A SELECTION OF THE BEST FICTION
BY THE FOREMOST WRITERS
THE SHORT STORIES COMPANY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Night Express
Over The Garden Wall
His Honor, The District Judge
A Fog-horn Conclusion
Mary Jane's Diversion
The Hammerpond Burglary
A Fo'c's'le Tragedy
The Adopted Son
Providence And Mrs. Urmy
The Million Dollar Freight Train
The Bulldog Breed
Ice In June
The Yellow Cat
A Cock And Policeman
Prisoners In The Tower
Aunt Mary Telegraphs
The Vengeance Of The Wolf
The Wooing Of Bettina
The Jam God
When Father Worked
THE NIGHT EXPRESS
The Story of a Bank Robbery
By FRED M. WHITE
A pelting rain volleyed against the great glass dome
of the terminus, a roaring wind boomed in the roof.
Passengers, hurrying along the platform, glistened in big
coats and tweed caps pulled close over their ears. By the
platform the night express was drawn up—a glittering mass
of green and gold, shimmering with electric lights, warm,
inviting, and cozy.
Most of the corridor carriages and sleeping berths were
full, for it was early in October still, and the Scotch exodus
was not just yet. A few late comers were looking anxiously
out for the guard. He came presently, an alert figure in
blue and silver. Really, he was very sorry. But the train
was unusually crowded, and he was doing the best he
could. He was perfectly aware of the fact that his questioners
represented a Cabinet Minister on his way to
Balmoral and a prominent Lothian baronet, but there
are limits even to the power of an express guard, on the
Grand Coast Railway.
"Well, what's the matter with this?" the Minister demanded.
"Here is an ordinary first-class coach that will do very well
for us. Now, Catesby, unlock one of these doors and turn
the lights on."
"Very sorry, my lord," the guard explained, "but it can't
be done. Two of the carriages in the coach are quite full, as
you see, and the other two are reserved. As a matter of
fact, my lord, we are taking a body down to Lydmouth.
Gentleman who is going to be buried there. And the other
carriage is for the Imperial Bank of Scotland. Cashier
going up north with specie, you understand."
It was all plain enough, and disgustingly logical. To
intrude upon the presence of a body was perfectly impossible;
to try and force the hand of the bank cashier equally out of
the question. As head of a great financial house, the Minister
knew that. A platform inspector bustled along presently,
with his hand to his gold-laced cap.
"Saloon carriage being coupled up behind, my lord,"
The problem was solved. The guard glanced at his
watch. It seemed to him that both the bank messenger and
the undertaker were cutting it fine. The coffin came presently
on a hand-truck—a black velvet pall lay over it, and
on the sombre cloth a wreath or two of white lilies. The
door of the carriage was closed presently, and the blinds
drawn discreetly close. Following behind this came a barrow
in charge of a couple of platform police. On the barrow
were two square deal boxes, heavy out of all proportion
to their size. These were deposited presently to the satisfaction
of a little nervous-looking man in gold-rimmed
glasses. Mr. George Skidmore, of the Imperial Bank,
had his share of ordinary courage, but he had an imagination,
too, and he particularly disliked these periodical trips
to branch banks, in convoy, so to speak. He took no risks.
"Awful night, sir," the guard observed. "Rather lucky
to get a carriage to yourself, sir. Don't suppose you would
have done so only we're taking a corpse as far as Lydmouth,
which is our first stop."
"Really?" Skidmore said carelessly. "Ill wind that
blows nobody good, Catesby. I may be overcautious, but
I much prefer a carriage to myself. And my people prefer it,
too. That's why we always give the railway authorities
a few days' notice. One can't be too careful, Catesby."
The guard supposed not. He was slightly, yet discreetly,
amused to see Mr. Skidmore glance under the
seats of the first-class carriage. Certainly there was nobody
either there or on the racks. The carriage at the far side
was locked, and so, now, was the door next the platform.
The great glass dome was brilliantly lighted so that anything
suspicious would have been detected instantly. The
guard's whistle rang out shrill and clear, and Catesby had
a glimpse of Mr. Skidmore making himself comfortable as he
swung himself into his van. The great green and gold serpent
with the brilliant electric eyes fought its way sinuously into
the throat of the wet and riotous night on its first stage of
over two hundred miles. Lydmouth would be the first stop.
So far Mr. Skidmore had nothing to worry him, nothing,
that is, except the outside chance of a bad accident. He
did not anticipate, however, that some miscreant might
deliberately wreck the train on the off chance of looting
those plain deal boxes. The class of thief that banks
have to fear is not guilty of such clumsiness. Unquestionably
nothing could happen on this side of Lydmouth.
The train was roaring along now through the fierce gale at
sixty odd miles an hour, Skidmore had the carriage to himself,
and was not the snug, brilliantly lighted compartment
made of steel? On one side was the carriage with the
coffin; on the other side another compartment filled with
a party of sportsmen going North. Skidmore had noticed
the four of them playing bridge just before he slipped into
his own carriage. Really, he had nothing to fear. He
lay back comfortably wondering how Poe or Gaboriau
would have handled such a situation with a successful robbery
behind it. There are limits, of course, both to a
novelist's imagination and a clever thief's process of invention.
Three hours and twenty minutes later the express pulled
up at Lydmouth. The station clock indicated the hour to
be 11.23. Catesby swung himself out of his van on to the
shining wet platform. Only one passenger was waiting
there, but nobody alighted. Catesby was sure of this,
because he was on the flags before a door could be opened.
He came forward to give a hand with the coffin in the
compartment next to Skidmore's. Then he noticed, to his
surprise, that the glass in the carriage window was
smashed; he could see that the little cashier was huddled
up strangely in one corner. And Catesby could see also
that the two boxes of bullion were gone!
Catesby's heart was thumping against his ribs as he
fumbled with his key. He laid his hand upon Skidmore's
shoulder, but the latter did not move. The fair hair
hung in a mass on the side of his forehead, and here it was
fair no longer. There was a hole with something horribly
red and slimy oozing from it. The carpet on the floor
was piled up in a heap; there were red smears on the
cushions. It was quite evident that a struggle had taken
place here. The shattered glass in the window testified
to that. And the boxes were gone, and Skidmore had
been murdered by some assailant who had shot him through
the brain. And this mysterious antagonist had got off
with the bullion, too.
A thing incredible, amazing, impossible; but there it was.
By some extraordinary method or another the audacious
criminal had boarded an express train traveling at sixty
miles an hour in the teeth of a gale. He had contrived
to enter the cashier's carriage and remove specie to the
amount of eight thousand pounds! It was impossible
that only one man could have carried it. But all the same
it was gone.
Catesby pulled himself together. He was perfectly certain
that nobody at present on the train had been guilty
of this thing. He was perfectly certain that nobody had
left the train. Nobody could have done so after entering
the station without the guard's knowledge, and to
have attempted such a thing on the far side of the river
bridge would have been certain death to anybody. There was
a long viaduct here—posts and pillars and chains, with
tragedy lurking anywhere for the madman who attempted
such a thing. And until the viaduct was reached the
express had not slackened speed. Besides, the thief who
had the courage and intelligence and daring to carry out
a robbery like this was not the man to leave an express
train traveling at a speed of upwards of sixty miles an hour.
The train had to proceed, there was no help for it. There
was a hurried conference between Catesby and the stationmaster;
after that the electric lamps in the dead man's carriage
were unshipped, and the blinds pulled down. The
matter would be fully investigated when Edinburgh was
reached, meanwhile the stationmaster at Lydmouth would
telephone the Scotch capital and let them know there what
they had to expect. Catesby crept into his van again, very
queer and dizzy, and with a sensation in his legs suggestive
of creeping paralysis.
Naturally, the mystery of the night express caused a
great sensation. Nothing like it had been known since the
great crime on the South Coast, which is connected with
the name of Lefroy. But that was not so much a mystery
as a man hunt. There the criminal had been identified.
But here there was no trace and no clue whatever.
It was in vain that the Scotland Yard authorities tried to
shake the evidence of the guard, Catesby. He refused to
make any admissions that would permit the police even
to build up a theory. He was absolutely certain that Mr.
Skidmore had been alone in the carriage at the moment
that the express left London; he was absolutely certain
that he had locked the door of the compartment, and the
engine driver could testify that the train had never traveled
at a less speed than sixty miles an hour until the bridge
over the river leading into Lydmouth station was reached;
even then nobody could have dropped off the train without
the risk of certain death. Inspector Merrick was
bound to admit this himself when he went over the spot.
And the problem of the missing bullion boxes was quite
as puzzling in its way as the mysterious way in which Mr.
Skidmore had met his death.
There was no clue to this either. Certainly there had
been a struggle, or there would not have been blood marks
all over the place, and the window would have remained
intact. Skidmore had probably been forced back into
his seat, or he had collapsed there after the fatal shot
was fired. The unfortunate man had been shot through
the brain with an ordinary revolver of common pattern,
so that for the purpose of proof the bullet was useless.
There were no finger marks on the carriage door, a proof
that the murderer had either worn gloves or that he had
carefully removed all traces with a cloth of some kind.
It was obvious, too, that a criminal of this class would
take no risks, especially as there was no chance of his being
hurried, seeing that he had had three clear hours for his work.
The more the police went into the matter, the more puzzled
they were. It was not a difficult matter to establish
the bona fides of the passengers who traveled in the next
coach with Skidmore, and as to the rest it did not matter.
Nobody could possibly have left any of the corridor coaches
without attracting notice; indeed, the very suggestion was
absurd. And there the matter rested for three days.
It must not be supposed that the authorities had been
altogether idle. Inspector Merrick spent most of his time
traveling up and down the line by slow local trains on the
off-chance of hearing some significant incident that might
lead to a clue. There was one thing obvious—the bullion
boxes must have been thrown off the train at some spot
arranged between the active thief and his confederates.
For this was too big a thing to be entirely the work of one
man. Some of the gang must have been waiting along the
line in readiness to receive the boxes and carry them to a
place of safety. By this time, no doubt, the boxes themselves
had been destroyed; but eight thousand pounds in gold
takes some moving, and probably a conveyance, a motor
for choice, had been employed for this purpose. But
nobody appeared to have seen or heard anything suspicious
on the night of the murder; no prowling gamekeeper
or watcher had noticed anything out of the common.
Along the Essex and Norfolk marshes, where the Grand
Coast Railway wound along like a steel snake, they had
taken their desolate and dreary way. True, the dead body
of a man had been found in the fowling nets up in the mouth
of the Little Ouse, and nobody seemed to know who he
was; but there could be no connection between this unhappy
individual and the express criminal. Merrick shook his
head as he listened to this from a laborer in a roadside
public house where he was making a frugal lunch on
bread and cheese.
"What do you call fowling nets?" Merrick asked.
"Why, what they catches the birds in," the rustic
explained. "Thousands and thousands of duck and teel
and widgeon they catches at this time of year. There's
miles of nets along the road—great big nets like fowl runs.
Ye didn't happen to see any on 'em as ye came along in
"Now I come to think of it, yes," Merrick said thoughtfully.
"I was rather struck by all that netting. So they
catch sea birds that way?"
"Catches 'em by the thousand, they does. Birds fly
against the netting in the dark and get entangled. Ducks
they get by 'ticing 'em into a sort of cage with decoys.
There's some of 'em stan's the best part of half a mile long.
Covered in over the top like great cages. Ain't bad sport,
Merrick nodded. He recollected it all clearly now. He
recalled the wide, desolate mud flats running right up to
the railway embankment for some miles. At high tide
the mud flats were under water, and out of these the great
mass of network rose both horizontally and perpendicular.
And in this tangle the dead body of a man had been found
after the storm.
There was nothing really significant in the fact that the
body had been discovered soon after the murder of Mr.
George Skidmore. Still, there might be a connection
between the two incidents. Merrick was going to make
inquiries; he was after what looked like a million to one
chance. But then Merrick was a detective with an imagination,
which was one of the reasons why he had been
appointed to the job. It was essentially a case for the
theoretical man. It baffled all the established rules of the
Late the same afternoon Merrick arrived at Little Warlingham
by means of a baker's cart. It was here that the
body of the drowned man lay awaiting the slim chances
of identity. If nothing transpired during the next eight
and forty hours, the corpse would be buried by the parish
authorities. The village policeman acted as Merrick's
guide. It was an event in his life that he was not likely
"A stranger to these parts, I should say, sir," the local
officer said. "He's in a shed at the back of the 'Blue
Anchor,' where the inquest was held. If you come this
way, I'll show him to you."
"Anything found on the body?"
"Absolutely nothing, sir. No mark on the clothing or
linen, either. Probably washed off some ship in the storm.
Pockets were quite empty, too. And no signs of foul play.
There you are, sir!"
Casually enough Merrick bent over the still, white form
lying there. The dead face was turned up to the light,
Rembrandtesque, coming through the door. The detective
straightened himself suddenly, and wiped his forehead.
"Stranger to you, sir, of course?" the local man said
"Well, no," Merrick retorted. "I happen to know the
fellow quite well. I'm glad I came here."
Until it was quite too dark to see any longer Merrick
was out on the mud flats asking questions. He appeared
to be greatly interested in the wildfowlers and the many
methods of catching their prey. He learned, incidentally,
that on the night of the express murder most of the nets
and lures had been washed away. He took minute particulars
as to the state of the tide on the night in question;
he wanted to know if the nets were capable of holding up
against any great force. For instance, if a school of porpoises
came along? Or if a fish eagle or an osprey found
itself entangled in the meshes?
The fowlers smiled. They invited Merrick to try it for
himself. On that stormy east coast it was foolish to take
any risks. And Merrick was satisfied. As a matter of
fact, he was more than satisfied.
He was really beginning to see his way at last. By the
time he got back to his headquarters again he had practically
reconstructed the crime. As he stood on the railway
permanent way, gazing down into the network of the
fowlers below, he smiled to himself. He could have tossed
a biscuit on to the top of the long lengths of tarred and
knotted rigging. Later on he telephoned to the London
terminus of the Grand Coast Railway for the people there
to place the services of Catesby at his disposal for a day
or two. Could Catesby meet him at Lydmouth to-morrow?
The guard could and did. He frankly admitted that
he was grateful for the little holiday. He looked as if
he wanted it. The corners of his mouth twitched, his
hands were shaky.
"It's nerves, Mr. Merrick," he explained. "We all
suffer from them at times. Only we don't like the company
to know it, ye understand? To tell the truth, I've
never got over that affair at the Junction here eight years
ago. I expect you remember that."
Merrick nodded. Catesby was alluding to a great railway
tragedy which had taken place outside Lydmouth
station some few years back. It had been a most disastrous
affair for a local express, and Catesby had been
acting as guard to the train. He spoke of it under his breath.
"I dream of it occasionally even now," he said. "The
engine left the line and dragged the train over the embankment
into the river. If you ask me how I managed to
escape, I can't tell you. I never come into Lydmouth with
the night express now without my head out of the window
of the van right away from the viaduct till she pulls up at
the station. And what's more, I never shall. It isn't
fear, mind you, because I've as much pluck as any man.
It's just nerves."
"We get 'em in our profession, too," Merrick smiled.
"Did you happen to be looking out of the window on the
night of the murder?"
"Yes, and every other night, too. Haven't I just told
you so? Directly we strike the viaduct I come to my feet
"Always look out the same side, I suppose?"
"Yes, on the left. That's the platform side, you understand."
"Then if anybody had left the train there——"
"Anybody left the train! Why we were traveling at
fifty miles an hour when we reached the viaduct. Oh,
yes, if anybody had left the train I should have been bound
to see them, of course."
"But you can't see out of both windows at once."
"Nobody could leave the train by the other side. The
stone parapet of the viaduct almost touches the footboard,
and there's a drop of ninety feet below that. Of course
I see what you are driving at, Mr. Merrick. Now look
here. I locked Mr. Skidmore in the carriage myself, and I
can prove that nobody got in before we left London. That
would have been too dangerous a game so long as the train
was passing any number of brilliantly lighted stations,
and by the time we got into the open we were going at sixty
miles an hour. That speed never slackened till we were
just outside Lydmouth, and I was watching at the moment
that our pace dropped. I had my head out of the window
of my van till we pulled up by the platform. I am prepared
to swear to all this if you like. Lord knows how the thing
was done, and I don't suppose anybody else ever will."
"You are mistaken there," said Merrick drily. "Now,
what puzzles you, of course, is the manner in which the
murderer left the train."
"Well, isn't that the whole mystery?"
"Not to me. That's the part I really do know. Not
that I can take any great credit to myself, because luck
helped me. It was, perhaps, the most amazing piece of
luck I have ever had. It was my duty, of course, to take
no chances, and I didn't. But we'll come to that presently.
Let it suffice for the moment that I know how the murderer left
the train. What puzzles me is to know how he got on it.
We can dismiss every other passenger in the train, and we
need not look for an accomplice. There were accomplices, of
course, but they were not on the express. Why didn't Mr.
Skidmore travel in one of the corridor coaches?"
"He was too nervous. He always had a first-class carriage
to himself. We knew he was coming, and that was
why we attached an ordinary first-class coach to the train.
We shouldn't do it for anybody, but Lord Rendelmore,
the chairman of Mr. Skidmore's bank, is also one of our
directors. The coach came in handy the other night
because we had an order from a London undertaker to bring
a corpse as far as here—to Lydmouth."
"Really! You would have to have a separate carriage
"Naturally, Mr. Merrick. It was sort of killing two
birds with one stone."
"I see. When did you hear about the undertaking job?"
"The same morning we heard from the bank that Mr.
Skidmore was going to Lydmouth. We reserved a coach
at once, and had it attached to the Express. The other
carriages were filled with ordinary passengers."
"Why didn't I hear of this before?" Merrick asked.
"I don't know. It doesn't seem to me to be of much
importance. You might just as well ask me questions as
to the passengers' baggage."
"Everything is of importance," Merrick said sententiously.
"In our profession, there are no such things as
trifles. I suppose there will be no difficulty in getting at
the facts of this corpse business. I'll make inquiries here
So far Merrick professed himself to be satisfied. But
there were still difficulties in the way. The station people
had a clear recollection of the receipt of a coffin on the night
of the tragedy, and, late as it was, the gruesome thing had
been fetched away by the people whom it was consigned
to. A plain hearse, drawn by one horse, had been driven
into the station yard, the consignment note had been
receipted in the usual way, and there was an end of the
matter. Lydmouth was a big place, with nearly a quarter
of a million of inhabitants, and would necessarily contain
a good many people in the undertaking line. Clearly it was no
business of the railway company to take this thing any further.
Merrick admitted that freely enough. It was nearly dark
when he came back to the station, profoundly dissatisfied
with a wasted afternoon.
"No good," he told Catesby. "At the same time there
are consolations. And, after all, I am merely confirming
my suspicions. I suppose your people here are on the telephone.
If so, I should like to send a message to your head
office. I want the name of the firm in London who consigned
the coffin here. I suppose the stationmaster could
manage this for me."
An hour or so later the information came. Merrick,
at the telephone, wanted a little further assistance. Would
the Grand Coast Railway call up the undertaker's firm
whilst he held the line and ask the full particulars as to the
body sent from London to Lydmouth. For half an hour
Merrick stood patiently there till the reply came.
"Are you there? Is that Inspector Merrick? Oh, yes.
Well, we have called up Lincoln & Co., the undertakers.
We got on to the manager himself. He declares that the
whole thing is a mistake. They have not sent a corpse
over our trunk system for two months. I read the manager
the letter asking for special facilities, a letter on the
firm's own paper. The manager does not hesitate to say
the whole thing is a forgery. I think he is right, Inspector.
If we can do anything else for you——"
Merrick hung up the receiver and smiled as if pleased
with himself. He turned to his companion, Catesby.
"It's all right," he said. "Is there any way we can
get back to London to-night? The whole thing is perfectly
Though Merrick returned to London thoroughly satisfied,
he knew that the sequel was not just yet. There was
much conjuring work to be done before it would be possible
to place all the cards on the table. The Christmas
holidays had arrived before Merrick obtained a couple of
warrants, and, armed with these, he went down to Brighton
on Boxing Day, and put up at the Hotel Regina, registering
himself as Colonel Beaumont, sometime of the United
States Field Forces. Merrick could pose as an authority
on Cuba, for on one occasion he had been there for six
months on the lookout for a defaulting bank manager.
He had made certain changes in his appearance, and just
now he bore little resemblance to Inspector Merrick of
New Scotland Yard.
The big hotel on the front was full. There was a smart
dance that same night, preceded by a children's party and
Christmas tree. The house swarmed with young folks,
and a good many nationalities were represented. On
occasions like these somebody generally takes the lead,
and by common consent the part of the chief of the events
had been allotted to the Marquis de Branza.
To begin with, he was immensely rich. He had vast
estates in Italy. He had been staying at the Regina for
the past month, and it was whispered that his bill had
reached three figures. He entertained lavishly; he was
the soul of hospitality; he was going to buy a palace in
Kings' Gardens, and more or less settle down in Brighton.
In addition to all this the Marquis was a handsome man,
very fascinating, and a prime favorite with all the boys and
girls at the Regina. He had his little peculiarities, of course—for
instance, he paid for everything in gold. All his
hotel bills were met with current coin.
Merrick had gleaned all this before he had been a day
at the Regina. They were quite a happy family, and the
Colonel speedily found himself at home. The Marquis
welcomed him as if he owned the hotel, and as if everybody
was his guest. The dance was a great success, as
also were the presents in connection with the cotillon
promoted by the Marquis.
At two o'clock the following morning the Marquis was
entertaining a select party in the smoking-room. The
ladies had all vanished by this time. The Marquis was
speaking of his adventures. He really had quite a talent
in that direction. Naturally, a man of his wealth was
certain to be the mark for swindlers. Merrick listened with
an approving smile. He knew that most of these stories
were true, for they had all been recorded from time to time
at Scotland Yard.
"You would have made an excellent detective, Marquis,"
he said. "You have made it quite clear where the police
blundered over that Glasgow tragedy. I suppose you read
all about the Grand Coast Railway murder."
The Marquis started ever so slightly. There was a
questioning look in his eyes.
"Did you?" he said. "Naturally one would, Colonel.
But a matter the most inexplicable. I gave him up. From
the very first I gave him up. If the guard Catesby was
not the guilty person, then I admit I have no theory."
One by one, the smoking-room company faded away.
Presently only Merrick and the Marquis remained, save
one guest who had fallen asleep in his chair. A sleepy
waiter looked in and vanished again. The hotel was absolutely
quiet now. Merrick, however, was wide awake
enough; so, apparently, was the Marquis. All the same,
he yawned ostentatiously.
"Let us to bed," he said. "To-morrow, perhaps——"
"No," Merrick said somewhat curtly. "I prefer to-night.
The last two words came crisply and with a ring of command
in them. The Marquis bowed as he dropped into
a chair and lighted a fresh cigarette. A little red spot
glowed on either of his brown cheeks, his eyes glittered.
"You want to speak to me, Colonel?" he said.
"Very much indeed. Now, you are an exceedingly clever
man, Marquis, and you may be able to help me. It happens
that I am deeply interested in the Grand Coast Express
murder; in fact, I have devoted the last two months to its
"With no success whatever, my dear Colonel?" the
"On the contrary, my dear Marquis, with absolute satisfaction.
I am quite sure that you will be interested in my
The Marquis raised his cigarette graciously.
"You are very good to give me your confidence," he said.
"Thank you. I will not bore you with any preliminary
details, for they are too recent to have faded from your
memory. Sufficient that we have a murder committed in
an express train; we have the disappearance of eight thousand
pounds in gold, without any trace of the criminal.
That he was on the train at the start is obvious. That he
was not in any of the carriages conveying ordinary passengers
is equally obvious. It is also certain that he left
the train after the commission of the crime. Doubtless
you read the evidence of the guard to prove that nobody
left the train after the viaduct leading to Lydmouth station
was reached. Therefore, the murderer contrived to make
his escape when the express was traveling at sixty miles
"Is not all this superfluous?" the Marquis asked.
"Well, not quite. I am going to tell you how the murderer
joined the train and how he left it after the murder and the
"You are going to tell me that! Is it possible?"
"I think so," Merrick said modestly. "Now, Mr. Skidmore
had a compartment to himself. He was locked in
the very last thing, and nobody joined the train afterward.
Naturally a—well—an amateur detective like myself
wanted to know who was in the adjoining compartments.
Three of these could be dismissed at once. But in the fourth
there was a corpse——"
"A corpse! But there was no mention of that at the
"No, but the fact remains. A corpse in a coffin. In a
dark compartment with the blinds down. And, strangely
enough, the firm of undertakers who consigned, or were
supposed to consign, the body to Lydmouth denied the whole
business. Therefore, it is only fair to suppose that the
whole thing was a put-up job to get a compartment in the
coach that Mr. Skidmore traveled by. I am going to assume
that in that coffin the murderer lay concealed. But let
me give you a light—your cigarette is out."
"I smoke no more," the Marquis said. "My throat,
he is dry. And then——"
"Well, then, the first part is easy. The man gets out of
the coffin and proceeds to fill it with some heavy substance
which has been smuggled into the carriage under the pall.
He screws the lid down and presently makes his way
along the footboard to the next compartment. An athlete
in good condition could do that; in fact, a sailor has done
it in a drunken freak more than once. Mind you, I don't
say that murder was intended in the first instance; but will
presume that there was a struggle. The thief probably
lost his temper, and perhaps Mr. Skidmore irritated him.
Now, the rest was easy. It was easy to pack up the gold
in leather bags, each containing a thousand sovereigns,
and to drop them along the line at some spot previously
agreed upon. I have no doubt that the murderer and his
accomplices traveled many times up and down the line
before the details were finally settled. Any way, there
was no risk here. The broken packing cases were pitched
out also, probably in some thick wood. Or they might
have been weighted and cast into a stream. Are you
The Marquis gurgled. He had some difficulty in
"A little dangerous," he said. "Our ingenious friend
could not possibly screw himself down in the coffin after
returning to his compartment. And have you perceived
the danger of discovery at Lydmouth?"
"Precisely," Merrick said drily. "It is refreshing to
meet with so luminous a mind as yours. There were many
dangers, many risks to take. The train might have been
stopped, lots of things might have happened. It would
be far better for the man to leave the express. And he
"The express at top speed! Impossible!"
"To the ordinary individual, yes. But then, you see,
this was not an ordinary individual. He was—let us
suppose—an acrobat, a man of great nerve and courage,
accustomed to trapeze work and the use of the diving net."
"But Colonel, pardon me, where does the net come in?"
"The net came in at a place near Little Warlingham,
on the Norfolk coast. There are miles of net up there,
trap and flight nets close by the side of the line. These
nets are wide and strong; they run many furlongs without
supports, so that an acrobat could easily turn a somersault
on to one of these at a given spot without the slightest
risk. He could study out the precise spot carefully
beforehand—there are lightships on the sands to act as
guides. I have been down to the spot and studied it all
out for myself. The thing is quite easy for the class of man
I mean. I am not taking any great credit to myself, because
I happened to see the body of the man who essayed that
experiment. I recognized him for——"
"You recognized him! You knew who he was?"
"Certainly. He was Luigi Bianca, who used to perform
in London years ago, with his brother Joseph, on the
high trapeze. Then one of them got into trouble and subsequently
embarked, as the papers say, on a career of crime.
And when I saw the body of Luigi I knew at once that he
had had a hand in the murder of Mr. Skidmore. When
the right spot was reached the fellow took a header in the
dark boldly enough, but he did not know that the storm
had come with a very high October tide, and washed the
nets away. He fell on the sands and dislocated his neck.
But I had something to go on with. When I found out
about the bogus corpse I began to see my way. I have
been making careful inquiries ever since for the other
"The other criminal! You mean to insinuate——"
"I insinuate nothing," Merrick said coldly; "naturally
enough I wanted to find Joseph Bianca. He was the man
who picked up the gold; he was the man who hired a car
in London from Moss & Co., in Regent Street, for a week.
This was to recover the gold and incidentally also to take
up the thief who stole it. I wanted to find Joseph Bianca,
and I've done it!"
The Marquis leaped to his feet. As he did so the man
in the distant chair woke up and moved across the room.
"Don't make a fuss!" Merrick said quietly. "You
will be able to explain presently—perhaps what you are
doing here posing as a Marquis, and where you got all that
ready money from. Meanwhile, let me inform you that I
am Inspector Merrick, of Scotland Yard, and that this is
Sergeant Matthews. Joseph Bianca, you are my prisoner,
and I have a warrant for your arrest as an accessory before
and after the fact for the murder of Mr. George Skidmore.
Ask them to call us a cab, Matthews!"
OVER THE GARDEN WALL
The Story of a Vacation
By LOUISE HAMILTON MABIE
The impression, which floated vaguely as a perfume
in the wake of the departing Mr. and Mrs. Jasper
Prentiss, adapted itself pleasingly to any point of view.
Generally, it was thought that Katrina Prentiss was to
remain at home under the eye of Grandfather McBride.
Particularly, was this Grandfather McBride's reading of
the unspoken word. But Miss Prentiss, herself, thought
so otherwise that the situation completely reversed itself.
To Miss Prentiss, Grandfather McBride was left absolutely
under her eye.
Meanwhile the Jasper Prentisses, characteristically
explaining nothing, commanding nothing, leaving events
to work themselves out somehow, as events have been known
to do, were off for their month's fishing without undue worry.
"Grandfather will smoke his pipe all over the house,"
remarked Mrs. Prentiss easily, as they drove away.
"Oh, Katrina will manage somehow," returned Mr.
Prentiss, as easily. "They'll come to terms. By the way,
Kitty, we mustn't forget that marmalade." And, absorbed
in their list of supplies, the Jasper Prentisses disappeared
Grandfather McBride, eighty-one, dependent, save in
moments of excitement, upon his knotted stick, hard-featured,
with a rusty beard and a shabby black hat, departed
slowly for his own quarters. Miss Prentiss, twenty-one,
hazel-eyed and graceful, with a wonderful creamy skin,
under a crown of auburn braids, sank dreamily upon the
broad porch step and gazed across the green lawn into the
"A whole month," thought Miss Prentiss, "of doing as
I please—consulting nobody, ordering things, going to
places, and coming home to—freedom." Miss Prentiss
spread out her hands with a sigh of content. "Not that
I'm interfered with—ever," she added, reproaching herself,
"but now—well, I'm it."
She rose swiftly and turned up the steps. In the wide
doorway stood Grandfather McBride, stick in hand, hat
jammed down, and in his mouth, at a defiant angle, a battered
black pipe. A red flag, backed up by a declaration
of the rights of man, could not have spoken more plainly.
Miss Prentiss drew back; Mr. McBride stepped forward.
Their eyes met. Then the old gentleman flung down his
challenge. He removed the pipe and held it poised in his
"What you goin' to do to-day, Triny?" he asked, briskly.
"When you goin' over to see the Deerings' parrot? There
ain't another such bird in America. You go over there
this morning and see that parrot. Don't loll about the
house. Don't be lazy!" Whereupon, with less profanity,
but as much of autocracy as was ever displayed by an Irish
boss whipping into shape the lowliest of his Italian gang,
Mr. McBride replaced his pipe elaborately, and walked
off with the honors. Katrina, utterly astonished, stared
after him, then shrugged, then smiled.
"Poor Grandfather," she reached at length, "in minor
matters I'll let him have his way."
The next day, Grandfather McBride smoked his pipe
on the porch. On the third morning he smoked it in the
drawing-room—out of sheer defiance, for he never entered
the room save under compulsion. Katrina, reminding herself
that peace was to be desired above victory, shrugged
once more, smiled, and went for a ride. When she swept
in, an hour or so later, Grandfather McBride was in the
back garden with John, and the smoke of a huge bonfire
obscured the sunlight. This was revolution, simple and
straightforward, and Katrina went at once to the back
"John," she said, "what is the meaning of this? Don't
you know that Mr. Prentiss never allows bonfires? The
rubbish is to be carted away, not set on fire."
John, apologetic, perturbed, nodded toward the old
gentleman. "Yes, miss, I know. I told Mr. McBride,
Grandfather McBride turned coldly upon Katrina. "I
ordered this bonfire," he said.
"But, Grandfather, you know the old orders. Father
never allows them."
"I allow them," said Mr. McBride. "Your father's
away fishing, and I'm in charge. This is my bonfire. I
order bonfires when I please. I like 'em. I like the smell
of 'em, I like the smoke——" Here an unexpected cough
gave Katrina a word.
"But, Grandfather," she began again, only to be cut
"When the folks are home, I sit still and mind my own
business. Now they're away, I'm goin' to do things. I'm
on a vacation myself," said Mr. McBride, "and I'll have
a bonfire on the front lawn if I say so. You go back to the
house, Katriny, and read Gibson."
"Ibsen," flashed Katrina.
"I don't care what his Dutch name is—read him. Or
else"—a grim light of humor in his hard gray eye—"go
over and see that parrot."
Katrina almost stamped her foot. "I loathe parrots,"
she cried, "and I came out to talk about this bonfire."
"I know you did," said Mr. McBride, "but this parrot
ain't like other parrots. It's a clown. It would make
a rag baby laugh."
Katrina, flushed, angry, at a loss what to say, decided
to say nothing. The sight of John, discreetly gazing at
the roof of the chicken house, the grimness of Grandfather's
face, the discomfort of the choking smoke, urged a dignified
retreat. She turned abruptly and left them, overwhelmed
at the exhibition furnished by Mr. McBride, confounded
at his sudden leap into activity after years of
serene floating and absolutely in the dark as to any method
of controlling him in the future.
For a week, his pipe and his daily bonfire contented Mr.
McBride. Between himself and Katrina, relations were
polite but not cordial. Katrina preserved a dignity which
deceived neither of them. Both knew that she was awaiting
something sensational, and the fact worried the old
gentleman, for already he had exhausted his possibilities.
He longed for new ideas in this matter of revolution, but
none came. He began to be bored by bonfires, and the
lack of opposition to them. Even the parrot failed to
amuse, and he was sinking into dull monotony, when a walk
down the long lane behind the back garden one sunny afternoon
changed the horizon of his world.
He was gone for two hours; but Katrina was away from
the house herself, and did not notice. The next afternoon
he disappeared for three, finally dragging in weary in
body, but high in spirit. Twice at dinner he chuckled
audibly, and three times he recommended the parrot across
the street to Katrina. The next day he vanished after
luncheon, and was late for dinner. At this, Katrina decided
to take a hand.
"Grandfather," she said abruptly at dessert, after a long
interval of silence on both sides, "it's all very well to take
a vacation, but there is such a thing as overdoing it. I'm
sure you would do nothing that would alarm mother, and I
know that if she were at home she would worry over you.
For days you have had no nap. Please rest to-morrow.
Don't go walking. Let me drive you to the club for
The old gentleman glanced up at Katrina quickly. "I
declare if I hadn't forgot all about that fellow till this minute,"
he said. "Speaking of the club, how's Sparks, Katriny?"
Katrina sat suddenly erect and her color deepened. "Do
you by any chance mean Mr. Willoughby Park, Grandfather?
If so, I know nothing whatever about him. I
haven't seen him for a week." This with a jerk.
"Don't you marry that chap, Katriny," went on Mr.
McBride, unimpressed, "and don't you let him come around
here. He's no good. A fellow that hangs around a country
club when he ain't hangin' around a girl, is always no good.
You marry a chap with brains, Katriny, even if he ain't so
long on the cash. Why, I know a young fellow——" Mr.
McBride pulled himself up short. "You dash in for brains,
Triny, and I'll take out my pocket book." Here he nodded,
as if concluding a bargain, but Katrina was already upon
"Grandfather McBride, you are growing insufferable,"
she cried. "Simply because I mention the club, you assume
that I am—angling—for a man that—that has been
decently polite to me. I have never been invited to marry
Mr. Park. And you give me low advice about laying traps
for some other sort of a man. And you mention pocket
books! And you go off alone for hours and come home
worn out. And you smoke your horrible old pipe and build
your sickening bonfires, just to spite me! I think you are
a wretch, and I've worried over you every day since
mother left." Here she stopped suddenly, with a catch in
The old gentleman looked at her silently. Then he got
up and came around the table. Awkwardly, he patted her
shoulder. Katrina sat down.
"I'm glad you don't like Sparks, my dear," said Mr.
McBride, leaning on his stick. "And don't worry your
heart over Grandfather, Triny. Grandfather's no fool.
He ain't had so much fun in years." Mr. McBride winked
just here, and put on an air of profound mystery.
"I wonder where you do disappear to," said Katrina.
"I think I'll go along."
"Don't you do that," spoke up Mr. McBride alertly.
"Don't you do that! A man can't stand a woman tagging
at his heels. He's got to have room, and air to breathe."
"Smoke, you mean," put in Katrina, with returning
spirit, "and I warn you, Grandfather, that if you make
fires off our place, you'll be arrested."
"Pooh! Fires!" said Mr. McBride contemptuously.
"Amusement for children. I ain't a-makin' fires these
days, Katriny. I've got other things to do." And, with
a final pat upon her shoulder, and a last most telling wink,
Grandfather McBride dragged himself wearily, but triumphantly,
When Katrina, on the lookout next afternoon, saw Mr.
McBride join John in the back garden, hold with him a
whispered consultation broken by many stealthy glances
toward the house, and finally disappear with him down the
lane, behind a wheelbarrow laden with boards, she gave orders
that she was not at home, waited half an hour, and followed.
The lane wound coolly green and deserted from the Prentiss
place into the heart of the country. Katrina, walking
steadily, passed her own, passed the Graham and the Haskell
boundaries, and stopped in surprise. At a branching path
hung a new and conspicuous sign. "Private Road! No
Trespassing, Under Penalty of the Law."
It was a churlish sign. The people of the neighborhood—a
summer settlement of friends and pleasant informalities—were
used to no such signs. And Katrina, knowing
Grandfather McBride, turned at once into the branching
path. At some distance in, she passed a similar sign, with
every mark of disdain. Finally, she was brought up short
by a wire fence, with a gate, high, wooden, and new, that
stretched across the path. She tried the gate, but it did
not budge. From the wood beyond came the sound of
voices and the strokes of a hammer. With a quick glance
behind her, and a determined set to her chin, she began to
climb the gate.
She was descending upon the other side in safety, when
Grandfather McBride came upon her. His hat was pushed
back upon his head, his stick was forgotten. He descended
upon her as might a hungry lion upon its prey. He roared—in
fact, he bellowed.
"Katrina Prentiss, get back over that fence. Climb back
over that gate; you're trespassing. Didn't you see the signs?
Are you blind? Can't you read? What do you mean by
coming in here where you don't belong? Climb back there
and go home at once!"
Katrina, unprepared for battle and aware of being at a disadvantage,
swallowed hard and obeyed. She climbed back
over the gate. Once upon solid earth, however, and she
glared as fiercely at Grandfather McBride as he stared ferociously
"I'm not a child," she said furiously, when he stopped to
breathe, "to be ordered about and sent home and insulted.
I have never been so treated in my life and I give you fair
warning, Grandfather, that I'll stand it no longer. After this
I'll do as I please." Whereupon Katrina, having woman-like,
in the act of obedience, said her say, retreated with dignity
and dispatch. Behind her, Mr. McBride waved his
recovered stick over the gate and shouted, but she did not
turn nor attempt an answer.
He came home within an hour, slowly, leaning heavily upon
his stick. John followed with the empty wheelbarrow. They
parted at the barn and Mr. McBride went at once to his
room and shut the door. Katrina, sitting at her own window,
looked thoughtfully into space and swung a key upon
her forefinger. After a time she stood up, smoothed her
hair and pinned on her wide, rose-laden hat. Then she
went down the hall quietly, stopped before Mr. McBride's
door, and listened a moment. A gentle snore proclaimed
Mr. McBride's occupation. Katrina fitted the key into the
lock and turned it, took it out again and slipped it beneath
a corner of the rug, listened a further moment and then
walked down the stairs, out through the back garden, and,
with a final glance behind her, turned once more into the
green and deserted lane.
It must be confessed that Katrina started upon her quest
in a spirit far removed from that of your single-minded
explorer. She was urged by a variety of causes. Among
them was a determination to disobey Grandfather McBride,
to serve him with his own medicine, to pay him in his own
coin, and to do it as quickly and as frankly as possible. Her
rapidly increasing curiosity concerning the region he guarded
with so much mystery counted as well, but the paramount
force—for Katrina was young enough to take her responsibility
seriously—was anxiety over the old gentleman himself.
In fact, Katrina departed, as did Lot's wife, with her
face and her thought turned backward, a policy not conducive
to brilliant success in exploration.
This time, however, she was stopped by no one. She passed
the gate safely, penetrated the wood and came at length upon
a part of Mr. McBride's secret. It was a rough little flight of
steps, made with the help of John, the wheelbarrow, and the
boards, which led to the top of a high brick wall. The wall
astounded Katrina even more than did the steps, which is
saying a good deal. The whole elaborate contrivance for
keeping people away, puzzled Katrina. It was some time
before she mounted the steps and looked over the wall, but
when she finally did so, she ceased to be merely puzzled.
She became lost in a maze of wonder.
Stretching before her, was a wide expanse of green. Just
opposite stood a long, low building of workmanlike appearance.
At the left was a very presentable rose garden. At
the right, a rustic summer-house. Surrounding all was the
high brick wall. But it was none of these things that amazed
Moving toward her, from the door of the long building,
came a little procession—men and women, walking slowly,
sedately dressed in old-time silks and finery, decked with
plumes, jewels, laces, bouquets of flowers. Arrived at a
broad space near the summer-house, the company, after a
series of low and preliminary bows, launched forth into a
stately dance. Katrina, conscious of music, descried an
individual in very modern blue overalls, who manipulated a
phonograph. A voice from beyond the summer-house, called
forth instructions at intervals, with a huskiness vaguely suggestive
of old Coney.
"More side-play there, Miss Beals. Just imagine he's a
young hobo you're in love with and yer father won't let him
up the steps. You're doing the Merry Widow act while
the old man's not looking. Don't bow so low you hide your
face, Mr. Peters. Your face is worth money to us all. And
everybody get a move on! You're too slow! Hit it up a
The overalls, thus adjured, accelerated the time of his
machine, and a new spirit animated the group. Katrina
leaned far over the wall in order to miss nothing. At length,
the dance, moving toward a finale, reached it with a succession
of stirring chords, and a flourish of curtseys, and the group
"That'll do for to-day. You can knock off now," began
the husky voice, when Jim, glancing up from his phonograph,
beheld Katrina in her rose-laden hat, leaning far over the wall.
If he had stopped to reflect, he might have ignored the vision,
for he was but man, and the vision a guilelessly pretty one,
but he did not stop to reflect. With Jim, to see a thing was
to proclaim it abroad. Immediately, he yelled:
"Hey! Get on to the lady on the wall! Hey! Mr.
Connor, come around here. There's somebody on the wall.
At once Katrina, to her utmost discomfort, became the
centre of the stage. Everybody turned, saw her, and began
to stare. The silken ladies, the velvet gentlemen, delayed their
return to modern apparel, and took her in. Jim stared
clamorously. Mr. Connor, rounding the summer-house,
glared angrily. To Katrina, even the long building blinked its
windows at her, and she thought, with sudden longing, of
Grandfather McBride. She wished she had not come. Most
of all, she wished to go, but she did not quite dare.
At once, Mr. Connor took charge of the situation. "Say,
young lady," he demanded, in a truculent manner, "what do
you mean by gettin' into these grounds and rubberin' at us
over our wall? Don't you know you can be run in for passin'
those signs? Didn't you see that gate?"
"Oh, yes," faltered Katrina; "yes—I saw the gate."
"Well, how'd you get past that gate and them signs," Mr.
Connor wanted to know.
"I—I climbed the gate," hesitated Katrina.
Clearly this was not what Mr. Connor expected. Such
simplicity must cover guile. A suppressed smile glimmered
through the group and Mr. Connor became more suspicious
"I don't want no kiddin' now, do you hear?" he burst
forth. "You're in a tight place, young woman, and you may
as well wake up to the fact at once. The Knickerbocker is
doin' things on a plane of high art, and our methods are our
own. Now, I want to know who you represent? And freshness
don't go, d'you see?"
Katrina hardly heard Mr. Connor. Her mind was occupied
with the freedom that lay clear behind her, and the possible
patrol-wagons and police stations before her. Perhaps she
might conciliate this red-faced man by allowing him to talk,
by being mild and meek and polite. Perhaps a chance might
come for a desperate attempt at escape. But Mr. Connor,
conversing fluently, read her very soul.
"Bring that there light ladder, Jim," he interrupted himself
to order, "and if you try to get away, young woman, it'll be
the worse for you. Now, I want to know what yellow sheet
"Yellow—why do you take me for a newspaper woman?"
cried Katrina. "I'm not. I'm nothing of the sort. I've
never been inside a newspaper office in my life."
"Of course not," observed Mr. Connor, ironically. "They
never have. Always society ladies that can't write their own
names. You stand just where you are, miss, till that ladder
arrives. Then I'm coming up to confiscate any little sketches
and things you may have handy.
"You are a brute," said Katrina, lips trembling but head
held high. "I am Miss Prentiss. I live near here, and you
will not dare to detain me."
"Oh, won't I?" returned Mr. Connor. "I have a picture
of myself letting you go. And where the deuce is Jim?"
He turned impatiently toward the building across the lawn,
then somewhat relaxed his frown. "Oh, well, I can take an
orchestra chair," observed Mr. Connor. "Here comes the
Katrina, with deepening concern, glanced from Mr. Connor
toward the long building. A young man was sprinting across
the stretch of green—a clean-cut young man in gray flannels.
At the first sight of him, Katrina caught her breath sharply
and blushed. It was Katrina's despair that she blushed so
easily. As the young man neared them the spectators achieved
the effect of obliterating themselves from the landscape. They
melted into space. There remained the young man, Mr.
Connor, and a divinely flushed Katrina.
The young man looked up at her without smiling. He
bowed to her gravely. Then he turned to Mr. Connor. With
a few low-spoken words, he wilted Mr. Connor. Katrina,
gazing at the rose-garden, heard something in spite of herself.
She heard her name, and caught Mr. Connor's articulate
amazement. She heard mentioned some "old gentleman."
She heard a recommendation to Mr. Connor to go more slowly
in the future and to mend his manners at all times. After a
hint to Mr. Connor to look up Jim and the ladder, she heard
that gentleman withdraw much more quietly than he had
come, and her eyes finally left the rose-garden and looked
straight down into those of warm gray, belonging to the
young man below her.
"Will you mind—waiting—just a moment longer?" he
asked. "This is more luck than I've had lately."
Katrina smiled tremulously. "It's in my power to go,
then," she said.
"No," said the young man, firmly, "it isn't. On second
thoughts, you are to stay just where you are till that blockhead
brings the ladder. I've a good deal to say. I'm going to
walk home with you."
"Oh," said Katrina. "And what will become of your
"My fancy-dress party," returned the young man, "will
catch the next trolley for New York. Oh! Here labors the
trusty henchman across the green. Right you are, Jim!
No, the lady is not to come down. I'm to go up." And
go up he did, in the twinkling of an eye, and in less than
another the rose-wreathed hat and the young man's gray
cap had disappeared from view together.
"Well, what do you know about that?" observed Jim, under
his breath, staring at the top of the wall. He whistled softly.
Then he grinned. "Hypnotized, by thunder," concluded
Jim, returning with the ladder.
Meanwhile, the two lingered homeward through the deepening
twilight. The gate opened easily to a key from the young
man's pocket; the signs glimmered dimly. They talked
lightly, but what they said proved to both simply an airy veil
for what they did not say. Katrina spoke of the club and the
"Of course, we lost," she said. "Our best man," with a
sidelong look, "did not enter. The committee said that he
was away—on business. I see now that they were
"But they weren't," said the young man, eagerly, "if you
mean me. I am 'away on business.' Why, do you know it's
seven days since I've seen you?"
Katrina regarded her neat brown shoes.
"The fact is," continued the young man, diffidently, "I've
been trying a new method with you. I've been endeavoring
to be missed. And I'm afraid to hear that I haven't been."
"A little wholesome fear is good for anyone," observed
Katrina, judicially, "but I can truthfully say that I rejoiced at
the sight of you this afternoon. That red-faced man was about
to drag me off the wall by the hair."
"Oh, Connor," said the young man. "Connor's not
polished, but in his line, he's a jewel. He used to be a stage
manager, and considered in that light, he's really mild."
"Is he?" said Katrina, drily. "Does he stage manage for
"Practically that. Don't scoff—please. You see, there's
a big future in this business. My father growled at first,
but he's come clean around. The land was mine, and we
are using it this way. The American public are going in for
this thing. They want amusement and they want it quick.
And the thing is to provide them with what they want, when
they want it."
"Oh," said Katrina. "And you are providing the American
public with what they want—back there?" with a tilt
of her head behind her.
"Exactly," he answered. "That's our plant. We are
the Knickerbocker Film Manufacturing Company."
"Oh," said Katrina, again. "And the fancy-dress people?"
"We are getting up 'Romeo and Juliet,'" said the young
man. "Please don't laugh. It's been proven that the moving
picture audiences like Shakespeare canned."
"Moving picture audiences," repeated Katrina in surprise,
and then as the light broke, she stopped short and looked at
the young man.
"Why, didn't you guess?" he queried. "The summer-house—why,
of course, the summer-house must have hidden
the camera." He looked at her dejectedly. "I've wanted
you so much to know all about it," he said, "and now that you
do, it sounds—oh, drivelling."
"But it doesn't," cried Katrina, eyes shining. "It sounds
splendid. It sounds thrilling. I'm sure it will be a success.
You're bound to make it one. I congratulate you. You've
left out a good deal. You've told your story very badly, but
I'm good at filling in. The fact is, I'm proud to know you,
and you may shake hands with me if you wish to."
"Oh, Katrina," murmured the young man, and they clasped
hands. It was just here that Grandfather McBride turned into
the lane from the back garden and came upon them. When
they became aware of him, leaning heavily upon his stick
and frowning at them through the dusk, Katrina braced
herself to meet whatever might come. But, suddenly,
to her intense surprise, Mr. McBride beamed upon them
"Well, well, Katriny," he said, in high good humor, "so
you've been over that gate again, eh? Been lookin' over that
wall, eh? I knew you would, my dear, I knew you would.
There's some of the McBride spirit in you after all, thank
God. I meant to take you myself, but you got ahead of me."
Here he shook hands with the young man. "Glad to see you
again, my boy," said Grandfather McBride. "Brought my
little girl home, eh?"
"Well, we were on the way," admitted the young man with
enthusiasm. "I see you got the steps up, sir."
"Yes," said Mr. McBride, "oh, yes. I'm much obliged to
you for the permission. It's as good as any vaudeville, and it's
a sight nearer home. You're bound to make money. I
tell my granddaughter," with a triumphant nod to the lady
in question, "to bank on brains and energy and American
push. I tell her," with a profound wink to Katrina, "to let this
old family nonsense and society racket go hang. I'm glad
she met you."
"But we mustn't stand here in the lane, Grandfather,"
put in Katrina, hurriedly. "It's getting damp."
"That's so," agreed Mr. McBride, "and it's getting late."
He hooked his cane about the young man's arm. "Come in
and have dinner with us," he said.
Katrina stared in amazement at Mr. McBride. The
young man looked eagerly at Katrina. "If Miss Prentiss will
allow me——" he began.
"Huh! Miss Prentiss," spoke up Mr. McBride. "What's
she got to say about it? I allow you." And as Katrina,
behind Mr. McBride's back, smiled and nodded, the young
man accepted promptly.
Together the three went through the back garden and up to
the house. Arrived there, Katrina disappeared. Grandfather
McBride, after settling his guest, came straight upstairs and
stopped at her door.
"Little cuss," beamed Mr. McBride, "goin' off, locking up
her old grandfather and meetin' young chaps. Say, Katriny,"
he remarked casually, "he's a fine fellow, ain't he?"
Katrina, busy with her hair, nodded.
"Now, if I was a girl," continued Mr. McBride, diplomatically,
"and a fellow like that took a shine to me I'd show
a glimmer of sense. I'd up and return it."
"Would you?" remarked Katrina. "I'm glad you like him.
You see, Grandfather, you are too smart for me. I didn't
know until just now that you had even met Mr. Park."
Mr. McBride's smile stiffened, then froze, finally disappeared.
He opened his mouth, and shut it. He swallowed
hard. At last, he got it out. "Katriny—Katriny, is that
Sparks—that fellow downstairs? Is that Sparks?"
"Hush," said Katrina. "Of course, that is Willoughby
Park. Why, Grandfather, didn't you ask his name?"
"No," said Mr. McBride, "I didn't. I just saw he was a
fine, likely——" He stopped abruptly. "Well, I'll be
damned," said Mr. McBride.
Katrina came over to him and put her hand on his shoulder.
Mr. McBride looked into space. Standing so, he spoke once
more. "Do you—do you really like him, Triny?" he asked,
and although he looked into space, Mr. McBride saw Katrina's
blush. He patted her hand once, and left her.
On his way downstairs, the grimness of Mr. McBride's face
relaxed. In the lower hall, he went so far as to chuckle.
When he joined Mr. Park on the porch, he grinned at him
"I'm a good sport," remarked Mr. McBride, irrelevantly,
"but I know when to retire to my corner and stay there.
Say," continued Mr. McBride, unconscious of discrepancies
between thought and action, "after dinner I'm goin' to take
you children across the street to see that parrot."
The Story of a Wayside Halt
By CLOTILDE GRAVES
Exhausted by the effort involved in keeping the
thermometer of the closing day of August at an
altitude intolerable to the human kind and irksome to the
brute, a large, red-hot sun was languidly sinking beyond
an extensive belt of dusky-brown elms fringing the western
boundary of a seventy acre expanse of stubbles diagonally
traversed by a parish right-of-way leading from the
village of Bensley to the village of Dorton Ware. A knee-deep
crop of grasses, flattened by the passage of the harvest
wains, clothed this strip of everyman's land, and a
narrow footpath divided the grass down the middle, as a
parting divides hair.
A snorting sound, which, accompanied by a terrific clatter
of old iron and the crunching of road-mendings, had been
steadily growing from distant to near, and from loud to
deafening, now reached a pitch of utter indescribability;
and as a large splay-wheeled, tall-funneled, plowing engine
rolled off the Bensley highroad and lumbered in upon the
right-of-way, the powerful bouquet of hot lubricating oil
nullified all other smells, and the atmosphere became opaque
to the point of solidity. As the dust began to settle it was
possible to observe that attached to the locomotive was a
square, solid, wooden van, the movable residence of the
stoker, the engineer, and an apprentice; that a Powler cultivator,
a fearsome piece of mechanism, apparently composed
of second-hand anchors, chain-cables, and motor driving-wheels,
was coupled to the back of the van, and that a bright
green water-cart brought up the rear. Upon the rotund
barrel of this water-cart rode a boy.
The plowing-engine came to a standstill, the boy got
down from the water-cart and uncoupled the locomotive
from the living-van. During the operations, though the boy
received many verbal buffets from both his superiors, it
was curiously noticeable that the engineer and stoker, while
plainly egging one another on to wreak physical retribution
upon the body of the neophyte, studiously refrained
from personally administering it.
"Hook off, can't ye, hook off!" commanded the engineer.
"A 'ead like a dumpling, that boy 'as!" he commented
to the stoker, as Billy wrought like a grimy goblin at the
"A clout on the side of it 'ud do 'im good!" pronounced
the stoker, who was as thin and saturnine as the engineer
was stout and good-humored. "Boys need correction."
"I'll allow you're right," said the engineer. "But it
ain't my business to 'it Billy for 's own good. Bein' own
brother to 'is sister's 'usband—it's plainly your place
to give 'im wot for if 'e 'appens to need it."
The stoker grunted and the clock belonging to the Anglo-Norman
church tower of the village struck six. Both the
engineer and his subordinate wiped their dewy foreheads
with their blackened hands, and simultaneously thought of
"Us bein' goin' up to Bensley for a bit, me an' George,"
said the engineer, "an' supposin' Farmer Shrubb should
come worritin' along this way and ask where us are, what
be you a-going to tell 'im, Billy boy?"
"The truth, I 'ope," said the stoker, with a vicious look
in an eye which was naturally small and artificially bilious.
"Ah, but wot is the truth to be, this time?" queried the
engineer. "Let's git it settled before we go. As far as
I'm consarned, the answer Billy's to give in regards to my
question o' my whereabouts is: 'Anywhere but in the tap o'
the Red Cow.'"
"And everythink but decently drunk," retorted the stoker.
"That's about it," assented the unsuspecting engineer.
The stoker laughed truculently, and Billy ventured upon
a faint echo of the jeering cachinnation. The grin died from
the boy's face, however, as the engineer promptly relieved
a dawning sense of injury by cuffing him upon one side of
the head, while the stoker wrung the ear upon the other.
"Ow, hoo," wailed Billy, stanching his flowing tears in
the ample sleeve of his coat, "Ow, hoo, hoo!"
"Stop that blubberin', you," commanded the stoker,
who possessed a delicate ear, "and make th' fire an' git th'
tea ready against Alfred and me gits back. You hear me?"
"Yes, plaize," whimpered Billy.
"An' mind you warms up the cold bacon pie," added the
"And don't you forget to knock in the top of that tin o'
salmon," added the engineer, "an' set it on to stew a bit.
An' don't you git pickin' the loaf wi' they mucky black
fingers o' yours, Billy, my lad, or you'll suffer for it when
I comes home."
"Yes, plaize," gasped Billy, bravely swallowing the recurrent
hiccough of grief. "An' plaize where be I to build
"The fire," mused the engineer. He looked at the crimson
ball of the sun, now drowning in a lake of ruddy vapors
behind the belt of elms; he nodded appreciatively at the
palely glimmering evening star and pointed to a spot some
yards ahead. "Build it there, Billy," he commanded briefly.
The stoker hitched his thumbs in his blackened leather
waist-strap and spat toward the rear of the van. "You
build the fire nigh th' hedge there," he ordered, "so as us
can sit wi' our faces to'rds yon bit o' quick an' hev th' van
to back of us, an' git a bit o' comfort outside four walls fur
once. D' ye hear, boy?"
"Yes, George," quavered Billy.
The sleepy eye of the engineer had a red spark in it that
might have jumped out of his own engine-furnace as he
turned upon the acquiescent Billy. "Didn't you catch
wot I said to you just now, my lad?" he inquired with ill-boding
"Yes, Alfred," gasped the alarmed Billy.
"If the boy doesn't mind me," came from the stoker,
who was thoroughly roused, "and if I don't find a blazin'
good fire, an' victuals welding hot, ready just in the place
I've pointed out to 'im, when I've 'ad my pipe and my
glass at the 'Red Cow,' I'll——" A palpably artificial
fit of coughing prevented further utterance.
"You'll strap 'im within an inch of 'is life, I dursay,"
hinted the engineer. "You pipe what George says, Billy?"
he continued, as Billy applied his right and left coat cuffs to
his eyes in rapid succession. "He's give you his promise,
and now I give you mine. If I don't find a roarin'
good fire and the rest to match, just where I've said
they're to be when I come back from where I've said
"You'll wallop 'im a fair treat, I lays you will," said the
stoker, revealing a discolored set of teeth in a gratified
smile. "We'll bide by wot the boy does then," he added.
"Knowin' that wot 'e gits from either of us, he'll earn.
An' your road is my road, Alfred, leastways as far as the
The engineer and the stoker walked off amicably side by
side. The sun sank to a mere blot of red fire behind the
elms, and crowds of shrilly-cheering gnats rose out of the
dry edges and swooped upon the passive victim, Billy,
who sat on the steps of the living van with his knuckles in
"Neither of 'em can't kill me, 'cos the one what did it
'ud 'ave to be 'ung," he reflected, and this thought gave
consolation. He unhooked a rusty red brazier from the
back of the living van, and dumping it well into the hedge at
the spot indicated by the stoker, filled it with dry grass,
rotten sticks, coals out of the engine bunker, and lumps
of oily cotton waste. Then he struck and applied a match,
saw the flame leap and roar amongst the combustibles,
filled the stoker's squat tea-kettle with water from the green
barrel, put in a generous handful of Tarawakee tea, and,
innocent of refinements in tea-making, set it on to boil.
"George is more spitefuller nor wot Alfred is," Billy
Beesley murmured, as the kettle sent forth its first faint
shrill note. Then he added with a poignant afterthought,
"But Alfred is a bigger man than wot George be."
The stimulus of this reflection aided cerebration. Possessed
by an original idea, Billy rubbed the receptacle containing
it, and his mouth widened in an astonished grin.
A supplementary brazier, temporarily invalided by reason
of a hole in the bottom, hung at the back of the living-van.
The engineer possessed a kettle of his own. Active as a
monkey, the small figure in the flapping coat and the baggy
trousers sped hither and thither. Two hearths were established,
two fires blazed, two tea-kettles chirped. Close
beside the stoker's brazier a bacon pie in a brown earthen
dish nestled to catch the warmth, a tin of Canadian salmon,
which Billy had neglected to open, leaned affectionately
against the other. Suddenly the engineer's kettle boiled
over, and as Billy hurried to snatch it from the coals, the
salmon-tin exploded with an awe-inspiring bang, and oily
fragments of fish rained from the bounteous skies.
"He'll say I did it a purpose, Alfred will!" the aggrieved
boy wailed, as he collected and restored to the battered tin
as much of its late contents as might be recovered. While
on all fours searching for bits which might have escaped
him, and diluting the gravy which yet remained in the tin
with salt drops of foreboding, a scorching sensation in the
region of the back brought his head round. Then he yelled
in earnest, for the roaring flame from the other brazier had
set the quickset hedge, inflammable with drought, burning
as fiercely as the naphtha torch of a fair-booth, while
a black patch, widening every moment, was spreading through
the dry, white grasses under the clumsy wheels of the living-van,
whose brown painted sides were beginning to blister
and char, as Billy, rendered intrepid by desperation, grabbed
the broken furnace-rake handle, usually employed as a poker,
and beat frantically at the encroaching fire. As he beat
he yelled, and stamped fiercely upon those creeping yellow
tongues. There was fire from side to side of the field pathway
now, the straggling hedge on both sides was crackling
gaily. And realizing the unconquerable nature of the
disaster, Billy dropped the broken furnace-rake, uttered
the short, sharp squeal of the ferret-pressed rabbit, and took
to his heels, leaving a very creditable imitation of a prairie
conflagration behind him.
It was quite dark by the time the engineer and his subordinate
returned from the "Red Cow," and their wavering
progress along the field pathway was rendered more
difficult, after the first hundred yards or so, by the unaccountable
absence of the hedge. It was a singularly oppressive
night, a brooding pall of hot blackness hung above their
heads, clouds of particularly acrid and smothering dust
arose at every shuffle of their heavy boots, even the earth
they trod seemed glowing with heat, and they remarked
on the phenomenon to one another.
"It's thunder weather, that's wot it be," said the engineer,
mopping his face. "I'm like my old mother, I feel
it coming long before it's 'ere. Phew!"
"Uncommon strong smell o' roast apples there is about
'ere," commented the stoker, sniffing.
"That beer we 'ad must 'ave bin uncommon strong,"
said the engineer in a low, uneasy voice. "I seem to see
three fires ahead of us, that's what I do."
"One whopping big one to the left, one little one farther
on, right plumb ahead, and another small one lower down
on my right 'and. I see 'em as well as you," confirmed
the stoker in troubled accents. "And that's how that
young nipper thinks to get off a licking from one of us——"
"By obeying both," said the engineer, quickening his
pace indignantly. "This is Board School, this is. Well,
you'll learn 'im to be clever, you will."
"You won't leave a whole bone in his dirty little carcase
once you're started," said the stoker confidently.
By this time they were well upon the scene of the disaster.
Before their dazed and horrified eyes rose the incandescent
shell of what had been, for eight months past, their movable
home, and a crawling crisping rustle came from the
pile of ashes that represented the joint property of two men
and one boy.
"Pinch me, Alfred," said the stoker, after an interval of
"Don't ask me," said the engineer, in a weak voice, "I
'aven't the power to kill a flea."
"There ain't one left living to kill," retorted the stoker,
as he contemplated the smoking wreck. "There was
'undreds in that van, too," he added as an afterthought.
"Burned up the old cabin!" moaned the engineer, "an'
my Sunday rig-out in my locker, an' my Post Office Savings
Bank book sewed up in the pillar o' my bunk, along o'
my last week's wages what I 'adn't paid in."
"I shouldn't wonder if Government 'ung on to they
savings o' yourn," said the stoker, shaking his head.
"It's a pity, but you'd invested yours as I 'ave mine,"
"In public 'ouses?" retorted the engineer.
"Some of it 'as went that way," the stoker admitted, "but
for three weeks past I've denied myself to put a bit into a
concern as I think is going to prove a paying thing."
"Owch!" exclaimed the engineer, who had been restlessly
pacing in the velvety darkness round the still glowing wreck
of the living-van.
"Don't you believe wot I've told you?" demanded the
"You don't always lie, George," said the engineer, gently.
"Wot made me shout out like that just now," he explained,
"was treading on something queer, down by the near side
wheels. Somethink brittle that cracked like rotten sticks
under my 'eel, an' then I slid on something round an'
squashy. An' the smell like roast apples, what I noticed
before, is stronger than ever."
"'Ave you a match about you?" asked the stoker eagerly.
"One," said the engineer, delicately withdrawing a solitary
"kindler" from the bottom of his waistcoat pocket.
The stoker received the match, and struck it on his trousers.
A blue glimmer resulted, a faint s-s-s! followed, and the match
"On'y a glim," said the stoker in a satisfied tone, "but it
showed me as I've made my money. An' made it easy, too."
"'Ow much 'ave you pulled orf, then?" asked the
"Double the value," replied the stoker, smiling broadly
through the darkness, "of the property what I've lost in this
"That 'ud bring you in about eighteenpence," retorted
the engineer bitterly.
The stoker laughed pleasantly.
"Wot do you say to three pun' seventeen?" he demanded.
"Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick," said
the engineer. "Wot did you say was the concern you
The stoker felt in the darkness for his superior's arm,
grasped it, and putting his mouth close to where he thought
his ear ought to be, said loudly:
"Look 'ere, mate," began the engineer, hotly, "if you're
trying a joke on me——"
"It ain't no joke," responded the stoker cheerfully. "Leastways
not for the boy, it ain't. But Lord! when I think 'ow
near I come to lettin' the policy fall through." He chuckled.
"It's three weeks gone since I took it out," he said contentedly,
"an' paid three weeks' money in advance, an' at threepence
a week, that makes ninepence, an' the thought o' them
nine half-pints I might 'ave 'ad out o' money 'as drove me
'arf wild with thirst, over an' over. I should 'ave 'ad to
pay again come Monday, if only 'e 'ad 'ave lived."
"If only 'e 'ad lived—" repeated the engineer in a strange
far-away tone, "Oo's 'e?" he asked eagerly.
"You know old Abey Turner as keeps the little sweet-an'-tobaccer
shop over to Dorton Ware?" pursued the stoker.
"Old Abey is a agint for the Popular Thrifty Life Insurance
"I know 'e is," confirmed the engineer.
"Abey 'as bin at me over an' over again to insure my life,"
explained the stoker, "but I told 'im as I didn't 'old with
laying out good money wot wouldn't never come 'ome to
roost-like, until I was dead. Then Abey leans over the
counter an' ketches me by the neck 'andkerchief an' says,
'Think of the worst life you know, an' 'ave a bit on that.'
Naturally, talkin' o' bad lives, you're the first chap whose
name comes into my 'ead."
"Me!" ejaculated the engineer, starting.
"But it wasn't wickedness old Abey meaned," continued
the stoker, "only un'ealthiness in general. Somebody wot
wasn't likely to live long, that's the sort o' man or woman
'e wanted me to insure. 'A child'll do,' says 'e, smiling,
an' tells me 'ow a large family may be made a source of
blessing to parents 'oo are wise enough to insure in the
Popular Thrifty. Then it comes into my mind all of a
sudden as 'ow Billy 'ud do a treat, an' I names 'im to Old
Abey. 'That young shaver!' calls out old Abey, disgusted
like. 'Why, 'e's as 'ard as nails. Wot's likely to 'appen
to 'im?' 'If you was to see the 'andling 'e gets when my
mate is in 'is tantrums,' I says to old Abey, 'you'd put
your bit o' money on 'im cheerful an' willin'.' 'Is Alfred
Evans such a savage in 'is drink?' says old Abey, quite
"I'll surprise 'im!" muttered the engineer, "when I
The stoker continued: "So the long an' the short is,
I insured Billy, an' Billy's dead!"
"You don't really think so?" cried the engineer, in
"I don't think," said the stoker, in a hard, high tone, "I
knows 'e is."
"Not—burned with the van!" gasped the engineer.
"Burned to cinders," said the stoker comfortably. "'Ow
about that smell o' roasting you kep' a sniffing as we came
along, an' wot were it if not cooked boy? Wot was it your
foot crashed into when you called out awhile back? 'Is
ribs, 'im being overdone to a crisp. Wot was it you slipped
"Stop!" shuddered the engineer. "'Old 'ard! I can't
"I can," said the stoker, following his comrade as he
gingerly withdrew from the immediate scene of the tragedy.
"I could if it was twice as much."
"It will be that to me!" sighed the engineer, seating himself
upon the parish boundary stone, over which he had
stumbled in his retreat, and sentimentally gazing at the
star-jewelled skies. "Twice three pound is six, an' twice
seventeen bob is one-fourteen. Seven pounds fourteen is
wot that pore boy's crool end 'as dropped into my pocket,
and I'd 'ad those best clothes ever since I got married;
an' there was only eight an' fourpence in the piller o' the
The engineer stopped short, not for lack of words, but
because the stoker was clutching him tightly by the windpipe.
"You don't durst dare to tell me," the frenzied mechanic
shouted, "as wot you went an' insured Billy too?"
"That's just wot I 'ave done," replied the half-strangled
engineer. Then as the dismayed stoker's arms dropped
helplessly by his side, he added, "you ought to be grateful,
George, you 'ad no 'and in it. I couldn't 'ave
enjoyed the money properly, not if you'd 'ad to be 'ung
for the boy's murder. That's wot I said to old Abey
two weeks back, when I told 'im as 'ow Billy's life went
more in danger than anyone else's what I could think of,
through your being such a brutal, violent-tempered, dangerous
"An' wot did that old snake in the grass say to that
bloomin' lie?" demanded the stoker savagely.
"'E said life was a uncertain thing for all," sniggered
the engineer, gently. "An' I'd better 'ave a bit on
the event an' turn sorrow into joy, as the saying is. So
I give Abey a shillin', bein' two weeks in advance, an'
the Company sent me the policy, an' 'ere I am in for the
"Like wot I am, an' with clean 'ands for both of us,"
said the stoker in a tone of cheerful self-congratulation.
"I 'aven't laid a finger on that boy, not since I insured 'im."
"Nor I ave'n't," said the engineer. "It's wonderful
how I've bin able to keep my temper since I 'ad the policy
to take care of at the same time."
"Same with me," said the stoker happily. "Why, wot's
wrong?" he added, for a tragic cry had broken from the
"Mate," he stammered tremulously, "where did you
keep your policy?"
"Meanin' the bit o' blue-printed paper I 'ad from the
Popular Thrifty? Wot do you want to know for?"
snapped the stoker suspiciously.
"It just come into my 'ead to arsk," said the engineer,
in faltering accents.
"In my little locker in the van, since you're so curious,"
said the stoker grudgingly.
"I 'ad mine stitched up in the piller o' my bunk with
my Post Office Savin's book," said the engineer in the deep,
hollow voice of a funeral bell. "An' it's burned to hashes,
an' so is yours!"
"Then it's nineteen to one the company won't pay up,"
said the stoker after an appalled silence.
"Ten 'underd to one," groaned the engineer.
Another blank silence was broken by the stoker's saying,
with a savage oath:
"I wish that boy was alive, I do."
"I know your feeling," agreed the engineer sympathetically.
"It 'ud be a comfort to you to kick 'im—or any-think
else weak and small wot didn't durst to kick back."
"If I was to give you a bounce on the jor," inquired the
stoker, breathing heavily, "should you 'ave the courage
to land me another?"
The engineer promptly hit out in the darkness, and arrived
safe home on the stoker's chin. With a tiger-like roar of
fury, the stoker charged, and on the engineer's dodging
conjecturally aside, fell heavily over the parish boundary-stone.
He rose, foaming, and a pitched battle ensued,
in which the combatants saw nothing but the brilliant showers
of stars evoked by an occasional head-blow, and the general
advisability of homicide. Toward dawn fatigue overcame
them. The stoker lay down and declined to get up
again and the engineer even while traveling on all fours in
search of him, lost consciousness in slumber.
A yellow glare in the east heralded the rising of the orb
of day, as the figures of an aged man and a ragged boy moved
from the shelter of the belt of elms that screened the village
of Dorton Ware, and proceeded along the right-of-way.
"It's burned, right enough, Billy, my boy," said the
old man, shading his bleared eyes with his horny hand as
he gazed at the blackened skeleton of the living-van. "An'
all considered, you can't be called to blame."
"If you'd bin asleep inside the van when that theer blaze
got started," said old Abey, rebukingly, as he hobbled along
by the boy's side, "you wouldn't be whistlin' 'My Own
Bluebell' now; your pore widowed mother, what lives in
that theer little cottage o' mine at Porberry End—and
'om I persuaded to insure you in the Popular Thrifty—would
'ave 'ad a bit o' money comin' in 'andy for 'er Michaelmas
rent, an' one or two other people would be a penny o' th'
right side, likewise." He paused, and shading his bleared
eyes under his gnarled hand, looked steadfastly at two huddled,
motionless, grimy figures, lying in the charred grass
beside the pathway. "Dang my old eyes!" he cried. "'Tis
George an' Alfred—Alfred an' George—snatched away
i' their drink an' neither of 'em insured. I'll lay a farden.
Here's a judgment on their lives, what wouldn't listen
to Old Abey an' put into the Popular Thrifty. Here's
a waste of opportunity—here's——"
Old Abey's voice quavered and broke off suddenly as
the corpse of the engineer, opening a pair of hideously blood-shot
eyes, inquired ferociously what in thunder he meant
by making such a blamed row, while the body of the stoker
rolled over, yawned, revealing a split lip, and sat up staring.
"We—we thought you was dead, mates," faltered Old
Abey. "Didn't us, Billy?"
"At first I did," Billy admitted, "an' then I——"
"Then you wot?" repeated the engineer, bending his
brows sternly above a nose swollen to twice its usual size.
"Out with it!" snarled the stoker, whose lip was painful.
"I was afraid as it couldn't be true," stuttered Billy.
The stoker exchanged a look with the engineer.
"The van's burnt, an' we've both lost our property,
to say nothin' of our prospects, mate," he said with a sardonic
sneer, "but one comfort's left us, Billy's alive!"
A little later the plowing engine with its consort was
at work under the hot September sky. As the Powler cultivator
traveled to and fro, ripping up the stubbles, the boy
who sat on the iron seat and manipulated the guiding-wheel,
snivelled gently, realizing that the brief but welcome interval
of icy aloofness on the part of his superiors had passed,
never to return; and that the injunction of the Prophet would
thenceforth be scrupulously obeyed.
HIS HONOR, THE DISTRICT JUDGE
A Tale of India
By JOHN LE BRETON
His Honor, Syed Mehta, the District Judge of Golampore,
had dined with the Malcolms, and he was the
first of the Collector's guests to leave the bungalow. He
sauntered down the drive, lifting his contemplative gaze
to the magnificence of the starry heavens. Behind him,
the lamp-lit rooms sent long thrusts of light, sword-wise,
into the hot darkness. Joan Malcolm had taken up her
violin, and the sweet, wailing notes of it came sighing out
on to the heavy air. Ruddy, broad-faced young Capper, of
the Police, lounged by the open window, eating her up with
His Honor smoked his cigar tranquilly, but at heart,
he smouldered. Harrow and Lincoln's Inn backed his
past, the High Courts awaited him in the future. For the
present he was a Civil Servant of excellent position and recognized
ability, a Mohammedan gentleman who had distinguished
himself in England as well as in the land of his
birth. Also, he was of less account in the eyes of Joan
Malcolm than Capper, a blundering English Acting-Superintendent
of Police, with a pittance of six hundred rupees
Possibly Capper had not intended to be offensive, but
it is not given to the young and the British to entirely conceal
all consciousness of superiority when speaking with
a native. His courtesy was that of a man who considered it
to be beneath his dignity to use less ceremony. His civility
was due to his respect for himself, not for the person
whom he honored with his unintellectual conversation.
The Judge flipped the ash off his cigar, and his slender
hand was cool and leisurely. His dark, straight-featured
face was impassive as carven stone. Mentally, he was
cursing Capper with curses of inexhaustible fire and venom.
Malcolm, the Collector, had a right to speak loudly, and
to say this or that without cause, for he was Collector; but
Capper, a mere Superintendent of the Police, a cub of
twenty-three, was on a very different footing. Yet, not
even as an equal had he borne himself toward a District
His Honor's bungalow was on the outskirts of the town,
and as he paced along the dusty road, he came to a footpath
that ran down the hill, through dense jungle, to the
native village in the valley. There was a swarm of dark-skinned
fellow-men down there, to whom his name stood
for all that is highest in authority. They would have
loaded him with gifts had he permitted them to approach
him. To them, it seemed that he was placed far above as
a god, holding their lives and their fate 'twixt finger and
thumb, in mid-air. In the unfathomed depths of the
Judge's educated, well-ordered mind stirred a craving for
solace. Galled by the brutish indifference of the Englishmen,
there was yet left to him the reverence of his own
people. He looked sharply up and down the road before
he dived into the moist heat beneath the trees. He knew
all that he was risking for a mere escapade. He had
never trodden that path before, excepting when he had
gone on a shooting expedition with the Collector. There
were strange noises in the darkness, stealthy rustlings,
small, unfamiliar cries. He heard nothing but Capper's
comment on his carefully reasoned prediction that the day
must come when India would govern herself.
"Oh! you think so?"
Stupid, unmeaning, absurd, but—successful.
Then, immediately Capper was talking to Miss Malcolm
about tennis, and she was listening, smiling and intent.
The Judge was a crack tennis player. He loathed the
game, but he had made himself proficient in it, because it is
one of the things that people expect of a man. He was
impelled to challenge Capper, and the answer was a
The Judge was well down the hill now, descending the
last precipitous slope, and the countless odors of the Indian
village rose to his nostrils. There was a dull murmurous
commotion afar off, such as bees make when they are hiving.
He listened, without curiosity, as he pressed forward.
Suddenly he halted. The murmur boomed out into a long,
thunderous roar. Then silence, and out of the silence a
single voice, deep and ringing.
"An infernal protest meeting," the Judge's British training
He went forward again, moving noiselessly, and reached
the outskirts of the crowd, sheltering himself between the
bushes that fringed the jungle. Torches flared, and smoked,
and shed a ruddy, uncertain light on hundreds of rapt,
upturned faces. The orator stood tall and straight above
them, fully revealed by purposely clustered lights. He
volleyed reproach and insult upon his listeners, he gave
them taunts instead of persuasion. They stood enthralled
by the passionate voice, and bitter words found their mark,
and rankled poisonously.
"These soors of Feringhi, whom you call your masters,
beat you, and they use your brothers to be their sticks. But
for your brothers, who wear the uniform of the Feringhi,
and carry their guns, these worthless masters would be
trodden into the dust beneath your feet. The men who
hedge them in with steel must turn that steel against them."
The roar of voices thundered among the trees, and died
away suddenly, so that no word from the speaker might
"They are cunning, these Feringhi, my brothers. They
steal the wisest from among us while yet they are children,
and bear them away to their own land, and give them over
to their own teachers. Thus come back your own, with
power and authority to scourge you. Your sons, your brothers
come back to you, learned, praised greatly, having striven
against the Feringhi in their own schools, and won what
they desired. Collector-sahib, Judge-sahib, yea, even
padre-sahib, come they back to you—not to lift you to
honor and happiness beside them, but to side with those
that oppress you, to grind taxes from you who starve, to
imprison you who would be free. Sons of unspeakable
shame! They drink your blood, they fatten on your misery,
and they have their reward. We curse, them, brothers!
The Feringhis smile upon them, they eat bread and salt
in their company, but they spit when they have passed by!"
Something in the scornful voice rang familiarly on the
Judge's ears, and incautiously he changed his position and
tried to get a clearer view of the treasonmonger. Instantly
the man's bare brown arm shot out, and pointed him to
"Here is one," pealed out the trumpet-voice, "has he
come as our brother? Or comes he as the slave of our
masters, to spy upon our meetings, and to deal out punishment
to those who dare to be free? O brother, do you
walk to Calcutta, where the High Courts be, over our bodies,
and the bodies of our children? Will you go to the Collector-sahib
with tales of a native rising, and call up our brothers
of the police to kill and maim us? Or come you to offer
us a great heart?"
The Judge stood there, a motionless figure, flaring
against the dark jungle in his spotless, white linen evening
dress. There was a broad silk cummerband about his
lean waist, and a gold signet-ring gleamed on his left hand.
Half a dozen Englishmen, thread for thread in similar
garb, still lounged in the Collector's drawing-room. He
appeared the very symbol of Anglicized India. The brown,
half-naked mob surged and struggled to look at him. The
brown, half-naked orator still pointed at him, and waited
for reply. Meanwhile, he had been recognized.
"Iswar Chandra—by Jove," muttered the Judge.
The last time they had met was in a London drawing-room.
Iswar Chandra, the brilliant young barrister-at-law
had discoursed to a philanthropic peeress upon the
social future of his native land, whilst an admiring circle
of auditors hung upon his words. The fate of India's women,
he had said, lay at the feet of such fair and noble ladies as
her Grace. The Judge remembered that people were saying
that evening of Iswar Chandra that he was a fascinating
and earnest man, and that he would be the pioneer of great
things in the country of his birth.
The eyes of the half-naked savage challenged the Judge
over the sea of moving heads, and drove away the supercilious
smile from his lips.
"Brother, we claim you! You are of our blood, and we
need such as you to lead us. The Feringhi have sharpened
a sword to cut us down, but it shall turn to destroy them.
Brother, we suffer the torments of hell—will you deliver
us? Brother, we starve—will you give us food? Will
you deal out to us life or death, you whose fathers were as
our fathers? Choose now between great honor and the
infamy that dies not! You are the paid creature of the
British Raj, or you are a leader of free men. Brother,
As in a dream the Judge approached the waiting crowd.
His mouth was parched, his heart beat fitfully. He wanted
that piercing voice to wake the echoes again, to take up
the story of the old blood-feud, to goad him into doing that
which he had not the courage to do. Vanished was his
pride of intellect, and of fine achievement. He was a
native, and he tugged and crawled at the stretch of the
"The Feringhi are few, and we are many. Shall the
few rule the many? Shall we be servants and poor while
yet in the arms of our own golden mother? In their own
country do the Feringhi not say that the word of the majority
shall be law? So be it! We accept their word. The
majority shall rule! O brother, skilled in the Feringhi
craft, high-placed to administer justice to all who are brought
before thee, do I not speak the truth?"
The Judge threw away the dead end of his cigar, and
shouldered his way into the inmost circle.
"Peace, thou," he said, thickly; "this is folly. Ye must
wait awhile for vengeance."
Chandra threw up his arms, writhing in a very ecstasy
"We have waited—have we not waited?—beside our
open graves. Death to the Feringhi! Let them no longer
desecrate our land. Let us forget that they ever were.
They be few, and we be many. Brothers! To-night,
The Judge was tearing off his clothes, he was trampling
them beneath his feet, he was crying out in a strange, raucous
voice; and all the swaying crowds were taking up his
words, maddening themselves and their fellows with the
"Death to the Feringhi! To-night, to-night! Our land
All but a few torches were extinguished. Secret places
were torn up, and out came old guns, old swords sharpened
to razor-like edges, great pistols, clubs, skinning-knives,
daggers. Then, up and up through the dark jungle they
thronged, hordes of them in the grip of a red and silent
frenzy. Chandra was in the forefront, but the leader was
his Honor the District Judge, a glassy-eyed, tight-lipped
Mussulman in a loincloth and a greasy turban.
The lights of the Collector's bungalow came in view,
and the leader thought of young Capper, and rushed on,
frothing like a madman, waving his sword above his head.
Then he paused, and ran back to meet the laggards of a
yard or two.
"Only the men!" he shouted.
Chandra mocked at him as the press bore him onward
again, with scarcely an instant's halt.
"Only the men, my brother!" he echoed.
A few of the native police stood guard at the Collector's
gates, but they turned and fled before the overwhelming
numbers of the attacking force. Up the long drive the dark
wave poured, and into the wide, bright rooms. The bungalow
was deserted. Some fleet-footed servant had brought
warning in time, and the British were well out of the town
by the other road, with young Capper and a score of his
men guarding their rear.
The mob howled with disappointment. The next instant
it was screaming with triumph as it settled down to sack
and burn and destroy.
The Judge went into the dining-room, and looked at
the long table still decked with silver, and glass, and flowers.
He looked at the chair on which he had sat, with Joan Malcolm
at his side, and he picked it up and dashed it with all
his might into a great ivory-framed mirror, and laughed aloud
at the crash, and the ruin, and the rain of jagged splinters.
"India must pass into the hands of the Indians!"
"Oh! you think so—you think so—you think so...."
He overthrew a couple of standard lamps, and watched
the liquid fire run and eat up their silken shades, and run
again and leap upon the snowy curtains, and so, like lightning,
spring to the ceiling, and lick the dry rafters with a
thousand darting tongues. Then, he was out in the night
again, the night of his life, the wonderful night that was
calling for blood, and would not be denied.
There was no lack of light now to make clear the path
to vengeance. The Collector's bungalow roared red to the
very heavens, and flames shot up in a dozen different parts
of the town. The bazaar was looted, and English-made
goods were piled upon bonfires in the street. A greater mob
than had entered the town poured out of it, swift on the
road to Chinsurah where thousands of their brothers lay,
lacking only courage and leaders.
At the midway turn of the road where the giant trees
rear themselves at the side of the well, came a sudden check,
and the mob fell back upon itself, and grew dead silent.
Those in the rear could only wait and guess what had happened.
The forefront saw that the road was barred. The moon
had risen, and well out in the white light, was Capper Sahib.
Some of his men were behind him. There were soldiers
there, too, how many could not be seen, for they were
grouped in the velvety black shadows which the trees flung
across the road. There might have been only fifty—or
Young Capper came forward with his hands in his pockets,
and stared at them. They saw that he was not afraid.
He spoke to them in Maharattee, bluntly and earnestly,
so that some of them wavered, and looked back. He said
they were fools, led by a few rotten schemers who had only
personal gain in view.
"Take good advice," he said, "go to your homes while
ye may. Ignorant, and greatly daring that ye are, the
bandar-log, or such thievish scum among ye, drive ye with
idle words and chatterings even to the brink of death. So
far have ye come, but no farther——"
The Judge had snatched a villager's gun, and fired.
Capper Sahib fell, unspoken words upon his lips. His
fair head draggled in the dust, and a red stain showed suddenly
upon the white linen over his breast.
A triumphant roar swept the mob from end to end.
British rifles cracked out the answer, and the bullets went
home surely, into the rioting mass. Amid shrill screams
of pain and fury the leaders rallied their men, and charged
forward. A second volley stopped them, before young
Capper's prostrate body could be reached. Few had joined
the attack, but now they were fewer, and neither of the
leaders stood among them.
That was the end. Bearing their dead and wounded,
the rebels returned, wailing as they went. Before daylight
the townsmen were in their houses, and the villagers
had passed through the jungle, and regained their homes.
Arms were concealed with all haste. The dead were buried,
the wounded, for the most part, were hidden. Prisoners
had been taken, but only an inconsiderable number.
Before daylight also, the headman of the village, and a native
surgeon came stealthily from the Judge's bungalow, and
went their ways. They had their order, and they went to
spread it abroad. The order was—Silence! The headman
had bowed himself to the earth when it was given,
for he understood all that it meant. Prisoners would be
brought before a brother, not only to-day, but to-morrow,
and for many morrows. So much had the night given them.
At noon His Honor came stiffly into the court-room,
leaning upon the arm of his native servant. The Collector,
who was awaiting him there, feared that he had been
injured by the rioters on the previous night; but he was
quickly reassured. The Judge, it seemed, had sprained
his knee shortly after leaving the Malcolm's hospitable roof.
It was nothing. A mere trifle, though indisputably painful.
The Collector seated himself near the bench, and talked
in a low voice. The ladies were all safe. No Europeans
had been killed, and few injured. Capper had been shot
by some cowardly dog while parleying with the rioters, but
there were good hopes of him.
The Judge was most truly concerned to hear of the calamity
which had befallen Mr. Capper—immensely thankful to
know that things were no worse with him.
His Honor had heard little or nothing of what had happened
during the riot, being laid by the leg, as it were, in
his own room.
The first batch of prisoners was brought in. At first
the Judge did not look at them. Afterward his eyes sought
their gaze, and held it, and they knew him for their brother.
They heard his soft voice speaking of them compassionately,
as wayward children whom mercy would win over, though
harshness might confirm them in their foolish resistance to
authority. The Collector seemed to protest, but with gentle
courtesy his objections were put aside. He leaned back
in his chair, flushed and angry, as one after another, the
sullen-looking rebels were fined, and having paid what was
demanded, were set at liberty.
When the Judge looked up again, a single prisoner stood
before him, a wounded, hawk-faced native, whose eyes
blazed hate and contempt. The Collector drew his chair
closer to the bench, and began to speak in gruff undertones.
"A ring-leader. Man of some education, I understand—qualified
as a barrister, and has taken to journalism. Must
make an example of him—eh?"
The Judge, straining in agony of mind and body, was
aware of sudden relief from the pain of his wound. The
bandage had slipped, and blood was cooling the torturing
fire. A deathly faintness was upon him, and through it he
spoke distinctly—again of mercy.
"They were all blind. The leaders were blind. The
blind leading the blind. Blind—blind——"
The Collector sprang up with a startled exclamation.
A thin stream of blood trickled from behind His Honor's
desk, and went a twisting way down to the well of the court.
He caught the Judge in his arms as he fell forward, and
lowered him gently to the ground. Then it was seen that
the unconscious man's clothes were saturated with blood.
Instantly the court was cleared. A military surgeon
cut away the blood-stained clothing from the Judge's thigh,
and laid bare the clean wound made by a British bullet. A
look passed between him and the Collector, but never a word.
Syed Mehta's life had ebbed with his blood, and so he passed,
unawakened, from swoon to death.
The English, as their way is, betrayed nothing. It was
His Honor, the District Judge of Golampore, who had died,
and they gave him burial the next day with due regard to the
high position which he had held in the service of H.M. the
King and Emperor.
A FOG-HORN CONCLUSION
The Story of a Gramophone
By FOX RUSSELL
The Saucy Sally was a vessel of renown. No blustering
liner, no fussy tug, no squattering steamer, she; but
a bluff-bowed, smartly painted, trim-built sailing barge,
plying chiefly from the lower reaches of the Thames to ports
west of Dover. She had no equal of her class, at any point of
sailing, and certainly her Master, Mr. Joseph Pigg, was not
the man to let her fair fame suffer for want of seamanship.
"Cap'n Pigg," as he insisted upon being called, was a great,
hairy-faced man, with brawny muscles and a blood-shot eye.
And in these respects, his mate, Bob Topper, greatly favored
him—in fact, their physical resemblance was rather marked;
but their tastes were in no way similar; 'the Cap'n' was
fond of his glass, whilst the mate was a blue-ribbon man;
Joseph Pigg couldn't bear music, in any form, whilst the
total abstainer had a weakness for the flute and would not
infrequently burst into song; the Skipper hated women,
whereas the mate was, what he himself called "a bit of a gay
Lathero." But notwithstanding these dissimilarities of tastes
and disposition, they got along fairly well together, and both
met on the common ground of getting as much work out of the
two "hands" as was ordinarily possible. The Skipper didn't
drink alcoholic liquors before the mate, and the mate returned
the compliment by refraining from any musical outrage in
the hearing of his superior officer.
One hot summer afternoon, when the Saucy Sally was
taking in cargo and the Skipper was ashore, Mr. Topper,
seated on the coamings of the hatchway, abandoned himself
to the melancholy pleasures of Haydn's "Surprise," the tune
being wrung out of a tarnished German-silver flute. "Kittiwake
Jack," one of the crew, was seated as far as possible
for'ard, vainly trying to absorb his tea and stop his ears, at
one and the same time, whilst his fellow-sufferer, Bill Brown,
having hastily dived below, lay in his bunk, striving to deaden
the weird, wailing sounds that filled the ship. And just as
Haydn's "Surprise" was half way through, for the seventh
time, the Skipper walked on board.
The flutist stopped short, and stared up at him.
"Didn't expect you back so soon, Cap'n," he said in
"No. What's that 'owlin' row you're making?"
"I dunno about no 'owlin' row, but——"
"Well, I do. I s'pose, accordin' to you, I ain't got no
musical h'ear," sneered Cap'n Pigg.
"This—this here tune——"
"Yes. This disgustin' noise—what is it?"
The mate looked sulky.
"This is Haydn's 'Surprise,'" he growled.
"So I should think. I dunno who the bloke was, but it
must have given Haydn quite a turn! Don't let's 'ave no
more of it."
"Well, I don't see as there's no 'arm in music. And I
didn't loose it off when you was about. I know you don't
like it, so I studied your pecooliarities. Fact is, I studies yer
too much," and the mate looked mutinous.
Cap'n Pigg scowled.
"You shet yer 'ead," he grunted as he stamped off below.
He went to a small cupboard in the corner of the cabin, and
mixed himself a stiff "go" of gin and water, which he tossed off
at one gulp, saying:
"Haydn's 'S'prise,' eh? Haydn's S'prise be d—dished!
'E don't come no s'prises 'ere while I'm master of the Saucy
After this slight breeze, things quickly settled down again
on the old lines between master and mate, and the voyage to
Chichester Harbor was entirely uneventful, the barge bringing
up at a snug anchorage near Emsworth.
The next day Mr. Topper had undressed and gone overboard
for a swim. After this, climbing up the bobstay, he
regained the deck, and proceeded to dry his hairy frame on an
ancient flannel shirt. In the midst of this occupation, temporarily
forgetful of his superior officer's prejudices, he broke
Thirty seconds after he had let go the first howl, the Skipper's
head was thrust up the companion-way.
"Wodjer want to make all that row about? Anything
disagreed with yer? If so, why don't yer take something
"It's a funny thing yer carn't let a man alone, when all 'e's
a doin' is making a bit of 'armony on board," replied the mate,
pausing in the act of drying his shock head.
"'Armony be d—driven overboard!" cried Mr. Pigg,
wrathfully. "Now, look 'ere, Bob Topper, I ain't a onreasonable
man in my likes and dislikes, but it ain't fair to sing at a
feller creature with the voice nature fitted you out with! I
never done you no 'arm."
Next day the Saucy Sally shipped some shingle ballast, got
under weigh on the first of the ebb tide, and safely threading
her way past the shallows and through the narrow channels
of the harbor, emerged into the open sea, and turned her bluff-bowed
The following afternoon, as Bob Topper took his trick at the
wheel, he ruminated on the mutability of human affairs in
general, and the "contraryness" of skippers in particular.
"Won't 'ave no music, won't he? Well, I reckon it's like
religion when the missionaries is a shovin' of it into the
African niggers—they just jolly well got to 'ave it! An'
so it'll be with the ole man. I'll jest fix up a scheme as'll
do 'im a treat."
He smiled broadly; and when Bob Topper smiled, the corners
of his mouth seemed to almost meet at the back of his
And as soon as the Saucy Sally had pitched and tossed her
way up channel—for she was light as a cork in ballast—and
dropped anchor a little way off Gravesend, Bob Topper sculled
himself ashore. Twenty minutes after stepping out of the
boat, he was seated in the back-parlor of a friend, a musical-instrument
When Mr. Topper went aboard again, he carried under
his arm a large brown paper package, which he smuggled
below, without encountering the Skipper, who was in his
cabin at the time, communing with a bill of lading and a
glass of Hollands neat. And, soon after the mate had come
aboard, "the Cap'n" went ashore.
And then Mr. Topper laid himself out for some tranquil
enjoyment, on quite an unusual scale. He unfastened the
package, produced a gramophone, brought it on to the deck,
and started "The Washington Post."
"Kittiwake Jack" and Bill Brown immediately fled below.
The mate sat on the edge of the hatch and gazed lovingly
at the new instrument of torture, as he beat time to the inspiring
strains, with a belaying pin. When the "Washington
Post," was finished, he laid on "Jacksonville," with a chorus
of human laughter, which sounded quite eerie. And so
intent was he on this occupation, that he never even noticed
the approach of Cap'n Pigg's boat until it was almost alongside.
The Skipper clambered aboard, looking black as thunder.
This new outrage was not to be borne. Just as his foot
touched the deck the instrument gave forth its unholy cachinnation
of "Ha! Ha! Ha!" in the high nasal tones peculiar to
Cap'n Pigg was not easily disconcerted, but this ghostly
"Ha! Ha! Ha!" was a distinct trial to his nerves; he thrust his
hands deep into his coat pockets, glared at the mate, and then
"Wodjer got there? More 'armony?"
"Grammarphone," was the mate's brief reply. He was
"Grammar be blowed! Worst grammar I ever 'eard,"
returned Pigg. "Turn the bloomin' thing off—and turn it
off at the main. Enough to give any respectable, law-abidin'
sailor-man the 'ump!"
He proceeded two steps down the companion; then hurled
this parting shot at the offending mate:
"You oughter be 'ead of a laundry where the 'andle of the
mangle turns a pianer-horgan as well—work and play!" he
concluded scornfully, as he disappeared from the musician's
The mate whistled softly; then he stopped the offending
instrument and conveyed it below.
"P'raps the old man'll be glad of it, one o' these days,"
he muttered mysteriously.
The next trip of the Saucy Sally was a more eventful one.
She left Tilbury in a light haze, which first thickened into a
pale-colored fog, and then, aided by the smoke from the tall
chimneys, to a regular "pea-souper." The mate, taking
advantage of the Captain's spell below, brought up a long
yard of tin, which looked remarkably like the Saucy Sally's
fog-horn, and quietly slipped it overboard.
As they got lower and lower down the river, the fog increased,
and both Cap'n Pigg and Topper experienced a certain amount
of anxiety as, first another barge, then a tramp steamer, and
finally, a huge liner, all sounding their fog-horns loudly, passed
them considerably too close for comfort. The Skipper himself
was at the wheel and, coughing the raw, damp fog out of
his throat, he shouted hoarsely to Topper:
"Better get our fog-horn goin', mate."
"Aye, aye, Skipper. It's in your cabin, ain't it?"
"Yes, in the first locker."
The mate descended the companion-steps, with a mysterious
smile on his face, and his dexter optic closed. The
casual observer might have thought that Mr. Topper was
actually indulging in a wink.
After a time, he reappeared on deck, walked aft, and said:
"Fog-horn don't seem nowheres about, Skipper. Thought
you always kept her in your charge."
Cap'n Pigg whisked the wheel round just in time to escape
a tug, fussing up-stream, and feeling her way through the
fog at half-speed, and then he grunted sourly:
"So I do. What the d—delay in findin' it is, I can't understand.
'Ere, ketch 'old o' the spokes, and I'll go; always
got to do everything myself on this old tank, seems to me."
And thus grumbling, Cap'n Pigg went below—not
altogether unwillingly, as, being a man who understood the
importance of economizing time, he combined his search
for the fog-horn with the quenching of a highly useful thirst.
But when he came on deck again, wiping his mouth with the
back of his hand, he was unaccompanied by the fog-horn.
"Where the blamed thing's got to, I dunno, more'n the
dead. I see it there, myself, not two days ago, but it ain't
nowheres to be found now."
"Rather orkard, Skipper, ain't it, in all this maze o'
shippin'?" returned Mr. Topper with a half turn at the wheel.
"Yes, I don't more'n 'arf like it," returned the Cap'n
uneasily. "My nerves arn't quite what they was. An' a fog's
a thing as I never could abide."
On glided the Saucy Sally, almost the only one on the great
water way which spoke not, in the midst of a babel of confusing
sounds. Syrens whooped, steam whistles shrieked
hoarsely; the raucous voices of fog-horns proclaimed the
whereabouts of scores of craft, passing up and down the
river; but the trim-built barge slid noiselessly along, ghost-like,
in the dun-colored "smother," giving no intimation of her
Then it was that Mr. Bob Topper's moment for action
arrived. In casual tones, he observed to the Skipper:
"Pity, we ain't got something as'll make a sound o' some
kind, so's to let people know as we 're a-comin'."
Cap'n Pigg said nothing: but the anxiety deepened perceptibly
in his face.
"Where the blank blank are yer comin' to?" roared the voice
of another bargeman, as, tooting loudly on a fog-horn, one of
the "Medway flyers," shaved past them.
"Near thing, that," observed the mate, calmly.
Cap'n Pigg went a shade paler beneath the tan on his
"Cuss 'im! careless 'ound!" he muttered. "Might a'
"'Ad no proper lookout, I expect," returned Mr. Topper,
"even if 'e 'ad, 'e couldn't see anything, and we got no fog-'orn
to show 'em where we was, yer see."
"No. An' p'raps we shall go to the bottom, all along o'
our 'aving lost our ole bit o' tin. It's a orful thing to think
of, ain't it?" said Cap'n Pigg solemnly.
The mate appeared to be in a brown study. Then, as
though he had suddenly been inspired, he exclaimed:
"What about the grammarphone, Skipper?"
Even in the midst of his perturbation, Cap'n Pigg looked
askance at mention of the hated instrument. But it was a
case of 'any port in a storm,' and, with a grim nod, he relieved
the mate at the wheel, and said:
"Fetch the bloomin' consarn up."
Mr. Topper obeyed, with alacrity in his step, and a wink
in his eye. The 'consarn' was quickly brought on deck, and
the 'Washington Post' let loose on the astonished ears of fog-smothered
mariners, right and left of them.
One old shell-back, coming up river on a Gravesend shrimper,
listened in blank astonishment for a minute, and then
confided huskily to his mate that he thought their time had
"'Eavenly, strains! It's wot they calls 'the music o' the
spears,'" he said mysteriously, "Hangels' music wot comes just
before a bloke's time's up. We better prepare for the wust."
His mate, less superstitious and with more common sense,
"Garn! 'Music o' the spears' be blowed! It's more like a
pianer-horgan or a 'urdy-gurdy."
The shrimper glided on, and a tramp steamer, going dead
slow, just shaved past the musical barge. Its master roared
derisively from the bridge:
"'Ullo, barge, ahoy! Wot yer got there? Punch and
Judy show aboard?"
Which cost Cap'n Pigg a nasty twinge. He had always
prided himself on his seaman-like ways, and to proceed thus,
down the great river, like a mountebank, or a Cockney out on
a Bank Holiday, hurt his feelings more than he could say.
Yet another insult was to be hurled at the Saucy Sally, for
"Jacksonville," with its weird human chorus, having been
turned on—when the "Ha! Ha! Ha!" rang out on the ears
of a passing tug's captain, that outraged gentleman, thinking
he was being personally derided, shouted, as the tide swept
them out of sight:
"Yah! 'Oo yer larfin' at? Set o' bloomin' monkeys!"
But the gramophone was certainly playing a useful part in
warning others off the Saucy Sally, down that fog-laden river.
And, when, at the end of their day's slow journey, they let go
their anchor, the "Washington Post" was again nasally shrieking
out its march-time glories.
The mate stopped the machine and carried it tenderly
below, then, returning to the deck, he observed.
"Good job as we 'ad the grammarphone aboard, Cap'n."
Cap'n Pigg swallowed a lump in his throat, and looked like
a child confronted with a dose of nauseous medicine, as he
"It's better n' nothin' when yer wants a row made."
A pause ensued, and then the Skipper went on:
"In future, I don't object—not very much—to the dammarphone—grammarphone,
I mean—If you can stand
music, well, so can I. But you can't contrarst the beauty o'
the two instruments, and I'm goin' ashore, straight away, to
buy myself a good, old-fashioned fog-'orn. The tone of that
is altogether more 'armonious and more soothin' to the hear,
than that there beastly grammarphone ever could be!"
The mate heaved a deep sigh and sorrowfully went below.
In the effort to ram music into his superior officer he had to
admit himself defeated.
MARY JANE'S DIVERSION
A Western Tale
By CHARLES ALDEN SELTZER
Texas Rankin stood in the street in front of the
High Card Saloon, his lank body trembling with
surprise, indecision, and indignation; his face alight with
the fire of outraged dignity. Three long paces from him
stood Sheriff Webster, indifferently fondling an ivory-handled
The sheriff was nonchalantly deliberative in his actions,
betraying only a negative interest in Rankin's movements—for
Rankin's holster yawned with eloquent emptiness.
With his empty holster dragging on his desires,
it seemed to Rankin that to await the sheriff's pleasure
was his most logical course.
And so he waited.
The sheriff had come upon him, when, in an incautious
moment, he had emerged from the High Card Saloon, having
forgotten the very important fact that the sheriff was
looking for him. This forgetfulness had been the cause of
his undoing, for at the instant he had turned to go down the
street the sheriff had reached for his gun. The empty holster
was evidence of his success.
After that there was no use in getting excited. True, Texas
had flashed around in his tracks when he had felt the gun
leaving its holster, and had made a lightning movement
with his hand to prevent such a disgraceful occurrence.
But he might just as well have reached for a rainbow.
As he had faced about, rage-flushed and impotent, he saw
his gun swinging loosely in Webster's left hand, while in
Webster's right hand another big six-shooter had reached a
The distance between the two men approximated ten
feet; for Webster had wisely stepped back, knowing Rankin's
reluctance toward submission.
And now, over the ten feet of space, captive and captor
surveyed one another with that narrowing of the eyes which
denotes tension and warns of danger.
"I reckon I was too quick for you, Texas," said Webster,
with a gentleness that fell too softly to be genuine.
Rankin gazed dolefully at his empty holster. The skin
tensed over his teeth in a grinning sneer.
"I ain't sayin' that you took a mean advantage," he said,
raising his eyes and allowing them an expression of mild
innocence that contrasted strangely with his drawn lips,
"but you might have given me a chance to fight it out square.
I wouldn't have took your gun, Jim."
Knowing Texas less intimately, the sheriff might have
been misled by this crude sentiment; but the sheriff's fingers
only drew more closely around the ivory handle of his
.45. And there came a glint of humor into his eyes.
"I ain't sayin' you would, Texas. But as sheriff of
Socorro County I ain't takin' any chances. I wanted to
talk to you, an' I knew if I had your gun I'd feel easier."
"Which means that you didn't want me to have a
chance," complained Texas glumly. "Socorro's always
been meaner'n ——"
"'T ain't Socorro's fault," interrupted the sheriff with
a sudden coldness; "you've been cuttin' didoes in Socorro
for so long a time that you've disgraced yourself. You've
gambled an' shot yourself into disfavor with the élite.
You've been as ornery an' as compromisin' as it's possible
for any human maverick to get without havin' to requisition
the unwillin' mourners."
"Not that I'm sayin' you're naturally bad, Texas. It's
that you've got an overdose of what them modern brain
specialists call exaggerated ego; which us common critters
would call plain swell head. That there disease is listed
an' catalogued in the text books of the New York Medical
Institoot as bearin' a close relationship to the geni Loco;
which is a scientific way of sayin' that you've got buzzers
in your attic."
Texas smiled, showing his teeth in wan sarcasm.
"You wouldn't say that if I had my gun, Jim. It ain't
like you to pour out your blackguardisms on a man what
"I ain't blackguardin' you none," said Webster easily.
"It's the naked truth, an' you know it. Takin' your gun
was part of my official duty. Personally I could have talked
to you without trampling down any of the niceties of etiquette,
but officially I had to have your gun."
Rankin's face lengthened with a deep melancholy.
With this expression he intended to convey the impression
that he was suffering a martyrdom. But the sheriff's
acquaintance with Texas was not recent.
"An' now that you've got the gun," said Texas, after
an embarrassed silence, "what's the next thing on the
"Takin' your gun," said the sheriff heavily, "was a preliminary;
like they say in the sporting papers. The big
event is that you're goin' to say your adoos to Socorro without
bein' allowed to make any farewell announcement.
The reason is that you an' Socorro is incongruous—like a
side-saddle on a razor-back hog. Socorro won't stand for
you a minute longer. You're a Public Favorite which
has lost its popularity an' which has become heterogeneous
to the established order of things. In other words, you're
an outlaw; a soft-spoken, lazy, good-for-nothin' road-agent.
An' though Socorro ain't never had anything on you before,
it knows you had a hand in robbin' the express office last
night. An' it's——"
"You're a damn ——"
"——like playin' a king-full against three deuces that
you done the trick. You was seen goin' toward the station
about an hour before Budd Tucker found Ridgely, the
agent, stretched out on the floor of the office, a bullet
from a .45 clean through him. An' there's five thousand
dollars in gold gone, an' no trace of it. An' there's been
no strangers in town. An' here's your gun, showin' plain
that it's been shot off lately, for there's the powder smudge
on the cylinder an' the barrel. That's a pay streak of
circumstantial evidence or I ain't sheriff of Socorro!"
Rankin's eyes had flashed with an unusual brilliancy as
the sheriff had spoken of him being seen going toward the
station previous to the finding of the agent's body, but they
glazed over with unconcern during the rest of the recital.
And as the sheriff concluded, Rankin gazed scornfully at
him, sneering mildly:
"I couldn't add nothin' to what you've just said." He
idly kicked the gray dust that was mounded at his feet, standing
loose and inert, as though he cared little what might
be the outcome of this impromptu interview. And then,
suddenly, his blue eyes twinkled humorously as he raised
them to meet the sheriff's.
"Give you time you might tell me where I spent the
money," he said drily. "There's no tellin' where your
theorizin' might end."
The sheriff ignored this, but he eyed his prisoner
"There's been a rumor," he said coldly, "that you've
got cracked on my daughter, Mary Jane. But I ain't never
been able to properly confirm it. I meant to tell you some
time ago that while I ain't had no objection to livin' in the
same town with you, I'm some opposed to havin' you
for a son-in-law. But now, since the express robbery, it
won't be necessary for me to tell you not to nose around
my house, for you're goin' to ride straight out of Socorro
County, an' you ain't comin' back any more. If you
do, I reckon you'll discover that Socorro's present leniency
ain't elastic enough to be stretched to cover your home-comin'."
"I ain't sayin' nothin'," said Texas, glancing with pensive
eyes to a point far up the sun-baked street where his
gaze rested upon a pretentious house in a neatly-fenced
yard where there were green things that gave a restful
impression. "Circumstantial evidence is sure convincin'."
he sighed deeply. "I reckon you knowed all along that I
thought a heap of Mary Jane. That's the reason you picked
me out for the express job."
He scowled as his eyes took in the meagre details of
Socorro's one street. Because of long association these
details had become mental fixtures. Socorro had been his
home for ten years, and in ten years things grow into a man's
heart. And civic pride had been his one great virtue. If
in the summer the alkali dust of the street formed into miniature
hills of grayish white which sifted into surrounding
hollows under the whipping tread of the cow-pony's hoofs,
Texas likened it unto ruffled waters that seek a level. The
same condition in another town would have drawn a curse
from him. If in the winter the huge windrows of caked
mud stretched across the street in unlovely phalanx, Texas
was reminded of itinerant mountain ranges. The stranger
who would be so unwary as to take issue with him on this
point would regret—if he lived. The unpainted shanties,
the huddled, tottering dives, the tumble-down express
station—all, even the maudlin masquerade of the High
Card Saloon—were institutions inseparable from his
thoughts, inviolable and sacred in the measure of his love
And now! Something caught in his throat and gave
forth a choking sound.
"But I reckon it's just as well," he said resignedly. "I
sure ain't of much account." He hesitated and smiled
weakly at the sheriff. "I ain't croakin'," he said apologetically;
"there's the circumstantial evidence." He hesitated
again, evidently battling a ponderous question. "You
didn't happen to hear Mary Jane say anything about the
express job?" he questioned with an expression of dog-like
hopefulness. "Anything that would lead you to believe she
knowed about it?"
"I don't see what——"
"No, of course!" He shuffled his feet awkwardly. "An'
so she don't know anything. Didn't mention me at all?"
The hopefulness was gone from his eyes, and in its place
was the dull glaze of puzzled wonder. "Not that it makes
any difference," he added quickly, as he caught a sudden
sharp glance from the sheriff's eyes.
"An' so I'm to leave Socorro." He looked dully at
the sheriff. "Why, of course, there's the circumstantial
evidence." His eyes swept the shanties, the street, the
timber-dotted sides of the mountains that rose above the
town—familiar landmarks of his long sojourn; landmarks
that brought pleasant memories.
"I've lived here a long time," he said, with abrupt melancholy,
his voice grating with suppressed regret. "I won't
There ensued a silence which lasted long. It brought
a suspicious lump into the sheriff's throat.
"I wouldn't take it so hard, Texas," he said gently.
"Mebbe it'll be the best for you in the long run. If you
get away from here mebbe you make a man——"
"Quit your damn croakin'!" flashed back Texas. "I
ain't askin' for none of your mushy sentiment!" He
straightened up suddenly and smiled with set lips. "I
guess I've been a fool. If you'll hand over that six-shooter
I'll be goin'. I've got business in San Marcial."
"I'll walk up to the station platform an' lay the gun
there," said the sheriff coldly; for Texas was less dangerous
at a distance; "an' when you see me start away from
the platform you can start for the gun. I'm takin' your
word that you'll leave peaceable."
And so, with his gun again in its holster, Texas threw
himself astride his Pinto pony and loped down toward the
sloping banks of the Rio Grande del Norte.
A quarter of a mile from town he halted on the bare
knob of a low hill and took a lingering look at the pretentious
house amid the green surroundings.
Near the house was something he had not seen when
he had looked before—the flutter of a white dress against the
background of green. As he looked the white figure moved
rapidly through the garden and disappeared behind the house.
"She didn't say a word," said Texas chokingly.
Ten hours out of Socorro Texas Rankin rode morosely
into San Marcial. Into San Marcial the unbeautiful, with
its vista of unpainted shanties and lurid dives. For in
San Marcial foregathered the men of the mines and the
ranges; men of forgotten morals, but of brawn and muscle,
whose hearts beat not with a yearning for high ideals, but
with a lust for wealth and gain—white, Indian, Mexican,
half-breed; predatory spirits of many nations, opposed in
the struggle for existence.
For ten hours Texas had ridden the river trail, and for ten
hours his ears had been burdened with the dull beat of his
pony's hoofs on the matted mesquite grass, and the rattle
of his wooden stirrups against the chaparral growth. And
for ten hours his mind had been confused with a multitude
of perplexities and resentments.
But all mental confusions reach a culminating point when
the mind finally throws aside the useless chaff of thought
and considers only the questions that have to do with the
heart. Wherefore, Texas Rankin's mind dwelt on Mary Jane.
Subconsciously his mind harbored rebellion against her
father, who had judged him; against Socorro, which had
misunderstood him; against Fate, which had been unjust.
All these atoms of personal interest were elements of a primitive
emotion that finally evolved into one great concrete
determination that he would show Jim Webster, Socorro,
Mary Jane—the world, that he was not the creature they
had thought him. Tearing aside all mental superfluities,
there was revealed a new structure of thought:
"I am goin' to be a man again!"
And so Texas rode his tired pony in the gathering dusk;
down the wide street that was beginning to flicker with the
shafts of light from grimy windows; down to the hitching
rail in front of the Top Notch Saloon—where he dismounted
and stood stiffly beside his beast while he planned
Half an hour later Texas sat opposite a man at a card
table in the rear of the Top Notch Saloon.
The man conversed easily, but it was noticeable that he
watched Texas with cat-like vigilance, and that he poured
his whiskey with his left hand.
Ordinarily Texas would have noticed this departure from
the polite rules, but laboring under the excitement that
his new determination brought him he was careless. For
he had planned his regeneration, and his talk with the
man was the beginning.
"You lifted the express box at Socorro, Buck!" said Texas,
so earnestly that the table trembled.
Buck Reible, gambler, outlaw, murderer, pushed back
his broad-brimmed hat with his hand—always he used his
left—and gazed with level, menacing eyes at Texas. His
lips parted with a half-sneer.
"If a man does a job nowadays, there's always some
one wants in on it!" he declared, voicing his suspicion of
Rankin's motive in bringing up the subject. "Because
you was lucky in bein' close when the game come off is the
reason you want a share of the cash," he added satirically.
"Go easy, Buck," said Texas. "I ain't no angel, but I
never played your style. I ain't askin' for a share."
"Then what in——"
"It's a new deal," declared Texas heavily. "A square
deal. You took five thousand dollars out of Socorro, an'
you salivated the agent doin' it. Jim Webster thought it
was me, an' I was invited to a farewell performance in which
I done the starrin'. Some night-prowler saw me down
near the station just before you made your grand entrée,
"Serves you right for spoonin' with a female so close to
where gentlemen has business," said Buck. "I saw her
when you come toward me shootin'."
"An' what makes it more aggravatin'," continued Texas,
unmoved by the interruption; "is that the lady was Jim
Webster's daughter, an' we was thinkin' of gettin' married.
But we didn't want Jim to know just then, an' she told
me to keep mum, seein' that Jim was opposed. She said
we'd keep it secret until——"
"I admire the lady's choice," said Buck, sneering ironically.
"——until I braced up an' was a man again," went on
Texas, with bull-dog persistency.
"Then you wasn't thinkin' of gettin' married soon,"
"I reckon we was," returned Texas coldly; "that's why
I came here. I'm goin' to take that five thousand back
to Socorro with me!"
And now Buck used his right hand. But quick as he
was, he was late. Rankin's gun gaped at him across the
table the while his own weapon lagged tardily half-way in
"I'm goin' to be a man again," said Texas. There
was a positiveness in his voice that awoke thoughts of death
"You damn——" began Buck.
"I'll count ten," said Texas frigidly. "If the money
ain't on the table then I reckon you won't care what becomes
With a snarl of rage and hate Buck rose from his chair
and sprang clear, his gun flashing to a level with the movement,
its savage roar shattering the silence.
Texas did not wince as the heavy bullet struck him, but
his face went white. He had been a principal in more
than one shooting affray, and experience had taught him
the value of instantaneous action. And so, even with the
stinging pain in his left shoulder, his hand swept his gun
lightly upward, and before it had reached a level he had
begun to pull the trigger. But to his astonishment only
the metallic click, click of the hammer striking the steel
of the cylinder rewarded his efforts. Once, twice, thrice;
so rapidly that the metallic clicks blended.
And now he saw why he was to meet his death at the
muzzle of Buck's gun. Fearing him, Jim Webster had
removed the cartridges from his weapon before returning
it to him that morning. He had committed a fatal error
in not examining it after he had received it from Webster's
hand. The Law, in judging him, had removed his chance
But he smiled with bitter irony into Buck's eyes as the
latter, still snarling and relentless, deliberately shot again;
According to the ancient custom—which has many
champions—and to the conventions—which are not to
be violated with impunity—Texas should have recovered
from his wounds to return to Mary Jane and Socorro. No
narrative is complete without the entire vindication of the
brave and the triumph of the honorable. But to the chronicler
belongs only the simple task of true and conscientious
Therefore is the end written thus:
Came to Jim Webster's home in Socorro a week later a
babbler from San Marcial, who told a tale:
"There was a man by the name of Texas Rankin came
down to San Marcial last week an' went gunnin' for Buck
Reible. Quickest thing you ever saw. Buck peppered him
so fast you couldn't count; an' I'm told Texas wasn't no
slouch with a gun, either."
"Dead?" questioned Webster.
"As a door nail," returned the babbler.
"Socorro's bad man," said Webster, sententiously.
"Wasn't a bit of good in him. Gamblin', shootin', outlaw.
Best job Buck ever done."
He found Mary Jane in the kitchen, singing over the supper
"Texas Rankin is dead over at San Marcial," he said,
with the importance of one communicating delectable news.
Mary Jane continued with her dishes, looking at her
father over her shoulder with a mild unconcern.
"At San Marcial?" she said wonderingly. "I didn't
know he had left Socorro!"
"A week now," returned Webster with much complacence.
"Fired him from Socorro for doin' that express job. Socorro's
bad enough without Texas——"
His mouth opened with dumb astonishment as Mary
Jane whirled around on him with a laugh on her lips.
"Why, dad! Texas Rankin didn't do that job! It was
Buck Reible. Texas told me the night it happened. We
were walking down near the station and we heard some
shooting. I wasn't close enough to see plainly, but Texas
said he could recognize Buck by the flash of his gun. And
so Texas is dead!"
"I thought," said Webster feebly, "that you was pretty
sweet on Texas."
"Sweet!" said Mary Jane, blushing with maidenly modesty.
"Socorro is so dull. A young lady must have some diversion."
"Then you don't care——"
"Why, dad! You old sobersides. To think—why I
was only fooling with him. It was fun to see how serious——"
"In that case——" began Webster. And then he went out
and sat on the front stoop.
Far into the night he sat, and always he stared in the
direction of San Marcial.
A Story of the Italian Quarter
By ADRIANA SPADONI
Vincenza looked from the three crisp dollar bills to
her husband, and back again, wonderingly and with
fear in her eyes.
"I understand nothing, Gino, and I am afraid. Perhaps
it will bring the sickness, the money—it is of the devil,
Luigi laughed, but a little uneasily. "It is time, then,
that the devil went to paradise; he makes better for us than
the saints, to whom you pray so——"
"S-sh!" Vincenza crossed herself quickly. "That is a great
Luigi picked up the bills, examining them closely. Apparently
they were good. Nevertheless he put them down
again, and went on carving a wooden cow for the little
Carolina, with a puzzled look in his black eyes.
"Gino," Vincenza stopped undressing the baby suddenly
when the thought came to her. "Go thou and ask Biaggio.
He has been many years in this country, and, besides, he is also
a Genovese. He will tell thee."
Luigi's eyes cleared, but he condescended to make no
reply. It is not for a man to take the advice of a woman.
But when it was dark, and Vincenza had gone to lie down
with the Little One, Luigi took his hat and went over to the
shop of Biaggio Franchini.
Biaggio listened attentively; his pudgy hands, crossed on
his stomach, rose and fell with the undulations of the rolls of
flesh beneath. From time to time he ceased for a moment
the contemplation of the strings of garlic and sausage that
hung from the fly-specked ceiling of his diminutive shop,
and turned his little black eyes sharply on Luigi.
"So," he said at last, "to-day a lady came to thy house,
and after to ask many questions left these three dollars.
It was in this way?"
"Just so," replied Luigi, "and questions the most marvelous
I have ever heard. And in this country, where everyone
asks the questions. How long that I do not work, and
if we have to eat?" Luigi laughed; "of a surety, Biaggio,
she asked that. She sees that we live—and she asks if we
eat—ma! chè! And then, if we have every day the meat?
When I said once, sometimes twice in the week—thou
knowest it is not possible to have more often, when one waits
to buy the house—then it was she put on the table the three
dollars, and gave me a paper to sign——"
"Thou didst sign nothing?" Biaggio spoke eagerly.
"No. Once I signed the paper in English and it cost
me two dollars; not again. I said I could not write, and
she wrote for me."
"Bene," Biaggio nodded approval. "It is not thy writing.
It can do nothing."
"Perhaps it is because I voted twice at the election last
week? But already I have taken the money for that. It
was one only dollar. I——"
"Non, non, it is not that. Listen!" Slowly Biaggio
shut both eyes, as if to keep out the tremendous light that
had dawned upon him, and nodded his head knowingly.
Then he opened them, shifted his huge bulk upright, and
clapped Luigi on the knee.
"Thou art in great luck friend," he cried, "and it is well that
thou hast asked me. If thou hadst gone to another, to a man
not honest, who knows? Listen. In our country when a rich
man dies, he leaves always something for the poor, but he
leaves it to the church and it is the fathers who give away
the money. Corpo di Bacco! what that means thou knowest
well. Sometimes a little gets to the poor. Sometimes—— But
in this country it is not so. He leaves to a society. There
are many. And they pay the women, and sometimes the
men, to give away the money——"
"Santo Cristo," gasped Luigi, "they pay to give away the
"For them it is a job like any other. Didst think it was
for love of thee or the red curls of thy Vincenza?"
"Marvelous, most marvelous," murmured Luigi, "and it
is possible then for all people to get——"
"Ma, that no one can explain," and Biaggio shrugged his
shoulders; in a gesture of absolute inability to solve the
"She will come then again, this lady?" Luigi leaned forward
eagerly. He was beginning to grasp it.
"It is for thee to say stop, my son, if thou hast in thy head
anything but fat. But thou art a Genovese. Only I say,"
Biaggio laid a grimy thumb across his lips and winked knowingly—"Tell
"Thanks, many thanks friend," Luigi's voice was deeply
grateful, "perhaps some day I can do for thee——?"
"It is nothing—nothing," insisted Biaggio, patting the
air with his pudgy hands in a gesture of denial, "a little kindness
At great inconvenience to himself, Biaggio held the door
open to give Luigi more light in crossing the street. As he
closed it and turned out the gas, he smiled to himself. "And
each bottle of oil will cost thee ten cents more, friend. Business
is business, and yesterday thy Vincenza returned the
carrots because they were not fresh. Ecco!"
Back in his own room, Luigi folded the three notes neatly,
while Vincenza watched him, her gray eyes wide with wonder.
"Marvelous, marvelous," she whispered just as Luigi had
done, "to-night I thank the Virgin."
As Biaggio had foretold, the Lady in Fur came every day.
Luigi did not understand all that she said, but he always
listened politely and smiled, with his dark eyes and his lips
and his glistening white teeth. It made her feel very old to see
Luigi smile like that, when he had to live in one room with a
leaking water pipe and a garbage can outside the door.
Sometimes she was almost ashamed to offer the three
dollars, and she was grateful for the gentle, sweet way Luigi
Then one day when the air was thick with snow, and the
air in the tenement halls cut like needles of ice and the lamps
had to be lit at two o'clock, the Lady in Brown Fur came
unexpectedly. She had found work for Luigi. She kissed
the Little One, patted Vincenza's shoulder and shook hands
with Luigi. Again and again she made him repeat the name
and address to make sure he had it quite right. The Lady
in Brown Fur was very happy. When she went Vincenza
leaned far over the banisters with the lamp while Luigi called
out in his soft, broken English, directions for avoiding the
lines of washing below and the refuse piled in dark turns of
the stairs. When the Lady in Brown Fur had disappeared
Vincenza turned to Luigi.
"Of a surety, cara, the saints are good. Never before didst
thou work before April. In the new house we will keep for
ourselves two rooms.
"These people have the 'pull' even more than the alderman,
Biaggio says," replied Luigi with a dreamy look in his eyes.
"It may be that from this work I shall take three dollars
"Madonna mia," gasped Vincenza, "it is beyond belief."
For five days Luigi stood four hours each afternoon, bent
forward, to the lifting of a cardboard block, while Hugh
Keswick painted, as he had not painted for months, the tense
muscles under the olive skin, the strong neck and shoulders.
The Building of the Temple advanced rapidly. And Luigi's
arms and back ached so that each night Vincenza had to rub
them with the oil which now cost ten cents more in the shop of
On the Sixth day Luigi refused to go.
"I tell thee it is a stupidness—to stand all day with the pain
in the back. For what? Fifty cents. It is a work for old
men and children——"
"But thou canst not make the money, sitting in thy chair,
with thy feet on the stove, like now——"
"Dost thou wish then that I have every night the knives in
my back? If so——"
"Not so, caro, but——"
"Listen. You understand nothing and talk as a woman.
A lady comes to my house. She says—you have no work,
here is money. Then she comes and says—here is work.
But at this work I make not so much as before she gave; and
in addition, I have the pain in the back. Ecco, when she comes
again, I no longer have the work. It is her job to give away
the money. She is not a fool, that Lady in Brown Fur. It is
that I make her a kindness. Not so?"
"As thou sayest," and Vincenza went on with her endless
But when the week passed and the Lady in Brown Fur did
not come, Luigi's forehead wrinkled with the effort to understand.
When the second had gone, Luigi was openly troubled.
When the third was half over, he again took his hat and went
over to the shop of Biaggio.
As before Biaggio listened attentively, his eyes closed, until
Luigi had finished. Then he opened them, made a clicking
noise with his tongue, and laid one finger along the side
of his nose.
"Holy Body of Christ," he said softly, "in business thou
hast the head like a rock. In one curl of thy Vincenza there
is more sense than in all thy great body. Did I not tell thee
to be careful, and it would stop only when thou didst wish.
And now, without to ask my advice, you make the stupidness,
"Ma, Dio mio," Luigi's hands made angry protest against
the invective of Biaggio, "I said only like a man of sense. It
is her job, it make no difference——"
"Blood of the Lamb! Thou hast been in America eight
months, and thou dost not know that they are mad, all quite
mad, to work? Never do they stop. Even after to have fifty
years, think, fifty years, still they work. They work even with
the children old enough to keep them. For many months The
Skinny One, she who gives milk to the baby of Giacomo, had
the habit to find him such work, like the foolishness of your
painter. And Giacomo has already three children more than
fifteen. Ma——" Biaggio snorted his contempt. Then suddenly
his manner changed. He leaned back in his chair, and
apparently dismissed the subject with a wave of his fat hand.
"And the little Carolina she is well in this weather of the
devil?" But Luigi did not answer. He was thinking with
a pucker between his black eyes. Biaggio watched him narrowly.
At last he spoke, looking fixedly at the sausages
above his head.
"Of course—it—is—possible—you have made a—mistake—but——"
Luigi leaned forward eagerly. "It is possible then to——"
"All things are possible," Biaggio nodded his head at the
sausages, blinking like a large, fat owl. Then he stopped.
"Perhaps, you will tell—to me," Luigi was forced to
it at last.
Biaggio gave a little grunt as if he were being brought back
from a deep meditation. "There is a way," he said slowly.
"If thou write to her of the Brown Fur that thou art sick and
cannot do the work——"
"But never in my life was I better. Only last week Giacomo
said I have grown fat. How the——"
"It is possible," replied Biaggio wearily, "to be sick of a
sickness that makes one neither thin nor white. With a sickness—of
the legs like the rheumatism, for example, one eats,
one sleeps, only one cannot walk or stand for many hours."
In spite of his efforts to the contrary, the wonder and admiration
grew deeper in Luigi's eyes. "Thou thinkest the——?"
"I am sure," now that Luigi was reduced to the proper state
of humility Biaggio gave up his attitude of distant oracle,
and leaned close. "Thou hast made a mistake, but it is not
too late. If thou dost wish I will write it for thee."
"If thou sayest," replied Luigi and now it was his turn
to gaze at the strings of garlic, "if you will do this favor."
"With pleasure," Biaggio's fat hands made little gestures of
willingness to oblige. "Of a truth it is not much, but when one
wishes to buy the house, and already the family is begun, two
dollars and a half each week——"
Luigi glanced at him sharply. "Two and——"
Biaggio drew the ink to him and dipped his pen. "Two
and a half for thee, and for me——"
"Bene, bene," Luigi interrupted quickly, "it is only just."
"Between friends," explained Biaggio as he began to write.
"Between friends," echoed Luigi, and added to himself,
"closer than the skin of a snake art thou—friend."
The Lady in the Brown Fur came next day. She had been
very angry and disappointed in Luigi, too angry and disappointed
to go near him. Now she felt very sorry and uncomfortable
when she saw his right leg stretched out before, so
stiff that he could not bend it. He smiled and made the
motion of getting up, but could not do it, and sank back again
with a gesture of helplessness more eloquent than words.
When the Lady in Brown Fur had gone, Vincenza found
an extra bill, brand new, tucked into the pocket of the
Luigi waited until he was quite sure that Biaggio would be
alone. There was a look of real sorrow in his dark eyes as
he slipped a shiny quarter across the counter. "She left only
two," he explained, "the reason I do not know. Perhaps
"It is nothing, nothing between friends." Biaggio slipped
the quarter into the cigar box under the counter and smiled
a fat smile at Luigi. But he did not hold the door open when
Luigi went, and his little eyes were hard like gimlet points.
"So," he whispered softly. "So. One learns quickly, very
quickly in this new country. Only two dollars this time. Bene,
Gino mio, the price of sausage, as that of oil, goes up—between
THE HAMMERPOND BURGLARY
The Story of an Artist
By H.G. WELLS
It is a moot point whether burglary is to be considered
as a sport, a trade, or an art. For a trade the technique
is scarcely rigid enough, and its claims to be considered
an art are vitiated by the mercenary element that qualifies
triumphs. On the whole it seems to be most justly
ranked as sport, a sport for which no rules are at present
formulated, and of which the prizes are distributed in an
extremely informal manner. It was this informality of
burglary that led to the regrettable extinction of two promising
beginners at Hammerpond Park.
The stakes offered in this affair consisted chiefly of diamonds
and other personal bric-à-brac belonging to the newly
married Lady Aveling. Lady Aveling, as the reader will
remember, was the only daughter of Mrs. Montague Pangs,
the well-known hostess. Her marriage to Lord Aveling
was extensively advertised in the papers, the quantity and
quality of her wedding presents, and the fact that the honeymoon
was to be spent at Hammerpond. The announcement
of these valuable prizes created a considerable sensation
in the small circle in which Mr. Teddy Watkins was the
undisputed leader, and it was decided that, accompanied
by a duly qualified assistant, he should visit the village of
Hammerpond in his professional capacity.
Being a man of naturally retiring and modest disposition,
Mr. Watkins determined to make his visit incog, and, after
due consideration of the conditions of his enterprise, he
selected the rôle of a landscape artist, and the unassuming
surname of Smith. He preceded his assistant, who, it was
decided, should join him only on the last afternoon of his
stay at Hammerpond. Now the village of Hammerpond
is perhaps one of the prettiest little corners in Sussex;
many thatched houses still survive, the flint-built church,
with its tall spire nestling under the down, is one of the finest
and least restored in the county, and the beech-woods and
bracken jungles through which the road runs to the great
house are singularly rich in what the vulgar artist and photographer
call "bits." So that Mr. Watkins, on his arrival
with two virgin canvases, a brand-new easel, a paint-boy,
portmanteau, an ingenious little ladder made in sections;
(after the pattern of that lamented master, Charles Peace),
crowbar, and wire coils, found himself welcomed with effusion
and some curiosity by half a dozen other brethren of
the brush. It rendered the disguise he had chosen unexpectedly
plausible, but it inflicted upon him a considerable
amount of æsthetic conversation for which he was very
"Have you exhibited very much?" said young Porson
in the bar-parlor of the "Coach and Horses," where Mr.
Watkins was skilfully accumulating local information on
the night of his arrival.
"Very little," said Mr. Watkins; "just a snack here and
"In course. And at the Crystal Palace."
"Did they hang you well?" said Porson.
"Don't rot," said Mr. Watkins; "I don't like it."
"I mean did they put you in a good place?"
"Whatyer mean?" said Mr. Watkins suspiciously. "One
'ud think you were trying to make out I'd been put
Porson was a gentlemanly young man even for an artist,
and he did not know what being "put away" meant, but
he thought it best to explain that he intended nothing of
the sort. As the question of hanging seemed a sore point
with Mr. Watkins, he tried to divert the conversation a little.
"Did you do figure work at all?"
"No, never had a head for figures," said Mr. Watkins.
"My miss—Mrs. Smith, I mean, does all that."
"She paints too!" said Porson. "That's rather jolly."
"Very," said Mr. Watkins, though he really did not think
so, and, feeling the conversation was drifting a little beyond
his grasp, added: "I came down here to paint Hammerpond
House by moonlight."
"Really!" said Porson. "That's rather a novel idea."
"Yes," said Mr. Watkins, "I thought it rather a good
notion when it occurred to me. I expect to begin to-morrow
"What! You don't mean to paint in the open, by night?"
"I do, though."
"But how will you see your canvas?"
"Have a bloomin' cop's——" began Mr. Watkins, rising
too quickly to the question, and then realizing this,
bawled to Miss Durgan for another glass of beer. "I'm
goin' to have a thing called a dark lantern," he said to
"But it's about new moon now," objected Porson.
"There won't be any moon."
"There'll be the house," said Watkins, "at any rate.
I'm goin', you see, to paint the house first and the moon
"Oh!" said Porson, too staggered to continue the conversation.
Toward sunset next day Mr. Watkins, virgin canvas,
easel, and a very considerable case of other appliances in
hand, strolled up the pleasant pathway through the beech-woods
to Hammerpond Park, and pitched his apparatus
in a strategic position commanding the house. Here he
was observed by Mr. Raphael Sant, who was returning
across the park from a study of the chalk-pits. His curiosity
having been fired by Porson's account of the new arrival,
he turned aside with the idea of discussing nocturnal art.
Mr. Watkins was mixing color with an air of great
industry. Sant, approaching more nearly, was surprised
to see the color in question was as harsh and brilliant an
emerald green as it is possible to imagine. Having cultivated
an extreme sensibility to color from his earliest years, he drew
the air in sharply between his teeth at the very first glimpse of
this brew. Mr. Watkins turned round. He looked annoyed.
"What on earth are you going to do with that beastly
green?" said Sant.
Mr. Watkins realized that his zeal to appear busy in
the eyes of the butler had evidently betrayed him into some
technical error. He looked at Sant and hesitated.
"Pardon my rudeness," said Sant; "but, really, that
green is altogether too amazing. It came as a shock. What
do you mean to do with it?"
Mr. Watkins was collecting his resources. Nothing could
save the situation but decision. "If you come here interrupting
my work," he said, "I'm a-goin' to paint your face
Sant retired, for he was a humorist and a peaceful man.
Going down the hill he met Porson and Wainwright. "Either
that man is a genius or he is a dangerous lunatic," said he.
"Just go up and look at his green." And he continued his
way, his countenance brightened by a pleasant anticipation
of a cheerful affray round an easel in the gloaming, and
the shedding of much green paint.
But to Porson and Wainwright Mr. Watkins was less
aggressive, and explained that the green was intended to
be the first coating of his picture. It was, he admitted,
in response to a remark, an absolutely new method, invented
Twilight deepened, first one then another star appeared.
The rooks amid the tall trees to the left of the house had
long since lapsed into slumberous silence, the house itself
lost all the details of its architecture and became a dark
gray outline, and then the windows of the salon shone out
brilliantly, the conservatory was lighted up, and here and
there a bedroom window burnt yellow. Had any one
approached the easel in the park it would have been found
deserted. One brief uncivil word in brilliant green sullied
the purity of its canvas. Mr. Watkins was busy in the
shrubbery with his assistant, who had discreetly joined him
from the carriage-drive.
Mr. Watkins was inclined to be self-congratulatory upon
the ingenious device by which he had carried all his apparatus
boldly, and in the sight of all men, right up to the scene
of operations. "That's the dressing-room," he said to
his assistant, "and, as soon as the maid takes the candle
away and goes down to supper, we'll call in. My! how
nice the house do look, to be sure, against the starlight,
and with all its windows and lights! Swop me, Jim, I almost
wish I was a painter-chap. Have you fixed that there wire
across the path from the laundry?"
He cautiously approached the house until he stood below
the dressing-room window, and began to put together
his folding ladder. He was too experienced a practitioner
to feel any unusual excitement. Jim was reconnoitring
the smoking-room. Suddenly, close beside Mr.
Watkins in the bushes, there was a violent crash and a stifled
curse. Some one had tumbled over the wire which his
assistant had just arranged. He heard feet running on
the gravel pathway beyond. Mr. Watkins, like all true
artists, was a singularly shy man, and he incontinently dropped
his folding ladder and began running circumspectly through
the shrubbery. He was indistinctly aware of two people
hot upon his heels, and he fancied that he distinguished
the outline of his assistant in front of him. In another
moment he had vaulted the low stone wall bounding the
shrubbery, and was in the open park. Two thuds on the
turf followed his own leap.
It was a close chase in the darkness through the trees.
Mr. Watkins was a loosely built man and in good training,
and he gained hand over hand upon the hoarsely panting
figure in front. Neither spoke, but, as Mr. Watkins
pulled up alongside, a qualm of awful doubt came over him.
The other man turned his head at the same moment and
gave an exclamation of surprise. "It's not Jim," thought
Mr. Watkins, and simultaneously the stranger flung himself,
as it were, at Watkins's knees, and they were forthwith
grappling on the ground together. "Lend a hand,
Bill," cried the stranger, as the third man came up. And
Bill did—two hands, in fact, and some accentuated feet.
The fourth man, presumably Jim, had apparently turned
aside and made off in a different direction. At any rate,
he did not join the trio.
Mr. Watkins's memory of the incidents of the next two
minutes is extremely vague. He has a dim recollection
of having his thumb in the corner of the mouth of the first
man, and feeling anxious about its safety, and for some
seconds at least he held the head of the gentleman answering
to the name of Bill to the ground by the hair. He was
also kicked in a great number of different places, and apparently
by a vast multitude of people. Then the gentleman
who was not Bill got his knee below Mr. Watkins's diaphragm
and tried to curl him up upon it.
When his sensations became less entangled he was sitting
upon the turf, and eight or ten men—the night was
dark, and he was rather too confused to count—standing
around him, apparently waiting for him to recover.
He mournfully assumed that he was captured, and would
probably have made some philosophical reflections on the
fickleness of fortune, had not his internal sensations disinclined
him to speech.
He noticed very quickly that his wrists were not handcuffed,
and then a flask of brandy was put in his hands.
This touched him a little—it was such unexpected kindness.
"He's a-comin' round," said a voice which he fancied
he recognized as belonging to the Hammerpond second
"We've got 'em, sir, both of 'em," said the Hammerpond
butler, the man who had handed him the flask. "Thanks
No one answered his remark. Yet he failed to see how
it applied to him.
"He's fair dazed," said a strange voice; "the villain's
Mr. Teddy Watkins decided to remain fair dazed until
he had a better grasp of the situation. He perceived that
two of the black figures round him stood side by side with
a dejected air, and there was something in the carriage of
their shoulders that suggested to his experienced eye hands
that were bound together. In a flash he rose to his position.
He emptied the little flask and staggered—obsequious
hands assisting him—to his feet. There was a
"Shake hands, sir, shake hands," said one of the
figures near him. "Permit me to introduce myself. I
am very greatly indebted to you. It was the jewels of
my wife, Lady Aveling, which attracted these scoundrels
to the house."
"Very glad to make your lordship's acquaintance," said
"I presume you saw the rascals making for the shrubbery,
and dropped down on them?"
"That's exactly how it happened," said Mr. Watkins.
"You should have waited till they got in at the window,"
said Lord Aveling; "they would get it hotter if they had
actually committed the burglary. And it was lucky for
you two of the policemen were out by the gates, and followed
up the three of you. I doubt if you could have secured
the two of them—though it was confoundedly plucky of
you, all the same."
"Yes, I ought to have thought of all that," said Mr. Watkins;
"but one can't think of everything."
"Certainly not," said Lord Aveling. "I am afraid they
have mauled you a little," he added. The party was now
moving toward the house. "You walk rather lame. May
I offer you my arm?"
And instead of entering Hammerpond House by the dressing-room
window, Mr. Watkins entered it—slightly intoxicated,
and inclined now to cheerfulness again—on the arm
of a real live peer, and by the front door. "This," thought
Mr. Watkins, "is burgling in style!" The "scoundrels,"
seen by the gaslight, proved to be mere local amateurs unknown
to Mr. Watkins, and they were taken down into
the pantry and there watched over by the three policemen,
two gamekeepers with loaded guns, the butler, an ostler,
and a carman, until the dawn allowed of their removal to
Hazelhurst police-station. Mr. Watkins was made much
of in the salon. They devoted a sofa to him, and would
not hear of a return to the village that night. Lady Aveling
was sure he was brilliantly original, and said her idea of
Turner was just such another rough, half-inebriated, deep-eyed,
brave, and clever man. Some one brought up a remarkable
little folding-ladder that had been picked up in the
shrubbery, and showed him how it was put together. They
also described how wires had been found in the shrubbery,
evidently placed there to trip up unwary pursuers. It was
lucky he had escaped these snares. And they showed him
Mr. Watkins had the sense not to talk too much, and in
any conversational difficulty fell back on his internal pains.
At last he was seized with stiffness in the back and yawning.
Everyone suddenly awoke to the fact that it was a shame
to keep him talking after his affray, so he retired early to his
room, the little red room next to Lord Aveling's suite.
The dawn found a deserted easel bearing a canvas with
a green inscription, in the Hammerpond Park, and it found
Hammerpond House in commotion. But if the dawn found
Mr. Teddy Watkins and the Aveling diamonds, it did not
communicate the information to the police.
A FO'C'S'LE TRAGEDY
An Ancient Mariner's Yarn
By PERCY LONGHURST
"Yeh may gas about torpedoes an' 'fernal machines
an' such like, but yeh can't learn me nothin'; onct
I had t' do wi' suthin' o' th' sort that turned th' heads o'
a dozen men from black ter white in 'bout ten minutes,"
and the ancient mariner looked at me with careful
"Bad, eh?" I inquired.
"Sh'd think it was—for them poor chaps."
"Didn't turn your hair white, Uncle?"
"Gue-e-ss not," and the ancient mariner had a fit of
chuckling that nearly choked him.
When he recovered he told me the yarn. I had heard
several of old Steve's yarns, and I considered that his fine
talents were miserably wasted; he ought to have been a
politician or a real estate agent. This yarn, however, might
very well have been true.
"It was 'bout nineteen years ago," Steve commenced,
"an' I'd jest taken up a job as cook on the Here at Last,
a blamed old Noah's Ark of a wind-jammer from New
York to Jamaica. She did th' trip in 'bout th' same time
as yeh'd walk it. She was a beauty—an' th' crew 'bout
fitted her. Where th' old man had gathered 'em from th'
Lord on'y knows; but they was th' most difficult lot I've
ever sailed with, which is sayin' a deal consid'rin' that,
man an' boy, I've been a sailor for forty years. They was
as contrairy as women, an' as stoopid as donkeys. I
couldn't do nothin' right for 'em. They complained of
the coffee, grumbled at th' biscuit, an' swore terrible at th'
meat. But most of all they swore at me."
"'It all lies in th' cookin',' an old one-eyed chap, named
Barton, used ter say. 'Any cook that is worth his salt can
do wonders wi' th' worst vittles'; an' he told me how he'd
once sailed with a cook as c'd make a stewed cat taste better'n
a rabbit. An', durn me, when I went ashore next, an' at
great risk managed to lay holt of a big tom and cooked it for
em, hopin' to please 'em, an' went inter th' fo'c's'le arter
dinner an' told 'em what I'd done, ef that self-same chap,
Barton, didn't hit me over th' head wi' his tin can for tryin'
ter poison 'em, as he said. They complained to th' old
man, too, which was worse; for when we got t' th'
next port my leave ashore was stopped, an' all for tryin'
to please 'em. Rank ingratitood, I call it.
"Another time I tried to give the junk—it really was
bad, but as I hadn't bought th' stores, that wasn't no fault
o' mine—a bit of a more pleasant flavor by bilin' with it
a packet o' spice I found in th' skipper's cabin. One
o' th' sailors comes into my galley in a towerin' rage arter
"'Yer blamed rascal,' he said, an' there was suthin' like
murder in his starin' eyes. 'Yeh blamed rascal, whatcher
been doin' ter our grub now?'
"'What's th' trouble, Joe?' I asks quietly.
"'Trouble, yeh skunk,' he howls; 'our throats is hot as
hell, all th' skin's comin' off 'em; Bill Tomson's got his
lips that blistered he can't hold his pipe between 'em.
What yeh been doin?'
"'Hold hard a jiffy,' I said, an' looks at what was left
o' th' spice I'd used. I nearly had a fit.
"'Go 'way,' I says, pullin' myself together; ''t ain't nuthin'.'
"An' it wasn't nuthin'; but there was such an almighty
run on th' water barrel that arternoon th' old man was
beginnin' ter think a teetotal revival had struck th' Here at
Last. But though cayenne pepper drives a chap ter water
pretty often while th' effect lasts, it don't have no permanent
result, as th' old man found out. Course it was a mistake
o' mine; but ain't we all liable to go a bit astray?
"I'm jest givin' yeh these few examples t' show yeh that
things wasn't altogether O.K. 'tween me an' the crew.
They was always swearin' at me, an' callin' of me names,
an' heavin' things at me head, because I'd done or hadn't
done suthin' or other. An angel from heaven wouldn't
have pleased 'em; an' as I never held much stock in the
angelic trust yeh kin easily understand we was most times
very much at sixes an' sevens.
"One evenin' I was sittin' in th' fo'c's'le patiently listenin'
ter th' horrible language in which they reproached
me because one o' 'em had managed t' break a front tooth
in biting a bit o' th' salt pork they'd had for dinner, which
was certainly no fault o' mine, when one of 'em, an English
chap he was, an' the worst grumbler of all, suddenly cries:
"'Jeerusalem, wouldn't I give somethin' fer a drop of
beer just now. Strike me pink if I ain't a'most forgotten
what the taste o' it's like.'
"'Me, too,' said Harry Towers, the carpenter. 'A
schooner o' lager an' ale! Sakes! Wouldn't it jest sizzle
down a day like this?'
"'My aunt! I'd give a month's pay f'r a quart,' the
surly Britisher says fiercely.
"'A quart, why don't yeh ask for a barrel while yeh're
about it; then I'd help yeh drink it,' I says.
"'Yer, yer blighted, perishin' idiot,' he shouts—it was
him that'd broken his tooth. 'What, waste good beer on yer
that's fit fer nothin' but cuttin' up into shark bait!'
"'That ain't th' way t' talk to a man as is always ready
an' willin' t' help yeh,' I says reproachfully.
"The chap glares at me like a tiger with the colic. His
language was awful. 'Lord 'elp us,' he finishes up with,
'why, yer've done nuthin' but try ter pizen us ever since
we come aboard. Ain't I right, mates?'
"'Righto,' they choruses; an' I begin t' think they'd
soon be gittin' up to mischief.
"'P'raps I might help yeh t' git some beer if yer was more
respectful,' I says hurriedly.
"'Beer!' they all yells, an' looks up at me all to onct as
if I was a dime museum freak.
"'Yes, beer,' I says quietly.
"'An' where'd you be gittin' it from?' asks one.
"'Never yeh mind that,' I answers. 'I've a dozen or
two bottles of English stout I brought aboard, an' since
yeh're so anxious to taste a drop o' beer, I don't mind
lettin' yeh have some—at a price, o' course.'
"'What's the figure?' Towers inquires suspiciously. He
was a Michigan man.
"'A dollar th' bottle.'
"'What!' shouts th' man as was ready t' give a month's
pay fer a quart. 'A dollar th' bottle! Why, yer miserable
"'A dollar th' bottle. That's the terms, take 'em or
leave 'em,' says I, very firmly.
"They talked a lot, and they swore a lot more, but finally
seem' as I wasn't t' be moved, and that they couldn't get
the beer except at my price, the hull ten of 'em agreed to
have a bottle apiece.
"'Money down,' I stipulates; an' after a lot o' trouble
they collects seven dollars between 'em, an' tells me it's
all they've got, an' if I didn't bring up th' ten bottles
mighty quick they'd knock me on th' head an' drop me
"'Mind,' I said, as I goes off to th' galley, money in my
hand; 'don't yeh let th' officers see yeh drinkin' it or they'll
think yeh've been broachin' cargo, an' that's little short o'
"'Bring up that beer,' growls the Britisher, almost
foamin' at th' mouth.
"When I came back with th' ten bottles o' stout in a basket
they all looked so pleased an' happy it did my heart good
ter look at 'em.
"'Hand it over,' they shouts impatiently.
"'I'm afraid it's gone a bit flat,' I said, as I handed th'
bottles round. 'But I've tried to pull it round.'
"Flat or not, they weren't goin' to kick; an' they was
jest 'bout to unscrew the stoppers when the second mate
suddenly shoves his head down the hatchway an' yells out:
"'On deck, yer lazy, skulking, highly colored lubbers.
Tumble up at once, an' git a lively move on, or I'll be down
an' smarten ye up!'
"McClosky, the second mate, was not a fellow who stood
any nonsense, an' th' men weren't long before they was
out o' th' fo'c's'le, grumblin' an' swearin' as only men
who've lost their watch below can. They just stayed long
enough t' shove th' unopened bottles o' stout well out o'
sight underneath th' mattresses o' their bunks an' then they
was up on deck working like niggers. A squall had struck
the Here at Last; mighty inconvenient, these squalls in the
Caribbean Sea are, an' th' Here at Last wasn't best calc'lated
t' weather 'em. For two mortal hours everyone was
hard at it, takin' in sail, doublin' ropes, an' makin' all ready
for what promised t' be a dirty night. All thoughts o' beer
was driven out o' their heads. An' when everythin' was
ship-shape an' they came below again, soakin' wet an' dog-tired,
they just climbed into their berths without stoppin'
to think of th' precious bottles o' stout.
"'Bout two o'clock in th' mornin', I was woke up by
what sounded like a pistol shot in th' fo'c's'le, an' before
I c'd rub th' sleep out er my eyes, there was another, an'
another an' another, an' I saw four sailors tumble outer
their bunks an' fall on th' floor shriekin' as if they'd been
attacked by th' most awful pain. Everyone else in th'
fo'c's'le sits up, wide awake, an' starin' at th' sufferin'
wretches on th' floor.
"'Wot th' 'ell's up?' asks th' Britisher; but no one knew,
an' th' nex' second there was another explosion, an' he suddenly
gave a scream that lifted th' hair on my scalp, an'
leaps outer his bunk as if he'd been suddenly prodded in
a tender spot wi' a red hot poker.
"'My Gawd!' he screeches; 'th' bunk's exploded an'
I'm bleedin' ter death;' an' he starts yellin' like a catamount,
runnin' up an' down th' gangway, an' tramplin' upon th' four
shriekin', cursin', prayin' sailors who'd been attacked fust.
"'It's an infernal machine, an' it's blowed a hole in me
back,' the Britisher yelled; an' we who was lookin' on c'd
certainly hear suthin' drippin' from th' bunk he'd just got
"'Owch! I'm blowed t' bits. I'm bein' murdered.
I'm dyin', Lord help me,' Harry Towers, the carpenter,
wails; an' there was another terrific bang, an' outer his bunk
Harry shot, landin', on th' chest o' one o' th' moanin' squirmin'
sailors. Th' poor fellow, findin' himself thus flattened
out, an' not knowin' what it was had fallen on him, gives a
gaspin' sort er yell, an' drives Towers in th' back wi' his fist.
"Th' row goin' on was suthin' terrible; a' 'sylum full o'
ravin' lunatics on th' rampage couldn't have made more
noise; an' them that hadn't been hurt was beginnin' t' feel
as bad as them that was, when someone scrambles down th'
"It was McClosky, th' second mate, whose watch on
deck it was. He'd heard th' row—an' no wonder—an'
thinkin', I dessay, that murder or mutiny was goin' on, came
forward to investigate. He was a red-headed, hot-tempered
Irishman, an' c'd handle a crew in rare style.
"'What th' dickens——' he commences, when one o'
th' men on th' floor, seein' th' gun in his hand, an' not recognizin'
him, shouted, 'They're comin' t' finish us,' an' grabs
th' mate round th' legs wi' th' grip of a boa constrictor.
"Th' mate, sure it was mutiny, lets off his gun permiscuous.
A clip on the jaw made th' sailor let go, an' th' mate,
seein' Towers groanin' on th' floor quite close, kicks him
hard an' asks what's th' matter.
"'We're blown up, sir,' Towers whimpers.
"'Blown up, ye fool, what d' ye mean? Who's blowin'
ye up?' demands McClosky.
"'Dunno, sir,' Harry stammered; an' just then there was
two more explosions, an' a couple more o' the seamen bundled
headlong out er their berths, utterin' doleful shrieks
that'd make yer heart stand still.
"Th' mate was kickin', swearin', and shoutin' like a
demon, th' men all th' while keepin' up their row as if they
was bein' paid a dollar a minute to yell. Then th' skipper
put in an appearance. His face was white as chalk, but
his hands, in each o' which was a big Colt, were steady as
rocks, an' he come down th' ladder like a man who reckons
he's in for a good fight.
"'What's all this mean, Mr. McClosky?' he asks, pausin'
when he sees there's no fightin' goin' on.
"Whatever th' mate said was drowned by th' row th'
sailors was makin', though he bellowed like a frisky bull.
Th' old man didn't seem a bit frightened; droppin' one o'
th' Colts inter his pocket, he roars, 'Silence'; and steps over
to th' berth where Joe Harper, th' bo'sun, was sittin' upright,
stiff as a poker, an' his eyes fairly startin' out er his head
"'Now, then, Harper,' he says, an' judgin' by his face
th' skipper was 'bout as mad as a bear with a sore head.
'What th' blazes does it mean? Have yeh all gone mad?'
"But th' bo'sun, he was too scared to do more than gape
at th' skipper like a codfish three days out er water, an th'
old man gits a bit madder.
"'Answer, yeh damn rascal,' he shouted; an' he grabs
Harper by th' shoulder an' shakes him until his teeth fairly
rattled. But th' bo'sun couldn't say a word.
"'If this ain't enough t' drive a man crazy,' th' skipper
yells; 'McClosky, have yeh lost yer senses like all these
condemned rascals here? What's th' meanin' o' it?'
"'Don't know, sir; I heard 'em ravin' an' screamin' like
lunatics, but I can't get a word out of 'em. Think they
must all have become mad,' an' th' mate kicked Towers
again t' relieve his feelin's.
"He'd just finished speakin' when suthin' busted underneath
th' bo'sun. Harper screams, th' skipper gives a jump
an' lets go of his arm, an' Harper falls out er his berth as if
he'd been suddenly shot dead, only he was makin' a row
like a man suddenly attacked wi' D.T.'s. And at that all
th' other miserable wretches on th' floor starts worse than
"Th' skipper pulls himself together, an' goin' t' th' bo'sun's
bunk, leans over an' examines it. He poked about f'r a
bit, put his fingers into a stream of suthin' that was fallin'
from th' bunk to th' floor, an' then by th' light o' th' swingin'
oil lamp, I see his face turn a blazin' crimson. I see him
take suthin' outer th' bed, an' then he swings round an'
faces th' men.
"'Yeh low down, thievin', chicken-hearted, blank, blank
scoundrels,' he yells, an' his voice was that loud an' so full
o' passion th' sailors were scared into quietness. 'Yeh
miserable sneakin' apologies for men! So this is what's
th' matter, is it? By gum! If I don't have every mother's
son of ye clapped into jail soon as we reach Kingstown,
call me a crimson Dutchman. Blown up, are ye? I wish
t' th' Lord some of ye had been. Sailors, yeh calls yeh-selves!
Why, by gosh! yeh haven't enough spirit t' rob
a mouse. What's that yeh say, Towers? Infernal
machines, eh? Dyin'! If yeh don't all get a move on ye
in double quick time, some of yeh will be. Git out o' my
sight, ye blubberin' babies; I'm sick an' ashamed of ye.'
"A more sick an' unhappy lookin' drove I never saw
when th' men got on their legs again an' found out they
weren't hurt a little bit; an' discovered what it was had
caused th' explosions. They wouldn't look at each other;
an' they daren't speak or else there'd have been fightin'.
"I went about in fear of my life for days, but they did
nothin'; though if they'd known that I—quite innocent o'
mischief, yeh understand—had put a dozen grains or so
of rice inter every bottle o' stout—amazin' stuff rice for
causin' fermentation in hot climates—they wouldn't
have stopped short at mere profanity. My life wouldn't
have been worth a moment's purchase."
THE ADOPTED SON
A Tale of Peasant Life
From the French of GUY de MAUPASSANT
The two cottages stood side by side at the foot of a hill
near a little seaside resort. The two peasants
labored hard on the unproductive soil to rear their little
ones, of which each family had four.
In front of the adjoining doors the whole troop of urchins
sprang and tumbled about from morning till night. The two
eldest were six years old, and the two youngest were about
fifteen months; the marriages, and afterward the births,
having taken place nearly simultaneously in both families.
The two mothers could hardly distinguish their own offspring
among the lot, and as for the fathers, they were
altogether at sea. The eight names danced in their heads;
they were always getting them mixed up; and when they
wished to call one child, the men often called three names
before getting the right one.
The first of the two dwellings, coming from the direction
of the sea-bath, Belleport, was occupied by the Tuvaches,
who had three girls and one boy; the other house sheltered
the Vallins, who had one girl and three boys.
They all subsisted with difficulty on soup, potatoes, and
the open air. At seven o'clock in the morning, then at noon,
then at six o'clock in the evening, the housewives got their
nestlings together to give them their food, as the goose-herds
collect their charges. The children were seated,
according to age, before the wooden table, varnished by
fifty years of use; the mouths of the youngest hardly reaching
the level of the table. Before them was placed a deep
dish filled with bread, soaked in the water in which the
potatoes had been boiled, half a cabbage, and three onions;
and the whole line ate until their hunger was appeased.
The mother herself fed the smallest.
A little meat, boiled in a soup, on Sunday, was a feast
for all; and the father on this day sat longer over the repast,
repeating: "I should like this every day."
One afternoon, in the month of August, a light carriage
stopped suddenly in front of the cottages, and a young woman,
who was driving the horses, said to the gentleman sitting
at her side:
"Oh, look, Henri, at all those children! How pretty
they are, tumbling about in the dust, like that!"
The man did not answer, being accustomed to these outbursts
of admiration, which were a pain and almost a
reproach to him. The young woman continued:
"I must hug them! Oh, how I should like to have one
of them—that one there—the little bit of a one!"
Springing down from the carriage, she ran toward the
children, took one of the two youngest—that of the Tuvaches,
and lifting it up in her arms, she kissed him passionately
on his dirty cheeks, on his frowzy hair daubed with earth,
and on his little hands, which he swung vigorously, to get
rid of the caresses which displeased him.
Then she got up into the carriage again, and drove off
at a lively trot. But she returned the following week, and
seating herself on the ground, took the youngster in her arms,
stuffed him with cakes, gave bon-bons to all the others,
and played with them like a young girl, while the husband
waited patiently in the frail carriage.
She returned again; made the acquaintance of the parents,
and reappeared every day with her pockets full of dainties
and of pennies.
Her name was Madame Henri d'Hubières.
One morning, on arriving, her husband alighted with her,
and without stopping with the children, who now knew her
well, she entered the peasants' cottage.
They were busy splitting wood to cook the soup. They
straightened up, much surprised, offered chairs, and waited
Then the woman, in a broken, trembling voice, began:
"My good people, I have come to see you, because I should
like—I should like to take—your little boy with me——"
The country people, too stupefied to think, did not answer.
She recovered her breath, and continued: "We are alone,
my husband and I. We should keep it—Are you
The peasant woman began to understand. She asked:
"You want to take Charlot from us? Oh, no, indeed!"
Then M. d'Hubières intervened:
"My wife has not explained clearly what she means.
We wish to adopt him, but he will come back to see you.
If he turns out well, as there is every reason to expect, he
will be our heir. If we, perchance, should have children,
he will share equally with them; but if he should not reward
our care, we should give him, when he comes of age, a sum
of twenty thousand francs, which shall be deposited immediately
in his name, with a notary. As we have thought also
of you, we should pay you, until your death, a pension of
one hundred francs a month. Have you quite understood
The woman had arisen, furious.
"You want me to sell you Charlot? Oh, no, that's
not the sort of thing to ask of a mother! Oh, no! That
would be an abomination!"
The man, grave and deliberate, said nothing; but approved
of what his wife said by a continued nodding of his head.
Mme. d'Hubières, in dismay, began to weep, and turning
to her husband, with a voice full of tears, the voice of a child
used to having all its wishes gratified, she stammered:
"They will not do it, Henri, they will not do it."
Then he made a last attempt: "But, my friends, think of
the child's future, of his happiness, of——"
The peasant woman, however, exasperated, cut him short:
"It's all considered! It's all understood! Get out of
this, and don't let me see you here again—the idea of wanting
to take away a child like that!"
Then Mme. d'Hubières bethought herself that there were
two children, quite little, and she asked, through her tears,
with the tenacity of a wilful and spoiled woman:
"But is the other little one not yours?"
Father Tuvache answered: "No, it is our neighbors'.
You can go to them, if you wish." And he went back into
his house whence resounded the indignant voice of his wife.
The Vallins were at table, in the act of slowly eating slices
of bread which they parsimoniously spread with a little
rancid butter on a plate between the two.
M. d'Hubières recommenced his propositions, but with
more insinuations, more oratorical precautions, more guile.
The two country people shook their heads, in sign of
refusal, but when they learned that they were to have a
hundred francs a month, they considered, consulting one
another by glances, much disturbed. They kept silent
for a long time, tortured, hesitating. At last the woman
asked: "What do you think about it, man?" In a sententious
tone he said: "I say that it's not to be despised."
Then Mme. d'Hubières, trembling with anguish, spoke
of the future of their child, of his happiness, and of the money
which he could give them later.
The peasant asked: "This pension of twelve hundred
francs, will it be promised before a notary?"
M. d'Hubières responded: "Why, certainly, beginning
The woman, who was thinking it over, continued:
"A hundred francs a month is not enough to deprive us
of the child. That child would be working in a few years;
we must have a hundred and twenty francs."
Stamping with impatience, Mme. d'Hubières granted
it at once, and as she wished to carry off the child with her,
she gave a hundred francs as a present, while her husband
drew up a writing. And the young woman, radiant, carried
off the howling brat, as one carries away a wished-for knick-knack
from a shop.
The Tuvaches, from their door, watched her departure;
mute, severe, perhaps regretting their refusal.
Nothing more was heard of little Jean Vallin. The parents
went to the notary every month to collect their hundred
and twenty francs, and they were angry with their
neighbors, because Mother Tuvache grossly insulted them,
repeating without ceasing from door to door, that one must
be unnatural to sell one's child; that it was horrible, nasty,
and many other vile expressions. Sometimes she would
take her Chariot in her arms with ostentation, exclaiming,
as if he understood:
"I didn't sell you, I didn't! I didn't sell you, my little
one! I'm not rich, but I don't sell my children!"
The Vallins lived at their ease, thanks to the pension.
That was the cause of the inappeasable fury of the Tuvaches,
who had remained miserably poor. Their eldest son went
away into service; Charlot alone remained to labor with his
old father, to support the mother and two younger sisters
which he had.
He had reached twenty-one years, when, one morning,
a brilliant carriage stopped before the two cottages. A
young gentleman, with a gold watch chain, got out,
giving his hand to an aged, white-haired lady. The old
lady said to him: "It is there, my child, at the second
house." And he entered the house of the Vallins, as if he
were at home.
The old mother was washing her aprons; the infirm father
slumbered at the chimney-corner. Both raised their heads,
and the young man said:
"Good morning, papa; good morning, mamma!"
They both stood up, frightened. In a flutter, the peasant
woman dropped her soap into the water, and stammered:
"Is it you, my child? Is it you, my child?"
He took her in his arms and hugged her, repeating: "Good
morning, mamma," while the old man, all in a tremble, said,
in his calm tone which he never lost: "Here you are, back
again, Jean," as if he had seen him a month before.
When they had got to know one another again the parents
wished to take their boy out through the neighborhood,
and show him. They took him to the mayor, to the deputy,
to the curé, and to the schoolmaster.
Charlot, standing on the threshold of his cottage, watched
In the evening, at supper, he said to the old people: "You
must have been stupid to let the Vallins's boy be taken."
The mother answered, obstinately: "I wouldn't sell my
The father said nothing. The son continued:
"It is unfortunate to be sacrificed like that." Then
Father Tuvache, in an angry tone, said:
"Are you going to reproach us for having kept you?"
And the young man said, brutally:
"Yes, I reproach you for having been such simpletons.
Parents like you make the misfortune of their children.
You deserve that I should leave you."
The old woman wept over her plate. She moaned, as she
swallowed the spoonfuls of soup, half of which she spilled:
"One may kill one's self to bring up children."
Then the boy said, roughly: "I'd rather not have been born
than be what I am. When I saw the other my heart stood still.
I said to myself: 'See what I should have been now!'" He
arose: "See here, I feel that I would do better not to stay
here, because I should bring it up against you from morning
till night, and I should make your life miserable. I
shall never forgive you that, you know!"
The two old people were silent, downcast, in tears.
He continued: "No, the thought of that would be too
hard. I'd rather go look for a living somewhere else."
He opened the door. A sound of voices entered. The
Vallins were celebrating the return of their child.
PROVIDENCE AND MRS. URMY
The Story of an International Marriage
By ARMIGER BARCLAY and OLIVER SANDYS
Lady Hartley (née Miss Persis Van Ness) gave
a little gasp. In her excitement the paper rustled
noisily to her knee.
"O-h! Have you seen this?" She shot the Morning
Post across the breakfast table to Mrs. Rufus P. Urmy,
with her finger marking a paragraph.
Mrs. Urmy glanced at it. "I guess it ought to corral him
right away," she said, with the merest suspicion of embarrassment.
"You see, it's Jeannette's last chance. Two
seasons in England and never a catch, so I——"
"You did it?" Lady Hartley looked at her friend in round-eyed
"I—I had to do something," allowed Mrs. Urmy, with
a dawning suspicion that perhaps she had, after all, run
afoul of British conventions, which she found as difficult
of comprehension as her regular morning study of Debrett.
"That's so. Jeannette'll raise Cain." Mrs. Urmy got
up from the table. "It's this a-way, Persis. I reckon I
fixed your little affair up with Lord Hartley to home, and
you've got to thank me for it. Now, I'm trying to do the
same for my girl. She can't, or she won't, play her own hand.
Every chance she's had she's let slide, and I allow she's
got to marry a title before I go back to the States. Some
one's got to hustle when Providence isn't attending to
business, and as there's nobody else to do it, I've taken
on the contract." She pointed to the paragraph. "I
own up I don't see just how, but there wasn't much
time, and it was the best I could do."
Lady Hartley slowly reread the incriminating paragraph:
"A marriage has been arranged, and will shortly take
place between the Earl of Chilminster, of Sapworth Hall,
Wilts, and Miss Jeannette L. Urmy, of Boston, Massachusetts."
"It knocks me out!" she murmured, lapsing into the
Western idiom which a whole week spent in the society of
her bosom friend was bound to call up. "But why Lord
Chilminster?" She pronounced the name Chilster.
"Why won't he do? Isn't he the real thing? I picked
him out in my sample book of the aristocracy, and when I
fitted the name on to Jeannette—the Countess of Chilminster—it
sounded quite elegant."
"Then it wasn't because you knew I knew him?" demanded
Mrs. Urmy's hostess with growing amazement.
Mrs. Urmy's face took on a blank expression.
"You've heard me mention the name. That's how it's
pronounced," explained Lady Hartley. "His place isn't
far from here."
"You don't say! The way these British titles are pronounced
is enough to make you doubt your own eyesight.
I didn't know. But if he's a friend of yours that'll
likely make it all the easier."
"Lord Chilminster!" Lady Hartley spoke in an awed tone.
She felt it would be useless to make Mrs. Urmy understand
the enormity of her offence against good taste, and
presently her astonishment gave way to amusement.
"Lavinia," she rippled, "as a matchmaker you take the
cake! I don't believe——" She paused, listening. "Hush!
Miss Jeannette Urmy came in through the open French
window. She was dressed in a natty little cotton frock,
looked fresh and chic, and only pleasantly American. Perhaps
she inherited her good looks and refined tastes from
"popper" Urmy, deceased, in which case that gentleman
must have committed one serious error of taste and judgment
when he selected Jeannette's mother for his better half.
"My! You're late, Jeannette!" observed Mrs. Urmy,
shooting a quick glance at Lady Hartley.
At the same moment, both ladies, by common consent,
sauntered toward the door. They knew Jeannette's temperament.
A crisis, such as the announcement in the Morning
Post was sure to evoke, was one at which they were
not anxious to assist.
"Oh, I'm ahead of time," answered Jeannette. "I've
been up since six looking for eggs."
"Eggs?" echoed Lady Hartley.
"Yes; I collect birds' eggs." She picked up the newspaper
and let her eye wander along the items in the Court
Circular. "But getting up early makes me homesick. The
best time of my life was when I was a kid, when I hadn't
an idea beyond the woods on the old Massachusetts farm,
when popper kept his store, and—Oh!"
She had reached the fatal announcement, and sat with
parted lips, rigid as stone, while the world seemed toppling
about her ears. There was a long pause. Jeannette's lips
gradually tightened, and her firm hand crumpled up the
"Mommer!" she exclaimed. "Here, Mommer!" But
Mrs. Urmy and Lady Hartley had beaten a diplomatic retreat.
Jeannette jumped to her feet, the color flaming in her face,
her eyes snapping with indignation. "Oh!" she cried, impotently.
"I'll—I'll—oh! what can I do? It must come
out! He must apologize. Who did it? Oh, I don't even
know him, the—wretch!"
The "chuff-chuff" of a motor-car coming up the drive
interrupted her outburst, and she looked up to see it being
driven up and halted before the entrance. Lady Hartley
had a perfect fleet of cars. Jeannette at once jumped to
the conclusion that this was one of them. She had a sudden
inspiration. It was running free—ready to start. There
was temptation in the soft purr of its engine. The driver,
quietly dressed, but not in livery, she appraised as one of
Lady Hartley's motor-men.
"Shall I?" she whispered. "Dare I? I can set things
straight at once if I do. Persis will be wild with me for
going off without a word, but I'll—I'll chance it!"
She ran into the hall, slipped into her motoring coat, and,
throwing discretion to the winds, walked out to the front
of the house and quickly up to the car.
"How soon can you drive me to Sapworth Hall?" she
asked, getting in and pulling the rug around her.
The barefaced appropriation of his car by an unknown
young woman almost took Lord Chilminster's breath away.
He had, at much inconvenience to himself, motored all the
way to Lady Hartley's to contradict and sift an amazing
and annoying report that he had discovered in the Morning
Post. He had heard Lady Hartley mention the name of
Urmy as that of a friend of hers, and naturally decided that
she was the proper person to consult. But before he had
time to get out of his car and ring the bell here was a young
person, springing from goodness knows where, mistaking
him for a motor-man, and ordering him about. For a moment
he was speechless. Then, as the humor of the situation
began to appeal to him, so did the good looks of the girl.
"Really," he began. "You see I——"
"Don't talk, get under way!" commanded Jeannette.
"Quick! Her ladyship has altered her mind about going
out. You've got to take me to Sapworth Hall. It's thirty
miles. I want to be there by lunch-time. Do you know
"I—I think so," stammered Chilminster.
Her bewildering eagerness to be off was infectious. The
noble owner of the car felt it. But apart from that, he was
quite ready for an adventure in such pleasant company.
He forgot all about the object of his visit. Without another
word he let in the clutch and started.
Jeannette sank back with a sigh of relief. She credited
herself with having secured Persis's car very neatly. The
man might, perhaps, get into trouble, but she could make
that up to him by a generous tip. Her one idea was to contradict
and confute the disgraceful announcement at its
fountain-head. It was providential that the unknown Lord
Chilminster's place was so near; but had it been ten times
as far off, Jeannette, boiling with justifiable indignation, and
with her mind made up to exact reparation, would have gone
"It's awful! It's unheard of! I—I won't have it!
Who can have done it?" she kept repeating through white
teeth set viciously. "I'll have it contradicted in large
print by this time to-morrow, or the American Ambassador
She was not quite sure what ambassadors did under similar
circumstances, and she left the mental threat unfinished.
Anyhow, it was a disgrace to herself, and her sex, if not a
slight on her country, and it redoubled her determination
to "get even" with the perpetrator of it. She leaned forward
to make herself heard.
"Set a killing pace," she called. "I'll make it up to you."
Chilminster nodded, hid a smile, and let the car out to
the top of its speed. It ate up mile after mile; and as it
came to Jeannette that each one brought her nearer and
nearer to the hateful person whose name had been so scandalously
bracketed with her own, she experienced a feeling
of nervousness. The boldness of her escapade began to
alarm her. What should she say? How express in words
her view of an intolerable situation which no self-respecting
girl could even calmly think about?
Lord Chilminster's mind was almost similarly engaged.
He was wondering who Miss Jeannette L. Urmy could be,
and whether she was aware of the obnoxious paragraph
in the paper. He did not do her the injustice to suppose
that she had inspired it (he had an open mind on that point),
but as he was not responsible for it himself, he had a suspicion
that she might be. Chilminster had met very few
unmarried American girls, but like most Englishmen, he
was aware of their capacity for resolution in most matters.
Then, again, it was leap year. Suppose—— For a little
while he did a lot of hard thinking.
"I say," he called suddenly, looking over his shoulder.
"Isn't there a Miss Urmy staying at the White House?"
Jeannette drew herself up and fixed him with a stony stare.
"I am Miss Urmy," she answered frigidly.
The start that Chilminster gave unconsciously affected
the steering-wheel, and the car swerved sharply.
"What are you doing? You're driving disgracefully!"
"I—I beg your pardon," faltered Chilminster. "I thought
you were her lady's maid."
He felt he owed her that one. A girl who could announce
her approaching marriage with a stranger (Chilminster
no longer gave her the benefit of the doubt) and follow up
that glaring indiscretion by a visit to her victim, was—— The
imminence of such a thing alarmed him. Was she coming
to propose—to molest him? He got hot thinking of it.
The situation had undergone a complete change since he
had started out in a rage, and some trepidation, to confront
Miss Urmy herself, if need be. Now trepidation over-balanced
all his other emotions. Miss Urmy was behind
him, in his own automobile, and he was meekly driving
her at a cracking speed to his own house! It was too late
to turn back now. The thing had to be seen through. Besides,
he could not help feeling a curiosity to know what was
in his passenger's mind, and to discover her bewildering
plan of action.
Neither spoke for the rest of the journey, and at length the
car passed through the lodge gates, swept up the drive, and
stopped at the entrance to Sapworth Hall. Jeannette got out.
"You had better go round to the stables and ask for something
to eat. I may be some time," was all she volunteered
as she rang the bell.
Rather staggered by the order, but foreseeing a bad quarter
of an hour ahead of him, Chilminster was glad of the
respite. He opened the throttle and slid out of sight as
Jeannette was admitted.
His lordship was out, the butler informed her. Then
she would wait—wait all day, if necessary, she said decisively,
following the man into the library. No, she was in
no need of refreshment, but her chauffeur, who had gone
round to the stables, might be glad of something in the servants'
With a foot impatiently tapping the polished floor, she
sat summoning up all her determination whilst awaiting
the ordeal before her. For, by this time had come the inevitable
reaction, and the sudden impulse that had made her
act as she had seemed, somehow, out of relation to the motive
that had inspired it. Not that she regretted having come:
her self-respect demanded that sacrifice; but she wished
the unpleasant affair over.
An intolerable ten minutes passed. The beautiful seventeenth
century room, like a reflection on the spirit of democracy,
was getting on Jeannette's nerves. The strain of
listening, watching the big mahogany door for the expected
entrance of Lord Chilminster, at last reduced her to a state
of apathy, and when he did come quietly in she was taken
"I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting," he said.
Jeannette stared. Bareheaded, gaiterless, minus his driving
coat, very self-contained and eminently aristocratic,
the supposed motor-man advanced into the room.
"You see, you told me to take the car round to the stables,"
he proceeded, with a touch of apology in his tone.
"You—you are the Earl of Chilminster?" she gasped.
"Of Sapworth Hall, Wilts," he augmented, like one who
quotes. "And you are Miss Jeannette L. Urmy, of Boston,
Massachusetts, I believe."
There was quite a long silence.
"You knew all along," she flushed angrily.
Chilminster raised a hand in protest. "Not until you
"Then why didn't you stop? You ought to have taken
me back immediately you knew who I was."
"So I would have if——"
"You mean you didn't believe me. You thought I was
a lady's maid!" Jeannette interrupted indignantly.
"That was an error of judgment for which I humbly
apologize. We are all liable to make mistakes sometimes.
You, Miss Urmy, for instance, took me for a motor-man.
You also appropriated my car, and commanded me to bring
you here at a murderous—no, a killing pace. And I think
you added that you would make it up to me."
Jeannette's face tingled. She had come to accuse, and,
instead, found herself patiently listening to a recital of her
indiscretions. But if Lord Chilminster was a strategist,
Jeannette was a tactician. She appreciated the danger of
a passive defense, and conversely, of the value of a vigorous
aggression. Without a moment's hesitation she began
a counter attack.
"In to-day's Morning Post——" she commenced.
"Ah, the Morning Post!" echoed Chilminster, also changing
"There was a disgraceful announcement."
"Half of it certainly was—irksome."
"Which half?" asked Jeannette suspiciously.
"I have no conscientious scruples about matrimony in
the abstract," parried Chilminster.
"But I have. I object altogether to the paragraph. I
"Then you did not insert it?"
"I insert it? I?" flamed Jeannette. She drew herself
up as haughtily as a pretty woman can under the disadvantage
of being seated in a yielding easy chair. "Do
you mean to assert, Lord Chilminster, that I——?"
She was interrupted by the entrance of the butler.
"Luncheon is served, my lord," he announced.
"You will take off your coat?"
Lord Chilminster turned to Miss Urmy, and advanced a
step in anticipation. The butler—with a well-trained
butler's promptness—was behind her, and before she could
frame a word of objection, the fur-lined garment had slipped
from her shoulders.
Thus must martyrs have marched to the stake, was one
of Jeannette's bewildered reflections as she preceded her
host out of the room, and, as in a dream, found herself a few
minutes later facing him across the luncheon table. Outwardly,
the meal proceeded in well-ordered calm. Lord
Chilminster made no further reference to the debatable
topic; only talked lightly and pleasantly on a variety of
As the lady's host that, of course, was the only attitude
he could adopt; but the fact remains that he did so de bonne
volonté. Perhaps because, so far, he had scored more points
than his opponent in the morning's encounter; perhaps,
also, because of her undeniable good looks, his irritation,
due to the circumstances that had prompted that encounter,
began to lessen with truites en papilotte, was almost forgotten
in face of a mousse de volaille, and entirely vanished among
asperges vertes mousseline.
Miss Jeannette L. Urmy, with her veil lifted, and relieved
of her voluminous coat, was, he had to admit, distractingly
pretty; not at all the type he had pictured as the original
of the name. Young, pretty, and charming women (he was
convinced that au fond she was charming) ought to have
no obstinate prejudices against marriage. He even ventured
to think that Miss Urmy's mind had become obscured
on that point by those—well, indiscreet lines in the Morning
Post. They had upset him; then why not her? They were
As for Jeannette, in spite of Lord Chilminster's effortless
ease, her powers of conversation were frozen. She was
reduced to monosyllables, and she ate in proportion. It
was a humiliating experience to be accepting the hospitality
of the enemy; one, moreover, that made it awkward for her
to prolong hostilities. Having broken bread in his tents
(a Puritan strain was responsible for the illustration) she
felt disarmed. Besides, she was rather ashamed of her
maladroitness in mistaking Lord Chilminster for a common
motor-man. It argued gaucherie. Perhaps he thought her
unconventional call a violation of good taste—considered
her forward! He had plainly shown his annoyance about
that obnox—that embarrassing paragraph, and that fact
spiked most of her batteries. He might, after all, prove to
"Do you mind if I smoke?"
Lord Chilminster's voice startled her out of her reverie.
The servants had noiselessly retired, and they were alone.
"I—I feel ready to sink through the floor," she rejoined
He returned his cigarette case to his pocket, looking quite
concerned. "I'm so sorry. I ought not to have——"
"No, no. Please smoke. It isn't that," stammered Jeannette.
"It's the Morning Post?"
Jeannette evaded his eye.
"Yes; it does put us in rather a tight place," mediated
Nothing was said for a moment.
"Engaged!" he murmured.
Jeannette raised her eyes and noted his reflective attitude.
"Who can have put it in?" he went on.
"I can't imagine."
"It does seem strange," admitted Jeannette in a detached
"It's not as if we were——"
"No," she interposed hurriedly.
"Well, what ought we to do about it? Of course, we
can contradict it, but——"
"But what?" she asked, filling his pause.
"I hate advertisement—that is, unnecessary advertisement,"
Chilminster corrected himself. "It would make
us—I mean me—look so—so vacillating."
He looked up rather suddenly, and just missed Jeannette's
eyes by the thousandth of a second.
What could he mean? she asked herself, while her heart
pumped boisterously. Was he magnanimous enough to
be thinking of accepting a compromising situation to save
her? What he had said sounded very unselfish. Of course,
she couldn't allow him to. What a pity he was not an
American—or something quite ordinary. Then she might——
"There's nothing for it but to write to the paper, I suppose?"
he said ruefully.
"I—I suppose not." The comment was dragged from
Jeannette in a tone as unconsciously reluctant as his was
Chilminster sighed. "It's so rough on you."
Jeannette felt a consuming anxiety to know whether
his sympathy was occasioned by the announcement or the
suggested denial of it.
"And on you, too," she admitted. "What were you
thinking—how did you propose to phrase it?"
"I?" he asked apprehensively. "To be quite frank. I
haven't got as far as that. Never wrote to the papers in
my life," he added pusillanimously.
"But I can't," argued Jeannette. Her determination
of two hours ago had vanished into the Ewigkeit.
Chilminster had an inspiration. "What do you say if
we do it together?"
While she digested this expedient he fetched paper and
pencil, and then sat gazing at the ceiling for inspiration.
"Well?" she queried at the end of a minute.
"How ought one to begin these things?" asked the desperate
Jeannette cogitated deeply. "It's so difficult to say what
one wants to a stranger in a letter, isn't it?" she hesitated.
"Wouldn't a telegram do?"
"By Jove! Yes; and simply say: 'Miss Urmy wishes
"In my name!" exclaimed Jeannette.
"Well—you are the person aggrieved."
"I really don't think it's fair to put the whole of the responsibility
on my shoulders," she demurred.
"No, I suppose not," Chilminster admitted grudgingly.
"How would this do: 'Miss Urmy and Lord Chilminster
wish to contradict their engagement——'"
"But that implies that there was an engagement!"
Chilminster pondered the deduction. "So it does. I see.
People would jump to the conclusion that we were in a desperate
hurry to alter our minds!"
"And, of course, we haven't."
"Y-es. I don't know how you feel about it, but if there's
one thing I dislike it's tittle-tattle about my private affairs."
"Horrid!" shivered Jeannette. "What are we to do?"
Her tone was so hopeless, so full of tears, that it melted
Chilminster. Susceptibilities that had been simmering within
him for an hour past came unexpectedly to the boil; and
as they did so the difficulty vanished.
"Why need we bother at all about it?" he asked impulsively.
For a world of moments, Jeannette stared at him, revolving
the question. Then a faint radiance came into her
face, and grew and grew until it burned. Jeannette bit
her lip. Jeannette looked down.
"What do you mean?" she asked in confusion.
"Don't—don't you think we had better—take the
consequences?" said Chilminster, as he reached across the
table and let his hand fall on hers.
Mrs. Urmy stood at the window looking with lack-lustre
eyes across the park. She had had six solid hours in which
to reflect on that risky communication of hers to the
Morning Post, and Jeannette's disappearance since breakfast
time provided a gloomy commentary on it. She fidgeted
uneasily as she recalled her daughter's scared look
when reading the paper, and maternal forebodings discounted
her interest in an automobile that showed at intervals between
the trees of the drive as it approached the White House.
But two moments later it occurred to her that it was Jeannette
who sat on its front seat beside the driver; and, as the
car drew up, her experienced eye detected something in the
demeanor of the pair that startled but elated her.
"Here's Jeannette!" she called over her shoulder to
Lady Hartley. "In an auto with a young man. Say,
Persis, who is he?"
Lady Hartley hurried to the window, gave one look, and
doubted the evidence of her eyes.
"Lavinia, it's Lord Chilminster!" she cried, with a catch
in her voice.
The two women flashed a glance brimful of significance
at one another. Lady Hartley's expressed uncertainty;
Mrs. Urmy's triumph—sheer, complete, perfect triumph.
"Didn't I say it was a sure thing?" she shrilled excitedly.
"It's fixed them up! Come right ahead and introduce me
to my future son-in-law!"
As she raced to the door she added half to herself: "I
don't want to boast, but, thank the Lord, I've got Jeannette
off this season!"
THE MILLION DOLLAR FREIGHT TRAIN
The Story of a Young Engineer
By FRANK H. SPEARMAN
It was the second month of the strike, and not a pound
of freight had been moved. Things did look smoky on
the West End. The General Superintendent happened to
be with us when the news came. "You can't handle it, boys,"
said he nervously. "What you'd better do is to turn it over
to the Columbian Pacific."
Our contracting freight agent on the Coast at that time
was a fellow so erratic that he was nicknamed "Crazy-horse."
Right in the midst of the strike Crazy-horse wired that he
had secured a big silk shipment for New York. We were
paralyzed. We had no engineers, no firemen, and no motive
power to speak of. The strikers were pounding our men,
wrecking our trains, and giving us the worst of it generally;
that is, when we couldn't give it to them. Why the fellow
displayed his activity at that particular juncture still remains
a mystery. Perhaps he had a grudge against the road; if
so, he took an artful revenge. Everybody on the system with
ordinary railroad sense knew that our struggle was to keep
clear of freight business until we got rid of our strike. Anything
valuable or perishable was especially unwelcome. But
the stuff was docked, and loaded, and consigned in our care
before we knew it. After that, a refusal to carry it would be
like hoisting the white flag; and that is something which
never yet flew over the West End.
"Turn it over to the Columbian," said the General Superintendent;
but the General Superintendent was not looked
up to on our division. He hadn't enough sand. Our head
was a fighter, and he gave tone to every man under him.
"No," he thundered, bringing down his fist. "Not in a
thousand years. We'll move it ourselves. Wire Montgomery
(the General Manager) that we will take care of it.
And wire him to fire Crazy-horse—and to do it right off."
And before the silk was turned over to us Crazy-horse was
looking for another job. It is the only case on record where
a freight hustler was discharged for getting business.
There were twelve carloads; it was insured for $85,000 a
car; you can figure how far the title is wrong, but you never
can estimate the worry the stuff gave us. It looked as big as
twelve million dollars' worth. In fact, one scrub car-link,
with the glory of the West End at heart, had a fight over
the amount with a skeptical hostler. He maintained that
the actual money value was a hundred and twenty millions;
but I give you the figures just as they went over the wire,
and they are right.
What bothered us most was that the strikers had the tip
almost as soon as we had it. Having friends on every road
in the country, they knew as much about our business as we
ourselves. The minute it was announced that we should
move the silk, they were after us. It was a defiance; a last
one. If we could move freight—for we were already moving
passengers after a fashion—the strike might be well accounted
Stewart, the leader of the local contingent, together with
his followers, got after me at once. "You don't show much
sense, Reed," said he. "You fellows here are breaking
your necks to get things moving, and when this strike's over,
if our boys ask for your discharge, they'll get it. This road
can't run without our engineers. We're going to beat you.
If you dare try to move this silk, we'll have your scalp when
it's over. You'll never get your silk to Zanesville, I'll
promise you that. And if you ditch it and make a million-dollar
loss, you'll get let out anyway, my buck."
"I'm here to obey orders, Stewart," said I. What was
the use of more? I felt uncomfortable; but we had determined
to move the silk; there was no more to be said.
When I went over to the round-house and told Neighbor
the decision, he said never a word; but he looked a great
deal. Neighbor's task was to supply the motive power.
All that we had, uncrippled, was in the passenger service,
because passengers should be taken care of first of all. In
order to win a strike, you must have public opinion on
"Nevertheless, Neighbor," said I, after we had talked
awhile, "we must move the silk also."
Neighbor studied; then he roared at his foreman. "Send
Bartholomew Mullen here." He spoke with a decision that
made me think the business was done. I had never happened,
it is true, to hear of Bartholomew Mullen in the department
of motive power; but the impression the name gave
me was of a monstrous fellow, big as Neighbor, or old man
Sankey, or Dad Hamilton. "I'll put Bartholomew ahead
of it," said Neighbor tightly.
I saw a boy walk into the office. "Mr. Garten said you
wanted me, sir," said he, addressing the Master Mechanic.
"I do, Bartholomew," responded Neighbor.
The figure in my mind's eye shrunk in a twinkling. Then
it occurred to me that it must be this boy's father who was
"You have been begging for a chance to take out an engine,
Bartholomew," began Neighbor coldly; and I knew it was on.
"You want to get killed, Bartholomew."
Bartholomew smiled as if the idea was not altogether
"How would you like to go pilot to-morrow for McCurdy?
You to take the 44 and run as first Seventy-eight. McCurdy
will run as second Seventy-eight."
"I know I could run an engine all right," ventured Bartholomew,
as if Neighbor were the only one taking the chances in
giving him an engine. "I know the track from here to Zanesville.
I helped McNeff fire one week."
"Then go home, and go to bed; and be over here at six
o'clock to-morrow morning. And sleep sound, for it may be
your last chance."
It was plain that the Master Mechanic hated to do it;
it was simply sheer necessity. "He's a wiper," mused
Neighbor, as Bartholomew walked springily away. "I took
him in here sweeping two years ago. He ought to be firing
now, but the union held him back; that's why he don't like
them. He knows more about an engine now than half the
lodge. They'd better have let him in," said the Master
Mechanic grimly. "He may be the means of breaking their
backs yet. If I give him an engine and he runs it, I'll never
take him off, union or no union, strike or no strike."
"How old is that boy?" I asked.
"Eighteen; and never a kith or a kin that I know of.
Bartholomew Mullen," mused Neighbor, as the slight figure
moved across the flat, "big name—small boy. Well, Bartholomew,
you'll know something more by to-morrow night
about running an engine, or a whole lot less: that's as it
happens. If he gets killed, it's your fault, Reed."
He meant that I was calling on him for men when he
couldn't supply them.
"I heard once," he went on, "about a fellow named Bartholomew
being mixed up in a massacre. But I take it
he must have been an older man than our Bartholomew—nor
his other name wasn't Mullen, neither. I disremember
just what it was; but it wasn't Mullen."
"Well, don't say I want to get the boy killed, Neighbor,"
I protested. "I've got plenty to answer for. I'm here to
run trains—when there are any to run; that's murder
enough for me. You needn't send Bartholomew out on my
"Give him a slow schedule, and I'll give him orders to
jump early; that's all we can do. If the strikers don't ditch
him, he'll get through somehow."
It stuck in my crop—the idea of putting that boy on a
pilot engine to take all the dangers ahead of that particular
train; but I had a good deal else to think of besides. From
the minute the silk got into the McCloud yards, we posted
double guards around. About twelve o'clock that night
we held a council of war, which ended in our running the
train into the out freight-house. The result was that by morning
we had a new train made up. It consisted of fourteen
refrigerator cars loaded with oranges which had come in
mysteriously the night before. It was announced that the
silk would be held for the present and the oranges rushed
through at once. Bright and early the refrigerator train was
run down to the icehouses, and twenty men were put to work
icing the oranges. At seven o'clock, McCurdy pulled in the
local passenger with engine 105. Our plan was to cancel the
load and run him right out with the oranges. When he got in,
he reported that the 105 had sprung a tire; this threw us out
entirely. There was a hurried conference in the round-house.
"What can you do?" asked the Superintendent in
"There's only one thing I can do. Put Bartholomew
Mullen on it with the 44, and put McCurdy to bed for Number
Two to-night," responded Neighbor.
It was eight o'clock. I looked into the locomotive stalls.
The first—the only—man in sight was Bartholomew
Mullen. He was very busy polishing the 44. He had good
steam on her, and the old tub was wheezing away as if she
had the asthma. The 44 was old; she was homely; she was
rickety; but Bartholomew Mullen wiped her battered nose
as deferentially as if she had been a spick-span, spider-driver,
tail-truck mail-racer. She wasn't much—the 44. But in
those days Bartholomew wasn't much: and the 44 was
"How is she steaming, Bartholomew?" I sang out; he
was right in the middle of her. Looking up, he fingered
his waste modestly and blushed through a dab of crude-petroleum
over his eye. "Hundred and thirty pounds, sir.
She's a terrible free steamer, the old 44. I'm all ready to
run her out."
"Who's marked up to fire for you, Bartholomew?"
Bartholomew Mullen looked at me fraternally. "Neighbor
couldn't give me anybody but a wiper, sir," said Bartholomew,
in a sort of a wouldn't-that-kill-you tone.
The unconscious arrogance of the boy quite knocked me:
so soon had honors changed his point of view. Last night a
despised wiper; at daybreak, an engineer; and his nose
in the air at the idea of taking on a wiper for fireman. And
all so innocent.
"Would you object, Bartholomew," I suggested gently,
"to a train-master for fireman?"
"I don't—think so, sir."
"Thank you; because I am going down to Zanesville this
morning myself, and I thought I'd ride with you. Is it all
"Oh, yes, sir—if Neighbor doesn't care."
I smiled: he didn't know whom Neighbor took orders
from; but he thought, evidently, not from me.
"Then run her down to the oranges, Bartholomew, and
couple on, and we'll order ourselves out. See?"
The 44 looked like a baby-carriage when we got her in
front of the refrigerators. However, after the necessary
preliminaries, we gave a very sporty toot, and pulled out. In
a few minutes we were sailing down the valley.
For fifty miles we bobbed along with our cargo of iced silk
as easy as old shoes; for I need hardly explain that we had
packed the silk into the refrigerators to confuse the strikers.
The great risk was that they would try to ditch us.
I was watching the track as a mouse would a cat, looking
every minute for trouble. We cleared the gumbo cut west of
the Beaver at a pretty good clip, in order to make the grade
on the other side. The bridge there is hidden in summer by
a grove of hackberries. I had just pulled open to cool her a
bit when I noticed how high the back-water was on each side
of the track. Suddenly I felt the fill going soft under the
drivers; felt the 44 wobble and slew. Bartholomew shut
off hard, and threw the air as I sprang to the window. The
peaceful little creek ahead looked as angry as the Platte in
April water, and the bottoms were a lake.
Somewhere up the valley there had been a cloudburst,
for overhead the sun was bright. The Beaver was roaring
over its banks, and the bridge was out. Bartholomew
screamed for brakes: it looked as if we were against
it—and hard. A soft track to stop on; a torrent of storm-water
ahead, and ten hundred thousand dollars' worth of
silk behind, not to mention equipment.
I yelled at Bartholomew, and motioned for him to jump;
my conscience is clear on that point. The 44 was stumbling
along, trying like a drunken man to hang to the rotten track.
"Bartholomew!" I yelled; but he was head out and looking
back at his train while he jerked frantically at the air-lever.
I understood: the air wouldn't work; it never will
on those old tubs when you need it. The sweat pushed out
on me. I was thinking of how much the silk would bring
us after the bath in the Beaver. Bartholomew stuck to his
levers like a man in a signal-tower, but every second brought
us closer to open water. Watching him intent only on saving
his first train—heedless of his life—I was actually ashamed
to jump. While I hesitated he somehow got the brakes
to set; the old 44 bucked like a bronco.
It wasn't too soon. She checked her train nobly at the
last, but I saw nothing could keep her from the drink. I
gave Bartholomew a terrific slap, and again I yelled; then
turning to the gangway, I dropped into the soft mud on my
side: the 44 hung low, and it was easy lighting.
Bartholomew sprang from his seat a second later; but his
blouse caught in the teeth of the quadrant. He stooped
quick as thought, and peeled the thing over his head. Then
he was caught fast by the wristbands, and the ponies of the
44 tipped over the broken abutment. Pull as he would he
couldn't get free. The pilot dipped into the torrent slowly.
But losing her balance, the 44 kicked her heels into the air
like lightning, and shot with a frightened wheeze plump into
the creek, dragging her engineer with her.
The head car stopped on the brink. Running across the
track, I looked for Bartholomew. He wasn't there; I knew
he must have gone down with his engine. Throwing off my
gloves, I dived, just as I stood, close to the tender, which hung
half submerged. I am a good bit of a fish under water, but
no self-respecting fish would be caught in that yellow mud.
I realized, too, the instant I struck the water, that I should
have dived on the upstream side. The current took me
away whirling; when I came up for air, I was fifty feet below
the pier. I scrambled out, feeling it was all up with Bartholomew;
but to my amazement, as I shook my eyes open
the train crew were running forward, and there stood Bartholomew
on the track above me, looking at the refrigerator. When
I got to him, he explained how he was dragged under and had
to tear the sleeve out of his blouse under water to get free.
The surprise is how little fuss men make about such things
when they are busy. It took only five minutes for the conductor
to hunt up a coil of wire and a sounder for me, and
by the time he got forward with it, Bartholomew was half-way
up a telegraph pole to help me cut in on a live wire. Fast as
I could, I rigged a pony, and began calling the McCloud despatcher.
It was rocky sending, but after no end of pounding,
I got him and gave orders for the wrecking gang, and for one
more of Neighbor's rapidly decreasing supply of locomotives.
Bartholomew, sitting on a strip of fence which still rose
above water, looked forlorn. To lose in the Beaver the first
engine he ever handled was tough, and he was evidently
speculating on his chances of ever getting another. If there
weren't tears in his eyes, there was storm-water certainly.
But after the relief engine had pulled what was left of us back
six miles to a siding, I made it my first business to explain to
Neighbor, who was nearly beside himself, that Bartholomew
not only was not at fault, but that by his nerve he had actually
saved the train.
"I'll tell you, Neighbor," I suggested, when we got
straightened around. "Give us the 109 to go ahead as pilot,
and run her around the river division with Foley and the 216."
"What'll you do with Number Six?" growled Neighbor.
Six was the local passenger west.
"Annul it west of McCloud," said I instantly. "We've
got this silk on our hands now, and I'd move it if it tied up
every passenger train on the division. If we can get the stuff
through, it will practically beat the strike. If we fail, it will
beat the company."
By the time we had backed to Newhall Junction, Neighbor
had made up his mind my way. Mullen and I climbed into
the 109, and Foley, with the 216, and none too good a grace,
coupled on to the silk, and flying red signals, we started again
for Zanesville over the river division.
Foley was always full of mischief. He had a better engine
than ours, and he took great satisfaction the rest of the afternoon
in crowding us. Every mile of the way he was on our
heels. I was throwing the coal, and have reason to remember.
It was after dark when we reached the Beverly Hill, and we
took it at a lively pace. The strikers were not on our minds
then; it was Foley who bothered.
When the long parallel steel lines of the upper yards spread
before us, flashing under the arc lights, we were away above
yard speed. Running a locomotive into one of those big yards
is like shooting a rapid in a canoe. There is a bewildering
maze of tracks, lighted by red and green lamps, which must
be watched the closest to keep out of trouble. The hazards
are multiplied the minute you pass the throat, and a yard
wreck is a dreadful tangle; it makes everybody from road-master
to flagman furious, and not even Bartholomew wanted
to face an inquiry on a yard wreck. On the other hand, he
couldn't afford to be caught by Foley, who was chasing him
out of pure caprice.
I saw the boy holding the throttle at a half and fingering the
air anxiously as we jumped over the frogs; but the roughest
riding on track so far beats the ties as a cushion, that when
the 109 suddenly stuck her paws through an open switch we
bounced against the roof of the cab like footballs. I grabbed
a brace with one hand, and with the other reached instinctively
across to Bartholomew's side to seize the throttle. But as
I tried to shut him off, he jerked it wide open in spite of me,
and turned with lightning in his eye. "No!" he cried, and
his voice rang hard. The 109 took the tremendous shove
at her back, and leaped like a frightened horse. Away we
went across the yard, through the cinders, and over the ties;
my teeth have never been the same since. I don't belong on
an engine, anyway, and since then I have kept off. At the
moment, I was convinced that the strain had been too much,
that Bartholomew was stark crazy. He sat clinging like a
lobster to his levers and bouncing clear to the roof.
But his strategy was dawning on me; in fact, he was pounding
it into me. Even the shock and scare of leaving the track
and tearing up the yard had not driven from Bartholomew's
noddle the most important feature of our situation, which
was, above everything, to keep out of the way of the silk train.
I felt every moment more mortified at my attempt to shut
him off. I had done the trick of the woman who grabs the
reins. It was even better to tear up the yard than to stop for
Foley to smash into and scatter the silk over the coal chutes.
Bartholomew's decision was one of the traits which make the
runner: instant perception coupled to instant resolve. The
ordinary dub thinks what he should have done to avoid
disaster after it is all over; Bartholomew thought before.
On we bumped, across frogs, through switches, over splits,
and into target rods, when—and this is the miracle of it all—the
109 got her forefeet on a split switch, made a contact, and
after a slew or two, like a bogged horse, she swung up sweet
on the rails again, tender and all. Bartholomew shut off with
an under cut that brought us up stuttering, and nailed her
feet with the air right where she stood. We had left the track
and plowed a hundred feet across the yards and jumped on
to another track. It is the only time I ever heard of its happening
anywhere, but I was on the engine with Bartholomew
Mullen when it was done.
Foley choked his train the instant he saw our hind lights
bobbing. We climbed down, and ran back. He had stopped
just where we should have stood if I had shut off.
Bartholomew ran to the switch to examine it. The contact
light (green) still burned like a false beacon; and lucky it
did, for it showed that the switch had been tampered with and
exonerated Bartholomew Mullen completely. The attempt
of the strikers to spill the silk in the yards had only made the
reputation of a new engineer. Thirty minutes later, the
million-dollar train was turned over to the East End to wrestle
with, and we breathed, all of us, a good bit easier.
Bartholomew Mullen, now a passenger runner who ranks
with Kennedy and Jack Moore and Foley and George Sinclair
himself, got a personal letter from the General Manager complimenting
him on his pretty wit; and he was good enough
to say nothing whatever about mine.
We registered that night and went to supper together:
Foley, Jackson, Bartholomew, and I. Afterward we dropped
into the despatcher's office. Something was coming from
McCloud, but the operator to save his life couldn't catch it.
I listened a minute; it was Neighbor. Now, Neighbor isn't
great on despatching trains. He can make himself understood
over the poles, but his sending is like a boy's sawing
wood—sort of uneven. However, though I am not much
on running yards, I claim to be able to take the wildest ball
that ever was thrown along the wire, and the chair was tendered
me at once to catch Neighbor's extraordinary passes at the
McCloud key. They came something like this:
"To Opr. Tell Massacree"—that was the word that stuck
them all, and I could perceive that Neighbor was talking
emphatically. He had apparently forgotten Bartholomew's
last name, and was trying to connect with the one he had
"disremembered" the night before. "Tell Massacree,"
repeated Neighbor, "that he is al-l-l right. Tell hi-m I give
him double mileage for to-day all the way through. And
to-morrow he gets the 109 to keep.—Neighb-b-or."
THE BULLDOG BREED
A Story of the Russo-Japanese War
By AMBROSE PRATT
"What do you make of her, Maclean?" asked Captain
First mate Hugh Maclean did not reply at once. Embracing
a stanchion of the S.S. Saigon's bridge in order to steady
himself against the vessel's pitching, he was peering with
strained eyes through the captain's binoculars at two small
brown needle-points, set very close together, that stabbed
the northeastern horizon.
At length, however, he lowered the glass, and resumed
"You were right, sir," he declared. "She has altered
her course, and our paths now converge."
"Which proves that she is one of those d——d Russian
"Or else a Japanese cruiser, sir."
"Nonsense! The Jap cruisers have only one mast."
"So they have, sir. I was forgetting that."
"What to do!" growled the captain, and he fell to frowning
and cracking his long fingers—his habit when perplexed.
He was a short, thick-set man, with a round, red face, keen
blue eyes, and strong, square jaws: a typical specimen of
the old-time British sailor. Hugh Maclean, on the other
hand, was a lean and lank Australian, of evident Scottish
ancestry. His long, aquiline nose and high cheek-bones
were tightly covered with a parchment-like skin, bronzed
almost to the hue of leather. He wore a close-cropped,
pointed beard, and the deep-set gray eyes that looked out
from under the peak of his seaman's cap twinkled with good
health and humor.
"We might alter our course, too, sir," he suggested.
"Ay!" snapped the other, "and get pushed for our pains
on to the Teraghlind Reef. We are skirting those rocks
more closely than I like already."
"You know best, sir, of course. But I meant that we
might slip back toward Manila, and try the other channel
after we have given that fellow the go-by."
"What!" snorted the captain, his blue eyes flashing fire,
"run from the Russian! I'll be —— first. We haven't
a stitch of contraband aboard," he added more calmly a
moment later. "He daren't do more than stop and
But Maclean shook his head. "One of them took and
sunk the Acandaga last month, sir, and she carried no contraband
"Russia will have to foot the bill for that."
"May be, sir. But Captain Tollis—as fine a chap as
ever breathed, sir—has lost his ship, and the Lord knows
if he'll ever get another."
"Are you trying to frighten me, Maclean?" asked Captain
The mate shrugged his shoulders. "No, sir; but I am
interested in this venture, and if the Saigon gets back all
right to Liverpool I'm due to splice Mr. Keppel's niece, and
the old gentleman, as you know, has promised me a ship."
"And hasn't it entered your thick skull that to return as
you suggest would cost fifty pounds' worth of coal? How
do you suppose old Kep would like that?"
"Better burn a few tons of coal than risk losing the Saigon,
sir, and mark time till God knows when in a Russian prison."
Captain Brandon shut his mouth with a snap, and muttered
something about Scottish caution that was distinctly uncomplimentary
to the Caledonian race. Then, to signify the
end of the argument, he strode to the ladder, and prepared
to descend. Maclean, however, was of an equally stubborn
character. "About the course, sir?" he demanded, touching
his cap with ironical deference.
"Carry on!" snarled the captain, and he forthwith
Two hours afterward Hugh Maclean knocked at the door
of the captain's cabin, and was hoarsely bidden enter. Captain
Brandon was seated before a bottle of whisky, which
was scarce half full.
"Have a nip?" he hospitably inquired.
Maclean nodded, and half filled a glass.
"Thank you, sir. Queer thing's happened," he observed,
as he wiped his lips. "The Russian——"
"I know," interrupted the captain. "I've been watching
her through the port. She's the Saigon's twin-sister ship,
that was the Saragossa which old Kep sold to Baron Dabchowski
six months ago. Much good it would have done us
to run. She has the heels of us. Old Kep had just put new
triple-expansion engines into her before she changed hands.
But they've killed the look of her, converting her into a
cruiser. She's nothing but a floating scrap-heap now."
"But she has six guns," observed Maclean. "Don't you
think you'd better come up, sir? She is almost near enough
"Well, well," said the captain, and putting away the
whisky bottle, he led the way to the bridge.
Some half-dozen miles away, steaming at an angle to meet
the Saigon at a destined point, there plowed through the
sea a large iron steamer of about three thousand tons' burden.
She exactly resembled the Saigon in all main points of build,
and except for the fact that two guns were mounted fore and
aft on her main deck above the line of steel bulwarks, and
that her masts were fitted with small fighting tops, she might
very well have passed for an ordinary merchantman.
For twenty minutes or thereabouts the two officers watched
her in silence, taking turn about with the binoculars; then,
quite suddenly, the vessel, now less than two miles distant,
luffed and fell slightly away from her course.
"She is going to speak," said Captain Brandon, who held
the glasses. "Look out!"
Maclean smiled at the caution; but next instant a bright
flash quivered from the other vessel's side, and involuntarily
he ducked his head, for something flew dipping and shrieking
over the Saigon. In the following second there was heard
the clap of the distant cannon and the splash of a shell striking
the sea close at hand. Invisible hands unfolded and
shook out three balls of bunting at the truck of the war-ship's
signal boom. They fluttered for awhile, and then spread out
to the breeze. The arms of Russia surmounted two lines of
"Quartermaster!" shouted Captain Brandon.
"Ay, ay, sir!" rang out a sailor's voice, and the Saigon's
number raced a Union Jack to the mast-head.
"Well, Mac?" cried the captain, with his hand on the
Maclean looked up from the book. "His Imperial Majesty
of Russia, by the commander of the converted cruiser Nevski,
orders us to stop."
Captain Brandon pressed the lever, and before ten might
be counted the shuddering of the Saigon's screw had ceased.
"What next?" he muttered.
As if in answer, another flag fluttered up the Nevski's
"He will send a boat," interpreted Maclean.
A short period of fret and fume ensued, then a small steam
launch rounded the Nevski's bows, and sped like a gray-hound
across the intervening space. The Nevski now presented
her broadside to the Saigon, and all of her six guns were
trained upon the English steamer's decks. The launch was
crammed with men. Captain Brandon ordered a gangway
to be lowered, and although the tars sprang to the task with
great alacrity, it was hardly completed before the launch
touched the Saigon's side. An officer, bedizened with gold
lace, and accompanied by two glittering subordinates, climbed
aboard, and Captain Brandon met him on the main deck.
Hugh Maclean, from the bridge, watched them file into the
captain's cabin. Ten minutes later they emerged, and without
waiting a moment the Russians hurried back into the launch.
Captain Brandon's face was purple. He hurriedly mounted
to the bridge, and leaning over the rail cursed the departing
launch at the top of his voice in five different languages.
"What's the trouble, sir?" asked Maclean when his
superior appeared at last to be exhausted.
"They want our coal. C——t them to —— for all
eternity," gasped the frenzied captain. "And they'll blow
us out of the water if we don't follow them to Tramoieu."
"Where is that?"
"It's a little island off the Cochin coast, a hundred miles
from anywhere, with a harbor. By —— they'll smart for this!"
"Not they," said Maclean. "That is, if you obey. They'll
gut and scuttle the Saigon, and then kill every mother's son
of us. Dead men tell no tales. We'll be posted at Lloyds
as a storm loss."
"But what can we do?"
"Full speed ahead, and ram her while she's picking up the
launch! Chance the guns!"
"By ——! I'll do it!" shrieked the captain, and he
sprang to the signal-bell. But even as he grasped the lever
with his hand, he paused.
"What now?" demanded the mate, his face tense with
passion. "Hurry's the word, sir. Hurry!"
The captain, however, turned and looked him in the eye.
"You've counseled me to murder—wholesale murder,
Maclean. Avast there, man! Keep your mouth shut. This
is my bridge, and I'll not hear another word from you."
The mate bit his lips and shrugged his shoulders. His
eyes were blazing with contempt and rage, but he kept his
self-control, and was rewarded by a dozen sympathetic
glances from those of the crew grouped upon the deck who
had heard the controversy. From that moment he was their
idol. The second mate, too, who was standing by the wheel,
turned and nodded to him as he passed.
The captain, who missed nothing of this by-play, felt himself
to have been absolutely isolated. But he was a strong
man, and he knew that he acted rightly. Five minutes later
four thunderous reports rang out, and shells splashed the sea
on all sides of the Saigon. Then the machine-guns began to
speak, and a perfect storm of bullets tore through the vessel's
rigging, some directed so low that they pierced the top rim of
the funnel smoke-stack. The display lasted sixty seconds.
When it was over, a very sheepish looking lot of men arose
from the recumbent attitudes they had assumed. Of the
whole ship's company on deck, Captain Brandon, Hugh
Maclean, and the chief engineer had alone remained
There was a new flag at the Nevski's truck. "Follow at
full speed!" it commanded. The Saigon instantly obeyed.
Before night fell, the moon rose, three-quarters full. It
lighted the procession into dawn. Sunrise brought them to
a rock-bound coast, and so nicely had the Nevski's navigator
steered, that the first headland circumvented made room
for the revelation of a little bay. It was enclosed on three
sides with gray hills, and across the mouth was stretched a
broken line of hungry-looking surf-crowned reefs. The
Nevski steamed boldly through the first opening, and dropped
her anchor in smooth water three-quarters of a mile beyond.
The Saigon, currishly obedient to the Russian's signals, followed
suit, bringing up within a biscuit cast of her consort
and captor. An hour later Hugh Maclean, the engineer, and
the lesser officers and thirty-two men of the Saigon's company
and some two score of Russian sailors were working like
slaves transferring, under the supervision of a strong guard,
the Saigon's coal and cargo into the Nevski's boats.
Captain Brandon was not among the toilers. He would
have been, perhaps, but for the circumstance that he had
permitted himself the liberty of striking a Russian officer in
the face. A marine having retorted with the butt end of a
carbine, the Englishmen had helplessly watched their captain
being carried off, bleeding and insensible, and dumped with
a sickening thud into the Russian launch. The incident
encouraged them so much that they worked without complaint
throughout the day, and they did not even grumble at
the rations which their taskmasters served out to them.
Shortly before dusk the breeze that had been blowing died
away, and the Russians took advantage of the calm to warp
the vessels together. After that the business in hand proceeded
at such a pace that by dawn the Saigon was completely
gutted, and she rode the water like a swan, the greater part
of her bulk in air. The weary Englishmen were thereupon
driven like sheep upon the Nevski's deck, and forced to descend
the small after-hold, which was almost empty. The hatches
were then fastened over them for their greater security, and
they were left in darkness. But they were too worn out to
care. Within five minutes every man of them was sleeping
dreamlessly, lying listlessly stretched out upon the ship's
false bottom, excepting only Hugh Maclean. He was too
tired to sleep. He was, therefore, the only one who heard an
hour later the muffled boom of a distant explosion and a
faint cheer on deck.
"They have sunk the poor old Saigon," muttered Maclean.
"There goes the last hope of my captaincy and Nellie Lane."
He uttered a low groan, and covered his face with his grimy
paws. Maclean was very much in love, but he was too young
and of too strenuous a temperament to rest for long the
victim of despair. Moreover, contempt for foreigners, particularly
Russians, served him instead of a religion, when not
ashore, and he soon fell to wondering just where was the weak
spot in his captor's armor, and how he could find and put
his finger on it. That there was a weak spot he did not doubt
at all. He searched his pockets and found half a plug of
tobacco, but not his meerschaum. A Russian sailor had
confiscated that some hours before. Maclean consigned the
thief to perdition, and with some trouble bit off a plug. Then
he lay back to chew and think. "There's only one thing
to do," was the result of his reflections. "We'll have to
take this boat from the Russians somehow."
But exhausted nature would not be denied, and before he
knew it Maclean was in the land of dreams. He was awakened
by the noisy removal of a portion of the hatch. He looked
up and saw the moon, also a couple of bearded faces looking
down at him.
"Good Lord!" he groaned, "I've slept the day out."
"You hingry—men—like—eat?" observed a hoarse
voice. And Maclean saw an immense steaming pan descending
toward him on a line. He caught it deftly. A can of water
and a tin of biscuits followed. He was instantly surrounded
by the Saigon's company, who attacked the contents of the
pan like wolves. He seized a lump of fat meat from the mess,
also a couple of biscuits, and retired apart. The darkness
renewed itself a second later, and for some time the hold
buzzed with the noise of crunching jaws and guttural
Of a sudden someone near him struck a match, and Maclean
looked over the flame into the eyes of Robert Sievers, the
Saigon's chief engineer.
"Hello, Mac," said Sievers.
"Good evening, Sievers," replied Maclean politely.
"We're still at anchor."
"I've remarked it. What do you suppose they intend to
do with us?"
"Maroon us, likely, if we let them, on the island yonder."
"How can we prevent them? But I think not. It's
my belief this meat is poisoned!"
"Tastes vile enough," agreed Maclean, but he went on
eating, and Robert Sievers, after a momentary hesitation,
"We're in the devil of a hole!" he muttered, his mouth
full of biscuit. Then he swore horribly, for the match had
burned his fingers.
Maclean stood up. "Any of you men happen to have a bit
of candle in your pockets?" he demanded.
Silence for a minute, then a Norwegian fireman spoke up.
"Bout dree inches," he said.
"He eats 'em," cried another voice, and a roar of laughter
greeted the announcement.
"Pass it here," commanded Maclean.
Sievers struck another match, and presently the steady
flame of a candle stump showed Maclean a picture such as
Gustave Doré would have loved to paint. He glanced at the
begrimed faces of the Saigon's wild and ghastly looking
company, and beyond them for a moment, then stumbled over
the coal, followed by Sievers, until he was brought up by the
iron partition of the hold. He made, however, straight for
the bulkhead, and stooping down, held the candle close to
the line of bolts covering the propeller's tunnel.
"By Jingo!" cried Sievers. "I see your game. Let me
look, Maclean! This is my trade."
He bent forward, wrenched at a shoot-bolt, and with a cry
of satisfaction threw back a plate. The Saigon's company
crowded round the man-hole thus revealed, muttering with
"One moment, Sievers!" cried Maclean, for the engineer
had one leg already in the tunnel. Then he turned to the
men. "My lads," he said, "it's a case of our lives or the
Russians', for I firmly believe the accursed pirates mean to
kill us. We must take this ship by hook or by crook, and
I think I see the way to do it!" He concluded with some precise
instructions, and a few savage sentences, in which he
promised an unmentionable fate to the unfortunate who made
a sound or failed to follow to the letter his instructions.
A second later, in a silence that could be felt, he blew out
the light, and followed Sievers into the tunnel. A few cave-black
yards, crawled painfully on hands and knees, slipping
and slithering along the propeller shaft, brought the leaders
to the edge of a wider space. Sievers struck a match, and
a well-like, vertical opening was revealed. High overhead
towered and threatened an enormous steel crank. Before
their feet lay a deep pool of slime. The heat was horrible.
"It should be hereabouts," whispered Sievers, and his
fingers searched the wall. For a moment nothing could be
heard but the deep breathing of the Saigon's company. Then
came a slight but terrifying clang.
"I've got it!" whispered Sievers. "Are you ready?"
Maclean's eyes were dazzled of a sudden with a hot flare of
light, and the deafening thud of the condensers smote in his
ears. He never quite coherently remembered that which
immediately ensued, for something struck him on the head.
When he came to his full senses again he was lying on a
grating beside the body of the Russian cleaner he had strangled.
The Saigon's men were all around him. He arose, gasping
for breath. Sievers thrust a bar into his hand and pointed to
a line of ladders. Maclean nodded, crossed the grating, and
began to climb. Sievers, armed with a hammer, followed
at his heels.
There were three men in the engine-room, an engineer
and two cleaners. They took the climbers for stokers, and
went on with their occupations. Maclean sidled to the door
across the grating and closed it in the twinkling of an eye.
The engineer, who was reading a newspaper, heard the noise
and looked up. Sievers struck him with the hammer and
flew at one of the cleaners. Maclean rushed at the other with
his spade. It was all over in a moment, and without any
noise that the thudding of the donkey-engine did not drown.
Maclean changed coats and caps with the insensible Russian
engineer, while Sievers called the Saigon's men from below.
He then strapped on the man's dirk, and put his revolver in
"What next?" asked Sievers.
Maclean glanced at the engine-room clock. The hands
pointed to seven-fifteen. "Captain and officers are just about
half through their dinner," he reflected.
"Wait here," he said aloud: "I'm going to reconnoitre.
Just keep the door ajar when I leave. Let anyone come in
that wants to, but crack him over the skull once he gets inside."
"Ay, ay, sir!"
Maclean opened the door and stepped out leisurely upon
the deck. Before him rose the captain's cabin, the officers'
quarters, and the bridge above. Beyond that stretched the
main deck, with the forecastle far forward. An officer paced
the bridge; some two score sailors were grouped about the
forecastle door drinking tea, and the rattle of knives and
forks, the clink of glasses, and sounds of talk and laughter
proceeding from the saloon astern sufficiently located the
leaders of his enemies. Maclean thought hard for a moment,
then pulling his cap over his eyes walked underneath the
bridge and looked up. As he had expected, and ardently
hoped, he perceived the muzzle of a machine-gun protruding
from the very centre of the iron rampart. Thanking Providence
for two years spent in the service of the New South
Wales Naval Brigade in his younger days, he returned to the
engine-room door, and after a cautious whisper stepped inside.
"Sievers," said he, "the officers are all at dinner astern.
Take this revolver, and when you hear me knock three times
on the railing of the bridge, sneak out with all the men and
rush the cabin. Most of the crew are forward. I'll look
after them; there's a Nordenfeldt on the bridge."
"Ay, ay, sir!"
"Give me your hammer!"
"Good luck to you, sir!"
Maclean took the hammer, slipped it under his jacket,
and once more sought the deck. A steward passed him at
a run, and two stokers proceeding toward the engine-house
saluted his uniform. He pulled his cap over his eyes, and
began to climb the ladder. The Nevski was swinging softly
at her anchor, her nose pointing to the land. On the distant
beach a small fire was burning, and at this the officer of the
watch was gazing through his telescope. He was quite alone,
and standing in a shaded corner of the bridge. "What sort
of a watch can one man keep?" muttered Maclean who had
served on an Australian gunboat. He stepped to the officer's
side, seized the telescope in his left hand, and as the startled
man turned, he dealt him a terrible blow on the nape of his
neck with the hammer. The officer fell into his arms sighing
out his breath. Maclean laid him gently on the floor, and
relieved him of his revolver. Then he slid softly to the machine-gun,
and uttered a low, irrepressible cry of joy to find that it
was stored with cartridges and prepared for action. A moment
later its muzzle commanded the deck before the forecastle.
One of the sailors had just commenced a song. He had a
fine tenor voice, and the others listened entranced. Maclean,
however, rapped three times very loudly on the railing with his
hammer, and the song ceased.
Someone called to him in Russian, but he would not have
answered even if he understood. His every sense was strained
to listen. He counted twenty, the song commenced again.
Thirty, forty. Then a wild scream resounded through the
"Sievers is dealing with the watch on the after-hold,"
muttered Maclean. "Hurry!" he whispered. "Hurry!
The sailors forward were now afoot, exclaiming aloud
and glancing questioningly at one another. A great many
more, too, poured out every second from the forecastle, made
curious by the noise. Maclean grasped the crank firmly and
gave them every scrap of his attention. There woke an
increasing buzz of shouts and cries astern. It culminated
presently in the crack of a revolver, a shriek of pain, and a
wild British cheer. Then all over the din a loud, insistent
whistle shrilled. The sailors forward rushed for their stacked
arms, and formed in ranks with the speed of magic. A petty
officer shouted a command, and down the deck they started
at the double.
"Halt!" Maclean shouted, and he turned the crank of the
Nordenfeldt. The effect was horrible. A dozen fell at the
first discharge. The rest halted, and after one dazed instant's
wavering, threw down their arms, broke and fled for the cover
of the forecastle. The air was filled with the sound of groans.
The deck was like a shambles. Maclean watched three or
four poor wounded creatures crawl off on their hands and
knees for shelter and he shuddered violently.
He was already sick to death of war. But the fight was
not yet over. He heard footsteps on the ladder behind him,
and turned just in time to escape a sweeping sword stroke.
Next instant he was locked in a deadly struggle with the
captain of the Nevski, a brave man, who, it seems, had refused
to surrender, and had cut his way through all Sievers's men in
the desperate resolve to retrieve the consequences of his own
carelessness. Maclean, however, was a practised wrestler,
and although lean almost as a lath, the muscles he possessed
were as strong as steel bands. Even as they fell he writhed
uppermost, and baffling with an active elbow the captain's
last effort to transfix him, he dashed his adversary's head
upon the boards. A second later he arose, breathless, but
Sievers was calling to him: "Maclean! Maclean! I say!"
"Hallo, there!" he gasped back, hoarsely.
"Look out for the captain. He escaped us!"
"I've got him!" croaked Maclean, with a grim glance at
his unconscious foe. "How about the rest?"
"All sigarnio! What shall I do?"
"Drive them forward to the foc'sle."
Sievers obeyed, and very soon five splendidly upholstered,
but shamefaced-looking gentlemen, three stewards, and four
sailors were standing underneath the beacon light before the
forecastle companion. Maclean noted that already many of
the Saigon's men carried swords and carbines. He watched
the rest arm themselves with the Nevski sailors' discarded
weapons as they marched their prisoners along the deck.
His breast began to swell with pride.
"Any casualties?" he demanded.
"Two of ours have crossed over," replied Sievers, "and
some of us are hurt a bit. But we can't grumble. There are
four Russian corpses aft, and I see you've bagged seven."
"Damned pirates!" commented Maclean. "I've a mind
to shoot the rest of them out of hand."
"Just give the word, sir."
"No," said Maclean, "we'll maroon them instead. Lower
away all the boats but one, Sievers, and bring them under
the bows. I can look after these dogs!"
"Ay, ay, sir. But first three cheers for Captain Maclean,
The cheers were given with hearty good-will, and then the
men tramped off to carry out their new task.
Maclean, whose face was still flushed from the compliment
that had been paid him, leaned over the machine-gun and
surveyed the prisoners.
"Can any of you pirate scum speak English?" he demanded
"I have that privilege, sir," replied a swart-faced lieutenant.
"Then kindly inform your friends that at the first sign of
any monkey trick I'll send you all to kingdom come."
The officer complied presumably with this command,
and when he had finished, addressed Maclean:
"You cannot intend to maroon us, sir?" he cried. "The
island yonder is totally uninhabited."
"You're a liar!" retorted Maclean. "Fires don't light
themselves. Look yonder."
The officer choked back an oath. "Have a care what
you are doing, sir," he muttered in a strangled voice. "This
will lead to a war between your country and mine."
"I guess not—not even if I hanged the lot of you—you
dirty pirates. But if it did, what then?"
"You should see, sir."
"And so would you—see that Englishmen can fight a
durned sight better than the Japs. I guess you know how
they fight by this."
"I have always heard that the English are generous foes,
"None of your blarney," interrupted Maclean. "Short
shrift to pirates, is an English motto. You sank our ship:
we take yours. Fair exchange is no robbery. You should
be thankful to get off with your skins."
"At least permit us to take with us our personal belongings."
"Not a match."
"Not a biscuit."
"Some arms, then, to defend ourselves against the natives,
if we are attacked?"
"Not a penknife."
"Sir, you condemn us to death!"
"Sir, we have but forestalled your intention in regard
"As God hears me, sir——"
"Shut up!" cried Maclean, "your voice hurts my ears."
Nevertheless, when all was ready, Maclean commanded
Sievers to stock the boats with water and provisions, and
to throw some fifty swords and bayonets aboard. Then
began the debarkation. Using the officer who could speak
English as his mouthpiece, Maclean commanded the crew of
the Nevski to file out one by one from the forecastle, and slide
down a rope over the vessel's bows into the waiting boats.
They numbered one hundred and thirty-three all told, but not
a man offered to resist, and within an hour the last boat had
sheered off, carrying with its hale company the still unconscious
bodies of the Russian captain and the officer of the
watch. Maclean's next business was to bury the dead, which
done, he searched the ship. He made two discoveries: He
found in the captain's cabin a chest containing no less than
fifteen thousand golden rubles; and locked away in one
of the disused bathrooms astern, inhumanly disposed of in
a tub, the silent form of Captain Brandon. But the tough
little bulldog of an Englishman was by no means dead, and
when some three days later the ghost of what had been the
Nevski steamed out of the bay of Tramoieu, he was already
so far recovered from the terrible blow that had laid him low,
but which had, nevertheless, failed to shatter his hard skull,
as to be engaged in a confused but constant effort to remember.
On the following morning he insisted upon getting up, and
was helped afterward by a steward to the bridge.
Maclean greeted him with a genial smile.
"Well done, sir," he cried heartily. "Glad to see you up
again and looking so fit. The old Saigon has been as dull as
a coffin-ship without you."
Captain Brandon nodded, frowned, and glanced around
him. A carpenter close by was busily at work painting
S.S. Saigon upon a row of virgin-white life buoys. The
captain wondered and glanced up at the masts. They were
just ordinary masts in the sense that they had no fighting tops,
but they gleamed with wet paint. He frowned again, and,
wondering more and more, looked forward. There was not
the slightest trace of a cannon to be seen—but the deck
in one place had a canvas covering. He began to crack
his fingers, his old habit, but a moment later he abruptly
turned and faced the mate.
"Maclean," said he.
The eyes of the two men met.
"This is not the Saigon, Maclean," said Captain Brandon.
"You'll see it in iron letters on her bows, sir, if you look."
"Come into the chart-room."
Maclean obeyed, chuckling under his breath.
"Tell me how you did it," commanded the captain as he
took a chair.
"It was as easy as rolling off a log, sir," replied the first
mate. "The blighters clapped us into the small after-hold,
but totally forgot there was such a thing there as a propeller
tunnel. We got into the stoke-hole and collared the engine-room
while the Russians were at dinner. Then, while I
covered the sailors forward with the machine-gun on the
bridge, Sievers took the gold-laced crowd aft with a rush.
The rest is not worth telling, for you know it. All that is to
say, barring the fact that we're the richer by 15,000 rubles
and triple-expansion engines, and the poorer by two of our
crew the Russian captain killed."
Captain Brandon drew a deep breath.
"What course are we steering," he demanded.
"Straight for Kobe, sir, to carry out our charter. We've
every stick of the old cargo aboard—the pirates saw to that—also
our books and papers. The guns are all at the
bottom of the sea. We'll be a bit late, but we can easily
rig up a yarn to explain."
"But the Russians will talk."
"No fear, sir: they'd be too ashamed to own up the truth;
ay, and afraid as well, for what they did was piracy on the high
seas—nothing less. You take my tip for it, sir, one of these
days we'll hear that the Nevski struck a reef."
"We'll have to tell the owners, though—what will they
Maclean closed one eye. "The new Saigon has triple-expansion
engines, sir. If I know anything of Mr. Keppel,
he'll be better pleased with a ship in the hand than a cause
of action against the Russian Government."
"But our own men?"
"Why, sir, we have 7,000 rubles to share among them.
They'll be made for life."
"But I thought you said just now there were 15,000?"
"So I did, sir; but there's only you and Sievers and myself
know how much there is exactly: there was no call to shout
it all over the ship. And I've figured it out this way: You,
as captain, are entitled to the most, and you'll want all of
four thousand to heal up the memory of that crack you got
on your skull properly. That'll leave two for Sievers to do
with as he likes, and two for me to buy Nellie—that's
Mrs. Maclean that is to be—just the sort of house she's set
her heart on these ages back. What do you say, sir?"
"What do I say, Maclean?" cried Captain Brandon, his
eyes big with excitement and surprise, too, perhaps. "Why,
I say this: You are that rare thing, a sensible, honest man!
Tip us your flipper!"
ICE IN JUNE
A Playwright's Story
By FRED M. WHITE
"That," said Ethel Marsh judicially, "is the least stupid
remark you have made during our five weeks'
"Which means that I am improving," John Chesney
murmured. "There is hope even for me. You cannot
possibly understand how greatly I appreciate——"
The sentence trailed off incoherently as if the effort had
been all too much. It was hard to live up to the mental
brilliance of Ethel Marsh. She had had the advantage,
too, of a couple of seasons in town, whilst Chesney was of the
country palpably. She also had the advantage of being distractingly
Really, she had hoped to make something of Chesney. It
seemed to her that he was fitted for better things than tennis-playing
and riding and the like. It seemed strange that
he should prefer his little cottage to the broader delights of
surveying mankind from China to Peru.
The man had possibilities, too. For instance, he knew
how to dress. There was an air about his flannels, a suggestion
in his Norfolk suits. He had the knack of the tie
so that it sat just right, and his boots.... A clean-cut
face, very tanned; deep, clear gray eyes, very steady. He
was like a dog attached very much to a careless master. The
thing had been going on for five weeks.
Ethel was staying with the Frodshams. They were poor
for their position, albeit given to hospitality—at a price.
Most people call this kind of thing taking in paying guests.
It was a subject delicately veiled. Ethel had come down for
a fortnight, and she had stayed five weeks. Verily the education
of John Chesney was a slow process. Chesney was
a visitor in the neighborhood, too; he had a little furnished
cottage just by the Goldney Park lodge gates, where a house-keeper
did for him. As for the rest he was silent. He was
a very silent man.
It was too hot for tennis, so the two had wandered into
the woods. A tiny trout stream bubbled by, the oak and
beech ferns were wet with the spray of it. Between the trees
lances of light fell, shafts of sunshine on Ethel's hair and
face. It was at this point that Chesney made the original
remark. It slipped from him as naturally as if he had been
accustomed to that kind of thing.
"I am afraid you got that from Mr. John Kennedy," Ethel
said. "I am sure that you have seen Mr. Kennedy's comedy
'Flies in Ointment.' Confess now!"
"Well, I have," Chesney confessed accordingly. "I—I
saw it the night it was produced. On the whole it struck me
as rather a feeble thing."
"Oh, really? We are getting on, Mr. Chesney. Let me
tell you that I think it is the cleverest modern comedy I have
"Yes! In that case you like the part of 'Dorothy Kent?'"
Ethel's dainty color deepened slightly. She glanced suspiciously
at the speaker. But he was gazing solidly, stolidly,
into space—like a man who had just dined on beef. The
idea was too preposterous. The idea of John Chesney chaffing
her, chaffing anybody.
"I thought perhaps you did," Chesney went on. "Mr.
Kent is a bit of a butterfly, a good sort at the bottom, but
decidedly of the species lepidopteræ——"
"Stop!" Ethel cried. "Where did you get that word
from? Whence comes it in the vocabulary of a youth—a
youth? Oh, you know what I mean."
"I believe it is a general name for insects," Chesney said
humbly. "Mrs. Kent is a good sort, but a little conceited.
Apt to fancy herself, you know. Young widows of her type
often do. She is tired of the artificial existence of town, and
goes off into the country, where she leads the simple life. She
meets a young man there, who, well, 'pon my word, is rather
like me. He was a bit of an ass——"
"He was nothing of the kind," Ethel cried indignantly.
"He was splendid. And he made that woman love him, he
made her acknowledge that she had met her match at last.
And he turned out to be one of the most brilliant——"
"My dear Miss Ethel, after all it was only a play. You
remind me of 'Mrs. Kent,' and you say that I remind you of
the hero of the play who——"
"I didn't, Mr. Chesney. I said nothing of the kind. It
is unfair of you——"
"When the likeness is plain enough," Chesney said stubbornly.
"You are 'Mrs. Kent,' and I am the hero of the
comedy. Do you think that there is any possibility that
some day you and—of course not yet, but——"
Miss Marsh sat there questioning the evidence of her coral-pink
ears. She knew that she was furiously angry because
she felt so cool about it. She knew that the more furious one
was, the more calm and self-contained the senses become.
The man meant nothing, either—one could see that by the
respectful expression of his eye. Still——
"You are quite wrong," Ethel said. "You have altogether
misunderstood the motif of the play. I presume you
know what a motif is?"
"I think so," Chesney said humbly. "It is a word they
apply in music when you don't happen to understand what the
composer—especially the modern composer—is driving at."
"Oh, let it pass," Ethel said hopelessly. "You have
misunderstood the gist of the play, then! 'Walter Severn' in
the comedy is a man of singular points. He is a great author.
Instead of being that woman's plaything, he is her merciless
analyst. The great scene in the play comes when she finds
this out. Now, you do not for a moment presume to put
yourself on a level with 'Walter Severn,' do you?"
Chesney was bound to admit the height of his audacity.
His eyes were fixed humbly on his Minerva; he was Telemachus
seated at the feet of the goddess. And even yet he did not
seem really cognizant of the enormity of his offence. He saw
the sunlight on that sweetly serious face, he saw the beams
playing with the golden meshes of her hair. No doubt he
was fully conscious of his own inferiority, for he did not speak
again. It was for him to wait. The silence deepened; in
the heart of the wood a blackbird was piping madly on a
"Before you go away," Chesney hazarded, "I should very
"But I am not going away, at least not yet. Besides, I
have a purpose to serve. I am waiting until those impossible
people leave Goldney Park. I understand that they have
already gone, but on that head I am not sure. I want to go
over the house. The late owner, Mr. Mainbrace, was a great
friend of my family. Before he died he was so good as to
express a wish that the heir to the property should come and
see us and—but that part is altogether too ridiculous. And
as an only daughter——"
"I see," Chesney said reflectively. "The heir and yourself.
It sounds ridiculous. Now, if you had been in the least like
the romantic type of young woman, perhaps——"
"How do you know that I am not? Am I like Byron's
woman: 'Seek roses in December, ice in June'? Well, perhaps
you are right. After all, one doesn't find ice in June. However,
the heir to the Goldney Park estate and myself never
met. He let the place to those awful Gosway people for three
years and went abroad. There was not even the suspicion
of a romance. But I am curious to see the house, all the same."
"Nothing easier, Miss Marsh. Let us go and see it after
luncheon. The Gosways have gone, you may take my word
for that, and only a caretaker is in possession. Will you
come with me this afternoon?"
The prospect was not displeasing. Miss Marsh poised
it in her mind for a few moments. There was Chesney's
education to be thought of as well. On the whole, she decided
that there might be less pleasant ways of spending a hot
"I think I'll come," she said. "I want to see the old
furniture and the pictures. I love old furniture. Perhaps
if the heir to the property had gone on his knees whilst I was
seated on a priceless Chippendale settee, I might——"
"You might, but I don't think you would," Chesney
interrupted. "Whatever your faults may be I am sure you
are not mercenary."
"Really! How good of you! The thing that we are apt to
"Is often another name for the promptings of poor human
Miss Marsh turned and stared at the speaker. Really,
his education was progressing at a most amazing rate. Without
the least sign of mental distress he had delivered himself
of an epigram. There was quite a flavor of Piccadilly about
it. And Chesney did not appear in the least conscious of his
achievement. Ethel rose and shook out the folds of her
dainty muslin dress.
"Isn't it getting late?" she asked. "I'm sure it is lunch
time. You can walk as far as the gate with me, and I will
meet you here at three o'clock."
She passed thoughtfully across the lawn to the house, her
pretty brows knitted in a thoughtful frown. Was she giving
her pupil too much latitude? Certainly he had begun to
show symptoms of an audacious presumption, which in the
earlier days had been conspicuous by its absence. Whereupon
Miss Marsh sighed three times without being in the least
aware of the painful fact.
"This," said Chesney, "is the Norman Tower, built by
John Mainbrace, who was the original founder of the family.
The first two trees in the avenue of oaks that leads up to the
house were planted by Queen Elizabeth. She also slept on
several occasions in the house; indeed, the bedroom she occupied
is intact to this day. The Virgin Queen seemed to pass most
of her time, apart from affairs of state, in occupying bedrooms,
so that the descendants of her courtiers might be able to boast
about it afterward. Those who could not give the royal
lady a shakedown had special bedrooms fitted up and lied
about them. It was an innocent deception."
Miss Marsh eyed her pupil distrustfully. The educational
progress was flattering, and at the same time a little disturbing.
She had never seen Chesney in this gay and frivolous, not to
say excited, mood before. The man was positively glib.
There were distinct flashes of wit in his discourse, too. And
where did he get so close and intimate a knowledge of the
old house from?
He knew every nook and corner. He took her through
the grand old park where the herd of fallow deer were grazing;
he showed her the Dutch and Italian gardens; he knew even
the history of the sundial on the terrace. And yet they had
not been within the house, though the great hall door stood
hospitably open. They moved at length out of the glare of
the sunshine into the grateful shadows. Glint of armor
and gleam of canvas were all there. Ethel walked along in
an ecstasy of quiet enjoyment. Rumor had not lied as to
the artistic beauties of Goldney Park. The Mainbraces must
have been a tasteful family. They had it all here, from the
oaken carvings of the wandering monks down through Grinling
Gibbons and Pugin, and away to Chippendale and Adam,
and other masters of the Georgian era. They came at length
to the chamber sacred to the Virgin Queen; they contemplated
the glorious view from the window in silent appreciation
tinged with rapture.
"It's exquisite," Ethel said in a low voice. "If this were
my house I should be very much tempted to commit an act
of sacrilege. I should want this for my own room. I'm
afraid I could not resist such an opportunity."
"Easily done," said Chesney. "No trouble to discover
from the family archives that a mistake had been made, and
that Elizabeth of blessed memory had not slept in this room.
Being strong-minded she preferred a north aspect, and this
is due south. You would get a reputation for sound historical
knowledge as well."
Certainly the education was progressing. But Ethel let
it pass. She was leaning out of the latticed windows with
the creamy roses about her hair; she was falling unconsciously
under the glamour of the place.
"It is exquisite," she sighed. "If this were only mine!"
"Well, it is not too late. The heir will be here before long,
probably. You have only to introduce the name of Mr.
Mainbrace and say who you are, and then——"
"Oh, no. If I happened to be in love with a man—what
am I saying? Of course, no girl who respects herself could
possibly marry a man for the sake of his position. Even
'Mrs. Dorothy Kent,' to whom you compared me this morning,
was above that kind of thing. She married the man she
loved after all, you know. But I forget—you did not think
much of the comedy."
"I didn't. I thought it was vague and incomplete.
I am certain of it now. This is the real thing; the
other was merely artificial. And when the hero brought
'Dorothy Kent' to the home of his ancestors he already
knew that she loved him. And I am glad to know that
you would never marry a man like that because it gives
"Gives you courage! Whatever for?"
"Why, to make a confession. You laughed at me just now
when I presumed to criticize your favorite modern comedy.
As a matter of fact, I have every right to criticize it. You see,
I happen to be the author. I am 'John Kennedy'! I have
been writing for the stage, or trying to write for the stage, for
years. I got my new idea from that old wish of my uncle's
that you and I should come together. It struck me as a pretty
suggestion for a comedy."
"Stop, stop," Ethel cried. "One thing at a time, if you
please. Positively you overwhelm me with surprise. In one
breath you tell me you are 'John Kennedy,' and then, without
giving a poor girl a chance, you say you are the owner of Goldney
"But I didn't," Chesney protested. "I never said anything
of the kind."
"No, but you inferred it. You say you got the idea from
your uncle—I mean the suggestion that you and I—oh, I
really cannot say it."
"I'm afraid I'm but a poor dramatist after all," Chesney
said lamely. "I intended to keep that confession till after
I had—but no matter. At any rate, there is no getting away
from the fact that my pen name is 'John Kennedy.'"
"And you wrote 'Flies in Ointment'? And you have been
laughing at me all this time? You were amused because I
took you for a simple countryman, you whom men call the
Sheridan of to-day! After all the pains I took with your
Ethel's voice rose hysterically. Points of flame stood out
from the level of her memory of the past five weeks and
scorched her. How this man must have been amused, how
consumedly he must have laughed at her! And she had never
guessed it, never once had she had an inkling of the truth.
"You have behaved disgracefully, cruelly," she said
"I don't think so," Chesney said coolly. "After all is
said and done, we were both posing, you know. You were
playing 'Mrs. Kent' to my hero. It seemed a pity to disturb
so pleasant a pastoral. And no harm has been done."
Ethel was not quite so sure of that. But then for the nonce
she was regarding the matter from a strictly personal point of
"I hardly think you were playing the game," she said.
"Why not? I come down here where nobody knows me.
It is my whim to keep quiet the fact that Goldney Park belongs
to me. As to my dramatic tastes, they don't concern anybody
but myself. I take a cottage down here until those tenants
of mine are ready to go. They are such utter bounders that
I have no desire to disclose my identity to them. And so it
falls about that I meet you. Then I recollect all that my
uncle has said about you. I cultivate your acquaintance. It
wasn't my fault that you took me for a countryman with
no idea beyond riding a horse and shooting a pheasant. Your
patronage was very pretty and pleasing, and I am one of
those men who always laugh or cry inside. It is perhaps
a misfortune that I can always joke with a grave face. But
don't forget that the man who laughs inside is also the man
who bleeds inside, and these feel the worst. Come, Ethel,
you are not going to be angry because you have lost the game
playing with your own weapons."
The education was finished, the schoolmaster was abroad—very
much abroad. In his cool, masterful way Chesney
had taken matters into his own hands. He was none
the less handsome because he looked so stern, so sure
of his ground.
"You are a man and I am a woman," she faltered.
"Of course. How could the comedy proceed otherwise?
Now where shall we move these Elizabethan relics? After
what you said just now they could not possibly remain here.
Among the family archives I dare say——"
Chesney paused; he was conscious of the fact that two large
diamond drops were stealing down Ethel's cheeks. It seemed
the most natural thing in the world for him to cross over and
take her hands in his.
"My dear child, what have I said to pain you," he said.
"I am truly sorry."
"You—you take too much for granted," Ethel sobbed.
"You make me feel so small and silly. And you have no
right to assume that I—I could care for anybody simply
because he happens to possess a p—p—place like Goldney
"But, my darling, I didn't. I was delighted when you said
just now that you would never marry a man you did not care
for, even if he could give you Chippendale for breakfast, so
to speak. I watched your face then. I am sure that you
were speaking from the bottom of your heart. I have been
watching you for the last five weeks, my sweetheart. And
they have been the happiest weeks in my life.
"Laughing at me, I suppose! It's all the same if you do
"No, I don't think I laughed," Chesney said thoughtfully.
"I only know that I have been very much charmed. And
besides, see how useful it has been to me to be in a position
to hear all the weak points in my literary armor. When I
come to write my next comedy, it will be far in advance of
'Flies in Ointment.' I have learned so much of human
nature, you see."
Ethel winked the tears from her lids; her eyes were all the
brighter for the passing shower, like a sky in April, Chesney
thought. A smile was on her face, her lips were parted. As
a lover Chesney was charming. She wondered how she was
playing her part. But she need not have had any anxiety.
There was nothing wanting in the eyes of the man opposite,
and his face said so.
"You are going to put me into it?" she asked.
"Why, of course. There is no other woman so far as I can
see. Why are you pulling my roses to pieces like that? Do
you know that that rose tree was planted a hundred years
ago by Thomas à Becket after the battle of Agincourt? My
dear, I am so happy that I could talk nonsense all day. And
I say, Ethel——"
The girl broke off one of the creamy roses and handed
it shyly to Chesney.
"Væ victis," she said with a flushing smile. "It is yours.
You have conquered."
"Yes, but I want all the fruits of victory. I ask for a hand
and you give me—a rose. Am I not going to have the hand
as well as the rose, dear?"
He had the hand and the rose and the slender waist; he drew
her toward him in his strong, masterful way, and his lips lay
on hers in a lingering pressure. It was a long time before the
girl looked up; then her eyes were full of shy happiness.
A Pawnbroker's Story
By OWEN OLIVER
In the course of our dealings over the curiosities that
my brother sent home from Burma, Mr. Levy and I
became very good friends. When we had finished one of
our deals we generally had a chat in the quaint little room
behind his queer little shop in the old-world alley frequented
by sailormen. On one of these occasions he mentioned that
the cigar which he had given me was the brand which he
always smoked; and the quality of the cigar suggested
"If you can afford cigars like this," I remarked, "you
must make some pretty good bargains with your curiosities!"
"Good and bad," he said. "That's the way in business—in
life, if you come to that!" He was a bit of a philosopher.
"You make more good bargains than bad ones, I'll be
bound," I asserted.
"Yes," he agreed; "but it isn't so much that. The bad
aren't very bad, as a rule; and some of the good are very
good. That's where I get my profit."
"What was the best bargain you ever made?" I asked.
He filled his glass and pushed the decanter toward me.
"The best bargain I ever made," he said, "was over a
I helped myself to a little whiskey.
"A ditty-box? I thought they were ordinary sailors' chests
that they keep their clothes in?"
"Not exactly chests," he corrected. "They're smallish
boxes that they keep their needles and thread in, and their
money, and anything else that they set store by—their letters
or their sweethearts' photos, or their wives'—or other
people's! There's no profit in them, and I don't deal in them
in a general way. I got my gain out of this one in a roundabout
fashion; but it was handsome. If you've got half an
hour to spare I'll tell you about it."
This was his story:
It was eight years ago, and I'd had Isaac for seven years,
and concluded that he was to be trusted. So I took it into
my head to have a fortnight's holiday and leave him in
charge of the shop. Everything was in order when I came
back, and the books balanced to a penny. Business had
been pretty good, he told me, but nothing out of the ordinary.
"Unless," he said, "I've stumbled on a good thing by
accident. It's a ditty-box; rather a superior one, and a good
bit bigger than usual; almost a chest; brass bound and a
nice bit of poker-work on it; a girl's head. I've put it in
"Ah!" I said. "Ah-h!" He wouldn't make this fuss
over a bit of poker-work, I knew.
"The mate of the Saucy Jane brought it here," he went on.
"It belonged to the captain. George Markby, the name was;
and that's poker-work on it, too. He sickened of a fever
over at Rotterdam and died at sea; and they sold off his things
to send the money to his widow. I gave a sovereign for it.
There's a tray inside with a lock-up till. Keys all complete.
Ought to fetch thirty-five shillings."
"As much as that?" I said. I knew there must be a good
deal more in it than appeared, but it's no use hurrying Isaac.
He likes to tell things his own way.
"I thought it might suit you to lock up your books and
papers. That was all—till the day before yesterday. Then
a ginger-haired sailor came in. North countryman. Wanted
a ditty-box, he said. I told him we weren't marine outfitters,
and he'd better try Barnard's, round the corner. He
said he didn't want the ordinary sort, but something out of
the common; extra large size; brass-bound; tray with a lock-up
till. 'Mind if it was a trifle old?' I asked. 'Carved or cut
about a bit? You know how some chaps use their knives on
them, just to pass the time.' He said he didn't care for
things that were hacked about, but he wouldn't object to a
bit of poker-work on it. I told him I'd look through the
warehouse and let him know in the morning, and he went.
Byles, the dock policeman, was standing outside. I went
and asked him who the chap was. He said he was cook on
the Anne Traylor, just come in, and he believed he'd done
time. If he hadn't I'll swear he ought to have, from the
look of him.
"About half an hour afterward in walks an oldish chap with
a stoop and a gray goat's beard. He wanted a ditty-box, too;
something extra large and old, and strong, and a tray with
a lock-up till in it. He was a fireman on the Anne Traylor,
I found; a shifty sort of chap that couldn't look you in the
face. He offered to go to a couple of pounds for the right
thing. I told him I'd look through our stuff and let him
know if we had one of the sort.
"Just as I was closing, a smart young fellow swaggered in.
He was second mate of the Anne Traylor, and he'd heard
of the death of her old captain on the Saucy Jane, and that
we'd bought some of his effects, and he'd like to have a
memento; just a matter of sentiment, he explained. I asked
him what form the sentiment took, and he said a ditty-box;
and if we had the one that belonged to the old man he'd
give two pounds five for it. I put him off like the others.
"Two Swedish sailors came in after the shutters were up,
while the door was still open. They wanted a ditty-box of
the identical description. I told them I'd look for it, same
as I told the rest. You always brought me up not to close too
soon with a customer who was keen on a thing."
"Very good, Isaac," I said. "Very good! Go on!"
"In the evening I made inquiries at the 'Duke of Wellington,'
where the dock policemen go, and the two-penny-halfpenny
money lenders and such; and old Mrs. Higgins, the
landlady, knows more about the crews that come here than
anyone. Lots of them knew old Markby, it seemed; a very
respectable old chap and a favorite with his men, but a bit
of a miser, and a trifle queer in his ways. He boasted that
he didn't believe in banks and such things, and he'd got his
money hidden where even his wife didn't know. And the
conclusion I've come to is that those chaps believe it's in the
ditty-box, and they mean to have it."
"Ah!" I said. "We'll have something to say to that,
Isaac! You told them we hadn't got it, of course."
"Of course," he said; "and of course they didn't believe
me! I had a rare bother with the ginger-haired man yesterday
morning, and had to send the boy for a policeman before he'd
go. And in the afternoon the Swedes tried to sneak through
the shop into the warehouse, but I jumped out of the shop
parlor and hustled them off. I've put longer screws in the
bars to the windows; but I'd be easier if you'd let me sleep
Isaac always thought that he could look after me better
than I could look after myself!
"I'm all right, Isaac," I said; "but we'll have a look at the
box before you go. It might be worth a bit more if it had a
secret drawer, eh?"
When the shop was closed we went upstairs and laid the
box on my bed, and turned it over and tapped it, and put a
lamp inside, and examined every inch. We couldn't find a
trace of a secret drawer, or anything scratched on it to say
where the old captain had hidden his long stocking. So I
concluded that the talk was the usual nonsense, and I daresay
I'd have sold it and thought no more about it, if the goat's-beard
man hadn't come in the first thing the next morning.
He didn't beat about the bush, but said he wanted Captain
Markby's ditty-box that we'd bought, and he'd give two
pounds ten for it. I told him I wished I'd got it to sell, since
he was so generous, but ditty-boxes weren't in my line.
The others that Isaac had spoken of came in too. I was
tempted to sell it to the mate for three pounds, but I couldn't
quite make up my mind, and told him to come again the next
morning. That very night the two Swedes broke into the
shop. The police caught them. They're always on the
look-out round my place, knowing that it's a fiver to them on
the quiet if they catch anyone breaking in. The Swedes got
three months apiece.
That made up my mind. I showed the mate an ordinary
box when he called, and he went off grumbling that it was
nothing like the one he'd asked about, and I'd played the
fool with him. I never saw him again, or the Swedes either;
but the old man and the ginger-headed chap were always
looking in the window. They seemed to have chummed up.
I had an anonymous letter that I put down to them—written
in red ink that I suppose they meant me to take for blood.
It warned me against keeping "a ditty-box that others have
a better claim to, and is like to cost you dear." D-e-r-e they
spelt it, and one t in ditty.
Two days later they called to ask if the box had come my
way yet. "Yes," I said, "and I'm going to keep it. It's
got two blackguards three months, and it will get two others
a good hiding if they don't mind. Clear out, and don't come
here again." They didn't, but we often saw them hanging
round, and when I went out one of them generally followed
me. I didn't worry about that, for I could have settled the
two of them easily if I wasn't taken unaware. I was always
a bit obstinate, and I'd sooner have chopped the chest up
for firewood than have been bullied into letting them have
it; but I was sorry that I hadn't taken the mate's offer, for
Isaac and I had measured it all over inside and out, and
calculated that there wasn't space anywhere for a secret
I'd had it about three months; and then a young girl,
about twenty, came into the shop one afternoon, when Isaac
was at tea. She was a pale slip of a young thing, and her
clothes looked as if they'd been worn all through the summer,
and it was autumn then; and she hesitated as if she was half
afraid of me.
"Well, little missie," I said. "What is it?" I spoke to
her with the smooth side of my tongue uppermost, as a big,
rough chap generally does to a girl of that sort, if there's
anything decent about him.
"My father was Captain Markby," she said, and I liked
the way she spoke. "He died at sea, and they sold his things
here. I want to find something of his, and I thought that perhaps
you might have bought it?"
I knew directly what she meant, but I looked very innocent.
"If it was anything in the curiosity line, I might have," I
answered. "You see the sort of things I deal in." I waved
my hand round the place.
"No," she said. "It wasn't a curiosity. It was an oak
chest with brass corners. I think they call it a ditty-box."
"A ditty-box," I said. "They're too common to be
curious. Was there anything special about it?"
"It had a tray in it, and he'd drawn a head on it with a
red-hot iron; a girl's head. He meant it for me; but I don't
expect you'd recognize me by it. I hope not!" She smiled
"I hope not," I agreed, "judging from what I've seen of
such figures." I laughed, and she laughed a little, too. "And
you want to buy it, if you can find it?"
"Ye-es," she said. "At least—I haven't very much
money; but I would pay you as soon as I could, if—I suppose
you wouldn't be so kind—so very kind—as to agree
"Umph!" I said. "I don't generally give credit; but as
it was your father's, I might stretch a point for once if I should
find that I have it."
"Oh, thank you!" she said with a flush. "It is a kindness
that I have no right to expect. Thank you!"
"I'll have a look round among my things," I promised.
"I haven't bought such a box myself; but my assistant
might have; or I might be able to find it for you in
some of the shops round here. I'll see what I can do."
I meant to let her have it, but I wanted to find out more
about it first.
"How kind you are!" she cried. "I—you see I want it
very particularly, Mr. Levy."
"Being associated with your father," I said, "naturally you
would. Perhaps if I don't come across the ditty-box, I might
find something else of his that would do, eh?"
"No-o," she said. "It wouldn't. You see we—my
mother and I—aren't well off. We knew that father had
some money, but we couldn't find it, or learn anything
about it; and we think it must be in the box, or a paper
telling us about it."
I shook my head.
"There's no paper in any box that I have," I assured her.
"We always go through the things that we buy very carefully."
"You wouldn't find it," she explained eagerly. "There
was a secret place. He showed it to me when I was a little
girl. I don't expect he thought I would remember, but I
did. You take off the brass corners on top, and then the
lower part of the lid drops out. The lid's in two pieces and
you could put papers—or bank notes—in between."
I couldn't help smiling.
"Aren't you rather foolish to tell me?" I suggested.
She looked at me appealingly.
"Am I?" she asked.
"No," I said. "As it happens, you aren't; but I wouldn't
tell anyone else, if I were you. They might think they'd
like those bank notes for themselves. I might if—well, if
you weren't a good deal younger and more in need of them
than I am."
"I think you are a very good and kind man, Mr. Levy,"
she said solemnly.
"I'm afraid not, little missie," I told her; "but there are
some a good deal worse; and some of them have an inkling of
what may be in that box, if I'm not mistaken. They've
been inquiring after it."
"Oh!" She started. "There were two horrid men who
seemed to be watching me when I came in here. I half
thought I remembered one of them: an old man with a stoop.
I believe I must have seen him aboard my father's ship. I
felt rather nervous—because it's such a dark alley." She
looked anxiously at the door.
"It is a bit dark," I agreed. "Would you feel safer if I
saw you to a main thoroughfare?"
"I should feel quite safe then," she declared, and she smiled
like a child does. "I really don't know how to thank you
enough for your goodness to me."
I called Isaac to look after the shop, and put on my hat and
walked off with her. She was a bright little creature to talk
to, and when she was excited she looked very pretty. I found
that she was going to walk all the way, so I said that I would
see her right to her road. She seemed pleased to have my
company, and jabbered nineteen to the dozen. It was such
a change to have someone to talk to, she said, because they
had moved and knew nobody here. She told me that she
tried to earn money by teaching music and by painting.
I said that I was badly in want of a few little sketches, and
she promised to bring some for me to look at.
"I would ask you to accept them," she said, with a flush,
"if we weren't so poor."
"If it weren't for that," I said, "I should ask you to have
some tea before I leave you, without fear that you would be
too proud to accept. It would be a pleasure to me. Will
you?" We were just outside a good place, and I stopped.
"It is very kind of you," she said, "but I don't think—I
suppose I am foolishly proud." She laughed an uneasy
"You mustn't let your pride spoil my pleasure," I told her,
and grinned at myself for talking like a book. "You can
repay me when you find your fortune, if you insist; but I hope
She looked up at me quickly.
"No," she said. "I couldn't treat your kindness like
that. Thank you, Mr. Levy."
So we went in, and I ordered tea and chicken and cakes.
The poor little thing was positively hungry, I could see; and
when she mentioned her mother the tears came into her eyes.
I understood what she was thinking, and I had some meat
patties put up in a package. When I left her at the corner
of her road I put the package into her hands, and boarded
a 'bus with a run before she had time to object. She shook
her head at me when I was on top of the 'bus; but when I
took off my hat she waved her hand, and laughed as if she was
a great mind to cry. It's hard for an old woman and a
young girl when they're left like that.
I had the corners of that ditty-box off as soon as Isaac had
gone for the night. The lid was double, as she had said.
Between the two boards I found a portrait of an elderly
woman—her mother, no doubt—and three photos of herself;
two in short frocks and one with her hair in a plait when
she was about seventeen. She looked stouter and jollier
then, poor girl. There was one other thing: a half sheet of
note-paper. "Memo in case of accident. Money up chimney
in best bedroom. Geo. Markby, sixth of April, 1897."
I started to change my clothes to go there and tell them;
but just as I had taken off my waistcoat I altered my mind.
The money wouldn't be in the rooms where they lived then,
but in their old house; and that was probably occupied by
someone else now, and even if the money was still there she
would not be able to get it. It was no use raising her hopes,
just to disappoint her. I would try to get the money before
I spoke, I decided.
She came at eleven the next morning, and timidly produced
a few little sketches, mostly copies of things. I'd like to say
that they were good, but I can't. It was just schoolgirl
painting, nothing else. She wanted to give me some, but
I wouldn't hear of that. She had sold a few for eighteenpence
apiece, she said. I said that I wanted four to frame for ships'
cabins, and I'd give twelve-and-six for them, and that would
leave me a fair margin. I was afraid to offer more, for fear
she would suspect me; and as it was she was dubious.
"You're sure you will get a profit?" she asked.
"You ask anyone round here about me," I said. "They'll
soon tell you that I look out sharp for that. They'll look
very nice when they're framed; and I make a good bit out
of the frames, you see. Now about this ditty-box. I've
got on the track of one that might turn out right; but there's
a difficulty that I'd like to put to you. Suppose that there's
no money in it, only a clue to where your father hid it.
Wouldn't that be likely to be somewhere where you can't
get at it? On board his ship, for example? Or in your old
"If it's in the house," she said, "I could get in. At least
it was empty a week ago. Mother heard from an old neighbor.
But perhaps it would be better to get someone else to
go, and say that they wanted to look at the house?" She
glanced at me doubtfully.
"You mean me?" She nodded slowly. "You are afraid
that I might keep some of it?"
She stared at me in sheer amazement.
"Why, of course not!" she cried. "I was only thinking
that it was a long way to ask you to go; and that I must not
impose on your kindness."
"Give me the address," I said, "in case I should want it
She gave me an address in Andeville. Then I changed
the subject. I walked part of the way home with her. Then
I had my dinner and went off to Andeville.
It was about an hour by train. By the time that I had
found the agent and got the key it was growing dusk. I was
some time arguing with him, because he wanted to send a
man with me to lock up afterward. "We've had tramps get
in several times," he explained, "and they've done a lot of
damage; torn up the flooring and such senseless mischief."
It occurred to me directly that the tramps were some of the
men who had come after the ditty-box.
I persuaded him at last that I'd lock up all right and he
let me go alone. I soon spotted what would be the best
bedroom. I fumbled up the chimney and lit a match or two,
and found a heavy canvas bag and a smaller one that rustled
like notes. I was just looking for the last time when I heard
soft steps behind me. I glanced round and saw two men
before the match flickered out. The light caught the face of
the foremost. It was the old man with the goat's beard.
Then I was struck on the head and knocked senseless.
It was about six when I came to and lit another match
and looked at my watch. The bags were gone, of course.
I never saw them again or the two men. It was as well for
them I didn't!
It was no use telling the agent or anybody. I never thought
about that, only what I was to do about the girl and her
mother. I didn't think very much about the mother, if you
come to that. It seemed to me that I'd made a mess of it
and lost their money, and I couldn't bear to think of the
girl's disappointment. What upset me most was that I
knew she'd believe every word of my story, and never dream
that I'd taken the money myself, as some people would.
She was such a trusting little thing, and—well, I may as well
own up that I liked her. If I hadn't been fifteen years older
than she was, and felt sure that she'd never look at a Jew—and
a much rougher chap then than I am now—I should
have had serious thoughts of courting her. And so—well,
I knew that a hundred pounds was what they hoped for;
and it didn't make very much odds to me. I took out the
paper that night and put in twenty five-pound notes, and did
it up again. A bit of folly that you wouldn't have suspected
me of, eh? Then you think me a bigger fool than most
people do! At the same time, it was only fair and honest.
I'd had her money and lost it, you see.
I was going to take the chest to their lodgings in a cab the
next morning, but she called in early to ask if I had found it.
I had an unhappy sort of feeling when I saw her come smiling
into the shop, thinking that she wouldn't need to come any
more. It's queer how a man feels over a little slip of a girl
when he's knocked about all over the world and known
hundreds of women and thought nothing of them!
I'd carried it down into this room, and I took her in and
showed it. Her delight was pretty to see. She fidgeted
about at my elbow like a child while I was taking the corners
off; and when she saw the notes she danced and clapped her
hands; and when I gave them to her she sat down and hugged
them and laughed and cried.
"If you knew how poor we've been!" she said, wiping
her eyes. "How lonely and worried and miserable! Your
kindness has been the only nice thing ever since father died.
Twenty times five! That's a hundred. They're real notes
aren't they? I haven't seen one for ages."
"They're real enough," I told her. "I'll give you gold
for them, if you like."
"I'd rather have their very selves," she said with a laugh.
She studied one carefully; and suddenly she dropped them
with a cry and sprang to her feet. Her face had gone white.
"Mr. Levy!" she cried. "Oh, Mr. Levy! You put them
I told her a lie right out; and I'm not ashamed of it. I was
a hard man of business, I said; and a Jew; and she was a
silly sentimental child, or she'd never take such an idea into
her head; and she needn't suppose I kept my shop for charity,
and she'd know better when she was older. She heard me
out. Then she put her hand on my shoulder.
"Dear kind friend," she said, "father died in May this
year. The note that I looked at was dated in June!" And
I stood and stared at her like a fool. I suppose I looked a bit
cut up, for she stroked my arm gently.
"You dear, good fellow!" she said. She seemed to have
grown from a child into a woman in a few minutes. "I can't
take them, but it will help me to be a better girl, to have
known someone like you!"
"Like me!" I said, and laughed. "I'm just—just a
rough, money-grubbing Jew. That's all I am."
She shook her head like mad.
"You may say what you like," she told me; "but you can't
alter what I think. You're good—good—good!"
Then I told her just what had happened.
"So, you see, you owe me nothing," I wound up.
She wiped her eyes and took hold of me by the sleeve.
"I will tell you what I owe you," she said. "Food when I
was hungry; kindness when I was wretched; your time, your
care—yes, and the risk of your life. If you had had your
way you would have given me all that money. You—Mr.
Levy, you say that it is just a matter of business. What
profit did you expect to make?"
"I expected—to make you happy," I said; and she looked
up at me suddenly; and I saw what I saw. "Little girl!"
I cried. "May I try? In another way."
I held out my arms, and she dropped into them.
"My profits!" I said.
"Oh!" she cried. "I hope so. I will try—try—try!"
Mr. Levy offered me a fresh cigar and took another himself.
"It's a class of profit that's difficult to estimate," he
remarked. "I had a difficulty with Isaac over the matter.
You see he has 5 per cent. over the business that he introduces,
but that was only meant for small transactions, I argued.
He argued that there were no profits at all; not meaning any
disrespect to her, but holding that there was no money in it;
or, if there was, it was a loss because I'd have to keep her,
and nobody knew how a wife would turn out. She held much
the same, except that she was sure she was going to turn out
good; but she thought I ought to find some plan of doing
something for Isaac. We settled it that way. He wanted
to get married, so I gave him a rise and let them have the rooms
over the shop to live in; and there they are now."
"And how do you reckon the profits yourself?" I asked.
"Well," he said "in these last eight years I've cleared
forty thousand pounds, though you wouldn't think it in this
little shop. I reckon that I cleared a good bit more over
that ditty-box. Come round to my house one evening, and
I'll introduce you to her."
THE YELLOW CAT
An Idyll of the Summer
By ANNIE E.P. SEARING
The minister of Blue Mountain Church, and the minister's
wife, were enjoying their first autumn fire, and the
presence of the cat on the hearth between them.
"He came home this afternoon," the minister's wife was
saying, "while I was picking those last peppers in the garden,
and he jumped on my shoulder and purred against my ear as
unconcernedly as if he'd only been for a stroll in the lower
pasture, instead of gone for three months—the little wretch!"
"It does seem extraordinary"—the minister unbent his
long legs and recrossed them carefully, in order to remove
his foot from the way of the tawny back where it stretched
out in blissful elongation—"very extraordinary, that an
animal could lead that sort of double life, disappearing completely
when summer comes and returning promptly with
the fall. I daresay it's a reversion to the old hunting instinct.
No doubt we could find him if we knew how to trail him on
"The strangest thing about it is that this year and last he
came back fat and sleek—always before, you know, he has
been so gaunt and starved looking in the fall." She leaned
over and stroked the cat under his chin; he purred deeply
in response, and looked up into her eyes, his own like wells
of unfathomed speech. "I have an eerie feeling," she said,
"that if he could talk he'd have great things to tell."
The minister laughed, and puffed away at his corncob
pipe. "Tales of the chase, my dear, of hecatombs of field-mice
But she shook her head. "Not this summer—that cat has
spent these last two summers with human beings who have
treated him as a kind of fetich—just as we do!" As she
rubbed his ear she murmured regretfully: "To think of all
you've heard and seen and done, and you can't tell us one
The Yellow Cat's eyes narrowed to mere slits of black
across two amber agates; then he shook his ears free, yawned,
and gave himself up to closed lids and dreams. If he could
have told it all, just as it happened, not one word of it could
those good souls have comprehended—and this was the
way of it.
It was near the close of a June day when the cat made his
entrance into that hidden life of the summers from which his
exits had been as sudden, though less dramatic. In the
heart of the hills, where a mountain torrent has fretted its way
for miles through a rocky gorge, there is a place where the
cleft widens into a miniature valley, and the stream slips
along quietly between banks of moss before it plunges again
on its riotous path down the mountain. Here the charcoal-burners,
half a century ago, had made a clearing, and left
their dome-shaped stone kiln to cover itself with the green
velvet and lace of lichen and vine. The man who was stooping
over the water, cleaning trout for his supper, had found
it so and made it his own one time in his wandering quest
for solitude. The kiln now boasted a chimney, a door, and
one wide window that looked away over the stream's next
plunge, over other mountains and valleys to far horizons of
the world of men. This was the hermitage to which he
brought his fagged-out nerves from the cormorant city that
feeds on the blood and brains of humans. Here through
the brief truce of summer he found time to fish and hunt
enough for his daily wants, time to read, to write, time to
dream and to smoke his evening pipe, to think long thoughts,
and more blessed than all—to sleep! When autumn came
he would go back with renewed life and a pile of manuscript
to feed to his hungry cormorant. He was chewing the cud
of contentment as he bent to his fish cleaning, when, glancing
to one side where the fire, between stones, was awaiting his
frying-pan, he caught sight among the bushes of two gleaming
eyes, and then the sleek back and lashing tail of the Yellow
Cat. The man, being a cat lover was versed in their ways, so
for a time he paid no attention, then began to talk softly.
"If you'd come out of that," he said, as he scraped the
scales, "and not sit there watching me like a Comanche
Indian, I'd invite you to supper!"
Whether it was the tone of his voice or the smell of the fish
that conquered, the tawny creature was suddenly across the
open with a rush and on the stooping shoulders. That was
the beginning of the companionship that lasted until fall.
The next season brought the animal as unexpectedly, and
they took up the old relation where it had left off the previous
summer. They trudged together through miles of forest,
sometimes the cat on the man's shoulder, but often making
side excursions on his own account and coming back with
the proud burden of bird or tiny beast. Together they
watched the days decline in red and gold glory from the
ledge where the stream drops over the next height, or when
it rained, companioned each other by the hearth in the hut.
There was between them that satisfying and intimate communion
of inarticulate speech only possible between man
There came a day when the man sat hour after hour over
his writing, letting the hills call in vain. The cat slept himself
out, and when paws in the ink and tracks over the paper
proved of no avail, he jumped down and marched himself
haughtily off through the door and across the clearing to
the forest, tail in air. Late that afternoon the man was
arrested midway of a thought rounding into phrase by the
sudden darkness. There was a fierce rush of wind, as if
some giant had sighed and roused himself. The door of
the hut slammed shut and the blast from the window scattered
the papers about the floor. As he went to pull down the
sash the cat sprang in, shaking from his feet the drops of
rain already slanting in a white sheet across the little valley.
At the same moment there was a "halloo" outside, and a
woman burst open the door, turning quickly to shut out
behind her the onrush of the shower and the biting cold of the
wind. She stood shaking the drops from her hair, and then
she looked into the astonished face of the man and laughed.
She was as slim and straight as a young poplar, clad in
white shirt-waist and khaki Turkish trousers with gaiters
laced to the knee. Her hair was blown about in a red-gold
snarl, and her eyes looked out as unabashed as a boy's. The
two stared at each other for a time in silence, and finally it
was the woman who spoke first.
"This isn't exactly what I call a warm welcome—not
just what the cat led me to expect! It was really the cat who
brought me—I met him over on Slide Mountain—he fled
and I pursued, and now here we are!"
She made a hasty survey of the hut, and then of its owner,
putting her head on one side as she looked about her with a
quick, bird-like movement, he still staring in stupefaction.
"Of course you detest having me here, but you won't put
me out in the rain, again, will you?"
At once he was his courteous self. With the same motion
he dumped the astonished cat from the cushioned chair by
the writing table, and drew it forward to the fire. Then he
threw on a fresh stick of pine that flared up in a bright blaze,
and with deferring gentleness took the sweater that hung from
her shoulders and hung it to dry over a section of tree-trunk
that served as a chimney seat.
"You are as welcome to my hut as any princess to her
palace," he smiled on her, "indeed, it is yours while you choose
to stay in it!"
"Don't you think," she made reply, as he drew another
chair up opposite to her, "that under the circumstances we
might dispense with fine speeches? It is hardly, I suppose,
what one would call a usual situation, is it?"
He looked at her as she stretched her small feet comfortably
to the blaze, her face quite unconcerned.
"No," he acquiesced, "it certainly is not usual—or I
should hate it—the 'usual' is what I fly from!"
She threw back her head, clasping her hands behind it as
she laughed. She seemed to luxuriate as frankly in the heat
and the dryness as the cat between them.
"And I"—she turned the comprehension of her eyes upon
him—"I cross the ocean every year in the same flight!"
The storm drove leaves and flying branches against the
window, while they sat, for what seemed a long time, in contented
silence. He found himself as openly absorbing her
charm as if she had been a tree or a mountain sunset, while
she was making further tours of inspection with her eyes
about the room.
"It is entirely adorable," she smiled at him, "but it piques
"Ask all the questions you wish—no secrets here."
"Then what, if you please, is the object I see swung aloft
there in the dome?"
"My canvas hammock which I lower at night to climb into
and go to bed, and pull up in the daytime to clear the decks."
"And the big earthen pot in the fireplace—it has gruesome
suggestions of the 'Forty Thieves!'"
"Only a sort of perpetual hot-water tank. The fire never
quite goes out on this domestic hearth, and proves a very
acceptable companion at this high altitude. There is always
the kettle on the crane, as you see it there, but limitless hot
water is the fine art of housekeeping—but, perhaps you
don't know the joy there is to be found in the fine art
"No, I do not," her eyes took on a whimsical expression,
"but I'd like to learn—anything in the way of a new
joy! In the way of small joys I am already quite a
connoisseur, indeed I might call myself a collector in that
line—of bibelot editions, you understand, for thus far I
seem to have been unable to acquire any of the larger
specimens! Would you be willing to take me on as a
pupil in housekeeping?"
"It would add to my employment a crowning joy—not a
"Pinchbeck fine speeches again," she shrugged. "Do
you stop here all the long summer quite alone?"
"All the 'short summer,'" he corrected, "save for the
society of the cat, who dropped down last year from nowhere.
He must have approved of the accommodations, for he has
chosen me, you see, a second time for a summer resort."
"Yes—I think he was trying to protest about you being
his exclusive find, when I invited myself to follow him down the
mountain—leading and eluding are so much alike, one is
often mistaken, is it not so?"
She was sitting forward now, chin in hands, elbows on her
knees, gazing into the flames where a red banner waved
above the back log. When she turned to him again the
westering sun had broken through the clouds and was sending
a flare of rosy light in at the window. Studying her face
more fully, he saw that she was years—fully ten years—older
than he had supposed. The boyish grace that sat so lightly
was after all the audacious ease of a woman of the world, sure
"I, too, am living the hermit life for the summer. I am the
happy possessor of a throat that demands an annual mountain-cure.
Switzerland with its perpetual spectacular note gets
on my nerves, so last year we found this region—I and my
two faithful old servitors. Do you know the abandoned
tannery in the West Branch Clove? That has been fitted
up for our use, and there we live the simple life as I am able
to attain it—but you have so far outdone me that you have
filled my soul with discontent!"
"Alas," said the man, "you have served me the very same
trick! I could almost wish—"
"That I had not come!"
"Say, rather, that you would come again!"
She stood up and reached for her sweater, waiting for him
to open the door. The round of the little valley was a glittering
green bowl filled with pink cloud scuds. They stepped
out into a jubilant world washed clean and freshly smiling.
She put out her hand in good-bye.
"I almost think I shall come again! If you were a person
with whom one could be solitary—who knows!"
When she appeared the next time she found him by the
noise of his chopping. They climbed to the top of the moss-covered
boulder that hangs poised over the ledge where the
stream leaps into the abyss. Below them the hills rolled in
an infinite recession of leaf-clad peaks to the sky line, where
they melted to a blur of bluish-green mist.
"Oh, these mountains of America!" she cried, "their
greenness is a thing of dreams to us who know only bare
icy and alps!"
"Far lovelier," he said, "to look down upon than to look
up to, I think. To be a part of the height comes pretty near
to being happy, for the moment."
She turned from the view to study her companion. The
lines in the corners of his kind, tired eyes, the lean, strong
figure, hair graying about the temples. He grew a little
impatient under it before she spoke.
"Do you know," she said slowly, "I am going to like you!
To like you immensely—and to trust you!"
"Thank you, I shall try to be worthy"—even his derision
was gentle—"I seem to remember having been trusted
before by members of your sex—even liked a little, though
not perhaps 'immensely'! At any rate this certainly promises
to be an experience quite by itself!"
"Quite by itself," she echoed.
"Wouldn't it be as well for you to know my name, say, as
"No," she nodded, "that's just what I don't want! I
only want to know you. Names are extraneous things—tags,
labels—let us waive them. If I tell you how I feel
about this meeting of ours will you try to understand me?"
The answer was less in words than in the assent of his
honest gray eyes.
"I have been surfeited all my life," she went on, "with
love—I want no more of it! The one thing I do want,
more than anything else, is a man friend. I have thought a
great deal about such a friendship—the give and take on
equal terms, the sexless companionship of mind—what it
could be like!"
He brushed the twigs from the lichens between them and
made no answer.
"Fate—call the power what you will"—she met the
disclaimer that puckered the corners of his mouth—"fate
brought us together. It was the response to my longing for
such a friendship!"
"It was the Yellow Cat!"
"The Yellow Cat plus fate! While I sat there by your
fire I recognized you for that friend!"
Far below over the tree tops cloud shadows and sunlight
were playing some wonderful game of follow-my-leader; a
hawk hung poised on tilting wings; and on the veil of mist
that was the spirit of the brook where it cast itself from the
ledge curved the arch of a rainbow. The man pointed to
"You might try me," he said, and they shook hands on the
compact, laughing half shamefacedly at their own solemnity.
"As woman to woman," he offered.
"Let it be rather as man to man," she shrugged.
"As you like—as women we should have to begin by
"Precisely, and men companion each other on impersonal
"Then it is a man's friendship?"
"Better still," she mused, "we'll pattern it after the ideals
of the disembodied! We'll make this summer, you and I
together, a gem from the heart of life—I will have it so!"
So it came about that like two children they played together,
worked, walked, or read and talked by the open fire when cold
storms came. Every morning she came over the wood-road
that led by winding ways from her valley, and at sunset she
went back over the trail alone. He might go as far as the
outlook half way over the mountain where the path begins
to go down, but no farther; as for any fear, she seemed to know
nothing of its workings, and the revolver she wore in a case that
hung from her belt was a mere convention.
One morning she came with eyes dancing—it was to be
an especial day—a fête—and the gods had smiled on her
planning and given them perfect weather. Never such sunshine,
such crystal air, such high-hung clouds! Breakfast
over, they hurried about the miniature housework, and
packed the kit for a long day's tramp. Then they started
forth, the cat following, tail aloft. Beyond a dim peak, where
the clove opens southward, by the side of a tiny lake they
lunched and took their noonday rest. She watched the
smoke curl up from his pipe where he lay at peace with the
scheme of things.
"Do you know, Man, dear," she said, "I am glad I don't
in the least guess who you are! I have no doubt you write
the most delightful stories in the world—but never put me in
He took the pipe out of his mouth and looked at her long
before he replied.
"Woman, dear," he said, "I have put you in a place—your
own place—and it is not in my novels!"
She scrambled to her feet laughing.
"It's very well to make stories, but it is really more diverting
to live them! Come, I must lead you now with your
eyes shut tight to my surprise!"
So hand in hand they went along a smooth green wood-road
until she stopped him.
"Look," she cried, "now look!"
Straight away till the road narrowed to a point of light
against the sky where the mountain dipped down, banks of
mountain laurel rose on either side in giant hedges of rose
and white, while high above them waved the elms and beeches
of the forest.
"It is the gardening of the gods!"
"It is my own treasure-trove! I found it last year and I
have been waiting to bring you to it on my fête—what you
call birthday! And now wish me some beautiful thing—it
may come true! There is a superstition in my country—but
I shall not tell you—unless the wish comes true!"
He broke off a spray of the waxen buds and crowned her
solemnly where she stood.
"I have already wished for you—the most beautiful thing
in the world!"
She shook her head, sorrowful. "Man, dear, the only
thing in all the world I still want is the impossible!"
"Only the impossible is worth while—and I have
She shook her head again, laughing a little ruefully. "It
could not arrive—my impossible—and yet you almost
tempt me to hope!"
"Anything—everything may arrive! You once thought
that such a friendship as this of ours could not, and lo, we
have achieved it!"
"I wonder"—her eyes seemed fixed on some far prospect,
a world beyond the flowery way—"I wonder if we have!
And I wonder why you have never made a guess about my world
when you have at least let me get a peep now and then into
"I don't care a rap about your 'world,'" he smiled into her
eyes, "while I have you!"
"No curiosity about my—my profession?"
"Not a bit—though it was clear enough from the first
that it was the stage!"
She made an odd little outcry at his powers of divination.
"Then I must look it—before the footlights from my
birth! Since you are so clever, Mr. Man, will you also be
merciful when you come to weigh me in those scales you try
to hide beneath the garment of your kindness? Think, when
you judge me, what it is for a woman never to be herself—always
to have to play a part!"
He reached and took her hand suddenly, drawing her to
him with a movement that was almost rough.
"This is no play acting—this is real! No footlights—no
audience—only you and me in all this world!"
But she drew away, insistently aloof. She would have
none of his caresses.
"This, too," she said, as she moved apart and stood waiting
for him to follow, "is a part of the play—I do not deceive
myself! When I go back to my world—my trade, I
shall remember this little time that you and I have
snatched from the grudging grasp of life as an act—a
scene only! It's a perfect pastoral, Man, dear, but unreal—absurdly
unreal—and we know it ourselves while we
play the game!"
Down through the flower-bordered vista the cat went
stalking his prey, his sinuous body a tawny streak winding
along the green path. These trivial humans, with their
subtle attractions and compunctions, were as though they
never had been when the chase was on—the real business
and purpose of life!
For the rest of the time they were together they avoided
the personal. Each felt the threat in the air and tacitly averted
it. For that one perfect day there should be no past, no future,
nothing but the golden present.
Swinging in his breeze-rocked hammock between door and
window the man lay awake through the long watches of the
night, thinking, thinking, while his heart sang. Toward
dawn he fell into a deep sleep from which he was only awakened
by the cat springing up to lick his face in reminder of
It was when he came back from his plunge in the pool
that he first noticed a paper pinned to his door-post. Within
its folds his doom was penned!
"Even you, dear Man, could not wish me the impossible!
That superstition of my country is that to come true it must
be the first wish of your fête day—and by one who loves you!
Alas, my old servant had already wished—that he might get
me started for home to-day! Clever Friedrich—for he had
also packed! When you read this I shall be far on my way.
You could never find me though you searched the earth—but
you will never try! It is well as it is, for you see—it
was not friendship after all!"
And yet there was a sequel. During the following year there
dropped to the man in his hard-pressed literary life, one of
those errant plums from the political tree that now and then
find their way to the right basket. He was named for an
excellent diplomatic post. His friends congratulated him
and talked a good deal about "material" and opportunities
for "unique local color;" his wife chattered unceasingly
about gowns and social details, while he armed himself, with
the listless reticence that was become habit, to face new
responsibilities and rather flavorless experiences. He had
so withdrawn himself of late to the inner creative life that he
moved in a kind of phantasmagoria of outer unrealities. It
was the nearest to a comfortable adjustment for the mis-mating
of such a marriage as his, but it was not the best of
preparations for the discharge of public duties, and he walked
toward his new future with reluctant feet, abstractedly. In
some such mood as this, his mind bent on a problem of arrangement
of fiction puppets, seeing "men as trees walking," he
found himself one day making his bows at a court function.
Along the line of royal highnesses and grand duchesses with
his wife he moved, himself a string-pulled puppet, until—but
who, in heaven's name is this?
For one mad moment, as he looked into her eyes, he thought
the tightened cord he sometimes felt tugging at his tired brain
had snapped, and the images of sight and memory gone hopelessly
confused. She stood near the end of the line with the
princesses of secondary rank, and the jewels in her hair were
not more scintillant than her eyes as he bent over her hand.
She went a little pale, but she greeted him bravely, and when
they found themselves unobserved for a moment she spoke
to him in her soft, careful English:
"You recognized me, you remember, for a play actor, and
now you are come from the world's end to see me perform
on my tiny stage! Alas, dear critic, since my last excursion,
I am no longer letter perfect in my part!"
They met but once again. It was in the crush of guests
in the great hall where her old Prince, in the splendor of his
decoration-covered coat, was waiting to hand her to her
carriage. There was a brief time in which to snatch the doubtful
sweetness of a few hurried words. She was leaving in the early
morning for the petty Balkan province where her husband
held a miniature sway, over a handful of half-savage subjects.
Hardly more than a renewal of greeting and a farewell, and
she was gone!
As the old Prince wrapped her more carefully in her furs,
and the carriage rolled away in the darkness, he spoke to her,
"I should be sorry to think the American Ambassador has
been taking too much wine—as you well know, my knowledge
of the barbarous English tongue is but limited, and yet—I
thought, as I joined you, he was talking some farrago of
nonsense about a Yellow Cat!"
That year the Yellow Cat came home lean and gaunt, a
chastened, humble creature, as one who has failed in a long
quest, and is glad to stretch his weary length before the hearth
and reap the neglected benefits of the domestic life.
"It is really very odd" said the minister, quite as if he were
saying something he had never thought of saying before,
"where that cat goes in the summer!"
"Isn't it?" responded the minister's wife—just as she
always did. "It fires the imagination! He walks off some
fine morning and completely shuts the door on our life here—as
if he gave us notice not to pry into his movements. But
this time"—she was leaning to stroke the tawny sides with a
pitying touch—"this time you may be sure something very sad
and disappointing happened to him—something in that
other life went quite wrong! How I wish we could understand
what it was!"
A COCK AND POLICEMAN
A Tale of Rural England
By RALPH KAYE ASSHETON
It happened up in Lancashire, and the truth can be
vouched for by at least half a hundred spectators. It
fell in this wise: Bob O' Tims owned a game-cock which
was the envy of the whole street for lustre of coloring and
soundness of wind. Its owner was almost unduly proud of
his possession, and would watch it admiringly as it stalked
majestically about among its family of hens.
"There's a cock for you!" he would say, with a little wave
of his pipe. "There's not many cocks like that one. The
king himself has got nothing like it down at Windsor Castle."
Now, Jimmy Taylor had always been a rival of Bob O'
Tims's. Jimmy's grandfather had fought at the Battle of
Waterloo. This gave him great prestige, and it was almost
universally believed, in Chellowdene, that the preëminence of
the British Empire was mainly due to the battle-zeal of Jimmy's
ancestry. But whenever Jimmy talked about his grandfather,
Bob skilfully turned the conversation to his game-cock.
This made Jimmy testy, and one day he told Bob,
in contemptuous tones, that "he'd be even wi' him yet, in
the matter o' game-cocks, as well as everything else."
That was one Monday evening, and the following Wednesday
Bob O' Tims's cock disappeared. When Bob discovered
his loss, his face went quite pale with anger. Without a word,
he flung on his cap and set off for Jimmy Taylor's cottage.
When he reached it, he went still whiter. For Jimmy was
sitting at the door, and up and down the yard in front of him
strutted a magnificent game-cock.
Bob O' Tims stretched out his forefinger, pointed at the
cock, and with a stubborn look forming about his mouth
and jaw, observed:
"It isn't," responded Jimmy. "It's mine."
"I tell thee, yon's mine. Yo've prigged it."
"It's mine! I bought it at th' fair."
"Thee never bought yon cock at any fair. It's mine, I
Words grew high between the disputants, as the cock, in
all its bronze and golden splendor, marched up and down the
yard, until the argument between the two men terminated in
a quarrel so violent that half-a-dozen neighbors came in to
see what was the matter. It ended in Bob O' Tims insisting
that he would take the matter into court. He was as good
as his word, and the next time that the bench met, Bob O'
Tims summoned Jimmy Taylor on a charge of having stolen
The magistrates listened to the witnesses on either side.
Half-a-dozen people were ready to swear that the cock belonged
to Bob. But Jimmy brought up a couple of witnesses to
testify that they had seen him buy a similar animal at Turton
Fair. The cock was then brought into court. It clucked
and choked indignantly, and the partisans of Bob and Jimmy
swore against each other as hard as ever they could. The
bench appeared perplexed; and it was owing to their inability
to come to any decision that the magistrate's clerk made his
"The case appears to me impossible to prove as it stands,
your worships," he said to the bench. "I would suggest, if
I may be allowed, that you direct an officer of the court to
take the cock to some spot at an equal distance between the
houses of the plaintiff and of the defendant. If he is there
placed upon the ground, and left to his own devices, he is
pretty sure to make his way straight home."
The magistrates accepted the suggestion of the clerk, and
gave judgment accordingly. A policeman was ordered to
carry out their instructions. Now, this officer was young and
raw, and had only recently been enrolled in the constabulary.
He was a fat, rosy man, with an air of self-importance. He
set out from the court with the cock under his arm. An
excited crowd streamed after the policeman, who stalked on
with no little pomposity. When he reached the common,
which lay between the houses of the rival claimants, he stood
still for a minute or two, grasping the cock and looking judiciously
from one side of the broken land to the other.
The crowd eagerly commenced to give information.
"You're a bit nearer Bob O' Tims's than you are to
Jimmy's!" cried one.
"Nay! Nay!" interposed another spectator, who was a
partisan of Bob O' Tims. "There's a corner to turn afore
you get to Bob's. It's not fair, not to make allowance for
"Stand back!" cried the policeman majestically—"Stand
back, every man of you. The critter will be too much put
about to go anywhere if you don't keep still tongues in your
The officer still stood, with his legs wide apart, turning his
head slowly from side to side. Once he made a pace in the
direction of Jimmy Taylor's; then, changing his mind, he took
a couple of steps toward Bob O' Tims's. Finally, he decided
that he had fixed upon the exact locality commanded by the
law, and with a magisterial air, he again waved back the
crowd and deposited the cock upon the ground in front of him.
Everybody held their breath. The first thing that the
cock did was to shake himself until he resembled nothing
so much as a living mop. Then he began to smooth his
feathers down again. Then he stretched his neck, flapped
his wings and crowed. Finally, with a blink of his bright
eyes, which almost appeared like a wink to the hushed and
expectant crowd, he made two solemn steps with his slender
legs in the direction of Jimmy Taylor's cottage.
"He's going to Jimmy's!" exclaimed the crowd with one
"Can't you all be quiet for a moment or two," interposed
the policeman, indignantly. "I tell you, if you don't keep
still, you'll upset the critter's mind, and make the magistrates'
decision just good for nothing."
The crowd appeared ashamed and relapsed once more
The policeman stood erect and tall, a few paces in front
of them, watching the cock with great solemnity. It was
standing still now, jerking its neck a little. Then it looked
round, and, retracing its paces, began stepping slowly off in
the opposite direction.
"It's going to Bob's!" cried the crowd.
But the cock was doing no such thing; it paused again,
scratching in an imaginary dust-heap, and then, with a loud
crow, stretched its wings and flew up into a small tree.
This was disconcerting. The policeman turned with anger
upon the crowd.
"I told you you were not giving the critter a chance!"
he exclaimed. "You'd best be off home. Come, move on!
The crowd retreated, but it had no intention of going
home. Some of those less interested strolled away, but the
partisans of Bob and Jimmy remained at a little distance,
eagerly watching to see what would happen next.
The cock, after jerking his head round several times, settled
down comfortably among his feathers, and went to sleep
in the tree.
This was altogether beyond the expectancy of the policeman.
Not knowing what else to do, he sat down on a broken
bit of fence under the tree and waited.
The day advanced. The cock slept on and the policeman
began to doze. Now and then he awoke with a start, and
looked up at the obstinate biped above his head. Presently
the man got down from the fence and shook himself.
The partisans of Bob and Jimmy still remained at a discreet
distance, watching the progress of events. The policeman
stood still for a few moments, staring at the cock; then he
approached the small, stumpy tree and clapped his hands
The cock woke up, gurgled, and went to sleep again.
The policeman clapped his hands a second time, and then
with shrill indignation the creature flew down from the tree,
and set off in the direction of the distant moors.
The proceedings promptly assumed the aspect of a hunt.
The cock ran along with outstretched wings and neck, and
the policeman and the crowd ran after it. At last it reached
a small cottage, belonging to a widow of the name of Gammer.
Exerting a final effort, it flew up toward her open window
and ensconced itself on the top of the good woman's
Now Mrs. Gammer was a woman of character. She
heard the noise outside; and when the breathless policeman
arrived at the door of her kitchen, she was wiping the soapsuds
off her plump red arms, ready for any dispute or fray.
She stood with her arms held akimbo, as the man in blue
explained his errand. When he had finished his recital she
looked at him defiantly.
"And I should like to know what you call yourself, policeman
or no policeman, to be chasing a poor harmless critter
across 'em blazing commons on a day like this! You want
to go and poke him down from my tester-bed, do you? Well,
you can just go back and tell the magistrates as Mrs. Gammer's
got him, and if they want him they must come for him
This was direct defiance of the law, and the policeman
commenced a remonstrance. His remarks were, however, cut
short by Mrs. Gammer.
"I have always said as magistrates was as ignorant as
babies, and I only wish that they was as harmless," she persisted,
in open contempt of the government of her country.
"You can go back, and tell 'em as Mrs. Gammer says so.
My house is my house, magistrate or no magistrate, and I
won't have any policeman messing about on the top of my
The policeman was not certain whether the authority which
had been entrusted to him in the matter would justify his
making a deliberate prisoner of Mrs. Gammer. And, as
she showed every sign of resorting to violence, should he
attempt to pass the door, which she barred with her stout
figure, he decided upon beating a retreat. He went outside
again and reasserted his shattered dignity by once more driving
away the crowd; then, not knowing what else to do, he returned
to the police station and reported the matter to the chief
The chief laughed, and so did everybody else who heard
the story. The policeman was directed to return to Mrs.
Gammer's cottage later in the day, and serve her with an order
requiring her to give up the cock immediately. But when
he handed Mrs. Gammer the official paper, she laughed in
"You can look round the house for the cock now if you
like," she said contemptuously, slapping down the order upon
the table, "and you can see if you can find him."
"Is he still on the top of your tester-bed?" demanded the
"Go and look," responded Mrs. Gammer, with a snort.
"You can take the turk's-head brush and brush him down!"
So, armed with the turk's-head brush, the policeman
ascended Mrs. Gammer's small, steep staircase. When he
reached her bedroom, he poked into every cranny and corner
with the handle of his brush. But no cock was to be found.
He descended the stairs, and stood again in the little
kitchen. A savory smell of cooking arose from a stew-pan
on the fire.
"Where's the critter gone to?" he demanded.
"How should I know?" replied Mrs. Gammer testily.
The policeman, still standing in the kitchen, wished that
Mrs. Gammer would give him an invitation to supper. The
widow glanced up sharply at him and saw what was in his
"You'd like some supper, I make no doubt, after your
wild-goose chase," she said. "Sit down at t' table and take
a bit o' stew."
The policeman seated himself with alacrity. The stew
which Mrs. Gammer placed before him consisted of a mixture
of barley, onions and some white meat. He ate a hearty
supper, and when he stood up he drew his hands across his
"Thank you kindly," he said. "I must be off now, and
see where that cock has gone to."
Then it was that Mrs. Gammer gave a short and derisive
laugh. She began to pile up the empty plates and to put the
spoons and forks in the basin by the sink.
"If you go a-chasing of that cock until you are black and
blue in the face," she said, "you'll never find him. And the
reason why, is that you have just helped to eat him up."
"I have eat him up!" he gasped.
"Aye," responded Mrs. Gammer, with brevity. "I made
him into soup!"
The policeman remained open-mouthed, staring at the
"You'd no business ever to do such a thing," he said.
"The cock belonged to the Law."
"I care nowt for your Law," retorted Mrs. Gammer.
"Anyway you've helped to eat him!"
A vague sense of cannibalism was haunting the policeman's
mind; he felt almost as dismayed as if he had made a
hearty supper off the magistrate's clerk himself.
"You're a very wicked woman," he said to Mrs. Gammer.
He broke off, entirely nonplussed by the situation in which
he found himself. Mrs. Gammer continued to wash up the
spoons and forks with utter indifference to his consternation.
"The cock's eat up, and there's an end of it," she said.
"You'd best go and tell the magistrates all about it."
Sheepish and disconcerted, the policeman slunk home.
The next morning the chief asked him if he had served the
order on Mrs. Gammer.
"I—served it," said he, scratching his head.
"And did you get the bird given up?" demanded his
"No, I can't say as I did," replied the policeman.
"Was it still on the top of the tester-bed?" pursued his
"No. It was not on the tester-bed," replied the policeman.
"Then where was it?" insisted the chief.
For several seconds the policeman was silent, then he
told a lie.
"I canna say," he answered, "it war gone."
The chief shrugged his shoulders, and sent the man about
the business of the day. The next time that the magistrates
met, the question of Bob O' Tims's cock was again brought
into court. The magistrate's clerk demanded if the case
To the great relief of the policeman, who was waiting in
attendance, Bob O' Tims spoke up from the spot where he
"Jim hadna stolen my cock after all, sir," he said, "for
it came home the next morning."
"Then what happened to the cock that was brought into
court on Tuesday?" demanded the magistrate's clerk. But
nobody seemed to know.
Only, people used to wonder why Widow Gammer almost
always gave a peculiar kind of snort when she spoke of Police
Constable X, and why that worthy officer avoided her cottage
ever after, and invariably turned down a side street if he saw
the widow within speaking distance of him.
PRISONERS IN THE TOWER
An Episode of Travel
By LUCY COPINGER
"In the words of Macaulay this, ladies and gentleman, is
the saddest spot on earth." The white-haired old
Tower guard in charge of the little chapel of Saint Peter waved
his hand impressively toward the open door. "Through that
door"—the heads of the American tourists who were doing
the Tower all turned in unison—"you may see the block
upon which many a royal head has rested, and beneath these
very stones lie buried two dukes between two queens—Dukes
of Northumberland and of Somerset, with the Queens
Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard—all beheaded."
The chapel was a crypt-like place, windowless, dark, and
musty, and at this mournful climax one of the tourists who
was nervous moved suddenly off that particular stone upon
which she had been standing; the school teachers out for
self-improvement began to write it all in their note-books,
while a stout matron evidently of good old Dutch stock looked
sadly down at the flat, gray stones. "Poor things!" she
murmured, "and there ain't one of them got a respectable
white tombstone with a wreath carved on it." Then, in their
usual two-by-two line, the party moved down the aisle wearily,
but triumphant in the fact that they had succeeded in doing
the Tower, the Abbey, and the Museum all in one day. Peggy
Wynne, in demurely severe blue suit and jaunty panama,
lagged at the end of the line while she looked critically at her
"The animals went out two by two,
The elephant and the kangaroo,"
she murmured to herself, "and I'm so tired of playing Noah's
Ark or a Christian Association out for a lark," she continued
in unconscious poetical despair. Then, warned by the attitude
of the guard, that wonderful attitude of the haughty Briton
in hopes of a tip, she opened her ridiculously tiny gold-linked
purse and gave herself up to the absorbing question as to
which of the pieces therein was a shilling. Having at last
decided this, she presented it to the guard with a dazzling
smile. It had been so long since Peggy had had an opportunity
to smile at anything masculine that the smile was
She had already passed through the little door when she
suddenly turned back. The other tourists, noses in Baedekers,
were hurrying on before, the guard was busily counting
his sixpences, and she slipped back into the dim chapel
"They'll think I've gone back to those dingy lodgings,"
she reflected, as she groped her way between the benches
into an even more shadowy corner—a little recess, with a tiny
niche in the wall, that had probably been the sanctuary of
some pious king. She seated herself comfortably behind the
pillar in the corner and gazed pensively at the stones.
"Tombs and tombs and tombs!" she murmured mournfully,
"even in Paris, instead of Maxim's and the cafes, nothing
but tombs! The next time I want to see where anybody is
buried I will just go out to the cemetery instead of coming
across that dreadful ocean. Oh, just to have one adventure
before I go home!" she continued with a long sigh, "a real
adventure with a real man in it—not a horrid, womanish
Frenchman or a stolid, conceited Britisher, but a nice, safe
Then the dimple in her right cheek that was probably
responsible for the calling her Peggy, in spite of her many
protests for her rightful dignity of "Margaret," came out
suddenly as it always did when she thought of her American.
She had called him that from the time when, in the midst of
the perplexities of the English luggage system, she had looked
up and found him watching her. The cut of his gray suit
and his shoes had told her his nationality at once, and they
had looked for a moment at each other with that peculiar
friendliness that compatriots in a strange land always feel.
She had forgotten him until, leaning from a taxi-cab in the
Rue de la Paix, she had met the same eyes, this time so unrefrainedly
joyful in their recognition that she had suddenly
blushed. When, a week later at Calais, as she stood by the
rail of the departing Channel steamer she caught a glimpse of
him on the dock, he had seemed like an old friend, and before
she had thought she had smiled in answer to his lifted hat.
She had grown so sure of seeing him that now when they had
been in London a week and he had not appeared she found
herself suddenly sick of tombs and tourists.
Peggy's day had been a strenuous one of trams, motor-busses,
abbeys, and galleries, and though she realized an adventure
might probably await her outside, it was pleasant to
sit for awhile in the dimness of the quiet chapel. From her
recess she could look out through the open doors upon the
tragic Tower Green, where in the sunlight two sparrows were
frivolously flirting. Even as she watched, the sparrows grew
dim, her ridiculously tiny purse slipped from her hand, her
head with its thick dark hair dropped against the pillar, and
her lashes touched her cheek. After awhile a cautious footfall
sounded in the chapel, then somewhere a heavy door closed,
and all was still.
When Peggy sat up indignantly with the queer sensation
that she had been violently shaken, darkness surrounded
her, a darkness so deep that she could not see her hand as
she ran it along the bench in front of her. With the movement
came remembrance of her surroundings, and also a
realization in strained and aching muscles that a stone pillar
is not a wise choice for a head-rest.
"Oh!" she gasped painfully.
"Don't be frightened," entreated a voice quite near to her,
and out of the lesser darkness a tall black figure rose suddenly.
"I am not at all frightened," said Peggy at once. In
spite of the bigness of the figure there was something reassuring
in the voice with its crisp, humorous note and its intonation
that Peggy at once recognized as American.
"What are you doing here?" she continued, inhospitably
addressing the darkness before her.
"I went to sleep" the voice explained, "on the other side
of the pillar."
"How silly!" said Peggy, severely, "didn't you see me here?"
"It was a little dim," the voice apologized and, Peggy's
silence still condemning, "you should have snored," it continued
Peggy arose with a dignity that she hoped penetrated the
darkness. Then she groped along the bench.
"My purse," she explained anxiously, "and it had a sixpence
for tea and two shillings for tips," she continued with an
unconscious epitome of the joys of traveling. As she groped
along bench and floor she was conscious of assistance from
her companion, and just as she grasped the discovered purse
she felt purse and hand caught and retained in a firm grip.
"I apologize," he said at once, still however, holding on
to her hand, "I thought it was the purse."
Peggy jerked her hand loose indignantly, and speechless
with wrath she hurried toward the door only to find that she
had mistaken her direction. In her effort to recover her
bearings she become hopelessly confused, stumbled noisily
over a bench, and fell headlong into the arms of her companion.
"You had better sit down again," he remarked coolly as
he returned her to her seat and sat down calmly beside her.
As he did so Peggy noted curiously the dim attractive silhouette
of his head and the remarkably good line from ear to
"I am going at once," she said haughtily, but without moving.
"You can't," the man beside her replied, "and if you
promise not to cry or fall over any more benches I will tell you
why—although I myself do not object to the latter," he continued
judicially, "but for the sake of your own bones, merely."
Peggy ignored the last.
"Why can't I go?" she said defiantly.
"Because the door is locked," he explained succinctly.
"We can both scream or you can throw a bench through
the window," said Peggy triumphantly.
The unseen laughed a nice laugh that Peggy liked.
"In that latter case, beside the fact that there is no window,
we would surely be had up before the head-warden of this
old jail. Besides, do you know what time it is?"
"About tea time," said Peggy who had lunched frugally
at one of the tea-shops on a cup of tea and a jam roll.
"Just before you woke up," said her companion, "I used
my last match—it always is the last in a case like this—to
look at my watch. It was half-past twelve. Remember, you
promised——" at a warning gurgle from Peggy.
Then suddenly a laugh rang out sweet and clear in the
darkness of the musty chapel, a laugh that echoed into the
recesses of the old tombs—perhaps in its musical cadences
stirring pleasantly the haughty slumber of their noble
"What are you laughing at?" said the voice suspiciously.
"An adventure at last!" Peggy cried, clapping her hands
"I am glad you take it so cheerfully," returned her companion.
"There is only one thing to do," he continued
practically, "I thought it out for myself before you woke up
and complicated matters by your appearance. Of course
with sufficient yelling we can arouse the barrack sentry, and
for our pains we'd probably have the whole barrack out to
arrest us. There is no way in which you can offend the noble
and independent Briton more deeply than by treating lightly
his worship of royalty, dead or alive, and we would probably
be held for committing lese majeste by getting ourselves
locked up with the numerous relicts of Henry the Eighth. But
if we wait until morning we can run good chances of slipping
out unperceived with the first crowd of tourists."
"I feel just like the little princes in the Tower, or Queen
Mary or Charlotte Corday," murmured Peggy in ecstatic
historical confusion, "or somebody noble and romantic and
beheaded. I think I shall play at being Queen Mary. I
once learned a piece about her. It was very sad, but I always
stuck at the fifth line and had to sit down. Since we have to
stay here till morning we might as well amuse ourselves and
you may be Rizzio."
"Who was he?" asked her companion sceptically, "sounds
like one of those Italian fellows."
"He was Queen Mary's chaperon," Peggy explained
vaguely, "and he sang her love songs."
"Good," said the voice agreeably.
"Can't you think of something else for me?" said the unseen,
gloomily appalled by the prospect of having doughnut recipes
pronounced over his remains.
"How would you like to be Darnley?" said Peggy. "He
was her husband." "I'll be Darnley," came from the
darkness so decidedly that Peggy jumped.
"You have to get blown-up right off," she hastened to add.
"Oh he did, did he?" the voice spoke with deeper gloom.
"Queen Mary did it," added Peggy.
"Well, even in the Dark Ages matrimony seems to have
given your sex the same privileges," philosophized her companion
"How mean!" said Peggy coldly, "I shall play at being
Elizabeth all alone."
"It wouldn't suit you," said her discarded leading man,
"not with your voice."
"Why not?" said Peggy.
"Because it's not hard and cold and metallic enough.
Because it has too much womanly sweetness in it and not
enough harsh masculinity."
"What a good dramatic critic you would make!" said
Peggy a little spitefully, "and since you are reading voices
I can tell quite well by yours that you are fat and red faced."
The man laughed.
"And by the same token you are all sweetness and blue
eyes and dearness and dimples," he punished her. Then
the banter in his tones died suddenly out.
"There's something I want to tell you," he said abruptly,
with a movement that seemed in the darkness like a sudden
squaring of his shoulders. "But first I want you to tell me
"What a sudden descent from romance and poetry to mere
stupid facts," hedged Peggy. "Think, in this atmosphere of
royalties if it should be Bridget, or, still more horrible,
"Please," the voice persisted in its gravity, "we have been
fellow-prisoners, you know, and you should be kind."
Peggy told him with the full three-syllabled dignity of the
"Mine," he continued, "is John Barrett."
"Now," cried Peggy, "if this were a proper adventure we
have reached the place when I should be able to say, 'Why!
not the Jack Barrett that Brother Billy knew at Harvard?'
Then you would cry, 'And this is my old chum William's
little sister Peggy that used to send him fudge!' and then
everything would be all right. But I haven't any brother
at all," she finished regretfully.
"And Harvard wasn't my college," said her companion.
"However," he went on, "it would take more than the conventional
backing of many brother Billies to put me right
with you after I've told you what I have to tell you."
"Then don't do it," said Peggy softly.
"If I didn't know you'd find it out in a very few minutes
I wouldn't," he confessed shamelessly. "But before I
tell you I want you to know what finding you here meant to
me. You've got to realize the temptation before you can
understand the fall. You always got away from me, from that
first time in Liverpool——"
"Oh!" said Peggy with a gasp.
"And at Paris and at Calais when you smiled adorably
"I didn't" said Peggy, blushing in the darkness.
"When you didn't smile adorably at me, then," pursued
the voice relentlessly. "It was always the same. I found
you and you were gone—snatched away by an unkind fate
in the form of your man from Cook's. When you sailed away
from me at Calais I was booked to leave that same day from
Antwerp, but I came on here after you instead. London is
small—the American tourist London, that is—the Abbey,
the Museum, the galleries, and the Tower, but I seemed to
miss you everywhere. It was fate again that sent me here to
find you asleep in the corner."
"Now I know you are going to tell something very foolish,"
said Peggy reflectively, "when people begin to talk about
fate like that you always find they are just trying to shift the
"I want you to know it wasn't premeditated, however,"
pursued the voice. "It wasn't till the guard shut the door
that I thought of it. You will believe that, won't you?" he
The dimple appeared suddenly in Peggy's cheek. There
came an echo from without of many footsteps.
"And so," she took up the tale quickly, "having nicely
planned it all out you shook me rudely to wake me up, told
me the door was locked, and that it was midnight when it
was only four in the afternoon. And it wasn't at all necessary
to shake me so hard," she continued, "because I woke up
when you came in."
"Peggy you knew!" the voice cried with a sudden realization,
"you knew and you stayed!" He caught her hand, and in
the darkness she could feel his nearness. Then suddenly the
door opened letting into the chapel a flood of bright sunlight.
"Ladies and gentlemen," the sonorous voice of the old guard
came to them, "this, in the words of Macaulay, is the saddest
spot on earth," continued the mournful recital, even as, in
happy contradiction, Peggy and her American, secure in their
little recess, looked blissfully into each other's eyes.
A Winter's Tale
By FRANK H. SPEARMAN
The oldest man in the train service didn't pretend to
say how long Sankey had worked for the company.
Pat Francis was a very old conductor; but old man Sankey
was a veteran when Pat Francis began braking. Sankey ran
a passenger train when Jimmie Brady was running—and
Jimmie afterward enlisted and was killed in the Custer fight.
There was an odd tradition about Sankey's name. He was
a tall, swarthy fellow, and carried the blood of a Sioux chief
in his veins. It was in the time of the Black Hills excitement,
when railroad men, struck by the gold fever, were abandoning
their trains even at way-stations and striking across the
divide for Clark's Crossing. Men to run the trains were
hard to get, and Tom Porter, trainmaster, was putting in every
man he could pick up without reference to age or color.
Porter (he died at Julesburg afterward) was a great "jollier,"
and he wasn't afraid of anybody on earth. One day a war
party of Sioux clattered into town and tore around like a
storm. They threatened to scalp everything, even to the
local tickets. They dashed in on Tom Porter, sitting in the
despatcher's office upstairs, while the despatcher was hiding
below, under a loose plank in the baggage-room floor. Tom,
being bald as a sand-hill, considered himself exempt from
scalping parties anyway. He was working a game of solitaire
when they bore down on him, and got them interested in it.
That led to a parley, which ended by Porter's hiring the whole
band to brake on freight trains. Old man Sankey was said
to have been one of that original war party.
Now this is merely a caboose story, told on winter nights
when trainmen get stalled in the snow that drifts down from
the Sioux country. But what follows is better attested.
Sankey, to start with, had a peculiar name—an unpronounceable,
unspellable, unmanageable name. I never heard
it, so I can't give it to you; but it was as hard to catch as an
Indian pony, and that name made more trouble on the payrolls
than all the other names put together. Nobody at headquarters
could handle it; it was never turned in twice alike,
and they were always writing Tom Porter about the thing.
Tom explained several times that it was Sitting Bull's ambassador
who was drawing that money, and that he usually signed
the pay-roll with a tomahawk. But nobody at Omaha ever
knew how to take a joke. The first time Tom went down, he
was called in very solemnly to explain again about the name,
and being in a hurry and very tired of the whole business,
Tom spluttered: "Hang it, don't bother me any more about
that name! If you can't read it make it Sankey, and be done
They took Tom at his word. They actually did make it
Sankey; and that's how our oldest conductor came to bear
the name of the famous singer. And more I may tell you:
good name as it was—and is—the Sioux never disgraced it.
I suppose every old traveler on the system knew Sankey.
He was not only always ready to answer questions; but, what
is more, ready to answer the same question twice. It is that
which makes conductors gray-headed and spoils their chances
for heaven—answering the same questions over and over
again. Children were apt to be startled a bit at first sight
of Sankey, he was so dark. But Sankey had a very quiet
smile that always made them friends after the first trip
through the sleepers, and they sometimes ran about asking
for him after he had left the train. Of late years—and this
hurts a bit—these very same children, grown ever so much
bigger, and riding again to or from California or Japan or
Australia, will ask, when they reach the West End, about the
Indian conductor. But the conductors who now run the overland
trains pause at the question, checking over the date
limits on the margins of the coupon tickets, and handing
the envelopes back, look at the children, and say quietly:
"He isn't running any more."
If you have ever gone over our line to the mountains or to
the coast, you may remember at McCloud, where they change
engines and set the diner in or out, the pretty little green park
to the east of the depot, with a row of catalpa trees along the
platform line. It looks like a glass of spring water. If it
happened to be Sankey's run and a regular West End day,
sunny and delightful, you would be sure to see standing under
the catalpas a shy, dark-skinned girl of fourteen or fifteen
years, silently watching the preparations for the departure of
the Overland. And after the new engine had been backed
champing down, and harnessed to its long string of vestibuled
sleepers; after the air-hose had been connected and examined;
after the engineer had swung out of his cab, filled his cups, and
swung in again; after the fireman and his helper had disposed
of their slice-bar and shovel and given the tender a final
sprinkle, and after the conductor had walked leisurely
forward, compared time with the engineer, and cried,
"All Abo-o-o-ard!" then, as your coach moved slowly ahead,
you might notice, under the receding catalpas, the little girl
waving a parasol or a handkerchief at the outgoing train.
That is, at Conductor Sankey; for she was his daughter,
Neeta Sankey. Her mother was Spanish, and died when
Neeta was a wee bit. Neeta and the Limited were Sankey's
When Georgie Sinclair began pulling the Limited, running
west opposite Foley, he struck up a great friendship with
Sankey. Sankey, though he was hard to start, was full of
early-day stories. Georgie, it seemed, had the faculty of
getting him to talk; perhaps because when he was pulling
Sankey's train he made extraordinary efforts to keep on time;
time was a hobby with Sankey. Foley said he was so careful
of it that he let his watch stop when he was off duty just to
save time. Sankey loved to breast the winds and the floods and
the snows, and if he could get home pretty near on schedule,
with everybody else late, he was happy; and in respect of that,
as Sankey used to say, Georgie Sinclair could come nearer
gratifying Sankey's ambition than any engine-runner we had.
Even the firemen used to observe that the young engineer,
always neat, looked still neater on the days when he took out
By and by there was an introduction under the catalpas.
After that it was noticed that Georgie began wearing gloves
on the engine—not kid gloves, but yellow dogskin; and
black silk shirts—he bought them in Denver. Then—such
an odd way engineers have of paying compliments—when
Georgie pulled into town on Number Two, if it was Sankey's
train, the big sky-scraper would give a short, hoarse scream,
a most peculiar note, just as it drew past Sankey's house,
which stood on the brow of the hill west of the yards. Thus
Neeta would know that Number Two and her father, and
naturally Mr. Sinclair, were in again, and all safe and sound.
When the railway trainmen held their division fair at
McCloud there was a lantern to be voted to the most popular
conductor—a gold-plated lantern with a green curtain in
the globe. Cal Stewart and Ben Doton, who were very swell
conductors and great rivals, were the favorites, and had the
town divided over their chances for winning it. But at the
last moment Georgie Sinclair stepped up to the booth and cast
a storm of votes for old man Sankey. Doton's friends and
Stewart's laughed at first; but Sankey's votes kept pouring
in amazingly. The two favorites got frightened; they pooled
their issues by throwing Stewart's vote to Doton. But it
wouldn't do. Georgie Sinclair, with a crowd of engineers—Cameron,
Kennedy, Foley, Bat Mullen, and Burns—came
back at them with such a swing that in the final five
minutes they fairly swamped Doton. Sankey took the lantern
by a thousand votes. But I understood it cost Georgie and
his friends a pot of money.
Sankey said all the time that he didn't want the lantern,
but just the same he always carried that particular lantern,
with his full name, Sylvester Sankey, ground into the glass
just below the green mantle. Pretty soon, Neeta being then
eighteen, it was rumored that Sinclair was engaged to Miss
Sankey, and was going to marry her. And marry her he did;
though that was not until after the wreck in the Blackwood
gorge after the Big Snow.
It goes by just that name on the West End yet; for never
were such a winter and such a snow known on the plains and
in the mountains. One train on the northern division was
stalled six weeks that winter, and one whole coach was chopped
up for kindling wood. The great and desperate effort of
the company was to hold open the main line, the artery which
connected the two coasts. It was a hard winter on trainmen.
Week after week the snow kept falling and blowing. The
trick was not to clear the line; it was to keep it clear. Every
day we sent out trains with the fear that we should not see
them again for a week. Freight we didn't pretend to move;
local passenger business had to be abandoned. Coal, to keep
our engines and our towns supplied, we had to carry; and
after that all the brains and muscle and motive power were
centered on keeping One and Two, our through passenger
Our trainmen worked like Americans; there were no
cowards on our rolls. But after too long a strain men become
exhausted, benumbed, indifferent; reckless, even. The nerves
give out, and will-power seems to halt on indecision; but
decision is the life of the fast train. None of our conductors
stood the hopeless fight like Sankey. He was patient, taciturn,
untiring; and in a conflict with the elements, ferocious. All
the fighting blood of his ancestors seemed to course again in
that struggle with the winter king. I can see him yet, on bitter
days, standing alongside the track in a heavy pea-jacket and
Napoleon boots, a sealskin cap drawn snugly over his straight
black hair, watching, ordering, signaling, while Number One,
with its frost-bitten sleepers behind a rotary, tried to buck
through ten and twenty-foot cuts which lay bank-full of snow
west of McCloud.
Not until April did it begin to look as if we should win out.
A dozen times the line was all but choked on us. And then,
when snow-plows were disabled and train crews desperate,
there came a storm that discounted the worst blizzard of the
winter. As the reports rolled in on the morning of the 5th,
growing worse as they grew thicker, Neighbor, dragged out,
played out, mentally and physically, threw up his hands.
It snowed all day the 6th, and on Saturday morning the
section men reported thirty feet in the Blackwood cañon.
It was six o'clock when we got the word, and daylight before
we got the rotary against it. They bucked away till noon
without much headway, and came in with their gear smashed
and a driving-rod fractured. It looked as if we were at last
beaten. Number One pulled into McCloud that day eighteen
hours late; it was Sankey's and Sinclair's run west.
There was a long council in the round-house. The rotary
was knocked out; coal was running low in the chutes. If
the line wasn't kept open for the coal from the mountains, it
was plain we should be tied until we could ship it from Iowa
or Missouri. West of Medicine Pole there was another big
rotary working east, with plenty of coal behind her; but she
was reported stuck fast in the Cheyenne Hills. Foley made
suggestions, and Dad Sinclair made suggestions. Everybody
had a suggestion left. The trouble was, Neighbor said, they
didn't amount to anything, or were impossible. "It's a
dead block, boys," announced Neighbor sullenly after everybody
had done. "We are beaten unless we can get Number
One through to-day. Look there: by the holy poker, it's
The air was dark in a minute with whirling clouds. Men
turned to the windows and quit talking. Every fellow felt
the same—hopeless; at least, all but one. Sankey, sitting
back of the stove, was making tracings with a piece of chalk.
"You might as well unload your passengers, Sankey," said
Neighbor. "You'll never get 'em through this winter."
And it was then that Sankey proposed his double-header.
He devised a snow-plow which combined in one monster
ram about all the good material we had left, and submitted
the scheme to Neighbor. Neighbor studied it, and hacked
at it all he could, and brought it over to the office. It was
like staking everything on the last cast of the dice, but we
were in the state of mind which precedes a desperate venture.
It was talked over an hour, and orders were finally given by
the superintendent to rig up the double-header and get against
the snow with it.
All that day and most of the night Neighbor worked twenty
men on Sankey's device. By Sunday morning it was in such
shape that we began to take heart. "If she don't get through,
she'll sure get back again, and that's what most of 'em don't
do," growled Neighbor, as he and Sankey showed the new ram
to the engineers.
They had taken the 566, George Sinclair's engine, for one
head, and Burns's, the 497, for the other. Behind these
were Kennedy, with the 314, and Cameron, with the 296.
The engines were set in pairs, headed each way, and buckled
up like pack mules. Over the pilots and stacks of the head
engines rose the tremendous plows, which were to tackle the
worst drifts ever recorded, before or since, on the West End.
The ram was designed to work both ways. Under the coal,
each tender was loaded with pig-iron.
The beleaguered passengers on Number One, side-tracked
in the yards, eagerly watched the preparations Sankey was
making to clear the line. Every amateur on the train had his
camera out taking pictures of the ram. The town, gathered
in a single great mob, looked silently on, and listened to the
frosty notes of the sky-scrapers as they went through their
preliminary manœuvers. Just as the final word was given
by Sankey, conductor in charge, the sun burst through the
fleecy clouds, and a wild cheer followed the ram out of the
western yard; it was looked on as a sign of good luck to see
the sun again.
Little Neeta, up on the hill, must have seen them as they
pulled out. Surely she heard the choppy ice-bitten screech
of the 566; for that was never forgotten, whether the service
was special or regular. Besides, the head cab of the ram
carried this time not only Georgie Sinclair, but her father as
well. Sankey could handle a slice-bar as well as a punch, and
rode on the head engine, where, if anywhere, the big chances
would come. What Sankey was not capable of in the train-service
we never knew, because he rose superior to every
emergency that ever confronted him.
Bucking snow is principally brute force; there is very little
coaxing. West of the bluffs there was a volley of sharp tooting,
like code signals between a fleet of cruisers, and in just a
minute the four ponderous engines, two of them in the back
motion, fires white and throats bursting, steamed wildly into
the cañon. Six hundred feet from the first cut, Sinclair's
whistle signaled again. Burns and Cameron and Kennedy
answered; and then, literally turning the monster ram loose
against the dazzling mountain, the crews settled themselves
for the shock.
At such a moment there is nothing to be done. If anything
goes wrong, eternity is too close to consider. There came a
muffled drumming on the steam-chests; a stagger and a
terrific impact; and then the recoil, like the stroke of a trip-hammer.
The snow shot into the air fifty feet, and the wind
carried a cloud of fleecy confusion over the ram and out of
the cut. The cabs were buried in white, and the great steel
frames of the engines sprung like knitting-needles under the
frightful force of the blow. Pausing for hardly a breath,
they began the signaling again; then backed up and up and
up the line; and again the massive machines were hurled
screaming into the cut. "We're getting there, Georgie,"
cried Sankey when the rolling and lurching had stopped.
No one else could tell a thing about it, for it was snow and
snow and snow; above and behind and ahead and beneath.
Sinclair coughed the flakes out of his eyes and nose and mouth
like a baffled collie. He looked doubtful of the claim until
the mist had blown clear and the quivering monsters were
again recalled for a dash. Then it was plain that Sankey's
instinct was right; they were gaining.
Again they went in, lifting a very avalanche over the stacks,
packing the banks of the cut with walls hard as ice. Again,
as the drivers stuck, they raced in a frenzy, and into the shriek
of the wind went the unearthly scrape of the overloaded
safeties. Slowly and sullenly the machines were backed again.
"She's doing the work, Georgie," cried Sankey. "For
that kind of a cut she's as good as a rotary. Look everything
over now while I go back and see how the boys are standing
it. Then we'll give her one more, and give it the hardest
And they did give her one more; and another. Men at
Santiago put up no stouter fight than these men made that
Sunday morning in the cañon of the Blackwood. Once they
went in, and twice. And the second time the bumping
drummed more deeply; the drivers held, pushed, panted, and
gained against the white wall; heaved and stumbled ahead;
and with a yell from Sinclair and Sankey and the fireman, the
double-header shot her nose into the clear over the Blackwood
gorge. As engine after engine flew past the divided
walls each cab took up the cry; it was the wildest crowd that
ever danced to victory. Through they went and half-way
across the bridge before they could check their monster
catapult. Then, at a half full, they shot it back again at the
cut, for it worked as well one way as the other.
"The thing is done," declared Sankey, when they got into
position up the line for a final shoot to clean out the eastern
cut and get head for a dash across the bridge and into the west
end of the cañon, where there lay another mountain of snow
to split. "Look the machines over pretty close, boys," said
he to the engineers. "If nothing's sprung, we'll take a full
head across the gorge—the bridge will carry anything—and
buck the west cut. Then after we get Number One
through this afternoon, Neighbor can put his baby cabs in here
and keep 'em chasing all night. But it's done snowing,"
he added, looking at the leaden sky.
He had the plans all figured out for the master mechanic,
the shrewd, kindly old man. I think, myself, there's no man
on earth like a good Indian; and, for that matter, none like
a bad one. Sankey knew by a military instinct just what
had to be done and how to do it. If he had lived, he was to
have been assistant superintendent. That was the word
that leaked from headquarters afterward. And with a volley
of jokes between the cabs and a laughing and yelling between
toots, down went Sankey's double-header again into the
At the same moment, by an awful misunderstanding of
orders, down came the big rotary from the west end with a
dozen cars of coal behind. Mile after mile it had wormed
east toward Sankey's ram, and it now burrowed through the
western cut of the Blackwood, crashed through the drift Sankey
was aiming for, and whirled out into the open, dead against
him, at forty miles an hour. Each train, in order to make
the grade and the blockade against it, was straining the
Through the swirling snow that half hid the bridge and
interposed between the rushing plows Sinclair saw them
coming. He yelled. Sankey saw them a fraction of a second
later, and while Sinclair struggled with the throttle and the
air, Sankey gave the alarm through the whistle to the poor
fellows in the blind pockets behind. But the track was at the
worst. Where there was no snow there were "whiskers";
oil itself couldn't have been worse to stop on. It was the old
and deadly peril of fighting blockades from both ends on a
single track. The great rams of steel and fire had done their
work, and with their common enemy overcome, they dashed
at each other like madmen across the Blackwood gorge.
The fireman at the first cry shot out the side. Sankey
yelled at Sinclair to jump. But Georgie shook his head: he
never would jump. Without hesitating, Sankey picked him
from the levers in his arms, planted a sure foot, and hurled him
like a coal shovel through the gangway far out into the gorge.
The other cabs were already empty. But the instant's delay
in front cost Sankey his life. Before he himself could jump
the rotary crashed into the 566. They reared like mountain
lions, pitched sideways and fell headlong into the creek, fifty
feet. Sankey went under them. He could have saved himself;
he chose to save George. There wasn't time to do
both; he had to choose, and to choose instantly. Did he,
maybe, think in that flash of Neeta and of whom she needed
most—of a young and a stalwart protector rather than an
old and failing one? I do not know; I know only what he
did. Every one who jumped got clear. Sinclair lit in ten
feet of snow, and they pulled him out with a rope: he wasn't
scratched. Even the bridge was not badly strained. Number
One pulled over it next day.
Sankey was right; there was no more snow; not even
enough to cover the dead engines that lay on the rocks. But
the line was open: the fight was won.
There never was a funeral in McCloud like Sankey's.
George Sinclair and Neeta followed first, and of the mourners
there were as many as there were spectators. Every engine on
the division carried black for thirty days.
Sankey's contrivance for fighting snow has never yet been
beaten on the high line. It is perilous to go against a drift
behind it: something has to give. But it gets there, as Sankey
got there—always; and in time of blockade and desperation
on the West End they still send out Sankey's double-header;
though Sankey, as the conductors tell the children, traveling
east or traveling west—Sankey isn't running any more.
AUNT MARY TELEGRAPHS
A Comedy of Everyday Life
By LLOYD E. LONERGAN
"Auntie left on the six-o'clock train last night. Meet
her at the depot.—Clara."
This telegram, dated New York, greeted Frank Carey
when he reached his pleasant little home on Indiana Avenue,
"Aunt Mary will be here to-night," he said to his wife, "my
rich aunt from New York, you know. I am to meet her at
"When does she arrive?" fluttered pretty little Mrs. Carey,
a bride of a few months. "Cannot I go with you to
Mr. Carey said she could, then he thought for a moment,
then he put his doubts into words after a second reading of
"I wonder what road she is coming in on?" he said.
"'Twas stupid of her," replied his wife, "but call up the
railroads and find out which one has a six-o'clock train from
New York. Silly!"
Mr. Carey kissed his wife and remarked that she was the
brightest little girl in the world, after which he gaily telephoned,
listened intently to someone on the other end of the
line, made numerous notes, and turned to his wife in despair.
"Bless Clara!" he said devoutly.
His wife looked surprised, so he hastily explained.
"There is a six o'clock train from New York on the Pennsylvania,
also on the Lake Shore, likewise on the Michigan
Central, and the Lehigh Valley, and the Grand Trunk, and the
West Shore, and the B. &. O.!"
"Which one is auntie coming on?" inquired Mrs. Carey
"All of them," replied her husband wrathfully. "She is
sitting on the cow-catcher of each and every train, and if I'm
not there to meet her she'll disinherit me. Haven't you
Whereupon there were tears, apologies, and finally a council
of war. It was Mrs. Carey who solved the problem.
"All we have to do," she cried, "is to meet all the trains.
Won't it be cute?"
Carey didn't think so, but was afraid to express himself.
He simply tried to look impressed and listened.
"There are only seven trains," she continued. "Now
you," counting on her fingers, "are one, and I am two and Mr.
and Mrs. Haines next door, who belong to my whist club, are
four; and Ella Haines is five; and I just saw Mr. What's-his-name
go in to call on Ella—and he'll be six; and that
horrid man on the next block who is in your lodge will have
to be seven."
The "train meeters" were gathered together inside of an
hour. Mrs. Carey overruled all objections and laughed away
all difficulties. She told them it would be a lark, and they
believed it—at the time! As none of them had met Mrs.
Smith (Aunt Mary), Carey was called upon for a description.
"Aunt Mary," he said, "is of medium height, dark complexion
and usually dresses in black. She is fifty-eight
years old, but tells people she is under fifty. You cannot
miss her." And with this they were compelled to be satisfied.
Ella Haines was assigned to the Pennsylvania depot and
arrived late. All the New York passengers had disembarked,
but an old woman was standing at the entrance and looking
anxiously at the passers-by.
"Mrs. Smith?" said Ella, inquiringly.
"Thank heaven, you have come," was the joyous reply.
"Here," and she stepped to one side and revealed a little girl
who was gazing out at the tracks. "I've had such a time
with that brat and I'll never travel with another again. I've
just got time to catch my train for St. Paul. Good-bye!"
Whereupon, disregarding Ella's cries and her protestations,
the woman rushed madly to the other end of the depot and
disappeared through a gate which closed behind her with a
slam. It was the last call for the St. Paul train.
Naturally, Ella did not know what to do. She hung around
the depot for half an hour, hoping someone would claim the
child. Then she put the little one in a cab and gave the
Careys' address in Indiana Avenue.
Walter Haines went to the Lake Shore depot. One of
the first passengers to emerge from the New York train was a
female, who seemed to answer the general description furnished
by Carey. She was breathless as if from running
faster than an old woman should run. As she reached Haines,
she stopped and glared at him.
"Mrs. Smith?" he inquired, lifting his hat.
The woman grabbed him by the arm. "I knew you would
be here, but hurry, that man is after me!"
"What man?" asked Haines in surprise.
"Hush, we cannot talk now," was the reply. "Get a
carriage and drive fast, fast; we must escape him."
"George couldn't come, he sent me. My name is Haines,"
said the puzzled escort.
"I don't care if your name is Beelzebub" was the impatient
retort. "You get that carriage or I'll write to Roosevelt."
And Mr. Haines, very much astonished, complied.
He thought as he drove away that he heard someone shouting,
but was not sure; in fact, he paid no attention, for he was
too busy thinking what a queer old aunt his friend Carey had.
The "horrid man who belonged to the lodge" was named
Perkins. He reached the B. & O. depot half an hour ahead
of time, so he went across the street and had a drink. When
he returned he discovered that No. 7 was late, and so had
another. Also, several more. By the time the train did
arrive he was in such a mellow state that he couldn't tell a
parlor car from a lake steamer—and he didn't care! He
had likewise forgotten what George's aunt looked like, but
that, too, was a trivial matter. So he stood at the gate, beaming
blandly at every person that appeared.
"Are you Georsh's saunt?" he inquired of a tall man with
white side-whiskers and garbed in ministerial black. His
answer was a look of horror, but it had no effect on Perkins,
who repeated his question at intervals without result. His
lack of success finally drove him to tears.
"Poor Georsh!" he sobbed. "Dear old Georsh! Must
have an naunt! Break hish heart if he don't have an naunt!
Can't fine his naunt! Get him one myself!"
A gang of immigrants were passing at the time. Perkins
grabbed one of them by the arm.
"Be nish fellow," he said persuasively, "be Georsh's
The immigrant was obdurate, but Perkins was persistent.
He drew a roll of bills from his pocket and peeled off a five.
This he pressed upon his new-found friend.
"Be a good aunt," he said, "be a nish aunt, and I'll give
you two more like thish!"
The Italian, overcome by the sight of so much wealth,
fell captive to the eloquence of Perkins. The latter was
delighted. He escorted his victim to a saloon across the
street and hurled six drinks into him in rapid succession.
The immigrant beamed and forgot all his troubles. He lit
a fifteen-cent cigar and puffed away as if he were used to it.
"Be your-a aunt," he said, "be-a anybody's aunt. You
This sentiment led to another round of drinks, and then
the pair tumbled into a cab, singing discordantly in two languages.
Perkins fortunately remembered the address of Haines,
and was able to mumble it so that the hackman could understand.
Therefore there was no bar to his enjoyment.
Of course they stopped en route, for Perkins was brimming
over with gratitude and the cabman was included in their
rejoicing. Long before they reached Indiana Avenue, everybody
was drunk except the horse.
In the meantime there was all sorts of trouble in the modest
residence of George Carey. The head of the household had
fumed and fretted about the Michigan Central depot, and
finally started home, auntless. There he met his wife, Mrs.
Haines and Ella's young man with similar stories. Five minutes
later a carriage drove up and Ella and her charge alighted.
"Isn't she a dear little girl?" gurgled Miss Haines, who,
being petite and worried, didn't know anything else to do
under the circumstances except to gurgle.
Carey gazed at the young woman with distinct disapproval
for the first time in his life.
"I know the popular impression is that old ladies shrink,"
he said, "but Aunt Mary could never have shrunk to that
size. Where did you get her and why?"
Falteringly, Miss Haines explained. Then she cried. The
child, who had regarded them gravely up to this point, took
it for a signal. She screamed, then she roared. Nobody
could comfort her or find out who she was.
The arrival of another cab distracted their attention. The
bell rang loudly. As Carey opened the door, an old woman
bounded in. Her hat was on one side of her head and her eyes
"Safe at last!" she cried. Then she ran upstairs, entered
Mrs. Haines's room, and locked the door. Through the panels
came the sound of hysterical laughter.
Walter Haines entered the house at this moment. His
attitude was distinctly apologetic.
"Remarkable old lady, isn't she?" he ventured.
"Who?" asked Mr. Carey.
"Why your aunt, of course; didn't you see her come in?"
Carey choked down his wrath out of respect to the ladies,
but it was hard work.
"I never saw that woman before," he remarked; "you
brought her here uninvited, now you take her away."
Naturally this provoked argument. Mrs. Haines sided
with her husband, Mrs. Carey flew to the aid of her worser
half, Miss Haines wept, and the little girl screamed. Upstairs,
the bogus Aunt Mary was still laughing.
None of the interested parties could tell afterward how long
the talk continued. A louder noise outside drew them all to
the front porch. In front of the house was a hansom cab
drawn by a disgusted-looking horse. He looked and acted
like one who had been compelled against his will to mingle
with disreputable associates.
The driver descended from his seat and fell full length upon
the pavement. He didn't try to get up, but chanted in a
husky tone, "Hail! hail! the gang's all here!!!"
Then the door of the cab opened and Mr. Perkins appeared.
Nobody could deny that he was very much the worse for wear.
But Mr. Perkins bore himself like a conqueror. He advanced
hastily and embraced Carey with enthusiasm. Carey
"Dear Georsh," said Perkins. "Got you an naunt!"
Apprehensively, Carey ran to the carriage. Huddled upon
the floor was an object that moved faintly. From the atmosphere
Sherlock Holmes would have deduced that a whisky
refinery had exploded in that cab a few hours before. The
onlooker gingerly touched the object. It rolled over, then it
rolled out of the cab and lay on the sidewalk beside the driver.
Perkins kept on smiling. "Your naunt," he remarked,
blandly. "Couldn't get you what you wanted. Got you
At this moment, Carey remembered that he had a telephone.
He spurned his "aunt" with his foot and passed into the
house. He called up Police Headquarters. His friend,
Sergeant Bob O'Rourke, was on duty, which made it easier
"Bob," he said, after greetings had been exchanged, "have
you an alarm out for a little girl kidnapped from the Pennsylvania
"And does anybody want a crazy woman, last seen on a
Lake Shore train?"
"Yes; her keeper was here half an hour ago," was the
reply. "He was taking her to Kankakee and she made a get-away.
What do you know about her?"
"They are both here," was the reply. "Send the wagon,
and just for good measure I'll throw in an Italian immigrant
who came in over the B. & O. and a cab-driver. They are
both drunk, very drunk, and please take the cab away too."
The next half hour gave Indiana Avenue residents plenty
to talk about for a month. But finally the combat was over,
and Carey and his friends sat down exhausted.
"But what I would like to know," remarked the head of
the house, "where, oh where is Aunt Mary?"
It was a messenger-boy who brought the answer—a telegram
dated Niagara Falls, current date and reading:
"Stopped over here. Isn't the view from Goat Island
wonderful? Leave for Chicago on the first train. Meet me."
There was a sudden painful silence.
"Does anybody know how many trains there are from
Niagara Falls?" inquired Mrs. Carey, speaking to the company
generally. She didn't dare to address her husband.
"Just about as many as there are from New York," replied
Haines, with a woebegone look. "But—"
"Don't finish it," returned Carey, "I am not going to ask
you to try again, and I am not going to do so myself. Aunt
Mary can leave her money to anybody she pleases. If I
had another night like this the executors would be compelled
to mail me my cheque to an asylum."
And the next evening Aunt Mary, unattended, reached her
nephew's house without any trouble at all. She didn't
disinherit him; in fact, she felt so sorry because of his troubles
that she bought Mrs. Carey a complete spring outfit regardless
It's a good thing to have an Aunt Mary, even if she is
indefinite in her telegrams.
THE VENGEANCE OF THE WOLF
A Drama in Wales
By J. AQUILA KEMPSTER
In the great stone hall of Llangarth, Daurn-ap-Tavis,
the old Welsh Wolf lay dying. Outside was the night
and a sullen gale whose winds came moaning down the hills
and clung about the house with little bodeful whispers that
grew to long-drawn eerie wails, while pettish rain-squalls
spent their spite in futile gusts on door and casement.
And through the night from time to time a horseman came,
spurring hard and spitting out strange Welsh oaths at the
winds that harried him. Five had passed the door since sun-down,
four worthy sons and a nephew of the Wolf. They
stood now booted and spurred about the old man's couch,
a rough-looking crew with the mud caking them from
head to foot, while the leaping flames from the log
fire flung their shadows black and distorted far up among
They hung around him sullenly, but as he looked them up
and down the sick man's eyes took on a new keenness and a
low, throaty laugh that was half a growl escaped him.
"Well, Cedric, man, what devil's game have you been
playing of late? and, Tad, you black rascal—ah, 'twas a
pity you were born to Gruffydd instead of me. Well, well,
boys, the old Wolf's cornered at last, cornered at last, and
Garm, Levin, Rhys—the Cadwallader's going to live and
laugh, aye, he's going to live and laugh while a Tavis roasts
Garm started with a low growl, while Cedric kicked savagely
at a hound that lay beside the logs.
"Aye, Ced, kick the old dog, but it won't stop the Cadwallader's
Cedric clenched his fists at the taunt and his face grew
purple in the fire glow, but old Daurn went on remorselessly:
"Twenty years he's laughed at the Wolf and his whelps, an'
think you he'll stop now? He was always too lucky for me.
I thought when my lads grew strong—— But there, he laid me
low, the only man that ever did, curse him! There's the
mark, boys; see the shamed blood rise to it?"
He loosened his shirt with a fretful jerk and they bent
over and glowered at the red scar which ran across his chest.
They had all seen it times before, knew the dark quarrel and
the darker fight, had tingled with shame again and again, but
to-night it seemed to hold an added sting, for the Wolf was
going out with his debt unpaid.
Cedric, the elder, gaped and shuddered, then fell to cursing
again, but Daurn drew back the quilt and went on talking:
"I swore by the body of God to get even, and day and night
I've watched my chance. I tried at Tredegar, and that
night ye all mind at Ebbu Vale. Yes, I tell you a dozen times,
but he's a fox, curse him! a sly old fox, and now the Wolf's
teeth are broken. What's that, Ced? Look to him, Tad—aye,
look to all thy cousins. Fine grown lads, big, brave, and
fierce, but the Cadwallader still lives and laughs; yes, laughs
at old Daurn and his boys. My God! to think of it."
"Curse me! choke me!" Cedric stormed out in spluttering
fury, gripping his sword with one hand while he dragged at
his coat with the other. "I'll cut—cut his bl-black gizzard,
blast him. I'm a c-c-coward, eh! Right in my t-teeth!
Well, wait till th'-th' dawn an' see."
He had crammed his hat over his eyes and with coat buttoned
all awry was half way to the door before Tad caught
and held him, whispering in his ear: "Steady, Ced, steady.
He's got some plan or I'm a fool. Come back an' wait a bit,
an' if I'm mistaken I'll surely ride along with ye."
Cedric yielded, doubtful and sullen, but Daurn greeted
him bravely: "God's truth, lad, you've the spirit of the
Wolf at least, but you've got no brains to plan. Come close
an' listen, an' if ye truly want a fight thy father'll never
Then with faltering breath but gleaming eyes he unfolded
the plan he had conceived to make his dying a thing of greater
infamy than all his bloody days.
The beginnings of the feud between the House of the Wolf
and that of Llyn Gethin, the Cadwallader, were so remote
that probably both had forgotten, if they ever knew them, for
the old Welsh chieftains passed their quarrels on from generation
to generation and their hot blood rarely cooled in the
passing. Llyn was about the only man in the country who had
been able to hold his own against "the Tavis," but hold it he
had with perhaps a trifle to spare. Indeed, of late years he
had let slip many an opportunity for reprisals, and thrice had
made overtures of peace which had been violently rejected.
Llyn had fought fair at least, even if he had struck hard, but
the life of the Wolf had been as treacherous as it was bloody.
And day by day and year by year, as Daurn's strength began
to fail and brooding took the place of action, the bitterness
of his hatred grew, and out of this at last the plan. It was
Daurn was old, dying, and weary of the strife. He would
pass at peace with the world and particularly with his ancient
foe. A messenger should be sent inviting Llyn and his sons
to Llangarth. They would suspect nothing, for all Wales
knew the Wolf lay low—would probably come unarmed and
needs must, as time was short, travel by night. Well, there
was a convenient and lonely spot some three miles from
Llangarth—did the lads understand? Aye, they understood,
but their breath came heavily and they glanced furtively
each at the other, while the youngest, Rhys, shivered and drew
closer to Tad.
Daurn's burning eyes questioned them one by one, and
one by one they bowed their heads but spake never a word.
"Ye'll swear to it, lads," he whispered hoarsely, and drew
a long dagger from beneath his pillow. For answer there
came the rattle of loosened steel, and as he again bared his
breast they drew closer in a half circle, laying their blades
flat above his heart, his own dagger adding to the ring of
And then they swore by things unknown to modern men
to wipe out the shame that had lain so long upon their house,
and that before their father died.
As their voices ceased the wind outside seemed to take
up the burden of their bloody oath as if possessed, for it
shrieked and wailed down the great chimney like some living
thing in pain. And then, in a little lull following on the sobbing
cry, there came a curious straining push that shook the
closed oak door.
They stood transfixed, for a moment daunted, with their
swords half in and half out their scabbards, till with a warning
gesture to his cousins, Black Tad stole softly across the floor
and, lifting the heavy bar cautiously, opened the door.
He paused an instant on the lintel, motionless and rigid to
the point of his sword, his eyes fixed on the white face of a
girl who was cowered back against the further wall. For a
fraction of time he hesitated, but the awful anguish of the
face and the mute, desperate appeal of the whole pose settled
him. With a rough clatter he sprang into the dim passage,
rattling his sword and stamping his feet, at the same time
giving vent with his lips to the yelp of a hound in pain, and
following it with rough curses and vituperation. Then, without
another glance at the girl, he re-entered the hall and
slammed to the door, grumbling at Rhys for not keeping his
dogs tied up.
By one o'clock the great hall was still. The men were
lying scattered about the house, for the most part sleeping
as heavily as many jorums of rum made possible.
But the firelight flickering in the hall caught ever an answering
gleam from the old Wolf's eyes as he lay there gray, shaggy,
and watchful. From time to time his bony fingers plucked
restlessly at his beard, and now and again his lips stretched
back over yellow teeth in an evil smile as he gloated over the
details of his coming vengeance.
And out in a chill upper hall Gwenith, the fair daughter
of a black house, sat in a deep embrasure, her arms clinging
to the heavy oak bars desperately. The wind moaned and
sighed about her while her white terrified lips echoed the
agony of her heart. And the burden of her whispered cry
was ever, "Davy!—Davy!" and then: "For the Christ's
So the night drew on with the men and dogs sleeping torpidly;
with the old Wolf chuckling grimly as the shadows
closed about him, and with the child in the cold above sobbing
out pitiful prayers for her lover, for only yesterday she had
plighted her troth to Davy Gethin, the Cadwallader's youngest
These two had met in the early days when she wandered
free over the rolling hills, a wild young kilted sprite, fearful
of nothing save her father and his grim sons. And Davy
had wooed her ardently, though in secret from the first. It
had been charming enough in the past despite the fear that
ever made her say him nay. Then yesterday he had won her
from her tears and fears, won her by his brave and tender
front, and she had placed her little hands on his breast and
sworn to follow him despite all else when once her father had
passed away. And now, twelve short hours after her fingers
had touched him, her fear had caught her by the throat, for
they would kill him surely, her prince, the only joy she had
So went the night, with desperate distracted plans, and the
dumb agony of cold despair. And in the very early dawn,
when men and things cling close to sleep, she heard a gentle
stirring—a muffled footfall on the stairs, and Black Tad
stood at her side, a great shadow, questioning her.
"Mistress, what heard you?"
And she answered quick with loathing: "All! all the vile,
"They are our foes" he muttered moodily.
"Foes! Foes! Nay, none of you are worthy any foe—save
the hangman! Ah, God will curse you! Cruel! Cruel!"
She leaned out of her seat toward him, her panting breath
and fierce words lashing him so that he stepped back a pace,
dazed—she was ever such a gentle child.
"What would you, Gwen?"
"What would I! My God!—a fair fight at least. Oh,
Tad, and I thought you were a brave man."
"I—I—damme, I, what can I do?—and what does it
"Matter?—a foul blot!—matter to you and Ced and
father—nothing! Murderers! I hate you all! What has
the Cadwallader done? All Wales knows 'twas ever father
set on him, not he on father—Always!—always, I say! Aye,
I remember that bloody night at Ebbu Vale. Shame! Shame!
And the harrying and burning at Rhyll, when the mother and
her babes perished. No, you weren't there, Tad, but you
know and I know who was. Ah, Tad, she's crying to God—that
mother, and holding the little dead things in her hands,
close up to his face. And now you'd murder Llyn, for all he's
ever been for peace."
"Hush-s-sh! not so loud, Gwen."
"Not so loud! not so loud!" she jibed bitterly. "If you
fear my poor voice now, what will it be when all Wales is
ringing with this last foul deed?"
Tad breathed hard, then caught her wrists suddenly,
crushing them in his fierceness: "Listen, Gwenith. After
all I'm no Tavis—I'm Gruffydd, and I love you."
She shrank away with wide, fearful eyes, her breath coming
in little painful gasps.
"What—what do you mean, Tad?"
"I love you, Gwen."
"Well, I'm no Tavis—I'm Gruffydd."
Slowly the meaning which he himself hardly understood
dawned on her.
"You'll save them, Tad?"
"Na, na. A fair fight is what you said. 'Tis all I can do."
"And you will?"
"I love you," he persisted stubbornly.
She closed her eyes tightly and leaned back against the
wooden shutter, her hands still held close in his grasp. And
she strove to see clearly through the mist of horror and pain.
It was a chance, at least a fighting chance, to save Davy, her
prince; the only chance, the only way, and outside that what
Her eyes opened and her lips trembled; then she got her
strength back and faced him in the dim dawn.
"My life for theirs, Tad,—is that it?"
Her eyes and her question shamed him, but he clung to
his text doggedly, for he had loved her long and hopelessly in
his wild, stubborn way, and this was his first and only desperate
"I love ye, Gwenith, I love ye!"
There came a stir in the far hall, a long-drawn yawn; and
at the sound the girl whispered fiercely: "Well, it's a bargain;
give them fair warning and I'll—I'll do—give you your
will. Yes, I swear it by the dear Saint David. Quick! let
me go—no, not now!—Tad, I command you, I—I—Quick!
that's Garm's voice; let me go."
"Llyn Gethin! a word in your ear before we ride on."
It was Tad who spoke to the old Cadwallader out in the
moonlight. Llyn had answered Daurn's urgent message
for peace, and a few miles north of Llangarth had met Tad.
At the words the old man looked at him curiously, but reined
his horse in, while his sons watched the pair suspiciously, for
they were young, their blood and their hate still ran hotly,
and save for their father would have had none of this death-bed
"Well, lad, what is it?" asked Llyn, when they were out
"A word of warning, sir—from one who hates you."
"Ah! You were ever a good hater, boy. What is it?"
"'Tis a trick o 'mine, sir—this visit—and you'd better
"I think not, Tad."
"Well, have your way, but if you ride with me you ride to
"We ride with you, Tad."
"Your blood be on you and your sons, then, Llyn Gethin.
You're safe to the stone bridge; after that fend for yourself.
I—I'm a cursed traitor, but, by David, I strike with my
house. There, I've warned you, and God forgive me."
"Amen, lad! Will you shake hands before we ride?"
"No, choke me! I'd sooner ding my dagger in your
So they rejoined the waiting group and rode forward, Tad
moodily in advance, Llyn and his sons in a whispering bunch
some yards behind. It had been Tad's own suggestion that
he ride forward and meet the Gethins so they might be lured
the more easily to the turn beyond the bridge. Now they
followed on till they saw the white masonry gleaming in the
moonlight, and then the dark form of Tad's horse crossing it,
when there was a halt and a grim tightening of belts and
loosening of swords. And as the man on the bridge threw up
his arm, Llyn answered the sign hoarsely: "God keep thee,
son of Gruffydd!" he cried. Then as his sons closed in he
turned on them sternly: "Remember, lads! who touches him
touches me. Ah! steady now! Forward!"
Even as they clattered on the bridge Tad's challenge and
signal to his kinsmen rang out furiously:
"The Wolf! The Wolf and Saint David!"
Then came a rush of horse and steel and wild-eyed men,
which but for their preparation would have swept the Gethins
down. As it was they met it fiercely as it came. They had
not come unarmed—perhaps wise old Llyn distrusted such
late penitence even as did his sons. Be that as it may, the cry
of "Cadwallader!" rose against "The Wolf!" and bore it
back, for even in the first wild rush, Cedric fell away before
a long, swift thrust, and a moment later Rhys, the youngest of
the house went down and died beneath the stamping iron
When Llyn saw this he called to stop the fight, but Tad,
in a frenzy of horror and remorse, flung on again with Garth
and Levin striking wild beside him. 'Twas a wicked rush,
but now the fight stood five to three, and in the crash Levin
slipped and got a dagger in his throat, while Tad spurred
through an open way. Then as he reined and turned, the
end was come, for Garm's shrill death-cry tore the air, and
he was left alone.
Thrice he charged like a wounded boar, shouting hoarsely
for the house he had betrayed. "The Wolf! The Wolf!
Saint David and the Wolf!"
And ever he found that open way and ever their steel
At last he reined in his sweating mare and fell to cursing,
his face distraught with agony and wet with blood and sweat
and tears. So he stood, desperate—at bay, and taunted
them with every vileness his furious tongue could frame.
Then faltered at last with a great heartbroken sob, for they
sat silent and still and would not give him fight.
On the road at his horse's feet Cedric lay and Rhys, and
over yonder in the grass the other two. He swayed weakly
as he looked, then slid from his saddle and stooping, kissed
his cousins one by one, with those grim, silent figures looking
on. He broke his sword across his knee—his father, Gruffydd's
sword—and flung the pieces with an oath at Llyn.
Then, ere they could guess his meaning, his dagger flashed,
and with a last weak cry for "the Wolf," he fell with the men
of his House.
Back at Llangarth the great hall was aglow and Daurn
chuckled and waited and plucked at his beard, till, just past
midnight, there came a sudden commotion and the heavy
tramp of horses in the outer court. Then Gwenith ran in
white and wild, and kneeling, buried her sobs in the drapery
of the couch. And ere her father could question her a group
of sombre figures filled the doorway.
'Twas a dream—surely 'twas a fearful dream! Or were
they ghosts? Yes, that was it; see the blood on them! He
was either dreaming or these were the very dead.
They drew up to the couch, Llyn and his tall, stern sons.
Daurn knew them well and strove to curse them, but the
Cadwallader's grave voice hushed him to a sudden fear.
"Peace be with thee, Daurn-ap-Tavis, we come—to
bid thee farewell."
Daurn gasped and stuttered, his fingers clawing fearfully
while a cold sweat broke out over his forehead. But ere
he found his voice two of Llyn's sons, David and Sion, drew
away to the door, and later, Llewellen and Pen. They came
back heavily and laid their burdens gently by the fire logs
and returned, then came again and went. Five times in all.
And an awful fear was in Daurn's eyes as he glared at those
still, muffled shapes lying close beside him in the firelight.
Then Llyn spoke, slow and sorrowfully, as he stooped and
one by one drew the face-cloths from the dead.
"Peace be with thee, Daurn-ap-Tavis; thy son Cedric—bids
"Rhys—bids thee farewell.
"Also Tad, thy brother's son—bids thee farewell."
But the end was come, for Daurn, with a little childish cry,
had gone to seek his sons. Llyn stooped and gently closed the
old Wolf's eyes, then with bent head and weary step passed
from the room.
But young Davy stole back softly and knelt near the stricken
girl at the foot of the couch.
THE WOOING OF BETTINA
A Story of Finance
By W.Y. SHEPPARD
Mr. Paul Strumley stood on the veranda of Mr.
Richard Stokes's sumptuous home in the fashionable
suburb of Lawrenceville and faced the daughter of the house
indignantly. The daughter of the house was also plainly
perturbed. Their mutual agitation was sharply accentuated
by the fresh calmness of the spring morning, which seemed
to hover like a north-bound bird over the wide, velvety lawn.
"Bettina," announced Mr. Strumley suddenly, "your
"An old goose."
"No, a brute!"
This explosion appeared momentarily to relieve his state
of mind. But in his breast there was still left a sufficiency
of outraged dignity to warm his cheeks hotly, and not by any
means without an abundance of cause. Scarcely an hour
before he had nervously, yet exultantly, alighted from his big
touring car in front of the Commercial Bank, to seek the
president of that institution in the sanctity of his private
office. There, briefly but eloquently, he announced the
engagement of Miss Bettina Stokes to Mr. Paul Strumley,
and naïvely requested for the happy young people a full share
of the parental sanction and blessing. And his callow confidence
can hardly be condemned on recalling that he was
one of the wealthiest and most popular young swains in the
city. Mr. Stokes, however, did not seem to take this into
consideration. On the contrary, he rose to the occasion with
an outburst of disapprobation too inflammatory to be set
on paper, and quickly followed it with a picturesque and
uncompromising ultimatum. In the confused distress of
the unexpected Mr. Strumley found himself unable to marshal
a single specimen of logical refutation. He could only retreat
in haste, to recover, if possible, at leisure.
But this leisure, the time it had taken him to hurl the
machine across town to Bettina, had proven sadly insufficient.
When he rushed up the steps to the veranda, where sat
the object of his affections rocking in beautiful serenity, he
was still choking from indignation, and had found it hard to
tell her in coherent sentences that her father had energetically
refused the honor of an alliance with the highly respectable
The grounds, however, on which had been based this
unreasonable objection were of all things under the sun the
most preposterous. Mr. Stokes had emphatically declared
that his daughter's happiness was too dear to him to be foolishly
entrusted to one who could not even manage his own
affairs, let alone the affairs of a wife, and, presumably later,
of a family. Mr. Strumley was rich at present, so much
was readily conceded; but he was not capable himself of taking
care of what a thrifty parent had laid by for him. He in his
weak-mindedness was compelled to hire the brains of a mere
substitute, a manager, if you prefer. Should anything happen,
and such things happen every day, where would Mr. Strumley
be? And where, pray, would be his wife and family? In
"My daughter is too good for a man who cannot manage
his own concerns," the irate father had summed up. "When
you have shown yourself capable, my lad, of competing in
the world with grown-up intellects, then there will be time
enough for you to contemplate matrimony—and not until
then. Good morning to you, Mr. Strumley."
"And he snapped his jaws together like a vise," recalled
Paul, coming out from his gloomy retrospection.
"If he shut them so," and Bettina worked her pretty chin
out to its farthest extension, "well, that means he is like the
man from Missouri; you've got to show him before he changes
his mind one iota."
"I ought to have been humping over a desk from the start,"
regretted Mr. Strumley, feeling his bulging biceps dolefully.
"It's all right stroking a crew, and heaps of fun, too, but it
doesn't win you a wife. Now there's your dad, he couldn't
pull a soap box across a bath tub; but he can pull through
a 'deal' I couldn't budge with a hand-spike."
Miss Bettina sighed sympathetically, and smiled appreciatively.
She felt deeply for her lover, and was justly proud
of such a capable parent. "Every one does say papa is an
excellent business man," she remarked; "and he certainly
can swing some wonderful deals. Only yesterday I accidentally
overheard him telling Mr. Proctor that he held an option—I
think that was the word—from Haynes, Forster & Company
on thousands and thousands of acres of timber land in Arkansas.
He said it would expire to-day at two o'clock, but that
he was going to buy the land for cash—'spot cash' he said
was what they demanded."
Mr. Strumley smiled ruefully. "And I guess it will be
some of my 'spot cash,'" he ruminated. "I am not saying
anything against your father, Bettina, but if it wasn't for
such idle good-for-nothings as myself, who let their money
accumulate in his bank, I doubt if he could swing many of
these 'big deals.' If we were like he wanted us to be, we'd
be swinging them ourselves."
After Mr. Strumley had finished his bit of philosophy, he
fell to communing with himself. Apparently his own wisdom
had stirred a new thought within his breast. It had. He
was beginning to wonder what would happen if Bettina's
father suddenly found himself bereft of sufficient "spot cash"
to take advantage of this option. Anyone having a second
call on same might be fortunate enough to swing the "big
deal"—and profit by it, according to his intentions!
"Paul," Bettina broke in upon his meditations, a little note
of hopeful pleading in her voice, "it might not be too late
for you to—to reform?"
Mr. Strumley aroused himself with difficulty, and looked
into her bewitching face before replying. Then: "Maybe
you are right," he mused; "at any rate I have an idea."
And kissing her thoughtfully, he strode down the steps toward
where encouragingly panted his car.
The car proudly bore Mr. Strumley and his idea to the
brand-new offices of a certain young friend of his who had
himself only recently metamorphosed from the shell to the
swivel chair. Mr. Greenlee looked up in mute surprise. But
Mr. Strumley ignored it and came to the point with a rush.
Did Mr. Greenlee have twenty thousand dollars in cash to
spare? He did? Good! Would he lend it to Mr. Strumley
on gilt-edge collateral? Never mind exclamations; they had
no market value. Eight per cent. did. Then Mr. Greenlee
was willing to make the loan? That was talking business;
and Mr. Strumley with the securities would call in two hours
for the cash. That would give Mr. Greenlee ample time in
which to get it from his bank—the Commercial.
When outside Mr. Strumley allowed himself to smile.
Suddenly this evidence of inward hilarity broadened into a
heartily exploded greeting, as a familiar figure turned the
corner and advanced directly toward him. It was another
wealthy customer of the aforesaid bank.
"I was just on my way to your office, Mr. Proctor," Paul
announced pleasantly, at the same time cautiously drawing to
one side the customer of the Commercial. "I intend investing
heavily in real estate," he vouchsafed with admirable sang-froid;
"and need, right away, in spot cash, about thirty
thousand dollars. Have you got that much to spare at 8 per
cent., on first class security?"
Eight per cent! Mr. Proctor's expression expanded. He
made his living by lending money for much less. If dear
Mr. Strumley would call at his office within two hours he
should have it every cent—just as soon as he could get a
check cashed at the Commercial.
Next the faithful machine whirled Paul to the rooms of
his staid attorney and general manager, Mr. John Edwards.
That elderly gentleman welcomed him with his nearest
approach to a smile. But the young man was in no mood for
an elaborate exchange of exhilarations. Without preface he
inquired the amount of his deposit subject to check in the
Commercial Bank. Fifty thousand dollars! A most delightful
sum. He needed it every cent within an hour. Also he
wanted from his safe-deposit box enough A1 collateral to
secure loans of twenty and thirty thousand, respectively. But
first would Mr. Edwards kindly call up and get second option
on all Arkansas timber lands represented by Haynes, Forster
& Company? Mr. Strumley believed that the first option
was held by a local party. Furthermore he knew it expired
to-day; and had reasons to believe that a local party would not
be able to take advantage of it, and he, Mr. Strumley, thought
that he could handle the property to a good purpose.
For the first time Mr. Edwards learned that his young
client had a will of his own. After a few fruitless exhortations
he rose to obey, but remarking: "Right much money in
these hard times to withdraw in a lump from the bank."
Then, with a sidelong glance at the grave, boyish face, he
added significantly: "Know you would not do anything to
jeopardize Mr. Stokes's financial standing."
"Oh, a bagatelle like that wouldn't embarrass as shrewd
and resourceful a business man as he," assured Paul breezily.
"Money is pretty tight," mused the lawyer. But he called
up Haynes, Forster & Company without further remonstrances
and afterward went out to perform his commissions.
Soon Mr. Strumley lighted a cigar and followed. There
would be something doing in the way of entertainment
presently in the neighborhood of the musty old Commercial
In front of that institution he had the good fortune to meet
the town miser, who seldom strayed far from the portals
behind which reposed his hoard. Mr. Strumley halted to
liberally wish the local celebrity an abundance of good health
and many days of prosperity. Incidentally he noted through
the massive doors that his three cash-seeking friends were in
the line before the paying teller's window, the lawyer being
last and Mr. Greenlee first. When the latter came out, still
busily trying to cram the packages of bills properly in the
satchel he carried, Paul remarked confidentially to his
"Must be something doing to-day. The big guns are
drawing all of theirs out."
The old fellow gave a start as the suggestion shot home.
Before Paul could nurse it further, he had sprinted off up the
street like mad, chattering to himself about the desirability
of returning immediately with his certificates of deposit.
It is an old adage that no one knows the genesis of a "run
on the bank." Maybe Mr. Strumley was the exception which
proves the validity of the rule. At any rate he considered
with large satisfaction the magical gathering of a panic-inoculated
crowd, which, sans courage, sans reason, sans everything
but a thirst for the touch of their adored cash, clamored
loudly, despairingly, for the instant return of their dearly
At last through the meshes of the mad throng appeared the
shiny pate of Mr. John Edwards. He uttered an exclamation
of relief at the sight of his calm client.
"Hope you got it before the storm broke?" Mr. Strumley
"S-s-sh!" cautioned the attorney dramatically. "I was
about to go in search of you." Then he added in even a
lower key: "Mr. Stokes asked me to persuade you not to
withdraw the money until he had had a chance to get the flurry
well in hand."
"But the money is mine, and I want it now," expostulated
the young man.
"Come with me, please, and listen to reason," beseeched
the lawyer, drawing him resolutely in the direction of a side
entrance. "It would be a dire misfortune, sir, a calamity to
the community, if the bank were forced to close its doors. So
far, however, it is only the small depositors who are clamoring;
but the others will quickly enough follow if you do not
let your fifty thousand remain to help wipe out this first rush.
The bank, though, is as sound as a dollar."
In another instant they were through the door, and before
Mr. Strumley could reply, for the second time that morning
he stood in the presence of Bettina's father.
"As Mr. Edwards will tell you," explained Paul, unable
altogether to suppress his nervousness, "I hold second option
for to-day on large timber tracts in Arkansas, represented by
Messrs. Haynes, Forster & Company. The first option,
I was advised, will expire at two o'clock; and my party was
of the belief it would not be closed. It is a big deal, Mr.
Stokes,"—Mr. Stokes winced perceptibly—"and I was
extremely anxious to swing it, because—er—well, because
it's my first big venture and much depends on its success."
"Yes," mused Mr. Stokes sadly, "it is quite probable the
first option may be allowed to lapse, and I understand good
money is to be made in Arkansas timber." His face had
grown a trifle ashy. "Of course, this being the case, I feel
in honor bound, Mr. Strumley, to instantly recall my
Paul gave a gasp of admiration. He was glad Bettina's
father was "game." So was Bettina. In the up-boiling of
his feelings he emphatically vetoed the determination of the
banker. Indeed, so well and eloquently did he argue for the
retention and use of his funds by the Commercial, that even
the self-effacing man of "deals" could not resist the onslaught.
He rose with unconcealed emotion and grasped the hand of
the young man whose generosity would save the credit of the
old financial institution.
Later, flushed with victory, Mr. Strumley returned to the
cushions of his touring car; and the jubilantly chugging
machine whizzed him off in the direction where, surrounded by
cash, awaited the 8 per cent. expectations of Messrs. Proctor
and Greenlee. Later still he descended with said cash upon
the offices of Haynes, Forster & Company. And even later,
after an exhilarating spin in the country, he arrived safe and
blithesome at his well-appointed rooms in the Hotel Fulton,
ready to remove with good soap and pure aqua the stains of
mart and road before calling on Miss Bettina Stokes.
The first thing that attracted his eyes on entering his little
sitting room was a neatly wrapped parcel on the table. On
the top of it reclined a dainty, snowy envelope. Mr. Strumley
approached suspiciously. Then he recognized the handwriting
and uttered an exclamation of joy. It was from
In the short time he held the missive poised reverently in
his hand Paul permitted a glow of satisfaction to permeate
his being. He had done well and was justly entitled to a
moment of self laudation. Mr. Stokes—Bettina's father—would
no longer be against him, for who could not say he
was not capable of competing in the world-arena with full-grown,
gladiatorial intellects? He had even successfully
crossed blades with Mr. Stokes's own best brand of Damascene
gray matter. And he had won the fray, for the everlasting
good and happiness of all parties concerned. In anticipation
he already felt himself thrilling proudly beneath the crown of
Bettina's love and her father's benediction.
The crackle of the delicate linen beneath his grasp brought
him sweetly back to the real. What delicious token could
Bettina be sending him? Of course her father had told her
all. How happy she, too, must be! Mr. Strumley broke the
seal of the envelope and read:
"Mr. Paul Strumley,
"I herewith return your letters, photographs, etc. Papa
has told me all. It was at first impossible to believe you
capable of taking such a base advantage of my confidence
about the Arkansas option; but I am at last thoroughly convinced
that you incited the run on the bank to embarrass poor
papa and compel him to let the deal fall into your traitorous
hands. And the by-play of yours in returning the money you
did not really need, though it has completely deceived him,
has in my eyes only added odium to your treachery. I trust
that I have made it quite clear that in the future we can meet
only as strangers.
Mr. Strumley let the letter slip unnoticed through his
palsied fingers. He sat down with heavy stupefaction. So
this was the sud-spray of his beautiful bubble? It was incomprehensible!
Bettina! Bettina! Oh, how could she? Where
was her faith? No small voice answered from within the
depths of his breast; and Mr. Strumley got clumsily to his
feet. He was painfully conscious that he must do something—think
something. But what was he to do? What was he
to think? Could he ever make her understand? Make her
believe? At least he could go and try.
Mr. Strumley finished his toilet nervously; and repaired
to the home of Bettina, to cast his hope on the waters of her
faith and charity. The butler courteously informed him that
she was "not in." But Mr. Stokes was in the library. Would
Mr. Strumley like to see him? Mr. Strumley thought not.
It was a bad night for Paul. From side to side he tossed
in search of inspiration. Day came; and he rolled wearily
over to catch the first beams of the gladsome spring sunshine.
From its torrid home ninety-three million miles afar it hurried
to his bedside. It shimmered in his face and laughed with
warm invigoration into the torpid cells of his brain. It awakened
them, filled them with new life, hope—inspiration!
Mr. Strumley leaped from his bed to the bath-tub, and
fluttered frolicsomely in the crystal tide. When he sprang out
there was the flush of vigorous young manhood on his skin
and the glow of an expectant lover's ardency in his breast.
Everything was arranged satisfactorily in the space beneath
Mr. Strumley's water-tousled hair, wherein sat the goddess of
Mr. Strumley, after a hurried stop-over at the office of his
astounded charge d'affaires, reached the Commercial Bank
before the messenger boys. While waiting in the balm of
the spring morning for the doors to open he circumnavigated
the block nine times—he counted them. Coming in on the
last tack he sighted the portly form of the banker careening
with dignified speed around the corner. Another instant he
had crossed the mat and disappeared into his financial harbor.
Mr. Strumley steered rapidly in his wake.
Again he stood in the presence of Bettina's father. This
time, however, he was calm. In fact, the atmosphere about
the two men was heavily charged with the essence of good
fellowship. Mr. Stokes held out his hand cordially. The
younger man pressed its broad palm with almost filial veneration.
He noted, too, with a slight touch of remorse, that the
banker's countenance was harassed. Evidently his heart
still ached for the lost Arkansas timber. Mr. Strumley
He had something to say to Mr. Stokes, and began to say
it with the easy enunciation of one who rests confident in the
sunshine of righteousness. He spoke evenly, fluently. Of
course Mr. Stokes at first might be a trifle perplexed. But
please bear with him, hear him through, then he himself should
be the sole judge.
He, Mr. Strumley, did not care a rap—no, not a single
rap, for every tree that grew in the entire state of Arkansas.
What he wanted to do was to show Mr. Stokes—Bettina's
father—that he was worth the while. That is, he wanted to
demonstrate—it was a good word—to demonstrate that he
had brains in his cranium as good as many another variety
that boasted a trade mark of wider popularity. Had he done
it? And if what he had done did not concur with the elements
of high finance, he would like Mr. Stokes—Bettina's
father—to tell him what it did concur with. Now, there was
the whole story from its incipiency. And as conclusive proof
that he did not mean to profit by the deal financially, would
Mr. Stokes kindly examine those papers?
Mr. Stokes looked at the documents tossed on the desk
before him; and saw that they were several warranty deeds,
conveying to Richard Stokes, his heirs and assigns forever,
all titles and claims of all kinds whatsoever in certain therein-after
described tracts or parcels of land in the state of Arkansas,
for value received.
Mr. Strumley leaned back and contentedly watched a flush
overspread the banker's face. His automobile waited at the
door to whisk him to Bettina, and he was ready to carry on
the campaign there the moment her father had finished his
effusions of gratitude. Meanwhile the flush deepened; and,
all impatience to fly to his lady-love, Paul egged on the speech.
"You will note, Mr. Stokes," he volunteered, "that the
price is exactly the same you had proposed paying. At your
convenience, of course, you can remit this amount to my
attorney, Mr. Edwards."
Mr. Stokes rose slowly. The flush had become apoplectic.
"Mr. Strumley," he began, his large voice trembling, "this
trick of yours is unworthy of an honorable man. Here, sir,
take these papers and leave my office immediately."
Mr. Strumley rose also. Like the banker's voice, he, too,
"But, sir——" he commenced to expostulate.
"Go!" thundered the father of Bettina.
Dazed, confused by the suddenness of the blast, Paul
groped his way through the bank to the refuge of his car.
Mechanically he put one hand on the lever and glanced ahead
for obstacles. Crossing the street, not twenty yards ahead,
tripped the most dangerous one conceivable—the beautiful
Mr. Strumley's hand fell limply to his knee. Fascinated
he watched her reach the curb and with a little skip spring to
the pavement. Then she came straight toward him; but he
could see she was blissfully oblivious of his nearness. Suddenly
an odd wave of emotion surged through his brain. His
heart leaped with primitive savagery of love, and every fibre
in him rebelled fiercely against the decrees and limitations of
modern courtship. He had failed in the game as governed
and modified by the rules of polite society and high finance.
The primogenital man-spirit in him cried out for its inning.
Mr. Strumley, as umpire, hearkened to its clamor.
"Bettina!" he called, as that young lady came calmly
abreast of the car, "wait a moment. I must speak with you."
She started with a half-frightened exclamation; but met
his look, at first defiantly, scornfully, then hesitatingly, faltering
as she tried to take another step onward.
"Bettina!" Mr. Strumley's voice vibrated determinedly,
"I said I wished to speak with you. I can explain—everything."
She halted reluctantly, and partly turned. In a moment
he was at her side, his hand upon her arm. His glance had
in it all the compelling strength of unadulterated, pristine
manhood. She seemed to feel its potency, and without
remonstrance suffered him to lead her toward the machine.
For a moment, for a single moment, Mr. Strumley was
exhilaratingly conscious of being borne aloft on a great wave
of victorious gladness. Then the waters of triumph let him
down with a shock.
At the word they both pivoted like pieces of automata. Mr.
Stokes, large and severe, was standing between the portals of
his financial fortification.
"Bettina!" His voice was almost irresistible in the force
of its parental summons.
At the sound of it the primeval lover, newly renascent in
Mr. Strumley's breast, cowed before the power of genitorial
insistency. Then it came back into its own exultantly.
"Bettina, my darling, get in," he commanded.
She faltered, turned rebelliously, turned again and obeyed.
"Bettina!" The voice of the childless banker faded off in
the distance, its last echo drowned in the full-throated:
"Bettina, we are going to be married at once," that broke
joyously from Mr. Strumley's lips. "I have followed the
example of the Romans, and taken me a wife from the Sabines."
Bettina peeped up at him from beneath the dark screens
of her lashes. "Then I, like the wise Sabian ladies, shall save
the day for peace and for Rome," she smiled archly.
And the machine laughed "Chug-chug!"
THE JAM GOD
A Tale of Nigeria
By H.M. EGBERT
Lieutenant Peters, of the Royal Nigerian Service,
was lying upon the ground face downward, under a
prickly tree. The sun was nearly vertical, and the little
round shadow in which he reclined was interlaced with streaks
of hot light. As the sun moved, Peters rolled into the shade
automatically. His eyes were shut, and he was in that hot
borderland which is the nearest approach to sleep at noontide
The flies were pestering him, and he was thirsty—not with
that thirst of the mouth which may be quenched with a long
draught, but with the thirst of the throat that sands and
sears. He felt thirsty all over. He had been thirsty, like
this, ever since he struck the bend of the Niger. What made
it worse, every night he dreamed of fruits that were snatched
away, like the food of Tantalus, as he approached to grasp
them. Two nights before he had been wandering knee-deep
in English strawberry beds; the night before he had
been shaking down limes and oranges from groves of trees
set with green leaves and studded with golden fruit. Once
he had dreamed of a new fruit, a cross between a pear and
a watermelon; but when he cut into it he found nothing but
hard, small seeds, with a pineapple flavor, which he detested.
Peters was dreaming now, for he twined his fingers in the
long grass and tossed uneasily.
"I'll pick them all," he muttered sleepily. "All mixed
together, with ten or twelve pounds of damp, brown sugar,
and boiled into jam."
He woke and felt his teeth for the hundredth time, to note
whether any untoward looseness betokened the advent of
the dreaded scurvy. Reassured, he stretched his limbs and
rolled over into the shade of the tree.
"When I get back to a white man's country," he murmured—"when
I get home to England what is it I am going to do?
Why, I shall go into a restaurant and order some rich brown
soup. Then I shall have pate de foie gras sandwiches. Then
scrambled eggs, chocolate, and muffins buttered with whipped
cream. Then half a dozen cans of jam. I shall either begin
with strawberry and conclude with apricot, or else I shall
begin with apricot and wind up with raspberry. It doesn't
matter much; any kind of jam will do except pineapple."
He opened his eyes, brushed away the flies that swarmed
noisily round him, took out his hard-tack, and opened a small
can of dried beef. He munched for a while, sipping occasionally
from the tepid water in his canteen. When he had
finished he put the can-opener back in the pocket of his tunic
and rose, his face overspread with a look of resolution.
"I believe," he cried, "I believe that I could eat even a
can of pineapple!"
He rose, the light of his illusion still in his eyes, and began
staggering weakly under the blazing sun in the direction
of his camp. He was weaker than he had thought, and when
he reached the shelter of his tent he sank down exhausted
upon the bed. Through the open flap he could see, five
hundred yards away, the round, beehive-shaped huts of the
native village and, in their centre, the square palace of King
Mtetanyanga, built of sticks and Niger mud, surrounded by
its stockade, the royal flag, a Turkish bath-towel stained yellow
and blue, floating proudly above.
Lieutenant Peters had been sent by the Nigerian Government
along the upper Niger to conclude treaties with the
different kings and sweep them within the British sphere of
interest. The French were out upon a similar errand, for
in this region the two nations possessed only a vague and very
indeterminate boundary line. Peters had been successful
until he came to the village of King Mtetanyanga, who had
balked at affixing his cross to the piece of mysterious parchment
on the ground that it was unlawful to do so during the
festival of the great Ju-Ju, whose worshipers could be heard
wailing and beating tom-toms nightly in some unknown part
of the jungle. What this Ju-Ju fetish was nobody could tell;
it had come into the village recently, from the coast, men
whispered; it possessed awful and mysterious potency;
was guarded zealously by some score of priests, who veiled
its awful vision; and it was the greatest Ju-Ju for hundreds
of miles along the Niger, tribes from distant regions frequently
arriving to sacrifice pigs to it.
However, Lieutenant Raguet, the French commissioner,
had been equally unsuccessful in inducing the dusky monarch
to affix his signature to the French treaty, and the ambassadors
of the rival nations were both encamped near the village,
waiting for the Ju-Ju festivities to reach their plethoric conclusion
before the king sobered up and attended to business.
Raguet, strolling into his rival's camp that evening, found
Peters in his tent, flushed, and breathing heavily.
"Tcht! tcht! you are seeck," said the Frenchman sympathetically.
"That ees too bad. Have you quinine?"
"Quinine be hanged," cried Peters huskily. "I've taken
the stuff until I've floated in it. There's only one thing
can cure me, Raguet. I've been living on crackers and
canned beef for over a month, and I'm pining for jam. Have
you got any jam?"
"Dsham, dsham?" repeated Raguet with a puzzled
"Yes, les preserves—le fruit et le sugar, bouilli—you
know what I mean."
"Ah, ze preserve!" said the Frenchman, with an expression
of enlightenment. "Ze preserve, I have him not."
"I tell you what, Raguet," said Peters irritably, "I've got
to get some jam somewhere or I shall kick the bucket. I'm
craving for it, man. If I had one can of the stuff it would
put me upon my feet instantly, I can feel it. Now it's ten to
one I'll be too sick to see the king after the ceremonies are
over, and he'll sign your treaty instead of mine. And I've
given him three opera hats, a phonograph, and a gallon of
rum, curse the luck! What did you give him, Raguet?"
"Me? I give him a umbrella with ze gold embroider," the
"My government won't let me give the little kings umbrellas,"
said Peters in vexation. "It makes the big chiefs
jealous. I say, Raguet," he rambled on, sitting up dizzily,
"what is this Ju-Ju idol of theirs?"
"I know not," said the French lieutenant. "Only ze
king and ze priests have seen him. If zey tell, zey die—ze
idol keel zem."
"I suppose they'll be keeping up these infernal tom-toms
for another week," grumbled the sick man, lying back and
half closing his eyes from weariness. "Well, I'll have to
try to get well in time."
The Frenchman resisted the impulse to leap back in surprise,
but his eyes narrowed till they were slits in his face.
So! This Englishman did not know that this had been the
last day of the sacrifices, that at midnight a hecatomb of pigs
was to be killed and eaten in the bush in honor of the Ju-Ju.
Nor that the king, when he had broached and drunk the cask
of rum, would be in a mood to discuss the treaty. Peters
evidently was unaware how much his majesty had been
affronted by his failure to present him with an umbrella. La!
la! Fortune was evidently upon his side. All this flashed
through the Frenchman's mind in an instant. A solitary
chuckle escaped him, but he turned it into an exclamation of
grief, sighed deeply, seated himself upon the bed, and kissed
Peters affectionately on either cheek.
"My Peters, my poor friend," he began, "you must not
theenk of leaving your tent for ze next two, t'ree days. Ze
fever, he is very bad onless you receive him in bed. I shall
take care of you."
"You're a good fellow, Raguet," said Peters, wiping his
face surreptitiously with the backs of his hands. When his
visitor had left he turned over and sank into a half-delirious
doze that lasted until the sun sank with appalling suddenness,
and night rushed over the land. Tossing upon his bed, all
through the velvet darkness he was dimly conscious, through
his delirious dreams, of tom-toms beaten in the bush. His
throat was parched, and in his dreams he drank greedily
from his canteen; but each time that he awoke he saw it hanging
empty from the tent flap. Presently a large, bright, yellow
object rose up in front of him. Greedily he set his teeth into
it; and even as he did so it disappeared, and he awoke, gasping
and choking under the broiling blackness.
"I'll have to take that canteen down to the stream and
fill it," he muttered, rising unsteadily and proceeding toward
the bank. To his surprise he found that rain had fallen.
He was treading in ooze, which rose higher and higher until
it clogged his footsteps. He struggled, but now it held him
fast, and he was sinking slowly, but persistently, now to the
waist, now to the shoulders. Frantically he thrust his hands
downward to free himself, and withdrew them sticky with—jam!
He scooped up great handsful greedily; and even as
he raised it to his mouth it vanished, and he awoke once more
in his tent.
He flung himself out of bed with an oath, took down his
canteen, and started toward the river. The noise of the
tom-toms was louder than ever, proceeding, apparently, from
some point in the bush a little to the left of the king's palace.
Scrambling and struggling through the thorn thickets, he
reached the sandy bed of the stream, filled his water-bottle
at a pool, and drank greedily.
It was that still hour of night when the many-voiced clamor
of the bush grows hushed, because the lions are coming down
to drink at the waters. The rising moon threw a pale light
over the land. The tom-toms were still resounding in the
bush, but to Peters's distorted mind they took on the sound of
ripe mangoes falling to the ground and bursting open as they
struck the soil. He counted, "one, two, three," and waited.
He counted again. There must be thousands of them.
Peters began to edge his way through the reeds in the direction
of the sound. After a while he came to a wall of rocks
perpendicular and almost insurmountable. He paused and
considered, licking his lips greedily as the thud, thud continued,
now, apparently, directly in front of him. All at once
his eyes, curiously sensitive to external impressions, discovered
a little, secret trail between two boulders. He
followed it; a great stone revolved at his touch, and he found
himself inside the sacred groves. He went on, gulping
greedily in anticipation of the feast which awaited him.
Suddenly he stopped short. He had seen something that
brought back to him with a rush the realization of his whereabouts.
Seated in the shelter of a cactus tree, not fifty yards
away, was King Mtetanyanga, wearing his three opera hats,
one upon another, in the form of a triple crown, and drinking
his own rum with Raguet, under the shade of Raguet's
umbrella. Prone at their feet crouched Tom, the interpreter.
"His Majesty say, 'How you fix him Ju-Ju?'" translated
"Tell His Majesty, my Ju-Ju stronger than the Englishman's
Ju-Ju," answered the Frenchman. "My Ju-Ju eat
up his Ju-Ju. He very sick. If I choose, he die."
"Ugh!" grunted the king, when this explanation was
vouchsafed, apparently impressed.
"Tell His Majesty my Ju-Ju stronger than his own Ju-Ju.
If he no sign treaty, eat up his Ju-Ju," Raguet went on.
A flow of language came from the king's lips.
"His Majesty say, he bring his Ju-Ju, see whose greater,"
said the interpreter.
Vaguely aware that treachery was impending, but crazed
now by the falling mangoes, Peters left them palavering and
followed the trail. All at once he emerged into a tiny clearing
and stood blinking at a fire, round which a group of men—priests,
as he knew, from their buffalo horns and crane
feathers—were reclining, hammering upon tom-toms and
shouting in various stages of intoxication. The firelight
blinded their eyes. Peters stood still uncertainly. Then
his eyes fell upon a sawed-off tree-trunk, in the hollow of
which lay something wrapped in a white cloth, surrounded
with snake-skins. He had come by this secret road into the
actual presence of the great Ju-Ju.
Curiously he inserted his hand, lifted the object out, and
examined it. Inside was something of a strange, yet familiar
shape, oval, and flattened at the ends. He lifted it out of its
wrappings, and there, in his hand, he saw a can, bearing the
GREENAWAY'S BEST JAM.
He looked at it in solemn and holy meditation; then, sitting
down, he drew the can-opener from his tunic and wiped
it clean upon his sleeve.
After awhile a babel of sound broke in upon his ears. Men
had come running up, brandishing spears, stopped, flung
themselves upon the ground prostrate in front of him. The
priests were there, frantically abasing themselves; Mtetanyanga,
his opera hats rolling, unheeded, on the ground.
Their cries ceased; they veiled their eyes. Then from the
dust came the feeble tones of the interpreter.
"His Majesty say, you eat him Ju-Ju—yours greatest
Ju-Ju, he want to sign treaty."
But Peters, waving the empty can over his head, shouted:
"I've eaten jam, I've eaten jam! It's pineapple—and
I don't care!"
WHEN FATHER WORKED
A Suburban Story
By CHARLTON LAWRENCE EDHOLM
"H'everybody works but Fadher,
H'and 'e sets 'round h'all diy——"
Thus in chorus shrilled the infant Cadges like the morning
stars singing together, but still more like the transplanted
little cockneys they were.
The placid brow of Mr. Thomas Cadge was darkened
with disapproval, he shifted his stubby brier pipe to the other
corner of his mouth, edged a little from his seat on the sunny
front stoop and, craning his neck around the corner of his
house, revealed an unwashed area extending from collarbone
to left ear.
"Shet up, you kids!" he barked. "Wot for? Becos I
say so, that's why. I don't like that song, 'taint fit for
With a soothing consciousness that he had upheld the
sacred character of the Sabbath, Mr. Cadge settled back to
the comfort of his sun-bath and smoke. But he had scarcely
emitted three puffs before the piping voice of Arabella Cadge
was again wafted to his ears. She sang solo this time, and the
selection was of a semi-devotional nature, more in keeping with
"Oh fadher, dear fadher, come 'ome wid me now,
De clock on de steeple strikes——"
"Shet up, drat you!" again commanded her parent. "If
I has to get up and go arter you——"
The balance of this direful threat may never be known, for
at that moment Mr. Job Snavely, garbed in the black broadcloth
which he wore one day out of seven, paused in front of
Mr. Cadge's door and bade him good morning.
"Mornin'," responded the ruffled father.
"Your little girl is quite a song bird," continued Mr.
Snavely, with his usual facility in making well-meant small-talk
more irritating than a hurled brick.
"She sings too much," commented Mr. Cadge, shortly,
"I likes people wot knows when to 'old their tongues."
"Very true, very true!" amiably replied Mr. Snavely, "but
for all that, there is nothing sweeter than the artless babble of
babes; I declare it almost brought the tears to my eyes when
I heard them prattling, 'Everybody works but father,' it is
so very, very appro——"
Mr. Snavely checked himself abruptly, for the light in
the small, green eyes of Thomas Cadge was baleful, and his
square jaw protruded menacingly. The kindly critic of music
had a vague feeling that the subject might be changed to
"Been to church this morning, I suppose?" he inquired
briskly with the assurance of a man just returning from that
"No I 'asn't," retorted Cadge, "and wot's more the old
woman 'asn't, and the kids 'asn't neither. 'Cos why?
'Cos in this 'ere free country of yours, a laboring man can't
make a living for 'is family, workin' 'ard as I does, Sundays,
nights, and h'all the time. The missus and the kids stays
from church 'cos their duds ain't fit, and I stays 'ome 'cos
I've got to work like a slave to pay you for seven dollars'
worth of spoiled vegetables and mouldy groceries. That's
the reason I works on Sundays, if you've got to know."
"Work on Sundays!" gasped the grocer. "Work! work?"
and he stared at the reclining figure of Mr. Cadge in unfeigned
"Yes, work. This 'ere construction company wot's doing
the job of grading this vacant block, employs me to sort of
look after things, their shovels, scoops, and the like. A kind
of private police officer, I am," he concluded, drawing
himself up a little and puffing into the air.
"And when are you on duty?" asked Mr. Snavely.
"Nights," replied Cadge, "nights and Sundays, when the
tools ain't in use."
"I hope they pay you well for it?"
"Ah, but they don't. 'Ow much do you think I get for
stayin' awake nights and doin' without my church on Sunday?
Three measly dollars a week and the rent of this 'ere 'ouse,
if you can call it a 'ouse."
It would have been difficult to determine just what name
to give the residence of Mr. Thomas Cadge. It would hardly
be called a cottage, though not because it was more spacious
than the name implied; nor was it a piano-box, in spite of the
fact that a piano would have fitted snugly within its walls,
for no manufacturer would have trusted a valuable instrument
in so flimsy a shell. It was not a real-estate office, as the
sign which decorated its entire front proclaimed it to be, for
through a jagged hole in the window facing the street projected
a rusty iron stovepipe, which was wired to the façade of
the building, and emitted the sooty smoke that had almost
totally obscured and canceled the legend, "Suburban Star
Moreover, a litter of tin cans, impartially distributed at
the front and back doors, indicated the domestic use to which
this temporary office had been put. A smell of steaming suds
that pervaded the place likewise indicated the manner in which
Mrs. Cadge eked out her lord's stipend. This impression was
confirmed by the chorus of irrepressible little Cadges proclaiming:
"Mother tikes in washin',
H'and so does sister h'Ann,
H'everybody works at our 'ouse,
But my old——"
—a burst of melody which was abruptly checked with a tomato
can hurled like a hand-grenade by their unmusical father.
"Look here, Cadge," said Mr. Snavely, with the air of
proprietorship one adopts to hopeless debtors, "three dollars
a week is not going to keep your family, to say nothing of
paying up that seven dollars. I can't carry you forever, you
know. Why don't you get a daylight job?"
"Ah, that is easy enough said," protested that injured
individual. "'Aven't I tramped the streets day after day,
lookin' for work?"
"Them as 'as a good paying business don't know wot it
means to look for a job," pursued Cadge bitterly.
"Yes they do," asserted the grocer cheerfully. "I was
given work at sweeping floors in the very store I now own.
The fact is, I am sorry for you, Cadge, and I have been looking
around to get you a job."
Mr. Cadge seemed depressed.
"And I am glad to say," chirruped Mr. Snavely, "that
I have found a small piece of work for you, which will be
worth a dollar and a half a day."
Cadge's brow was still gloomy.
"Of course, it is real work," added his kind-hearted creditor,
briskly, "no sitting in the sun and watching other people's
shovels; but a customer of mine, a widow lady, that lives
along Catnip Creek, wants a man to pile up a wall of loose
stones to keep her land from washing away in high water."
Thomas Cadge shook his head with the air of Cæsar virtuously
refusing the crown.
"No, no, Snavely, it wouldn't do," he said. "I can see
that it would interfere with my present h'occupation, and I
can't afford to risk losing this 'ere job. Supposin' my family
was to be turned out of doors!"
"Nonsense! It will only take you about four days to build
the wall, and at one-fifty per day, that will be six dollars, twice
your week's wages right there, and almost enough to pay
what you owe me."
"I am afraid it can't be done, Snavely; the company might
not like it; you see, I would be competing with them, that's
"They wouldn't handle so small a job. You know that,
"Yes, but a man can't draw pay for two positions at once;
't ain't honest."
"Why, this is not a regular situation," protested the upright
Snavely, who saw his bill still unpaid; "you could work on
it at odd times if you like. She'll pay you by the piece,
I am pretty sure, and you will get your six dollars cash when
the wall is done."
The furtive eyes of the hunter of work avoided those of
his benefactor. He was pondering a new excuse when he
happened to notice Master Cadge, aged nine, Thomas Cadge,
Jr., aged eight, and Arabella Cadge, whose years were six,
busily constructing a fort of cobblestones, and an idea struck
"Very well," he said, loftily waving his pipe, "I'll drop
in Monday and talk this over with you, Snavely. Then if
the job suits me I may take it. I don't like to talk business
on Sunday, you know."
Thus rebuked, Mr. Snavely resumed his homeward way.
The following Monday Cadge overslept; Tuesday found
him with a headache as a result, which by Wednesday had
settled in a tooth; Thursday he felt so much better that he
feared to do anything which might check his convalescence;
Friday was an unlucky day, but so desirous was he of work
that he manfully conquered his superstitious qualms and
strolled over to the little shop where Mr. Job Snavely dealt in
groceries and vegetables.
The details regarding the work were furnished with cheerful
alacrity, the tradesman going so far as to accompany his
protegé to the home of their patron, Mrs. Pipkin, a withered
little lady who lived with her cats on the bank of the creek.
The work to be performed demanded more brawn than
brain and no vast amount of either. All that was required
was to pile up the boulders and cobblestones which littered
the bed of the stream, as a rough, unmortared wall, along the
sloping bank of Mrs. Pipkin's property.
It was evident that Mrs. Pipkin herself had not the slightest
notion of how much a wall should cost, as she was ignorant of
the two factors which determined it, namely, the wages of
day-laborers and the time required to build the wall; therefore
she requested Mr. Snavely, as a man of affairs, to make
the bargain for her.
It was well that she did so, for Mr. Cadge's ideas on the
subject were as boundless as hers were limited. Day wages,
he affirmed, ranged from two dollars up for common labor,
and as building a wall was highly skilled labor he thought
three and a half or four dollars per diem would be about right,
going on the basis of at least six days of eight hours each.
Mr. Snavely, on the contrary, after looking over the ground
declared that four days' steady work would build a wall running
the entire length of the widow's lot. Furthermore, that a
dollar and a quarter a day was fair wages for such employment,
while laborers would scramble for the job at a dollar
and a half. As a concession to Mr. Cadge, he was willing
to allow him to take his own time and agreed to pay six
dollars when the wall should be completed.
Mr. Cadge waxed indignant and very voluble, while Mr.
Snavely was a mild man of few words; but the simple laborer
was no match for a man who made his living by small chaffering.
He was forced to give in, and Saturday morning, bright
and early, he appeared on the banks of Catnip Creek accompanied
by Master Cadge, Thomas Cadge, Jr., and Arabella
"Daddy's going to give you kids a treat to-day," he
announced. "My eye! wot larks we will 'ave. Nothing to
do all day long but play building a stone fort right on the
brook, and Daddy will show you 'ow to build it."
The little Cadges were perfectly charmed at this condescension
on the part of their sire, who seldom acknowledged
their presence except with a cuff in passing. They were
eager to begin, and as they had no need to strip their legs,
which were always bare, the work proceeded apace.
Cadge, Sr., ensconced himself in the sunniest nook of the
bank, and directed his offspring what stones to select and
where to place them, and above all, to make haste, since the
enemy would soon appear to attack the fort.
Before their Saturday holiday was over, the children had
discovered that their father was a strenuous playfellow. In
vain they suggested fishing, hunting Injuns, or gathering
wild flowers; they had set out to build a fort on Catnip Creek,
and build it they must.
They entertained hopes of sneaking off alone when they
should go home for lunch, but Mr. Cadge had provided for
this contingency. His wife appeared at noon with slices of
bread and butter for the Cadgelings, to which was added a
cold beefsteak and a bucket of beer for the support of their
house. Having already lunched at home, she was permitted
to lay a tier of heavier stones along the wall while waiting for
her family to finish the repast.
It was an arduous day for the tribe of Cadge, excepting,
of course, its head. Not until the first star came out and
the owls began to hoot along the Catnip did he declare himself
satisfied with the day's work and proceed homeward to
supper. Widow Pipkin's wall was half finished.
Not until Saturday was the patient father able to enlist
once more the services of his offspring, for, "What if they are
your own kids!" retorted Mrs. Cadge from her wash-board.
"I've rubbed my 'ands raw to give 'em the eddication you
and me lacks, and to school they go. You build that wall
yourself, or wait until the week's end for your pay."
The former alternative was not to be thought of, and the
Widow Pipkin wondered mildly whether the half finished
wall was ever to be completed.
But Saturday at dawn Cadge once more appeared, driving
before him three tear-stained and reluctant Cadgelets. They
had inherited part of their father's disposition in regard to
real work, likewise his unwillingness to be imposed upon.
Constructing fortifications along the Catnip was well enough
for one Saturday, but their backs still ached from their exertions,
and they had only disdain for the restricted paternal
imagination which suggested that this time they build stone
Their sire waxed eloquent over the art of castle building and
the sport of imprisoning ogres in them, but was finally compelled
to assume the attitude of an ogre himself, and threatened
to skin them alive if they did not do as they were bid.
It was a long, hard day for the whole Cadge family. The
little Cadges worked like galley-slaves in fear of the lash;
their mother, out of pity for them, laid two tiers of cobbles
when she came at noon, and even Cadge himself was tempted
on one or two occasions to descend from his nook and lend
a hand, but restrained himself.
Again the owls hooted along the stream and bullfrogs
croaked from the reedy places. Cadge knocked the dottle
out of his pipe and arose, stretching his short, muscular limbs,
which had become cramped from sitting still so long.
"Run along 'ome, kiddies," he said, "and tell the old woman
not to wait supper for me. There's a man down town as
wants to see me about a job. I'll 'ave a bite with 'im."
The little Cadges disappeared in the twilight and their
father presented himself at the Widow Pipkin's door to receive
his hard-earned wages.
"Oh, dear me! I can't pay you to-night," answered Mrs.
Pipkin. "I never keep any money in the house."
Cadge grumbled something about, a check would do. He
was pretty sure that the barkeeper at Spider Grogan's place
would cash it.
"Oh, but mine is a savings account, and I will have to go
down to the bank myself and get the money; but, never mind,
you shall have it first thing Monday morning."
The thirsty man could find no solution to this problem and,
although he urged the Widow Pipkin to think of a way, as
his "missus needed the medicine something orful," that
kind-hearted old lady could suggest nothing more to the
point than going at once with a mustard poultice to the
Old women are so set in their notions that the anxious
husband was a full half hour dissuading her, and, when he
reached home with both hands in his empty pockets, Mrs.
Cadge was washing the dishes.
"Did the man give you a job?" inquired his wife brightly.
"Wot man? Wot job? Where's my supper?" snapped
Cadge. Then, as the ingenious ruse occurred to him, a flood
of language rose to his lips and would not be dammed, though
everything else was.
"Gone and hogged all the supper, did you!" he growled.
"H'it's a nice state of affairs, when a man comes 'ome from a
'ard day's work to a h'empty table."
"But it was such a little steak, Tom," urged his wife,
"and the children were so hungry that I let them finish it."
There was no money in the house, and Snavely, the only
credit grocer, had closed his shop, so Mr. Cadge's supper that
night was bread and cheese without kisses.
Sunday was a long-remembered day of misery for Cadge's
wife and children, who played the scapegoat for Mr. Snavely
and whipping-boy for Mrs. Pipkin.
Monday morning the head of the house arose early and,
before Mrs. Pipkin had finished her beauty sleep, that hard-working
man was at the door demanding his pay. An hour
was all the time she required for dressing. Mr. Cadge wished
he had broken his fast before leaving home.
"Really, I don't know whether I ought to pay you," replied
Widow Pipkin when she finally answered his last, desperate
ring. "Mr. Snavely made the bargain, and I should like to
have him see the work before settling with you."
She jingled some silver in her plump chain purse as she
Aha, the widow had deceived him! It was eight o'clock,
the bank would not open for an hour, she had had the money
in the house all the time. The deceitfulness of women!
Mr. Cadge's blood rose to his head. His little green eyes
smouldered. Fortunately for the widow, Mr. Snavely drove
up at that moment on his delivery wagon, and cheerfully
agreed to appraise the work.
"Oh, come now, Cadge, my man, you don't call that a
finished job, I hope? Why, it is three foot short at each end
and lacks a tier at the top. You had better pitch in for an
hour or two and make a fair job of it, and then you'll get your
"Wot do you call a fair job, I should like to know?" replied
the heated Cadge; "look at them 'ere boulders, as I fished out
of the h'icy water at peek o' day! Look at all them little
stones, h'every one of them as cost me backache and sweat.
H'if that job ain't worth six dollars it ain't worth six cents."
"Mebbe so, mebbe so, my good man," responded the
grocer, genially, "but whatever it's worth, I don't pay for a
job until it's finished."
At this point Cadge's torrent of eloquence swept away all
punctuating pauses and he became slightly incoherent, but
the drift of his harangue was that because he had worked like
a slave and finished the wall in two days they wanted to rob
him of his money. "I'll 'ave the six dollars for my work, or
I'll 'ave the lor on you," he concluded.
The amiable but tactless Snavely saw a happy solution of
the problem. "Never mind, Mrs. Pipkin," he said, "there
shall be no lawsuit. You pay me the six dollars, and I will
write Cadge a receipt for the seven dollars he owes me. I lose
a dollar that way, to be sure, but then it is just the same as
"Ho! that's your game is it?" snarled Cadge, gasping with
indignation. "That's 'ow you two plot against a poor 'ard-workin'
man with a family, to beat him out of 'is pay. H'it's
a put-up job, that's wot h'it is! But you don't get the best
of Tom Cadge that way. I'll 'ave a h'orficer 'ere if I don't
get my money, you bloomin' old plotters, you!"
"Yes, you had better call an officer," agreed Mr. Snavely.
"I saw one around the corner as I passed; the same one your
brats were pelting from behind a fence last week."
Mr. Cadge tacked adroitly. "No, I ain't going to spend
my money with the loryers, as'd want twelve dollars to get
you back six. I'll tear down the wall, that's wot I'll do.
If I don't get my pay the loidy don't get her wall, and you can
tike your measly job and give it to some poor man wot
Mr. Snavely had one foot on the wheel and swung lightly
into his cart. "Have it your own way, Cadge," he responded
cheerfully. "You can finish the wall and get your six dollars
cash, or you can leave it as it stands and take my receipt for
seven, or you can tear it down and have your labor for your
pains; but mind, if the police catch you destroying property,
you will get a month in the chain gang."
"I don't care if I get sixty days!" screamed the outraged
laborer. "The city can look after my missus and the kids if
their nateral provider is took from them. That wall is
comin' down! I'm h'only a workin'-man, and I don't mind
bein' spit on once in a while, but I won't stand for it bein'
It was a sultry June day, the first of the summer vacation,
and toward noon Mrs. Cadge set out to take her husband a
bite of lunch. The little Cadges accompanied her, eager to
exhibit the noble castle which they had completed on Catnip
Creek. When they came to that charming stream, their
eyes flew open in amazement and their jaws dropped.
"Why, mamma, look at daddy!" they cried in unison.
Incredible though it seemed, it was true indeed. Father
worked. Mrs. Cadge wondered whether she, too, was to have a
vacation, after her years of drudgery.
Cadge worked furiously, his rage uncooled by the waters
of the Catnip which flowed through his shoes. He had discarded
coat, vest, and hat, and was hurling rocks with the
strength of a maddened giant, clear across the stream. What
splendid muscles he had!
A tier or two of Mrs. Pipkin's wall was already down.
The telephone within her cottage was ringing madly.
Even as the Cadgelings watched their parent sweating at
his toil, a blue-coated figure ran swiftly down the bank, caught
the hard-working man by the collar, and firmly led him away
to where steady work awaited him.
Mrs. Cadge watched him go with mingled feelings. She
had seen him depart thus before, and remembered how much
easier it was that month to feed four mouths instead of five.
Besides, the exercise on the rock pile would do him good, poor
man. A night-watchman's position was so confining.
Mr. Snavely had driven up to the curb, and the Widow
Pipkin ran out all of a flutter. They sympathetically related
to Mrs. Cadge the events of the morning which had led to
her husband's arrest.
"And there was only an hour's work to be done on the
job," said Mr. Snavely judicially.
"I would gladly pay six dollars cash to have it just as it was
this morning," added the tremulous Widow Pipkin, "and
I'd make it ten if it were done as Mr. Snavely says."
"And I'd still be willing to write a receipt for the
full seven dollars for six dollars cash," interposed that
Mrs. Cadge's shrewd, birdlike eyes were half closed in
mental computation; ten dollars for the wall and one dollar
discount on the grocery bill, that would make eleven dollars
"Come along, kiddies," she said, "you and me will pitch
in and finish that wall to the queen's taste in an hour or two!"
And she did.
Eleven dollars clear, and the watchman's pay still going
on, Cadge on the rock pile, hence the biggest mouth of the
family fed by the city. Indeed, indeed, the little Cadges
were not the only ones who enjoyed a vacation when father