Poor Ogla-Moga by David D. Lloyd

I.

It was a great day when Miss Slopham, so many years conspicuous in our best society, discovered the North American Indian—not for the Indian, perhaps, but certainly for Miss Slopham. Envious and slanderous tongues said that Miss Slopham was afflicted with an ambition. She wanted a mission—not a foreign mission, in any sense of the words. She was debarred from one kind by her sex, and the other involved the possibility of crocodiles and yellow fever, not to mention the chance of being sacrificed to some ugly heathen god. She could not paint, or write, or sing. The stage had never offered any attractions to her, for various reasons, one of which was, so said the same untrustworthy authority, that she had never offered any attractions to the stage. She was tall and spare, and of a dry and autumnal aspect. She wanted fame, but she wanted it respectable. Therefore it was, said gossip, that this excellent woman turned to philanthropy. Even here her fate was against her. If she had not been a woman, she would have mourned the ill-luck that brought her into the world rather late for the anti-slavery agitation. The malicious rumor, by-the-way, which declared that she wore a bib and tucker at the time of Jackson’s war with the United States Bank, was wickedly false. Miss Slopham tried tenement-house reform, but fled before the smells. She had a little practice in the hospitals and orphan asylums, but found the sphere too contracted. She felt that she needed the stimulus of public approval. She was almost in despair, when, as if by accident, her eye lighted on the North American Indian. For centuries he had been chasing the buffalo and the white man, shooting and being shot, taking up the tomahawk and perishing by the rifle, robbing and being robbed, massacring and pillaging whenever massacre and pillage suited his grim humor, and being all this while alternately pampered and starved, cajoled and cheated, by a government which at the same time that it furnished him with guns for shooting its own soldiers, often failed to fulfil the solemn treaties it had made with him.

He had been having this lively and variegated experience for a century or so, without any intimation, prophetic or present, of Miss Slopham’s existence, when that lady discovered him, and when that happened she exclaimed: “He is mine!” Hers, she meant, for the purposes of philanthropy. Wicked tongues had suggested that in Miss Slopham’s philanthropy distance lent enchantment to the view.

Only a day or two later, and before she had had time to form any plans, the postman brought a letter with the postmark of St. Louis. It read as follows:

St. Louis, October 20, 1881.

My dear Miss Slopham,—I want to make an appeal to your benevolence, which I know never fails in case of need. There is in this city at this moment, in hiding, at the house of one of our friends, a poor persecuted Kickapoo. A Kickapoo is an Indian, you know. He has fled from his reservation because, he says, he cannot endure any longer the persecutions and wrongs he has received at the hands of the agent who has charge of the tribe. This agent must be a very bad man. Poor Ogla-Moga—that is his name; it means Young-man-who-digs-up-seed-potatoes-and-feeds-them-to-his-pony, he says, but we call him by his Indian name because it’s so much prettier—says that this agent has repeatedly refused to let them go hunting, which is the only amusement the poor things have, on the miserable pretext that the hay must be got in; and he once took away the gun of one of the Kickapoos because he pretended to believe that the man had shot a settler, whereas there was no proof of it at all, except, Ogla-Moga says, that the man died soon after the gun went off. Ogla-Moga says nothing wounds the self-respect of an Indian so deeply as to take his gun away from him, and we have all felt a great deal of sympathy with that poor insulted Kickapoo. Isn’t it a shame that a great government should deliberately and maliciously oppress these unfortunate and high-spirited people?

“But I had almost forgotten what it was that I had to ask. Poor dear Ogla-Moga—he is so quiet and gentle and sad that we have all really grown fond of him—says that it won’t be safe for him to stay here: the officers will soon be after him for having left his reservation. Now we have arranged to send him eastward with Mr. Michst. He is the new lecturer before our Ethical Circle, which meets every Sunday in Azure Hall. I read a paper there last Sunday, called, ‘Is there Anything?’ which Mr. Michst says contains the most triumphant series of negations he ever heard. He says I completely disprove the existence of everything, including many things we all know to be true. My friends in the Circle are begging me to publish it, and I think of doing so, under the title of ‘The Everlasting No Indeed.’

“But I am wandering again. When Mr. Michst brings Ogla-Moga to you, can’t you get him shelter somewhere? Mr. Michst thinks of taking him on to Washington, so that he may lay the whole matter before the President. We have all been studying this Indian question for the last ten days, and we are convinced that the whole trouble is that the President doesn’t understand it. Mr. Michst feels sure that if the President will give him, say, three days of his time, he can make it perfectly clear to him. Please answer by telegraph.

“Your friend,
Clara O. Verraught.

Now Miss Slopham lived in a neat and æsthetic apartment in a fashionable apartment-house, and it might have been supposed that she was hardly prepared to set up an asylum for fugitive Kickapoos. But that intrepid woman never faltered. Her answer went whirling by wire before she had paused to think of the ways and means of caring for poor Ogla-Moga.

October 23.

Miss Clara O. Verraught, St. Louis, Missouri:

“Let him come at once, and send his Indian costumes with him. I have a special reason for this request.

Amelia Slopham.

Miss Slopham formed a plan. What it was will presently appear.

II.

Not many mornings after, there was the sound of a strange footstep in Miss Slopham’s kitchen, and Bridget emitted a half-shriek. “Mither of Moses! what’s that?” It was Ogla-Moga, who had just arrived. His costume was an extraordinary mixture of blanket and trousers and coat, hardly consistent with the requirements of civilization. A broad slouched hat hid his coarse black locks, and cast a friendly shadow over his piercing eyes and swarthy face.

“Here, Bridget,” said Miss Slopham, “get some breakfast for this—a—a—gentleman at once.” Miss Slopham was not accustomed to meeting Indians in a social way. She hardly knew whether to call him chief; she thought wildly for a moment of sheik; but compromised upon gentleman.

To Bridget’s astonishment, her mistress hovered about while the strange dark man gobbled his food and glared upon her with his wild eyes. Still another stranger had come in with them; but this one wore the garments of civilization as if he were used to them. He was a bald young man—in fact, one of the baldest young men that ever was seen. He seemed to be bald all over. He had no ascertainable eyebrows, or eyelashes, or hair, and this, with his bright, fresh complexion and his big spectacles, gave him a very unworldly appearance.

“Oh, Miss Slobham,” he said, “I haf been so much mofed wid de story of dis poor Indian! He iss a shild of nature. He hass been so quiet, and so goot and so sad! I haf talked to him by de hour, and he hass not interroopted me vonce. I haf exblained to him the viewss of our Ettical Surkle upon de future state, and he hass listened so attentifely, and ven I haf looked at him I haf found dat he wass asleep. Oh, his sleep wass so benign! I haf vept; I could not hellp it. He iss a shild of nature;” and good Mr. Michst wiped a tear from his eye.

“Good! good!” grunted Ogla-Moga, as he put a block of beefsteak in his mouth without the formality of a fork.

“He hass eaten all de vay from St. Louis to here, and he never seem to haf enough,” said Mr. Michst, in awe, looking at Ogla-Moga very much as one might at the phenomenon of a menagerie.

“Poor creatures! I’ve often heard that their supplies were sometimes cut off for months at a time. I suppose this is a case of that kind. Ogla-Moga,” said Miss Slopham, addressing him with her most reassuring and eleemosynary smile, “does the government feed you often, you—a—poor Indians?”

“Not had—what you call it?—round meal—no, square meal,” the Indian replied, making an explanatory parallelogram with his hands, “in four moons.”

“Moonss?—moonss? What does he mean by moonss?”

Before the lady had time to make sure of her own knowledge on the subject, Ogla-Moga began a wild and mysterious pantomime, which caused Bridget, who had her eye steadily on the strange monster, and kept close to the window as an avenue of desperate retreat, to exclaim: “Mither of Moses! what’s the baste going to do?” Ogla-Moga was throwing his arm up in the air with a fierce swing, suddenly crooking his elbow, and bringing his closed hand to his mouth, while he rolled his eyes around the room with a melodramatic ferocity, evidently intended to convey the idea of extreme rapture.

“Poor Ogla-Moga!” said Miss Slopham; “he wants something to drink. Give him a glass of ice-water, Bridget, and have it perfectly clear. It may remind him of the water he used to drink from the brooks of his far-off forest home;” and here Miss Slopham, in her turn, wiped a tear from her eye. Indeed, the crystal particle was apparently so surprised to find itself on the good lady’s cheek that it seemed to disappear of its own accord.

Ogla-Moga looked at the innocent glass of Croton that was handed him with undisguised disdain; but he swallowed his thoughts, whatever they were, with the water, and signified that his meal was ended.

And now for the first time the extent of the task she had undertaken became apparent to Miss Slopham. What was to be done with this terrible infant from the prairies during the week of seclusion that her plan made necessary? She lived alone, except for the companionship of Bridget, and it was asking a good deal of a timid and shrinking nature like Miss Slopham’s to take into her little household a gentleman who rolled his eyes in such an alarming manner. Then, too, there were the proprieties, against which sins could not be committed even in the name of reform. Yet what else was there to be done? He could not be sent to a hotel: that meant publicity, and perhaps recapture by the emissaries of a cruel and unsympathetic government. She could not ask a friend to take him in. He could not be sent anywhere without danger. Finally a brilliant thought struck her just as she was on the verge of distraction, with Ogla-Moga’s big eyes fastened on her all the while. There was the janitor of the apartment-house. He might easily be induced to take a boarder, and he would be discreet. Ogla-Moga could be kept in retirement in his rooms. She would act at once upon the idea. And yet what was she to say? How was she to account for the presence of this stranger in her little household? Ah! he needed clothes. His present costume was an impossible one. She would begin with this subject with the janitor’s wife, and feel her way gradually. So she made her way to the top of the house.

It would be hard to say who was in the greatest flutter when the janitor’s door was opened upon her, Miss Slopham, whose maiden bosom was agitated with strange embarrassments, or Mrs. Doherty, who was not accustomed to receive calls from the ladies of the house. The former was so confused that she walked against a chair and knocked it over, gave a little scream, and stepped on the baby, which was sprawling on the floor, whereat the baby screamed, and she screamed, and Mrs. Doherty screamed—all of which did not tend to diminish the mental excitement of either of the ladies, especially as Mrs. Doherty had up to that moment been trying to dust off a chair with one hand while she held another baby with the other arm, and motioned with her head to a little girl—or perhaps she ought to be called a baby—who had charge of still two other babies, to take them out of the room. Poor Miss Slopham thought she had never seen so many babies in her life before, and the spectacle somehow only increased her bewilderment. So perhaps it was not to be wondered at that when she had sunk into a chair she should begin the conversation with the extraordinary and utterly unprecedented question:

“Oh, Mrs. Doherty, could you—a—could you—a—lend me—a—a pair of pantaloons?”

“A pair of what, Miss Slopham?” said the astounded Mrs. Doherty, in a low voice which expressed both the proper deference of the janitor’s wife and the natural amazement of the woman.

“Oh, of course, I—I didn’t mean to say that,” poor Miss Slopham stammered, in hopeless embarrassment. “The fact is, there’s a gentleman down-stairs—a friend of mine, you know—he has no home, and very few clothes—and I want to get you to help me. He’s down-stairs now, and he’s going to stay—I don’t see how I am going to help it—and I must get a suit of clothes for him this afternoon. I suppose you think this is all very queer,” said the poor lady in breathless confusion, with a little nervous laugh, thinking to herself at the same time that it certainly was very queer.

“I’m not at all sure that I understand ye, ma’am,” said the bewildered woman, looking about her in an alarmed sort of way, as if she wondered whether Miss Slopham was quite a safe woman to be alone with.

“Oh, how can I explain it?” that lady cried, desperately. “Well,” she said, drawing a long breath, “let’s begin at the beginning. Of course you understand that I don’t want any such clothes for myself?”

“No, ma’am, I suppose not,” murmured Mrs. Doherty, evidently suspecting that the other was slightly insane.

“Well, I wanted to ask you about them, because I thought your husband might have some clothes he did not want. I’d pay him a good price for them, and they needn’t be very good”—and again Miss Slopham struck that terrible snag of the conversation—“I want them for a gentleman who’s got into trouble; I can’t tell you what it is, but he’s got to keep out of the way of people. And the thing I wanted to ask you most, Mrs. Doherty,” she said, in a pleading voice, conscious that she was twisting it all into a sad snarl, “was whether I couldn’t get you and Mr. Doherty to take him to board up here with you for a while,” and here the good lady sighed a sigh of relief in spite of her misery and confusion. She had at last let the cat out of the bag.

Mrs. Doherty’s eyes were growing very large. The man needed new clothes; must have them that afternoon; there was a reason for his keeping out of the way; Miss Slopham would not tell what it was; the man had got into trouble. The idea grew bigger and bigger in Mrs. Doherty’s mind, until at last it burst out with,

“But is it a jail-bird ye’ve got there, ma’am?”

“No, no,” cried Miss Slopham, badly frightened in her turn at the other’s fear. “How could you think such a thing? He’s a gentleman, you know; quite an important man where he comes from. There are reasons why I can’t tell you who he is. He doesn’t want anybody to know it either. But a jail-bird! why, wait till you see him, Mrs. Doherty. He looks so gentle, and he’s really handsome.”

Mrs. Doherty looked at Miss Slopham. Miss Slopham was a wealthy tenant, and paid a large rent, and Mrs. Doherty was only the janitor’s wife. But, after all, Mrs. Doherty was a woman, and Miss Slopham was a woman also, and Mrs. Doherty looked at Miss Slopham in the way in which only a woman can look at another woman; looked at her gray and withered curls, and at her face, which had never, in the spring-time of Miss Slopham’s youth, been the kind of face which painters celebrate and poets embalm in verse, and said nothing. What she may have thought, or whether she thought anything, was a matter of little consequence, for when the richer lady came to mention the terms at which she rated the hospitality of the Doherty household, Mrs. Doherty showed a positive anxiety to oblige her, and even murmured something about being glad to do anything in their power for such a kind lady.

Now began a week of agony for Miss Slopham. Ogla-Moga was duly installed in the Doherty apartment, and duly invested with a suit of Mr. Doherty’s clothes. But the taste for roving was still strong upon him. The inner life of an apartment-house seemed to arouse all his savage curiosity, and the fact that the entrance to every apartment looked like the entrance to every other apartment gave rise to some disagreeable complications. In the second floor front, for example, a skirmish with a view to matrimony had long been in progress between the daughter of the family, Miss Josephine Ayr, and Mr. Margent, of the young and prosperous stock-broking firm of Margent & Bar, and the decisive engagement was plainly near at hand. The progress of the acquaintanceship had been watched with an interest not altogether friendly by the second floor back, while Miss Slopham had deigned to catch such neutral and impartial glimpses of it as she could over the stairs from the third floor front. In fact, the second floor back, who bore the name of Pound, had in an unguarded moment introduced Mr. Margent to the second floor front, and had then in silent rage seen him borne away from them by Miss Josephine. Perhaps this was to be accounted for by the fact that the two marriageable daughters in the second floor back had been offered, to use the coarse expression of the young stock-broker, “with no takers” for a series of years, and perhaps by the bold and shocking manners of Miss Josephine, which were often the subject of remark in the Pound household, where the opinion was frequently heard that it was difficult to understand how old Mrs. Ayr could keep so cheerful with a daughter whose behavior was the scandal of all her acquaintances. By one of those unaccountable coincidences which will occur in apartment-houses, the remarks of the Ayrs about the Pounds were repeated to the Pounds, while at the same time the remarks of the Pounds about the Ayrs were repeated to the Ayrs, the result being that Miss Josephine said that it must be a great satisfaction to Mrs. Pound to feel that she would probably always have her daughters with her, especially as they were already of an age to have many tastes in common with her, and the Misses Pound said that it was truly painful to see people who had once been very wealthy reduced in circumstances, like the Ayrs, for example, and that both families were carefully polite when they met.

Now Mr. Margent was thought to be on the point of declaring himself, and when he appeared one afternoon his intentions were obvious. He was, if possible, more scrupulously dressed than ever. His clothes, trimly cut in the latest style, were new and spotless. His plump, not to say puffy, face, of an overfed white, was as smooth-shaven as ever. His plentiful watch-chain and his elegant shoes and his expensive stockings were, if possible, more plentiful and elegant and expensive than ever. When Miss Josephine appeared in a fresh costume, his small gray eyes revolved about her with an appearance of sluggish satisfaction which for him was almost animation.

“Business,” said he—“business’s been splendid this year. Tip-top. C. B. & Q. brought us in ten thousand at one clip the other day. Fact;” and Mr. Margent paused for a fresh supply of ideas.

“How nice that is!” said Miss Josephine, gently, with a shade of tender appreciation in her voice.

“But it costs a dreadful deal to live. We all live at hotels, you know—all the boys. And then a fellow has to have his cab: all the boys have cabs. And then we’ve got to have clothes. But I’m economizing on that. I cut myself down to twenty suits last year. I don’t see any use of a fellow’s having more than twenty suits;” and Mr. Margent paused again, intellectually out of breath.

“I think you’re a very extravagant creature,” said the charming Miss Josephine, playfully shaking her finger at him. “If you had a wife to take care of you, you wouldn’t be allowed to spend so much money.”

“Well, do you know, I’ve been thinking of getting married. I was talking with the boys about it the other day. I said I believed a man could support a wife on seven thousand a year—keeping a fellow’s cab, and staying at the hotel, you know, and all that sort of thing”—he hastened to add, with a little anxiety in his voice. “The boys bet I couldn’t, and I bet I could, and I believe it was then that I really made up my mind to get married. Don’t you believe it could be done on that?” Mr. Margent found himself the subject of a suffusion of ideas, and had the appearance of being surprised at his own gifts.

Miss Josephine was of the opinion, in a low voice, and with an expression of intense interest in the lace in her sleeve, that it could be done for that.

“Well, now,” said the ardent youth, moving over to the sofa where she was sitting, and settling himself down beside her, “why shouldn’t we get married? You’re just the kind of girl I like—tip-top, you know. I like a girl with style about her. Come, say yes.” And here the crude outlines of something like a joke, for the first time in Mr. Margent’s history, began to be visible to him in the dim recesses of his obese mind. “Let’s make it buyer sixty days,” and he laughed until his small eyes almost closed.

“And what’s buyer sixty days, you horrid man?”

“Why, don’t you know that? I should have thought you’d know that. It’s when the buyer has sixty days to call for the stock. Let’s get married in sixty days, and we’ll invite all the boys.”

Poor Miss Josephine! Was this her romance? She had not counted on much—but was this all? She was a sensible and practical girl, however, and the instructions of an excellent mother had not been lost upon her. She yielded herself to the embrace of this winsome wooer, her head drooped upon his shoulder, and he was just about to collect the dividend of a kiss, when the hall door swung open with a crash, and no other than Ogla-Moga plunged into the room, with a bundle intended for Miss Slopham. It was Ogla-Moga’s unfortunate peculiarity that all floors were alike to him, and likewise all interiors. He stood in the dark hallway glaring with amazement upon the bewildered couple. Miss Josephine screamed, and Mr. Margent swore with actual animation. Ogla-Moga grew still more excited. He had learned enough of civilized life to know that strangers and intruders were objects of suspicion.

“G’out! g’out!” he roared, with his voice at prairie pitch. “G’out! or I put you out!”

Miss Josephine screamed again; her estimable mother rushed in by the door leading to the bedrooms, followed by three children, all beside themselves with curiosity and wonder, and Mr. Ayr himself appeared in the doorway leading to the dining-room, in a state of respectable consternation; and last of all appeared the heads of the two Misses Pound in the hallway outside, uttering simultaneously, with many deprecatory little bobs, the same words, to the effect that they thought perhaps some one was hurt, all of which only increased the wrath of Ogla-Moga, more than ever convinced that something was wrong.

“You no belong here!” he cried, swinging his arms wildly about. “This wigwam belongs gray squaw!”

Miss Josephine always persisted in believing that Ogla-Moga had first gone to the Pound door, and that the Misses Pound, who knew only too well that Mr. Margent was calling upon her, had sent him to the other. But if it were true, she had a real woman’s revenge. She had no sooner descried them in the doorway than with wonderful presence of mind she fainted straight into Mr. Margent’s arms, much to that gentleman’s astonishment. It was a master-stroke. The Misses Pound disappeared as suddenly as if they had been pictures from a magic lantern, and had been slid off the screen. Mrs. Ayr at once looked more cheerful, and Mr. Ayr began an insane effort to remove Ogla-Moga from the premises, in which it would have gone ill with him had it not been for a sudden vision of curl-papers and gray hair behind the Indian. His name was called in a voice he was accustomed to hear, he turned away, the door was banged to upon his heels, and the tableau closed.

The very next day Mrs. Gottom of the third floor back was to give a dinner party to the distinguished Italian musician, Signor Barbazzo. Mrs. Gottom was known among the irreverent young men of her acquaintance as “the menagerie woman.” Her favorite exclamation was, “I must have a fresh lion,” and visitors to her apartment were always sure of beholding the latest leonine specimens landed on these shores. Signor Barbazzo’s freshness made him a rarus leo. He was famous, and all the world was waiting for him, but he had not yet appeared in public. As a cruel fate would have it, Mrs. Gottom fell sick the very day set for the dinner, and was compelled to resign her place as hostess to her pretty and simple-hearted niece, Miss Tristan, who had never seen Signor Barbazzo. As fate would also have it, that gentleman himself fell sick, and being in the habit of doing as he pleased among the barbarians of the West, sent no excuses. As fate would still have it, Ogla-Moga, taking the wrong door as usual, strolled into Mrs. Gottom’s drawing-room, which happened to be empty, about an hour before dinner, settled himself in a luxurious arm-chair in the middle of the room, and—fell asleep. Half an hour later, pretty Miss Tristan came rustling into the room with her coolest and sweetest dress on. She gave a start of surprise when she saw a man there, stepped forward, thinking that it was the distinguished guest himself, stopped again, seeing that he was fast asleep, and then taking a swift woman’s glance at him, sped softly out of the room.

“Aunty, what do you think?” said she, breathlessly, running into that lady’s room. “Signor Barbazzo is in the parlor, sound asleep in the big chair!”

“What are you saying, child? Signor Barbazzo in the parlor asleep! Nonsense!”

“But it must be he. Who else can it be? Hasn’t he got long black hair?”

“Yes. And no beard or mustache? and a swarthy complexion?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Well,” said the aunt, wearily, “I suppose he has come in tired. Doing what he pleases, as they all do. But he mustn’t be disturbed, on any account. I wish I was there to manage him. The other day at Mrs. Vicar’s he went away in the middle of the dinner because the macaroni wasn’t right. He’ll do something dreadful, I suppose. Now be sure. Don’t begin by making him cross. So if he should sleep an hour, keep the people quiet at all hazards, and let him sleep two hours if he wants to.”

Poor Miss Tristan went back to the post of duty oppressed with a great responsibility. The servant was stationed at the door to prevent any ringing of the bell, and as the guests came in one by one, they were warned in whispers not to rouse the sleeping lion. Very soon Mrs. Gottom’s drawing-room presented a striking example of the homage due to genius. The guests stood about in little groups, conversing in the most timid whispers, and even making signs take the place of language, glancing every moment at the supposed great man in the chair, who had his legs stretched out before him, his head thrown back, and was, if it must be confessed, snoring audibly, not to say visibly. There was Professor Phyle, the celebrated phrenologist—a tall man, with a gaunt face and long gray hair. He had been a lion once, but was now out of date. There were also present Mrs. Blenkin, a comparatively new soprano, having seen only two seasons; Lieutenant Wray, a lion just caught, or rather polar bear, having only then returned from a trip to the arctic regions, in which his ship had covered itself with glory; a young lady who had written a novel, and another who had written a poem, both unpublished, but both understood to be of a mysterious excellence; and others not necessary to mention. Even for these great people the chance to see a genius off his guard was not to be resisted. He seemed to be so soundly asleep that they might safely approach him. They tiptoed toward him, and hovered about him, holding their breath meanwhile. The ladies gazed at him longest, and seemed best satisfied with their inspection, with the exception of Professor Phyle, who was in raptures.

“I have never,” said he, in a blood-curdling whisper, and waving his hand toward the unconscious Ogla-Moga, while the guests gathered about to hear what his verdict would be, “seen a more distinctly musical face. It is remarkable. It ought to convert any skeptic to phrenology. The development of what we phrenologists call, for the sake of convenience, the organs of tune and time—just over and near the side of the eye—the fulness of the eyes, the exquisite mobility of the mouth, are fairly abno-or-r-mal,” and here the learned professor’s whisper made one’s flesh creep. “And I have no doubt, if I could examine the organs which are concealed by those luxuriant locks”—and now the professor smiled his society smile, and his fingers rayed out toward the sleeping Indian’s head in a nervous, eager way—“that I should find ideality, adhesiveness, time, hope, veneration, and so on, strongly developed, as in the case of the great composers.” The ladies nodded at each other, and drew long breaths of astonishment.

“I am glad,” continued the professor, in his most approving manner, “that this little social incident”—but now the smile was more labored, and his eyebrows went up with less ease than usual, for, to tell the truth, the professor, like the rest of the company, was getting a little hungry—“should have given us an opportunity to make a scientific proof of his great genius.”

Meanwhile the lieutenant, who was a practical person, if he was a lion, bent toward the still snoring Ogla-Moga with his eyeglass.

“It’s a singular thing,” said he, coming back, “but the face doesn’t seem at all Italian to me. It’s more like an Indian’s face than that of any civilized man I ever saw.”

There was an indignant whisper of dissent all about.

“How can you say so?” responded the professor. “There are centuries of culture and refinement in that face—the stern old Roman cast softened and modified by generation after generation of the artistic training and cultivation of modern Italy. I would venture to assert from this mere glance at his face that his fathers before him for a long way back were musicians, and I would pick him out from a crowd on Broadway as a genius in music. Why,” said the professor, with as much of a flourish as he could get into a whisper, “his very nostrils convict him.”

It must be said that at that particular moment Ogla-Moga’s nostrils were convicting him of a genius for music of a most discordant kind. He was snoring a profound snore whose chords could not be found in Beethoven or Rossini, nor even in Liszt or Wagner. Just as the professor finished his eulogy, there came a terrific rumble and rattle, and the Indian snored so loud that he fairly woke himself up. He raised himself up in the chair and looked about in speechless amazement. No one spoke. All were waiting, with the deference due to genius, to see what the great man would do, and were, at the same time, if it must be confessed, a little overcome with the novelty of the situation. His black eye ran quickly from one to the other, when it fell upon the uniform of Lieutenant Wray, assumed on that occasion by the express wish of his hostess. At that sight, which must have recalled to Ogla-Moga’s mind the power and authority of the Government of the United States, a look of terror blanched his face, and darting up, he fled through the open door into the hall, and disappeared, leaving behind him the impression that the eccentricity of distinguished Italian musicians is past finding out.

III.

Of many other of the deeds of Ogla-Moga—of how he imprisoned three estimable old ladies in the elevator, and before they were released had frightened them into hysterics; of how he at first took the milkman to be a brother Indian, and regularly for a time answered his morning howl with a terrifying war-whoop; of how he kept the house in turmoil by ringing an electric bell wherever he could find one, in doing which he took a childish delight—there is no need to speak here. Happily for Miss Slopham, it so came about that Ogla-Moga was rescued from all his scrapes without the responsibility for him being traced to her, and without her secret being discovered, although many complaints poured into the office of the carelessness by which strange and dreadful men were allowed to get into the house—a subject, however, on which the landlord could never get any satisfactory information from Mr. Doherty. Happily for Miss Slopham again, the week of trial was almost ended. She had issued invitations to a reception for a Thursday evening, at which she caused it to be understood a paper would be read upon an important reform question. Many of her friends in the apartment-house were included in the bidding to this feast of reason. The evening had arrived, and she was seated in her reception-room, talking to the first-comer—a very tall and grave gentleman with solemn long hair. This was Mr. Blagg, the well-known newspaper correspondent. He was a most ingenious and laborious writer. Having accumulated a certain amount of information, he wrote it out on Monday to a paper in the far West, and on Tuesday to another paper in the far East, varying the mixture somewhat, and on Wednesday varying it again to a paper in the North, and on Thursday to a paper in the South, giving the kaleidoscope of gossip still another shake. If it be true that a stamp of the foot displaces every atom of the globe, and that a word, once spoken, never ceases to reverberate through the universe, the intellectual atmosphere must have been disorganized with the clash and confusion of Mr. Blagg’s contributions to contemporary history. But Mr. Blagg was also a general literary workman. He took contracts to write articles, pamphlets, and books, as a lawyer takes cases—not on their merits, but for the fee. If it must be admitted, he had written Miss Slopham’s paper on the wrongs of the Indian, for a pecuniary compensation, for that lady was far from being a literary person.

“Oh, it is so strong, Mr. Blagg,” she was saying, “so noble, and the array of facts is so overwhelming! Where did you get them? Oh, what a power your pen is!”

“Such as it is, Miss Slopham, it is always at your service;” and Mr. Blagg closed his eyes in a faint ecstasy. Unlike literary persons as a class, he was not reluctant to be openly appreciated. “As for the facts,” he continued, “they were easily secured. I had occasion to write another article on the Indian question, taking an exactly opposite view, and I found that many of the facts, in the hands of a skilful artist, could be used in both articles. I have often found that plan beneficial. It economizes labor, gives exercise to all the intellectual faculties, and, where one can secure orders for a brace of documents to contradict each other, is, I may say”—and here Mr. Blagg coughed a little cough—“pleasant to the pocket.”

“But I want your help still further, dear Mr. Blagg. We must make this poor Indian’s cause our own. We must agitate the matter. I hope that when this paper has been read to-night” (and Miss Slopham looked down at the roll in her lap), “you will be willing to write something about it to your papers. I want the influence of your pen to rouse the country.”

“I’ll do what my pen enables me to do, Miss Slopham; and I will say that I think it is not without its effect,” replied Mr. Blagg, with the conscious pride of a man who knew that public opinion would never get itself properly moulded without his help.

“It will be painful for us, of course, to be involved in anything like notoriety, but” (and now a shade of lofty resignation passed over the lady’s face), “we must bear it for the sake of the cause.” Miss Slopham already called it “the cause.”

But the company had begun to assemble. Mr. Michst was there, having deprived the Ethical Circle of the benefit of his ministrations for an entire week in order to be present. Mr. and Mrs. Ayr were there, with Miss Josephine and her lover, who was heard to remark that this would be “great larks to tell the boys.” The Misses Pound were also there, conveying in their looks their profound pity for a young man so sadly insnared. Mrs. Gottom was there, with her pretty niece, who looked, as really pretty girls always do, prettier than ever. Professor Phyle was there, and Mrs. Blenkin. But Lieutenant Wray had not been able to accept Miss Slopham’s invitation. There were besides a considerable number of persons of limited celebrity, most of them fierce hobby riders, who, instead of leaving those unruly animals at home in their luxurious stalls, or outside of their friends’ houses, as the instinct of politeness might have suggested, rode them boldly into the parlors of the best society, and ran them at full gallop into the midst of any conversation, so that often no sound could be heard but the noise of their hoofs. Of the number and kind of these hobbies there is no need here to speak, but when there were so many gathered into a single place, the neighing and snorting, the champing of conversational bits, and the pounding of huge and heavy feet were curious to behold and to hear.

And Ogla-Moga? Now the native costumes were coming into play, and Miss Slopham’s long martyrdom was to have its reward. She had conveyed to the Indian her desire that he should discard the garments of civilization, and array himself in those of his pristine barbarity. Remembering also that an Indian toilet is not complete without a good deal of decorative art, she lent him a collection of artists’ materials kept for purposes of æsthetic display, and explained to him how to use them. The result was that when he emerged he was a sight to strike terror into any heart. His robes became him fiercely, and the blazonry of his colors even frightened her a little. She began to wonder whether, after all, Indian reform might not be a dangerous pursuit. But all this was accomplished, in her haste, three hours before the time of the reception. What was to be done with him in the mean time? He must needs sit and wait, like the ladies in the olden time who on the occasion of some great fête were obliged, through the multiplicity of the hair-dresser’s engagements, to pass under his hands early in the morning, perhaps, and then to sit like statues all day lest the lofty and beautiful structure on their heads should tumble into ruins. But how restrain him—this untutored Kickapoo? In her desperation a wild and wonderful scheme occurred to her. He had become savagely fond of raspberry jam. She would offer him a bribe of an unlimited quantity of this delicacy to go into some room and stay there, and once there, she would quietly lock the door. She canvassed in her mind all the rooms in her little box of a home. There was one, convenient, appropriate, and secure—the store-room. No sooner said than done. To see this fierce-looking Kickapoo clad in robes of savagery, and gleaming in all the paint of the war-path, seated on Miss Slopham’s refrigerator, and looking about on either side with barbaric curiosity at her array of shelves of jars and bottles, while he ate raspberry jam out of a rare and elegant saucer with an exquisite silver spoon, might have seemed a ludicrous spectacle to anybody less austere than Miss Slopham. But she only gave a sigh of relief, and softly turned the key, and went away to prepare for her guests. Ogla-Moga did not miss her. He finished the saucer of jam, and finished the jar, and then began explorations. He found various relishes, condiments, and preserves, and what not, all of which he tasted, some of which he enjoyed, and some of which he seemed to objurgate in choice Kickapoo. At last—for his terrific figure was now erect on the refrigerator—he saw something that sent a gleam of joy across his fiery face. It was a dark bottle that bore an inscription which he could not read, “S. O. P. Brandy.” But there is one sense which needs no education. He pulled out the cork, and put the mouth of the bottle to his nostrils; then he smiled grimly, and straightway sat down on the refrigerator.

The time had arrived for Miss Slopham to read her paper. Mr. Michst claimed the attention of the company by tapping on a table with a paper-knife. “Laties and shentlemen,” said he, “we haf come here dis efening as drue philossophers—not for our own selfish bleasure enti-er-lee, but”—Mr. Margent looked uneasy, and fidgeted in his chair—“in order to hellp in de solution of one of de great questions of de day—de Indian question. I haf met some off dese obbressed and downdrodden beoble. I know how amiable, how excellent, they are—like little shildren dey haf lissened to me ven I haf talked to dem of de aura of Schrellenbach and de ofersoul—all vunder, and, I know, all pelief. But I vill not take down de time. My young and pyootiful friend, Miss Slobham” (the good, loyal man was sadly near-sighted), “vill read to you, and I belief she vill have some derrible dings to say.”

Terrible things indeed! Miss Slopham’s manuscript ran with gore—the gore of the red-man always. Massacres, surprises, and butcheries, in which the white man had slaked, only to renew it, his notorious thirst for Indian blood, followed each other across the pages of the paper, leaving each a darkening trail behind. The government of these United States, which, in the inconsistent, uncontinuous, and often bungling way of all governments, has probably tried to do its duty by the Indian—often succeeding only in making its benevolence a source of pauperism, and often betrayed by unfaithful officials and corrupt citizens into shameful acts of bad faith—was portrayed as a huge ogre, a giant Blunderbore, drinking Indian blood from two-quart bowls, and never breakfasting but on Indian baby. Meantime there filed through Miss Slopham’s flowing sentences, like a procession of children with banners, the mild and faithful Modoc, the unsophisticated Sioux, the exemplary Pi-Ute, the large-eyed and pensive Pottawattamie, the polished Nez-Percé, the amiable Pawnee, the meek and unobtrusive Ogallala, and the playful Apache. If there ever had been a massacre by Indians, or an act of savage cruelty by other than white men, it was not found necessary for the purposes of this paper to mention it. Perhaps emphasis is indispensable in advocating reforms, and Indian reforms are surely needed. At all events, there was no lack of accentuation in Miss Slopham’s paper. The little audience murmured to each other of its literary skill, and noticed that Mr. Blagg, who was a high authority, wore an approving smile.

“And now,” she read, as she approached the end of the essay, “we have felt that there could be no better way to enlist the sympathies of practical men and women than to show them one of these unfortunate people as he is at home, in his native dress, in the picturesque pigments which he delights, in his innocent and child-like fancy, to adorn himself with, and to let you see how far he is from being the wretch he is represented to be, how clearly the natural mildness of his disposition, when unvexed by the tyranny of governments, shines through the manly beauty of his countenance. It has so happened that one of these poor creatures has been placed for a time under my charge” (and here a look of dawning suspicion began to appear simultaneously upon the faces of Miss Ayr and Miss Tristan), “and I shall be able to summon him in a few moments into your presence, and beg you to render, in behalf of this simple and suffering race, the kind yet impartial testimony of your own eyes. I ask this because”—

But what was this strange noise in the distance that made Miss Slopham pause in her reading, and sent a pallor across her cheek?—a sound as of the dragging of a heavy body through the private hallway leading from her kitchen—a sound as of a struggle, and of scuffling and heavy breathing, and loud mutterings. It flashed upon her in an instant that she had forgotten the little window in the store-room. Had Ogla-Moga escaped? What had happened?

But she made an effort and resumed: “I ask this because—”

“Mither of Moses! what are ye a-doin’? Let go me hair, or I’ll scrame for the perlice;” and forthwith there went up just outside of the drawing-room door a scream in the unmistakable voice of Bridget, which must have reached the traditionally absent policeman, no matter how far he was away.

The company had now started to their feet in astonishment and fright.

“Queltzcoatchstepukulistini!”—or that was what the response sounded like.

Another scream from Bridget.

“Akuishnapaccademipechacquinishcrekepa!”

In another instant an extraordinary group reeled into the doorway—Ogla-Moga, with his robes torn and spattered, his paint smeared out of its original lines and colors, and his face furrowed with scratches inflicted by the hands of Bridget—Ogla-Moga drunk, utterly drunk, and brandishing in the air a glittering carving-knife; and Bridget—alas! drunk too—with her hair in the firm grasp of the Indian, who was pulling her along.

There was a universal shriek of horror. Three of the ladies bolted through the only door which the Indian did not occupy, and which opened into a small bedroom. They frantically pulled it shut, just as three other ladies seized the knob on the outside and tried to pull it open. As luck would have it, Miss Ayr and her mother and Mrs. Blenkin were on the inside, and the two Misses Pound were on the outside—a fact which did not seem to diminish the natural anxiety of the ladies on either side of the door for their personal safety. At all events, the tug of war went on. Mr. Blagg showed extreme terror, and being plainly reduced by the same to a state of utter intellectual confusion and imbecility, made an insane attempt to scale the heights of a large what-not in the corner of the room, which, of course, promptly came over with him, hurling him to the floor with great violence, and falling directly upon him, while it covered his body and the larger part of the floor with the fragments of unprecedented teapots and alleged salad-bowls. Mrs. Gottom and her niece barricaded themselves in the corner with a sofa, and armed themselves with huge photograph albums to be hurled at the enemy; while Professor Phyle, who was a prominent member of the Peace Society, quietly stepped into the window recess, and drew the curtains in defence of his person and his principles.

In the midst of the turmoil and dismay, Miss Tristan was heard to exclaim, “Oh, aunty, it is Signor Barbazzo!” and her aunt was heard to reply, with singular feeling, “Hold your tongue, child, and never speak to me again as long as you live!” There was a marked rustle of the curtains in front of Professor Phyle at this episode. Meantime Mr. Michst, with a blind idea of doing something, without knowing in the least what it ought to be, had confronted the Indian, who still stood there muttering and shaking his knife. Just then he gave a terrible tug at Bridget’s hair, that imparted a projectile motion to her as he swung her away from him. Her lowered head struck Mr. Michst with full force in the neighborhood of the diaphragm, and the two went down on the floor with a crash. Mr. Margent, the first to recover his presence of mind, stepped over the extended toes of Miss Slopham, who had simply dropped into a chair in a dead faint, firmly seized the Indian’s right hand, in which the knife was held, and putting his other hand on the Indian’s shoulder, gently and easily tripped him up, and when he had got him down sat on his prostrate form. It had hardly been done when a dark little man slipped into the room, cast a swift glance around, and without stopping to look his astonishment, in a flash locked a pair of handcuffs on Ogla-Moga’s wrists. In the hall outside was a vision of two policemen.

Mr. Margent, without betraying the least surprise, slowly got up, pulled a toothpick out of his pocket, and began to use it, while he looked down upon the Indian. “What’s he done?” he asked, coolly.

“Oh, all sorts of things: killed a missionary; poured a can of kerosene on his squaw, and tried to set her on fire, because he wanted to take another one; and so on. The worst Kickapoo of the lot. I’ve had hard work to find him; but,” with a grin, “I never expected to find him in a place like this.”

Ogla-Moga had fallen asleep then and there! The harsh music of his snore filled the room. To several persons present it had a familiar sound. Professor Phyle, who had stuck his head out of the curtains, drew it in again suddenly, like the timid turtle.

“Poor Ogla-Moga!” said Miss Slopham, who had recovered, and had been listening. “What else could be expected under a cruel and despotic government?”

“Ogla-Moga? Yes, ma’am, that’s his name among the tribe. I’m the agent’s deputy. We called him Ugly-Mug, and that was the way the Indians pronounced it. It is ugly, you see, ma’am.”

It was ugly. It was the last blow. Miss Slopham said not another word, and, strange to say, Mr. Blagg never mentioned these interesting incidents in his correspondence.