp, was gone!



THE MAN FROM SOLANO

He came toward me out of an opera lobby, between the acts,--a figure as
remarkable as anything in the performance.  His clothes, no two
articles of which were of the same color, had the appearance of having
been purchased and put on only an hour or two before,--a fact more
directly established by the clothes-dealer's ticket which still adhered
to his coat-collar, giving the number, size, and general dimensions of
that garment somewhat obtrusively to an uninterested public.  His
trousers had a straight line down each leg, as if he had been born flat
but had since developed; and there was another crease down his back,
like those figures children cut out of folded paper.  I may add that
there was no consciousness of this in his face, which was good-natured,
and, but for a certain squareness in the angle of his lower jaw,
utterly uninteresting and commonplace.

"You disremember me," he said, briefly, as he extended his hand, "but
I'm from Solano, in Californy.  I met you there in the spring of '57.
I was tendin' sheep, and you was burnin' charcoal."

There was not the slightest trace of any intentional rudeness in the
reminder.  It was simply a statement of fact, and as such to be
accepted.

"What I hailed ye for was only this," he said, after I had shaken hands
with him.  "I saw you a minnit ago standin' over in yon box--chirpin'
with a lady--a young lady, peart and pretty.  Might you be telling me
her name?"

I gave him the name of a certain noted belle of a neighboring city, who
had lately stirred the hearts of the metropolis, and who was especially
admired by the brilliant and fascinating young Dashboard, who stood
beside me.

The Man from Solano mused for a moment, and then said, "Thet's so!
thet's the name!  It's the same gal!"

"You have met her, then?" I asked, in surprise.

"Ye-es," he responded, slowly: "I met her about fower months ago. She'd
bin makin' a tour of Californy with some friends, and I first saw her
aboard the cars this side of Reno.  She lost her baggage-checks, and I
found them on the floor and gave 'em back to her, and she thanked me.
I reckon now it would be about the square thing to go over thar and
sorter recognize her."  He stopped a moment, and looked at us
inquiringly.

"My dear sir," struck in the brilliant and fascinating Dashboard, "if
your hesitation proceeds from any doubt as to the propriety of your
attire, I beg you to dismiss it from your mind at once.  The tyranny of
custom, it is true, compels your friend and myself to dress peculiarly,
but I assure you nothing could be finer than the way that the olive
green of your coat melts in the delicate yellow of your cravat, or the
pearl gray of your trousers blends with the bright blue of your
waistcoat, and lends additional brilliancy to that massive oroide
watch-chain which you wear."

To my surprise, the Man from Solano did not strike him.  He looked at
the ironical Dashboard with grave earnestness, and then said quietly:--

"Then I reckon you wouldn't mind showin' me in thar?"

Dashboard was, I admit, a little staggered at this.  But he recovered
himself, and, bowing ironically, led the way to the box. I followed him
and the Man from Solano.

Now, the belle in question happened to be a gentlewoman--descended from
gentlewomen--and after Dashboard's ironical introduction, in which the
Man from Solano was not spared, she comprehended the situation
instantly.  To Dashboard's surprise she drew a chair to her side, made
the Man from Solano sit down, quietly turned her back on Dashboard, and
in full view of the brilliant audience and the focus of a hundred
lorgnettes, entered into conversation with him.

Here, for the sake of romance, I should like to say he became animated,
and exhibited some trait of excellence,--some rare wit or solid sense.
But the fact is he was dull and stupid to the last degree.  He
persisted in keeping the conversation upon the subject of the lost
baggage-checks, and every bright attempt of the lady to divert him
failed signally.  At last, to everybody's relief, he rose, and leaning
over her chair, said:--

"I calklate to stop over here some time, miss, and you and me bein'
sorter strangers here, maybe when there's any show like this goin' on
you'll let me--"

Miss X. said somewhat hastily that the multiplicity of her engagements
and the brief limit of her stay in New York she feared would, etc.,
etc.  The two other ladies had their handkerchiefs over their mouths,
and were staring intently on the stage, when the Man from Solano
continued:--

"Then, maybe, miss, whenever there is a show goin' on that you'll
attend, you'll just drop me word to Earle's Hotel, to this yer
address," and he pulled from his pocket a dozen well-worn letters, and
taking the buff envelope from one, handed it to her with something like
a bow.

"Certainly," broke in the facetious Dashboard, "Miss X. goes to the
Charity Ball to-morrow night.  The tickets are but a trifle to an
opulent Californian, and a man of your evident means, and the object a
worthy one.  You will, no doubt, easily secure an invitation."

Miss X. raised her handsome eyes for a moment to Dashboard.  "By all
means," she said, turning to the Man from Solano; "and as Mr. Dashboard
is one of the managers and you are a stranger, he will, of course, send
you a complimentary ticket.  I have known Mr. Dashboard long enough to
know that he is invariably courteous to strangers and a gentleman."
She settled herself in her chair again and fixed her eyes upon the
stage.

The Man from Solano thanked the Man of New York, and then, after
shaking hands with every body in the box, turned to go.  When he had
reached the door he looked back to Miss X., and said,--

"It WAS one of the queerest things in the world, miss, that my findin'
them checks--"

But the curtain had just then risen on the garden scene in "Faust," and
Miss X. was absorbed.  The Man from Solano carefully shut the box door
and retired.  I followed him.

He was silent until he reached the lobby, and then he said, as if
renewing a previous conversation, "She IS a mighty peart gal--that's
so.  She's just my kind, and will make a stavin' good wife."

I thought I saw danger ahead for the Man from Solano, so I hastened to
tell him that she was beset by attentions, that she could have her pick
and choice of the best of society, and finally, that she was, most
probably, engaged to Dashboard.

"That's so," he said quietly, without the slightest trace of feeling.
"It would be mighty queer if she wasn't.  But I reckon I'll steer down
to the ho-tel.  I don't care much for this yellin'."  (He was alluding
to a cadenza of that famous cantatrice, Signora Batti Batti.)  "What's
the time?"

He pulled out his watch.  It was such a glaring chain, so obviously
bogus, that my eyes were fascinated by it.  "You're looking at that
watch," he said; "it's purty to look at, but she don't go worth a cent.
And yet her price was $125, gold.  I gobbled her up in Chatham Street
day before yesterday, where they were selling 'em very cheap at
auction."

"You have been outrageously swindled," I said, indignantly.  "Watch and
chain are not worth twenty dollars."

"Are they worth fifteen?" he asked, gravely.

"Possibly."

"Then I reckon it's a fair trade.  Ye see, I told 'em I was a
Californian from Solano, and hadn't anything about me of greenbacks.  I
had three slugs with me.  Ye remember them slugs?" (I did; the "slug"
was a "token" issued in the early days--a hexagonal piece of gold a
little over twice the size of a twenty-dollar gold piece--worth and
accepted for fifty dollars.)

"Well, I handed them that, and they handed me the watch.  You see them
slugs I had made myself outer brass filings and iron pyrites, and used
to slap 'em down on the boys for a bluff in a game of draw poker.  You
see, not being reg'lar gov-ment money, it wasn't counterfeiting.  I
reckon they cost me, counting time and anxiety, about fifteen dollars.
So, if this yer watch is worth that, it's about a square game, ain't
it?"

I began to understand the Man from Solano, and said it was.  He
returned his watch to his pocket, toyed playfully with the chain, and
remarked, "Kinder makes a man look fash'nable and wealthy, don't it?"

I agreed with him.  "But what do you intend to do here?" I asked.

"Well, I've got a cash capital of nigh on seven hundred dollars.  I
guess until I get into reg'lar business I'll skirmish round Wall
Street, and sorter lay low."  I was about to give him a few words of
warning, but I remembered his watch, and desisted.  We shook hands and
parted.

A few days after I met him on Broadway.  He was attired in another new
suit, but I think I saw a slight improvement in his general appearance.
Only five distinct colors were visible in his attire. But this, I had
reason to believe afterwards, was accidental.

I asked him if he had been to the ball.  He said he had.  "That gal,
and a mighty peart gal she was too, was there, but she sorter fought
shy of me.  I got this new suit to go in, but those waiters sorter run
me into a private box, and I didn't get much chance to continner our
talk about them checks.  But that young feller, Dashboard, was mighty
perlite.  He brought lots of fellers and young women round to the box
to see me, and he made up a party that night to take me round Wall
Street and in them Stock Boards.  And the next day he called for me and
took me, and I invested about five hundred dollars in them stocks--may
be more.  You see, we sorter swopped stocks.  You know I had ten shares
in the Peacock Copper Mine, that you was once secretary of."

"But those shares are not worth a cent.  The whole thing exploded ten
years ago."

"That's so, may be; YOU say so.  But then I didn't know anything more
about Communipaw Central, or the Naphtha Gaslight Company, and so I
thought it was a square game.  Only I realized on the stocks I bought,
and I kem up outer Wall Street about four hundred dollars better.  You
see it was a sorter risk, after all, for them Peacock stocks MIGHT come
up!"

I looked into his face: it was immeasurably serene and commonplace. I
began to be a little afraid of the man, or, rather, of my want of
judgment of the man; and after a few words we shook hands and parted.

It was some months before I again saw the Man from Solano.  When I did,
I found that he had actually become a member of the Stock Board, and
had a little office on Broad Street, where he transacted a fair
business.  My remembrance going back to the first night I met him, I
inquired if he had renewed his acquaintance with Miss X. "I heerd that
she was in Newport this summer, and I ran down there fur a week."

"And you talked with her about the baggage-checks?"

"No," he said, seriously; "she gave me a commission to buy some stocks
for her.  You see, I guess them fash'nable fellers sorter got to
runnin' her about me, and so she put our acquaintance on a square
business footing.  I tell you, she's a right peart gal.  Did ye hear of
the accident that happened to her?"

I had not.

"Well, you see, she was out yachting, and I managed through one of
those fellers to get an invite, too.  The whole thing was got up by a
man that they say is going to marry her.  Well, one afternoon the boom
swings round in a little squall and knocks her overboard. There was an
awful excitement,--you've heard about it, may be?"

"No!"  But I saw it all with a romancer's instinct in a flash of
poetry!  This poor fellow, debarred through uncouthness from expressing
his affection for her, had at last found his fitting opportunity.  He
had--

"Thar was an awful row," he went on.  "I ran out on the taffrail, and
there a dozen yards away was that purty creature, that peart gal,
and--I--"

"You jumped for her," I said, hastily.

"No!" he said gravely.  "I let the other man do the jumping.  I sorter
looked on."

I stared at him in astonishment.

"No," he went on, seriously.  "He was the man who jumped--that was just
then his 'put'--his line of business.  You see, if I had waltzed over
the side of that ship, and cavoorted in, and flummuxed round and
finally flopped to the bottom, that other man would have jumped
nateral-like and saved her; and ez he was going to marry her anyway, I
don't exactly see where I'D hev been represented in the transaction.
But don't you see, ef, after he'd jumped and hadn't got her, he'd gone
down himself, I'd hev had the next best chance, and the advantage of
heving him outer the way.  You see, you don't understand me--I don't
think you did in Californy."

"Then he did save her?"

"Of course.  Don't you see she was all right.  If he'd missed her, I'd
have chipped in.  Thar warn't no sense in my doing his duty onless he
failed."

Somehow the story got out.  The Man from Solano as a butt became more
popular than ever, and of course received invitations to burlesque
receptions, and naturally met a great many people whom otherwise he
would not have seen.  It was observed also that his seven hundred
dollars were steadily growing, and that he seemed to be getting on in
his business.  Certain California stocks which I had seen quietly
interred in the old days in the tombs of their fathers were magically
revived; and I remember, as one who has seen a ghost, to have been
shocked as I looked over the quotations one morning to have seen the
ghostly face of the "Dead Beat Beach Mining Co.," rouged and plastered,
looking out from the columns of the morning paper.  At last a few
people began to respect, or suspect, the Man from Solano.  At last,
suspicion culminated with this incident:--

He had long expressed a wish to belong to a certain "fash'n'ble" club,
and with a view of burlesque he was invited to visit the club, where a
series of ridiculous entertainments were given him, winding up with a
card party.  As I passed the steps of the club-house early next
morning, I overheard two or three members talking excitedly,--

"He cleaned everybody out."  "Why, he must have raked in nigh on
$40,000."

"Who?" I asked.

"The Man from Solano."

As I turned away, one of the gentlemen, a victim, noted for his
sporting propensities, followed me, and laying his hand on my
shoulders, asked:--

"Tell me fairly now.  What business did your friend follow in
California?"

"He was a shepherd."

"A what?"

"A shepherd.  Tended his flocks on the honey-scented hills of Solano."

"Well, all I can say is, d--n your California pastorals!"



THE OFFICE SEEKER

He asked me if I had ever seen the "Remus Sentinel."

I replied that I had not, and would have added that I did not even know
where Remus was, when he continued by saying it was strange the hotel
proprietor did not keep the "Sentinel" on his files, and that he,
himself, should write to the editor about it.  He would not have spoken
about it, but he, himself, had been an humble member of the profession
to which I belonged, and had often written for its columns.  Some
friends of his--partial, no doubt--had said that his style somewhat
resembled Junius's; but of course, you know--well, what he could say
was that in the last campaign his articles were widely sought for.  He
did not know but he had a copy of one.  Here his hand dived into the
breast-pocket of his coat, with a certain deftness that indicated long
habit, and, after depositing on his lap a bundle of well-worn
documents, every one of which was glaringly suggestive of certificates
and signatures, he concluded he had left it in his trunk.

I breathed more freely.  We were sitting in the rotunda of a famous
Washington hotel, and only a few moments before had the speaker, an
utter stranger to me, moved his chair beside mine and opened a
conversation.  I noticed that he had that timid, lonely, helpless air
which invests the bucolic traveler who, for the first time, finds
himself among strangers, and his identity lost, in a world so much
larger, so much colder, so much more indifferent to him than he ever
imagined.  Indeed, I think that what we often attribute to the
impertinent familiarity of country-men and rustic travelers on railways
or in cities is largely due to their awful loneliness and nostalgia.  I
remember to have once met in a smoking-car on a Kansas railway one of
these lonely ones, who, after plying me with a thousand useless
questions, finally elicited the fact that I knew slightly a man who had
once dwelt in his native town in Illinois. During the rest of our
journey the conversation turned chiefly upon his fellow-townsman, whom
it afterwards appeared that my Illinois friend knew no better than I
did.  But he had established a link between himself and his far-off
home through me, and was happy.

While this was passing through my mind I took a fair look at him. He
was a spare young fellow, not more than thirty, with sandy hair and
eyebrows, and eyelashes so white as to be almost imperceptible. He was
dressed in black, somewhat to the "rearward o' the fashion," and I had
an odd idea that it had been his wedding suit, and it afterwards
appeared I was right.  His manner had the precision and much of the
dogmatism of the country schoolmaster, accustomed to wrestle with the
feeblest intellects.  From his history, which he presently gave me, it
appeared I was right here also.

He was born and bred in a Western State, and, as schoolmaster of Remus
and Clerk of Supervisors, had married one of his scholars, the daughter
of a clergyman, and a man of some little property.  He had attracted
some attention by his powers of declamation, and was one of the
principal members of the Remus Debating Society.  The various questions
then agitating Remus,--"Is the doctrine of immortality consistent with
an agricultural life?" and, "Are round dances morally wrong?"--afforded
him an opportunity of bringing himself prominently before the country
people.  Perhaps I might have seen an extract copied from the "Remus
Sentinel" in the "Christian Recorder" of May 7, 1875?  No?  He would
get it for me. He had taken an active part in the last campaign.  He
did not like to say it, but it had been universally acknowledged that
he had elected Gashwiler.

Who?

Gen. Pratt C. Gashwiler, member of Congress from our deestrict.

Oh!

A powerful man, sir--a very powerful man; a man whose influence will
presently be felt here, sir--HERE!  Well, he had come on with
Gashwiler, and--well, he did not know why--Gashwiler did not know why
he should not, you know (a feeble, half-apologetic laugh here), receive
that reward, you know, for these services which, etc., etc.

I asked him if he had any particular or definite office in view.

Well, no.  He had left that to Gashwiler.  Gashwiler had said--he
remembered his very words: "Leave it all to me; I'll look through the
different departments, and see what can be done for a man of your
talents."

And--

He's looking.  I'm expecting him back here every minute.  He's gone
over to the Department of Tape, to see what can be done there.  Ah!
here he comes.

A large man approached us.  He was very heavy, very unwieldy, very
unctuous and oppressive.  He affected the "honest farmer," but so badly
that the poorest husbandman would have resented it.  There was a
suggestion of a cheap lawyer about him that would have justified any
self-respecting judge in throwing him over the bar at once.  There was
a military suspicion about him that would have entitled him to a
court-martial on the spot.  There was an introduction, from which I
learned that my office-seeking friend's name was Expectant Dobbs.  And
then Gashwiler addressed me:--

"Our young friend here is waiting, waiting.  Waiting, I may say, on the
affairs of State.  Youth," continued the Hon. Mr. Gashwiler, addressing
an imaginary constituency, "is nothing but a season of waiting--of
preparation--ha, ha!"

As he laid his hand in a fatherly manner--a fatherly manner that was as
much of a sham as anything else about him--I don't know whether I was
more incensed at him or his victim, who received it with evident pride
and satisfaction.  Nevertheless he ventured to falter out:--

"Has anything been done yet?"

"Well, no; I can't say that anything--that is, that anything has been
COMPLETED; but I may say we are in excellent position for an
advance--ha, ha!  But we must wait, my young friend, wait.  What is it
the Latin philosopher says?  'Let us by all means hasten slowly'--ha,
ha!" and he turned to me as if saying confidentially, "Observe the
impatience of these boys!"  "I met, a moment ago, my old friend and
boyhood's companion, Jim McGlasher, chief of the Bureau for the
Dissemination of Useless Information, and," lowering his voice to a
mysterious but audible whisper, "I shall see him again to-morrow."

The "All aboard!" of the railway omnibus at this moment tore me from
the presence of this gifted legislator and his protege; but as we drove
away I saw through the open window the powerful mind of Gashwiler
operating, so to speak, upon the susceptibilities of Mr. Dobbs.

I did not meet him again for a week.  The morning of my return I saw
the two conversing together in the hall, but with the palpable
distinction between this and their former interviews, that the gifted
Gashwiler seemed to be anxious to get away from his friend. I heard him
say something about "committees" and "to-morrow," and when Dobbs turned
his freckled face toward me I saw that he had got at last some
expression into it--disappointment.

I asked him pleasantly how he was getting on.

He had not lost his pride yet.  He was doing well, although such was
the value set upon his friend Gashwiler's abilities by his brother
members that he was almost always occupied with committee business.  I
noticed that his clothes were not in as good case as before, and he
told me that he had left the hotel, and taken lodgings in a by-street,
where it was less expensive.  Temporarily of course.

A few days after this I had business in one of the great departments.
From the various signs over the doors of its various offices and
bureaus it always oddly reminded me of Stewart's or Arnold and
Constable's.  You could get pensions, patents, and plants.  You could
get land and the seeds to put in it, and the Indians to prowl round it,
and what not.  There was a perpetual clanging of office desk bells, and
a running hither and thither of messengers strongly suggestive of "Cash
47."

As my business was with the manager of this Great National Fancy Shop,
I managed to push by the sad-eyed, eager-faced crowd of men and women
in the anteroom, and entered the secretary's room, conscious of having
left behind me a great deal of envy and uncharitableness of spirit.  As
I opened the door I heard a monotonous flow of Western speech which I
thought I recognized. There was no mistaking it.  It was the voice of
the Gashwiler.

"The appointment of this man, Mr. Secretary, would be most acceptable
to the people in my deestrict.  His family are wealthy and influential,
and it's just as well in the fall elections to have the supervisors and
county judge pledged to support the administration.  Our delegates to
the State Central Committee are to a man"--but here, perceiving from
the wandering eye of Mr. Secretary that there was another man in the
room, he whispered the rest with a familiarity that must have required
all the politician in the official's breast to keep from resenting.

"You have some papers, I suppose?" asked the secretary, wearily.

Gashwiler was provided with a pocketful, and produced them.  The
secretary threw them on the table among the other papers, where they
seemed instantly to lose their identity, and looked as if they were
ready to recommend anybody but the person they belonged to. Indeed, in
one corner the entire Massachusetts delegation, with the Supreme Bench
at their head, appeared to be earnestly advocating the manuring of Iowa
waste lands; and to the inexperienced eye, a noted female reformer had
apparently appended her signature to a request for a pension for wounds
received in battle.

"By the way," said the secretary, "I think I have a letter here from
somebody in your district asking an appointment, and referring to you?
Do you withdraw it?"

"If anybody has been presuming to speculate upon my patronage," said
the Hon. Mr. Gashwiler, with rising rage.

"I've got the letter somewhere here," said the secretary, looking
dazedly at his table.  He made a feeble movement among the papers, and
then sank back hopelessly in his chair, and gazed out of the window as
if he thought and rather hoped it might have flown away. "It was from a
Mr. Globbs, or Gobbs, or Dobbs, of Remus," he said finally, after a
superhuman effort of memory.

"Oh, that's nothing--a foolish fellow who has been boring me for the
last month."

"Then I am to understand that this application is withdrawn?"

"As far as my patronage is concerned, certainly.  In fact, such an
appointment would not express the sentiments--indeed, I may say, would
be calculated to raise active opposition in the deestrict."

The secretary uttered a sigh of relief, and the gifted Gashwiler passed
out.  I tried to get a good look at the honorable scamp's eye, but he
evidently did not recognize me.

It was a question in my mind whether I ought not to expose the
treachery of Dobbs's friend, but the next time I met Dobbs he was in
such good spirits that I forebore.  It appeared that his wife had
written to him that she had discovered a second cousin in the person of
the Assistant Superintendent of the Envelope Flap Moistening Bureau of
the Department of Tape, and had asked his assistance; and Dobbs had
seen him, and he had promised it.  "You see," said Dobbs, "in the
performance of his duties he is often very near the person of the
secretary, frequently in the next room, and he is a powerful man,
sir--a powerful man to know, sir--a VERY powerful man."

How long this continued I do not remember.  Long enough, however, for
Dobbs to become quite seedy, for the giving up of wrist cuffs, for the
neglect of shoes and beard, and for great hollows to form round his
eyes, and a slight flush on his cheek-bones.  I remember meeting him in
all the departments, writing letters or waiting patiently in anterooms
from morning till night.  He had lost all his old dogmatism, but not
his pride.  "I might as well be here as anywhere, while I'm waiting,"
he said, "and then I'm getting some knowledge of the details of
official life."

In the face of this mystery I was surprised at finding a note from him
one day, inviting me to dine with him at a certain famous restaurant.
I had scarce got over my amazement, when the writer himself overtook me
at my hotel.  For a moment I scarcely recognized him.  A new suit of
fashionably-cut clothes had changed him, without, however, entirely
concealing his rustic angularity of figure and outline.  He even
affected a fashionable dilettante air, but so mildly and so innocently
that it was not offensive.

"You see," he began, explanatory-wise, "I've just found out the way to
do it.  None of these big fellows, these cabinet officers, know me
except as an applicant.  Now, the way to do this thing is to meet 'em
fust sociably; wine 'em and dine 'em.  Why, sir,"--he dropped into the
schoolmaster again here,--"I had two cabinet ministers, two judges, and
a general at my table last night."

"On YOUR invitation?"

"Dear, no! all I did was to pay for it.  Tom Soufflet gave the dinner
and invited the people.  Everybody knows Tom.  You see, a friend of
mine put me up to it, and said that Soufflet had fixed up no end of
appointments and jobs in that way.  You see, when these gentlemen get
sociable over their wine, he says carelessly, 'By the way, there's
So-and-so--a good fellow--wants something; give it to him.'  And the
first thing you know, or they know, he gets a promise from them.  They
get a dinner--and a good one--and he gets an appointment."

"But where did you get the money?"

"Oh,"--he hesitated,--"I wrote home, and Fanny's father raised fifteen
hundred dollars some way, and sent it to me.  I put it down to
political expenses."  He laughed a weak, foolish laugh here, and added,
"As the old man don't drink nor smoke, he'd lift his eyebrows to know
how the money goes.  But I'll make it all right when the office
comes--and she's coming, sure pop."

His slang fitted as poorly on him as his clothes, and his familiarity
was worse than his former awkward shyness.  But I could not help asking
him what had been the result of this expenditure.

"Nothing just yet.  But the Secretary of Tape and the man at the head
of the Inferior Department, both spoke to me, and one of them said he
thought he'd heard my name before.  He might," he added, with a forced
laugh, "for I've written him fifteen letters."

Three months passed.  A heavy snow-storm stayed my chariot wheels on a
Western railroad, ten miles from a nervous lecture committee and a
waiting audience; there was nothing to do but to make the attempt to
reach them in a sleigh.  But the way was long and the drifts deep, and
when at last four miles out we reached a little village, the driver
declared his cattle could hold out no longer, and we must stop there.
Bribes and threats were equally of no avail.  I had to accept the fact.

"What place is this?"

"Remus."

"Remus, Remus," where had I heard that name before?  But while I was
reflecting he drove up before the door of the tavern.  It was a dismal,
sleep-forbidding place, and only nine o'clock, and here was the long
winter's night before me.  Failing to get the landlord to give me a
team to go further, I resigned myself to my fate and a cigar, behind
the red-hot stove.  In a few moments one of the loungers approached me,
calling me by name, and in a rough but hearty fashion condoled with me
for my mishap, advised me to stay at Remus all night, and added: "The
quarters ain't the best in the world yer at this hotel.  But thar's an
old man yer--the preacher that was--that for twenty years hez taken in
such fellers as you and lodged 'em free gratis for nothing, and hez
been proud to do it.  The old man used to be rich; he ain't so now;
sold his big house on the cross roads, and lives in a little cottage
with his darter right over yan.  But ye couldn't do him a better turn
than to go over thar and stay, and if he thought I'd let ye go out o'
Remus without axing ye, he'd give me h-ll.  Stop, I'll go with ye."

I might at least call on the old man, and I accompanied my guide
through the still falling snow until we reached a little cottage. The
door opened to my guide's knock, and with the brief and discomposing
introduction, "Yer, ole man, I've brought you one o' them snow-bound
lecturers," he left me on the threshold, as my host, a kindly-faced,
white-haired man of seventy, came forward to greet me.

His frankness and simple courtesy overcame the embarrassment left by my
guide's introduction, and I followed him passively as he entered the
neat, but plainly-furnished sitting-room.  At the same moment a pretty,
but faded young woman arose from the sofa and was introduced to me as
his daughter.  "Fanny and I live here quite alone, and if you knew how
good it was to see somebody from the great outside world now and then,
you would not apologize for what you call your intrusion."

During this speech I was vaguely trying to recall where and when and
under what circumstances I had ever before seen the village, the house,
the old man or his daughter.  Was it in a dream, or in one of those dim
reveries of some previous existence to which the spirit of mankind is
subject?  I looked at them again.  In the careworn lines around the
once pretty girlish mouth of the young woman, in the furrowed seams
over the forehead of the old man, in the ticking of the old-fashioned
clock on the shelf, in the faint whisper of the falling snow outside, I
read the legend, "Patience, patience; Wait and Hope."

The old man filled a pipe, and offering me one, continued, "Although I
seldom drink myself, it was my custom to always keep some nourishing
liquor in my house for passing guests, but to-night I find myself
without any."  I hastened to offer him my flask, which, after a
moment's coyness, he accepted, and presently under its benign influence
at least ten years dropped from his shoulders, and he sat up in his
chair erect and loquacious.

"And how are affairs at the National Capital, sir?" he began.

Now, if there was any subject of which I was profoundly ignorant, it
was this.  But the old man was evidently bent on having a good
political talk.  So I said vaguely, yet with a certain sense of
security, that I guessed there wasn't much being done.

"I see," said the old man, "in the matters of resumption; of the
sovereign rights of States and federal interference, you would imply
that a certain conservative tentative policy is to be promulgated until
after the electoral committee have given their verdict."  I looked for
help towards the lady, and observed feebly that he had very clearly
expressed my views.

The old man, observing my look, said: "Although my daughter's husband
holds a federal position in Washington, the pressure of his business is
so great that he has little time to give us mere gossip--I beg your
pardon, did you speak?"

I had unconsciously uttered an exclamation.  This, then, was Remus--the
home of Expectant Dobbs--and these his wife and father; and the
Washington banquet-table, ah me! had sparkled with the yearning heart's
blood of this poor wife, and had been upheld by this tottering Caryatid
of a father.

"Do you know what position he has?"

The old man did not know positively, but thought it was some general
supervising position.  He had been assured by Mr. Gashwiler that it was
a first-class clerkship; yes, a FIRST class.

I did not tell him that in this, as in many other official regulations
in Washington, they reckoned backward, but said:--

"I suppose that your M. C., Mr.--Mr. Gashwiler--"

"Don't mention his name," said the little woman, rising to her feet
hastily; "he never brought Expectant anything but disappointment and
sorrow.  I hate, I despise the man."

"Dear Fanny," expostulated the old man, gently, "this is unchristian
and unjust.  Mr. Gashwiler is a powerful, a very powerful man!  His
work is a great one; his time is preoccupied with weightier matters."

"His time was not so preoccupied but he could make use of poor
Expectant," said this wounded dove, a little spitefully.

Nevertheless it was some satisfaction to know that Dobbs had at last
got a place, no matter how unimportant, or who had given it to him; and
when I went to bed that night in the room that had been evidently
prepared for their conjugal chamber, I felt that Dobbs's worst trials
were over.  The walls were hung with souvenirs of their ante-nuptial
days.  There was a portrait of Dobbs, aetat. 25; there was a faded
bouquet in a glass case, presented by Dobbs to Fanny on
examination-day; there was a framed resolution of thanks to Dobbs from
the Remus Debating Society; there was a certificate of Dobbs's election
as President of the Remus Philomathean Society; there was his
commission as Captain in the Remus Independent Contingent of Home
Guards; there was a Freemason's chart, in which Dobbs was addressed in
epithets more fulsome and extravagant than any living monarch.  And yet
all these cheap glories of a narrow life and narrower brain were upheld
and made sacred by the love of the devoted priestess who worshiped at
this lonely shrine, and kept the light burning through gloom and doubt
and despair.  The storm tore round the house, and shook its white fists
in the windows.  A dried wreath of laurel that Fanny had placed on
Dobbs's head after his celebrated centennial address at the
school-house, July 4, 1876, swayed in the gusts, and sent a few of its
dead leaves down on the floor, and I lay in Dobbs's bed and wondered
what a first-class clerkship was.

I found out early the next summer.  I was strolling through the long
corridors of a certain great department, when I came upon a man
accurately yoked across the shoulders, and supporting two huge pails of
ice on either side, from which he was replenishing the pitchers in the
various offices.  As I passed I turned to look at him again.  It was
Dobbs!

He did not set down his burden; it was against the rules, he said. But
he gossiped cheerily, said he was beginning at the foot of the ladder,
but expected soon to climb up.  That it was Civil Service Reform, and
of course he would be promoted soon.

"Had Gashwiler procured the appointment?"

No.  He believed it was ME.  I had told his story to
Assistant-secretary Blank, who had, in turn related it to
Bureau-director Dash--both good fellows--but this was all they could
do.  Yes, it was a foothold.  But he must go now.

Nevertheless, I followed him up and down, and, cheered up with a
rose-colored picture of his wife and family, and my visit there, and
promising to come and see him the next time I came to Washington, I
left him with his self-imposed yoke.

With a new administration, Civil Service Reform came in, crude and
ill-digested, as all sudden and sweeping reforms must be; cruel to the
individual, as all crude reforms will ever be; and among the list of
helpless men and women, incapacitated for other work by long service in
the dull routine of federal office, who were decapitated, the weak,
foolish, emaciated head of Expectant Dobbs went to the block.  It
afterward appeared that the gifted Gashwiler was responsible for the
appointment of twenty clerks, and that the letter of poor Dobbs, in
which he dared to refer to the now powerless Gashwiler, had sealed his
fate.  The country made an example of Gashwiler and--Dobbs.

From that moment he disappeared.  I looked for him in vain in
anterooms, lobbies, and hotel corridors, and finally came to the
conclusion that he had gone home.

How beautiful was that July Sabbath, when the morning train from
Baltimore rolled into the Washington depot.  How tenderly and chastely
the morning sunlight lay on the east front of the Capitol until the
whole building was hushed in a grand and awful repose. How difficult it
was to think of a Gashwiler creeping in and out of those enfiling
columns, or crawling beneath that portico, without wondering that yon
majestic figure came not down with flat of sword to smite the fat
rotundity of the intruder.  How difficult to think that parricidal
hands have ever been lifted against the Great Mother, typified here in
the graceful white chastity of her garments, in the noble tranquillity
of her face, in the gathering up her white-robed children within her
shadow.

This led me to think of Dobbs, when, suddenly a face flashed by my
carriage window.  I called to the driver to stop, and, looking again,
saw that it was a woman standing bewildered and irresolute on the
street corner.  As she turned her anxious face toward me I saw that it
was Mrs. Dobbs.

What was she doing here, and where was Expectant?

She began an incoherent apology, and then burst into explanatory tears.
When I had got her in the carriage she said, between her sobs, that
Expectant had not returned; that she had received a letter from a
friend here saying he was sick,--oh very, very sick,--and father could
not come with her, so she came alone.  She was so frightened, so
lonely, so miserable.

Had she his address?

Yes, just here!  It was on the outskirts of Washington, near
Georgetown.  Then I would take her there, if I could, for she knew
nobody.

On our way I tried to cheer her up by pointing out some of the children
of the Great Mother before alluded to, but she only shut her eyes as we
rolled down the long avenues, and murmured, "Oh, these cruel, cruel
distances!"

At last we reached the locality, a negro quarter, yet clean and neat in
appearance.  I saw the poor girl shudder slightly as we stopped at the
door of a low, two-story frame house, from which the unwonted spectacle
of a carriage brought a crowd of half-naked children and a comely,
cleanly, kind-faced mulatto woman.

Yes, this was the house.  He was upstairs, rather poorly, but asleep,
she thought.

We went upstairs.  In the first chamber, clean, though poorly
furnished, lay Dobbs.  On a pine table near his bed were letters and
memorials to the various departments, and on the bed-quilt, unfinished,
but just as the weary fingers had relaxed their grasp upon it, lay a
letter to the Tape Department.

As we entered the room he lifted himself on his elbow.  "Fanny!" he
said, quickly, and a shade of disappointment crossed his face.  "I
thought it was a message from the secretary," he added, apologetically.

The poor woman had suffered too much already to shrink from this last
crushing blow.  But she walked quietly to his side without a word or
cry, knelt, placed her loving arms around him, and I left them so
together.

When I called again in the evening he was better; so much better that,
against the doctor's orders, he had talked to her quite cheerfully and
hopefully for an hour, until suddenly raising her bowed head in his two
hands, he said, "Do you know, dear, that in looking for help and
influence there was one, dear, I had forgotten; one who is very potent
with kings and councilors, and I think, love, I shall ask Him to
interest Himself in my behalf.  It is not too late yet, darling, and I
shall seek Him to-morrow."

And before the morrow came he had sought and found Him, and I doubt not
got a good place.



A SLEEPING-CAR EXPERIENCE

It was in a Pullman sleeping-car on a Western road.  After that first
plunge into unconsciousness which the weary traveler takes on getting
into his berth, I awakened to the dreadful revelation that I had been
asleep only two hours.  The greater part of a long winter night was
before me to face with staring eyes.

Finding it impossible to sleep, I lay there wondering a number of
things: why, for instance, the Pullman sleeping-car blankets were
unlike other blankets; why they were like squares cut out of cold
buckwheat cakes, and why they clung to you when you turned over, and
lay heavy on you without warmth; why the curtains before you could not
have been made opaque, without being so thick and suffocating; why it
would not be as well to sit up all night half asleep in an ordinary
passenger-car as to lie awake all night in a Pullman.  But the snoring
of my fellow-passengers answered this question in the negative.

With the recollection of last night's dinner weighing on me as heavily
and coldly as the blankets, I began wondering why, over the whole
extent of the continent, there was no local dish; why the bill of fare
at restaurant and hotel was invariably only a weak reflex of the
metropolitan hostelries; why the entrees were always the same, only
more or less badly cooked; why the traveling American always was
supposed to demand turkey and cold cranberry sauce; why the pretty
waiter-girl apparently shuffled your plates behind your back, and then
dealt them over your shoulder in a semicircle, as if they were a hand
at cards, and not always a good one?  Why, having done this, she
instantly retired to the nearest wall, and gazed at you scornfully, as
one who would say, "Fair sir, though lowly, I am proud; if thou dost
imagine that I would permit undue familiarity of speech, beware!"  And
then I began to think of and dread the coming breakfast; to wonder why
the ham was always cut half an inch thick, and why the fried egg always
resembled a glass eye that visibly winked at you with diabolical
dyspeptic suggestions; to wonder if the buckwheat cakes, the eating of
which requires a certain degree of artistic preparation and
deliberation, would be brought in as usual one minute before the train
started. And then I had a vivid recollection of a fellow-passenger who,
at a certain breakfast station in Illinois, frantically enwrapped his
portion of this national pastry in his red bandana handkerchief, took
it into the smoking-car, and quietly devoured it en route.

Lying broad awake, I could not help making some observations which I
think are not noticed by the day traveler.  First, that the speed of a
train is not equal or continuous.  That at certain times the engine
apparently starts up, and says to the baggage train behind it, "Come,
come, this won't do!  Why, it's nearly half-past two; how in h-ll shall
we get through?  Don't you talk to ME.  Pooh, pooh!" delivered in that
rhythmical fashion which all meditation assumes on a railway train.
Exempli gratia:  One night, having raised my window-curtain to look
over a moonlit snowy landscape, as I pulled it down the lines of a
popular comic song flashed across me.  Fatal error!  The train
instantly took it up, and during the rest of the night I was haunted by
this awful refrain: "Pull down the bel-lind, pull down the bel-lind;
simebody's klink klink, O don't be shoo-shoo!"  Naturally this differs
on the different railways.  On the New York Central, where the road-bed
is quite perfect and the steel rails continuous, I have heard this
irreverent train give the words of a certain popular revival hymn after
this fashion: "Hold the fort, for I am Sankey; Moody slingers still.
Wave the swish swash back from klinky, klinky klanky kill." On the New
York and New Haven, where there are many switches, and the engine
whistles at every cross road, I have often heard, "Tommy make room for
your whooopy! that's a little clang; bumpity, bumpity, boopy, clikitty,
clikitty, clang."  Poetry, I fear, fared little better.  One starlit
night, coming from Quebec, as we slipped by a virgin forest, the
opening lines of Evangeline flashed upon me.  But all I could make of
them was this: "This is the forest primeval-eval; the groves of the
pines and the hemlocks-locks-locks-locks-loooock!"  The train was only
"slowing" or "braking" up at a station.  Hence the jar in the metre.

I had noticed a peculiar Aeolian harp-like cry that ran through the
whole train as we settled to rest at last after a long run--an almost
sigh of infinite relief, a musical sigh that began in C and ran
gradually up to F natural, which I think most observant travelers have
noticed day and night.  No railway official has ever given me a
satisfactory explanation of it.  As the car, in a rapid run, is always
slightly projected forward of its trucks, a practical friend once
suggested to me that it was the gradual settling back of the car body
to a state of inertia, which, of course, every poetical traveler would
reject.  Four o'clock the sound of boot-blacking by the porter faintly
apparent from the toilet-room.  Why not talk to him?  But, fortunately,
I remembered that any attempt at extended conversation with conductor
or porter was always resented by them as implied disloyalty to the
company they represented.  I recalled that once I had endeavored to
impress upon a conductor the absolute folly of a midnight inspection of
tickets, and had been treated by him as an escaped lunatic.  No, there
was no relief from this suffocating and insupportable loneliness to be
gained then.  I raised the window-blind and looked out.  We were
passing a farm-house.  A light, evidently the lantern of a farm-hand,
was swung beside a barn.  Yes, the faintest tinge of rose in the far
horizon.  Morning, surely, at last.

We had stopped at a station.  Two men had got into the car, and had
taken seats in the one vacant section, yawning occasionally and
conversing in a languid, perfunctory sort of way.  They sat opposite
each other, occasionally looking out of the window, but always giving
the strong impression that they were tired of each other's company.  As
I looked out of my curtains at them, the One Man said, with a feebly
concealed yawn:--

"Yes, well, I reckon he was at one time as poplar an ondertaker ez I
knew."

The Other Man (inventing a question rather than giving an answer, out
of some languid, social impulse): "But was he--this yer ondertaker--a
Christian--hed he jined the church?"

The One Man (reflectively): "Well, I don't know ez you might call him a
purfessin' Christian; but he hed--yes, he hed conviction.  I think Dr.
Wylie hed him under conviction.  Et least that was the way I got it
from HIM."

A long, dreary pause.  The Other Man (feeling it was incumbent upon him
to say something): "But why was he poplar ez an ondertaker?"

The One Man (lazily): "Well, he was kinder poplar with widders and
widderers--sorter soothen 'em a kinder, keerless way; slung 'em suthin'
here and there, sometimes outer the Book, sometimes outer hisself, ez a
man of experience as hed hed sorror.  Hed, they say (VERY CAUTIOUSLY),
lost three wives hisself, and five children by this yer new
disease--dipthery--out in Wisconsin.  I don't know the facts, but
that's what's got round."

The Other Man: "But how did he lose his poplarity?"

The One Man: "Well, that's the question.  You see he interduced some
things into ondertaking that waz new.  He hed, for instance, a way, as
he called it, of manniperlating the features of the deceased."

The Other Man (quietly): "How manniperlating?"

The One Man (struck with a bright and aggressive thought): "Look yer,
did ye ever notiss how, generally speakin', onhandsome a corpse is?"

The Other Man had noticed this fact.

The One Man (returning to his fact): "Why there was Mary Peebles, ez
was daughter of my wife's bosom friend--a mighty pooty girl and a
professing Christian--died of scarlet fever.  Well, that gal--I was one
of the mourners, being my wife's friend--well, that gal, though I
hedn't, perhaps, oughter say--lying in that casket, fetched all the way
from some A1 establishment in Chicago, filled with flowers and
furbelows--didn't really seem to be of much account.  Well, although my
wife's friend, and me a mourner--well, now, I was--disappointed and
discouraged."

The Other Man (in palpably affected sympathy): "Sho! now!"

"Yes, SIR!  Well, you see, this yer ondertaker, this Wilkins, hed a way
of correctin' all thet.  And just by manniperlation.  He worked over
the face of the deceased ontil he perduced what the survivin' relatives
called a look of resignation,--you know, a sort of smile, like.  When
he wanted to put in any extrys, he perduced what he called--hevin'
reglar charges for this kind of work--a Christian's hope."

The Other Man: "I want to know."

"Yes.  Well, I admit, at times it was a little startlin'.  And I've
allers said (a little confidentially) that I had my doubts of its being
Scriptoorl, or sacred, we being, ez you know, worms of the yearth; and
I relieved my mind to our pastor, but he didn't feel like interferin',
ez long ez it was confined to church membership. But the other day,
when Cy Dunham died--you disremember Cy Dunham?"

A long interval of silence.  The Other Man was looking out of the
window, and had apparently forgotten his companion completely.  But as
I stretched my head out of the curtain I saw four other heads as
eagerly reached out from other berths to hear the conclusion of the
story.  One head, a female one, instantly disappeared on my looking
around, but a certain tremulousness of her window-curtain showed an
unabated interest.  The only two utterly disinterested men were the One
Man and the Other Man.

The Other Man (detaching himself languidly from the window): "Cy
Dunham?"

"Yes; Cy never hed hed either convictions or purfessions.  Uster get
drunk and go round with permiscous women.  Sorter like the prodigal
son, only a little more so, ez fur ez I kin judge from the facks ez
stated to me.  Well, Cy one day petered out down at Little Rock, and
was sent up yer for interment.  The fammerly, being proud-like, of
course didn't spare no money on that funeral, and it waz--now between
you and me--about ez shapely and first-class and prime-mess affair ez I
ever saw.  Wilkins hed put in his extrys. He hed put onto that
prodigal's face the A1 touch,--hed him fixed up with a 'Christian's
hope.'  Well, it was about the turning-point, for thar waz some of the
members and the pastor hisself thought that the line oughter to be
drawn somewhere, and thar was some talk at Deacon Tibbet's about a
reg'lar conference meetin' regardin' it.  But it wasn't thet which made
him onpoplar."

Another silence; no expression nor reflection from the face of the
Other Man of the least desire to know what ultimately settled the
unpopularity of the undertaker.  But from the curtains of the various
berths several eager and one or two even wrathful faces, anxious for
the result.

The Other Man (lazily recurring to the fading topic): "Well, what made
him onpoplar?"

The One Man (quietly): "Extrys, I think--that is, I suppose, not
knowin'" (cautiously) "all the facts.  When Mrs. Widdecombe lost her
husband, 'bout two months ago, though she'd been through the valley of
the shadder of death twice--this bein' her third marriage, hevin' been
John Barker's widder--"

The Other Man (with an intense expression of interest): "No, you're
foolin' me!"

The One Man (solemnly): "Ef I was to appear before my Maker to-morrow,
yes! she was the widder of Barker."

The Other Man: "Well, I swow."

The One Man: "Well, this Widder Widdecombe, she put up a big funeral
for the deceased.  She hed Wilkins, and thet ondertaker just laid
hisself out.  Just spread hisself.  Onfort'natly,--perhaps fort'natly
in the ways of Providence,--one of Widdecombe's old friends, a doctor
up thar in Chicago, comes down to the funeral.  He goes up with the
friends to look at the deceased, smilin' a peaceful sort o' heavinly
smile, and everybody sayin' he's gone to meet his reward, and this yer
friend turns round, short and sudden on the widder settin' in her pew,
and kinder enjoyin, as wimen will, all the compliments paid the corpse,
and he says, says he:--

"'What did you say your husband died of, marm?'

"'Consumption,' she says, wiping her eyes, poor critter.
'Consumption--gallopin' consumption.'

"'Consumption be d--d,' sez he, bein' a profane kind of Chicago doctor,
and not bein' ever under conviction.  'Thet man died of strychnine.
Look at thet face.  Look at thet contortion of them fashal muscles.
Thet's strychnine.  Thet's risers Sardonikus' (thet's what he said; he
was always sorter profane).

"'Why, doctor,' says the widder, 'thet--thet is his last smile. It's a
Christian's resignation.'

"'Thet be blowed; don't tell me,' sez he.  'Hell is full of thet kind
of resignation.  It's pizon.  And I'll--'  Why, dern my skin, yes we
are; yes, it's Joliet.  Wall, now, who'd hey thought we'd been nigh
onto an hour."

Two or three anxious passengers from their berths: "Say; look yer,
stranger!  Old man!  What became of--"

But the One Man and the Other Man had vanished.



MORNING ON THE AVENUE

NOTES BY AN EARLY RISER.

I have always been an early riser.  The popular legend that "Early to
bed and early to rise," invariably and rhythmically resulted in
healthfulness, opulence, and wisdom, I beg here to solemnly protest
against.  As an "unhealthy" man, as an "unwealthy" man, and doubtless
by virtue of this protest an "unwise" man, I am, I think, a glaring
example of the untruth of the proposition.

For instance, it is my misfortune, as an early riser, to live upon a
certain fashionable avenue, where the practice of early rising is
confined exclusively to domestics.  Consequently, when I issue forth on
this broad, beautiful thoroughfare at six A. M., I cannot help thinking
that I am, to a certain extent, desecrating its traditional customs.

I have more than once detected the milkman winking at the maid with a
diabolical suggestion that I was returning from a carouse, and
Roundsman 9999 has once or twice followed me a block or two with the
evident impression that I was a burglar returning from a successful
evening out.  Nevertheless, these various indiscretions have brought me
into contact with a kind of character and phenomena whose existence I
might otherwise have doubted.

First, let me speak of a large class of working-people whose presence
is, I think, unknown to many of those gentlemen who are in the habit of
legislating or writing about them.  A majority of these early risers in
the neighborhood of which I may call my "beat" carry with them
unmistakable evidences of the American type. I have seen so little of
that foreign element that is popularly supposed to be the real working
class of the great metropolis, that I have often been inclined to doubt
statistics.  The ground that my morning rambles cover extends from
Twenty-third Street to Washington Park, and laterally from Sixth Avenue
to Broadway.  The early rising artisans that I meet here, crossing
three avenues,--the milkmen, the truck-drivers, the workman, even the
occasional tramp,--wherever they may come from or go to, or what their
real habitat may be,--are invariably Americans.  I give it as an honest
record, whatever its significance or insignificance may be, that during
the last year, between the hours of six and eight A. M., in and about
the locality I have mentioned, I have met with but two unmistakable
foreigners, an Irishman and a German.  Perhaps it may be necessary to
add to this statement that the people I have met at those early hours I
have never seen at any other time in the same locality.

As to their quality, the artisans were always cleanly dressed,
intelligent, and respectful.  I remember, however, one morning, when
the ice storm of the preceding night had made the sidewalks glistening,
smiling and impassable, to have journeyed down the middle of Twelfth
Street with a mechanic so sooty as to absolutely leave a legible track
in the snowy pathway.  He was the fireman attending the engine in a
noted manufactory, and in our brief conversation he told me many facts
regarding his profession which I fear interested me more than the
after-dinner speeches of some distinguished gentlemen I had heard the
preceding night.  I remember that he spoke of his engine as "she," and
related certain circumstances regarding her inconsistency, her
aberrations, her pettishnesses, that seemed to justify the feminine
gender.  I have a grateful recollection of him as being one who
introduced me to a restaurant where chicory, thinly disguised as
coffee, was served with bread at five cents a cup, and that he
honorably insisted on being the host, and paid his ten cents for our
mutual entertainment with the grace of a Barmecide.  I remember, in a
more genial season,--I think early summer,--to have found upon the
benches of Washington Park a gentleman who informed me that his
profession was that of a "pigeon catcher"; that he contracted with
certain parties in this city to furnish these birds for what he called
their "pigeon-shoots"; and that in fulfilling this contract he often
was obliged to go as far west as Minnesota.  The details he gave--his
methods of entrapping the birds, his study of their habits, his evident
belief that the city pigeon, however well provided for by parties who
fondly believed the bird to be their own, was really ferae naturae, and
consequently "game" for the pigeon-catcher--were all so interesting
that I listened to him with undisguised delight. When he had finished,
however, he said, "And now, sir, being a poor man, with a large family,
and work bein' rather slack this year, if ye could oblige me with the
loan of a dollar and your address, until remittances what I'm expecting
come in from Chicago, you'll be doin' me a great service," etc., etc.
He got the dollar, of course (his information was worth twice the
money), but I imagine he lost my address.  Yet it is only fair to say
that some days after, relating his experience to a prominent sporting
man, he corroborated all its details, and satisfied me that my
pigeon-catching friend, although unfortunate, was not an impostor.

And this leads me to speak of the birds.  Of all early risers, my most
importunate, aggressive, and obtrusive companions are the English
sparrows.  Between six and seven A. M. they seem to possess the avenue,
and resent my intrusion.  I remember, one chilly morning, when I came
upon a flurry of them, chattering, quarreling, skimming, and alighting
just before me.  I stopped at last, fearful of stepping on the nearest.
To my great surprise, instead of flying away, he contested the ground
inch by inch before my advancing foot, with his wings outspread and
open bill outstretched, very much like that ridiculous burlesque of the
American eagle which the common canary-bird assumes when teased. "Did
you ever see 'em wash in the fountain in the square?" said Roundsman
9999, early one summer morning.  I had not.  "I guess they're there
yet.  Come and see 'em," he said, and complacently accompanied me two
blocks.  I don't know which was the finer sight,--the thirty or forty
winged sprites, dashing in and out of the basin, each the very
impersonation of a light-hearted, mischievous puck, or this grave
policeman, with badge and club and shield, looking on with delight.
Perhaps my visible amusement, or the spectacle of a brother policeman
just then going past with a couple of "drunk and disorderlies,"
recalled his official responsibilities and duties.  "They say them
foreign sparrows drive all the other birds away," he added, severely;
and then walked off with a certain reserved manner, as if it were not
impossible for him to be called upon some morning to take the entire
feathered assembly into custody, and if so called upon he should do it.

Next, I think, in procession among the early risers, and surely next in
fresh and innocent exterior, were the work-women or shop-girls.  I have
seen this fine avenue on gala afternoons bright with the beauty and
elegance of an opulent city, but I have see no more beautiful faces
than I have seen among these humbler sisters.  As the mere habits of
dress in America, except to a very acute critic, give no suggestion of
the rank of the wearer, I can imagine an inexperienced foreigner
utterly mystified and confounded by these girls, who perhaps work a
sewing-machine or walk the long floors of a fashionable dry-goods shop.
I remember one face and figure, faultless and complete,--modestly yet
most becomingly dressed,--indeed, a figure that Compte-Calix might have
taken for one of his exquisite studies, which, between seven and eight
A. M. passed through Eleventh Street, between Sixth Avenue and
Broadway.  So exceptionally fine was her carriage, so chaste and
virginal her presence, and so refined and even spiritual her features,
that, as a literary man, I would have been justified in taking her for
the heroine of a society novel.  Indeed, I had already woven a little
romance about her, when one morning she overtook me, accompanied by
another girl--pretty, but of a different type--with whom she was
earnestly conversing.  As the two passed me, there fell from her
faultless lips the following astounding sentence: "And I told him, if
he didn't like it he might lump it, and he traveled off on his left
ear, you bet!"  Heaven knows what indiscretion this speech saved me
from; but the reader will understand what a sting the pain of rejection
might have added to it by the above formula.

The "morning-cocktail" men come next in my experience of early rising.
I used to take my early cup of coffee in the cafe of a certain
fashionable restaurant that had a bar attached.  I could not help
noticing that, unlike the usual social libations of my countrymen, the
act of taking a morning cocktail was a solitary one.  In the course of
my experience I cannot recall the fact of two men taking an
ante-breakfast cocktail together.  On the contrary, I have observed the
male animal rush savagely at the bar, demand his drink of the
bar-keeper, swallow it, and hasten from the scene of his early
debauchery, or else take it in a languid, perfunctory manner, which, I
think, must have been insulting to the bar-keeper.  I have observed two
men, whom I had seen drinking amicably together the preceding night,
standing gloomily at the opposite corners of the bar, evidently trying
not to see each other and making the matter a confidential one with the
bar-keeper.  I have seen even a thin disguise of simplicity assumed.  I
remember an elderly gentleman, of most respectable exterior, who used
to enter the cafe as if he had strayed there accidentally.  After
looking around carefully, and yet unostentatiously, he would walk to
the bar, and, with an air of affected carelessness, state that "not
feeling well this morning, he guessed he would take--well, he would
leave it to the bar-keeper."  The bar-keeper invariably gave him a
stiff brandy cocktail.  When the old gentleman had done this half a
dozen times, I think I lost faith in him.  I tried afterwards to glean
from the bar-keeper some facts regarding those experiences, but I am
proud to say that he was honorably reticent. Indeed, I think it may be
said truthfully that there is no record of a bar-keeper who has been
"interviewed."  Clergymen and doctors have, but it is well for the
weakness of humanity that the line should be drawn somewhere.

And this reminds me that one distressing phase of early rising is the
incongruous and unpleasant contact of the preceding night.  The social
yesterday is not fairly over before nine A. M. to-day, and there is
always a humorous, sometimes a pathetic, lapping over the edges.  I
remember one morning at six o'clock to have been overtaken by a
carriage that drew up beside me.  I recognized the coachman, who
touched his hat apologetically, as if he wished me to understand that
he was not at all responsible for the condition of his master, and I
went to the door of the carriage.  I was astonished to find two young
friends of mine, in correct evening dress, reclining on each other's
shoulders and sleeping the sleep of the justly inebriated.  I stated
this fact to the coachman.  Not a muscle of his well-trained face
answered to my smile.  But he said: "You see, sir, we've been out all
night, and more than four blocks below they saw you, and wanted me to
hail you, but you know you stopped to speak to a gentleman, and so I
sorter lingered, and I drove round the block once or twice, and I guess
I've got 'em quiet again."  I looked in the carriage door once more on
these sons of Belial.  They were sleeping quite unconsciously.  A
bouttonniere in the lappel of the younger one's coat had shed its
leaves, which were scattered over him with a ridiculous suggestion of
the "Babes in the Wood," and I closed the carriage door softly. "I
suppose I'd better take 'em home, sir?" queried the coachman, gravely.
"Well, yes, John, perhaps you had."

There is another picture in my early rising experience that I wish was
as simply and honestly ludicrous.  It was at a time when the moral
sentiment of the metropolis, expressed through ordinance and special
legislation, had declared itself against a certain form of "variety"
entertainment, and had, as usual, proceeded against the performers, and
not the people who encouraged them.  I remember, one frosty morning, to
have encountered in Washington Park my honest friend Sergeant X. and
Roundsman 9999 conveying a party of these derelicts to the station.
One of the women, evidently, had not had time to change her apparel,
and had thinly disguised the flowing robe and loose cestus of Venus
under a ragged "waterproof"; while the other, who had doubtless posed
for Mercury, hid her shapely tights in a plaid shawl, and changed her
winged sandals for a pair of "arctics."  Their rouged faces were
streaked and stained with tears.  The man who was with them, the male
of their species, had but hastily washed himself of his Ethiopian
presentment, and was still black behind the ears; while an exaggerated
shirt collar and frilled shirt made his occasional indignant profanity
irresistibly ludicrous.  So they fared on over the glittering snow,
against the rosy sunlight of the square, the gray front of the
University building, with a few twittering sparrows in the foreground,
beside the two policemen, quiet and impassive as fate. I could not help
thinking of the distinguished A., the most fashionable B., the wealthy
and respectable C., the sentimental D., and the man of the world E.,
who were present at the performance, whose distinguished patronage had
called it into life, and who were then resting quietly in their beds,
while these haggard servants of their pleasaunce were haled over the
snow to punishment and ignominy.

Let me finish by recalling one brighter picture of that same season.
It was early; so early that the cross of Grace Church had, when I
looked up, just caught the morning sun, and for a moment flamed like a
crusader's symbol.  And then the grace and glory of that exquisite
spire became slowly visible.  Fret by fret the sunlight stole slowly
down, quivering and dropping from each, until at last the whole church
beamed in rosy radiance.  Up and down the long avenue the street lay in
shadow; by some strange trick of the atmosphere the sun seemed to have
sought out only that graceful structure for its blessing.  And then
there was a dull rumble.  It was the first omnibus,--the first throb in
the great artery of the reviving city.  I looked up.  The church was
again in shadow.



WITH THE ENTREES

"Once, when I was a pirate--!"

The speaker was an elderly gentleman in correct evening dress, the room
a tasteful one, the company of infinite respectability, the locality at
once fashionable and exclusive, the occasion an unexceptionable dinner.
To this should be added that the speaker was also the host.

With these conditions self-evident, all that good breeding could do was
to receive the statement with a vague smile that might pass for
good-humored incredulity or courteous acceptation of a simple fact.
Indeed, I think we all rather tried to convey the impression that our
host, when he WAS a pirate,--if he ever really was one,--was all that a
self-respecting pirate should be, and never violated the canons of good
society.  This idea was, to some extent, crystallized by the youngest
Miss Jones in the exclamation, "Oh, how nice!"

"It was, of course, many years ago, when I was quite a lad."

We all murmured "Certainly," as if piracy were a natural expression of
the exuberance of youth.

"I ought, perhaps, explain the circumstances that led me into this way
of life."

Here Legrande, a courteous attache of the Patagonian legation,
interposed in French and an excess of politeness, "that it was not of a
necessity," a statement to which his English neighbor hurriedly
responded, "Oui, oui."

"There ess a boke," he continued, in a well-bred, rapid whisper, "from
Captain Canot,--a Frenchman,--most eenteresting--he was--oh, a fine man
of education--and what you call a 'slavair,'" but here he was quietly
nudged into respectful silence.

"I ran away from home," continued our host.  He paused, and then added,
appealingly, to the two distinguished foreigners present: "I do not
know if I can make you understand that this is a peculiarly American
predilection.  The exodus of the younger males of an American family
against the parents' wishes does not, with us, necessarily carry any
obloquy with it.  To the average American the prospect of fortune and a
better condition lies OUTSIDE of his home; with you the home means the
estate, the succession of honors or titles, the surety that the
conditions of life shall all be kept intact.  With us the children who
do not expect, and generally succeed in improving the fortunes of the
house, are marked exceptions.  Do I make myself clear?"

The French-Patagonian attache thought it was "charming and progressif."
The Baron Von Pretzel thought he had noticed a movement of that kind in
Germany, which was expressed in a single word of seventeen syllables.
Viscount Piccadilly said to his neighbor: "That, you know now, the
younger sons, don't you see, go to Australia, you know in some beastly
trade--stock-raising or sheep--you know; but, by Jove! them fellahs--"

"My father always treated me well," continued our host.  "I shared
equally with my brothers the privileges and limitations of our New
England home.  Nevertheless, I ran away and went to sea--"

"To see--what?" asked Legrande.

"Aller sur mer," said his neighbor, hastily.

"Go on with your piracy!" said Miss Jones.

The distinguished foreigners looked at each other and then at Miss
Jones.  Each made a mental note of the average cold-blooded ferocity of
the young American female.

"I shipped on board of a Liverpool 'liner,'" continued our host.

"What ess a 'liner'?" interrupted Legrande, sotto voce, to his next
neighbor, who pretended not to hear him.

"I need not say that these were the days when we had not lost our
carrying trade, when American bottoms--"

"Que est ce, 'bot toom'?" said Legrande, imploringly, to his other
friend.

"When American bottoms still carried the bulk of freight, and the
supremacy of our flag--"

Here Legrande recognized a patriotic sentiment and responded to it with
wild republican enthusiasm, nodding his head violently. Piccadilly
noticed it, too, and, seeing an opening for some general discussion on
free trade, began half audibly to HIS neighbor: "Most extraordinary
thing, you know, your American statesmen--"

"I deserted the ship at Liverpool--"

But here two perfunctory listeners suddenly turned toward the other end
of the table, where another guest, our Nevada Bonanza lion, was
evidently in the full flood of pioneer anecdote and narration. Calmly
disregarding the defection, he went on:--

"I deserted the ship at Liverpool in consequence of my ill-treatment by
the second mate,--a man selected for his position by reason of his
superior physical strength and recognized brutality. I have been since
told that he graduated from the state prison.  On the second day out I
saw him strike a man senseless with a belaying pin for some trifling
breach of discipline.  I saw him repeatedly beat and kick sick men--"

"Did you ever read Dana's 'Two Years before the Mast'?" asked
Lightbody, our heavy literary man, turning to HIS neighbor, in a
distinctly audible whisper.  "Ah! there's a book!  Got all this sort of
thing in it.  Dev'lishly well written, too."

The Patagonian (alive for information): "What ess this Dana, eh?"

His left hand neighbor (shortly): "Oh, that man!"

His right hand neighbor (curtly): "The fellah who wrote the
Encyclopaedia and edits 'The Sun'? that was put up in Boston for the
English mission and didn't get it."

The Patagonian (making a mental diplomatic note of the fact that the
severe discipline of the editor of "The Sun," one of America's
profoundest scholars, while acting from patriotic motives, as the
second mate of an American "bottom," had unfitted him for diplomatic
service abroad): "Ah, ciel!"

"I wandered on the quays for a day or two, until I was picked up by a
Portuguese sailor, who, interesting himself in my story, offered to
procure me a passage to Fayal and Lisbon, where, he assured me, I could
find more comfortable and profitable means of returning to my own land.
Let me say here that this man, although I knew him afterward as one of
the most unscrupulous and heartless of pirates,--in fact the typical
buccaneer of the books,--was to me always kind, considerate, and, at
times, even tender.  He was a capital seaman.  I give this evidence in
favor of a much ridiculed race, who have been able seamen for
centuries."

"Did you ever read that Portuguese Guide-book?" asked Lightbody of his
neighbor; "it's the most exquisitely ridiculous thing--"

"Will the great American pirate kindly go on, or resume his original
functions," said Miss Jones, over the table, with a significant look in
the direction of Lightbody.  But her anxiety was instantly
misinterpreted by the polite and fair-play loving Englishman: "I say,
now, don't you know that the fact is these Portuguese fellahs are
always ahead of us in the discovery business?  Why, you know--"

"I shipped with him on a brig, ostensibly bound to St. Kitts and a
market.  We had scarcely left port before I discovered the true
character of the vessel.  I will not terrify you with useless details.
Enough that all that tradition and romance has given you of the
pirate's life was ours.  Happily, through the kindness of my Portuguese
friend, I was kept from being an active participant in scenes of which
I was an unwilling witness.  But I must always bear my testimony to one
fact.  Our discipline, our esprit de corps, if I may so term it, was
perfect.  No benevolent society, no moral organization, was ever so
personally self-sacrificing, so honestly loyal to one virtuous purpose,
as we were to our one vice.  The individual was always merged in the
purpose.  When our captain blew out the brains of our quartermaster,
one day--"

"That reminds me--DID you read of that Georgia murder?" began
Lightbody; "it was in all the papers I think.  Oh, I beg pardon--"

"For simply interrupting him in a conversation with our second
officer," continued our host, quietly.  "The act, although harsh and
perhaps unnecessarily final, was, I think, indorsed by the crew.
James, pass the champagne to Mr. Lightbody."

He paused a moment for the usual casual interruption, but even the
active Legrande was silent.

Alas! from the other end of the table came the voice of the Bonanza
man:--

"The rope was around her neck.  Well, gentlemen, that Mexican woman
standing there, with that crowd around her, eager for her blood, dern
my skin! if she didn't call out to the sheriff to hold on a minit.  And
what fer?  Ye can't guess!  Why, one of them long braids she wore was
under the noose, and kinder in the way.  I remember her raising her
hand to her neck and givin' a spiteful sort of jerk to the braid that
fetched it outside the slip-knot, and then saying to the sheriff:
'There, d--n ye, go on.'  There was a sort o' thoughtfulness in the
act, a kind o' keerless, easy way, that jist fetched the boys--even
them thet hed the rope in their hands, and they--" (suddenly
recognizing the silence): "Oh, beg pardon, old man; didn't know I'd
chipped into your yarn--heave ahead; don't mind me."

"What I am trying to tell you is this:  One night, in the Caribbean
Sea, we ran into one of the Leeward Islands, that had been in olden
time a rendezvous for our ship.  We were piloted to our anchorage
outside by my Portuguese friend, who knew the locality thoroughly, and
on whose dexterity and skill we placed the greatest reliance. If
anything more had been necessary to fix this circumstance in my mind,
it would have been the fact that two or three days before he had
assured me that I should presently have the means of honorable
discharge from the pirate's crew, and a return to my native land. A
launch was sent from the ship to communicate with our friends on the
island, who supplied us with stores, provisions, and general
information.  The launch was manned by eight men, and officered by the
first mate,--a grim, Puritanical, practical New Englander, if I may use
such a term to describe a pirate, of great courage, experience, and
physical strength.  My Portuguese friend, acting as pilot, prevailed
upon them to allow me to accompany the party as coxswain.  I was
naturally anxious, you can readily comprehend, to see--"

"Certainly," "Of course," "Why shouldn't you?" went round the table.

"Two trustworthy men were sent ashore with instructions.  We,
meanwhile, lay off the low, palm-fringed beach, our crew lying on their
oars, or giving way just enough to keep the boat's head to the
breakers.  The mate and myself sat in the stern sheets, looking
shoreward for the signal.  The night was intensely black.  Perhaps for
this reason never before had I seen the phosphorescence of a tropical
sea so strongly marked.  From the great open beyond, luminous crests
and plumes of pale fire lifted themselves, ghost-like, at our bows,
sank, swept by us with long, shimmering, undulating trails, broke on
the beach in silvery crescents, or shattered their brightness on the
black rocks of the promontory. The whole vast sea shone and twinkled
like another firmament, against which the figures of our men, sitting
with their faces toward us, were outlined darkly.  The grim, set
features of our first mate, sitting beside me, were faintly
illuminated.  There was no sound but the whisper of passing waves
against our lap-streak, and the low, murmuring conversation of the men.
I had my face toward the shore.  As I looked over the glimmering
expanse, I suddenly heard the whispered name of our first mate.  As
suddenly, by the phosphorescent light that surrounded it, I saw the
long trailing hair and gleaming shoulders of a woman floating beside
us. Legrande, you are positively drinking nothing.  Lightbody, you are
shirking the Burgundy--you used to like it!"

He paused, but no one spoke.

"I--let me see! where was I?  Oh, yes!  Well, I saw the woman, and when
I turned to call the attention of the first mate to this fact, I knew
instantly, by some strange instinct, that he had seen and heard her,
too.  So, from that moment to the conclusion of our little drama, we
were silent, but enforced spectators.

"She swam gracefully--silently!  I remember noticing through that odd,
half-weird, phosphorescent light which broke over her shoulders as she
rose and fell with each quiet stroke of her splendidly rounded arms,
that she was a mature, perfectly-formed woman.  I remember, also, that
when she reached the boat, and, supporting herself with one small hand
on the gunwale, she softly called the mate in a whisper by his
Christian name, I had a boyish idea that she was--the--er--er--female
of his species--his--er--natural wife!  I'm boring you--am I not?"

Two or three heads shook violently and negatively.  The youngest, and,
I regret to say, the OLDEST, Miss Jones uttered together
sympathetically, "Go on--please; do!"

"The--woman told him in a few rapid words that he had been betrayed;
that the two men sent ashore were now in the hands of the authorities;
that a force was being organized to capture the vessel; that instant
flight was necessary, and that the betrayer and traitor was--my friend,
the Portuguese, Fernandez!

"The mate raised the dripping, little brown hand to his lips, and
whispered some undistinguishable words in her ear.  I remember seeing
her turn a look of ineffable love and happiness upon his grim, set
face, and then she was gone.  She dove as a duck dives, and I saw her
shapely head, after a moment's suspense, reappear a cable's length away
toward the shore.

"I ventured to raise my eyes to the mate's face; it was cold and
impassive.  I turned my face toward the crew; they were conversing in
whispers with each other, with their faces toward us, yet apparently
utterly oblivious of the scene that had just taken place in the stern.
There was a moment of silence, and then the mate's voice came out quite
impassively, but distinctly:--

"'Fernandez!'

"'Aye, aye, sir!'

"'Come aft and--bring your oar with you.'

"He did so, stumbling over the men, who, engaged in their whispered
yarns, didn't seem to notice him.

"'See if you can find soundings here.'

"Fernandez leaned over the stern and dropped his oar to its shaft in
the phosphorescent water.  But he touched no bottom; the current
brought the oar at right angles presently to the surface.

"'Send it down, man,' said the mate, imperatively; 'down, down. Reach
over there.  What are you afraid of?  So; steady there; I'll hold you.'

"Fernandez leaned over the stern and sent the oar and half of his bared
brown arm into the water.  In an instant the mate caught him with one
tremendous potential grip at his elbows, and forced him and his oar
head downward in the waters.  The act was so sudden, yet so carefully
premeditated, that no outcry escaped the doomed man.  Even the launch
scarcely dipped her stern to the act.  In that awful moment I heard a
light laugh from one of the men in response to a wanton yarn from his
comrade,--James, bring the vichy to Mr. Lightbody!  You'll find that a
dash of cognac will improve it wonderfully.

"Well--to go on--a few bubbles arose to the surface.  Fernandez seemed
unreasonably passive, until I saw that when the mate had gripped his
elbows with his hands he had also firmly locked the traitor's knees
within his own.  In a few moments--it seemed to me, then, a
century--the mate's grasp relaxed; the body of Fernandez, a mere limp,
leaden mass, slipped noiselessly and heavily into the sea.  There was
no splash.  The ocean took it calmly and quietly to its depths.  The
mate turned to the men, without deigning to cast a glance on me.

"'Oars!'  The men raised their oars apeak.

"'Let fall!'  There was a splash in the water, encircling the boat in
concentric lines of molten silver.

"'Give way!'

"Well, of course, that's all.  WE got away in time.  I knew I bored you
awfully!  Eh?  Oh, you want to know what became of the woman--really, I
don't know!  And myself--oh, I got away at Havana!  Eh? Certainly;
James, you'll find some smelling salts in my bureau. Gentlemen, I fear
we have kept the ladies too long."

But they had already risen, and were slowly filing out of the room.
Only one lingered--the youngest Miss Jones.

"That was a capital story," she said, pausing beside our host, with a
special significance in her usual audacity.  "Do you know you
absolutely sent cold chills down my spine a moment ago.  Really, now,
you ought to write for the magazines!"

Our host looked up at the pretty, audacious face.  Then he said, sotto
voce,--

"I do!"





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Drift from Two Shores" ***

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